Listen. Can you hear it? Love is in the air!
For centuries, writers, poets, and musicians have sung the praises of love—the need for it, the importance of it, the true meaning of it. Yes, love is a many splendid thing, but one thing it’s not is easy.
What happens when wedded bliss begins to blister? After years of holy matrimony, how do you go from just surviving to thriving?
Maybe you’ve heard it said before that the couple that prays together stays together. But in today’s fast-paced, independent world with husbands and wives moving in opposite directions at the speed of life, making time to spend together in prayer as a couple may be easier said than done.
After celebrating 25 years of marriage, John and Anita Renfroe have come to realize this.
“No doubt, busyness is an intimacy killer,” John remarks. “The higher the demand, the more necessary it is that we value daily reconnection. If it isn’t on the front burner, weeks turn into months and one day you wake up to find that you haven’t checked in with each other in a l-o-n-g time. We’ve all heard people say, ‘I don’t know what happened. We just drifted apart.’ No one ever says, ‘I definitely made a conscious decision to emotionally check out of this marriage.’ Drifting is easy. Making the effort to stay connected and intimate is more important the busier life gets.”
John, raised in a pastor’s home, has now also served in the ministry (despite all attempts not to) for over 20 years. His wife Anita brings laughter to women via comedy concerts, Women of Faith appearances, books, and DVDs. Putting the two together, their ministry consists of “laughing people into the Kingdom.”
In an effort to fulfill this ministry, John and Anita have written a new devotional for couples called Songs in the Key of Solomon.
“A lot of women will just give up trying to make [devotions] happen,” Anita confesses. “So many times, the wife is really desiring to have some time around the Bible with her husband, but she genuinely gets tired of driving the train, so to speak. If her husband feels like she’s nagging him to do it sometimes, she will just stop asking.
“We had this pervasive guilty feeling that we were somehow missing out on ‘God’s Plan For Our Marriage’ because we both had rich devotional times separately, but just couldn’t seem to get it together as a couple,” Anita admits. “We were on church staff and ministering and counseling together; and we would pray together and we would share spiritual truths with each other sporadically, but there wasn’t any sort of devotional book or resource out there that just made us want to continue with it, regularly, for very long.”
Then enters Songs in the Key of Solomon, an interactive devotional combining the keys to physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy. Instead of making quiet time a source of contention among husbands and wives, Songs in the Key of Solomon offers 60 “encounters” which include a suggested setting, a passage of Scripture, amusing insights that address even the “touchy” subjects with refreshing honesty, three to four engaging questions, and simple activities such as personalizing 1 Corinthians 13, planning a date night, praying for one another, and even giving a foot massage!
“I’m not sure if [couples] have to encounter each other on all three levels every single time,” Anita comments about the devotional, “but it sure is fun to try! We have a sense that most couples tend to compartmentalize their different types of intimacy and try to keep them separate (a la, ‘We’re reading the Bible now, so I should shut down my physical side’ or ‘We’re making love now, so it’s not spiritual’). When the truth is this: intimacy is intimacy. When you get closer or further apart in any category of intimacy, it will affect the others.”
“In the beginning, man and woman were naked in the garden, before God and each other, and were not ashamed,” John says. “That was how God planned it to be. Unfortunately, no one’s address is in Eden’s zip code. Part of the curse after The Fall was that we would have to work very hard to achieve anything remotely close to that kind of spiritual union. And the baggage we all bring into a relationship—shame, feelings of unworthiness, the tendency to hide ourselves rather than reveal ourselves—can really bring us to a place where it feels easier to stay at arm’s length than to let someone inside.
“Every time you (as a couple) choose to drill down a little more in any area of intimacy and you begin to create intentional opportunities for God’s Word to speak in to your lives, you start to realize that every connection, every micro movement toward each other is a step closer to Eden—to get back to that sense of being open with each other before God.”
If your love life seems a little off key, let John and Anita Renfroe help retune your marriage. Make sure you’re hitting all the right notes by spending time with your spouse on all three levels of intimacy—physical, emotional, and spiritual. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
“Although intimacy always entails risk . . . it’s SO worth it,” Anita says. “The pursuit of a deeper level of intimacy will keep the marriage fresh and growing. The rewards are both rich and eternal.”