5 Things Happen to Couples Over Time

My wife shared this article with me via LinkedIn. I found all five things to be true in our 19 year marriage. I hope you enjoy the article from Business Insider. “Science says these 5 things happen to couples who have been together a long time”

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Plan your passion!

My wife, Melissa, can’t pass a perfume counter without trying something new. She would spend an hour at each counter if she could. She wouldn’t just buy a perfume though. She’d buy entire sets that included matching powders, shower gels, lotions, and anything else that was available. A few times, she’s tried on multiple samples in different places on her arms and hands, which made her smell like a flower garden!

Every time I’m with her, she offers me her hand and says “smell this. Do you like it?” If I say “I don’t like it”, “its okay”, or “I like it”, she won’t buy it. If I say “I really like it”, she heads to the register to make her purchase. Melissa wears perfume for me, and she uses it like a tool to ignite my passion. She knows putting on the right fragrance will draw me closer to get a whiff, to steal a kiss, and… You get the picture.

Now look, I know some of you are thinking, you can’t believe Pastor Manuel would write about sexual passion and seduction but trust me, it’s biblical. Take a look at these verses.

“While the king is at his table, My spikenard sends forth its fragrance. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, That lies all night between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms In the vineyards of En Gedi.”
‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:12-14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
http://bible.com/114/sng.1.12-14.nkjv

In Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman has a plan to seduce the king, her Beloved. While he’s at dinner, she’s working her plan for a passionate night. She uses three fragrances in her plan. First, there’s spikenard, which is a very expensive perfume. The smell is supposed to draw him in. Second, she references myrrh, which worn in a bundle suspended from a necklace to continually perfume her body. Lastly she mentions henna blooms or camphire (KJV), which is a plant whose clusters are sometimes worn by women to adorn themselves. It also smells sweet and its leaves are used to make dye for polishing nails.

What can we learn from this? We can’t always depend on spontaneous sparks of passion in our marriages. We can’t hold out to special occasions either. Valentine’s Day and wedding anniversaries are nice but not frequent enough to keep our passions burning. We shouldn’t wait for our next getaway or the right weekend either. Any random week day will do. We have to make plans and create passionate moments with our spouses on any given day.

Full on love. 

My wife is an incredible cook. I knew I had a winner the first time she made biscuits from scratch when we were dating. Over the years, she has prepared my favorite meals and she knows my appetite (my favorite ingredient is “seconds”). After eating her cooking, I’m satisfied and can’t eat any more if I tried. 
  
Relationships work the same way. Keeping your spouse satisfied and filled with love should be your primary objective. Let’s look at a scenario from the bible.

“Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you!”
‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/sng.1.3.niv

The woman in Song of Solomon has a great guy. He’s popular with the ladies and gets lots of attention. In modern times this dynamic could easily cause problems in relationships. It’s hard to trust your mate when everyone is flirting with them. Many men and women become jealous and resentful when their mate gets too much attention. Too many likes on Facebook, or too many social conversations with coworkers can be a source of insecurity and strife. So what should a woman do when her man is surrounded by admirers? Feed him.

Just like a good meal, if your spouse is filled with your love, he won’t desire affection from someone else. Look at the woman’s response in Song of Solomon.

“Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!”
‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/sng.1.4.niv

Let me paraphrase this scripture: “I know the ladies like you but take me to the bedroom and I’ll make you forget about them.” Instead of becoming resentful or jealous she responded with more love. This woman is keeping her man so full and satisfied he won’t need to look for love somewhere else. She’s not putting it off until tomorrow or some special occasion or when she feels up to it. She says let us hurry!

Ladies. If your mate is looking at other women, it may be because he’s not seeing enough of you. If he’s giving someone else his attention it’s probably because you’re not giving him the attention he needs. If you don’t want to be bothered, someone else will. Trust God to help you satisfy your spouse and strengthen your relationship. 

Different Together

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I’ve been married now for 18 years and my wife and I have some things in common, but not everything. We don’t like the same types of movies and TV shows, or have the same hobbies. We spend our personal time doing different things. But the one thing we have in common is our love for each other. So how do we make our differences work? We make an effort to be “different together”. 

(The Woman) “Tell me, O you whom I love, Where you feed your flock, Where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself By the flocks of your companions? 
(Her Beloved) If you do not know, O fairest among women, Follow in the footsteps of the flock, And feed your little goats Beside the shepherds’ tents.” (‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1‬:‭7-8‬ NKJV)

In Song of Solomon 1:7-8 the woman loves her beloved and wants to spend some quality time with her man. So she wants to know where he’s going. 

Her beloved replies by saying, just follow the footsteps of the flock. He’s saying “just come find me and when you get here, feed your goats while I tend to my flock. You do your thing and I’ll do my thing but we’ll be together.”

In the ins and outs of day to day married life, we aren’t always doing the same thing. But it doesn’t mean we have to be apart. We can do different things and still be together. This is important because many couples struggle to find quality time in the midst their busy lifestyles. The end result can be devastating over time leaving couples feeling alone and neglected. 

Here are a few habits that have worked for us. When my wife is cooking I will sometimes sit in the kitchen and read or write. I’m not doing what she’s doing but I’m present and available if she wants to talk. Or sometimes I will go work at a local coffee shop and she will come along and watch movies on her iPad. We’re doing different things but we’re still together.

So the next time your boo is sitting on the sofa watching a show you’re not interested in, go sit with them anyway and do something you like instead. Or if your man is going to play golf, go with him, drive the golf cart, and take a good book to read. When you’re different together you’re sharing life and blessing one another with your loving presence. 

A Vision of Love

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Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. ” (‭Genesis‬ ‭28‬:‭12-16‬ NKJV)

Ever since I was a kid in church I’ve heard about Jacob’s Ladder. But did you know Jacob had this vision on his way to his first date?  Today, I’d like to look at this encounter from that perspective. Jacob is a young man on a mission, who receives a vision of love. 

Isaac has just blessed Jacob and sent him to his mother’s people to find a wife. While on his way to find a wife, God spoke to Jacob through the vision of the ladder about blessing his descendants. Think about that for a second. God didn’t give him a vision of how lovely his bride would be. He didn’t give him a vision of romance. He went beyond that. God showed him a vision of how fruitful and blessed his family would be for many generations. 

How far does your vision of love reach? Can you see past the candy, roses, and date night? Can you see beyond hooking up to true intimacy and marriage? Can you see your marriage bearing perpetual fruit through covenant stability, and generations of children who respect and reverence the sanctity of marriage?

Jacob received a vision from God of all these things before his first date. What about you?

It’s not good to be alone.

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And the LORD God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NKJV)

Let’s be real for a moment. Women are God’s gift to man. If you don’t believe me, read Genesis 2:18. At the end of creating everything, God looked at the man he created and said it’s not good for man to be alone. Basically God says life without women is not good. 

Ladies, the life you have to offer a man is filled with God’s goodness. But you need to be able to tell the difference between a man who just wants goodness from your life to make himself happy and a man who wants your goodness in his life to share happiness. I’ve been both so let me explain. 

Early in my dating years I evaluated women based on what I could get out of them. If she had “the goods” then I wanted what she had. If she looked good, made me feel good, and was good to me then it was all good. 

Those women were basically social possessions I used to benefit my life, not theirs. I was always alone in my heart and mind even if I was in a relationship. If the relationship ended, I’d just move on to the next source. Almost any willing woman would do. 

However, when I began to consider marriage I became a different man. I was no longer looking for what I could get to make me happy. I starting looking for someone with whom I could share a life of happiness. I was looking for someone to deliver my heart and mind from constantly being alone. 

I was looking for someone to do life with. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally I was transforming into husband material and the only thing that could make me happy was a wife. “Any woman” just wouldn’t do. I didnt realize it then but my wife, Melissa, is the fulfillment of Genesis 2:18 in my life. When I think about life without her it feels cold, dark, discouraging, and alone. It’s not good to be alone. 

Love Again

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Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. (Genesis 25:1 NKJV)

When Abraham’s wife, Sarah died he was 137 years old. He had spent nearly 100 years married to her. Now, he was alone. So what did he do? He loved again. The Bible says he took another wife named Keturah. 

Starting over can be hard sometimes. This is especially true if we’ve invested our hearts into a relationship only to see it fall apart. We have history with the person who left. We have inside jokes and experiences with them that others can’t relate to or understand. We learn their habits and they learn our little quirks. We may be left feeling like it’s nearly impossible to replace that man or woman we hoped would be “the one”. 

If that’s you, Abraham has a message for you: “love again”. Again, just like before, he took a wife. Again, just like before, he searched for someone to love. His relationship with Sarah ended, and I’m sure he thought of her every time he saw their son, Isaac. But he made room in his heart for someone new. 

At more than 137 years old, Abraham was still worth loving, and he still had love to give. You’re worth loving too. You still have love to give. I give you permission to love again.

Curb Appeal

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Like a lily among thorns, So is my love among the daughters. Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. (Song of Solomon 2:2, 3a NKJV)

This school year, I’ve taken note of a certain house on the road to my daughter’s school. At first the house appeared to be abandoned, almost dilapidated, and structurally unsound. It was overgrown with bushes and looked like it wasn’t suitable to live in. But someone started putting in a little sweat equity and gave the house some curb appeal. 

Over the course of the year, they cleared the bushes. They mowed the lawn, installed new windows, applied a fresh coat of paint and put a “for sale” sign out front. On the outside, the house looked attractive again, but it will all be a waste if the home inspection shows problems and weaknesses in the structural integrity on the inside.  

In Song of Solomon 2, the woman and her beloved compliment each other and compare each other to others in the crowd. What’s really interesting is the woman describes herself as unattractive in chapter 1. 

I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. Do not look upon me, because I am dark, Because the sun has tanned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; They made me the keeper of the vineyards, But my own vineyard I have not kept. (Song of Solomon 1:5, 6 NKJV)

She was dark (not the same attractive color as the other women) but still lovely. She hadn’t taken very good care of her appearance (her vineyard wasn’t kept) but her beloved loved her and praised her beauty anyway because she had more than a pretty face to separate her from the crowd. 

What traits separate you from the crowd?

Let’s be honest, there are beautiful, and handsome people all around you. So physical attraction isn’t that distinctive. That’s just curb appeal. I’m talking about the spiritual, mental, and emotional traits potential spouses want. Good men aren’t as concerned about nails and hair as they are concerned about attitude, respect, and faithfulness. Good women aren’t as concerned about a man’s wardrobe or money as much as things like commitment, honesty, and integrity. 

If you’re going to attract a person who is serious about marriage, it’s going to take more than curb appeal. If you’re going to have a marriage that lasts, you need an internal strength that can stand up against the elements outside. Here is a thought: Instead of working to improve your curb appeal, work instead to strengthen and beautify who you are inside. Being a beautiful person is far more attractive than merely looking beautiful.

Gated Dating

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Have you ever lived in a gated community with a homeowners association? I haven’t but in college, I heard stories of how strict some of them can be. There always seems to be some president or marshall who patrols the community measuring lawns with a ruler to hand out penalties if the grass is more than 1/2 inch in height. 

Want to paint your house purple? You could be in violation of the rules. Have more than 3 guests at your house for a rousing party, they may limit how many cars can be parked at your house or cite you for being too loud. 

Basically, if you don’t look the part, act the part, play the part, you could have the entire community come down on you to force you to conform or try to force you out. I think the same could be said about relationships. Sometimes a person’s circle of friends can be like that. 

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! What is your beloved More than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved More than another beloved, That you so charge us? (Song of Solomon 5:8, 9 NKJV)

In Song of Solomon, the woman is out all night searching for her man. She tells the other ladies if they find him “tell him I am lovesick!” The other ladies want to know what’s so great about him that we should be concerned. Sometimes the guy or girl you’re dating has a group of friends that need to be convinced that your date is worthy of being associated with their group. 

He or she must look the part, act the part, and play the part well enough to be accepted. Common questions are “what kind of car does he drive”, “is she as good looking as our girlfriends”, “who does he hang with”, or “is she one of ‘those’ girls”. It’s a type of control they use to maintain their image. If they don’t fit the mold, friends may try to force them out. 

The sad thing is, many single people have dismissed their future spouses because their friends didn’t approve. Others weren’t even given a chance because their potential date’s friends wouldn’t let them in. 

Here’s my advice: don’t let your own or someone else’s single, relationship challenged, social status conscious, wouldn’t know a good man or woman if they met one, friends pressure you into dating a cookie cutter copy of the men or women they’ve never been able to hold on to. 

Choose your relationships for yourself. Ultimately, if the relationship leads to marriage you must be happy living with your spouse, not your friends. Be like the woman in the scripture who had been out all night searching for her man: “if you see my boo, tell him I love him and I’m looking for him.”

Relationship Lease

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Through the years we’ve lived in a few apartment complexes. We typically chose those complexes based on the amenities they offered such as pools, fitness rooms, tennis courts, clubhouses, and more. 

But no matter how great the amenities or how long we stayed and paid rent, the apartments would never let us own our unit and we would never commit to spending the rest of our lives in rented space. The ideal circumstance is for us to own our own home. 

For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. (I Corinthians 7:7 NKJV)

The same is true in relationships. When talking about marriage Paul says each one has his “own gift (spouse) from God”. It’s kind of like having your own home in stead of renting. 

There are many men and women who advertise their amenities and provide benefits but have no intention of entering a permanent, marriage relationship. Any benefit you provide them, emotional, physical, financial, or social is like paying rent for a single unit in their lives. And usually, they have multiple renters (old girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, flirtatious co-workers) to occupy the other spaces. 

Listen, if the person you’re dating is only willing to lease part of themselves to you, there’s a good chance your relationship won’t progress toward marriage. If he or she doesn’t advertise marriage up front it will be difficult to convince them otherwise. Don’t settle for a six month, one year, or two year relationship lease. Let God lead you to find your own gift.