Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine. (Song of Songs 1:2 NIV)
Rascal Flatt’s Country song “I Love to Love you Out Loud,” narrates the story of a love so deep it erupts into public expression. In a similar way, the bride of the Bible’s Song of Songs publicly professes her love when she announces her desire for her husband’s “kisses.” This suggests the popular country song’s relational wisdom is ancient.
Like other wisdom literature, the Song of Song’s arias often reveals more than one insight. The second stanza’s main message, that character development makes a person kissable, is complemented by the bride’s public announcement of her affection. Two insights in one stanza. The ancient wisdom in this openly-expressed affection spreads through the centuries into our own – reminding us that marriage is more meaningful when we love each other out loud.
The Song of Song’s husband joins his wife in this important aspect of love when he sings,
I liken you, my darling, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.
We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver. (1:9-11)
Some of us might be thinking, “Oh, just what my spouse needs, something else to fan the ego!” (OK, maybe you’re not thinking this; either way, let’s consider the wisdom here.)
In this inspired musical, the young bride first luxuriates in her longing to be kissed and then expresses that desire publicly. The young husband openly revels in his wife’s beauty and expresses his commitment to involve others in making a gift for her. Both arias are directed to audiences outside their immediate friendship, and neither of them seem reluctant to do this.
It is not unusual for us to feel uncomfortable with following socially awkward examples in the Bible. King David dancing before God. Jesus weeping with Mary and Martha. Mary pouring perfume on Jesus. But the social discomfort in public displays of affection can be overcome when we think about what they help us overcome. When we consider the impact of original sin, how it separated us from our Creator and each other, we begin to understand and appreciate both God’s public announcements of affection for us in Scripture and the healing and joy in our own.
The Song’s young bride reminds us that the image-and-identity-damaging results of sin in ourselves and the people around us can be softened when we openly express a desire to love and be loved. Such public announcements communicate feelings of closeness that diminish the distortions we experience in our relationships. Her words “let him kiss me” and his words “We will make you earrings” help replace some of the negative words and attitudes they might have experienced during the day, and they remind them they have a best friend in each other.
When we live with someone whose deepest, most intimate longings are directed toward us, some anxieties melt, some comparisons fade and some of our conflicts diminish. Public displays of affection promote health and create closeness. Understanding these benefits can help us trade potential embarrassment for promising engagement.
Relational research indicates that men and women consistently express a longing to be loved overtly.[ii] Survey results show how public reminders of our romantic value help us experience higher levels of relational satisfaction. Although further research needs to be done to correlate contemporary findings with the Song of Song’s counsel, scholarship already suggests an important connection – couples experience deeper delight when they learn to love each other out loud.[iii]
The damage done to most of us by the critical communities we live in, the time-scavengers in our social connectedness and by sin, can be incrementally repaired by love that sacrifices reputation and embarrassment to publicly cherish someone.
Loving Out Loud Activities
While Rich and I encourage you to use sites like startmarriageright.com to strengthen your public expressions of love, here are some ideas we’ve used in couple’s counseling and in our own marriages:
- Bring a favorite beverage to your spouse’s office with a note written in marker on the side (you can decide what the note should say). You can deliver it early in the morning or at lunch.
- Leave an “I care about you” package in their lunchroom with a balloon and a card.
- Carve your spouse’s name into the front lawn or write it in huge letters on the sidewalk with chalk so they see it when they approach the front door.
- Record yourself singing or playing a love song and send it to your lover’s phone. They can decide whether it’s “accidentally” heard by coworkers.
- The next time you’re at a favorite restaurant, get out of your seat, walk behind your spouse, then lean over and kiss her/him for more than 3 seconds.
- Plan a birthday (or other) party involving your spouse’s colleagues or family. Order decorations and desserts around a theme. (Don’t wait. Start inviting people today.)
- Rent or borrow a fancy car and pick your lover up at work.
- Take advantage of any work, school, or community-related valentine fundraisers that involve delivering valograms (or create your own).
- And the old standby of having flowers, balloons or desserts delivered to your lover’s office or your home (with children or relatives present) works too!
Activities like these can help our spouses experience the kind of love exhibited in the Song of Songs, the kind of love that helps them feel valued, the kind of love that transpires when we love them out loud.
[ii] Chelom Eastwood Leavitt and Brian J. Willoughby, “Associations between attempts at physical intimacy and relational outcomes among cohabiting and married couples.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships March 1, 2015. 32: 241-262.
[iii] Glickman, Craig. Solomon’s Song of Love. Howard Publishing, 2004.