“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” —Proverbs 5:18
Marriage, more than any other relationship on earth, is driven by the heart. When your heart is in it, marriage seems easy, exciting and enticing. When your heart is not in it, the same relationship becomes excruciating, irritating and disappointing.
Keeping our hearts engaged is challenging because we marry what we don’t possess. For example, I married Pam because she is spontaneous, emotionally vibrant and socially gregarious. I am more analytical, deliberate and socially cautious. When my heart is invested in Pam, I love these traits about her because she adds excitement and variety to my experience. When my heart is disconnected, these same characteristics are suddenly unattractive. Her spontaneity interrupts my schedule. Her emotional vibrancy disrupts my day. Her social giftedness is exhausting to be a part of.
What makes all the difference in these situations is the condition of my heart in the relationship. So, how do I turn my heart toward my wife so that I remain fascinated with the traits that would otherwise frustrate me?
1. Speak Her Language
My wife wants to talk more than I do about more subjects and with more emotions. When it is time to chat with my wife, I can turn my heart by deciding there is value in a volume of words not just in the content of the words. Recreational conversation keeps her connected to me and builds trust in our love.
It is amazing to me how her energy level rises when she talks about hairstyles and clothing styles or explores views on politics and spiritual pursuits. She loves to rejoice over accomplishments, cry over disappointments and debate over choices. I can’t always keep up with her, but she likes me more when I try!
2. Understand Her Need To Feel Secure
Her life changes every day. It is part of the process of being a female, of which I know nothing of experientially. She is a little different today than she was yesterday, so she is wondering if her relationships are as strong today as they were yesterday.
Since marriage is the most intense relationship in her life, she is asking, “Is it safe to be who I am today around you?” It’s important that my answer allows her to feel secure in our relationship.
3. Romance Her Through Connections
My wife knows I am in love with her when I make significant connections into her life, such as remembering significant dates, details and decisions. I can tell she feels romanced when I speak loving words, send loving messages and schedule loving experiences for her to enjoy.
4. Nurture Your Attraction to Her
I married my wife, in part, because I was greatly attracted to her. It was not difficult to discover a youthful attraction as her beauty and personality overwhelmed my senses. The responsibility of adulthood, however, tends to create distance as our personalities assign competing priorities to our resources. I am discovering that lifelong attraction is developed when I choose to focus on the deep investment we have made together in life.
As a man, I am tempted to “correct” all this. I prefer love to be straightforward, sexy and simple. When my heart turns toward my wife, however, I see just as much value in the complexity of building attraction, maintaining security and exploring the emotional rollercoaster of life.
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