As we celebrate National Spouse Day, here are three great books that every couple should read. They are The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard Harley Jr, and Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs.
Excerpted from the book, Better the Second Time, which can be found here.
The Five Love Languages is a book that teaches you the five basics “languages” that you can learn to “speak” to your spouse to meet his or her needs.
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His Needs, Her Needs is a list of the five strongest emotional needs of both men and women in relationships.
Love and Respect is based on the theory that a woman most wants love from her husband and a man most wants respect from his wife.
As I go through my thoughts on each of these books, I think it will give us plenty to think about as it relates to how we can help meet the deepest needs of our spouse. Now, one might think, It isn’t my job to meet my spouse’s needs. He/She should be fulfilled in and of him/herself. This is faulty thinking and the kind that may leave your spouse feeling empty and contribute to the breakdown of your marriage.
The marriage relationship is obviously a unique relationship. It is the closest of all human relationships. There is something mystical and spiritual about it. It is a union. Historical Christian teaching has used the term describing how a couple “becomes one flesh.”
When we commit to another person we are called upon to take seriously how we may meet one another’s needs. No person is an island unto himself. We all have needs and many of those needs cannot be met by ourselves. In marriage we have that special relationship with another person who can bring fulfillment to those needs, like two pieces of the puzzle coming together to complete the whole picture.
As you go through these lists, take time to read and contemplate them. Talk to your spouse about them. In the case of The Five Love Languages, figure out which one or two are your spouse’s and learn to communicate to them using their love language.
Since an amazing marriage is predicated on ever-growing people, learning and applying what they learn, I would encourage you to get one or all of these books and go through them with your spouse.
With that, let’s take a look at the principles of each of these three books.
The Five Love Languages
Chapman’s book says that there are certain things that speak to our spouse. These are the love languages that make our spouse feel loved and cared for. The languages that Chapman writes about are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
As you read through those can you see how one or two of those might be more important to you than the others? The same is true for your spouse. The importance of this is that when we speak our spouse’s love language is when they feel best. Of course different people have different languages. One issue that arises is that often one spouse will speak the language they like best but it isn’t the language that their spouse enjoys the most. You may love words of affirmation and so you speak words of affirmation to your spouse when in fact they would feel much more love, care, and attention if you would clean out the dishwasher (an act of service).
One of the most powerful dynamics of my and Denise’s relationship is that we share the same top two love languages. That makes it easy for us to speak the other’s language. Both Denise and I have Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch (which includes but is not limited to sexual touch) as our top two. So if you could hear our conversations and read our texts to each other, you would see a lot of affirmation of one another. She and I are regularly articulating something positive we feel about the other person and that keeps us emotionally filled and satisfied. We both gain energy from physical touch. Holding hands, a soft touch of the other’s back, a quick neck rub and the like are simple ways throughout the day to speak the other’s love language and meet their needs.
Chapman talks about keeping your spouse’s emotional tank full. When we speak our spouse’s love language they feel loved and come to a more fulfilling emotional state about themselves, you, and your marriage.
Let’s take a look at each one and see what they mean.
Gift-Giving. Some people just love to get gifts. When you give a gift to them, they get excited. They love the whole process, the surprise, the unwrapping, everything. These don’t have to be big gifts either. They can be small gifts. Whether it is a small, inexpensive item you know they will love and use or something expensive, a real luxury, it doesn’t matter. A gift says that you were thinking of them, you know what they like and you took the time to go and get it for them and deliver it to them.
Quality Time. There is time and there is quality time. Just because you spent the afternoon alone together in the house doesn’t mean that you had quality time. Quality time is time spent together with your spouse in a way that he or she considers it high value. It means giving your spouse your undivided attention. It means talking, listening and really communicating. It could also mean that if your spouse loves riding bikes that you take a few hours and go riding with them. Whether you talk or not during the trip, your spouse will consider it quality time that you went with them. Now my soapbox: Meals should be quality time! Put down your phone, enjoy your food and the company of your spouse! Unless you are rushing to get to the kids game and your dinner consists of fast food eaten while driving, meals are supposed to be quality time and represent an everyday opportunity to have some.
Words of Affirmation. There is an old proverb that says that the “tongue has the power of life and death.” Our words are powerful. So true, especially for those who have words of affirmation as their love language. These words can be expressed in various ways, but they should be expressed regularly. Denise loves a small post-it note on the mirror that says, “I love you,” or “You are beautiful.” Those are words of affirmation. When Denise and I were living halfway across the country from each other when we first started dating, I would try to text her during the day what I loved about her or admired her for. That is key: Try to think about what you love about your spouse and communicate those to your spouse. Guys, “You are beautiful” is great and no woman will ever turn down hearing it, but we need to work harder and expand our words of praise. Things that cover the gamut like “I really appreciate what a hard worker you are,” “You are such an amazing and patient mother,” and “You did such an incredible job organizing that school fundraiser. I’m so proud of you,” will go a long way. Ladies, telling your man “I appreciate how you provide for our family,” “I think you are so funny (or intelligent or whatever),” and “I love how you make me feel when you are making love to me. You’re an incredible lover,” will make your husband feel like he can take on the world!
Acts of Service. Serving others means that you are thinking of ways to help them. How can you serve and help your spouse? Obviously doing chores is an easy answer. Unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage, clean the barbecue or shovel the driveway. But what else? Maybe get up early and make your spouse’s lunch and pack it for him or her. If your spouse normally pays the bills at the end of the month but dreads it, grab them a couple of days early and do your thing with the checkbook. Tell your spouse to sleep in and you will take the kids to school today. Guys, cook your wife a meal. And I don’t mean a romantic meal which will send the message that you are looking for a little action later on. Just get home early and cook a meal so that when she and the kids get home, she doesn’t have that burden on her. When she walks in, hand her a glass of wine, have the TV turned on to HGTV and tell her dinner will be ready in 20 minutes.
Physical Touch. It probably doesn’t need to be said since we’re all adults here, but physical touch is not exclusively sexual touch. In fact, non sexual touch will go a long way toward making sure that when you are engaged in sexual touch, the fires are burning bright. When you wake up in the morning, reach over and rub your spouse’s back before getting out of bed to jump in the shower. Sneak up behind your wife in the kitchen and give her a hug from behind. Give your wife a foot rub while you are watching TV. Run your hands through your husband’s hair while he’s on a phone call. Hold hands while you are walking through the mall. Put your arm around your spouse at the football game. Any time you can share a short, meaning moment of physical touch, it will make your spouse feel loved.
The keys here are:
Know your spouse’s love language
Make the effort to speak your spouse’s love language on a daily basis.
His Needs, Her Needs
His Needs, Her Needs is one of the first marriage/relationship books I ever read and it is a good one. It was published quite some time ago and it can feel a little dated but the principle lessons are very good. First, you have to start with the premise that men and women are different, so if you don’t believe that, you may have a problem with it, but I’ll guess that most of us are on the same page with that concept.
Harley describes the five general and basic needs of each of the sexes as this:
Honesty and Openness
Let’s take a deeper look at each.
Affection. Men, your wife needs affection. Affection doesn’t mean sex, although that is part of it. She needs your soft touch. She needs you to hug her and hold her. Reach out and hold her hand while you’re driving. Touch her softly. Tickle her a little bit (if she doesn’t mind being tickled). Run your fingers through her hair while you’re watching TV together. Speak lovingly. Listen intently. Tell her you love her.
Intimate Conversation. “How was your day?” isn’t intimate conversation. You have small talk and chit chat and then you have deep, meaningful conversation that connects a husband and wife at a deeper level. Women love to talk about how they feel and what they think. They love to talk about your relationship. Engage her in this and make that deep connection, meeting her need. Men tend to like to keep conversations short and at a 30,000 foot level. Your wife will love it if you will set aside some time to have deeper, more meaningful conversation where your attention is focused on her.
Honesty and Openness. We men, as a general stereotype, are not big talkers. We aren’t very open. We don’t like transparency because it makes us feel vulnerable. But our wives value those things. And frankly, we men need to learn to become more open and honest. One note about honesty. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t honest, but more that we aren’t candidly honest. Not that we lie to our wives but that we omit information and just don’t like to talk about it. Your wife is wired differently and by engaging her in these kind of interactions, you will connect with her in a deeper way because you will be meeting her needs.
Financial Support. This is one of those that some may say is culturally irrelevant from when this book was originally written, but it still holds true in the vast majority of homes. Many women today are very self-sufficient and don’t need a man’s money. For example, Denise has a very high paying career and made more than enough money to provide for her home and children before I met her. She was completely self-sufficient. A woman does, however, want a man to be there for the family financially. If the wife stays home with the kids, she feels secure if her husband is providing well for the needs of the family. When he isn’t, she feels a lack of security and feels in need. Unfortunately, there are too many men who don’t work hard, make poor financial decisions and take away that feeling of financial support from their wives.
Family Commitment. Many men view themselves as a provider and that is important, but all too often, when a woman says she doesn’t feel loved, a husband will say, “What do you mean? I go off every day, working sixty hours a week so I can provide this home, take you on vacation and pay for the kids to go to soccer camp.” That’s not what she’s saying. What she is saying is she wants you to be her husband, not just her provider. She wants you to be the children’s dad, not just the one who pays for their school clothes. She wants you to be there and to be present mentally and emotionally when you are there.
Sexual fulfillment. Of course this is a broad, sweeping generality, but statistically it is relevant that men want sex more often than their wives. This isn’t a right or a wrong but simply a fact of biology for most couples. I’ve worked closely with thousands of men over the years and the number one complaint about wives is that they don’t want to have sex as much as the husband. Ladies, I’d like you to think about something. When your husband committed to you he committed to having sex with only you. When you realize that he is off the market it means that this need can only be met by you. One of the top ways you can meet his needs is to make sure that he is fulfilled in this area.
Recreational Companionship. Most men I have worked with would love to have a spouse who enjoyed doing things together with them. Common interests are powerful in a relationship. Yes, men want alone time with their male friends but they also have a strong desire to have time just “kicking around” or doing an activity together. Working to find some activity that you both enjoy so you can be his recreational companion will be much appreciated by your husband.
Physical Attractiveness. Let’s start with a given that your husband already thinks you are attractive or he most likely wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place. This isn’t about being a bombshell. It is about doing the most with what you have. It means keeping yourself up. It means being fit and living a healthy lifestyle. It means that you don’t spend all day, every day in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Men love pretty things, so make yourself pretty. Do your nails and hair. Smell good. Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge production. Taking a little time each day to put some finishing touches on will be very attractive to your husband.
Domestic Support. This may be the one that causes the most controversy or feels the most out of date in a day and age where many homes are dual income homes. The man and woman both go off to work and it isn’t like the wife is staying at home all day and has the time and responsibility to do all the domestic chores. That being said, it is important to have discussions and come to agreements on responsibilities. One thing to note on this ladies, is that your husband probably wasn’t taught all of the skill sets needed to do some of the things needed around the house. Traditionally, these things were passed on from mother to daughter and many sons weren’t even taught how to do them. Ironing shirts comes to mind. So one thing you can do if splitting chores, is to show him how to do it and encourage him when he does it right.
Admiration. Women, if you only knew how much your husband thrives on your admiration! Actually, he lives for it. Your husband, even if he would never articulate it this way, wants to be that knight in shining armor for you. He wants to be a man who you look at and are impressed by. One of the most powerful things you can do for your husband is to express your admiration for him. Take him in your arms, look him right in the eye and tell him what you admire about him. And if you want to put the admiration factor on steroids, tell other people what you admire about him! When the two of you are out with a group of people, sing his praises to the group. His spirit will soar, I promise you!
Love and Respect
Love and Respect is a very simple concept and it is perhaps the best marriage book, or book on male-female relationships I’ve read in a very long time specifically because it nails the two primary needs a man and a woman in relationships have. The author is a Christian counselor and one day passed over a bible verse that he had read many times over. This time something jumped out to him. The passage said that husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands. The author wondered for the first time why it didn’t just say that husbands and wives should love each other. Why the different instruction for each spouse.
After doing extensive research, he found out that women value being and feeling loved the most while men value being respected the most. What he found out was that men need to love their wives – and show it – and women need to respect their husbands – and show it!
He describes a cycle. The cycle can either be good, or it can be “energizing.” A good cycle has the husband loving his wife. In return, she feels loved and shows her husband the respect he desires. Feeling respected, he shows her his love even more… and the cycle continues.
Then there is the crazy cycle. The husband doesn’t feel respected so he withdraws and doesn’t demonstrate his love for his wife. Feeling unloved, she shows him disrespect…. And the cycle continues.
The author says the key is to recognize when you are on the crazy cycle and to get off that cycle and onto the energizing cycle by making purposeful and unconditional demonstrations of love and respect. Someone has to break the cycle.
So, if a wife treats her husband with disrespect, he is going to feel hurt and will be tempted to withdraw. That will only perpetuate the crazy cycle so he must instead show her unconditional love and love her in spite of how he feels. That will fill her need for love and will move her toward showing him respect, putting them on the good cycle instead of the crazy cycle. And of course the reverse could be demonstrated with the roles reversed. When feeling unloved, the wife would seek to show unconditional respect and bring her husband to the place of showing love again and getting them on the energizing cycle.
You can see from the overview of these three books that the key element is to look at your spouse and see what really makes him or her tick. Whether it is one of his or her love languages, or his or her needs, or simply the love or respect that he or she desires, we as their spouse can meet those needs purposefully, helping our spouse to be fulfilled and giving us the enjoyment of being in a more loving and happy marriage.
I would encourage you to buy these three books and go through them with your spouse. At the very least, buy one of them that seems most interesting and dig through it and then focus on your part of the equation. And if you are on your second marriage, be sure to get Better the Second Time! Click HERE.
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They have stopped worshipping the Creator and instead worship the created.
The Democrats have become a sex cult. Sex is their religion. They have exchanged worshipping God the Creator and instead worship sex, the created. PolitiCrossing founder Chris Widener explains in this short video and gives you the true answer on how to defeat the sex cult. Read Romans 1:18-27 below the video, then watch the video.
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From Romans 1:18-27
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
It doesn’t take considerable effort to engage in spiritual-type behavior that will benefit everyone
You can practice being more spiritual in little ways that add up quickly to your being a more spiritual person. For example, there are relatively minor things you can do to start the process, although nothing is minor when it comes to acting spiritually. As an example, if you smile at someone, they tend to smile back. If you go out of your way to help someone, that person might in turn help another and so on.
Spirituality certainly does not have to be restricted to the confines of organized religion. Freed from the rules, restrictions, and impediments that organized religion may impose upon you, how and where might you be more spiritual in your life?
Each little action sets in motion the potential for greater good. So, as you proceed through six items below, do not discount the value of engaging in any of these. Each has the potential to add up to more.
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Spirituality While Driving
Researchers report that when people get in their cars, they think they’re in some type of invisible vehicle. No one sees them as they motor down the road. If you curse or scream, who’s to know? Obviously, you’re not invisible and the way you conduct yourself as a motorist potentially impacts other motorists, as well as pedestrians.
The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, fails to use their turn signal properly or otherwise engages in improper driving, practice maintaining your composure.
Don’t curse, scream, or honk your horn. If the other person is in view, look at them blankly, but not with disgust or anger, or a mocking smile.
Often, the other party knows what they did wrong. If not, venting your spleen is not likely to change their behavior.
If you travel frequently, say as part of your job, and often traverse high traffic arteries, chances are you’ll have an opportunity at least several times a week to practice engaging in small displays of spirituality. As a goal, why not establish for yourself one composed response per week?
Each time you can remain composed, you increase the probability that you will be more composed in other aspects of your life. Perhaps you’ll even be kinder to people in face-to-face encounters when they commit a transgression.
Comfort the Less Fortunate
As a small gesture of spirituality, what can you do for someone you see right on the street? It’s one thing to write a check to charity; it’s another to encounter someone who is in need and aid that person on the spot.
When you have shoes that you no longer wear, but are not necessarily in pieces, keep them in your trunk as you motor around town. Then, if you see a homeless person with less than sufficient footwear, and it looks like you might be roughly the same size, pull over.
Promptly get the shoes from your trunk, walk up to the person and say that you want them to accept the shoes. If he or she accepts, fine, bid them good day, and be on your way. If he or she chooses not to take them, that’s okay too.
Your goal in this area could be to give away each pair of shoes or other worthwhile item of clothing that you no longer want, perhaps on a monthly basis.
Participate in Group Action
If this is not for you, volunteer once a month to serve a meal at a local shelter for the homeless. If you’re a busy career type, perhaps serving dinner will work best for you. Whatever your preconceived notions about this may be, once you actually serve dinner to real live people, you’ll see that reality is different than you thought.
Perhaps you think that people would be reluctant to speak up for what they wanted. Or worse, they’d be groveling, and you would have to do your best to remain humble. Perhaps you feel like you’ll seem to be some kind of “goody-two-shoes,” dispensing dinners with an overly pleasant, “And how are you this evening? Here’s a nice dinner for you.”
Actually, none of the above usually happens. Person to person, you simply serve another, as if you were in partnership. More peas? Fewer carrots? It’s much more matter-of-fact than you might imagine. They’re appreciative but not groveling.
Note: Some people who show up at a shelter are well dressed. Perhaps they’re temporarily unemployed, or they had a financial emergency they were unprepared to handle.
The more often you serve others in this way, the easier it becomes to do it again. You start to get the notion that there are a lot more similarities between human beings than differences. The old axiom, “There but for the grace of God, go I,” is much more true than we all often acknowledge.
Look for the Good in Others
Is there a co-worker with whom you have had a nasty relationship? Is there something good about this co-worker that you can draw upon, so that you can get yourself to say something nice to him/her at your next encounter?
Will Rogers, a political satirist, entertainer, and beloved figure in the first half of the twentieth century allegedly said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Many people have interpreted Will Rogers to have meant that he could find something admirable in everyone he met. So, too, can we all.
Is there a neighbor with whom you have had a continuing squabble? What would it do to your relationship if you sent your neighbor a card or a brief note that said something along the lines of, “I noticed how lovely your garden was the other day, and wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you’ve done in maintaining it.”? Too syrupy, or, pardon the expression, too flowery? Guess again.
List five people at work or elsewhere in your life with whom you may not have a good relationship, but whom you can acknowledge. Next to each person’s name, write a dash and then what is good about them.
You’re going to be on Earth for a finite amount of time. Do you want to go through your life trading hostilities with people, never having the where-with-all to restore some semblance of civility to the relationship?
Listen More Closely
Human beings have a profound need to be heard. When you give others your full and complete attention, in essence, you’re telling them that you value them as a people. All activity and concerns in your life stop as the words and emotions of another person take on paramount importance.
Listening is one of people’s most underrated skills. Your ability to listen to another person, giving him or her your full and undivided attention, can be an act of spirituality, particularly if the other person needs someone to listen to him/her. In this rush-rush world, too often we want people to summarize everything they say.
Consider the people in your life who have mattered the most to you and, chances are, they were the people that listened to you best. Whether it was your parents, a brother or sister, a good friend, a relative, a teacher, a coach, a coworker, a mentor, or just somebody down the street, you tend to value those who value you by listening.
In Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, the young Siddhartha speaks about his most well-developed skills. He can listen, he can fast, and he can wait.
These talents don’t seem like much to the Western mind, but they’re handy if you want to increase the spirituality of your life. As a goal, why not to listen in earnest to one person per week in the workplace whom you would not have otherwise given such time and attention?
At home, give your significant other one good listening to per day, and I promise things will go better. Do the same with each child.
Judge Deeds, Not People
Judgment is a necessary and practical skill. It’s likely that you judge things, including others, all day long. After all, if you want to choose the colleges appropriate for you, friends that share similar values, and the professional, social, and civic groups that you will enjoy being a part of, you need to make some judgments.
We all judge one another, however, sometimes harshly. Everyone can learn from each other. It is so easy to fall into that game, as psychologist Carl Rogers articulated, of “mine is better than yours.” It is too convenient to conclude that people who walk, talk, or look differently than we do, must be vastly different, and by extension, inferior.
As you might have already concluded, it doesn’t take considerable effort to be spiritual and to engage in spiritual-type behavior that will benefit yourself, and benefit others. The opportunities are all around each of us, every day. All we have to do is be aware.
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