For the long-term health of your marriage, be intentional about keeping passion alive. Here's how.
In my last post, 5 Surprising Facts About Passion in Marriage, I said that passion only dies when we let it. You don’t actually have to do anything to kill passion, because it will die soon enough from inattention.
Today I’m using the analogy of a fire to give you 3 key strategies for keeping passion alive and thriving in your marriage.
Gas-logs are easy and convenient, but to me, there is something almost magical about a real wood-burning fireplace. I love the beauty of the flames, the smoky smell, and the crackling sounds. The downside is that a wood fire requires steady attention. You have to watch it and take action when it begins to die out.
There is no gas log equivalent when it comes to the passion in your marriage. There’s no simple switch you can throw that brings up the level of passion to a fiery glow. No, passion in marriage is more like a hands-on wood-burning experience, requiring continual attention.
In my post Death By Auto-Pilot, I explained how putting your marriage in “automatic” mode is certain relationship death. It’s true. Auto-pilot destroys passion and intimacy, and a marriage without these two key ingredients will struggle greatly.
Watchfulness is the key to keeping passion and intimacy alive. It starts with a determination to remain attentive and observant to all that goes on in and around you, keeping your heart, mind, spirit, and physical senses alive and alert. In marriage, watchfulness is about purposefully and continually monitoring the passion and intimacy level in your relationship, allowing you to take action when it’s needed.
A fire that doesn’t get stirred periodically will develop cold spots that spread and eventually lead to dead coals that choke out the flames. If you remain watchful, you’ll know when your marriage needs a little stirring to restore the intensity of the flames.
How do you keep your passions and longings for each other stirred up? Believe it or not, we can look to the Bible for some clues:
Take joy and pleasure in the wife of your youth.
Let her breasts be your satisfaction,
and let her embrace intoxicate you at all times.
Be continually delighted and ravished with her love!
Proverbs 5:18-19 (TPT) *
That’s right, pleasure, satisfaction, intoxication, delight, and ravishment in marriage are all in the Bible. This is how God meant it to be. Full of passion.
There is a lot we could unpack from this passage, but I’ll just make two points here. (Note: although this passage is an instruction to husbands, it applies equally to wives!)
First, terms like “at all times” and “continually” clearly convey the need to be vigilant and watchful over the physical and emotional intimacy in your relationship. The reference to “the wife of your youth” makes it clear that we must not buy the lie of inevitable marital decline.
Second, there is a clear call to take a new mindset. Don’t take love for granted. Rather, allow the love you share to delight you, to ravish your heart at the deepest levels. Focus on the joy and pleasure you find in one another.
Stir passion’s fires within yourself by taking delight in loving your spouse well – with all your heart. Count it a privilege and a joy to meet his or her needs, and find pleasure in giving your spouse pleasure.
You stir passion by a shift in mindset where you learn to delight in delighting one another. Then you can feed passion by taking action.
If you don’t regularly feed a fire with more wood, it can’t last. Unless you learn and practice the habits that build and sustain passion in your marriage, it will eventually wane.
In my book, Pump Up the Passion, I list 64 specific actions you can take, based on the five habits that keep your passion alive. Learn to infuse your marriage with play, pursuit, praise, and pleasure, and make these a priority. See some specific examples below. (Note: You can also get the book on Kindle.)
In addition to the book, I’ve got a quick tip sheet, Passion Pointers, that lists the 64 things you can do feed excitement, intensity, and desire in your relationship. Plus there is a bonus section called “Thinking Passionate Thoughts.”
When the Fire’s Gone Out
What if the fire has already gone out? The first step is to decide you want the fire back, and set it in your mind that you will do whatever it takes.
Building a big bonfire starts with igniting a small bit of kindling. You strike the match by deciding to make a change, then you lay the match to a piece of kindling by finding one small thing you can change that will give you the initial flames.
For example, let’s say you decide to start with the habit of praise. Make a list of things you appreciate about your spouse: personality traits, appearance, things they do for you or the family. Then, over the next week, find ways to communicate your appreciation every day. Praise has the power to shift the atmosphere in your marriage and thus a flame flickers to life.
Next week think of another small change you can make in the direction of a more passionate marriage. But keep up the praise. Habits take a while to form – weeks and sometimes months. Be patient, and be persistent.
Do you need to have more fun in your relationship? Play a game or watch a funny movie. Do something spontaneous for no reason but to have fun. Have you stopped pursuing your spouse? Plan a date. Buy a surprise gift. Send a loving or suggestive text. Haven’t had sex in a while? Put it on the calendar. Initiate in a creative or fun way.
Like a real wood fire, passion needs to be watched, stirred, and fed. When you learn these three steps and support them with passion-building habits, you’ll find that passion can last a lifetime.
* Proverbs passage reference: Simmons, Brian. Proverbs: Wisdom from Above (The Passion Translation) . BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC. Kindle Edition.