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.

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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 means I submit myself to my husband’s welfare, not necessarily my husband’s will. (click to tweet)

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.

Wifey Wednesday: Rewiring Your Brain after a Porn Addiction

Rewiring your brain after a porn addiction: learning how to reboot the arousal process.
Is it possible to rewire your brain–to get back to normal sexual arousal–after a porn addiction?

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts in the link below.

Today I want to tackle an all-too-common problem. Here’s an email that a young man sent me after reading my post on the top 10 effects of porn:

I think it’s likely I’m suffering from a porn addiction. It started off when I was 12 due to classmates and my desires would get worse through the years due to things getting boring. I was wondering wether you have any tips applying to an 18 year old college guy on how to re-rewire myself to feel normal arousal patterns again and start having normal relationships?

So many things to deal with here! Our letter writer isn’t married, but it’s still an important question. So I’m going to answer his question, and then give some specific advice to porn users who are married. Since 30% of porn users are female, I’m not just addressing this to guys, either. So let’s dive in.

First: Two Things to Understand About a Porn Addiction

Most people get started with porn early.

This young man was shown porn by classmates when he was 12–and that started an addiction to internet pornography.

This is NORMAL. Most porn users report something similar. Women: if you’re married to a guy who uses porn, please understand that he’s likely been battling this since before he even knew you. I know it hurts; I really do. But fight the porn WITH him; try not to fight him. Here’s a post that explains what to do when you discover your husband uses porn.

And please–protect your sons and daughters! Get something like Covenant Eyes installed on your computer and devices when your kids are young, so they can’t seek out porn without you knowing. It’s important to stop it before the addiction cements.

Porn Changes the Sexual Arousal Process

We’re created so that as we become emotionally intimate with someone, desire kicks in. Desire is supposed to flow out of relationship (and, of course, out of physical attraction). But it’s built on attraction and it’s focused on one person.

Porn directs the arousal process internally. It’s not about a person; it’s about your own sexual gratification regardless of relationship. And because porn is usually accompanied by masturbation (and thus sexual release), your hormones cement this. Now you get aroused by the porn rather than a person, and it becomes more and more difficult to get aroused by a person.

Here’s a free ebook from Covenant Eyes that explains what porn does to the brain:

Second: How to Reverse the Process

Pray a Ton

Willpower alone cannot help you quit porn. Only God can truly transform your heart.

So pray constantly. Don’t always pray about the porn, either; just keep a running conversation with God going all day. Tell Him what you’re doing. Talk to Him about decisions you have to make. Practice riding in the car without the radio on so that you can talk to God. The more you talk to God, the more you think about God, and the more God can start to work on your heart, even without you realizing it.

Look for the Root of Porn

Why do you turn to porn? When do you turn to porn?

If you can answer those two questions you’re a lot further ahead at quitting.

Most people turn to porn for one of two reasons: they’re stressed or they’re bored. When someone feels stressed, especially if you feel as if your choices are limited, people aren’t listening to you, or you’re failing at what you’ve set your mind to, porn can be intoxicating. Porn is all about satisfying you. It makes you feel like a king. It gets rid of those feelings of inadequacy.

But it’s all fake.

If you can instead name your issue: “I feel out of control”, “I feel inadequate”, “I feel like a failure”, and then you try to deal with that issue instead, you’ll be so much further ahead. And if you can understand the role that porn plays in your life, then it’s easier to leave it behind.

Find Something to Replace Porn with

I tried to quit Diet Pepsi many times–I knew the aspartame was bad for me. But it only stuck when I decided beforehand what I was going to replace the Diet Pepsi with, and filled my house with it (I chose looseleaf teas).

You won’t be able to fully quit porn until you figure out what you’re going to replace it with. If you’ve been using porn when you’re bored, then you need something else right at hand for you to grab when you’re bored. Maybe it’s a gripping novel. Maybe it’s a friend you call. Maybe it’s an exercise bike. But decide beforehand that when you get the urge to watch porn, you will turn to X instead.

Realize You Likely Will Relapse

Not everyone does; but many people quit successfully for a few weeks or months, but then during a particularly stressful period they go on a binge again.

Rather than berating yourself and feeling like a total loser, “turn a bad day into good data.” Analyze this particular relapse. What happened? Did you let yourself get bored? Did you not have anything to replace porn with handy? Had you just had a fight with your girlfriend/wife? If you can figure out what was different about this incident, you can prevent it happening again.

Flee from Everything that Reels You In to Porn

You’ll be battling not just the pull towards porn, but also the pull to objectify the opposite sex. If something else pulls you in the same direction–say, watching Game of Thrones or reading a magazine or going to a bar–then stop that, too. It isn’t about porn per se; it’s about the whole way you think about sex and relationships. It’s better to detoxify all at once then to just get rid of one part of the equation.

Third: Special Ideas for Married Readers

Make intimacy sexy again!

But how is that possible? You have to retrain your brain to feel aroused not by an image but by your spouse.

And you can do that by increasing the intimacy and vulnerability in your marriage.

I’ve written a longer post about rebuilding your sex life after a porn addiction, but here a few quick thoughts:

1. Pray together a ton–and even pray naked!

It’s very vulnerable to go before God together. Experience that kind of intimacy. Just revel in it.

2. Talk again

Most spouses of porn addicts will say that they could never put their finger on what it was, but they never felt like they truly “knew” their spouse while that spouse was using porn.

That’s because porn stops intimacy of all kinds. In many marriages, the couple doesn’t really share on an emotionally intimate level either. Porn trains you to think of your spouse as an object, as a means to an end, rather than a living, breathing person.

So start talking again and really getting to know each other. Get some conversation starters and use them every night. Go for a walk after dinner. Get to know each other!

3. Practice holding and touching each other while naked–without anything else

Hold off on intercourse. Just take turns touching each other. Let yourself feel your spouse touching you. Don’t try to rush it (porn users have a difficult time being “in the moment” because the focus is on the end result).

4. Learn how to be a good lover

Porn users tend to be self-focused during sex because they’ve trained themselves that sexy is about what happens to you, not what you do for others.

Take a few weeks where the goal of the sexual encounter is to make your spouse hit the moon. You can do this any way you want–you don’t even need intercourse (especially if you’re having issues with performance due to porn use). Watch the effect you can have on your spouse. Learn how much fun foreplay can be.

5. Schedule sex

If you’re going to get good at something you need to practice! I know many couples where the husband (or wife) has successfully quit porn, but they’ve also quit sex entirely because they never figured out how to make sex work any other way.

It’s going to take time and patience and lots of practice. Don’t flee from sex. Don’t be afraid that you’ll fail. It’s okay to finish other ways. But make sure that at least twice a week you’re connecting and trying. You’ll find that the more you get intimate, the more your body will start to respond. You’re reawakening real desire, and that’s a good thing. Scheduling sex may feel fake–but it’s actually a good habit when you’re trying to reawaken real desire.

31 Days to Great SexIf you’re having a hard time with this one, my book, 31 Days to Great Sex, is filled with ideas and conversation starters that let you start slow and build up to a great sex life–maybe even for the first time in your marriage! Check it out.

Rewiring your sexual response will take time. You have to quit entirely; you have to be so vigilant in what you think about; you have to do things that feel unnatural (learning to talk again; learning proper foreplay).

It isn’t easy.

But it is so healing. And God is in the transformation and healing business! He wants to help you–but you have to decide to be part of the solution, too. Fight hard. It’s really worth it!

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have a marriage post to share with us? Leave the URL of your post in the Linky below. And be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts, too!



Top 10 Ways to Stop Being Too Tired to Have Sex

Stop being too tired for sex! Find ways to rejuvenate instead. #marriage

Ever just feel too tired for sex?

Most of us do at some point or other. And because for women are sex drives are primarily in our heads, when we’re too tired to concentrate on sex, our bodies often don’t get in the game. And then sex doesn’t work well.

One interesting study I came across found that 25% of people reported being too tired to have sex.

That doesn’t surprise me, actually. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not higher. I remember when the children were little, and didn’t sleep, and I was so desperate to get at least 6 hours a night (even if it was broken up), that sex was far down on my priority list. It didn’t mean we weren’t intimate; it’s just that I was far more attuned to my need for sleep than I was my need for sex.

But as I wrote in To Love, Honor and Vacuum, exhaustion isn’t just about lack of sleep; it’s also about lack of downtime to recharge our batteries. It’s feeling like you’re working all the time–which is mentally exhausting, even if you’re not physically exhausted.

So let’s talk about that today: what do you do when you’re exhausted and you have no time for sex?

How do you get to the point where you are actually available to yourself and to your husband, both with time and energy?

Top 10 Ways to Stop Being Too Tired for Sex
Here are 10 ideas that will help you STOP being too tired for sex. And remember our Top 10 Tuesday philosophy: don’t try to do them all. Instead, pick ONE or TWO ideas that especially speak to you, and try your best to follow through and implement them this week.

Taking Time to Emotionally Recharge

Exhaustion isn’t only physical; it’s also emotional. When we aren’t doing things that feed us, we’ll chronically feel exhausted, even if we’re getting 9 hours of sleep a night. So let’s start with emotionally recharging.

1. Recharge Your Batteries Appropriately.

Some people are real extroverts, and they won’t be charged unless they get a lot of time to actually talk to people. If you need it, you don’t have to feel ashamed of it. Just schedule in some time everyday to talk with a friend, or go out for coffee after dinner with her. If you’re an introvert, and you need time alone, tell your husband this, and ask if he can do the bedtime routine so that you can have a bubble bath. In other words, be realistic about what you need.

If you don’t need time alone to feel invigorated, but you need time outside, then take a jog. But don’t feel guilty for taking time away from the kids! They can stand to be with their dad for a while, and he’ll be happier if you’re available to him later. It’s like the quadrant idea I shared with you last week: we all need to do those “important” things that recharge us if we’re going to have energy to pour back into relationship. So even though it feels selfish, it’s actually the opposite.

2. Find Someone to Watch the Kids.

If you’d love to try #1, but you don’t have time to yourself because of the kids, find a teenager in your neighbourhood to watch the children for two hours after school a few times a week so you can get some time to yourself. Don’t just use the time to do errands that won’t replenish you; put a priority on doing what you need to do to feel awake. Or ask your mother or your sister to watch the children for a while. Find someone to be your ally!

3. Schedule Half an Hour of Me Time During Your Day

Don’t let yourself come last in your list of priorities. Schedule time in now, during the day, for you to rejuvenate, whether it means taking a jog, doing a craft, having a bubble bath, or just praying. Take your lunch break at work; when the kids nap in the afternoon; in the early evening when your husband does kid duty. When you do have free time, use it for you, don’t only fill it up with more “things” that you really should get done. The most important thing to get done, after all, is to pay attention to your marriage.

It’s easier to spend time on yourself when you see the benefit in it. You know your marriage is important, but realistically how much time do you dedicate to nurturing it? Do you only pay attention to all the “things” you can do for your family, rather than just being there for your husband? He needs you, not just clean laundry. And when you feel connected to your husband, you also feel more energetic and more excited to get that housework done later!

4. Take One Thing off of Your Schedule

What is making you too busy today? Is it your church commitments? Your children’s schedule? Your hobbies? Whatever it is that is causing you to stop thinking about your husband and start thinking about other things needs to stop. We all need downtime. So find the one thing that is sapping your energy the most, or causing your mind to wander the most, and get rid of it if you can.

5. For One Week, Keep Track of Your “Highs” and “Lows”. Write Them Down.

Not sure what those things are that sap your energy? Try this exercise.

Everyday, think of your “highs” and “lows” for that day. But don’t think only in terms of “when I was happiest” or “when I was saddest”. Think instead of it like this: “When did I feel most invigorated, like I was in the groove and making a difference?” and this: “When did I feel my energy most sapped away, like I was doing something I hated and could barely get through it?”

This is a fun exercise to do with your spouse, because you learn so much about each other (and you learn stuff about yourself, too!) But if you trace this for a week or two, you may find a pattern to when you feel your energy the most sapped. For me, for instance, it’s when I have to deal with my email inbox or when I have to decide what comments to let through on this blog (I get a lot of mean ones or just plain unhelpful ones). It’s exhausting. And after realizing that these two things completely stressed me out beyond all proportion, I hired someone to start doing it for me!

6. Practice the art of compartmentalization.

Men are wonderful at keeping things in their place. They’re not as distracted nearly as much as we are because they’re not naturally trying to multi-task. We do. We multitask naturally, all the time. And believe me, sex is not a good time for multitasking! You should not be writing grocery lists in your head while you’re being intimate. You should not be planning vacations while he’s kissing you. When you’re with your husband, practice being with him. Concentrate on what he’s saying. Concentrate on how he feels. And above all, stop thinking!

If you’re finding that difficult, then when you are making love, keep asking yourself, “what feels good right now?” You’re not judging him; you’re forcing your mind to pay attention to your body, and that can help you focus and concentrate.

Taking Time to Physically Recharge

7. Go to Bed at a Decent Time

Adults need bedtimes, too! If you have to be up at 6:30, that means you have to get to sleep at 10:30. If you want the chance for other things to happen, then you have to be in bed by 10:00.

That may seem early; but the average person needs eight hours of sleep to function at their peak (and I know that’s really hard when you have little ones!). So go to bed.

8. Teach Your Kids to Sleep on Their Own

If your children need you to lie down with them to get them to go to sleep, or need you to rock them, or rub their backs, you’re going to find your nights are taken over by their bedtime routine.

Too Tired for Sex: Teaching kids to sleep on their own

Children who need their parents to get to sleep will also need their parents to soothe them whenever they wake up in the night.

Here’s why: they’ve associated you with sleep. You do this, too. Think about your favourite pillow. You need it to sleep. What happens if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow isn’t there? You turn on the light and try to find it. You fully wake yourself up because you can’t get back to sleep without your pillow. But if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow is there, you likely roll over and go right back to sleep without anything even registering.

If you’ve taught your children to associate you with sleep by “putting them to sleep”, then your children need you to sleep. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they will call for you. And that’s not healthy for anyone.

Kids need to be taught to self-soothe. That may mean a rough week when you stop rocking them, or lying down with them, or rubbing their back until they fall asleep. They may cry a lot. But they will learn, and then it will be over, and you’ll have your nights back again.

9. Treat Your Body Well

Exercise a little bit everyday, even if it’s just going for a walk after dinner. Eat fewer carbs and more protein. Stretch a lot! An inactive life makes you more tired. A poor diet makes you tired. And not using your muscles makes you tired. Start small if you have to: take a walk, do 10 minutes of stretches with your children every day; start getting rid of the packaged foods and the bread. You’ll find if you do small things, your body will start to like it, and you can add more small things to your routine that do add up!

10. Recruit Help for Evening Chores

What keeps you busy at night, and stops you from relaxing with your husband? Is it the laundry that’s piled up? The dishes that need to be done? The bills that need to be paid or the emails that need to be answered?

If you find yourself working, especially after the kids go to bed, then that’s a problem. We all need downtime, and if you’re doing chores at night, it will be much harder to transition to romance time.

So take a look at what you’re doing at night, and ask yourself: can it be done earlier? Can I recruit other people to help me with some of this? Can I talk to my family about sharing the load? Can I hire a housekeeper to do some of it? Try to rearrange your schedule so it doesn’t need to steal your energy late at night.

 Here’s the truth: often we think we’re exhausted when the issue is we just have too much on our plate, and thus too much constantly going through our brains. Turn off the constant noise in your brain telling you to do more, and turn on that part of your brain telling you to slow down, and practice being in the moment. You’ll find you’re less tired, and much more in the mood than when you’re always focusing on all the things you “should” be doing.

The biggest “should” in your life is about your marriage. You should be enjoying your husband. Are you? If not, learn to! Make it a priority. And turn everything else off!

Which of these 10 ideas would help you NOT be too tired for sex? What has made the biggest difference in your life? Let me know in the comments!

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Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Use

A story about discovering your husband's porn use. God can do a new thing!

What do you do when you discover your husband is using porn?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, and I’ve spent the weekend helping my oldest daughter make the bridesmaids’ gifts for her upcoming wedding, and now we’re heading off to move some furniture into the apartment they’ve rented. Connor’s living in it right now, but all he has is a mattress and two TV tables!

So instead I’m going to post this amazing story sent to me by Robi Smith, from the new blog Hopeful Wife Today. Her calling is to help women whose marriages have been ravaged by porn. Here’s Robi:

Behold, I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness

And rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:19

It made sense that this Bible verse came to my mind as I was looking at my husband. He was sitting on the couch in the living room with our four children cuddling near him.

It had been exactly three years since that awful day.

I could not believe the man I was looking at now was the same man from back then. That man would never have been relaxing with a smile on his face and his children right near him on his day off. Actually, that man probably would not have been sober on his day off! But today was not that day. And that day seems decades ago considering all that has happened to our marriage in just three years.

The horrid day that I am referring to is the day I found out my husband was addicted to pornography.

We had been arguing ever since my husband came home from a short work trip. His phone had whole strands of deleted text messages. They were text messages that I really wanted to read, specifically, from a co-worker. After a pathetic excuse that he wanted to “clean up his phone”, he admitted to me that he deleted the messages because he knew I would not like them. He promised that they were nothing inappropriate but that I would think they sounded like flirting. He knew how I felt about that kind of thing.

Flirting, looking, or getting to know any woman personally was out of the question in our marriage. We were totally in love and committed for ten beautiful years. He was my high school sweetheart. We had three beautiful children. What more could I ever ask for? That was how I felt, right? Then why did something seem wrong? Why did something seem weird? Why was there some foggy question just beyond my reach that I could never make out? And why did that verse haunt me day and night?

It was from the book of Isaiah. I was doing my nightly Bible reading one night, just as I always did. My husband was probably drinking a few beers and playing video games. That was his weekend routine. That’s okay though. He works really hard. He deserves it.

That’s what he always said whenever I’d remind him how much I hated alcohol in the house. I hated anytime he drank. It was just so hard to question him when he did everything for me. He worked two jobs so that I could live my dream of being a stay at home mother and raising my children exactly how I wanted to.

Anyway, that verse in Isaiah. I got to it and couldn’t move on. It said in Isaiah 43:19- “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” I read that verse and it seemed as if God shouted, “Stop!” It was so loud in my heart that I jumped. I kept reading that verse over and over again, unable to move on. A new thing? God, you’re going to make a new thing? In what desert? Now? Now something is going to spring forth? That verse stayed on my heart day and night. It gave me the greatest feeling of hope but, also a very scary, lurking feeling. I kept thinking, “when is it going to happen and in what desert?”

That answer came the moment I quietly grabbed my husband’s phone while he was napping.

I hooked it up to his computer and looked in every file hoping I would find those deleted text messages and read for myself just what they said. What I found instead were deleted still screens of pornography websites and videos. Right then my whole life paused. Every single moment with my husband surrounded me in clarity. I said, “God, I never knew for one second, but it all makes complete sense.” I felt like I finally knew my husband. All the strangeness of his inability to ever be open with me, his guilty conscious, his exaggerated talk of our love story to everyone all made sense.

He had a terrible, secret addition to pornography and he was not perfect.

After that clarity, I literally fell to floor. I felt sick to my stomach and cried out to God. My prayer was, “God, you know I hate this! You know I have a strong disgust of anyone who even mentions the word porn. You knew that I secretly thought men who had lust problems were the weakest, most pitiful people on earth! You knew I would hate my husband forever if I thought he did this! And ten years! He actually carried this into our whole marriage and I did not know! God, you could pick anyone else for this, but certainly not me!”

Since that prayer to God that day, He has answered me. First, God showed me why my husband never told me. He struggled every single day with this secret problem, dying to tell just someone. He knew the last person he could tell would be me. If he told me before we got married, I am certain I would not have married him. If he told me any step of the way, I am certain I would have left him. But now, God started preparing my heart months ago with the verse from Isaiah.

God also spoke to my heart that He was going to use me to first, bring my husband to true repentance and second, to help other women who go through this.

I cried to God nightly. I begged God that I wouldn’t have to do this. I didn’t want to even mention it to my husband after that first week of confrontation. We decided it best that we never ever mentioned it again! My husband said he would never be lustful again. I said okay and that was that. God said that wasn’t that.

One week after my fourth child was born the verse in Isaiah came back to me. There was something so huge about to happen between me and my husband that I could feel it rising like a volcano. I started urging my husband daily. I had no idea what to say and I now know that God gave me all the words. I was literally talking blindly. I had no proof of anything. All I kept saying to my husband was, “I know you are not truly over this. I know you have not repented. I know you are lustful every single day.” And the worst one was, “God has told me that you did not tell me everything and that you have many, many secrets.”

I did not know this, but my husband later told me that last line terrified him. He couldn’t sleep at night. Until, finally, one day, almost one and a half years after I found out about the pornography, my husband confessed. He was keeping many secrets from me. He not only used pornography our whole marriage, he also did internet chatting, called various women, had a relationship with a woman at work that consisted of internet chatting daily, privately meeting, and talking on the phone. He also told me random violations to our wedding vow that had occurred many times with various women.

Finally, he admitted that even though he did not look at pornography anymore, he had huge problems with lust and searching for things on the internet that would not be considered pornography.

After that I was emotionally crushed. Yet, at the same time as that utter hopelessness, God whispered to my soul, “Now it can begin.”

Now it can begin. Now my marriage, the dream that I always thought it was, was completely broken. There was not one thing we had. We had no faithfulness, no trust, no honesty, no wedding vow, no openness, no kindness, nothing. But we had God. We had the hope in God that He would do a new thing and NOW it shall spring forth. Tears come to my eyes as I think about that broken day that my marriage began. As if in slow motion, my husband started to change. He told me one day out of the blue that he was going to stop drinking. He said, “ah, it’s not really good for me.” I held my breath. Then, he said he was going to quit smoking. Next, he started praying every single morning by himself. He prayed over his prayer list and prayed that God would guard his eyes and heart the whole day, that he would not lust, but be true and pure to God and me. We started, for the first time in our whole marriage, praying and reading every night together.

My husband became open and told me all about his days!

He even shared with me if someone was being inappropriate with him or if he had a specific temptation. We started going to church as a family. Little by little, this man was changing right before my eyes! Every day God was convicting him of things. He told me he was going to spend more time with the children, being a true father. Each day when he came home he greeted me and asked me how he could help out tonight.

As he was doing all these things, my heart slowly began to heal.

Each day I chose to let go of a little bit more of the past. The pain of it was clinging to me everywhere and I had to drop it. In my painful, quiet moments with God, I realized that God needed me for my husband. God showed me that my stubborn husband would not change for anyone in the world, except for me. God had big plans for my husband, but he needed me to bring them about.

God knew this would happen! Every day, even when I did not know what was happening behind the scenes of my marriage, God knew. He was preparing my heart for the day. The very holy, beautiful day that my marriage became a new thing.

Hopeful Wife Today is a site to bring hope and healing to hurting wives from their husband’s pornography use and unfaithfulness.

Why We Shouldn’t Bad Mouth our Husbands

Today’s guest post is from Wanjiru Kihusa, a marriage blogger from Kenya, who is sharing about resisting the urge to badmouth your husband–while there will be opportunities to do so, have a plan beforehand.

Resist the Urge to Bad Mouth Your Husband
Why you should never speak ill of your husband

Two months ago I was in the salon getting my hair braided. I always carry a novel with me because it keeps me busy for the several hours I have to be seated. The fact that it also distracts me from the pain and discomfort is an added advantage. This day I was reading Tis by Frank Mc Court a really awesome memoir. There were about three ladies braiding and chatting away and I was doing a great job ignoring them until one of them said “these men, what do they usually want? You feed them, look after the kids, and they still cheat. I honestly don’t know what do with mine,”

I was puzzled. Who says that about their man in public? I was waiting for the other ladies to quickly change the subject because of the discomfort they felt at their colleague’s outburst. But instead they went on to share very intimate details of how their men were bad husbands and horrible fathers. I was horrified. So I politely told them “I am uncomfortable hearing all these things you guys are saying. Could you please change the subject?” You should have seen them stare at me in shock. The only thing that saved me from being told off was that I was the customer, and they needed to get paid.

This is not the first time this has happened to me in a hair salon. Whenever I express my displeasure at listening to their stories, I always get odd glances. These women expect me to agree with them in solidarity and probably even share my disappointments about my husband. It is an appalling habit that I detest, and as a wife, I want to tell you why you should never bad mouth your husband to anyone.

Don’t speak ill of your husband to your family

My sister once shared with me advice a married friend gave her; if your husband ever does anything wrong (and he will) never tell anyone in your family. They reason for this is that if you ever tell your family bad stuff about him, they will never look at him the same way. It could even be something as major as cheating but please don’t. Here’s the thing, even if you forgive him and go back to loving him, your family will always see him as a bad guy. Why? Because they love you and want the best for you. Reason number two is your family is not going to be objective and show you where you may have gone wrong. To them you will always be their “nice little girl” and he will now be the “bastard who broke our little girl’s heart.”

Don’t speak ill about you husband to male friends – and don’t entertain men talking ill about their spouses either.

This is not only wrong but also dangerous. Having a male friend who you tell about your husband’s shortcomings is a disaster waiting to happen. One of these days in a weak moment when your husband has angered you and your friend offers you a shoulder to lean, the friend zone line will get blurry and one of you will cross it. And that, my dear, is how affairs start.

Don’t speak ill about you husband to strangers

Don’t talk about him in the salon and in other women gatherings. The girls might even contribute their part but you will come off as petty and completely lacking discretion. These people will not offer you any help on how to fix your marriage, they will just get fodder for gossip.

So, who do you talk to?

With all these people who not to talk to, who should you share with what you are going through? Since we all need someone to talk to, here are a few guidelines on who would be best to talk to.:

  • A close girlfriend who is also married – a lady who has a solid marriage
  • She should be sober minded – sharing your marriage should not be gossip, the encounter should be helpful. Get someone who offers you a listening ear but also give good advice; not afraid to call you out when something is your fault.
  • A friend who will pray for and with you – you need someone who when she says she’ll pray for you, she does.
  • She should be able to keep a secret – majority of the things you share will be so personal it would kill you if you had them somewhere else.

I have an amazing lady who has been both a mentor and a friend. I met her when my husband and I started dating. We needed a mentor couple to walk with us and even after we got married they have been really helpful. We picked them because they have a solid marriage and values we deemed very important. This lady is kind and very helpful and is not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. Whenever I need advice on a marriage or faith issue I can always trust her to help.

You, too, need a friend like that. Someone sober, caring and kind; and discreet too. This kind of friendship does not happen overnight but is something we constantly work on. However, even with such a great friend, use wisdom to know how much details to give.

There will many times your husband will offend you and make you angry. Because he is human, he will constantly fall short of your expectations and will not handle issues you raise as fast as you wish he would. There will also be equally many opportunities for you to talk to ill of him to someone. Resist the urge to bad mouth him to anyone.

meWanjiru Kihusa is a Christian family blogger. She speaks and writes on marriage and relationships matters. A mother to one (in heaven), Wanjiru also speaks about miscarriages and grief caused by loss. She looks to encourage young people by giving sober and correct information about marriage and relationships. Find her at her blog Wanjiru Kihusa, or at her beautiful sister site, Family Lounge. (I had fun poking around her sites to see the things that Kenyan women are talking about! Cool.)

Wifey Wednesday: 3 Benefits of Postponing Your Honeymoon

Today welcome Frannie Anne from Authentic Virtue, who shares with us the benefits of postponing her honeymoon–as a couple, they ended up being so grateful!

I thought that with my daughter getting married soon this might be a good one to talk about. Here’s Frannie Anne:

Postpoing Your Honeymoon
Every couple awaits their honeymoon with eagerness and joy. Tickets are bought, bags packed and dreams made as they prepare for a time of delight, intimacy and fun. But what happens when a couple cannot afford the time and money honeymoons often demand? What if schedules, itineraries and activities bring offer more stress then relaxation? It’s a road far less traveled, but one I highly recommend:

Postpone the honeymoon and enjoy the benefits of doing so.

My darling man and I had agreed to wait for our honeymoon. Having begun a new job meant that my husband didn’t have the luxury to take time away from work and in reality, neither of us could afford a trip.

But, boy, did we have a honeymoon.

Three months before our wedding, I helped my fiancée move into our rental. During those months he scrubbed, painted, and cleaned the bungalow from top to bottom in preparation for when I would come to live with him. After our wedding, I hopped into his white truck and we drove three hours northwest to our home.

And just like countless couples before us, Dalton carried me over the threshold and our honeymoon at home began.

Now, after eleven months of marriage, we are packing our bags, buying tickets, and preparing for our honeymoon away from home. And boy, are we excited!

Even though we are brimming with excitement, I think there were huge blessings that came from waiting to take our big trip. Here are three benefits of postponing your honeymoon.

1. You enjoy each other without pressure

Traveling naturally creates pressure (and stress). Flying (or driving), checking in, and finding your way around a new environment can cause new couples extra stress that, although they’re more than happy to deal with, doesn’t have to be.

For Dalton and I, two very happy introverts, there was no place like home. We settled into each other (and our marriage) without the stress and pressure of the outside world. Although Jefferson City was new to me, Dalton knew the places I would want to visit, explore, and eat at so he spent the first few weeks making my time extra special. It was wonderful.

2. You know each other

Last night, as we were snuggling in bed, I told Dalton that my love for him had grown so much during our marriage that I wondered how it was possible that I loved him while we were dating — my love is just so much greater and deeper than I ever thought possible! But that’s what happens when you give love time — it grows and multiplies.

When a couple first marries, you really don’t know each other. Oh, you may know what your beliefs are, your plans, and how each of you think. But you haven’t seen how your man handles throwing up, or for that matter, handles watching you throw up. You haven’t seen him handle the in’s and out’s of finances. You haven’t been humbled by his bravery and courage when he patiently waits for unanswered prayers and walks through broken dreams. You don’t know him yet.

But you will.

For us, it was worth putting off an official honeymoon. We know and love each other far better than when we first said “I do.”

And I think that knowledge will make our honeymoon even better.

3. You will enjoy your trip better

This last point may cause an incredulous, nervous shock to radiate among my dear conservative, homeschooling friends, but I stand by it. Your honeymoon is about intimacy … having sex with your beloved.

((GASP!)) 😉

But really, it is!

God designed marriage to be a beautiful, creative, sexual adventure for you and your spouse and, if you have followed His ways, your honeymoon will be the beginning to that amazing adventure. Of course, each couple is different, but for us it was important to give ourselves time. I can’t imagine how stressful it would have been for me if we would have been honeymooning in the tropics and I would have known that at every moment there was some planned activity, some recreation, to partake in.

Of course, I know that it is totally possible to plan a beautiful honeymoon and not be roped into all the activities and adventures offered. But for me, it would have been stressful. I loved knowing that at any time we could go explore our new town and then safely retire back to our cozy, little home and into my man’s strong arms. Physical intimacy (and getting used to it) requires time and I am thankful for the time and freedom not being on a honeymoon offered.

Plus, now that we have been married for eleven months (and we’re both fully used to and enjoying the intimate side of marriage 😉 I know that we will be able to really enjoy our upcoming trip. :)

Good Girls Guide My SiteAnd remember: If you’re getting married soon, The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex will help you get ready for the marriage, and the honeymoon–whenever you decide to take it! It makes a great bridal shower gift–but every married woman should read it, too.

What do you think? Did any of my points resonate with you? Or maybe you had the time of your life at your get-away honeymoon? Let me hear your thoughts — I’d love to know!

Frannie AnneFrannie Anne is a twenty-five year old, apartment-dwelling blogger who finds any excuse to keep fresh flowers and a well-kissed husband.  At Authentic Virtue, she writes about the joys (and learnings) of marriage, being a Christ-following Christian and the everyday blessings of living in the capital of Missouri.

 

WWbutton175 (1)Now, what advice do you have for us today? If you’re a blogger, too, just paste the URL of a specific marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so others can see these great posts.

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Let’s Talk Time Wasters: Video Games, Netflix, Internet

Do We Waste Too Much Time?

Are video games a waste of time? What about Netflix? Facebook? Pinterest?

On Mondays I usually post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it, but I’m in a bit of a contemplative mood today (perhaps it’s because I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, while I’m away from my girls on a speaking trip, and I’m a little bit restless), and I have some things I’d like to share.

On Saturday I posted this on Facebook:

Now THIS is an awesome story: I’m staying at my assistant Holly’s house in Colorado while I speak this week, and her 17-year-old son just sold his Xbox. He went on a men’s retreat last weekend and heard about how many young husbands wreck their marriages because they always use video games. So he thought that before it became an addiction that wrecked his future marriage he’d get rid of it!

Quite a few people liked that status, but I had a lot of comments to the effect of, “there’s nothing wrong with video games.” Or perhaps, “maybe he should have tried moderation first.” And I do understand.

I think we all have certain bents towards different time wasters: video games, Netflix, Pinterest, whatever it may be. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Aren’t we all entitled to some downtime?

And in general I’d say yes.

But that’s not the whole picture, and so I’d like to tell you a bit of my story.

Let’s start back in 1996, when Rebecca (my oldest) was a year old. I used to leave the TV on during the day all the time just to have some noise in the apartment. I watched soap operas from 1-4 every afternoon, because I was tired. I wanted an escape. It was hard work being alone with my baby all the time. My husband worked about 100 hours a week in his residency program in pediatrics, and I was often lonely. I found myself falling into television more and more.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeThen one day I picked up Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at a garage sale, and I read it. And it changed my life.

Specifically, it was his discussion of Beginning with the End in Mind and Putting First Things First. In other words, know where you’re heading, and then make sure you do the things that are necessary to get you there–before you do anything else.

He used a graphic to illustrate what he was talking about, and I’m going to recreate it with my own embellishment and commentary.

Divide your life into four quadrants based on whether or not the things you are doing are important or urgent. When you do that, you get something that looks like this:

Don't Waste Time: Stephen Covey's 4 Quadrants

Everything that we do can be divided into those 4 quadrants. And when we do that, it looks like this:

Don't Waste Time: How to figure out what to spend time on

Let’s dissect this a bit.

Things that are Important AND Urgent Demand Your Attention–Rightly

That’s when you go into labour. When a child is in a pageant. When your mother is diagnosed with cancer. These are life events that basically have nothing to do with how you behave–they just happen.

But then there are crises which sometimes ARE avoidable–but when they crop up, we have to address them. We discover an affair. A teenager runs away. We suffer a nervous breakdown (sometimes this is purely chemical; other times it’s because we’ve let ourselves get too stressed.) We totter on bankruptcy. Sometimes it’s even little things, like running out of clean dishes or clean underwear because we haven’t done any housework. These are the fires in our lives that have to be put out.

Things That Are Important But Not Urgent DON’T Demand Our Attention–and that’s a problem.

No one is going to make you do them. They’re the date nights with your spouse, your time alone with God, your time alone with yourself (if that’s what you need to rejuvenate). It’s your time with a special mentor friend who points you to God. It’s reading to your children. It’s keeping the home organized. It’s spending time together as a family.

We all need these things–but it’s far too easy to neglect them because nothing is forcing us to do them, and there are rarely immediate negative consequences for leaving them undone. The consequences come later.

Things that Are Urgent But Aren’t Important–But we do them anyway.

You’re having a deep conversation with your teenager and the phone rings. What do you do? Chances are you answer the phone. But what was more important?

You’re out to dinner with your spouse and your phone dings with a new text. Do you ignore it or do you check it?

Your friend, who has been in constant crisis for the last two years because she overspends, drinks too much, and keeps dating jerks, calls you when you’re on your way out the door to a volunteer activity, in tears. Do you listen or do you tell her you need to go?

Things That Are Not Urgent and Not Important–that have no redeeming value.

This is where many of us spend most of our time. I’m not saying all hobbies or all movies fall into this category. Some hobbies do rejuvenate, like productive hobbies like cooking, or knitting, or woodworking. Some movies bond you as a family. Sometimes getting on Facebook helps you keep in contact with your nieces and nephews. But how often do you spend an evening watching TV or getting on social media or playing video games, and you feel even more tired than before?

Here’s the truth that Stephen Covey wants us to understand: when you spend time in Quadrant 2, doing things that are important, you have fewer fires in your life that you have to put out. But when you spend most of your time in Quadrants 3 and 4, you’re going to end up with more crises. And you’re going to feel more dissatisfied.

Dont Waste Time: How wasting time leads to more crises in our lives

Why do we spend so much time on time wasters?

I think we do it because we want an escape. We lead lives that are exhausting, that aren’t always fulfilling, and we want a chance to forget.

But if your basic problem is that your life isn’t that fulfilling, because you’re chronically lonely, or you feel as if you’re not doing what you’re called to do, or your relationships aren’t on track, then wasting time won’t fix the problem. It will only make your problem worse. And a spiral will begin, where your reality deteriorates, and so you want to escape even more.

After reading Covey’s book I quit TV cold turkey.

I just stopped. I didn’t want to waste my life. And what I found is that for the first time in years I was bored. And energetic! And so I started something new: I started magazine writing. I researched how to get published, and by 1999 I was well on my way. In 2003 I had my first book published. My eighth will be coming out in August. And you know the rest of the story.

I firmly believe that I would never have begun writing if I had kept watching TV.

And that’s why, when people say, “there’s nothing wrong with video games”, I have to take a pause. It’s not that it’s wrong; it’s that too much of it may be stopping you from doing what is best.

Hebrews 12:1-2a says this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

To Love, Honor and VacuumI explained this concept in my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, but here’s what really hit me back in 1996: there are things that are holding us back from God that aren’t necessarily sin. Sure, we have to throw aside the sin, but there are also things that aren’t sin that hinder us. We’re to get rid of those, too.

My life is better because I gave up TV then, and I believe that 17-year-old boy’s life will be better because he got rid of video games, too.

Does this mean I can never waste time?

No, of course not. My husband and I do watch Netflix today–but we’re trying to put limits on it so that we also take time to play games together or listen to talks or books on tape while we’re doing our separate hobbies together. We don’t want to waste whole nights.

Every now and then we have to re-evaluate because we slip into patterns. In 2008 I had to quit reading political blogs because I was wasting time and getting my blood pressure up in the process. After I quit reading other blogs, I started writing this one. Again, I found that I actually had time I didn’t know I had!

And now we’re re-evaluating our Netflix time and trying to find a new balance. We have to be vigilant.

I want to live a life where I can feel like I’ve accomplished something. I want to feel well rested, healthy, and organized. I want to have close relationships with my children and my husband. I want to feel as if I’m contributing. I want to feel as if I’m leaving a legacy.

And I can’t do any of those things if I waste most of my time on entertainment.

Dayspring Purpose Mug

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re struggling with feeling productive, or with finding meaning in your life, or with being chronically dissatisfied. But if you are, can I suggest that you take a look at these quadrants, and ask yourself: where am I spending my time?

And then ask: where should I be spending my time? Where do I want to be spending my time? And then try to put first things first.

Let me know: have you ever had to quit a time waster? Or do you think I’m totally off base? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

Wifey Wednesday: The 6 Rules of Relationship Conflict

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage!

And today, since I’m flying to Colorado Springs to tape Focus on the Family’s radio show tomorrow (it won’t air until this summer! I’ll tell you when, don’t worry), I thought I’d share a snippet I thought was really smart that was sent to me recently.

Through conflict we can grow more like Jesus, see the world in a bigger way, and learn to be less selfish. We can feel understood and valued by our spouse. We can end up feeling that our marriage is rock solid.

But that doesn’t happen if conflict tears down rather than builds up.

So if you want it to build up, follow these 6 steps:

6 Rules of Relationship Conflict--#marriage

Great tips from Embrace Happiness: The Art of Conflict Management.

I love #6–remind yourself that your spouse cares. It’s just like Believe the Best that we talked about last week!

Now I know not all conflict can go that smoothly. Some of us struggle with spouses who are deep in sin or who are extremely selfish. But that is a minority of relationships. Usually it’s just a misunderstanding that’s making us feel off kilter.

To repair those moments, keep in mind these rules.

And here are more relationship conflict posts that may help:

Talk About the Real Issue

Ending Conflict Quickly

What are Your Trigger Points for Conflict?

And for those of you where the issue is something more intense, and where the relationship is tenuous, I’d point to these instead:

Being a Peace-MAKER Rather than a Peace-KEEPER

Seeking Peace not the Absence of Conflict

Have a great day!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? If you’re a blogger, too, just paste the URL of a specific marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so others can see these great posts.

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Top 10 Ways to Get Turned On By Your Husband Again

How do you get turned on by your husband again? I get this question regularly. So I’m going to let one of my favourite guest posters, J from Hot, Holy and Humorous, give us 10 GREAT ways to keep the flame alive.

10 Ways to Get Turned On by your Husband Again--after not feeling attracted to him for a while. #marriage

J writes:

I recently fielded a question on my blog from a wife who wasn’t physically attracted to her husband. She wanted to have that heart-pounding desire for him, but just didn’t feel it. What could she do?

I answered her extensively, but I want to share a summary here, with 10 tips for how any wife can nurture her attraction and chemistry with her husband. How do we get or keep those heart-thumping sensations in our marriage?

1. Rethink Romance.

Many believe a successful marriage and satisfying intimacy requires falling in love, feeling like he’s your soul mate, being sexually compatible.

Look, I’m thrilled we live in a culture where I fell in love with the hubster and chose to marry him, but marriages in the Bible and throughout history have happened for various reasons—chemistry, love, family connection, alliances, physical provision. And more than a few were truly happy, regardless how they got started.

Why? Because a good marriage involves living out godly principles and acting in love. Start tossing love cookies your hubby’s way, and that target of your attention may start looking pretty darn good.

Quick tip: For real romance, read 1 Corinthians 13 and put “The Love Chapter” into practice.

2. Focus on the Positives.

Have you heard the saying, “folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”? There’s truth to that, including how you feel about others. If you look at the positives, you might find your husband’s attractiveness improves from your adjusted viewpoint.

So reflect often on what’s so great about him! How about starting a gratitude journal and listing 1-3 things each day that make you happy to be married to your man? Focus on his deeper character traits, sure, but also list physical characteristics that are attractive or masculine.

Keeping track of what’s truly handsome about your guy, you’ll begin to appreciate him in a spine-tingling way.

Quick tip: Keep a journal listing your husband’s attractive physical qualities.

3. Express Loving Thoughts.

When you repeatedly compliment someone and watch them light up in response, you reinforce that positive behavior for both of you. So focus on an attractive trait of your husband and express that loving thought to him.

We get the idea sometimes we ladies are the only ones concerned about body image, but husbands usually respond very favorably to their wives expressing what they find attractive about their man.

Train yourself to focus on his handsome qualities. In return, you’ll find the compliments easier to give, and your mind and heart will respond to what your mouth has expressed.

Quick tip: Read Song of Songs for inspiration on describing your man’s handsome appearance.

4. Eat Healthy.

What does eating have to do with romantic chemistry?

Being attracted to someone involves the release of body chemicals that fuel that lovin’ feeling. Chemicals such as testosterone, oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, and more can affect how attracted we feel in the moment to our mate. And eating well keeps some of those chemicals pumping like they should in marriage.

For testosterone (yes, ladies, we need some of that in our systems), make sure to get enough protein, vitamin C, and good fats, and to limit alcohol intake. Endorphins also respond to foods, particularly spicy foods. Oh, and chocolate. Yes, chocolate can be healthy for your sex life! (In moderation, of course.)

Quick tip: Keep a food journal for a week, then adjust your diet if you need to eat healthier.

5. Exercise Together.

Endorphins are one of those body chemicals I mentioned, and they cause that “runner’s high” long-distance runners report. Endorphins take longer to cultivate, but they’ve been compared to opiates in their ability to produce feelings of calm, stress-reduction, and general happiness.

When you pair your mate and your endorphins, the result is a “love opiate,” so to speak. And how do you increase your endorphin quotient?

Exercise. So exercise more, exercise together. Endorphins release with steady exercise, and sharing those moments with hubby means you get that opiate effect when he’s around. You’ll brain will naturally attach the two.

Quick tip: Suggest an exercise you can do together, maybe even a walk around the block to begin.

6. Pair Your Hubby with Pleasurable Stimuli.

Much as we love our dogs, we are far more complicated beings. Except when we’re not.

Scientist Ivan Pavlov conducted a famous experiment in which he studied the salivation of dogs at mealtime, but he noticed a side effect which became a far more interesting discovery. He rang a bell at dinnertime, then fed the dogs. After a while, the dogs began to salivate simply with the ringing of the bell. We’re like that too. Pair a stimulus with a pleasurable stimuli often enough, and the stimulus gets us licking our lips.

Now if you want to lick your lips over your hubby, pair that guy with pleasurable stimuli! Another body chemical, dopamine, is involved in the reward system of the brain—a chemical that provides good sensations when a particular activity is experienced. Matching the activity and the feel-good results, we learn to repeat that behavior again and again to get the same “high.”

So watch a fun movie together, ask for a relaxing massage, or experience orgasm in his arms. Let dopamine fire away and get you “addicted” to love with your husband.

Quick tip: Give each other massages this week—back, foot, or wherever you each want.

7. Be Affectionate.

Affection is wonderful for its own sake, but it’s also important for the release of yet another body chemical, oxytocin. Oxytocin is often called the “bonding chemical” because it gets released during deep embraces, infant nursing, and sexual activity, and creates feelings of connection, attachment, and yep, love.

Studies have shown you can increase oxytocin through physical touch, like holding hands and sustained hugs of 20 seconds or longer. Now you have to hang on long enough for your body to register the affection and respond with an oxytocin release. But it’s a pretty powerful effect once you put it into practice.

And yes, sexual encounters with your husband definitely impact the “bonding chemical”—with sex capable of producing an oxytocin rush for wives at three to five times the norm!

Quick tip: Hug or cuddle with your husband for at least a half a minute twice a day…or much, much more!

8. Laugh with Your Husband.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” And some of you wives are walking around with brittle bones when it comes to romantic chemistry for your husband. Cheer that heart up, baby! Laughter is wonderful for your relationship and your feelings of attraction—good medicine indeed.

Remember endorphins? The “love opiates”? Laughter triggers endorphins. When you and your husband share a good belly laugh, it’s good for your feelings of attraction to him.

So watch comedies together, share jokes and word play, flirt and giggle, even go to a Christian comedy show for date night. And as I’ve often said, learn to laugh with one another even in your marriage bed.

Quick tip: Rent a funny movie and watch it with the hubby (snuggled together is even better).

9. Have More Sex.

We wives tend to play what comes first? with this one. Most gals struggle with the idea of having sex with someone we’re not extremely physically attracted to, even our husbands. But it’s really a chicken-and-egg argument. There’s quite a bit of evidence that sexual activity in a covenant relationship increases feelings of intimacy and attraction.

Having regular sex releases endorphins, testosterone, and the bonding chemical, oxytocin. It provides an opportunity to touch extensively, notice your mate’s fascinating body, share laughter, and experience physical highs in one another’s arms.

And you know what? Many of the positive effects of sex noted by researchers only occur in long-term, committed relationships.

Quick tip: Make love one extra time this week. And the week after. And the week…

10. Pray for That Spark.

Not “feelin’ it” yet? Ask for God to reveal all these things to you—what’s so great and attractive about your husband, how to take care of your bodies better, what will make your spine tingle, how to see your husband the way only a sexy, loving wife can.

It may feel weird at first to ask God to get you all hot-and-bothered over your husband, but God wants your engine revving about your man. The very first verses of Song of Songs, the book in the Bible devoted to intimate romance and love, starts with the wife expressing how much her guy turns her on:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers. – Song of Songs 1:2-4

If you want that can’t-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-you desire for your husband, ask God for His divine help. Pray for your romantic chemistry.

Quick tip: Pray for God to help you become more physically attracted to your husband.

J from Hot, Holy and Humorous

Sex Savvy Wife
J. Parker is also the author of Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives. She writes the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog, where she uses a biblical perspective and blunt sense of humor to foster Christian sexuality in marriage.

 

Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in MarriageSheila says:

J writes so well and so REAL about sex. If you’ve always struggled to make sex intimate, and not just physical, why not embark on a journey with J and work through her book Intimacy Revealed? It’s one devotional a week–one thought to chew on and pray about all week–so that by the end of the year you’ll feel more confident, more excited, and more in awe of how God created sex to be.

From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.