Ask yourself these two questions if frustration has replaced emotional intimacy in your marriage

Ask yourself these two questions if frustration has replaced emotional intimacy in your marriage

“Whatever I do, it’s never enough!”

Maybe you can relate to this.  You’ve had a few issues in your marriage you can’t crack the code on.  She asks you to not be so messy, and you’ve responded.  Made some changes.  But her eye latches onto other details that didn’t even cross your mind.

He stresses over your budget and even though you went out of your way to search for the  discounted item, he’s still grumbling. It can feel demotivating.

It’s never enough, or it’s not quite right. Sometimes you feel like you’ll never make him, or her, happy.

You may be onto something there.

We all nod to love, the one essential part.  When the love we’re wired for seems lacking in our day-to-day interactions, our frustrations take over.  We know love is supposed to be the foundation, though, and we feel the tension.

Your frustrations and mine can linger when we’re caught in mutual complaints. They can gradually overwhelm what you were so excited about at the beginning – your love.

So, maybe you’re right – you won’t make him or her happy. But maybe it’s time to shift your focus.

Where’s the love?

Luke, one of the gospel writers, shows us a compelling contrast in how people show love for others.

We know that Jesus rebuked those who followed God, his contemporaries, for being cold toward others:  not celebrating when he healed a person’s debilitating illness, caring more about institutions than the suffering of people, and being hard-hearted toward God.  Luke summarized what Jesus said about his current generation like this:

“We played the pipe for you,

and you did not dance.

We sang a dirge,

but you did not cry.”

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’[1]

In other words, Jesus describes people who respond with indifference.  They’re not responding.  They won’t enter into each other’s joy, nor each other’s sorrow.

Whether someone acts one way, or the complete opposite, neither are good enough.  They’re critical.  Can’t win either way.

Does this sound like any marriage you know?

You may have read this in my writing before.  The primary marriage problems I’ve found in the church groups I’ve survey so far are emotional disconnection and lack of intimacy.

I think we would agree that this sounds like a deficit of love.  And yet, as Christ followers, we’re meant to be the jars of clay filled with an inexhaustible supply of love.

I’m not here today to write a treatise on love, but I am raising a couple of questions to consider:

  1. Is there a generational cycle you can trace out that might be interfering with your emotional intimacy?

We are a continent of people who have a generational history of dealing with emotional disconnection. I realize that many people globally have dealt with this, especially since the turn of the 20th century.  People leaving their community, their families and their country to set off for greener pastures.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing; it has opened up opportunities that have saved so many from lives of poverty, the devastation of war or other forms of oppression.

But being torn from a community or loved ones and starting over in a new land has an emotional impact with consequences that may include avoiding, denying, and dismissing one’s own emotions and those of others.  This tendency may be passed down from generation to generation.

Are there any generational cycles you need to pay attention to?

Working on your emotional capacity for intimacy in your marriage is one way of bringing love to your marriage.  Jesus himself offered the solution to the lack of love in his generation:  he promised the Spirit’s supernatural love and power to those who invite Him in.

Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your own barriers to emotional intimacy.  Talk to your pastor, your small group leader or a Christian counsellor if you suspect you’re facing emotional barriers to intimacy.

  1. What does the alternative to the complaining behaviour Jesus spoke of even look like?

Luke answers this question too, further along in Chapter 7.  It looks like extravagant love.

The extravagant love Mary displayed in breaking an alabaster jar of expensive nard – worth about a year’s wages for a labourer at the time.  She used it to anoint Jesus feet as her expression of who he was in her eyes – her Love, the One who saw her, deserving of royal title, holy.[2]  He was the One who had loved and healed her soul while in everyone else’s eyes, she was unworthy.

The truth is – you will never truly fill the whole of your partner’s heart.  And your spouse will never truly fully fill yours.

When our response to God’s love looks more like the love Mary poured out for Jesus, the complaints and the criticisms are displaced.  By what?  The inbreaking of the other-worldly but yours-for-the-asking love of God.

Jesus invites us to pour out the love and gratitude you feel for him, into the lives of the people around us.  So, here’s your assignment:  how could you secretly plan to surprise your partner with a wild celebration of your love?

I’d love to hear how it turns out!

 

 

[1] Luke 7: 32-34, NIV

[2] Luke 7: 36-38, NIV

3 thoughts on “Ask yourself these two questions if frustration has replaced emotional intimacy in your marriage”

  1. What a wonderful devotional! It reminded me that we do need community and it’s okay to love my husband extravagantly.

  2. Thank you Toni for these challenging words. The concept that caught my attention was that Mary, out of her heart of gratitude to God for His love towards her, poured out her love for Jesus in an extravagant way, that was wrongly judged by others.

    The nard was hers to do with as she desired, yet her worship in love was misunderstood and judged as wasteful. Just like Jesus poured out His love for her, even though others deemed her unworthy and Him wasting His time. Don’t we all want to be loved like that? Totally accepted for who we are, seen as valuable and worthy, whether great like Jesus or lesser like Mary.

    And Jesus tells us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I want to be loved like Mary was, and I need to express love like she did.

    This challenges me to love my husband more sacrificially, and more selflessly, as he is a good man with a Christ centered heart, who daily seeks to love me like Jesus does.

    Thank you for the reminder and challenge to do better in the power of the Holy Spirit…and not just to my husband but to this world of people who really are struggling right now, whether they admit it or not.

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