Wifey Wednesday: The Lovemaking Full Meal Deal

Please welcome guest posters, Dr. Dan and Linda Wilson, the authors of Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravant Intimacy in Marriage–a book I was happy to read before it was published and endorse. Today they are sharing a new way of looking at making intimacy special with your spouse!

Lovemaking - The Full Meal Deal

Did you know that your sense of taste changes over the years? Sexual desires and appetites have seasons as well. How hungry are you?

Appetizers

“At our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” ~ Song of Solomon 7:13

Early in marriage many couples are ravenous for sex. It’s like a three course meal that begins with a large plate of savory, mouth-watering appetizers. You are famished and ready to devour everything you can get your hands on. In the initial phase of active sexuality, large volumes of energetic lovemaking just might be more appealing than a tiny taste of extreme ecstasy.

We like to refer to this honeymoon phase of sex as the appeteasers. When really hungry, eating an occasional small morsel can be almost maddening. We are hungry! Bring out a huge platter of appeteasers, and let’s snack on them all day and into the night.

The first honeymoon months of sexual encounter are passionate, producing memories that the newlyweds will remember for a lifetime. But let’s be honest. High-level, almost starving desire combined with immaturity and inexperience often produces some awkward, even hilarious intimate experiences. Being desperately hungry can sometimes result in disappointing outcomes.

For instance, it might not take long to discover that one (often, but not always the man) will have a heftier appetite, a higher sex drive than the other. Inequality of libido is nearly universal—so common that it is considered to be normal. What initially seems to be a frustrating challenge is actually a wonderful opportunity. Learning to adjust to each other’s needs for higher or lower frequency is one way of expressing agape, selfless love. Paul’s instruction to “Submit one to another” (Ephesians 5:21) is wise council for lovers of any age. Remember, submission is a two-way street.

Dramatic shifts in libido can occur during this appetizer phase of marriage. For instance, the two of you might be getting really good at sex when the color bar on the pregnancy test strip changes. Oh my! Does a positive pregnancy test require a nine-month fast from sex? No! It might be time to expand your palate, but the appetizers are still quite yummy.

Entrees

“Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” ~ Song of Solomon 4:16

After delighting in many scrumptious appetizers during the early years, our middle years of marriage are a great time to focus on enjoying the entrees. We get to experiment with some new spices. Who wants meatloaf every Monday when the gourmet menu is available?

The children are older. Our work schedules become more predictable. In these sexually savory middle years we find more time and energy for romance. Are you taste-testing some delectable dishes that arouse your senses in wonderful ways? In fact, do not be surprised when asked if you are on your honeymoon after being married for twenty-two years.

By adapting to changing appetites through the years, you demonstrate love, faithfulness, and sensitivity to one another. Trust and security invite both of you to eat, enjoy, and be satisfyingly filled. This season of life can offer many evenings of fine dining. But why limit this pleasure to evenings? Afternoon snacks are delightful. Breakfast in bed is a refreshing way to start the day. Variety really does add spice to life.

The middle years are a great time to experiment with new cuisines as you share a delicious date night dinner. Take time to enhance your dining experience by lighting a romance candle and dressing the table with beautiful flowers. Try a new perfume. Wear a pretty negligee while listening to love songs on the play list.
There is now time to savor each bite as you encounter new exotic cuisines.

Sex might take a little longer than in the newlywed years, but it is oh so delicious. And, your palate has become more refined. You have figured out which herb goes best with which food, and have discovered that more is not necessarily better. It is still great fun to experiment with different flavors. But we know what we like and thoroughly enjoy every exquisite bite.

Desserts

“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend.” ~ Song of Solomon 5:16

And who does not want dessert? As you honeymoon into the later decades of marriage, you get to enjoy the sweetest of treats. This mature phase of life is an opportunity for you and your mate to share the intense richness of love that is ripened on the vine of life together.

As you advance in age, health issues may appear that block sweet methods of lovemaking from the past. Joints are stiffer, backs seem weaker, and energy is often lower than before. Yet the need to be emotionally and physically touched in intimate ways remains. The desire to be loved and to love is a constant that never fades.

At the wedding feast in Cana, the party had been going on for days when Jesus changed water into wine. The master of the wedding banquet said that the choicest wine had been reserved until the final course of the feast (John 2). Isn’t that like God to save the best until last?

The Spirit refines skills in lovemaking throughout the years. Happily married people in their later decades are often the most satisfied lovers. Laughingly we say that there will need to be a lock on our door if we move into a nursing home for the elderly. Delectable dessert will still be on the menu.

One bite of divine dark chocolate is more satisfying than a bag of inferior candies. As you adapt to physical changes and health challenges, your sexual sense of taste might change once again, becoming even more refined.

Full Meal Deal

Appetizers, entrees, and desserts are yummy treats that fill your life with delight.  Throughout your married life you will want it all—the full meal deal. Each course demonstrates your love sexually to your mate. Both giving and receiving pleasure is delectable. Every anniversary is to be celebrated—possibly over a nice, long dinner as you fondly remember favorite meals from the past, and dream of delicious dishes you want to try. Wouldn’t this be a great day to devour some French silk pie?

 

Dan Linda WilsonLovemaking bookDr. Dan and Linda Wilson are marriage missionaries. They delight in traveling around the world blessing marriages and sharing about Jesus. Dan and Linda are cofounders of Supernatural Marriage & Missions, and have written several books including Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage. You can follow them at www.supernaturalmarriage.org and www.facebook.com/supernaturalmarriage.

 

 

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great posts!



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Wifey Wednesday: The ONE Tip That Will Make Sex Feel Great!

Here it is. Are you ready for it? The ONE tip that will make sex feel great.

The One Tip that will make Sex Feel Great. #marriage

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

And today I thought I’d share something quick that can make a huge difference in your marriage.

Here we go.

Do you know why sex doesn’t always feel very good for women?

It’s because sex is primarily in our heads. What we’re THINKING about determines how we’re FEELING.

And that means that to feel good during sex, we have to be thinking positively about it. We have to be able to concentrate so we don’t get distracted.

A few years ago when giving my Girl Talk I explained it like this:

(I’m bringing Girl Talk all over the eastern seaboard next year. If your church may want to host me, just ask for an information packet.)

Here’s the problem. We women are multi-taskers. And our bodies don’t kick in unless our brains do first. So, if you’re counting ceiling tiles or planning a grocery list in your head, sex isn’t going to feel good. If you are lying there waiting for him to do exactly the right thing to send you over the edge, you aren’t going to feel good. Because there is nothing he CAN do if your brain isn’t engaged in the process.

So the real question isn’t what super move to do in bed. The real question is how can you get your blasted brain to stop making that grocery list? How can you stop thinking, “I really should be asleep by now. I’m going to be so tired tomorrow.” Or how can you stop thinking, “this is kinda boring. Nothing’s really happening for me right now.”

Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to tell your brain what to think about.

It’s that easy.

When you’re making love, simply ask yourself these two questions:

What feels good right now?

and

Where do I want to be touched right now?

Just those two questions.

Because when you ask those two questions, you start paying attention to your body. You get your brain out of the grocery list and onto more interesting parts of your anatomy. And once you do that, you may just notice that something DOES feel good. And then you can let yourself be carried away by that feeling. You can increase that feeling by directing more of his attention there. You can change position so that it feels even better.

But you keep THINKING about it.

Look, we all see these movies where the wife is doing paperwork or cleaning and he sneaks up behind her and starts feeling her and she’s carried away in raptures. But most of us know that in real life if he were to do that we wouldn’t be carried away. We’d be annoyed because our heads aren’t in the game. Our heads are in the paperwork or the cleaning and so no matter what he does it won’t feel good. We can’t concentrate on sex when we’re doing something else. Multitasking just doesn’t work for us in the sexual realm.

I think, though, that many of us feel that he SHOULD be such a good lover that we can just daydream and think about stuff in bed and somehow whatever he does will feel so good that we’re carried away anyway.

It doesn’t work like that. We have to be active participants–and that means actively thinking about it. We may want to be carried away, but we can only be carried away if we let ourselves think about it.

So try that: just ask yourself, “what feels good right now? What do I want him to touch?” And keep asking that. And you may just notice that it IS feeling good!

31 Days to Great Sex“Getting Your Head in the Game” is one of the challenges in my book, 31 Days to Great Sex. And there’s lots more in there to help you prepare for sex and then KEEP your head in the game, so it’s easier to feel good! Check it out today.

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon–that you can’t feel good unless you’re concentrating? Do you find it easy to concentrate–or hard? Let me know in the comments!

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage posts

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great posts!



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.


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

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

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

Would you agree that God has a heart for marriage?

I would say yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Finally Found My Superman!

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

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

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

Caught Up!

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

I know I did.

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

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

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

Exposed!

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

Have you ever been there?

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

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

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

What Does a Typical Clark Kent Look Like?

Clark Kent is not impressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you think.

This is similar to what happened to me.

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

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

Fireworks shot off in my mind!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wifey Wednesday: When Daddy Issues Impact Your Marriage

Do you project onto your daddy issues onto your husband?

When Daddy Issues Affect Your Marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then all of you who are bloggers can link up your own posts below. And with Father’s Day coming up this week, I thought I’d look at how those of us with father issues can try to keep those issues out of our marriage.

Whether your dad abandoned you, verbally abused you, molested you, hit you, or just disapproved of you, many of us have found Father’s Day a difficult day on the calendar. When I was younger I remember not being able to buy a Father’s Day card to mail to my dad, because the words in all of them weren’t true. What do you say to a father you have never lived with, whom you see for a week a year, and who doesn’t really know you? There just aren’t cards for that.

And I know many of you have felt the same thing.

Yet as I shared last week, marriage can be a vehicle that God uses for healing in our lives. When we marry good men, they show us how we’re supposed to be loved. They cherish us. And so much of those silent accusations we have inside our heads start to diminish.

I asked on Facebook yesterday how people prevent themselves from projecting onto their husbands their issues with their dads, and had some great (and heartbreaking) responses. I can’t do this subject full justice in a quick post, but I want to leave you with just a few thoughts that may help:

1. Many of us used our past to make good choices

Just because you have father issues does not mean that you’ll marry an idiot. In fact, over and over again women said something like, “I knew from my dad what I didn’t want and I made sure I found what I did want.” I did the same thing! Sometimes when you have a difficult childhood you run hard in the other direction: you marry a good person; you become an amazing parent; you prioritize relationships.

Some of us, unfortunately, don’t do that. It’s quite common to marry someone who gives us a similar “feel” as our father–if he was an alcoholic, we marry a workaholic because we’re used to feeling distant.

But just because you have father issues does not mean that you’re guaranteed to have a bad marriage–not at all! So never believe that.

What to do: Ask yourself, “Did I marry someone who makes me feel like my dad made me feel?” If not, celebrate! If you did, then find a mentor or a counselor to talk through this and figure out how to address key issues in your marriage.

2. Our coping patterns can cause problems

At the same time, it’s good to recognize how our past did affect how we treat others. One woman wrote this very insightful tidbit:

The biggest issue that has come up with us is the habit I learned in my childhood of not sharing what I thought if I believed it would cause friction. I finally told my husband that, & he said he wanted to know what I thought since I saw different possibilities then he did. The first few time were VERY hard, but I took a deep breath and spoke up anyway. I still start off speaking carefully, but if my careful words don’t communicate well to him, he has learned to ask questions to make sure he understands my point.

When we grow up with friction we learn to try to avoid friction at all costs. That’s a common coping mechanism, and it makes perfect sense when you’re in a dysfunctional home.

The problem is that that exact same coping mechanism can also cause a functional home to become a dysfunctional one. If you fail to speak up and tell your husband what you’re thinking, then you prevent emotional intimacy. And once emotional intimacy is lost, other forms of intimacy quickly follow.

What to do: Ask yourself, what’s my reaction to conflict? Do I try to avoid it? If so, tell your husband and sit down and figure out some “rules” for conflict that will help you feel safe enough to speak up.

3. Our fear of abandonment can cause problems

If your dad left, then at the back of your mind is likely the fear that your husband will, too. Rejection is real in your life; how do you know that anyone can stay forever?

But when we fear abandonment, we often withdraw into ourselves and again fail to share key things. Sometimes it’s not even failing to share when we’re upset. We may even fail to share when we’re happy! If he’s going to leave, then I can’t let him see all of me. That way if he leaves he’s not really rejecting ME; he never really knew me.

The other dynamic that can be quite common is to become defensive during conflicts. If he mentions anything that he’s unhappy about you’re sure he’s going to leave. So you overreact to everything, leaving him unable to really share his heart.

What to do: Confess this to your husband! Let him know your fears. And then talk about specific things your husband can do to let you know that he’s not leaving. Teach him your love language. Tell him that during a conflict he must always say, “I’m staying with you no matter what because I love you, but this bothers me and I’d like it to change.” Pray with him about it.

4. Our family of origin can cause problems

If you have father issues, chances are the rest of your family also has issues. Your siblings may be messed up. Your mother may be needy.

And we often carry guilt for a lot of these things (even if it’s not our fault). We’re still trying to fix our family of origin, and we get sucked in to drama that is ultimately caused by a dysfunctional father.

If we try to step back, we can be blamed by siblings or by our mother. Loyalty became a huge thing, because “we had to stick together” to get through this with dad.

That dynamic can make it so hard for you to move forward with your husband. If you’re in that dynamic, as hard as it may be, put limits on how much you will talk to or see your siblings and your mother. Sometimes it may even be a good idea to move far away for a few years to build your marriage, just the two of you. Once you’re on strong footing you can reestablish those relationships.

BoundariesWhat to do: Talk to your husband about how big a role your family plays in your marriage. How does he feel about it? What is his perspective about how you react to your family? Decide how to set clear boundaries for your family.

5. Sometimes we need someone else to talk to about our “daddy issues”.

We are not meant to live the Christian life alone, and God has appointed some to be encouragers and counselors to help us get through trauma and live a life of freedom. If you feel that your issues just aren’t going away, and you have a hard time trusting your husband or opening up to him, maybe spending five or six sessions with a counselor to talk through these issues and come up with an action plan would be a good idea.

I know it can be expensive; counselors often range around $100 an hour. Some churches will subsidize, but think about it this way: If you spend $600 on counseling, even if that’s a huge sacrifice, but in the end it helps you live an amazing marriage, think about the money you’ll save by raising healthy kids and having a strong marriage.

A counselor can help you pray through things and see how Jesus felt when you were abandoned or hurt; to see that your father probably had issues too; and to see that Jesus’ grace covers such a multitude of hurts. Find someone who can point you to Jesus.

Do any of those thoughts resonate with you? If you have father issues, let me know in the comments what has helped you in your marriage. And for all of you–have a good Father’s Day this weekend!

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


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Wifey Wednesday: Are You Disrespecting Your Husband Without Realizing It?

Disrespecting Your Husband--without realizing it. #marriage
You may want to give your husband respect, but how often do we disrespect him–without realizing it?

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today Brittany from Equipping Godly Women joins us to talk about how to make sure we’re NOT inadvertently disrespecting our husbands.

Have you ever noticed how the media loves to portray men, and dads in particular, as bumbling, incompetent idiots? From television shows like The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond and Married with Children to even your average cleaning commercial where the dad buys the wrong product or makes a huge mess because he simply can’t be trusted to handle simple household tasks, this stereotype is practically everywhere you look.

Whether you find these characters laughable and lovable or obnoxious and crude, the truth is that the idea of the incompetent dad has permeated our culture–probably more than we realize. How many of us women treat our husbands as incompetent or incapable without even realizing it, simply because the idea is so common, it’s rarely questioned?

Growing up, I never really learned what respect was, why men needed it, or how I was supposed to provide it.

I am extremely blessed to have two very Godly and wonderful parents, but my mother also happens to be a peacemaker. She has the gentle and loving spirit thing down pat. I… do not. And I had no intentions of going into marriage always being sweet and kind and polite and always letting my husband have his own way. I don’t care that I’m the woman–my opinion matters too!

You can just imagine how well that went over. Let’s just say–I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. And the more lessons I learn, the more grateful I am for my amazing husband who has stuck by me every step of the way, even when I’m sure it hasn’t been easy.

Respect doesn’t come easy to me.

Not because I don’t love my husband or think highly of him… but because I’m opinionated and I honestly don’t realize when things that wouldn’t offend me in the slightest are deeply offensive to him. But I’m working on it. For now, I imagine, that’s the best I can do.

Perhaps you’re like me–you want to respect your husband, but you don’t know how or you’re worried about becoming a doormat. Let me reassure you, respecting your husband does NOT make you a doormat. It makes you an awesome wife who treats her husband incredibly well. And chances are, if you’re husband is a pretty good guy, it won’t be long until he’s showering the love and affection right back on you! Sometimes, you just have to go first–even if you don’t feel like it. Here’s how.

1. Find Ways to Talk Him Up–Not Tear Him Down

How often do you make jokes at your husband’s expense (even if you are “joking”), point out areas for improvement or bring up past mistakes your husband has made? No one likes to be reminded of their shortcomings, even though we all have them. Even the little comments you see as harmless can be really hurtful to your husband–whether he shows it or not.

I don’t care who your husband is, you can find something nice to say about him–probably lots of things!–even if you have to be creative. Don’t stick to just the big things either. Tell him how proud you are of him, how lucky you are to be his wife, how much you love certain things about him–be his biggest fan!

2. Let Him Do Things His Own Way

When you’re the one who does the majority of the housework and child rearing, it is very easy to fall into certain routines and ways of doing things. Just because your way is the best way for you, however, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. And insisting that things be done your way essentially says that your husband isn’t capable of handling the task. How emasculating!

The next time your husband loads the dishwasher, feeds the kids dinner, changes the baby’s diaper or puts the laundry away, don’t pester him to make sure he does it your way and don’t go through afterwards to “fix” whatever he’s done. Thank him sincerely for his help. You never know; you just might learn a new trick or two yourself.

3. Don’t Mother Him

As loving and attentive mothers, it can often be very difficult to turn off “mom mode” and switch to “wife mode” instead. Do you find yourself constantly reminding your husband to do things he should be capable of doing on his own, offering him “helpful” suggestions for ways he can improve his life, or expecting him to get your approval before he takes action? If so, you’re likely acting more like his mom than his wife. Not only is this terribly unsexy, but it also sends the message that he isn’t capable, you can’t trust his judgement or that you don’t think he’s good enough.

4. Watch Your Body Language

Do you ever roll your eyes, sigh loudly or even walk out of the room while your husband is talking? Do you look at him like he’s an idiot, or neglect to look at him at all? Whether you realize it or not, all of these subtle (and not so subtle!) physical cues convey the message that what he has to say isn’t important or that you’re better than him.

Think back to the time before you were married. What was your body language like then? Chances are you hung on his every word, made googly eyes at him and touched him every chance you got. Find a way to recapture that again.

5. Be a Willing and Enthusiastic Sexual Partner (to the degree that you are able)

For many men, when you reject sex, it feels like you are rejecting THEM. Of course most men will understand if you’ve had a horrible day, you’re in pain or if you’re still working through past sexual hurts, but if you frequently find yourself saying no, making excuses, not making sex a priority, or always doing the bare minimum, can you blame them for taking it personally?

If you can have great sex with your husband, do it and be enthusiastic about it! If sex is very difficult for you, keep the lines of communication open and do the best you can. It’s not the amount that matters as much as the willing, eager and excited attitude you have at the idea of being one with each other.

Learning how to respect your husband can definitely be a complicated and difficult task, but the truth is, as a Christian wife, it’s your responsibility and your privilege. Talk to your husband to find out how you’re doing as a wife, and be humble and willing to receive any suggestions he may offer. You may be surprised at how much your marriage will improve as a result!

About BrittanyA devoted Christian, wife and mother, Brittany loves helping other women grow in these roles as well. When she isn’t busy taking care of her growing family, you can find her at Equipping Godly Women, where she regularly shares tips, tricks and encouragement to help you be the amazing woman God created you to be. Brittany also has a thriving online community on Facebook as well.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have any marriage thoughts for us today? Link up the URL of your own marriage post in the linky below. And be sure to link back here so others can read all these great marriage posts!

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.




Wifey Wednesday: When Your Husband Walks Away from the Faith

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

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

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

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

Here’s another one coming from a similar place:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Okay, are you back now? Good.

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

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

And I understand.

But your anger will never accomplish the purposes of God.

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

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

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

You replay your past

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

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

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

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

You focus on his faults

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

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

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

You thank God for what you do have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sustain a Faith

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

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

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

Here are just a few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cherish Your Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wifey Wednesday: Rewiring Your Brain after a Porn Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

First: Two Things to Understand About a Porn Addiction

Most people get started with porn early.

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

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

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

Porn Changes the Sexual Arousal Process

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

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

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

Second: How to Reverse the Process

Pray a Ton

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

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

Look for the Root of Porn

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

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

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

But it’s all fake.

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

Find Something to Replace Porn with

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

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

Realize You Likely Will Relapse

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

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

Flee from Everything that Reels You In to Porn

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

Third: Special Ideas for Married Readers

Make intimacy sexy again!

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

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

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

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

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

2. Talk again

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

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

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

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

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

4. Learn how to be a good lover

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

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

5. Schedule sex

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

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

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

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

It isn’t easy.

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

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



Wifey Wednesday: 3 Benefits of Postponing Your Honeymoon

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

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

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

Postpone the honeymoon and enjoy the benefits of doing so.

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

But, boy, did we have a honeymoon.

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

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

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

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

1. You enjoy each other without pressure

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

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

2. You know each other

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

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

But you will.

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

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

3. You will enjoy your trip better

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

((GASP!)) 😉

But really, it is!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.




Wifey Wednesday: The 6 Rules of Relationship Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

6 Rules of Relationship Conflict--#marriage

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

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

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

To repair those moments, keep in mind these rules.

And here are more relationship conflict posts that may help:

Talk About the Real Issue

Ending Conflict Quickly

What are Your Trigger Points for Conflict?

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

Being a Peace-MAKER Rather than a Peace-KEEPER

Seeking Peace not the Absence of Conflict

Have a great day!

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

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.




Wifey Wednesday: Getting to Deeper Levels of Communication

Getting to Deeper Levels of Commnication with Your Husband--#marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to talk about how to really get to know each other and stay close–even once you’re married. And it all starts with intentionally getting to deeper levels of communication.

Recently a reader from New Zealand sent me this question:

We have only been married just over a year and really loving it. I’ve noticed in some of your recent posts you’ve been covering when she doesn’t wanna and when he doesn’t wanna. This isn’t really applicable to us thanks to a great start to marriage (through God’s grace). But it’s making me wonder if all couples go through a season/period of distance with one another? If it is inevitable I’d really like some pointers from how to approach it from our end, from the beginning. How to spot it, when to have those conversations, when to get help, any prevention strategies etc. Because I’d like to continue having an awesome marriage and although I know we will (and have) face ups and downs, I’d like to have the best go at it that we possibly can.

Great question!

First, Yes, every couple will go through seasons of distance–seasons when you don’t feel as close because of work schedules, the pressure of illness, busy-ness that can’t be avoided, etc.

It is NOT inevitable, though, that you will fall out of love or lose your libido. And much of it rests on being proactive, looking for key tips, like this reader is.

But it also comes from recognizing how to feel close. And that stems from understanding the different levels of communication.

Gary Smalley, in his book The Secrets of Lasting Love, says that there are five levels of communication:

  • Cliches
  • Facts
  • Opinions
  • Feelings
  • Needs

Intimacy increases with each level.

When you hold the door open for someone, you tend to talk in CLICHES: “nice day, isn’t it?”

Many couples spend most of their time communicating at the level of FACTS: “Johnny has band practice tomorrow at 3 and someone has to pick him up at 4:30. Can  you do that on the way home from work?”

OPINIONS isn’t that scary, either: “I just think that my new supervisor is out to get me. She never smiles and nothing I do is right!”

But it’s really in the FEELINGS and NEEDS that we become vulnerable.

“I’m scared that my boss is going to think that the supervisor is right. What if no one recognizes what I’m doing? I just feel so drained when I go to work now, and I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.”

Or NEEDS:

“I want to feel like what I’m doing makes a difference. Lately it’s been so hard to get out of bed because I don’t know if anyone even notices my contributions. What if God is disappointed in me, too? I need to know that someone smiles over me.”

Now, think about how a marriage will be if all of the communication is at the FACTS level. The couple may talk a lot–but they don’t really know each other any better.

And sometimes we think that by sharing opinions we’re really opening up. But we’re not. Opinions are safe–it’s feelings that are vulnerable. It’s feelings that reveal what’s really going on inside of you.

Kiss Me AgainThe problem is that many couples never really learned how to live comfortably at levels 4 and 5. In fact, in the book Kiss Me Again, Barbara Wilson talks about how the level of emotional intimacy we’ve reached when we start to become sexually involved tends to be the level we’re stuck at–unless we take specific steps to overcome that. So couples who have sex early in their relationship end up substituting physical intimacy for emotional intimacy, and have a hard time progressing now into emotional vulnerability because they’ve done things backwards.

That’s one of the reasons that God wants us to wait for marriage to make love!

So some couples may never reach levels 4 and 5 to begin with, and others may have been there, but then seasons of busy-ness come and they start staying at facts and opinions. They don’t have time to become vulnerable.

It’s that sharing of vulnerability, though, that will help you feel close, and here’s why: there are very few people that we actually get down to communication levels 4 and 5 with.

And we tend to bond with those individuals. So you want to make sure that one of those people is your husband! If you’re not sharing at these levels with your husband, then it’s all too easy to get caught up in an emotional affair with someone else. Being vulnerable makes us feel close and increases intimacy–whether within marriage or outside of it. So make sure it’s within marriage!

I know, though, that many of you struggle with this.

You’d like to get to deeper levels of communication, but how do you just begin the conversation?

Hermann Kuschke developed an app called Dare2Share which can help guide you through the different levels of communication. He sent me some codes so that my assistant Tammy could try it with her husband and I could try it with mine, and I was really impressed. In the app there are over 200 conversation prompts that help you learn more about your spouse. (It’s also available for Android, but I’m a Mac person and don’t know where to find that link. But if you search for Dare2Share you’ll find it!)

He suggests beginning each conversation by getting a cup of coffee and sitting together–but you can go for a walk, too. Here are pics from the iPad version:

Getting to Deeper Levels of Communication: Dare2Share app

Then the conversation starts. Each “conversation” has 5 screens, or 5 parts to the question,  that you talk to your spouse about. Everyday you share your day–so you do “card 1″ everyday–and then you add more cards each time.

Card 1 starts with telling you to share, and then explains how:

Share Day

IMG_1781

IMG_1782

What to share as you communicate

Offering to Help: The last part of sharing your day as you enhance communication
It’s such a SIMPLE thing, sharing your day. But how many of us do it well? I think having specific conversation prompts can help us do that!

Now at this point we’re only sharing our day, and chances are you’re still at the “facts” level. But as you get better, when you share your high point and your low point hopefully you’ll start to share feelings as well.

Then you move on to the next conversation prompts. These usually start with a personal experience from the app couple who wrote it, to set the stage, and then progress to the questions.

IMG_1786

At the beginning of the app the questions are pretty basic–they’re focused on sharing facts and opinions, and they’re not that vulnerable.

But as you progress through the pages, you’ll be sharing more and more personal things, and you’ll find that you progress through the levels of communication so that you know each other even better. They even explain the levels of communication, too:

Levels of communication

My assistant Tammy has been married to her husband Steeve for 23 years. He works in a counseling role, so he’s quite used to things like emotional intimacy. But they both found this challenging and enhancing anyway!

Write your Life for your spouse

 

I think this is an excellent model. If you aren’t in the habit of really opening up, going straight to deeply personal questions about fears and dreams can feel fake–because it is. You can’t just jump to level 5. You have to do the work on earlier levels first, so that you have that foundation.

Sometimes we just don’t ask the right questions, and we just don’t know our spouses as well as we could.

I really believe that if we were more intentional about communicating at some of these deeper levels that even when the inevitable seasons of distance come, our marriages could withstand them. We’d still feel intimate and vulnerable with each other. But if all we’re doing is communicating facts and opinions–well, you can do that with anyone. And then what is going to make you want to be with your husband especially? What makes him stand out? Nothing.

So talk to your husband about trying the Dare2Share app, or something like it. Learn more about him–like what he wanted to be when he was 8; what was his worst nightmare; what happened after his first crush. Find out what his dreams and passions are; what things God has put on his heart. And share with him what God has put on yours. Feel close again–and then that’s sure to ignite the sexual side of your marriage, too!

In fact, that’s what Hermann suggests. Some of the exercises AFTER the conversations, as you get more vulnerable, are more sexual! But isn’t that what marriage and intimacy are all about?

Find out more about Dare2Share, or

Dare2Share iPhone

 Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Have something to share with us about marriage? Leave the URL in the linky below, and then be sure to link back here so that others can read these great posts, too!

 



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