Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do you "like" your spouse?

Most of us would say that we love our spouse but do we like being with them? In the clip I posted below, Dr. Berman offered these 5 simple ideas which any couple can put into practice to either improve a troubled relationship or to maintain a relationship that is already based on a firm foundation.

1) Give 5 genuine expressions of appreciation each day.
2) Enjoy at least one 10-second kiss every day.
3) Talk about your relationship for at least 15 minutes a day.
4) Arrange a weekly date night and sex date.
5) Take a vacation alone (ie, without kids) at least once a year.

Sometimes it is the little things that make it pleasurable to be around our spouse and cause a husband and wife to bend over backwards to please each other. Can we say that we like our spouse? Do we enjoy being with them? If a person loves their spouse (ie, out of duty) but does not like them, why would they care about tending to their needs? Your thoughts?


davyp said...

I liked his suggestions when I watched the clip. I'm working on no. 3 this week after Gemma challenged me on this some weeks ago.

Tom Joad said...

I finally got the message last night. I asked my wife to read this blog post. She did. When she came to bed, I asked her if we could talk about it. She resisted strongly. I asked which point bothered her the most and she replied talking for fifteen minutes about the relationship daily. So, I took that one off the table. She thought the kissing was "germy." (I brush twice daily and eat Altoids like peanuts.) The dates bothered her as well. When I tried one more time to get her to open up, she made body motions like a child having a temper tantrum and cried out, "just leave me alone." I believe that we are married till death do us part so I can't give up. But I don't know what to do now.

Gemma said...

Wow, Tom. Was your wife tired or sick when you began discussing this? If not, I would say that it is disturbing at best, the fact that these five simple ideas upset her that much.

To your knowledge, is there anything else in your relationship that is troubling your wife which could be contributing to her attitude? Esp with the "talk 15 min a day about your relationship"... I would think that most spouses would at least be OK with that one.

Something sounds terribly wrong. What's going on with your wife? Are you guys in therapy or have you ever been in therapy for the marriage? Is there a good reason why you and wife may not currently be in therapy?

Often I hear folks say, "We can't afford therapy," and I wonder if they have even looked into it. If you have insurance it's probably not that expensive. We take our dd twice a month to a private Christian counseling center at the cost of a $20 co-pay per visit.

Tom Joad said...

My wife has chronic health problems and is recovering well from a serious disease. But, her health problems do not prevent her from engaging in other normal activities. And, the situation was the same or worse before the health issues. It's a matter of priorities and will. She is a career woman, is always tired and doesn't have a lot to give to her home and marriage. If I waited until she wasn't tired or stressed, we would never have a conversation. We are both middle aged professionals. We have to plan our time together which includes saving some energy to give to each other. I have tried initiating that process by making dates, etc. but the mutual planning and agreement never really happens. She may go through the motions grudgingly but at that she does the minimum to shut met up and it is obvious her heart isn't in it. I have suggested counseling and she replied indignantly, "Why would YOU do something like that?" A pastoral counselor I visit with alone has suggested that I work with a professional counselor by myself to help me cope. I posted this as a cautionary tale to others who may be lurking. The message is work on the relationship while you are young and still able to change.

Anonymous said...

My wife has also has some serious emotional and attachment issues. For us it took moving her away from her dysfunctional support structure, pastoral & professional counselling, support group, getting an outsiders look at the toll our marriage was having on my work, and some serious investment from some of the ladies at church, medication, focused prayer from several friends, and a shot across the bow, but... For the first time in four years, our marriage can be characterized as peaceful. We're not out of the woods, but its a million times better.

Tom, the behavior your wife exhibited is alarming, and I've seen it too. You need to get help, even if its just you. But you need to get her help if you have to drag her in to counseling by her hair.

Gemma said...


What sickness and disease DID NOT stop my husband and me? I was terribly sick for a number of years up until early 2009, at which time I had my first surgery and yet.... once my crappy attitude changed 3 years prior in 2006 I was 'good to go' in our marriage bed. A year later in early 2010 my husband had 2 surgeries a month apart, one of them for colon cancer. Two weeks after his second surgery I had a 4-hr surgery involving 2 surgeons operating.

I know I don’t have to tell you that your wife's negative attitude towards the marriage and the marriage bed have little to do with sickness and disease. Her biggest disease is between her ears. Do seek out a professional counselor as your pastor advised. It will help you cope.

Gemma said...

Anon said:
"Tom, the behavior your wife exhibited is alarming, and I've seen it too. You need to get help, even if its just you. But you need to get her help if you have to drag her in to counseling by her hair."

In 2006 when I had my sexual awakening I told my dh that if I were to ever revert back to my old sexually and emotionally selfish ways, God forbid, he has my blessings to drag me by the hair or hogtie me if necessary to get me to see a professional and I asked him to promise that he would follow through with that; he agreed.

It is so very disturbing when you look at the number of Christian marriage beds in crisis mode and nobody sees it has a serious spiritual issue. Refusing spouses walk around like Joe or Jane good-Christian-spouse. Pastors and friends are kept in the dark so the sexual sin of refusal becomes the 'gift that keeps on giving'.

And while I'm here, let me just say that any decent pastor who finds out that a person in his congregation is sexually refusing their spouse AND continues to allow the refuser to be involved in church ministry while their first ministry (their marriage) is crumbling to pieces... that pastor ought to be booted out of the church or if he can't be booted (ie, like in abusive churches) the couple should walk away from the church. Such a pastor would not be a pastor after God's own heart while ignoring serious marital issues in his congregation. Some pastors may disagree with this but they are the very ones who I am talking about here. They know who they are.

Anonymous said...

How many times did I not ask, beg and cried for my husband to do any of these things, just to be met with a deep sigh of annoyance and a "don't you know how busy I am"? Yes, including sex.

I am sad to say, that after so much rejection and feeling unwanted, my heart is finally hardened and I don't feel anything for this man anymore. He has noticed, and is now beginning to make small amends, but when I don't respond the way he hopes, he immediately gets angry at me, which just reminds me why I am in this cold place to begin with.

My heart is dead. Please don't allow your wife's hard to die, too. Listen to her when she pleads and cries to be loved, to on dates, to be kissed... Once a woman's heart dies, there is not much one can do.

Tom Joad said...

RE: Anon said, "Once a woman's heart dies there is not much you can do ..."

I disagree. I see it as a matter of unforgiveness, the need to hold former wrongs real or imagined over the other to get revenge. In a marriage, you have to forgive each other, over and over again. Your mind is and must be the master of your emotions. In the end people do what they want to do, what they decide to do either by overt decision or by not deciding. In every relationship, there is usually plenty of blame to go around on both sides if one side wants to go looking for it. I made a quality decision that I was going to obey God's word and love my wife as he commands in the scriptures. I do not have the right to ask her to love me, the scriptures don't command that. But they do command her to respect me and I pray with all of my heart that if she obeys in respect that renewed love will follow.

Mark 9:24 said...

My Wife is my best friend, yet we don't do the 5 things you listed Gemma.

Thank you for posting it. :)


landschooner said...

Tom there are whole chapters on love. The whole bible is about Gods love for us and how we should love one another. Your wife doesn't get a "pass" on this. Its true that there is more specific emphasis on Husbands loving their wives. It is SPELLED out. And wives RESPECTING their husbands is spelled out. I believe this is because these were specific areas that each has problems with and are also KEY needs of either gender. But its also clear that you need to respect your wife, not as an authority, but as a co-heir with you, and it is clear that she needs to love you.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

3 .....They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:19-21 (ESV)

None of us get a "pass" from loving one another. Its commanded.

Tom Joad said...


I think we are talking at two different levels. In the course of a thirty or forty year marriage, couples may fall in and out of romantic love with each other multiple times. Love must mature. The love of a couple married forty years looks a lot different than that of a couple married four months or four years. It is my position that at the most basic level of the relationship the husband and wife each have a core responsibility. The word used in Ephesians and I Peter describing the husband’s duty to the wife is a derivative of agape not eros. Agape denotes a higher order love that is both priestly and redemptive in nature and connotes the highest order of responsibility for the care and well being of its object. In those same passages, the word used to denote the wife’s duty to the husband is hupatasso, a greek military term denoting obedience and respect. As I see it, those are the basic requirements for the marital relationship. If the husband values the wife as much as his own life and the wife respects the husband appropriately then there is a basis for a good life together which will allow the couple to grow through the various stages of marital love. From a sexual standpoint, the wife has the duty to be subject to her husband and the husband has a duty to treat his wife tenderly and lovingly. Whether or not they are “in love” with each other at the moment is to me much less important than whether they are exhibiting this higher level of biblical love toward one another. In I Cor. 7 where Paul deals specifically with the conjugal duties, the word used is enuoia which means kindness and is often translated as benevolence. In short, this passage teaches that love making is an essential duty in the marriage and a kindness to your spouse and that denying it is a deprivation and a fraud. It says nothing about eros. The word eros is not found in the New Testament to the best of knowledge. Only Song of Solomon talks about romantic eros love and it is the manual for it. But, it is also talking in terms of courtship and the honeymoon. And that is good. Paul and Peter are offering advice for mature marriages that are working through all of the stages of life.

So far as being "co-heirs" etc, I think our modern culture has bitten too often on the feminist apple and has become afraid of the Biblical pattern of male headship of the home.