One night, Wendy and I were invited by some friends to go out for dinner. We were thrilled with the invitation because we love being with them and always have a blast when we hang out. But, I was really excited about going because we were going to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten at Ruth’s Chris, but their food is really good. No, it’s not good – it’s great. Scratch that – IT’S FABULOUS!!
We ordered our steaks and had a great time talking and enjoying appetizers when all of a sudden it happened – I heard my steak coming. A Ruth’s Chris steak is cooked at 1800 degrees and topped with butter, so by the time your waiter or waitress reaches your table, you hear, smell, and see culinary perfection. I was like Pavlov’s dog salivating before the steak was ever put down in front of me. I took the first bite and . . . . Heavenly.
I thought about my steak later on that night as Wendy and I were on our way home. I thought about how easily someone can identify a Ruth’s Chris steak by the sight, sound, and smell. The sizzle gives it away almost immediately. It’s unique, appealing, enjoyable, and memorable. Our marriages should be the same way. They should have a similar sizzle that causes others to stop and take notice.
I see lots of marriages. I see marriages of all sorts, from the gloriously happy, to the confusingly hysterical, to the depressingly hurtful. I don’t see a lot that have sizzle.
Having sizzle in your marriage isn’t essential; it just makes it more enjoyable. It’s the WOW factor of your marriage that often gets lost sometime after the honeymoon is over and the newness has worn off. It’s that moment when you look over at your spouse during dinner and realize that he is the most handsome man in the world. Or, it’s the moment your husband walks in the room and your heart speeds up because you’re so excited to see him. These sizzle moments are easy to come by when you’re first dating or newly married, but harder to come by when you’ve been married several years and complacency begins to set in. I want to share with you six secrets to keeping the sizzle in your marriage.
First, praise the good qualities in your spouse. The longer we are married, the easier it is to focus on each other’s negative qualities and totally miss the positives. Our spouses are often praised regularly by others for the things they are good at. But, they rarely hear those same praises from us. Notice the things your spouse is good at, and praise him or her for them. Lots of men become workaholics because they are consistently praised on the job. When they aren’t praised at home, they tend to gravitate to the places where they are praised. Lots of women become starved for attention and affection because they never hear praise or admiration from their husband.
Second, think about your spouse during the day. We get so busy doing our jobs, taking care of kids, running errands, etc. that we often don’t give a second thought to our spouse during the day. Then, when we finally have time to sit down together, or pass one another in the kitchen, it’s as if we are total strangers. Make it a point to reflect on the treasure that your spouse is to you during the day when you’re not together. It will give you that deep sense of connection, even when you’re not together.
Third, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan time together. Many people make the mistake of thinking that sizzle in marriage is created only from those spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment, passionate moments where two individuals are swept away in bliss. It is true that those moments can be indicative of a marriage with sizzle. However, most of us lead such busy lives that those moments never come. Disconnection in marriage is caused more often by a failure to plan than a failure of passion. If you want your marriage to sizzle, then place a premium on planning time together with your spouse. Put it on your calendar and stick to it.
Fourth, find your spouse’s love language and speak it – LOUDLY! Many spouses don’t know what their spouse’s love language is. If you’re asking, “what’s a love language?” That is a really bad sign. You both communicate and receive love in certain “languages.” In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he identifies them as – Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Words of Affirmation. The way we typically give love is the way we wish others would show us love. However, more often than not, our spouse has a different love language, so they don’t hear us. Find out what your spouse’s language is and speak it loudly.
Lastly, loosen up and let go. For the love of all that is good and right, realize that God gave you to each other. He intended for you to enjoy one another as friends, soul-mates, lovers, and partners. He wants you to have fun together. He wants you to be creative in your relationship. You don’t have to look like every other couple in town. You don’t have to be just like everyone else. Find what makes the two of you happy and enjoy life to its fullest. When I counsel couples where there has been an extramarital affair, I often hear about the excitement of the affair. And, I want to grab the person by the shoulders and say – “You can have that same excitement with your spouse!” Don’t let someone or something be more enticing to your mate than you are. Grab life by the horns and live it – TOGETHER!!