By Whitney Hopler
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Bill and Pam Farrel’s new book The Secret Language of Successful Couples (Harvest House Publishers, 2014).
Just as you must know and use codes to gain access to many parts of your everyday life – such as computers, bank accounts, workstations, gates, and remote controls – you need an access code for your marriage to work as well as God has designed it to work. If you aren’t using the code, every part of your relationship with your spouse will be out of sync. But with the code, you can access your spouse’s heart and unlock the love that you’re both meant to share in your marriage.
Here are the principles that together comprise your marriage’s access code:
Help your husband feel more successful. God has created men with a fundamental need to feel successful. Men will respond positively to their wives when they feel confident that they are succeeding in their marriages. Compliment your husband regularly and sincerely, and thank him for what he does to enrich your marriage.
Help your wife feel more secure. God has created women with a fundamental need to feel secure. Women will respond positively to their husbands when they feel confident that they are safe and cared for in their marriages. Let your wife know that you value her for who she is and what she contributes to people’s lives. Notice her efforts and express your gratitude to her often.
Flirt with your husband. Husbands need their wives to continue to invest in maintaining a fulfilling sex life. Never stop flirting with your husband, and make time to have sex with him as often as possible.
Provide for your wife. Wives need their husbands to provide contributions to the marriage that promote her sense of security (such as emotional stability, friendship, and financial income). So do your best to treat her well and care for her.
Make your husband’s life simpler. Husbands are most satisfied with their marriages when their lives are simple. So help get rid of unnecessary stress in your husband’s life so he can relax as much as possible.
Listen to your wife. Wives are most satisfied with their marriages when their husbands genuinely listen to the thoughts and feelings they express. So listen to your wife regularly, letting her know that you truly are fascinated with her and what she has to say.
Give each other grace. Keep in mind that, while you both should try your best to love and respect each other in your marriage, you’re both bound to struggle with sin and make mistakes as a result. So don’t expect perfection from each other. Instead, extend grace to each other every day – just as God does with you. Ask God to help you be patient with your spouse when he or she is slow to change and grow in certain areas. Encourage your spouse and trust God to help your spouse grow in the right timing.
Be affectionate with each other. Touch each other in loving ways often (such as through hugs and back rubs), compliment your spouse on his or her unique abilities to bless you and other people, and use affectionate words when communicating with each other.
Enjoy a fun friendship with each other. Play together by going on dates regularly to enjoy recreational activities. Laugh together as often as possible. Influence each other equally, respecting each other as true partners. Learn something new about your spouse often so you’re always getting to know each other better. Find the right pace for your lifestyle so neither of you feels frustrated or stressed as you each pursue goals.
Resolve conflicts well. Talk with your spouse about what triggers each of you to get angry, and why. Keep in mind that while you can’t control your spouse’s anger, you can control your own – as well as the way you respond to your spouse. Take responsibility for your part in inflaming conflicts and aim to do all you can to work through conflicts calmly and productively. When you and your spouse disagree, pray together, asking God to give you wisdom. Identify what the real issue is and give each other equal opportunities to talk about the issue from each of your different perspectives. Take turns listening carefully to each other. Then discuss possible solutions, take a break to reflect on them, and get back together in a day or two to figure out how to proceed in a mutually beneficial way. Learn from your conflicts by discovering how your negative emotions can be turned to positive emotions the next time the same issues arise between you.
Pursue a satisfying sex life together. Tell each other what specific ways you can best turn each other on sexually. After you discuss each other’s preferences, plan how to keep your sex life fresh and fun, but agree to do only what you both are comfortable doing. Try praying both before and after sex to maximize the bond it creates between you. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower both of you to be completely faithful to each other sexually and create an atmosphere of trust in your marriage so you’ll feel sexually free with each other during intimacy.
Deactivate alarms in your marriage. Understand what usually motivates each other when making decisions, and be careful not to ignore or overrun your spouse so you can make decisions as a team with each other’s best interests in mind. Work together to undo toxic decisions, replacing them with choices that promote vulnerability, productivity, and accountability in your marriage.
Set career goals cooperatively. Take turns developing each of your careers according to the unique abilities and earning power that each of you have. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you both balance your work and family responsibilities fairly so that both of you can make your contributions and your relationship thrives.
Design a budget that reflects the best of who you are as a couple. Maximize your financial impact together by coordinating your financial goals with each of your motivational styles. Track your income and expenses, but also use your money to pursue each other’s hopes and dreams.
Create an emotionally healthy environment. Encourage each other to be open, honest, and vulnerable when expressing thoughts and feelings in your marriage. Use loving body language, a gentle tone of voice, and kind words when communicating with each other.
Adapted from The Secret Language of Successful Couples, copyright 2009 (re-released in 2014) by Bill and Pam Farrel. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Bill and Pam Farrel are speakers, authors, and relationship specialists who seek to help people become “Love-Wise” (www.Love-Wise.com). They are authors of more than 38 books, including the bestselling Men are Like Waffles – Women are Like Spaghetti. They have been happily married for more than 30 years and are parents to three children, two daughters-in-law, and three young grandchildren.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. She produced a site about angels and miracles for About.com. Now she writes about the power of thoughts on her “Renewing Your Mind” blog.
Publication date: December 1, 2014