When our oldest son, Brock, was dating his wife Hannah, all four of us parents decided to converge in Atlanta for the Christian Booksellers convention. On our first day in Atlanta, Bill went to a business meeting while I got ready for an evening appointment. Knowing that at some point, Brock or my husband, Bill, might return to the room (and to avoid some embarrassing intrusion during my shower), I hung the "Do not disturb" sign on the door. Brock was with Hannah's family and was planning to meet us for dinner. While Brock was walking to our hotel, a sudden thunder storm hit, completely drenching him. His soggy clothes were dripping on the carpet as he entered the hotel. He was desperate to get into the room and change but when he arrived at the door he noticed the "Do not disturb" sign barricading his entrance. From inside the room, I heard a loud exclamation in the hallway, "Oh man! I can't believe this! Do not disturb! I know what that means! Why now? It's the middle of the afternoon."
I laughed as I opened the door. Brock seemed very relieved that it was only me, completely dressed.
"Whew! Thanks mom. I saw the sign, and I thought, 'I can't interrupt you and dad!'"
"It's okay, honey. Dad isn't even here. But thanks for the compliment! But isn't it amazing and awesome that the first thought in your mind is that you'd be interrupting our love life! On a Wednesday, at 3 pm!"
A Celebration of Lifelong, "Red Hot" Monogamy
Fast forward to the following winter. It was a clear January night. The stars flickered in the sky like individual candles calling lovers into one another's arms. The lights were romantically dim. Music softly serenaded as musician, Anita Renfroe, stepped to the podium in the ballroom and announced, "We are here tonight to celebrate the righteous, red, hot monogamy of Bill and Pam Farrel." The crowd laughed and we looked at each other in shocked amusement.
As we recovered from her statement, Brock stepped to the podium to say grace at our 25th Anniversary Dinner Gala. He introduced himself, "Hi everyone. I am Brock Farrel, the first product of my parents' righteous, red, hot monogamy." It was at that moment the concept for our newest book, Red Hot Monogamy, was conceived.
You see, it is possible to keep the passion red hot — even after 25 years of marriage! So what helps fan the flame in the fast lane? To keep that spark and sizzle, couples will need to carve out a marital oasis.
Oasis of T.I.M.E.
After that evening, we gathered more than 200 red hot romantic ideas in a book filled with lots of practical helps. Ultimately, one of the most important steps a couple can take is to make T.I.M.E. for love. Here is what we see as the minimum time commitment you should have to maintain the connectedness needed for a healthy, strong marriage:
Ten to twenty minutes of talking together, alone, every day.
Investment in a weekly date night (or date breakfast or lunch) together for at least 4 hours. (It takes a couple hours to emotionally connect -- and then you might want to physically connect!)
Make a monthly "day away" policy. At least once a month spend 8- 12 uninterrupted hours together. This can be anything you both enjoy — to maximize this, make sure you schedule a few moments of red hot monogamy sometime during this 10-12 hour block of time.
Escape quarterly (or at least bi-annually) for a 48 hour weekend.
Start tonight; do a mini escape. Climb into bed, into each other's arms. Ask and answer a few questions that will fan the flame of your love:
- What is your favorite place I touch you?
- What lighting sets the mood for you?
- What sounds arouse you?
- What aromas set your heart ablaze?
- What words do you love me to whisper?
- What sights make your heart dance? A view? A sunset? The majestic? Quaint and cozy? Great art? Unique and eclectic?
Oasis of Space
Many married couples lack privacy, so to gain a little alone time, you will have to create the space to experience it. Creating a space at home for a little romance will be just the thing needed to create an extra few moments together.
In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, we encourage a couple to discover their romantic personality and decorate their room to enhance intimate life. For example, we have discovered that even a messy room looks neater when lit by candles, so we buy a candle as a memento on all our trips together and when one of us is "in the mood" we simply light the candles (our version of a smoke signal!) Another clergy couple we know didn't think they had the money for a complete room make-over, so they decided their only hope was to make use of the balcony of their tiny apartment. A small investment of $15 for a set of plastic patio chairs and a plastic table from Walmart gave them a space all to themselves for coffee each morning and sunsets some nights. Another innovative couple scanned the "PennySaver" ads each week for a Jacuzzi. Friends told them they would never find one for the few hundred dollars they saved but they prayed and trusted God. Within a month they discovered an ad placed by a couple who had to move quickly -- that couple practically gave the spa away! On your next date, ask, "What one change can we make to our room, or a space in our home, that will create a more romantic place to be together?"
The Oasis Code
In Song of Solomon, all the "gardening" talk is code for sexual desire. Come up with a code word that let's your mate know you have red hot desire for him/her. One wife puts on a red tank top; another asks, "Want to take a nap?" (We can't use that one anymore as "Wanna take a nap" over 40 really means a NAP!) Our code comes from our book, Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti. There, we explain that men like to go to their favorite "boxes" to rest and recharge: the TV, the computer, the garage, the football field, the refrigerator -- and the bed. The "bed box" is a man's favorite -- it is kind of like the free square on a Bingo card -- he can get there from every other square on his waffle. So our code word for intimacy? You guessed it: Bingo! In our Outlook, we also use "Red Hot Monogamy" and make scheduled appointments marked: RHM.
It may seem simple, but to enjoy a little "RHM," create an oasis of time and a special romantic space. And ask your spouse, "Wanna play some 'bingo?'"
Bill and Pam Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers and authors of over 25 books including best selling Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, and Red Hot Monogamy. They have recently released a new marriage DVD series for Lifeway, and will be guest speakers for Festivals of Marriage this fall. To order Red Hot Monogamy, discover more about their DVD for couples or learn about their speaking schedule, go to: http://www.farrelcommunications.com/.