He lays his hand on my bare shoulder.

Water drips from the tips of strands tousled and tucked and a rivulet runs down the small of my back. He kisses me dry.

“I have no idea what to wear.” I’m paying him no mind, standing before the closet with my towel, mumbling words. Hangers clatter.

“This skin you’re wearing is pretty beautiful.” His stubble finds the curve of my neck, then the gentle lips, them making their way.

“No…” I laugh, embarrassed, try to squirm out of those arms wrapped around, reach for a dress at the back, stretch far away. “Don’t be silly…. I just need something simple….”

Lips pull away.

I can feel him still, arms around me, tensed, steady. I know. What words will now come. I close my eyes in the waiting.  He says them slow, low, and they run down my spine…

“When I tell you that you are beautiful…”

His hands on my shoulder, he turns me, and I can’t look, too ashamed.

“You said you’d hear me.”

“Yes… I remember. What you said, how I could be a better wife.”  Deep breath, open eyes, open heart. I look into his, faces naked before each other.

“I know…. When you say I’m beautiful…. I’m to believe it. Receive your love.”

This is always the hardest.

We lean and our foreheads touch, breath mingling.  We’ve only found this place through a trail of years.

Rarely do I want to receive love just as it comes, soundless rain in late April light. Love falls softly; it cannot be forced. I have tried.  That just about undid us.

Funny, how love, this thing muscular and the only eternal, this bridge between our souls, it will sag sorely under pressure, love can’t bear the weight of our expectations, cracking at the joists where I slam foot in demand, where I peer laser sharp in the over analysis. Our bridge has near split, swayed and only grace saves us.

The days and the years, they teach me the startling; love can’t be strong-armed by the tongue. Love isn’t a function of communication. Love’s a function of connection;  the gentle whoosh and rush of the blood through the veins, the tender connecting of the one flesh.

Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls. It’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate. I am learning.

Words may only magnify the fractures.

It’s the souls that laugh.

That let eyes linger and the fingertips meet, that find their way back to the beginning and share the values and the relive the memory and the flame every morning. How we first fell and ignited. Can I call that place home?

_____

Fall in Love in Four Minutes A Day

It only takes four minutes a day to move into a deeper heart place. It only takes four minutes a day to connect in soul intimacy; to  breathe in oxygen for the other half of my heart. Don’t and I too begin to suffocate, the death heave. I wish someone had told me in the beginning.

Four Fixations

Four times a day think on love. When I leave the marriage bed, leave the front door, when  I return to front door, return to marriage bed.  These are the four critical archways of time in our day. Touch or whisper a sweet nothing when passing through these gate points, and we walk into hours of closeness. Forever love fixates like fresh love.

Four Embraces

Four times a day, wrap up in husband. Embrace fully and hold each other’s eyes. That’s all. Repeat four times daily. The one flesh breathes best when the skin pores are close; connected.

Four Affirmations

Four times during the day, thank him. For working faithfully to provide, for hanging up his towel, for putting gas in the van, for making this heart skip a wild beat. Look for the ways to thank him and watch how moves closer.

“Thank you.” I stand on tipped toes, hair still dripping, brush his cheek with the words, my lips. “Just for this.”

Love comes in the surrender, the falling.

“You mean, for this?” His eyes glint and he kisses too long, and we’re a laughing mess and love is more than words.  Love is the life-weaving, a braid of a three fold cord, Love Himself in the center.

Our fingers lace.

_____

Q for U: It’s Friday. We could we fall in love again this weekend! What’s your plan?

Can you receive love? Can you give it?

Inspire us with budget-savy, fun date ideas — Inspire us with your own love story! And if you aren’t feeling in love… let us know. We’d count it a privilege to hold you gently in prayer…

4 minutes times 4 affirmations, 4 hugs, 4 fixations = Fresh Love!

Photos and Text: Ann Voskamp

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  1. 1

    Oh Ann… this post speaks so deeply to me. We’re on the verge of leaving for a long weekend away to reconnect, and I needed to read this. To know it’s more than just getting away for some alone time, but for finding time to “move into a deeper heart place”.
    Thank you. Thank you.

  2. 2

    My love of 30 years has been away on business all week. He comes home tonight. I am going to think about how wonderful he is all day and then I am going to hold him tight tonight.

  3. 3

    We’ve been married almost 10 years (in December) and these words place enormous perspective on my heart…”When you say I’m beautiful

  4. 4

    Dear one,
    You write the poetry of love like few others; my own breath catches and I wonder how…if…when…I can allow myself to move in this realm.
    Interesting timing, we’re going to a marriage conference this weekend. I was surprised when my husband initiated it; it’s been a long time since we did something like this. I asked him “Why now?” and he just said, “Can’t a husband just wanna make his marriage better?”
    Twenty-two years…three kids…three moves to different cities…a few job changes (for both of us!). And pressures from all of the above. It’s too easy to suffocate under it.
    You’ve spelled out, and beautifully so, i n t e n t. I think without realizing it, a marriage can drift before anyone even knows there’s a chasm; these simple intentional steps–requiring only thinking about it and “little nothings” provide a canvas for connection simply.
    Sometimes that’s not easy, though ;) .
    BTW, my favorite lines? These nuggets of wisdom :) ~~~
    “Love isn’t a function of communication. Love’s a function of connection…”
    “Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls. It’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate.”
    xo

  5. 5
    Michelle says:

    you know this website is so powerfully written…and I am just pondering the truth within this post especially. So easy for us to forget to connect – but oh, so important for us to remember!! Our “budget-savy” date is a night away camping…and if you can’t get away for a night – just build a campfire in your backyard, roast marshmallows, etc. looking into the eyes of your soul’s love through the flames of the fire, cuddling when it gets cooler, licking the sticky marshmallow off his lips… :)

  6. 6

    Thank you, Ann. What a good reminder – and great ideas – to receive love and keep falling in love. Too often the monotony of seven years and three kids and laundry and dishes get in the way of “us” having time and energy for each other. But I will be reminded now by 4!

  7. 7

    Corrine — Oh, have such a weekend! May you have a meaningful, memorable time away, connecting hearts in needful ways…
    Julie — You make me smile! Perfect!
    Jessica — Oh, yes. Do I know it. Why is it so hard to let love come? You are not alone, Jessica. May your 10th be one of receiving his heart of tenderness for you, my friend.
    Robin — may you be blessed this weekend with a deep connection. My, how that man loves you! So true: we drift and don’t even know it. I do. But to daily, intentionally, reconnect hearts in simple ways… Blessings on your weekend, thoughtful Robin — may you fall head over heels in love all over again…

  8. 8

    Michelle — you make me blush, laugh! A campfire in the backyard and some marshmallows… I like it!
    Abbie — that monotony can steal the wonder, yes? Sso many years dreaming of what it would be like to marry this man. And then to take it for granted! Yes, 4 for Fresh love! Let’s do it!

  9. 9
    Scotty says:

    Your words made me cry because here’s one whose husband has never told her that she was beautiful; freezes out any attempt to hug or embrace; couldn’t understand why any man would feel it his responsibility to make his marriage better; would attend a couples conference only in a coffin! Yet is still a good provider, a good father and a kind man. Those of you whose husbands freely offer love and tenderness accept it!! You are very blessed.

  10. 10

    Scotty… My eyes well too… You are SO Soul Beautiful… Would love to reach out, cup that lovely face of yours and whisper it, again and again. And your heart affirms your husband and all things good and kind in him. You shine, so beautiful!
    Thank you. For gently speaking truth to your sisters. We hear you… love you… appreciate you.
    You’ve deeply touched my heart today.
    Indebted,
    Ann

  11. 11
    Southern Gal says:

    That scenario, those words, they are all part of my life. I can’t gracefully accept compliments from my husband. It makes me ashamed, embarassed…and we’ve been married 29 years. Thanks for this. I will be reading some of your other things, too.

  12. 12

    This line caught me up: The one flesh breathes best when the skin pores are close; connected.
    Makes me wonder how often the Bridegroom attempts to embrace his bride with His love and finds us distracted.
    Thank you, Ann, for kindling afresh pure and undefiled love.

  13. 13

    Maybe reading this and doing this will help us. Thank you for the 4 ideas and for keeping us in your prayers. That’s all I can say for now.

  14. 14
    Desire to be Proverbs 31 says:

    Oh, Ann. Thank you for your inspired thoughts and words. It is a challenge to keep pores close when your husband doesn’t want to be close. Thirteen years, a beautiful daughter, and yet his struggles overshadow and permeate what could be our intimate partnership. I gladly accept his words. It’s his actions that I sorely miss. So I look for my Bridegroom to fill in the holes.
    I will continue to pray. Thanks for your encouragement.

  15. 15

    Thanks Ann.After 31 yrs we have been married our life is so hectic lately that we to are taking free moments to connect. Sometimes even I have a hard time receiving. But working at it is so worth the effort. I think a bon fire on the beach and some us time is coming up next weekend.
    Thanks for the shove and encouragement Ann.

  16. 16

    This spoke to me deeply. (That’s a typical reaction to anything with the Ann Voskamp stamp. Thank you, thank you for your ministry of words!!)
    This time of year, our home can be a place where these two bodies share a house and a bed — rather than two souls who share a life. He’s up early with the pigs, out extra-late in the ready fields. And I’m busy with my own list of “must-dos” that seems to grow in the fall.
    Somehow, we leave each other in last place. Two nights ago, we had to purposely stop the spin-cycle of this home, and rest. We just sat, talked, held one another. That was it… And that was everything.
    Low-budget date ideas??? This fall, for me, it’s late-night rides in the John Deere combine. It’s feeding the kids early once in a while and waiting to eat supper late with him by candlelight. It’s sending him an email this morning to tell him how much I love him. Which is exactly what I’m going to do right now …

  17. 17

    This made me cry. Thank you for baring transparent soul and speaking truthful reminders to those of us who struggle with affirmations of beauty or love . . . you touch dark places with light.

  18. 18

    Oh Ann,
    This is so special! It is a profound, wide open, powerful, deep and rich exhortation to be purposeful about love . . . like God is! It is also excruciatingly beautiful and honest. What a treasure–both it . . . and you. Thank you!
    Shaunie

  19. 19

    Hold us in prayer, dear Ann. That with 28 years of loving and living we may find fresh love. That the mundane, the routine be exchanged for the revitalized and refreshed.
    God bless you for this…powerful and hope-full!

  20. 20

    Ann, your writings are captivating!!! I’m going to go squeeze my husband tight right now!!! Thank you for taking the time to use your gift to inspire me!

  21. 21

    Oh how beautiful and what a gentle reminder on this gray and disconnected day.
    Thank you.

  22. 22

    Thank you for making me take time to stop and think about this. God Bless You.

  23. 23

    We’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary today. I did a little pondering and navel-gazing about it over at my blog: http://www.vitafamiliae.com/?p=2453

  24. 24

    Ann,
    I lurk at A Holy Experience and am so often moved by your gift with words (By the way, too many think it’s just a gift, but I know you hone God’s gift with hours of sweat, work, practice, thought, and prayer).
    I admire/envy/long for a closeness like you have with Farmer Husband. Sleeping apart, never communicating, staying here for dear son, feeling so empty and alone, it’s hard going, but I keep going, trusting that somehow, some day, things may be better. At the same time, you encourage and cause sadness in the hearts that are lonely, but we need to hear it.
    Thank you.

  25. 25

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you.

  26. 26

    I’m glad to read this today. My husband- of only 3 1/2 years- and I were just last night grasping, flailing, trying to find our love in a conversation of frustration and hope. It’s no longer that new, fresh, romance we had as newlyweds (though are we still?!). Babies come, life move quickly, our souls… disconnect. Why in the world do we have such trouble knowing, believing that these good men love us? And my husband is a good, good man who loves deeply. Something in me coils though and I fear– what?
    It is good to read your words– as you said, you wished you had known in the beginning. Here we are, close to our beginning, and I will think upon these things today.
    Blessings to you.
    With gratitude,
    Jenny

  27. 27

    This is such a wonderful post. I know we are in a rough patch. I feel like I needed this this morning, God sent me this post, he sent me to your site. I felt like I was walking in my own life over at your site.

  28. 28

    Sweet Ann,
    Your words travel deep to the very marrow. God intervened and saved my marriage four years ago. He broke us deeply and showed us how to find intimacy and the beautiful circle of grace leads us back to Him. Together.
    But we’ve grown comfortable in the newness that some days feels old again. I can do 4 minutes. My soul craves the connection even when my hands are busy. Thank you for the reminding.

  29. 29
    Anonymous says:

    How deeply you touch, Ann. I pray for healing in those deep places. My husband is a hard worker and good provider, but his one vice has wounded my heart. It’s hard to believe my husband when he says I’m beautiful knowing he also chooses to “gaze” at other images, airbrushed, and artificial, more physically beautiful than I am capable of attaining. It’s hard to trust again in the deepest places where true intimacy occurs.
    Surface relationship continues as I know true love is more than a feeling, but oh how wonderful when feeling accompanies action. I pray to experience this again with my husband, and for the Lord to replace my guarded, shell of a heart with flesh that feels and receives.
    I thank God for all that He’s done in your marriage and pray the same for mine.

  30. 30

    Ann, even in a techno-fast the Lord gives me leave to read YOU. And I don’t wonder why. Your words more than anyone else’s just reverberate in my being…your distant iron sharpens mine, and I am so grateful for you.
    I am taking a weekend trip with my Beloved next week and this was exactly what I needed to hear. I too struggle to receive his love for me; I doubt and question but he never stops trying to wear me down. I need to be a better wife by simply receiving his love.

  31. 31

    As always Ann, there are no words to express how your words and writings make me feel. Near tears though….
    My husband has been under a lot of work stress and work problems that have brought him low… It is hard for him to focus on me and us as much, and I have desperately craved him and missed him lately – even though he is here. We recently had such a sweet evening – and my soul just feels renewed…

  32. 32

    Thank you for this reminder. Husband and son are on a journey of legacy for several days. Tomorrow I will ponder the touch of his hand and his heart. When he returns I will be duly thankful for his faithfulness and provision. Thank you for your words.
    amy

  33. 33

    Absolutely Transparently Beautiful, Anne. I cannot wait to love like this; Actually, I am striving to love my Jesus like this….Maybe, in time, just maybe, I will be blessed with a earthly love.
    Take Care Beautiful Soul.
    Reese

  34. 34

    We share a heart. I have a hard time accepting my husbands words of affirmation, too. I remember reading your article on how to be a better wife. I always ask my husband this and he always tells me the same, “Just be yourself”. It’s strange how we can turn something so simple into an ordeal because we are not happy with who we are.
    But, we are very much in love and I thank him for his words.
    This weekend would be a great time to get more quality time in.
    Last week he had the week off so we had lots of opportunities!
    When it comes to date nights, we almost always stay in (4 children, what are you going to do, ya know?!) We play games, do a puzzle, watch a movie, talk. Really, anything that involves an engagement between us is perfect for me! :)

  35. 35

    Thank you Ann.
    Jo

  36. 36

    Wow, so powerful. Honestly, just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.

  37. 37

    What a beautiful post. Thank you so much!

  38. 38

    Ann,
    You are too cool.
    And I rejoice to think how many marriages God will bless through you, here in fewer than 800 words. (Yes, I did a word count. :)
    Love,
    Monica

  39. 39

    Beautiful. Beautiful.
    As a wife, it is so easy to love (give and receive) by doing, instead of just being. Yet my beloved didn’t choose me for how the meals I cook, or how well I keep house… he choose me because our souls connected. Because I am me.
    Thanks for the reminder, Ann. The Spirit moves in hearts when you “speak”.

  40. 40

    Wow! This post blew me away. Thank you so, so much for sharing it with us. What an encouraging thought…when my husband tells me I’m beautiful, I am to believe it therefore receiving his love!
    I love your fresh love challenge, too! I’m off to go embrace and affirm my man now!

  41. 41

    from your heart out your fingers to the world, my soul receives, takes in, and bows at the beauty of the hope.
    Thank you.

  42. 42

    Absolutely beautiful post! Living with chronic illness it is so hard to feel beautiful, even though my hubby is so loving. This week I am covered in hives (this is the 13th day in a row), gained 4 lbs in a week from the steroid treatment for the hives and feel miserable.
    When he reaches for me, I push him away. I would love prayer from my (in)courage friends and thank you so much for reminding me how important it is to allow ourselves to feel loved.

  43. 43

    Beautiful, precious Ann. This has been a year of soul-searching, of re-learning, of reconnecting… while feeling surrounded by marriages that are falling apart. “Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls. It’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate.” So true. Four minutes, only four minutes, to keep the souls connected? Can be done. Must be done. Thank you…

  44. 44

    I love this, as always. Ann, you identify a woman’s heart so well and constantly show me things that aren’t always easy to see…but always beneficial to ponder. God’s blessings on you and your marriage!

  45. 45

    Dear friend,
    I read this with my husband by my side while we wait for our girl to return from the operating room. Thank you for your gentle reminders. I love this man of mine so much. He is such a gift to me. I will remember to say so throughout the day! Much love!
    Ann in GA

  46. 46

    Ann, after 24 years of marriage, I still have problems myself, too.
    One budget-friendly date idea that we use often is restaurant.com gift certificates. For instance, right now you can buy $25 gift certificates for $2 with code FOUR.
    We’ll go out to eat and then watch a Netflix movie at home, or eat at home and go out for the movies. That’s cheaper than going out for both.

  47. 47

    So beautiful. You, and your husband, are truly blessed.

  48. 48

    I am a subscriber of your site but have never posted. I am so moved by what you write and how common our experiences are as women, home schoolers, Christ followers, etc. I love how you explain things. Thank you for inspiring me. This particular post is so true of me, refusing affirmation and affection from my husband instead of receiving it graciously and being thankful for it. Where does this shame and embarrassment come from? Thank you for your writing that comforts and gently exhorts at the same time.

  49. 49

    Excellent post!
    Was trying to decide if I plan to read tonight or plan a date night with my DH – I’m planning the date night – our marriage needs and deserves it!

  50. 50

    I’m about to spend a few days away with my husband – no kids! I’m hoping to recapture and rekindle a little love!
    Beautifully written Ann, as always.

  51. 51

    Thank you Ann. I want to practice loving even more than I already do.
    I love the Four’s!
    Perfect!

  52. 52

    This is beautiful.
    Most days I am ok with being a single mom. Convincing myself that there is no good love (earthly love) beyond parent child, child parent.
    Then I read something like this. And for a minute, I let my heart ache.

  53. 53
    KS*Rebecca says:

    Great post Ann. I’m pregnant with our 1st child and I’m determined to work at keeping the fire alive and not forgeting that baby exists because of the love God blessed us with.

  54. 54

    Oh, you write my heart time and again.
    This weekend, you ask? We are moving. Our home sold, finally. Praise God we will all be together under the same roof! All in His timing.
    I will visit this fine piece of writing again very soon (ya know, once I find the box with the computer and get hooked up to cyberspace). I need to print the 4 Minutes… to start our new journey in a such a way that love prevails. Thank you for a wonderful house-warming gift, Ann!
    Much love & blessings!

  55. 55
    HveHope says:

    Janet ~
    As a child of parents who lived ‘apart’ and yet ‘together’ may I say THANK YOU for your efforts to honor the marriage bond? I know not (of course) your circumstances, and my heart weeps for the causes of your rift (and remembers the causes of my parents’ rift), but I quite truly admire your courage. At the (ripe?) age of 42, with both parents gone, I look back and am so thankful for their staying together. It has been a gift (in amongst all the angst and anguish).
    Janet, I pray for you now (and will hopefully continue, as the Spirit prompts), in your circumstances full of loneliness, that the Lord would show Himself strong in His provision for you. That the Lord would shower you with evidences of His love and of His mercy… evidences!
    in Christian love,
    HveHope

  56. 56

    I have tears in my eyes! This is desperately something that I need to do for my husband and my marriage. I also do not accept love easily, especially physical love. I am so excited to implement the tips you have shared. Thank you:)

  57. 57

    Even after 35 years of a wonderful marriage this is so inspiring. Thank-you for sharing, God is using you in a mighty way.

  58. 58
    Tracy B. says:

    Sweet Ann –
    Just took my children for a visit with my parents so my husband and I can try to reconnect this weekend. The pace of life has left us like two ships passing in the night — perfect environment for Satan to slip in to steal and destroy.
    I could so relate to your message today, still after 25 years of marriage. Tonight I am seeking to trust my Abba Daddy and allow my heart to rest and trust and receive love from the godly man He has given me.
    I’m praying for you today, dear sister. Thank you for always speaking truth into so many lives. You are a treasure and I’m glad I get to spend eternity with you even if we never meet here on earth!
    In Christ,
    Tracy B in Atlanta, GA

  59. 59

    Ann, this post, your entire blog + life…set to the poetry of your words, together with your profound vulnerability and sincere loving of Jesus and all that is beautiful and good, continue to encourage and remind me to, in the words of Chesterson, some of my very favorite words, words that I daily long to grow into: “Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.”
    Thank you. Your influence + example fuel my desire to fall every day deeper in love with both my Lord and with my man.

  60. 60

    Not feeling in love.
    smooches,
    Larie

  61. 61
    Dianna says:

    Not only do I love and appreciate the advice, but I also take so much courage in knowing that I’m not alone in my rut. Thank you! This couldn’t have come at a better time.

  62. 62

    You had me at “love falls softly, it cannot be forced”…. I have learned that the very hard way these first almost six years of marriage.
    I wanted my husband here beside me as I read through the rest, to say YES! This is us:)
    And then the ending…. well, you’ll never know how deep that penetrated my soul and spirit… I was married on 4.4.04…. Wow. Thank you.

  63. 63
    Lillian says:

    Thank you Ann, your words are so beautifully written and open hearted. It’s so easy to become distracted. I will attempt, with God’s grace, to keep open to see the small things, maybe big steps for hubby, and to welcome them, encourage them and smile.

  64. 64

    Here’s another woman thankful for the way you words things, touching the heart so deeply.
    I struggle to accept those “You are beautiful” words my dh speaks, feeling like I don’t measure up. Agains what? some imaginary idea, really.
    We saw a still ultra-sound yesterday with our 10th child, Samuel. A long and difficult day ended with dh and I touching, soul to soul, aches amidst a faith of the raising of the dead. Wherever we walk, we must connect, always connect or we are alone.

  65. 65
    A.M.B. says:

    thank you. i, too, have the hardest time that anyone, much less my husband, could find me beautiful…physically, emotionally, spiritually, anything…beautiful. it is hard to believe. but i know that he does love me…all of me, even the mean and grumpy parts that only he is privileged enough to experience.
    finding time for each other is hard, too, with a baby. we’re still adjusting to what our marriage looks like now that the two of us has become a threesome. people always said the first year of marriage is the hardest…for us, the first year of parenthood has been the most difficult for our marriage.
    sometimes it scares me and i worry that we won’t make it. how do i meet my baby’s needs and my husband’s, too? especially when i am just so tired all the time. i feel hopeless and helpless so often when words are sharp and cutting. i want to be better. i don’t know how to juggle everything. seems like no matter what i do someone suffers…
    my husband is rocking that sweet baby to sleep now…and then i will hug him and give him affirmation. i can do that. it’s a small step in the right direction…toward each other.
    thank you ann. your prayers are appreciated.

  66. 66

    This post is exactly what I needed today. Thank you for allowing God to work through you, Ann.

  67. 67

    Oh, my goodness! I’m in love again (thank you, God!) with the love of my life! We try to get away for occasional weekends, plus the one week each summer without kids. Next Friday, I’ve got a day off from work, & we were planning to go away for a couple of days. But, money has other levels of importance, so we’re getting creative. We’re already planning our romantic getaway to happen in stages next weekend – “sleeping” in, maybe breakfast in bed, definitely a fire in the bedroom fireplace (and in bed!); we might send the teenagers out for fast food, while we eat slow food at home.
    We’ve learned that we HAVE to do this – to stay connected. Our kids are quickly leaving the nest, & we want to be able to look across the proverbial breakfast table at each other, and like what we see. AND to WANT to spend the rest of our lives together.

  68. 68

    Oh, I loved this. My husband and I have been married for almost three years. We got pregnant on our honeymoon, and we are now pregnant with our second, and the time alone together, to grow our marriage has been small, but we take advantage of those little moments to connect. I love what you said about the 4 times a day reminders. So true! In the last few months Hubby and I have gotten in the habit of cuddling every night on the couch after the baby goes to sleep. It’s happened every single night for a few months now, and we both can’t get enough. Thank you for reminding me to connect with my husband daily.

  69. 69

    I’m not married yet
    but I plan on following ur advice in two or three years :)

  70. 70

    Ann, thank you for this post…It is an answer to prayer for me. I’d prayed that God would show me how to love my husband and bring vibrancy to our relationship and He answered in your words.

  71. 71

    I need to print this post to read over and over… thanking God for you, this day.
    I love your blog, and am a regular reader and EVERYTIME I read I know God has anointed you to “preach good news”. You are so faithful to do just that through printed voice. May God bless…
    ~B

  72. 72

    Ann, your words bless me so. SO. I can’t really express it enough — your blog, this post here. I have my husband reading it too. And family. And friends. I want everyone to read these prayerful jewels that can change and touch and grow a soul. Jewels in every single post.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  73. 73

    Ann,
    It is the blushing.
    It is also the pulling away as we long to be in control, what with so much of our life coming at us .
    It is also the fear sometimes, that it could all be gone , and wanting to be less invested than the skin , the fingertips, the soul.
    I remember reading about the dress you picked out long ago..the velvet romance of it. The collar of all things delicate and willing.
    And I cried. I arrived at my bridal shower, covering my broken self in the velvet blue piety. The crocheted hope of his mother resting on my heart, wrapping around me in patterned threads of faith.
    And there in the basement those wise women taught me.
    With their mismatched too loud grabbing at me love.
    And then the men came.
    The uninvited husbands.
    To drink wine in tumblers and shout over each other with their joy stories. Their victories.
    To pinch the bottoms of their wives .
    To laugh away the slaps.
    They were all falling over themselves in the honouring.
    Of each other.
    Of life.
    Showing up in all their shapes and sizes.
    In their imperfections.
    With joy.
    In a day of adding to the community.
    Of receiving .
    And giving grace without question.
    I want this with my husband.
    I want this for our marriage.
    And a little blushing in the kitchen is okay too.
    Love to you,
    deb

  74. 74

    Simply beautiful, Ann, as always. Thank you for the encouragement to simply receieve the love that is freely offered. Why is it so difficult?

  75. 75

    I read your post with longing and the tears came when I read Scotty’s comment. She and I know similar sorrow, we share a common pain. My husband is a good man, a good father but… he thinks I am foolish and silly for longing to hear him tell me “I love you” or “you are beautiful”, we cuddle in the bed but he rarely touches me otherwise. I love him, I know he loves me but how I desire to really feel loved and cherished.

  76. 76

    Oh, the privilege to read your stories. Your hearts.
    Will you accept my love if I say how beautiful each of you are?
    Tonight, I pray for each of you… holding your words, bits of you, tenderly…
    You are not alone…
    We all sit together…
    (((Sisters)))
    All’s grace,
    Ann

  77. 77

    I am one who is needing the prayer today. “Ministry” has taken a toll and we are fighting to get our marriage to an intimate place again, get our house in order. Thank you for the prayers and for the beautiful words.

  78. 78

    Any tips on how to keep our love fresh while he is deployed? Deployment has been taking a huge toll on us.. making us feel disconnected, and making me feel unloved.

  79. 79
    Ruth in Barbados says:

    Karren:
    My husband is not in the military, but he travels about 8 months of the year for work and I stay home with 3 of the most wonderful children God made and 3 more 4-legged children. It’s very hard to feel loved when you’re making all the decisions and taking all the burdens. My first advice is ‘share’ – I dont’ know what means of communication you have, but I text little everyday things often – “a funny thing happened on the way to school this morning ….”, “I wake and ache – for your touch, your love, your words – and then I turn to Him who fills me completely and I know that He has the plan for our lives and will lift us up in this as in all things” etc. Even share some sexy thoughts – it doesn’t have to be vile – sex between a married couple is a beautiful and God-given thing. I also have a little “course” I’ve followed – it’s 30 days of learning to love your husband through the Lord – it has really helped us. If you’re interested, you can email me directly at chameleon@caribsurf.com. In the meantime, I’ll hold you both in my prayers. Thank you ladies of (in)courage – next to my morning time with God and oh-so-amazing tropical sunrises you are my favourite morning ritual.

  80. 80

    Dear Ann,
    October 9th, when you posted this, was our 5 year Anniversary. My gift from God has been traveling for the past two weeks and just returned, so we will be celebrating our love today. Reading your inspiring words encourages me to show him just how much I appreciate and love him, as well as to receive the love he so abundantly gives. Thank you for this! Not only will I be putting the 4 into practice today, but every day. May the next 5, 10, 50 plus years only be more wonderful as I learn to better love, honor, and cherish my husband.

  81. 81

    My own heart reads this and all the comments and I am admonished to treat our love more tenderly, to be more grateful for it, to not take it for granted. It was, after all, many years in the longing, praying, and wishing stages last decade. So now, to be living the life I prayed for, married to this man? My attitude does not reflect the gratitude I feel in my heart for this gift.
    I simply love the 4 gate posts…. I will be intentionally paying attention to those now. And low-cost date ideas? Going for a walk under the stars and actually holding hands while kids skip on ahead of us; waiting until little sweaty heads slumber and having some romantic music, candles, and wine in your bedroom and dancing… oh how we love to dance! The rhythm of the two moving as one, the trust, the leading & following… so incredibly, connecting. Reading together, me in his arms, he reading whatever fiction he is reading now, only aloud as he strokes my hair and my head lay on his strong chest. It matters not the words he reads, but the connection of closeness and of vulnerability whispers chapters of love in my heart. Just to hear his voice.
    Thanks, Ann, as always for your inspiration.

  82. 82

    to choose
    there was no falling
    only choice
    she was willing to tumble
    head over heels
    but,
    he was real
    wonderful imperfect
    real
    so,
    she chose
    blue eyes that laugh
    adoring
    kindness
    real
    she wanted to fall
    but she chose
    love

  83. 83
    kay dallas says:

    dearest ann: (yes you are so transparent that i seem to know you well?)
    i’m not married but prayerfully one day. single for 28 years, a widow at a very young age and single parent early butttt. in the meantime i’m preparing for my husband. this site causes me to stop and look for direction. stop and ask for direction. stop and receive instruction. thank you for sharing bits of crumbs for hungry souls.
    kay dallas

  84. 84

    It is my hearts desire for every man and every woman to know a marriage relationship such as this. It is God’s desire for us all. We can have a great marriage relationship.
    I write a blog all about how men can better love their wives. I hope you all will check it out when you have a chance. They are just practical things a man can do for his wife to show her how much he loves her. How he can encourage her.
    http://whatsheneedsfromyou.wordpress.com
    Thanks,

  85. 85

    This sounds so easy, so simple, so hard and so incredibly out of my reach.
    I loved the statement that said “Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls. It’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate.” Because you see, we dont communicate, we are incredibly disconnected, there is a massive canyon between us. And I struggle with receiving love–from anyone other than my kids. I struggle with giving love to others. I have realized/ accepted/ verbalized that I do not love him. We will be separating in the not to distant future- again. This time there will not be a costly divorce- we’ve done that already the last time. I’ve never learned to love the way God says in the Bible, I’ve never been loved the way God said to love. But this weekend I learned, that when I say there is no one I can trust, there is no one who can love me—there are two– God and Jesus! I love them, I love my kids and I have a very few friends whom I love dearly and I know now they love me.
    I’m sorry this is not exactly what you were asking in your question–but its very hard for me to understand what you say- to love in 4 minutes, 4 embraces–but it is something that I would like to experience someday. So I know God knows the plans for me, I may be going against them right now, I may not be, but either way He loves me and that is all I need right now!

  86. 86

    Ann,
    Thank you for sharing. Brought tears to my eyes. Been feeling very lonely, tired. Afraid to try, tired, too much hurt. I need to focus on the positive. Confused. I need to learn to trust, trust in the God of love who wants to give me so much more. I need to learn to stretch out and receive.
    Thank you for putting to words what my heart knows.

  87. 87

    Dear Ann,
    This is not the first time one of your post — which my wife is a huge fan of — resonates so deeply with me as a husband. There is, however, something especially powerful about this one which motivated me to venture out and join the conversation.
    I can’t think of a more elemental desire, as a man, for my wife to know how exquisite and lovely she is to me. I too long for the day she will truly hear and receive how much I adore her.
    In the meantime I will wait patiently, for love to “fall softly”.

  88. 88

    Dear Ann,
    This is not the first time one of your posts — which my wife is a huge fan of — resonates deeply with me as a husband.
    It’s almost impossible to overstate how paramount it is for a man to feel that his wife knows she is loved. We’ve been married for nine years and I long for the day my Ingrid truly hears … and receives… how exquisite and lovely she is to me.
    In the meantime, I will wait patiently for love to “fall softly”.

  89. 89

    Apologies for the double post. I assumed I had done something wrong when my message didn’t show up on the blog right away. Oooops.

  90. 90

    Stunning! Thank you for that. Needed it. Always need it.

  91. 91

    Saddness filled my heart as I read this. I want what you described, but am afraid the chasm is already there and I don’t know how to cross it. Please pray that God would move in our hearts again to bring us together.

  92. 92

    Thank you so, so much for this post. So beautiful, so meaningful, so challenging. So true.

  93. 93

    I am away in Africa on our trip of a lifetime with my husband of 33 years – and still I am able to – and desperately needed to – read your words! Ah, the internet is a marvelous thing :) )
    And tomorrow I am starting your 4 – just the encouragement I need and the steps outlined perfectly for me. Thank you, dear Ann – your ministry blesses my days.

  94. 94

    “‘Receive your love.’ This is the hardest.”
    I never thought it’d be so difficult to receive love, especially from someone who has captured my heart from the very beginning.
    Thank God He sent me a husband who has been able to break through my endless internal questions of the heart. Early on in our courtship, I was analyzing it to the nth degree. He simply whispered, “You don’t need to worry about a thing. Just let me love you.” He was the one.
    My part continues to be learning how to just let him love me.
    “love can’t bear the weight of our expectations”
    So true. I find that laughing, telling stories, asking each other odd questions and daring to talk about the imagined and the wishful are all part of our cherished moments of intimacy.
    Our children are young – 3 yrs and 6 months – so for now, we go out on a date night once/month. Our time as a couple, staring across the table, holding hands casts a wonderful, warm spell that lasts throughout the weeks, tucked inside our minds, when the kids cry and the laundry piles.
    I love your 4′s. Amen to each! Thanks for a beautiful post, written in a way that only could be from you, Ann!

  95. 95
    Heather says:

    Karren, My husband is also military and deployments are hard. Before we were married I deployed for 8 months and it gave me a view of them from the deployed member’s side. One thing that I know the Marines and Saliors I deployed with wished was that their spouse would send more pictures/drawings and stories from not only the kids but themselves. A lot of times the spouse will send a package with pictures of the kids and letters they wrote him without sending anything of hers/his. I remember one package that was really well recieved by my Lt over there. His wife loved to wear ribbions in her hair. One Sunday she did her hair up nice (he loved her hair, he told me he use to sit for hours and play with it) and took a few pictures. She developed them and sent them along with the ribbon she wore, he kept that ribbon around his computer for the rest of the deployment. It was something really small but it meant so much to him because he reminded him of his wife and how much she loved him. Another wife found out she was pregnant the week after her husband left so she took weekly pictures and kept a journal of all the important things and some just random musings and sent them to him every week. He would write in the journal for the next week all that he was thinking/feeling and send it back to her. For the weeks they didn’t have the journal they would write in a regular notebook and then transfer it into the journal. It kept them in touch with each others feelings and thoughts. One thing to remember is that you are dealing with military mail don’t put anything in a letter or package you would get embarrassed if someone other than your husband saw. A lady I knew had some tasteful but sexy pictures taken and she e-mailed it to her husband. Well the e-mail got tagged and read (yes it can happen), the pictures ended up all over the Batalion and she was so embarrassed by it.
    My husband is blessed with a unit that goes on short training missions a few times a year (generally each one is 1-2 months and they go 2-3 times a year). What I do is 1) I take pictures daily and I e-mail some of them to him along with what we did that day. I also do a countdown for the girls because I know that leaving us is really hard on him and hes afraid his babies won’t remember him when he returns. I have my oldest color pictures while I write to him each night then I save them all and give them to him when he gets home. We also read the same part of the scriptures while he is away so we can talk about it one on one when he gets back. A lot of the time we feel more connected after a training mission because we have spent more time than usually making sure the other one knows we are there for them. Good luck on the deployment! They are hard but doable. If you want to talk you can e-mail me and Ill talk, its easier to go through when you have others who have been there to talk to.

  96. 96

    I think I could really like this but I’m too usy being jealous.

  97. 97

    i really needed to read this today. after only 2 years, i feel like our marriage is falling apart. i try, he tries, but we can’t seem to remember how to connect anymore. we can’t seem to remember how to listen any more. we can’t seem to remember how to appreciate each other anymore. i’ve gotten so caught up in the ‘if only he would/could…’ that i have forgotten the ‘if only i could/would…’ part of it. thank you so much.

  98. 98

    After 30 years of marriage, and mountains of pain, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to love him again. To be struggling with the awful truth of my cold heart is more than I can bear some days. Knowing you are praying would be a blessing.
    Thank you for the beauty that comes into my life through your words and photos. It is painful and glorious at the same time.

  99. 99
    Kathryn says:

    My Sweetheart comes home from Afghanistan in 11 days. Pray we can again become close and move through the trials of unemployment and family rifts. Please?
    Thankyou

  100. 100

    Anne,
    This is just…well…beautiful. Thank you for opening this personal moment to us.
    I was recently reading John and Stasi Eldredge’s Love and War and found the sentiment on intimacy so similar. God is rocking my world right now with these revelations into love and marriage…I am so glad I am listening!

  101. 101

    Wow. Such beautiful writing, and powerful content. Thank you for sharing your heart, this intimate moment. I understand where you’re coming from, and conciously work to give, submit – to just receive. After almost 7 years of marriage, I finally believe my husband when he says I’m beautiful. I’m learning too.
    This is my first visit to your blog, and I like what I see! Thanks again!

  102. 102

    Thank you for sharing this! I have really been wanting to be more in love with my husband lately. We have 2 kids, 21 months and 6 months and I have been so busy taking care of them that I kind of forgot he needed to be love and paid attention to as well.
    Thank you for your encouragement! I would appreciate any prayers!!

  103. 103

    You are awesome! Thank you for this!
    Two friends mentioned your website in bible study this morning. I’m so glad that they did!

  104. 104

    Wow! This is beautifully written!!
    And I love your idea of 4 times each day. This is such good practial adivce!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  105. 105

    This made me cry as well. It has been years since my husband has kissed me or held me or even given a complement, much less any expression of love. I guess it gives me hope for my daughters – that they will find a man who enjoys loving and being loved.

  106. 106

    written by cheapsuprashoesale, December 04, 2010
    Supra Newest
    Women Skytop

  107. 107

    Your blog is my stepping stone, my friend. Thanks for the heads up on this subject.

  108. 108
    Rebekah says:

    I am reading this post for the first time, and I believe God had it for me to read at this point in time. This has spoken so deeply to me, and I would ask your prayers for me to ACCEPT my husband’s love as you are talking about here. Thank you for posting…

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