Today’s blog is the seventh in a series of posts written by former Radical Mentee Benj Miller, and his wife of 15 years Erica. Benj is a brand consultant in Atlanta, where he and Erica live with their four awesome kids.
We’re sharing Benj and Erica’s posts on Christian married sex because it’s one of the things that most often trips up young couples. Men and women have different levels of sex drive, and God uses these differences to grow our character and our faith. Our Happy Wife Pledge post brought more comments than any other, so we know sex and marriage are big deals for those in our tribe. Without further ado, here’s Erica . . .
My husband’s explanation of the four buckets of refusing, allowing, participating, and initiating was heart-changing for me. Make so much sense! If you missed that post, you have to go back and read it!
These buckets definitely apply to how a woman receives love too. Knowing your spouse’s love language is so helpful to take the first steps in connecting with her.
Consider these examples of the buckets in your wife’s love language . . .
- Refusing: Give her nothing.
- Allowing: Give her a gift on her birthday and other holidays.
- Participating: Buy something with her. Ask her what she would like and get it for her.
- Initiating: Surprise her with something . . . “I was thinking of you” written on a cup of coffee, a mani/pedi gift certificate, or a new shirt could go a long way. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just show her you were thinking of her.
- Refusing: Say nothing. Remain distant, quiet, reserved with your words.
- Allowing: Wait until she asks then say something nice. (Note: if she is asking, then she isn’t hearing it from you!)
- Participating: Say something general. “I love you.” “You are special to me.” Be attentive and make sincere eye contact.
- Initiating: Say or write something specific with examples of traits you love about her or pointing out special things you see her doing.
- Refusing: Do not make time to spend together without distractions or undivided attention. Choose your hobbies, job, friends, the game, etc. over her.
- Allowing: Say yes begrudgingly to doing something and being together. Let your phone interrupt you as much as it wants.
- Participating: Be intentional about being together. Listen to her, ask questions, and share yourself. Do things you both enjoy.
- Initiating: Plan times of being together. Pre-answer all the questions about where you are going, what you are doing, how the time will go. Take the decision-making off your wife’s plate or make a fun game of giving her options. Take the lead in having face-to-face time for talking connection, and shoulder-to-shoulder time for shared experience, which you will probably talk about after!
Acts of service
- Refusing: Forget or be unavailable to help her with tasks. No checkmarks on the “honey-do” list for you.
- Allowing: Require a weekly “honey-do” list and give her an attitude about actually doing it. Require that she manage you in completing the tasks on the list in a timely manner.
- Participating: Openly receive the list. Embrace the tasks and do them well by the time she has asked you to finish them. Partner with your wife on projects and work alongside her.
- Initiating: Ask for ways you can help her. Watch what she does and step in to help her. Without being asked, fold a basket of laundry, unload the dishwasher, or clean her car.
Touch (Whoa! Are you a lucky guy or what!? I don’t know many women who have Touch as a top love language but if your woman does, you may want to keep quiet about it! Just kidding. It is likely that her desire for touch is for non-sexual touch).
- Refusing: Be cold and keep your hands to yourself. Turn away from her attempts at snuggling, kissing, or holding hands.
- Allowing: Receive her physical closeness annoyingly and without reciprocation.
- Participating: Respond to her physical contact. Hug back. Put your arm around her lovingly as she leans into you. Say yes to a massage request.
- Initiating: Reach for her. Kiss her hand, her cheek. Snuggle first. Offer a massage. Greet her with a hug and kiss. Lead in affectionate, non-sexual touch.
My dear husband says that I have all of these love languages. Sometimes that isn’t easy for him because there isn’t a go-to that always works. Sometimes it is easier because he can show me love, value, and his desire for connection by making me a coffee when I didn’t ask, by leaving me a note or telling me something great he sees in me, by planning a date night or a time of being together at home more focused and connecting than just crashing in front of the TV, by unloading the dishwasher when I haven’t mentioned it, or by giving me a massage. Choices. All of which say to me that he cares for me and wants to connect with me in my world, in my way. Granted, I have to be open to seeing his efforts at showing me love.
You know, I am convinced that the night Benj wrote about standing at the top of the stairs frustrated with our lack of sexual connection and desiring for us to be intimate with one another was the night that I very clearly remember him walking into the ridiculous mess of our kitchen at the end of a busy day and going straight for the dishwasher. While I was sitting on the couch taking care of the baby, he unloaded that thing so lovingly, talking all the while and asking questions about my day. In our house, I am the one who doesn’t like to shut down for the night until the kitchen is clean, so I tend to own the job of unloading the dishwasher. But that night, he chose to reach for me, to take a burden off of me, to create space for me to breathe a little more easily . . . all by unloading the dishwasher without being asked! And it was so sexy!
I know that many of you men are discouraged and have stopped trying in the area of sexual connection. Heck, y’all may have stopped trying in many areas. We women have hurt you. We have refused you so many times. You have reached out and we have rolled over. We have treated sex and, ultimately you, as a burden. We have not held your hearts gently in our hands. We have walled up and closed you out. We don’t see your efforts to show us love, or we see them as manipulation to get something from us. We hurt you. We are broken women. We need to confess this to you. We need to repent of our role in your pain. We need you to forgive us. We need to forgive you for what you aren’t, have done, haven’t done, and accept you for who you are. And we need you to do the same for us. And since you, man of God, are the one reading this, be the one to step forward and start. Forgive her. Confess to her. Repent and change. Extend yourself to your woman in love. Try. Please try.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for these conversations. Let them continue with your glory as our aim. Amen.
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