Simple way to increase 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 our 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 goes down, we light the fire, and then my husband asks what the topic of the night should be.  Sometimes, we talk about our dreams for ministry.  Some nights, we talk about our concerns for our children and we pray for them.  Other nights, we talk about our dream vacation ideas.  Try building a fire pit.  You may be pleasantly surprised by the emotional intimacy you gain as a result!

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE

Don’t share your girlfriend!

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!

 

A woman’s need to talk & receive empathy

I went out to dinner with a couple girlfriends recently, and it was….ahhh…refreshing!  We talked and laughed and talked some more.  Words were flying around faster than a cheetah on steroids.  Even though I love talking with my husband, it was so delightful to have an extended chat with some females for a change, and thus, I’ve decided to become more intentional about scheduling get-togethers with other women.

How about you?  Do you have at least 2 deep friendships with other God-believing women? Do you have at least 2 women in your life who encourage you or make you laugh?  We NEED each other!  My husband cannot possibly meet all my relational needs.  Men aren’t wired the same as women.  In case you haven’t noticed.  Most women need to talk about all the things happening in their lives, and we need listeners who will empathize with us!  Most men are not wired to listen to a lengthy discussion and they generally aren’t wired to express a lot of empathy either.  But a good female friend can fill that void for you, and you can do the same for her.  We need another woman to speak sweet words of empathy and encouragement in a way that most men just don’t understand.  Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

So, be intentional about making some solid female friendships.  Invite a woman from church or work to coffee.  Be a good listener yourself.  Ask her to tell you about herself, her children, her challenges, her successes, her spiritual giftings, her hobbies.  Be a good listener.  You’ll be on your way to developing a good friendship.

Going deeper in your conversation on date nights

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?

— or  view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

If concerned he’s headed in the wrong direction…

Sometimes, we will notice a trend in our husband’s behavior or reactions that are concerning.  He might not be engaged in something hugely sinful, but you are concerned about the harsh way he’s interacting with the kids or the resentment that he holds toward his boss, etc.  In other words, you fear that if he continues down that path, significant damage will be the result.  Hmmm.  What’s a wife to do in those moments where she senses her husband is headed the wrong way?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but let me share two things that have been effective in my own relationship.  1)  Pray earnestly that God will convict your husband through his Holy Spirit so that your husband will see that he needs to make some changes.  Jesus makes it clear that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict people when they are off track.  Jesus says of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8 “when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

2) If you feel like God is nudging you to talk to your husband about your observations, quietly come to your husband, take a humble posture by perhaps kneeling beside him while he’s sitting, and gently tell him of your concerns. Take this opportunity to speak words of life to him.  Tell him about the good qualities you see in him.  Remind him that God is transforming him into a man who has Christ’s character, which is “gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).  Tell him you’re proud of him for seeking to become more like Christ and for allowing God to mold and shape him.

How to confront husband with concerns

In an ideal world, a wife would never have to confront her husband about some kind of disrespectful, destructive, or just plain immoral behavior.  However, we live in a fallen world, and both men and women can easily stray into sinful choices that hurt the people they love.

If you are a wife who is ready to confront your husband over some kind of wrong behavior, here’s what not to do!   Don’t treat him like he’s the enemy.  Don’t give him that look says “you disgust me”.  Don’t scold him like he’s a 3 year-old child.  Don’t roll your eyes.

Instead, as you’re bringing up the issue that is causing you distress, let your husband know that you are for him and your marriage.  A man will shut down if he feels his wife is against him.  A man will tune his wife out if she is disrespectful.  The Bible says “the wife must respect her husband” in Ephesians 5:33, and this is critical when a wife addresses issues of concern with her husband.  Let your man know that you love him and want to work with him as his partner to overcome the challenge.  Speak gently and encourage him by reminding him of his good qualities.  If he knows you are truly for him, he will be much more apt to listen to what you’re saying instead of shutting you out or flying into a rage.

Oh, and one more tip.  To help make sure he doesn’t get super defensive, start out by asking this gentle question: “Help me understand why….”  When you ask him that instead of starting out with strong accusations, he will be much more likely to talk calmly with you!

Understanding a core need of husbands

Men are wired differently than women.  Duh!  One of the ways most men differ from us is that, instead of sitting and talking about their feelings and deepest longings, they like to do stuff.  You may not realize it, but most husbands really want their wives to do stuff with them!  They want to spend time with you.

This is really made apparent way back at the creation of the world.  Right after God created man, He said in Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good for man to be alone.  I will create a helper suitable for him.”  God knew Adam needed companionship!

Make it a point this week to show some interest in joining your husband in one of his hobbies or activities or even one of his errands.  Does he like to golf?  I bet he would love for you to go with him and watch him, or have him give you a lesson on how to play golf if you don’t already know.  Does he like to ride a bicycle?  Get a bike and take a ride with him.  Does he like to tinker with fixing up old cars?  Sit and watch him and ask if he can explain what he’s doing.  Maybe you can hand him a tool as he works.  Does he need to pick up some paint at a home improvement store?  Ask if you can tag along.

Bonus:  You’ll likely find that as you’re doing something together, men find it easier to talk to you!  Look forward to some actual conversations.  🙂

A way to soften your husband’s heart to you

You want to know a sure fire way to soften your husband’s heart toward you?  Be humble and quick to apologize when you have been disrespectful toward him!  I say “when” instead of “if” you are disrespectful because ALL wives gravitate toward being disrespectful from time to time!  Much of the time, we don’t even recognize that we’re being disrespectful.

Let me give some examples.  You roll your eyes when he forgets to do something.  You sigh dramatically and shake your head about his “cluelessness” when he doesn’t meet your expectations.  You ask his opinion about something but then point out the flaws in his thinking.  You might even be disrespectful by giving him the silent treatment when he fails to eagerly pitch in to help with the household chores.

When a wife acts disrespectfully toward her husband, he often hardens his heart toward her as a means of self-protection.  So, if you would like to soften your husband’s heart toward you, ask God to help you catch yourself the minute you say or do something that communicates disrespect.  Then, be quick to sincerely and humbly apologize.  A powerful apology contains these words:  “I was wrong to ….” and “please forgive me”.  Your humility will go a long way in softening your man’s heart.  Humility is a virtue we need to intentionally put on every morning.  Colossians 3:12 puts it this way, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Marriage communication tip #3: Sounding like his mom

If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance that you may sound too much like a “mother” instead of a wife when talking to your husband, at least from time to time.  I caught myself sounding like my husband’s mother the other day.  He was heading out the door and for some reason, I felt compelled to say, “Don’t forget to eat some breakfast before you go”.   Really?  Did I need to say that?!   Did my husband really need me to point out that he should remember to feed himself?  What?  Is he 3 years old or something?  Oh brother.

When we remind our husbands about things that would be obvious to any adult, we’re actually being disrespectful.  Ouch.  It’s as if we’re telling our husbands that we don’t think they’re capable of making basic, reasonable decisions.  We sound like we’re talking to a toddler!  “Don’t forget to take a coat.”…”Be careful that you don’t hurt yourself with that hammer”…”Let me explain to you how to do _________.”

Let’s keep in mind the Bible’s instruction to wives in Ephesians 5:33, where God says “the wife must respect her husband”.  Men crave the respect of their wives just like women crave chocolate. 🙂  Don’t communicate disrespect to your husband by talking to him like he’s an ignorant or helpless child who needs a mother to guide him.

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE

Changing your inner “spouse-talk”!

We’ve all heard of self-talk, but allow me to introduce a different kind of internal narrative that can be just as negative as your self-talk. It is the internal talk about your spouse!

The things you say, whether out loud or in your head, greatly influence the way you feel and act.  In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death”.  In other words, when your inner spouse-talk is constantly pointing out your husband’s flaws or rehearsing the past ways he’s let you down…your words reinforce a negative attitude and behavior toward your husband.  If not corrected, this negative attitude and behavior on your part can eventually lead to prolonged bitterness, depression, and even the death of your marriage.

Ladies, we must do what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5…”take every thought captive”.  Start noticing the things you are saying in your head about your husband.  If a negative thought enters your mind, don’t give it room!  Instead, look for something positive to say about your husband.  He DOES have some positive qualities.  Make sure you spend time engaging in positive inner spouse-talk more than the negative kind!