What does it mean to really connect with someone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post on how I realized I have not been the husband I need to be for my wife. My wife has told me that she hasn’t felt an emotional connection on a regular basis for a few years. This has been very hard on me as a husband who thought I was connecting with my wife, but I have learned a lot from it and I wanted to write some more on it.
You see, we all have something in us that we need and some things that we want. Man was not made to be in isolation. Even if a man or a woman never marries, isolation is not an option, especially for a Christian. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. In Christ is a community of people. It is supposed to be that when one of us hurts, all of us hurt.
When man is created in the garden in a pristine paradise place, he has all that he needs except companionship. Notice that this is in a state when one could say his only companion is God. Even then, God realizes that the man wants something different, and God is not giving in to a sinful desire. There was no sin at the time on man’s part.
Now we live in a fallen and sinful world, and sometimes, those desires that are good are still there, but they can get out of order. Now there is the great danger of using people. When a normal man sees a beautiful woman, there is the desire on his part to have sex. I am not saying that the desire is itself wrong. What you do with the desire, say lust, can be. Sex is a good thing and God made it to be desired.
The problem for us men is that we can very easily use a woman like that. Even if you’re married, if the only time you really show affection to your wife is before the bedroom when you’re expecting sex, in the bedroom during, or afterward, you’re likely to make her think that’s all she’s good for. Now I don’t think that’s what I was doing honestly, but if my Allie feels that way, I want to take it seriously.
So I have thought a lot lately about connection. There have been times now where I have come to Allie and just listened to her. The touching at these points is non-sexual. We’re just talking. I also try to use the SET UP principles for her with BPD. I try to sympathize, empathize, and then give the truth. I have enjoyed these times really. They also tell me that when the times of physical connection return, they will be deeper.
You see, I read something in a marriage book years ago that told husbands that before you touch your wife’s body, you must touch her heart. Now silly me, I thought I was doing an excellent job of that. Turns out, I wasn’t. We men usually want that physical connection first and then we feel the emotional connection. Generally, for women, it’s opposite.
Who can blame them? We men normally have the higher drive and guys, in essence, your wife is the one who is putting herself in a vulnerable position. She is the one having something enter into her body. Not you. Women also are often put in the position of being victimized for their beauty. It’s not a fair position, but it is the position that they’re in. The pornography industry hasn’t helped that.
And women, you need to realize this. To us men, you are gorgeous. There is no site more appealing than the human female form. Any time I get to see my wife’s body to me is all-new. I am amazed and it’s natural to thank God that He made women so beautiful.
But there’s more beauty to her to me than that. my wife is just that lovely. I can look at every inch of her and be delighted. It’s also more than just the body. I have seen her inner person and see her as beautiful there.
And you know what? That connection makes me want to be a better person. There’s something to that. Whatever you form a connection to, you will truly become more like.
In my experience as an apologist, it’s really easy to emphasize the intellectual. Some people I know who are like this have said they can’t imagine being married to someone who is not an intellectual. Now Allie is not an idiot of course, but the intellect is not her strong suit. She’s much more emotionally centered. It would be easy to look at her and think she doesn’t know all the theological stuff I do, and I think it could help her to get more of that, but I have to realize there are ways I don’t hold a candle to her.
For example, when Allie feels like God is absent in her life, it’s unbearable for her in many ways. She longs for that so much. I think the Psalm about the deer panting for the water describes her well. I look at her and think “Why don’t I have that?”
I also like it when I hear her pray. Allie praying is just like a child talking to her father. It’s sweet and it makes me think that’s how it should be. I took this so seriously in Allie that I started contacting someone and told them I wanted them to help me be better at prayer.
I still have a lot of work to do to get to that level.
Allie is also the most real person I know. She might not tell you the whole truth, but she won’t lie to you either. She tells it how it is.
She’s also someone who genuinely cares about others. Just last night we were walking in a comic book store before a group we were going to go to and I see some people playing the new Super Smash Brothers. I ask to play one of them. When we’re done, (By the way, it was close, but I sadly lost) Allie wishes them a Merry Christmas. I hadn’t even thought of doing that. Later on when I tell her that impresses me she says, “I’m just trying to give them a little bit of Christ in my own way.”
Yeah. Here I am the one in ministry and I think often she thinks about this more than I do.
When we used to see her psychiatrist together, she would always ask him “How’s your back?” He has some back pain. Honestly, it never occurred to me and if it did, I hate to say it, but I probably wouldn’t care enough to ask. Allie does.
And when I see this in her, I want to be more like that. I already have made some changes. Allie I hope would tell you that I am not being the way I have been in the past. Normally, I tend to be all over her. Why? Because as a man, I think about sex a lot and to me, that is a great expression of love for my wife and the biggest one I think I can make. She doesn’t think the same way.
This whole thing has also taught me about something. It’s easy in a marriage to blame the other person for what goes wrong. I was here thinking that Allie just wasn’t interested in me when she wasn’t eager to be with me. It wasn’t that. Allie just didn’t feel emotionally close and when she doesn’t feel that, it’s hard for her to want to give herself. She feels used.
Pro-tip then. In a relationship, no matter what kind but especially marriage, always look at yourself first and see what you can do to change. Also, try to do the loving thing anyway. Why do I establish an emotional connection with my wife? So I can go to the bedroom? No. Because that is what she needs and she wants to feel close to me. The physical connection is how I feel closest to her. On her end, she needs to do that. On mine, I need to do that. It’s always easy to look at what will work out best for us and what will help us and protect us and meet our needs. The way of love calls us to do otherwise, to seek to meet the needs of the other first. I am to establish an emotional connection with her regardless of what she does with me.
On friendships, we often connect on a deeper level. C.S. Lewis said many friendships begin with “You too? I thought I was the only one.” When I lived in Charlotte, I had a roommate with me I had met on TheologyWeb. How did our friendship begin? He saw me post a post there that impressed him and sent me a message with an avatar he made for me with a message like “I don’t know if you like Final Fantasy, but this is a character from a game in the series.” I am a huge Final Fantasy fan and we formed a fast friendship. Even this morning, we have been chatting on Messenger. What about? Final Fantasy.
We all want these connections. Of course, we have to be careful with how much we give someone. No matter how much I might value the friendship of a different woman, I will not improve that relationship by giving myself physically to her. That is only reserved for my wife.
And what about connection with God? I said if you seek to connect with someone, you will become more like that person. I think that applies to God also. Do you want to be a person of love? Seek to connect to Jesus. How about hope? How about truth? How about justice? Whatever virtuous quality you want, you can find it in Him.
If you connect with Him, you will be more like Him. After all, if you want to be hot, you go sit by the fire. If you want to be wet, you take a shower or go swimming. If you want to cool off, you step outside in the snow or turn on a fan. If you want to be holy, you go to one who is holy.
You also go and hang out with people who are what you want to be like. That’s one more reason friendship is so important. It’s also why my wife is so important to me. In many ways, I do want to be like her. I want to have more of a heart like her’s. Now is her heart perfect? Of course not. Could she bear to have more emotional strength to not be hurt by so many other things? Sure. But if she had too much, she could be cold. It’s a fine line.
And I think honestly in our marriage, we have a tendency because we are so different to build each other up where we are weak. I often say in our marriage if you want an answer to a question, come to me because I am the intellectual one. If you want sympathy in it, you need to talk to her. One of our friends has bluntly told me this. Allie is a better listener than I am.
I think Allie does need more of a foundation intellectually for how she lives, but I think I need more of her heart. The good news is I have her and that can help me get that heart that I need because as much as my ego doesn’t want to admit it, I think her heart is in many ways more like Jesus’ than mine is.
So to my married friends, realize the importance of connection. Guys. Make sure you’re not treating your wife like just a body. You want that physical connection and that’s good and right, but don’t give that to the exclusion of all others. For women, please realize how important that physical connection is to a man. Many times if you want the other stuff, it can help your man to meet the physical needs, because otherwise, that could be all that he’s thinking about.
And whatever you do, follow the path of love. Do the right thing. If your spouse doesn’t reciprocate at times, that’s their problem.
After all, Christ does the right thing by us always and we don’t always respond as we should.
Show that grace to others.