Few things can help a marriage survive better than a healthy dose of affection. But men and women often define this word in very different ways. To men, affection often brings to mind the acts that lead to intimacy. Women, on the other hand, take a very different view. Specialists estimate that 80% of a woman’s emotional needs are non-sexual. Unless this difference is recognized, enormous problems in a marriage can follow. Consider the following keys to keeping the spark in your marriage.
Responsibilities of a Christian husband:
1. Touch - A UCLA study revealed that women need at least 8 to 10 meaningful touches each day to maintain emotional stability. Men must understand that what they think of as a meaningful touch is often significantly different from that which a woman desires. Women need gentle caresses that are given, not to get something in return, but to communicate tender love. Consider the list in the box.
2. Talk - Whoever said “Talk is cheap” obviously did not know how valuable it could be to the success of a marriage. Therapists agree that poor communication skills lie at the heart of most marital stress. Take time to talk.
3. Together - Perhaps nothing communicates affection better to a woman than simply spending time with her. Give her your undivided attention. Take her shopping. Go for a walk. Rent a romantic movie and really try to enjoy it. There was a time when you wanted nothing more than just to be with her. Recapture that feeling. Look deep in her eyes and rediscover what it was that drew you to her in the beginning.
Responsibilities of a Christian wife:
1. Duty - Couples must understand that sexual affection is not just a pleasurable side effect to marriage, it is their spiritual “duty” (See 1 Corinthians 7:2-5). To fail at this duty is to place a spiritual stumbling block in front of your mate.
With the dominance of immorality in our culture, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is for women to fulfill this duty. Every day the world tries to pull your husband from your arms and into the world of self-gratification. He is being enticed from every direction to leave you and fulfill his needs for affection elsewhere. He cannot buy a loaf of bread without being tempted by the perfect forms of women on the magazine covers that line the checkout lane. He cannot drive down the highway without being lured into ungodly thoughts by suggestive billboards. TV exploits his needs. Radio encourages him to lust. On and on the pressures mount. If you are not aggressively working to keep his attention on you, he will be distracted.
2. Possession - Because women often seek affection in different ways than men, the needs of a man are not generally high on her desire list. But, when God commanded couples to become “one flesh” in Genesis 2:24, and when He inspired the words of our passage above, He expected His law of possession to be honored.
Once a couple has been united in marriage, they are one in God’s eyes. At that point, the wife’s body belongs just as much to her husband as it does to her. Too many women withhold sexual fulfillment as a punishment or a bargaining tool. They manipulate their partner by refusing to meet his most basic needs. A wife must not steal from her husband.
(Important Note: The law of possession does not give men a license to do anything they choose. God calls a husband to honor his wife’s body just as much as he honors his own body and as much as Christ honors the body of His bride, the church. See Ephesians 5:25-33.)
3. Deprive - The Holy Spirit warns against depriving your spouse of the sexual affection that he needs. To do so is to allow Satan to present a temptation for which there is little defense. The marital bond was designed to be a safety net that keeps partners from falling into the pit of unfaithfulness. When a man is deprived of this safety net, his wife could be guilty of an allegiance with Satan. Help your marriage survive, don’t deprive.
Still got questions? Take a look at the book “Marital Bliss-ters” by Sonny Childs
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