My wife of 10 years told me she didn’t love me anymore. She had little hope that her feelings could be rekindled. Fear and regret gripped my heart. It choked out all hope that my marriage would survive.
Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me. Because six months in, she admitted she couldn’t think of a thing she liked about me. But still. That was newlywed stuff that we resolved long ago.
How did we get here?
The week before, I would have said our marriage was a 10 out of 10. On that fateful anniversary celebration, she told me that in her mind our marriage was a .5!
How could I be so clueless to the deadness of my wife’s heart?
Ever been there?
I was determined to win her back and get her number higher. I was on a mission.
My first step was going to God. I started our marriage making sure He was first in my life, but somewhere along the way, I left Him in the dust … along with my young wife.
I had put all my energy into starting a church. And I poured myself into Detroit Lions players as their chaplain. My sole focus was on fulfilling my dreams.
But I didn’t realize at the time that building the future would be pointless if God and Ann weren’t by my side. Somehow our dreams had become my dreams.
“God, I put you back in first place,” I said. “That’s where You belong. I need Your wisdom, guidance, and help to win back Ann’s heart!”
I asked Jesus for power and He delivered.
Jesus tells some of His followers who had lost their first love to “Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5, NIV). The word repent means to change the way you are living and start a brand-new life. Jesus makes it real clear what this new life looks like. He says to go back to what made you fall in love in the first place.
If you want the love you once had, do the things you once did.
I wasn’t pursuing Ann like I had when we first fell in love. I was pursuing my career and left Ann behind.
So I started dating her again … weekly. Yes, it’s possible. Whatever is really important to us shows up on our calendar. I realized that I could conquer the world. But if my wife didn’t love me, then I’ve accomplished nothing of true value.
To regain our love, I started pursuing her again like when we first fell in love. We dated before we were married, so why not date after? Its what couples in love do.
I rediscovered that Ann spells love this way: T-I-M-E. She feels loved when I consistently make time for her.
So I simply made her a top priority. And priorities come “prior” to everything else.
And, man, did that start to rekindle her feelings for me!
And guess what she wanted to do on those dates?
You guessed it … talk.
Now she didn’t just want to talk about life or the kids. She wanted to talk about our marriage. She longed to talk in depth about us.
Not exactly my dream date, but it wasn’t about me. It was about her feeling loved. So if she wants to talk about us, then I’m all in.
And guys, I discovered something fascinating about women. They don’t want us to fix their problems. I remember one time Ann began sharing how hard her days were as a mom with young kids. She felt that she never accomplished anything and was exhausted day after day.
I listened for a minute and then went away for a few moments to figure out how to help her. I came back with a note that I had written.
As I handed it to her, I could see her excitement. I found out later that she thought I had written her an encouraging love note about how much I loved her and appreciated all she did for our family. Instead, she found that I had written down 10 steps to a “more organized and productive life as a mom.”
I’m not kidding.
I actually wrote those down and told her I had prayed and God gave me those for her. She promptly ripped up my 10 tips, threw them in my face, and marched out of the room yelling, “And that was not from God!
Needless to say, I’ve learned she doesn’t want me to solve her problems but to be her partner in the middle of those problems. Just let her vent and step into the mess with her. That makes her feel loved. Who knew?
And here is a question that I began to ask on our dates, “On a scale of one to 10, what is our marriage right now?” I knew that she knew better than I did how we were doing and that she also knew how to get us to a higher number.
I’m a competitive guy, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get our marriage closer to a 10.
I also discovered that Ann feels loved when I touch her. The bummer for me was that she wasn’t talking about sexual touch, but non-sexual touch.
What in the world is non-sexual touch?
In a word, its affection. Holding her hand. Putting my arm around her shoulders. Rubbing her back (and only her back).
I did all of those things when we were dating, yet the only time I touched Ann after marriage was when I wanted sex. That does not make a woman feel cherished.
Ann felt loved when I made time to talk and touch in an affectionate and tender way.
But there’s one more big action that brought her love back. When we were dating, I consistently initiated reading the truth of God’s Word together. We would pray on every date.
After marriage, I just got lazy. I led our congregation spiritually but was lazy at home.
When I began to pray daily with Ann, her feelings for me started to return.
I remember one evening as we finished praying, I looked over at Ann and she had this glint in her eye. She then grabbed my arm and said, “I want you to know that praying with me each night is the sexiest thing you could do for me.”
I said, “Do you mean sexy like I think you mean?” She just gave me a little wink.
It was right then and there that I decided that if this is how it works for my woman, then I’m going to become the most spiritual man you have ever met!
Oh … and she also said we were back to a 9.8!
Adapted from Vertical Marriage copyright © 2019 by Dave and Ann Wilson. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
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