Posts tagged how marriage is supposed to work

Dear Husbands, Fiancees, Boyfriends, and "Just Friends",  The women you love want you to know what it is they really want-- more than beautiful clothes or sparkling jewelry, more than fancy dates or exotic vacations. These are real things every man can give... if only he will. 

I posted this two years ago. We haven't changed, this is still what every woman really wants for Christmas:


We’ve browsed through magazines, linked onto websites, and made our wish lists. Clothing sizes, shoe preferences, colors and particulars. Everything we think our men need to know in order to give us a Christmas to remember.

Now, armed with ideas, men are heading to the mall, determined to get that one thing they hope will make a woman happy.

And so, I have a list of my own to give the men who love the women I care about. It won’t break the bank or your back, but it will give her exactly what she really wants from you this Christmas.

Ten Things To Give The Woman You Love For Christmas:

1.  Your Attention- full and undivided.

Uninterrupted by cell phone rings and texting dings. She knows you can’t give it all the tim e, but for Christmas won’t you try? Do it on purpose.

2. Your Eyes- it’s the stuff of romance.

When a man looks into a woman’s eyes she knows he sees her. But it doesn’t have to be Hollywood mush. Just a moment of linking up, of homing in on the window to her soul. Dive deep. There's a person of unique value in there. Look for what she cannot say.

3.  Your Touch- purposeful and affectionate.

A way of showing her you connect with her. Women crave those brushes of love against their skin. To run your fingers across her heart, you'll need to step into her space and bring her into yours.

4.  Your Stories- give her a memory, a picture in your mind that you’ve tucked away somewhere of her being who she is and you loving that part of her. Tell it well and she’ll know for a moment that you really do know her.

5.  Your Hope- she sees everything not right with the world she’s trying to create for those she loves.  Tell her it’s okay, that perfection isn’t perfect, that love is messy and so is real life and you love her no matter what.

6.  Your Honor- What is the thing she does remarkably well? Have you told her? Have you told her in front of others? It’s not a woman’s way to brag about herself. Can you be her trumpeter?

7.  Your Depths- Give her those hidden hopes and dreams and thoughts and observations that will never be part of a quick phone call. She wants to know you way deep down inside.

8.  Your Help- Christmas can be overwhelming for a woman. So much to do and so many glossy pictures of others doing it better. Get up and help her. Lend a hand. Make life a little easier for her so she can be who she really is. And jump in before she gets crabby about all the work, she hates herself for being like that.

9.  Your Generosity- Can you choose in the midst of the pressures of real life to give a little more extravagantly than anyone would expect? Add a flourish. Make her coffee and cover it with whipped cream. Buy her something she doesn’t need. Bless her.

10.  Your Love- That’s what she really wants.

Every woman I know wants to be loved. To be considered better than average in a world that measures our success by means we’ll never attain.

To be  held in a place so uniquely special to you that you’re willing to give your attention, your eyes, your touch, your stories, your hope and honor and depths and help and generosity just to be sure she knows how much you love her.

We want to feel loved.

You have it in your power to give that kind of love this Christmas to your wife or your girlfriend, your good friend, your mom.

Will you?

From my heart,


P.S. Women, do you have anything to add to this list?


“…But still there was no helper just right for him.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! 
She will be called ‘woman’
, because she was taken from ‘man.’”

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:20-25 NLT

(If you missed last week, click here)

Dear girls,

When Adam first laid eyes on Eve, his attraction to her was instant. Her beauty lifted him out of a state of deep sleep, propelling him to want her as his own. She was the perfect counterpart to his maleness, the answer to all the loneliness he’d felt for so long.

The power of Adam’s response to Eve shook him to his core, revealing his deep vulnerability.

A man in command of all of Creation, he craved physical and emotional and spiritual connection with this one so like himself... yet so deliberately, delightfully different.

Everything made sense when Eve came into his life: the longings he’d wondered about, the twinges of emptiness, the shape of his body, his driving desire for more.

For the first time in his existence, Adam needed someone. And every son of Adam since has felt that same need.

And you, my dear, beautiful daughter of Eve, are the one made in the image of God, the one who holds Adam’s sacred need— his great vulnerability— in your power. Your God-created beauty lifts him from the weariness of work and struggle and striving and conflict… into a world of wonder and delight.

When the softness of your skin brushes his in a whisper of invitation, every sense is awakened.

When your eyes tell secrets only he knows, his heart responds.

When you bring him into the circle of your warmth, wrapping your arms around his strength, his carefully protected core is unveiled.

Your man needs you. He wants you. He hurts without you.

And perhaps that is part of the reason why the Creator gave us so many words about safeguarding this treasure of sexual intimacy. Because the act of intercourse was meant to be so much more than two bodies selfishly seeking satisfaction. So much more than all the hurt and pain so many misused women know. Infinitely  more magical and mysterious than the movies show and magazines reveal.

And so, my dear girls, in the weeks and months ahead, I will set aside my natural reticence to talk to you from time to time about the way God designed your husband’s intense sexual cravings to be satisfied by you. And about how He created you with the same need, though awakened in different ways, so that you would find release and rest and deep satisfaction in the arms of your husband.

And for those of you who are not yet married, I hope to open your heart to understand the treasure you hold in your own beauty. I want you to understand why storing that treasure in a safe place for your husband-to-be is the best way to fully embrace your own sexuality. I want you to know that protecting your purity is the surest way to be able to fully and without inhibition give yourself to that God-chosen man when the time is right.

This is not easy for me to write about. What if I am misunderstood? What if my words add shame to a woman’s guilt? What if I say it wrong or crass or weird?

It was one thing to sit on the edge of my daughter’s bed at night and whisper sweet wonders about the honeymoon ahead… and quite another to let those words leak out to whoever may be listening.

The reason I am willing to choke back my reserve and push the words on paper is first of all because I genuinely love you. As the apostle Paul wrote, “It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart…” Philippians 1:7 NLT

And I believe that in the midst of all the devastation and failure and addiction and sheer ugliness of sexual perversion, the Church has lost her voice.  We have forgotten to speak and sing and teach about the beauty and the artistry of sexuality as God created it.

A very long way to say, I think its time for us to talk about sex.

Can we readjust the way we think about this gift? Can we begin to see ourselves as the beautiful answer to our husband’s great vulnerability? Dare we believe that the love we give is sacred?

Next week I want to tell you a story about a beautiful woman whose pure, uninhibited love lifted her young husband out of despair and into a life of success and riches.  And lo and behold, it’s a story straight out of the pages of Scripture…

Are you with me? Will you give me grace to stumble my way along as we talk “privately” about how to love our husbands in the way they long to be loved?

Will you let me know? I’m writing alone in my chair by the window, wondering what in the world I’ve gotten myself into…

From my heart,



On our journeys around the globe this week and next, I’m writing letters home to my girls about things I wish I’d packed and prepared for this life-long journey of marriage. These are four things I wish I’d known right from the beginning that would have better prepared me for this strange and exhilarating task of loving a man for the rest of forever.

Read #1 here.

Dear Girls,

Years and years ago I read a newsletter (this, before the era of blogs) in which Elisabeth Elliot challenged her readers to go one full week without complaining.

I couldn’t do it.

I’ve always considered myself a positive person. I don’t whine, I don’t complain… or so I thought. But I couldn’t manage even one 24-hour period without a negative complaint slipping out of my mouth. I just kept starting over every day until finally giving up.

What struck me is how ridiculous most of my complaints were.

I love rain… yet made complainy fill-in statements about the rain.

I was healthy and rested and well… yet made complainy fill-in statements about being sleepy or achy or something really inconsequential.

I absolutely loved being a mom at home with four great kids… yet made those mom-like complainy statements about how hectic or messy or stressful my life at home was.

Words, I have learned, are powerful definers of how we feel.

And yet we use them so carelessly at times, tossing out complaints just to fill in the space of silence.

What if we took seriously the weight of our words?

What if we decided to choose to guard our mouths and speak only lovely words?

What if we stopped complaining? Permanently?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth

but only such a word as is good for edification,

according to the need of the moment.” Ephesians 4v29

What would happen if we did that?

My dear girls, I think it would make all the difference in the amount of joy we squeeze out of this life God has for us.

I think it would make all the difference in the amount of love we were freed to lavish on our husbands and friends and children.

And so, PACKING LIST ITEM #2 is simple.

Be Careful What You Say.

Because after a while, what you say is what you feel…

and then you become convinced of the untruth that you should never have said in the first place…

and eventually all this saying and believing can really wreck havoc with what you say… and what you feel.

It really is a matter of purposing not to say certain things, of putting a muzzle over our mouths, of choosing every one of our words carefully and wisely.

We have the ability to choose to speak only the Spirit-filtered truth because we are Spirit-filled people and that ought to make a difference in what comes out of our mouths.

I wish I’d known that when I married Phil. I’m trying to learn it now.

From my heart,


P.S. Are you learning the power of your own words? Have you noticed how hard it is not to complain? Do you know someone who is really great at using words to bring courage instead of carnage?

We’d all love to hear your stories.



On our journeys around the globe this week and next, I’m writing letters home to my girls about things I wish I’d packed and prepared for this life-long journey of marriage. These are four things I wish I’d known right from the beginning that would have better prepared me for this strange and exhilarating task of loving a man for the rest of forever.

For those of you not-yet-married, lean in and listen well. You’ll need to know these truths.

For those of you married many years, remember…

He is the One who lavishes love on you when you don’t deserve it. And He has enough left-over love to give you the grace to start anew and begin loving your man skillfully and well.


Dear Girls,

For the past several days Phil and I have been with each other 24/7, crammed into too tight airplanes, sharing suitcase space and water bottles, enduring jet lag and sweltering humidity. Not exactly a formula for romance.

Or is it? Might I frame it this way instead?

For the past several days Phil and I have relished time with each other, flying around the world, eating exotic foods, enjoying sunshine and fascinating cultures and unprecedented beauty. A lovely romantic time in our lives.

Which scenario is true?

This is either a stressful, uncomfortable trip to endure as best we can… or it’s a delightful, intriguing adventure together.

The fact is:

I can choose how I feel.

I get to decide how I feel about the daily realities of life. I am not a slave to my feelings.

When a woman is single... she can choose to delight in this unique time to serve God unencumbered. She can choose to take time to develop and grow and explore who she is as a woman. She can pour herself into relationships with abandon.

Or… she can complain about being lonely and wish she were married and blast all the men who really ought to “step up to the plate” and ask her on a date.

When a woman is pregnant... she can choose to align herself with the Creator of life and relish the miracle her body is making.

Or… she can complain and whimper and groan about all the ways she is experiencing discomfort in the process.

When a woman is married... she can choose to love her husband. She can breathe in the scent of him, run her hands over his muscles, delight in all his maleness.

Or… she can try to take all that testosterone and tame it by wishing he were capable of being her BFF and listening sympathetically and sensitively just like a girl.

Oh how I wish I had known this truth 35 years ago!

I not only enslaved myself to my overly tender, easily hurt feelings, I practically tied my poor husband in knots. The guy could barely go a day without stepping on my toes in that perfectly innocent obliviousness of a man with better things to do than walk on egg shells.

Now I know that…

Marriage can be either a delightful game of discovery together or a continual contest of one will against the other.

It’s my choice.

Do I get on board and join my man, giving all that I am, relishing all that he is, trusting God to meet my needs as I pour myself into meeting his?

Or do I demand that he love me the way I want to be loved and insist he meet me at the half-way point?

It’s my choice.

Do I let my feelings sabotage my joy?

Or do I allow the Spirit of God to overcome my feelings when I choose to love His way rather than demand my own?

It’s my choice.

And that, my dear girls, is something I wish I’d known 35 years ago when I married Phil.

From my heart,


P.S. Have you had the delight of making a choice and finding your emotions catch up with what you know is true? Can you tell us about it? Was it hard? Surprising? What helped you choose rightly?

I am loving the honesty of your responses. Sharing your stories of both triumphs and regrets is the best way I know to bring courage to each other. Keep ‘em coming!

RED, GREEN, YELLOW: how marriage is supposed to work

I received this delightful note from one of our women who is a teacher in a school in Salem. I was struck by the wisdom of a child. I’ve added a few comments of my own to his essay… not that it needed one bit more! I think this little guy pretty much says it all.

Hi Diane

I have so enjoyed reading your blog on marriage lately.  I’ve also been listening to Mars Hill’s sermon series on marriage.  And then yesterday, I came across one of my middle schooler’s art projects while grading.  The assignment was to create a sculpture that represented a human relationship, emotion or attribute.  He chose marriage.  And he is in 6th grade.  My heart was so glad, after reading his essay on his sculpture.  I don’t work at a Christian school, so to hear this from a child was priceless!  Just wanted to pass it along to someone who appreciates what God does through marriage as much as I do!

Art and Primary Spanish Teacher

Abiqua School

The reason behind this sculpture is happiness or marriage.

This is a feeling that first time marriage people will never forget. This feeling for most people is the best feeling they will ever feel in their lifetime.

In the painting you may see that if you picture their faces together as one,

they look half and half.

That is what married people should commit to.

I chose red as a color because red represents all of the arguments and problems and miscommunication that will be a part of marriage but the two people will stay strong and carry on.

I chose green as a relaxing color because you now work as a team and everything you do is now one.

I chose yellow as a color because it represents how much you want to do this and how enthusiastic and happy you are about your decisions.

Red, green, yellow.

Red because conflict is a reality when two people choose to become one. Because becoming one takes a whole lot of dying to self and forgiving and covering over all those irritants that threaten to undo us. And because for most of us it’s an embarrassingly messy process. And life intrudes and things go wrong and we have a million opportunities to choose- grace and mercy or disapproval and rejection?

Green because a great marriage creates a space that is so restful and refreshing that a whole family- and indeed an on looking world- can find peace and hope and rest there. And because green is a symbol of growth and newness and that’s what a God centered marriage between two people creates in this whole crazy process of becoming one.

Yellow for the sheer joy of participating in a miracle. Like my daffodils blooming in the midst of a dreary day, a marriage done right brings delight to everyone who gets to glimpse this outlandish idea of God’s.

And I think that’s enough said…

From my heart,