Tag Archives: Debi Walter

Pursuing 4-Dimensional Intimacy

When someone asks me where to get date night ideas, The Romantic Vineyard is the first place I send them. The authors, Tom and Debi Walter, have been blogging for many years with practical tips, biblical truths, and romantic ideas to help couples nurture companionship and intimacy, including 430 date night posts. Wow.

But when I think about Debi Walter, I can’t help but think about how she inspired a chapter in my book. When I took up her challenge to the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association to talk specifically about the gospel, I wrote “The Gospel in the Bedroom.” Not only did I feel that chapter was a special message about sex in marriage — but that God had used Debi to invite me into His calling. An angel in the true sense of God’s messenger.

Thus, I feel particularly privileged to have this angel here on my blog today with a wonderful message about intimacy. Here’s Debi Walter.

Blog post title + close-up of couple embracing in a vineyard

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely.”

“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”

Song of Solomon 2:14-15

This passage speaks of the precious gift a husband and wife share behind closed doors. He longs to see her form and to hear her voice. He compliments her, encouraging her into deeper intimacy with him. Such a picture of innocence and trust. It is precious and worth pursuing.

A man who has eyes only for his bride and a bride who lovingly allows him to have all of her without holding back is intimacy as God designed it. It is beautiful.

Our pastor shared a definition of intimacy that has helped us judge how we are doing in this regard. He says when we share intimacy with our spouse, we are inviting them “into me see.” We aren’t holding back in any area. Total disclosure and total trust.

Intimacy includes four areas where we must regularly invite our spouse in. We refer to it as 4-dimensional intimacy. If you’re not familiar with the term, 4-D is a fairly new way of viewing movies at the theater.

Definition: 4-D (adjective) describes a 3-D film experience that is supplemented with synchronized physical effects.

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they were one of the first to showcase this effect. We went to a 3-D presentation of A Bug’s Life. While we were watching the ants march on the screen, we felt something crawl under our seat. It made everyone jump and scream. Laughter followed when we realized that we were experiencing the movie on a new level.

Imagine what 4-D intimacy could do for our marriages? Let’s consider these four dimensions:

Dimension 1 – The Mind (Intellectual intimacy)

Every day our minds are bombarded with thoughts about work, family, budgets, and schedules. They can be like a tidal wave, and we must spend time sharing what is on our mind with our each other. To stay on the same page, so to speak, in regards to priorities and responsibilities. We must help each other take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

This is where we are tempted to worry about the future. Being honest about all the temptations you are both facing will go a long way in building intellectual intimacy together. This intimacy also includes growing and learning new things like current events, science, and history.

Dimension 2 – The Heart (Spiritual intimacy)

Feeding our Spirit with the Word of God and sharing what we are hearing the Holy Spirit say to us is important for our growth in godliness. When we got married, we invited the Holy Spirit to unite us forever, and a miracle took place. No longer were we two, but now we are one flesh.

Spend regular time talking about what God is saying to you. Encourage each other to pursue the Lord. This is spiritual intimacy helping your spouse cultivate their personal relationship with the Lord. This intimacy also includes commitment to the local church and serving others together.

Dimension 3 – The Soul (Emotional intimacy)

Emotions can change like the tide of the ocean — up one day and down the next. They can be predictable in their unpredictability, knowing for certain they will change. We must be committed to not only share our emotions with each other, but also giving each other time to be heard.

When I am feeling the most emotional is when the ground is ripe for a conflict. It takes patience and kindness on my husband’s part, not to mention discernment, in knowing what to say or not say. Often times a hug is all that is needed to let me know that he cares and is there for me. This intimacy also includes having fun together and finding ways to laugh.

Dimension 4 – The Body (Physical intimacy)

This is the intimacy that is supported by all the other intimacies mentioned above. You can have physical intimacy without the first three, but it will be one-dimensional only and not what God intended. Adding this element to the three above is as ecstatic and exhilarating as we felt experiencing the 4-D movie effect for the first time. It caused all the other dimensions to come alive.

It is what King Solomon was describing in our opening verse. Make love not because you have to, but because you get to. It is a gift. If it feels otherwise, I encourage you to seek help to find out why?

Make love not because you have to, but because you get to. Click To Tweet

This brings us to the last part of the verse in Song of Solomon that speaks of catching the foxes that spoil the vine.

Foxes were capable of completely destroying a healthy vineyard. They are known to not only eat the fruit, but also to chew on the trunk, killing the entire vine.

There can be many foxes after your intimacy, and only you know what they are. The question is, have you talked it over with your spouse? Do they know you well enough to know the foxes stalking your mind, heart, soul, and body? If they don’t I encourage you to open up and start the conversation. This is how you go after those little foxes and catch them before the damage is permanent.

Our new book, Cherishing Us: 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage, can help you begin talking on a regular basis to help deepen your intimacy.

♥     ♥     ♥

Thanks so much, Debi! And to my readers, here’s more about the book:

CLICK TO LEARN MORE OR BUY

Cherishing Us is a compilation of advice shared the past several years on The Romantic Vineyard Facebook page. We brought them together in this handbook to allow you to keep the tips close for easy reference. Read one daily and use it as a springboard to assess your marriage. Let it be a constant reminder of the priority your marriage holds in your life as you seek to grow closer together for a lifetime. Includes monthly Contemplation Questions, Date Night suggestions, and ruminations on the importance of cherishing one another. Ideal for engaged couples, newlyweds, and enduring marriages. Give this as a wedding gift, or anniversary gift, or just because. Every marriage can benefit from daily reminders to honor the one you’ve promised to love and to cherish!

Is Your Husband A Liar? with Debi Walter

Debi Walter is a marriage blogger with The Romantic Vineyard—a fabulous blog that inspires and encourages biblical marriages. Debi and her husband Tom are also masters of date night ideas.

I’m thrilled to welcome Debi to Hot, Holy & Humorous for her take on Feeling Beautiful. (For more about the series, check out the introduction video.) Take it away, Debi!

Is Your Husband a Liar? with Debi Walter

Is your husband a liar?

I’m sure most of us would answer this question with an emphatic, NO! However, many of us treat them as if they are. It’s true that most husbands see their wives as beautiful, yet we roll our eyes when they compliment us, or say, “Yeah, but…” pointing out the flaws we see staring back at us in the mirror.

I was thinking about this attitude recently and wondering why it is so common for wives to think their husbands aren’t telling the truth when it comes to how they see them. It has to be discouraging to our man to hear his compliments so quickly disregarded on a regular basis. It’s a wonder he doesn’t stop all together!

It’s led me to ask God why we do this? Why are we so quick to dispute with our husband on something they see as good?

I believe there are three reasons:

1.  We have allowed our culture to influence our definition of beauty. We are bombarded daily with women who seemingly have it all, and tempt us to see how poor we look in comparison. We measure how far short we fall in comparison with the outward beauty on display on TV, in magazines and at the movies.

They draw us in to buy whatever it is they’re selling, and it obviously works! Statistics show that in 2013 we spent over 56.6 billion dollars on cosmetics alone in the United States. We spend so much time trying to improve the outside of our bodies, when what will really make us the most beautiful is left wanting.

2.  We think more highly of ourselves than we do our husbands. When our husband takes time to compliment us and we are quick to disagree, what we’re basically doing is saying my opinion matters more than yours. We walk away thinking we’re being honest, but in reality what we’re really showing is how deceived we are. We’re deceived into thinking we can never be what our husband is already saying we are in their eyes. We are craving something based on our own opinion that will never be satisfied.

The Bible calls it the “lust of the eyes.” What?! Have you never considered lust to be used in this way? Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (which by the way, is the original dictionary that Noah Webster wrote using the Bible to define all the terms used in that day) says that LUST is a longing desire; eagerness to possess or enjoy. If our husband is our priority, shouldn’t we believe him when he compliments by offering a sincere, “Thank you?” Instead of allowing our unsatisfied lust to reject his words or worse—his love?

3.  We have forgotten what true beauty is. The Bible defines beauty with a well-known verse: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 ESV). When we focus on outward beauty it will always disappoint because such beauty doesn’t last.

We are like flowers fading away, but inside God has placed the beauty of His grace which will never fade. “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands” (1 Peter 3:4-5 ESV). True beauty is found beholding the One who is eternally beautiful—Christ, our Bridegroom. As we behold Him, He will transform us more and more into His image. This is true and lasting beauty. Seek this and no matter how many birthdays you celebrate you will become more and more beautiful.

The next time your husband compliments you, I challenge you to look in his eyes and say, “Thank you.” His opinion is all that matters.

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Also check out these posts from Debbie’s blog with her husband, The Romantic Vineyard:
Biblical Love Language
Finding Love Right Where You Are
Everyday Romance – Life Giving Words

Tom and Debi WalterTom and Debi have been married for 36 years and have 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren. They have called Orlando, FL home for most of their married lives. They are enjoying the empty nest stage for the first time in 33 years, and would be quick to tell you that in this season they have discovered a whole new freedom in expressing their love to each other. It’s wonderful! 😉

Through the Eyes of Grace book coverDebi has written her fist novel—Through The Eyes Of Grace, an historical fiction based on the life of her grandmother set in Indian Territory in 1904.

Pain brought on by the ill motives of another forces Grace to abandon the only security she has ever known in the hopes of finding the lasting love she has only dreamed of.

It is 1904 in the township of Ceres, Oklahoma Territory. Fifteen-year-old Grace Stella Kirwin’s life is blossoming like the prairie flowers she has grown to love, yet she is unaware of the encroaching storm about to ravage her heart. It will seek to destroy all the hope she has of finding genuine love.

A protective ultimatum by Grace’s father leads to a violent response by the only man Grace has ever wanted. Shattered and bruised, Grace fears she’ll never be free from the nightmare caused by Doogan Maguire. Hope dawns when she moves to the new township of Jenks in Indian Territory, only to discover a darker night awaits her. Will she find the lasting love she’s longed for?

Romance Infused with the Gospel

Well, color me happy! One of my favorite marriage bloggers is here today, talking to us about a subject I’d probably get a C- in — at best. Thankfully, Debi Walter of The Romantic Vineyard, is here to talk about romance — romance infused with the Gospel.

Take it, Debi!

♥    ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥

My cousin’s daughter just moved in with us for the summer. I could say she’s my 1st cousin twice removed, but then I’d have to explain what that means. So. I. won’t. 😉

tea & fruit steepingBut what I do want to share with you is this — she brought with her a tea infuser that holds loose tea and frozen fruit. She was putting the whole thing together last night to place in the refrigerator for a healthy drink in the morning. I was fascinated the next day when I saw how rich the color of the water was after steeping for hours. The fruit had dissolved its juices into the clear water making what I imagine was a very refreshing drink.

It made me think about how the Gospel infuses every aspect of our marriage with a richness that is fascinating and life-giving as well. It makes all the difference in how our marriage looks to others and most importantly how it tastes to us.

Romance is one of the best ways to enjoy the fruit of the Gospel in our marriage. You might not have considered this before, but it’s true. Without the Gospel — which is the finished work of Christ on the Cross that enables us to live our lives in sacrifice for the benefit of others as well as the glory of God — our romance would be for temporary pleasure alone. It would have no lasting value other than the enjoyment it brings in the moment. But when we romance our spouse because of the love Christ has shown us, preferring them in all we do, it produces a fresh aroma that others can’t help but notice.

I would define romance as the outward expression of an inward feeling. It could be shown through love letters written, date nights planned, passionate lovemaking, dinner out or a favorite meal cooked at home. Romance could be a look or a smile, a kiss or a warm embrace. But most importantly when infused with the Gospel, underneath it all is what motivates our acts of romance. It’s not just for the pleasure of our spouse — although that is a valid one. It’s for the glory of God. It’s our way of allowing His love to shine through us as we treat our spouse in a way we treat no one else on the earth.

This kind of romantic love is attractive. It makes others stop and ask if you’re newlyweds, which Tom and I have had people ask us before. We love watching their reaction when they hear we’ve been doing this for decades!  And immediately our gratefulness goes to God, for apart from Him we wouldn’t love each other the way we do. His love infuses everything we do — from our feelings, to our thoughts, to our prayers and to all our relationships, but mostly in how we treat each other.

I realize some reading this post might be in the midst of a very difficult time in your marriage. It may seem that what’s infused in your relationship is bitterness and discontent. I know how hard it can be to endure difficult seasons in your marriage. Tom and I have certainly had our share. But what you need to hear right now while steeping in this cold, dark place, is that God is faithful. He is at work and promises to bring about good to those who truly love Him and are seeking to live according to His purposes.

If you are lacking faith that your marriage will ever change, I encourage you to take your concerns to God. Cry out to Him for help in your time of need. Ask Him to infuse your marriage with the sweet fruit of the Gospel, not the bitter pill of what’s gone before.

We recently shared a daily marriage tip on Facebook that I think is the perfect way to end this post. It says:

My spouse should be the safest place where I can be myself and know I will be loved, accepted and encouraged to be the best I can be. Our past may inform our present, but it shouldn’t define our future.” 

Did you catch that? We can’t ignore our past, even what has already happened in our marriage that we’d like to forget. But with the Gospel Truth at work in our lives, our past shouldn’t define our future. God loves to take impossible situations and make them into something beautiful. 

May The Lord help you discover how to allow His Gospel truth to infuse the way you love and romance your spouse. As you do, be certain others will notice, and your marriage will grow all the stronger day by day, year by year, decade by decade.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV).

About Debi Walter

Debi WalterTom and Debi Walter have been cultivating their romantic vineyard for most of their 35 years of marriage. It has been their conviction from the start. Now they are passionate about helping other couples discover the rich harvest of romance available to them no matter the current season. Through their marriage blog, The Romantic Vineyard established in 2008, they provide regular posts about growing your marriage for God’s glory.

A Letter to My Newlywed Self: Age 25

A few weeks ago, I read with delight two posts from The Romantic Vineyard: Wife Debi’s A Letter to My Newlywed Self: Age 19 and Husband Tom’s Letter to His Newlywed Self: Age 24. They invited others to take a stab at writing such a letter to their former self. Here I go:

Bride & Groom - legs only

What now?

Dear Young J,

Forget the wedding. That’s like the first five minutes of an epic-length movie. So what if everything didn’t go exactly like your dreams? You managed to pull off something far more important than the right reception food or an album of pretty wedding photos: You married a good man. 

Trust me, this guy will not cheat on you. He will hang in there when the going gets tough. He will care about you, even when he thinks you’ve gone a little crazy. He will try to be the best father he can be. He will be faithful to God. He doesn’t now and will never put all of his shoes back in the closet. But he’s a good man. So pat yourself on the back for a good choice, and let’s move on to other stuff you should know.

Honor your families. No matter how weird your own family seems, his family seems to have immigrated here through the Men In Black alien visitor program. But your families’ personalities and interests are just different, not better or worse than one another. Rather than wasting time wondering what is wrong with his family, get to know them. See them as God sees them — as children of the Most High King. Don’t worry so much about protecting your heart; let God do that for you. Instead, reach out and act with love.

As for your own family, your parents’ marriage will dissolve in your first year of marriage. It will feel like they couldn’t pick a worse time, right as you’re trying to get your sea legs for this marital voyage. But honestly, is there any good time for one’s parents to divorce? Honor your parents through this difficult time, but be sure you nurture your own marriage. And cut your guy a break when he doesn’t know what to do with a blubbering wife: Don’t expect him to read your mind; just ask him to hold you.

Be who you are. You are not and never will be a domestic diva. Do not compare yourself to other wives or some unrealistic ideal. Believe me, I’m saving you years of worry and that wrinkle that formed in between your brows by telling you to LET GO.

Sure, you want to be a terrific wife and mom, but domesticity is not the key. Your husband will be happier in the long run having a happy, functioning wife than one who always feels bad about herself because she isn’t up to snuff in the domestic world. Make an additional effort when you feel like it, but feel good pursuing interests and activities that play into the strengths that God gave you.

Get involved in your church family. Attending church and being involved in church are different. Get outside of what this church can offer you and your husband, and start thinking about where you and your husband can serve. 

Indeed, God will refresh you as you serve others. And you’ll see sides of your husband you wouldn’t see otherwise, increasing your love and awe at his dedication, leadership, and eloquence. (His public prayers are beautiful.)

Don’t let kids derail you. Your children are going to throw a wrench into the wheels of your marriage. Remember that week of drum major camp when you woke up on day 2 and thought, “I can’t move because every bone, muscle, and nerve in my body hurts”? Yeah, that was an amusement park ride compared to night #53 of colicky baby.

You’ll lose sleep. You’ll lose patience. You’ll lose the time to shower for more than one minute. You’ll lose your sex drive. You’ll lose connection to your husband. You’ll lose yourself.

Unless . . . you take my advice and tackle some of this stuff. When you’re feeling moody and overwhelmed, research postpartum depression and don’t quit talking to your doctor until you feel better. Read fewer parenting books, and talk to grandmothers, the ones with hindsight on what practices worked and what really matters.

Set aside time to be a couple as well as parents. Talk with your husband — not about what’s wrong, but about your shared lives, your hopes and dreams, your love. This early childhood is just one season of the long marriage you plan to have. Focus on your marriage and let God carry you through the difficult days.

And know that motherhood will end up being one of the best blessings in your life.

Accept God’s forgiveness. I know it hangs over you — that past sexual history. If you could go back and change anything in your life, that would be it. Yeah, well, you can’t. But God’s going to use your experiences in a big way in the future. First, however, humble yourself before Him and accept His forgiveness.

And stop thinking that your sex drive is a leftover from your “slutty” days; it’s a God-given desire that you abused in the past but now you are using according to His plan. He wants you to take pleasure in this gift. The past is simply that: past. You’ve got your whole marriage ahead of you, with a good man who loves you and wants to be intimate with you. You’ve finally arrived where God always wanted you to be — in His design for sexual intimacy, a covenant marriage.

Grace and peace (and chocolate),

Older J

What would you write to your newlywed self? What lessons have you learned over the course of marriage?