This is a book by two young Christians with some excellent counsel on marriage, describing how you can have a better relationship with the opposite sex.
         When you read the word "relationship" in the summary that follows, please try to think of it as loving interaction or relations with others, not as an overly-important inordinate affection for someone else whom you put before the Lord. You
can have happier, better relations with all your loved ones, & we hope that some of the tips which follow will be helpful.
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         "A fulfilling love life--how can I have one?" There are a few simple principles which, if understood & applied correctly, can help to produce a fulfilling love life. Naturally we're not claiming that we have all the answers or the perfect relationship! Any lasting, intimate bond involves a growing process between two imperfect people. Of course, like any couple, we have a lot to learn. Nevertheless, there are several qualities that we have found helpful & which thousands of other couples & many professional counselors agree are important. It is in this spirit & context that we present the suggestions that follow.

         Dr. Karl Meninger states, "Love is the medicine for the sickness of the World." He has informed his staff--doctors, nurses, orderlies & maintenance workers--that the most important thing they can offer any patient is love. He says that if people can learn to give & receive love, they will recover from their physical & emotional illnesses. And, viewing the situation in much the same way, a growing number of doctors trace psychic, emotional & physical disorders to a loveless condition in life!
I love you!      In order to better understand the type of love that is essential for a strong personal relationship, consider a few variations of those romantic words, "I love you." One meaning is "I love you if--if you do what I like, if you are lighthearted, if you sleep with me." This type of love attaches requirements to love. Love is given if the other person performs well. It says, "You must do something to earn my love."
         Another variation is "I love you
because--because you are attractive, because you are strong, because you are intelligent" etc. This type of love is given on the basis of what a person is. It says that you must be something to earn my love. Both types of love must be earned.
         There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved for what you are, but problems can arise with having "if" or "because of" love as the basis of a relationship. Jealousy can set in when someone who is more attractive or more intelligent appears & the partner's affection shifts to the newcomer. People who know they are loved only for their strong points may be afraid to admit any weaknesses to their partners. The relationship becomes rigid & less than honest.
         The best kind of love is unconditional. It doesn't say, "I love you `if' or `because of.'" It says, "I love you," period. "I love you even if someone better looking comes along, even with your faults, & even if you change. I want to give myself to you. I place your needs above my own." This type of love is based on your ability to love rather than the "lovability" of your partner.
         A paradox of life is that we receive love by giving love. If one partner in a relationship initiates unselfish love, most often the other partner will respond in kind. There must be a balance--not a 50-50 balance, but a 100% to 100% balance!
Some probing questions. Though none of us is perfect, we can have unselfish love. Here's a question for you to ponder: The last time you kissed your date or partner, was it to please the other person or to please yourself? Have you ever heard this one?: "If you love me, you'd let me." Anyone who persists when you say no is not saying "I love you". He is saying, "I love me & I want you." Real love is tender & helps people to have consideration for those whom they love.
Self-esteem. One of the most important reasons that love is so necessary for a successful relationship is that it helps build self-esteem in both partners. If you know you are loved, you tend to feel good about yourself. This can motivate you to demonstrate love in return.
         Let's suppose that one morning the phone rings & a neighbour of yours is on the line. He says, "I'm sure glad I caught you before you left for the morning. I've just been thinking about what an outstanding person you are, & I wanted to tell you how I felt. You're always so positive, so thoughtful, so kind. Just being around you motivates me to be a better person! I'm proud to have you as a neighbour & a friend!"
         As you recover from your daydream about this encounter, ask yourself a question.--Wouldn't that make you feel good? Wouldn't you then be especially motivated to be a better neighbour? Probably you would. The love & kindness shown toward you would prompt you to show kindness toward them. The same holds true in a relationship with your spouse or date.
         The night before our wedding, Rusty's dad took him aside to offer a bit of fatherly advice. This was to be the last time that Rusty & his father would have to themselves before the wedding, the next afternoon. One of his remarks stressed the importance of unconditional love. "Always remember, son," he said, "that the time you may think Linda deserves love the
least is the time she needs it the most."

         "How do I love you? Let me count the ways." There are several practical ways to demonstrate love. We would like to mention four: Compliments, courtesy, giving & creativity.
Compliments. An ancient proverb says, "Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop; but a good word maketh it glad."--Prov.12:25.
         Mark Twain said, "I can live off one good compliment a week." An old Japanese saying affirms, "One kind word can warm three winter months."
         We all appreciate well-placed compliments. They can do wonders for our state of mind! Bob, a friend of ours, had lunch one afternoon at a fast-food restaurant in Miami. He noticed that the young woman who was making his ham sandwich seemed quite shy & forlorn. She was small & not very attractive, & her face was scarred with acne. She looked as if she wanted to hide from the World as she slouched over her work. Bob ate his sandwich & went on his way.
         Because his schedule that day was rather full, Bob found that he only had a short time to eat dinner. So he returned to the same fast-food restaurant that evening. As he stood at the counter, he could see that the young woman who made his sandwich was still working. He told the cashier he wanted to speak to the manager.
         Bob is quite an imposing figure--he played center for a university football team & stands six feet four inches & weighs 225 pounds! When he asked to see the manager, the cashier & the forlorn sandwich maker both winced. They remembered him as having had lunch there & must have expected the worst.
         When the manager came, Bob introduced himself & told him, "I ate lunch here this afternoon & had one of your ham sandwiches. I wonder if you might tell me who it is that makes them." The young, forlorn sandwich maker, who could easily hear the conversation, looked as if she wanted to melt away, vanish into thin air, commit hara-kiri, or all of the above.
         The manager replied, "Why, this young woman over here makes them," & he motioned to the sandwich maker. "Well, sir," Bob continued, "I just wanted you to know that of all the ham sandwiches I have ever eaten, that one I had for lunch today was definitely the most outstanding. In fact, it was so good that I've come back to have another one for dinner. I wanted you to know that I feel you & your employees are doing a fine job & that you serve great ham sandwiches!"
         If human beings could float like balloons, they would have had to pull that young woman down from the ceiling. She stood straight up, & the smile that came across her face put the Cheshire Cat to shame!
         We all appreciate compliments. They can pick us up when we are down or show us that someone thinks we are special. Try to think of genuine compliments you can make to your spouse or friend--not flattery that is only designed to gain attention for yourself, but sincere appreciation of someone's good points. Compliments can help demonstrate your love.
Courtesy. Common courtesies are still in vogue. Words like "please" & "thank you" sometimes tend to get lost as familiarity grows, but almost everyone appreciates them. They help you to avoid one of the most deadly errors in a relationship: Taking the other person for granted.
         Simple pointers like opening a door for someone else, being on time, & phoning if you will be late will work as well with your mate as it will with friends & associates. If your spouse or friend wants to talk or wants to be left alone, try to respect his desire. This is hardest at times when your desires don't coincide with his, of course!
Giving. One of the most successful bits of advice we've ever heard for successful relationships came from an ancient writer. He was writing about human relationships in general, but his words apply to romantic relationships as well: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another." (Romans 12:10) In other words, he was saying, "Outdo one another in showing concern." A relationship can really grow & develop if each person is concerned about the other. Ask yourself, "What can I give in this relationship?" instead of just "What can I get?" It can help relieve pressure & help you enjoy each other more.
         Helping with chores is one tangible way to give. In our home Linda usually does the cooking & Rusty washes the dishes. We each consider it a special treat when, without being asked, Rusty prepares a meal or Linda does the dishes.
Creativity. There are lots of creative things that couples do together. Creativity helps to express love. Don't get tied down to the same old routine. For example, go out to a restaurant, splurge on a deluxe hamburger & then talk for a couple of hours. (Just be sure you have an understanding waitress!)

Am I really in love? Recently we received a letter from a young woman asking if we thought she should marry a certain man. Since we didn't know either of them, we suggested that she ask herself several questions. These questions may be helpful in your own situation.
         1. What are our mutual interests? Do we enjoy doing things together? If you are going to spend the rest of your lives with each other, you'd better be sure you can have fun together.
         2. Am I attracted to this person both intellectually, physically, emotionally & spiritually? Is he or she attracted to me?
         3. Am I honest with myself about this person's faults? Am I willing to live with those faults without trying to change them?
         4. How do I feel when we are apart? Do I miss this person & still love him or her?
         5. Is this person the most important human being in my life?--Or am I in this just to meet my own needs?
         6. Would this person still love me even if there was no physical gratification in it for him or her? Would I still love in return? Of course sex is very important in marriage, but some people place so much emphasis on the physical that the other aspects of the relationship become clouded.
         7. Can I honestly envision myself spending the rest of my life with this person?
         Perhaps the best advice we can give is to wait. Take time to really get to know each other. Love isn't usually an instantaneous flash. It is a process of growing together in intimacy. The more time you give it, the more chance you have of making the right decision.
         If it doesn't work out, you don't necessarily have to assume that you are a failure or that the relationship was a waste. Rather, maybe you can say, "We learned.--We learned about ourselves & about relationships." Maybe this helped to prepare you for the special person you may eventually marry. Because, you see, preparing for marriage is not just a matter of finding the right person. It is also a matter of
becoming the right person.

         To begin with, it seems natural to ask a basic question: "Why sex?"
Pleasure. One of the main purposes of sex is pleasure. Sex is fun! Unfortunately, not everyone has always agreed. Before WW1, for example, many authorities believed that "sexual feeling in young women in love was abnormal". Though some today still seem to want to keep the pleasure of sex a secret, folks have known about it for ages!
Unity. Another purpose for sex is to promote oneness or unity. Nearly 3,500 years ago a learned Hebrew leader wrote, "For this cause a man shall leave his father & mother, & shall cleave to his wife; & they shall become one flesh." Each gives a part of himself to the other person. They become united, they become one. Each becomes part of the other.
Procreation. A third part of sex is procreation: Propagation of the species, reproduction. So then sex is for pleasure, unity & procreation. A question you might be asking yourself at this point is, "How can I have a dynamic sex life & get the most out of sex?" We're going to try to give some proven methods in the text that follows.

         Of all the recent notions about sex that have been given publicity in recent years, none is more harmful than the idea that a poor sexual relationship can be "cured" by learning a technique from a book--any book. Nothing good is going to happen in bed between 2 mates or lovers unless good things have been happening between them
before they get into bed. A good sexual technique can't remedy a poor emotional relationship. For a man & woman to be delighted with each other in bed, both must want to be in that bed--with each other.
         So what is the answer? The qualities that contribute to a successful sexual relationship are the same ones that contribute to a successful personal relationship.
Mutual relationships. One doctor writes, "There is nothing more important in human existence than mutual relationships. Our emotional & physical well-being are deeply affected by how we relate to other people." Real intimacy requires that each partner understands the other's needs & feelings; it demands empathy.
Your most important sex organ. Sex involves nearly every aspect of your being. It's not just a physical phenomenon, it is linked to your total person. As Dr. David Reuben asserts, "Your most important sex organ of all is the brain! The mind exerts ultimate control over the pelvis. Ask anyone who has been jolted by a jangling telephone at the critical moment of intercourse. Sometimes when the baby wakes up, the sexual organs go to sleep." He feels that the mind & the quality of the emotional relationship play a major part in sexual problems.
Love & Sex. Unconditional love is a great help to a sexual relationship. In order for sex to be most fulfilling, it should be experienced in an atmosphere of love & caring, not under conditions of tension & strain. The relationship between the sexual partners should be one of ease & confidence.
Commitment. Another quality that is essential for a strong relationship & fulfilling sex life is commitment. This is not a commitment to a piece of paper (the marriage license), but rather a deep, abiding commitment to another person as a human being. If two people are committed to each other, their relationship will be strengthened. If each knows that the other will support him (or her) & show concern & not desert under pressure, they will be able to function as a team. Trust brings them closer together.
         If partners trust each other, they will be encouraged to share & give of themselves completely. If they don't trust each other, even the smallest suspicions can inhibit their openness & frankness. They may find it hard to live in the same house, not to mention sleeping in the same bed.
Communication. Besides love & commitment, a third quality that is essential for a strong relationship & dynamic sex is communication. Even if partners share love & commitment, this is not helpful enough unless they communicate it by what they say & do. Simply saying "I love you" can do wonders! By the way, it helps to say it often. One exasperated husband complained, "I can't understand why my wife wants me to tell her I love her all the time. I told her I loved her the day we got married, & until I take it back, it stands the same!" Obviously that fellow had a lot to learn about communication!
         Showing love by your actions also helps to strengthen a bond. Kind deeds & occasional gifts work like glue. Dividing up the household chores, even if it means sacrifice, gives partners an opportunity to say (through their actions), "I care about you!" We try to do that in our home. Linda does the cooking; Rusty does the dishes. We both agree that Linda is the better cook & Rusty is the better dishwasher!
Communication & sex. Sex therapists have found that clear communication is essential to a most fulfilling sex life. Sexual partners who want maximum fulfillment should seek to develop open, honest, clear communication, especially in the bedroom. Each should tell the other what pleases him (or her) & not expect his partner to read his mind. Open, honest verbal exchange about sexual needs & preferences can help turn a warm relationship into a sizzling romance. In response to the question, "What can a woman do to initiate sexual intercourse?" David Reuben writes of "almost unlimited" possibilities. Then he recommends, "Even in bed a wife should let her husband know what she wants & how she wants it. It helps a man to perform better if he is sure he is making his partner happy." It works both ways.

Facing life together. When we were single, we each knew that if we ever got married, we would want our spouse to be a teammate. We each wanted someone with whom we could share our dreams & aspirations as well as our disappointments & discouragements. We wanted a friend who would accept us just the way we were & yet challenge us to reach beyond even our wildest imaginations of our own potential.
         We're thankful that as teammates we are able to face life together. Of course we still have a lot to learn. Any marriage is, at best, a union of two imperfect people. We hope to present some helpful ideas relating to becoming better teammates in the text that follows. Four principles which you will find helpful are: Learn to communicate, be yourself, work together, & develop relationships rather than roles.
Learn to communicate. Rusty relates a story from his childhood: "When I was in the 8th grade, there was a girl in my class who had to be the most fantastic girl in the World. And I had the World's biggest crush on her. I was also very shy. I was afraid to tell her how I felt about her. I hardly ever spoke to her except to say, `Hi!' Every day after lunch I used to hang around outside the band room, where she had class during that hour. I hoped I would be able to catch a glimpse of her through the open door. And I wanted to give her every possible opportunity to notice me!
         "One day in English class we had a spelling bee. She was the captain of one of the two teams, & each captain had to choose sides. Do you know who she chose first?--Me! I was so excited! I was sure this must be love! My mind was filled with plans for the future. I even began to think about marriage. But do you know what happened? I never told her how I felt. At the end of that school year she moved away & I never saw her again."
         Do you know why Rusty & that girl never had a relationship?--Because they never really communicated. And that is one reason why so many couples today are having problems--they aren't communicating.
         One way to almost guarantee an unsuccessful relationship is to never work at communicating. On the other hand, learning to communicate & work with others can often cut marriage problems in half. Here are some how-to's:
Learn to listen. Have you ever been around someone who made you feel as if you were the most important person in the World? He or she probably knew how to listen.
Develop the art of conversation. If you are married, you might ask how your spouse's day went, what has been happening on the latest project she has been working on, etc. Remember too that successful conversation is a two-way operation. One-word answers or occasional grunts from behind the newspaper or in front of the TV do not help communication flourish a great deal.
Attempt to understand. Learn to solve problems before they even begin. Make sure you really understand the other person's point of view. Here is a helpful technique that you can use when you sense conflict brewing.
         Let's say Rusty & I are having a conversation & we sense tension. Or we have a disagreement & it's about to boil over. We can stop.
         I can clearly & simply tell Rusty my point of view. Then he can tell me what he heard me say. Next I tell him if he heard me correctly. Then we reverse the situation. Rusty tells me his viewpoint. I tell him what I heard him say, & he tells me if I heard him correctly.
         Try it sometime. You'll be amazed how often the disagreement is really just a simple misunderstanding. Of course, if you try this technique & you still disagree, you have to keep working at a solution.
         Good communication is an art, not a sport. It is something you both work at to draw you closer together. It is not a game in which one wins & the other loses. Did you know that often the most difficult thing to give is "in"? Yet "giving in" may be the solution that prevents a minor dispute from totally demolishing the relationship. Learn to say, "I'm wrong" or "I'm sorry." It may hurt, but you will be amazed how it can heal. And remember that a good relationship takes two good forgivers.
Be yourself. Another tip for becoming better teammates is, "Be yourself!" Rusty has some comments on this one: "My wife is her own person. We don't have to play silly little `pretend' games. We can love each other for who & what we are. If you practice being yourself, you will probably enjoy life a lot more. If you are dating, chances are that your date will like you better too. If you are nearly married or already married, you already know that false fronts become harder to keep up the closer you get. Learn to be yourself in a relationship."
Work together. Another tip for becoming better teammates is to work together. Both members need to cooperate. Linda gives an example from her perspective:
         "Most of the time when I am working on writing, speaking or singing, I try to bounce ideas off Rusty. It helps to have someone else as a sounding board, & the fact that we are both committed to the same objectives makes his opinions that much more helpful. I am usually pretty effective at communicating my ideas on paper, but often my work needs a bit of editing. Rusty is fairly adept at editing, & often helps me in that area. I usually ask him to read my articles & books before I turn them in to the publishers. One time he even stayed up until 3 AM, on his own initiative, editing one of my books. That not only helped me get the book in on time, but it also showed me how committed he is to help me."
Stop & smell the roses. Cooperation has enhanced our marriage. We've both had to learn, though, that sometimes outside achievement can get in the way of a marriage. In doing so, we've had to sometimes put outside interests aside to adapt & take an interest in things that interest our mate more than us, just taking time to smell the roses together.
Good advice. If you try to reach agreements but find that you reach a stalemate, you may need to seek counsel from someone else. In everyday human interaction, almost anyone can benefit from good advice about dealing with people. Husbands & wives are people too, & an outside friend can often help spouses learn more about their mates. Don't be afraid to ask for advice. It's smart to do so!

         The God Who designed love, sex & marriage can be a big factor in our total fulfillment!
Communication. Jesus helps a couple communicate openly & honestly. On a spiritual level, He tunes them in to each other. He frees people to be vulnerable. Insecurity or fear of being hurt or rejected can cause one to crawl into a shell & hide. Most of us have experienced this, if not to a major degree, then at least to a minor one. We may be afraid to admit to a fault for fear that the other person will not understand us or will no longer care for us. But Jesus gives us eternal security. He loves & cares for us no matter what happens! One early Christian wrote, "Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!"--Romans 8:35-39.
         That type of love & security frees a person to take risks in the relationship, to be transparent, to admit his needs or shortcomings, & to give without expecting anything in return.
         Jesus makes a big difference in a marriage. We view our own marriage as a triangle. God is at the top corner & Linda & I are at the bottom two. We find that, as we grow closer to God, we also grow closer to each other. Of course, there are some occasional rough spots along the way. But the fact that we're each following the same Leader makes these rough spots easier to handle. We find that, as we grow in faith, we each become freer to give ourselves unselfishly.
That is what draws us closer together.

         One of the major reasons that people finally give up on their marriage is that they have reached a state of hopelessness. They fear they can't change. They fear their partner can't change. Their marriage seems doomed. This is where the Christian life, if applied, can make a big difference. Try Jesus for that big difference!
         The life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ comprise the cornerstone of Christianity. Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. These were written hundreds of years before He was born. One accurately foretold the place of His birth; another, the events of His death; a third predicted the exact day He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey's back. A mathematician, Peter Stoner, once attempted to calculate the probability of just 8 of the 300 prophecies being fulfilled in one person. He conservatively estimated there was one chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000 that the 8 predictions would come true in one person from the time they were written until the present! That many silver dollars would cover the state of Texas two feet deep, Stoner says!
         Jesus Christ frees people to enjoy love, sex & marriage to the utmost. He frees them. He said, "If you abide in My Word, ye shall know the Truth, & the Truth shall make you free." Jesus can make you free indeed! God bless you with His freedom!