Philip Wagner
Philip Wagner

Our guest columnist today is Philip Wagner, who has been married to Holly for over 27 years.

What he is sharing today is from his book "The Marriage Makeover," subtitled "10 Days to a Stronger, More Intimate Relationship." (Copyright © 2013, published by Authentic Publishers). What you are about to read is taken from Chapter Seven, or Day Seven, which deals with Connection in marriage.

Let's talk about kissing. In my marriage, there are three kinds of kisses. The "Do Not Mess Up My Lipstick" kiss. The "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" kiss. The "Do You Have Another Forty Minutes?" kiss.

The "Do Not Mess Up My Lipstick" kiss is short, sweet, and about 96 percent air. As suggested by the title, it is the preferred kiss for those times when Holly does not want me to mess up her lipstick or when I do not want to wear her lipstick to work. (Just to be clear — I never want to wear her lipstick to work.) It is casual. It is mutual. It is a polite reminder of love.

The "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" kiss has little regard for lipstick smudging. It takes no less than 10 seconds. Ten seconds may not sound like a long time, but it can seem like forever when you are in a hurry.

The "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" kiss is all about slowing down. It's all about connection. It says, "I am never in too big of a hurry to say, I love you." This is more than ritual and more than a casual reminder of your love. This is all about really "seeing" your spouse.

One time Holly thought we were doing the "lipstick kiss" and I said to her, "Hey, kiss me like you mean it." And so we went there: 10 seconds of being fully present for each other.

Did you see what I did there?

Holly thought, "I need to go, we are going to say goodbye, a quick kiss is perfectly appropriate in this context," but I pushed the pause button. I called an audible.

I did it mainly because I am usually the one in a hurry. I am focused on the next moment instead of this one, but not this time. In that "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" request, I was telling Holly, "I just wanted to say how much I love you and how much I will be thinking about you today." It is not a "Have a Good Day'' kiss, nor is it even my favorite kind (we are getting to that), but it is a kiss of true connection.

Holly loves that kiss, but I have to admit, this was not a kiss I really understood initially. For me, kissing was all or nothing — the "Lipstick" kiss or the "Do You Have Another Forty Minutes?" kiss were all I really understood.

I first started to enjoy the "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" kiss when I discovered that it often paid benefits later. (And by benefits I mean ... well ... you can figure that out.) However, then I realized the greatest benefit of the "Kiss Me Like You Mean It!" kiss is right there in that 10 seconds — it's the connection.

Then, there is the "Do You Have Another Forty Minutes?" kiss. This is my personal favorite. This is a kiss that gets your attention. Your heart beats faster, your pheromones kick your hormones into action, and your imagination awakens. There is an exchange of saliva and, suddenly, an unstoppable idea forms in your head: "This could lead to something."

Yes, I'm talking about sex. Or at least some serious making out. A quick aside — this is probably the sort of kiss single people should avoid, because once you are in the middle of this kiss, you are already leaning over the edge. It's difficult to step away from the ledge when you are already falling, but for married couples? Yes! Yes! Yes! This is a very good kiss. It is more than a polite acknowledgment of love, it is more than a connection that says, "I see you" — it is a kiss that says, "I not only love you and see you, but I want you." It is about desire and it is about connecting in the most intimate of ways.

Kissing is connection, but connection does not happen if we are not listening. If I do not hear how anxious or pressed for time Holly is and try to start a "Do You Have Another Forty Minutes?" kiss, unrealistic expectations take the place of connection. If she misses my clues about wanting to enjoy a more intimate connection and throws me a "Lipstick" kiss without acknowledging my desire, I may find myself fighting disappointment or even resentment for the rest of the day.

The more we listen to one another the more we realize we need to connect more often. Connection reminds us how much we care about each other. We need to connect regularly to flourish. Connecting is "being present" with your spouse; it is engagement of the eyes, the heart and the soul.

Let's face it, we all have busy lives. Whether it's work, family, hobbies, friends or even the need for time alone, our days are packed from dawn till dusk. It's not possible to find more time in the day, but it is possible to use the time we have in a way that honors our marriage.

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So true, so true. Marriage can indeed be challenging at times, but I'm convinced that Mr. Wagner has identified some keys to having a wonderfully enriching and satisfying marriage. I'm pleased to say he will be my guest on TWOgether as ONE tomorrow (Monday the 7th) at 6:00pm on KLJH 107.1FM. We will be covering more of his 10-day plan to have a great marriage. I hope you can join us then.

Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.