Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury -- http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .

 From: Money Sex and Spiritual Power by Keith Drury
(c) 1992 Wesley Press

Chapter 7

Keeping the Fire Hot at Home

Romance is like a fire... without fuel it eventually flickers and dies. While flickering home fires is no excuse for unfaithfulness, "keeping the fire hot at home" is a good defense against outside attacks on our marriage.

The following fire-feeding tips could become a mighty wall of defense around your marriage, defending against the Devil's attempt to destroy you.

1. Celebrate your differences.

Opposites attract. Sharon and I are quite different. She is a detailed planner, sometimes planning every meal a full week ahead of time. I sometimes wander in after work, get a snack out of the refrigerator, only to discover I just ate Thursday's dinner! She likes to go to the beach for vacations. I like the mountains. She likes to watch one TV show straight through. I like to watch several simultaneously. She always wants to stop and ask directions when she thinks we are lost. I like to keep driving because "I know its somewhere over that way."

When we first started dating, a college professor remarked "Boy, there goes trouble -- two bossy people!" She was right. The one thing we have in common is both of us like to be in charge. Bit that hasn't made life easier!

But, really we're glad we're different. If two people are exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary. Differences are what make marriage interesting. Differences give us an opportunity to compromise. They provide variety in life. How boring it would be to marry yourself. We all know down deep inside that we want our partner to be different.

Keep the fire hot at home by celebrating your differences. Poke fun at yourself. Admire your partner's attributes, rather than attempting to destroy them and remake them in your own image. Marriage is a celebration of differences, not a process of become identical.

2. Say "I love you" often.

Steve Orendorff tells how he one day walked up behind his wife of 19 years and whispered into her ear, "I love you." Without saying a word, she went over and marked it on the calendar!

Most husbands think they say "I Love You" often. Most wives think they hear it seldom. The point is, verbalizing your love creates an atmosphere of security and commitment. If you've got children at home, it's even more important to frequently verbalize your love for each other. They need to hear this secure commitment out loud. But, even without kids, if you love him, say so. If you love her, say so. "I love you" is fuel for the home fires.

3. Verbalize your life-time commitment.

This is even more important than saying, "I love you." Do you plan to stick together for life? No matter what? Even if your husband in an accident and becomes a quadriplegic? How about cancer? What if she gains 50 pounds? What if the feeling goes away? What if he changes and becomes "different than the man I married?" Will you stick with this different man? How about if you get rich? What would that do to your marriage? Poor? Sickness? Health? What if things got better? Worse? How long will you stay together? As long as you both shall live?

Are you committed for life? Really committed, or are you just saying so now. If you really are committed for life, tell each other often. Tell others too. Never let the word "divorce" be said between you, even in an argument. (Unless you say, "Divorce is not an option" so let's work this out.")

Such a constantly verbalized life-time commitment will feed your marriage fires and have a soaring impact on your sexual relationships -- many folk have never experienced the heights of sexual expression which results from an atmosphere of absolute security. If you're in this for better or worse, say so often.

4. Keep dating.

Romantic dating fuels the fire. Plan something special. Go out to dinner. Buy her roses. Pick him up at his work and whisk him off to a motel. Get a baby sitter. Plan a day away. Take a mini-escape weekend. If you just aren't into these serendipitous kinds of things, then simply schedule a date on the calendar. If you are too laid back, then get your spouse to schedule it.

Sure, all this costs money. But why not? Just think what some people will spend on a cheap hooker on the street. Is it true that some men will spend more for a half-hour hooker than you'll spend to date your full time lover? Remember those dates you used to take? Some of us husbands were willing to spend more to get our wife than we will to keep her. C'mon. Spend it. She's worth it.

Pick something you both like to do for your date night. Women don't always like the same things we men do. Sharon likes to go out for a nice quiet dinner date. My idea of a good time is to pull on an old pair of bib overalls and attend a noisy farmer's auction. If your wife loves hockey, sure, take her to a game. But if she hates it, try to find something both of you can agree on. Or at least take turns. Who knows, maybe someday she'll say, "You know, I've had a hankering to go to an auction lately..." Naaaaaah. Better to find something you both like.

5. Do little things for each other.

It's the little things which show our love. Twenty-fifth anniversary trips to Hawaii are nice, but if you want to make it to year 25, learn to feed your home fires by doing little loving deeds for each other now. Offer to go get that jug of milk when you run out. Put a note in his briefcase or lunch bag. Bring her a bouquet of flowers. Do something little often to show your love.

My wife and I started exchanging a little card in our early thirties. We can't remember how it got started, but one of us did something extra for the other and left a tiny card reading, "Because I Love You." We passed that card back and forth for years before we lost it and had to make a new one. Our "Because I Love You card" has appeared on a clean pile of dishes, a newly changed bed, a stack of freshly shined shoes, a washed car, a totally cleaned off workbench, in a display of roses, and in a dozen other places.

Perhaps this is too mechanical for you. But the basic idea is still a good one -- doing little loving deeds just "Because I love you." These little things are like a pile of fast-burning tinder to the home fires.

6. Take care of yourself.

You don't have to be a "hunk" of a man or a beauty queen to maintain the fire at home. But doing nothing may get you just that. Husbands who slump in their chair each night to watch sports, pot belly hanging out all evening, occasionally burping aloud, can't expect their wife to light up at ten o'clock. And neither can wives expect to attract their husband if they shuffle around with straggling hair, worn off make-up, and that old housecoat with last week's egg stains dripping down the front.

You don't have to be handsome or beautiful, but you should at least try.

7. Work on inner qualities.

Beauty is only skin-deep. No amount of outer beauty will make up for inner ugliness. But, inner beauty will compensate for outer looks. Have you ever noticed a couple somewhere and said to yourself "How did she ever get him?" Or perhaps it was a quite average looking man who was married to a startling beauty. Sometimes these are cases where a marriage choice was made on inner qualities, not outer ones. The inner qualities of a person last longest in a marriage.

While it is no excuse for letting yourself go physically, your inner qualities can make your home a warm, inviting place to snuggle. If you are a grouchy, griping, complaining, nagging, argumentative, selfish individual, no matter how you take care of your body you will be a royal pain to live with. Rather, developing Christ-like qualities can make life with you a joy. Developing inner traits feeds on itself and produces life time hot coals.

8. Take time to debrief each day.

Most marriages don't die a sudden death. They suffocate slowly, for lack of attention. Are your lives so busy that you're like "Ships passing in the night?" Is your communication like shift changes in a hospital -- limited to passing on vital information and details to the next shift before you rush off to your own next involvement? If so, you probably need to plan a specific time for debriefing.

Debriefing is "sanctified time" for just you and your spouse -- to catch up on each other's lives. No wonder some couples after divorce say, "We just grew further and further apart" -- they spent precious little time keeping up with each other's lives. Debriefing is time you set apart without interruption to share life. Without it a couple eventually becomes two separate people who just happen to be roommates.

In our family we first did debriefing as soon as we got home from work. We instructed our pre-schoolers they could not interrupt "unless there was blood or fire." Later on we did a debriefing walk after the children went to bed. Later still did the walk after supper. Sometimes we miss several days in a row, but generally we've stuck to this time-consuming habit for almost two decades now. Feeding the marriage fires takes time.

9. Keep your expectations low.

Don't expect a perfect marriage. Have you ever seen one? Why expect it for yourself? Do you think you will be the first man to even find the absolutely perfect women -- in every single respect? Why do you think your husband should somehow meet every one of your needs? We're just broken people, all of us.

Too many marriages wind up in divorce court because the couple expected too much from their relationship. One of the great ministries the church should take on today is to lowering expectations from marriage. How about working toward having a pretty good marriage?

I'm a preacher. But am I a perfect one? Nope. But I'm a pretty good preacher. I am a writer too. But not a perfect one -- my final draft still falls far short of perfection. But I'm a pretty good writer. My hobby is rock climbing. I'm no perfect rock climber -- I occasionally fall and even chicken out. But, (considering my age and weight) I'm a pretty good rock climber.

Get the point? I'm not a perfect husband, and Sharon and I don't have a perfect marriage. But I'm a pretty good husband, and we've got a pretty good marriage.

Rather than perfect, how about going for good, long, and strong? How about you? Do you have a pretty good marriage? Is it a fire worth keeping going? Maybe all you've got to do is keep feeding the fire to keep it hot at home? What one thing from the list above should you work on?


1. What excites your wife? For ten years we've been asking Christian wives who attended the Up With Marriage retreats to anonymously fill out a sheet titles "What turns me on sexually." Here, in order of frequency are the responses of the wives:

1. My husband's self-confidence.
2. Absolute security.
3. Settled arguments -- unsettled ones are a turn-off.
4. Quiet talking.
5. Humor.
6. Relaxed environment -- privacy, no kids, etc.
7. Emotional tenderness between us.
8. Kissing.
9. Thoughtful gifts.
10. Reading the Bible & praying together.
11. Romantic surprises.
12. Keeping trim -- his belly is a turn off.
13. When my husband takes charge spiritually.
14. Power -- when he's in charge of his life.
15. Tender glances long before bed time.
16. An evening date.

2. What excites your husband?

The same ten years we've been asking Christian husbands attending Up With Marriage retreats to fill out a sheet also. The title: "What turns me on sexually." Here, in order of frequency, are the husband's responses: (Sorry wives, us guys have a shorter list -- we're not that complex.)

1. When she sometimes initiates sex.
2. Skin!
3. When we try new things.
4. When she flirts and teases.
5. Touching and cuddling all evening.
6. Surprising me.
7. When she enjoys sex and says so.
8. Affirming me -- criticizing me is a turn-off.
9. Taking care of herself -- looking good.

 From: Money, Sex, and Spiritual Power by Keith Drury
(c) 1992 Wesley Press
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 To contribute to the thinking on this issue, or to contact the writer e-mail Tuesday@indwes.edu