When you first start dating, you present your best side. You know, choosing clothing ensembles carefully (colors coordinate, no holes, no stains), styling your hair in a celebrity do, checking your breath for killer halitosis, squelching a tiny burp, trying not to rip a big one in front of your potential one-and-only.
Years later, when you’ve been married for a while, the standards may creep lower. Actually, I hope you’re still getting dressed up from time to time and continue to groom daily. (If you remember a shower only at about 4:00 p.m., check your own personal standards.) But you simply can’t be as shy about bodily functions as you once were.
I realized this the other day as I emptied the bucket of regurgitated contents from my husband’s stomach. He was terribly ill, and I had vowed in sickness and in health! After many years of marriage, if you’ve been standing (or crouching) next to your spouse like you should, you will have experienced all kinds of unpleasant but perfectly natural human activities (flatulence, urination, diarrhea, vomiting, bad breath, body odor, bleeding, and belching among them).
QUESTION: So how do you maintain that mystery, intrigue, and physical attraction to someone you have seen at their worst?
ANSWER: God’s beautiful plan of intimacy. As you grow together, weather the terrible storms as well as the sunshiny days, have someone care for you in a physically weak time, and care for them when they experience the same, intimacy grows. After all, who else sees you like this? Who knows everything about you the way your spouse does?
My love for my husband grew exponentially when I was bedridden with a problem pregnancy. During a hospital stay, he emptied my bedpan for me. Now tell me, if that isn’t putting my needs above his own, what is?!! Just thinking about his selfless act fills me with the warm fuzzies and makes me want to find him and carry him to the bedroom myself! A guy like that deserves a rich reward.
And I’m pretty sure that once I get him there (okay, I had to drag him because I couldn’t lift him), he won’t be thinking about how I looked in my standard issue, ties-in-the-back hospital gown with a mauve bedpan nearby and I won’t be remembering the stomach virus he had months ago. In that moment, we are physically attracted to each other. But the background music is all the caring for one another that has built our relationship over time. Especially when the care-taking was potentially embarrassing to the one receiving care. Having treated one another with the dignity that all humans desire, we have something that not all marriages have — a deep intimacy that goes far beyond physical attraction.
So no more “gas, vomit, and bedpans . . . Oh my!” It’s part of the journey we make down the yellow brick road of marital life, and with a brain (think about your spouse), courage (you can do it!), and a heart (commitment to love), you’ll be clicking your heels in your bedroom and reminding yourself, “There’s no place like home!”
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (NLT)