A man was having problems in his relationship with his wife, so he went to a marriage counselor. The counselor said, "You need to learn how to listen to what your wife says. Understand what she's communicating." A month later, he came back and said, "OK, I've done it. I've learned to listen to every word my wife says." The counselor said, "That's a good start. Now go home and listen to what she doesn't say. Listen to her heart."
Proverbs 5:18 Solomon says, very beautifully and poetically, "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth." The Hebrew word translated "rejoice" means to brighten up, to cheer up, to be glad, or to be joyful. "Enjoy each other" is the idea, the same thing he expresses in Ecclesiastes 9:9 when he says, "Live joyfully with the wife whom you love."
Marriage is to be enjoyable, and you are to live joyfully with your spouse. How many people do you know who do that? I know people who live routinely, enduringly, grimacingly, with their spouse. But how many live and enjoy each other for a lifetime?
The most obvious thing is to enjoy each other's company. That sounds elementary, and for a couple when they first meet and start dating, it's not an issue. Wild horses can't drag them apart; they want to be together all the time. But as time goes on, and after the vows are said, sometimes that thrill of discovery is gone. They find their mate has idiosyncrasies and annoying habits: "I didn't know you snored!" Silly little things like that.
But the most successful marriages I've ever seen are those who continue to bond with each other by spending time together, enjoying each other's company. Although the immediate context of the passage in Proverbs 5 is sexual bliss within a marriage, understand (and women do understand this!) that it begins a lot earlier than 10 p.m. Someone said, "If you want to have an energized sex life in marriage, try a little tenderness the other 23 and a half hours of the day."
It's all about time spent with each other. Intimacy begins with harmony between a couple as they spend time together. You were really in touch when you first dated and when you were first married. Don't lose touch with each other. Continue to communicate with each other -- and that will get harder to do as life gets busier and busier, so you must be committed to it.
It's a challenge. According to research, the average female uses 25,000 words a day, and the average male only about 10,000. If he has used up 9,500 at work, he may feel like he wants to shut down in the evening. So the time with each other can be strained. But I'm speaking about more than words; things like reading each other's body language and listening to each other's heart.
One wife expressed it this way to her husband. "Please come, take my hand. Let's walk. Give me you -- eyes that say hi, glances that say I care, hand-holds that let me know you were only teasing, hugs saying 'Thank you for being you,' kisses that gently want me, love that says I'll be here tomorrow and every day hereafter."
That's the kind of sharing that builds emotional intimacy for the long haul!
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