Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scoring in Marriage: Points for Pleasure

"That was a deposit" she said. I smiled and made the gesture of marking down a point on the imaginary chalk-board. "Just one?" I said playfully. "Maybe two" she said. I'd just offered a sincere apology for hurting her feelings by the way I said something.

How to make relational deposits and withdraws is a key skill in our marriage; especially because our natural temperaments are polar opposites. It is easy for us to offend each other by simply being ourselves, but not as easy to score points for pleasure. Simply said, Jill wants patient gentleness in conversation, while I want to solve problems and overcome challenges, quickly. Sometimes these feel mutually exclusive.

Ironically, our passionate conversation about meeting each others needs was en route to a session with twelve couples from a Church in Arlington, VA. The route was unknown, and it was dark and rainy for the rush-hour drive. The conditions served to heighten tension which had begun at the gas station in conflict about whether to use the debit card or cash. I "naturally" let fly with a few questions in rapid succession in attempt to solve the problem, but as we drove away, Jill' countenance revealed the fact that I'd overdrawn her love bank. It was going to take awhile to replenish the account. Arrgghh...

Thankfully, my wife's nature is to graciously persevere in teaching me how to love her. She began with this, "I don't think you understand how it affects me when you are intense and let go with rapid-fire questions. I wish you could be me for a day." That was my cue to empathize with her about how she was feeling, and to ask what she needed. Again, this was a good move. She was willing to talk.

We ended the conversation with prayer and some tears of relief and mutual statements of hope and resolve that we can and want to continue to learn to love. We also laughed about how we could give teach each other about deposits and withdraws from our respective love banks by commenting on each other's words and actions, "Plus one...minus two, etc." While this began as a joke, it will probably be something we do. That's out tip for increasing and improving pleasure. TELL YOUR PARTNER WHEN THEY MAKE A DEPOSIT AND WHEN THEY MAKE A WITHDRAW.

Ironically, the bow was tied on our conversation in our car, parked in front of the house where, couples were gathering to learn from us. This once again underscored the fact that we are all in process, on the journey...together. Thank you Holy Spirit for continuing to teach us.

Learning to live loving,

Jeff and Jill

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