Secrets of the Mediterranean
About the Guest
Want your marriage to be more passionate? Best-selling authors Steve and Misty Arterburn share some secrets for better "amore" that folks in the Mediterranean have known for centuries. Backed by research, the Arterburns tell of practical ways to connect with your spouse, including listening, being present, touching, savoring food, and enjoying the surrounding beauty, especially of your wife.
Want your marriage to be more passionate? Steve and Misty Arterburn share some secrets for better “amore” that folks in the Mediterranean have known for centuries.
Secrets of the Mediterranean
Bob: Couch time was ten uninterrupted minutes, just me and her on the couch. As soon as we started to do this, the kids were right there, wanting to get—sit in our lap, climb in between the two of us—and we used to have to say: “No; Mom and Dad are having couch time. You need to go play.” They got such security—
Bob: —from us sending them away so Mom and Dad could have couch time.
Bob: It was more important, I think, for her, in the middle of her day, to reconnect / to attune than I realized it was for me; but she desperately needed that linking up / that syncing up—just ten minutes of: “Tell me about your day,” “Tell me about your day.” “How are you doing? How are you feeling?” Then, we could go into the evening in great shape. It was just great wisdom on her part.
Steve: What I’ve found was—as she was working with me on attuning with her—and I observed her with our children—I really believe I got in tune with our kids for the first time rather than just:
“I’m the adult; they’re the kids,” and “I’ll do what I want to do.” I started to listen and look in their eyes. She’s the one that said to me, “When you look into the eyes of our children, you are downloading love, eyeball to eyeball; and you can’t do it any other way.”
Oh my goodness! I think that’s why our kids are amazingly secure, wonderful, creative kids; because of that influence she’s had on them.
Bob: I heard a story, years ago, about a dad, sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper. His little six-year-old daughter was talking, as six-years-olds do, about nothing—just talking about making up a story—
Bob: —you know, whatever. Dad was just reading the newspaper, doing: “Mm-hmm,” “Mm-hmm,” “Mm-hmm.” She came over in the middle of that; and she slapped that paper out of his hand, grabbed his cheeks, and said, “Listen with your face.”
Steve: Yes; there you go.
Bob: I’ve shared that at marriage conferences, throughout the years, because a lot of husbands and wives are not listening with their face—
—they’re not looking at each other / they’re not talking in that kind of communication. They’re talking while they look at the TV screen or while they’re driving in the car. They’re just not connecting / they’re not attuning.
Dennis: I think one of the reasons why couples get so much out of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways is because we give them the gift of a weekend away together.
Dennis: We give them the gift of what you’re talking about—
Bob: Attunement; yes.
Dennis: —attunement—and you give them the chance to be face to face.
If 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal, that means 93 percent of all the communication, occurring between you and your spouse is, as we’ve been talking about—it’s the eyes;—
Dennis: —it’s gestures; it’s the face; it’s the smile; it’s the attention—and be transfixed with your spouse.
Misty: It’s making space to just hold that person in attention and care.
I think that a lot of times for us, as adults, it’s hard for us if we didn’t experience that, as children. When we’re listened to, as a child, we’re much better equipped, as an adult, to do that; but a lot of us face that challenge in adulthood to just really learn, and grow up again, and “What does it mean to really hold space for another person?”
Steve: We share some of the secrets from the Italian culture—that they touch the other person when they are talking. They move their hands, and they touch ten times more than we do in the United States. Well, if you’re touching someone, you’re kind of demanding that they be engaged with you; and they have the ability to truly get into each other’s hearts and souls. That’s what we’re encouraging people to do: “Go deep inside and find out what’s really there.”
Dennis: Okay; you’ve got seven of these—
Dennis: —secrets. I want both of you to pick your favorite, other than attunement. I have a feeling—as much as you’ve talked about here—that may be your number one. I know which one is Bob’s—
—it’s the food—[Laughter]—savoring food.
Bob: Now, come on.
Dennis: This would be his idea—
Bob: Come on.
Dennis: —of how you connect.
Steve: Well, it’s a pretty good way to do it!
Bob: I was going to say, “That’s not fair,” but that’s actually perfectly fair; okay? [Laughter] I mean, I might vote for food; but we get to hear: “Do you have a favorite in your top seven?”
Steve: Why don’t you start? What would you say, Honey?
Misty: Yes; probably beauty—I really like for us to be out in nature and appreciating creation and stillness.
Bob: How does that connect the two of you if you’re on a hike in the woods?
Misty: Yes; well, there’s so much chaos. We’ve got five children; we have our individual lives—all the challenges we’re facing—
Dennis: Hold it. You have an individual life with five children?
Misty: Yes, not much of one. [Laughter]
Steve: Every now and then.
Misty: Well, that’s not easy, actually; but yes.
It’s amazing to be out and to get into something bigger than myself. I just—I can get so wrapped up in all that I’m juggling and doing.
When I’m near a mountain, or on a mountain or the ocean—something bigger than myself—that reminds me: “Oh, there is a Creator.” Or I can see those stars—and they’re a million miles away—it helps me humble down and get reconnected with my husband and our God—that there is a sovereignty there / it’s not me; you know? I don’t have to keep everything spinning; God’s doing that for us.
Dennis: If Barbara were here, she would be saying: “I agree, sister. I’m in this with you.” [Laughter] She loves beauty. In fact, she’s got me reading a book—still haven’t finished it—it’s called The Evidential Power of Beauty.
Steve: Oh, wow; what a title!
Dennis: It’s all about how beauty is an apologetic for truth and that God exists—
Dennis: —because there is symmetry with beauty; there is order.
Dennis: That demands someone—
Misty: —a Creator.
Dennis: Yes; a Creator who designed it. What about you, Stephen?
Steve: Well, let me just comment on this; because, you know, we talk in the book about the beauty of a woman and a man truly appreciating and communicating pure appreciation for pure beauty—
—not the objectified woman or just the depersonalized person—but a woman has a very unique beauty that a man simply doesn’t have.
If you are into pornography and all of those kinds of things that we hear so much about, you’re not going to be able to appreciate that; and you’re not going to be able to communicate it. So, she is going to be looking for an affirmation of her beauty. You know, as Job said: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look upon the other women.” The less you look upon anybody else, the more beautiful she’s going to become.
But I’d have to say, you know, certainly, the sacred and the sexual is a highlight of this book at the end—
Dennis: I thought you’d go for that. [Laughter]
Misty: That’s bold.
Steve: —but my favorite is being playful.
My wife and I—we dance. We’ll dance anywhere. We take dance lessons, and there’s just hardly a downside to dancing. I was raised Southern Baptist. So, I’m recovering as I learn to dance. [Laughter]
But this playfulness / this humor that you need to have in your relationship—we have a common humor. We love to laugh, and we bring that to our kids. I often say: “Let’s always look for the Lord in something. Let’s look for the lesson, and let’s don’t forget to find the laughter that’s there.” We’re a very playful family, but we love to do playful things. We love to create stories, plays—whatever it is—and I just—my personality is: “I need a break,” and “I love to have fun.”
Bob: Can you be intentional about that? I’m sitting here, thinking, “If I were to go home tonight and say, ‘We ought to laugh tonight,’—
Steve: Yes; I will tell you how to do that, and we do it in the book. I would say, “Go online and look at Brian Regan videos,”—
—he’s a clean comedian. [Laughter]
Steve: And we have—
Misty: —pretty clean.
Steve: I mean, pretty clean; and he’s just hilarious; or look at—we watch Elf about six times throughout the year. [Laughter] We watch Groundhog Day. Find—
Bob: Yes; I was thinking, “What About Bob?” That was on my list of things.
Misty: You do need external sources sometimes.
Dennis: You would make Mary Ann watch What About Bob?
Bob: Mary Ann would make me watch What About Bob? Mary Ann likes that and Elf. So, yes; I know exactly what you’re talking about. You do need—it’s not like you can sit down tonight and say, “Okay; let’s make each other laugh”; right?
Steve: No; but if you go home—
Misty: I mean, sometimes you can; but sometimes, you’re really hurting; and we just do—we need a break. We do need a break.
Steve: Our 11- and 8-year-old—they know four different adult card games. So, we play cards. We’re all laughing together, eventually, over / sometimes, we cry over the games.
Misty: You cry; no, I cry.
Steve: I think it’s a matter of saying: “I’m not going to go home and sit in a Barcalounger or La-Z-Boy and watch TV. I’m going to do something that’s going to engage my family, and let’s create a memory here.
“Let’s have something that’s fun.” When you decide to make that the priority, things come about. You find the things that the family enjoys the most.
Misty: That’s so true, and it’s easy to isolate when we’re in pain too. The other thing that playfulness does is—it just invites connection. When we have a shared laughter, we’re agreeing on something. That takes away the aloneness, and it’s got a lot of good effect to that.
Steve: We apply, in our family, what I learned in preaching. I am a teaching pastor, and I’m known as the sarcastic pastor because—
Bob: What a surprise! [Laughter]
Steve: —if a congregation—if you can make them laugh—
Steve: —then, they literally are all agreeing together / it’s a bonding thing. It’s a bonding moment at home when everybody decides, “This is really funny.”
Misty: Don’t they call you the stunt pastor?
Steve: The stunt pastor—that is true.
Bob: You do stunts too?!
Steve: I have a few.
Dennis: —from the pulpit?!
Steve: Every now and then. [Laughter]
Dennis: Wow; we might have you do one, here on the radio.
Dennis: How would that work?
Steve: I don’t know, but I can tell you about it.
Dennis: I want to tell you about playfulness. I want to read you a piece of literature at this point:
I am my beloveds, and his desire is for me. Come my beloved. Let us go out into the fields and lodge in the villages. Let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There, I will give you my love. The mandrakes give forth fragrance and beside our doors are all choice fruits—new as well as old—which I have laid up for you. O my beloved.
—Song of Solomon.
Bob: I was hearing food all over that / you were finding playfulness. That was all about food, from what I was—
Misty: —and beauty.
Bob: That’s right. Well, that’s true—beauty, food, and playfulness. You put the three together. We’re getting potent now; aren’t we?
Dennis: This is a picnic like none other—
—I’m telling you.
Steve: Well, I can tell you is: “What a way to play.” [Laughter]
Dennis: There you go! [Laughter]
Bob: I’d encourage couples to get a copy of your book, The Mediterranean Love Plan, and get some coaching on how to play. The book is one we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center—The Mediterranean Love Plan: 7 Secrets to Lifelong Passion in Marriage. Order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order a copy of the book.
When you get in touch with us, why don’t you plan an extended picnic / a time away at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways—Friday night to Sunday—the two of you in a fun, romantic getaway setting, where you can learn more about God’s design for marriage. Sign up this week or next week, and you save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. That offer will expire next weekend. Today is the day to go online, get more information, register online; or call if you have questions, and you can register over the phone. The website: FamilyLifeToday.com.
Call 1-800-FL-TODAY and plan to invest, this spring, in your marriage. We’re going to be in more than 50 cities across the country. Get the details and join us at a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue to look at the elements that make for lifelong passion in a marriage relationship. Our guests, Steve and Misty Arterburn, will be back with us. I hope you can be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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