Wednesday, February 10, 2016
From Springsteen - "When we kiss.... ooh oooh, fire" to Johnny Cash - "got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout" and "I fell into a burning ring of fire" love has always been described with metaphors based on fire, burning with heat and light. Even God, via Solomon's pen in Song of Songs 8:6-7 says: [Love] burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. Fire is a powerful force of nature, with equal potential to give life and take it, so it is fitting that love and passion are described as having a similar nature. In James 3:5 it says: Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. Fire must be taken seriously, and respected lest it grow and rage out of control. Over and over in the Song of Songs Solomon writes "Do not awaken love until it pleases." Depending on the translation it could also be read "until it desires" or "until the time is right." In this context marriage is like a fireplace: an environment where fire can be safely lit, tended and stoked until it gives off warmth and light. Especially after some time has passed, marriage relationships that have "gone cold" are said to need to be “spiced up,” that the “spark” needs to be rediscovered and rekindled. So how do we do that? Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo of the One Extraordinary Marriage podcast and blog recently made this observation: a fire needs three things to burn - oxygen, fuel and heat. In a relationship these equate to time, emotional intimacy, and physical intimacy. Just as a fire needs all three of the former, so a marriage needs all three of the latter. If your marriage is not as hot as you'd like, if it isn't giving off the life-giving warmth and light it was designed to, look close and see which ingredient(s) you might be missing. Are you both working crazy hours, or is your schedule over-booked with kids' activities or other obligations? Without spending quality time together, a marriage is like a fire starved of oxygen, where the wood frustratingly won't catch. Maybe some smoke is produced, but there cannot be a blaze under these conditions. Maybe you are spending time together, but that time is spent watching TV, or with both of you surfing the web on phones or tablets. If conversation is not happening - and I mean more than "how was work?" or "here's what the kids did today" or "where do we have to be this weekend" - than your emotional intimacy is not growing. You need to discuss deeper topics. Memories good and bad, problems looming, or ones that have been overcome, fears, goals and dreams can all be great topics to strengthen emotional bonds. Spiritual intimacy too, can be like fuel to a relationship. Praying for and with each other, attending church together, or doing a couples’ devotional can inspire conversations that dig beneath surface issues. Without meaningful discussion, a marriage is like a fire lit on nothing but kindling. It might get bright - but only briefly. It will soon fizzle out, and never produce any heat. Friction between two objects that are touching produce heat. It is physical contact that causes a match to ignite. You rub your hands together to warm them up on a cold day, All the air and fuel in the world will just sit there, inert, unless heat is introduced. Two people who intentionally spend time together, seeking out each other’s company and talking with each other are just friends. Friendship is a component of marriage, but there needs to be more. Touch each other! Hold hands, give back rubs, snuggle on the couch. Tickle each other. Give long hugs before work and upon returning. Kiss often. See if that doesn’t heat things up. If the first two ingredients are also present, you’ll have a "fire" in no time!