Spelling Love T-I-M-E

Steve Arterburn

If you’re to use your time wisely, you must be considerate of your wife. Not in the sense that she has the final say, but rather, in the sense that you as a husband lead by serving. Return her love, and express yours, by surrendering personal autonomy for marital oneness. That’s your first commitment in marriage. As the old saying goes, wives spell love T-I-M-E.

 

As husbands, we usually don’t spell love this way, so impasses will likely occur. They can be overcome, but as a husband, you can’t make unilateral decisions regarding your time, or you’ll pay a dear price. And although men don’t naturally spell love T-I-M-E, you need to learn to do so if you expect to love your wife and kids properly. It requires a servant’s heart because it requires sacrifice.

 

My friend Fred is a morning person, so by 10:00 p.m. he’s practically ready for life support. Yet with four kids, this is precisely the time he and his wife Brenda are finally alone to talk. Fred knows that Brenda draws interpersonal intimacy from sharing conversation, so he’s made a rule that when he goes into the bedroom at night, he sits in a chair rather than lying on the bed. That way, he can stay awake and talk with Brenda if that’s what she desires.

 

In this small but important way, Fred’s learned to spell love T-I-M-E. It’s an act that honors Brenda’s vital need with the same care as he’d honor his own.

Shouldering Her Weaknesses

Steve Arterburn

What baggage does your wife carry? She’s surely no more immune than you. Therefore, she may be burdened from any number of traumatic events in her past.

 

Are you allowing for your wife’s weakness, loving her for who she is today, and not for who she might be at some point down the line? Sure, you may be shocked and dismayed at the weaknesses in your wife that were hidden until marriage exposed them. Maybe she comes from an abusive and dysfunctional background. Maybe she isn’t a very strong Christian. Maybe she was even promiscuous before she met you.

Any of these things may be true. But some other important things are true as well. Your wife did forsake her individual freedom in taking you as her husband, believing you would provide love and strength for her. Your wife is still God’s little lamb, regardless of the pain she’s been through and the wounds she carries. Don’t forget: God has entrusted her to you. Will you resent her? Or does your heart warm at the task of restoration? Is there any nobler act than pouring out your mercy on your precious bride?

Men, relate with your spouse based upon who she is today. Not upon what you want her to be. So what if she isn’t who she should be today? Are you? Besides, it’s not important that she becomes everything you expect. It’s important that she becomes like Christ. Impart to her the same grace, mercy and strength that Christ imparts to you.

Physical Intimacy

For woman, physical intimacy flows naturally from relational intimacy within marriage. So, guys, if you’ve been remiss on learning the style of servant-leadership that creates and fosters relational intimacy with your wife, you’re probably experiencing an unsatisfying sex life with your wife. That’s perfectly natural. In fact, it’d be strange if it were otherwise, since relational and physical intimacy are bound together.

A pastor once said, ‘See that chair over there? That’s my counseling chair. Do you know what complaint I hear most often from married men? I’m just not having enough physical intimacy with my wife.’

My own experience in ministry confirms this. Readers of my book Every Man’s Battle send e-mails asking a variation of one basic question: ‘How can I get my wife to desire physical intimacy with me?’

Well, men, let me turn that question toward you: why don’t more wives desire more physical intimacy with their husbands? The answer isn’t mysterious. In the vast majority of cases, wives feel they have no real relational intimacy with their husbands. These women don’t feel loved and honored in a way that creates a desire within them for physical intimacy.

But here’s some news that should inspire you: every man I know who practices servant-leadership in his marriage also experiences a corresponding spike in physical intimacy with his wife. Men, you can’t put the cart before the horse. Cultivate relational intimacy with your wife, and physical intimacy will naturally follow.

– Steve Arterburn