What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church…”

In the contemporary world, perhaps nowhere has confusion reigned more than in the area of the husband’s role in marriage. On one extreme there’s the dominant husband who makes all decisions and informs the wife as to what they are going to do. On the other extreme is the husband who expects the wife to support the family and make all the major decisions. But, there’s a healthy middle—the husband is a responsible, dependable, leading but non-domineering. A husband who is deeply committed to his wife and family.

Leadership means communication, not control. The husband is to love and provide for his wife as Christ loves and cares for His Church. But how can the husband do that if he doesn’t know her needs? We must take the initiative in asking questions and listening in order to “know” our wives and thus be able to meet their needs. If God invites us to come to Him with our needs, and make our requests known, why shouldn’t the husband do the same?

Being a loving leader requires us to serve whomever we lead. To put them at the top of our priority list. So, the husband who loves his wife will make his wife his number one priority. Throughout the day he will ask himself the question: What can I do for her that will enhance her life? He will pray for her daily and commend her for her accomplishments. Last week Gia commented that to show love for her husband meant that she prays for him. It is equally as important for husbands to be lifting their wives up in prayer as well.

As Christ intercedes for us and showers us with daily blessings, so the husband as a loving leader will shower his wife with actions and words which say, “I love you.” And she? She will follow his leadership.

Today there are two sets of questions:

For the Men-
What ways have you been a loving leader, and what are some ways you want to improve in this area? What could your wife do to help you be a better loving leader?

For the Women-
Submission is a taboo word, why does it bother you so much? What does this word look like in your marriage? What ways do you need to improve in submitting to your husband, and how could he help you with that?

Get Your Emoticons Under Control!

angerHave you ever seen this?>:-What if we had this emoticon popped up over your head every time we were angry? Would you be embarrassed :”> or would you stop getting angry as often as you are? Probably not… think about it…

Why is anger so pervasive? The answer lies in the reality that we are made in the image of God. After all, God experiences anger. God’s anger is based on His holiness and His love. His holiness means that He is righteous in all of His thoughts and deeds, and His love means that He cares about the well being of His creatures. When His creatures violate what He knows to be right, God experiences anger. This motivates Him to take constructive action. I believe our experience of anger is very similar.

But, Anger is more than just an emotion [or an emoticon ;-)]. It involves the emotions, the body, the mind, and the will, all of which are stimulated by some event in the individual’s life. All people have some sense of fairness or rightness. When they encounter what they consider to be wrong, they experience anger. Anger is an indication that we are moral creatures. God made us, and we reflect His concern for righteousness. Anger is a friend, not an enemy.

Anger is not evil; anger is not sinful; anger is not a part of our fallen nature; anger is not Satan at work in our lives. Quite the contrary. Anger is evidence that we are made in God’s image, and He experiences anger because He is holy and loving. We should thank God for our capacity to experience anger. Thank God for anger, and then learn how to process it in a godly way.

How do you process your anger? How do you keep yourself from letting anger overcome you?

Wise Men Say…Only Fools Fall in Love

Falling “in love” feels foolish sometimes. When young couples come to me for pre-marital counseling, I often ask, “Now let’s see, why do you want to get married? Whatever else they tell me, they always give me the big reason. “We love each other.” Isn’t that sweet. Then I ask a very unfair question, “Now what do you mean by that?”

What does it mean to “fall in love?” It all starts with what I call the “tingles.” Before long, you’re obsessed with them. They are the most wonderful person you have ever met. In your mind they are perfect. But this is hardly the bedrock for a healthy marriage. Why? Because its average life span is only two years.

In the textbook of marriage, the in-love obsession is the introduction. The heart of the book is rational, volitional love. This is good news to the married couple who have lost the “in love” feelings. The fact is, we can learn to meet each other’s emotional need for love.

How has your love in your marriage matured? What ways did you transition from the “in love” feelings to real love?

Blog for Books!

Congratulations to Cathrine, our March Blog for Books contest winner! Cathrine won a copy of Dr. Chapman’s book, The Five Languages of Apology. To find out more about our winner, take a look at her blog: http://mysquiggles.com/.

Keep commenting, we will choose a new winner next month!

Better to Give….

When was the last time you gave a gift to your spouse for no reason at all? The last time you just showed them appreciation for who they are?

Gifts are visual symbols of love. Most wedding ceremonies include the giving and receiving of rings.

The person performing the ceremony says, “These rings are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual bond that unites your two hearts in love that has no end.”

This isn’t just meaningless rhetoric. It is a significant truth – symbols have emotional and sentimental value. Visual symbols of love are more important to some people than to others. That’s why when you give a gift to some people, they cry or get really excited. It speaks more deeply than words, quality time, physical touch or acts of service.

Is your spouse a gifts person? Give them one gift this week that will make their day, something small that will speak to them. Then encourage others with your story, post a comment telling what you gave them, and how they responded.

Speaking Love through Physical Touch

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.

Have you ever had a time when you were in need of a hug? What do you do to let others know that you need a gesture of physical touch? What do you do if your spouse’s love language is physical touch, but you’re not “touchy-feely”?

Speaking Love through Physical Touch

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.

Have you ever had a time when you were in need of a hug? What do you do to let others know that you need a gesture of physical touch? What do you do if your spouse’s love language is physical touch, but you’re not “touchy-feely”?

The Marriage Turnaround

On last week’s Building Relationships…

Are you a hard worker? How about in your marriage?  This week we learned that the key to the turning your marriage around is a willingness to work!

Dr. Chapman and guest Mitch Temple, Director of the Marriage Department at Focus on the Family, give their insight into how to keep struggling marriages alive.  And not just that make it thrive.

In his counseling office, Mitch noticed certain patterns of attitudes and thinking within failing marriages. He discusses common marriage myths, and how changing your attitude can change your marriage.

Mitch gives a fresh perspective to the myopic marriage. The tips in his new book, The Marriage Turnaround, can help resuscitate a dying marriage. This book teaches a couple how to end their destructive patterns and practices–to discard the old myths and embrace new truths.

Blog for Books!

Congratulations to Christy, our February Blog for Books contest winner! Christy won a copy of Dr. Chapman’s new book, The Family You’ve Always Wanted. To find out more about our winner, take a look at her blog: http://christylaster.blogspot.com/.

We will choose a new winner next month– be sure to comment often on blog posts to increase your chances to win.

Acts of Service

This week we’re looking at “acts of service” – doing something for your spouse that you know they would like for you to do. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, changing the baby’s diaper, and painting the bedroom, etc.

If this is your spouse’s primary love language, nothing speaks as loudly as these acts of service. You may give him or her words of affirmation, but they are thinking, “Cut the talk. If you loved me, you would do something around here.” For them, actions truly speak louder than words.

Jesus gave a simple but profound illustration of expressing love by an act of service when He washed the feet of His disciples. In a culture where people wore sandals and walked on dirt streets, it was customary for the servant of the house to wash the feet of guests as they arrived. When we translate this into a marriage, it means that we will do acts of service to express love to our spouse. Why not choose one to express love to your spouse today?

You may be tempted to stop helping around the house because you get criticized. Your spouse’s critical remarks may be your best clue as to his or her primary love language. The next time your spouse criticizes you, look behind the criticism and see if you can discover their love language. They are trying to tell you what is important to them emotionally. Don’t fight the criticism. Seek to learn from it. Love effectively by learning your spouse’s primary love language and speaking it daily.

When I talk about acts of service as an expression of love, I am not talking about being a slave. When we treat our spouses as slaves, we remove the possibility of love because we remove their freedom. “If you were a good spouse, you would do this for me” is not the language of love. “You will do this, or you’ll be sorry” is manipulation, not love. If acts of service are to be acts of love, they must be freely given. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.

Learning to speak this love language may require some of us to reexamine our stereotypes of the roles of husbands and wives. Is this difficult? Perhaps. That’s why I use the word love language. Learning a new language may be difficult and take time, but it can be done. A willingness to examine and change stereotypes may be necessary in order to express love more effectively.

Is your love language Acts of Service? What are some creative ways that your spouse has filled your love tank?