For the Joy of Intimacy

What if selflessness has the power to make your marriage stronger than ever before?

The joy of intimacy
Romans 12:2 says of Jesus:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What was the joy that enabled Jesus to leave heaven, to step into our human existence and to sacrifice his very life for us before returning to the right hand of the Father? It was the joy of dwelling in intimacy with you and me – now and forever. Jesus wanted us so much, that he laid down his life to have us.

Where’s The Joy?

It’s human nature to look at selflessness and sacrifice in marriage in light of what it will cost us or what we must give in time and effort. But we often forget about what we will reap on the other side. In most cases (because there are no guarantees or magic formulas) the end result of sacrificial love is the joy and ecstasy of deeper intimacy in your marriage.

Do you have a hard time finding delight in giving your spouse your all, emotionally, spiritually or sexually? We all have a tendency to withhold a measure of our love until we feel our spouse is doing their “fair share.” We want to self-protect. We want to put our desires first.

But that wasn’t how Jesus approached us. He gave himself fully, even unto death, with no assurance that we would return his affection. To Jesus, the chance at intimacy with us was worth the risk.

The joyful anticipation of intimacy can move us from seeing sacrifice as a chore or obligation and into the realm of joyfully and generously giving our love and our selves.

I Bet You Know What It Is

If I asked you to identify something you know your spouse wants but that you only dole out in small measures, if at all, I bet you could name at least one thing right away – maybe several of them.

I understand there are reasons for withholding. I’ve held those reasons myself at times. Maybe it’s because it costs you more than you are willing to give. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t come naturally for you. Maybe it’s because you don’t feel you are getting from your spouse in equal measure.

I get all that.

But What If…

Consider the possibilities.

What if your acts of selflessness, however small and incremental, were rewarded with a greater sense of connection and intimacy with your husband or wife? What if they responded, in time, by moving closer to you in some small measure, in an area of your own need for connection?

What if a pattern of selfless giving took hold in your marriage and propelled you toward greater passion, depth of intimacy and a stronger bond of trust and transparency? What if your willingness to lay down your preferences actually resulted in your spouse wanting to serve you in return?

What if selflessness has the power to make your marriage stronger than ever before?

Our Story

Jenni encouraged me to share how the truth of this has unfolded in our own marriage.

As I began to understand the Bridal Paradigm and understand what it means to love Jenni in the same sacrificial way Jesus loves me, I began to be less selfish and more loving in ways that were important to Jenni. In turn, over time, she responded by opening herself up more to me, becoming less self-protective and loving me more generously in ways that mattered to me.

Let me make an important point. It wasn’t that I gave to her in order to get something in return or to get her to do something for me. That would not have been love but manipulation. Of course I hoped that she would respond in kind, but my motivation was not to get something, rather to deepen our level of intimacy. And it did.

For The Joy Set Before You

What enables us to give and love sacrificially is to look beyond the sacrifice into the intimacy offered on the other side. That’s what compelled Jesus to do what he did for us, even without the assurance that we would respond to his grand overture of love.

Set your heart on the joy of a marriage full of deep and abiding intimacy in every dimension, and see if that moves you to live more a more selfless marriage. I bet it will.

 

12 Fun Kisses to Try This Week (Plus A Challenge)

 

It’s time to take your kissing game to the next level!

Kissing Song 1:2

I believe God is a big fan of kissing, and I have scripture to back me up! If you are in doubt, just read Song of Solomon.

I actually think he designed us to really enjoy this wonderful form of intimacy between a man and a woman. It’s just like Him to do that sort of thing for us.

A Kiss in NOT Just A Kiss

Despite the famous line from the song “As Time Goes By” in the 1942 classic movie Casablanca, a kiss should never be just a kiss.

I’ve heard it said that if a kiss is just a kiss, then you are doing it wrong. I agree, because to me a kiss is:

  • An intimate physical expression of the oneness you share
  • A publicly acceptable way of showing affection for your spouse
  • An act that eliminates emotional space between you by eliminating physical space
  • As close as you can get to each other without actually having sex
  • A great way to keep your physical relationship on simmer
  • A cheap, fat-free, sugar-free, guilt-free treat (It can, however, be habit forming.)

Sometimes kisses can speak louder than words. What message are you sending your spouse with your kisses these days? 

Change It Up!

Try out a few of these kisses with your spouse this week:

10 Second Kiss – Next time you kiss your husband or wife goodbye or hello, see if you can hold the kiss for at least ten seconds. If he or she backs off after the usual few seconds, pull them in and say “I’m not finished with you yet,” and go for the full ten seconds.

Nibble Kiss – Add a little variety by nibbling or gently biting your spouse’s lower lip after a more tender kiss.

French Kiss – A famously promoted but seldom mastered kiss where your tongues dance together. The trick here is to go slowly and not simply thrust your tongue wildly (that’s fine for later, after things heat up). Tease his or her lips with the tip of your tongue. Probe gently and wait for a response before taking things up a notch.

Surprise Kiss – Catch your lover off guard when a kiss is least expected. Transform the moment with a hot, deeply sensual kiss. Wrap your arms around him or her, hold them tightly and kiss like you mean it!

Earlobe Kiss – Not everyone likes their ears messed with, but those who do would love to have their earlobes nibbled gently. Whisper a sweet nothing while you are there. Careful though, loud smacking kisses near the ear can really hurt!

Cold Kiss – Use and ice cube or mint to cool your mouth before you kiss. It provides an interesting sensation. If your partner is game it can be very sensual to pass it between you with your tongue while you kiss.

Nuzzling Kiss – When things are heating up, leave a trail of gentle kisses down one side of your partner’s neck and back up the other side. You’ll be sure to send tingles through his or her body.

Leave Your Mark – The wife freshens her lipstick and plants a kiss on the husband’s cheek. See how long he can go before wiping it off!

Show and Tell Kiss – Ask your partner to describe his or her favorite kiss, and then try to deliver it.

Upside-Down Kiss – Catch your partner laying down and approach him or her with your head opposite theirs for an interesting kissing sensation.

Almost Kiss – Bring your lips close together and see how long you can go without actually touching.

Possessive Kiss – Frame your partner’s face with your hands, stare into his or her eyes, and draw them slowly toward you until your lips meet. At the end of the kiss, say, “You’re mine!”

Take the Make-out Challenge

If your spouse is agreeable, spend ten minutes in a good old fashioned make-out session. Can you make it the full ten minutes with only kissing, nothing more? What you do after the ten minutes is up is totally up to you!

If kissing your spouse has become routine, or even a bit boring, this week make an effort to change things up a little! Here is some inspiration from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. Can you land a kiss in the top five kisses of all time?

Watch it on YouTube

My list of ideas is only the tip of the iceberg. What fresh kissing ideas do you have to offer? Leave a comment.

How Much PDA is Too Much?

When it comes to PDA, the real question is “How much is enough?”

 

I’m a member of Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, and this month CMBA is sponsoring a blog challenge based on this picture by Kate Aldrich Photography (titles added by me).

PDA

Kate and her husband Brad, blog at One Flesh Marriage.

I’m a little late to the party with this post, and my take on the photo is somewhat different than my fellow CMBA bloggers (check out the list of other challenge posts in the comments on this CMBA Newsletter post).

My immediate thought upon seeing the challenge photo went to public displays of affection, or PDA.

I realize there are cultural and contextual limits to PDA, but I personally err on the side of more not less. Let me explain.

Proclaim Your Love

I appreciate couples who are willing to show the world that they are happily married, still in love and show affection for each other. No, I don’t want to see a public make-out session or blatant groping, but I see a whole lot more of the other extreme: couples who practically act like strangers in public.

What I like about this photo is the way this couple obviously has affection toward each other. Although their actions are moderated by the umbrella, their love shines through.

Publicly showing affection for your spouse not only demonstrates your love, but it is a great declaration in support of marriage in general. “Marriage rocks! And I’m not afraid to show it!”

Below you’ll find 15 ways to give the world a glimpse of your affection for each other.

Affection Doesn’t Mean Indecent

Of course your spouse needs to be comfortable with whatever form of PDA you engage in, but there are plenty of ways ways to show affection without being indecent or inappropriate. For example:

  • Hold hands while you walk through your neighborhood
  • Kiss hello and goodbye regardless of where you are
  • Put your arm around your wife in church
  • Lean your head on your husband’s shoulder in the theater while waiting for the movie to start
  • Rest your hand on your spouse’s knee while sitting on the same side of the booth in a restaurant (Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Tripplehorn, it is very much a married move).

I don’t know of anyone who would find such actions offensive.

Non-Physical PDA

There are also tons of ways to show affection that don’t involve physical contact. Here are just a few:

  • Open your wife’s car door for her. (Take her hand to help her from the car)
  • Speak kindly (even brag) about your spouse to your friends and family
  • Bring your spouse a cup of tea or coffee at the church coffee hour
  • Send flowers to your wife at work

Public Secret

When you are away from home, there are other ways to show affection for each other that are for your eyes/ears only. Such acts of love add a sense of spice and adventure to your relationship while you are out and about. Some secrets that only the two of you will know:

  • Make eye contact with each other and smile warmly across a crowded room. Give an air kiss.
  • Let your husband know that you are wearing something special for him under your clothes (or that you aren’t wearing anything!)
  • Whisper something romantic in your wife’s ear
  • Steal a long, passionate kiss in a private hallway or dark parking lot
  • Write a slightly racy text message about your plans for the evening. (You can make it racier if you have a private, secure messaging app like Couple or Avacado.)
  • Leave a note where only your spouse will find it (wallet, purse, briefcase, etc). It can range from sweet to sexy.

What’s your take on couples showing affection for each other in public? Would you like to see more of it in your own marriage? Leave a comment