A Marriage Centered Family

Today guest author Amy Roberts of Raising Arrows shares great advice regarding prioritizing our marriage relationship, as the center of the home. Marriage before kids is the best way!

Marriage Before kids

As soon as I got married, I wanted kids. As soon as I had our first child, a year and a half later, I realized just how hard it was to be a parent. Then I started homeschooling. Then I had 7 more children! Next thing I knew I was neck-deep in obligations that were all 4½ feet and under!

It would have been easy…in fact, natural…to just disappear into motherhood.

Between morning sickness, diapers, schooling, and middle of the night feedings, my life seemed to revolve around these little people. Sure, my husband needed me, but he was an adult and not dependent on me the way they were. He could wait.

Or could he?

Let me ask you a question:

Do you have it in your head that once these intense mothering years are over, THEN you’ll have time for your spouse?

It’s not that you are speaking those word out loud, or even saying them in your head, but if you are always focused on the children and their needs, your actions are saying precisely that.

They are saying I’m too busy being a mom to be a wife. They are saying our marriage can wait. They are saying I don’t care about our relationship right now. They might even be saying, “You got me into this mess.”

We work hard at parenting. We agonize over decisions and behaviors. We research the “right way” to do everything from diapering to dating. But anytime there are issues in our marriage, we are quick to blame and slow to work at restoring our relationship. Our priorities are quite clear.

And quite off.

Our children need to see us working hard at being married.

They need to know what healthy adult relationships look like. They need a united authority and a stable homelife. The only way we can offer all of this is if we work to build a strong marriage where we remember what being a wife is like amongst the daily demands of being a mom.

Sometimes we need to put our husband’s needs above our children’s.

Sometimes we need to tell the children it is Mom and Dad time, and they need to wait.

Sometimes we need to implement schedules and routines that make the day less child-centered. (think bedtime routine here)

Sometimes we just need to take a moment to look into our husband’s eyes and remember how these children got here in the first place.

Don’t just let your marriage quietly crumble behind the scenes. You CAN be a good wife and a good mom. Working to build a strong marriage IS good parenting!

Amy RobertsAmy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net has been married 17 years to her high school sweetheart, Ty, and is blessed to be the homeschooling mother of 7 living children and one precious little girl named Emily being held in the Lord’s arms. As a conference speaker and author of several homeschooling and homemaking ebooks, including her newest release, Large Family Homeschooling, it is her deepest desire to encourage moms in the trenches to stay focused on what truly matters and live a life of abundant blessings in Christ. RaisingArrows.net A gentle voice. A firm resolve. An abundant homeschool life!

 

 

Soul Ties: How to Break Them and Live in Freedom

Soul Ties: How to Break Bonds with Past Lovers and Live in Freedom in Marriage

A New Season!  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says,There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”–so today I want to announce a new day here in our community.  With the desire to reach and teach as many as possible and with intention to promote Christ in all things–marriages, family and life, I am going to start using Wednesdays to promote and share some wonderful posts that you may not have read–and to give you some treasure troves of new bloggers to follow. So I will be discontinuing the linky from now on. I want to be sure that the posts that you read from here I can thoroughly agree with, and so I’m going to hand pick the ones I recommend. They will share on topics I have picked for each week.  This week’s topic talks about putting your past behind you and forgiving yourself.

Soul ties–or invisible bonds–wreak havoc on so many marriages. Today guest poster and author Danielle Tate explains what soul ties are, and how we can break them.

When I was 17, I naively thought the sexual behavior I partook in was harmless and momentary. I reconciled in my head that because we had intentions on getting married and because our hearts were “right” toward each other that sexual activity was somehow okay.

Two years later when we split, my heart literally ached. I remember standing in the grocery store parking lot where he worked just wanting him to hug me “one last time.” He was like a drug, a good drug that I needed. I was going through withdrawal over a silly boy but my body ached without him. Friends told me to move on but I could not get past the feeling that part of me had suddenly been ripped away. Recovery was slow and painful – filled with anger, rebellion and a new tattoo.

“The next time it will be different,” I told myself. Boy, was I right. It was all kinds of different. Seven years of hell ended with exposed lies, infidelity and abuse. Way different from my straight-A, Honor Society, college-bound beau. Yet the old familiar feeling of needing my fix still came even after I dumped his clothes in the driveway. I was addicted, but to what?

This time, unlike before, I initiated the break up. I knew he was a loser (though I see him differently now) and I knew it was a very unhealthy relationship. Yet for months, we had “conjugal visits.” It seemed I was the prisoner sentenced to a life of longing fulfilled only by someone I didn’t love and didn’t even want to be around.

Twisted isn’t it?

Yet this is what happens when we have sexual experiences outside the confines of marriage. Actually, it’s what happens when we have sexual experiences regardless of our marital status. Every time we have a sexual experience, we are creating deep-rooted bonds with the other individual. There are a few different terms used to describe these bonds but the most popular, and the one I use in my book is “soul ties.”

The Dynamics of Soul Ties

A soul tie is defined as “A spiritual connection between two people who have been physically intimate with each other or who have had an intense emotional or spiritual association or relationship.”* If you think of sex inside the confines of marriage this is a wonderful thing. God created us to have sexual relations with our spouse that in turn create deep-rooted bonds.

See, He knew that after the honeymoon, there’d be morning breath, bills to pay, kids to raise and dirty socks left on the floor. He knew life would happen and so He created us to be deeply bonded with our spouse so that during the crazy seasons of life when we sometimes don’t really like our spouse, we would still be deeply bonded to them.

Soul Ties, Drugs and Super Glue

When we have a sexual experience, our brains produce dopamine, the same chemical that feeds a gambling addiction, your chocolate cravings and the junkie’s need for another fix. Dopamine is often described as the “feel good” chemical of the brain and it plays a major role in our lives (good and bad). You see, our bodies don’t care if it’s cocaine, a cupcake or a sexual experience – dopamine will be produced and it will bind us. This is why my former boyfriends were like my drug of choice and why I could not see myself without them. I was addicted to the high. I had created soul ties when I had these feel- good, intimate experiences with guys I wasn’t married to. This is also why it literally hurt when I broke up.

Soul ties are like super glue. If you’ve had sexual encounters outside of marriage, consensual or forced, there is most like a lingering soul tie that needs to be dealt with otherwise you’ll forever be plagued with thoughts, feelings and even actions that are unwanted. I mention forced encounters because, although pleasure is not associated with abuse, our brains still produce chemical reactions and our soul can still be tied to someone who has abused us. Some symptoms of lingering soul ties include:

  • Someone whose voice you hear in your head
  • Obsessive day-time thought about someone
  • Dreaming or waking up at night thinking about someone on a regular basis
  • Someone you think of or “see” in your mind when you are intimate with your spouse

A Marriage in Crisis

Speaking of spouses, the hidden soul ties in my life deeply affected the first several years of my marriage. It gto so bad that my husband thought I was having an affair. I was distant, I disliked sex….I really disliked sex and I was not fulfilled. Unbeknownst to him, I would cry almost every.single.time we had sex. The guilt, shame and dirty feelings I had as a sexually active single woman carried right into my marriage. Those feelings didn’t go away just because we said “I do.” Ceremony alone was not enough to make my past sexual sins disappear. I needed healing. I needed forgiveness and I need a clean break.

Breaking Soul Ties

There are 4 Key steps to breaking soul ties:

  1. Acknowledge
  2. Confess and Repent
  3. Forgive
  4. Break and Remove

First, we need to acknowledge that there is a problem. Ask the Lord to show you who you have ungodly soul ties with. Make a list if you need to. Secondly, we need to confess and repent of our sins. This may involve finding a godly accountability partner that you can confess to and who can help you walk through the process. It maybe be a church counselor, pastor or elder or a family member.

Next, we need to find forgiveness. We need to accept God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive ourselves and lastly, we need to forgive our former partners or abusers. Remember, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

Finally, you need to verbalize a prayer to break off the soul ties. You need to speak it out! Life and death are in the power of the tongue so when you speak out you are declaring with your mouth the power of Christ to break the ties to your past. You must also do an inventory and remove any mementoes, gifts or souvenirs from those past relationships.

*Tim Stewart “Soul Ties (and Breaking Soul Ties)” http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/soul-ties/

Restoring the Lost PetalFor more detailed help breaking soul ties and walking through the process of restoration, pick up a copy of Restoring the Lost Petal: A Journey Through the Loss and Restoration of Sexual Purity. It’s available now in my store as a .pdf download (you can read it on your computer or on any phone or ereader), or as a paperback here.

meet danielleDanielle Tate, founder of Thrive Ministries, is passionate about sharing her message or restoration with women of all ages. After 13 years in the corporate world, she became a stay at home wife and mother and began making natural beauty products and blogging. She is the author of Restoring the Lost Petal: A Journey Through the Loss and Restoration of Sexual Purity. You can find her blogging at More Than Four Walls where she writes about faith, food, and biblical stewardship. Danielle is married to Brad and they have a son, Wyatt.


Hi everybody! Welcome to the new format of Wifey Wednesday! Instead of doing a link up party, I’m going to link up a few posts from awesome marriage bloggers who have talked about the same subject, so that we can stick to a “theme for the week”! So here’s today’s theme: getting over your past.

The Generous Wife: The Tipping Point
Dayna Bickham: Breaking the Cycle of Unforgiveness
Women Living Well: Pursuing Purity (in an Opposite World)
Messy Marriage: Shame on You?
To Love, Honor and Vacuum: Getting over the Guilt of your Sexual Past

Kissing in Marriage: Top 10 Kisses Every Marriage Needs

Top TenIt’s our Top 10 Tuesday day, and I thought I’d run a fun post today on kissing in marriage.

Frankly, I’m afraid that kissing often becomes a lost art in marriage. Most of us kiss before we’re married, but once we’re married we often stop, because kissing is supposed to lead to something else, right? And if we’re not sure we want to go there, then we don’t want to kiss. We wouldn’t want to give him the wrong idea.

But when we stop kissing, we lose one of our greatest ways to boost our own libidos–and we lose out on a lot of intimacy and fun! So today I thought I’d share ten different kisses every marriage needs.

Top 10 Kisses Every Marriage Needs--because kissing in marriage is FUN!

1. The “Hello” Kiss

He walks in the door–and you stop whatever you’re doing and make sure you get to him first–before the dog, before the kids, before anything. And you tell him, “I missed you today, and I’m glad you’re home!” Or if you’re the one who walks in the door, you seek him out first, and you plant one right on him. It’s usually light, it’s happy, and you’re smiling all the way through it.

I think this one’s my favourite–just because I look forward to whenever my husband comes home.

And what if it’s hello after a longer absence? Then all bets are off! You can end up on the floor, you can end up rolling around, you can end up all tangled. And tears are often involved.

2. The “Whooppee! I’m So Excited!” Kiss

You just got a promotion! He just got a raise. You just signed on the house! The little stick was pink. Whatever it may be–this one involves him picking you up and spinning you around, and lots of passion, and lots of laughter, all at the same time.

Because when we’re excited, we want to share it!

3. The “It’s Going to Be All Right” Kiss

Tears are falling silently. The miscarriage is over and you’re lying down in bed. You’re back from your mom’s funeral. You’re recovering from a fight with your teenage daughter, and you’re not sure if the relationship can be repaired.

And you lie down next to each other, hearts breaking, and you reach out and kiss. Sometimes it’s gentle, and sometimes it’s for dear life, but with this salty kiss you’re saying the same thing–I’m here with you. I’m not going anywhere. We’re going to get through this. And I want to share your pain.

Turn to each other when you hurt. It’s very healing.

4. The “I Love You So Much” Kiss

You’ve just prayed together and you’re overwhelmed by how amazing this man is. He’s just come back inside from throwing the ball around with your son. He stood up for you when your mom tried to manipulate you again.

And you’re so thrilled that this man is in your corner.

This kiss is heartfelt, it’s long, it’s drawn out–and you can feel it in your toes.

5. The “I’m Sorry” Kiss

One of your messed up–big time. You’ve confessed. You’ve forgiven. And now you’re rebuilding.

This one often starts out tentatively–but often ends up much more passionately. And often in bed! (Make up sex is a real thing, you know :) ).

6. The “I’m Going to Ravish You Now” Kiss

Here’s where the excitement is overwhelming, and the kiss takes on a life of its own.

This one almost always leads somewhere fun–and is almost always very memorable. Don’t be afraid to drag this one out. It’s more fun that way!

Kiss him Like you mean It

7. The “Silly” Kiss

You’re teasing each other. You’re tickling each other. You’re trying to gross the kids out. You’re dancing in the kitchen and he dramatically dips you–and then doesn’t let you get up.

We all need times just to be silly in our marriages. Throw in some silly kisses, too!

8. The “I Think You’re Hot” Kiss

This isn’t the passionate one–because you don’t have time. You’re stealing a kiss, and giving him a message for what’s coming later. Here’s where  you grab him, give him a long-drawn out, deep kiss that leaves him breathless–and then you smile and walk away, whispering, “later.” Because everyone needs some teasing in a marriage–as long as it’s going somewhere, of course!

9. The “You’re Just So Darn Cute” Kiss

You’re out for a walk and he’s telling a funny story. He’s imitating a weird accent and acting out a scene from work. He’s making you laugh, and he’s just so cute that you reach over and give him a little peck, laughing all the way.

Throw in some laughter into your marriage–it’s good for the soul!

10. The “Good-Bye” Kiss

Finally, it’s the most important one. Whether it’s just an affectionate peck when you say good-bye in the morning, or a tear-laced drawn out kiss when you’re parting for a while, make sure that every time you part, you part with a kiss. Make it a habit–let that always be the last thing you do, and you’ll hold on to him the whole time he’s gone.

Kissing in marriage is so important to express all kinds of different emotions. It’s our own special way of connecting. If your marriage regularly uses one or two of these–but rarely all ten, maybe it’s time to expand your repertoire! Laugh more. Be silly more. When you’re resolving conflict, end it well. Comfort him more. Be more vulnerable. Open up more.

Kissing can do all of that. So let’s rediscover the lost art of kissing–and have a wonderful time doing it!

Haven’t kissed passionately in a while? Just start with some little pecks to say good-bye and hello, and build from there. But don’t let kissing die. It’s too important–and too fun!

31 Days to Great SexIn my book, 31 Days to Great Sex, kissing is one of my 31 challenges! I encourage couples to share a 15-second kiss every day. It can totally transform your marriage. If your romance is stuck in the duldrums, check out 31 Days to Great Sex, and rediscover your passion for each other again.

Reader Question: Why Did My Husband Change After We Got Married?

Reader Question of the WeekEvery Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. I get a ton of questions, and I don’t have time to answer anything personally. But when something comes along that looks like it would apply to a lot of people, I like trying to answer it on the blog.

Today we’re going to deal with what to do if your husband changed after marriage.

A reader writes:

What do you do when your husband changes who he is after you are married? I’ve been married for 3 years and prior to saying “I do” my husband was a fun guy, he liked to go out on dates etc. Now he’s not into anything, I try to get him to do stuff with me and he just say’s he’s not into it anymore. He’s even recently decided that he doesn’t need to get me presents anymore. He doesn’t see why he has to get me a Christmas present which he didn’t until 4 day’s later when he felt guilty. On Valentines day, he worked extra duty and went to get his hair cut. I saw him for and hour that day. Then we have a big fight on why it would have been nice to just get out of the house with him and do something together. I didn’t need gifts. He told me I was high maintenance expecting him to do something nice for me on Valentines. I don’t know what to do.

That certainly would be frustrating, and I can understand feeling so lonely and rather taken for granted.

I want to give a few very quick thoughts with some links to longer posts I’ve written which may prove helpful, and then I’ve got a broader point to make–so read on!

What happened to that romantic guy I dated? If your husband changed after marriage, some thoughts to bring romance back!

1. Do You Know Your Husband’s Love Language?

From what I can see in this very brief letter (which obviously is missing a lot of key information), her love language is likely quality time or gifts. She doesn’t feel loved because in her experience, he isn’t thinking of her and caring for her in the way that she needs.

We tend to like to give love in the same way we like to receive love, so she’s probably wanting to spend time with him to show him that she loves him, and she’s not able to. But what if his love language is words of affirmation? Or service? Or physical touch? It could be that he is feeling just as lonely.

So I’d encourage you to look at love languages and talk to your husband and see if you can figure each other out. Lots of people like taking personality tests on the internet, so this may be something he’d join you in.

2. Are You Meeting His Needs?

She’s really upset because he’s not meeting her genuine needs for connection, and that definitely is lonely. But rarely have I seen a marriage where only one person is lonely. Often what happens is one person becomes upset, so they lash out in hurt, which makes the other spouse defensive and hurt so they withdraw. The other spouse is now hurt, too.

I know this is hard to ask yourself when you’re definitely hurting, but are you meeting your husband’s needs? Let’s take a look at ourselves first before we point the finger at him.

Why He Won’t Meet Your Needs

Why am I The One Who Has to Change? (if you’re uncomfortable with my suggestion here, read this post, too!)

3. Can You Find Things to Do Together?

She has a big need to spend time with her husband–and that is a legitimate need. Sometimes, though, we need to take the initiative and find things that will work for both of us.

Here are some posts that might help:

Finding Things to do Together

Benefits of Walking Together

Reviving Your Friendship

4. Marriage is a Big Adjustment–and It’s all About Expectations

Is the problem that your husband changed after marriage? Or is it more that he just didn’t change the way that you expected him to?

Marriage is a HUGE adjustment for most couples, and while some enjoy a “honeymoon” period where everything is wonderful, I think far more find those first two years the hardest of their lives. We had ideas that once we were married we’d eat dinner together every night, and we’d do stuff together, but maybe he didn’t share those ideas. Maybe he thought he’d just continue to have fun–but with you along for the ride. It’s not that either of you is wrong; it’s just that you had different ideas of what life was going to be like.

Dreaming togetherMaybe what you need to do, then, is to talk about your expectations and your dreams and your visions for  you as a couple and as a family. If we can actually talk about our expectations, then we can start to understand our spouse better and figure out how to adjust. But if you never talk about the expectations, we tend to make a lot of assumptions–including assuming that the other person doesn’t really love us the way we love them.

This post may help you inspire some conversation:

Dream Together as a Couple

Do All Men Change After Marriage?

Everybody changes after they get married, as Dayna Bickham wrote about so well last week in our Wifey Wednesday.

But I’m not sure the problems we encounter in marriage are as much about people changing as they are about the fact that once we’re married we learn people’s true selves.

And what worries me is that many people get married without really knowing the person they are marrying.

What I see in this letter, for instance, is that before marriage they went on dates, but after marriage they don’t. Now, I think dating is fun, and should certainly continue after marriage. In fact, I’ve got a post on cheap date night ideas for married couples, too!

But here’s the thing:

Doing “dating things” is not preparation for marriage. Going out on dates tells you almost nothing about what that person will be like once you’re married.

You don’t need to know whether or not someone is capable of taking you to movie and a dinner. What you need to know is what they do on a day-to-day basis, when they’re at home. It’s the home life that counts, not the dating, because dating isn’t real.

I know a young couple who has started seeing each other in the last few months, and they’ve fallen quite hard, too. But while they see each other constantly, they’ve only been on three real “dates”. They simply don’t have the money. So instead they hang out with friends, or go on walks, or just spend time talking and cooking together. They go to church together. That’s a better preparation for marriage if you ask me, because that’s sharing real life.

Too often when we date we don’t share real life, and so you truly don’t know what this person is really like. It could be that this guy hasn’t changed at all–it’s just that she never really knew him.

Is your friend marrying the wrong person? Top 10 questions to ask her to help her make a good decision (because that's what friends do!)That’s why I’m very adamant that we need to ask our friends those hard questions before they get married.

Sit them down and drill them, even if they’re uncomfortable, because it’s better to do that than to have a friend marry badly. And as I said in my post last week, one of the key questions is: What do you DO together? If the only things you really “do” together are dating things, then you don’t know how you will act when you actually marry.

And the other key question? How does he treat his mom? I know some men treat their moms like queens and treat their wives horribly, but that really is the exception. Most men who treat their moms well also treat their wives well. If he doesn’t send his mom a Mother’s Day card, and doesn’t remember her birthday, and doesn’t care about Christmas, it’s unlikely he will for you, either.

We don’t know enough about this letter writer, and so I’m not trying to say that all of this was necessarily visible before she got married. But I do think for many people it is. You meet someone; you get infatuated; and you spend time together being all romantic. But that’s not the basis for a life together. You have to have shared purpose, and shared values, and a shared vision. That’s what’s really important in a future spouse.

What if you don’t share anything important with your husband?

Then it’s time to start building the relationship from the ground up. Work at being his friend. Find things to do together–even things you never thought you’d enjoy. Figure out what his love language is and really love on him.

You made this vow, and the vow matters. Bailing on the marriage is unlikely to bring you a lot of happiness, but working on the marriage you have likely will. So ask God for grace and patience and focus on what you can do to make things better, not on what he can do. You just may find that you enjoy being with him after all.

What about you? Were you surprised that your husband changed after marriage? Did he go from a romantic guy to someone who missed birthdays? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments!

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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.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

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!

This post contains affiliate links.

 

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!