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.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

Today’s guest post is from Sarah Philpott from All American Mom. She’s telling us what NOT to say when someone has a miscarriage–based on some of the insensitive things she was told. Unfortunately, I think far too many of you will identify.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

Support provided by loved ones is one of the ways that people are helped through any grief process.

When a family member dies, society rallies around the griever. Refrigerators are full of casseroles, mailboxes are full of cards, and shoulders are loaned to cry upon.

But the grieving process of a woman losing her unborn child is often lonely. This loneliness might be by choice- she might choose not to tell people. But sometimes the loneliness is because society as a whole tends to minimize miscarriage. “Maybe next time” or “It just wasn’t meant to be” are very common phrases uttered. Unfortunately these comments are often quite hurtful to the woman who has just lost her baby.

Stop and read the end of that sentence again, “lost her baby.”

You see, this is not an abstract concept or a dream- we are mourning the loss of a baby: a loved baby.

We found out we were pregnant with our baby (we might have been nervous, scared or excited), we used our bodies to nurture our baby (we read books, blogs, envisioned rocking our baby, stopped drinking coffee, stopped eating deli meat, started planning our nursery), and then we lost our baby. The physicality of this is quite intense; the emotional toil is real. It might not have been “real” to onlookers, but we know that our bodies were nurturing a human life and even though we shouldn’t- many of us feel misguided guilt that we couldn’t bring the baby to term.

It hurts. Our thoughts are invaded by untruths. And even though we find comfort that our babies are in heaven with God, it still hurts. At the crux- all we ask is that you don’t minimize our loss and that you don’t offer comments that make us feel any further guilt. Pregnancy loss shouldn’t be minimized or brushed aside as not being worthy of grief. The loss of a baby is a grievous situation.

No one intends to be insensitive. I know you wish to bring comfort. I’m truly touched that you are reading this; it means you want to be helpful. Your heart is in the right place. I just want to help you with your words.

Grief and death are tricky topics for anyone to address. My hands get sweaty when I walk into a funeral home. I don’t know quite what to say. We’ve all been there- in that uncomfortable space where “I’m sorry” just doesn’t seem quite enough. Although I had a legion of support after my two miscarriages, my feelings were hurt numerous times by well-intentioned people. All of this is compounded by the hormones a female experiences after a miscarriage. There is a marked increase in risk for depression and anxiety after a pregnancy loss (Lok, I.H & Neugebauer, R. 2007). It’s not something we can control- it’s a common psychological consequence of miscarriage.

After having my feelings bruised numerous times, I finally accepted that we can never understand someone’s unique life experience; therefore, we can’t expect someone to understand the physical pain and emotional toil of a miscarriage if they have not had that experience. I also kept repeating the verse from Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous; not even one.” To me, this means that there are no perfect people in the world. People make mistakes and I can’t hold a grudge for a person’s offhand remarks. God is the ONLY one I can count on for comfort.

I did decide that I could help educate people on miscarriage- this includes raising awareness of phrases that evoke more harm than healing.

Here are some commonly said comments you will want to avoid if you desire offering support to a grieving mama.

As you read these, please know that these are compiled by a large group of women. These are comments we all heard numerous times. I’ve also included the voices of some of the women.  Above all, please know- we appreciate that you want to offer us support. Thank you.

Please don’t tell me:

  • It happened for a reason.
  • Something was probably wrong with the baby.
  • Go and have a drink to take the edge off.
  • It was God’s will.

I feel too often in the Christian community that people want to brush over miscarriage like it’s no big deal saying things like “You’ll have another baby” or “This was the Lord’s plan for your life” without really considering what the mama is going through.

“Just Adopt”
We know we can adopt. We might one day, but I’m grieving the loss of a specific baby. One that I just lost.

“At Least You Have Another Child”
I’m so grateful for my other child, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad over the loss of this baby.

“You Can Always Have Another Baby”
I had to have a hysterectomy. I can’t have another baby.

It hurt when people reacted like I’d lost a puppy. And followed it up by saying I could have another. I wanted the one I lost. I feel like people that haven’t experienced the loss unknowingly trivialize it to a degree because we never physically meet our babies. It made me mad, and still does, but I try to remind myself that I can’t blame people for their reactions if they have never experienced the loss.

People would say, “oh, you’ll have more kids one day.” Realistically I knew that I might not be medically able to have more children. I wanted to accept that fact and learn to be okay with it. I didn’t like false hope or people treating it like I had lost a puppy dog, ‘oh, you can get a new puppy again,’ is what it felt like. The doctor told me it would be extremely difficult for me to carry a baby to term.

“At Least It Happened Early”
Because losing a baby is somehow easier or less painful that way?

“Have you found out what’s wrong with you?”

“Did you exercise too much?”

“It was probably that insecticide you sprayed around your house.” (INSERT ANY AND ALL “BLAME COMMENTS”)

This person responded by basically indicating that I should probably ‘get checked out’ because something might be ‘wrong with me.’ It just really bothered me. I know there were good intentions somewhere behind what she said, but all it did was to bring back that flood of guilt that I had been trying so desperately to let go of.

“Well, you shouldn’t have announced your pregnancy so early.   You knew this could have happened.”

“So, when are you going to try again?”

All of those comments were just so incredibly insensitive.

Here is a picture of me cradling our second baby.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

It was the day I found out I was pregnant. This was the first baby I lost. I’m not showing you this for you to feel sorry for me. I’m really not. I promise- I am okay now. I hesitated even posting this picture because I know it will make you uncomfortable. I am showing it to you for you to see the excitement in my eyes so that you realize that I was carrying a baby in my womb. I had hopes, dreams and fears.

Please be kind and thoughtful with your words- don’t minimize our losses and please be careful not to utter any phrases that could lead us to believe that you are blaming us for our loss.

Pray, offer a hug, tell us you are sorry. Give us time, permission, and space to grieve. Really- those simple tokens of love are the most helpful.

Sarah PhilpottSarah Lewis Philpott recently earned her Ph.D, but instead of climbing the ivory tower she happily spends her days being a farmer’s wife to her high school sweetheart and being a mom to young two mischievous children. She blogs at All American Mom.

Represented by the Blythe Daniel Agency, Sarah is working on a book that looks at the sensitive topic of pregnancy loss and also about cherishing the life that was conceived. She runs a Loved Baby Pregnancy Loss Support Group on Facebook that is open for anyone to join.

Wifey Wednesday: When You Love Superman–But Clark Kent Drives You Nuts

When You Love Superman but Clark Kent Drives You Nuts
Has your husband lost his superhero status?

It’s Wednesday, the day that we always talk marriage. I introduce a topic, and then you can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below! Today Tiffany Godfrey, author of The Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make–and How to Avoid Them,  joins us talking about how our expectations in marriage can get in the way!

Would you agree that God has a heart for marriage?

I would say yes.

But if God loves marriage so much, then why are so many marriages failing?

I can understand the celebrity who doesn’t profess Christ as her Savior or the Muslim woman who denies the deity of Christ.

But what about those of us who have been blood washed and profess to have a true relationship with Christ?

If anyone should have a great marriage, it should be Christians, right?

And I think one of the ways we can discover how to experience an excellent marriage is to consider first how we view our husbands.

The question is, when you look at and think about your husband, do you see him as Superman or Clark Kent?

Because how you view your husband will determine how much love, honor, and respect you give him on a consistent basis.

I Finally Found My Superman!

I want you to think back on the first time you met your husband and then your days of courtship.

Wasn’t he one of the most gorgeous, romantic, and powerful men you knew? He could do no wrong and he was kind, considerate, and loving. Even when your friends and family kept telling you to look beyond his “strong muscles and flawless exterior,” you couldn’t.

You know why? Because you couldn’t clearly see. Your spiritual discernment was not as clear. For this reason, you were only able to see this man’s “Superman” side. And even when he did show a little bit of his Clark Kent side, you excused it believing that it would go away once you were married.

Caught Up!

When you’re in love it’s so easy to overlook people’s flaws.

I know I did.

My husband could do no wrong. He loved God, he had a leadership position in the church. And for our first year of dating, it was the perfect relationship. In fact, after a year, I knew this would be the man I would marry. I would have married him after our first year of dating, but he wanted to wait. “For what?” I would often ask.

“You love me and I love you. We love God. He’s got our backs…”

Yes, God did have our backs, but what I didn’t realize as a young lady in my early twenties was that marriage would require so much more than love and an occasional date night.

Exposed!

After about 3 ½ years of dating, my husband, Dexter and I finally tied the knot. It was great for a while, but I quickly realized that I was no longer a single woman able to make my own decisions about everything.

Have you ever been there?

In shock after being married because you realize things have changed forever?

In addition, you begin to see your husband beyond the Superman muscles and the cape. In fact, he’s taken off his muscle suit and his cape, and the only thing you have left is Clark Kent.

You begin to think, “This is not the man I married! I want my Superman back!”

What Does a Typical Clark Kent Look Like?

Clark Kent is not impressive.

He’s not a horrible guy, but maybe he’s a little messy and he snores in his sleep.

Clark Kent says some things that hurt your feelings, and sometimes he doesn’t even apologize for it because he’s so busy watching TV or texting that he doesn’t even realize you’re hurt!

Clark Kent is not a good money manager and to make things worse, he has a dark side where he dabbles in porn from time to time.

Once you begin to see the reality of your Clark Kent you begin to wonder, “How can I battle against these vices and his flaws?”

And you ask yourself and God if your marriage is worth fighting for anymore.

You begin to wonder if you ever really loved this man. Then your respect for your husband dwindles. And in the midst of your hurt, pain, frustration, and broken promises you cry out to God asking Him to change this man…

I’d Like to Exchange This Husband for Another One, Please!

In your disillusionment with your husband, of course you pray because that’s what Christian women should do for their husbands, right?

But you also start fantasizing about other men. Your co-worker, the deacon at church, or even your friend’s husband begin to look more appealing than your husband.

After all, he’s only Clark Kent and these men are Supermen.

So you think.

This is similar to what happened to me.

We had just had our first son. Money was tight, we were in jeopardy of losing our home, and this caused a snowstorm of arguments.

One morning, after an argument, I left for work. Not long after I arrived, my boss complimented me on my hair.

Fireworks shot off in my mind!

Because I felt so drained and empty from my marriage, that small compliment gave me a sense of validation. And from that point on, it caused me to have a crush on my boss.

I found myself connecting with this man through conversation at work. It was light, but it had the potential to go farther.

Eventually I had to share how I felt about this man with Dexter. It bothered me to have these types of feelings for any man other than my husband. But, I truly believe my confession to my husband prevented me from taking this relationship with my boss to another level. Although I never slept with my boss, my mind and heart wandered and this was just as wrong.

From this experience, I discovered the dangers of mental and emotional adultery.

To me, my boss had become my Superman and he seemed to be more sensational than the Clark Kent husband I had at home.

But it was a mirage, an illusion, and a deception from the enemy of my soul.

In fact, one of my friends once told me, “All men have issues. It just depends on what types of issues you want to deal with…”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

We look at the men at church, at work, and even on TV hoping that these men will rescue us and give us a sense of worth.

But in reality, all men are struggling with something, just as we are. 

Love, Honor, and Respect Your Husband in His Greatness…And in His Humanity

How can you learn to both love and appreciate the Superman and the Clark Kent side of your husband? Here are some tips:

  • Recognize how God loves you and showers you with grace and blessings
  • Look at yourself and identify where you can grow in the marriage relationship
  • Pray that God will help both you and your husband to grow
  • Don’t try to change your husband
  • Appreciate the good characteristics of your husband and praise him for those things

As Christian women, we have a responsibility to do our part to make the marriage work. In other words, we can’t wait for our husbands to grab us, hug us, and say, “I love you!” before we start treating them with honor and respect.

Here’s why: In Ephesians 5:22 we’re called to submit to our husbands. That’s it. This means that we must show respect and honor on a consistent basis — whether he’s being Superman or Clark Kent.

If you want a solid marriage, it’s important to love, honor, and respect your husband when you see him on his good days. And you should also love him and treat him with respect on his bad days because nobody is perfect.

tiffanyThe Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make...And How to Avoid Them!Tiffany Godfrey is a blogger, author, speaker, wife, and mom. She loves encouraging married women and offering practical tips on how they can do their part to grow in their marriage relationship. She also volunteers with her husband as a Family Life Weekend to Remember Co-Director.

For more tips on promoting a happy, healthy marriage, you can order Tiffany’s book on Amazon, The Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make…And How to Avoid Them!

You can connect with Tiffany at: CommittedWife.com, a site that specifically speaks to Christian women and offers them marriage tips, interviews, and marriage quotes, based on God’s word. You can also follow her on: Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have a marriage post you’d like to share? Enter the URL of the post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so that other people can read these awesome marriage posts!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



Reader Question: What if My Marriage Was a Mistake?

What if my marriage was a mistake?

Reader Question: What if my marriage was a mistake?
On Mondays I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and today’s is rather sad. A woman writes:

Can you offer resources toward unequally yoked marriages? Also info on how to deal with a severely emotionally disturbed spouse? I slept with my best friend ( but we were also in love), got pregnant, and got married. My husband isn’t against my faith, he accepts it and promotes it to the kids, but he doesn’t have it and won’t consider going to church, etc. He has some different morals, values, etc. also, it turns out he has major issues. Several people in his immediate family committed suicide and he’s dealing with depression, etc. I know that God can redeem this, but how do I know if our marriage was just a result of my mistakes or if it is something that God will use for good. I don’t want to be a martyr in my own life, but I do want to do what God wants.

I can feel her pain and her dilemma. She got married because she thought it was the right thing to do in the circumstances–but she’s not happy now and she’s wondering if her marriage was a mistake. She’s wondering if she’ll ever feel the loved she’s dreamed of, or if she’s just stuck in this relationship.

I know many other women asking themselves that question, especially if the marriage wasn’t originally planned. They got pregnant. They wanted to escape their home life. They were single moms and just wanted a roof over their heads. And now they wonder if they chose wrong, and if they missed out on what God really wanted for their lives.

So let’s try to tackle this one today: what do you do if you feel like your marriage was a mistake?

What if my marriage was a mistake? #marriage

Let’s Stop Thinking About “The One”

Part of the reason that we feel like we made a mistake is that we think God had a Plan A for us, and we chose Plan B. If we hadn’t have married this person, then we would have found the one that God really wanted us to marry–our perfect soulmate, so to speak–and we would be far happier. Instead, we messed up. We didn’t follow God’s plan for our lives. And so doesn’t it follow that if we’re going to get back on track for Plan A, we’re going to have to ditch this Plan B? If we married the wrong person, then we can never really be on track with God in this life.

I understand that thinking. But I also think it’s totally off base. Here’s why:

God doesn’t have just one person for you to marry. God lets you choose.

This idea that there is a perfect soul mate for us out there to complete us is actually not biblical. Gary Thomas did a great job explaining this in a recent blog post, “Why God Didn’t (and Won’t) Tell You To Marry Your Spouse.”

Gary writes,

There is, quite frankly, nothing in Scripture that ever tells us it is our sworn duty to marry one particular person. Whether we marry, and who we marry, are spoken of in Scripture as part of God’s “permissive will,” something He allows us to choose.

Gary goes on to show that Scripture gives several reasons for marrying and help on choosing someone of the right character, but it doesn’t say that there is only one person for each of us. We’re given the chance to choose for ourselves.

Let’s Own our Choices

Why does this matter? Because if you realize that there wasn’t a specific Plan A, then it’s not about getting back in line with what God wants for you. It’s more about realizing that God lets us choose, and now it’s time to figure out how to glorify God in the midst of those choices.

Gary writes,

Far healthier, spiritually, than to sit in resentment against God, is to say to yourself, “I chose this man/woman. It might or might not help to explore why. But since I made the choice of my own free will, I bear certain responsibilities for the commitment I have made.” Then God becomes your ally, not your enemy, in helping you face the future. Instead of, “God, why did you lead me into this mess,” you’ll pray, “God, help lead me out of the mess I’ve made.”

So many of us believe that God led us to our spouse, and then when that spouse becomes abusive or becomes mean or has an affair we blame God. “But you told me to marry him!” Or else we think, like this letter writer, that we missed the boat and so we have to jump off the one we’re on and row really hard to get back to where God wants us to be.

But what God wants is to have us submit to Him where we are right now. That’s God’s will for us–to serve Him in the everyday, even if our everyday has taken some bad turns. It’s not to get back to a perfect life He had planned for us. It’s to let Jesus shine through where we are.

It’s Freeing to Realize “I Chose Him”

When you realize that you yourself made the choice to marry him–God didn’t make you, your parents didn’t make you, your husband didn’t make you–you made that choice, then you can also see how you have a responsibility to make that marriage the best it can be. If you feel that somehow you were coerced into marriage than you can never really throw your all into it. But if you realize, “I made those vows myself”, then you can see that you have a responsibility to them.

Why the Vow Matters #marriage

Where Do You Go From Here?

What does God want you to do in a difficult marriage? What is the best way to serve God right now?

I’ve written a lot on this topic, and so I’m going to link to different posts that can give you some practical ideas about what to do now. But the main thing I wanted to leave you with today is that it’s not about finding that Plan A. It’s about recognizing those choices you freely made, and then figuring out, “how do I serve God today, right where I am?”

Could you have made different choices? Of course. But you didn’t. And you don’t know how those choices would have turned out anyway. But you did choose this, so let’s work with it and see how we can find contentment and peace right now.

When You’re in a Loveless Marriage

Living in a Loveless Marriage
When You’ve Checked Out of Your Marriage
Why the Vow Matters
When is it Okay to Give Up on My Marriage?
Encouragement for Those in Really Tough Marriages
10 Truths About Emotionally Destructive Marriages

How to Get Back on Track in Your Marriage

Changing the Dynamic in my Marriage
The Two Ingredients of All Successful Marriages
Be a Spouse, Not an Enabler
Tackling Huge Marriage Problems

I’ve also got a ton of posts on how to spend time together more, how to ask for help, and so much more. You can find those on my Marriage FAQ page.

I hope some of those are helpful.

But for today, I just wanted to dispel this idea that we may have married the wrong person, missed out on God’s specific, perfect will, and now we need to get back to it.

God’s will is for you to glorify Him today, where you are. It’s for you to love in a healthy way that points people to Jesus (it’s not for you to enable sin, though!).

So now let me know: what do you think of this idea that there is one perfect person for us to marry? Let’s talk in the comments!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

 

Top 10 Things Great Parents Do

Most moms are consumed with the question, “Am I a good enough parent?”

Today, for Top 10 Tuesday, Lindsey Bell joins us to talk about how to be a great parent–and how great parents aren’t perfect parents!

Top Ten Things Great Parents DO

Ever felt like a terrible parent?

Yeah, me too.

Earlier this week, it wasn’t even 10 AM and I had already lost my temper with my son over something that—in the grand scheme of things—really didn’t matter.

As I sat in my bedroom and beat myself up over my mistakes, the Lord gently reminded me that great parents aren’t those who never make mistakes.

A bad day doesn’t make us a bad parent.

That afternoon, while my sweet son took his nap, I started thinking about what does make a great parent.

Here are 10 things great parents have in common.

1. Great parents grant forgiveness easily and ask for forgiveness often.

As much as we’d like to believe we’re not going to mess up and yell at our kids or make any mistakes as parents, we all know that’s not reality.

We are human, so we’re going to mess up. Our kids are human too, so they’re going to make mistakes.

Great parents build homes where forgiveness is asked for and given often.

2. Great parents let their kids make mistakes.

Instead of rushing in to make sure their children never fail, great parents allow their kids to make mistakes while they’re in the safety of home.

It’s much better to make little mistakes now (when a loving parent will be there to help them pick up the pieces and work through the disappointment) than to make big mistakes later on.

So the question is, is it safe to make a mistake in your home?

3. Great parents give their kids things money can’t buy.

We all know money doesn’t buy happiness, and yet we often live like it does.

Instead of giving your child “things,” give him something money can’t buy. Give him your time. Give him unconditional love. Help him fall in love with a Savior.

There’s nothing wrong with providing your child with physical blessings, but there are some things money can’t buy. Great parents focus on these types of things!

4. Great parents practice what they preach.

Kids will do what you DO, not what you SAY you do. Great parents model the behavior they want to see in their children. They live with integrity.

5. Great parents teach their children about money.

Many teenagers don’t know how to write a check or balance a checkbook. They don’t know how to live on a budget. They can use a credit card without any problem, but don’t yet realize how debt could affect their future.

Great parents teach their children how to save, how to give, and how to spend wisely within their means.

6. Great parents discipline in love.

They recognize their role in their child’s life. It’s not to be a best friend or to be a drill sergeant. A parent’s role is to guide his or her children and train them toward maturity. This can only happen with loving discipline.

7. Great parents tell their kids they love them, no matter what.

Our kids won’t always behave in a way that makes us happy, but they should always know they are loved. Great parents make sure their kids know they are loved even when their behavior is poor.

8. Great parents love their child’s father/mother.

One of the greatest things you can do for your child is to love that child’s father or mother.

It’s so easy after we have kids to stop investing in our marriages. We’re exhausted. At the end of a long day at work or at home, we’re spent and don’t want to have another person to care for.

The investment is worth it, though, both for your sake and for your child’s sake.

*In some instances, as Sheila has written about in the past, like when abuse is present, loving that person doesn’t mean you stay with them. If this is your situation, you need to know that loving that person doesn’t mean you allow him to abuse you. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is create some boundaries to keep yourself and your family safe.

9. Great parents teach their children about loving service.

The happiest people are not those who have it all, but those who have learned to invest in others.

Great parents teach their children the value of serving others. They teach them that true happiness isn’t found in things but in living with purpose.

10. Great parents are fully present.

They don’t allow their work, their hobbies, their phones, their computers or their televisions to become more important to them than their child. There’s a time for these things, but there’s also a time to put them away.

Great parents work hard to find that balance.

I’d love to hear from you. What other tips would you add to this list?

17648166-18785009-thumbnailSearching for Sanity: 52 Insights from Parents of the Bible (Christian Living Bible Study)Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at her blog, twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

 

Wifey Wednesday: My Virgin Wedding Night

This week we’re doing a mini-series on preparing for the wedding night–and the honeymoon! Our culture talks like being a virgin on your wedding night can be so awkward–and even so shaming. Today Mercy McCulloch Hasselbad joins us to tell her story about her wedding night (as a virgin)–and how they got comfortable with one another.

My readers run the gamut from very conservative households to very laid back ones. And sometimes most of the information seems to apply more to the laid back ones. So today I thought I’d share this great personal story from another point of view–showing that no matter what type of household you grow up in, sex can be a beautiful experience of discovery for you.

Here’s Mercy:

My Virgin Wedding Night
My husband and I never even kissed before our wedding day. We had been very careful, and we were really shy about sex and our bodies. So, when we got married, getting comfortable with each other was HUGE. We didn’t even sleep the first few weeks, because it was so strange having somebody else in our bed. But, even with all the awkwardness, it’s a time I look back to very lovingly. It was such an amazing time. If I could travel back and help my about-to-be-married or just-married self, here’s what I would say.

Relax on Your Wedding Night!

As you go into your wedding, communication is so important. Because of all the craziness around our wedding (we were moving to Asia 3 days after our wedding), we agreed that sex might not happen for awhile, and that was okay. We would figure it out eventually. Make sure you know what your spouse is expecting or dreaming about! You won’t always be on the same page, and it’s a lot of stress if you’re expecting to have to perform for the first time after wedding craziness, and your husband is, too, but neither of you really wants to try.

Our wedding night, we didn’t sleep at all. But not because we were all over each other. It was just so weird having someone, especially someone I loved so much, in the bed with me. We were trying to sleep, because we were flying out to a short honeymoon in Disneyland the morning after. But we were both so wound up we didn’t sleep, even though we were so tired.

Encouragement–It’s Okay to Go Slow!

Eventually, we both resigned to the fact we weren’t going to sleep, drank some water, and I offered to let him see me in my underwear for the first time. He told me how amazingly beautiful he thought I was. That expression was vital. It gave me the confidence to show him more of me.

Be encouraging and affirming towards your new spouse. Usually, this comes naturally, because it’s so exciting and new to be married. But it’s so important that I couldn’t leave it out. Being vulnerable with another person is scary! But if the other person applauds and adores your every step, it becomes really easy to give them everything.

Pay Attention!

Along with communication, it’s so important to pay attention and be encouraging to your new spouse. My husband had always dreamed of helping his new wife out of her wedding dress. But it was something he had never communicated, and I was so nervous and self-conscious that I made him turn away while I changed into my PJs. Later, he told me this dream, and I felt really bad. Awkward things will happen and you will hurt each other, but when you’re married, those just become something to smile about. But pay attention and communicate!! That’s the only way you help each other have the wedding and honeymoon of their dreams.

Reveling in All of the “Firsts” on your Honeymoon

We went to Disneyland for our honeymoon. It was so sweet and fun. But neither of us were sleeping very well. It’s just weird sleeping in the same bed with someone if you’ve never done it before. But don’t stress about it! It will become so natural that you can’t sleep without your spouse!

The first time we were naked with each other, it was with all the lights off. I asked if he wanted to jump in the shower with me. We didn’t touch each other. Just the thought of each other there, even without seeing it, was very intense and exciting and enough.

Slowly, we got more comfortable with each other. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. We went through hundreds of “first times” together, and it was just us to share them. We were completely vulnerable and special to each other. It was a slow revealing of things and thoughts and desires that we’d never touched before. It was intense and exciting and like Christmas every day.

Dispelling Hollywood’s Version of Sex

As with a lot of things Hollywood portrays, their perfect, rehearsed, smooth version of sex isn’t realistic, especially the first few dozen times. You can hurt each other, you won’t always complete it, and it will feel really weird the first few times. This is the perfect time to work on communication and forgiveness, though. Talk to each other. Figure out what’s going on, tell each other what feels good and if something hurts.

I was really awkward the first few times, because it did hurt at first. I would describe how it felt and hurt and that didn’t help my husband, ha ha. We waited a week or two before even trying it, though. We didn’t do it right away.

But it gets better, especially when you learn from each other and figure out what turns each other on. And eventually, you have better-than-Hollywood sex, and it’s super awesome almost every time. But, especially at first, take it easy. Don’t expect amazing things or for your new spouse to read your mind. Pay attention to each other. Learn from each other. Don’t be selfish, but also don’t be afraid to let your spouse know what’s turning you on.

I read a blog awhile ago where a woman bemoaned the fact that she had waited until her wedding night to have sex. She said she felt so guilty and it was so awkward. And, in one way, she was right. It is awkward, at first.

But I wouldn’t trade those awkward firsts for being the best sex goddess in the world. Those awkward firsts are something that only me and my husband share. Those accomplishments and learning together were like the infancy of our physical relationship. We are almost 2 years married now, and we laugh tenderly when we talk about our first time trying to have sex and the awkward things we said and tried to do.

So, if you’re getting married soon or just got married and are wondering what is going on, just relax. Communicate. Pay attention. Forgive. Marriage is a learning process, and sex is a part of that. It’s okay to be awkward. It’s okay to fall on your face. It’s your husband, somebody you’ll be with forever. One day, you’ll look back on the awkward times and smile, and a part of you will wish you could re-live it.

ONGL1568Mercy McCulloch Hasselblad is an author and artist originally from Idaho. She has a deep love for the beauty of God’s nature and light, for sharing the peace of God, and for her husband. She and Matt currently live as missionaries overseas. She just finished a children’s book, The Artist and the Clay, about how God created each of us for a purpose. She blogs over at mercymhass.wordpress.com.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of your marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



Wifey Wednesday: When Your Husband Walks Away from the Faith

When your husband is walking away from the faith: Living in an unequally yoked marriage
What do you do when you feel like you’re in an unequally yoked marriage? 

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a post, and then give you all a chance to link up your marriage posts below. And today we’re going to talk about husbands walking away from the faith.

Here’s a note I recently a received from a woman whose husband is no longer a spiritual leader:

My husband and I met while in our church’s college group. We were both actively involved as leaders. I was drawn to him as a spiritual leader. We dated for two years, but after we got married he revealed that he had bitterness towards the church and felt he had been hurt deeply by people there. He is still a loving, gentle, and devoted husband, but I struggle deeply with this change in his heart. He recently stated he wasn’t sure why it was important to read the bible independently. I am unsure if he spends time reflecting and or praying for our family. He has agreed to be involved in a home group, but I struggle with feeling bitter and angry at him for his lack of spiritual leadership. I long to love and serve alongside him, and am not sure how I as his wife can can support him as he works through this other than praying for him.

Here’s another one coming from a similar place:

Is it possible that God really wants me to stay married to a man that refuses to spiritually lead us? To someone who wants to be a Sunday morning Christian, someone who has no desire to seek the Lord or his ways in any aspect of his life? Someone who is so stubborn that they refuse to change the way they interact with their wife and children despite going to many parenting and marriage classes? I keep trying to do what’s right by staying in a marriage that in so many ways is crippling me from moving ahead. We go to a church that is very weak in their teachings so I don’t have a pastor or even a women’s ministry that would be helpful in this situation.

I want to take a stab at this today, but first, I’ve written quite extensively on some of these topics before, and I think those posts would likely help here, too.

I’ve covered what to do when you feel like your husband isn’t a spiritual leader.

And I’ve covered what to do when you feel like you’re in an unequally yoked marriage.

Here’s a reader who has written a beautiful post about praying for her unsaved husband constantly–and then God answered very dramatically.

Go read those (especially the one about the spiritual leader) and then come back here.


Okay, are you back now? Good.

Today what I’d like to talk about is resentment: how not to let the resentment about your husband walking away from the faith block your own spiritual life, and then block his.

What I see in these letters is a lot of anger. Their lives did not turn out as they wanted. They dreamed of a proper Christian marriage where they could serve God together, and instead they feel alone. And they’re angry. Really angry. They may phrase it differently–I’m lost, I’m floundering, I’m sad–but if you read those letters, I see anger.

And I understand.

But your anger will never accomplish the purposes of God.

And anger is a funny thing–anger is a lot like fire, which is probably why the analogy is used so much in the Bible. Fire needs oxygen to grow. Without oxygen it just peters out. But with oxygen it can blaze up and engulf you.

Are you feeding your anger about your husband’s spiritual life?

You very well might be if you’re doing one of these things:

You replay your past

Our first letter writer is looking at her dating period where her husband was serving the Lord. She thought that was going to be the rest of her life. And so it hurts even more than he changed.

But we don’t stay the same after we’re married. Life happens. It sends us curveballs. We mature. We meet different people. And sometimes people change in ways that we don’t like.

But when you made your marriage vows, you vowed to always love your husband–not just love him as he is now.

Tip: Live in the moment with your husband. Think about what is good about him right now. Encourage him in where he is right now–even if it’s not where you want him to be. Stop thinking about the past.

You focus on his faults

Our second letter writer seems to be focusing primarily on all the things that her husband is doing wrong. And when we do that, we will find LOTS of things to criticize. It’s human nature!

Yet one of the best predictors of a good marriage is that people scan for things to praise, not criticize. When people are looking for the good they see the good and they think about the good. And that will suck the oxygen right out of that anger. But when you’re looking for the bad you’ll feed it.

Tip: What can you thank your husband for today? In the first case, the husband is going to a home group. She’d like him to do more, but that’s a pretty big step if he’s doubting his whole faith!

You thank God for what you do have

Sure, your husband isn’t spiritually leading the family. But is your marriage a good one? In the first case, this looks like a good marriage from what we can see. He’s agreed to go to a home group. He’s not making a big deal out of his lack of faith; he’s just struggling.

I have lots of friends with non-believing husbands who have a huge amount of fun with those husbands. They go on bike trips together. They have fun with the kids together. They laugh a lot.

And I have a lot of friends with believing husbands who have horrible marriages.

You can have a great unequally yoked marriage. No, it’s not ideal, but no marriage is ideal. And the reason that my friends with the good unequally yoked marriages thrive is because they’re not always focusing on what they’re missing. They’re focusing on what they have.

Tip: Build a great friendship with your husband. You have a lot in common other than just faith or you wouldn’t have chosen him in particular to marry. Stress those fun things again!

Do those three things and you’ll see your attitude start to change.

Are you pushing your non-believing husband further away from God?

Many women in unequally yoked marriages make things worse. Our husbands start having doubts and we overreact, thinking that if we can just prove that they have no right to have doubts that we will somehow silence it. We’ll get our husbands back again. So we try to defeat all his arguments, hoping that if we can show how his thinking is faulty we’ll change his feelings. It doesn’t work.

Let me suggest an opposite approach. This is where the admonition in 1 Peter 3 to “win him without words” comes in. When our husbands are doubting the faith, we don’t try to rail him back into it. We just are gentle about it.

And part of being gentle is settling a question in our spirit, and it’s this: God is big enough to take care of your husband’s doubts.

Let me share this quote I put in another post that fits quite well here, too:

Sustain a Faith

Questions are okay. God can handle questions. And many of our husbands will go through periods of questioning.

They may question what they’ve been taught in their particular church background (in the first case, for instance, it looks like the husband is primarily rejecting his church’s manifestation of faith, rather than God overall).

Your husband may be rejecting your cultural expression of Christianity without actually be rejecting God. Please do not confuse the two or you just push him away and drive a major wedge between you–where he is unable to talk about the faith crisis he’s going through because you’ll misinterpret it and think he’s not saved when that’s not the issue. He just may not believe all the doctrines of your particular church anymore.

Here are just a few examples:

  • He may decide that hyper-conservative Christianity is not for him.
  • He may change from a Republican to a Democrat, or from a Democrat to a Republican (and we read a lot about faith into this)
  • He may decide that God could have used evolution to create the world
  • He may decide that he hears God better through Roman Catholicism (or through Protestantism)

Many of us, if our husbands did one of these things, would think, “He doesn’t believe in God anymore! He’s become an unbeliever!”, when really he has just decided that he believes differently.

Can you give him room to believe differently than you? Can you give him room to explore these ideas?

Remember this: God gives us room. God welcomes our questions.

In our marriage, we went through a ten year period like this. My husband was questioning everything EXCEPT God. He was questioning so much about what the church teaches on various subjects, like science, prayer, gifts, etc. etc. And it was a scary time for me. But I left the door open for my husband to still talk to me about his doubts. I’d listen, even when I was scared inside. And at the end of that ten year journey we both ended up at roughly the same place–it was just a different place than where we started. But we both have a much greater sense now of the reality of God in our lives.

Now some of our husbands WILL reject God, and not just reject church, and that’s certainly hard. But if you’re in a marriage where your husband is struggling with WHO God is rather than IF God is, then let him be.

Cherish Your Marriage

Just because it’s unequally yoked does not mean that it’s invalid. So to answer our second letter writer’s question: Yes, you have to stay married to a man who doesn’t lead you spiritually. Absolutely. In fact, God tells us this explicitly in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16:

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

So cherish your marriage and love your husband! And if there are bigger issues that are harmful in that marriage (as looks like it may be the case in the second letter writer), then work on those issues and find good ways to address them. But just because a man is not living out a Christian life does not mean you can leave him.

How would that work, anyway? What would you really be saying?

You are not a living a Christian life, so I am going to BREAK MY COMMITMENT and BREAK UP OUR FAMILY and TAKE OUR CHILDREN because you are the one who isn’t holy?

That really makes no sense. Again, if it’s a dangerous marriage, that’s a different situation. But on the whole, we are to cherish our marriage.

So often we get into ruts where we just can’t see the good. All we can see is all the mistakes our husbands are making. When we do this, we’re often blind to our own mistakes. And we limit what God can do in our marriage, because God works best when He has humble hearts to speak through.

Please, if your husband is walking away from the faith, show him compassion. He likely has reasons. Give him room for his doubts, just like God does. Love him during this journey and celebrate the things you do have in common. And I pray that your husband will find his way back.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of your marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



Why Christians are Losing the Culture War

Christians may be losing the Culture War--but maybe that's not the worst thing in the world if it gets us back to reaching out to our neighbors.
Christians are in a Culture War. And I don’t think we’re doing a particularly good job.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I posted about the Duggar abuse scandal. Which got read a lot. And which kind of consumed the day (I didn’t even get cake).

So perhaps I’m just feeling a little contemplative today, but I have a bunch of thoughts in my brain that I thought I should try to get down. I hope they make sense, but after a weekend of watching many Christians defend the Duggars’ decision not to immediately remove Josh from the home; saying “the girls are absolutely fine! You can tell because we see that on TV!”; and “it was only touching; it wouldn’t have done that much harm”, I guess I’m just a little restless and rather sad.

So I want to give my hypothesis of what’s happening in our culture.

Western culture, and especially American culture, used to be quite Christian.

We had Christian values, even if not everybody believed. And, to a large extent, people felt that our country was blessed because the country reflected Christ’s values.

Then everything went off the rails starting in the 1960s. The family was attacked. Marriage was attacked. The church was attacked.

So we went into defense mode. Every time we were attacked we’d fight. We decided that we wanted to stand out from the world, so we created more and more rigid standards of what it means to be a Christian–even more rigid than in the 1950s (take purity, for example. No one was arguing for no hand holding until you’re engaged in the 1950s. This is a new cultural phenomenon).

And we treat this like a war. We’ve decided there are two sides: Us and Them.

We retreat into our own sides on the internet and in news media. Whenever one of ours is attacked, we fight back, regardless of the merits of the situation. We can’t give ground, after all, or we very well may lose everything.

Right now Christians are waiting, scared, for the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage to come down. What will happen if they allow gay marriage everywhere? What will we do?

And I guess I’m just afraid that we’ve gone a bit off track and we’re losing the bigger picture.

Our main job on this earth is not to fight a culture war. Our main job is to reach people for Jesus and to show Christ’s love to a hurting world.

I live in a country (Canada) where the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage years ago, despite the votes of elected officials. I was despondent when that decision came down, and I wrote articles in papers before the decision talking about why traditional marriage matters. Because it does. And once you allow gay marriage, a whole lot of other consequences follow. Marriage becomes about a lifestyle choice, making it less likely people will marry. Adoption issues become messed up. Custody issues become messed up. It’s just plain sad.

But you know what? Our laws simply reflect our culture, and our culture is already there. And sometimes a country gets what it deserves.

That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t care; it’s only to say that even if the Supreme Court doesn’t allow gay marriage, I’m not sure what difference that will make because people’s hearts are no longer for traditional commitment. They just aren’t. And your laws reflect your culture, so within 10-15 years you will have gay marriage anyway, regardless of what the Supreme Court says.

Abortion is a separate issue; we’re winning there. But that’s because both issues have as an undercurrent justice and human rights. The world sees gay marriage as a human right and as a justice issue (gays should not be discriminated against). They see abortion in a similar way, because ultrasounds have let us see that this is a child. And so people are against abortion but for gay marriage, and in their minds that’s perfectly consistent.

So what do we do?

We can keep fighting, pointing out every bit of liberal hypocrisy to show that we’re right. We can keep fighting this war and funding this war and try to keep our ground.

And there likely is need for this. I think of it as a day job–we need professional Christians to fight the culture war on a 9-5 basis. But then let’s get back to our real life with real neighbours and real friends and real individuals.

Fighting the Culture War can’t be our main strategy or our main effort for evangelism, because it can backfire.

First, because we think in terms of strategy rather than in terms of Truth, Compassion, and Love. Sometimes strategically it seems better to slam your opponent rather than to admit that your Culture War soldier may have been off base. But that’s not standing for Truth.

But it’s not just because it can turn people away from God; it’s also because it blinds us to our own mission.

I had a woman say this on Facebook yesterday about my post about the Duggars: “I totally agree with your post, but I don’t see how saying all of this will show non-Christians we’re reasonable or that we love the victims. The media would never report this anyway. They just like to play “gotcha”.

That’s the problem. We think the Christian life is lived out in the Culture War, and it’s not. The Culture War is important, but it is not our Christian life, nor should it be our main focus. She was saying, “talking about this won’t matter; it’s only what the media reports that matters.” But that’s not true at all!

Let me give you one example: both of my girls have large numbers of non-Christian friends on Facebook–from work, from university, etc. And they saw non-Christians saying things like, “The Duggar scandal proves God doesn’t exist”, or much worse things. So the girls posted Rebecca’s article that was critical of the Duggars, and talked about how appalled they were, too. And their friends understood, and many messaged them and said, “I’m so glad you said that. I thought all Christians were excusing the Duggar parents. I’m so glad to know that’s not true. Thank you for standing up for what’s right.”

In fact, in the whole hubbub, the girls were attacked by Christians and comforted by non-Christians. Katie, especially, had non-believers messaging her and saying, “thank you for standing strong. I’m sorry for all the hate you’re getting, but we’re with you. You’re a great person.”

The media didn’t share Rebecca’s Duggar article. The media didn’t say, “some Christians aren’t supporting the Duggars.” But these people got the message because the girls said it themselves.

I’m afraid that we have put ourselves in such enclaves that most of us don’t have non-Christian friends, so the only way we communicate with non-Christians IS through the media.

And we forget that evangelism is supposed to be one on one. It’s relationship building. And that’s the only thing that will bring people back to Christ.

The disciples wanted Jesus to lead an army and win Israel by force. I sometimes think that’s what Christians want for America, too. Look, I’m not against having Christian leaders–Canada’s Prime Minister is a Christian and I pray everyday that he will win the next election. A country is blessed when it has Christian leaders.

But our main goal on this earth is not to make America into a Christian nation; it is to reach individuals for Christ.

And sometimes in the way that we frame the culture war as Us vs. Them, and circle the wagons, we turn off the individuals. And we feel like we are so busy winning people to Christ because we are so engaged in the Culture War–supporting politicians, giving political contributions, keeping up on the news, writing political letters–that we forget we have neighbors who just need to see Jesus. Not a letter writing campaign.

One more thing: In our attempt to be Us vs. Them, we have created even more legalistic rules of what it means to be a Christian, so that you can be sure you’re on the right side of the Culture War. To me, one of the main problems of the Duggar show was that it made it seem like the only way to be pure was to save hand holding until engagement and kissing until marriage. By showing something so counter-cultural, we thought we could show the world there is an alternative and win people to Christ that way.

But we’re just setting up rigid rules that the Bible doesn’t have. If you choose those things for yourself I completely support you. But saving hand-holding until engagement is not the biblical definition of purity.

The more that we elevate these kinds of extreme rules for Christian living, the more we solidify the Us vs. Them.

Let’s remember that Jesus was radical–but He was radical because He hung out with tax collectors and sinners, and they enjoyed Him! He was actually, for His time, radically Progressive. We’re trying to be radically Conservative. And by doing that, we’re almost becoming radical Pharisees. (I’m not saying we should become today’s version of Progressives, by the way; I’m just noting that we’ve turned the idea of radical on its head.)

I just want us to get back to a life where it’s not about rules; it’s about Jesus. And when Jesus (not rules) is real in our lives, we will have a true love for our neighbours, not a disdain for them because of the Us vs. Them Culture War.

I’m not sure if that makes any sense; I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. And, like I said, I do think it’s important to have good laws and Christian leaders. I do think holiness matters. But the Culture War can’t be our main focus of evangelism. It doesn’t work first of all, but it also makes us all feel like we’re part of the Great Commission when we’re really doing nothing of the sort. We will win the Culture War when we start winning individuals. And the louder and more stridently we fight the Culture War, the more we lose those individuals all around us.

Does anyone get what I’m saying? Or can you give me an example from your own life of how you reached out to an individual rather than seeing them as an Us vs. Them? I’m not sure I’m articulating myself well here, so I’d love to keep the discussion going in the comments!

And then I’ll try to get back to regularly scheduled programming and regular type posts tomorrow. :)

 

Why The Duggar Abuse Scandal Matters

The Duggar Abuse Scandal: Why it's so sad, and why it matters
On Friday my daughter wrote a blog post about the Duggar sexual abuse scandal. I posted it on Facebook. And both of us had a whole pile of criticism thrown at us.

So today I’d like to explain, in my own words, why I think the Duggar abuse scandal matters and what we should learn from it.

Is Josh forgiven?

Absolutely.

Did the Duggar parents try to do the right thing at the time?

Inasmuch as they knew how, I suppose, though it took them a year to actually contact the police after they knew what Josh was doing; they did not remove him immediately from the home (and thus continued to put the girls in danger); and they did not get Josh counseling (Michelle has admitted that; they only sent him to a family friend where he performed manual labor).

But here’s the point:

Some of these girls had been sexually abused, some as young as 5. They were taken through a healing process to “forgive” their abuser. And then they were put on a TV show which had as its main premise that this family knows how to instill healthy sexuality into their kids.

It’s quite simple: the Duggar parents should either have been authentic about the abuse or, if they didn’t want to dredge it up publicly (a choice I completely understand and empathize with), then they should have turned down the show. That was their mistake; it was the minimization of the effects of abuse.

The Christian community as a whole has rallied around the Duggars and reacted vehemently against any who would criticize them. I think that is a serious mistake for our witness.

Here are two reasons why:

Christians Need to Be Authentic

When people see authentic Christians they are attracted to Christ. When they see Christians covering up sins they run in the opposite direction. It is hypocrisy that kills our witness.

So is Josh forgiven? Yes. He honestly repented, from everything I have seen.

But it’s not that simple. I have had people say, “David was forgiven! So what’s the big deal? He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

David wrote Psalm 51, where he laid his sin bare and held nothing back, when he was still king, knowing it would damage his reputation. But he did it because he was authentic before God and before his people. And God called David “a man after my own heart”. It was not that God approved of David despite the sin (as some are saying now about the Duggars); it was that God approved of David because of his authenticity.

If the Duggars had owned up to this at the very beginning of the show, not only would it not have been the issue that it is now, but they would have had such a powerful testimony of how God heals. Instead they have  tarnished their reputation and have lost their platform to speak for God. That is what inauthenticity does.

Many are saying, “but why should they have had to speak about something that was healed and forgotten?” Because they portrayed themselves as a family who had it all together–when they obviously did not. That is why they are in trouble now. It’s not the abuse; it’s the fact that they never acknowledged it earlier. So either don’t do the show, or own up to it. It’s that simple.

Right now, Christians believe we are in a huge culture war. And so when some of our perceived warriors–like the Duggars–are under fire, we close ranks, thinking that by preventing people from criticizing them we will somehow win that culture war.

The truth is the exact opposite. We win people by showing the world that God cares.

And despite people’s cries of “Judge not lest ye be judged”, they seem to overlook that Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 5:12: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” He was quite adamant that we were to judge those claiming to be Christians so that we do not ruin our witness. Paul knew that hypocrisy was so dangerous to the cause of Christ. So we should never cover up sin.

David and Paul were both very open about their sinful pasts, because they knew that their weakness and sin showed the power of God. The Duggars took a different approach. They chose to portray a family that did not struggle sexually, despite this huge elephant in the room, presumably thinking that showing an exemplary life would point people to Christ. Authenticity is far more effective in evangelism than perfection; it is authenticity that the world yearns for.

The Catholic church was in a world of hurt about the sexual abuse scandal in the 1990s. But the problem was not the abuse itself. It was the failure of the church to come clean along with its attempt to hide it. If we keep portraying ourselves as having it all together, and don’t admit huge failings, we ruin our witness because we are inauthentic.

I know it’s not in the same league, but when I wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex I decided that I couldn’t share my thoughts on sex without going public about the fact that I suffered from vaginismus when I was first married. I had never told anyone this–not even close friends. It was really embarrassing. But how could I write an authentic book without also sharing the healing that God had done in my life–and how messed up I had been? Shouldn’t I use my story to point people to Christ? I didn’t want to talk about it, but I did. I never really intended to tell my girls about it, either, but now I have to because it’s in the book. But I’m glad I did, because I have had so many people share their stories with me since.

Authenticity opens doors; self-preservation closes them.

The lesson to be learned: We Christians need to stop having “idols” and stop thinking that keeping up perfect appearances will win people to Christ. We need to start being authentic instead.

We Need to Be Real About the Lasting Effects of Sexual Abuse

Can you be healed from sexual abuse? Absolutely. It’s a large part of my “Girl Talk” where I talk about sex and marriage.

But everything we know about the healing from sexual abuse shows that it is usually not quick, nor is it usually a one-step process.

A person can be healed and go on with their lives, but then something will “trigger” it again, sometimes even years later. Hitting puberty. Starting to have feelings for boys. Starting to date. Getting married. Having a child of your own. Having that child hit the age that you were when the abuse happened.

And at each stage you need to go through a deeper level of healing.

This is NORMAL. This does not mean that you weren’t healed at first; it’s only that much of healing from abuse happens in stages, because we don’t experience the full effects until later.

Almost all abuse survivors will report this.

By saying that the girls were “healed” because they “forgave” when they were so young–remember, some were only 6–the Duggar parents showed that they did not understand the normal healing process for sexual abuse.

And when supporters say, “the girls were healed back then, why dredge it up now?”, we show an extreme insensitivity to others who were also sexually abused.

Author Mary DeMuth, herself a sexual abuse survivor, puts it this way:

Instant forgiveness and “putting it behind you” only delays the healing process, a journey that only begins by stating the awfulness of the violation. By shoving the story under the rug for the sake of your family or church community, you may save the perpetrator’s reputation and the reputation of those near him or her, but you lose important ground in becoming free.

An untold story never heals. It just festers until it comes out in unwanted behavior.

Easy “forgivism” may gloss over the terrible situation in the short term, but it reinforces to everyone that the egregious, soul-siphoning sin committed against the victim was trivial, easy to get over.

I have no idea how the girls feel now. But I do know that those girls were in a position where they had to act as if their family had it all together. They even wrote a book about their sexuality and never mentioned it. Every sexual abuse survivor I know–without exception–has told me that their sexual abuse had a huge impact on their sexuality. To not be able to mention it is to invalidate a huge part of their story.

Besides that, apparently at least one victim was not part of the family. How did that victim feel watching the show where all the sisters were praising Josh? Does she matter?

The world is watching whether we will show compassion to sexual abuse survivors.

I am not asking us to string Josh up; I think he is a victim as well, and he will likely bear even more long term consequences. The incest taboo is one of the most hard-wired things in us. The fact that he was able to overcome this taboo and fondle his sisters means that he must have been going through something awful himself. It’s really very tragic for everyone.

So, no, we should not ask for Josh to be punished. But we do need to say that to require the girls to act like all is okay; to require them to extend quick grace; to portray to the world that “we are all fine” is to denigrate sexual abuse survivors.

Even if the Duggar girls are 100% okay, 95% of sexual abuse survivors were NOT okay immediately. And those survivors are hearing Christians say, “what’s the problem? It’s all behind them!”

What do they think if it is not behind THEM? What do they think when they hear, “we should let it go and forget about it!”–when THEY cannot let it go or forget about it?

What do they think when they hear that a 6 or 7 or 8 year old girl forgave and forgot, and is never ever bothered by it again? In the Duggars’ statement, they insinuated that this was all taken care of  years ago–even when the girls were so young at the time of counseling. I don’t know any reputable counselor who would say that you can make that type of pronouncement at that young an age.

And if they really were healed completely, and it honestly never bothered them–then what a testimony! Imagine if they had been able to share on their show how they got past this! But they didn’t. And now they have burned those bridges.

The lesson to be learned: The world is watching us. This is our chance to honor the stories of sexual abuse survivors and to show true compassion for those who have endured sexual abuse.

I have heard so many Christians defend the Duggar parents, and I understand. They’re in a horrible situation and we feel sorry for them.

But let’s remember that they are not the real victims here. However sad it is, they are simply bearing the consequences of poor decisions they made a decade ago. The real victims are the Duggar girls and the girl, or girls, outside the family who were abused; sexual abuse survivors hearing terrible messages about how “it was a long time ago” and “what does it matter” and “it was just touching”; and even, to a certain extent, Josh, whose life would be far better today had his parents, his church, and the authorities handled this appropriately back then.

If our voices of compassion are louder for the Duggar parents than they are for the victims, we, whether we intend to or not, minimize the severity of the effects of abuse. And I hope none of us would honestly want to do that.

 

 

I Am Not Just a Christian Wife. I Am a Christian.

Why the church culture often gets a woman's role wrong--and what we should do about it.

I see it all the time: I’ll write a thoughtful, long post on how a woman should deal with sin in her family, and a commenter will say nothing except to quote 1 Peter 3:1-6 on how a woman should win her husband “without words”.

Or, to paraphrase, “Ladies, please shut up.”

There’s also a new book out that says that God created women to reflect the church, while men reflect Jesus. True Womanhood, apparently, is not being made fully in the image of God (read a great review of the book here).

Oh, friends, my heart hurts when I read things like these. My heart grieves that so much of the church is missing the transformational message of the gospel: that God loves ALL of us, and wants ALL of us to look more and more like Him. That God wants a close, intimate relationship with everybody–and that that relationship matters more than form or gender or church. God wants holiness and righteousness and transformed lives, not an empty, legalistic shell.

In our Christian culture today there is so much false teaching about womanhood.

Much of it is a backlash against the all-too-real negative effects of Third Wave Feminism, which has taught that marriage is just a lifestyle choice, and a ridiculous one at that; that women are better than men; or that the genders are interchangeable.

But that backlash is not a proper reflection of how Jesus feels about women, either.Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by Accident And so today I’d like to share some truths that too often get missed when we’re talking about women. Many of these are in my upcoming book, Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (out in August; you can pre-order it now!), but I thought these were too important to wait until then.

Friends: God so loves you. He cares for you as an individual. And His desire is for transformation and redemption.

And so here are 10 truths which I pledge as a woman, created fully to reflect Christ, and created with the intent purpose of being transformed to look more and more like Him:

1. My primary identity is in Christ.

He is my Saviour. I am made in the image of God; I am not made in the image of my husband.

2. I will not encourage young women to take their primary identities as being wives.

We are first made in Christ’s image; if a young woman does not marry, she is no less of a person. If a woman has an unfaithful husband, she is no less of a person. Our value is in our Redeemer.

3. I want to see everyone around me look more and more like Christ (Romans 8:29).

This is also God’s plan for their lives. Therefore, I will not listen to messages which tell me that because I’m a woman, I should not speak up about sin. Jesus graciously forgave, but He always dealt with the sin. This is meant to be my model as well. I want to be a spouse, not an enabler.

I understand that this means that I am to act in such a way that brings people closer to Christ, not that pushes them away from God by encouraging unChristlike behaviour. Therefore, if my husband wants something that would go against what Jesus wants for us, I will say no.

4. I will be good. I will not be nice.

Jesus was not always nice; but He was always good. He always acted in such a way as to point people to God, even if it made people uncomfortable. And He is our model. I will be good, even if it occasionally means going against my husband (1 Samuel 25; Acts 5).

At the same time, being good also means reflecting Christ, which means that I must do all of this with the same mind and attitude that Christ had: humility (Philippians 2). I recognize that I am also a sinner saved by grace, and I may not be right either. So I will strive to always go before God first, to always deal with my own issues first, and to invite wise women around me to hold me accountable. I will not presume that I always know what’s right, nor will I try to control or manipulate. I will simply, in the spirit of gentleness, stand up for truth as I ask God to reveal it to me.

5. Loving my husband means wanting what is best for him.

I will learn his love language. I will shower him with encouragement and praise and admiration. I will think of his needs first. I will pray for him daily. I will be his biggest cheerleader!

But my prayer for him is for his best; it is not that he be happy. My goal is to encourage him as he pursues Christ, not placate him or cover for him if he moves away from Christ. If I prop him up as he becomes an alcoholic, or a porn addict, or a gambler (or other such things), I’m not really loving him.

True Godly Submission

6. I will be a peace-MAKER, not a peace-KEEPER.

Peacekeepers value lack of conflict over truth; peacemakers know there is no real peace absent truth. And Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

7. I believe that I am responsible before God to work out my own salvation and my own relationship with Him.

God gave me a brain and an individual conscience, and that means that I can’t rely on others to make my faith (Philippians 2:12-13). I am allowed to question my husband’s interpretation of Scripture. I am allowed to question my pastor’s interpretation of Scripture. God wants me to be like the Bereans: to take everything I hear and compare it to what I know from Scripture to see if it is true (Acts 17:11).

8. I fully accept my responsibility to build a strong marriage–as far as it depends on me.

A strong community is built on strong families. But that also means that the Christian community has a stake in our marriages. Therefore, I will find godly mentors. I will join together with other Christians. When needed, I will seek out help and advice about my marriage BEFORE it gets to a crisis point. I will seek out Jesus’ strength and guidance for how to build my marriage up and how to love my husband the best I can.

9. However, if my church tells me that I am to follow my husband into ungodly behaviour, I will not listen.

If my church says that I am to do nothing about something which is seriously jeopardizing our family and his soul (such as porn use, gambling, refusal to work, sexual abuse of our children, etc.), I will seek out a new body of believers that has a complete picture of the gospel’s transformational power in our lives. If necessary, I will even contact civil authorities.

10. I believe that God cares more about the people in a marriage than He does about that marriage.

(Or, as Gary Thomas recently put it, God cares about the people not the shell).

Here’s what it comes down to: Jesus wants people transformed. When we hold to a rigid view of gender roles and marriage, we prevent transformation; we don’t encourage it. Instead of asking people to look Christlike, we simply ask them to follow rigid rules. We’ve replaced the heart of the gospel with a new kind of legalism that traps people in an immature faith.

It’s time for it to stop.

And so I hope that all women (and men) reading this can endorse this, and share it on Facebook and Pinterest and social media. Let’s get this conversation going!

I’d like to end with some very wise words about this issue from Gary Thomas about how God feels about His precious children:

If a marriage “shell” is used to allow real people to be abused and hurt, God may well take it down. Keep in mind, in the first century, Jewish women weren’t allowed to divorce their husbands. Jesus fought divorce to protect women who could be easily discarded with little prospects. His comments on divorce were to protect women, not to keep them in a harmful situation. He was caring for real people more than he was idolizing a “shell.”

Haven’t we turned this around a little? When a man preys on his wife and children, refusing to repent, almost laughing that they can’t escape his abuse because he has not been sexually unfaithful and won’t abandon them so any divorce would be “unbiblical,” and then he’s supported by well-meaning Christians who essentially say “the shell of marriage matters more than the woman and children inside the shell,” I think we’ve lost the heart of God.

 Let’s all get back to the heart of God.