How to Make A Marriage Bed

When my Grandma told me to marry a man who wasn’t much to look at so I wouldn’t worry of him wandering, I had nodded ‘cause I loved her.

But I confess. I didn’t intend to pay her any mind.

I did ask her if she had taken her own advice. She said yes — and my grandfather had slapped the worn knee of his jeans and roared with laughter and I saw it with my own eyes, her winking at him.

Now, it could be said that the man who married me did, in fact, follow Grandma’s just-telling-you-what’s-best-for-you-advice. But I can’t say for certain that she ever straight out told him to be looking for a less-than-pretty-one — so it may be that the way it worked out for him was but providential design.

I think this when we lay beside each other in the dark and I wonder why. Wonder why a man takes a woman. Why a man keeps a woman.

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Why loves comes, this gift, wild and free and unforced, and crowns the unlikely, a fickle feeling matured into a ripe and firm decision.

I have always found this hard.

Why is it easier to earn love than simply accept it?

Sometimes when I stand skin nervous, too exposed, before the hangers and the choices, his hands find the waist and fingers around the bare that has stretched wrinkle thin six times and I cringe. He says it then in the light, what he whispers in the complete pitch with the door latch hooked close.

I doubt that word beautiful from his lips and I shake my head and I regret hurting him, but I can’t help it. To accept it would seem a lie but he says it is his God-honest truth. Why do I argue?

And why would a woman rather scrub the grime of the tile grout in the bathroom for her husband, make him plates of heaping mashed potatoes, light the candles, scour the pots, wash his underwear, rather than say yes to his wooing? Is it pride or is it shame (and maybe they are the same only by different names) or is it a symptom of a deep wound bleeding unseen or just blatant apathy and why rebuff the advances of the man who gave the ring and his promise and all of his bare male heart?

Isn’t it this alone, the one skin, that hallows and sets marriage apart sacred? This intimacy that alone makes this the only of its kind in all our human wanderings…

The baby body can writhe uncomfortable, the aging, sagging body can sheath herself tight, the tugged at mommy body can lay numb from touch overdose and I have been all three, a woman of chronic illness lying still and chilled in the night faking deep sleep.

The Farmer knows seasons.

He knows you cannot change them or race them and it’s best to just look to the sky and let come what comes and be the man patient, lips murmuring prayers, the thick hands working silent love. He does this. Tilling soul soils for years.

Right from the beginning, from that first morning when I lie scared and light cracks bright between the curtained hotel windows and he whispers that this is like the beginning, us Adam and Eve and his lips touching mine, I grope to find the switch to turn off the automated no.

Find the switch that says this melding is the divine call and He blesses the flesh union and real ladies, married and vowed, freely and full embrace the yes. I am embarrassed. Control and false propriety can strangle love stiff. There has never been a more patient Farmer.

One New Year’s Eve, it’s the Farmer’s father who hands me an envelope, tells me to buy something nice just for me, and I want change, something nice for him, and I buy a copy of Intimate Issues and The Farmer laughs, asks if we should tell his dad about my choosing. “He’s the father of nine,” I laugh. “He’d approve, yes?” The Farmer nods, relieved. The sky’s moving. I read. I underline passages, turn page corners. I hear Him, Lover of our souls:

Drink you own well, my son— be faithful and true to you wife…. Let your manhood be a blessing; rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her charms and tender embrace satisfy you. Let her love alone fill you with delight. (Prov. 5:15, 18-19, TLB)

“Make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits.” (Song of Solomon 4:16)

I change.

The seasons change.

The Farmer holds me. He has waited years. There is yield, mine and for him.

The moon reflects and we look long into eyes close and we see into. I weep and he asks why. There is love that swells the heart so full it splits and leaks an aching joy.

I never want to say good bye and I can’t imagine this ever ending and who am I to have lived having been known, the Adam knowing Eve? He strokes my hair. I lay on his chest, of his rib, by his rib, and I rise and fall with his breathing. Familiarity breeds boredom only to the blind and the real see-ers know the worth of vows worn polish smooth with all the days.

One can become true one and God knows the mystery.

I don’t know what Grandma knew but I am with Solomon, still lying in the dark next to the Farmer wondering of the things that amaze, the four, especially the last, that I will never understand, the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas and the way of a man with a maiden.

He and I lie in our vulnerable communion.




Our Love-Collecting Box: The Back Story

Why we have a box on our dresser collecting dollars and a long-ago letter to Ann Landers that spawned the collecting-box phenomenon…

“Dear Ann Landers: Last weekend, we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. This morning, they left on a long-awaited trip to Hawaii. They were as excited as if it were their honeymoon.
When my parents married, they had only enough money for a three-day trip 50 miles from home. They made a pact that each time they made love, they would put a dollar in a special metal box and save it for a honeymoon in Hawaii for their 50th anniversary.

Dad was a policeman, and Mom was a schoolteacher. They lived in a modest house and did all their own repairs. Raising five children was a challenge, and sometimes, money was short, but no matter what emergency came up, Dad would not let Mom take any money out of the “Hawaii account.” As the account grew, they put it in a savings account and then bought CDs.

My parents were always very much in love. I can remember Dad coming home and telling Mom, “I have a dollar in my pocket,” and she would smile at him and reply, “I know how to spend it.”

When each of us children married, Mom and Dad gave us a small metal box and told us their secret, which we found enchanting. All five of us are now saving for our dream honeymoons. Mom and Dad never told us how much money they had managed to save, but it must have been considerable because when they cashed in those CDs, they had enough for airfare to Hawaii plus hotel accommodations for 10 days and plenty of spending money.

As they told us good-bye before leaving, Dad winked and said, “Tonight, we are starting an account for Cancun. That should only take 25 years.”

Loving Daughter in Abilene, Texas

Perhaps today might just be perfect as any to slip out and find you and your Beloved your own little love-collecting box?

It’s a mighty fine way to make up a marriage bed… “His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend.” ~Song of Solomon 5:16


Edited post from the archives…

{Thank you for grace in these strange days of interviews and guest posts in the midst of mothering, as God does whatever He unexpectedly wills with the book and asks me to simply, quietly trust Him and just “do the next thing.” Faithfulness is what He calls us to, not some standard of success — and in God’s eyes, faithfulness is success. Thank you. It’s only each of you with all of Him that have the little and small at #11 at Amazon and that you take the messy and broken anyways? I’m laid right low and quake, & yet will I quietly trust and lean… murmur ‘thank you’ for what I don’t understand at all. May God’s message that real joy is possible right where you are, draw more to Himself & thank you for your prayers — that I simply be faithful with no fear & take wild joy  in Him.}

Related Marriage Posts from the Archives:
How Can I be a better Wife

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