Reader Question: My Husband Married Me Because I was the “Good Girl”

Reader Question of the Week

Ever feel like “there’s no passion in my marriage”?

Every Monday I like to answer a Reader Question, and today’s is from a woman who said her husband married her because she was “the good girl”–not because he was passionately in love with her. She writes,

I am in my late 20s and have been married for a year and a half. We have been blessed with a beautiful baby who is 4 months old. I am grateful to God for all His blessings, I have married a good man of faith.

In recent weeks, it has become clear that I was chosen to be his wife because I would make a good wife and be the right ‘helper’ in bringing my husband closer to God, but not because he was madly in love with me or because he was deeply attracted to me–ever. My husband says he made a conscious choice not to be driven by sex, but to choose someone for the more lasting values that marriage has to offer.

On some level, I have known this but I assumed it was perpetuated by my low self esteem. Our sex life makes me sad and frustrated; my desire to be physically intimate is much greater and deeper than his, and he doesn’t understand my perspective on marital sex and how important it is to me. Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It would be less of an effort to initiate it with me. It would be more frequent, spontaneous.

It breaks my heart because I know for certain that I married someone who doesn’t adore me, doesn’t desire me deeply, but loves me for all the ‘right’ reasons. It hurts so much. We are Catholic and deeply believe in the sacrament of marriage and my question is: how do you come to terms with knowing you, as a wife and mother, were the sensible choice rather than one of passion and love? How do you find your happiness knowing that previous women my husband had sex with before marriage were more attractive to him than I am? How do I find peace as a wife and mother, without feelings of regret, resentment, disgust, anger and deep hurt towards my husband and myself? How do I overcome feeling like a second choice and feeling stuck?

I can feel the hurt in this letter. She had an image of she and her husband both being madly, passionately in love with each other, and she’s missing that. She feels like she’s second best.

So here are some thoughts that hopefully can help her change her perspective!

1. You Need a New Fairytale

Read some Jane Austen. Seriously.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters: Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is all “sense”. She’s logical, she doesn’t let her emotions rule her life, she’s loyal, subdued, and steady. Marianne, on the other hand, is all “sensibility” (English 19th century speak for emotions). She falls hopelessly in love with a man named Willoughby who sweeps her off of her feet. They are both passion to the extreme.

Yet Willoughby turns out not to have very good moral character, and breaks Marianne’s heart.

She gets ill and almost dies (she is rescued by Colonel Brandon), and as she is recuperating, she starts to notice the Colonel, who has always been there, in the background, steady and secure, too. He is kind. He is loving. He is moral. He is upright. And in the end she chooses him.

He is not the Passion of her Life. He is Better.

Too many of us live with this idea that true love is “feelings”–that butterfly feeling when he is near; the way your heart skips a beat when he touches your hand; the undeniable attraction and obsession you feel for him. That is love, right?

Sacred SearchWhat Austen was trying to show in her novel was that basing a marriage on these feelings often leads to disaster. It is far better to look around you and find someone who is WORTHY of your love. Someone who will be steady. That may not create these breathless moments, but it does create a lifetime of peaceful and quiet happiness. And perhaps we should value peaceful and quiet happiness more, and breathless moments less?

Science says that Austen had a point. In Sacred Search, Gary Thomas’ book on how to find a mate, he debunks the whole “I need passion in a husband” myth pretty well using science. It turns out that breathless, heart-skipping-a-beat obsessive feelings last, on average, 18 months. That’s it. No matter how passionate they were, our chemical reactions to each other can’t sustain that in the long term. Eventually all these breathless feelings go by the wayside. And then what is left?

As C.S. Lewis said, “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity; the quieter love enabled them to keep the promise.” (click to tweet)

Quieter Love

2. You are Not Second Choice. You Are First Choice–and That’s Better!

"There's no passion in my marriage!" Redefining what we think love is.Why do we think that because he was passionately physically attracted to other women that you are somehow the second choice? On the contrary, you’re the first! He had that breathlessness. He had that heart skipping a beat. And in the end he looked at it and said, “that’s not what I want.” He knew that these women wouldn’t provide him with a lifetime of steady, secure love. And so he looked for someone who would.

That makes you the first choice!

He knows what’s important, and he found it in you. You have the IMPORTANT qualities, and that means he must value and love you very much.

(If you’re having trouble getting over your husband’s sexual past, though, this may help).

He knew Proverbs 31:30:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

And he made the right choice! You’ve got a keeper, there. A mature, steady man who wants a great wife and to raise a great family. That’s wonderful!

3. Okay, but…What About the Sex?

She has a lot of assumptions in this email, and one of them is about sex. She writes:

Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me.

I’m not sure how that’s abundantly clear, and there may be more going on that she’s not telling us. But I can tell you that early in the marriage–and this couple is still early–there are often sexual problems. It does take a while to get used to each other. In my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I share some surveys I did of thousands of women. And what I found was that the best years for sex in marriage were 16-20–once you’ve been married for over a decade, the kids are a little older, and you have a lot of practice and trust.

Now, perhaps sex really is infrequent and this really is a problem. It’s hard to say, because it really entirely depends on what her expectations are. But in about 30% of marriages the woman does have the higher sex drive than the husband.

If you’re feeling really lonely in your marriage because your husband doesn’t seem to want sex, these posts may help:

My Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love (the first in a four part series; links at the end)
My Husband Doesn’t Find me Attractive

Change The Way You See the Marriage

Many of the problems you’re experiencing–feeling unloved, feeling undesired, feeling lonely–may be a matter of perception rather than a matter of reality (or at least a combination of both). If you start appreciating the choice your husband made, and approaching him that way, that could start to change the dynamic.

Right now he may feel your hurt and not know what to do with that, and that could be driving you away. But if you start praising him for things, think how that could change the dynamic!

I love how you are so mature! I love how you provide for me and our baby. I love how you value what’s really important, and how you have goals, and how I can always rely on you. So many women don’t have that; I’m the most blessed woman in the world!

Say it and mean it!

Get on the Same Page About Marriage

You both believe marriage is for life. You both believe that marriage should be based on not just love, but also a deep commitment for the right reasons. You both believe that God wants you together.

That’s a lot of common ground.

If you’re then unhappy with some aspects of the marriage–like sex, for instance–you can go to him and say,

We both believe that God wants our marriage to be wonderful, and to reflect the love that He has for us. I just feel like we’re missing an aspect of that in our sex life. Can we pray together for that, and work on putting the effort into our sex life that God would want us to have? I want us to feel real passion together, and I think God has that for us!

In other words, base your requests on your common ground.

And then really work on your friendship! The more you’re able to laugh together, instead of mourning what you don’t have, you’ll likely find that a much deeper love grows. You won’t be saying, “there’s no passion in my marriage”, but instead, “we have a deep and abiding love.” That’s much better!

Now tell me: Have you ever felt like you were the “sensible choice”, but not the passionate one? Have you ever felt like there was no passion in your marriage? What did you do? Let me know 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.

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? Thoughts from a 19-Year-Old Who Didn’t

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!Why do teenagers rebel? Is it automatic? And can you do things that prevent teens from rebelling? I asked my 19-year-old to help us answer that today!

“All kids will rebel, and my job as a parent is to be there to help catch them when they fall.”

I’ve heard Christian parents say that to me time and time again–strong Christian parents, too. But the Holy Spirit does not have an age limit. The Holy Spirit is with ALL Christians, young or old. And so if we can expect ourselves to act appropriately, we can certainly expect our teenagers to as well.

I’m a big believer in this philosophy, and I’ve written about these two different approaches to parenting before. This week, I thought I’d let other people speak about how to raise kids to make good decisions. We started on Monday about how to raise kids who won’t date too young, and then on Tuesday my 16-year-old chimed in telling us why she’s not dating in high school.

Today I’ve invited my 19-year-old to share her thoughts on why teenagers rebel. I said to her, “can you just write something explaining why you DIDN’T rebel?” She sent me this. It makes me tear up to read it.

Hello. My name is Rebecca Gregoire, and I was the perfect teenager.

Obviously I’m saying that as a joke, but by most standards, I truly was pretty perfect. I never drank, never smoked, never partied, never dated, never even swore. (Honestly. I didn’t swear until I was 18.)  I may have been moody, but I always had a good job, and was extremely involved in church and volunteered in childcare and youth ministries. I didn’t rebel at all–I walked the straight and narrow all through high school, and am continuing to do so now that I’m living on my own.

I’m not saying all this to try and make myself look great–I’m saying it to make a point. I’m saying it to destroy a myth that has been hovering over Christian circles for way too long.

Teenagers do not have to rebel.

I am living, breathing proof of that statement. And so are the three girls I live with, and my best friends at our university IVCF group. We didn’t rebel.

Before I continue, let me tell you something else about myself.

I am not demure in any sense of the word. I don’t like listening to authority, and I often get frustrated when I’m told what to do, or how to do it. I like to question everything. I’m naturally extremely proud, a challenger of authority, and extremely stubborn.

Why am I telling you this? To prove that I’m not “naturally predispositioned to submit”. I’m actually the complete opposite.

Whether or not teenagers rebel isn’t contingent on their natural personality, and kids aren’t “guaranteed” to rebel. Obviously teenagers aren’t guaranteed to NOT rebel, either, but there are things you can do that make it less likely.

My family had two children who were complete opposites, and neither of us had a rebellion stage. So it has to be something about the family, not our natural dispositions.

So why do teenagers rebel? And why do some teenagers never rebel? I’ve tried to pinpoint what kinds of things my parents did that helped my sister and me not rebel (though, of course, there are never guarantees that a teen won’t rebel), and here’s what I’ve come up with:

5 Reasons I Didn’t Rebel as a Teenager

My parents instilled in me a sense of family honour

Often teenagers feel distant from their families, like they’re part of it by blood, but that’s it. In my family it was never like that. My mom and dad would make decisions on their own, of course, but they always talked everything over with my sister and me. Even things that we weren’t directly impacted by–we’d discuss everything over the dinner table.

My family is the kind of family where everyone is involved–it’s a team experience. A result of this is that I received a huge sense of family pride, dignity, and honour.

Family honour has been lost in our culture. We are so focused on ourselves, and have become extremely selfish. And I think a lot of that is that parents put their children’s wants over the family’s needs. In our family, Katie and I never went without. But we didn’t get everything we wanted–I wanted an X-Box when all my friends were getting one, but because that would cut out of major family time my parents said no. A small example, I know, but it shows the worldview my family had. No matter what, family comes first.

When your mindset shifts from “me” to “we”, your behaviours and your actions aren’t just going to affect you–you begin to see how what you do affects other people. What I do when I’m in my free time reflects on my family, whether good or bad. And for me, that was a huge incentive to be responsible and make my parents proud.

Dayspring House Full of People I Love

My parents were extremely encouraging, but also demanding

There needs to be a middle ground. I cannot stress this enough.

So many parents I see are all about the encouragement. Their kids can’t do any wrong in their eyes, and they just constantly pour love and affection and butterflies and rainbows into their children’s life. And then other parents are the opposite–they don’t pay any attention to their kids unless they do something wrong and then they blow up. Or, even if they don’t explode in anger, they only ever criticize and never praise their children.

My parents had a happy medium. We weren’t coddled, but we weren’t picked on, either. My parents chose their battles, and also encouraged us when encouragement was necessary but didn’t lie and tell us we were great at something when we weren’t. For instance, my parents never would have told me that I should go for a career in gymnastics, because I am not flexible in the least.

We always knew where our parents stood, and through that, we always knew that they were honest and had a better understanding of who we were.

My family talks about everything

Open communication was big in our family. My mom and dad always made sure not only that they had time to talk to us, but that they had a specific time and place to do it, too. When I was younger, we talked before or after reading bedtime stories, or at the dinner table when we were eating together. When we got older, that spot moved to the hot tub we had in our backyard and car trips to and from the grocery store, friends’ houses, etc.

The biggest part, though, was that we didn’t just talk about school, work, and the like. We talked about whatever was going on in our lives–whether I was thinking about a new blog post idea, how Katie was doing with her skating, or what movie we really wanted to see–anything that came to mind. Our parents became our confidants, and that built a level of trust.

Moreover, our parents shared things with us, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a line here. But in our family, my parents simply humanized themselves to us. My dad would tell us about his favourite movies growing up, my mom would ask our opinions on knitting patterns. She’d even tell me when she had angst over commenters on this blog!

This built a partnership between us. A partnership where one was the parent and one was the child, of course, but nonetheless, a relationship where the actions of one person directly affected the other. Because of that relationship, I never felt like I needed to rebel to be heard, to be understood, or to get my way. I knew that if my parents said no, it was for a reason.

We were never expected to rebel as teenagers

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.

But what kind of message does that send the teenager? If kids expect that when they hit 13 they’ll start wanting to go to parties, or go out with boys, or watch inappropriate movies, then they will grow up to fulfill those expectations. On the contrary, if they are raised to believe that those are all optional, and actually unnecessary and somewhat frivolous, they won’t want to disappoint or seem silly, and so are more likely to make positive choices and act like an adult. This doesn’t mean that we miss out on a childhood, or miss out on teenage years–it just means that we use them for training for adulthood, and have fewer regrets when we’re through it all.

Also in this category is that we had very few rules. My parents never needed them, because they didn’t expect us to break them. When parents have a lot of rules it always seems to me like they’re trying to control their kids, and if you have to control them, you’ve lost the battle already. My parents always assumed we’d pick up on their values and make good decisions. Through our close relationship, heart-to-heart talks, and–when necessary–confrontations, we learned their expectations, they learned our points of view, and our family worked together instead of parents trying to reign in their children. Now, I only think this worked because we grew up in such a structured, close, and trust-filled family, but that was a big thing for me. I never felt stifled, so I never felt a need to rebel.

God was centre in our home

Our home never revolved around work, sports, school, or activities. It didn’t even revolve around other people–it always hinged on God and his plan for our family. Growing up in that kind of an environment shaped my view of my actions, choices, and the effect I had on others. When you’re used to basing everything on God’s will and God’s plan, suddenly the parties don’t seem as important. It isn’t as tempting to lie about who you’re hanging out with. Smoking, drinking, and the like just doesn’t really have any appeal, because they don’t help with your ultimate goal–to become a person God will use for great things.

So many times I see families who drop everything for good grades, or who don’t go to church if it’s a busy week at work, or who choose extracurricular activities over youth group and the like. My family, however, was the opposite. If we were tired, too bad. Get in the car, we’re going to church, because that’s what God’s called us to. If Mom and Dad had a hard time with work, we went to church because that’s a place of rest. If I was struggling with school and needed the day to study I didn’t have that choice, because it was my decision not to study earlier.

God came first in everything. And my choices were shaped because of that worldview.

As for Me and My House Wall Decal

I honestly don’t think there’s any one way to make sure your children don’t rebel. Every child is different, and every family contains unique people. But all I know is that for me, this worked. In my family, the trust, communication, and centrality of God in our home made my teenage years one of partnership with my parents rather than a constant battle.

So don’t give up hope–the teenage years don’t have to be war!

Like this? Think it might encourage other parents? Please share on Facebook or Pin it! Just use the buttons below.

Life as a Dare

You can find Rebecca at her blog, Life as a Dare, where she writes about her quest to simplify faith, relationships, and life in general.

 

 

 

The Talk(s)If you’re wondering how to foster a relationship like this with your kids, what Rebecca writes about sounds a lot like what Barrett Johnson is teaching us in his book the Talk(s) ! He really emphasizes keeping open communication with your kids. It’s the best book I’ve read about how to talk to your kids about sex, dating, and relationships, and it’s my store here! Or you can order it in paperback here.

 

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Finding Mr. Right: Making It More Likely that Love Shows Up

Every Friday my column appears in a bunch of papers in Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week let’s talk about meeting that Love of a Lifetime.
Finding Mr. Right

Finding Mr. (or Mrs.) Right

The hashtag #foreveralone is trending on Twitter as Valentine’s Day nears.

While those in relationships may cheer February 14 because they’ll get chocolate (hint, hint), for many it’s just another reminder that they are frustratingly single.

Maybe it’s because I have a good marriage that it bothers me when people are single and don’t want to be. I wish everyone could have what I have! After all, most people do yearn for a love that lasts forever. We may not think it’s possible, but we still dream of it.

But so often we act in ways that make it far less likely to occur. I think too often we believe that “love will just happen”, like in Nora Roberts books, but love often shows up when you’re getting busy meeting people, not when you’re sitting at home dreaming of it.

So ask yourself, “If I want to marry someone who will be faithful, who will love me, whom I can love and respect in turn, and who will be a good financial and parenting partner, is what I’m doing right now helping me to meet that sort of person?”

And let me tell you, you’re unlikely to meet that person in a bar.

Most of us will marry someone through our social circle–a friend of a friend–or through our workplaces. Thus, it makes sense to fill your social circle with the kinds of people that you would consider marriageable material. If the people you hang out with think getting drunk every weekend is the pinnacle of fun, then you’re unlikely to cross paths with Mr. Right.

Instead, reconnect with friends from school that you really enjoyed who were going someplace in life. Suggest coffee to women you work with. It isn’t only about getting to know more men; I met my husband because he was the friend of the boyfriend of one of my best girlfriends! The more people you know, and the more friendships you invest in, the more likely you are to meet a potential spouse.

Want to marry someone interesting? Make sure you’re doing interesting things, too!

Learn some new skills. Take up a new hobby. Join a club. Even rediscover faith! A recent Facebook Data Science study found that religious colleges make up the vast majority of the top 25 universities with married students. People of faith tend to also be people who value marriage.

And here’s where I say something that will get me in real hot water: take care of yourself. First impressions do matter. Put some effort into your appearance. Get in shape. Go to a drug store and ask for some makeup tips. People may say, “I want him to love me for who I am,” and I completely agree. But that kind of love grows from first showing an interest, and for most of us, initial interest is largely determined by attraction.

Attraction isn’t only about being beautiful, though; it’s often just as much about confidence and the pride you take in yourself. Treat yourself well, and learn to exude genuine confidence, and that is attractive in and of itself.

Finally, as someone who makes a decent living blogging, I do believe that the online world has a lot to offer. Signing up for online dating, as long as you’re smart and take the proper precautions, isn’t a bad idea. In fact, for many of my friends who met their spouses that way, it ended up being a very good idea indeed!

Will these tips automatically work? Nope. Unfortunately there isn’t a guarantee. But if you do nurture a healthy social circle, volunteer and fill your life with good things, and take care of yourself, you’ll have a richer life regardless. And then you really won’t be forever alone.

Don’t miss a Reality Check! Sign up to receive it FREE in your inbox every week!

Sacred SearchThe best book I have ever read about finding the right person to marry, and deciding if this person IS the right person, is Sacred Search by Gary Thomas. He spends the first half of the book by explaining how our “fairy tale” culture about “the one that completes us” can actually steer us in the wrong direction. Then he spends the second half getting very practical–how do you meet someone? Where should you look? And what should be your deal breakers? I really appreciated this book, and I’m making my girls read it!

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Top 10 Cheap Date Night Ideas for Parents of Small Kids

Top Ten TuesdayToday’s Top 10 Tuesday Guest post is from Leigh Ann from Intentional by Grace, sharing about cheap date night ideas for parents of small kids!

Raise your hand if you have a regular date night with your spouse. If you’re like me, you want to raise your hand, but you’ve found yourself in a dating rut since children started coming onto the scene.

Last year, I surveyed several married women with a combined 200 years of marriage under their belts. Do you want to know their number one piece of advice?

Keep date nights a priority in your marriage … no matter what.

I’m a mom of two little boys (ages 3 and 3 months). Connecting with my husband through regular date nights takes work during this exhausting season of spit up, potty training, and toddler tantrums.

There are two (main) date night challenges parents of small children face.

Challenge #1: Exhaustion

Let’s face it bearing children is exhausting. First you try to keep your marriage fresh while pregnant, which seems almost impossible. Then you move into the stage of nursing and caring for a small child, which means your hormones are all over the place. You’re more often than not covered in bananas, flour, and boogers all at the same time, and it’s a vacation to go to the grocery store alone. Small children and all that goes into caring for them is exhausting, but worth it – totally worth it! Yet when you’re exhausted, date nights are too often the last thing on your mind.

Challenge #2: Finding a Babysitter

I would rather go to the dentist and get a root canal than go through the process of finding a babysitter. Dramatic and ridiculous, I know. Yet it’s the truth! Nailing down a babysitter can sometimes be challenging. Then, once you have a babysitter lined up, you have to get everything prepared for the babysitter to take over while you’re gone!

These two challenges can completely deter me from making date nights a priority. Sometimes it feels like date nights are more work than they’re worth, but I have a secret.

Making date nights a priority is worth it!

  • You get a break from caring for your children for just a little while, which in the end actually makes you a better parent.
  • You get to connect with your man and recharge with your best friend.

Since parents of small children face enough challenges to make date night happen, I want to share 10 date night ideas in hopes of making it a little easier on you.

10 Cheap and Easy Date Night Ideas

5 At Home Date Night Ideas

Date nights at home can sometimes be the best option for parents of small children. The key to at home date nights is turning off the phones, computers, and other distracting electronics and tuning into your spouse. My husband and I try to do this at least once a week.

Create a dining destination. Feed the babies homemade mac and cheese and put them to bed early. Then, turn your dining room into a dining destination. This is always so much fun! Light some candles, hide the matchbox cars, and do something out of the ordinary! You can go fancy, or just simply make homemade pizza together.

Read a book together. My husband and I love to read book series together. After a long day of caring for babies, reading a book curled up on the couch under the same blanket is a nice respite. We can escape into a new world or learn something new together. We’ve read books ranging from The Chronicles of Narnia to how to grow our marriage (like 31 Days to Great Sex!). For additional appeal, share a fun dessert together like chocolate covered strawberries!

Play a board game. Board games are an easy way to connect with your man. Who doesn’t enjoy a little competition? If you need some ideas for two player games, I love Sheila’s list of board games to play with your spouse. Prepare a special snack or drink to share to add to the fun.

Enjoy a themed movie night. This one takes a little more foresight, but a themed movie night can be a lot of fun. You just need to pick a movie, plan a themed dinner, and a fun activity to go along with the movie you will watch. Very simple, yet takes the regular ol’ movie night to a whole new level.

Exercise together. I do not like to work out by myself. Working out with your man can be so much fun! Pop in a video or create your own workout routine to do together. This is a great way to de-stress and work together on your health goals. Afterward share a smoothie or some other protein rich snack together, or not and just eat an Oreo (or two or three) dipped in milk. Yum!

5 Date Night Out Ideas

If it’s possible, enjoying a date night out of the house is important for parents of small children. My husband and I try to get a date night out of the house without children at least once a month. This is a little more doable for us, and it’s something to really look forward to.

Visit a bookstore or library. This is a fun, free date night out activity. Love Actually has a fun Bookstore Date Night printable we’ve used a few times. The idea is to go in search of books on a set topic, and then talk about them together. If you’re book lovers, this one is a must do!

Go to a dollar or thrift store. We always have lots of laughs together after this date. Give each other $5 (or some other set amount) and go shopping for one another. It’s probably a good idea to set expectations first! Is this going to be silly, thoughtful, etc.? It’s never good when one spouse works really hard to find THE perfect gift and the other takes the silly route and comes up with a spatula for mom. Trust me. Set expectations!

Enjoy coffee and dessert. Date night doesn’t have to be a whole night out. Sometimes we’ll put the babies to bed, and then head out for the night – leaving a babysitter on duty of course. This is less stressful for me as the mom, and it gives me a little more time to get dressed. Plus it’s cheaper than a whole dinner!

Take a walk with a camera in hand. My husband and I love photography. One of our favorite activities is to head downtown with our camera. Your camera phone works great for this too! Take pictures of your time together. If you’re out for dessert, photograph the perfectly drizzled chocolate, or the steam coming from your cup of coffee. Take pictures of one another and the scenery around you. The ideas are truly endless! Be silly, have fun, and enjoy one another! For an added bonus, save the photos into a separate folder on your computer; then at the end of year, create a photo book of your date nights together!

Take a class together. This idea depends on where you live, as well as your interests. Some ideas include a dance class, painting lessons, photography workshop, cooking class, etc. We have plans to take a painting class together. Neither of us is particularly talented when it comes to art (you should see my stick man drawings…), but doing something outside our comfort zones is great for connecting. Create memories together even if it means your painting looks more like a moose than the puppy you set out to paint. Taking a class together gives you an opportunity to loosen up!

Date nights (whether they are at home or out on the town) are an important part of marriage. I know it’s an exhausting, trying, totally worth it season of parenting. I also know that means it’s an exhausting, trying, totally worth it season of marriage. Being a parent of small children has its challenges, but from a parent who is in the trenches with you, it’s worth it to keep date nights a priority. Your marriage is worth it, and your kids are depending on you.

Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace

 

Leigh Ann is passionate about inspiring others to live life intentionally by grace for the glory of God. In all she does, she seeks to make it impossible to not think about God. She is the wife to the man of her prayers, Mark, and mama to two loveable little boys, Samuel and Timothy. Follow along with her at IntentionalByGrace.com.

Make Valentine’s Day Celebrate Your Marriage Day!

Reader Question of the Week

Usually on Mondays I post a Reader Question, and then take a stab at answering it.

The vast majority of the questions that come into this blog are a variation on this:

My husband just isn’t affectionate. He doesn’t really pay attention to me. Our marriage is boring. He spends all his time on the computer or on the iPad. We don’t have a relationship. What do I do?

I’ve tried to answer these in various ways, like how to create a friendship with your husband, or how to live in a loveless marriage, and more.

But I know that this time of year these feelings often pop up again. And so when my friend Cheri Gregory told me about a post she wanted to write on avoiding the Valentine’s Day Blues, I knew it would resonate with a lot of women who wonder why their husbands don’t seem to show any love.


Valentine's Day DisappointmentHere’s Cheri:

Soon it will be Valentine’s Day.

A.K.A. My Husband Disappointed Me Yet Again Day.

Followed by Punish Him for His Failures Week.

Well, at least that’s how I viewed February 14 during the early years of my marriage. I had so many Hallmark-instilled expectations for what The Day should be like and would be like, if only my husband could…

• read my mind and do exactly what I hoped he would do without me telling him what I wanted…

• manufacture time and energy to execute elaborate plans on an arbitrary day…

• cave into societal pressure and become someone quite different from his everyday self once a year…

I was dismal with disappointment after our first few Valentine’s Days because “we” didn’t celebrate the way I thought we should. Thank heavens Pinterest and Facebook didn’t exist back then! Comparing what I lacked to what other women so clearly had would have compounded my self-inflicted misery.

What Do I Really Want out of Valentine’s Day?

Early on, I had clear expectations of what I thought my husband should do on Valentine’s Day. But I failed to do two vital things:

1) I didn’t tell him, well in advance, my hopes for Valentine’s day.

I bought in to the immature belief that “If he really loved me, he would just know what I want.” Assuming that he already knew, I became upset when he withheld from me what I needed.

The actual truth, of course, was that he had no idea what was going on inside my head. He expected me to be honest with him, to tell him what I wanted.

2) I didn’t realize what I really wanted.

I thought I wanted flowers, a card, and a romantic evening together.

But I didn’t.

What I really wanted was to feel the way I imagined these things would make me feel. This meant that I typically ignored my husband’s best efforts and judged his “success” based on my oh-so-fickle feelings.

Expectations Kill Love

Patty Newbold’s blog Assume Love has been a major perspective-shifter for me. I keep these two quotes taped on my mirror:

• “Expectations, other than the one you were promised–that you will be loved–are premeditated resentments.”
• “Resentment is a marriage killer, and it grows from unmet expectations.”

I finally realized that I had a choice:

I could get caught up in commercialized expectations for February 14, developing such a judgmental attitude toward my husband that I displayed disrespectful behaviors.

or

I could choose to recognize February 14 as just another day, no more or less important than February 13 or February 15. Certainly no reason to justify negative beliefs or behaviors.

Today, I’m grateful for a long-term perspective on my expectations. Twenty-five uneventful Valentine’s Days pale in comparison to almost 10,000 days of doing life together. Letting go of my expectations for this one arbitrary commercialized holiday has freed me to enjoy our camaraderie and romance whenever they occur.

Celebrating “Us”

Am I suggesting that we all completely ignore February 14? Not at all. In fact, letting go of my expectations has allowed me to enjoy finding ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day that worked for us, for that particular year.

Here are a few; perhaps you’ll find an idea you can adapt to your marriage.

1. Dialogue about this year’s Valentine’s Day

Pull out a calendar, sit down with your husband, and ask some key questions:

• What would I like to do?
• What would you like to do?
• What’s in the budget?
• What’s reasonable considering our season of life?
• What’s happening the week before and the weekend after?
• How much time and energy are we each likely to have on February 14?

Whenever we have a simple conversation well in advance, I stay grounded in reality rather than getting lost in my own fantastical expectations. It also means that we’re working together as a team, keeping the pressure off of either one of us to “produce” some amazing extravaganza.

2. Declare your own “Valentine’s Day.”

Call me dense, but it took me years to figure out that we could celebrate on a different day. Restaurants aren’t nearly as full on February 13 or 15. Or 25, for that matter. Sometimes, we plan ahead for our private Valentine’s Day celebration. Other times, we simply find ourselves in the midst of celebrating our marriage. Like last week, when we spontaneously went grocery shopping together and then stopped at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant for dinner. Between bites of dolma, I looked across the table at Daniel and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

So, for us, Valentine’s Day 2014 was January 30.

You don’t have to force February 14 to be The Day. During the upcoming weeks, you can be alert to a natural together time, and declare it your very own Valentine’s Day.

3. Devote Yourself to Celebration (not Competition)

I used to approach Valentine’s Day as a competition without telling my husband I was keeping score.

I got all this for him; I wonder how much he got for me.

My friend’s husband has this elaborate plan for her; why doesn’t my husband ever do anything like that for me?

Year in and year out I’m the only one who even tries.

We both ended up feeling like losers–on a day devoted to declaring love victorious!

Finally, I quit thinking about what he would get for me or what I would get for him. Instead, I started thinking about what we could do for our marriage.

Win-win.

Valentine's Day Gifts for Your HusbandSheila put out a great list of “Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Husband” last week. I’d like to challenge you to approach the list as “Valentine’s Day Gifts for Our Marriage”.

Make this the year that you don’t focus on what your husband does (or doesn’t) do for you. Focus, instead, on making the week of Valentine’s Day “Celebrating Our Marriage by Loving My Man Week.” Don’t make the mistakes I did as an earlywed, wallowing in all the coulds, woulds, and shoulds. Life’s too short to waste on the nauseating roller coaster of expectations and disappointment. Celebrate what you do have and who you are as a couple.

P.S. If you’re concerned that I’m letting husbands “off the hook,” I highly recommend Sheila’s “My Husband Needs to Change
and Patty Newbold’s “When Love Goes Missing“.

Cheri GregoryCheri Gregory is a Certified Personality Trainer; contributor/co-author of a dozen books, including Wired That Way and 21 Ways to Connect With Your Kids (with Kathi Lipp); and frequent speaker for MOPS groups, women’s retreats, parent workshops, and educational seminars. She holds an M.A. in Leadership and is working on her PhD. Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, a pastor, for over a quarter-of-a-century; they have two college-aged kids. She blogs about expectations, “baditude”, and hope at www.CheriGregory.com

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Wifey Wednesday: Valentine’s Gifts For Your Husband

Valentine's Day Gifts for Your Husband

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own post at the bottom. And today I want to talk about Valentine’s Day gifts for your husband!

Usually we think of Valentine’s Day as a day when WE should receive something.

Indeed, men spend twice as much as women for this particular holiday. And I think that needs to stop! I’m not suggesting you break the bank. In fact, there are lots of things you can do that are cheap, or cost virtually nothing. But Valentine’s Day should not be a day when we think, “Honey, you need to prove to me that you love me.” It should be a day when we celebrate our love for each other. And that means making your husband feel special, too!

A number of you have written me asking what you can buy for your husband this Valentine’s Day, and I thought it was time I tackled it. The only problem is that pretty much every thought I had I included in a post last month on Sexy Stocking Stuffers for your husband. So I put on my thinking cap, added some new ones (like the awesome Scavenger Hunt idea), and came up with this list.

Sexy Valentines Day Bundle SmallAnd don’t forget to check the bottom for my exciting Valentine’s Day Bundle Announcement!

So here goes!

Sexy Coupons for Valentine’s Day

1. Honey I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight Coupons – FREE
I’ve got some other downloadable hot coupons you can print out and put in his stocking–coupons like “Night of Passion”, “Quickie”, and “A Hunting I Will Go”. You get them free when you sign up for my marriage newsletter!

Night of Passion

2. Romance Toolkit - $4.99
Want more romance in your marriage? Here’s a collection of awesome printables to put in his stocking–inviting him to different romantic date nights! Turn your marriage from boring to blazing!31 Days to Great Sex (Note: The Romance Toolkit is part of my Valentine’s Day bundle! See below).

3. 31 Days to Great Sex: ebook- $4.99, paperback $12
What man isn’t going to like getting a copy of 31 Days to Great Sex? It takes you through 31 days with short readings and then a challenge to help you grow more intimate, communicate more, and spice up your love life! You can either buy the ebook (much cheaper) or the paperback.

But how can you give an ebook as a gift? I’ve got coupons now that you can download and print out to put right in there. There’s a link in the book that takes you right to the coupons, but you can find them here. Here’s a small version of the Valentine’s Day coupon:

Valentines Day Coupon small

He’ll love it! You can buy it either on Kindle or as a .pdf (read on your iPhone, iPad, any ereader, computer, or print it out!). Or get it as a paperback. Read more about it here. (This is part of my Valentine’s Day bundle, too! See below for details!)

Games for Valentine’s Day

2 Player Games Ad4. 2 Player Board Games

Looking for ways to spend more time together, but don’t know how? What about picking up a board game that’s really fun for just two players? I have a whole list of 2 player board games! Give him a card that says, “My favorite thing to do is to spend time with you.” One of the most popular recent games: Forbidden Island.

5. A Romantic–or Sexy!–Scavenger Hunt – FREE!

Here’s a fun one to do, though it requires a little more planning. Cut out ten paper hearts, and then write a reminder of a particularly romantic–or sexy!–time you’ve enjoyed together. Put the first heart somewhere he’ll easily find, like where he keeps his keys, or in his briefcase. Then put a clue to where the next heart is hidden. Tell him there are 10 (or 8, or 6, or whatever) hearts, and once he’s found all, he’ll find your gift!

So, for instance, you can put on the first heart, “I love what we did two nights ago! Remember what I was wearing on the first night that we went away for the weekend last summer? You’ll find the second heart there!” On that heart you could put, “Remember when we crawled into the backseat for some hanky panky two years ago? You’ll find another heart there!” And so on, and so on.

It’s always fun to remind him of special times you’ve spent together. My husband once sent me on a Valentine’s Day hunt all over our small town. It was so sweet!

Deck of Dares6. Deck of Dares Printables – $6.99
Want to spice up your marriage? Here are 40 sexy dares that you can do together! Purchase the download, and then you can print them out to put in his stocking. Or you can dole them out one by one….”Wanna do this tonight?” :) Great to enhance any marriage TASTEFULLY without delving into anything gross. Check them out here! (Deck of Dares is part of my Valentine’s Day Bundle! See below for details!)

7. Dice
What’s sexy about dice, you ask? You can play the dice game! Assign a body part to each number, 1-6 (lips, neck, ears, breasts, etc. etc. Get as racy as you want). Then assign an action to each number, 1-6 (lick, suck, stroke, etc.). Then roll the dice, and do what it says!

You can also add another dice for the number of minutes (or the number of 30-second intervals, whatever you’d prefer).

Here’s how it works in a stocking. In a ziploc bag, put two (or three) dice of different colours. Then write out the Dice Game instructions on an index card and put some lipstick kisses around the card. Stick the card in the bag, and you’re all done!

The Dice Game8. Playing Cards for Strip Poker – $4.48
Put a deck of cards in a bag, and then write on the outside: How About a Game of Strip Poker? The greatest game where the loser doesn’t really lose.

massage candleSexy Scents for Valentine’s Day

9. Sensual Massage Candle – $9.59
These are awesome! You light them, and then the candle melts. But the “wax” is actually a massage oil that won’t burn your skin. So you can pour it on him, or he could pour it on you, and you can massage it in.

10. Sensual Massage Oil – $14.49
I’m more a candle person, but massage oil can’t be beaten, either! Here’s a great massage oil from Body Shop with scents to help you feel frisky. Added benefit: we women often feel more in the mood if things are dragged out a bit. Show him that massaging you helps you relax and helps you focus.

11. Nautica Cologne for Men – $9.99
Who doesn’t like their man smelling a little sexy?

12. Kenneth Cole Black Cologne – $32.19
Is your man more discriminating? Here’s a classier cologne.

Sexy Things to Wear for Valentine’s Day

13. My Husband Rocks or I Love My Wife T-shirts – $20 – $28
Celebrate how much you love each other–and tell the world! Here’s a Valentine’s Day gift that YOU wear that he may actually like–I Love My Husband. Or buy him “My Wife Rocks”! There’s so much negativity about marriage in the world. Why not advertise the fact to others that marriage can be awesome?

I Love My Husband View More: http://donnawilliamsphotography.pass.us/theloveshirts
Women's Apron Sugar n' Spice

And you can get 10% off your order at The Love Shirts using the coupon code “Sheila”!

14. Sexy Red Thong – $3.99
What guy doesn’t want a sneak peak of what you may be wearing later, so he can imagine it? Even if you don’t like wearing thongs during the day, it can be fun to put one for a few minutes (chances are it won’t stay on long).

15. Heart Valentine’s Day Boxer Shorts – $18
They’re cute!

16. Sexy Apron – $29.95
Pin a note to it saying, “how about I whip you up something special, wearing just this.” And there’s a FLASH SALE until Wednesday, February 4! Get 40% off plus FREE SHIPPING with coupon code FLIRTYLOVE40.

Valentine’s Day Gifts He’ll Always Appreciate

17. iTunes playlist – $10

Make a playlist of the songs that were popular when you started dating. If you can’t remember, google “20 top songs” and then the year you started dating, and you’ll find them! If he liked country, check out the country. If he liked rock, check out rock. Then download them, if they’re not already on iTunes, and send the playlist to him.

18. Amazon Gift Cards, Starbucks Gift Cards

Everybody loves gift cards! And you can get them in any denomination. If you’re doing the scavenger hunt idea, put a gift card and a love coupon in an envelope for him at the end of the hunt.

Sexy Getaway for His Stocking

19. Coupon for a Hotel Room
If you want something really special, how about booking a night in a hotel where you can get away? Or, alternatively, ask your parents or a friend to take the kids for a night so you can spend the evening at home together–alone.

Put the coupon in an envelope and write on the outside: “So excited to have you for a night all to myself!”

Combine the Ideas

Do a scavenger hunt, and then at the end have a gift card, or a coupon for a hotel, or some coupons for some of the ebooks in an envelope! Or have a pair of dice and a print out of the dice game. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but if you put some thought into it, and show him that you’ve gone to some effort, too, you really say, “I love you!”

Exciting News!

Sexy Valentine's Day Bundle

I’ve created a Bundle of Products of some of the best–and sexiest–things in my store for just $10! You’ll get:

  • 31 Days to Great Sex – A Couple’s Dare you do together
  • Deck of Dares – 40 super fun dares to ignite your sex life!
  • Rekindling Romance Toolkit – Printables for date nights, and more, to bring the romance back
  • The Sex Savvy Wife – New book from Hot, Holy and Humorous with LOADS of how-to tips on how to make sex great

Plus you’ll get:

  • Printable Dice Game
  • Love Coupons

And it’s just $10! That’s a savings of $11.96. But it’s only until Valentine’s Day!

Buy Valentine's Day Bundle

Now it’s your turn! Let me know what you’re thinking makes a great Valentine’s Day gift. And if you’re a blogger, leave the URL of a marriage post in the linky below! I feature selected Wifey Wednesday posts on my Facebook page every week, so don’t miss out on the traffic!



Wifey Wednesday: I Did Not Marry My One True Love

Christian Marriage Advice

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

Today, please welcome guest poster, Lisa Hall Wilson, who shares a heartfelt and thoughtful post on how love is a choice.

Love is a Verb: Why I Did Not Marry My One True LoveThe hubs and I are celebrating 16 years of marriage (to each other) this week. I do not believe he’s my ‘one true love’ and not because he leaves his socks on the floor and seems incapable of closing a kitchen cupboard door. I didn’t find my one true love because the whole idea is hooey.

When Cole Porter wrote about true love, when Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly immortalized true love in High Society, they sold us a bill of tainted goods.

When we seek out our Prince Charming or Prince Philip and expect the magical power of true love’s kiss to ‘fix’ things, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Here’s the thing, I don’t believe in love at first sight. I do not have a true love out there. If there’s one thing 16 years of marriage has taught me it’s that the happy, life-is-perfect, bliss-mirage lasts a remarkably short amount of time and you’re left with the harsh reality that you married a human who can’t read your mind, doesn’t do everything the way you would, doesn’t agree with everything you say/do, has bad habits and irritating quirks you never saw coming.

And that’s when love becomes a choice.

To assume you have one true love means there’s this ultimate ‘right guy/girl’ for you. And everytime you disagree, you tear into each other, you’re alone in bed crying – the questions creep in:

Did I marry the wrong person? Why isn’t our sex life better – what if we’re incompatible sexually — what if it’s better with someone else?

What if your spouse screws up – BIG? Does that mean you’re off the hook? Just start over and keep looking because somewhere out there is the ‘perfect’ person for you. Where love is easy and the path is covered in rose petals, where neither of you has baggage from the past or a shred of selfishness. If you look long enough – hard enough – you’ll find that one person God made just for you.

Hogwash – as my grandmother would say. Too many arranged marriages work out. Too many widows and widowers find love with another person for there to be such a thing as finding true love.

We get caught up in the emotional high of it all when we first meet someone, when the relationship blooms, when we decide whether this is the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. That high is addictive but deceiving because it’s not something you can maintain.

When the socks hit the floor, when they overspend again, when they get mad at you — love is a choice. The only one responsible for my happiness is me. I put that on the Hubs and I’m just setting him up to fail.

Love is a verb, not a state of being.

Love is a Verb

You can’t fall in or out of love – you choose to surrender or harden your heart to another person. That’s a choice.The hubs and I have been through a lot of not so good times. We’ve had a lot of laughs and adventures, but there’s been some hum-drum ruts and serious rough patches. Love is a choice, just like forgiveness, trust, respect, and friendship. Sometimes it’s not fair, sometimes it just plain sucks — but you keep at it because somewhere along the way all that hard work, sweat, and tears pays off. There’s a bond forged in the hard times – in staying for no other reason than you promised God you wouldn’t leave.

After 16 years, 3 kids, 7 moves, several jobs, an addiction, and a ridiculous amount of student debt – we have a history together. I know his expressions, can anticipate many of his moods and reactions. We can look at each other and smile, because we have a thousand inside jokes.

Marriage is hard. If you’re struggling in your relationship, assuming all things are equal and no one’s being abused or mistreated, etc. (there are some things time can’t fix) — stick it out. In my experience, the hard work, tears, fights — it all adds up to a history you can’t buy and only time can build. This is a marathon not a sprint.

But every day, love is a choice — loving someone is a choice.

Wake up every day with the resolve to surrender your heart to your spouse, and take nothing for granted. You’ll be glad you did.

Time to fess up! Did you marry your one true love?

Now it’s your turn! Want to share some good marriage advice with us? Or tell us what advice you particularly hate? Leave a comment and let us know, or link up your own marriage post in the linky below. Be sure to link back here, too, so other people can read some great marriage tips!

Lisa_hall_wilson FB profileLisa Hall-Wilson has published over 70 articles in the Canadian faith-based market, is a syndicated columnist, and has won national awards for her writing. She blogs at www.lisahallwilson.com but you can find her hanging out on Facebook.

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Wifey Wednesday: Insecurity in Marriage

Christian Marriage Advice

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

Today we have a guest post from Rajdeep Paulus, a YA author who blogs at In Search of Waterfalls. She’s sharing with us about how her husband helped her low self-esteem–and helped her overcome her insecurity about her relationship.

Insecurity in Marriage: How My Husband Helped Me Conquer Low Self Esteem

When we first tied the knot, I walked nearly every step with insecurity. Jealous, afraid, and constantly putting myself down. In fact, whenever an argument ensued, even about the silliest thing like dishes or socks on the floor, I quickly resorted to digging a grave. My grave. With words like, “It’s all my fault. I should have asked you nicely. (Or my personal favorite.) I’m always wrong. I’m the screwed up one, so I’ll just go over to my little corner and throw me another pity party. Last one was five minutes ago, but who’s counting.”

Life in those newlywed days wasn’t too different from a scene out of a bad sitcom. When one dish fell to the ground with a crash, I would throw the rest down, metaphorically-speaking. Something about the din of breaking glass dulled my pain and masked the deeper issues. I believed lies about myself that pushed me into a cave so deep within myself, I had no idea how to get out and to be honest, I think I kind of liked my cave. The comfort of the familiar mess I lived in seemed like a safe place to sit and hurt.

But then you get married and now your cave is his cave and if you hurt, he hurts too. And the truth is, unless you let each other into those deep places, you live in a lonely place while you live with someone. And that has got to be one of the saddest states to be in. Together. And alone.

For the record, I didn’t grow up in an abusive home. I didn’t experience any major trauma in my upbringing. There’s no moment I can point to and say, there, that’s where this warped thinking started. And something tells me I’m not alone. A lot of us struggle with a healthy view of ourselves and no matter how many times someone says to you, ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” you still don’t believe it.

So my FIVE tips on how to help your Spouse’s Self Esteem are not out of a Psychology book or a Ten Steps guide.

It’s from my life. A work still in progress.

1. Repeat truths, every night, to counteract the lies of insecurity.

I am totally serious about this. Hubs used to have me say, “I’m beautiful and God made me beautiful so I’m beautiful” 3X every night. No joke. At first, I’d choke on the words with tears, because I just knew they weren’t true. Over time, I began to believe them. Now, fifteen years later, ask me to say them, and I’ll shout’em from the rooftop. You better believe they’re true.

2. Take care of your body and your health in general.

It doesn’t matter whether you work out together or apart, but exercise and make good food choices. I’m not talking about constant dieting or trying to work your body into a size that it’s not meant for. But the truth is, certain foods really do trigger depressing thoughts and when you do take care of your body, you feel prettier, more confident and all around more comfortable in your own skin. Yes, it’s an investment. Of time and money (if you join a gym) and it takes discipline. But you’ll be so thankful for the results, the internal ones so much more than the exterior.

3. Spend time with other friends, and don’t make your marriage the only source of your emotional fulfillment.

Girlfriend time is what I’m referring to. Or sports night out for guys type of thing. If you rely on your hubby to meet all your social needs, you’ll wear him out. And you’ll be gravely disappointed. Our spouses are not meant to be our all in all. They’re only human, after all.

4. Spend time with God and nurture your spiritual health.

Some people might shy away from this because they didn’t grow up with religion or had too much religion forced on them so they’re done. Maxed out and filled to the brim with all that mumbo jumbo. Well, I challenge you to find yourself the place where you do it for you. Read a psalm. Listen to a song with lyrics that tell you the truth. Pray for someone who is hurting in your life. And ask God, not the mirror, mirror on the wall, the truth about you. Fill your head and heart with truth and over time, the lies will fade. I really believe they will.

5. Spend intentional time together where you’re not distracted by work, kids, finances, and stress.

In other words, date as a couple. It’s not easy. But who ever promised that marriage would be easy. And take turns planning. It helps the planner to get a break and the other spouse to initiate. And when one spouse initiates a date night, it speaks volumes to the value that spouse places on the marriage. And once a year, if possible, invest in something longer, a weekend, a marriage retreat, a class like PAIRS or Third Option, something that says, “My Marriage is important and worth fighting for.” Read a book together like the Five Love Languages and then actively apply what you’ve learned. Who cares if you didn’t think of it? Someone did the work for you, but you still have to choose to get off your comfortable behind and live out the challenge. I always say that falling in love takes a moment, but loving someone takes a lifetime. Of daily choices. One act of kindness at a time. That’s the journey of marriage.

You might have noticed that none of these points to conquer insecurity in marriage included therapy or specific words to say or even a formula for how to get through low self-esteem seasons in your marriage. That’s because I don’t have them. What I have learned is that “the grass is greener where you water it,” but the weeds of life will never cease popping up to try and mess us up. When you take the time to take care of yourself, your spouse’s’ self-esteem issues should move to a better place, but ultimately, you cannot fix or change him. You have to work on you. And that helps the team of us. Every time. I really believe it does.

**On a side note, there’s something to say for complimenting your spouse in public, being thankful for your marriage in front of company, and championing his dreams in and out of the house, even if deep down you question the rationale for such a dream or his ability to reach it. Everyone needs a cheerleader in life. After all, we don’t walk this life alone. We weren’t meant to. And something mysterious happens when we allow those dreams to soar like kites. They lift us up, give us something to look forward to and help us swim through the cloudy days of marriage. :)

What’d I miss? What has helped you and your spouse during a season of doubt, insecurity or sadness? Got any date night ideas you want to share? Let us know in the comments!


swimmingthroughcloudsRajdeep Paulus studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and spent over a decade as an English Teacher and SAT Tutor, during which she married her best friend from Chicago whom she then followed to the island of Dominica where he began medical school. Fourteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley, New York later, she now blogs weekly and writes masala-marinated, Y.A. fiction.When Raj is not tapping on her Mac, you can find her dancing with her princesses, kayaking with her hubs, coaching basketball or eating dark chocolate while sipping a frothy, sugar-free latte. She blogs at www.insearchofwaterfalls.com and secretly hopes someday she’ll own a laptop that functions under water.

And check out her first YA Novel: Swimming Through Clouds! Sheila reviewed it here.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Just enter the URL of the individual post in the linky below! And make sure to link back here, too, so that other people can read all these great marriage posts!




Wifey Wednesday: 6 Questions to Ask about Your Marital Intimacy

Christian Marriage Advice

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

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

6 Questions to Ask About Your Marital IntimacyIt’s beneficial from time to time to take stock of your life and ask if there’s anything you could improve. (Hint: There is.) Today, I hope you’ll join me in asking six questions about your marital intimacy.

1. Do we have sex often enough?

Frequency is the first order of business for many spouses. They either feel that sex is not happening often enough or their spouse is expecting sex too often. In a healthy marriage, sex is not a rare event. It’s a regular activity that expresses love and builds relationship, not to mention that it relieves stress, helps you sleep, and improves mood. So how often should you have sex?

I’ve asserted that couples should have sex at least once a week, but more often is better. If you look up and it’s been over a week, check your priorities and devote more time for physical closeness. If you’re having sex almost every day, that’s normal and healthy. Indeed, when you consider how often to have sex, just consider that it doesn’t require that much time, feels good once you get going, and should be approached not with the question “Why?” but “Why not?”

2. Does our sex life include variety?

Some couples have four positions, a location or two, and a couple of times during the day they enjoy having sex. Other couples have a vast repertoire of locations, positions, activities, times, etc. And they all might be very happy with their sexual intimacy. There are plenty of ways to spice up your sex life if you wish, but you don’t have to do something different every time.

What’s not okay is to do the same thing every time. If sex the last time is the same as this time is the same as the next time, then the whole shebang can start to feel predictable and lackluster. Branch out a little. Try a different location.Try a new position. Wear something that makes you feel especially beautiful. Introduce mutual massage with lotion or oil. Have a quickie one time and drawn-out lovemaking the next. Include variety in your sexual intimacy. You’ll likely find that you enjoy trying new things together and discovering the different physical sensations they produce.

3. Are we both enjoying our sexual encounters?

What’s the point if only one of you is having fun? Indeed, I regularly hear from husbands who say their favorite part of sex is…watching their wives experience sexual pleasure.

God intended for sex in marriage to be pleasurable. If you don’t enjoy sex, address the issue. If you have physical pain or discomfort, talk to a medical professional. If you have a bad sexual history, get counseling and work through your past. If you have a mental block from false teaching that good girls don’t enjoy sex, pick up Sheila’s The Good Girl’s Guide to Having Great Sex. If you have relational problems with your husband, communicate with him and seek couples counseling or mentoring if needed. You should be enjoying sex with your spouse and, if you aren’t, there’s an issue you need to confront. God desires that you both experience pleasure (Song of Songs 5:1).

4. Does our sexual intimacy express and foster other forms of intimacy?

Sex in marriage isn’t merely about physical sensations. In a committed and God-honoring marriage, sex should be an outgrowth of emotional, mental, recreational, and spiritual intimacy. It should include those aspects as well.

Ask whether you experience other forms of intimacy in the bedroom? Do you talk and laugh as good friends do? Do you play as recreational partners would? Do you feel more connected and loved through this experience? Do you sense that God blesses your union?

Sex should go much deeper than the brief physical joining of bodies. It represents the unique marital relationship and fosters intimacy of every kind. Ask how your marriage fares in meeting this ideal. If it’s sagging in one area or another, what can you do to foster intimacy in your relationship and/or in the bedroom?

5. Have we prayed about our sexual intimacy?

If your sexual intimacy isn’t everything you want it to be, it’s likely not what God wants it to be either. When you two are functioning according to His plan, it is downright delightful. If it falls short, take your concerns to the One who created sexual intimacy.

Yes, I know it can feel weird to pray about sex. But God’s not ashamed of what He designed for married couples. And prayer can heal. It can heal a relationship. It can heal a hurting heart. It can heal faulty thinking. Talking to God could be the most important step in figuring out how to handle your specific scenario. Let Him guide you.

6. Do we invite positive sex messages into our lives?

I’ve come to believe that an important factor in having a healthy sex life is having the support of others. Yes, the intimate act is private—between two spouses and behind closed doors. However, false messages around us can destroy marital intimacy. False messages like porn is okay, sex is only for men, sexual intimacy dies after the honeymoon, and more.

Positive messages do the opposite: They fortify the couple and give them freedom to delight in sexual intimacy. Seek out positive messaging—like girlfriends who applaud your desire to honor your husband; books, blogs, and classes that teach how to be a good and godly lover; couples or relatives who’ll care for your kids and give you couple time when you need it; church resources that nurture marriage and sexual intimacy. These days, it requires intentional action to seek out positive messages to encourage your sexual intimacy. But it’s well worth the effort.

Evaluate where your marital intimacy is and make the changes you need to make.

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

 

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

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When Your Husband Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with You

My Husband Never Wants to Spend Time with Me: Thoughts on how to build your friendship

One of the most common questions I get is, “how do I get my husband to spend time with me?” We feel so lonely in our marriages, as if we’re living parallel lives.

Often when things go wrong in a marriage we start looking at the “big” things–we can’t communicate; we share different values; our sex life is lousy. And yet, I think, in general, the first thing to go in a marriage is the friendship. The root of most marriage problems is that we stop being friends. And when that goes, everything else follows.

Yesterday, in my post about living in a loveless marriage, I talked about the concept of a “Love Bank”: think of your relationship as a bank account. Whenever you want to talk about an issue, or discuss a problem, you’re making a “withdrawal”, because that takes a toll on a marriage (even if, in the end, it’s a good thing to do). There are unhealthy ways of making withdrawals, too–being selfish, sniping at someone, picking a fight, etc. But all of us, even if we’re angels, will have to make withdrawals at some point.

The thing about the Marriage Love Bank is that it really can’t go into a negative balance. You have no overdraft protection on it. So if you’re going to make a withdrawal, there has to be a balance there. But life, in general, draws the balance down. Just living together provides some stress, and your balance will start to diminish unless it is built up. And the best way to build it up is to laugh together. Spend time together. Feel like friends, because then you’re on the same team!

That’s why I often tell couples that if you have a major thing you need to resolve, it’s better to spend a month building your friendship and learning how to talk together again than to delve into that huge issue. You have to have a foundation of goodwill before you start trying to deal with a big problem.

I’ve written at length on how to build your friendship and do things together, and so I thought today I would link to those posts for you. So here you go: go spend time together, build your friendship, and build up your Love Bank balance!

Building Your Friendship with Your Husband

Reader Question: Help! My Husband Never Wants to Spend Time with Me

Benefits of Walking Together

Avoiding Marriage Ruts

Just DO Something Together

Two Player Board Games you Can Play with Your Husband

50 Most Romantic Movies to Watch as a Couple

Dreaming with Your Spouse–Building a Vision Together

Hope these bless you! Now go build your friendship.

Successful Couples Do Things Together: Go and build your friendship!

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