24 responses

  1. Kristy
    June 10, 2014

    And adding to #3… as women it is not uncommon to think of sex as ‘icing on the cake’ – a special occasion thing, when life/relationship is going well, when we are not too tired… but I really believe that a healthy sex life is more like ‘the grease in the engine’ – makes the day to day stuff of life easier to live with, at least partially because the two of you have taken the time to connect. And my DH really appreciates the ‘car’ analogies… our inside joke has to do with oil changes!

    Another note – start early in your marriage going to events that will build your relationship or reinforce what you are aiming for in your marriage…when we went to our first marriage conference, he looked shocked when I told him I’d signed us up, because he thought I felt there was something wrong, that needed fixing…when really, all I was asking for was some ‘preventative maintenance’ in our marriage. Explained that way (another car analogy), he really understood why I was interested in going – and 20 yrs later, he seeks out those opportunities for us as well!

  2. Hannah
    June 10, 2014

    I’m only 2 months in, but already I can attest to every one of these!!!

    I think God saved our marriage before it started by putting our church’s young adults group through a finance class. DH and I were both ignorant, with completely different mindsets and histories in regards to debt, saving, etc. I can’t imagine how stunned I would have been to learn all that POST committing-and-submitting! But instead, so far our budget has been a source of teamwork and the debt a “common enemy” rather than a source of conflict.

    And just as helpful was reading your book and unrooting some of the bad “sexpectations” as an engaged woman. I just passed it on to another bride!

  3. julie
    June 10, 2014

    HI Sheila,

    GREAT post. Definitely words of wisdom.

    So interesting you put $ at Number One – probably not a coincidence! My husband and I had financial counseling before we were married and I can guarantee you that has saved our marriage, time after time. And I second your advice to live on one income. It’s fine to plan to wait for kids, but sometimes life happens. My bro and SIL married late in life, weren’t going to have kids, and WHOOPS pregnant the week after the honeymoon. No kidding.

    And the in-laws – definitely a bigger factor than I ever realized. HUGE. Make sure you and your husband are BOTH committed to your marriage relationship over family-of-origin. Not that they’re mutually exclusive, and we hope and work for good relationships all around, but when there is conflict, your spouse trumps your parents.

    Keep up the “preventative maintenance” (good analogy, Kristi :D). Going to counseling or to a marriage retreat isn’t failure :D

    Thanks so much for encouraging us all in our marriages.
    julie recently posted…Grasshopper DaysMy Profile

    • Sheila
      June 10, 2014

      I actually wasn’t thinking finances would be #1–but then I looked at the answers on Facebook, and the majority of them were about finances! So I thought I’d better put it up there. :)

      • Emily
        June 10, 2014

        In a lot of ways, finances affects the other things. It really is the number one issue.

        If you don’t live near the in laws, how often do they expect you to visit them? What will that cost? How will you pay for it? Will you need to stay in a hotel when you visit, or does staying with them work? (family dynamics as well as space in their house can be a factor here!)

        If you’re tense about finances, it messes with your sex life. ’nuff said. :)

        How you each manage finances is hard to change, and important to discuss ahead of time or you’ll both be assuming the other will change!

        Financial plans don’t always work, either. We planned to completely pay off the car (using my salary) before the baby was born, and then live easily on one income. I got laid off part way through the pregnancy. So much for that plan!

        Financial conflict affects everything – how often you eat out, whether you eat steak or beans at home, what cable package (if any) you subscribe to, where you shop for clothes and other items…. Having a financial plan is preventative medicine for so many other conflicts.

        I especially love #10. It really is wonderful to have someone to go through life with, who has known me for 20 years and still loves me, who knows all the things I’ve walked through; all the joys, sorrows, victories, and failures.

  4. P
    June 10, 2014

    I can attest to #10. After nearly 40 years of marriage (we did not become sexually involved until our wedding night) I can confirm that it just keeps getting better and better. Retirement is wonderful, it means we can be together so much more. We simply enjoy sharing or lives and having someone with whom we can be totally at ease.

    • Greg
      June 10, 2014

      @ P: I can understand and appreciate that over time, sexual intimacy can become less awkward, and that as a couple there’s greater love and appreciation for each other. But given the fact that time takes its toll on your physical bodies, and after a while (as the saying goes) “familiarity breeds contempt”–surely these aspects adversely affect sexual intimacy?

      I know Sheila has mentioned this truth often, but I still struggle trying to wrap my mind around the hows and whys that it’s possible when it seems so counter-intuitive; i.e. the newness of discovering each other, etc. are what’s so frequently touted as where the excitement is; after the honeymoon it’s all down hill, etc.

      • P
        June 10, 2014

        Greg, I disagree.
        We know each other so much better now than when we got married. We like each other much more and we love each other much more. The fact that we know each other so well (in the biblical sense) makes it actually more thrilling than ever.

  5. Meredith
    June 10, 2014

    I’ve been married more than 25 years and, although I wish we had been wiser and more intentional with our finances, it is #8 that is my biggest regret. I told myself that when I deferred to his wishes in order to avoid conflict, I was doing the Godly thing when really, I was afraid of the bad feelings that conflict brings.

    Twenty-five years later, I find that I am angry with myself that I gave in when I should have made a greater effort to tell him how important some issues are to me and with him because he states his preferences as the “right way” or correct choice. I also regret that I didn’t do a good job of listening to him when he was not happy with something I was doing. We created habits that we are trying to break now, but it is so hard!

    • Sheila
      June 10, 2014

      Thanks for sharing that, Meredith. That’s something that I preach a LOT on this blog. Being a pushover and letting others treat us with disrespect does not honor God or the marriage. I’m glad you’re working through things now, but I know it’s so tough!

  6. John
    June 10, 2014

    I wish I had known it would be 16 months after we got married that she would even try sex.
    I wish I had known that it was just foolishness on my part to believe “Lets try to have a baby, that should get things going” was a lie.
    I wish I had known that once she got pregnant, that was it for 18 months.
    I wish I had known that it would be 10 years before you even touched me below the waist, and only with a grimace on your face.
    I wish I had known that when you say “I’m too busy” that you really meant you’re too busy for me.
    I wish I had known sex, when it did happen, would be the same thing each and every time, without ever trying anything new.
    I wish I had known that money and time spent on “romantic” vacations would be wasted money.
    I wish I had known that she would spend more time at church on one sunday then she spends naked with me in a year.
    I wish I had known that my entire sexual life would be wasted on someone who just doesn’t give a damn.

    • Vicki
      June 10, 2014

      I’m sorry to hear that, it sounds like a really rough time for you.
      I just wanted to say, when I read that list the first thought that popped into my mind is that it sounds like she was abused. (actually it popped into my mind when I was less than half way done reading) I could be wrong. Even if I am, I would definitely see a Christian counsellor. Separately, and together.

    • Anonymous
      June 11, 2014

      I second what Vicky has said. Therapy could help. Even if she won’t go, go on your own to start. You may get some valuable information on how to encourage your wife without being a “threat” to her. I went through a stage of really low libido several years ago. Nothing as extreme as what you’re describing but enough to be a concern. I went to counselling and to my doctor right away to figure out the problem and both helped. The counsellor also gave my husband some helpful tips on validating who I am, how I feel, and what I do. His approach since then has made a world of difference.

      • John
        June 11, 2014

        As far as I know and as she has told me, there is no abuse.

        We’ve gone to 2 counselors over the years (Pastor+wife). The first time after being married for 6 months, I had to go through 6+ months of hearing “there’s no point to it except babies”, “couldn’t care less”, “shouldn’t have to do what I don’t want to do”. And this wasn’t just sexual counseling, but whole marriage counseling. Gave up after that. The second time was about 10 years later, and I had to listen to basically the same thing, but she also added, telling the pastor and his wife to their faces: “Of course you would say that, you’re a man.” and to the wife, “What would you know? You’re not me.” After which she insisted we leave that church.

        As for “validating who she is, how she feels, and what she does”, I have been nothing but her biggest supporter. Everyone, even her MOTHER tells me so. Whenever she feels like doing something outside the house, I encourage and support it. Girls night out, working (I’ve accomodated my schedule so she can do what she wants), church, doesn’t matter. Need help at home with the kids? I’m there leaving work early, working from home, taking off, etc. I clean bathrooms, scrub floors, wash dishes, clean the kitchen, emtpy dishwasher, cook meals, do laundry etc etc etc. Whatever needs to be done. Plus all outdoor care. We serve together in the church, believe it or not, we teach a kids class (we do have 4 kids, all healthy, well-adjusted, one is going into ministry!). I trust her with all our finances, and everything else in our family.

        Besides the sexless marriage (which no one but me and the counselors knows about, of course), I will state bluntly that she is a crowning beauty of a christian woman. All those gifts of the spirit, Proverbs 31, Titus 2, she is exactly that woman. Except for sex about 4 times a year.

        I just don’t know what else I can do. The only “christian” failing I would readily admit to is my lack of praying with her. I’ve tried over the years, but I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit there and pray, and listen to this woman’s godly prayers, and know that its been over a year since she’s even touched me, and has refused me many times. I’ve just given up. And I know we’re growing farther and farther apart, and its like she just doesn’t even care (or probably doesn’t even notice). and I’m beginning to not care anymore either.

      • Lisa Donald
        June 12, 2014

        I just prayed for you and your marriage and family.

        If not abuse, then perhaps she has other associations with sex being sinful from before marriage. Sexless marriage is not normal and is not a sign of godliness. Our godliness will NEVER exceed our service to our spouses, because marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. God created sex as a picture (like a shadow) of His own nature and the nature of our relationship with Him. We are seriously distorting God’s image we deprive each other (1 Cor 7:5) or behave arrogantly in any way with one another. In the same way, not caring anymore or not loving as Christ loved the Church (selflessly and to the point of giving His life) is giving in to to sin, too.

        Only God can change us. At times He allows us to come to hard places at the ends of our own ropes so we have nothing else to look to or trust in but Him. Then He can step in and change us in ways we never thought possible and have much to praise Him for. It sounds like you belong to Christ, and she at least claims to. Perhaps a starting point is to embark on a journey of learning to study the Scriptures (together if possible) with intentional humility in order to draw near to God. Each time as you open your Bibles, both of you ask Him to open your eyes to His Word and change you. I believe this is the kind of faith action God will honor as you rely on Him to do His transformation in His way and timing.

        Psalm 42

        Grace & Peace

      • Jean
        August 13, 2014

        We need to stop referring to women as Titus women or Proverbs women, unless we will also refer to men by Scriptural names. Let us be fair and balanced to men and women. .

        There is indeed a man made doctrine or a religious trend where we over use the messages: Women submit. women you must respect, women you are each Titus women or Proverbs women. This trend is so wrong and so unfair to women. God expects for men and women to live an obedient life, not judt women. We need to stop scolding women, unless we will also scold men.

      • Sheila
        August 13, 2014

        I love this! Absolutely. I agree completely.

  7. Lauren
    June 10, 2014

    This is funny–we celebrated our 30th anniversary yesterday and at dinner I asked my hubby what surprised him most about marriage. We had a great discussion and lots of laughs about all of our ‘misconceptions’ the day we said our vows. This is a great list! So true!

  8. J
    June 11, 2014

    I wish I had known that The Pill can kill a woman’s libido. And that sex is something you do regularly, not just once in a while. And that it is super important to him.

  9. Aimee DD
    June 11, 2014

    After four years of marriage, the inlaw thing is still hard. I’d only met his family twice before we married. My mother is still telling me I should have gotten to know them better before we married. Little personal pet peeves, like smoking, become huge contentions when children come along. After four years of marriage, one child, and many disappointments, I’m still not sure how to deal with my husband’s family. It is a much bigger deal than you think, even if they live 5 hours away and don’t visit. My one huge suggestion concerning finances: take a Dave Ramsey class together. We took one starting the week after our honeymoon. All our preconceived notions went out the window with the dirty bath water. It forces you to discuss those little difficult things without it being because one of you wants to talk about it. It’s all class homework.

  10. The Beautiful Wife
    June 11, 2014

    There were plenty of red flags before we were married, but I ignored them because ‘love conquers all’ and I was committed. I was very aware that marrying him would be a great challenge.. but what I didn’t realize was that it’s a challenge I didn’t need to accept.
    I thought I could help him.. fix him.. save him. I thought, if I don’t stand by his side.. if I don’t show him the unconditional love of God.. then who will? I thought he NEEDED me.
    I thought wrong.
    He didn’t need me.. he needed God. I wish I knew that I am NOT his ‘holy spirit’ or his ‘savior’. I can’t change his life.. only God can!

    After a decade together, I can say I was right about one thing: True love does conquer all.. even the heartache that I wouldn’t wish upon ANYONE. I will love him forever, even if he never changes! <3

  11. Heather B
    June 16, 2014

    This is so great and ironic. I just finished reading a new book by the Smalleys called “The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship” It’s 10 keys even line up with these 10 things! I really recommend this book. It’s about ten keys that can move us toward a more vibrant relationship, beginning with what we can influence and change – our own attitude and commitment as wives. It’s inspirational and affirming, and I think it’s great if you’re married, engaged, thinking about getting married, or even including hubby. I love how some of your points line up with this book. Check it out – I highly recommend it.

    • Sheila
      June 16, 2014

      Too funny! Love it when great minds think alike. :)

  12. Elena
    July 9, 2014

    Great post! I just forwarded this to my newly-married daughter (May 31st).

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