My husband's a smart man, but there's no way he could've known the day he surprised me with a gift certificate for a facial that he was giving me something capable of changing the course of our marriage—for one weekend, anyway. The Saturday I went in for my facial capped a particularly stressful week. As I walked into the day spa, my shoulders ached with unresolved work anxieties and looming holiday preparations. I don't "stress out" easily, but when stress takes hold, I have hard time shaking it—it latches on to every part of me. My forehead creases, my eyebrows knit, my shoulders lift and tighten, and my fingers fidget. But worse than that, my tongue starts lashing out at anyone who crosses my path. And my husband crosses my path the most. My stressed-out jabs have shredded what could've been many wonderful times in our marriage.
But the morning of my facial something wonderful happened. As the facial woman put hot mitts on my hands and feet, rubbed my neck, slopped lotions on my face—even as she criticized my basic skin care routine—the stress I had been holding in seemed to get wiped off with the papaya mask. And I relaxed.
Instead of worrying about what was waiting for me on my desk on Monday, I started thinking about how much I loved my job. And instead of creating lists of what my husband could be doing to help prepare for the holidays, all I could think of was how wonderful he was to give me such a gift.
Of course, getting a facial is an extravagant way to deal with stress and certainly not something I can run and get every time I feel a little tense. But I left the spa a changed woman. Still a woman with stressors out there, mind you—the holidays still loomed and work still awaited—just minus the mean mouth.
And just as the silly act of getting a facial can lift a mood and shift a focus, there are many ways that the things we do impact our marriages. For Jane Tod Jimenez, it took her car breaking down (page 18). Renae Bottom interviews nutrition expert Pamela Smith about how getting more sleep and drinking more water can improve marriages (page 44). And on page 28, Cindy Crosby shows how digging in the dirt together can help sow the seeds—literally—to a good relationship.
So, whether it's getting a facial to relax or a walk to invigorate, I encourage you this spring to do something concrete, something physical to refresh your attitude for your marriage.
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.