Rivers Cannot Wash Away Love

Check out the passion in which King Solomon writes in the Bible. Song of Songs 8:6-7 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.

Every time I read that I get goosebumps. The Song of Songs, also called Song of Solomon is filled with rich imagery of the love between a man and a woman. Some pastors also describe it as a relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. I find benefit from both theories, as I truly believe that God wanted us to have rich sex lives within our marriage as well as a rich relationship with Him.

Don’t you wish your handsome man would come home from work, sweep you into his arms and spout off beautiful poetry? Don’t you wish your wife would meet you at the door with a fresh smile and a soft kiss? Well, the real world often looks a bit more harried. You are late picking up your son from soccer practice and he sure lets you know it. Your wife is working an extra shift. Whose turn was it to get take out? Ugh! Burger King again? Who is going to fold that laundry? It has been sitting on top of the dryer for days! Sound familiar?

Leslie and Vince smiling

Now, if you have been married for any length of time, I am sure you have already seen a facebook feed, or blog with suggestions on keeping the spark in the marriage. Perhaps you have mentored with another couple and you have heard things like keep date night sacred, go bowling, walk the dog together, and the list goes on. But often those lists have no relevance to your situation. Maybe having a specific date night set aside stresses you out because of the pay cut your job just made you take. You hate bowling and you don’t have a dog to walk.

Each couple will have different issues and different experiences that they can draw from to put a little spark back into their lives. For my husband and me, there were some silly things we enjoyed in the past and we resurrected them when things started getting old. We both enjoyed the movie Pleasantville with Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire. It is a fiction movie about getting stuck in a 1950’s TV show where everything is perfect….or is it? Anyway, one of the most significant lines in the movie is when William Macy comes home and announces “Honey, I’m home”. As simple and silly as this sounds, which ever one of us comes through the door first, we announce in that same voice “Honey, I’m home!” and that signals that the other spouse momentarily stops everything for a nice hug and kiss. It sets the tone for the rest of the evening, and the children see that we care enough to connect with love, even if only for a moment.

My favorite thing to do with my husband may seem absurd, but it really works. Now, as background, understand that he is serious, does not always enjoy eye contact, does not enjoy his job and often comes home exhausted. When he finally has a chance to sit and watch a show, I mute the commercials and straddle him and just stare into his eyes. We have a contest to see who can stare the longest before the other one just cracks up laughing. You see, eyes are the gateway to the soul. Matthew 6:22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. When I am looking straight at him, and smiling just because we are finally both finished with our crazy day, I know he can see that in that moment in time, the job he doesn’t like, the pile of bills on the desk and the laundry piled on top of the dryer just doesn’t matter.

The final nugget for keeping the marriage alive is to remember the difference between date night and a board meeting. When our children were little and always under our feet, we never had time to discuss issues like upcoming recitals, money problems, where the kids would be attending school and so on. I stupidly used our date night to go over all of the mundane things that sounded more like a board meeting than a date. I knew it was the only time I had Jimmy to myself, but now I know that we can pick a time like a Sunday evening, to go over our expectations for the week, and leave date night as a time to gaze into each other’s eyes, have a nice meal, see a band, go for a romantic walk, hold hands or any of the other things we enjoy doing.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Think about how you would like to heal your mate and be healed by your mate. Give and give and give and I swear you will receive.

Do You Hear Him?

0722171625I’m a talker. Always have been. It’s a curse, for the most part, you know, the cross I must bear. Sometimes when I am vomiting at the mouth, I am completely unaware that someone else is interjecting a comment or forming an opinion about what I am saying.

Last month I had a friend comment to me that when she and her husband double date with us, she feels that my husband disrespects me in conversation. I had no idea what she meant until she gave specific examples of comments he would interject when I was telling my story or relating a goal or dream. Comments like “Oh, right! And I’m going to win the lottery” or “Like that will ever happen” were quotes that I must have learned to ignore when the floor was all mine. I spoke to my husband privately about what my friend had observed and hoped that he took what I said to heart, but honestly, it made me wonder if I too interrupt, interject and ignore the feelings of others when they are speaking.

Learning to listen more than I speak is a skill and an art that I am still struggling with. I love the fact that God gave us two ears but only one mouth. I guess I should learn to use them accordingly.

If you read the Bible, you may remember Ecclesiastes 3:7 – “A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” If you are not a Bible reader, maybe you heard a similar sentiment in the song written by Pete Seeger in the late 50’s, then released in 1962 by the folk group the Limeliters but not becoming a big hit until 1965 when the Byrd’s sang Turn! Turn! Turn! Either way, there are definitely times to just shut up and listen.

I vaguely remember other Bible verses where Jesus talks about listening. In Matthew 11:15 he is speaking about John the Baptist, and says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Also in Proverbs 1:5 we are instructed to “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”

Do I listen before I speak, or while someone is talking am I already thinking of my retort? When someone is relating a story am I thinking of a similar story to one-up the one being told?

Not listening to your husband or others is not indicative of a hearing problem. It is more likely symptomatic of a problem of the heart. What makes my story or life experience more important? Nothing! The person speaking deserves my undivided attention.

When I dismiss the rare times my husband opens up to me, I am disregarding his desire to share. I am not loving him in a way that will allow him to open up to me more in the future. If I am more concerned with my answer or solution than just allowing him to confide then I may have missed the point of him sharing with me in the first place.

Who says that New Years Day is the only day we can make resolutions? From this day forward, I resolve to listen more than I speak. To hear what people have to say. To stop jumping in and trying to fix the problem. To simply allow. Perhaps this will allow even God’s voice to be more clear to me.

Proverbs 19:27 “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”