How to Add More Relational Passion to Your Marriage

How to Add More Relational Passion to Your Marriage “How was your time last night?”

Christopher’s face lit up like a thousand fireflies as he recounted the people he’d met, the board games he’d played, and the strategy he was able to execute perfectly.

His passion for people and board games flowed out of him as he talked, permeating the room like brownies baking in the oven.

My words slipped into the space he left behind as I explained the mind-bending plot twist in the novel I’d just finished, while we watched Isaiah zoom his cars along the floor.

Sometimes I tell him about the premise of the sweet romance I watched with friends. Or I get to talking about my own novel I’m writing, as I’ve discovered new depths to my characters’ interests and motivations.

It feels a little like when we were dating—when we couldn’t wait to see each other again and catch up on the details of our lives as if we were going to be tested on them.

Much-Needed Marriage Advice
One of the best pieces of marriage advice I received before my wedding came from my sister-in-law, Queena. She encouraged me to support my husband in something he enjoys doing without me.

What? But won’t our relationship grow better if we’re together? He is at work all day, after all.

As a new bride, it was easy for me to want my husband with me all the time. We had a number of shared interests and enjoyed being together.

I felt safe with him, and I didn’t have to make the effort to call anyone else or risk the rejection I felt if they declined.

The problem was, Christopher couldn’t meet all of my needs, because it’s impossible for one person to do.

I’m so thankful for the times when our family does do things together, but living with two members of the opposite gender, I realized I needed some time with the gender that thinks a little more like me.

Someone who understands when hormones cloud my logical thinking–and knows how to make sympathetic sounds and nod at the right time.

How to Add More Relational Passion to Your Marriage And as I share life with friends, I can learn about their passions. Sometimes, I’ll ask a question like, “What are you enjoying about life?” to get the conversation going.

The Universe-Shaper God created us in His image, like the different colors and pieces in a stained-glass window. How could we not want to explore and appreciate each tiny pane?

My time apart from Christopher has also caused me to look at myself and discover which creative pursuits energize me. (You can read more here.)

Working Out Expectations
There have been times when life’s been moving so fast, we’ve needed to guard our time with each other. Sometimes our expectations haven’t matched up, and we’ve needed to be honest with each other about feeling smothered or distant.

I know my husband will always feel energized by being with people on Friday nights (or singing with his barbershop quartet). Sometimes I get together with a friend while he’s away, but other times I’d rather just lose myself in a novel.

Then, when we come back together, we have more to give. We don’t have to be as concerned about getting all our relational needs filled from each other.

When we have people over as a couple, we can delight in practicing hospitality together, adding our individual interests and passions to the conversation.

Plus, Isaiah gets to see his mommy and daddy enjoying life (and learn that it doesn’t all revolve around him).

How to Add More Relational Passion to Your Marriage When Christopher and I are excited about life, our passions curl us even closer together, like a blanket. And when I just don’t get the draw of a space-themed strategy game he played with one of his friends, I can still delight in his joy (and the way his eyes squint when he’s happy).

What is your husband passionate about? I’d love to hear!

Evaluating Priorities (Part 2)

Why focusing on yourself helps you to focus on others
I lay in bed that night, listening to the slow rhythm of my husband’s breathing, wishing that falling asleep was something I could will myself to do. The past few days, I’d finally felt like I was easing out of survival mode and into a new kind of normal now that Isaiah was a few weeks old.

I’d started meeting with my counselor again. When she’d suggested the idea, I’d tried to smile and nod. Now all my protests were swirling through my mind like a cloud of gnats.

PrioritiesShe really thinks I should find a creative outlet? I don’t have time for that. I have a new baby! My brain has a hard enough time trying to figure out what to cook for dinner and when I last nursed my son. How could she think I would want to add something else to my plate?

I flipped over, trying to relax myself into sleep, but my mind wasn’t ready yet. What exactly was I passionate about? Not coffee, or sports, or posting craft ideas on pinterest. I didn’t even know if I had enough energy to be passionate about something.

Then a tiny idea wormed its way up from the back of my brain.

What about fiction writing?

Old flames
My husband had gotten me a few books about fiction writing one year for Christmas. I’d spent a couple summers in highschool and college writing stories, some of which I’d never finished.

Could I really do this? What if, rather than letting story ideas sit on the wrinkles of my brain, I actually wrote them into a novel? (Enter “Go big or go home” personality)

I spent the next weeks working through a book on Plot and Structure and brainstorming ideas for my novel. I found podcasts to listen to and articles to read. I started reading novels again, snatching moments in the evenings when my husband was busy and my son had gone to sleep.

Giving myself the gift of intentionality
Isaiah’s nap time became my writing time. All my other responsibilities had to fit around that precious alone time. Sometimes vacuuming didn’t get done on the day I’d planned to do it. Sometimes laundry wouldn’t get folded for a couple days. It was like the world could keep turning without me.

Priorities 2Crawling out of the ditch of responsibility for that time each day made me excited about hopping back in to dig through those dishes, laundry, and cleaning tasks as quickly as I could. By not allowing the other tasks to drag out, I was able to have more time focusing on the needs of my son–not to mention more emotional stamina to deal with his crying.

I took a couple Saturday afternoons away to work on my novel, and came home practically giddy to be with my husband and son.

When we were out with people, I started letting a little of my passion spill out in my conversations between talking about our children and how we both were doing.

I entered my novel in a contest. . . and lost. But through the eight months of working on it and studying the craft of writing, I had gained so much more. Every snippet of advice I tried to tuck away, realizing that I’d only scratched off the first layer of complexity and possibilities in my writing.

Being creative was like taking off sunglasses that had been keeping me from seeing the true vibrancy of life.

But as I delighted in this new creativity, some fears wriggled their way into my mind.

Was it really honoring to God to have time for me?

Shouldn’t I be using that time to help others instead?

Worshiping God through creativity
One of the books Christopher had given me was called, “The Christian Imagination,” a collection of articles on the practice of faith in literature and writing. It sent waves of excitement through me to be reminded that creativity is a reflection of our Creator.

Abraham Kuyper said it better than I ever could. “As image-bearer of God, man possesses the possibility both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it.”

Another article quoted Dorthy L. Sayers, who wrote about artistic creation in trinitarian terms. “In every act of creation, there is a controlling idea (the Father), the energy which incarnates that idea through craftsmanship in some medium (the Son), and the power to create a response in the reader (the Spirit).”

By delighting in this new-found creativity, I was able to worship God for His wisdom, power, strength, and beauty.

Creativity also gave me new perceptions of reality. C.S. Lewis said that, “literature enlarges our world of experience to include both more of the physical world and things not yet imagined, giving the “actual world” a “new dimension of depth.”

Skin-tingling sensations
When Isaiah was born, his senses exploded with new feelings–light, sounds, textures, and scents. Flannery O’Connor said, “The beginning of human knowledge is through the senses, and the fiction writer begins where human perception begins.”

I think that idea applies to every creative activity out there.

dsc00256God didn’t make us unfeeling robots. He wants to connect with us on a skin-tingling level as we experience his creation. And when we see the creative endeavors of others (like my mom-in-law’s masterpiece quilts), we have yet another chance to praise the Father like crazy for how He’s using people to share His beauty.

So I believe there are two parts that make up our “me time.”
1. Time to be creative.
2. Time to enjoy the creativity of others.

My husband has experienced my B.C. state (before creativity) and has told me he much prefers the A.C. (after creativity) me. In fact, I like me better that way, too.

20150129_145153_resizedWhat is it that you’ve been wanting to work on but felt like there were too many other responsibilities? Why not give it a try and then tell someone about it?

Here’s a list of 150 ideas to get you started.