Easy boost for emotional intimacy

I wish I had known about the blessings of a fire pit a long time ago!  I had no idea that a fire pit could pave the way to more intimate, deep conversations than we routinely have in marriage.  But I’ve discovered it’s true!  There’s something bonding and safe about sharing your deepest thoughts, feelings and dreams in the flickering light coming from your backyard fire pit.  Maybe it’s because it’s quiet and peaceful at night and, when sitting in front of the fire, we tend to talk in soft voices.  Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath…”  Well, maybe it’s that soft conversation in front of a fire that breaks down our defenses and helps us to open up.

We’ve built a fire pit in our backyard at our last 2 homes.  They cost less than $100.  We thought a fire pit would be fun for the grandchildren to toast marshmallows and roast hot dogs.  But it turned out that my husband and I enjoyed it just as much…for different reasons than the grandkids!    As the sun went down, we lit the fire, and then my husband asked what the topic of the night should be.  Sometimes, we talked about our dreams for ministry.  Some nights, we talked about our concerns for our children and we prayed for them.  Other nights, we talked about our dream vacation ideas.  Try building a fire pit.  You may be pleasantly surprised by the emotional intimacy you gain as a result!

Don’t share your friends with hubby

At the risk of you thinking I’m totally looney, may I suggest that you talk with your husband about clear boundaries regarding your female friends?  In other words, he should not be a close “friend” of any of your own girlfriends!  I know this might seem old-fashioned or even ridiculous, but many affairs start out with a husband “just talking” with another woman.  We need to be careful and alert to the schemes of the enemy!

1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober-mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  So, be alert to the enemy’s scheme to get your husband emotionally entangled with one of your friends.  He should not spend time with her without you.  He should not even be spending time on the phone with her giving advice or listening to her woes.  Without him intending to do so, he will slowly find himself developing an emotional bond with your friend, and she will start bonding with him.   Danger lies ahead!

Date-night conversation-starters

We’ve all seen that couple at a restaurant…that couple that hardly speaks a word to each other throughout the whole meal.  Don’t be that couple!  You and your husband may not be used to revealing your hearts to each other, but give it a try, and don’t just talk about the kids.  Here are two helpful hints in terms of making your husband comfortable in opening up his heart to you in conversation:  1) Show an actual interest in what your husband shares  2) Do not criticize, point out flaws, or roll your eyes at the things he shares!   Philippians 2:4 instructs…”Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others.”  So, really listen to the hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, and feelings of your husband.

Here are 4 questions you could use as date night conversation starters:

1)  What makes you feel most fully alive…as in what do you so enjoy doing that you feel great satisfaction or delight and you easily lose track of time?

2)  If you had 100 million dollars and didn’t have to work for a living, what would you love to do with your time and money?

3) What are the 2 or 3 most impactful moments of your life?

4) What was the best part of your day and what was the most discouraging part of your day?

Creating intimate moments with hubby

I learned something when the covid pandemic started in spring of 2020.  When the stay-at-home orders first hit, my husband and I had nothing better to do in the early hours of the morning than pull up 2 chairs in front of the fireplace and start quietly talking about God, family, priorities, hopes, fears and dreams.  We held our cups of coffee and talked for 30 or 40 minutes as night gave way to dawn.  Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we’d enjoy quiet moments of just being together.  It was…special.  It was intimate.  It was bonding. It was precious.

After the main lock-down ended, we engaged in that kind of special moment from time to time, but with no real regularity.  Life got busy again.  We both went to work, and we picked up the rapid pace of life once again. 

But one day about a year later, I realized we had lost those precious, quiet moments together. So, I decided to be more intentional.  Good things don’t usually happen unless we put in a little effort!  So, even though it was a little chilly on a May morning in Bellingham, WA, I told my husband I’d love to join him for a sunrise chat in our backyard as birds were beginning to chirp and the sun was beginning its slow rise for the morning.  It was beautiful.  It was peaceful.  It was quiet.  We had a soft and lovely conversation, sitting there bundled in jackets and enjoying the first rays of sunshine on our faces.  It reminded me that Jesus told his followers to seek out a quiet place from time to time because their soul needed that rest and refreshment.  Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

I encourage you to think about carving out time for a peaceful, quiet, morning conversation with your husband.  I think you will find it is bonding.  I know it will refresh your marriage.

Don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect

It is not okay for your husband (or anyone) to treat you disrespectfully.  Let me just say that again.  It is not okay.  I know far too many beautiful, kind Christian women who, for some reason, allow themselves to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends.  It’s heartbreaking.  I heard yet another story from a highly-intelligent, gorgeous woman recently.  She came to me in despair, wringing her hands over her abusive situation.  Yet, she didn’t clearly see that she needed to draw a firm boundary and impose consequences on such behavior.  In her case, she needed to leave until he showed serious, sustained repentance.

Ladies, do you think God winks at a man who is abusing his wife or girlfriend?  Absolutely not.  In fact, God tells husbands they are to lay down their lives for their wives.  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  If your husband or boyfriend is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusing you, you need to take a stand.  If you don’t take action, you’re basically enabling his destructive behavior to continue.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 and ask God to reveal His plan for you to take a stand when someone is sinning against you. 

Gaining more emotional intimacy

Many women get so discouraged about the lack of emotional connection with their husbands.  Wives desperately desire their husbands to open up and share their deepest thoughts and feelings, but often it just doesn’t happen.  Well, one of the things I’ve learned is that most men will do almost anything to avoid looking weak or being vulnerable to criticism.  So, they don’t share their hearts.  They don’t want to risk your scoffing or criticism.  They’re like a turtle that tucks its head inside a protective shell.

But there is a way to prompt your husband to take the risk of sharing his heart with you.  You need to be a safe place for him to share his heart!  What do I mean by that?  Well, I’ll tell you what it looks like if you’re NOT a safe place.  Do you roll your eyes at his ideas?  Do you explain why he’s wrong when he shares his thoughts, beliefs, or ideas?  Do you criticize him or complain all the time?  Those kinds of words and actions don’t exactly make him feel safe in terms of opening up his heart at the deepest level! 

God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 “the wife must respect her husband.”, and if you consistently show that respect…day after day…and month after month….your husband may start feeling it’s safe to risk opening up his heart to you.  Starting today, try looking for ways to encourage your husband.  Listen attentively to what he talks about.  Ask gentle (non-snarky) questions to dig a little deeper into his thoughts and dreams.  Affirm him in any way you can.  You might find that he will enjoy talking to you a whole lot more!  And that turtle just might poke his head out from underneath the shell.

Handling disrespect by husband

I keep bumping into beautiful, intelligent women who, for some bizarre reason, allow their husband or boyfriend to treat them horribly.  One gorgeous young woman had her boyfriend spit in her face and she still stayed with him!  What’s up with that?  Do women no longer have any dignity and self-respect?

A wife’s dignity is actually a quality that is highly valued in the Bible.  When describing the wife of “noble character” in Proverbs 31, the Bible says in verse 25 “she is clothed with strength and dignity“.  So, what does the word “dignity” really mean?  The dictionary defines dignity as displaying poise and self-respect.  In other words, a woman of dignity respects herself enough to refuse to be treated disrespectfully!

Don’t believe the lies of the enemy.  Don’t believe that you need to tolerate disrespectful treatment, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse by your man.  That’s a lie!  A dignified woman doesn’t tolerate that.  She confidently, but lovingly, puts boundaries in place and refuses to allow herself to be treated in a dishonoring manner.  A confident woman of dignity trusts God to take care of her even if she has to take drastic steps to protect herself such as breaking up with a disrespectful boyfriend or separating from a verbally-abusive husband.  Be courageous. Choose to carry yourself with dignity and self-respect. 

How husbands respond to emotion

Do you tend to get loud when you get upset?  Are you prone to big, dramatic displays of your emotions, whether joy, frustration or sadness?  Well you might not know this, but most men are really uncomfortable with big displays of emotion.  This isn’t true for ALL men, but for most men.

In other words, if you’re a drama queen….your husband will likely try to escape your presence!  He just doesn’t know what to do with your larger-than-life emotions.  Maybe this is why 1 Peter 3:4 advises wives to have the beauty that comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit“.   

Most men much prefer that their wives discuss their emotions, fears, disappointments, frustrations, and joy in a calm manner.  Your husband will be much more likely to engage in a meaningful discussion with you if you can speak in a normal tone of voice, without waving around your arms.  Try it!

Emotional abuse defined

Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage.  Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and/or emotional abuse.  Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind.  Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.

After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional or psychological abuse:  Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm, verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors, gas-lighting you by causing you to question your memory of what happened.

Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse.  You are a valuable woman.  You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight.  Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled.  You will slowly be destroyed.  That is NOT God’s plan for you.  In fact, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“.  If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor.  Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart.  By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.

Creating richer intimacy with hubby

Wouldn’t it be great if you and I could stop spending energy trying to hide all our flaws, fears, and failures?  Most of us are in “hiding”.  You’re afraid that if anyone, including your husband, was to discover your flaws, they wouldn’t love you anymore.  Satan has convinced us that we need to hide who we really are. He whispers into your ear that your husband will look at you with disgust if he were to discover the real you.  Satan tells you your husband might even leave you.

Satan is a liar.  I know from experience that the opposite is true!  When my husband revealed all of his flaws (and I mean ALL) on our first date, even though I was shocked by his transparency, I found it completely refreshing and heart-warming.  It made me feel like I could trust him to be honest in the future…that he wouldn’t hide stuff from me.  We gained a kind of deep intimacy on that first date that some couples never experience in decades of marriage!  How wise to live out Proverbs 28:13 in your marriage, which says “Whoever conceals his sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

So, my challenge to you is to take a baby step forward in being “real” with your husband.  Tell him that you’d like to be able to share with him a deep fear or failure from your past.  Tell him that you need to be able to trust him to handle this revelation with tender care.  I believe you may discover a rich new level of intimacy with your man.  Also, by you going first, he may feel more comfortable revealing more of his true self to you in return!