Top 10 Homemaking Hacks for the Not-So-Perfect Homemaker

You don’t have to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat.

You’re allowed to have laundry that’s not folded.

You’re allowed to sometimes feed your kids McDonald’s.

Homemaking well is not about being perfect–it’s about creating a home that is fun, nurturing, and chaos-minimized. (click to tweet).

You don't need to be perfect! But you can have fun. Find out more with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale--April 20-27

And so today I’d like to share 10 Homemaking Hacks for not-so-perfect homemakers–hacks that can make what you do everyday easier and far less stressful!

All of these hacks I learned from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–a sale of over 79 ebooks and 20 other courses and downloads that can help you on your homemaking journey. And the Bundle is on sale right now until next Monday for just $29.97! It’s so worth it.

Here’s why:

1. Paperless Home Organization

Paperless Home OrganizationHere’s the book I was telling you about yesterday–the book that changed my life.

I’m not even kidding. I got access to the bundle about three weeks before it went live, so that I had a chance to go through all the books. And I read this book. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. I just lay there, wide awake, picturing how awesome it would be if I actually implemented her system.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, got up, and actually set it all up! And now I use it everyday.

Here’s what you do: You use three main online (free!) programs: Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk (an awesome task reminder program). All of these can also be synced onto your phones and devices.

Then you set up checklists in Evernote for your daily activities, and you enter special things in Remember the Milk. I’ve got reminders for everything in there–that I have to change the furnace filter every 2 months (seriously, we’ve had to call the furnace repair people 3 times in the last decade just because I forget to change the furnace filter), reminders for when bills are due, reminders for what projects I have to get done for my daughter’s wedding, and more.

Here’s what I love: she shows you how to use both Evernote and Gmail so that things automatically get saved and filtered, without you having to use a whole lot of words or remember where you filed something. It’s easy to retrieve again, and it’s ever so easy to check on your to-do list. It’s not like you need 23 different tags and 32 different notebooks. Not at all. It’s really simple. It took me about an hour and a half to set everything up.

So now everyday I scan papers I need to scan, save them in Evernote, and I don’t need to keep notes anywhere anymore. And I always have my to do list and reminders with me! It’s awesome.

One of my big problems is that I have so many things that I’m trying to remember and hold in my head at one time. And I’m always thinking, “I can’t forget that!” But that’s stressful.

This way, I know I’ll remember. It takes less than 15 seconds to set up a reminder and to plan when I’ll do it, and now I don’t have to constantly feel I’m going to forget something.

You’ll Save: Late fees on your bills–and lots of stress and tension because you don’t have to remember anything anymore. The computer does it for you!

Price: $4.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

2. Backwards Meal Planning

Backwards Meal PlanningA perfect homemaker has a 2-week meal plan all ready to go, with a grocery list completed, before she heads out to the store.

I’ve never been that organized.

So when I read Backwards Meal Planning, I thought–finally! Someone who gets ME! Sometimes we run to the store because it’s the only time we have free all week, and we don’t have time to plan first, so we just buy what’s on sale and what tickles our fancy. And then what do we do?

This book shows you how you can go grocery shopping FIRST–and then figure out, from what’s in your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, how you can come up with a menu. It’s simple! Just keep track of your favourite meals for each ingredient, learn how to substitute easily, and brainstorm on pretty printables!

You’ll Save: 20% on your grocery bill, if you stick to what’s on sale instead of what’s on your grocery list.

Price: $2.99 but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

3. Budgeting for Yearly Expenses–When You Need a Monthly Budget

Build a Budget That WorksHere’s problem #1: you’re preparing a monthly budget, but you don’t have a monthly income. Let’s say you’re self-employed and you have no idea how much money you’ll actually make each month.

Here’s problem #2: You budget for insurance, transportation, food, mortgage, etc., etc., but you forget that in the summer the kids have to go to summer camp. And next year you’re going to need to buy a new car. So you think you have a budget that’s reasonable, but when summer comes, there’s no money for camp.

In Build a Budget That Works, Jessi Fearon shows how to budget for yearly expenses, or even every-few-years expenses, so that the money is there when you need it. And she hows you how to compensate if you don’t get paid on a regular or predictable basis.

But there’s still problem #3: You know you need to put away $50 a month for summer camp, but WHERE do you actually put that $50? You can’t create 20 bank accounts for all your different yearly expenses.

So Jessi shows how to keep track of how much you’ve saved for each thing, while still keeping it in your chequing account. And she shows you how to make sure you don’t inadvertently use that money you’ve earmarked for something else!

So it really is a budget that works–with lots of worksheets and printables so that you’re not caught unprepared.

You’ll Save: Interest payments from going into overdraft–and you’ll end up saving money, too!

Price: $2.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

4. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Several of the books in the bundle have different recipes, but all are super easy. You can make them with your kids–and then your kids may be more eager to help with laundry, too!

Laundry Detergent

You’ll save: The author of DIY Natural Cleaners puts it this way: “The average American family does 400 loads of laundry a year. This will save you $0.17 a load, for a total of $68 of savings in a year–and that’s only 1 of 60 plus recipes!”

Price: $9.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

5. Make the Most of Daily Activities to Teach About Jesus

How to Introduce Your Child to JesusA Perfect Homemaker has family devotions every night, teaching her children a verse a week, doing crafts to learn a Bible story, and creating object lessons to drive the point home.

An imperfect homemaker simply looks for things that are happening around her–like seeing a squirrel gathering nuts, or seeing a crying baby, or seeing a sunset–to bring Jesus into the conversation naturally. Without a curriculum. Without crafts. And without preparation.

You can introduce your child to Jesus without a lot of fuss, because Jesus is just a natural part of your life, too! So learn how to make Him a natural part of your conversation with your kids.

You’ll save: A lot of guilt thinking you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent! And you’ll feel empowered.

Price: $5.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

6. DIY Breakfast Station

A perfect homemaker gets up 45 minutes early to cook a hot breakfast for her husband and her children, which they all eat while sitting down around a table with napkins in their laps.

An imperfect homemaker sets up a DIY breakfast station, with healthy food kids can stick in the microwave by themselves if they want, along with cold food they can grab in a hurry. Kids as young as 6 can make their own breakfast–while you run around trying to get everyone out the door!

Sounds much more like me.

I LOVE these recipes–and it comes with printables you can put on your breakfast burritos, muffins, crepes, or energy balls. So easy–and really fun for kids, who can choose what they want without bugging you.

DIY Breakfast Station

You’ll save: Aggravation. Time. And money because you won’t take them to the drive-thru in desperation on the way to church or school!

Price: $9.50, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

7. Know How to Find Pics of Your Kids with Buck Teeth

One Bite at a TimeA perfect homemaker scrapbooks her kids’ lives on a weekly basis, printing out the important photos and decorating them.

An imperfect homemaker goes through her pictures, throws out a ton of them, decides it’s okay to keep some in a shoebox, but organizes most online so that she can find them quickly–even if she never decorates them or prints them out.

I’ve hired my youngest daughter to scan all of our family pictures, and then throw away the hard copies of ones that aren’t worth saving, so that we can locate any pics, any time. We want to have everything at our fingertips so we can create slide shows for my older daughter’s wedding.

Organizing your pictures is just one of the 52 projects in One Bite at a Time–one of my favourite books for making your home more manageable. Each project is practical–and limited in scope so it’s not overwhelming. And they’re fun, too!

You’ll save: A ton on photo albums. And a ton of storage space! We reclaimed a whole bookcase once we got rid of our photo albums. And now our pictures are on those digital frames that switch every few seconds. So much more fun!

Price: $8.00, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

8. Get Rid of the Drawer Filled with Warranties and Instruction Manuals!

Your Simple Home HandbookA perfect homemaker tapes all instruction manuals and receipts to the backs of appliances.

An imperfect homemaker stuffs them in a drawer.

But you don’t have to do either! They’re both too much work.

Here’s what you do instead: Like Jessi says in Paperless Home Organization, scan the receipt an warranty and save it in Evernote.

Then, as Elsie Callender says in Your Simple Home Handbook, google the instruction manual when you buy it, and save that link (I’d suggest putting it in the same Evernote note). All instruction manuals are online anyway!

No more bulging drawers!

You’ll save: Space. You get your drawer back. Hassle: If you need to return something, or if something breaks, you can easily put your hands on the receipt and the instructions.

Price: $7.95, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

9. Let your kids watch TV, let yourself on Facebook, and don’t always give time outs.

Steady Moms Freedom GuideA perfect homemaker has her children play imagination games all day while she cans vegetables and creates lovely crafts. If her children act up, she is swift with the discipline.

But what if that’s exhausting?

Maybe what we need is more grace. A half hour of quality TV or netflix won’t hurt your kids. Looking at Facebook while they play is okay. Using distraction and coaching rather than being a firm disciplinarian is likely a better idea anyway.

I’m dedicating a whole day to talking about this book on Friday, because it’s that good, but today, just a simple word of encouragement: You know your home better than anyone else. You know your kids better than anyone else. In everything, there can be balance. Let love and grace reign, and you all will be okay. You don’t have to be a perfect home; you can just be yourself, and raise your kids to be themselves, and rely on God, and you’ll find life far less stifling.

You’ll save: guilt for not being perfect. Heartache when your kids act up and are angry at you. Frustration for being bored. Learn to live again!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

And perhaps most importantly…

10. Managing the Mundane is the Key to Surviving the Insane

A perfect homemaker has a list of every task that needs to be done, all color coded.

An imperfect homemaker knows that there are really only three things that ultimately matter in how your home feels, and it’s these:

Managing the Insane

Controlling the Spin WithinIf you get these three things under control, everything else will follow. And you’ll feel empowered. You’ll feel like you’re on top of things. Everything will work out!

Holly Dvorak helps you zero in on the necessities, so that you can survive the insane world of mommyhood. And she makes it so super easy. It’s not some major cleaning schedule. It’s just getting the most important stuff done. Like she says, there are two universal truths:

Universal Truth #1: If we don’t eat, we die.
Universal Truth #2: If we leave the house naked, we go to jail.

If you’ve got these covered, you’re good! And she tells you how to, in easy-to-follow steps.

You’ll save: guilt that you don’t have a super-organized cleaning system. Aggravation that there’s nothing for dinner. And anger that your house is always a mess!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

That’s it–ten books with great homemaking hacks that don’t make your to-do list longer. They lessen your guilt, simplify your life, and give you breathing space, all so you can:

Work Less. Enjoy Your Family More!

That’s the theme of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and if any of these resonated with you, I encourage you to check it out.

Just these resources would cost you $57.50, but you get them ALL–plus 90 OTHER resources, including $200 in bonuses like a free designer scarf and a free art print, for just $29.97.

See the complete list of books here.

Don't miss the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--$1274 in ebooks, courses, and bonuses for just $29.97.Happy Homemaking!

 

How to Track Your Hormones–and Your Libido!

Tracking Your Hormones and Your Libido--apps and printables

We’ve been talking this week about hormones and libido–how hormones can wreak havoc with our sexual arousal, and what we can do to be more aware, and to compensate when our hormones aren’t cooperating (like when we’re breastfeeding, pregnant, etc.).

Today I want to cap off our series by talking about tracking your hormones–and thus tracking your libido. And here’s why it matters. See if you can relate to this:

Sarah knows it’s been about a week since she and her husband Brian last made love. “He’s due,” she smiles ruefully to herself. But she doesn’t feel much like it today. In fact, she doesn’t feel much like anything today. Everybody’s been bugging her–she lost her temper when the kids didn’t come to dinner because they were playing a video game; the kitchen was a mess and she couldn’t stand that it was always her job; and she cannot find her favorite necklace.

She tries to put all that behind her as she slowly gets into her flannel pyjamas. Sure, Brian might want her to wear something else, but it’s still cold! And these are comfy.

As they climb into bed he turns towards her and starts playing with her hair. She sighs and decides to start kissing him. He begins touching her, and she feels nothing. Absolutely nothing. She tries to concentrate on what he’s doing but it doesn’t even feel good. Last week she was over the moon, but tonight he’s doing everything wrong.

When they start making love she doesn’t even feel aroused. She thinks to herself, “I hope he gets it over with quickly.” But he’s taking longer because he knows she isn’t in to it. And by the time he finishes they’re both just awkward with each other. “I don’t want you to do that if you’re not into it,” Brian says. “It’s humiliating.”

That makes Sarah fume. Look at all she does for him! He wanted it and she went through all that when she just wanted to go to sleep–and now he’s mad at her? What about him? He can’t even figure out how to make her feel good!

And they both go to sleep in a huff–with Sarah deciding that sex won’t happen for a long time now.

Okay, here’s the situation: a week ago she and Brian had a great time! And now they’re both tense and mad at each other–and Sarah’s been tense all day.

Maybe it’s just hormones! Maybe, like this chart I first showed you on Tuesday, Sarah’s simply in the red zone:

Hormones and Libido: Top 10 Ways Women's Hormones Affect Libido and Arousal throughout the Menstrual Cycle

What would happen if both Sarah and Brian realized that before they started to make love?

What if Sarah could have said, “You know what, hon, it may not happen for me tonight. But I’d love to feel relaxed, and I’d love to help you feel relaxed. Could we start with a massage, and then I’ll show you a really good time?” And he could give her a massage, and then she could take the lead (maybe by getting on top) and make sex go quickly because it’s not about getting her aroused?

Of course, there’s no problem trying to get aroused when you’re in the red zone! Absolutely not. But if you find yourself living out Sarah’s scenario frequently, then maybe your sexual enjoyment really is affected by hormones. And if you could track that, and realize it, you’d likely be far less likely to get upset at each other when things just didn’t work one night.

So here’s my Tracking Your Hormones plan:

Print out this free hormone and Libido tracker from To Love, Honor and VacuumDownload my Hormone and Arousal Printable

I’ve got a fun printable where you can track your cycle along with your mood and your sexual responsiveness.

Here’s how to use it:

Keep track of all of this for at least a month, but even better, for three months to get a real sense of your patterns.

I’ve got it charted for 35 days, but Day 1 is ALWAYS the first day of your period. So if your cycle is 27 days long, you’ll never get to day 35.

Every morning record your mood and your sexual responsiveness for the day before. Make sure you check off if you had any “sex dreams”, because those tend to coincide with the times that your body is in “peak” mode.

After doing this for a time, hopefully you’ll see a pattern. You may know that you’re raring to go on Days 10-14, but Days 15-20 are awful for you.

That’s great to know for planning vacations, getaways, even date nights! And it’s nice to know just for everyday life, too.

Download your libido tracker here.

A Comparison of PinkPad and iPeriod Apps

Many apps also chart your period and other cycle symptoms, and I thought I’d review two today!

Now, in a way I’m comparing apples to oranges because I’ve got the free version of PinkPad and the paid ($1.99) version of iPeriod. But I wanted to take a look at how much better a paid version was, and I wanted to look at two different companies. So I hope you’ll forgive me!

I was looking for an app that would let me:

  • Chart when my period was coming
  • Chart my mood so that it was easily visible on the calendar
  • Chart my libido so that it was easily visible
  • Keep track of when we had sex
  • Keep track of when I had an orgasm
  • Keep track of other symptoms of your cycle
  • Keep track of my weight
  • Keep track of my fertility (not really relevant for me since we’ve had a vasectomy, but I know relevant to many of my readers!)

Here’s what I found. I’ll talk about each app on its own first and then give you a chart so you can see at a glance.

By the way, the info for the week I entered was fictitious. I was just trying to enter as much as I could to see what it looked like on the calendar. So this is all HYPOTHETICAL. (I love you guys, but I only want you to know so much about me. Not TMI).

Tracking your Hormones and Tracking Your Libido with PinkPad

It’s easy with PinkPad to chart your periods. On the main screen you just enter if your flow has started, how heavy it is, or whether you’re just spotting.

PinkPad Period Tracker

And then on the calendar you can see at a glance when your period was and how heavy it was when:

PinkPadPeriod

The app also shows you using dots when your next period is expected–and it sends notifications to warn you when your period is due and when you are ovulating.

PinkPad Calendar

You can also enter your basal body temperature if you want to track fertility, but that’s all you can do.

What about your mood? You can check off how you’re feeling that day:

PinkPadMood

You can’t chart your libido at all, though. The only thing you can do is choose “flirty” under mood and let that mean “I was in the mood” on that day.

You can keep track of when you have sex–you just tick off the “intimate” box on the home page, and it shows up as a heart on the month at a glance calendar. The problem is that if you other things noted for that day, the notification goes on TOP of the heart, so you can’t actually see at a glance when you’ve had sex. For instance, I entered sex for the 31st, the 3rd, and the 7th, but you only see it easily on the 7th, because the 31st and the 3rd have other information as well:

PinkPad Calendar

You can’t keep track of when you reach orgasm at all.

You can also keep track of other symptoms, like headaches and backaches, but the screen is kind of dark (I’ve got headache checked off here but it’s hard to tell):

PinkPadSymptoms

These symptoms don’t show up on the calendar, but you do get a little symbol telling you there’s more info on that particular day.

You can enter your weight as well, but you can’t create a graph from it.

Tracking Your Libido and Tracking Your Hormones with iPeriod

Just like PinkPad, it’s really easy to enter your period:

iPeriodPeriod

On the calendar at a glance, it shows you when your period is expected, too, and it sends you notifications at your choice about ovulation/when you’re due.

iPeriod tracks your fertility really well. You can enter Basal Body Temperature every morning (it jumps by about half a degree when you ovulate), and you can track other signs of ovulation, like cervical mucus.

iPeriodFertility

And you can keep track of all kinds of sex stuff! Like with PinkPad, you can enter when you had sex (just check off Love Connection).

iPeriodLove

And then you can see at a glance how many times you’ve had sex this month (the heart is always there!)

iPeriodCalendar

(So you see here that the 31st, 3rd, and 7th all have hearts).

You can also enter orgasm as a custom field (you get up to four). I chose the green upper left corner one. So if you look at the calendar above, you can see that this theoretical person had an orgasm on the 31st and 7th but not the 3rd.

You can enter your moods (the first one you enter is the emoticon for the day, but you can choose more than one).

iPeriodMoods

You can also enter your weight everyday, and see a graph of your weight:

iPeriodGraph

You can keep track of the days on which you exercise.

You can enter any symptoms–and this is cool, because it lets you rate your libido (unlike PinkPad):

iPeriodSymptoms

I wish you could do a graph of your libido or see it at a glance on the calendar, but you can’t. To cheat you can choose the frisky emoticon when you’re feeling “in the mood” and at least you’ll see the days when you’re really high.

When you click on a particular day on the calendar, you see all the graphics for that day, but also the extra notes.

iPeriodCalendar

Here’s a Graph Comparing iPeriod and PinkPad:

Comparison of iPeriod and PinkPad to chart love life

My conclusion: iPeriod is the better app for tracking your love life and hormones

I’ve been using PinkPad for a long time, and really liked it. But after trying iPeriod, I totally think the $1.99 is worth it, especially because what I really want to track is libido. I love the fact that iPeriod has four user defined settings that show up on the calendar at a glance, and I can think of all kinds of things you could use that for other than just tracking orgasm.

You could even track whether you cheated at an eating plan, or whether you went out to eat at a restaurant, to see how that affected your mood or weight on subsequent days.

So I’d say get iPeriod. It looks like a lot of fun, and it’s what I’ll be using from now on!

Do you use a different period cycle tracker app? How does it relate? Can it track libido? Let us know in the comments!

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

Libido and Hormones when you’re breastfeeding/nursing etc.

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.

 

When the Way We Talk About Submission Turns People Off of Christ

Be careful how you comment! Sometimes we don't realize how too radical a view of submission can turn people away from Christ

On Mondays I always like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it, and I have a quite a backlog of questions I’m getting ready to answer!

But today I thought it was important to share instead a Reader Observation and a plea for help from the vast majority of you who read this blog. I’ll get to that observation and that plea in a minute, but first, a little bit of background:

How asking for help from my husband made our marriage so much better!Last month I published a guest post from Kate Tunstall, where she explained how after her first baby came she and her husband started to grow apart. And she grew more and more resentful about him not wanting to care for the baby until she sat down and talked to him, and realized they both were partially at fault.

They both opened up to each other, learned some new things about each other (and themselves), and sorted things out.

And it was all was because she chose to talk about it rather than keep stewing. Had she kept stewing, she wouldn’t have realized that much of their problem was due to misunderstandings. It was only in talking and creating vulnerability and openness again that they came to a solution.

I thought it was a great story that illustrated a point I’ve been trying to make on this blog a lot lately. Sometimes you have to ask your husband for help. You can’t expect your husband to know what you’re thinking unless you tell him. And in most cases, we may look for a “magic bullet” that will fix the problem, but ultimately we have to do the hard and sometimes awkward work of talking about it.

It so happens that Kate doesn’t identify herself as an evangelical Christian (though I will not presume to say what faith she does or does not have beyond that). But her post was right on about marriage and I published it.

The comments on that post, though, quickly veered in a really dangerous and counterproductive direction.

The first few comments are great; then they get weird. One woman wrote that this woman was wrong for expecting her husband to care for the baby; she used a rather derogatory and critical tone toward the guest poster, which other commenters (and I) tried to correct. Then someone else joined the fray and said this:

This post defies Scripture, as well as 1850 years of church teaching. Jesus did not tell us that communication was the most important thing, rather repentance and obedience.

I then commented that just because the church and our culture have sanctioned something does not automatically make it right–look at slavery, after all! (I brought up slavery because I thought NO ONE could defend slavery).

The commenter then defended slavery. And then I deleted the theological arguments they left about why slavery was justified, and banned that commenter.

Seriously, can you imagine what defending slavery in public does to the name of Christ?

I think it’s perfectly valid to wrestle in a seminary with the question, “does the fact that God let the Israelites own slaves in the Old Testament mean that God permits all kinds of slavery? Was slavery just for a time?” But to debate this in public is beyond the pale (and by the way, I still don’t believe God ever really blessed the institution of slavery).

Kate actually wrote a follow-up post on her experience guest posting on a Christian blog, and here’s some of what she said:

It is the year 2015. I was of the impression that the developed world had come a long way, even if only in the last thirty or so years. Whereas it was once acceptable, expected even, that there were gender-specific roles, I thought this narrow-mindedness had all but ended. (Having said that, men and women have different strengths, and I completely advocate the right to state such a fact without the fear of being labelled sexist. It is simple good sense.)

Do you see how sad that is? She was under the impression that the world had come a long way–and we’ve now made her think that the evangelical community is narrow-minded (even though it was a minority of the commenters).

She then says:

I was dismayed to learn that having made huge efforts, at personal cost, to ensure my husband’s needs are met (frequenting the gym regularly and never having to get up to our daughter during the night, for example), there has still been a suggestion that I expect too much of him [by wanting him to interact with our daughter]. I cannot understand or agree with this view – to me it is either antiquated chauvinism in a non-religious context, or, as Sheila discusses, misinterpretation in religion.

Sometimes we leave comments on blogs because we like debate, but we forget that people who do not share our faith will be reading them.

Be careful what you say and how you word things. You are not just debating with the author of a post; you are debating with everyone who will read this post and the comments. People who are searching are on this blog. People who are struggling with God are on this blog. We have a responsibility to the weaker brother.

And I get about 10,000 visits a day from search engines–most of whom arrive here because they use a search term that relates to a crisis in their marriage. And most do not know God. Please assume that when you are commenting here, you are not just talking to Christians. You are talking to moms and wives and even some husbands who are hurting, and who are genuinely searching for help.

One other important thing:

Sometimes our interpretation of Scripture, quite frankly, means that many non-Christian marriages are healthier than many Christian marriages.

Kate’s marriage seems very healthy–or at least her conflict resolution model is. And studies consistently show that children who interact with both parents are emotionally healthier than children who only interact with the mother. A father’s hands-on role is best.

The fact that some commenters were arguing that a husband shouldn’t be expected to interact with the children shows that many non-Christian families are psychologically healthier, which is scary.

Unfortunately, it’s not all that surprising. If you subscribe to the interpretation of Scripture where a wife can never point out where her husband may be in error (even though being a suitable helpmeet obviously equipped us for this role), or that a wife should not express an opinion or call her husband out on sin (seriously, read the comments on this one), or that it is not a wife’s place to draw boundaries and say, “I will not tolerate you treating me in an abusive or demeaning way“, then I doubt that marriage is going to be very healthy.

And some teaching in the church I believe is downright dangerous, like that from Debi Pearl about how when a wife is abused it’s because we’ve provoked our husbands, or that the way to deal with any marriage problem (even severe sin) is to “win him without words”. This leaves far too many families in desperate straits, unable to deal with real abuse, or unable to confront sin and urge their spouses on towards godliness.

So here’s what I would ask:

1. Remember you are God’s ambassadors.

If you have an opinion which would make the majority of the public cringe and question whether or not God is really loving, then ask yourself, “Is it really important that I express it here?”, or, at least, “how can I phrase this so that I’m saying it lovingly?” Obviously we will all hold opinions that are counter-cultural; that’s what being a Christian is. But there is no need to be ungracious or to throw anything in someone else’s face. Instead, we are to relate to them in as many ways as we can so as to not make offense unnecessarily.

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

2. EVERYONE: Please, please, please publicly correct those who give God a bad name.

If you see a comment on this (or any other site) that you think gives God a bad name, then leave a comment to say that that person is wrong, or that most Christians, in your opinion, do not share that point of view.

I’m saying this one to the vast majority of you who are silent, or who may comment but don’t want to touch the inflammatory ones with a ten foot pole. Even a simple, “I think that is the wrong interpretation of Scripture, and want to point out that you hold a minority view” would be awesome!

Right now the off-base comments seem more important than they really are, because 95% of people never comment. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if every time someone said something really inflammatory, a bunch of people said, “I don’t think that’s an accurate view of Scripture”?

3. Think about giving Kate some Encouragement

Her post where she talks about her experience on this blog is right here. If some of you want to go over and give her some encouragement, that would be great!

I, in turn, will:

1. Delete comments whose only purpose seems to be to be inflammatory.

2. Delete comments that may be well-reasoned, but that are so offensive and wrong that I think God will be maligned. (like the pro-slavery ones).

3. Allow comments through that are well-reasoned, even if I think they are wrong, if they don’t cross a threshold. And then I will try to correct them as often as possible.

4. Delete comments where the commenter is insulting another commenter, or making assumptions about other commenters that really aren’t warranted or that are too judgmental.

And I really will try to get to my backlog of Reader Questions too!

I was thinking yesterday in our wonderful Easter service, where I saw my “adopted” niece get baptized, that God is about grace and changing lives and Jesus so wants to bring the world to Himself.

I want this blog to be a part of that. But sometimes I worry that we do the opposite, when I let certain things through.

I do want to allow discussion, but I am really far more concerned about the impression we’re giving those who don’t know Christ than I am about fostering free flowing debate.

I still will always let things through that are respectful, even if I don’t always agree (as long as they’re not totally beyond the pale), but I’d just ask that all of us participate in policing this community and making it a safe place for those who aren’t yet Christians to visit and to learn from.

May we never inadvertently turn off, or turn away, a seeker.

Thanks, everybody! And let me know what you think of my comment policy.

[UPDATE: You guys are awesome! Thanks for all your helpful comments over on Kate’s blog! ]

[UPDATE 2: OH MY GOODNESS! One of the commenters I kept deleting just posted this comment over on Kate’s blog (she hasn’t approved it yet; she sent it to me first). Okay, people, this just proves that some of you don’t get it. How in the world does posting this comment on her blog further the cause of Christ?

Oh, and by the way, when I speak about what we need to do to make our marriages better by drawing boundaries, that doesn’t mean we’re ordering our husbands around. That means that we say, “you are free to choose to do that, but I will not stay here/listen to you/etc. etc. if you sin in that way in front of me.” That is perfectly legitimate and perfectly in line with the gospel, and I’m sorry people think that women should allow men to treat them disprespectfully or destructively–or even worse that God sanctions this.

Here’s the comment:

First, I want to state that we were 2/3rds of the commentors you are referencing. Second, we want to apolagize to you in the way it came across. Our differences are with Sheila and not with you. If you are not a christian and are not teaching God’s Word then we have no problem at all with what you shared. However, please understand that is not the way it was presented at a website (Sheila’s) which is about teaching how marriage should take place in a christian marriage.

As christians we have no problem with a wife asking a husband for help and we certianly think a father should be deeply involved in raising his children. We do not beleive though that God’s Word teaches a wife has the authority to tell her husband how their marriage and parenting is going to play out. Share her hopes and feelings, most certianly. Ask for help, definetly. But not tell him or order him. It goes against scripture.

So please understand our disagreement was not with you but with Sheila whose teaching deals almost exclusively anymore with teaching wives to take the authority position in their marriages and not teaching wives the scripture that pertains to them in the Bible while yet holding husbands to the teaching that pertains to them. In other words, everyday Sheila tries to What I find unacceptable is when a difference in values, and thus opinion, gives rise to anybody forcing their own beliefs upon somebody else. There is no justification for that. Or in other words she forces values and opinions on christian men/husbands through her teaching- using God’s Word as her weapon but only applying it to men.

In other words you stepped into a long running battle that unfortunately is filled with hard feelings on both sides. We are sorry you got stuck in the middle and it would have been handled much differently had we known that you were not a christian.

I know this is not a flattering comment in regards to Sheila but I ask you to do two things before you make judgement.

Review her last year (or three years of posts). Do a count on how many address women treating their husbands better or addressing what we as christians would call women’s own sins? Now count how many are addressing men’s sins. You’ll find that somewhere around 80-90% address men’s sins and yet she is speaking to women everyday. The basic theme of her blog is not how to be a better wife or even how to have a better marriage, it is simply about taking control of your husband. If that is not the case, why the vast difference in the number of posts? Are men worse then women? Are men causing more marriage problems than women?

We do not expect someone who does not share our faith to agree with what the Bible says but even people who do not share the same beliefs can agree that the only person you can change is yourself. If you are speaking to the same group everyday, why are you constantly teaching about the sins of the other?

Respectfully and wishing you & your husband the best.

And now a word to that commenter who really doesn’t get it. If you continue to try to get a non-Christian involved in a disagreement between Christians, and continue to try to post things that defame Christ, even though I have told you not to, I WILL publish your email address. This is ridiculous. Please understand: YOU ARE GOD’S AMBASSADOR. How in the world did you think that this comment furthered the cause of Christ?

[UPDATE 3]: Just thought of something even more ironic–and kinda funny!

Okay, so that commenter who is obviously more concerned with winning an argument with me than with portraying Christ in a positive light has a beef with me: I have been teaching on this blog about how women can confront their husbands when their husbands are in sin, instead of teaching women to serve their husbands.

Emotionally Destructive Marriages: 10 Truths about marriages characterized by emotional abuseI don’t actually believe that my posts are skewed if you count them up at all, but it is true that I’ve been hammering the point about Emotionally Destructive marriages recently–and about calling your husbands out on sin. There are two main reasons for this: one is because I can see the Google searches that lead people to this page, and so, so many of them have to do with wives whose husbands use porn.

But the second is because people like this commenter keep commenting–and they scare me! Are there really that many people out there who believe that women should not confront their husbands in sin? If that’s true, then I have a lot more teaching to do! Ironically, if these commenters would stop leaving such incendiary comments about a woman’s role, I could move on to other things. But the fact that they keep popping up here shows me that there is still much teaching to do in the church about appropriate relationships. And that’s why I chose Leslie Vernick’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage to look at in our reading challenge last month–because what these people are advocating are essentially the blueprints for an emotionally destructive marriage. And the more I hear from them, the more I have to talk about it!

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!

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.

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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!

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.


 

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!