Cultivating Romantic Affection In Your Marriage
Having talked about cultivating spiritual unity, let us now turn our attention to cultivating romantic affection. Now pay attention: a lot of men are about as romantic as a water buffalo! And I include myself in that herd of buffaloes because I was raised as an athlete. I was raised hunting and fishing and I had the sensitivity of a bull elephant and had absolutely no ability to manifest and express love toward anyone.
But our Lord Jesus Christ loves us, and He gives tokens of his love. He gives kisses by His Spirit. He showers us with blessings and gifts too numerous to be numbered. He lavishes upon us grace, and we are to love our wives in the same way.
So let us think about this. What do we mean by romantic affection? I mean this: You cultivate romantic affection by verbal, visible and physical expressions of love, without any intention of having sex. That is, by your words, by your acts, by your sacrifices, by your sensitivities, by your gentleness, you seek to maintain a degree of holy romance in the context of your marriage. You know, when you are first married (some people have an arranged marriage and others have a love marriage), over time, there is excitement. There is enthusiasm. There is a thrill. But several years down the line and two or three children in the crib, then all of that feeling goes out the window.
But remember what we’ve said on many occasions about the definition of love. Love is a felt affection of the heart. It is a feeling, it is an emotion, it is an affection. But number two, it is a volitional commitment of the will. It is not just affection or an emotion, it is a commitment of the will. And number three, it is a sacrifice of life. Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. So, our Lord Jesus Christ loves the church, and he loves you. And he loves you with a felt affection. In his heart, he has an affection for his people. But not only that, he has a commitment when he walked the face of the earth and he has a commitment now in heaven not to leave or forsake us no matter what we do, he is committed.
And if we are going to love our wives, we must be committed in our will to be faithful to them for the rest of our life. But it’s also a sacrifice of our life, just as Christ gave himself for us. Your home is not a castle where you reign as a king. Your home is a Calvary, where you die to self and seek to serve others. For love is seeking the highest good of the object you love, and at times, giving and expecting nothing in return. And if you’re going to see your marriage after 50 years continue to be warm, and long after the raging fires of physical passion have died down to a soft glow then there must be true biblical romance. There can be affection in our relationship because you continue with your words, not to tear her down or to criticise her but to build her up and to edify her. You are still committed to this one woman. She may not look the way she used to look. She may have put on weight after having three or four children. But if you’ve looked in the mirror lately, you don’t look like a Bollywood movie star yourself.
So you need to understand that we are committed to our wives no matter what happens to them physically, by way of their health, by way of their difficulties. And if the emotions come and go and ebb and flow, you are committed to her and you communicate that commitment to her. She needs to know that you are with her, that you care for her, that you love her. And in your eye and in your heart and in your ear and in your mind, there is one woman. That means you’re not looking at pornography. That means you’re not sneaking off and feeding your soul with filth from the internet. That means you don’t have your eye on young women that look better than your wife because she’s now middle-aged.
And if anyone reading this article is involved with pornography, you’ve got your eye on something you shouldn’t see you’ve got your heart and affection set on somebody else other than your wife or you’re engaged in practices and habits that are inappropriate according to the Word of God, then you need to immediately repent. Because I would remind you of the words and the book of Proverbs 6. Let me just review it for you very quickly. Proverbs 6:15-23 and you ought to read it often verses 15 to 23. There the writer says, ‘Drink water from your own cistern. Freshwater from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the street? Let them be for yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth.’
Women grow old and they don’t look like they used to look. Neither do we as men. But if you’re going to romance your wife, you married her for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health till death do you part and you are committed to one woman and you let her know that verbally, visibly, physically, without always thinking that it’s going to lead to a physical relationship.
And you need to speak sincere words of appreciation and affection to your wife. You need to thank her for her love for you, for her support, for the care of the children, for cooking meals and keeping an ordered home, for being a good example. You need to express affection and appreciation with your mouth towards your wife that builds her up. Make her more secure and give her a sensible sense that you truly care for her. Some men barely squeak out “I love you” one time before they marry. And they say, “Well, I told her 30 years ago, I loved her and if I change my mind, I’ll tell her.”
Brethren, hear me: the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t deal with us like that. He constantly manifests tokens of affection and expressions of love to us. And if you’re going to love your wife as Christ loved the church, I encourage you to give her sincere words of affection and appreciation and give her pure holy physical affection—without sexual overtones. Again, give her pure, holy physical affection without sexual overtones. That is, manifest your love visibly verbally and physically toward your wife. We can get so busy that we move through the day, day after day, and don’t speak a word of affection to our wife. We haven’t touched our wife with holy affection. We haven’t reaffirmed our love for her. I’m not talking about sitting around all day and patting your wife’s hand and telling her how much you love her. But I am talking about cultivating some habits according to the Word of God. That you can verbally, visually or physically manifest affection for your wife.
And schedule time alone with your wife apart from the children. If you need to, hire a babysitter and get a nanny. Develop a relationship with your wife apart from the children because in a few years, those children are going to be gone. And when you’ve gotten so involved with the children and so involved in the ministry, and all of a sudden the children are gone and you’re looking at your wife eyeball to eyeball and say: “Who are you?!” And then the love and affection and commitment and devotion to one another had been displaced in the ministry or displaced in the children and because of that, there’s none left to be directed one toward one another.
You’ve got to maintain a relationship with your wife alone, just like you maintain a relationship with God alone. It’s not enough as I said to take your wife to church. It’s not enough to go out to other homes with other couples. That is good. That is beneficial. But make sure to spend time alone with your wife—special times, doing something special for her. Maybe you should wash the dishes. Maybe you should change the diaper. Maybe you should care for the children and I hope and trust that many of you do.
These things communicate affection and appreciation towards your wife. And she reciprocates that in responding with affection and appreciation. And it’s not inappropriate to do something special for your wife: to give her a little gift, a little flower, a little something that is different and distinct to express your appreciation and your love for your wife. Not all women are the same. But by and large, women are more sensitive and must be treated with gentleness and tenderness and expressions of verbal, visible, physical and sacrificial love. This will deepen and increase romantic affection in the context of your home.
This article is the transcript of the talk by Brother Andy H. in the meeting held in October 2021 entitled ‘The Pastor And His Marriage’.
Please click here to read Part 1 of the article on ‘Don’t Neglect Your Wife’ by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 2 of the article on ‘Your Wife’s Identity And Ultimate Purpose’ by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 3 of the article on ‘Cultivating Spiritual Unity In Your Marriage – Part 1’ by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 4 of the article on ‘Cultivating Spiritual Unity In Your Marriage – Part 2’ by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 6 of the article on ‘Cultivating Physical Intimacy In Your Marriage – Part 1’ by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 7 of the article on ‘Cultivating Physical Intimacy In Your Marriage – Part 2’ by Bro. Andy H.