Trust

A man sits down at lunch with a friend.  “Last night I found some pretty risque texts on my wife’s phone…from some other guy! I just don’t know what to do!”

A woman finds a secret phone her husband had been hiding. She tells her pastor, “There are images of other women on this thing. Dozens of other women. Naked women.  And I’m pretty sure he didn’t download them online.” Her weeping is uncontrollable.

A man unable to sleep at night gets up and decides to check his email. His wife’s computer is nearby so he grabs it. Soon, a facebook message from one of her old college boyfriend’s pops up: “So excited to see you tomorrow at noon. I’m only in town for one day, so let’s make it count…just like last time.”

A woman is helping her kids with their homework when some inappropriate images suddenly begin appearing on the monitor.  A virus has taken over the computer.  A friend comes over to help her solve the problem, and discovers dozens of porn sites in the computer’s cache.

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While the above stories are mostly fictional, these situations happen.  And they happen every single day. Every. Single. Day.

When a counselor takes the opportunity to discuss these types of situations with couples, it’s important for them to do two different things.  First, they discuss the steps the couple took to get to the situation they’re now in.  Second, in it’s equally important to discuss the steps they need to take to get their marriage back on track.

Today, we’d like to focus on the first set of steps.  The ones the couple took to get to the situation they’re now in.  And in every situation, one commonality reigns true; the marriage did not have trust.  At least one person in the marriage was living a secret life.  They knew what they were doing.  They even knew it was wrong.  But they did it anyway.

But every couple can take preventative steps to ensure that situations such as these won’t happen (or at least, will be much less likely to occur).  If you are not currently following through on the following steps, you should take opportunities prayerfully consider doing so:

Step #1: Give your spouse full access to every account you have. 

Email. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Instagram. Cell Phone….everything.  Your spouse should have the username and password to every single account you use.  Every. Single. Account. Not only that, but they should also be able to pick up your phone at any time and see who you’ve been talking to or texting.  They shouldn’t even have to ask permission.  They should simply have open access.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some of you think this is going to far.  Some of you think your spouse should just trust you, and you should just trust them.  But there’s a really, really good chance that everybody who is thinking these things has had a friend, family member or colleague get caught in a similar situation.  So trust us, and trust your spouse with your accounts.  All of them.

Want to go one step further?  Use one account for you both.  JohnandJaneDoe@gmail.com has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  For those who can’t do that due to your career/work email, we suggest the following: Anytime you email somebody of the opposite sex, CC your spouse in the email.  Let them see exactly who you’re communicating with and why.  This kind of trust goes a long, long way in your marriage.

Step #2: Be Open and Honest

This one is a bit more challenging, as you simply have to choose to do it.  You can agree to have one account on Facebook/Pinterest but you have to choose to be open and honest about what you’re doing and who you’re with.

Here’s a personal example. A long time ago, I (Justin) used to work for a child care resource agency.  For the first five years on the job, I was the only male on staff.  The only male.  My career required regular out of town overnight trips with other staff.  Other female staff.  Dozens of them.

What did I do?  I told Megan I would only go to dinner in a large group of people.  I told her who I worked with, which women I trusted, and which women I didn’t.  I told her the steps I took to purposefully avoid the women I didn’t trust.  On occasion, Megan joined me on some overnight trips, and she trusted some of the staff as well, and always encouraged me to spend my time with them when out of town.

While we’re not perfect by any means, we encourage you to follow a similar example.  Your spouse should know who you work with, who your friends are, what their lifestyle is like, why you do/don’t trust them, and so on.  The more they know about who you’re with, the less likely they are to have reason not to trust you.

Challenge for the Week:

Take the opportunity to make some changes to how you’re implementing steps of trust in your marriage.  Begin to give your spouse access to your accounts.  You can even be creative.  For example:

  • Wrap your cell phone up in a box.  Include a note that says, “I want you to always trust me, and you have my permission to look at my phone anytime.”
  • Send a note in your spouse’s lunch, “I love you and I want you to not just know me, but know what I’m up to…anytime.  So here is list of all of my account usernames and passwords.  Check in and ask what I’m up to anytime.”
  • Have a date night and legitimately discuss all of the pros/cons of using the same account for you both.  We’re pretty sure you’ll come up with more pros than cons.

Far too often, trust is assumed in a marriage.  But trust is something that has to be regularly and continually earned.  Take the steps to earn your spouses trust a little bit more each and every day.  Your marriage may just depend on it.

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Marriage Strong, Energy Poor

We started off the year being transparent about the struggles 2013 brought into our lives. Despite the turmoil the past year brought, we determined to make 2014 The Year of Friendship. We did this for a specific reason, we knew 2014 was likely to bring about a fair share of struggles of its own.  We were right.

February has brought grief and pain into our lives in the form of loss. I (Megan) lost my mother (age 63) on February 7th. An incredible legacy but a heavy loss for my heart. This past week we also lost Justin’s grandmother. A woman with whom we we were very close and visited regularly.  The pain and grief of these losses has left us raw and tired. The most common question asked of us right now is, “How are you doing?” and let me tell ya, that’s a doozie of a question. Truth is, we are comforted and well supported. We are also sad, grieving and exhausted. However, when it comes to our marriage I describe that we are marriage rich despite being energy poor.

Maybe you can relate, your marriage is strong even though you are physically and emotionally spent. Maybe for you that is wishful thinking, you can’t imagine having a strong marriage during your most difficult season. Today I want to share three things that are keeping our marriage strong during this trying and difficult time.

1. Words

Words of encouragement, comfort, support and reassurance are necessary during times of deep hurt. The words can come in form of cards, notes or be spoken but, whatever the form, using words to build up your spouse is essential to a strong marriage.

2. Actions

Sometimes even words can’t soothe the heartache of the ones we love most. During those times it’s important to show our support of them through actions that speak where words are inadequate. A listening ear, a long hug, a comforting meal, a trip to the store – all of these actions and so many more can strengthen your marriage.

In addition, lowering the “normal” expectations of what your spouse may be able to accomplish with their time is an action of love. Around our house, laundry is getting done but may not always make it to the state of being put away properly. Meals are being eaten together, but may be of the variety of store bought goods and sides as opposed to my normal more healthy and frugal meals. The burden to keep up with all of life while processing difficult circumstances is oppressive but as a spouse, we can speak with loving actions when we let go of expectations and allow our spouse to feel supported regardless of the disruption to “normal”. A new normal will settle in but patience and support until that time makes a marriage thrive during the interim.

3. Space

Not to be disregarded, even in a one flesh marriage, it is important to allow our spouse space to process. Just as a garden does not bloom within hours of the seeds being planted, a spouse cannot process and heal without some space and time. Healthy amounts of togetherness and separateness during difficult seasons is important. Be observant, patient and sensitive to what your spouse needs most. If your spouse needs you to be there, then be there. If they need some alone time to cry, sleep, write, grant them that space.  The garden will grow, not from force, but from the space to receive the nutrients essential to support it’s growth.

Of course our faith in God and our Savior Jesus Christ is giving us the greatest amount of strength and comfort during this time, but on a practical level, words, actions and space are the ways our marriage is being nurtured.  These elements can strengthen marriages in all situations and can be applied in many close relationships.

Difficult times will come in every marriage and these are just a few thoughts on how to sustain health and strength. Feel free to share how you strengthen your marriage when difficulties (especially those outside of the marriage relationship) arise.

 

Marriage Chellenge: Saving Yourself for Marriage

Modern society is constantly beckoning for us to do more and be more. We are a busy generation and are regularly worn out from our own best efforts. Not being sensitive of our time and our personal limitations impacts our marriages. We readily give of ourselves to our jobs, our community and a variety of other things but our marriage? Often times our spouse gets the leftovers. We don’t save ourselves for marriage.

How about a date night? I can fit you in 3 months from now.

Let’s connect sexually tonight? We can have fun as long as you do all the work. I don’t mind.

Can we at least sit down to dinner? Ok, so long as I can keep my cell phone on and tablet open.

Today’s marriage challenge is to save yourself for marriage. Don’t continue to spend the best of yourself everywhere but at home.  Save the best of yourself for the most important relationship you have, your marriage.

Marriage is for life. If we regularly neglect putting the required time and effort into something so important, what is designed to be beautiful will become a burden. What is meant to be lifelong friendship and companionship will become forced cohabitation. So yes, saving yourself for marriage is not just for unmarried people, it’s for those of us who are already married too.

5 Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage: #5 Create Opportunities

It was Saturday morning, and Sarah took the opportunity to sleep in.  But when she woke up she realized that something was different.  The house was quiet.  Too quiet.  What exactly were her husband and their three little ones up to?

She quickly rolled out of bed only to see a small post-it note on the bedroom door.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.59.12 AMSarah almost couldn’t believe it.  First, Jason took the responsibility to take care of the kids and get them to bed so she could enjoy an evening out with friends.  Then he somehow quietly got them up, fed, dressed, and out the door on a Saturday morning so she could sleep in!  She giggled a little as she walked into the kitchen when she saw another note:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 8.03.29 AMThis was turning out to be too good to be true!  She poured a cup of coffee and began to sip it.  But soon her mind began to wander.  “Did Jason have the grocery list?  Was he going to get everything needed?  Did he get the extra car seat into his car?”  After a few minutes she decided to not think about those things anymore and just enjoy the quiet.   After pouring her second cup of coffee she picked up her phone and began scrolling through her Pinterest account.  And that’s when she saw a third note.  This one stuck onto the back of her phone.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 8.09.22 AM“That’s strange,” Sarah thought.  “Jason knows I rarely eat breakfast.  What exactly is he up to?”  Strange as it was, Sarah couldn’t hold back her curiosity.  She nearly spilled her coffee as she ran into the kitchen and opened up the oven.  There was a small wrapped package inside, with yet another note.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 8.20.18 AMSarah honestly didn’t know what to think.  So she didn’t think, she just ripped open the package as fast as she could.  The box wasn’t overly sturdy, but Jason had wrapped the entire thing with duct tape.  “That’s not cool, Jason…not cool at all!” Her shout echoed through the quiet house, so much so that she giggled for getting so wound up.  After 5 minutes of carefully removing all of the tape she finally got the box open.  At first she didn’t see anything in the box.  She checked it again.  And again.  She even took time to see if there was anything stuck to the tape.  After a minute she re-read Jason’s final note. His message was quite clear.  There was nothing in the box.  Nothing.  And she couldn’t wait for him to get home so she could try it on.

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Sexual freedom in marriage isn’t just something that happens.  It’s something that you take opportunities to create.  And re-create.  And re-create again.  If you don’t, it’s the kind of freedom that may be there in one season, and gone the next.  But if you do, it’s something that will last throughout your entire marriage.  It won’t go away in your 40’s.  Or 50’s.  Or 60’s.  It’s something you’ll regularly experience well into your retirement years.  And it will continually get better.  And better.  And better.

Throughout this series we’ve offered a number of ways to sustain sexual freedom in marriage.  In this final post, we’re going to offer a few final thoughts.  How can you sustain sexual freedom in your marriage?  You can regularly create opportunities to experience it.

1. Offer sexual surprises:

Surprises are like people.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  The more you get to know your spouse, the more you will learn the best ways to surprise him/her.  Sure, little post-it notes and packages with nothing in them are one way to offer an occasional surprise.  But there are other things you can do to regularly communicate you’re looking forward to freely expressing your love to your spouse as well.  Some of these ideas include:

  • Offer a sexual tell

You may decide to have a “secret” code to communicate to your spouse that you’re ready to connect.  It could be anything.  Anything at all.  Some couples use a small item that they creatively hide in places they know they’re spouse will find.  For example, a wife may hide a small stuffed animal her husband bought her early on in their marriage.  She’ll “conveniently” leave this in his lunch, car, or cereal box as a way of saying, “I want you…tonight!”  Or a husband may hide an old watch she bought him while they were still dating.  Whenever this secret item shows up, you know to begin thinking about the action that’s going to transpire between the sheets later on.

  • The sexual outfit

Like with the secret item above, maybe you have a secret outfit you can wear to communicate your sexual prowess.  Maybe it’s a tie you wear to work, the same one she wore (with nothing else on!) as you returned home from a late meeting.  Maybe it’s a specific blouse, the one he “accidentally” ripped one of the buttons off of when you sprang into your bedroom for a quickie.  It could be anything, but just like the secret item, it’s a very effective way to communicate.

2. The bedroom of sexual ecstasy:

What’s your bedroom look like?  Now, what does it really look like?  Does it scream, “We sleep here AND we sleep together here?”  Everything about your bedroom decor matters.  A TV mounted on the wall could communicate you’re more interested in Sports Center or LifeTime than connecting with your spouse.  Lighting matters.  Scents matter.  Colors matter.  Dirty clothes matter.  Take opportunities to create a bedroom environment that encourages you to spend more time with one another there.

3. The sexual date night:

Every once in a while you need to create an unforgettable moment for your sex life.  It could be taking an opportunity to do something very different, like hiking deep into the woods and connecting far, far away from civilization.  (Yes, ladies, you can even take a tent.)  Or a planned middle-of-the night encounter in your swimming pool.  Or if you’re up for it, removing the seats from your minivan, or enjoying a bump and grind session in the bed of his pickup truck.  Whatever it is, take at least 2-3 opportunities a year to purposefully plan to sexually connect in such a way that is different from your normal routine.   These are the moments that you and your spouse will remember your whole lives, and if you plan them well, you’ll have lots of fun discussions on what you can do next that will be even better than before.

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This is Part 5 in our series on Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.

Part 1: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom In Marriage #1 – Believe

Part 2: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #2 – Silence Outside Voices

Part 3: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #3 – Bring the Awesomeness

Part 4: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #4 – Understand the Seasons

Part 5: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #5 – Create Opportunities

Feel free to answer one/all of the following questions in the comments below, or discuss them with your spouse.

  1. Do you have a sexual tell (word, phrase, item, outfit, etc.) that you and your spouse use to communicate, “I want you!”?  What is it?
  2. What is the most unforgettable date night you’ve had?
  3. Discuss with your spouse: If we could do just one creative sexual date night this year (outside of our normal routine, vacation), what could we do?

Repost: The Fun Theory

A couple of months ago we wrote about how sex and boring should never be used in the same sentence.  While some would agree that sex is never boring, it may sometimes feel like a ho-hum event or “task” to check off the list.  Due to this, we thought this would a good time to introduce “The Fun Theory” into your bedroom activities.  Here is a clip that inspired this post (well, kinda)

A small simple change got 66% more people taking the stairs.  They were different.  Unique.  Fun.

Within the marriage relationship, we’re of the opinion that there is great freedom in sexual intimacy between husband and wife.  This freedom gives us opportunities to be different, unique…and fun.  While the idea of “fun” may make some feel uncomfortable, we’re not talking about kinky or crude practices.  Just simple advice about how to laugh, have fun and enjoy your spouse.  After all, their body is yours, and yours is theirs.  You enjoy your time together at the movies, or over dinner…so why not take practical steps to make sex more fun for you and your spouse?

Here are a few suggestions to include more fun in the bedroom.

1. Get your flirt on.  Flirting is great for your marriage.

Think about it: when you dated you flirted with your to-be spouse on a near daily basis.  Each of you put a tremendous amount of time and energy in dating, flirting, and winning over your future mate.  Some of that continues the first few months, or even years of marriage.  But then the thoughts come, “Why put energy into winning them over?  Why not just jump in the sheets?”  Well, jumping in the sheets will come, but you have to constantly be battling for your spouse.  Our culture, for lack of better words, is flirting with him/her in a variety of ways.  Music, Television, Movies, and perhaps even pornography.  Culture is constantly looking for your time and your dollar.  Your spouse, on the other hand, only craves you…and only really wants to be won over by you.

When is the last time you looked at your spouse and raised an eyebrow?  Or snuck up behind her and whisper something in her ear?  Or lifted up your shirt when nobody else was  looking to show off your breasts?  How much time to you put into flirting with the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with?  If you’re not yet experiencing freedom behind closed doors, one step to take is to actively flirt with your spouse. Do it often.  Do it daily.

2. Try a new position.

It’s true that different positions are sometimes more fun than functional (if you catch our drift).  But trying a new position can still be quite exciting and educational.  Our bodies are made to connect and you may discover that connection can happen in sexual positions you didn’t think your bodies could twist and turn into.  If you’re not sure where/how to discover new positions, then try playing a fun game of Twister…naked.  Or if you have a smart phone, there are some apps that give suggestions for positions that are clean sketches and directions for how to get into the position.  No real images.  No temptation to lust over someone other than your spouse.

When trying a new position, it’s important to remember that orgasm may not happen for either or you.  But you’ll often get a view of your spouse that isn’t typical.  Throw some candles in the room and you’ll even see their shadow flicker on the bedroom wall.  That shadow is merely a reflection of the beautiful time you and your spouse are having with one another.  Who knows, trying out a new position just may get those shadows to dance 66% longer than they normally would.

3. Pick a new place to have sex.

J over at Hot, Holy Humorous had a series recently about different places to have sex.  With lots of humor and some practical advice about the subject, we recommend you check out what she has to say.  If your brave, let us know in the comments what you look forward to trying out.  As for us, we’ll just use those ideas as a way to flirt with one another in future conversations.

4. Come up with a code word for sex and use it in random conversations throughout the day.

There is something so fun about having a secret language that only you and your spouse know.  Sometimes it’s a secret word.  Sometimes it’s a secret sound.  Maybe you’ll text the secret phrase to him while he’s at work.  Maybe he’ll write it on the bathroom mirror with a wipe-off marker.  Whatever it is, it’s something that only you and your spouse know about, and it’s something gets you both excited for what’s coming later on that evening.

5. Have sex more often.

It sounds simple, but the more often you have sex, the better sex you’ll continue to have.  We’ve read some articles stating that the average sexual experience (from time of entry) is anywhere from 8-13 minutes.  With this being an average, it means that for some couples it’s much longer than this time frame, and for others, it’s much shorter.  This isn’t speaking poorly of him in any way, but maybe she gets him all rowed up and he just isn’t able to last more than a few minutes.  The solution: have sex more often.  The more often you both have sex, the more sexual stamina you’ll build up.  The more stamina you have, the longer you have sex.  The longer you have sex, the more positions you can try.  The more positions you try, the more fun you have in the bedroom.  The more fun you have in the bedroom, the more you flirt with one another.  The more you flirt with another another, the more often you want to have sex.  We understand this is basic circular reasoning, but it’s circular reasoning at it’s finest…and it’s worth it.  So, don’t just have sex.  Enjoy sex more often.  Make it fun.  You’re spouse will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself as well.

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How do you keep things fresh and fun in your marriage?  Your sex life?  Are you willing to join The Fun Theory: Bedroom Edition?

Finding Peace

Peace.

Such a simple concept.

Peace.

Depending on how you look at it, it involves rest, well-being and contentment.

Peace.

Far too many look for it in all the wrong places.

“Maybe when I get married, then I’ll experience peace.”

     “Maybe when I have children, then I’ll experience peace.”

          “Maybe if I have a nicer car, or a bigger house, then I’ll experience peace.”

               “Maybe if I experience sex more often, then I’ll experience peace.”

But the experience never comes.  They’re off to the next thing.  And the next.  And the next.  And then one day when it seems that true peace finally comes upon them, it disappears like a whisper.  Here one day.  Gone then next.

In a marriage, experiencing peace is even more challenging.  Not one, but two individuals are seeking peace at the same time.

Personality conflicts.  Financial difficulties.  Parenting styles.  Hobbies and interests.  The peace they thought would one day comes continues to elude them.

This subject of peace and contentment often comes up in pre-marriage counseling sessions I hold.  How can you know that your marriage is going to be strong in all seasons?  How can you know it’s going to survive no matter what?  How can you know you’re going to live and experience true peace when everyone else seems to be experiencing hell?

Answer: The Marriage Triangle

It’s a simple illustration, really.  Almost too simple.  But every time I walk through this illustration with a couple experiencing difficulties I can tell whether they’re implementing the marriage triangle or not.  Here’s what it looks like:

Untitled

The premise is simple.  The more the husband and wife grow closer to God, the closer they draw to one another.  Not only that, but the closer they draw to God, the more they experience contentment in His grace.  The more they experience contentment, the less likely they are to look for contentment somewhere else.  The more they don’t seek contentment elsewhere, the more they experience true peace themselves.  And in their marriage.  And with others.

Maybe you don’t believe in God.

Maybe you think this illustration is ridiculous.

Maybe it gives you something to think about.

Maybe you know you’re not experiencing peace yourself, or in your marriage.

Maybe there’s something to this whole God thing after all.

Maybe you should stop what you’re doing and read the Gospel of Mark.

In one sitting.

For real.

Maybe it’ll bring you peace.

Maybe it won’t.

Maybe it’ll provide you some answers.

Maybe it’ll give you more questions than answers.

Maybe you’ll keep seeking answers to those questions.

Maybe you’ll find peace.

Real peace.

Maybe your marriage will find it, too.

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To discuss with your spouse:

  1. Is there any area of our lives / marriage we’re not currently experiencing peace?
  2. What are 3 things we can do this week to experience God’s grace and love and show it to one another?
  3. Commit to read the Gospel of Mark in one sitting.  Then discuss this subject of peace.  What is it?  What isn’t it?  And what can we do to help others experience it, too?

Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage: #4 Understand the Seasons

Phillip: “What are you doing?”

Janet: “What do you mean, ‘what am I doing?’  I’m sitting next to you on the couch as we watch TV.”

Phillip: “But you’re also putting your arm around me.”

Janet: *smiling* “Oh yeah. I thought I’d do that, too.”

Phillip: “I can’t even remember when the last time you’ve done that was.  What’s the occasion?”

Janet: “No special occasion.  I just wanted to be close to you.  That’s all.”

Phillip: “Well, I don’t want to offend you or anything.  But I think I’d rather have more room to stretch out.”

Janet: “Well, I don’t want to offend you or anything, but I thought maybe I’d turn off the TV and try to turn you on, instead.”

Phillip: “Sorry to say…but that’s just not going to happen.”

Janet: *playfully* “What?  You don’t think I can fulfill that goal?”

Phillip: “It’s not that.  I’m saying…I guess I don’t want you to try.”

Janet: “Why not?”

Phillip: “I’m not sure why.  Now, can we just get back to the movie?”

Janet: *turns TV off* “No, we can’t.  We obviously need to talk about this.”

Phillip: “About what?”

Janet: “About the fact that we haven’t had sex more than 1 time in the past 3 months.  In fact, we’ve rarely had sex at all the past year.  It’s gone way down, since…”

Phillip: “Since what?”

Janet: “Since you were ill.  That’s it.  We had a long break when you had all those health problems, and we never recovered.”

Phillip: “Recovered?”

Janet: “Yeah. Recovered.  You did…at least physically.  But we didn’t.”

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During the first five years of our marriage, Megan and I enjoyed life to the full.  We had no children and we spent vast amounts of time with one another.  We learned a lot about one another during that season in life, but as in every area of life, this season didn’t last.

Since that time we’ve become parents to two beautiful little girls.  Careers have changed.  Work hours have, too.  Times of sickness have invaded our lives.  Depression.  Hard struggles in our extended family.  Other struggles in our immediate one.  Yet through it all we’ve come to understand that various seasons in life will happen, and we’ve taken opportunity to not allow them to hinder our marriage in any way.

Our guess is we’re not alone.  You’ve also experienced difficult seasons of illness, depression, career changes and so on, too.  If you don’t take the time to think through and understand these seasons, some of them may hinder your marriage and sex life in profound ways.  But if you DO take the opportunity to think through and understand these seasons, you’ll learn a great deal about sexual freedom.  In fact, here are few things to consider when different seasons come your way:

You are free to please your spouse:

When your spouse is struggling with a pretty significant illness, it’s still quite likely you are able to sexually arouse and please him/her.  Whether it’s recent surgery, a broken limb or back problems, it’s still quite possible for you to experience full-blown intercourse.  Simply work together to find a position that is relaxing for them yet gives you full control of your time together.  Openly talk through what’s working and what isn’t, and do you best to connect as often as possible.  If full intercourse isn’t a possibility, then strongly consider taking opportunities to orally stimulate him/her to climax.

In seasons such as this, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that one of your primary roles in marriage is to serve your spouse.  Men have a responsibility to serve their wife by loving, caring and providing for them.  And men have a responsibility to serve their wife sexually as well.  Women share an equal responsibility.  As the Scriptures say:

2 Corinthians 7:3-4 (NLT)

3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
5 Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

You are free to do it morning, noon, or night:

It seems odd that we even need to say this, but we feel we must.  If something like a career change or work hours is hindering your sex life, remember that sex doesn’t need to only occur after dark in a locked bedroom.  You can wake up a little early and enjoy a quick romp in the shower.  Once a week you can take a long lunch break and connect at home.  Husband, you can rent a hotel for a day and meet her there after meeting a business client there for lunch.  Wives, you can walk into his study/den and lock the door behind you and give him a lap dance he’ll never forget.  Just remember that pure sexual freedom frees you from engaging sexually in the same place at the same time in the same way every single time you connect.

You are free to get help:

Far too many marriages today are struggling, and far too many of those are too proud to ask for help.  Men, for the most part, are embarrassed to admit to a pastor or counselor that their marriage isn’t going so well.  (Yes, we acknowledge some women experience embarrassment and pride, too.)  This embarrassment often leads to a very unsatisfying marriage.  So our advice to you, is to get help.  It never hurts to have a trustworthy pastor or counselor talk through your marriage and sex life with you.  In fact, couples who have a rough patch yet agree to work on it together often have a longer, more fulfilling marriage than couples who (in pride) agree to stay together but not seek help.

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In short, seasons will come and seasons will go.  And in order to maintain sexual fulfillment throughout the entirety of your marriage, you need to remember that you have a responsibility to sexually please your spouse and that responsibility can be fulfilled in a variety of ways.  And if you struggle to fulfill that responsibility – if you struggle to get on the same page in any area of your marriage – seeking help doesn’t make you a failure in any way.  In fact, seeking help makes you a hero, showing that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to fight for the sanctity of marriage.

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This is Part 4 in our series on Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.

Part 1: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom In Marriage #1 – Believe

Part 2: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #2 – Silence Outside Voices

Part 3: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #3 – Bring the Awesomeness

Part 4: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #4 – Understand the Seasons

Part 5: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #5 – Create Opportunities

 

Feel free to answer one/all of the following questions in the comments below, or discuss them with your spouse.

  1. What is the most difficult ‘season’ you have gone through in your marriage?  Did it have a negative sexual impact?
  2. What is another “you are free to __________” point you think couples should remember when experiencing different seasons?
  3. Discuss with your spouse: If there’s just one thing I could do this week to serve you in a sexual way, what would it be?

Marriage Challenge: Weird but True

Our kids are fascinated with the National Geographic Kids book series Weird but True!  The books site interesting facts like:

“Slugs have 3,000 teeth and 4 noses.”

“Hot dogs can last more than 20 years in landfills.”

“A Canadian woman rode a motorized toilet up to 46 miles an hour!”

We know, fascinating facts here people!

So what does this have to do with marriage? Well, when you were dating and first got married, you enjoyed learning about your spouse. You found their likes, dislikes, habits and idiosyncrasies fascinating.  Over the years though, the facts you once found to be “weird but true” have become “weird and annoying”. Instead of accepting your spouse and their differences you want to change them. A simple laugh and occasional eye roll have become full blown gripes, disrespect and a source of misery in your marriage.

The marriage challenge today is this: acceptance.  Accept your spouse as a unique individual. Are they flawed? You bet! And so are you. This is not to say that open communication and confrontation have no place in dealing with marital strife but it is to say that many things in life are not really “big things”.  Instead of looking at the things your spouse does as “weird and annoying” choose to let those things become reason to laugh at your differences, accept their flaws and push towards a greater level of love.  On the plus side, if you send less time griping complaining and fighting about the little annoyances, maybe you”ll have time to build a motorized toilet that can go even faster!

Making Peace with Your Body

During a time of year when people are making weight loss and fitness goals, I (Megan) thought it might be important to discuss how to make peace with your body.

My story includes a fair share of issues with weight management and fitness failures, but over time I have really made peace with my body. Not because I have “arrived” at some perfect state but because I am choosing to live well in the midst of imperfection.  Having had an eating disorder through most of my childhood and it rearing it’s ugly head again just a few short years ago, this is an area where I must be extremely diligent in what I allow myself to think on. So please understand, I won’t use the words ‘simple’ or ‘easy’ in this post.  Making peace with your body, as many of you already know, is not a simple process.  There is no magic wand to wave that makes us fall in love with the way we look.  However, I do know from personal experience that it is possible to feel comfortable in your own skin. Here are some suggestions to help you on the journey:

1.  Recognize the lies media and pop culture are selling.  When you know someone is lying to you what do you do?  You don’t trust them!  You are cautious of their opinions or disregard them all together.  This is an important first step to making peace with your body; call the images you see everyday in magazines, TV commercials what they are, lies.  Airbrushed beauty is not real and if we continue to hold ourselves to that standard, we will never measure up. If you really want to make peace with your body, take some time to figure out what lies you are believing and then silence them.

2.  Stop negative self talk. I already mentioned this wasn’t going to be easy didn’t I?! Once you recognize the lies you are believing the next step is to silence another altogether negative voice, your own. The “Fat, Dumb & Ugly” soundtrack isn’t doing you any good. In fact, it has never done you, your friends or anyone any good. Ever.  So ditch it. Strive to put an end to negative self talk and adopt the more healthy habit of reflective evaluation. Rather than condemning or judging your own perceived failures, you should seek to understand what is at the base of your emotional reactions to the way you look or feel about yourself. If you discover your feelings stem from shaming words spoken to you as a child, seek help or counsel on how to overcome that. If you find depression, perfectionism, people pleasing or a number of other motivations at the root, open up and become vulnerable with a person or group you can trust.  Finding the peace and healing you desire in this area will require work. It may be slow and it may be painful at times but it is worth it to live at peace.

3.  Lean into the people in your life who find you beautiful.  For me the greatest advocate I go to for affirmation of my beauty is my husband.  I know he finds me attractive and I don’t doubt my beauty in his eyes.  I know that for some of you though, your husband is not your advocate.  In fact he may be part of the problem as to why you don’t recognize your own beauty.  In these instances I encourage you to believe the voices of those people in your life who will draw out and call on your beauty as they see it.  If you don’t have anyone who does this in your life, pray that God would bring an encourager into your life.  We all need them and it is helpful for the people we are living life with to be a positive voice in our own journey.

4.  Learn what God says about you.  On this journey called life we are all trying to figure out who we are and why we are here.  These questions cannot be answered without the help of the very One who created us.  If you want to make peace with your body, with relationships or with God; you must know who God is and what He has done for you through His Son Jesus Christ.  Your identity must rest completely in that knowledge.  Then and only then will you be able to experience peace. He loves you for who you are right now. Don’t miss out on experiencing that love.

Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage: #3 Bring the Awesomeness

James: “Well that was pretty amazing.”

Rachel: “Really, you didn’t find it just OK?”

James: “Babe, you’re definitely much more than ‘just OK’ in bed.  Trust me, that rocked.  I mean, at least it did for me.  Was it good for you?”

Rachel: “Fabulous.  Just fabulous.  I’m not sure when the last time my heart rate got up that high.  Except for maybe last night!  *Laughs*

James: “Yeah, that was a good time, too.  Hey, how about we do something different tomorrow night, but reengage …let’s say, two nights from now?”

Rachel: “Good for me.  Whew!  It’ll be good to take a breather.  Just don’t forget about me.”

James: “Forget?  How can I forget?!”

James and Rachel quietly fell into a deep sleep.  The next morning before driving to work, James discovered a small envelope taped to the steering wheel of his car.  He opened it up and there inside was a hand-drawn sketch of the next position Rachel wanted to experiment with the next time they connect.  At the bottom was a small note – “I’m not sure how fulfilling this will be for me, but I think you’ll really like it.  If you decide to not wait until tomorrow, I understand.”

James and Rachel did wait until the next day, and by then James had made some minor modifications to Rachel’s sketch.  He, too, left a small note, using verbiage they and only they share with one another when the moment is right.  On this occasion, the moment was right.  Rachel arranged for child care and when James arrived home they enjoyed one another freely, and then stayed awake into the middle of the night, discussing their hopes, fears, and dreams…all the while knowing they were already fulfilling them all.

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In this series we’ve been discussing the possibility of not just experiencing, but sustaining sexual freedom in your marriage.  In our first post we discussed the need to believe that sexual freedom is possible.  In our second we discussed the importance of silencing outside voices.  Today we want to discuss something that can be a little more controversial, the art of sexual experimentation.

In fact, a reader recently asked a pretty important question.  They noted that blogs such as this one have been a tremendous resource and that their sex life has increased exponentially.  However, they also asked a tough question that goes something like this, “How much of this kind of reading can I do before I become too overwhelming in my sexual desire for my spouse?  At the same time, how can we keep the current excitement we have going without reverting to a season of much less sexual gratification?”

With questions such as these tied in with the subject of sexual experimentation, there’s a lot to talk about.  However, while MUCH could be said, we’re going to keep this post as simplistic as we can.

1. Experiment ONLY in ways you and your spouse agree

Whether you’ve been married one year, five years, or twenty, there’s a possibility that you both have thought of trying something different, but you’ve never discussed it for fear of how your spouse may respond. Maybe it’s a new position to try out.  Maybe it’s how you go about having “conversation” while you’re together.  Maybe it’s about trying a new element of foreplay, or oral sex.

Whatever it is, maybe you haven’t asked because you know your spouse very well and your fears are based on some pretty good evidence or conversations from the past.  If that’s the case and you continue to be sexually fulfilled, perhaps it’s best to not ask about exploring in some new way.  However, if you’re not asking because you’re just not sure how they’ll respond, then take the opportunity to ask.  If you’re not willing to freely discuss your sexual boundaries with one another, you’re not likely to discover full-fledged sexual freedom anytime soon.  Discuss oral sex.  (In fact, some other great Christian blog authors have written some pretty poignant posts on the subject.  Here’s one.  Here’s another.)  Discuss various positions to try out together.  Discuss everything and ONLY experiment with what you both agree to.

What should you agree to?  Well, we won’t get into too many details, but you should only agree to what you both believe are God-honoring acts.  We’ve been asked a number of questions about anal sex, pornography, sex toys, among others.  As for the first, God didn’t design the human body in this way for human sexuality.  As for the second, it’s a terrible industry.  And if the husband asks to do something really, really out there, then there’s a chance he’s been peeking at porn on the side and needs some good counseling.  As for the third, we don’t want to say that they’re *always* ungodly, as you may one day find a legitimate need.  But if you can just use flesh on flesh to please one another, go for it.

In short, openly discuss ways in which you can both agree to touch, kiss, suck, bend, twist, thrust any way you like.  You’ll likely find her favorite 1, 2 or 3 positions and he will too.  But you may find something new that you can go back to on some special occasions….and maybe even more regularly.

Now you may be thinking, “We don’t even know where to go to get ‘appropriate’ ideas!”  Well, this is where the subject can get more controversial.  That word ‘appropriate’ can be defined differently, for sure.  If you find these recommendations untasteful, forgive us.  One, check out the iKamasutra app for iphone, ipad, etc.  It’s likely available for Android/Windows Phone as well.  Additionally, here are a number of shopping sites recommended by our friends at The Marriage Bed.  Just remember to agree on everything you decide to purchase, and then begin playfully experimenting for the benefit of both parties.

2. Be certain to maintain self-control

How can you know if you’re becoming too overwhelming in your desire for one another?  Well, chances are your spouse will tell you if you’re coming on a bit too strong.  Not only that, but if you discover that more often than not you’re totally into sex solely for your own pleasure and you’re not paying any attention to your spouse, you’re probably not maintaining an appropriate boundary for your sex life.  However, if you’re both openly and freely enjoying one another and not pressuring him/her or becoming self-absorbed, no worries.  “Eat, friends!  Drink, be intoxicated with love!” (Song of Songs 5:1)

3. Bring the awesomeness

We recently watched a short satirical video that had this tagline.  Whoever designed it did their job well, because it stuck.

You may be in a position (pun intended) where don’t feel the need to experiment or do anything different.  You’re completely and totally sexually satisfied right where you are.  That’s great.  Keep at it.  Connect regularly.  Keep bringing the awesomeness and there’s no way you’ll revert to a time when sex doesn’t come freely.  Just bring the awesomeness, and like James and Rachel, you’ll be living free and looking forward to whatever comes next.

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This is Part 3 in our series on Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.

Part 1: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom In Marriage #1 – Believe

Part 2: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #2 – Silence Outside Voices

Part 3: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #3 – Bring the Awesomeness

Part 4: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #4 – Understand the Seasons

Part 5: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #5 – Create Opportunities

 

Feel free to answer one/all of the following questions in the comments below, or discuss them with your spouse.

  1. Why do you think couples shy away from openly discussing how they can better fulfill one another sexually?
  2. What are 3 ways this series has helped you think about not just experiencing, but sustaining sexual freedom in your marriage?
  3. Discuss with your spouse: If there’s just one thing I could do this week to “Bring the Awesomeness” in bed, what would it be?