walk in the word
“My beloved is mine, and I am his” Song of Solomon 2:16
What one thing would improve your marriage more than any other one thing?
I bet I know—communication. And if the target to improve your marriage is communication, then the bull’s eyes is expressing your love. If you want to have that hot, happening, on-going, life-time romantic love, there’s just some stuff that needs to be said. Often, regularly, and some of it, daily.
On the air this week, we’re looking at Song of Solomon. Now, that couple had their Ph.d in romantic love. They knew what they’re talking about. Most preachers take the long way around this book of the Bible, but God loves it when His children enjoy the blessings He planned for them in marriage and He gets fired up to see that love expressed.
Now I don’t mean to pick on the men, (maybe I do), but this whole idea of expression is a challenge to the guy who says, “I watched her, I woo’ed her, I won her, and I wed her. I told her the day we got married that I loved her. That was thirty years ago and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let her know.”
We laugh at that attitude but I’ll tell you it’s more common and tragic than we think. One partner is emotionally constipated and the other is emotionally famished. So we really need to get specific on how to get this love-thing said.
It starts with verbal confirmation. Confirmation means “to give assurance, to verify as worthwhile.” It’s affirming that who you are is what connects with me. A lot of the external things we compliment are going to fade over time. But our hearts desperately need to hear confirmation on this deeper level, especially in these four critical times:
When we fail. You want to keep that romantic flame alive? Get beside your partner during failure. Maybe your husband had set some goals at work that he couldn’t reach. Or maybe your wife worked hard on some dreams that fell flat. This is a critical moment. When we fail, we often try to pull a line from what we didn’t accomplish to who we are. “I’m a failure because I failed.” That’s when a loved one needs to step in, snip that line, and say, “Yes, you may have failed but you are not your performance. Who you are and who I love is the very same person whether or not you succeed.” Many marriages break down in times of failure, partially I’m sure because this critical message is not sent.
When others reject us. When people in our world push us away, we desperately need to know that we won’t be rejected by our loved ones. I believe Jesus Himself experienced this. In John 6 He had been teaching some pretty hard stuff and people were walking away. He said to the twelve closest to Him, “do you also want to walk away?” In His deity He knew some would reject Him, but in His humanity, He felt the pain. Peter came back with a phenomenal affirmation, “Where should we go?” (Notice the affirmation of who He is) “and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” If Jesus Christ needed this confirmation in a time of rejection, don’t you think we need it too?
Now here’s two other critical times I want to mention because some of you are experiencing these things right now:
When circumstances send the wrong message. How many times has the boss said, “Sorry folks, we’ve got to work overtime (or weekends or whatever) until we get over this hump”? Of course you feel caught between your need to keep your job and provide for your family and your desire to be home with them. What an important time to pull your lifetime partner close and say: “These circumstances are sending a message that I don’t want to send. In my heart I want to be with you, but right now I can’t.” I really feel for young families. The husband says: “Everything was cool between me and my bride until these kids showed up. I come home and she’s upstairs changing a million diapers. I don’t even exist anymore.” But the wise wife responds, “Here’s my heart; here’s how I’m really feeling as I’m trying to deal with what’s going on over here.” Husbands and wives—communicate above your circumstances.
When things are changing. As our church has grown, I’ve felt again and again the necessity to slide along some of the people who have been a part of the body from the beginning and say, “though we can’t spend as much personal time together as we used to, I want you to know my feelings for you are undiminished.” Even as your family dynamic changes, it’s easy to wonder if your loved one’s commitment to you will also change. How vital it is for you to step toward your loved one and say, “No, no—times may change, but my commitment to you only has deepened.”
“OK, James,” you may be saying, “My problem is not knowing when but knowing what to say.” Let’s get on that right now.
Four things everyone can say:
1. “I love you.” Men, the key is to say it deliberately. Don’t mumble it into the phone and then hang up. “Whew. I said it and it didn’t get messy at all.” Yeah well, it needs to get a little messy. Get her in your arms, look in her eyes, and get it said, “I love you.”
2. “I need you.” I’ve been praying the bedrooms of every married couple reading this will ring with these words. How about it men? In your private moments tell that woman who has stood by you how much you need her. Go ahead—“My actions may sometimes communicate the opposite, but I want you to know that I know that I really need you.”
3. “There is no one like you.” OK, ladies. Every man is one among millions. At work, he’s one among thousands. At church, he’s one among hundreds. So when he walks through that door each night, he desperately needs to know he is your one and only. He’s first. Highest. Best. Tell him.
And that leads to…
4. “I thank God for you.” Tell your beloved that they are a gift from God to you. Better yet, pray aloud together. Let him/her overhear you tell the Lord how grateful you are that God gave him or her to you.
Get the words said. Yes, it really matters. Expressing your love is a huge piece of that hot, happening, lump-in–the-throat, sweaty palm, lifelong romantic love that God designed for you and that you both desperately want.
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