Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Heat Up Any Frosted Marriage


Photo Credit: Sami Ben Garbia, Creative Commons cc
Arctic chills coat the lower corner of the window with ice and send cold drafts into me. I shiver in my green long sleeves, wishing I had a sweater with me. Bob Marley sings through the coffee shop speakers, and a three-person business meeting continues at the table behind me. Hot coffee scalds my mouth futilely as I huddle my shoulders and tuck hands between my knees to warm up.

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."

4 comments:

Floyd said...

A good reminder for me. Your husband is a good man, his actions are a good example... not to mention yours as well, sister.

Betty Draper said...

Keep teaching these truths, don't stop, say it, write it, give out all God is teaching you my sister. Then rest in the fact you have done all and God will take over. Our son is reconciling with his ex-wife one day at a time, there is much hurt in them both so they need many to say word that heal and bind them closer to each other. The enemy loves to tear families up, he spits them out and leaves them broken beyond what seem like repair. But those of us who know the power of the Lord, we know what works, how to us the tool of forgiveness, the staying power of even one mate can keep a marriage together. I say all these words for I am so grateful to those who have spoken truth into our son and daughter in law. And by the way, one does not ever get too old that we don't need reminders. Great post.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Floyd. He is a good man. :) I like him too.

Thanks,
Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Betty,

How lovely to hear from you again! :) Thank you. These are hard topics to write about and to express carefully sometimes, risking too much information or being indelicate. That's not my hope.

Good job for your son and his ex-wife for working to reconcile, and doing the hard work. I'm proud of them. Too few do that nowadays.

May God get wild glory through all our lives huh?

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com