“Getting a girl to like you is easy! Just find out what she likes and do a lot of it.” That’s what my Super Teen counselor, Karl Jackson, taught me as a sophomore in high school. The principle of a happy marriage is easy. It’s the discipline of “doing a lot of it” that becomes difficult.
In the video we tried to creatively present the three essential layers of a healthy marriage. It starts with emotional intimacy, the base layer – “find out what she likes.” Two habits to stay in touch with each other are to talk for twenty minutes every day and to maintain a date night at least once or twice each month. Without this communication and connection, the relationship will start to falter.
Built on the emotional intimacy of knowing one another, the central layer of marriage is service. It’s not enough to just find out what she likes, you have to do a lot of it! This came naturally in the dating / courtship phase because you were trying to impress each other. But over the years, we fall into ruts of being served instead of serving.
This is where the love and respect cycle is so important and where the five love languages come in. Emerson Eggerichs (Love & Respect) showed how important love and affection is for a woman and how equally vital it is for men to feel respected. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is another helpful tool to remind us that while one might prefer time and gifts, the other might feel more loved through touch and words. It’s about knowing each other well enough to serve each other well.
And of course, the key to continually loving, respecting and serving each other (sinners that we are) is the grace and love of Christ. Spiritual intimacy is the “strawberry jelly” that binds a couple together. Without Jesus, we will grow apart and increasingly insist on our own way. But with Jesus in the center, and His love flowing through us, we can sacrifice and serve in ways that mean the most to the other.
The top layer of the marriage cake is enjoyment. This is the result we worked so hard for in courtship: “getting a girl to like you.” It is easy in principle to “find out what she likes and do a lot of it.” Built on intimacy and service, the result of a healthy marriage is mutual enjoyment. You have fun together. You appreciate each other. The differences are not irritations, they are blessings.
This three layer cake view of marriage also puts physical intimacy in its proper place – as the icing on the cake. It’s easy for those newer to marriage (especially men) to focus on the frosting. But the better place to focus is on the cake itself. Invest the time to get to know each other (again). Be sure to “talk 20” and prioritize date night. Keep Jesus in the center by consistently praying for each other and praying with each other. Ask Him to help you give up your rights and preferences to sacrificially serve your spouse as Jesus has served you.
If we consistently do these things the joy will come back to our marriages, and yes, the icing will come with it. Then marriage really is “a piece of cake!”