Five Steps to a Better Marriage

Perhaps you're feeling a little distant from your spouse, there are five "T's" which will lead you to (or back to) a level of intimacy that can only have been designed by God.

Let's talk about how the Five T's are a formula for SUCCESS in marriage.

Time: If you want to see what is important in a person's life, or where their heart is, you look in two places. Their checkbook  and their calendar. The people, activities and interests to which you give your time are what is most important to you and when you spend your time with a person you convey that level of priority to them. This is a good thing if you are investing time in an appropriate relationship like your marriage, with your children, with a family member or with a close friend. Time is the most important of all the "T's" simply because if you do not invest your time in someone, the other "T's" are not possible.

Talking: The more time you spend with someone, the more you'll communicate with them. When you take the time to talk with someone, you are opening your heart to them. Are you spending intentional time with your spouse just talking? Sherry and I spend at least 15 minutes a day on our deck, talking about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it's heavier stuff: decisions about ministry or about our son and the decisions he has to make during his senior year of high school, other times it's lighter and we just sit and laugh at our goofy labradors. Talking with your spouse is a crucial step towards intimacy with them. Here's a subtle hint for you ladies: An essential part of a conversation is listening. It's ok for you to wait until your husband speaks, rather than trying to get him to talk. I've shared more with Sherry when she'll be patient and wait for me to talk than when she tries to drag the words out of me. And here's a not-so-subtle hint for you men out there: if you're verbally intimate with your wife, she's more likely to be intimate with you physically! I've found that honest, open communication actually makes Sherry desire me physically even more! (See the fifth "T" below)

Transparency: The more time I spend with a person, the more I talk to them. The more I talk to them, the more transparent I become. Pastor Jimmy Evans likes to share a story about the early part of his and his wife Karen's relationship. When they were first dating, Jimmy had a car that was perfect on the driver's side but wrecked on the passenger's side. So, in an effort to impress his future bride, he would always arrive to pick up Karen for a date with the driver's side of the car facing the house. He'd then gallantly open the driver's side door and allow Karen to slide over across the vast bench seat. It wasn't until after they were dating for several months that Karen realized Jimmy had only been showing Karen the driver's side because the passenger side was smashed and ugly. Isn't that also true of our relationships? We only want to show the good side so that people won't see the dents in our fender. Inevitably though, when we spend enough time with a person and they get to know us through talking to us, we eventually can't help but let our guard down and be transparent about our true nature. Most people are only transparent with a select few. This is because transparency leads to intimacy on a deeper level.

Trust: The more time I spend, the more I talk. The more I talk, the more transparent I become. The more transparent I become, the more I can trust and be trusted. Your spouse can only trust you if you are spending time, talking and being transparent. Otherwise, how do you even know each other? Can you trust someone you don't know? If you ask couples who are  struggling through a valley in their relationship how they ended up where they are, the majority will tell you that they, in one form or another, do not trust their spouse. This is a product of complacency and a lack of being intentional about the relationship. If you'll make it your heart's desire to be trusted by your spouse, you'll invest yourself in them. I've heard it said that trust is earned through consistency of behavior over time. If you'll consistently and intentionally invest yourself in your relationship with your spouse, they'll trust you with their heart and you'll trust them with yours.

Touch: The more time I spend, the more I talk. The more I talk, the more transparent I become. The more transparent I become, the more I can trust and be trusted. The more I can be trusted with my spouse's heart, the more my spouse will allow me to touch their heart (sorry for the bait-and-switch, men). You were probably thinking the final "T" for touch meant sexual intimacy. Well, on one level it does, but that's not really what we're talking about here. See, true sexual intimacy as God designed it is about the heart. I'll bet most of you had no idea that the heart's an erogenous zone! Isn't God smart? Men, as you invest time, talking, transparency and trust into your wife, you are touching her heart, which will lead to her allowing you to touch her in other places! And women, as you will invest time, talking, transparency and trust with your husband, you'll feel safe enough to allow him that physical access to you, which will lead to him sharing his heart on the deepest level.

If you'll engage in The Five "T's", your marriage relationship will reach the level of intimacy God has designed. Print them out and hang them on the refrigerator, write them on sticky notes,  use a dry-erase marker and write them on the bathroom mirror: do whatever it takes to remind yourself to invest in your marriage! It is never too late to start and it is never too late for God to save your marriage. Start by spending the time!

In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted. Hear what God says: When the time came for me to show you favor, I heard you; when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you.Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favor; today is the day to be saved! -2 Corinthians 6:1-2

What God creates, the enemy perverts. These same five things that can lead you to intimacy with your spouse, when employed outside of your marriage can destroy it, as explained in the Five Steps to Destroy Your Marriage- we'll talk about that next week.

How have you experienced the Five T's in your marriage?

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