Wifey Wednesday: Some AWESOME Free Ebooks for You

Marriage is the bedrock of our society, but it sure isn’t easy. And so today I want to share with you two quick resources that can help you navigate your own marriage and grow your relationship so that it’s rock solid–and fun!
Free Marriage Ebook Marriage Hacks

Marriage Hacks–Free Marriage Ebook

First, Tyler Ward—author of Marriage Rebranded—recently asked 25 leaders for their single best marriage advice for young people. The level of insight and wisdom he received—compiled in the free eBook Marriage Hacks—is guaranteed to help many navigate this uniquely beautiful relationship called marriage.

I am honored to have been one of the leaders Tyler interviewed for Marriage Hacks and excited to share this incredible new resource with you!

Download It Here

Marriage Hacks is a compilation of the best marriage advice for young people from 25 leaders including me (!), but also:

  • Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages
  • William Paul Young of The Shack
  • Gary Thomas of Sacred Marriage
  • Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On
  • Jeremy Cowart, Celebrity Photographer
  • Jonathan Jackson, Emmy-Award-Winning Actor

And many more…

The book speaks to some of the most common questions in marriage including…

  • how to keep things from never going stale
  • how to handle personality differences
  • how to cultivate emotional intimacy
  • how to spice things up in the bedroom (that’s me again!)
  • what to do when your spouse isn’t as intentional in your relationship as you are
  • and more…

You can download this awesome book right here.

Free Marriage EbookBringing Sexy Back–Free Marriage Ebook

Then I’ve got my own free ebook, Bringing Sexy Back to your marriage, with 36 tips on how to ignite your intimacy.

It’s my gift to you when you sign up for my marriage newsletter. Just enter your email below and you’re set!

The marriage newsletter goes out once a month, and it has links and descriptions of all of my marriage articles from the month before, as well as a theme for the month (like spending more time with your hubby, spicing up your marriage, marriage and kids, etc.), with links to older articles you may not be aware of. And then I throw in some funny stuff, too!

You can sign up for my marriage newsletter below, and if you want to sign up for my daily updates for my blog posts, you can do that as well below.

If you already subscribe, the link for the book was in the email that went out two weeks ago. It will also be in the next marriage newsletter.


Subscribe to our mailing list

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Sign Up for My Marriage Newsletter!


Hope those give you some great resources to help your marriage today!

I’m on my way home (finally) from the last of my jaunts this summer, and I’m back to work full time tomorrow. I’m also planning an amazing retreat this long weekend to talk to God about my direction, purpose, and plan for the year ahead. Keith’s coming with me and we’re going to spend part of the weekend praying for our plan together as a couple. I’m so looking forward to it–I feel like I need some clear direction from God as we begin another year–and I’ll share all about it next week! I’ve never done a full weekend purpose/planning retreat before (I’m planning not to talk at all for two days and just to listen to God), so it’ll be really interesting!

Reader Question: When Your Husband’s Job Stress Wrecks Your Sex Life

Reader Question of the WeekWhat do you do when your husband’s job stress wrecks your sex life?

Every Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it. As a doctor’s wife, I could really relate to this question from a woman whose husband’s job stress sucks the romance out of their marriage:

Hi Sheila,

I just had to write and say that hands-down, your book “a good girls guide to great sex “has been the most useful book I’ve read all year. My husband said there has been such a difference that he owes you a box of chocolates. (Sheila says: tell him truffles are my favourite!)

Speaking of my husband I have a question. He’s a youth pastor and my biggest challenge now is how do I change the mood at night for us? It’s common for him to get texts/calls from teens at night who are cutting or dealing with eating disorders or drunk parents. The mood goes from light-hearted and me being excited to having quality time with him in the bedroom to heavy burdened for these kids. Besides praying together any suggestions?

I have to admit that this is something I’ve struggled with and I don’t think I have an easy answer.

On the one hand, people would be quick to say, “you need boundaries! Just turn off the phone at night.” But when there are such horrible things happening that’s hard.

Sometimes Job Stress is Inevitable

My husband is a pediatrician who often has to respond to life and death emergencies at our small town local hospital. When we first moved here fifteen years ago, there weren’t enough pediatricians to cover the call schedule. There were often days that were completely uncovered.

And then, if an emergency happened at the hospital, what would the hospital do? They would phone Keith at our house because they were desperate, and he had a very hard time saying no, because a child could actually die.

I remember my daughter Katie’s second birthday party. We had family over, and it was a day that we had looked forward to for weeks. And just as I was lighting the candles the phone rang. A baby had been shaken and was unresponsive in the Emergency Room. Could Keith come?

He rushed to the hospital and stabilized the little boy for transport. He died a month later, and Keith testified at the trial that put the step-father in jail.

To this day I still remember that little boy’s name: Tyler Barriage. I write it here because I don’t want that poor little boy to be forgotten. He was only a little younger than my own daughter, and we were celebrating her birthday just as he was being killed.

I could have gotten angry at Keith for going into the hospital, and plenty of times I did–when it wasn’t as life and death. But that ultimately wouldn’t help.

So I don’t just want to say “get better boundaries”, because I really do understand the pull of these difficult jobs. But let me still give you some “big picture” strategies that perhaps you can use to reclaim your marriage in the midst of job stress.

Job Stress and Marriage: When job demands intrude on your relationship

Is the Job Stress Life or Death?

Some men (and some women–I can be guilty too) let their work intrude on everything. Often business owners are especially guilty of this. We have started a business and so we want to have control and make sure everything is okay. When people call at night, or when we have some spare time, we immediately respond to these job demands, and often family life falls by the wayside.

Is this life or death though? Certainly there are seasons when a business is in trouble and it needs more attention. But a relationship can’t sustain a workaholic spouse. This isn’t really the issue I’m addressing today, but I know that it is a very common one, and if your husband has a hard time putting his work away at night, perhaps you can leave some comments and I’ll try to write a follow-up post that addresses workaholism.

Does the Job Stress Just SEEM Life or Death?

What I do want to talk about today, though, is what to do with the job that actually IS life and death. But sometimes what looks like life and death may not actually be life and death.

In the letter writer’s case, I wonder if this is what’s happening. Let’s face it: if teens know that if they threaten to cut themselves that the youth pastor will drop everything and talk to you for hours, what’s going to stop them from keeping threatening to cut themselves?

If you are always at everyone’s beck and call for everything they deem a crisis, then crises will multiply.

My husband faced this, and finally the pediatricians sat down with the hospital and emergency doctors and obstetricians and said, “if you call us for everything we will burn out, and then you won’t just have 5 days a month with no one on call; you’ll never have anyone on call. So from now on you can’t call us unless it is truly life and death.”

So perhaps you can set up some systems so that people are still able to get a hold of you in emergencies, but only in emergencies.

Here’s one idea: turn off your cell phone outside of business hours, and let people know that if they have a crisis, they will have to actually phone. People text without giving it much thought. To pick up a phone and have to call someone’s house is different. You realize that you’re calling a family. You realize that it may be dinner hour. There’s more of an inconvenience aspect. And to teens who text all the time, having to phone may slow them down.

With my husband, we also got into the habit of me answering the phone. That way I could screen his calls if necessary. If you set up the expectation that “I am available all the time by text during the day, but in the evenings I’m only available in emergencies”, perhaps some of these calls will lessen.

 Recruit Others to Help

If you are in a job, especially a ministry position, where people are constantly in crisis, then you should not be the only person handling this. It isn’t healthy for the church, for you, or for the people you’re ministering to. What happens if a dozen teens rely on you for everything and then suddenly you’re in an accident or you quit your job from burnout? They have to be connected to the church, not just to you.

So set up a system where several adults become “buddies” for several friends. Or in a churchwide situation set up a system where certain elders in the church (it could be an actual position, or it could be volunteers with great wisdom) divide up the church phone book between them, and everybody knows who their own person to call is. That way the expectation is that you only call the pastor if it’s an actual emergency.

I went to a church like that almost two decades ago now. If I had an issue to talk about, I called a woman, and she was wonderful. But when my son died in the middle of the night, we called the pastor and he came down and sat with us. Now, if we had called him for everything, he would have been so burnt out he couldn’t have come the night we really needed him.

So perhaps having a talk with the leadership team at the church, or the hospital, or the police station, or wherever, and talking about how to divide up the task so that others are also responding to crises can work.

Get Out of Town Regularly

Finally, you can try all of these things and sometimes they just don’t work. With my husband’s job we managed to certainly minimize the intrusions, but they were still there.

What saved us was that we left regularly. We camped a lot in the summer. We took trips. We visited friends for weekends. And when we were away, Keith wasn’t able to help, so they didn’t call him.

Sure, there were still life and death situations, but Keith didn’t feel responsible if he wasn’t actually able to help.

For people who are always being bombarded with requests, physically removing yourself regularly throughout the year may be the only way to get some breathing room. Yes, people will still be in crisis, but you can say, “I can’t help you this weekend, and my cell phone is off, so you’ll have to call Mr. Smith instead.”

How Do You Reclaim the Evening When Job Stress Strikes?

There are some ideas about how to set some limits, but the letter writer also wanted to know: how can we reclaim the romance after a horrible phone call? I don’t have an easy answer. Certainly you can pray and try to leave it at the foot of the cross, but I know it can still ruin the mood. And that’s why I think it’s better to deal with the root of the problem and limit the requests on your time.

But if anyone has a good, practical answer to this part of the question, please leave it in the comments. How do you turn your brain off of your job and back onto your spouse after a crisis? I’d love to know!

 

Wifey Wednesday: Why Massage Can SuperCharge a Marriage

WifeyWednesday175It’s Wednesday, the day when I always talk marriage! And today I thought I’d share about one of my favourite parts about being married: massages.

I carry stress in my shoulders and back, and I’ve actually thrown out my lower back four times in the last two years–to the extent that I have to lie flat on my back for several days. My husband has dutifully stepped up to the plate and gives me an awesome massage several times a week, and it’s starting to prevent the back spasms.

But even more lovely, it sends my nerves a-firing! And that’s good, because I’m one of those type-A personalities who focuses intensely at whatever it is I’m doing, so I find it very hard to transition the the “next” thing. That’s probably why I write so much about how to prepare for sex earlier in the day, or how to get your head in the game. It’s challenging for me.

I’ve found that massage helps me immensely, though, because I start focusing on how my body feels. And when I’m focusing on my body, rather than my to-do list, my libido often kicks in!

My next goal is to start massaging my husband.

I’ve only done it a few times because, to be honest, he finds other physical things more relaxing. :) But I figure–why not prolong the contact? Why not massage for a while first before we move on to the main event–wouldn’t that be more intimate, more relaxing, and more fun? So I’m going to suggest it.

But I don’t just mean I’ll rub his back for five minutes. I mean I want to learn how to stretch those 5 minutes into a 10, 15… 20 minute massage. Because then we have this lovely experience to build trust, supercharge your intimacy and leave the two of us relaxed and bonded.

Massage in Marriage

1. Massaging each other is an opportunity to slow down together

High-speed internet. 24 hour email access. Real-time status updates. We live in a fast-paced world. It can be hard to switch off and slow down when our brains are accustomed to multi-tasking at a hundred miles an hour, all day, every day.

Sitting down to a decadent massage together provides a rare opportunity to stop and be together, focused entirely on each other. For just 30 minutes, you can dim the lights, play some soft music and treat each other to a muscle-melting massage.

Everything else can just fade away and the two of you can just breathe, and be.

2. Massage in marriage will bring you deliciously closer together

There’s a slew of research to show that giving your spouse a massage enhances your intimate connection and builds trust in your marriage.

Intimacy is a requirement for healthy relationships, but it doesn’t always come automatically. We need to make space and time to foster our intimate connections, and massaging each other is one very simple way to do that.

On top of the time you spend together, you very literally have your hands on each other, helping to reinforce the intimate bond. As you start to work knots from aching muscles and your partner falls back into you, you can take that as a sign of complete trust. Keith really likes the sounds I make, too! :)

The entire experience is seriously incredible. And, if you are both so inclined, it can lead to a wonderfully intimate and steamy sex session, too.

3. Massage will make your spouse feel appreciated

We don’t mean to take our nearest and dearest for granted, but sometimes after years in a marriage, we might slip up on that front every now and then.

Treating your husband to a massage is a beautiful way to show him that he’s very much appreciated and loved. In fact it hits almost every Love Language, if you think about it.

Massage very clearly speaks to the Physical Touch love language, of course. But if you think about it, it’s also Quality Time spent together, it’s an Act of Service (especially if you don’t ask for one in return!) and if you play your cards right it can make for a gorgeous gift… just package up some massage oil and a scented candle in a big bow and then go on to actually massage your husband and watch him melt with joy.

One thing I’ve realized after several treatments by Registered Massage Therapists over this last year, though, is that you can do massage wrong. And when you do it right, it doesn’t hurt the person doing the massaging (how often have you tried to massage and ended up with a sore hand or a sore thumb?). Massaging properly is easier than you think!

When Denis Merkas, a Registered Massage Therapist, contacted me about the MELT: Massage for Couples video series  he did with his wife Emma, I was really excited (and not just because I got to watch the videos, too!). I really do think this can lead to closer marriages, and can help to reduce stress for both of you. If you’re worried that your husband will never understand how much you need massage, asking him to watch these with you and practice what you’ve learned together is a great way to bring something that most of us sorely need into our marriage.

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Here are a few things I loved about the MELT series:

1. Denis keeps things PG-rated.

Sure, there’s romantic music and the couple is massaging each other, but clothes stay on, and the focus is on learning how to give a massage. (yes, she’s wearing a strapless top, but that’s so you can see the proper technique on her shoulders). As Denis says, if things lead somewhere else, that’s fine–but that’s not what his video series is trying to teach you. So you don’t have to worry that this is pornographic in nature! It isn’t–it really is just about learning technique.

2. I learned that I was seriously overemphasizing the Deep Tissue stuff–so I was massaging wrong

Because I usually beg Keith to give me a massage when I’m in agony, he usually plunges right to deep tissue stuff. But what I’ve learned is that the LO-O-O-NG strokes (Denis calls them “Long Sexy Strokes”!) are so important first. Now when I’m massaging my girls (my oldest daughter especially carries a ton of tension in her shoulders and upper back, too), I’m going to start with these long strokes. It’s so much more effective.

3. The videos are short to watch together

It’s not like you have to sit through an hour long video or anything. Each video is under 5 minutes, and focuses on learning one technique. About 6 videos form a series, and there are 3 series altogether: The Basic Strokes, the Highlights, and the Deep Tissue stuff.

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The Basic Strokes Series teaches you how to actually move your hands to achieve maximum impact–and maximum ooohs and aaaahs. You watch 7 short videos and learn a new technique with each one, and then at the end there’s a 15 minute video that features a routine using all your new techniques.

The Highlights Series is my favourite one. It features special massage techniques for special places–the neck, the arms, the forehead, the rotator cuff. We were actually pretty good at the Deep Tissue massage, but I found some places I didn’t even know I hurt that probably have never been relaxed my whole life. Again, after you watch the nine short videos in this series, there’s a 15 minute massage routine you can do that incorporates all the things you’ve learned.

The Deep Tissue Series focuses on how to use your thumbs to really work out knots. It’s so helpful–and at the end is a 30 minute routine that you can use on each other.

4. Everything builds on each other

The routines at the end of each series incorporate everything you’ve already learned, and so it all builds. Each night you can feel like you’ve learned something new, but at the end of the series you’ll feel as if you’ve really mastered something.

5. They’re easy to watch together and do together.

You just watch one of the short ones a night and then practice on each other. Because you’re watching the technique, it’s easy to say, “I’ll go first, then you try it.” Or, to make it more enticing for him, let him massage you first. That way you can’t fall asleep because you have to massage him afterwards–so he won’t worry that if he massages you the night will be over because you’ll be in dreamland.

I’ve been saying a lot on this blog that it is so important to start going to bed together at the same time so that you have opportunity to connect. Instead of watching one more show on Netflix, or browsing Pinterest, or playing one more video game, this gives you a reason to head to bed. You watch a video, pull out some massage oil, and then do it! And as you touch, it does help nerves to fire. If that leads to something else, woo hoo!

As someone who does carry a lot of stress physically, massage is such a service to me and helps me feel closer to my husband. So many men carry stress on their backs and necks, too, and if we can learn to release that, we can actually change the dynamic in the marriage.

I really encourage you to check out MELT: Massage for Couples.

 

A special promotion has been organised for readers of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, with 60% off retail price for LIFETIME video access to some incredible massage techniques. Visit MELT: Massage for Couples.

Because, as Denis and Emma, the creators of MELT say, every couple deserves a little massage.

Click Here Button

 I’m actually buying a few of these video series myself to give as wedding presents! I like helping people get their marriages off to a good start, so I’ll put an envelope with instructions on how to access the video series in a basket, along with some massage oil, some candles, and a CD with really relaxing music. I think it’ll make a unique and awesome wedding gift! Buy it now as a gift you can give, too.

And now let me get a little more personal. Today is one of the hardest days in a long time for me. Today would have been my son’s eighteenth birthday. I’ll tell you more about him tomorrow, but I’ve been feeling out of sorts for a while now. But what I find is that when we’re going through grief, having someone actually touch you is so incredibly healing, even if you’re tearing up through it. I find massage to be an act of love, and maybe if we included more acts of love in our marriages, we’d find the day to day stresses so much easier to deal with.

Now let me know: do you incorporate massage into your marriage? How does it work for you?

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!

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

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

Find out more here.


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!

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

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

Find out more here.


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!

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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

Finding Mr. Right

Finding Mr. 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 find Mr. Right 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 help you to find Mr. Right?

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.

Sacred SearchThe best book I have ever read about finding Mr. Right (or finding Mrs. Right), 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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