We’re back in Canada!

 

We had a wonderful time in England spending time sight seeing and also doing some genealogy research, but we’re also really glad to be back. 

But in the meantime, while I’m adjusting to the jet lag, I have SUCH a backlog of reader questions that come in that I thought I’d tackle some more today and give you multiple mini-posts in one. Here we go!

1. How do you keep the connection alive when you’re apart so much?

A woman writes in that her husband is gone all the time for work, and she’s feeling their connection slipping away:

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Reader Question

How do you stay connected to a husband who absolutely loves his job and works and travels a lot while I’m home with our 2 busy small kids! I’m the one who initiates the emotional connecting and it is getting exhausting and lonely and I’m finding we have less to connect over.

Really common question. And I’ve actually dealt with this myself (and I talked about it at length in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage). When you’re away from your spouse a lot, it can be tempting to not explain all the things that are going on in your life, because it just takes so long. It’s easier to talk to someone who is in the middle of it. So you start relying more on your sister or your mom or your friend, and less on your husband. It’s not that you don’t love your husband, it’s just that to explain about the problem with Jack’s best friend’s mom coming over to the house for a playdate and how she seemed really snooty means that you have to explain about the last three times she came over, when you thought something may be wrong but you weren’t sure. And you hadn’t mentioned those other three times yet, and to go back to the beginning with the story is just too much work.

So you don’t.

And soon he knows nothing about what’s going on in your emotional life!

I spent a lot of June talking about practical things to do to keep your relationship alive, and for this woman, I think these posts are especially important. Figure out each other’s emotional needs. Plan and vision together as a family.

 And then it’s important, even if you don’t share EVERYTHING that’s happening in your life, that you do at least give the highlights. Every night, on the phone, do the “highs” and “lows” exercise, where you share the time today when you felt most in the groove, and the time that you felt the most defeated. You don’t have to explain everything you did, but it’s important to explain the ones that had emotions behind them, and to understand the same about your husband.

Why isn’t he taking the lead more on this? A lot of men are able to compartmentalize easily, and he’s in his own world. He may not realize what he’s missing. But it’s important. I’m sorry you have to bear the burden of this, but it’s worth it to stay close. I hope that helps!

2. Am I Unconsciously Unmarried?

Here’s a woman who is afraid that, in her subconscious, she’s already abandoned her husband. She asks:

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Reader Question

 I have been married for 3 years. For the last little while we’ve been living abroad since my husband is from another European country. This season has been very hard on me and I feel he doesn’t understand even if he has tried to show he cares. For the last few months, I have been having dreams about me meeting other men, feeling excitement, feeling pursued sometimes. They are not precisely sexual dreams but sometimes they are. My husband is never in these dreams. In fact, I barely dream about him. It’s as if he didn’t exist. In fact, even now, I feel like my marriage is kind of a fake one. I don’t feel his presence as my husband. And it scares me so much! Did I break up with him in my mind at some point? 

I’m so sorry you’re so lonely! And this is really common when you’ve left your country of origin and you’re in a strange country without friends, especially if your spouse now feels at home. You literally are living in two different worlds. It’s no wonder you feel alone!

As for dreams, we are not to blame for what we dream. People dream all kinds of things, and sometimes those dreams mean something and sometimes they really don’t. It sounds like your dreams are manifestations of your loneliness, and I think that is important to address. It doesn’t mean that you’ve left your husband in your mind, though.

As for what marriage is supposed to feel like–it’s just about doing life together. If you don’t feel like you’re doing life together, then talk to him about it. What exactly do you want to change? Do you want to talk more? Develop some hobbies together? Look at the links for question 1; they’ll likely help you, too.

Here’s another thing to remember: You feel like a fish out of water living in this country, but he very well may have felt the same thing living where you’re from. One of you is going to feel like a fish out of water in this relationship; that’s what often comes when you happen to marry someone from another country. So you need to decide: is this marriage worth it to me? Truth is, you did vow to be with your husband. I know it’s hard, but throwing yourself in to embracing the culture may really help. Read as many guidebooks as you can. Go to the library. Join some groups. Get out there and embrace the country. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but that’s part of being married!

The bigger question here is that she’s worried that, in her heart, she’s not married because her emotions are betraying her. But you can also decide to take those thoughts captive and do something with them. What thoughts are you going to nurture? The ones telling  you you’re lonely, or the ones telling you that you love your husband and you’re going to embrace this life? I’m not trying to minimize what you’re going through–I can’t imagine living on the other side of the world in a strange country. I really can’t. But you did marry someone cross-culturally, and part of the challenges of that is embracing the culture so that you can build a marriage.

Perhaps other readers who have similarly done this can chime in here: what are the best ways to embrace your spouse’s culture and feel at home in another country?

3. What do we do with sex postpartum if we’re following levitical law?

I actually know quite a few people who do this, but the woman writes:

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Reader Question

Sheila, my hubs is being an absolute bear! We’re 5 weeks postpartum with no intimate contact. We follow Levitical law on separation, so we have another 5 weeks. Everyone I talk to says “oh there’s other ways to be intimate…” but they never tell me these other ways. I’m afraid of him finishing with oral. Ive been unable to finish him by hand…he won’t do it himself… what else is there? Our intimate life was already sparse with three other young children. It’s really tanking the ‘love tank’ as his language is touch which he ONLY receives in the bedroom. Sheila help!! 

Okay, I do feel a lot of sympathy for this woman, but this is the sort of question that I just can’t help with, because I think you’re dealing with a whole bunch of things that are, in and of themselves, unhealthy. And I don’t want to help you continue in unhealthy ways!

There is absolutely no reason for a Christian to follow Levitical law. Jesus came to set us free from the law; you don’t even have to be circumcised anymore, which was the sign of Levitical law, let alone all of those other laws. Here are just a few of the verses that show that we are free from Levitical law:

  • Acts 10:9-16: God gives Peter permission to eat animals that are deemed unclean under Levitical law. Not only does he say that they’re not unclean, God says that He has declared them clean. 
  • 1 Corinthians 7:19-20: Paul expressly states that people do not need to get circumcised anymore
  • Pretty much the entire book of Romans continuously states that we are no longer under the law, but we live under Grace (Romans 4:14-15, 6:14, 7:1-6, and 8:2-3 to name a few references)

If you are following the law to try to be holy, you are missing the whole point of the gospel.

Overall, there are a few key red flags I want to touch on here: 

1. If your husband is being a bear to you because you aren’t having sex postpartum, when you have that many young kids, and he has decided that he wants to follow Levitical law, then perhaps your husband needs to reconsider his attitude as well. If he chooses to follow Levitical law, he also needs to accept the consequences of that and not put that burden on you, especially since you have multiple children already. The mindset he is showing now seems very selfish and entitled–he wants all the good and none of the bad from this lifestyle he has chosen.  

2. If he only touches you after sex, that, too, is a problem. It sounds overall like this is a very one-sided marriage. I do have a post on whether you have to give your husband a hand, and that may help here. If your husband is insisting on no sex, then, according to the Levitical law, there should be no sex. If the only way he’s living by the law is making sure YOU don’t get sex, while he still gets sexual release, that’s so backwards and does not line up with the mutuality that God designed sex to have (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). 

Deciding to give your husband sexual release as a gift every now and then, especially post partum, is not a bad thing at all. But when that is the only way you can have sexual connection in your marriage and the person who gets the orgasm is the one saying that you can’t have an orgasm, that’s just not healthy. Mutuality in cases like this means that you either you both can choose to have sex, or you both abstain for a while. Otherwise, he is using you for release while being allowed to keep you deprived. 

4. Help me understand submission in marriage!

A confused woman writes:

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Reader Question

I love your articles and various views/points. They fire me up and help me learn more about the loving God who cares for our hearts more than what rules we follow. As a young wife whose husband was sinning and betraying me constantly by flirting/texting/chatting with others, I especially needed your articles about what submission is and not enabling sin etc. ( he is now finally on the road of recovery and renewing his mind from lust etc) Anyways my question has to do with submission.Once someone in ur comments said how wives aren’t told to obey their husbands in the bible and you backed that person up. What I’m wondering about are those verses in the bible that do say to obey. Those verses confuse me. Thank you!

For sure! I’ve written a lot about submission and the way that our views on submission can make Jesus seem less important than our husbands. Let’s remember that in the Lord’s prayer, we pray that God’s will is done, not a husband’s will. And we need to keep that first and foremost! 

I won’t rehash all of that here, but I did write a 5-part series on submission last September, and you can read all those posts here:

5. What about Remarriage after Infidelity? And do we really have to wait for marriage for sex?

A woman writes:

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Reader Question

 

I have two topics for you to consider. The first is getting remarried (both of us are divorced due to infidelity). The second is I was raised much less conservatively than him. So the waiting until marriage and other topics are new to me ( wanting to read about these things is how I found your blog). So I have to imagine that there might be others struggling with the difference that causes in a relationship.

Absolutely! My big post about remarriage is right here: Why I’m anti-divorce and pro-remarriage. I think divorce should be rare, and a last resort–but I also firmly believe that many times divorce is the right thing to do. I also think that in those cases, the Bible is clear that remarriage is fine. In that time, a divorced woman had no way of supporting herself. To allow for divorce and not remarriage would not have been possible. So if Jesus permitted divorce, then he similarly permitted remarriage.

As for waiting until marriage, I’ve written a bunch on it, but the big thing is that sex can help us feel closer than we may actually be. It’s important to take the time before marriage to work on one’s emotional connection, so that you’re sure you really know each other and love each other. And the world works so much better if sex is kept to marriage! It helps sex be about intimacy, and not just about the physical, because it’s always about commitment and relationship, too.

Some other posts I’ve written about why we should wait for marriage to make love:

There you go–a whole bunch of questions today! Anything stand out to you? And do you have any advice, especially for the cross-cultural marriage or the Levitical law marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!

Struggling in your marriage, or want things to be better? Here are some answers to marriage questions real couples are asking!

SheilaSidebarAboutMe - Marriage Reader Questions: Lightning Round Edition Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 27 years and happily married for 22! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature "Girl Talk" about sex and marriage. And she's written 8 books. About sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
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