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July 25, 2006

I’ve put a little thought into this post. Not a lot, just a little.

There is an element to a relationship that can either make or break it. It is more absent than present in the relationships I’ve been exposed to in my brief existence. But I think it’s absence is profoundly disturbing.

It is the element of Enjoyment.

Do you enjoy your spouse? Your beloved. We are told and obligated to be “committed”, “dedicated” and “devoted”. We are determined to be faithful and successful.

But what happened to Enjoyment. I use the big E because I think it’s important.

You can’t fabricate “like”. It either exists or it doesn’t. Love is a choice and can be “mustered up” to meet the obligation and the commitment. Like? It’s a gush of affection and a sparkle in your eyes when she throws her head back and laughs. It’s the warm fuzzy when he opens the door and compliments your new dress.

Several years ago, as my husband and I were rebuilding our marriage from the ash heap of selfishness, I remember a moment when as we were laughing about something mundane and I impulsively hugged him and said, “I really like you!” No blinding flashes of insight or deep thoughts. Just a moment. He’s cool! I really couldn’t imagine anyone else I would want to be with at that moment. Later, he told me that there are times when “I like you.” means more to him than “I love you.” He said “It just felt good when you said that.”

It does feel good to be liked. Especially by the person we wake up next to in the morning and and the one we snuggle with at night. Especially by the one who knows all your ridiculous behaviors and embarrassing secrets.

I remember back to those early days when every word out of his mouth was deep and astonishing and every touch was memorable. He occupied every thought and I was obnoxiously talkative about him. His quirks were cute and his shortcomings were all forgiveable. Barely noticeable even. I think it was the black leather jacket that blinded me.

Fast forward 12 years.

I have to consciously remember that the quirks are part of his uniqueness and that his shortcomings are merely the result of living in a fallen world and not being perfect. There are times I have to stop and ask G-d to help me see him favorably. I become blind to his sterling qualities and numb to his gifts and talents.

I cease to enjoy him. Serving him becomes a chore. Listening to him becomes difficult. He bothers me.

How silly. As though I am Entitled to all his affection and attention.

Entitled. It means “qualified by right”. I have the Right to his affection, his attention. It’s his duty to please me. I require his admiration and his provision to all my earthly needs. He can choose to believe an entitlement to my affection, my presence, my nurture, my body.

Does that type of attitude disgust anyone else? In a very real way we are both right and wrong to think that way. Yes, we have certain obligations toward our spouses as defined in Scripture. The husband is commanded to Love and the wife is commanded to Respect. Neither spouse is allowed to with hold sex from the other. Unless they both agree and only for a short period while you devote yourselves to prayer… Why? You allow room for the enemy to tempt you and you become vulnerable to sin.

But we are not to take for granted the blessing that we are given in the very fact that we have found someone willing to commit their existence to us. We don’t “deserve” their affection, their attention or their fidelity. It’s a gift. Every day.

It is a wife’s obligation and privilege to keep her husband satisfied. It’s a husband’s obligation and privilege to know his wife well enough that he pleases her. It’s part of the promise you make. I don’t give a rat’s rear end about mis-matched libido’s or other such nonsense. In the immortal words of Nike. Just Do It. Good sex comes from quantity as well as quality. Bad sex is still better than none at all. Unless you are a freak. In which case, get therapy, get past it and get over it. Or unless neither one of you has the gumption to tell the other person what you like. In which case, bad sex is your own fault.

In our society women insist that they are to be viewed as the consummate vision of his every sexual fantasy (but only 3 times a year). And then these very same women turn around and despise being “sexualized” and “trivialized”. Men seem to want to be seen as the most Virile Sexy Beast the world has ever known! Endowed beyond anything she could ever imagine and sexually satisfied every moment of the day. She should live to fulfill his every whim (sexually) and yet find time to keep a spotless house, look fit as a fiddle and lovingly and successfully parent the children.

Unrealistic? Duh. Nowhere in that obligation is the place where we just relax and stop to enjoy the other person. Enjoy: “Delight; take delight in.”

So, I encourage you. Stop for a moment. Look at your spouse, if you are blessed enough to have one. Remember what it was that caught your eye in the first place. Find it again.

And enjoy.

At least, that’s what I think.