Creating Warmth in Your Marriage
If you haven’t noticed, it really does take a lot of work, self control and focus to keep a relationship full of warmth. You can set the thermostat from chilly to warm but you can’t do it without an incredible amount of discipline and self-determination. Think back to your dating days. There was naturally much more warmth to the relationship. Why? We worked at it and we didn’t have a need to fight every battle. Sometimes marriages slip into bad habits, and a lack of warmth is just a bad habit. Too many relationships are trying to function with a constant low grade anger and negative atmosphere, and that is just like trying to live life to the fullest with an infection and fever. We can function for a while, but eventually the temperature affects us and our bodies let us down. The same thing happens when we live together with a lack of warmth. The marriage shuts down and moves to lower level of fulfillment.
My mother knew how to create an environment of warmth in our home better than anyone I have ever met. Life wasn’t easy for mom. She came from a family where her father was an alcoholic and life was at times very difficult, but she had the ability to rise above her circumstances. Her favorite saying was “It’s party time!” Raising four sons, working a full-time job and keeping track of my dad kept her life filled and busy. Yet, she could brighten the day of anyone she came in contact with, even in the midst of a stressful time. Before she died I remember asking her how she maintained such a warm and positive spirit in the midst of trying circumstances. Mom wasn’t particularly a super spiritual person but her answer helps me every day. “I look at my life situation and I count my blessings. I can either focus on what’s wrong or what’s right. I choose to create an environment of love.” That attitude took work and concentration on Mom’s part and she definitely had moments where negative life issues overwhelmed her. But for the most part, she decided to create a party even in the midst of trying circumstances. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying it is possible to have a “make-believe Disneyland” type of a marriage. It takes work and focus. With today’s fast paced life you can find reasons to be angry with your spouse and kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but how is that going to help the situation? Think warmth.
It was quite a blow to the family when my mom died. She was the party time person and she was the leader in setting the warmth of a positive atmosphere in our home. On the way to her funeral Cathy, my three daughters, and I stopped at a flower store to pick up three long stemmed roses. The girls wanted to place them on her casket. As we walked into the store we all noticed a bright and beautiful balloon with the words, “It’s Party Time.” We looked at each other and said, “This was meant to be!” We bought the balloon. We had already told the florist that we were in her store to buy flowers for a funeral. She must have thought we had a screw loose in our brains, but she didn’t know my mom either! I got out of the car at her graveside funeral filled with grief but carrying the “party time” balloon. As the people were gathering I simply went over to the casket and tied the balloon to it. There was a smile on all of our faces. Even in her death she was somehow reminding us that we can choose the warmth of a smile.
A friend of mine is in a high maintenance marriage. She loves her husband but relationships don’t come easy for him. He is successful in business and often brings the tension of a high-powered job into the home. Yet, I have been around them enough to know that there is a great deal of warmth in the home and in their relationship. I asked her how she maintains such a positive atmosphere in the home. She replied, “I work at it. I make sure I have prayed and given my day to God. I quit whatever I am doing about 15 minutes before he comes home. I try to have the kids reasonably in a good place. I put on soothing music. I take a few moments to at least brush my hair and then work on greeting him with warmth.” She went on to say, “After a busy day at his work, it is amazing to see what a genuine smile will do for him.” She works part-time herself but she understands the power of intentionally bringing warmth to the home and the relationship.
How’s the “warmth factor” in your relationship?