Wifey Wednesday: What Comes First? Sex or Friendship?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day that we talk marriage! I write a post, and then you all chime in by linking up your own marriage posts to the Linky below!

Today we have a guest post from J from Hot, Holy and Humorous.

Sex and friendship: which came first? It sounds like the chicken and egg question. As a believer, I would note that chickens were created on Day 5…and then came the eggs. Similarly, plenty of Christians espouse that the great relationship comes first.

Sex and Friendship: The chicken and the egg in marriage.

The common advice is that if you want wonderful intimacy in the marital bedroom, then invest in your relationship with your spouse. Husbands should thus help out around the house, shower their wives with appreciation and affection, and make quality time together a priority. Wives are instructed to respect and support their husbands, engage in recreational time with them, and attend to their own health and beauty.

I agree with those suggestions.

But there is a presumption at times that the sex life will fall into place once husbands and wives improve their relationship. Friendship, in this line of thinking, trumps sex.

Or that relationship must precede improvement in the bedroom.

Yet my own marriage story is that our quality physical intimacy helped us weather our relationship difficulties, hang in there, and work things out. A reader of my blog recently told her story to this effect, sharing that she and her husband tackled the sex area of their marriage first, talking honestly and making that a priority. Then she said, “The funny thing is, when THAT area of our life returned to what, I believe, God intended it to be, everything else in our marriage came together, as well. We communicate better, we laugh more and we talk more openly. Sex matters and God created sex for man and wife!”

So often, we wives hold off on making physical intimacy better because we want to see our relationship improve first.

Understandably, we don’t feel like having sex with a husband to whom we don’t feel close. I get that. I’ve been there. However, bear with me a moment while I throw out a different perspective.

God created all humans to be sexual beings, but our gender differences carry over into the bedroom. Men are typically more visual, more quickly aroused, and can reach climax almost every time. Even if you fought 10 minutes ago, if you then walk naked through the room, most hubbies will forget the argument and will desire you as much ever. (That’s not such a bad thing; my husband has forgotten quite a few my oops through nude persuasion.)

In addition, husbands are usually in-the-moment during sex. They are given over to the act of physical union with their wife. On top of that (and this is the kicker), at sexual climax, men experience a wash of Oxytocin—a body chemical that creates a sense of bonding. It is the same chemical that mothers secrete when their babies nurse at their breasts. Husbands BOND with their wives through sex.

'Love Couple Vector' photo (c) 2011, Vectorportal - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Sex can thus provide some glue for your marriage, to keep your husband and you together while you work out the other stuff.

Indeed, if you are heatin’ it up in the bedroom, you are more motivated to get the other pieces of the marriage worked out to keep that fire burning.

Ideally, sex and friendship form a loop.

Investing in the relationship makes you desire sex more, and then investing in sex makes you desire relationship more, and then investing in the relationship…and so on and so on.If this is true, then does it really matter where the ball gets rolling?

Mind you, I don’t think having great sex can salvage a sinking marriage. However, if you stop having sex in a sinking marriage, you may be giving yourselves one more reason to walk away. And if you focus on being there for physical intimacy with your husband, and communicate about your desire for and delight in him, you might find that this positivity helps improve the whole relationship.

Chicken? Egg? Who cares as long as there are hens in the coop and scrambled eggs for breakfast?

Want a great marriage? Put yourself into ALL of it–both sex and friendship:

  • Foster the friendship.
  • Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it.
  • Deal with tricky issues like finances, in-laws, and child rearing.
  • Practice the Fruit of the Spirit with your spouse – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • Pray for your husband and your relationship.
  • Work on having and improving sexual intimacy in your marriage.

For that last one, follow this blog (and follow mine: Hot, Holy & Humorous). Go through the 29 Days of Sex exercises that Sheila recently posted and read her book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. Read the Song of Songs in the Bible and get inspired. Sit down and talk to your husband about your desire not only for a better relationship, but also better sexual intimacy. (See if he doesn’t perk up at the mention of that second one.) Pray about your specific situation.

Don’t wait for everything in your relationship to be perfect before you commit to having the marital intimacy God intended for you two to enjoy. Start today.


J is a Christian, a wife, a mom, a writer, and a work in progress. She writes anonymously at Hot, Holy & Humorous, where she uses a biblical perspective and a blunt sense of humor to foster Christian sexuality in marriage.

 

Now it’s your turn! Have a marriage post you’d like to share with us? Just enter the URL of the individual post in the linky below! And make sure to link back here, too, so that other people can read all these great marriage posts!



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Comments

  1. “my husband has forgotten quite a few my oops through nude persuasion”

    I am ROFL at this line! I feel a bit guilty, almost like I’m using manipulation, but we both seem pretty aware of what’s happening…he’ll even say out loud, “Dent in my car? What dent in my car?” so it’s not like I’m pulling the wool over his eyes…
    Cheri Gregory recently posted…The Perfect(ionism) CrimeMy Profile

  2. Lol! Nude persuasion. Not my hubby! If I did that, he’d think me trying to manipulate the situation and resent me for it, withholding any intimacy. I have a great figure and am young and exciting in the bedroom, but i can prsnce around naked all day and not have hubby bat an eyelashes until he is ready and he wants to have sex.

    • Adding that would give anything to be able to be naked in front of my husband and get him from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, but I can’t! Unless he is already fired up, it seems my flirtatious efforts do little to nothing. It is annoying at best and breaks my heart at worst. I hate reading or hearing about other wives being able to so quickly and effectively arouse their hubbies. Perhaps it is a blessing though in that he is not so easily visually stimulated in all that the world throws at our men. Or, perhaps in his efforts to control that area, it has crept into our marriage. Or, he has been so over stimulated in that area, it no longer affects him. Funny, though, if I dress up certain ways, he goes insane for me! Unless he is angry or upset, then nothing works until he cools off.

      • It sounds like your husband is a very blessed man to have a wife like yourself–I pray that he would recognize and reciprocate your desire for intimacy in all its facets.

      • Kat, did you see my series on what to do when a guy isn’t interested? It may help encourage you, or at least the comments may help you feel less alone. You can see part of it here and then follow the other links.

  3. From a husband:
    My wife and I both know the entire relationship is better when things are working in the bedroom. But for some reason, if the nookey becomes less frequent or when Aunt Flo comes to visit, I start to pull away and don’t act as though I’m quite as emotionally invested as I was a few weeks ago.

    Some background:
    Sex has nearly always been a point of contention (except for during her first pregnancy).
    If sex becomes infrequent, I’m the one who brings it up (which makes sense, I have a higher drive).
    If I bring it up, the list of ways we aren’t connecting comes out as her defense as to why sex has become infrequent. Blaming me worked for almost 20 years until I learned to be conscious of how I acted toward her regardless of the frequency of sex. It still didn’t improve.
    No, when Aunt Flo comes to visit, she does not ‘lend a hand’ or anything else, for that matter.
    No, there was no abuse and we have the appearance of a perfect relationship in every other area.

    If I do catch myself acting differently, I ask her forgiveness and correct my actions. But if I don’t, she resents it if I’m occasionally grumpy and seem a little distant. That I only change my tune if I get sex in the frequency want.

    Am I normal? Are other husbands like this? I’m made to feel like a self-centered jerk and a horny frat boy because I feel more emotionally invested in my marriage and family when things are going well in the bedroom.

    • Bryan, I think this is quite normal, because in general, men feel connected when they make love and feel desired. When the sex isn’t there, they often emotionally don’t feel connected.

      It sounds like you’re doing the right thing: you’re recognizing it for what it is, and you’re trying to stay connected even if you don’t always feel it. That’s wonderful. And just keep asking for grace to love your wife, and keep working on making sex as frequent as possible when Aunt Flo isn’t there :).

      What you’re reporting is very common from the responses that I got from men in my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and I have a chapter on how this sort of “sex circle” works in my book, too. I think the fact that you and your wife recognize this dynamic and are trying to take steps to keep close is a good thing.

      • Although I would love it if she would, my wife won’t read any book remotely relating to self or marriage improvement. The same goes for reading your blog, or J at hotholyandhumorous, or Julie at intimacyinmarriage, or Gina at Winning at Romance, etc… Y’all make her ‘uncomfortable’ as do I when I want to address the physically intimate side of our relationship.

        In the book Freakonomics, the authors pose the question, “if you read a lot of parenting books, does that make you a better parent?” The answer to the question is no. But what the authors uncovered is that it doesn’t matter whether you read the books or not, the act of buying them (or checking them out at the library) is the part that moves the needle toward ‘better’.

        If you correlate that to being a better spouse, improving your sex life, or even becoming a better employee, the fact that you put forth the effort to become better makes you better; you’re open to new ideas new ways of thinking and doing things. You’re open to growing.

        The response of, “I’ll pray that God perks up my sex drive” (or in my case, pray her drive increases or mine decreases) seems to be a bit of a cop out. There isn’t a libido fairy.

        Yes, I wish there was a pre-marital test we could have taken. Or a crystal ball. Some days I do think to myself, “It’s not supposed to be this difficult, is it?” I don’t want to end up like my parents, but I also don’t want to be frustrated by being only friends with my wife.

    • Completely normal. No sex = emotional withdrawal. I don’t do it to punish her but in self-defense. The more attention I give her, the more time I spend with her, the more I desire her. If that desire is rejected or ignored, then the only way to deal with unmet and unwanted desire is to try and shut down that desire. Do everything humanly possible not feel it so I don’t act on it, because acting on it leads to more rejection, ad infinitum. It is a vicious cycle that takes my thoughts to places I don’t want to go.

      Wish there was some type of test everyone could take prior to marriage so those of us wanting a prancing nude wife could get one. Yeah, I’m jealous. LOL!

      • Totally agree about the test! Sometimes feel as though believers end up in incompatible relationships because of all the boundaries we put up around our sexuality before marriage.

        • It can seem that way, but remember that those who have sex before they’re married rate their sex life worse than those who wait. Having sex first has its own problems (including, of course, the guilt for doing something wrong). I don’t believe two people are sexually incompatible as much as they simply haven’t learned to love each other and communicate well enough. Two people who can communicate and truly love each other will work through this. Sometimes it takes time–often a decade before a woman will feel totally sexually comfortable. But I don’t think there would be such a thing as a “sexual compatibility test” (I know you’re just being facetious, but you know what I mean) because it would focus only on physical things, like libido or preferences or performance. In reality, it’s the intimacy that ends up being more important. And couples who can work on real friendship and communication usually end up okay. Couples who have sexual problems are often those who also have other problems.

          So hang in there, everybody! And work at learning to love and learning to communicate. It certainly isn’t a magic answer, but it’s better than anything else we have!

          • …I know you’re just being facetious

            Partially. I can’t help but wonder if tests like the Five Love Languages could be used to help people avoid relationships where extreme opposite needs are likely to lead to a lifetime of pain and misery, rather than contentment or joy.

            Better communication can certainly help, but if one spouse is a 12 on the physical touch scale, and the other is a 4 (our scores), communication and compromise will only get you so far. At the end of the day, I feel like we are from completely different planets with language and cultural differences so diametrically opposite each other that “happily married” will always be a concept beyond our grasp.

    • It’s probably normal from a biological standpoint. Less oxytocin=less feeling bonded, but at the same time, I think the advice for men should be in the same vein as the advice for women. Consider HER feelings during that time. If we want to acknowledge that it’s a biological fact that men have higher sex drives and bond through sex, let’s acknowledge that when “Aunt Flo” is visiting, for biological reasons(i.e. hormones) most women are much more tired. Not a little more tired, MUCH. Also, our uterus doubles in size. You can google for models of that(not actual, but models. They give you the idea of just how uncomfortable that would be. BLOATED? Yeah, that doesn’t even cover it). And many women are in pain. Oh and then there are the really lucky ones who get what’s called a menstrual migraine. There are other issues, too, but let’s just say it’s potty talk. Many women feel more irritable and less than pretty. So if she is supposed to forgive you for withdrawing your emotional affections because she didn’t want to have sex or “lend a hand” when she had her “Aunt Flo”, then maybe you should cut her some slack, too. I know that there are women who try to “lend a hand”, etc. during that week or still have sex, but I think it’s normal and forgivable to those who don’t. Just as there are men out there who are very understanding of their wives lack of sex and moodiness, even though they are feeling a bit rejected during that time, but then there are others who just plain feel rejected or want acknowledgement of their understanding. It’s all “normal”. Couples just need to both acknowledge that week just isn’t much fun for anybody and it’s just another thing you go through together regardless of your coping style? Know what I mean?

      • Rachel, I just scheduled a post talking about this same thing. Sex needs to be give and take. We both need to give as much as we can, but if only one is doing the giving, we may inadvertently create a situation where sex is seen as something “just for him” because “he’s an animal” or something. And that’s not healthy, either.

      • I understand the issues relating to Aunt Flo, but my comment should not be read in that light but rather in the broader context of our relationship. Bryan mentions Aunt Flo, but from the rest of his comment he appears to also be directing his comments to the overall relationship, not just a single week per month.

        If we only felt this way one week per month, then we would no doubt be more than willing to suck it up and wait. Unfortunately, Aunt Flo’s visit is simply one more excuse added to the list rather than an exception.

        But yes, taking into account how my wife feels during that week is perfectly reasonable, it is the other weeks of the month that are the problem.

        • Mark, I’d agree. If it’s just that one week, it’s different. But a relationship really needs give and take. When the “give” isn’t there on the other person’s side, then it is very difficult to give yourself. That’s really where we just need to draw on God, and work on communication to see if we can change the dynamic. But no, it isn’t easy, and it can leave one feeling very unloved.

  4. Kat, I totally relate. I am useally always the one who wants sex and we are both young and healthy. We have a great marriage and while I wish I could prance around naked at any moment of the day and make him pounce on me, I am trying to accept that this is how God made him and our sex life can still be great even if I have to initiate more often than he does. When we do have sex it’s great and we are closer, even if it’s my idea. I’m not trying to give advice but just wanted to say that you are not alone and not to be discouraged!

  5. It’s true, every area of marriage affects every other area of marriage. I’m slightly obsessed with health and nutrition, and I once heard an expert say “You cannot spot-heal the human body.” And you cannot spot-heal a marriage. You have to treat the whole kit and caboodle.

    On the “nude persuasion” point, I’ve never done that, but my husband has! When I’m still seething from an argument and he’s trying to cheer me up he’s resorted to stripping. Usually I’m irritated at first because I still want to be mad, but after a few minutes I always end up laughing. As far as I remember that’s never led to sex, but it does snap me out of my grouchiness. :-)
    Melissa recently posted…I Appreciate…My Profile

    • Melissa, that’s hilarious. And there is something really funny about a man stripping… :). I love that idea, that you can’t spot-heal a marriage. Great analogy.

  6. A Happy Hubby says:

    Mark – I agree 100% with you!

    • Can I just say that it’s an honour for me to have so many men reading! That’s really a new phenomenon over the last few months. Glad you’re finding something useful here!

      • We men are the ones who should be thanking you!

        You understand us and you do everything you can to help our wives understand that we are not perverts but healthy and normal, and that sex is very important to a healthy marriage. Men can say this stuff everyday all day only to have women dismiss it as “men just want sex and will say whatever they need to say to get it.”

        So, thank you, and please don’t stop what your are doing.

  7. Wow, the “nude persuasion” thing keeps coming up. Maybe I should clarify that I don’t strategize to use it as a weapon against my husband. It’s just that if I happen to undress (you know, like at the end of the day before bed), my hubby forgets whatever annoying issue he was talking about. I’m not trying to manipulate him, but I admit that nakedness works in my favor. And he seems happy about it, too.

    Thanks so much for allowing me to guest post, Sheila! I do highly recommend your blog and books. It is my passion for marriages to have godly passion within them, and your writings are a great resource for biblically-based teaching on sexuality.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…For Wives: When You Don’t Desire SexMy Profile

  8. Anonymous Too says:

    Kat D and Vi–neither of you are alone. I thought you were describing my husband! The fewer clothes I have on, the less “action” I’m going to get. And if he’s cranky or upset, it actually makes it worse. He’s an EXTREMELY quiet guy and it’s rather remarkable how much more quiet he gets when he’s annoyed. I can’t expect anything until he’s cooled off. And then he actually likes it the best if I have my winter pajamas on! Long sleeves, sweat pants…the more covered up I am, the “happier” he gets. Just last week, he said there was something about my looking so relaxed and being so covered up that made him want to uncover me. :) But he also said he doesn’t expect me to wear them in the summer heat. Phew!

  9. I must say I agree with your take on sex. I wonder why God made us so different when it comes to sexual desire. At times it seems like it takes so much energy and focus for me, but for hubby, he can be tired from a hard day of work, but ready for “action”. The funny thing is, when I get started and I keep putting forth the effort, I enjoy being with my husband intimately. I definitely want to improve and I want to learn more in sexual intimacy in a healthy manner so I can experience everything God wants for our relationship.

    Tiffany, The Committed Wife
    Tiffany recently posted…What To Do When God Hits the Pause Button!My Profile

  10. I’ve taught for years that if a couple fixes the sexual area of their marriage, it becomes the catalyst for fixing everything else. I base that on the fact that the sexual union, not the marriage ceremony is what makes it a marriage. The marriage ceremony is the public declaration, but the sexual relationship is what makes us into one flesh.

    I’ve actually had a large number of couples whose marriage was on the rocks and headed for divorce, who were able to turn their marriage around by focusing on fixing the sexual part of their relationship. When the sex is going good, both of them feel loved and both of them want to work on everything else. When the sex is missing, both feel unloved and unwanted. On top of that, sexual intimacy breaks down the barriers between a man and wife, opening the door for better communication.

    Somebody wrote a posting a few months ago about “sex flowers.” I don’t remember who it was, but the conclusion that the woman came to, after being offended at first, was that he bought her flowers, because he felt more love for her. Bingo! When we feel more love, we’re going to act more loving to one another; that fixes a lot of problems.

  11. Oh I always love reading J’s words of wisdom. I can say that healing our sex life definitely healed our marriage and continues to keep it happily hot. A great sexual connection represents so much health! I’ll never forget the time a friend quoted his Philosophy teacher to me (of 30 years previous) saying,

    “If we could heal the sex problems among God’s people, we could heal most of God’s people’s problems.”

    Boom! That’s when I went public with my story of a marriage transformed through sex. Bless you all!
    Gina Parris recently posted…Overcome Sexual Aversion for Better Married SexMy Profile

  12. Yet my own marriage story is that our quality physical intimacy helped us weather our relationship difficulties, hang in there, and work things out.

    Mine, too.
    Elspeth@breathinggrace recently posted…LinkageMy Profile

  13. Great post! I really agree with the idea that it should be a cycle: good sex leads to good marriage leads to more good sex, etc. I know it isn’t always as simple as “have sex and it will fix your marriage problems” but I think if more marriage counseling focused on fixing the sex concurrently with the other problems the solution would be much more effective.
    Amanda recently posted…One Year GIVEAWAY!My Profile

  14. Kate S. says:

    When we started seeing each other, hubby said he wanted to be friends first and then let it grow from there. He believes it is incredibly important that we are friends. And we are! That being said, I don’t think it matters what comes first in marriage, but rather that it is cyclical, not linear. Friendship and sex, sex and friendship, even turning and entwining rather than one following the other in a line.

  15. Mark,
    You are correct, Aunt Flo is an example of only one week. I was speaking in terms of the entire course of a marriage; when there are more excuses to not have sex than there are to have sex, something is “off kilter” (which happens to be the name of the Canadian performers at the Canadian Pavilion at Epcot Center. But I digress…).

    Recently I had to have a medical procedure which required me to fast the day before. Thankfully, I am well fed and skipping a few meals, although difficult at the time, was no big deal. But by the time my procedure was completed, a good portion of my thoughts were directed toward food and nourishment. And you can bet I had an appetite! But imagine if I was not as blessed as I am and frequently went without food either because of my lack of money to buy it or a famine. I would be apprehensive and I would live in fear of the next stretch of missed meals; my body would lack nutrients and I would become weak. It would have been more stressful on my body to endure this temporary fast.

    We can draw a parallel between nourishment for our body and nourishment for our relationship. It is easier to get through the fast if you are otherwise well fed.

    By the way, the procedure went fine and there are no problems. ;)

    • Bryan, very good point. I have often found that the women who say “my husband bugs me about sex all the time” tend to be in marriages where they don’t have sex frequently. When a husband is confident that it will be regular and enthusiastic, he tends to find giving grace far easier. It all really just needs to be a healthy balance of give and take, and when the balance is out of whack, everyone suffers.

    • Yep, sexual starvation results in the higher sex drive spouse trying to turn every instance of physical contact into sex because we just don’t know when the next opportunity will avail itself. Also, since we can’t read minds, this moment of physical contact might be the one time when the lower sex drive spouse is actually in the mood, so we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity, so we try to take it to the next step. Of course, with a 99% rejection rate, we know the odds are against us, but we’re starving, so we try anyway.

      A premarital sex drive matching test would be soooo much easier. C’mon Sheila, invent it. You’ll be a gazillionaire in no time flat. LOL! :)

      • I’ve enjoyed reading these comments, but I have to jump in here, Mark, and say something about the premarital sex drive matching test! It sounds like a great idea…but most people don’t have the same sex drive throughout the course of their lives. In fact, I’m a rather eager gal in the bedroom but there were about 4 years of our marriage when my hubby was gasping for sex like a fish out of water. (Poor guy. I’m doing my best to make up for that, which he’s happy about.) I honestly believe that a willingness to make sexual intimacy a priority in marriage and to be open, communicate, and learn about each other sexually is the key. Anyway, great stuff here on Sheila’s blog! Thanks.
        J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Confessions of a Sex-Happy WifeMy Profile

  16. For my husband, sex means everything is fine. I would like to be intimate and be a good wife, but when should I expect him to give a little? I need him to acknowledge that there are issues and deal with them and if sex keeps up he just says our marriage is great.

  17. Megan G. says:

    I know I’m late to the conversation, but yes, like other posters said, we had the sex part down first and then fixed the rest. I do believe that having that to fall back on helped get the rest fixed.

  18. There is a lot to learn on both sides but it is so worth the effort! Marriage is a journey and there are mountains to climb at times and sometimes you feel like you are climbing with a broken leg but for better or for worse right. ;)

    It took me a long time to get to where I realized that sex would make my husband so much closer to me emotionally, but the more I did it the more emotional he got! And the more I enjoyed it! Then the more emotional and lovey dovey he got the more I wanted to love on him. It really does work in a circle.

    As women I know we can, at least I did, get misled to what will get me going and to what intimacy looks like. Sometimes it is fear, fear of trying new things or being too vulnerable. Or simply a lack of understanding how ‘emotional’ sex really is for the man. Or thinking that somehow having more sex will make it to where my man thinks I don’t need anything else, that if the sex is good that I must be happy with everything. I thought we had to fix everything to get the bedroom stuff worked out. But actually I felt more free and was more able to share my emotions after the physical stuff was there. Guess it just, softens a guy up and gets him feeling emotional so he can better respond to the woman’s emotional needs.

    It is like, no matter what is going on in our lives, what we may disagree on, our sexual relationship being fun and good is always there as something we have in common. Our own secret little club of love.

    The world has thrown bad sexual messages at us our whole lives, it can take awhile to undo that damage.

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