One of the best gifts you can give your spouse doesn’t cost anything, it’s appropriate for literally every holiday, and you never have to wrap it.
I’m talking about enthusiasm.
Lisa and I look at food through two radically different lenses. I eat primarily because I hate being hungry, but food isn’t something I ever get all that excited about. It’s a means to an end for me. Lisa, on the other hand, likes being hungry because that means she gets to eat. So when we travel she researches the restaurants and then wants to discuss where I’d like to eat before we go.
The problem is, I have to work at making myself care. I don’t really care about restaurant reviews or menus, but if I tell her, “Just choose whatever sounds best to you,” I spoil her fun. She wants me to at least try to sound excited, to show a little enthusiasm.
So, loving my wife means listening to her reading the reviews, looking at menus, and trying to be as enthusiastic as possible.
I think this same principle holds true for some couples with sex. For some people, sex is a wonderful, sensual, fulfilling, and thrilling experience. For others, it occasionally may feel like a need, but why all the bother? Let’s just do it, get it over with, and move on.
If your spouse enjoys sex like my spouse enjoys food and you’re more like me when it comes to choosing a restaurant, it’s kindness to play along and add a little enthusiasm. Maybe your spouse knows something you don’t. I’m not proud of my attitude toward food, and you shouldn’t necessarily be proud of your attitude toward sex. I could easily make my lack of interest sound spiritual—eating is often called a sensual desire. It’s setting our heart on transient things. Jesus even warns about giving what we eat too much attention—and you could make those exact same arguments against too much focus on sex.
But here’s the thing: Lisa actually serves our marriage by making us care a little more about food and menus than I do. She just about fell into despair when she found out that while I was on a solo trip to a very small town I ate at a Wendy’s three days in a row (“I like the chili,” I explained, “and it was close to my hotel”). Perhaps your spouse is serving your marriage by trying to make the sexual relationship more of a “gourmet” experience than you would otherwise enjoy.
Look, it’s not healthy for me to eat at a Wendy’s three days in a row just because it’s convenient and meets the need. And, sexually speaking, you don’t want to go to “Wendy’s” three times in a row either. So maybe you need a reminder. It would thrill Lisa if I took the initiative occasionally and researched a great restaurant, surprising her and delighting her that for once she didn’t have to do all the work. And it might thrill your spouse if you put a little forethought into an intimate encounter that required a little preparation and effort.
What I love about this is that serving my wife means caring about something that doesn’t naturally have all that much appeal to me. Choosing enthusiasm creates humility, generosity, kindness, and the spirit of service. Those are good things, right?
And what do we foster when we choose not to care and not to be enthusiastic? Apathy. Self-centeredness. Stinginess.
Simply saying “I’m available whenever you want” with a begrudging attitude doesn’t serve someone who wants more than that. It’s not just about being “available” but being enthusiastically engaged.
If you’re a young couple, learning to be enthusiastic about something you’re not naturally all that excited about will serve you very well as a parent with your children. It will help you in social situations with strangers. It will assist you as your parents get older and want to talk about their days.
Enthusiasm is a wonderful gift for all of life, and marriage is an ideal “factory” out of which it can be liberally produced.
In what ways have you learned to show enthusiasm in your marriage?