He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. — Proverbs 17:9
Perhaps you are thinking, “Aha—here’s a dare that I cannot do while deployed!” Hold on . . . because what you’re going to see from the authors is a different definition of the word “intimacy” than you might expect. Let’s examine it carefully, as this is important to understand if you desire to nourish oneness in your marriage.
How well do you really know your spouse? Is your marriage a sanctuary of safety and freedom, or a pit of lies and deceit? Do you share your inmost thoughts, or are you afraid to be transparent for fear of rejection? The authors describe intimacy, defined as “closely personal,” in marriage as “tender territory.” “Marriage has unloaded another person’s baggage into your life, and yours into theirs. Both of you have reason to feel embarrassed that this much has been revealed about you to another living soul. But this is your opportunity to wrap all this private information about them in the protective embrace of your love, and promise to be the one who can best help him or her deal with it.” (p. 82) Day 17 of The Love Dare goes on to explain that the secrets we know about each other are ones which perhaps need correcting, or just accepting. The absence of rejection and the presence of love will build security and safety. Then you will experience freedom in your relationship.
It has been our experience that the easiest way to get to know someone is by asking good questions. An aid in learning better communication is a little flip-chart book called Love Talks for Couples by Gary Chapman and Ramon Presson. Within this simple tool you will find 101 questions for one spouse to ask the other. We have met chaplains who have used this in their marital counseling, and for those of you who might be stumped by what questions to ask—this helps. It takes you beyond, “What’s happenin’?” to things you can ask in order to learn more about their feelings. For example: “If you could win any competition in the world, what would it be?” (#58) “One of the descendants of King Saul was named Mephibosheth. Do you like your first name? If you could choose another first name for yourself, what would it be?” (#94) “Recall something about exchanging valentines when you were in elementary school.” (#99) The goal is oneness. Communication, with that goal in mind, means going past clichés or just exchanging information and on to sharing thoughts and deep feelings.
We see intimacy perfectly displayed in Psalm 139 as God describes how He knows us personally and loves us unconditionally. The Kendricks weave this into our discussion on close marital relationships by explaining, “God, who knows secrets about us that we even hide from ourselves, loves us at a depth we cannot begin to fathom. How much more should we—as imperfect people—reach out to our spouse in grace and understanding, accepting them for who they are and assuring them that their secrets are safe with us?” (p. 83)
Another wonderful way to grow in intimacy with your spouse is by reading a book “together” (perhaps a chapter a week), reading the Bible “together” (decide on a reading plan before you leave), or doing a devotional “together” (like Excellent or Praiseworthy or Moments with You). We post ExcellentorPraiseworthy twice a week—just so that you and your spouse can utilize the time between to share the questions—using your answers as a springboard to discussions during telephone conversations or emails.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Building on the last two dares, guard your spouse’s secrets, and pray for them. Then talk (use good questions), and listen —being deliberate in your desire to make them feel safe in what they share with you.
If there has been a breach of trust between you and your spouse, it will take time to rebuild that valued confidence in each other. Don’t give up! Reach out in grace, understanding, and acceptance—even across the months and the miles. “The reality of intimacy always takes time to develop, especially after being compromised. But your commitment to re-establishing it can happen today—for anyone willing to take the dare.” (p. 83)
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. — 1 John 4:18
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. — Song of Solomon 6:3
Chapman, Gary and Presson, Ramon, Love Talks for Couples (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2002)
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)