Aug 222019 1 Response

Lover: Swifty Sings It, Jenny Scorns It, Let’s Save It

Do you consider your spouse to be your lover?

In Taylor’s Swift’s latest hit, she sings of what sounds like a young marriage. The couple has their own place, are learning to make their own rules, and they feel like they’ve known each other for 20 seconds and 20 years. The title of the song is Lover. (“Take me out and take me home, you’re my lover.”)

Whether or not Swift intends for the song to be about marriage, it imitates the early stages of a good marriage–young, ignorant, committed, and passionate. The couple knows little, but they are learning about life together and assuming a long-lasting love affair. So often when we think about a passionate marriage, our image is that of the honeymoon phase when everything is new, exciting, and intense.

Yet passion in marriage isn’t just saved for the young. As a matter of fact, it’s a fair argument to say that passion is far more available the longer a couple has been together rather than in a new relationship.

From One Lover to Another

Jenny has long disliked the title of my marriage book Friends, Partners & Lovers. In promoting the book, I would often tag her with the hashtag #CallMeLover. In response, a friend of hers gave her a T-shirt that read “Call Mel Over.” She’s more comfortable being called Mel than Lover.

Her uncomfortableness with the word reveals an often held secret within religious circles: many people of faith are hesitant to see pleasure as a purpose for marriage. While non-religious culture often idolizes pleasure to a destructive degree, many in church circles deny the role pleasure is supposed to play in our lives.

Whenever I do marriage conferences, I often spend time talking about the fact that God created sex to be pleasurable. It’s an interesting choice which God made. Consider–he didn’t have to make it so. He could have made the reproductive process as cold as digestion or clearing one’s sinuses. Instead, he made it one of (if not the most) pleasurable experiences for humanity. So from God’s perspective, he created a union of one man and one woman for one life and then gave them a pleasurable activity to be enjoyed solely between the two of them.

While pleasure was never meant to be the primary purpose of marriage, it is intended to be one of the characteristics of two people committed to each other. (See: 40 Ways to Ruin Your Marriage)

The word “lover” helps communicate that concept. A husband/wife is intended to be a source of pleasure for their spouse. When that isn’t the case, something is missing.

Tryin’ to Do What Lovers Do

While nearly everyone wants a lover, we don’t naturally understand what it takes to be a good lover. (See section 3 of FPL). Several qualities must be present for pleasure to be a centerpiece of a healthy marriage:

Openness. Pleasure requires us to open ourselves both physically and emotionally to our spouse. If because of past hurts or the absence of trust we are unable to do so, we limit our ability to experience pleasure.

Safety. For us to be open to each other, we must create a climate of safety where we know the other is for us, loves us, and would never use their knowledge of us to our detriment. This is one reason I write so often about trust. Without it, long-term pleasure is not possible.

Privacy. The term lover connotes secrecy. There are some things a lover knows which no one else ever could know. Whenever we make private things public, we erode the uniqueness of our relationship. It’s almost guaranteed that the person who brags the most about great sex, probably has the worst sex.

Knowledge. In order to give and/or receive pleasure, we must know and be known. One of the great misconceptions is that great sex should happen automatically when two people love each other. That’s not true. Great sex is a process often taking years or decades as each individual better learns about themselves and their partner.

Submission. A healthy marriage is built on mutual submission. Both parties are willing to submit themselves to the other for the sake of giving and receiving pleasure. When one of them is not able or willing to submit, the potential for pleasure is thwarted.

The Lover In Me, Sees the Lover In You

One of the problems of modern marriage is that we have lost the concept of uniqueness in the relationship. My wife was never meant to be the only relationship I had in my life, nor me hers. Yet she is meant to be the most unique relationship. She and I are intended to have a bond, unlike any other connection either of us may have.

A key element of that unique connection is that we are supposed to see each other as a source of great pleasure. In part, that should be sexual. Yet it also must be bigger than that. The pleasure we are to bring to each other should also be evident in the comfort of each other’s love, the peace of each other’s hug, the joy of each other’s presence, and the connection of knowing we are always there for each other.

Swift photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer at

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