Love Kindlers–What Are They?

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is a decision, not a feeling; it is a conscious choice to act in a loving way toward another person. Love is an initiated action. To understand what a Love Kindler is, you could read the Basic Concepts article to get a more indepth explanation. Briefly, to help you envision the idea, think of the love in your marriage like a campfire. The feelings of passion and interest are the fire. Around the fire are the protective stones of your vow. You can choose to do actions that build the fire or you can choose to do actions that put out the fire–but even when the fire is out, there is still the protective barrier of the vow so that the fire could be rebuilt.

There are actions that people do that are likely to stoke the fire of love and make it hotter–those are Love Kindlers. When you make the decision to love, you choose to act in a way that is likely to kindle feelings of interest and passion; so you decide to act in a loving way. Just as adding fuel to a fire keeps it burning–making it brighter and hotter–so concentrating on Kindlers, making them part of your daily interactions with each other, builds the fire of passion in your marriage.

Then there are actions that people do that are more likely to quench the fire of love like putting water on a fire–those are Love Extinguishers. When you do not act in love, you may choose to act in a way that is likely to extinguish feelings of interest and passion. Some Love Extinguishers are like dribbles out of a holey bucket and only slightly decrease the blaze, but some are like dumping a big bucket of water on the fire. Concentrating on Love Extinguishers, making them part of your daily interactions, will smother the fire of love and eventually put it out. Actions that kill the fires of your love are Love Extinguishers.

When we first meet the person we love, it’s natural to invest a lot of Kindlers and have very few Love Extinguishers–partly because there are not yet kids, bills, and some of the pressures of living together. After the wedding bells are over and the honeymoon bliss wears off, sometimes life can creep in and without meaning to, slowly but surely more Love Extinguishers creep in while Kindlers decrease…the fire can begin to fade. When you choose to stop acting in love and extinguish the fire, that is neglecting your commitment. When you choose to act in love and kindle the fire, that is honoring your commitment–so we use the term “Commitment.” Here are some of the Love Kindlers that are the most common, and a few examples under each type:

1. Emotional Commitment–meeting your spouse’s need to be:

  • Loved
  • Valued
  • Respected
  • Trusted
  • Accepted
  • Appreciated
  • Treated with Affection
  • Admired
  • Understood

2. Spiritual Commitment

  • Offering your spouse forgiveness
  • Supporting your spouse’s spiritual values
  • Having a shared spiritual life
  • Respecting your spouse’s beliefs
  • Living a personally transparent, moral life

3. Physical Commitment–meeting your spouse’s needs

  • To be touched regularly and in a way they enjoy
  • To be kissed regularly and in a way they enjoy
  • To be hugged regularly and in a way they enjoy
  • To have physical tenderness expressed, like by holding hands or cuddling
  • For a sex life that is fulfilling for both of you
  • To be physically attracted to you

4. Financial Commitment–meeting your spouse’s monetary needs:

  • Providing financially for the family and children
  • Able to pay monthly bills
  • Living a lifestyle that’s mutually acceptable to both of you
  • Contributing to family income
  • Contributing to paying off family debt
  • Able to plan for future financial stability
  • Living by a budget

5. Family Commitment–meeting your spouse’s needs for:

  • Adult alone time with you
  • Dedicating individual time for the children
  • Sharing household chores
  • Sharing child rearing

6. Social Commitment

  • Including your spouse in your social activities
  • Encouraging your spouse’s social life
  • Sharing fun recreational activities together
  • Sharing joy and laughter
  • Publicly expressing affection
  • Spending free time with each other
  • Offering personal free time
  • Being your companion
  • Engaging in conversation about topics you find interesting
  • Expressing interest and caring by listening well

7. Security Commitment

  • Supporting your spouse in times of crisis
  • Turning to your spouse when you have a crisis
  • Standing by your spouse
  • Being loyal and committed to the marriage first
  • Presenting a united front
  • Making sure the relationship is secure
  • Being “a soft place” for your spouse to fall–a safe haven

To find out which Love Kindlers your spouse would like you to be doing, please go to the Love Kindler Questionnaire and ask your spouse to fill it out–or fill it out as if you were in their shoes.

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