I can take my wife's emotional temperature from 20 feet away. When Jen is cold, I look for a warmer personality — like the TV — to keep me company. When she's hot (I don't mean ready to slip between the sheets), I scamper to find a cooler climate — perhaps out on the back deck with an iced tea. I'm not saying these responses are right; I'm just saying that's what I tend to do. But I believe Scripture encourages me to set the emotional climate in my home, not just measure it.
In Ephesians 5:29, the apostle Paul calls on us to "cherish" our wives. The Greek word that Paul uses here means "bring warmth to," and it's the same word from which we derive thermal and thermostat. Regardless of my wife's emotional temperature, I can choose to respond to her in a way that creates a warm, loving atmosphere in our home.
Paul understood that most of us are cherishing experts — at least when it comes to ourselves. When he tells us to love our wives as we love our own bodies (Ephesians 5:28), he's encouraging us to care for their emotional and spiritual needs in the same way we care for our own physical needs. So if I walk in the room and sense Jen's mercury plummeting, the call to cherish means I engage when I'd rather shrink back.
At marriage conferences, Jen and I ask women in the audience, "When do you feel most cherished?" Here are some of the top responses:
- When he tells me I'm beautiful — and it's not to initiate sex
- When he initiates prayer with me
- When he cleans up without prodding
- When he helps me build my dreams
- When he puts the TV to his back at restaurants
- When he texts, emails or writes how much he loves me and why
With those responses in mind, ask your wife, "Do you feel the depth of my love? Not do you know it, but do you feel it?" If the answer is "Not really," then I dare you to ask her the follow-up question: "How can I help you feel it?"
—Brian Goins is the author of Playing Hurt: A guy's strategy for a winning marriage.
This article appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2013 by Brian Goins. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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