Wifey Wednesday: Are Boundaries Biblical?

Setting Healthy Boundaries is BiblicalSetting healthy boundaries: Is that biblical? Or is it modern psychology given a Christian-sounding twist?

That’s a question that’s been asked a lot on this blog lately when I’ve talked about the importance of setting healthy boundaries in marriage and in our extended families. I’ve had several commenters say that boundaries are not biblical, a position that I find a little bit strange. If boundaries aren’t biblical, what is the alternative?

This is the launch week for my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the revised & expanded edition), and in it I talk at length about the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries. And so I thought today it might be worth going over why boundaries are so crucial in our relationships.

Boundaries tell us what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s responsibility

Here’s Galatians 6:2-7, which talks about boundaries:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

We’re supposed to carry each other’s burdens, but we’re also supposed to carry our own loads. Think of a load as something which is manageable–your daily to-do list. But when something out of the blue hits someone that they can’t handle themselves, then we’re supposed to help them. We aren’t supposed to carry each other’s loads–only their burdens. And you won’t be able to help someone with their burdens if you’re simultaneously trying to carry your family’s loads.

Here’s something else about boundaries: we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to others, and we’re not supposed to worry about other’s opinions. We need to test our own actions, and only rely on God. And finally, and perhaps most importantly,

A man reaps what he sows.

God set up the world so that our actions have consequences, and we are supposed to bear those consequences. If you take responsibility for things that aren’t yours–by not having boundaries, for instance–you put a roadblock into one of God’s best teaching instruments He has for His children. Let’s say your husband is prone to rages. He’s sowing discord and anger. But if you and the kids walk on tiptoes around him, trying to placate him, and then when he does yell, you apologize and try to repair the relationship, you’re the ones who are reaping that discord, not him.

TLHV New FB AdWe aren’t to carry each other’s loads, and we’re supposed to let people bear the consequences of their actions. We are each responsible for our own stuff.

Boundaries tell us our limits

In Exodus 18:14-23, we read this interaction between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro:

14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

I love what Jethro says: “what you are doing is not good…You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.” You cannot do everything.

Similarly, Jesus set limits on Himself. He didn’t heal everyone all the time; often He left areas where there were still people who needed His help because it was time to move to the next place. He carved out time to pray, away from His disciples, to spend time with God. He carved out time away from the masses, just with His disciples, to train and minister to them.

If Jesus had let His schedule be determined by what people needed Him to do rather than by what He was called to do and what He was able to do, His ministry would not have been as effective. He needed time alone to rejuvenate and time alone with God, and He took it. He knew that He couldn’t do everything–even if other people needed Him. He had His limits.

Boundaries show us where the moral line is

Boundaries are also necessary to show us where we have transgressed. Indeed, the word “trans-gression” literally means to “cross” a limit.

Moral boundaries allow us to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong. They let us say, “what you are doing is not right and we need to deal with it.”

If we have no moral boundaries–let’s say because we believe in a mistaken idea of submission where we must obey our husbands completely–then we will follow them into sin, or we will end up enabling sin. On the other hand, Matthew 18 clearly tells us that if someone sins against us (and that could be your husband, or your friend, or your mother), you’re supposed to go to them and tell them that they have crossed a boundary. If they refuse to repent, then you’re supposed to go and get one or two others involved. The Bible is clear that we don’t ignore moral transgressions of those close to us. We confront them and we urge them on to more godly behaviour. As James 5:19-20 and says,

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

It is neither emotionally healthy nor moral to live without boundaries.

When we do that, we push ourselves too hard and often exhaust ourselves. We allow wrong behaviour to continue. And we enable people to act selfishly by becoming a cover for their actions.

When people join Al Anon, or the support groups for other family members of those suffering from other addictions, one of the first things they are told is that you can only change yourself, and you must not take responsibility for changing another person. But at the same time, you must also allow that other person to reap the natural consequences of their actions, or they will not have impetus to change. You must stop enabling bad behaviour.

To Love, Honor and VacuumAl Anon gets it–and they aren’t even Christian (though the founder was). Why is it that Christians now think that being a pushover, or letting others get away with wrong behaviour, is Christlike? It isn’t. In Romans 8:29, Paul wrote,

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

God’s will is that we look more and more like Christ.

And so I want to challenge you today: In your family, are your actions encouraging others to look more and more like Christ, or are they covering up and enabling others to look more and more unChristlike? If you aren’t setting healthy boundaries of responsibility, then it’s quite likely that others will be looking less and less like Christ, rather than more and more like Him.

That’s the message of To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the book), though it is of this blog, too! And if you’ve really struggled with this, I encourage you to check out the book, where I help you see how we can live out God’s design that all of us look more and more like Christ–not that we serve so much so that we give others cover to act poorly. And remember–the ebook version is just $2.99 until Sunday! So pick it up today.

Christian Marriage Advice

Wifey Wednesday: Happily Ever After?

Today, welcome guest author Candy Reid, who shares her best marriage advice for a real-life, down and dirty, happily ever after–building a strong marriage takes work.

Happily Ever After

Recently I was working on an ah-mazing blog post about marriage. I was listing some creative ideas for keeping the home fires burning. You know, stuff like, “Leave notes in his briefcase or lunchbox for him to find during the day.”  And “Grab his booty when he’s least expecting it…just to let him know you’re thinkin’ about him.” Good stuff.

While I was studiously preparing my post filled with great marriage advice, my sweet hubby had the nerve to walk right into the living room where I was working and say something that didn’t sit well with me. I’d love to tell you that I responded with a gentle answer and life-sowing words. But, alas, I did not. Instead I popped off a snarky, sarcastic comment (my barb of choice). Yeah, that went over really well (there’s that sarcasm again). My remark had an effect that was eerily similar to throwing gasoline on a fire. It took about 2.2 seconds for that whole situation to go from bad to worse. We were seriously stokin’ some “home fires,” just not the kind I wanna be telling you about.

Eventually we settled down. He went back to what he was doing. I went back to my computer. I began reading over the little nuggets of wisdom I had composed. As I read I was thinking things like, “Yeah, I’d like to leave a note in his lunchbox, alright.” Let me tell ya’, the note that I felt like composing would contain no flowery words of forever love. I’ll just let you use your imagination on that one.  And forget grabbing his booty. Slap the fire outta his booty, maybe, but certainly not a flirty little squeeze.

How about I just go ahead and divulge to you the single, most amazing piece of marriage advice anyone could ever give you? You ready? Here it is:

If you want “happily ever after” watch a Disney princess movie.

I know…that sounds harsh, but it’s true.

If you’re expecting to ride off into the sunset with the man of your dreams with nary a contrary emotion to ever darken the surface of your blissful state of marriage, you’re in for a painfully rude awakening. Marriage isn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes it’s wind and rain. Sometimes it’s thunder and lightning.

Sometimes marriage is just plain hard work.

You will have arguments, disagreements, and differences of opinion. He’ll snore. You’ll steal the covers. His sing-very-loudly-before-the-sun-is-up personality will be in direct conflict with your I-need-2-cups-of-coffee-before-I-can-even-see-straight personality.

So, what do we do? Rue the day we walked the aisle? Absolutely not!

Here’s what we do to live our real-life happily ever after:

1) We choose to recognize that we’ll have arguments, but we determine to work through them.

2) We allow personality differences to become a catalyst for the give and take that’s necessary to find healthy balance.

3) We choose to enjoy our spouse’s strengths while praying for their weaknesses.

4) We understand that we may, at times, be offended, but we set our hearts to forgive.

5) We refuse to compare our spouses to someone else. (If the grass appears to be greener on the other side it may be because “the other side” is fertilized with poop. Keep your eyes on your own pasture.)

Strong, lasting marriages aren’t built overnight and they aren’t built by perfect people.

They’re built by imperfect couples who choose to love each other through thick and thin, when love feels romantic and when it doesn’t; couples who choose to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness and gracious enough to grant it.

Though our marriage little resembles the goo-goo eyed, breathless “I do’s” of almost 25 years ago, it’s deeper and stronger than I ever thought possible. Our union is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and the example that He gives of sacrifice and forgiveness.

We’ve accepted the fact that “happily ever after” isn’t going to happen this side of heaven, but we’re embracing the journey – together.

 

Candy ReidCandy Reid is a southern girl who enjoys the simple things in life. Dirt road drivin’, Sunday afternoon nappin’, back yard swingin’, and sunset watchin’ are a few of the things that make her smile. She’s been married to her best friend and the love of her life for almost 25 years and is navigating motherhood with her 4 children, aged 23, 19, 14, & 11. She owns Mom’s Morning Coffee.com with her good friend, Pat. Candy is also a veteran homeschooler, word-nerd, a lover of books and chocolate, a survivor of canceran author, and a hula hoop maker.

 

Sign up for Mom’s Morning Coffee periodic newsletter and after you confirm your subscription, get a free PDF entitled “Strengthen Your Marriage”. The printable PDF contains helpful tips for keeping your marriage strong. And, it’s pretty enough to hang on your wall!


WifeyWednesday175Wifey Wednesday Links!

Every Wednesday I like to link to some other great marriage posts from wonderful marriage bloggers I’ve found around the web. Here’s a bunch of posts on getting your marriage off to a great start:

Women Living Well: Banishing Bitterness in Marriage

Hot, Holy and Humorous: 7 Steps to an Affair

Happy Wives Club: This Marriage Tip Changes Everything

Happy Wives Club: The Fastest Way to Overcome Any Misunderstanding

Club 31 Women: A Good Marriage is Worth Fighting For!

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

Wifey Wednesday: Reaching Your Sexual Prime–The Right Way

Reaching Your Sexual Prime--the Right Way!

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you can all link up in the Linky below. Today I want to start with a basic question:

Who has the best sex?

Good Girls Guide My SiteIt isn’t the starlets that grace our magazine covers. It’s the married women who have put in over a decade with their men, who had borne children and balanced checkbooks and navigated mother-in-law issues. When I did my surveys for the Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I found that it was those married 16-20 years who report the best sex. That’s when we hit our sexual prime–when women peak, so to speak.

Now, society has long known that women often feel “sexier” in their late thirties and early forties than they did in their early twenties.

We’re more confident. We often have more money–and time–to spend on taking care of ourselves. We’re more at peace with our bodies.

But just because society gets the timing right doesn’t mean that it understands women well.

Instead of showing women that have hit their sexual stride in marriage, they turn to the Sex and the City phenomenon, or the “cougar” stereotype: in both cases, older, more mature women on the hunt for anyone to go to bed with. Reaching one’s sexual prime, where one is the most confident and the most “in the mood”, is seen as synonymous with throwing off the shackles of convention and having fun!

Their idea of fun, though, is just about the same as what we are constantly advising our teens not to do. What do we tell our kids?

Sex is better when you’re married, because sex is a real bond between two people. You can’t have sex lightly. Making love and lust are not the same thing.

And yet often women in their thirties and forties forget the reason that all of these things are true for teenagers is the exact same reason that they’re true for us: God made sex to be between two married people. He made it to connect us on three levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. It isn’t just a physical act.

We don’t tell teens that sex is supposed to be for marriage, and that they shouldn’t “hook up”, because they’re too young to handle that kind of behaviour. We tell teens that because it’s true regardless of age.

And that means it’s true for us, too.

Yet many moms aren’t getting that message. Sure, we may not be sleeping with new guys, but we’re still looking to “throw off those shackles”. Why else would 50 Shades of Grey, a mommy porn book that depicts a bondage relationship as something that is loving and erotic, become such a huge bestseller? Because women equate it with sexual freedom. You don’t have to be bored with your husband! You can read some steamy stuff to get you in the mood! Explore your boundaries! Set yourself free!

I understand the pull.

I really do. So many of us have spent years in sexually unfulfilling marriages. We put up with it, and said little, because we were embarrassed, or we just figured that there was something wrong with us.

And then the kids get older, and we gain some confidence, and we think, “I don’t need to put up with this anymore! I’m missing out on so much, and I am going to have some FUN!”

But that’s the wrong prescription. Getting yourself aroused by reading erotica, and then having sex with your husband, means that you’re treating him like a sex toy. You’re having sex, but you’re fantasizing about a novel. And it’s not real intimacy.

What makes sex so great for those married for two decades is that we know each other well enough that we can be truly vulnerable. We can let our guard down. We can be totally open. That makes for amazing sex. Fantasizing about something else just causes us to lose the intimacy.

Sex can be hot, and most women find that it does get amazing once they’ve put in a decade and a half of marriage.

But the best way to have more fun isn’t to look to “throw off the shackles”; it’s to work on more communication, spicing things up, having more fun, and initiating more with your spouse, within your marriage. That’s the recipe for real sexual fun.

So if you’re hitting your late thirties and early forties, and you’re finally feeling like you’re “coming in to yourself”, and figuring out who you really are, that’s great. Maybe your libido is finally hiking, and you really do want to start having some real fun in the bedroom. You want to feel alive. You want to feel absolute passion. That’s all good stuff, and you were made to feel that way!

But remember not to buy in to our world’s idea of what freedom is, and what passion is.

True freedom is being with one person that you can become vulnerable with and share with and explore with. True freedom is having fun with your spouse to explore. It isn’t buying in to everything our world tells us is sexy; it’s finding that sexual freedom that you were always meant to have with your spouse.

Sex should be hot, and that’s totally possible in your marriage. But if you try to spice things up with erotica, or porn, or weird sex toys, it isn’t going to give you the passion you want, because real passion is paired with true intimacy.

What do you think? Have you seen the pressure to “explore” in weirder and weirder ways? How do you respond?

Christian Marriage Advice

Have some marriage advice you want to share with us? Enter your URL into the linky below! Every Wednesday I feature two posts on my Facebook Page, so don’t miss the chance to get some real traffic!

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.




 

Dear God, He’s Home! Living with a Stay at Home Dad

Living with a stay at home dad

UPDATE: The original post that was here has been deleted.

I need to offer everyone an apology. I’ve been off of the computer and away from the internet for a few days while speaking and recuperating and traveling, and I really haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on. I had some guest posts go up on auto pilot, and I didn’t give them the due diligence that I should have.

I’ve just read over some of the comments, and I have to say that I agree. If you were to write a post like this and reverse the genders, it would sound terrible. And if it sounds terrible saying it about women, then it sounds terrible saying it about men, too.

And so I took down the content of this original post, and this weekend I’ll try to rewrite it the way I would have written it had I written on the same topic.

I do want the blog to maintain my voice, and sometimes that’s hard when I use guest posts. But I should have been more diligent, and I am sorry. I’ll try to monitor everything and ask, “would I have been comfortable saying exactly this?” before I put up anything anymore.

 

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, do you have any advice for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!



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 I Wish I Had Stayed Pure Before Marriage

Staying Pure Until Marriage: Why I wish we had waited

Today, on Wifey Wednesday, we welcome guest poster Darby Dugger, who is talking about staying pure until marriage. And remember: every Wednesday, you can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below!

“We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.”

Verse 9 from the Expanded Bible says this,

If she is a wall [chaste],
we will put silver towers on her [support and honor her].
If she is a door [ promiscuous],
we will protect [enclose] her with cedar boards [put a stop to her sexual activity].

~Song of Solomon 8:8-9

I love the sense of community responsibility in this passage. Of course, personal responsibility is a must, but so is accountability… especially in the area of sex. For example, as a parent, I take these words to heart realizing that as my children enter into the dating scene (years from now, they are only babies today), I want to build a wall around them. I cannot leave them to practice self-control and abstinence on their own and, truthfully, it would be unloving for me to do so. Without the help of Bible believing Christians, they will fail.

I know this because I failed to stay pure.

I was always a good girl. In high school and college I made wise choices, I did not party, drink, cuss, or even flirt. My faith was what I was best known for, and it made perfect sense that I met my amazing husband volunteering at our church. We both held leadership positions within the different ministries in which we were involved. What attracted us most to each other was how we served the Lord in our individual lives. When we first began our courtship, in order to avoid sexual temptation, we made the choice not to kiss very often.

However, I did not guard my heart.

As I began, steadily, giving my heart away to my boyfriend… compromise began to set in. It entered subtly with our time boundaries: We began to spend more alone time together and, occasionally, I would even stay the night in his apartment. I rationalized that because we were not engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior it was okay. I enjoyed sleeping on his couch because I loved being around him, but I didn’t pause to think about the appearance of sin (1 Thess. 5:22 – KJV) we were portraying to his neighbors or the temptation that was to follow.

Not guarding my heart led to a compromise of alone-time boundaries which, eventually, blurred into physical temptation. About a year after our relationship began, we began to stumble in the area of purity. We both knew it was wrong, we would repent, and strive for purity again, but we were going about it alone.

We deeply desired to do things correctly, but we were trusting in our own flesh not to make the same mistakes we had already made.

Throughout our entire year and half dating relationship, no one that we were close with stopped to ask us how we were doing with staying pure until marriage. I am sure one of the reasons for this silence was people assumed we were doing things God’s way. But we weren’t. Don’t get me wrong, we tried to please God, but we failed. And for us, one failure led to another and another.  Satan began to whisper to me that it was too late to strive for purity in our relationship and, as I believed his lies, I was filled with shame.

It was only during premarital counseling that our minister asked us point blank if we had had sex. Our silence was his answer. Ironically, it was his loving, but firm, response that gave us the motivation to choose differently in our relationship.

It became easier to practice abstinence for the duration of our engagement because we had someone come along side us and encourage us towards the Biblical standard of purity.

After that awkward, but impactful, meeting… my then fiancé and I made the choice to abstain until our wedding night. A choice we had tried to make earlier, but now, with the help of someone else, it seemed possible.

I believed the lie from Satan that because we had made a mistake, God could never redeem it.  Discouragement has plagued my heart from the first time we crossed the line physically until today.  In fact, writing this post, over ten years later, is part of my healing process. Even since our marriage, I have lied to people and told them we were pure on our wedding night. In doing so, I missed so many opportunities for God to use our mistakes to help other people. The purpose of this post, however, is not merely to disclose a buried secret, but rather to share the wisdom I have gained through my mistakes.

1. I learned that staying pure until marriage is incredibly difficult without the help of others.

Truly, I was the last person I thought would give up her virginity before marriage and yet, because of my pride, I never confessed my struggle to another believer. If I had confided in a trust-worthy friend when the first temptations came, I bet our relationship choices would have taken a different direction. Now, as a married adult, I love to come alongside dating couples as they strive for purity. I don’t avoid asking them the hard questions rather than assuming they are making the right choices. Some are more receptive to my probing than others… some have made fewer mistakes than others, but either way, I am offering myself as a partner on their journey to help them remain pure until their wedding night. Premarital sex is a detour from the Divine plan for physical intimacy, and it is never in God’s will for a couple.

2. I learned that remaining sexually pure is equally as hard within marriage as it is before marriage.

Accountability must be brought in. I once heard a DJ on the radio say that if you have premarital sex it is telling your future spouse that you believe in sex outside of the wedding vows and that mindset can lead to higher chances of adultery. I personally don’t know if I agree with this completely, neither my husband or I believed in sleeping around or living together, and we didn’t make a habit of having (or justifying) premarital sex. Purity was simply a struggle at which we failed. However, that does make us more aware of how easily our flesh can lead us astray and how innocently physical temptations can begin. Thankfully, my husband and I have matured in this area and we both have people in our lives who we meet with regularly who help us remain faithful to each other in our thoughts and actions. We have in place many boundaries, which begin by guarding our emotional intimacy, in order to help us “affair-proof” our marriage. We willingly choose to confess our struggles to each other and to other believers. In fact, it is the people who ask us the hard questions who have become our closest friends and allies because it communicates their love.

3. I learned, first hand, that premarital sex has consequences one cannot escape.

Even though my husband and I did strive for purity until marriage for the majority of our dating relationship, the mistakes we made had consequences that lingered long after the wedding night. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. My husband and I missed out on more than we could ask or imagine by straying from God’s plan for us. However, along with the consequences, God has also offered us incredible grace. My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year and, while, for many years sex was a source of contention for us; it is now an incredible and beautiful part of our relationship. God truly can bring beauty from ashes and He has certainly done that for our physical relationship (which brings me to my knees before Him all the more!).

My advice to married readers: Don’t rely on your own strength to keep your marriage bed pure! Invite accountability into your thought life, your internet history, and you physical boundaries with other! Also, invest in those around you who have yet to make it to the altar. Stand with them, encourage them, pray for them, and don’t be afraid to step on their toes. Oh, how my husband and I wish someone had stepped on ours! 

My advice to single readers: Don’t compromise sexually and stay pure. Take it from someone who has walked down a road I will always wish I had not: make wise choices about guarding your heart, avoiding the mere appearance of sin, and certainly abstaining from sexual intimacy before marriage. If you have already made mistakes, I urge you to start a fresh beginning today! It is never too late to hit the reset button. God wants to bless you more than you can ask or imagine. Don’t miss out.

And for all of you: let’s heed Darby’s advice and hold others accountable around us! Let’s ask the hard questions, as she says. Need a starting point? Here’s a post on 10 questions to ask a friend before she gets married.


anniversaryDarby is a wife, mother, speaker, blogger, and author of the devotional, For the Love of Our Husbands. Her greatest passions are promoting healthy marriages and encouraging women to pray fervently for their husbands. Darby believes strongly in sharing her own weaknesses… trusting that God will redeem her sin struggles for His glory. You can connect with Darby via her website www.darbydugger.com.

 

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up your own marriage post in the linky below!



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Wifey Wednesday: He’s Not the Man I Married Anymore!

My husband has changed--but so have I. Thoughts on change in marriage--and why it can be a good thing (even if it's hard!)It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Today please welcome Dayna from Dayna Bickham, who shares how her husband has changed since they got married.

The man I married no longer exists.

When we married, nearly twenty years ago, I thought I knew what our life together would be like. I thought I knew what I was getting into and who I was marrying. Boy was I wrong.

Randy was a people pleaser, a mercy man, and was more emotionally driven than most guys I knew. When I met him I liked these things about him. I was so opposite. I did not care what people thought of me or my actions (good or bad), I saw things in stark black and crisp white and emotions were something of a bi-polar topic for me. I wore my joy and anger on my sleeves equally, but hid any other emotions because they made me feel weak. Randy seemed to know that and gave me a safe place to land where all that broken stuff in me did not matter.

But Randy isn’t the man I married all those years ago. My husband has changed.

You see, I married a guy who I thought would understand me as I was and never try to change me. I married a guy who I thought would always strive to please me.  I married a guy who I thought would let me emotionally vomit on him any time I needed to because he understood me. Oh, how wrong I was.

Thank God.

Randy is not that same shy boy I married and I am no longer that self-centered little girl.

Marriage is a great catalyst that way.

cat·a·lyst ˈkatl-ist/ noun

  1. A substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

Change is Coming

Marriage begins with a blissful ignorance. There may be small things that bug us about the other one — like toothpaste cap application issues and replacing the toilet paper — but in general the buzz we feel from being “in love” still lingers and we move on. But over time we realize that the things we thought we liked about the other person may not be as good as we thought.

Life begins to rub up against us in some really uncomfortable ways and stress begins to squeeze us. Like those glow sticks you have to break and shake to make glow, stress bends us to a point where we hit our breaking point. The consequent shaking can either tear you apart or make you cling more tightly to one another. If you cling then likely you will change – fundamentally and radically. The people who come out of the stress induced crisis are different than the ones who go in.

This is life — but in marriage it is intensified.

So change is inevitable. Slowly and surely the man you fell in love with will change. So will you. This is a good thing.

Does anyone want to still be married to the kid version of their spouse — the one who did not know how to pay bills, who’d rather go see a movie than mow the lawn and found video games a better way to spend all his time — that kid version? What about you? Do you think he wants to stay with a girl who takes hours to get ready, never says what she really thinks, doesn’t order her own food but eats all of his fries, and spends all her time daydreaming instead of doing?

Change Chafes

So when you find yourself getting frustrated with your spouse because they are not the person you thought they were, kindly get over yourself.

I know that seems harsh, but it is time we grow up a little when it comes to marriage. Our spouses are not one size fits all and there is no return policy. Not if we want marriage done God’s way.

So I propose — if you are having a difficult time with your spouse — you do this. Write down the top three things you loved about him/her then (leave some space in-between your answers – or you can make a chart), next write down how those things have changed.

Spouse’s Name

How Did He/She Change

Why did they change? What happened?

Is this Good or Bad? How?

Trait 1 You Liked
Trait 2 You Liked
Trait 3 You Liked

Now, write down why those things have changed. If we are honest, the reasons why may include the answer, “Because I changed…” or life challenge words like “cancer” or “mom’s death” may come into play.

Finally, ask yourself why the change in your spouse is a bad thing? (I am not talking about sin issues here — those need to be addressed separately from this.) Ask yourself, what new character trait has developed? How that can make your marriage stronger?

If you can, get your spouse to do this evaluation on you, and then talk about what that means to your relationship. There will be things that are beneficial to your marriage and things that you will not like. It will be up to you to “fix” those outliers and move forward with more focus on who you are now.

Change Your Mindset

Like any plant, we need some encouragement. Plants get encouragement through their environments and from pruning/training. We are similar. We get encouragement to grow when our marriage is safe, full of life, and well apportioned with love and devotion (our environment). In addition, our spouses can help shape our growth by lovingly working alongside us — pointing out what needs cutting out — so we can grow (pruning/training.)

I am not saying your spouse is there to parent you. I am saying the person you married should be trustworthy enough to help make you into a better person without destroying you at the roots.

Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other. Proverbs 27:17 CEV

I cannot tell you how many times Randy has brought up my trigger temper (at great risk to him! Ha!) or I have encouraged him to break free of his shyness more. Both are uncomfortable topics for each of us, but if we want a healthier, happier life, growth must happen.

Lou Holtz, one of the best football coaches of all time says, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”

The key is growing together.

What kind of changing has happened in your spouse since you married? How have you handled that change?

Dayna BickhamDayna is a writer and speaker. She is also a wife, mother, and Whovian. Bow ties ARE cool. She loves great music, food, and laughing. Above all she loves laughing. Dayna blogs at daynabickham.com. During the summers she leads mission trips around the world. Her passion is teaching people to hear the Lord for themselves and to pursue whatever he says with their whole heart. You can friend her on Facebook and Twitter. Dayna’s is the author of Chosen for Purpose: Overcoming Giants and Living Your Dreams, available at online retailers everywhere.

Christian Marriage Advice

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Wifey Wednesday: Keeping Sex Alive When You Face ED (Erectile Dysfunction)

 

Sex Life and ED in Marriage: How to keep your sex life alive

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below. Today we’re concluding a 3-part series on sexual dysfunction in marriage, and today we’re going to wrap it up by talking about ED in marriage–and how to keep your sex life alive.

We talked on Monday about the different causes of ED (erectile dysfunction), and how to deal with them. And yesterday we tackled premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation. We looked at how porn was often, though not always, the underlying cause of ED and other problems.

But what about when porn isn’t the problem? What about when it is a physical issue, and it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight?

Here’s an email I received from one woman, for instance:

ED has been an ongoing health issue for my husband for years. It happened gradually, but now we never have sex. Of course that has left a huge void in our marriage. But we’ve been together 29 years, so it’s not a deal breaker either. He’s seen a doctor who found an enlarged prostate, and he takes meds for that. The other stuff to enhance erections are not covered by our insurance, and we can’t afford the out of pocket expenses. He’s also very sensitive to some meds and does not like the long string of side effects that can happen from those.

So how has that affected our relationship? “There is other intimacy you can have,” you say? Well, when a man loses his ability to perform sex, he also gradually loses his other intimacy practices. i.e., playful touch, hugging, flirting — basically anything that might lead to sex. It’s disappointing to us both — we talk about it rarely — it’s hurtful. I get resentful sometimes that he won’t knock down the doors of every medical institution to “get it fixed,” like I imagine he should want to. But the truth is, that even with couples who still have a healthy sex life, it takes work, and sometimes planning to make that time happen. It’s easier to skip because you are too tired or whatever so you get content not having sex. Same thing for us, only it’s because it’s too hurtful to try and disappoint. I feel like we’ve settled.

Am I happy with the sexless part? Not at all. Do I Iove my husband? Dearly!

I still have hope that one day God will restore this part of our marriage. But I’ve accepted that He might not as well.

What do you do when ED, or other sexual dysfunction, is a physical problem, but you don’t want the sexual side of your relationship to end? You do want to feel intimate. You do want to feel pleasure. You want to be able to laugh again without this BIG THING between you–this feeling like you’re distant, and you’re settling, and things will never be totally good again.

I want to give just a few thoughts today, and hope that others who have gone through something similar will chime in, too. I’m not going to talk about how to cure ED today, since I talked about that on Monday. I want to just talk about how to revive your sex life even if things still aren’t working like clockwork.

Acknowledge that He is Grieving about His ED

If your husband can no longer have intercourse, chances are he’s really grieving. A huge part of his life–what many would say is the most important part–seems gone. Let him air these feelings without having to fix them. Now is not the time to say, “but we can still do X…” Just let him vent. And hold him. And tell him, “I will always love you, and we will get through this, and we will find our way.”

But let him grieve.

You Need to Be Able to Communicate About the Sexual Dysfunction and what it Means

That being said, you can’t stay in the grieving process. You have to move on, and you have to find your way through towards a new kind of intimacy.

Now, you aren’t going to be able to do anything if you can’t first talk about the issue. So the question isn’t really “how can we save our sex life if he has ED”, but rather, “how can we keep talking about our sex life if he has ED, and not ignore the elephant in the room?”

Here’s some general guidelines for keeping these lines of communication open. And these suggestions build on each other–as in do #1 before #3.

1. Laugh everyday. Do things together OUTSIDE the bedroom and work on your friendship.

2. Find other hobbies to do together so that you still feel like a unit.

3. When you talk about wanting a sex life, stress that you want intimacy, not intercourse. Stress that you do not think he is a failure or that you want him to be different; the issue is simply that you don’t want to lose what you still can have. Your life is simply different, but your relationship can still grow.

For more ideas you can see my post here about how to talk to your husband if he has no libido, since the issues are actually quite similar.

See Sex as More Than Intercourse

Sex is about being intimate together. It’s about becoming one flesh. It’s about sharing something with one person that you don’t share with anybody else. It’s about becoming open and vulnerable together.

And you can do all of those things without intercourse.

Obviously intercourse is the culmination of this, and when health problems aren’t a factor, I would never recommend giving up intercourse. But if intercourse just doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop being sexual beings.

Sex can be about being naked together; sex can be about doing full body massages with massage oil, switching places. Sex can be about taking baths together and talking about your dreams for the future. Sex can be about deep kisses.

Talk to him about how you still want these things in your life. Our letter writer wrote that when ED hits, it’s not just sex that she loses. It’s kissing and touching and affection, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Let him know that you still want to touch him. Again, acknowledge his grief, and tell him you’re grieving, too. But you’ve lost intercourse. You’re not willing to lose everything else, too.

Do What You Can Despite the ED

Some men have intermittent ED, where it works sometimes and it doesn’t work others. Or perhaps he suffers from premature ejaculation where he doesn’t like to have to sex often because he’s afraid he won’t perform well. Agree that you will do what you can–meaning you’ll have intercourse when it works, and when it doesn’t, that’s okay. But it’s not a PASS/FAIL system. Don’t think of each sexual encounter being about orgasm; think about it being about pleasure. See how much pleasure you can give each other, whether or not you come to orgasm.

In fact, start talking about it that way. Instead of, “can we make love tonight?”, or “can we have sex tonight?”, let’s say, “can we feel good together tonight?”

If he honestly can never reach an orgasm, he may be reluctant to do anything sexual. But you can ask him to help you feel good anyway, and see if you can help him feel pleasure when he can. And remember–you can still massage and kiss and feel close. If an encounter doesn’t go the way you had hoped it would, don’t get upset, just go with the flow. It’s really okay. Yes, you’re missing something you once enjoyed, but you still have your husband. You can be sexual without intercourse. Be grateful for what you do have, and think positive things, instead of casting a negative pall over the marriage.

Schedule Your Sexual Times

The default when sexual dysfunction like ED hits your marriage is to cut way back on sex. He doesn’t even want to try. And then when you initiate, he may turn you down. You feel rejected, and he feels like a failure, and you don’t want to keep bringing up those feelings, so you stop initiating. Yet every night, there’s that unspoken question, “should we try anything?” Even if nothing is said, it’s there, between you. And you feel it every time you roll over and turn your back to him as you go to sleep.

One way around this that works well for some couples is to schedule sex. It isn’t necessarily the time that you have intercourse; it’s the time that you spend together naked, massaging, feeling whatever pleasure you can, kissing, and just dreaming and talking together in bed.

I firmly suggest, as forcefully as I can, that shortly after the diagnosis of some sort of sexual dysfunction (with a physical cause), that you agree that at least once a week you will have a “sexual night”. Make it regular, like every Tuesday or every Saturday, and don’t change it except in extreme circumstances. That way you both know what to expect, you don’t feel rejected and nervous and on edge all the other nights of the week (because you do know what’s coming), and he can start anticipating things so that he can also get in the right frame of mind.

Now, this isn’t going to work if you can’t talk about things, which is why it’s so important to work first on communicating. I realize that many people will say, “my husband just won’t do this”, because he feels so much like a failure he’d rather shut down completely than be reminded of what he’s missing. But that’s not a good solution, and couples would be better off if they saw this. So I’d keep at it–keep praying, keep talking to your husband, keep laughing, and keep communicating, stressing intimacy and pleasure, not intercourse. Don’t give up. See a counselor if you have to. But intimacy is still possible, and is so important in your marriage. Don’t write it off just because sex doesn’t work like it once did.

I’d love to know: how is this working in your marriage? How have you find talking to your husband about this? Have you found ways around it? Let me know in the comments!

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Now it’s your turn! Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below. I feature at least two on my Facebook Page each week, which can get you a lot of traffic! And remember to link back here so that other people can read these great marriage posts.

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Wifey Wednesday: Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! And today Renee Tougas is joining us to share her story about her adventure loving husband.

I met my husband twenty years ago. We met at a Christian campus organization camping trip. That should have been my first clue.

I always knew my husband liked the outdoors and physical activity. When I met him he biked, hiked, kayaked, rock climbed, and lifted weights. A lot of young men are into those things. They like the physical challenge, the “muscle building”, and the adventure.

It wasn’t Damien’s sense of adventure that attracted me to him or even his muscles though. It was his steady nature. I am a reactive personality type. I am expressive in both my highs, and my lows. My husband is the near opposite of me and I fell in love with his easy going nature.

I was nineteen years old. I had no idea what I was getting into.

SONY DSCI was looking for a steady sort because though I was young I knew what I wanted in life. My dream was to be a wife and a mom. I wanted to stay home with my babies. I wanted home to be my first career and after that, well, I’d figure it out when the time came.

I was looking for a man. Call me old fashioned but I wanted someone who could provide and protect. I was frugal, and still am. I didn’t want much in the way of worldly goods but I wanted a solid, steady family life.

God gave me my husband to make those dreams come true. And to stretch me beyond those dreams in ways I could not have imagined.

As much as my husband was the steady I was seeking, he is also a visionary adventurer; not content to stay put or accept status quo. He questions and he quests. I knew a bit of this when we married, I have those tendencies myself. But I like to do my questioning from a place of relative comfort and security.

God knew what I needed. Someone to stretch me beyond the comfort and security of my carefully constructed world.

I connect with a lot of women through my blog FIMBY. I’m not a marriage expert but after seventeen years together I am happily married and still head-over-heals in-love. I guess that counts for something.

A blog reader, who was about to get married, asked me if I had any words of wisdom to share.

My advice went something like this: “Your life, your marriage, your spouse will probably surprise you in some way. Hold onto each other for dear life and be ready to change and grow.”

My own major growth spurt came a few years into our marriage. The early years of our marriage were very much about establishing home and family. Making a home in the various apartments we rented, making babies and taking care of them, learning how to be a good manager of our finances and my time. We bought a home, started homeschooling and I tended our backyard garden. I was living my dream.

And then my husband wanted to live his dream.

He has many dreams actually. He’s a dreamer. A steady provider yes, but a dreamer too. And there were things he wanted to do besides build a home and family. He wanted some adventure.

kids-campfireThus began the most significant growth curve of our married life – saying yes to my husband’s dreams. Saying yes to adventure. Saying yes to a lot of personal and marital growth that was at times physically painful and uncomfortable (like the first time backpacking!).

Something funny happened.

This comfort-loving, routine-seeking homemaker became an adventurer herself. I fell in love with the things my husband wanted to do. Hiking, backpacking, cross-country running, and backcountry skiing. I started to welcome more spontaneity into my life, and let loose the grip I had on how things must be.

I learned a few things along the way that may help you support an adventure-loving husband also.

Be his best friend.

My husband wants to be with me. He choose me. He’s rather go hiking, skiing or any other activity with me than anyone else. What a gift.

We choose each other when we made our vows. We choose to throw our lots in together, come you-know-what or high water. And trust me, I’ve experienced some “high water” moments in our adventures. But the fact remains my husband would still rather do these things with emotionally expressive me over anyone else.

We have made a conscious choice not to go separate ways in our hobbies and pursuits, instead investing time in together activities so our we get to spend as much time with each other as possible.

backpacking-autumn-leavesJust say yes. Not everyone is married to a dreaming, adventure loving husband. You might be the adventurer in your marriage, or adventurous in areas that your husband is not.

I think what our spouses want from us, regardless of which one leads the adventures, is that we say “yes”. Can we say yes every single time? Probably not. My husband has so many ideas. Too many ideas. We can’t do all the ideas, someone has to help sift through and think through them all. My “down-to-earth” managerial skills come in handy there.

But I need to say yes more than I say no.

Saying yes to our adventurous and visionary husbands communicates “I believe in you”.

It communicates respect. My husband thrives, he is fulfilled and driven to provide for our family, when he feels I respect and believe in him.

This summer I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with my best friend and the three children our love brought into existence. We are embarking on an adventure that was just a dream one time for my questing husband but because I said Yes, is now a reality.

Are you married to a visionary adventurer?

Maybe your husband is an outdoors adventurer. And he would love nothing more than to spend days in the wilderness with you, hiking and camping.

Or maybe your husband is an adventurer of a different sort. An entrepreneur or perhaps involved in ministry, blazing a trail into territory that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for you.

Regardless of which kind of adventurer he is, I bet he wants, more than anything, to have you join him. To be his adventurer-in-arms. To have you say “yes”, just like you did those years ago when he proposed.

If your family loves adventures of the outdoor kind and would love inspiration, ideas, and encouragement for how to make more of that happen in your life, follow our adventure this summer by subscribing to our video series Beyond our Boundaries: A Family Adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Never heard of the Appalachian Trail? You can read all about it and details of our family adventure here.

How do you support your adventure-loving husband? Let me know in the comments!

Renee TougasRenee Tougas is a hiker and homemaker; a mother and wife; a writer and photographer. Fresh and honest, Renee’s blog FIMBY is the story of interest-led learning, creative and adventurous family living.



Christian Marriage Advice
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Why It’s Okay to Think About Sex

Thinking about Sex: Hey, married women, maybe we should do this more!

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! And today best-selling author Shannon Ethridge is joining us with an excerpt from her new book, The Passion Principles, where she shares about how thinking about sex is perfectly okay:

In the summer of 1999 we took our young children for an afternoon outing to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. As we entered an area called the “Texas Petting Zoo,” Erin and Matthew were thrilled over the thought that they’d actually be getting hands-on experience with the animals. Our first stop was the Longhorn cattle pen, where several dozen parents and children waited their turn to pet the new baby calf, which just happened to be tucked up underneath his mama’s udders for an afternoon snack.

My three-year old son watched this scene in amazement, then boldly inquired of me in his loudest outdoor voice, “Mama, did you do that to me when you was a cow?”

Every adult within earshot giggled, and I had to join them. It was an honest question, so I gave an honest answer and replied, “Matthew, I actually did feel like a cow when I was doing that to you!” The giggling turned to guffaws of laughter, and thus a precious memory was made that afternoon.

Not only did Matthew learn how baby calves and baby boys were fed by their mothers, he also learned how many baby animals are made. It seemed like every cage we encountered was filled with animals in heat. The giraffes were necking, the gazelles were horny, the camels were humping. It was like someone spiked the hay with some powerful aphrodisiac. And of course, there was always an inquiring child in the crowd wanting to know, “What are those two animals doing?”

Although humans are certainly on a much higher intellectual and spiritual plane than animals, our basic physical instincts are really not very different. We have four main activities that we naturally gravitate toward over and over—eating, drinking, sleeping, and sexually connecting with our mates. It’s simply how God wired us, and it’s a beautiful thing if you consider the big-picture purposes He had in mind.

Why did God wire us for hunger and thirst? So we wouldn’t starve to death or get dehydrated and make ourselves sick. So our bodies could thrive and manufacture the energy we need to function when we respond to these natural instincts with healthy food and water.

Why did God wire us for sleep? So our bodies and brains could rest and get reenergized for another day of living for His glory. So we could go about our days feeling refreshed, at least until our batteries needed to be recharged once again.

Why did God wire us for sex? Just to name a few reasons:

• to bring beautiful babies into the world,
• so our bodies and brains could experience intense physical pleasure,
• to release stress and tension,
• to medicate emotional pain,
• so our hearts and spirits would feel intimately connected and passionately bonded to another human being,
• so we would feel passionately loved, and have a powerful way of communicating to another that he or she is deeply loved as well.

Most of us can accept our hunger, our thirst, and our need for sleep as perfectly natural, but the fact that we’re sexual creatures can be hard to accept, at least not without a certain degree of guilt. But do we ever feel guilty for experiencing true hunger several times a day? Or genuine thirst? Do we ever feel sinful for growing sleepy every eighteen hours or so? Of course not. It’s how our bodies function, and, like those zoo animals, we don’t waste much time analyzing it at all. We just feed those needs in order to satisfy ourselves.

So why do we waste time and energy analyzing, justifying, fretting, or feeling guilty over our sexual needs and desires? Seems silly, doesn’t it?

I believe the reason we worry about our sexuality is because we have somehow bought the lie that sex is dirty, shameful, base, animalistic, and hedonistic rather than natural, instinctual, spiritual, sublime, and holy. As a result, some of us have lost our ability to accept, embrace, or celebrate that facet of our humanity. Instead, we may shudder with shock and embarrassment to seriously consider how often our brains entertain sexual thoughts. In fact, many of us wish we could just flip a switch and never think of sex at all. Some have actually mastered a variety of techniques that allow them to do just that—to ignore and neglect their natural, God-given sexuality altogether. While I’m certainly not trying to shame anyone, I think the fact that we’ve grown so adept at absolutely starving our natural sexual desires is, indeed, a crying shame.

But what if we learned to accept the fact that God has created us as sexual human beings, and a natural, healthy sex drive comes part and parcel with that blueprint? That sexual thoughts are as natural as a hunger pain? Or a dry mouth? Or sleepy eyes? What if we could grow as comfortable with and ecstatic over a delightful afternoon tryst in our marriage bed as we are with, say, a plate full of our favorite holiday foods, a cup hot cocoa or apple cider, and an afternoon nap to ease the calorie-induced coma? Yes, it is possible to enjoy sex as freely as we indulge in satisfying these other natural cravings!

We must grasp the fact that God placed these human desires in us for a reason—for many divine reasons, actually. If we had no internal compass pointing us toward food, couldn’t we starve to death? If we had no recurring thoughts of drinking liquids, we’d dehydrate within forty-eight hours! No natural gravitational pull toward a pillow means we’d become physically exhausted to the point of delirium within a few short days. Although individuals can live without sex for long periods of time, or even a lifetime if they so choose, let’s think in terms of the bigger picture.

What if humans in general didn’t have any sort of sexual appetite at all? What would happen? Not only would we become painfully disconnected and isolated from one another, but the human race would eventually die off within a century or so! Heaven forbid!

God gave us natural, healthy appetites for everything that our minds, bodies, and souls need. These appetites guarantee our optimum survival. As such, these appetites are certainly a blessing, not a burden. So let’s embrace, cherish, and celebrate them fully!

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for healthy sexual appetites, and for godly ways to satisfy them! May husbands and wives both find great pleasure in one another, and may our marriage relationships bring you great glory as we learn to love each other fully and unreservedly!


Shannon EthridgeShannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master’s degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of 21 books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman’s Battle series. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs and mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her BLAST Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers). Her most recent book is The Passion Principles. Find more information on Shannon here.

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