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Will You Be My Valentine?

"How long can you live without love?"

"Marriage? This is marriage? This is love? No touching, no tenderness, no thoughtfulness, no togetherness, no communication, no sex…?"

"Is she attracted to me? I don’t mean just physically. I mean every way. Do you understand what I’m saying?"

"Praise? My husband needs praise? Are you kidding? He’s a successful man — very successful — in everything he tackles. He has employees who praise him constantly. Why should I go out of my way to praise him?"

"I tried to tell my wife these things. I didn’t even know what I was asking for really. All I knew was that I was frustrated and hurting."

"My husband is my husband in name only. I’ve been getting along as well as could be expected, but Anabel, you and Bill have torn open my heart and uncovered all of these desires. I never knew what was causing the turbulence inside. Now you have spelled them out for me and my emotions are screaming for tenderness and companionship and all of the things I’ve never had and that I will never have!"

"If only I had known these things twenty-two years ago. My marriage might still be… but I didn’t know."

* * * * * *

I have a plant sitting on my mantle. I put it up there for the Christmas season. It’s beautiful. But if you could package my "plant knowledge" and market it, we’d have one of the best plant killers available. I’m death on them. Bill says I have "Killer Thumb." Oh, I talk to them and water them and water them and talk to them. There is always a little card sticking in the edge of the pot that says: "This plant needs…". I can read, but somehow I just have that uncanny knack of not following the instructions spelled out on that little card. The leaves begin to turn brown, or it starts drooping…something. You see, I don’t give it what the instructions say it needs.

God created man. There were two men remember: a male-man and a female-man (Genesis 5:2) with one very specific, spelled-out need — love. God established a relationship where that need can be met very beautifully or where that need can be totally ignored. When it’s ignored, the "plant" begins to wither or is stunted and will never be the lovely blossoming something God intended it to be, or it might even die.

Take heart. It probably isn’t that your husband doesn’t love you. More often than not, he just doesn’t know how you "spell" love, and if he were to ask you, you might not be able to "spell" it all that well for him to understand. And husband, take heart. It probably isn’t that your wife doesn’t care. It just might be that she doesn’t understand what it is you’re so frustrated about. Maybe you don’t "spell" all that well either.

"If you’ll just tell me what it is you want me to do for you, I’ll try to do it." Okay. It’s instruction time. The needs are so simple, and really not all that difficult to "spell" or to fulfill … especially since we’ve tapped into that power Who is our very Life, Jesus Christ.

The young man said, "All I need to know is that she is attracted to me. I don’t mean just physically. Do you understand what I’m saying?" Yes, I do. That’s the male need in a nutshell, and the wife is to meet that need in three ways.

(1) She praises her husband and he feels emotionally secure. "She is attracted to me."

(2) She allows her husband to be her authority figure, and he believes that she trusts his wisdom, his integrity, his ability to make decisions. "She is attracted to me."

(3) She enters with delight into the intimacy of physical oneness with her husband … that’s attraction. And her husband is being loved. That’s the way he spells it.

And how does the female-man "spell" love? Well, years ago, when Bill and I first began doing our seminars, I’d talk with the women by themselves and have them finish a statement for me. This is the statement: I wish my husband would love me by…. I don’t do it anymore. No matter where I went, the answers were invariably the same. However, being the super perfectionist that I was, I saved all of those little slips of paper and one day categorized them according to the number of times each particular answer was mentioned. Let me share the "top twenty" ways that your wife might "spell" love:

(1) Listening to me.
Most men are mystified that this would be #1 on their wife’s hit parade. Let me see if I can "spell" this a little more clearly. If the governor or the president were to seek your opinion on a matter, why would you listen intently? Because he’s important. The more important a person is to you, the more you treat that person with respect … the more attentive you are to their opinions, their desires. That’s why your wife lists this as #1. She longs to feel that she is very important to you.

(2) Taking my petty problems seriously.

(3) Communicating more openly with me.

(4) Noticing me more — not just when he wants sex. .

This is the only reference to sex in the top twenty. And that is not to imply that a good sex life is unimportant to the female; but if the only time a husband notices you is when he wants sex, then it kind of makes you feel like you are lowered to being a piece of equipment around the house to be used when needed. That’s a pretty good definition of a mistress or a prostitute, isn’t it? I’m a wife, not a mistress. That means including me all day long in your life as your partner. That means including me in the sex act as your partner, not an object. O-B-J-E-C-T: "A person or a thing to which action or feeling is directed." P-A-R-T-N-E-R: "Someone you talk things over with; someone who engages in an activity with another; joint interests." (Webster) We can build a solid relationship on that definition.

(5) Saying "thank you" for the little things I do.

(6) Being interested in my life … at least acting like you are

(7) Showing affection when other people are around.

(8) Sharing his goals and values with me.

(9) Remembering me with little gifts or just planning an evening out every so often

(10) Taking me out without the kids more — maybe just for a ride.

(11) Including me in the things he does.

(12) Trying to understand me.

(13) Getting involved with things I enjoy doing.

(14) Just holding me in his arms and talking to me.

When my husband came home from work yesterday, the house was a wreck, and the kids were driving me wild. When I told him I just couldn’t handle it, do you know what he did? He took me out into the laundry room, put his hands on my shoulders, looked down into my face and said very quietly, "Now, just calm down." Then he put his arms around me, pulled me against him and just held me for five whole minutes without saying a word. I can’t explain to you how good it felt to be in his arms like that. I began to slowly relax and escape from my stressed-out world. Then he said, "Now let’s tackle this and see if we can get those little "buzz saws" fed and into bed early tonight. Then we’ll get a sitter and you and I will go to that quiet little pizza place and be together, just you and me. Nice.

(15) Being tender to me – using kind, tender words.

(16) Helping in the discipline of the children.

(17) Saying little things — words of caring, compliments, appreciation.

(18) Accepting me just as I am.

(19) Spending more time with the family.

(20) Making me feel like a woman.

There isn’t room for me to enlarge on all of them, but we offer a tape series on this topic. (Valentine’s Day lives in February in case you haven’t been reminded of that yet). It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married. Remember there’s a land of beginning again. It’s there for the taking. Browning says, "The best is yet to be."

We started with an analogy, let’s end with another one.

Let’s say that you’ve been offered a position that will dramatically change your life for the better — in every area. It’s a way of life that you never thought attainable, beyond your highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. There’s one last written exam. They have just given you your assignment in a sealed envelope. You tear it open with fear and trembling. This is it. Write an extemporaneous four page, single-spaced paper on the theory of relativity. Relativity? Einstein’s thing? Failure. Impossible. There is no shred of hope that you can accomplish this imposed task.

But wait! Let’s say that by some incredible miracle, Albert Einstein could come to live within you. You would still be you, but you would have his ability to express the theories that he had researched so carefully. How about that "insurmountable" assignment now? A piece of cake, right? Make it ten pages. A book. You can do it now.

By an incredible miracle, Jesus Christ lives within you as Life. He wrote the Book. He made the rules. He demonstrated that His "theory" is pure fact and is not only possible but attainable and highly successful. Can He perform for you? Yes. Can He empower you to love your wife? Yes. Can He live through you to love your husband? Yes.

How we need each other in our marriages. Today’s world is a stress-filled, sometimes frightening place. God knew that one thing would be needed–love. You know how "love" is spelled now. Maybe some of these ways of expressing your love would be considered trifles… little things. I understand that. But pile up enough little things and you get an impressive, good-sized mountain. Try loving each other…all twenty-three ways. With Him, nothing is impossible. You can do it now. Remember that.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.