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OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--One of the things many Southern Baptists value very highly is their marriage relationship. While many are not married, this season would be a good time to offer some ideas that potentially make a marriage a little more spicy:
-- Plan ahead.
For most people, life is full of activity -- work, home repairs, children, balancing the finances, church and school. Life can become so maxed-out there is no time for focusing on one’s marriage.
With so many demands, how do you do that? Plan ahead. Block out time that belongs just to you and your spouse. Plan for some time every day. Plan for some time away from the hustle of life. If spending time alone with your spouse is important to you, planning is the key to accomplishing your goal.
-- Give honor to one another.
Giving honor involves thinking more highly of someone else than we do ourselves. One of the most corrosive influences on a marriage is self-indulgence. There is the constant bombardment of mental messages telling us we have a right to this or a right to that. Before long, the idea of loving someone other than ourselves evaporates.
Giving honor restores what the world corrupts. In a marriage, giving honor involves placing your spouse’s needs above your own. It means we look for ways to demonstrate our appreciation of him or her. It means studying your spouse. It means praying for your spouse and praying with your spouse. Is there some deep hurt in your spouse’s life? Honor them with a listening ear that refuses to criticize or offer advice. Ask God to make you the vessel of honor He uses to heal the hurt in your spouse’s life.
-- Have some fun.
Sometimes, couples become so engaged with life, parenting and work they forget about just having a good time together. Abandoning “fun” can create a stale atmosphere in a marriage. If you need suggestions on what fun looks like, ask yourself what you did when you and your spouse first met. Did you fly a kite or play footsies under the table when you thought no one else was looking? Did you laugh at his corny jokes or stick notes in his suitcase? Where can you take her and watch her have a good time?
There is no doubt that laughter is one of the best stress reducers. Of course, we would never laugh at someone. However, some of us are long overdue for a good ole belly laugh at ourselves. Lighten up! Have some fun with the one you love. You are never too old or too married to have a good time together.
-- Talk your spouse’s language.
My general observation of married people is that wives tend to speak in terms of “security.” They want their man to give them a sense of security, and most of the time when they talk about heart-felt needs, it is in the context of feeling insecure about something. Unless a man in her past has deeply scarred her life, most wives want their men to protect them physically, spiritually and emotionally. A husband’s greatest gift to his wife is to create an atmosphere of security. By God’s grace, he can. If a man wants to really bless his wife, he should identify what makes her feel secure, and meet her there emotionally. Sometimes that involves listening, holding, eye-to-eye discussions, fixing things, saying encouraging words and taking out the trash without being reminded.
When men talk -- and especially when they are speaking in the context of vulnerability -- the greatest motivation in their lives is the issue of “respect.” A man wants to know if the significant people in his life value his judgment and appreciate his contribution. If a wife wants to really bless her man, she should treat him with respect, speak to him with respect and look at him with respect. He won’t be perfect, but if a wife respects her man, he is highly motivated to be who she wants him to be. Of course, these are generalities. Do yourself a favor; ask your spouse what makes him or her feel the most respected? Most secure? Most accepted? Listen for what they say with their heart, not just their words.
-- Be spontaneous.
One of the things I have watched and learned from happily married senior adult couples is that after so many years together, they still surprise each other. Can you imagine how dull a marriage could become without a few surprises sprinkled along the way? Put the creative zone of your brain to work. Ask yourself, “What would she really like but would least expect?”
Whatever you choose to do, it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. It could be as simple as ice cream after dinner, or an unscheduled afternoon, or a gift certificate at some place special or a note you wrote to him or her and mailed. Doing something that he or she least expects is like saying, “I thought about you today and you are valuable to me.” Spontaneous expressions of love have a way of really spicing up a marriage relationship.
So you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day, a birthday or an anniversary. Celebrate your marriage relationship today, because this is the day the Lord has given you.
John Yeats is editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, online at www.baptistmessenger.com.