Rise Up, My Love (225): Learning to Love by Relieving Stress

fawn-in-alaskaSong of Solomon 7:3 Besides just “plain old tiredness,” the other major cause for rebuffing a husband is tension, either outside or inside the marriage. If a husband truly loves his wife and wants to express that affection through physical intimacy, he needs to help her deal with the tensions in her life so that she can relax and focus on him without distraction.

Isn’t this what the Lord does for us? Isn’t this the blessed release that comes through pouring out our hearts to God in prayer? The husband can also love the wife just as Christ loves the church through a similar ministry. At the end of each day, my husband and I usually ask each other, “Is there anything on your heart tonight?” This is an invitation to think back over the day and summarize what burdens us.

This isn’t the only time we talk…we talk often! Our first opportunity is during our morning devotional time, then over breakfast, and on rare occasions a brief “check up call” after lunch before my husband begins his afternoon’s work. It is surprising how loved and cared for I always feel after this five minute bit of therapeutic thoughtfulness! Our next time to check bases usually comes after dinner and the younger children have skipped off to play. (This was written a long time ago, and there’s nobody skipping off anywhere now!) We linger over our dessert and tea,  sharing ideas with any of the more adult children who have time for a chat. (Of course, I rarely allow myself dessert anymore, although we are blessed to still have our youngest with us! It is really fun to share adult life with our grown son!) When our evening chores are done, we sometimes go for a walk—an “evening constitutional” as my father used to say—with or without children, and continue mulling over the events of the day…future plans…ideas…problems. If there’s a pressing problem to solve, Alan and I may go alone, but generally any family members who’ve had dinner with us and want to come are invited, although the constellation of walkers varies greatly. However, there are definite “group therapy” benefits that extend to all who take advantage of this bonding, relaxing time of getting some fresh air and exercise.

Alan and I also wait for each other in the evening and get ready for bed at the same time. You may find this hard to believe in today’s fast-paced society…or you may think what we do sounds totally unappealing…but it works well for us. So, by the time we get around to asking, “Is there anything on your heart?” that is not the cue for a volcanic eruption to start, it is more like sweeping the last of the crumbs away before we sit rocking in front of a cozy fire. Better yet, we virtually never fail to couch our discussion (unless it is more difficult than it should be that late at night) in a very soothing exchange of back scratches and back rubs. After we verbalize what’s left that troubles us, we take turns praying together over all the issues, leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross and in the loving, all-wise hands of our Savior. Sound idyllic? Truly, it is!

Sound impossible? During crunch times it is impossible, but as a general pattern, it works for us. Also, we’ve been trying to develop a sustainable lifestyle for forty-five years and our “baby” is now twenty-five. (He was nine when I originally wrote this.) Your idea of ideal may be worlds apart from ours. This isn’t meant as a formula; it’s meant as one example of how one husband has learned to love his wife and minister to her needs in a way that leaves her generally able to relax at night. (However,  I think any couple with children in the home are going to wrestle with chronic tiredness and need lots of grace.) I also think a quiet lifestyle requires giving up a lot of possibilities for extra activities in order to maintain some level of equanimity and peace. For each couple, the formula will be unique and require constant adjustments and re-evaluation, but working toward the goal of living in harmony is worthy of  great sacrifice and effort, and having a happy wife has definite benefits for the husband!

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:25-27)

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