It Begins with You and Me
It is possible to have a marriage of A.W.E. and intimacy. Even with the busyness of life and all your responsibilities you can rekindle the romance and create a more intimate marriage. It is possible, but I’m not saying it will be easy. It is going to take some work and focus on your part. You can have more affection, warmth, and encouragement in any marriage, even the most high maintenance ones, since you do have the option to set the tone and atmosphere toward greater connection and intimacy. A.W.E. is not a Pollyanna approach to marriage.

Conflict, anger, and frustration happen in the best of marriages, and in order to build true intimacy there must be moments of tension.

However, far too many marriages are in poor shape because people are either not willing to work at setting a more positive atmosphere, or they are so discouraged at the lack of intimacy that they give up and take their spouse for granted.

You may be asking the question: ??Is it even possible to improve my marriage?” You may be thinking: We don’t communicate very well, and what was once a burning, passionate relationship is now more like a business partnership within an atmosphere of tension for thepurpose of managing a household of needy kids. If you believe the answer lies entirely within the ??if only my Again, I will tell you up front, it isn’t easy. It takes discipline and self-control, but I have never met anyone who has brought A.W.E. to their home relationships who has regretted it. Far too many couples live lives of quiet or not-so-quiet desperation.

They are unhappy, bitter, negative people who spend most of their emotional, physical, relational, and even spiritual energy on things that won’t help. The result is that they feel drained all the time instead of being full of life and vitality. I don’t believe this is the way God intended for us to spend our time on planet Earth. He has a better way for us, but often we miss out. We get lazy or discouraged, or we spend all of our time blaming others. Yet we do have within ourselves what we need to create a more healthy marriage.

What if our homes were filled with less tension and more A.W.E.? What if our God-given personality was much more positive than critical? I believe it can be done, but as I mentioned, it begins with you making a conscious decision to bring A.W.E. into your life and relationship. You may say, ??But you don’t understand my life or my spouse.” You are right. I don’t know you, and I am blessed with a wonderful wife and family. However, a life filled with A.W.E. is a decision not to live a life based on circumstances or reactions to your spouse. It is a decision to proactively live a life filled with self-control in which you choose to set an atmosphere that leads your relationship to a healthier spot.

The A.W.E. Factor in Marriage
No one starts out to have a second-rate marriage, but it often happens because we blame our spouse and don’t have the emotional energy to be intentional in making the decisions that will make a difference. When you take the time to think about it, you probably already know what you need to do. It’s a matter of having the courage to change and allow God to intervene in your life.

Take the time to examine your life. The unexamined life lets the fast pace of our existence take over and relationships become a reaction or, worse yet, just happen. The unexamined life doesn’t work at creating a life of A.W.E. or a healthy marriage. We get so distracted with emotional pain that we can’t even identify the real issues. Pretty soon the negative forces of life creep inside us and before we know it, we are stale, unhappy people in poor relationships, doing things we don’t want to do.

Les Parrott's Making Happy
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Is my marriage working?
What’s right about my marriage?
What’s wrong about my marriage? (And what can I do about it?)
Am I giving my marriage only my emotional scraps?
How can I bring A.W.E. into my marriage?

Personally, I am amazed at how often Cathy has changed my mood and the atmosphere of our home with a simple gesture of affection. One day I came home frustrated at an employee. After sharing my irritation with Cathy, instead of trying to fix it, she just gave me an extra long hug and a kiss and simply said, ??I can see why that would bug you.” Her affectionate response was basically saying, ??I understand and I feel your pain, but now you are home and it is going to be okay.”

W = Warmth
If you haven’t noticed, it really does take a lot of work, self-control, and focus to keep a relationship full of warmth. You can reset the thermostat from ??chilly” to ??warm,” but you can’t do it without an incredible amount of discipline and self-determination.

We can function okay for a while, but eventually the temperature begins to affect us and our bodies let us down. The same thing happens when spouses live together with a lack of warmth. The marriage shuts down and moves to a lower level of fulfillment.

E = Encouragement
The only thing that a critical spirit, nagging, and negativity bring to a relationship is lack of intimacy. Many people were raised in homes where ??shame-based parenting” was the rule rather than the exception. For many, there is a natural tendency to focus on the negative side of life, but that just doesn’t work in relationships. There is incredible power in encouragement and affirmation. Mark Twain once said, ??I can live two months on one good compliment.”

Creating a marriage of intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. That’s only for Hollywood. However, the people I know who intentionally focus on setting an atmosphere of A.W.E. in their home say it is very much worth it. We will be exploring Affection, Warmth, and Encouragement in more depth in the following chapters. We will begin with one of the most effective ways to bring A.W.E. to any marriage: romance and sexual intimacy.

Adapted from Creating an Intimate Marriage by Jim Burns.

Copyright © Jim Burns, 2006. Used with permission, published by Bethany House.