Wifey Wednesday: March Marriage Giveaway

Join the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! Each month choose 1 book on the subject to read to boost your relationship! Get a chance to ask authors questions, read author interviews, and discuss the books, too!It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage–and I give you a chance to link up your own posts so others can read them, too.

And today I’m excited to offer you a chance to enter a marriage resource giveaway for the books that we’ve been talking about on the blog this month as part of the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge.

Each month I suggest several books that will help you on a certain theme, and then I ask you to pick just one and read it.

That’s it–just twelve books a year! You can keep the book in your bathroom, by your bed, in your purse so you can read in the checkout line, or wherever. But you can get through one book a month.

And it will change your marriage!

This month we were talking about Setting Boundaries, and I looked specifically at Ask It (the one question that will revolutionize how you make decisions) and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick.

Leslie is part of my Christian Marriage Authors Board on Pinterest, too, along with some other wonderful authors you’ll recognize. If you’re not following it yet, come on over and join us!

And if you are walking through an Emotionally Destructive Marriage, or you know someone who is, Leslie’s website is a great resource with tons of information and practical help.

Today I want to give you a chance to win both of these books, AND some of my audio downloads.

Audio Downloads You see, while I love to blog, and I try to write here everyday, I actually spend a lot of my time on the road speaking. Sometimes it’s about marriage and sex, but often it’s just about our Christian walk. This weekend I’m giving a women’s one-day retreat near where I live, in Bloomfield, ON. But I’ll be in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming in the next few months talking about sex (there’s still time to get in on my Colorado and Wyoming Girl Talk tour if you’re interested! Just email my assistant Tammy).

And I’ve taken a number of my talks and put them on audio downloads so you can listen to them at home, inexpensively (my main Girl Talk one isn’t up, but there are lots more!)

So this month I’ll be giving away a $10 gift certificate to use towards audio downloads at my store, too.

Here’s what you could win:

  • First Prize: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, Ask It, and $10 worth of audio downloads
  • Other Prizes: 2 prizes of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, 2 prizes of Ask It, and 1 prize of audio downloads.

March prizes at To Love, Honor and Vacuum

To enter, just join the Rafflecopter below! I’ll be drawing the prizes next Tuesday night at midnight. Contest is open to anyone in North America. If someone elsewhere wins, I’ll substitute the physical prizes with some of my electronic downloads from my store.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WifeyWednesday175Now, what advice do you have for us today? Just link up the URL of your own marriage post in the linky below!



Ask It! Our March Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge

“While nobody plans to mess up his life, the problem is that few of us plan not to.”

So says Andy Stanley early in his book Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions. And today we’re going to talk about it and help YOU not mess up your life!

Book Review of Ask It by Andy Stanley

It’s our March edition of the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! You just have to read one book a month–and every month is a different topic! And then I’ll give you a couple of choices (in case you’ve already read one book or in case not all books apply to you).

This is one of those months where not all books will apply. We’re talking about setting boundaries–how to make sure that you’re taking responsibility for the things that you are responsible for, but also ensuring you don’t overfunction and prevent other people from doing what they should do, and to ensure that you don’t enable sin.

I had four book suggestions, three of which were for women who really felt like they were doing too much in their marriage: Boundaries in Marriage, The Emotionally Healthy Woman, and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (listed in order of severity of marriage problems). I’ll be looking at The Emotionally Destructive Marriage next week.

But what if you don’t have these kinds of issues in your marriage? Then I suggested the book Ask It, which is an amazing little book, and gives us help so that we don’t wind up with these sorts of problems in our marriage later (or in other relationships!). It’s just great wisdom for life, and I’d like to talk about it today.

Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make DecisionsThe “One” Question

Stanley starts his book by showing us rather convincingly that we don’t think ahead. We get into these messes that anyone could have seen were going to be messes, and then we feel trapped.

We spend too much money. Our marriage falls apart. Our kids struggle. And why is that?

It’s because we don’t focus on the right question.

Usually, when we’re trying to make decisions, we ask, “Is there anything wrong with this?” That’s how we get into messes. We can’t find a definite “no”, and so we justify doing really stupid things.

You don’t sit around looking for reasons to do the right thing; it’s the bad decisions that require creative reasoning.

The better question is this one:

What is the wise thing for me to do?

And he goes on to show that the question needs to be expanded, to this:

In light of my past experiences (including my specific temptations and shortcomings), in light of my current circumstances, and in light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do right now?

Seriously, people. Do we know how revolutionary that is? Take just the issue of dating, for example. Many women end  up with total losers. They date people who don’t treat them well, and then maybe they end up marrying them. We all know women like that (maybe you even are one!) We all have sisters or friends who are in the midst of destructive relationships, and we so want them to get out.

And then they do–and six months later they’re with a carbon copy guy, moaning to us how there aren’t any good guys in the world.

But, as Stanley says,

“Why does every relationship end the same way?” In most cases the answer is, “Because every relationship started the same way.”

You meet the guy in a bar, or at a party where everyone’s drunk,  or through a friend who has substance abuse issues, and suddenly you wonder why you end up with losers. We have to stop doing what feels natural and start asking ourself, “is this wise”?

Neglecting Something Important Has Lasting Consequences

After setting up the importance of “the question”, Stanley then takes a look at our everyday lives. Are we actually doing wise things on a day-to-day basis? And he shows how often we’re not. When we fail to plan and fail to be wise, we end up neglecting the important things. And neglect has lasting consequences.

The health of your marriage tomorrow will be determined by the decisions you make today…There are rarely immediate consequences for neglecting single instalments of time in any arena of life.

That is so true, and to bring this back to the subject of this blog, I see this so much in the area of sex. When sex falls to the wayside, when we women diminish its importance and refuse sex consistently, or else just go through the motions without really throwing ourselves into it, we drive our husbands away.

We know that sex is important to a relationship, but in the day to day, when we’re tired, we often neglect it. Let me give you several of Stanley’s thoughts on this:

But in the areas that matter most, a burst of energy and activity cannot reverse the consequences that accompany a season of neglect…Relationships are built on small, consistent deposits of time. You can’t cram for what’s most important. If you want to connect with your kids, you’ve got to be available consistently, not randomly…If you are not walking wisely, your time will be fragmented by a thousand urgent, disconnected opportunities and events. Such opportunities and events will seem important at the time, but when strung together they have no cumulative value.

“Falling” Into Sin with Emotional Affairs

One area I really appreciated about this book was the chapters he spent on sexual sin, and especially how we “fall into” affairs. He tells an all-too-convincing story about how two people who work together end up in an affair not because they planned to, but because they failed to plan NOT to.

Let me give you just a few of Stanley’s words of wisdom:

Do you know why people are prone to make such foolish moral decisions? Because something always whispers to us that our situations are unique: Nobody has ever felt this way before.

But there is nothing unique about your circumstances, your emotions, your desires, and your passions. And as long as you deceive yourself into thinking that you are the first to feel what you are feeling, you will chase those feelings to the neglect of wisdom.

In terms of marriage, this book is worth the price just for the diagnosis of emotional and physical affairs, and for the advice on how to be wise and protect yourself.

The problem with an affair is that at each step, people start justifying their behaviour. “There’s nothing really wrong with texting a co-worker outside of work hours.” “There’s nothing wrong with grabbing dinner with him while on a business trip. We have to eat, after all.” “There’s nothing wrong with stopping by her house to drop off these papers.” And that’s how we do it–we ask ourselves, “is this really wrong?” But if we asked ourselves, “Is this really wise?”, we’d likely have a different response.

Quote from Andy Stanley's book Ask It

None of us plan–or intend–to get into trouble. The problem is, we don’t plan not to. (click to tweet!)

What is Beneficial?

I love that Andy Stanley brought up  1 Corinthians 10:23, because I use it all the time in my Girl Talk when I talk to churches about sex:

“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.

That’s such a great verse. It’s not about whether or not something is WRONG (everything is permissible, after all). It’s about whether or not it’s beneficial. Now, in the context, Paul isn’t saying that there’s no such thing as sin. What he is talking about is all of those grey areas that aren’t necessarily sin, but that we still struggle with. It’s not a sin, but is it wise?

I’ve used this verse specifically with sex toys. I’m not saying using a feather on your spouse or even making them lie still while you tease them is wrong–far from it! But there are some toys which basically recreate body parts and give you parallel sexual experiences, rather than enjoying stuff together. And the more that we focus on these physical elements, the less we’re likely to feel that sex is intimate. And who tends to reach orgasm the most in marriage? Those who feel the most intimate! Intimacy and trust are the best aphrodisiacs, and you can’t buy them at a sex shop.

I have more on that in several other posts, but I think when we’re trying to decide our boundaries in the bedroom, that’s a great question to ask!

Finding Mentors for Your Life–and Your Marriage!

Finally, Andy Stanley ends with a plea that we start learning to ask for help.

Wise people know when they don’t know, and they’re not afraid to go to those who do know. When wise people bump up against their limitations, they stop and ask for help.

I have repeatedly said on this blog that every couple should have a mentor couple–someone you can go to in times of crisis to ask for perspective and prayer, or someone you can bounce things off of if you just hit a wall and you can’t seem to agree. People who know you in real life and who care about you and who are godly themselves are the greatest resources we have.

Yet often we don’t turn to mentors. Why?

One of the primary reasons we don’t seek counsel from the wise people around us is that we already know what we are going to hear–and we just don’t want to hear it.

I see that often on this blog. I’ll write a long blog post explaining what you should do in a certain tough situation, and then people will comment with their terribly sad stories, saying, “I desperately need advice! Tell me what to do!” But I just finished telling you. The problem is that my solution often entailed them changing, or them doing something difficult. People don’t want to hear that. They want a magic solution–and most likely there isn’t one. Most major change only happens when we work through it.

Who Should Read Ask It?

Everyone! Seriously. It’s a great book for the Christian walk. I think couples could read it together at night (it’s such an easy read with lots of stories in it). It would give you something to talk about as you try to make decisions. But if youth groups read it with their teenagers, or college & careers groups read it together, that would be wonderful, too. Imagine if we could equip our young people to ask the right questions from the outset:

In light of my past experiences (including my specific temptations and shortcomings), in light of my current circumstances, and in light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do right now?

I really encourage you all to read it! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and like Stanley says–I do think it will revolutionize how you make decisions.

If you read it, tell me: what was your favourite part? Did he help you see something in a new way? And tune in next week for our look at The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

I’ll be sending out my “Round Up” Newsletter later today. I send it out maybe 3 times a year with more personal updates from my family, photos you won’t have seen on the blog or Facebook, and announcements of what I’m writing, where I’m speaking, and what I’m thinking about these days. If you aren’t signed up, you can do so here!

Some Fun Things on Friday!

What I’m Up To

So I’m in New Orleans right now, on a conference with my husband and giving my Girl Talk at a few groups.

New Orleans Stage

Didn’t they decorate the stage beautifully? I’ll put more pics up on Facebook soon!

Yesterday morning my daughter and I got our nails done on Canal Street. And it was our first manicure ever. Seriously. I’ve never done my nails before!

They look black in this picture; they’re actually purple. So much fun!

New Orleans Nails

And so far I’ve tried gumbo, jambalaya, boudin, beignets, oysters (didn’t like them), and crawfish ettouffee (seriously good).

Crawfish

Our impressions of New Orleans: lots of sirens. All the time. Amazing food. Too much voodoo. And kinda sad with all the strip joints. It’s beautiful, but it’s HEAVY. And not just with humidity, either.

Had a wonderful time speaking in Lafayette last night, though! Great group of women.

Viral Facebook Stuff

And I don’t have time to post much today, so a few quick things that have been up on Facebook lately–and that have gone crazy!

Daily Renew Love Bathing

Isn’t that the truth?

Submission NEVER means putting up with abuse: on Debi Pearl, submission, and wife abuse.I posted a link to this amazing video about an adoption. I dare you to watch it without tearing up!

Here’s an older post about how submission doesn’t mean putting up with abuse. It went nuts last weekend. And then I read this post by Leslie Vernick about the things that we need to help women understand so abuse can be stopped earlier. So good! Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, is one of our March picks for the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’m speaking once more in Kenner, Louisiana tonight, and then we’re heading out on a swamp tour and some bird watching this weekend. So great to get away with my husband and daughter–and to be able to combine it with meeting some great women here, too!

One more thing–Katie, my daughter, is trying to get me to use Instagram more. So I am trying to post more pics when I travel and more funny things about my life. If you want to follow me (I will get better!), I’m right here.

Top 10 Things I’d Say About Sex If I Had No Filter

Top 10 Things I Would Say About Sex--if I had no filter! Here's brutal honesty...

I write about sex a lot on this marriage blog, trying to say things that are helpful and uplifting to encourage you to have a great sex life with your husband!

But every now and then there are things that I just want to get off my chest. And when J from Hot, Holy and Humorous wrote the post “8 Things I’d Say About Sex If I Had No Filter“, and issued the challenge for others of us to write a similar one, I knew I had to accept!

Top TenSo here we go for Top 10 Tuesday:

1. Why in the world weren’t we created with a “sexual memory”?

I know what it’s like to eat double chocolate Oreo cheesecake. And it really doesn’t matter what time of day it is, or how full I am, if you offered me some double chocolate Oreo cheesecake, I would take it in an instant. That stuff’s awesome!

But you know what’s better? Great sex. And yet somehow I seem to forget that–and it doesn’t always seem worth the effort.Why can’t I have a cheesecake memory about sex? It would make life so much easier!

2. Sometimes we just want to give you a gift. Take the gift.

But I don’t have that cheesecake memory, and sometimes I just know that I’m not going to be able to concentrate enough to really enjoy myself tonight. After all, if a woman can’t concentrate solely on sex, then her body won’t kick in, because our sex drives are primarily in our heads. Some nights there is just too much rattling around in my brain for me to have a really good time.

And that’s okay with me, because sometimes I just want to give my husband a gift. And men, here’s what you’ve got to understand: on the nights when your wife is just making love “for you”, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the marriage (in fact, there’s something right, because she’s trying to do something nice for you!) It likely just meas she has a lot on her mind.

If it happens all the time, by all means talk to her about it and work on how you can make sex great for her.

But on those nights when it just ain’t happening for her, take the gift she’s trying to give you. Just take it. Don’t try to analyze her or make her feel great–it will just frustrate her. Take the gift. It’s not that hard.

3. I really wish I weren’t such a multitasker

Multitasking works great during the day–when I’m talking on the phone while unloading the dishwasher, for instance. But I can’t seem to switch it OFF, and it drives me nuts. When I’m having sex, I want to HAVE SEX–not plan a grocery list. But I’ll be lying there having a good time when I’ll suddenly think–“is there milk in the fridge?” And then I panic and think, “Oh, man, what else do I need to pick up? And when am I going to get there?” I didn’t mean to think about milk. But it came in there and then my mind wandered and now my body has shut off.

I hate multitasking. Grrr. I really wish sex didn’t always require so much concentration!

4. You’re never going to like sex if you tell yourself all that negative stuff about it.

Sometimes the earth is not going to move for us. Some nights we really are going to want him to get it over with, and that’s okay if it’s just sometimes. But if it’s all the time, it’s likely at least partly because of the messages you’re giving yourself about sex.

Stop telling yourself all these negative things about sex! If you’re hopeless and talk about how awful it is and always think about how awful it is and always think about how you have no libido and you just want to be left alone and you’re just so, so tired, then it never WILL feel great.

The only way your libido will kick in is if you start telling yourself positive things about sex. And that’s not your husband’s fault if you aren’t. I know we all have roadblocks: maybe sex hurts or you’ve grown up with sexual abuse or you’re dealing with sexual baggage, and that’s okay. Work on those issues. But you’re never, ever going to get to the other side unless you start making yourself think differently.

God made sex. He made you to feel great! He wants you to feel great. He made it to be really intimate and to bind you two together. He wants you to relax. He wants you to sleep better. He wants you in ecstasy. Don’t you want that for yourself? So start talking UP sex instead of talking sex DOWN.

5. Women, what are you thinking if you never have sex with your husbands?

So many men comment on this blog who can count on two hands the number of times they’ve had sex with their wives in the last few years. That’s YEARS.

What makes you think that sex is something that is optional in a marriage? That if you’re tired or run down with kids, that you can just say “no sex tonight–or ever?” Sex is a key part of marriage, and if you’re constantly denying your husband, you’ve got issues.

Sex can be so great, and if it’s not for you, it could very well be because of the messages you’re giving yourself about sex, your husband, and your marriage. Try focusing on the positive aspects of sex and just jump back in! And stop being ridiculous.

6. I wouldn’t sleep with you, either.

At the same time, guys, seriously, do you ever listen to yourself? Yesterday on my Facebook Page Kevin Thompson shared his post “I wouldn’t sleep with you, either“, and I loved it! So spot on.

Many husbands in sexless marriages did very little to deserve their sexless state, as far as I can tell, and so I am not speaking to them. But I’ve had literally dozens of men comment in the last few days on various posts (I’ve had a launch from some manosphere site, I guess), and reading their comments, I can totally see why their wives don’t sleep with them.

Look, guys, if you spend your whole life yelling about how women need to submit, how they can never deny their husbands even if their husbands use porn, how women are supposed to keep silent and not confront their husbands on sin, and how women are to respect their husbands absolutely, do you have any idea how totally creepy you sound? Oh, and when you say that God gave the men the sex drives they have, and so every man is going to check out other women, it’s natural–just ICK. Seriously ICK. Be a man. Treat your wife with dignity.

Stop with the porn. Stop watching Game of Thrones. Cherish your wife. Listen to her opinion. Stop checking out other women. Stop being a boor.

7. Take care of your body

We’re not allowed to say that because it may shame people. And you can have great sex no matter what size you are (in fact, there’s really good research to show that people who are about 20 pounds overweight have the best sex–and people who are underweight have the worst).

And sex is more than physical–it’s also emotional and spiritual, and so we should never let our world’s idea of beauty make us into nervous wrecks who feel so badly about bodies we’re embarrassed to have sex.

I agree with all of that.

But I also think that we’re so scared of shaming women that we’ve stopped talking about how important it is to take care of ourselves and to look nice. The pride that we take in ourselves reflects how we feel about ourselves, and that plays a large role in our sexuality. So just put in some effort, ladies!

Men are visual creatures, and you’re the only woman he’s supposed to look at. So be nice to look at! Stop wearing baggy T-shirts. Stop eating food that isn’t good for you. Treat your body well. Yes, your true beauty is your inner beauty, absolutely. But it doesn’t take that much effort to make your outer self match your inner self. Just pick up a brush. Get a great haircut. Learn to apply some mascara and lipgloss. Fight the frump!

8. My wedding night was awful. Most people’s wedding nights are.

Good Girls Guide My SiteWe talk UP the wedding night way too much. You know what’s wrong with the wedding night? It follows The Wedding Day–the longest day of your life. I think we’d all do so much better if we stopped telling young people “just wait for the wedding night”, and started telling them, “just wait until you can take a year or two discovering each other after you’re married.” When I did my surveys for The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I found that about 80% of people had awful wedding nights, if you judge just by the physical aspect. And for most people it does take a few years for things to work like clockwork.

I think we’re so scared of people having premarital sex that we oversell the honeymoon. Let’s talk about sex as a decades long fun research project, not a “one night entry into bliss”. Seriously.

9. Sex is like Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong.

And here’s why we need to see it as a decades-long thing: anything that can go wrong will. Once you finally get it working like clockwork you’ll get pregnant and start puking. Or you’ll hit perimenopause and your hormones will go out of whack. Or he’ll get stressed and lose his libido. Or he’ll start getting erectile dysfunction.

Sex may be the most intimate thing we can do, but we do it with our bodies. And when things affect our bodies, they’re going to affect sex too. That’s one reason God made marriage: so that when things do go wrong, we’ll stick together long enough for them to go right again!

So don’t worry when things take a turn for the worse. It’s natural. It’s part of growing older together. Just keep talking, and keep those lines of communication open, and be prepared to try to learn new things. We’ve had such health issues the last year that it’s been really discouraging. But it’s brought us closer, too.

10. Sex is like pizza: When it’s good it’s great. When it’s not so good, it’s still pretty good.

I’ve written a lot about spicing things up, and I totally agree with those posts. But do you know what I like best? Sometimes the Old Faithful works without much addition. Sometimes I’m tired, and I say, “come put me to sleep, baby”, and there are no gymnastics. There are no candles. There aren’t multiple positions or anything. And honestly, that’s often what I love most–just being comfortable with each other, and being able to relax during sex instead of it always having to be this BIG THING. I hope that doesn’t make me weird.

There you are–the top 10 things I’d say if I have no filter. Some of those aren’t what I normally say here, but there you go. What would you add? I’d love to know in the comments!

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Standing up to Adult Bullies

I’m sorry my post is late today.

I’ve had a sleepless night, thinking and praying about something I’ve been involved in. And I’ve been wrestling with my motivations, and my commitment, but most of all my WHY?

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I knew a girl who was being abused. No one would believe it because her dad was an elder in the church. And I tried to help and I tried to counsel, but I was just a kid. And the abuse went on. And I felt like I had let her down.

In later years, I had kids in my extended sphere of influence that I knew were sad and dejected. And I tried to fix it. I had a neighbourhood girl who from age 6-12 practically lived at my house. I fed her most of her meals. I tried to teach her how to resolve conflict and act appropriately. I introduced her to Jesus. Most of all, I loved her.

But as she grew up she started to pull away, and I was desperate to keep her. What would happen to her without us? What if she went down the wrong road?

And then I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was wearing myself out trying to be this girl’s mother, when her actual parents didn’t care. And no matter what I did I couldn’t make up for the lack of parenting in her life. I stopped and let her go. We still saw her every now and then, but I did all I could do.

For a while now I’ve had a similar motivation about another group of kids. I see how they’re being treated. I see how the parents don’t understand that what is being taught them theologically is wrong. I see how they’re getting a warped view of God, and I desperately want to fix it. I love these kids. I want them to know Jesus.

And so I have poured my heart and soul and much time that I really don’t have into loving these kids, even though doing so puts me in the same path of the bullies that hurt them.

Last night I was finally released. I let it go. I can’t fix things, as much as I want to. And I can’t keep opening myself up to adult bullies.

I feel sadness this morning, but a great weight off of my shoulders.

And I woke up thinking about this column I wrote two years ago. I liked it then; I thought I would rerun it now.


Adult Bullies: Do you know how to deal with them?Anti-bullying campaigns are all the rage in our schools today. What we often fail to remember, though, is that bullying behavior doesn’t stop the moment one dons a graduation cap.

Have you ever encountered an adult bully?

I’ve been in social situations when someone has said something so outrageous and mean-spirited that I was temporarily rendered mute, a state which drove me absolutely bonkers as I was lying in bed later that night thinking of all the things I should have said. They eluded me at the time because the situation seemed so bizarre.

I think that’s why adult bullies can be so effective: the behavior is just so out of the ordinary.

Sure, we may talk behind people’s backs (which is terrible, too), but in general we try to be polite to people’s faces. When someone violates that cardinal rule, we’re often so shocked that we say nothing. Perhaps it’s the residual British culture in us, but we’re not programmed to make scenes; we’re programmed to avoid scenes.

Bowling over people, then, becomes an awfully effective way at getting what they want. And adult bullies may genuinely not realize they’re pretentious jerks, although I think more likely they don’t care. They have such an inflated sense of their own self-worth that they keep at it.

We’ve been busy teaching children how to deal with bullies, but perhaps we need a refresher course for adults.

You’re being bullied if someone constantly demeans you or says snide remarks about you. You’re being bullied if someone is constantly yelling at you or criticizing you. You’re being bullied if someone deliberately isolates you in social or work situations. And you’re being bullied if someone is constantly making helpful “suggestions” and laying guilt trips if you don’t take them.

I often find that adult bullies tend to be older, especially in families. They think they have the right to tell other people how to live their lives and demand things a certain way. And we tolerate it, because “that’s just Grandpa Joe.” Or we do our best to compensate, running interference if anyone opens their mouths and says something that may set him off. We spend our energy trying to placate or distract Grandpa Joe so nothing bad happens. What kind of family life is that?

Sometimes bullying, especially in families, is more covert.

If you call out an adult bully, they reply with incredulity, “I was just asking questions! I can’t believe you took it that way,” putting the blame back on you. And then you start to wonder if you’re the crazy one. Yet even if you turn yourself inside out to try to please the bully, you never will, because bullies thrive on the feeling of instilling fear. Meet one demand and they’ll come up with another.

Maybe it’s time our British, don’t rock the boat culture learned something from the Italians, who say everything. So let’s practice: “You are being inappropriate.” “I won’t sit here and listen if you talk to me like that.” “You are a guest in this home, Mom, so you should treat us with respect.” Or, better still, stand up for someone else. “Dad, you owe Jennifer an apology. You were completely out of line.” And if they start yelling or criticizing you, just repeat it. Then stand up and leave the room. There is no law requiring you to sit in a chair and be insulted.

If more of us just spoke up, bullies would lose their shock and awe power.

And it’s time the rest of us had some shock and awe on our side instead.


For all of you who are staying in jobs where the culture is killing you, but you don’t feel like you can leave because then who would protect the other employees or the clients–I understand. For all of you who are sticking it out with extended family, even though they are toxic, because if you leave, who will care for your nieces or nephews or siblings or grandkids–I understand. For all of you who are staying in toxic churches or toxic schools because what about the kids? I understand. I hear you.

And I know that what you need, more than anything else, is for other people to just speak up. For other people to support you and to say, “this is not right.” In most situations 90% of people will agree with you–but it’s the toxic 10% that are the ones who speak.

So let’s all speak. Let’s all call a spade a spade. Let’s end this, especially within the church, because it is wrong. Jesus would never yell at people, belittle people, or berate people. And it needs to stop.


I have been watching Natalie at Visionary Womanhood go through her year of standing up to adult bullies, and I’ve so appreciated her posts. Here are just a few on deprogramming from Christian lies–which include calling a spade a spade.


Now that I have more time on my hands, I’m going to celebrate these two! I have about 5 months left to plan the wedding. Here’s one of their engagement photos. So proud of you, Rebecca! And so love you, Connor!

Engagement Photo

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My Heart for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex

Sheila Wray Gregoire shares why she wrote Good Girls Guide to Great Sex and her heart for marriage

We’re in the middle of our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for February, where I gave people the choice of three books: Pulling Back the Shades (about 50 Shades of Grey), the Passion Principles, and The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex (by me!) I’ll be reviewing The Passion Principles next Thursday, but today I wanted to share my heart for The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.

February Books for The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge

It’s hard to sum up my book in one blog post because basically this whole blog–all 1600 or so posts–are reflected in the book.

So what can I say? When it was released I tried to break it down into 29 bite sized chunks, doing the 29 days to Great Sex leading up to its launch date. I’ve since turned that series into its own book.

But if you like this blog, and if you’re looking for practical information on how to make sex great, along with a framework to understand sex better, The Good Girl’s Guide is for you!

And so today, rather than try to write about what’s in it I thought I’d share my heart for it.

Last week I spoke in Texas five times giving my Girl Talk, where I talked about what God meant for sex and marriage. And sometimes it’s easier to get passionate when I’m speaking than when I’m blogging.

 

Sheila Gregoire Girl Talk

Here’s how I begin my talk: sex for me has not always been good. Often when you listen to a speaker talk about sex (or read a blogger speaking about sex) you assume that she’s got it all figured it out. It’s always been easy for her. She’s the “expert”.

But trust me–usually people write and speak about the things that they have found challenging in their lives.

It’s the things that they’ve struggled with which are interesting. The things where God has made them grow, step outside of their comfort zone, and test their own faith.

And that’s what it was like for me. As I share in my book, I entered marriage with a ton of baggage. I had trust issues because of important men in my life leaving me, and my now-husband originally breaking off my engagement. That made sex uncomfortable–and it even hurt because I suffered from vaginismus. But I also was given this book before I was married that was written by a man, that was given to pretty much every engaged couple back in the 80s and 90s. I won’t mention its title here, but suffice it to say, it made me a nervous wreck.

It was basically all about how to make sex great the first time out. And it was so explicit! Do this for five minutes, then this for ten. Rub here, rub there, stretch there. I almost felt violated reading it. And since I was reading it while lying in the bathtub (that’s where I did most of my reading back then), I took it and drowned it. I held it under the water until I was sure the book was dead, and then I unceremoniously dumped it in the garbage.

Why was I so uncomfortable with that book? I’ve thought about that and wondered that a lot, and here’s what I came up with: That book made sex all about the physical. I’m sure that wasn’t the author’s intention, but that’s still what I took away from it. You had better do everything right or else it’s going to feel awful. And you’ll be a big failure.

It was a ton of pressure.

Then, when sex wasn’t great for me after I was married, I just felt like I had been sold a bill of goods. Here was this man writing a book about sex, and he made it seem so complicated. If men didn’t touch and rub here exactly like this for exactly this amount of time, she’ll never feel good. And the media was all saying that sex was great, but that sure wasn’t what I was experiencing. Why would God make sex so complicated? Why was it so difficult to reach orgasm? And surely I wasn’t the only one finding it difficult, was I?

I also didn’t grow up with a great view of sex. Like most teens, I heard incessantly “don’t do it, don’t do it” from youth groups and youth conferences, so the sex-positive messages I got were from movies that treated sex like a recreational drug. Sex was almost pornographic to me. It wasn’t something beautiful; it was something HOT.

When I got married and I didn’t feel particularly “hot”, but only rather uncomfortable, I had no framework for what to do. Sex was either to be avoided (don’t do it!) or made into almost an orgy (the media). And now I was at a crossroads.

I chose the “don’t do it” route. It all just seemed like so much work. My husband wanted it all the time; it didn’t feel good; and we were always fighting over it. Here’s a tongue in cheek video we made about this attitude to make the point; perhaps you’ll recognize yourself in it!

I spent so long turning him off I didn’t ask if I wanted to be turned on.

And the turning point came when I realized that perhaps what I was believing about sex was wrong. Yes, my experience with sex wasn’t great; but that didn’t mean that sex couldn‘t be great. I was judging sex based on my experience, rather than based on what I knew the truth to be. How did I find the truth? I slowly started to believe more about what God said about sex.

(I wrote an in-depth post about how to start thinking positively about sex here).

The missing piece for me was intimacy. I thought that intimacy was about friendship and talking, and not about making love. When I started to understand that being intimate together–being emotionally and spiritually vulnerable, opening up to one another–that THAT is the best aphrodisiac, sex started working much better, even if it still took a few years to make it work more like clockwork. And it’s that spiritual intimacy during sex that we don’t really get.

So I tried to write a book that would help women relax about sex, help them calm down, help them laugh, and still point them in the direction of awesome sex. We don’t need the pornographic version. We don’t need to avoid it. We certainly shouldn’t lose hope. God created this to be great, and if it isn’t great right now, that’s okay. That’s why marriage is decades-long! You’ve got a while to get this right.

And you can make sex the most fun research project you’ll ever do!

I wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex for everyone like me who ever wondered what they were missing. And I pray that it helps all new brides get started on a more solid footing, and more experienced wives enter into the awesomeness that God really intended for us!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

 

Quick Marriage Advice from John and Stasi Eldredge

Have you joined my Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for 2015 yet? I hope you have! You just commit to reading one book a month that will enhance your marriage–and each month is a different topic, so it doesn’t get boring!

February Books for The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge

This month we’re looking at spicing things up, and tomorrow I’ll be sharing about The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.

Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

But last month we looked at building the foundation, using a number of different books, including Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge. I gave you all the opportunity in January to write out some questions that you wanted our authors to give quick answers to, and John and Stasi obliged! Here they’re sharing some quick marriage advice:

1. What is the most important thing a wife can do to bless her husband?

“I believe in you.” Those are the magic words, expressed in a thousand ways. A man yearns to know that his life matters; he yearns to know that he has what it takes. He wants his opinions to matter. He wants his words to matter. So every way you can express to him, “I believe in you,” you are pouring blessing into his heart (and romance into the marriage). Certainly, say it to him: “Honey, I believe in you. You’re doing such a great job.” But also “say” it with your actions: ask his opinion on things (and respect it when he gives it). When he makes a decision, don’t undermine him by going and doing the opposite. “I believe in you” is the greatest gift a wife can give her man.

2. If we’re part of a bigger picture of what God is doing in the world, how do you live that out if your husband isn’t a believer?

Choose something to invest in that you know your husband will understand and respect. Perhaps it is tutoring underprivileged kids; perhaps it is volunteering at the hospital. If you invest all your “ministry” time into something that is utterly strange or bizarre to him (like worship gatherings, or prophetic meetings) he won’t “connect the dots” and see that God is relevant, God cares about the things he cares about. We aren’t not saying don’t pursue your spiritual life; please do. But he needs to see that christianity is not “pie in the sky” weirdness. You can show him by being excited about fighting for justice, or getting children out of the sex trade.

3. You spoke about how it’s not loving to ignore a spouse’s sin or brokenness. But how do you know when to stand your ground with your spouse and when to let it go?

You are friends with the most brilliant person in the universe–ask him! We’re serious. Ask Jesus for his counsel when to bring things up and when not to. This one decision has rescued our marriage a thousand times. You know how it goes–you want to bring something up (or stand your ground) but when you do it blows up. Jesus knows the better timing. Ask him–and be willing to wait when he tells you to wait, and to act when he says act!

4. On a practical note, how do you carve out time for you and your spouse if your kids are now teenagers and are up later than you are?

Actually we found the teenage years to be the season that began to open up time for us together, because the boys wanted to be with their friends far more than they wanted to stay home with mom and dad. When they were at home, and we weren’t doing something together as a family, we would sometimes go into our bedroom and close the door. You might have to be as direct as to say, “Mom and Dad need some time right now to talk through some things.” But the bedroom was always a safe bet because teenagers shudder at the thought of mom and dad “doing” anything intimate; they wouldn’t interrupt if the house was on fire!

Great marriage advice, John and Stasi! Thank you!

I wanted to share today another journey I’ve been on thanks to reading Love & War, and part of what stuck with me.

John and Stasi write that marriage is supposed to be a picture of both love and war–the love that God has for us, but also the great battle that He is waging to win the world.

And we’re to fight that battle alongside our spouse, for God and with God. That’s the grand adventure that marriage is! It’s not just staring into each other’s eyes; it’s actually feeling a purpose of being part of what God is doing to bring His kingdom on earth.

They write:

Our love is meant to be both a picture of his love and his fight…

Your marriage is part of a larger story, too, a story as romantic as any that has ever stirred your heart, and at least as dangerous…

Do you get how cool that is?

Together, you and your husband can be dangerous.

I want a marriage so great that we can be dangerous to the devil

I’ve been on an odyssey with prayer over the last month–something that I’ve never experienced before. I have heard other people talk about having a burden to pray, and starting to pray and then not being able to stop until the burden is lifted. But I’ve never experienced that,  until very recently about something in my family (don’t worry; we’re all fine. No one’s sick or in danger or anything).

I’ve had a weird relationship with prayer ever since my son was born and died. We prayed for him to be healed, and he wasn’t, though I was honestly okay with that. I knew that God had other purposes, and I can see how God is using Christopher’s story (I shared it even last week in Texas, and it touched many).

But since then I’ve been wracked with the question: does God really change what He is going to do if we pray? Is there really a point to prayer? If we hedge all our bets when we pray with “If it is your will…”, then is it really useful?

I’ve read a book by C.S. Lewis lately called Letters from Malcolm that has helped a lot, but ever since I’ve had this burden I’ve been praying hard–and amazing things are happening. It’s been so encouraging to see that God answers prayer in my personal life. I’ve seen it so much in my professional life, but not as much personally.

And all of this has committed me to three things:

1. We do have to battle in prayer.

There are times when God wants to act, but He asks for our prayers to do so. And I think we do need to pray for very specific things. I’ve found lately the more specific I am the easier it is to see prayers answered.

2. I am praying that God will make Keith and me dangerous in tandem.

So much of the last few years we have gone in different directions with work and ministry. It’s HARD. He’s been in one place and I’ve been in another. But over the next few years we’re re-evaluating and looking at how we can do things together. I’m excited!

3. As I pray for my girls’ relationships (now and in the future), I am praying that they will be part of the battle.

It is not enough to pray that they will find someone to love them and that they can love in return; I’m praying that they will marry someone with whom they can be DANGEROUS with together.

Yesterday and today I’m in Ottawa wedding dress shopping with my oldest daughter, and I am praying hard that God will make them both dangerous together.

And Katie, who is not currently in a relationship–I am praying that she will only be drawn to men who are seeking first after God’s heart. And I am praying that God will lead her to a man that she can fight this grand battle with together–not just that she will have a comfortable life. What’s the fun in that?

So that is what I have taken away from John and Stasi–I want to be dangerous! And I thank them both for answering our questions.

In the meantime, you may be interested in my daughter Katie’s first video in her series: “Katie, the Relationship Guru Who Has Never Been in a Relationship.” It’s pretty funny (and wise!) I know she’d appreciate it if you shared it:

Now–let me ask you for questions for this month’s featured author, Shannon Ethridge, whose book The Passion Principles I’ll review later in February. Have any specific marriage advice or questions you’d like her to answer? Leave it in the comments below!

Wall Decal $150 Giveaway with Evgie!

Under the Sea Wall Decal

Under the Sea Wall Decal

Want to make your house–and especially your kids’ rooms–super special?

Then today I’m got a special treat for you! I know many of you have little children at home, and I’ve got a chance for you to win $150 towards redoing your son’s or daughter’s room with these lovely wall decals! (And they’ve got living room wall decals, too!)

Evgie and Ev from Evgie.com are real women who are experts in digital illustration, interior design, and wall decal design. And they’ve created a whole collection of intricate wall decals that you can apply to your walls–and then remove easily–without messing up the paint. It’s easier–and even more beautiful–than wall art. And it’s easily removable, so your decoration can grow as your child does.

Today they are giving away a $150 coupon to one of YOU! Here’s what you need to do:

1) Go to Evgie.com and find your favorite products, or visit their etsy store.

2) Share ones you like on facebook or pinterest.

3) THEN, come back and leave a comment, saying which product you liked and shared!

4) You can do it all in the Rafflecopter below!

That’s all!

Panda Bear Wall Decals

Panda Bears!

20% Off all wall decals right now with the coupon 20OFF. Free shipping if your order is over $150. Every wall decal package has freebies!

Space Monkey Nursery Wall Decals

Space Monkey Wall Decals!

A few words About Evgie & Ev:

Evgie and Ev say:

Each of us liked drawing very much since childhood, so much so that it became our profession. With vinyl wall decals being the latest trend in home decor it was the perfect field to dive into. The warm response to our illustrations and design work eventually allowed us to set up a wall decal studio. Our constant personal engagement with the home and interior décor field led us to this venture.

Decals are easy to apply, easy to remove, easy to tailor to a specific wall or surface – we offer handmade large and small vinyl wall stickers with our designs and ideas for kids’ and grown-up’s rooms.

Teddy Bear Wall Decals

Teddy Bears

We start with an idea, a pencil and blank paper and then render our designs digitally for vinyl cutting. We view walls as backgrounds for living. We have started this decal studio in 2010 and pretty soon it became our full time job and engagement. It is a pleasure to get your feedback and one of the most enjoyable things is to see our decals on your wall or that of your toddler, in your nursery or living room. We also know that it is really fun to put our wall decals design on the wall, even if it take some time and a very little skill, this itself makes this product so attractive. If you decide to go with the whole wall decals theme you won’t regret it. It changes your walls, your space and places your little one in a world surrounded by a jungle or safari, forest or just friendly animals.”

And they don’t just have children’s wall decals or baby wall decals. They have lots more–including wall decals for grown ups, like this family tree wall decal for the living room. And I think this one is stunning!

Family Tree Living Room Wall Decal

Family Tree Wall Decal!

So click through to their website, tweet or pin one that you like, and then come back here and tell us about it! And one person will win $150 towards their order. I’ll do the draw Monday, February 23 at 11:59 p.m. (or thereabouts :) ).

And $150 can get you several ones, depending on what you buy. This one, for instance, is super cute, but it’s only $25:

Kiss Me Goodnight Wall Decal

Kiss Me Goodnight Decal–Only $25!

Remember, it’s 20% off with the code 20OFF. So go look, pin or Facebook one you love, and come back here and leave a comment telling me what you liked and where you shared it. Happy hunting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On Texas, Girl Talk, and Lots of Questions!

Sheila Gregoire's Girl Talk Event

I’m in Texas! Last night I gave my Girl Talk in Houston, launching a 5 day tour I’m taking through the Lone Star state, speaking in San Angelo, Seminole, Austin, and San Antonio. I’m here with my friend Tammy, and we are just loving how warm it is. Tammy lives in Quebec City and she left behind 6 feet of snow. I’m in southeastern Ontario and I left behind 2 feet of snow. Seventy degrees is seriously better!

I met a bunch of people from the blog yesterday, too. I guess I have a lot of readers in Texas, and many came out to say hi and take some pics. So much fun to actually connect in person to people who read me everyday!

And I met J. Parker from Hot, Holy and Humorous! J and I have been online buddies for years, and we’ve talked on the phone, but never actually met. She took us out for lunch and we caught up, and then she came to the event. Here we are holding each other’s books.

Texas2

I spend the first part of my talk discussing how God designed sex and why on earth He made men and women relate to sex so differently (believe me, there’s a reason). Then we have a break, and during the break people have the opportunity to leave anonymous questions. After the break I answer as many as I can in 15 minutes, and then talk about how to make sex great in three different ways–spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Texas3

It’s funny, because I can almost always predict what 6 of the questions will be. I usually always get them. And then at each venue there are always a few new ones, which makes it fun.

But every Monday I usually post a reader question and answer it, and I’m sorry that I don’t have time to do that today. But it occurred to me that you all may not realize that I do have a place where you can look up my answers to the most frequently asked problems. Almost all the emails that come in relate to questions that I have already answered on the blog–you just may not know where to find those answers.

So since I don’t have time to post today, I thought I’d point you all to the one central place that you can likely find answers to some of the things that are bugging you. Here it is–my Marriage FAQ.

Tons of Links to Articles Addressing Common Marriage Questions

If you’re in the Austin/San Antonio/Seminole area, I hope to see you this week! Just click on “Events” above to get taken to my schedule, or take a look on Facebook. And I know that next year I’ll be heading through Chicago, Louisiana, and Texas again, as well as booking other states. So if you’d like to be included in the tour, just email Tammy.

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.


Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge February: Spice Things Up

Join the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! Each month choose 1 book on the subject to read to boost your relationship! Get a chance to ask authors questions, read author interviews, and discuss the books, too!

It’s our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge in 2015–February edition!

Most of us want to grow, but life often gets in the way. And sometimes we just need new ideas and a fresh perspective to help us figure out how to do marriage better!

So this year I’m challenging you to read 12 books with me. Last month we looked at Setting the Right Foundation, and we focused on Gary Thomas’ A Lifelong Love. I did a giveaway for those books and picked the winners last night! I’ve notified them all by email, but you can see them on the giveaway at the bottom of this post).

I know some of you haven’t read a book in a long time, but remember: it’s just one book a month! And I am so impressed by how many of you joined me last month! Way to go!

Ultimate Reading Challenge February

 

Choose from these 3 books on Spicing Things Up!

Why three books? Well, if I just pick one you may have already read it! And we all have slightly different issues in our marriages, so I want to suggest a variety of books that can help.

31 Days to Great SexSince it’s Valentine’s Day month, I thought it was a good time to focus on sex. So all of our books this month will help you in the bedroom. I didn’t include my book 31 Days to Great Sex because it’s not exactly a book to READ; it’s more a book to DO with your husband. But it does make a great Valentine’s Day gift (either in paperback or for your e-reader), and you can read more about it and other possible sexy Valentine’s Day gifts here!

Now on to the books I have chosen. Usually I just review one book, but this month I’ll be talking about several of these, since sex is, of course, one of the main subjects on this blog! But the main two that we’ll be dealing with are The Passion Principles and The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. I’ve written before about Pulling Back the Shades, and you can read my review here.

February Books for The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge

Good Girls Guide My SiteThe Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Here’s my signature book, probably the one I’m most proud of! I know many of my regular readers have already read it, but if you’ve been reading this blog for a long time and you’ve never read it, here’s your chance. Honestly, I say so much more in the book than is just on the blog, and share a lot of personal stories. And it’s all in one place!

Who should choose this book? Anyone who likes the blog! And anyone who wants sex to be amazing and is wondering how to really experience intimacy on each of the three levels while making love: physical, spiritual, and emotional.

Get it here.


The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in MarriageThe Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage by Shannon Ethridge

Does the word “passion” sound wonderful–but you can’t really figure out how to live it out? You’ve always got so many things going through your head, so many things you “should” do, that it’s hard to give yourself over in the moment to your husband.

Shannon looks at how God created us to be passionate, and how that’s lived out specifically in marriage.

Who should choose this book? Anyone who wants to understand how to live a fuller life, especially sexually.

Get it here.


 Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman's HeartPulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart  by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery

With 50 Shades of Grey hitting the movie theatres this Valentine’s Day, I thought it was fitting to include a great response to this phenomenon that’s not judgmental, but helps us understand the allure and then fight against it to discover godly sexuality.

Who should choose this book? Anyone who is struggling with 50 Shades of Grey or a temptation towards reading erotica.

Get it here.


Every Thursday on my Facebook Page from now on I’ll try to have an “Author” Day, where an author from our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge answers your questions. I’ve already sent your questions from last month off to Gary Thomas, John and Lisa Bevere, and John and Stasi Eldredge, so look for their answers up on Facebook soon.

And I’ll be having a “Shannon Ethridge” day, too. So leave your questions in the comments now for Shannon, and leave any for me while you’re at it, and I’ll pick four for each of us to answer.

Thanks so much, everybody, and happy reading!