By Contributing Writer, Kim Doebler
A few weeks ago I was helping my daughter with science. While quizzing her on the vocabulary words, we came to the word cohesion. Cohesion is: “the phenomena that occurs when individual molecules are so attracted to each other that they tend to stay together, even when exposed to tension.” As I read this definition the Lord whispered, “This is what I want for marriages.”
God wants us to experience in marriage the phenomenon that occurs when two individuals are so attracted to each other that they tend to stay together, even when exposed to tension.
The key element seems to be the attraction. So as a wife, in every situation, I can either be strengthening or weakening our attraction.
Here are three of many lessons I have learned in the past 27 years of marriage that stick out to me regarding how I tried to weaken the attraction between Todd and I.
Believe the Best
The first one was early in our marriage. I had brought a bad habit into our life together. I had a tendency to add my interpretation to anything Todd did or said. It really didn’t matter what he said or did because I would come to my own conclusions anyway.
One day he sat me down and said, “I would not purposefully hurt you. And I would really like it if you would believe the best about me.”
It was true; I was constantly being hurt by what I read into his comments or actions. My mind was a playground of negativity. My thoughts were definitely weakening our attraction.
As this conversation continued, we agreed to believe the best about each other and not to allow ourselves to come to our own conclusions about what the other person “really” meant. If we thought there was more to a comment than what was said, we were to ask the other person. Wow. So simple, yet not my natural tendency.
So this not only affected how I thought about Todd, it also affected how he responded to me. From this point on, if he asked me, “Are you OK?” and I mumbled “Yes,” he believed me. No more games. I had to communicate the truth if I wanted to keep our attraction strong.
Don’t be Easily Offended
A second lesson I learned about attraction happened while we went out to dinner with another couple. During the meal, the other husband told an embarrassing story about his wife. When he was finished, the wife laughed and added a few more details of her own. As I watched this transpire, I was amazed. Most wives I knew (including myself) would have been offended by this man’s story and would have bristled and glared at him. This wife looked so beautiful as she laughed and joined in the story.
It hit me how ugly the easily offended woman looks. I wanted the beauty this woman portrayed. This event sticks with me today. When I feel myself wanting to cross my arms and squint my eyes in disgust at my husband, I hear myself scolding, “Ugly, ugly, you are being ugly.”
This rebuke helps me to put into practice the lesson of “believing the best” about my man that I learned in the first example. Actually, with both of these examples, it is the lies in my mind that have to be fought. Todd and I chose each other to spend the rest of our lives together with; why am I so quick to break down our attraction by thinking on what is false, wrong, and blameworthy?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
God’s ways are definitely better than my natural tendencies.
Your Husband is Not the Enemy
One last example of my weakening our bond was regarding my communication. I had thought I was communicating by telling Todd all the things I didn’t like. One day as I was reading the Bible, I read Ephesians 4: 28 “speak the truth in love.” The translation I heard was, “Kim, you are not speaking the truth in love or communicating, you are condemning.” In other words I wasn’t loving Todd by telling him what I didn’t like; I was demanding him to change or else I wouldn’t be pleased with him.
While listing to Todd all the things I didn’t like, I started to view him as the enemy. Instead of seeking unity, I was fighting him. As I read one of the gospels, I came to the part when Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Jesus knew that Peter wasn’t the enemy; Satan was.
That is the battle I need to remember too. Todd is not the enemy; Satan is. Todd and I are one; it is Satan that wants to lie, kill, and destroy our marriage.
So if I can weaken our cohesion, I can strengthen it too. The choice is mine.
In the book His Needs/Her Needs, there is a list of a man’s five most important emotional needs. This list is helps me check what areas I may need to increase my efforts in so I can increase the attraction between my prince charming and myself.
The five needs are: sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, physical attractiveness, domestic support and admiration. We each need to know our own man and how he would best appreciate our living these out. Quickly, I would like to give an example of how these look for us.
Since I am the slow cooker type and my husband is more like a microwave, I need to work at prepping myself for his advances each day. The mind is such a huge part of this process. What I do is I purpose to think about my husband in a romantic way while we are apart each day.
I encourage myself to ponder his touch and his kiss. I even rest a little each afternoon with the thought that I am saving that energy for my husband when he gets home that night. These efforts allow me to be more receptive to his advances and, at times, to even entice him with a little flirting of my own.
The realization that I wanted to be associated with Todd’s most enjoyable activities is what motivated me to take up fishing and hunting. We did need to alter these activities a little to make them work. For example, I always bring a book along when we go fishing, because his zeal is longer lasting than mine. A book allows me to continue to enjoy being with him, while still being available to celebrate his catches with him.
Regarding hunting, it did not take us long to figure out that we could not carry enough gear into the woods to keep me warm during gun season, so I became a bow hunter only.
I got three bonuses by sharing these activities with Todd. We had great conversations in the car on the way to a favorite fishing lake or the tree stand. I experienced his beaming with pride whenever I caught a fish or made a good shot. Plus, he showed so much patience with me as he passed on these skills, and he had so much knowledge to share.
One small thing I do for my husband that he finds attractive is wear my hair long. Often other women will tell me it is my hair, and I can do what I want with it. Well, I want to wear it in a way that is attractive to my husband. I am thankful to know what he likes so I can do it. Again, I want to be strengthening our attraction, and the physical aspect is definitely part of that.
I am not a neat freak, yet I want my husband to want to be home. What motivates me to pick up is the desire to have our home to be a haven. I view our house as a refuge, a place to be refreshed. Having meals ready at regular times, clothes washed and put away, as well as a minimal amount of clutter around are the least I can do to build cohesion in this area of our lives.
Many years ago we had an assignment for a women’s group I was in. We were to compliment our husband once a day for a month. I have to admit this felt awkward. But after a month of gushing my husband admitted to thinking, “Gee that was nice of her to say.”
Much to my surprise, he was not at all thinking that I was going overboard. This convinced me of two things. First, my being comfortable should not be a guide by which I use to hand out compliments. Secondly, my husband likes and needs a lot of encouragement. Cheerleading may not be my strength, but it is a big part of my being a wife.
So cohesion may be a phenomena, but it is one that I can create or deflate. I know tension will come, so during the non-tense times, I will build attraction. Communicating, not being easily offended and meeting his five most important emotional needs are great ways to build cohesion. Resisting the devil and thinking the best about the man I chose to spend the rest of my days with sounds like the kind of phenomena I want to live out.