Cherish Your Marriage Every Day

What have you done today to put your marriage ahead of other priorities?

Cherish Your Marriage

Little things matter. They matter a lot. And doing little things for your marriage every day will make a huge difference in your relationship in the long run. Grand gestures are fun and exciting and I love doing them for my wife. But my marriage can’t survive on occasional grand gestures. I need to show her every day that I love her, that she matters to me, and that our marriage matters to me.

Living Distracted

It’s easy to get distracted and not pay much attention to your marriage. Life takes over, and soon the craziness steals our focus away from our most important earthly relationship: the one with our spouse.

You see, you only have one covenant relationship on this earth, and that is the one with your spouse. To me, that makes everything else optional.

Yes, of course, I realize you need to keep your job and take care of the kids, but the truth is that you don’t have a covenant with those things. Except for your relationship with Jesus, nothing else in your life should matter as much as your marriage.

Cherishing Us

My friends and fellow CMBA board members Tom and Debi Walter, who blog at The Romantic Vineyard, have just released a great new resource to help couples stay focused on their marriage relationship. It’s call Cherishing Us, 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage.

What does it mean to cherish your marriage? Webster’s defines it this way:

  • to hold dear: feel or show affection for
  • to keep or cultivate with care and affection: nurture
  • to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely

What I love about this book is that it’s bite-sized and practical. For each day there is a short phrase, no more than a sentence or two, that encourages you to consider something about your marriage. For digging a little deeper, there are monthly Contemplation Questions, Date Night suggestions, and additional thoughts on the importance of cherishing one another, many of which come from their insightful Romantic Vineyard posts.

Cherishing UsI hope you’ll get yourself a copy of Cherishing Us.  Available in Paperback or Kindle

 

Choose the Road Less Traveled

The Path of Intimacy is a road less traveled. And it will make all the difference in your marriage.

The Road Less Traveled

I’m happy to announce that today my new Kindle book The Path of Intimacy is officially released! I have to admit that I’m extremely excited about this book.

I’m excited because I’ve seen first hand the heart’s desire of so many couples over my many years in marriage ministry. There is a universal longing to discover a deeper connection on an emotional, physical and spiritual level. So many yearn for it. Yet so many struggle to find it.

That’s why I wrote the book.

The Road Less Traveled

Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken ends like this:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

The journey into deeper intimacy in your marriage involves one pivotal choice, followed by a million little choices made on a daily basis.

Choose Your Path

The first and most important choice is to choose to take the road less traveled. The Path of Intimacy is not the easiest path. Sadly, it’s not the path most commonly traveled, either. But choosing this path will alter the entire course of your marriage.

Choosing the Path of Intimacy starts with a choice to make intimacy the primary goal of your marriage. That is indeed an uncommon choice. Yet it’s an extremely crucial one.

Choosing to make intimacy the number one goal of your relationship changes everything–much more than I could cover with a single post.  But let’s take a look at just one example of the impact of such a choice. It’s a common situation in many marriages: unmet needs.

For many, marriage is primarily about having their own needs met. If that were true for me, when my wife neglects my needs, I’m going to withhold from meeting her needs and withdraw until I get what I think I am due. It’s only fair. I’m justified. If my wife were to take the same stance, she would respond by further withdrawing or by giving me the “silent treatment,” which means my needs will continue to be unmet. Thus, we a cycle that leads to the Path of Separation, each of us fixed in a pattern of withholding and withdrawing.

Now, let’s take the same scenario, but instead, I choose to make intimacy what matters most. Instead of withholding or withdrawing, I actually step toward her, looking for ways to maintain our connection by focusing on what will make her feel most loved and cherished. I choose to trust that her heart is for me, and I extend grace to her in areas where she isn’t fully attending to my needs. We can communicate knowing we both want to love each other well and that we care for each other.

This choice is not a panacea. It doesn’t mean I never feel hurt or neglected. It just means that I know that grace is always an invitation to intimacy. And I have decided that intimacy is what matters most. In most cases, grace is a much better change agent than are criticism and judgment. There is no guarantee my needs will get met, and I am not showing her love in order to get love from her, but I do it because it’s a deliberate choice and the way God calls me to love her.

A Million Little Choices

Keeping your marriage on the Path of Intimacy involves many daily choices to focus more on your spouse than on yourself. It means choosing to stay engaged when it would be easier not to. It means learning to express love in the ways that are meaningful to your spouse and then having the discipline to actually act on them consistently. It means finding delight and pleasure in giving delight and pleasure to each other.

If this post resonates with you, if you have a longing for deeper intimacy and a stronger connection with your spouse, I urge you to start (or continue) down the Path of Intimacy. I hope in doing so, you’ll consider getting my new book. Read it. Then put into practice what you learn.

I promise it will make all the difference.

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Don’t Be Fooled – It’s All Connected

Lack in any area of intimacy will eventually affect the other areas. But then so does plenty!

It's all Connected

There is a human tendency to compartmentalize our lives. We all do it to more or less of a degree. But is that always the best way to live?

For example, we often divide parts of our lives between the secular and the spiritual. Church=spiritual. Job=secular. Prayer=spiritual. Sports=secular. But it isn’t so. It’s all spiritual. All of it belongs to God, and God can be found in it all.

Intimacy Interconnected

When it comes to your marriage, and especially when it comes to intimacy in marriage, every dimension is connected to every other dimension. The emotional is not separate from sexual or spiritual. Each impacts the other–in a variety of ways. That’s both good and bad, as we’ll see.

Sometimes we tell ourselves we can do without one or more of these areas of intimacy. But it’s not true. Whenever you leave any dimension out of the intimacy equation of your relationship, it will cause a deficit in the other dimensions.

Take the area of sexual intimacy as an example. A sex-starved marriage will often result in a relationship in which a husband and wife also have a limited emotional connection.

For another example, you don’t feel it’s important to have a spiritual connection to each other. This will steal the emotional intimacy that comes from shared spiritual experiences. It will damage financial intimacy in that it removes important spiritual principles from financial decisions and prevents prayerfully consideration of your money. A lack of spiritual connection even reduces sexual intimacy, because sex, at its core, is a deeply spiritual experience–or at least it should be.

It would be possible for me to draw similar examples from any deficient or missing component of the intimacy in your marriage. They are all interconnected.

The Good News

While it is true that a lack of intimacy in any one area will negatively impact other areas, it’s also true that when you improve any one area of intimacy in your marriage, it will spill over positively into other areas.

For example, for most men, it is true that a thriving and fulfilling sexual relationship opens the door to a deeper emotional connection with their wife. In a post on his X-Y Blog, Paul Byerly, aka The Generous Husband, says it this way:

For men sex communicates love and acceptance, while a lack of sex communicates the opposite. I realise this is not usually what women are communicating with sex and saying no, but it is what men feel. Even when you convince a man this is not what she means, he will still feel it. When a man feels a good sexual connection with his wife he starts to want other forms of intimacy. Not tolerate, want. The need was always there, but it is hard to hear over the much louder need for sexual intimacy.

In the same way, a woman who is emotionally satisfied by her husband’s affection and attention will be more open to responding positively to her husband’s sexual advances. Emotional intimacy opens a wide doorway to sexual intimacy.

Get on the Right Path

You may have noticed that I’ve been blogging about intimacy all this month. Partly that’s because I believe intimacy is the most important goal for every marriage. But the major reason is that next week my new Kindle book, The Path of Intimacy, will be released, and I’m super-excited about it!

In the book, I explain how every marriage is on one of two paths: the Path of Intimacy or the Path of Separation. There is no middle ground between the two where you can statically maintain your distance. Intimacy doesn’t work that way. It’s either growing or it’s dying. You get to choose.

Whenever you choose the Path of Intimacy by working on any area of your relationship (physical, emotional, sexual, financial, etc.) you have set your marriage squarely on the Path of Intimacy, and you will begin to see fruit in other areas, even without working specifically on those areas.

Look for my book release announcement next week, but in the meantime, do something this week to intentionally build the intimacy in your marriage.

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From Your Current Location to an Intimate Destination

Your journey into deeper intimacy starts with figuring out where you are.

GPS Intimacy

Do you remember the days of MapQuest and folded paper maps? I’m glad those days are behind us! Today we all have a GPS in our pockets, purses and cars, giving us immediate and accurate navigation with just a few clicks. A GPS is a fabulous navigational tool.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the same kind of tool for our marriage relationship? Enter the destination “Deeper Intimacy” and click the “find route” button and the app would list out step by step instructions for steering your relationship to this destination.

Chart Your Course

The intimacy in your marriage is on one of two paths: The Path of Intimacy or the Path of Separation. There is no middle ground between the two where you simply manage your degree of separation. Intimacy is organic and alive, and it simply doesn’t work that way.

You probably know whether you and your spouse are currently on a path that has you growing together or on one that has you growing apart. Either way, chances are good that you both wish you had more intimacy in your marriage. All the research I’ve done and polls I’ve conducted in the past seven years point to the fact that intimacy is the one thing that everyone longs to have more of in their marriage.

Unfortunately, the “Route to Intimacy” app doesn’t exist, but I have created an online tool that will at least help you assess your “current location” as it pertains to the level of intimacy in your marriage. I’ve developed the Intimacy Assessment to help couples take an honest look at how well connected they are in several key dimensions of intimacy: emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial. There are separate assessments for husbands and wives, each with 25 multiple-choice questions. After submitting your answers, you will receive detailed scores in each area of intimacy as well as a total score and summary assessment. You will also get a copy of your results by email.

To get started on your journey into deeper intimacy, I encourage you (and your spouse) to take the Intimacy Assessment by clicking on the appropriate button below.

H-Assessment Button

W-Assessment Button

 

 

 

A Guide Book

I developed the Intimacy Assessment as part of the launch of my new Kindle book, The Path of Intimacy, which will be released in just a few weeks. I wrote this book to help guide couples as they seek to build deeper, long-lasting intimacy. I’m very excited about this book and the help it will be to so many marriages!

The Path of Intimacy is the first book in my Igniting Intimacy series, which I’ll be releasing throughout 2018. I can hardly wait to share all these new resources, which I hope and pray will strengthen your bond with your spouse and inspire you to reach the destination you’ve always dreamed of. for your marriage.

Stay tuned next week for more details!

 

The One Thing Your Marriage Needs Most This Year

Here’s to a happy, intimate 2018!

I regularly run surveys among my readers to keep my finger on the collective pulse of the couples who follow my blog. The survey I am currently running  asks the question, “What do you want more of in your marriage right now?” (You can take it now if you’d like to have your answers included in the results.)

I’ve asked a similar question in a number of surveys over the years, and the answer always comes back the same: couples want more intimacy most of all.

What Couples Want

In the latest survey results, when asked to give the top 3 things they want more of in their marriage, 9 out of 10 respondents indicated a desire for more emotional, physical or spiritual intimacy. Over half placed one of these as their number one need, and almost half picked more than one form of intimacy as a top three need. I’m probably safe in guessing that intimacy comes in high on your list of marital desires as well.

A surprising finding from the survey is that men and women don’t differ in their desires as much as you might think. In fact, the top three needs of men and women were exactly the same and in the same order. Men and women both picked sexual intimacy as the number one need in their marriage (though not in the same percentages), and both picked spiritual and emotional intimacy as their number 2 and 3 needs, respectively. Chances are you and your spouse are longing for the same things.

So if seemingly everyone desires more intimacy, why are so many couples struggling to find it?

In Search of True Intimacy

People define intimacy in many different ways. Some say it’s a feeling of closeness and connection. Others say it’s about sex or romance or both. The Bible has a slightly different take on intimacy:

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:24-25

Here, at the very creation of marriage, God defines what it means to be one flesh. It means living naked and unashamed. That’s what I describe as being fully known and being totally loved. This is intimacy at its core.

In my post, Keeping Your Marriage Strong for the Long Haul, I summarized the quest for intimacy this way:

Intimacy is the antidote for the roommate syndrome that wrecks so many marriages. Intimacy reaches its zenith when we are fully known (weaknesses, warts and all) and completely, unconditionally loved. Intimacy is the main goal of every marriage (in all forms: emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial, etc.), and God built us with an innate desire for intimacy; intimacy with Him and intimacy with our spouse. I also believe God designed us with a huge capacity for intimacy and that we can continue to grow closer together regardless of how long we’ve been married.

Not One Thing But Many Things

Make it a goal to journey more deeply into intimacy with your spouse in the year ahead. As you do, keep in mind that true intimacy involves the entirety of your being. It isn’t just about improving your sex life, or getting more regular about going on dates, or spending more one-on-one time talking and really listening, or learning to pray together.

It’s about all of it. Everything.

Don’t be overwhelmed by that thought. What it really means is that there are lots of ways to build intimacy. Pick an area and start making small changes toward more fully knowing each other by being more transparent and showing your heart to your spouse. As you both open up to each other more, respond with unconditional love and grace.

You are probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” True. But as you start with small steps, you’ll begin to see the fruit of every effort you make in the direction of a deeper, more intimate connection.

Praying that you and your spouse have a happy, intimate 2018!