Making it Home: When Sex Isn’t Easy and Playful

Welcome guest author Emily Wierenga, as she shares an excerpt about how sex sometimes hurts from her new memoir, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose.

Making it Home

Some nights, we can’t.

We have one set of bed sheets, and they’re tattered for the washing. In the winter it’s a feather tick we sleep under, feathers plucked by the Hutterites who live down the road from us.

I cry because I can’t let Trent in again.

It hurts too much, and it’s our wedding night all over again—two sons later.

“Shhh—it’s okay, Em, we’ll try again,” he says. But I know it’s not just my body that won’t let him in.

We sleep beneath the feathers, and some nights, Trent kicks it off because he’s too hot. He’s always naked, me, wrapped in flannels and “You should really try sleeping without clothes,” Trent says, holding me. “You’d be so much warmer.”

“I doubt that,” I say with a laugh. “I know why you want me to sleep naked… ”

He kisses my neck. “You know, sometimes, Em, I just want to hold you.”

I nod. I know. Because he is the man who waited six months just to kiss me.

Who waited twenty three years to have sex with someone—and that someone was me, on our wedding night.

But I was sewn tight that night, and the champagne didn’t loose anything. Trent waiting in the bed in the cottage, his black suit and white shirt flung on the floor and him leaning on one arm, waiting for me. The July heat whispering through a window, and the beach just steps from the cottage. The stars like the diamonds on my dress, clustered together and I thought about running.

“Are you coming, Em?” Trent said, and I let that dress fall, clutching the sheets to my flat chest and he pulled me close but I was an aged envelope that had glued shut. And I cried. Him saying, “Shhh, it’s okay, we have our whole lives to figure this out.”

We were the couple who, when we were dating, hadn’t been able to stop kissing until three in the morning, his hands under my shirt but now, after the vows beneath the trellis and my dad’s tender prayer and the rose petals falling, now that we were married, I was like a caged bird. Him trying to open the lock but I wanted that cage. I knew every corner, every rung, and I’d put myself in there when I was sixteen.

Trent’s fallen asleep against my shoulder, his quiet snores in my ear, his long arms around my waist.

I’m reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, my bedside table littered with ear plugs and sleeping pills. And some nights, still, even after two babies and ten years of becoming one beneath the sheets, my body still runs to that cage.

I’m that bird, learning how to fly.

Sheila says: I so appreciate Emily being so honest in her book about her struggles. If you’ve struggling with vaginismus (when sex hurts because you’re too tight), I do have some information in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. You can also find some information on vaginismus here.

When Sex Hurts

This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to ATLAS GIRL), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.

What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions. Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.

Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.

Emily T. WierengaMaking It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose_medium_image_attachmentEmily Wierenga is a blogger and the author of several books, including her touching memoirs Atlas Girl about her struggle with anorexia and figuring out where she fits in this world, and Making It Home. She’s an artist, a writer, a mother, and a lover with a passion for Africa. You can find her at http://emilywierenga.com.

Top 10 Ways I Bring Happiness into My Life

How to Be Happy: 10 Idea

How to be happy–in the middle of your mess–is the main question we’re all desperately trying to find an answer for.

How can we find happiness even if we’re busy, stressed out, tired, or a little lonely?

Yesterday I was talking about how your husband can’t make you happy–because he can’t fix everything, and he can’t feel all your angst to the same extent you do. Ultimately our own happiness comes not from other people, but from joy and contentment first (finding peace with God and with ourselves), and then we’ll find peace with our circumstances.

But how, practically, do you do that?

I had some pushback yesterday saying, “but my husband is supposed to be there when I’m hurt! He’s supposed to be helping with the kids and relieving my burdens!” To which I’d say, “absolutely!”

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentAnd in my book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, I talk about both sides. I start with four thoughts that will help us get our own hearts in the right place; three ideas that will change the way you look at resolving conflict and bringing up issues when your husband ISN’T supporting you; and two thoughts for keeping close.

But I find that often when we’re unhappy we’re so quick to point the finger.

And I think it’s better to really look at our own hearts first. I’m not saying your husband is perfect; on the contrary, I spent all last week talking about what to do if he isn’t! But I am saying that too often we think he’s the sole source of the problem when we play a role too.

And so today I’d like to share the ways that I’ve found to take responsibility for my own happiness.

Too often I think we over-spiritualize this, making it sound as if happiness is there if we’d all just spend four hours a day in prayer and ignore everything else.

That’s not real life–and quite frankly Jesus enjoyed a lot of things other than prayer. Prayer is wonderful, but overspiritualizing problems doesn’t really help most of us. So I want to get practical today!

Top 10 Ways to Stop Being Too Tired for SexUsually on Top 10 Tuesday I give you ten ideas, and I tell you to pick 1-3 to actually put into practice (since no one can do all 10!) Today’s a little different. I’m not telling you to pick any of them; I want to use myself as an example, and then encourage you to brainstorm about what ideas will do the same thing for you. I’ll tell you what brings me peace and joy, but since we’re different, the same things may not work for you. But the concepts will.

How To Be Happy Tips: Big Picture

1. Pick Just ONE Bible Verse

I got this concept from Courtney Joseph, who is doing a wonderful job at Women Living Well with her Good Morning Girls series!

I know that we’re constantly told to read our Bibles, and to pray, but for many of us that’s a hard slog. And we can’t do it in the morning. And the more people say, “read your Bible!”, the more inadequate we feel.

Here’s what I do: my husband and I spend 7-9 p.m. together, walking, talking, watching a Netflix show, playing a game. But at 9 I get out my Bible, a nonfiction book I’m reading, and my journal, and I read and write for an hour. I use a devotional to tell me what to read in the Bible everyday.

Then I look for just ONE verse–just one–that really speaks to me from the reading. I write that on a piece of paper, and all the next day I look at it and memorize it and think about it. It helps me focus my thoughts.

Here’s one God gave me on Sunday, when I was struggling with what prayer means:

How to Be Happy: Choose just one verse for each day

When we pick a verse, we know that God is speaking to us. That our devotions are interactive. It’s not just you reading; God is speaking too!

You want peace and joy, but don’t compare your spiritual life with other people’s spiritual lives. I’ve tried for years to read my Bible in the morning. I’ve tried the “reading the Bible in 90 days”. It doesn’t work for me. I’d read but not take it in.

Do what works for you. And if all you can take away is one verse–that’s enough! I find if I pray and think about one verse each day, I have an ongoing conversation with God. And it really brings joy!

2. Know My ONE Big Thing for the Year

I know my one big thing that I’m working towards for my business this year, and for my personal life this year. Personally, it’s getting my house cleaned out so my mom can move in. Businesswise, it’s getting some more ebooks written and creating a plan for them.

I know those are my ONE things (well, technically it’s two, but I have two parts of my life).

I take a yearly retreat and pray over these ONE things. And it really does help!

So everyday I do 10 minutes towards my ONE thing. That’s it. Just 10 minutes. And then I can track my progress. When I know that I’m working towards a goal and I’m being purposeful, I tend to feel more positively, like I’m moving towards something God has called me to.

3. Know My ONE Big Thing for the Day

Here’s something else: I know my one thing that I need to get done in the day. The one thing that must be checked off my list. Everything else can fall away, but I need that one thing done.

Today it’s getting a video edited that I hope will go up tomorrow.

But that way, at the end of the day, I’ll have something to point to.

If we start the day knowing our one thing for the day, and our big picture goal we’re working towards, we’re going to end the day feeling like we’ve accomplished something.

And for me personally, I usually feel the least happy when I feel as if I’ve gotten nothing done. When we get frazzled, it’s usually because our day has gotten away from us. We had some things planned, but we didn’t do them. We relaxed in front of Facebook instead, or we responded to every kid’s cry instead of trying to plan something proactive to stop those cries. And then by the afternoon we’ve had nothing done, everyone’s grumpy, and we feel like failures.

If you want to be happy, don’t let life get away from you! Know your ONE thing, and do it!

4. Pick ONE Friend

Here’s a new one I’m starting as an empty nester: every week I’m getting together with one friend for lunch. It won’t always be the same friend (in fact, I hope it’s not!) But I need more women in my life. I spend so much time in front of my computer and talking to my girls and my husband that I can get a little lonely and narrow focused. Friendships help us to step outside of ourselves.

This Saturday I’m having lunch with a friend I’ve known since university and we’re going to commiserate about our girls together. It will be great!

Every week, I know who I’m going to get together with and when. It helps me to know I’m not in this alone.

If you have little kids and you can’t do lunch, can you get together with someone for coffee? Or can you plan a one hour phone conversation with a different friend each week?

5. Get Dressed

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. I don’t mean yoga pants and a baggy T-shirt. I mean get dressed in something that flatters you. Put on earrings (unless you have toddlers that yank!), and put on some lipstick.

I always feel so much better if I look better. It makes me feel more confident, less like a slouch, more like “I am made for a purpose and I’m going to do battle in the world today!” Yay!

How to Be Happy Tips: Stop and Enjoy

Now we’ve got the big picture things. The next five steps are just small things–tiny things that I add to my life that make me joyful. They’re not big. They’re not elaborate. But they make me happy, because they celebrate the beauty God gave us.

6. Sip Some Herbal Tea

I gave up Diet Pepsi a year ago, and that was tough, because I loved it. So I had to replace it with something. And that something has been tea. I do hot tea and iced tea. White tea and green tea. Black tea and herbal tea. I have so many teas to choose from! I take my tea supply with me when I travel.

It helps me to feel as if I’m enjoying all different tastes, without chemicals. And it’s lovely.

How to Be Happy: Find some teas you love!

7. Infuse the House with Essential Oils

God gave us five senses, but how often do we indulge them? I love filling my aromatherapy infuser with essential oils both for the scent and for the healing properties. Right now I have a headache blend going–I was feeling a little bit achy today–but it’s so lovely with peppermint and rosemary and juniper.

Ever notice how much of the Song of Solomon has to do with different senses? Let’s use them!

How to Be Happy: Add essential oils to your day

8. Reserve Time to Cook

I used to go through my day not knowing what I was going to make for dinner. Life was too hectic, and I didn’t deal with things until I had to.

Then one day, about eight years ago, I made a startling discovery. I actually LIKE cooking. It smells luscious. It’s amazing that you can take vegetables and meat and broth and turn it into something that looks so lovely and tastes so lovely. It’s using God’s raw ingredients to create–so cool!

So now dinner prep is MY time. When the girls were little they had that time off to play or do whatever they wanted–as long as they left me alone. And it’s still my favourite part of the day. I plan what I’ll make the night before and get all things out of the freezer, but then I cook. And I relax. And I’m happy.

9. Go For a Walk

When my girls were little and driving me crazy, I had one go-to method that calmed us all down: I’d stick them in a stroller and head outside, even if it was freezing and snowing.

Getting out of the house always worked its magic.

I love fresh air. I love seeing my neighbours. I love time to breathe.

These days, whenever I’m frustrated with some writing, or I can’t think of what to say next, or I’m stuck with emails, I knock on Katie’s door (she’ll be gone in two weeks! Yikes!) and I say, “let’s go for a walk.” She hardly ever says no.

If my husband’s home, I take him, too.

And if no one’s home, I go by myself.

I pray. I think. I breathe.

And then I come home.

10. Just Feel

I take time everyday just to FEEL–in the physical sense. Whether it’s some stretching, or asking my husband to give me a massage (or treating myself to a professional one occasionally), or going for a jog, I try to feel.

We live our lives almost entirely in our heads, and I think that’s what often gets the dissatisfaction going. If we can take time everyday to STOP and ENJOY, it makes a difference.

So feel–stretch, exercise, massage. Breathe. Smell. Drink. Revel in the wonderful things that God has made. Give yourself a minute to enjoy something beautiful. And then continue to work on your big picture things that give you purpose.

Those are my ten things. Yours may be different. You may include listening to music (I find I’m loving silence more and more), or digging something in the garden, or sketching something.

But notice what isn’t on the list: Netflix. Computer games. Facebook. Do I do these things? Yes, I do. But I know they don’t make me happy. If I fill my life with those I will feel chronically dissatisfied. That’s not to say we CAN’T do them. But if you want to be happy, you’ve got to find ways to seek out God’s purpose, fulfill that purpose, and revel and enjoy what He has made.

Creativity is one of the ways we’re made in the image of God–and too often we squeeze creativity out of our lives.

As I said yesterday,  your happiness is a gift you can give your husband.

When we are happy and at peace, he doesn’t have to solve anything. He can take a deep breath, relax, and revel in being at home. So if there are things that you can do to find that joy and contentment, you’ll also find your happiness. And that will boost your marriage tremendously!

Let me know in the comments: What makes you happy? What small things can you do to bring joy into your life?

 

 

What the Bible Says About Marriage: It’s More Than 5 Passages

What the Bible Says About Marriage--it's more than just a few passages, so let's not ignore the complete picture

Some days I’m just overwhelmed by all the emails and comments on this blog–especially comments on older posts which people arrive at in crisis. Marriage is often messy, and sometimes so downright hard.

It’s also a great source of joy to most of us (I hope!), but even in happy marriages there are times when we get ticked off, when we feel lonely, or when we wish that something would change.

And that’s why I wrote 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, because we can’t be superficial about marriage. It’s complicated because two different people are involved. And people are complex!

One of my pet peeves is marriage advice that seems to forget that marriage is messy.

I call that kind of advice “pat answers”, and I was asked in the comments yesterday what exactly I mean by that. Let me take a stab at it here:

A pat answer is a suggested solution to a problem which DOES work–in some situations. But it’s presented as if it’s the answer to every situation, even though quite often it doesn’t fit at all.

And I would argue that Bible verses are sometimes presented as pat answers.

We’re told to “win him without words”, like it says in 1 Peter 3, without taking into account that there are many instances in Scripture where women were specifically told to speak up. Or we’re told to “just love on him and God will bless you for it” forgetting that there are other instances in Scripture where we’re told to enact consequences when someone sins.

What the Bible says about marriage can’t be confined to just a few verses.

God’s purpose is always to bring people closer to Himself. He wants all of us looking more and more like Jesus, and that should be our aim, too–that we look more like Jesus, and that those around us do as well. But even though that is always our aim, that doesn’t mean that we will always act in exactly the same manner. Different circumstances may call for different approaches.

I’ve received some pushback from people saying that I’m abandoning the Bible because I say that “just submit”, for instance, isn’t the proper response to every marriage problem. I’m sorry people feel that way, but quite frankly I think that they are the ones who are ignoring the Bible, because they’re ignoring the REST of Scripture. And we have to use the whole of Scripture to interpret Scripture.

I wrote on Monday how, when we talk about marriage, we tend to turn to just five passages: Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 13, and Proverbs 31, with perhaps some Genesis 2-3 thrown in. But the Bible is more than those 5 passages.

And today I’d like to share the voices of two other readers of this blog who have chimed in on just that point.

First, Kim Martin left a really thoughtful comment on my blog post When The Way We Talk About Submission Turns People Off of Christ. She said (and I’m shortening a bit):

Some religious groups use “win without words (1 Pe 3:1)” to silence wives married to unbelieving and/or disobedient husbands in ways that the Bible never intended.

ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). Last time I checked, ALL wasn’t limited or confined to just the verses that Paul and Peter wrote about women and wives.

The Bible tells us that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ec 3:1) a time to be silent AND a time to speak (v. 7B).”

Being silent (without words) and speaking up are both Biblical and purposeful. It’s important that the wife of an unbelieving and/or rebellious, disobedient husband understand the purpose and benefits of both methods: silence (without words) and speaking up.

What the Bible says about being silent:

A wife who knows when and how to restrain her words has knowledge. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge.” Pr 17:27A

A wife who controls her mouth can protect her own life, but the wife who has a big mouth could ruin everything. “Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin.” Pr 13:3

Watching her tongue and keeping her mouth shut could help a wife stay out of trouble. “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Pr 21:23

What the Bible says about speaking up:

A wife can protect herself by speaking wise words. “What a fool says brings a rod to his back, but the words of the wise protect them.” Pr 14:3

A wise wife can bring healing by speaking up. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Pr 12:18 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Pr 16:24

A wife can deflect anger by giving her husband a gentle answer. “A gentle answer deflects anger…” Pr 15:1

When a wife gives her husband an honest answer, metaphorically, it’s like kissing her husband on the lips. “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Pr 24:26

Pr 31:10 tells us that a wife of noble character “opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Therefore, one of the primary functions of a wise wife is speaking (opening her mouth) with wisdom.

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. FOR IF YOU REMAIN SILENT AT THIS TIME, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Es 4:12-14

Those who have read the book of Esther know that she didn’t remain silent (without words). She spoke to her husband about what was going on. As a result, Esther helped save the Jews from annihilation.

Some religious groups quote 1 Pe 3:1 (without words) disproportionately. Being silent (without words) is Biblical, and it can beneficial. However, the win without words response is NOT the only Biblical or beneficial response. The Bible also has a lot to say and illustrate about the value of speaking up in a timely, wise and gentle manner.

So well said!

And then here’s an email I received after a similar blog post:

There is wise and relevant advice for mostly normal and relatively healthy married couples. Then there is wise and relevant advice for neglectful, abusive, destructive, or addiction bound marriages.

THE ADVICE IS NOT THE SAME.

Women who have married good men who listen to them, show them affection, and work hard to support their families think they can look at other women (in marriages absolutely nothing like that) and say things like, “Encourage encourage encourage, just pray more! Step back so he can lead.”

Women whose husbands are faithful and not addicted to porn tell women whose husbands ARE addicted to porn, “Be more free with your body. Let your husband see you naked a lot. Have sex regularly so he doesn’t look to porn even more.”

It’s hogwash.

People need to stop further damaging these wives who come for some empathy, help, and support by telling them that they should just wish, hope, pray, and submit more and their husband will stop sinning. The wife goes home, martyrs her sanity some more, goes on meds just so she can get out of bed and take care of the kids, and has sex in the dark while crying her eyes out and trying to pretend she’s on a beach somewhere because she listens to these people who DON’T UNDERSTAND they shouldn’t give blanket marriage advice.

My husband has been addicted to porn for 5 awful years and after being at the point of self-harm and meds, I finally realized the people “speaking into my life” were wrong. I didn’t need to “forgive my dad” and then the porn wouldn’t bother me so much. I didn’t need to “be naked more and have more sex” so he wouldn’t look to porn. I didn’t need to “cover his sin in love” and live an isolated lonely life just to protect his reputation.

I needed people to confront his sin. I needed people to look at me and say, “It’s normal you feel this way because your husband’s sin has caused great harm to you.”

I needed people who would stand up for God’s best for both my husband and myself with the goal of reconciliation–NOT a goal of me being more submissive and forgiving and sexual in an effort to break his cycle of sin.

I love her point–that we’re to “stand up for God’s best for both my husband and myself”. I sometimes think that many would define “God’s best” as women always submitting to what their husbands want.

No, God’s best is that we be transformed to look more like Jesus.

Submitting ourselves to our husband’s welfare–to what is best for him and to what God is doing in his life–is how we can start to accomplish that. But submitting to a sinful husband’s will is submitting to sin. And we are never asked to do that (and Sapphira, in Acts 5, is struck dead for submitting in that manner).

True Godly Submission

Let’s just look more like Jesus, people.

Can you imagine how much better life would be if we all took responsibility for our actions, and if we all were working towards each other’s good? That’s what God wants for us–and that’s the big message behind what the Bible says about marriage.

Some of you are in hard marriages, and some of you are in great ones and just want to stop jeopardizing that “greatness” by getting ticked off. I know that this book can help you, because my marriage has been in both extremes. Even now, as Keith and I are reinventing ourselves as empty nesters, I’ve found I’ve had to revisit a lot of the principles I share, on a daily basis.

A great relationship doesn’t happen by accident.

I need to be deliberate. And that means listening to all of what God is saying and wrestling it out–not relying on simple formula for complex situations.

I hope that makes sense! And again–I do so appreciate thoughtful emails and comments like these ones. They make me see that I’m saying something important, and God really uses those words to encourage me. Thank you to the others who emailed me this week telling me to keep my chin up. I did, and your words really helped!

I’m going against a lot of conventional wisdom in this book, and that’s frightening for people. I wish it didn’t have to be. Let’s look like Jesus–all of Jesus, not just a part of Him. That should be our aim.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by Accident9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage launches August 18–but you can pick up a copy now for 50% off (in North America!). And anyone who pre-orders, or who purchases it on August 18–will get a chance to enter a contest to win some awesome prizes which I’m still putting together. And you’ll get a bundle of downloadable freebies on that day, too!

Button Order the Book

And from my Instagram feed yesterday:

Top 10 Christian Pat Answers About Marriage

Sometimes Christian marriage advice just doesn’t work.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentAs we get ready for the launch of my new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, I asked on my Facebook Page for people to share some “pat answers” about marriage that they often hear, but that is exactly the wrong thing to do. Thank you so much for all your responses! They were great to read through. And so many of them were in my book, too–which helps me to know that I’m on the right track!

So today I’m going to share the Top 10 Pat Christian Marriage Advice that doesn’t work.

Top 10 Pat Answer Christian Marriage Advice that Doesn't WorkPat Answer Christian Marriage Advice That Makes Small Things Bigger

In this first category we’re talking about when you’re upset about relatively little things, that are likely fairly easily solved. But instead of tackling them in a healthy manner, we think God is asking us to do something quite different. And we end up making what might be a small thing linger, rather than nipping it in the bud.

Ever heard any of these?

1. Don’t go to bed angry!

The #1 pat answer that was mentioned in that Facebook post was “Don’t go to bed angry!” It’s taken from Ephesians 4:26, which says this:

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

People too often take that to mean that if you’re angry, you can’t go to sleep. You have to stay up until 4 in the morning hashing it out.

But if we do that, we often say stupid things because we’re overtired.  If we sleep on it, the problem often seems much smaller in the morning!

There’s a difference between going to bed without resolving an issue, knowing that you’re going to talk about it later, and going to bed absolutely incensed. Deciding to talk about something later is often very good advice!

Do Not Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger--doesn't mean what you think it means!

2. Just pray about it more.

Whenever we have a problem we are definitely to take it to God. But sometimes the way we talk about prayer makes it sound like this is ALL we do.

One Facebook commenter explained it like this:

You can pray for help with a situation but more than likely some work is going to be required after prayer. You might even have to wait for God to lead you on the right path but often He doesn’t just solve our problems with no work on our part.

Exactly!

Let’s say that you’re feeling neglected by your husband because you haven’t done anything, just the two of you, in months.

What should you do: pray about it–or pray about it and then talk to him? Or plan a date night just the two of you? Or figure out what you can cut out of your schedule?

So often we feel like “God is close to the broken hearted”, so when we’re sad, we’re supposed to lay it all at His feet. Well, yes. But maybe there’s more you should be doing, too! Prayer isn’t supposed to be a “get out of responsibility for making your life better card!” Maybe what you really need is to pray that God will show you how to fix this problem yourself.

3. Just grow closer to God and your marriage problems will disappear.

Here’s another goodie–a variant on the one above. Yes, as we grow closer to God we become holier, and that often makes our part in the marriage problem minimized. Absolutely.

But often what happens is that there are very real issues that need to be dealt with in marriage. And rather than deal with those, we run to God, hoping that God will then make it better for us.

So we’re not trying to get closer to God for the sake of getting closer to God; we’re trying to get closer to God so that He’ll go and beat someone up for us, sort of like he’s a protective older brother.

That’s manipulation!

How about this: Grow closer to God, and then ask for wisdom for what you should do to make your marriage better?

Thought #4 is all about taking responsibility for our own happiness, rather than expecting God, or your husband, to give it to you. And it’s much more effective.

4. Love him according to his love language, and he’ll love you according to yours!

Or another variation: respect him, and he’ll love you!

Yes, women need love and men need respect. Yes, we all have love languages and it’s good to learn them. But thinking that just because we act in a loving way means that he will automatically return the favour is to misunderstand human nature.

It assumes that the reason that he isn’t loving you according to your love language is because you aren’t doing something. But what if there’s another reason? What if he’s tired? What if he’s stressed? What if he just plain doesn’t know your love language? What if he has unresolved issues and he has difficulty reaching out emotionally?

If you need something in marriage, it’s your job to tell him. And make it really simple and obvious what he needs to do! I told my husband this weekend: I feel like we need to do more fun things together where we feel like we’ve accomplished something, not just where we’ve spent a day vegging together. So I suggested that we start hiking as a hobby. He agreed. And so this week he’s going to research a 15 km hike we can do together on Saturday.

I could have waited for him to figure that out on his own. Or we could have had a good talk about it!

Besides, a lot of this advice is really manipulative. “Just pray about it and he’ll love you.” “Just love him and he’ll love you.” It’s telling us to do all of these things to get him to love us EXCEPT actually be vulnerable before him and let him know what we’re thinking. It doesn’t work!

5. Don’t take offense. If you’re upset about something, just let it go!

Certainly we aren’t to needlessly take offense at people.

But being aggravated about something isn’t a sin. Withholding love over it, yes–being aggravated, no.

Let’s say it really bugs you that your husband never puts the coffee mugs in the dishwasher. I have known women to be frustrated at this trait for years. They wrestle with it. They pray about it. They tell themselves, “I know I’m not supposed to be take offense, and I have to get over this. It’s just a stupid coffee mug.”

But it keeps happening, and they keep struggling.

What would happen if she just said to him,

“Honey, I’d appreciate it if you put your coffee mugs in the dishwasher after you use them. And if you’re never sure if the dishwasher is clean or dirty, I’ll get a little sticker that tells you so it’s obvious when it’s dirty and  you can load it. Can you do that? It would make me so happy!”

Thought #4 in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage includes this little tidbit: Just ask for help. I asked on Facebook last year, when I was writing it, for stories about when women finally realized that if they asked their husbands specifically for help, their husbands actually came through. A bunch of those stories made it into the book. But the two most common reasons for not asking were, “I didn’t want to be rude”, and “he should just know!”

But he obviously doesn’t. Try asking! It’s better than letting something stew.

Pat Answer Christian Marriage Advice That Minimizes Real Problems

Now let’s turn to another category of “pat answers”–those pat answers that are given to women in really difficult situations that make the problem worse in a whole other way.

6. Pray that God will change your husband’s heart.

A variation of #2 above, to “pray about it”, but this time let’s assume that the “something” is a big sin. Maybe he’s gambling. He’s lazy and won’t get a job. He’s watching porn. He plays video games all day. Whatever it may be.

Here’s why this advice is wrong in this situation: God won’t “make” your husband stop using porn. He lets us have free will. He may bother your husband about it. He may put roadblocks up to the porn use. He may convict your husband. But ultimately it’s up to your husband what he does. God doesn’t force us to do the right thing.

What God does do is put consequences to our actions, so that we reap what we sow. And he gives clear instructions on what to do within the church if someone is sinning and is refusing to repent–and “just pray about it” is definitely not the only step.

I explained this in my post Are you a spouses or an enabler? That was a key post on this blog, and I’ve taken those thoughts and flushed them out through about three thoughts, and three chapters, in this new book. How to deal with sin in marriage is so misunderstood, and I hope that in this book I can point us to a much better way.

7. If you disagree, the head of the house should make the final decision.

And bonus addition: you’ll be blessed because of your submissive attitude!

There are several problems with this, and I’ll be making a video next week that explains them. First, if we think that submission is all about decision making, then we’re missing the heart of the word. And second, God’s will is that we be seeking after His direction. If we say, “husbands always make decisions”, it’s awfully easy to get away from relying on God to make those decisions. And that’s downright scary.

I explain more in this post on what submission means, but I dedicate Thought #5 to it! Many of you have been asking for me to flesh out my position on the submission, and I did it in great length in this book.

8. If you submit to your husband more, he’ll step up and be a leader.

Is your husband not acting in a godly way? The problem must be that you aren’t submitting!

Now, there are times when this definitely is true. That’s the thing about pat answers: they have a kernel of truth to them, and that’s why they’re so prevalent.

I know marriages where the wife just bulldozes over the husband so much that eventually he stops trying.

But too many Christians think that the answer to every marriage problem is “submit” when it isn’t. It’s as if instead of having a whole tool box to fix things we have only a hammer. If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

(Actually, I do believe that the answer to every marriage problem is to “submit”, but that’s because I think “submission” means something very different than what we normally think. When the word is normally used, we take it to mean that the wife doesn’t make decisions, doesn’t assert herself, doesn’t mention anything that’s bothering her, and lets her husband set the agenda.)

Let’s say he’s playing video games too much because he got addicted to them growing up. Submission (in the way it’s normally used) isn’t going to help that problem. Let’s say that he’s texting other women. Submission isn’t going to help that problem. Let’s instead look at the individual problem and figure out what steps will help us overcome it!

9. If you have sex with him more, he’ll stop watching porn.

Again, a kernel of truth: men are often far more tempted by porn when they don’t have sex as often. I’ve written before about whether or not you can cause him to sin.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re to blame if he  uses porn. And it certainly doesn’t mean that having sex will make him stop!

The problem with porn isn’t just about sexual temptation. It’s about rewiring the brain so that what becomes arousing is an image, not a person. If he’s getting his sexual release through porn, he’s less likely to want to make love to you. The number of women on this blog whose husbands have zero sex drive for them but tons of sex drive for porn is astronomical. To tell these women “just have sex more” is to add insult to injury. They’d love to have sex more–but their husbands turn to porn instead!

You can’t cure porn by having sex with him. You need to deal with the root issue, and, if it’s a long-standing addiction, you have to go through healing to rewire his sex drive again. It’s not quick and painless, but it can happen. Don’t despair!

In Thought #8 I talk about how “just have sex” is exactly the wrong advice for all kinds of situations. If you’re struggling here, I hope some of this wisdom can help.

10. If your husband is doing something wrong, it’s not your job to be the Holy Spirit in his life. Win him without words!

Yes, if our husbands are not Christian, we are to win him to Christ without nagging him (1 Peter 3:1). But people take that verse which is written for a very specific situation and apply it to everything–to mean that we are never to bring up anything, and never to confront our husbands on anything.

On the contrary, when we see someone stumbling, we are to warn them. And if your husband has a major issue in his life, as his wife, that is what being his helpmate is all about! It’s to inspire him to grow closer to God by not letting him go further into sin without consequences.

What is more loving–to ignore a big sin and to cover it up, or to confront it in love and set limits so that the sin is more likely to stop?

Thoughts #6 & 7 are all about learning how to use our words to resolve these conflicts, even when big sin is involved. And I hope if more women understood God’s heart for marriage, then fewer women would watch their husbands go further into sin and think that they’re being godly by saying nothing.

So there you go–ten pat answers that we hear a lot in Christian circles that don’t actually help marriage, and can even make problems worse.

Quite simply, there’s a lot of sloppy thinking about marriage out there, and I hope that by looking at the whole of Scripture, and the heart of God to have His children choose rightly, that we’ll get a fuller picture of what the marriage relationship is supposed to be!

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentEver feel like a lot of the stuff you heard in church about marriage is wrong? Then you’ll love 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage! And remember: If you buy it before it’s released you’ll get about 50% off in the United States and Canada (I’m sorry it’s not on sale in the U.K.!). It’ll be released August 18, and anyone who buys it on that day or pre-orders it will get a ton of downloadable freebies! Stay tuned for more info.

Button Order the Book

Now it’s  your turn! Have you heard any of those pat answers? Did any resonate with you? Or do you have different ones that bug you? Let me know in the comments!

Why Christian Pat Answers for Marriage Don’t Work

When Pat Christian Marriage Advice Doesn't Work

When my oldest daughter was married last month and we were planning the service, we had to choose Scripture readings.

And so we googled “Bible readings for weddings”. And all the typical ones showed up: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4:16-19 (about how God is love, even though the passage has nothing to do with marriage); Ecclesiastes 4:12 (a cord of three strands is not easily broken).

It seems that only certain passages are deemed worthy of a wedding. But in reading many of them I didn’t even think they fit a wedding all that well. So we chose different ones instead:

Romans 15:5-6

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

and:

Colossians 3:12-14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

We thought those were beautiful for a wedding–and for a marriage! In fact, I’ve been praying that passage from Romans over my own marriage ever since, because I think it’s so wonderful.

But it occurs to me that we do something similar when it comes to marriage advice.

If a marriage problem pops up, we immediately pull out “the marriage passages” of Scripture, and often leave it at that.

Ephesians 5:22-33: wives submit to  your husbands and respect them; husbands love your wives.

Proverbs 31: Be a virtuous woman!

1 Corinthians 7: Don’t divorce and be generous sexually with your spouse.

1 Peter 3:1-7: Wives, obey your husbands and “win them without words”.

And maybe we’ll throw in 1 Corinthians 13 (about what love is) or Genesis 2 and 3 (about the creation story and the fall, too).

It’s as if God wrote this massive book sharing His heart with His people, and yet we’re only supposed to search out those few verses when it comes to marriage.

Don’t get me wrong–these passages are wonderful and give lots of wisdom and direction for our relationships. Bu they are not the WHOLE picture. When we look at those passages in isolation, we often distort them and, I believe, interpret them wrong. Context matters, and you can only interpret Scripture by looking at the rest of Scripture.

God created marriage as the perfect analogy of how He feels about His people. It’s the most important human relationship. And so don’t we think that the REST of the Bible may also have important things to say about marriage–important things about this very messy relationship which can’t always be summarized in pithy sayings or stitched on a pillow?

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentMy new book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage launches August 18, and I’m so excited to take the next two weeks leading up to that launch to talk about this concept of Christian “pat answers”–advice that we give that often doesn’t satisfy because it misses the bigger picture.

Pat answers make two kinds of errors:

Either they make a big problem seem small (by minimizing the severity of the problem and suggesting a solution that won’t solve it at all), or they make a small problem much bigger by giving advice that sends a woman in a completely wrong direction.

An example of the making a big problem small: “just have sex more and then he won’t watch porn!

An example of making a small problem big: “God is close to the broken-hearted, so if you’re sad, just pray more!”

The first won’t work because it misunderstands the problem.

The second won’t work because it misunderstands God and what God wants from us.

And we aren’t going to grow in our marriages until we start thinking differently–getting rid of these pat answers, many of which we’ve heard our whole lives in church and in Christian culture–and getting back to what God wants for us.

And that’s quite simple: He wants us all chasing after Jesus and looking more like Him everyday.

Jesus didn’t live by simple formula. He lived His life always seeking out to do God’s will, and as He did that, He found great joy and brought joy to those around Him. His aim was always the same–to bring people closer to God–but His actions varied with circumstances. And that’s how we should live, too.

Submission NEVER means putting up with abuse: on Debi Pearl, submission, and wife abuse.I wrote an example of how Jesus varied His actions while keeping His aim in this post on how Submission Doesn’t Mean Putting Up with Abuse.

Some of you are walking through difficult marriages, and I’m so excited to be able to share with you how thinking about those problems differently and thinking about what God wants from you can change the whole dynamic of your relationship.

Some of you are walking through great marriages, but you still find yourself dissatisfied at times, and wondering why your husband doesn’t “get you” all the time. I’m excited to show you how sometimes the way that we think about marriage actually jeopardizes our happiness. And I’m excited to show you how some simple, practical things can turn the whole thing around!

Quite simply, our modern Christian culture has some awfully sloppy thinking.

And that sloppy thinking is impacting our ability to have great marriages. So it’s time to stop listening to pat answers and start listening to the WHOLE of God’s word.

In the next two weeks leading up the launch, I’m going to share with you my big picture for the book, and then look at 9 pat answers that can derail our thinking about marriage, and 9 thoughts that can send us in a better direction.

I’ll do that with some video–I’m getting Katie to help me make some videos the way that she does!

I’ll do it with a few contests and a few personal stories.

And it’s all going to culminate with the big launch on August 18 when you can win some prizes, and get lots of freebies if you’ve ordered the book early (or on that day!).

This book grew out of a viral blog post I wrote a few  years back–7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage. But it also has grown out of my thinking about marriage that I’ve wrestled with on this blog for the last few years. Many of you, my faithful readers, have had front row seats to some of the debates here, and if you’ve enjoyed the posts, I know that you’ll enjoy the book!

If you order it now, it will be shipped on August 18. And if you order for your Kindle or other device, it will download as soon as it’s available.

And if you order now, it’s 51% off! Only $7.42 for the paperback on Amazon, while it’s $14.99 regularly. So lock in your pre-order price now!

Button Order the Book

And don’t miss any of the posts leading up to the launch–or your chance to win! Sign up to get my blog by email, or to get a weekly round-up of all the posts!

Now it’s your turn: What are some “pat answers” you’ve heard about marriage that can make a problem worse? Let me know in the comments–and I may use your answer for tomorrow’s Top 10 post!

 

Dads Roll Differently (And That’s Okay)

I am so happy to share these great words of parenting wisdom from Arlene Pellicane about how dads parent differently than we do–and that is okay! This is taken from Arlene’s newest book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom.

Dads Parent Differently

My oldest child Ethan is in 6th grade this year.  I remember when he was just a baby and I had my first mom’s night out.  I pulled into my driveway at 10 pm, certain my little bundle would be fast asleep in his cozy crib.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the garage door to find my husband James’ car missing!

A few minutes later, James came strolling in with baby Ethan who needed to be fed because he was hungry.  AT TEN O-CLOCK AT NIGHT!  I was ticked.  James had taken Ethan to the mall, with no regards to Ethan’s normal bedtime.

My mind whirled and my face grew hot.  I was mad.  The dishes were piled high in the sink; Ethan was in his high chair eating baby oatmeal.

Can’t you just get him to bed at a decent hour and do the dishes? I thought as I glared at the supposedly responsible party.

James was calm as a cucumber.  He said, “Lighten up.  One night won’t kill him.”

31 Days to Becoming a Happy MomWell, I guess James was right because Ethan’s still around.  It took me a few years to realize that instead of being indignant about the way James’ chose to parent that night, I could have been grateful.  I could have chosen to say, “Thank you for watching Ethan for the last 5 hours so I could go to a women’s event and get re-charged.”

I could have said, “Not many men would gladly watch their one-year-old and even dare to take them to the mall, but I guess you guys had a great time!”

Our husbands may not enforce curfew and rules like we do, but our children are still living and breathing aren’t they?

Perhaps we would be happier moms if we stopped putting the emphasis on being right all the time – on being the “superior know-it-all parent.”

We can make our husbands feel incompetent as dads with our cutting remarks.  We may have expectations that they must parent exactly how we parent.  But if you can embrace the differences (two heads are better than one), and stop expecting perfection from your spouse, you will be a much happier mom.  Give your husband the same grace you’d like for yourself.

Just because he does things differently, doesn’t mean he does it wrong.

Just this weekend, I was out of town at a speaking engagement.  On Friday night, James took our three kids (ages 5, 8 and 10) to the park at 8:30 pm to play laser tag with their new toy guns.  They were out until 10:00 pm!  A five-year-old!

Now, that’s not a schedule I’d ever sanction as a mom, but you know what?  It’s a good thing I wasn’t home because they had a blast.  Moms and dads roll differently, and I’m so grateful for that.

When your husband parents differently than you, how do you respond?  Is there a way you could improve that response?

We are giving away a copy of Arlene’s new book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom. Watch the trailer below and share in the comments your parenting stories to enter and win!

31 Days to Becoming a Happy MomArlene Pellicane 600x600jpgArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman).  She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. 

Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children.

To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com

Wifey Wednesday: The Lovemaking Full Meal Deal

Please welcome guest posters, Dr. Dan and Linda Wilson, the authors of Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravant Intimacy in Marriage–a book I was happy to read before it was published and endorse. Today they are sharing a new way of looking at making intimacy special with your spouse!

Lovemaking - The Full Meal Deal

Did you know that your sense of taste changes over the years? Sexual desires and appetites have seasons as well. How hungry are you?

Appetizers

“At our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” ~ Song of Solomon 7:13

Early in marriage many couples are ravenous for sex. It’s like a three course meal that begins with a large plate of savory, mouth-watering appetizers. You are famished and ready to devour everything you can get your hands on. In the initial phase of active sexuality, large volumes of energetic lovemaking just might be more appealing than a tiny taste of extreme ecstasy.

We like to refer to this honeymoon phase of sex as the appeteasers. When really hungry, eating an occasional small morsel can be almost maddening. We are hungry! Bring out a huge platter of appeteasers, and let’s snack on them all day and into the night.

The first honeymoon months of sexual encounter are passionate, producing memories that the newlyweds will remember for a lifetime. But let’s be honest. High-level, almost starving desire combined with immaturity and inexperience often produces some awkward, even hilarious intimate experiences. Being desperately hungry can sometimes result in disappointing outcomes.

For instance, it might not take long to discover that one (often, but not always the man) will have a heftier appetite, a higher sex drive than the other. Inequality of libido is nearly universal—so common that it is considered to be normal. What initially seems to be a frustrating challenge is actually a wonderful opportunity. Learning to adjust to each other’s needs for higher or lower frequency is one way of expressing agape, selfless love. Paul’s instruction to “Submit one to another” (Ephesians 5:21) is wise council for lovers of any age. Remember, submission is a two-way street.

Dramatic shifts in libido can occur during this appetizer phase of marriage. For instance, the two of you might be getting really good at sex when the color bar on the pregnancy test strip changes. Oh my! Does a positive pregnancy test require a nine-month fast from sex? No! It might be time to expand your palate, but the appetizers are still quite yummy.

Entrees

“Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” ~ Song of Solomon 4:16

After delighting in many scrumptious appetizers during the early years, our middle years of marriage are a great time to focus on enjoying the entrees. We get to experiment with some new spices. Who wants meatloaf every Monday when the gourmet menu is available?

The children are older. Our work schedules become more predictable. In these sexually savory middle years we find more time and energy for romance. Are you taste-testing some delectable dishes that arouse your senses in wonderful ways? In fact, do not be surprised when asked if you are on your honeymoon after being married for twenty-two years.

By adapting to changing appetites through the years, you demonstrate love, faithfulness, and sensitivity to one another. Trust and security invite both of you to eat, enjoy, and be satisfyingly filled. This season of life can offer many evenings of fine dining. But why limit this pleasure to evenings? Afternoon snacks are delightful. Breakfast in bed is a refreshing way to start the day. Variety really does add spice to life.

The middle years are a great time to experiment with new cuisines as you share a delicious date night dinner. Take time to enhance your dining experience by lighting a romance candle and dressing the table with beautiful flowers. Try a new perfume. Wear a pretty negligee while listening to love songs on the play list.
There is now time to savor each bite as you encounter new exotic cuisines.

Sex might take a little longer than in the newlywed years, but it is oh so delicious. And, your palate has become more refined. You have figured out which herb goes best with which food, and have discovered that more is not necessarily better. It is still great fun to experiment with different flavors. But we know what we like and thoroughly enjoy every exquisite bite.

Desserts

“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend.” ~ Song of Solomon 5:16

And who does not want dessert? As you honeymoon into the later decades of marriage, you get to enjoy the sweetest of treats. This mature phase of life is an opportunity for you and your mate to share the intense richness of love that is ripened on the vine of life together.

As you advance in age, health issues may appear that block sweet methods of lovemaking from the past. Joints are stiffer, backs seem weaker, and energy is often lower than before. Yet the need to be emotionally and physically touched in intimate ways remains. The desire to be loved and to love is a constant that never fades.

At the wedding feast in Cana, the party had been going on for days when Jesus changed water into wine. The master of the wedding banquet said that the choicest wine had been reserved until the final course of the feast (John 2). Isn’t that like God to save the best until last?

The Spirit refines skills in lovemaking throughout the years. Happily married people in their later decades are often the most satisfied lovers. Laughingly we say that there will need to be a lock on our door if we move into a nursing home for the elderly. Delectable dessert will still be on the menu.

One bite of divine dark chocolate is more satisfying than a bag of inferior candies. As you adapt to physical changes and health challenges, your sexual sense of taste might change once again, becoming even more refined.

Full Meal Deal

Appetizers, entrees, and desserts are yummy treats that fill your life with delight.  Throughout your married life you will want it all—the full meal deal. Each course demonstrates your love sexually to your mate. Both giving and receiving pleasure is delectable. Every anniversary is to be celebrated—possibly over a nice, long dinner as you fondly remember favorite meals from the past, and dream of delicious dishes you want to try. Wouldn’t this be a great day to devour some French silk pie?

 

Dan Linda WilsonLovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in MarriageDr. Dan and Linda Wilson are marriage missionaries. They delight in traveling around the world blessing marriages and sharing about Jesus. Dan and Linda are cofounders of Supernatural Marriage & Missions, and have written several books including Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage. You can follow them at www.supernaturalmarriage.org and www.facebook.com/supernaturalmarriage.

 

 

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great posts!



31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


What Marriage Advice Do You Listen To?

So I’m back from my daughter’s wedding! We don’t have all the pictures yet, so I’ll do some longer posts on it next week, but right now we’re relaxing at home and recovering. And you can see some sneak peeks at a few pics up on my Facebook page here and here (complete with a stalker photo by her little sister).

And remember that tomorrow is the last day to enter the contest for a $100 Visa card, courtesy of Monistat and BlogHer! Check out the instructions on this post about insecurity in the bedroom.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentToday I thought I’d run an interesting guest post  from anonymous reader Your Feathered Friend. She struggles with a chronic illness, and is trying to come to terms with needing help in everyday life when her husband just doesn’t “see” what she needs.

This is a theme in both my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum and in my upcoming 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (which releases in less than a month!): sometimes the pat Christian answers to just “love your husband and he will show love back” don’t work, especially when you genuinely need help. So what do you do? She shares her struggles here, and I’d love to hear your take on it in the comments!

What Marriage Advice Do You Listen To.

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago, I learned that everyone has a suggestion to “fix” me. Bee stings, acupuncture, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, gluten free, dairy free, no carbs, all carbs Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, the list goes on. I’ve tried many of these and guess what…I still have MS.

Some of the most frustrating times since my diagnosis were when I was trying to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and reduce my stress, and I was still having relapses and symptoms. Was the advice I received bad?

Not necessarily. (Although, I can’t fathom getting stung repeatedly by bees is good for anyone!) What works for some doesn’t work for others. Sometimes, the “cure” just causes more stress and therefore more harm. That doesn’t discredit the solution for others though, and we should avoid being condescending.

This doesn’t just apply in medicine. As a newlywed, our friends and family are clamoring to offer their advice for a happy, healthy marriage. Don’t get me wrong, we need all the help we can get!

But in this instance, I realized that what was good for many relationships, was actually unhealthy for mine.

The Unhealthy Advice. I had been told over and over to “kill him with kindness”. When my husband is disrespectful, I should show him respect anyway. When he lacks empathy, I should try to see it from his perspective. When he doesn’t want to help around the house, I should do as much as I can to give him a break. When he isn’t there for me emotionally, I should support him even more so he realizes how important it is. I will know I’ve done everything I can for our relationship, and eventually, my generosity will change him. Right?

Wrong. To my husband, what I had been doing was encouraging his poor habits. I was saying to my husband, “My fatigue is really weighing me down; I’m struggling to get out of bed”, but then when I realized we had no clean towels, I was dragging myself to the laundry room. He couldn’t see the agony I was in, just that we had clean towels. I was complaining that I didn’t have enough time to go to work, grocery shop, and have dinner on the table when he got home. But when pressured, I overextended myself to get all done. Again, he didn’t see that I had to conduct a conference call at the grocery store, he just knows he came home to a stocked refrigerator.

The straw that broke this camel’s back was when I had outpatient surgery last month. The situation was off to a bad start when my husband refused to go to the hospital with me. In the days that followed, despite the fact that I was in a lot of pain, he didn’t help out around the house. As I saw the dishes piling up and dinner going unmade, I did the only thing I knew to do: hobble into the kitchen to take care of it. He never stepped up because he never saw the need.

I realize now that I was sending mixed signals.

For some men, it might be enough to simply tell them you need more help, but for my husband, it’s not. Since I can’t change him, I need to change my behavior. I spoke with my husband calmly and lovingly and informed him that I can’t continue this way; I need his help. In order to allow him to help, I need to be patient, let go, and let him do it in his time. If it doesn’t get done, that’s OK (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself).

To clarify, I am not advising that women who feel mistreated throw down their aprons and walk out. Keep in mind that I approached my husband with love and told him where I was coming from. I didn’t just start giving him the cold shoulder and pouting. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor by letting him continue in his ways, but instead I’m doing what is best for our relationship by helping to work through some unhealthy habits. I’m sure he is frustrated that I’m electing not to do some of the things I’ve been doing, but I hope he will gain perspective with time.

The next time you are given advice, good or bad, here are some things to consider before you act on it:

1. Be respectful to the people giving advice.

Whether someone is telling you how to cure your child’s autism or how to spend less money, resist the urge to tell them to put their advice where the sun don’t shine. More than likely, they care and want to help.

2. Be respectful to yourself.

You don’t have to act on every bit of advice someone gives you. Consider how this advice really applies in your situation. Be willing to step out in faith and try new things, but also be OK saying “no”.

3. Be respectful to others in the situation with you.

When your friend is tells you to cut off sex from your husband until he does the dishes, consider if that is really being kind to him.

4. Don’t make an emotional response.

Easier said than done. For women, our emotions are tangled into our decision making process, but that doesn’t mean they should drive our decisions. Fear and anger have helped me make some of my worst mistakes, while removing myself from the situation to get a level head has never hurt in the long run.

5. Consider your motivations.

Am I doing what my mom suggested just to make her happy? Am I taking my friend’s advice because I think it will be hurtful to my husband?

6. Pray about it.

I don’t always hear God when I pray about my decisions, not because he doesn’t care, but because he will work through whatever I do. When I do hear from him, it’s best to listen.

What’s the best well meaning – but bad – advice you’ve received?

Profile_edited-1World traveler, avid reader, cat lover, and Jesus follower.  These are just a few words to describe Your Feathered Friend.  She’s juggling a new marriage, working full time, and living with Multiple Sclerosis.   In many ways, she’s just your average woman.  She’s trying to figure out how to keep her family happy and healthy, and writing about it along the way.

 

Wifey Wednesday: How God Wrote Our Love Story

Sometimes the love story we dream of isn’t the one we end up living. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not also a love-ly story.

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And I give you a chance to link up your marriage posts in the linky below, too.

How God Wrote Our Love StoryToday Samantha Lee-Wiraatmaja from Godly Womanhood joins us to tell us about her love story. Here’s Samantha:

My husband and I love how God wrote our love story.

We’ve shared that story to many, and have been asked to share our wedding vows to youths learning about God-centered relationships. But before I tell the story of how God brought us together, I always start with a different story. One that is darker and a little sad, but more beautiful. A slightly less magical story but filled nonetheless with the rays of His glory. Without this story, telling of how God wrote our love story is just an empty promise of fluffy fairytale spirituality.

Because real love stories don’t end on the wedding day. We don’t belong to such short-lived tales that end with vague hazy promises of happily ever after. We belong in the halls of great men & women who found something worth fighting for and gave their lives for it. Stories filled with a little less fairy dust and a little more blood and tears. Stories that echo through the ages. Because God doesn’t just write great falling-in-love stories; He writes kick-ass, staying-in-love, submission-with-an-attitude, powerhouse-marriage stories too.

I want to tell you the story of what happened after we said “I do.”

It broke my heart. Marriage broke me into so many pieces there was no way I could be put together again.

I can only remember one promise that I’ve held onto growing up – one day, I’d meet a man who would see me for who I was and love me wholeheartedly for it.

I hid that promise in my heart for years, waiting and saving myself for that one man who’d see and cherish who I was – spirit, soul, and body. I resolved to give my heart & deepest parts of my soul only to this man, if he be found, or none at all.

I cherished this promise in my heart as the single most priceless treasure.

When God brought Alex & I together, it involved so much of the divine – dreams, visions, prophecies, that led us to each other – that I knew without a doubt this was the man I’d been waiting for all my life.

I also believed that he was God’s fulfillment of the promise I’d held onto for so long.

Then he began breaking my heart… and wouldn’t stop. Each wound tore a little deeper into that precious promise I’d kept wrapped so carefully in the innermost chambers of my heart.

He’d flirt with other women, sometimes while I was right beside him. He yelled at me for being hurt by it. He watched pornography with the intention to hurt & punish me.

He occasionally told me that he wished I was someone else. He wished I had this woman’s body, or that woman’s personality. He told me that he wished I was another woman as she’d do a better job of impressing his family than I was doing.

Each time left my self-esteem and dignity in pieces. I lived in the wreckage, unable to come to terms with the fact that “the one” promised by God was also the one tearing that long-cherished promise to shreds.

This man had been given access to parts of my soul that no one else knew, and with every betrayal he told me that who I was was simply not good enough.

And I turned on him with a vengeance.

I threw things (like his laptop. right out the window). I punched him, (everywhere I could except his face. because, ouch). We threw hurtful words intended to devastate the other.

And I allowed bitterness to harden my heart, turning me into someone (cruel, violent) I could no longer recognize. I relished the darkness and the pain, perversely believing that it was what I deserved.

We lived apart for awhile, and then we lived for months like strangers sharing a bed. I cried myself to sleep night after night, the coldness & distance between us made even more unbearable within the confines of the bedroom.

I wanted him to say something, do something – I so desperately wanted him to fight for me.

But he wouldn’t, couldn’t. He was as hurt, scared, and helpless as I was. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. Most times he was sweet, tender, loving. He loved me and he loved God. It distressed him to see me so broken by his actions. But he couldn’t help it, and the way I behaved in return only made matters worse. You see, we bring the baggage of our family heritage into our marriages – addictions, patterns of communication, models of the marriage covenant, and plenty of childhood issues. And unless we intentionally decide to cultivate a new heritage in Christ, we’re just repeating the harmful patterns we’ve grown up with.

We were both drowning, clawing at each other in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, not realizing that we were only pulling each other further down into the cold darkness.

But paradoxically, it was when we reached the end of our rope that we found salvation.

I hit that lowest point when I realized that Alex might never change. He might keep doing things to hurt me and not care. He might never respond in the way I wanted him to, comforting me and taking responsibility for this actions.

All those things might never change, but what could change was me. I didn’t have to keep living in darkness and pain.

The Lord began to speak to me a message of deep comfort that began to heal my heart. He showed me that I didn’t have to wait for Alex to comfort me for the hurt he’d caused, or even to acknowledge the things he’d done.

Because ever since Eve, every woman longs for her husband to rise up. To fight – for her, their marriage, and most of all, her heart.

And unless we run to God every single day with our vulnerable hearts, we end up taking matters into our own hands. Just like Eve did.

We need to come every day to our Father’s throne. Fall down at His feet, throwing down every pain and shattered dream. There, healing waters flow to cleanse & heal our hearts. There, we feel His love wrap around the places in our souls that have gone without love for so long.

Because this is the truth that set me free: We can count all our grievances, name them one by one. And chances are, every single one of them are valid. But there is no freedom there. We will go round in circles, waiting for him to make amends. Or we can be free right here and now, regardless of where he is or what he does.

Not that we don’t try to make things right. We do what we need to (keeping our hearts pure, responding in a godly manner to our husbands) and then we need to let God be God, and let the man be the man. The man must have space to rise up, and for God to work with him, without the woman rushing in to do everything for him (we’re not doing him any favors when we do).

While the Lord was restoring me, He was doing the same with Alex. We stopped trying to get the other to fill the empty places in our hearts and found that it was God, not man, that completes us. And in doing so, we began to find all the things we’d thought would be lost to us forever – love, laughter, and a tenderness between two comrades who’ve witnessed the horrors of war together and survived.

Through the period of healing & strengthening, the Lord began to speak to me about promises.

He opened His Word to me in a new way and asked me this: Was I willing to let God’s promise in my life die?

That precious, precious promise I’d been holding onto since I was a little girl – would I let it fall to the ground and die? Because fruit only comes when a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies (John 12:24), and out of it will grow much fruit that will bless others.

Through the story of Abraham’s testing (Genesis 22), the Lord showed me this: When the promise that I’ve held on to for so long has to be sacrificed is when it is revealed that the greatest reward is the Lord.

The day I said “Yes” to Him and let that promise go is the day my heart was set free. A gust of fresh air blew into my soul and all the pain and darkness began to be washed away.

I found so much freedom in saying, “Yes Lord, I give up my right for a man who loves me perfectly. I lay it as a sacrifice, and I trust that you will provide.”

I didn’t realize till then how tiring it had been to hold on so tightly to that promise, always afraid that it might get lost or broken. And in leaving it all behind, I found incredible freedom that I could abandon my interests because someone else was looking after me.

And what of our marriage? Well, I am happy to say that all the smashing of computers (me), punching (me), and screaming (me again) has stopped…. as has the flirting and pornography.

He has turned our mourning to dancing, our sorrow into joy, our despair to hope. He took zealous idealism and tested it in the fire so that conviction-filled reality emerged that was worth much more than gold.

Are we still on the road to recovery? Oh yes, definitely. I think we’ll be on that journey for the rest of our lives.

But do we find joy in the journey? You bet. God doesn’t stop writing our love stories after we say “I do” – in fact He’s only just getting started.

Marriage broke my heart.

It broke my heart of stone. So God could build a new heart in me. A heart of flesh. (read: Ezekiel 36:26)

Because a God-written love story is not all perfect fluff and fairy dust. It looks more like the cross – messy, painful, blood everywhere. But God covers it. And we slowly work our way back to the perfect harmony of Eden, just as God intended marriage to be.

 

samanthaSamantha Lee-Wiraatmaja is the writer at Godly Womanhood and owns + designs the Godly Womanhood Shop. Romance is the greatest inspiration, motivation, and dream of her life. She dreams to see Romance of the gospel – the fullness of Eden – restored between God and man. She is passionate about seeing women reach the fullness of their potential.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage posts

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great posts!

 

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


Top 10 Ways to Stop Being a Nagging Wife–and Be a Sweetheart Instead

Today, please welcome a sister from Uganda, Roxanna.A.Kazibwe, from You are Being Loved. Roxanna is sharing 10 fantastic and tried tips to stop being a nagging wife.

Stop Being a Nagging Wife --Be a Sweetheart Instead

Are you the nagging wife?

Here are 10 tried tips that will help you be a sweetheart. By nagging wife here, I am not talking about a weak, whining, small-voiced creature. I am talking about head-strong, independent women–women who, like me, thought they would get married at 40 (for companionship in their old age), but somehow this prince charming swept them off their feet and into holy matrimony, where they met the big S word–Submission— and they had/have no idea what it means.
If you are having a bit of trouble with impatience; having to always get things done your way, cannot for the life of you wait for anything or anyone then this is for you.


I had been told by my mum, my siblings and some close girl friends of mine that I had a streak of control-freakishness, but I had mostly brushed it off. Maybe it was the way they said it, with a chuckle or a shaking of the head, “Roxie, you are such a control-freak!” I honestly thought they were all just teasing me good-naturedly. Until I met my husband.

When we had just started dating he would comment about it and laugh, then he stopped laughing.

“You are doing that thing again”
“What thing?” I’d ask.
“That thing where you ask me to do something then your breathe down my neck until I finish it”
OR “That thing where I’m talking to someone on the phone and you are making signs and prompting me on what to say with loud whispers in my other ear”
OR “That thing where you are always right and we have to do it your way…”
Well, you get the drift.


When God started dealing with me concerning this, I apologized to my husband and told him I’d work on it. When I asked him later how it used to make him feel, he said he felt “disrespected, mistrusted and not understood.”
I love my husband. He is the sweetest, most patient, most gracious man that I know. I want to be sweet and respectful to him. Over time, I’ve come up with this list of things that I can do to control myself instead of controlling him. As Danny Silk says, “The only person you can control on a good day is yourself!”

1. Keep quiet.

Please. When things are not moving according to your pace or how you would want them to happen, you are most likely complaining. So, here’s a solution- keep quiet. Bite your tongue, bandage it up & have it full. See, now you can’t talk. Everything you want to say will come out as oooaaahh. No, don’t write it down either. Practicing this has helped me a great deal ☺ I have been saved from saying things which I’d later on regret. “Why are you so slow?” “Goodness you haven’t done that yet?” Nah-ah.

2. Walk away

Like Literally. Go to the next room. Go outside. Just leave the world its peace. Do it respectfully though. Do not act like you have stomped out. Usually if the activity that is causing me to be bossy (“Babe, fix that curtain”, “Babe when are you going to fix the curtain?”, “God, the sun!”, “Babe, not like that”) is in the bedroom, I say “I’ll be right back” or “let me check on this” so that my husband knows I have not gone out in anger and I’m not throwing a tantrum. So, when you go to another room…

3. Too busy to pry

Do something. Cook a meal. Do the dishes ( :-p ) Call a friend.
If it’s a long-term thing that is causing you to nag then keep yourself busy by starting another project. By the time you are done he’ll most probably be done too.

4. Rest

Sometimes you are just tired. I can be a wifezilla when I am fatigued. So, we have an agreement at home to not have ‘serious’ conversations after 8pm unless it is a matter of life and death. We have our ‘serious conversations’ in the morning before leaving home when everyone is fresh and sane. Solution-sleep on it.

5. Pray

Yes, you can remove the bandage from your mouth and pray. Pray for strength and grace to wait. Pray for wisdom to make the right decision. Give thanks to the Lord and be filled with the joy of the Spirit. Let Him take charge. Let Him do the talking. Let Him take the wheel and give you rest. Let Him walk you away from the chaos in your mind to His still waters. Praying will work for you every time. It will even take your focus off whatever it is that’s causing you discomfort or distress. And speaking of focus…

6. Beauty

Everything is pink and rosy. Look at the positive side. Look for the positive side. If you are too ticked to see any positives then look at beauty. What calms you? What inspires you? Taking walks helps me, looking at cloud patterns inspires me. Looking at wedding pictures hanging in the living room makes me smile. This might seem cheesy to you but I’ll tell you it works.

7. Don’t take the wheel

Keep your hands off. So, hubby dearest is taking his time to get things done and instead of go at it with him again you decide to do it yourself. Don’t you dare. I have been prey to this countless times and by countless I mean I lost count because they were so many until God talked to me about this personally. Here’s what I learnt; whenever you do a task your husband was supposed to do or you had asked your husband to do (without him asking for your help), your husband feels disrespected. In girl language, he feels unloved. It is like the worst thing ever. You might as well cut out his heart while you are at it.

8. Speak life

Remove the bandage on your tongue only if you are willing to be well behaved and speak to yourself. To yourself. “I am patient” “I am wise” “A wise woman builds up her house, a foolish one tears it down” Calm yourself with words. Do not use this time to complain to yourself or speak anything negative concerning your husband. Reaffirm your identity as a lovely wife, as a respectful wife, as a virtuous woman. Try it. Do it even now. Do it in the mirror if you want to. You are patient. Believe it. Act like it.

9. Be empathetic

Try to see from his point of view. Perhaps you need to sit down with the person and find out what’s going on. Why the process is taking longer than you would have wanted. I got this bonus point from my husband actually. I was like “Babe, what tips can you give wives who are impatient, sort of like how I was?” and that’s what he said so may be your husband would like for you to be more understanding and behave in a way that shows that you empathize with him.

10. Perspective

Okay, so what is most important for you right now? The relationship or having your way? A happy husband or the results? I mean of course you might get frustrated at some point but that will not be forever, what is forever till death do you part is your covenant relationship with this amazing man. I’ll tell you when you change your mind to care for what is important, the frustrations will shrink.

Check your trust.

Check to see whether you are being impatient because you do not trust the person to deliver or to meet your standards. Perhaps he has failed to do something on time before? Or he has failed you before? May be you are the kind of person who likes to micromanage because you do not trust other people to be as ‘awesome’ as you? I have realized that I used to be so controlling (see how I’m using the past tense here? 😉 ) because of fear and mistrust. So check your trust.


If you have been a nagging, control-freak of a wife and have therefore disrespected or hurt your husband with your words or actions, say sorry. If you remember incidents, be specific in your apology. Let him know that you would like to start off on a clean slate. He can help point out to you when you show control-freak symptoms and you can work together to get you better.


Do remember that as a child of God, you are a new creation and therefore all these habits and traits are of the old person you used to be. You’re actually a very patient, meek, tender person ☺ Read the word of God, talk through this with Him and walk in your new identity.

 

Roxanna.A.Kazibwe is a people developer, writer and poet. She lives in Uganda with her husband. Her book, My love is not afraid, has been recently been released and the Kindle version is available on Amazon. She blogs at You are being loved–a blog about faith, love, life and purpose.Find Roxanna on Facebook and Twitter too. You can sign up for more of her articles on love and purpose here.