Are you creating marital warmth within your home? Yes! It’s cold outside in many parts of the world—especially here in the United States. Winter storms have been raging. They’re causing all kinds of upsets on the roads, in airports, and elsewhere. It’s a mess. And the weather services are telling people to expect more brutally cold weather ahead. Even so, that doesn’t mean we should bring that coldness into our marriages.
One of the things we always emphasized in our home is that it may be crazy out in the world, but it doesn’t have to be crazy in our home. It can be cold outside, but it doesn’t have to be cold within. Our home is to be a haven. We’ve always aimed to make our home a place of peace and warmth. No name-calling, meanness or making fun of each other was allowed. And we didn’t just expect this behavior from our sons. It started first with us. We worked to create Godly marital warmth in how we treated each other. And the warmth radiated from there onto them and others. We firmly believe in the action of “leading in love” by example.
Proactively Creating Marital Warmth
This took a lot of intentionality. There were many times we had to really fight our inner nature to treat each other warmly. It didn’t always come naturally. And it still doesn’t. To this day, we still work on this mission in our life together. It’s a sacred one. And we’ve been told that it is noticeable when people enter into our home. Our grandchildren have even told us that they like to be with us because we treat each other and them in “warm and loving” ways. We thank God they have noticed. The warmth they notice definitely comes from God. It’s His mandate to His children. We’re told in the Bible to:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:31-5:1-2)
It’s a journey of love and sometimes of sacrifice. But it’s worth it.
Is it possible?
We asked you earlier if you are creating marital warmth within your home. Some of you will say yes. But others will point to their spouse, or another circumstance and give that as an excuse as to why it’s not possible. We understand that this can be a daunting mission because we don’t always control all of the circumstances in our lives. But God also tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) So God understands. He knows that we don’t control all of the circumstances that hit us. We can’t control what others do, but we can control what we do.
Creating an Environment of Warmth
We love something that Jim Burns wrote:
“My mother knew how to create an environment of warmth in our home better than anyone I have ever met. Life wasn’t easy for mom. She came from a family where her father was an alcoholic and life was at times very difficult. But she had the ability to rise above her circumstances. Her favorite saying was ‘It’s party time!’ Raising four sons, working a full-time job and keeping track of my dad kept her life filled and busy. Yet, she could brighten the day of anyone she came in contact with, even in the midst of a stressful time.
“Before she died I remember asking her how she maintained such a warm and positive spirit in the midst of trying circumstances. Mom wasn’t particularly a super spiritual person but her answer helps me every day. ‘I look at my life situation. And I count my blessings. I can either focus on what’s wrong or what’s right. I choose to create an environment of love.’ That attitude took work and concentration on Mom’s part. She definitely had moments where negative life issues overwhelmed her. But for the most part, she decided to create a party even in the midst of trying circumstances.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it is possible to have a ‘make-believe’ type of a marriage. It takes work and focus. With today’s fast paced life you can find reasons to be angry with your spouse and kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but how is that going to help the situation? Think warmth.” (From his Homeword.com article, Creating Warmth in Your Marriage)
Creating Marital Warmth?
So we ask those questions: Are you thinking warmth? Are you creating marital warmth? “As far as it is possible, as far as it depends on you” are you finding ways to create warmth within your home?
Jim Burns said that his mom wasn’t a “super spiritual person” and yet she found ways to “walk in love.” That should challenge us all the more to make sure we walk in love as Jesus would have us.
“What is warmth in marriage? Warmth is what two people find helps them feel close together and more at ease with each other. It can vary between couples. …Warmth may involve sitting beside someone not for any ulterior motive, but because you want to be with them. Warmth is listening to and trying to understand your partner even though you cannot totally put yourself in her [or his] shoes. Additionally, warmth is accepting, not criticizing, teasing or putting down.
“Warmth may be providing that shoulder to lean upon, that lap to put your head on. Most importantly, warmth is being there, willingly, with your partner, for the sake and the benefit of the relationship between the two of you. …It is giving of yourself, and not demanding of the other. And after all, isn’t that what love is all about?” (Peter Griffiths, from the article, “Warmth in Marriage”)
The Challenge of Living Out Marital Warmth
That’s a good question. Isn’t the what love is all about? Yes, but it can be a challenge. When we are first married, we are all about love and marital warmth. It comes pretty naturally. But after marrying—when we start to deal with everyday life together as a team, we can deal start dealing with each other in mechanical ways. We’re trying to make life work for us. Setting up a home life together isn’t easy. As a result, we sometimes allow the warmth that we once had between us disappear. We never mean for it to happen; it just does. And most of the time we don’t even notice it until things become pretty cold between us.
Concerning marriage and how you work together in partnership to create warmth in your family remember:
“You’re a family, not an office. You can’t operate on skill sets charted out and replace the person who doesn’t fit well. We are not simple machines and gears, working together toward a goal of increased efficiency and productivity. We are men and women, living together as a way to feed one another’s souls and create a warm home that is anything but mechanical and operational.” (Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT from the book, “The Self-Centered Marriage”)
How do you recreate warmth in a cold marriage? We think something Thomas Hardy said is so very true: “New love is the brightest and long love is the greatest. But revived love is the tenderest thing known on earth.”
If you don’t have it or feel it, revive it.
Reviving Love Through Actions and Intentionality
If you aren’t acting in warm ways towards your (non-abusive) spouse, work in ways to revive your love. Don’t freeze him or her out. Look again at Peter’s list of ways you can add warmth to your relationship. But above all, “walk in love.” Apply what we’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.“
We love to include those words in our marriage ceremonies. But it’s even more important to apply them within our marriages. Words are empty if they aren’t followed through with actions.
So build upon your love. Act in ways that are kind and compassionate. But also remember that sometimes giving “tough love” is kind, as well. Don’t be an enabler. But also don’t be mean-spirited in the way you approach your spouse and family as you give out that tough love.
Be a friend to your spouse, as you promised you would in your wedding vows. Again, follow through with actions. Don’t just give promises and then live in an opposite way. You married your friend. Be a friend and grow your friendship. If you do, you will grow your love for each other.
As it pertains to creating marital warmth, here’s some great advice:
“Friendship in marriage is the spark that lights an everlasting flame.” … “Keep the fire lit in your marriage and your life will be filled with warmth.” (Fawn Weaver)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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