In 2014 Justin and I (Megan) hit the pause button quite a bit in our life. We paused from writing here, paused from involvement in extra groups and activities, paused from pressuring ourselves to be something or do something we didn’t believe would help us heal, grow or rejuvenate our soul. You see, 2014 was a year of incredible loss, grief and sorrow for us. With the loss of four family members and increasingly strained relationships, we knew the things we experienced were and had changed us but we needed time to catch up and respond to those changes.

I attended a conference which featured Geri Scazzero author of The Emotionally Healthy Woman. The great thing about attending a conference is the off chance that you are able to connect with or speak to the speaker. Geri was available to listen to my story for a few minutes and encouraged that silence would be an important part of moving forward. This just confirmed that indeed, hitting the pause button and taking extended times in reflective thought, prayer and silence was necessary for me.

Hitting the Pause button is not looked upon favorably in our culture. We are pressured to do more, be more, become more. Pausing seems counter intuitive to actually accomplishing anything. Taking a look at the most common new years resolutions would seem to prove that we are obsessed with doing more, setting lofty and often unattainable goals. While the underlining goals may well be positive and healthy, the pressure we add to our lives as a result is anything but.

I would like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the healthiest thing you could do this year would be to pause more. Pause from the pressure to become more or do more. Pause from the expectations that you put on yourself and others. Pause from the insatiable need to figure it all out. There is no doubt that marriage takes work and effort. There are things, little things you can do each day to strengthen your marriage. However, great growth occurs when you regularly take time to pause. Pausing gives you time to reflect on what is working and what needs to be fine tuned. Pausing can provide just enough quiet and calm for you to hear your own thoughts. Consider how pausing on a regular basis could impact your life and your marriage.


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.


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. 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.


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.


Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom: #5 Busyness

Emma: “Don’t forget that you’re taking the kids to soccer tonight.”

Joshua: “Both of them?”

Emma: “Yes, both of them. Just play on the playground with the little one while David practices with his team.”

Joshua: “And what are you up to tonight, again?”

Emma: “The girls in our Bible Study are meeting for dinner, remember?”

Joshua: “Now that you say it, I do remember.”

Emma: “Oh, and don’t forget that Wednesday night you need to take mom to the store.  Her car broke down.”

Joshua: *sarcastically* “Great.”

Emma: “And Thursday night we’re meeting the Robinson family for dinner.”

Joshua: “Ok…got it.  And Friday…?”

Emma: “There’s nothing currently scheduled Friday evening, but we’ve got stuff scheduled soccerall day Saturday.”

Joshua: “What in the world is going on Saturday?!  I was planning to…”

Emma: “Honey, we’ve talked about this. We’re going hiking in the morning with the kids and then we’ve got two different birthday parties in the afternoon.”

Joshua: “When are we going to have some time just for us?”

Emma: “Ha!  That’s hilarious!  Time for us…when we’ve got kids at this age we don’t have ‘time for us.'”

Joshua: “Well we schedule in everything else.  Maybe we should schedule in some ‘time for us.’  I mean, why not?”

Emma: “Sure, we can schedule in a date sometime if you want to try.”

Joshua: “That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about ‘time for us’.  You know…bow-chicka-bow…”

Emma: “Very mature, honey.  And for the record that’s not something you schedule in.”

Joshua: “Why not?”

Emma: “I’m not sure…but it’s just not.  Crap!  I’m late…I’ll see you later.  Don’t forget the kids’ water bottles for practice tonight.”

Joshua: “Hey don’t forget we need to…” *Watches Emma drive away and hangs his head low, then says quietly to himself* “We need to schedule some time for us.”


I (Justin) have a terrible confession to make.  I haven’t seen one of my grandmothers in over a year.  True story…I haven’t seen her in over a year.  That may not sound too bad if I told you she lives out of state, but guess what, she lives just ten minutes from where I’m currently sitting.  To make it worse, she lives less than ten minutes from my office.  Please don’t judge me.

Every single time I think about stopping by to visit I’ve got something else on my plate.  And the past couple of times I’ve called her to schedule a time to stop by, she’s had something else on her plate.  Ridiculous isn’t it?  That my grandmother and I haven’t found a way to enjoy a cup of coffee and good conversation for over a year?  Of course it is.

You know what’s more ridiculous?  A couple unable to regularly connect sexually because their lives are too full of other activities.  What’s weird is that their lives are full of what they think are ‘good’ activities.  The kids soccer / basketball / baseball / football / wrestling / dancing programs.  The Bible Studies.  The visits with other families.   The parent/teacher meetings.  The birthday parties for the kids’ friends.  And just like that this couple begins to wonder why they’re so tired.  Why they feel so busy.  And though neither of them will actually admit it, why they feel so sexually malnourished.

Listen, because this is insanely important.  We know that some of you are that couple.  And we’re not telling you something you don’t already know.  You know your life is busy.  You know you and your spouse *could* have more time to connect.  You know there are other things in your life you *could* give up.  You know it.  You just haven’t given them up, because they’re good things.  Right?
Well, this has pretty much been our point throughout this entire series.  What is good / better / best for you, your family, your marriage and your sex life?  For example, let’s have a quick experiment.  Stop reading this right now and pull out your calendar.  We’re serious…get your calendar.  If it’s online, then open it up in another tab.  Or grab your phone…just take a second and get your calendar out.
OK, welcome back.  Now, take a look at everything currently scheduled on your calendar.  Our guess is you schedule in the things that are most important to you.  By looking at your calendar, what’s most important?  Is it the kids?  Is it your career?  Is it…yourself?  Or are you SO busy you’re not even sure what’s most important to you any more?
Now, let’s think about this in such a way that we you can re-prioritize some things if you so feel the need to.  Simply take the opportunity to answer the following statements below by filling in each blank with the word “good”, “better” or “best”.

  1. I do a _______ job of ensuring my spouse is more important than my job.
  2. I do a _______ job of ensuring my spouse is more important than the kids.
  3. I do a _______ job of ensuring we make time to sexually connect on a regular basis.
  4. I do a _______ job of saying ‘no’ to good things so I can say ‘yes’ to better/best things.
  5. I do a _______ job of not just connecting with my spouse, but ensuring they’re sexually fulfilled.

Sure, we could ask more questions, but that should give you plenty to think about this week. And just so you know, there’s nothing wrong with scheduling in some time to sexually connect with your spouse. In fact, get that calendar out again.  Pick a day and write in, “Sexual surprise.”  Get a new outfit if you want.  Or plan to try something a little different.  Just schedule in a time to surprise your spouse sexually.  They’ll be glad you did.


This is Part 5 in our series on Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.  And stay tuned for our next series: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.

Part 1: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #1 – Ego

Part 2: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #2 – Personal Interests

Part 3: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #3 – Sexual Past

Part 4: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #4 – Inhibitions

Part 5: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #5 – Busyness

Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom: #4 Inhibitions

Sarah: “Can you please turn the lights out?  Thanks.”

Jonathan: “But we almost always have the lights out.  Can I at least light some candles or something?”

Sarah: “I’d prefer we not.  Alright…let’s do this!”

Jonathan: “Let’s do what, exactly? Romp again in the dark?  Don’t get me wrong, you totally turn me on.  But I’d love to not just feel you during sex…I’d love to SEE you, too.”

Sarah: “Oh, please. You don’t need to see this body, that’s for sure.”

Jonathan: “Perhaps I don’t ‘need’ to.  But I’d sure like to.  I find you breathtakingly bathroom-scalebeautiful.”

Sarah: “Yeah, right. Breathtaking?  Get real.  There’s nothing breathtaking about this body.”

Jonathan: “Don’t I tell you how beautiful you are every day?”

Sarah: “Of course you do, but…”

Jonathan: “And don’t I enjoy putting my hands on you?”

Sarah: “Yes, I just…”

Jonathan: “You just what? You just don’t believe me?  You don’t believe I find you to be beautiful?”

Sarah: “Well, when you put it that way…I guess…I just.. I don’t even know what to say.  Can we just please leave the lights out?”

Jonathan: “You still find yourself unattractive.  So much so that you won’t even let me in on what you’re thinking.  To be honest, now I don’t even know what to say.”

Sarah: “OK.  Well…can we go ahead and get started?”

Jonathan: *Sarcastically* “Sure.  We can get started.”  *Jonathan turns the lights out and walks out of the room*


Thus far in this series we’ve discussed three different hindrances to sexual freedom.  These include ego, differing personal interests, and sexual history.  It’s our hope that you’ve taken some serious opportunities to not only read these posts, but think through whether any of them are currently preventing your marriage from experiencing sexual freedom.  (For those of you who haven’t yet read through these, we’ve provided links at the end of this post for each part in this series.)  Today we want to bring up another issue that can destroy sexual freedom in marriage – personal inhibitions.

Inhibitions are an interesting beast in a marriage relationship.  They wreak havoc not only on the sexual aspect of marriage, but also on the marriage friendship itself.  Holding on to physical or emotional inhibitions is one way of saying, “I like you, but I’m not sure I fully trust you enough to put my whole self out there just yet.” It’s saying, “Yes I know we made a vow.  But this part of my life is off limits to you.”

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  But think of it this way.  Let’s say that your spouse is availing their everything to you on a regular basis.  They put it all out there all the time.  Mind, body, and soul.  They love and trust you not only physically, but also bring out every life struggle they have.  They share their fears.  They share their joys.  They share what God is teaching them and what areas He’s working on in their lives.  They share everything.  And there’s only one person in the world they’re sharing this with – you.

And over time they begin to notice you’re not quite sharing everything.  There are some areas of your life that are still off-limits.  Sure, maybe you don’t have any physical inhibitions like Sarah in the story above.  But there are other areas you’re not quite ready to put out there.  Even after 5, 10, even 20+ years of marriage, your spouse still isn’t your best friend.  They’re not the person you share your most intimate thoughts and struggles with.  They’re not your shoulder to cry on.  Maybe they’re not even the first person you think about calling when something awful happens.  You have inhibitions, and full-blown sexual freedom isn’t something your experiencing on a regular basis.

We write this post simply to give you (both men and women) the opportunity to think through whether you are currently experiencing any inhibitions in your relationship with your spouse.  And as we’ve done in each post throughout this series, we’re going to provide a series of statement below in which you can answer with a simple one-word answer.  Simply fill in the blank with either the word GOOD, BETTER, or BEST.

  1. I do a _______ job of trusting my spouse when they compliment my physical appearance.
  2. I do a _______ job of sharing the details of my day with my spouse.
  3. I do a _______ job of loving my spouse as a FRIEND and as a LOVER.
  4. I do a _______ job of sharing my fears and life struggles with my spouse.
  5. I do a _______ job of not being physically embarrassed when naked with my spouse.
  6. I do a _______ job of discussing with my spouse what God is teaching me.
  7. I do a _______ job of sharing all of my emotions with my spouse.
  8. I do a _______ job of being completely uninhibited with my spouse.

To conclude, we want to note that if you are experiencing any inhibitions in your marriage, you will need to take gradual steps to open up physically and emotionally with your spouse.  One of the best ways to do this is to confess your inhibitions to your spouse and then discuss together how you can work on them.  Simply allowing them to be part of the discussion will reap dividends on your friendship, and before you know it you’ll be opening the door to a new world of sexual freedom in your marriage.


What inhibitions have you worked through in your relationship with your spouse?  Feel free to let us know in the comments.


This is Part 4 in our series on Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.  And stay tuned for our next series: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.

Part 1: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #1 – Ego

Part 2: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #2 – Personal Interests

Part 3: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #3 – Sexual Past

Part 4: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #4 – Inhibitions

Part 5: Five Hindrances of Sexual Freedom #5 – Busyness


“It’s just not me” Moments – Part 1

Anyone who knows me (Megan), knows I don’t do sports. Never played them.  Never watch them.  Never learned to appreciate them.  Yet at this very moment I have an email sitting in my inbox.  An invitation to join a group of friends by entering a NCAAbasketball bracket during “March Madness”.  It’s not an emotionally charged or thought provoking email, it’s just meant to be fun and relational.

This email presents a sort of dilemma for me.  It’s the kind of thing that forces me to see my own selfishness.  Without a doubt I can easily respond with an, “It’s just not me” attitude and that would be true.  I could easily ignore the invitation because, as I already said, making a bracket is the furthest thing from what I would do of my own volition.  For some reason though, I don’t believe that leaves me off the hook.

You see, I want to build a better and stronger relationship with the people who sent me this email.  I desire to know them and be known by them.  And while this type of thing is far from how I would choose to pursue relationships, I recognize relationships are not all about me.  In fact, when I turn a relationship into something that is only about me, I am the one who loses out.

I believe this type of relational dilemma regularly shows up in marriage.  In marriage it may look more like this:

Wife: “Why don’t you ever compliment me on how I look?”

Husband: “I always think you look good.  Why do I need to say it?  It’s just not me to say it out loud all the time, you know.”

Husband: “Why don’t you ever initiate sex?”

Wife: “It’s just not me.  It makes me feel to weird when I am coming on to you.”

Wife: “I’d really like to go see ___________ with you.  You know, the new movie that just came out.”

Husband: “That’s a ‘girl’ movie isn’t it?  Sorry babe, but you know that just isn’t me.”

Husband: “I thought maybe tonight we could try something different, like go to an archery shooting range.”

Wife: “You want to go shoot at a target with a bow and arrow?  That definitely isn’t me.  I’d rather not.”

To be honest, we’ve heard the phrase, “It’s just not me,” said by a number of spouses over the years.  And in all honesty,  I get it.  Really I do.  What I am learning though is that if I want to have better relationships, marriage or otherwise, I must recognize it’s not just about me!

Marriage is not about being in a relationship with ourselves.  We are in a relationship with someone who is different.  Your spouse has different desires, hopes, dreams, hobbies and personality characteristics.  Even for those who believe they are married to someone who is exactly like them, you can bet that your differing desires will surface at very inconvenient times.

Every marriage will face those moments where it is easy for either spouse to play the, “It’s just not me.” card.  Unfortunately, when this card is played too often it will damage the marriage relationship.  Rather than creating intimacy with your spouse, it isolates your spouse.  Instead of sacrificing to meet the desires of your spouse, you are holding onto the selfishness of your own desires. Rather than building up and encouraging your spouse, doubt, fear and insecurity become the norm.

Instead of saying, “It’s just not me,” choose to live differently in your marriage.  Choose to help your spouse calm their fears, failures and insecurities.  Today, if you find yourself with a well rehearsed “it’s just not me,” work on replacing that attitude with a “what can I do to help my spouse feel special” attitude.  Don’t withhold from your spouse because you feel less comfortable with something you know they would love.  Give of yourself, get out of your comfort zone and move forward in strength.

13 Realities of Married Sex: #8 Sex is Different

Recently, I took the opportunity to scroll through the Amazon Prime Video service to see if there happened to be any movies that would entertain Megan and I for an evening.  As I scrolled through the listings, one movie in particular caught my attention.  The movie was “North Face”.  I knew nothing about the movie, nothing at all.  It was easy to see from the MEDION DIGITAL CAMERApicture that it would be about mountain climbing, but what caught my attention was the number of very high reviews.  It seemed like nearly everyone who saw it gave it a full 5 stars.  I quickly saw that it was in German and we would have to watch it with subtitles.  But I didn’t care.  “If a movie has these kinds of high reviews,” I thought to myself, “then it’s got to be a great one to watch!” Needless to say, my expectations were high, and I was really looking forward to relaxing while watching a great movie.

***Warning: For those of you who have never seen “North Face”, the below text will contain spoilers!!!  Skip down a bit if you don’t wish to know what happens.***

So Megan and I started watching the movie – English subtitles and all – and soon became pretty engrossed in the film.  We were mesmerized not only by the climbers desire to do it, but also by the gear they used way back in the 1930’s.  Why would anybody desire to do such a thing?  Anyway, (here come the spoilers) about 75-90 minutes into the film one of the non-lead characters died.  We kind of saw it coming, but were still saddened to see him go.  Not long after, 2 more died, including one of the 2 main characters.  It was then that Megan looked over and said, “If this last guy dies, then this is going to be a really bad ending for a movie.”

Well, a rescue team was dispatched to save the final climber.  It was here that Megan and I were on the edge of our seats, waiting for some moment of triumph in what had become a ‘downer’ of a movie.  He was cold and his arm was frostbit, but they were going to make it.  They had to.  A dear friend of his stayed out on a ledge all night long to keep him awake so he wouldn’t die.  And in the morning, the rescue team arrived.  He began repelling himself to safety…but the rope was too short!  Oh, no!  Surely they were going to get to him in time, right?  Nope.  Before a second effort could be made, he froze to death.  The End.

To say we were disappointed as we turned off the TV and headed to bed would be an understatement.  Movies just aren’t supposed to end this way!  Movies are entertaining.  Fun.  Joyful.  While “North Face” was gripping, it didn’t seem to rise to our expectations.

***End of Spoilers***

Movies aren’t the only thing in life that disappoints us if it’s different than we expect.  Late last year Megan and I wrote a series called “Unmet Expectations”, and we immediately realized that many couples go into marriage having very specific expectations as to what marriage will be like.  Expectations about time together.  Expectations about money.  Even expectations about sex.  And when these expectations aren’t met, it’s easy to be disappointed with the result.

Take sex, for example.  You have certain expectations as to what your sex life will be like.  You probably have expectations as to what your next sexual encounter with your spouse will be like.  But what happens if those expectations aren’t met?  What happens if the result is different than what you planned out in your mind?

What happens if he isn’t sexually fulfilled because he can’t stop thinking about the fling she had in college with another guy?

What happens if she doubts she pleases her husband sexually because she discovered some risque photos on his laptop?

What happens if it’s obvious he’s thinking about a deadline he has at work?

What happens if it’s obvious she’s thinking about the kids?

Even a best-case scenario: What if he’s hoping for a hard romp in the sack, while she’s hoping for a mild, long, slow, sensuous time together.

All of these “what if’s” can be answered with one of two options: disappointment, or appreciation.  Focusing too much time thinking about the “what if’s” will lead to disappointment.  Instead, taking the opportunity to think about “why” you’re taking the opportunity to connect will lead to appreciation.  Not only appreciation for sex itself, but appreciation for your spouse.  For example:

1) Remember that you chose each other

We write about old flings from high-school and college pretty often, and that’s because we’ve talked with many couples who wrestle deeply with their sexual past.  They have a difficult time forgiving themselves or their spouse for something that happened years ago.  While we can’t cover this subject too much in this post, always remember that you chose each other.  Despite your past or hers, you chose to be with one another until death do you part.  You chose to unite and connect with his/her body the rest of your life.  If you need to, write this down and read it to yourself every day this week.

“I chose to live my life with my spouse, not my past.”

Good.  Now, begin to put that thought in motion, both inside and outside the bedroom.  Get under the sheets to be with your spouse, not your past.  Enjoy sex just as an opportunity to be with your spouse, not your past.  Use sex as an opportunity to avail yourself and to appreciate your spouse for doing the same.  Use it as a way to see into your spouse and know them.  Use it as a way to remember that you chose one another and that you want to live with, be with, and connect with one another.  You may never completely forget your past (or theirs), but you can forgive it.  And by doing so, you can appreciate not only your spouse, but your time together behind closed doors.

2) Remember that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex

You may be living in a situation right now where you’re choosing to not have sex because it’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be.  Well, life is always going to be different than you expect it to be, too.  But let me tell you a secret, having sex that’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be is a whole lot better than having no sex at all.  Every single time you connect, you’re reminding your spouse that you choose him/her.  Every time you connect, they’re reminded that they chose you, too. Your time together may be a little different than you expected it to be, but different isn’t always a bad thing.

3) Remember that ‘different’ isn’t a bad thing

I’m pretty sure that every person who experiences sex for the first time thinks to themself, “Well that was different than what I expected it to be.”  Our culture gives us one indication of what a good romp looks like but reality paints a different picture.  Similarly, one set of parents may educate their child in one way, and another completely different.  So there will be times when you and your spouse have different expectations and desires.

But remember, sex being ‘different’ than what you expect isn’t always a bad thing.  For example, “North Face” was much different than I expected.  But the more I’ve thought about the movie, the more I’ve come to appreciate it.  I appreciate it because it’s not the typical American-made movie.  I appreciate it because it showed some qualities of human nature that we don’t always see in movies.  I appreciate it because it was nothing like what I expected.  In short, I appreciate it because it was different.

You can do this with your sex life as well.

You can appreciate that your spouse is willing to be completely availed for you.

You can appreciate that your spouse chose you, not your past.

You can appreciate that ‘slow and easy’ builds your orgasm even longer.

You can appreciate that sex is more enjoyable than any deadline.

You can appreciate that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex.

In the end, you can appreciate that sex simply brings you together.


Discuss with your spouse:

1. What would you say to a friend who is discouraged because their sex life is ‘different’ than they expected it to be?

2. Do you have any sexual desires that I’m not aware of?  How can I work toward pleasing you in this way?

3. On average, how often have we had sex over the past few months?  What can we do (or give up) to make more time for sex over the next month?

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage

Karen: “Hi, honey! What are you doing?”

Ben: “Just catching up with some old friends on Facebook. Why?”

Karen: “Wait a second, isn’t that the girl you took to the high-school prom?”

Ben: “Yeah…why?”

Karen: “I’m not very comfortable with you ‘catching up’ with her, that’s why.”

Ben: “It’s no big deal, really. It’s completely innocent chit-chat. See for yourself.”

Karen: “I see that it’s completely innocent chit-chat for now. But who knows where these conversations may go.”

Ben: “C’mon. We’ve been married for years! I thought you trusted me.”

Karen: “Oh, I do trust you. But I’m not sure I can trust HER. Don’t you see the difference?”

Ben: “Not really.”

Karen: “Listen, I trust you. I love you. I adore you. I’m thrilled to be married to you. But I’m quite uncomfortable with you communicating with old girlfriends from high school.”

Ben: “Are you saying you want me to “unfriend” some of the people I went to high school with? We have lots of memories together. We grew up together. I can’t just forget about them.”

Karen: “I’m not asking you to forget about them, I’m just asking you to not communicate with some of them now.”

Ben: “I’m not sure I’m willing to do that for you. Again, I need you to trust me.”

Karen: “And I need you to guard and protect me. To guard and protect us.”

Ben: “But I do those things don’t I?”

Karen: “Right now, I’m not so sure.”


We recently participated in a group study on Timothy Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage”. In our first week of discussion, one question seemed to set the tone for our group. The sixteen of us learned more about one another by discussing this question than any other, including conversations about our childhood, marriage communication, or even sex.

The question: Do you think it’s necessary for somebody to give up their personal interests, hobbies, or friendships for the sake of their marriage? Please explain.

The question was worded purposefully with several different elements to help get to heart of how a person sees marriage. It requires one to not only state their opinion, but defend it based on how they understand the marriage relationship.

Some believed the word “necessary” was too strong.

Some believed that some things would have to be given up in some seasons, but not in all.

Some believed that having friends outside of marriage was “no big deal” and their spouse shouldn’t have any concerns.

Some believed that a line could be drawn in how much should be given up, but the expectation of giving up all of those things was too great.

Some husbands believed one thing.

Some wives another.

Understand: The marriage relationship is a one-flesh relationship. In the eyes of God, you’re now one unit. This means that email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and any other forms of communication must be an open book for your spouse. As soon as you’re married, you spiritually give your spouse permission to read anything you write, and they do the same for you. “Trust” takes on a new meaning for you, your spouse, and your marriage.

Do: Willingly talk to your spouse about who you communicate and interact with on a regular basis. Years ago, I (Justin) worked for a non-profit agency dealing mostly with childcare education. I was the only male employee in the region. I traveled regularly with my female colleagues. Once, when visiting a child care provider’s home she said to me, “Feel free to stop by my house anytime.” It was awkward, and I was glad to have one of my trustworthy colleagues with me. Every day, I talked openly with Megan about who I was with, where I was going, and what we talked about. She felt better about my career, and I did everything I could to protect our marriage first. Whether you’re a husband or a wife, you need to be willing to do the same. Your marriage comes first.

Understand: Talking with former high-school, college, or other friends outside of your marriage can be done in the right way, and can be done in the wrong way. If you’re open with your spouse about who you’re talking with, what you’re talking about, etc., then they will have nothing to worry about. But if you catch yourself sneaking in a Facebook or Twitter private message without your spouse’s knowledge, you’re putting your friendships ahead of your marriage. The small thrill of sneaking in an “innocent” conversation has the potential to turn into something not so innocent.

In fact, we have a friend who works as a full-time counselor. Over the past 10 years of marriage counseling he has seen the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Email, and texting ruin dozens of marriages. It’s not that these forms of communication ruin the marriage, it’s how they’re used. Be sure you use them to communicate with others in the right way, and continually show your spouse how much you love, respect, and trust them.

Do: If at all possible, eliminate private conversations with members of the opposite sex. Eliminate them completely. As a pastor, I have female ministry leaders contacting me on a regular basis. Some of them CC their husband when they email me, just so that he can see who she’s communicating with and why. Depending on your job, you may not be able to completely eliminate all private conversations with members of the opposite sex. But you can still openly discuss your day with your spouse. The more you do, the more they’ll love and appreciate you and how hard you’re working to protect your marriage.

Understand: Outside your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse is most important. I’m going to say that again just to help it sink in: Outside your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse is most important.

Do: If your spouse is uncomfortable with you ‘catching up’ with some old friends, you may need to defer to them. Maybe they trust you and not those you’re communicating with. Maybe they have emotional needs you’re not meeting, and they’re frustrated to see you putting energy into others outside of your marriage. Whatever it is, ensure you’re meeting the emotional needs of your spouse first. It’s very likely that your spouse is OK with you having friends, he/she just wants to know that they’re your best friend. When they know this, maybe you’ll determine together that it’s OK to ‘catch up’ with a few old friends. Just be sure to make that decision together.


Have you ever had to give up friendships for the sake of your marriage? How did you and your spouse work through that together?

This is Part 8 in a series on Unmet Expectations. Feel free to read the rest of the series here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage


Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Mark: “I was just thinking…how would you feel if we had Christmas here this year? You know, at our house?”

Tonia: “You can’t be serious. You know that we’ve had Christmas dinner at my parents house every year.”

Mark: “I know, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing things up now and then, is there?”

Tonia: “Mixing things up? It’s called ‘tradition’ for a reason, dear. You don’t ‘mix up’ a tradition.”

Mark: “You know what I mean. I just think…well….it’s not an awful thing to do something a little different.”

Tonia: “You ARE serious! Wow. Do you really want to have THAT conversation with my mother? Do you!?”

Mark: “I’d be more than willing to sit down with her and your father to discuss it.”

Tonia: “Well, I still don’t know where you came up with this silly idea. It’s ridiculous to tell you the truth.”

Mark: “What’s ‘ridiculous’ about me wanting to have the family here this year instead? It’s not ridiculous at all. Besides, we both know your mother can’t cook. I’m sure everybody will enjoy their time here even more.”

Tonia: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. My mother can’t cook? Well, who was it, then, who went back for seconds AND thirds last year? Wasn’t that you?”

Mark: “You’re right. I probably shouldn’t have said that. We’re getting off topic. Let’s take a couple of steps back.”

Tonia: “Let’s just end the conversation now. There is absolutely no way we’re telling my family that we’d like to host the largest Holiday family gathering of the year. It’s no longer up for discussion.”


Holidays. We’ve become more and more convinced that the subject of Holidays should be fully discussed in pre-marriage counseling. For the most part, there are three major Holidays a year. Easter. Thanksgiving. And Christmas. Sure, families may have a major picnic gathering every year or other annual events. But Holidays, they’re sacred family time. They hold traditions. Attempt to break or slightly alter one of those traditions and you’re going to experience some wrath. Maybe it’s the wrath of your spouse. Maybe it’s the wrath of your in-laws. Maybe it’s the wrath of your entire extended family.

This topic found its way into our marriage/family early on as well. Just a few years into our marriage, Megan’s parents invited us to join them on a free vacation to Williamsburg. The catch? We had to leave the morning of December 25. Traditionally, Christmas dinner was always with my family, but we decided to make an exception this year. Who are we to turn down a free vacation? Sure we heard some comments from other family members here and there before Christmas. But after we returned we received some backlash. Some very heavy backlash.

“Why couldn’t you have dinner with us and THEN leave for vacation?”

“You seriously chose to travel instead of joining your family?”

“I sure hope you enjoyed your vacation. Our Christmas was OK, but it wasn’t the same without you.”

It was almost as if the extended family had spent their entire Christmas gathering in a large circle and came up with a joint plan – How can we make them feel guilty for not joining us for Christmas this year?

From that point forward, we’ve probably talked with dozens of others who have gone through similar experiences. All families vie for Holiday time together. And when two people join together as “one flesh”, figuring what family you’ll join for a Holiday isn’t always easy.

Understand: Your immediate family is more important to you than your extended family. While in-laws may have a voice in a Holiday (or another family gathering) conversation, you and your family have to decide what is best for one another. If you find yourself giving more input to your extended family than your spouse, you need to reconsider your focus.

Repeat after me:

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

Very good.

Do: Make sure you AND your spouse are in full agreement for your Holiday travel decisions. We can’t tell you how vital this is for your marriage relationship. If you both decide to spend a Holiday with the wife’s side of the family, then the husband cannot talk behind her back about why it’s the wrong decision or about what HE wanted to do.

As you try to come to a common ground, there are good questions to ask one another, and bad questions. For example…

Good Questions:

Where would we like to spend this Holiday together?

What will bring our immediate family the most joy during this gathering?

What can we do to make this trip extra special for one another?

Bad Questions:

What is most fair to our extended families?

What will your mother think if we decide to do something different?

What will others in the family think about us?

Remember, you’re making the decision for YOUR immediate family. Keep your focus, energy, and questions on that.

Understand: Traditions are ‘sacred’ for some family members. Due to this, it’s quite possible that some extended family will be more in love with the tradition itself than they are with you or others in the family. Therefore, you must remember to try to see the situation from their perspective. Why is this tradition so near and dear to them? Why is it so difficult for them to let go of? After thinking this through, it’s time to have a conversation with them.

Do: Take the opportunity to educate family members who seem unwilling to change. For example, if somebody believes a tradition is sacred, feel free to ask them why they feel the way they do about it. As you discuss it with them, it’s important to remember that what they believe isn’t nearly as important as why they believe it. So, use the conversation as an opportunity to figure out why this tradition is so sacred to them. Is it a memory from their childhood? Marriage? Family? Something else? Whatever it is, ask them how you can help them keep that memory strong at a time other than the upcoming Holiday. They’ll get to keep their ‘tradition’ at another time, and you’ll get to spend your Holiday as you choose. It’s a win-win.

Understand: Holidays are just that – Holy Days. As you make Holiday travel decisions, you’re not only thinking through what is best for your immediate family, you’re thinking about how your family will spend this time together praising God. So, if you go into the decision making process with a heart of worship, then no matter where you decide to travel, you can have full peace in the outcome.

Do: Take the opportunity to worship God and not the day. It’s much more than a day off for you. Much more than a day for your family. Much more than a day of gifts or gatherings. It’s a day of rest. A day of relationships. A day of remembrance. But more than anything, it’s a day of worship.


How do you and your spouse decide where you’ll travel for family gatherings? Let us know in the comments below!

This is Part 7 in a series on Unmet Expectations. Read the rest of the series here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage


Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Vicki: “Want to watch a movie tonight?”

Jeremy: “Not really.  I was actually hoping to read a bit.”

Vicki: “Seriously, you’d rather read than watch a movie?”

Jeremy: “Is that a problem?”

Vicki: “Well…no.  It’s not a problem.  I assume you’re going to read in here with me, though, right?”

Jeremy: “I wasn’t planning to.  I mean…at least not if you’re planning to watch a movie.”

Vicki: “But I really wanted to be with you tonight.”

Jeremy: “Well I’m more than willing to sit and read in the living room, but I can’t read if the TV is on.”

Vicki: “Fine! Do whatever you want.  I don’t really care, anyway!”

Jeremy: “It’s seems to me that you really do care.  Can we talk about this some more?”

Vicki: “Just forget it, OK?  I don’t really want to talk about it anymore.  Just go.  Read your stupid book!”

Vicki spends the evening watching the movie alone.  She quickly loses interest and just sits in silence randomly browsing the web instead.  Jeremy tries his best to read, but is very confused from their earlier dialog.  He stops reading as he tries to figure out what went wrong.  With questions unanswered, he goes to bed early.


Quality time.

Think about that phrase for just a minute.

Quality time.

Now really think about it.

Quality time.

If there’s one unmet expectation every couple will experience from time to time, it’s this one.  Disagree?  Well, take the opportunity to honestly answer the following questions:

What does quality time mean?

What does quality time mean…to you?

What does quality time mean…to your spouse?

And there it is, your ah-ha moment of the day.  Quality time means something different for you than it does your spouse.  Not only that, but every single time he or she lives it out differently, you’re frustrated.

Sometimes that frustration turns to anger.

Sometimes it turns to resentment.

Sometimes it turns to sadness.

…..You mean he doesn’t want to spend time with me?

……….You mean she doesn’t love me?

……………You mean he is more attracted to a book…or video game…or TV show?

………………..You mean she is more interested in Pinterest…or blogging…or crafts?

It really is amazing to think through the wide array of emotions that hit you all due to a misunderstanding of “quality time”.  And as we’ve written previously in this series, these emotions have the capability of impacting other areas of your marriage as well.  So, while identifying your emotions and where they’re rooted is important, it’s even more important to figure out what to do with them.

Understand: First things first – recognize that you and your spouse have a different understanding of quality time.  Not only that, but you probably each have contrasting ideas as to how much quality time is needed in an average week/month.  He may think that sex is the only “quality time” you need.  She may think that *gulp* an hour of conversation is needed every day.  What we’re saying is, understand you have different needs and desires in the area of quality time.

Do: Take the opportunity to discuss two things together.  First, is a working definition of “quality time.”  Second, is an equal understanding of how this looks in a marriage relationship.

We won’t lie, this conversation will probably be a lot more difficult than you may initially realize.  The reason for that is that one or both of you may have some unrealistic expectations when it comes to the subject of quality time.  Not only that, but there are only so many hours in a day.  You will have to work together to come up with realistic expectations for your marriage.  Don’t pay attention to what kind of time other couples may have together, simply make the most of the time you have with one another.

Some questions you can ask yourself and/or one another as part of the process may include:

  1. How did your family spend quality time together when you were a child?
  2. In what ways has this affected your understanding of quality time?
  3. When do you feel closest to me?
  4. Are there any new family traditions we can begin ourselves?
  5. Is there anything I can give up this week so that we can spend more time with one another?

Understand: Quality time does not necessarily involve having a similar hobby.  In our home, we have only one similar interest – writing together!  Outside of that, despite our efforts to the contrary, we just haven’t found any similar interests.  If this is anything like your marriage, you must understand that hobbies are not the only avenue to quality time.  Quality time is quality time.  If spending time together is what’s most important, your spouse’s hobbies won’t matter.

Do: Find ways to spend quality time with one another.  In fact, if the day-to-day schedule leaves little room for quality time, then schedule in a day once every 2-3 months where you take the opportunity to be with one another.  Allow the first one to be a day where he chooses what you do and where you go.  Then let her choose and plan your next outing.

If you really want a challenge, spend one entire week joining your spouse in all of their interests and hobbies.  Play a video game with him.  Read a book with her.  Watch an entire football game with him.  Get a pedicure with her.  Whatever it takes, just do whatever YOU have to do in order to spend time with your loved one.

Understand: Your interests and hobbies may not be similar, but your goals ought to be.  Once you have a working definition of quality time and how it works itself out in your marriage, you need to understand you’re going to have to make some personal sacrifices.  You may need to give up some things you enjoy doing for the sake of the goals you’ve set with your spouse.

Do: Prioritize your marriage above your personal interests.  Remember, quality time is the goal.  In order to achieve it, you may need to give up a few things.  In fact, you may even need to give up some ‘good’ things for something even better.

If you happen to be someone who enjoys spending time alone, you may need to give up some of your personal time as well.

You may have less time with your crafts.

Less time with your cars.

Less time with your laptop.

Less time with yourself.

But you’ll have more time with one another.  Your spouse will thank you.  Your marriage will thank you, too.


This is part 6 in a series we’re writing on Unmet Expectations.  Read the rest of the series here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage