Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Loving Your Mate Without Distraction

Leslie Basham: Kim Wagner asks, “When you talk with your spouse, are you really engaged?”

Kim Wagner: I have couples that talk to us about the fact that one or the other are on Facebook while the other’s trying to have a conversation . . . or they’re checking their email or texts. There’s not that focused “eyes of a dove”—that intentional focus that says, “I am going to give you my attention now. You have come home. You are important to me. I am devoting these hours to you.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, March 20. If you have younger children with you, be aware that today’s program includes discussion of intimacy in marriage. We’ve been in a series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." It’s an in-depth study of the Song of Solomon.

Through most of that series, Nancy focused on what Song of Solomon says about drawing closer to Christ. But the book also provides a lot of insight on the relationships of husbands and wives. So, we’re following that series up with one called, "Enjoying a More Intimate Marriage."

A group of women have been listening to Nancy teach on the Song of Solomon, and they’re about to share some insights this teaching gave them about marriage. Nancy’s leading the discussion, along with her friends Kim Wagner and Terry Morledge.

We’ll start with a listener who describes some of the things she learned while going through the Song of Solomon.

Woman 1: I appreciated how Nancy brought out that the responsibility of a wife is to seek God. I think it would be really important to also stress how we can then involve praying or encouraging our husbands to seek God as well. If the wife is growing closer in her relationship with God, she also wants to see her husband do that.

I sometimes get impatient, wanting to see that growth. So, can you encourage me in a way that I can pray for him, affirm him . . . something that I can do to make that happen.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Depending on the marriage, depending on the man, there are things that may be more effective, things that may be less effective in inspiring that in him. But there is nothing more powerful than the power of influence and the power of prayer.

There’s a time and place for saying things, but when a man sees a woman who’s becoming more beautiful, more gracious, more loving, by virtue of her relationship with the Lord; if the man knows the Lord, that’s going to be an inspiration to him. He’s got the Holy Spirit in him to pursue Christ, and sometimes that can happen more effectively by saying less, rather than by saying more.

You have to know your marriage, you have to know your man, and you have to be sensitive to the Spirit.

Terry Morledge: I think sharing some of the things you’re learning can be a way to encourage him . . . not preaching at him. There’s a vulnerability and a humility that you, as the wife, want to keep. I think sometimes we as women—who have the privilege and opportunity to listen to things like Revive Our Hearts, or be involved in a Bible study at church (maybe your husband doesn’t have the time or has chosen not to)—we have to be so careful we don’t lord that over our husbands. We have to be careful not to see them as coming up short. That is a sin on your part, ladies. Don’t do that.

Be grateful for the grace that he’s shown you, pray for him, appeal to him . . . and then wait. I don’t need to tell him what to do. I need to wait and see what the Lord does in his life. So I think there’s a patience, a prayer, a perseverance in loving him and showing him grace.

Kim: We can very easily cause our husbands—most husbands—to feel intimidated by coming on so strong. I knew a lady in church that was so caught up in Bible study that her husband came to my husband and said, “She is so into Bible study that I never can get a hot meal or clean clothes.”

She had this great enjoyment of sitting under Christ’s teaching and loving that intimate time with Christ, but she didn’t want to “go out”—as Nancy said earlier—and take care of her children or her home or her husband.

I think our husbands need to see that we are connecting the dots between our own spiritual growth, and treating him with gentleness, kindness, tenderhearted humility. We need to be communicating the gospel in our actions and how we treat him. It’s not just for us to enjoy Christ and worship and praise Him (which, that’s all good), but the overflow of that is going to be ministering to our husband.

Nancy: It’s interesting, we have a couple of widows—at least two that I know of and probably more—in the session today. One of them came to me during one of the breaks, and she said, “I would love to be able to have a chance to be applying some of this in my marriage.”

She’d had many years of marriage as a believer to a believer, but now as a widow, she would love to be applying this in her marriage. I wonder, as you all listen today, what are some of the ways that some of what we talked about in our relationship with Christ can be applied in the context of marriage?

Terry: I have a dear friend who’s been widowed in the last year. Mike, my husband, a few weeks ago asked me to go on a walk. She said, “Go on the walk!”

Nancy: Even though you’ve got other things going on, like a daughter getting married . . .

Terry: Right! I’ve got so much to do! But, see, that’s a way that you are honoring and loving your husband . . . coming after him, running after him, pursuing him, and making him a priority. I think that speaks to him of your love for Christ, because you’re doing that because you love Christ. I think that’s a practical application I thought of when the bride says, “We will run after you.” Can’t we apply that?

Are we pursuing our husbands, are we spending time with our husbands? What does that look like? It looks different in different marriages. For me, on that one day, it was choosing to put those distractions away and take a walk with him. We had a really sweet time. It was really a fun time.

Nancy: And you don’t just have a great marriage by osmosis or by hoping for it. It’s the combination of a lot of those little things—and some big things—that add up to make, over the long haul, a healthy, strong and joyful marriage.

Kim: We came to Song of Solomon chapter 2, verse 8, I believe, after you had talked through that initial intimacy of the bride and bridegroom. You said, Nancy, “You would think that the couple would live happily ever after from this point on.” I love the Song of Songs for this reason . . .  

On our honeymoon night, when I finally came out of the bathroom and came into the bedroom area, my husband had brought a bowl of water to wash my feet, and he washed my feet and talked about wanting to love me and serve me as Christ loved the Church. Then he started reading through the Song of Songs each night on our honeymoon, for several nights.

You would think with that beginning that we would live happily ever after! And that’s what came to my mind when you said that, because you would think, “What a romantic, storybook beginning.” And it probably would have been if I would have . . .

Terry: Well, that’s why they need to get your book and read it, right, Kim?

Nancy: Kim does have a book called Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.

Kim: What I’m trying to communicate in that is, I believe God has placed strength in all women. That strength, though, is meant to encourage your husband, as his helpmeet, to be all God wants him to be. Sadly, we take our fierce strength, so much of the time, and it becomes the flip side (the curse) where we think that the helper role is that we’re going to help him improve.

It’s very detrimental to the marriage, but I have seen that turned around by the grace and power of God—the resurrection power of Christ—in many marriages, including my own. At the end of Genesis 2, there’s that little almost non-descript verse that talks about, “ . . . and they were naked and not ashamed.”

I think that was at the point of the most holy, intense, passionate relationship between—not only Adam and Eve—but Adam and Eve and God. God is trying to lead us to that big picture that, not in a physical way, but in that same intensity of emotion and desire and pleasure and holiness—we are to have that intimacy with Christ.

That occurs when we have that right relationship with Him. He also wants us to enjoy that in marriage, though. I think one of the real keys to improving our marital relationship is keeping that big picture in front of us when we are struggling: We are to be displaying that love relationship between Christ and His Church, His Bride.

Terry: When our oldest daughter got married, I remember her saying to me, “Mom, as a Christian young woman, for years I’ve been told, 'Hands off!' Then, boom, overnight, I’m supposed to respond like, 'Yay!'?" And that made sense to me as she said that, but I think it just takes time.

That’s where the husband needs to be patient and understanding, but the woman needs to continue to renew her mind, like you said, with the Word of God. She needs to tell herself what’s true and continue to pursue that.

Kim: We have had young couples who have come to us and said, “We kept ourselves pure, and then the honeymoon night was a disaster.” They have said, “Please, if you counsel couples, include this in your marriage counseling.” And so we do, now. In the very last session, we meet separately with the bride and groom.

I think, even if your pastor has not done that for you, then seek out an older woman and just talk with her . . . not early on in the engagement . . . but to prepare yourself for the wedding night.

Nancy: Heather has been here today. You and your husband have had opportunities to minister to younger couples. What are you finding as you are helping prepare couples for marriage, or helping them early in marriage? What are some of the things you’re seeing in some of these areas?

Heather Patenaude: Well, there are misconceptions about physical intimacy. The couples we work with, many of them, remained pure up until their wedding. They thought it would just be smooth and easy. I think Kim’s advice, to get counsel in that area with a woman who’s going to speak very honestly and truthfully about the purity and holiness of the marriage bed . . .

As I’m listening to you speak now, I just keep thinking of Hebrews 12:1–2, where the Word says, “Throw off the sin that so easily entangles us, and run. Fix your eyes on Jesus.” There is so much sexual sin in our culture—we’re sex-saturated. As Christian parents, our natural response is to bring it way back and see how much we can keep from exposing them to.

Marital sex is viewed as not a gift but as something that’s shameful because it’s been so twisted in the way that we view it. As we see these couples, one of the first series we go through is a series on Song of Solomon, taking the sexual approach to it. It surprised me and my husband that most of the couples had issues in this area.

Either the wife just does not want it and has no desire for it; she’s uninterested. We’ve seen that pornography is a huge sin that entangles the marriage bed—that pull and that draw. Anything that sexually satisfies you outside the marriage bed is sinful, and so if any of those sins are in the way, those need to be thrown off as you run this race.

The more you fix your gaze on Jesus, and ask Him . . . bathe it in prayer. Take it before the Lord if there are issues, sexually, in your marriage. Ask Him to give you a desire for sexual intimacy with your husband, if that’s an issue. It’s surprising to me that newlywed couples have to schedule it, and it’s not something spontaneous. We encourage them to not think that this is an area that you don’t have to work on. They might have to work on this area.

Terry: One thing in the Song of Solomon—there’s obviously a commitment between this man and this woman. I think, hopefully, most of us who are in a Christian marriage, there’s a commitment there, and that’s a good thing. But you also see in the Song of Solomon the passion and the intimacy. I think sometimes we can be happy with the commitment (and that’s good). But we should not say, “There doesn’t need to be any passion.”

And I’m not only talking sexually, at this point, I’m just talking about the emotional excitement of the fun of a relationship and pursuing that. You see that over and over and over through the Song of Solomon. That’s part of their marriage, and not just their undergirding commitment to one another.

That pursuit of relationship and intimacy, that’s something I think we should be doing in our Christian marriages.

Nancy: So what are some practical ways to cultivate that kind of passion?

Kim: LeRoy told me he was talking with a man who was telling him the reason he was currently living with a woman, rather then marrying her. His first wife—whom he kept referring to as “Miss Lucifer”—when he would come home, she wouldn’t greet him at the door, wouldn’t seem happy to see him. 

She would just set right in griping and complaining, and that’s all he ever heard from her. His girlfriend, whom he lived with, as soon as he walked in the door, he was the focus of her life. She greeted him with hugs and kisses. I think it is easy, after you’ve been married for a long time, unless you’re intentional about it, to slip into such a comfortable relationship—like a pair of comfortable shoes—that you don’t really appreciate him, and you’re not giving focus and attention.

I have couples that talk to us about the fact that one or the other are on Facebook while the other’s trying to have a conversation  . . . or they’re checking their email or texts. There’s not that focused (like Nancy was saying) “eyes of a dove”—that intentional focus that says, “I am going to give you my attention now. You have come home. You are important to me. I am devoting these hours to you.”

Some of my friends have lost their husbands at an early age, and it has caused me to be very intentional about cherishing my days and my moments with my husband, because I know that it is brief, this time here. We will know each other in eternity, but the type of relationship we have here on earth is temporary and short.

Nancy: I know, Kim, your husband travels during the week and is gone many weeknights. So when he’s home on the weekends, you’re really intentional.

Kim: We are. I am rarely on my computer when he is home, unless he wants to get on the computer with me. We laid in bed the other night watching praise/worship videos together over youtube. We were worshiping in bed together—it was precious. We focus our time on one another and doing ministry together.

It is precious to me to be with my husband and he would, thankfully now—not always—but now, say the same as well.

Nancy: Which means there are some other things you don’t do. You and I love to talk on the phone, but we try to schedule that on nights when he’s not there. So there are calls you don’t take and things you don’t schedule.

Kim: I think your husband needs to know that you would rather be with him than your best girlfriend. If he does have to work late, or if your schedules aren’t meshing and the only time he’s at home is your time of Bible study with your friends, I would even say, switch that time or give that up, to let him see that he matters to you . . . he is important to you.

Terry: Even your children . . . At our stage of life, we’re thinking “friends,” but I think of the younger women and times in my life where, definitely as a mom, it’s just so much easier to run after your children. But Song of Solomon says we’re supposed to run after our husbands, run after our beloved.

It’s going to be work sometimes, to choose to pursue our husband. Kim’s made some practical applications. It’s seeing it as something you have to purpose to do. Choose to not do something—you talked about distractions, Nancy. When you’re running after someone, it means you’re running away from something else.

That doesn’t mean you neglect your children, or neglect other service, but I think the Scripture definitely calls your husband to be your priority relationship. You have to work at that.

Kim: Become a student of your husband, to know what communicates love to him, and become a student of the things, the activities, he enjoys. Be involved in those.

Nancy: Give us some examples out of your marriage.

Kim: In the fall of the year, I would love to go hiking through the fall foliage. What I do every Saturday, though, with my husband, is watch the college football team play. I’m there cheering beside him, because he has always enjoyed that.

And so, do you know what my husband did for me last Friday night?—which he would never choose to do on his own. One of our friend’s sons was in Hello Dolly, and we went to watch it. He took me, and it was such a joy to do that with him.

Terry: That’s the give-and-take that we talked about, “You’re so wonderful . . ."  "No, you’re so wonderful . . ." "No, you’re so wonderful . . ." "I want to show you love and pursue you and pursue relationship with you by going to the football games every Saturday, as opposed to watching them on TV."

Kim: We do go some, but we mainly watch them on TV.

Terry: But then, he is going to turn around and take you out to dinner or load the dishwasher every night, because he knows that speaks love to you. You get to initiate it, if that’s what the Lord puts on your heart.

Woman 2: I was just thinking about the jumping and the leaping that you don’t like to do—I think about it as being out of our comfort zones. As much as I like to talk when there are women around, I’m not a big fan of going to business things with my husband. I have real social anxiety about that.

I don’t like meeting “power women” that are out there doing career things . . . Chamber of Commerce meetings and things like that . . . but he loves having me with him. So, jumping and leaping mountains and hills with him, that are out of my comfort zone, are so important to him to have me by his side like that.

Last summer I learned to like baseball because the Tigers are finally worth liking. It’s such a boring game to me, but I actually learned how to like it because he wanted me to like it. I think that’s like jumping mountains and hills, because we don’t always like it.

Terry: It’s interesting how the Lord changed your heart about baseball. As you tried to pursue it for him, God blessed you by showing you, “Maybe this isn’t so bad.”

Woman 2: We’ve got matching shirts and hats now that we wear while we’re watching the game. It’s fun.

Nancy: And didn’t you find that by doing things like that you’re growing closer to one another?

Woman 2: Well, and actually, having to depend on the Lord in those times when I had to go out and do the social anxiety thing, because I don’t like it. It’s just a strange world—the secular business world is a scary place to me. I like to be in my comfortable, totally Christian little world, where we can be vulnerable but everybody kind of understands us.

You go out there and it’s like, “Well, what school did you go to?” (Reply, in small voice.) “I didn’t go to school. I go to the school of my kids. I’m a student of my children.” Those are the kinds of things, and they just all look like, “That’s not really very valuable!” So it’s a hard place to go, but my husband likes it, and I think it’s important.

Nancy: It is.

Leslie: Some Revive Our Hearts listeners have been reflecting on marriage, and on what they’ve been learning from the Song of Solomon. These listeners were part of the recording session for the series, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." They’ve been sharing with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her friends Terry Morledge and Kim Wagner.

There are a couple of things that are so helpful from a conversation like this. First, we’re hearing women describe what they’ve learned in real-life situations. More importantly, they relate those experiences to what they’ve learned in God’s Word.

Kim Wagner looks to Scripture and her own life in a very helpful book called Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. This book will help you avoid tearing down your home with words. You’ll discover how to influence your husband in godly ways, and encourage him to be all God wants him to be.

We’d like to send you Kim’s book when you donate to Revive Our Hearts. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call with your donation of any amount and ask for the book Fierce Women. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue hearing this discussion about how to cultivate intimacy in marriage. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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