|Photo Credit: Sami Ben Garbia, Creative Commons cc|
Arctic chills can slip into marriage relationships just as suddenly. Lingering resentments, feelings of loneliness or not being appreciated, and even just long hours at work can grow frost in any relationship. Men and women from all ages approach me after speaking engagements to share their hearts. If this is you, you are not alone. Any marriage can be thawed out with God's help and gentle intentionality.
Knowing that chills can creep in from unkind comments, unresolved issues, and harsh unapologetic attitudes, our de-thaw remedies begin there.
My husband and I recently found ourselves needing to un-thaw momentarily too. Climbing into the car after work one day, I kissed him for the surprise pick up. Gentle silence fell, though, in the wake of something we needed to talk about. Intentionally choosing soft hearts, we tried to speak respectfully, to ask clarifying questions, and to offer humble reconciliation. Sometimes, it takes our feelings longer to catch up. We've learned that when we choose to invest in the relationship and to meet each other's needs despite our moods, joy dividends pay off.
That evening, we took turns caring for our family and each other. Mark cooked dinner while I helped Morgan with homework, and connected with Daniel in Uno. Behind us, Mark stirred red curry soups of ginger and lime. After supper, while Morgan and Daniel watched a show together, I worked quietly on some writing deadlines, trying to be done early. Daniel crawled up on my lap throughout that time too, missing me from my afternoon at work. I paused writing to snuggle and tickle my five year old.
After putting Daniel to bed, I revised and finished my writing project, still not quite satisfied with it, but settling for now. I looked at Mark and we left our computers to sit on the couch. Intentionally entwining our legs and chests, we watched a few British comedies together, the closeness and laughter melting and bonding us naturally.
We chose to bond, moving in for quiet kisses. Then, with a glance between us, I ran a quick bath, while he cleared away supper. We met in our room and locked the door. Later, happy, breathless and completely relaxed, we fell asleep.
The next morning, we hugged happy for the day, lingered in kisses before his work, and prayed together. Joy dividends, with God's help and our intentionality, had paid off. I would love to say that we remember this every time, but I'm just thankful for each time God teaches us this, and whispers patiently, "Choose this. Choose obedience to me in any relationship, Jen. It brings joy."