A Tender Touch

I got this from the library of emails from Dr. Gary Chapman, author of  Five Love Languages.  This is the one I need a lot of work on, so I thought I would pass it on in case there are other “SpicyNutmegs” out there needing help with this language….

Keeping emotional love alive in a marriage makes life much more enjoyable. How do we keep love alive after the “in-love” emotions have evaporated? I believe it is by learning to speak each other’s “love language.” This week we will focus on physical touch.

For some husbands, when they hear the words physical touch, they immediately think of sex. But sexual intercourse is only one of the dialects of this love language. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or an arm around the shoulder are all ways of expressing love by physical touch.

Physical touch can make or break a marital relationship. Do you know how to speak this love language? To the spouse whose primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than your tender touches. You may give them words of affirmation or gifts, but nothing communicates love like physical touch.

Touches may be explicit and call for your full attention, such as a back rub or sexual foreplay. They can be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee. Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination. Kiss when you get in the car. It may greatly enhance your travels. Give a hug before you go shopping. You may hear less griping when you return. Remember, you are learning to speak a new language.

When you reach out with tender touch, you create emotional closeness. This is especially true if the primary love language of your spouse is physical touch. You may say, “What if I’m just not a toucher? I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family.” The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. It can begin with a pat on the back, or putting your hand on their leg as you sit together on the couch.

Almost instinctively in a time of crisis, we hug one another. Why? During these times, we need to feel loved more than anything. All marriages will experience crises. Disappointments are a part of life. The most important thing you can do for your wife in a time of crisis is to love her. If her primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries. Your words may mean little, but your physical touch will communicate that you care. In a time of crisis, a hug is worth more than a thousand words. Physical touch is a powerful love language.

Romantic Getaways

By the time this article is published, my DH and I will have returned from our family vacation.  We, along with our kids, have made this a priority every year for the past 3 years.  (This being our 4th)  This year is very special to us though.  During the middle of the vacation, we were afforded the opportunity to have a little romantic getaway without the kids.

I cannot possibly tell you how much these little getaways mean to me.  When the kids were younger, I wouldn’t do it.  I would think about the kids so much.  Were they ok?  Did they miss me?  Did they NEED me?  No one could replace me.   No one could take care of the kids as well as I could.  But what about my marriage?  What about my husband?  Didn’t he….didn’t WE deserve a chance to be the lovers we were meant to be?

You see, we were pregnant 5 months after we got married.   We never really had the opportunity to explore our sexuality together before our son came.  Our first anniversary was spent in Galveston and I was 7 months pregnant at the time.  Kinda hard to enjoy yourself when you are that far along.  It just went downhill from there.   Baby cries all night, feedings in the middle of the night, not enough sleep, going back to work and the guilt of putting the baby in daycare….it went on and on.  Our sex life didn’t….

So that is why this private time for us is so very important.  We started making weekly date nights.  The kids are old enough that we do our date while they are involved with Wednesday night activities at church.   On occasion, we plan something on a Friday night.   Our oldest is old enough to babysit, so we feel that our youngest is safe.  I have to admit that I have finally allowed us to go for dates with him babysitting where we get in very late…. going to concerts across the border and driving home afterwards.   I haven’t quite felt confident enough to let him babysit his sister overnight….not anything to do with my son, it’s still me.  But my parents and my mother in law have been awesome about keeping both kids while we go spend time by ourselves.   It is truly a blessing for us and our marriage.

Now, we’re back to work and the real world, trying to figure out how to have those date nights over the summer when church activities are done until the summer ends.   It is so important for your marriage to find a way to have date nights.  Do a babysitting swap with friends.   Someone from church.  A family member.   Make sure that your priorities in life are (1) God  (2) your spouse (3) your children and so forth…. Take my advice…it wasn’t fun when I put the kids before both my husband and God.

What are your experiences with dating your hubby or getaways just the two of you.  How often do you date?  Get away from it all?

Love Language Minute: Love Makes the Difference

I really do believe that “love makes the world go round”.  Why?  Because God is love.  It is His love for us that makes all of life meaningful.  So, what does that you have to do with marriage?  God made us for each other.  Husband and wife are designed to work together as a mutual support team to discover and fulfill God’s plans for their lives.

In a word, love is the choice to look out for each other in the same way that God looks out for us.  It doesn’t require warm feelings, but it does require an open heart.

Spouses become God’s agent for helping their partners feel loved. Few things are more important than encouraging one’s spouse to accomplish God’s plans.  Marriage is designed to help us accomplish more for God.  Two are better than one in His kingdom.

If we do not feel loved in marriage, our differences are magnified.  We come to view each other as a threat to our happiness.  We fight for self-worth and significance, and marriage becomes a battlefield rather than a haven.

Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us.  In the security of love, a couple can discuss differences without condemnation.  We discover how to bring out the best in each other.  The decision to love your spouse holds tremendous potential.

I believe that love really does make the difference between success and failure in a marriage.  Keep in mind that love is not a feeling, but love stimulates feelings.  When we learn to love each other effectively, we keep warm emotional feelings alive.

Excerpt taken from Dr. Gary Chapman

I love him because….

It is so very easy to look at our husbands and see the bad….admit it, sometimes we see the dirty clothes all over the floor, the toothpaste tube squeezed from the middle, the kids need baths and he’s watching football on tv, I made this wonderful dinner and he didn’t even bother to call me to tell me he was late!   All of these things compound up, day after day, but have you taken the time to look for the positive?

Love, what is it?  A feeling?  No.   Feelings come and go like waves lapping on the beach.   Love is a commitment.  Love works through that laundry on the floor and sees the man who fixed your washing machine so you don’t have to drag all your unmentionables back down to the laundrymat again this week.   Love looks past all the wrongs, the faults, the sin…and sees him through God’s eyes.   A cherished human being that God sacrificed his Son for.  Agape.  That’s what love is.   It’s not a crush, you don’t love him like ice cream (well, maybe you do…), but it’s self sacrificing love.

Here’s my challenge to you.   Sit down and instead of writing down all his faults, take a moment and finish this statement with 10 answers

I love him because….

Here’s mine…in no particular order

I love him because….

1.  he loves me unconditionally.

2.  he can do anything he sets his mind to.

3.  he is a wonderful father to our two children.

4. he is a gentle and thoughtful lover.

5.  he is so devoted to his family.

6.  he works 6 days a week to provide for us and to care for his ailing father.

7.  he calls me sexy on a daily basis.

8.  he pursued me relentlessly, and helped me to see he was whom God intended for me.

9.  he would never leave me or forsake me for any reason.

1o.  he’s my best friend.

Can you do it?   If you don’t want to post it in the comment section, write them out and put it in a special place where he’ll find it.  You will make his day!  Happy writing!!  🙂

Love Language Minute: Helping Your Husband Grow

Wives can’t change their husbands, but wives can and do have a tremendous influence on their husbands.  How can you make that influence positive?

1.    Men respond positively to praise. One of the most common complaints men make in my office is: “Dr. Chapman, in my work I am respected.  People come to me for advice.  But at home, all I get is criticism.”  What she considers suggestions, he reads as criticism.  Her efforts to stimulate growth have backfired.

Give him praise.  The fastest way to influence a husband is to give him praise.  Praise him for effort, not perfection.  You may be asking, But if I praise him for mediocrity, will it not stifle growth?  The answer is a resounding “No”.  Your praise urges him on to greater accomplishments.

My challenge is to look for things your husband is doing right and praise him.  Praise him in private, praise him in front of the children, praise him in front of your parents and his parents, praise him in front of his peers.  Then stand back and watch him go for the gold.

2.   Requests are more productive than demands. None of us like to be controlled, and demands are efforts at controlling.  “If you don’t mow the grass this afternoon, then I’m going to mow it.”  I wouldn’t make that demand unless you want to be the permanent lawn mower.  It is far more effective to say, “Do you know what would really make me happy?”  Wait until he asks, “What?” Then say, “If you could find time this afternoon to mow the grass.  You always do such a great job.”

Let me illustrate by applying the principle to you.  How do you feel when your husband says “I haven’t had an apple pie since the baby was born.  I don’t guess I’m going to get any more apple pies for eighteen years”?  Now, doesn’t that motivate you?    But what if he says, “You know what I’d really like to have?  One of your apple pies.  You make the best apple pies in the world.  Sometime when you get a chance, I’d really love one of your apple pies.  Chances are he’ll have an apple pie before the week is over.  Requests are more productive than demands.

3. Love is a two way street. If a wife wants to enhance her husband’s ability to give her emotional love, perhaps her greatest influence will be in loving him.  In my book, The Five Love Languages, I talk about the importance of discovering your husband’s primary love language – the thing that really makes him feel loved: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch, or acts of service.  Once you discover it, pour it on.  Husbands are drawn to wives who are meeting their emotional need for love.

Can you do it, even if he is not loving you.  God did.  He loved us when we were unlovely.  But that’s God.  I’m me.  I know, but you are God’s child and He can empower you to love an unlovely spouse.  I’ve seen it many times.  A wife chooses to speak her husband’s love language, even though she doesn’t feel loved by him.  He warms up and in time begins expressing her love language.  Can emotional love be re-born in a marriage? You bet.  But someone must begin the process.  Why not you?

4. Defensiveness reveals the inner self. A wife says, “Why does my husband get so defensive?  All I have to do is mention that the grass needs mowing and he goes ballistic.”

This husband is revealing his self-esteem hot spot.  Some experience in his past has tied his sense of self worth to mowing the grass.  Your mention of the grass translates “She thinks I’m not doing my job.  I work like crazy, and now she is on my case about the grass.”  He sees it as a negative statement about his worth.

I know you didn’t mean it that way.  That’s why I suggesting you observe his defensiveness, so that you can learn what is going on inside of him.  We don’t know these emotional hot spots until we touch one.  It would be a good idea to make a list of all your husband’s defensive reactions.  Note what you said and did and how he responded.  This insight will help you discover another way to discuss the topic that will be less threatening to his self-esteem.

Both husbands and wives hold a tremendous influence on their spouse. However, it is up to you whether your influence is positive.

Excerpt taken from Dr. Gary Chapman

Being Sharpened

As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Are you afraid of sharpening? Does the pain and discomfort negate the vision for potential fruit? Does the risk that it may not bring the fruit you hope it will keep you from pressing in when you are feeling pressure from the chisel? I wish I could say that I have always answered those questions positively with brave certainty, but the truth is that I haven’t. And sometimes I have believed one thing to be true until it was tested and I realized that I was drawn more to what was familiar and safe than being willing to walk confidently into the process of sharpening. What I can say, though, is that part of my process of maturing in Christ has involved repeatedly seeing that the process does in fact always produce godly fruit if we have are looking to find God in the situation. If we have rebellious and resistant hearts, then any fruit is not usually lasting.

So why am I talking about this on the CN blog? Because marriage is one of the best ways to see this iron sharpening in action. In fact, my husband and I are in a season of sharpening at the moment and even though we are not even through it yet, I am seeing the hand of God in it. And I am seeing that the fruit of it is good. The fruit is deeper intimacy. I am finding that one of the things which contributes to a trial without fruit is fear. Fear of upsetting your spouse. Fear of being honest and admitting an error. Fear of failing your spouse’s expectations. When we are operating out of a place of fear, it causes us to feel the need to hide as Adam and Eve did in the beginning.

Up until recently, I had been encountering people who were trying to convince me that conflict was a positive thing. The problem is that, for some reason, the people telling me that were more highly combative than myself in conflict so what they were saying seemed like it had some truth in it, but to receive it was like trying to grasp the air. It has been in the safe and maturing relationship with my husband that I have finally been able to begin to understand. You see, I have a husband who has dedicated himself to integrity and submission to the process of sanctification so the result of him maturing in Christ is that more and more with each passing year God gives him revelation and insight into my heart. He sees me as God sees me. And because I have committed myself to the same character development we are finally, after over a decade in marriage, beginning to be able to enter a conflict without our own perspective on the world being the only one we see. For the first time in my life, my husband and I are in a conflict (not with each other, but with a stressful circumstance) and I do not feel negatively about it. It’s hard, but I don’t feel the anxiety that I used to during conflict.

With my growing confidence that it is safe to fail my husband and know that he will extend me grace, I am becoming free from fear. As we become more aware that we have different instinctual ways of communicating and work to honour the other’s natural response to conflict, the sharpening process between us is a lot easier. It’s getting less important to me to try to change my husband’s natural tendency to be someone who processes his thoughts by talking. And it’s getting less important to my husband that I process my thoughts internally first and then speak them out. The times when I am silent are less of a mystery to him now.

The longer I walk with God, the more I feel optimistic about this sharpening that he allows in our lives. It’s never pleasant. He doesn’t enter the scene on a white horse and take all our troubles away, but when He enters He does redeem what we offer Him. So the next time you begin to feel the pressure from the chisel, press in a little bit and invite God in.

But the Greatest of These is Love

“We love each other, but sometimes love isn’t enough.”

“I love him, but I’m not IN love with him.”

My own father used that first one on me, not referring to his relationship with my mother, I never remember him telling me he loved her, but of one of his subsequent marriages. The second quote is one I have heard often and that has ended up in the CN email inbox numerous times. What do those comments reveal about us? To me they show that as a society we have come to believe and accept that love should always make us feel good. That love is a temporary emotion which lacks any significant strength in our relationships. That love is determined not by an internal commitment, but by our external circumstances.

What do you think the difference is that people are trying to convey when they make statements about loving their spouse vs. being “in love” with their spouse. To me they are two sides of the same coin and it is important to be intentional about pursuing both in marriage. Even the Bible speaks of people being in love.

Jacob was in love with Rachel. (Gen 29:18)

Samson fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. (Jug 16:4)

Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David. (Sam 18:20)

In every case the use of the phrase “in love” is use when speaking of romantic love. So then, is being in love about emotions and passion? Perhaps so. That passion is important and if we get apathetic about romancing our spouse it is very easy for that passion to get extinguished. It’s at this point that people use the above phrase, “I love him, but I’m not IN love with him.” The passionate feelings are gone. The desire as been diminished. All because both the husband and the wife pulled back and became inattentive and indifferent, and it was probably not intentional.

So once people have fallen out of love, what is the solution. First of all, turn to the Author and Perfecter of Love, the Source of Love, the One who established marriage and wants the BEST for us in our covenant with our spouse. Prayerfully invite Him to teach the two of you how to romance each other again, to stir your hearts for one another again, to take the two of you into a depth of intimacy and passion that you can not get to on your own. Seek out his Word both in the Bible and that has repeatedly been spoken over you by the Body of Christ. My husband and I have had so many people speak the same blessing over us that we began to think that everyone heard that blessing, but that is not the case. That is a promise for us. And look at Scripture!

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” (SOS 8:7 — this spoken after many years of marriage)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor 13:4-5)

“Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.” (Gal 5:13)

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3)

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phi 2:1-3)

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Col 3:13-15)

What amazing encouragement and what a practical guide for how to love well. I get excited reading all those promises and that is just the tip of the ice burg. Scripture is FILLED with promises like that. So if you have fallen out of love, start speaking those things over your marriage and start acting them out by the power of the Spirit of God within you. I mean, my goodness, let’s speak those fantastic things out even if we are enjoying great joy in our marriage relationship.

Once you have called out to God to restore your love, start seeking out godly mentors who can model and teach you authentic love in marriage. You’ll find a lot of women who read and comment here at Christian Nymphos to be a great resource and, of course, we who operate this site want to give you as many tools, ideas and support as we can in your journey with your husband. Be careful about disparaging remarks that your friends make about their husbands or men in general. This will not be helpful to you if you are already feeling a negativity about your marriage.

I’d really encourage a couple who has fallen out of love to begin studying their spouse. Go on dates. Think about The Five Love Languages. Spend a lot of time looking for the treasure in them. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Find out what their dreams are or, if their dreams have dimmed, stir up those things again in them. Make yourself the safest place for your spouse to rest, trusting fully in your faithfulness no matter what your circumstances are.

“We love each other, but sometimes love isn’t enough.”

Don’t settle for less than what God has said about love. Are we always going to live in the perfect love of God? One day, but as it stands now, sometimes we cease to live in the power of the Spirit that is in us. Sometimes we fail at living out perfect love. But I am not going to let that stop me from trying. I am going to go after perfect love if it kills me, and it probably will. I need my selfishness to die. The pride of needing to have my voice heard in situations where God has asked me to be silent. The unrighteous anger that sometimes rears it’s ugly head and demands my own way. When it dies, my Lord will rise higher and all that is mine in this mystery life in the Spirit (Romans 8) will be made complete. That is worth fighting for. Love is enough. True, godly love, is always enough. Sometimes it is all we have left, and it is enough.

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