On Rocks and Sex:

A pile of pea gravel sits at the bottom of our steps, and every day the pile grows little by little.  The gravel comes from our oldest daughters shoes.  Each day she takes them off and slowly empties out the gravel onto the floor.

Click.

Clack.

Plink.

The sounds of these pebbles can be heard reverberating through our home.

Though we regularly ask her why she doesn’t take her shoes off after recess and empty them back onto the playground she responds that they don’t bother her.  Don’t bother her!?!  She has rocks in her shoes for crying out loud, how can that not bother her?  Apparently the rocks just seem to find the cracks and cervices in her shoes where they don’t cause immediate pain and therefore she ignores the problem.  She doesn’t take the extra step required to end the pain and discomfort.

For some couples, the subject of sex is just like this.  Every time the subject of sex comes up in conversation it causes some discomfort for at least one person in the marriage relationship.

Words are spoken but not heard.

Feelings take precedent over rational solutions.

Loving suggestions become ultimatums.

All of these things are like rocks.  A simple conversation about having sex turns into a fight.  When this occurs, many couples talk about and participate in sexual intimacy less often.  Not only that, but sex seems to find its way into places in the marriage where it causes less direct pain and can be largely ignored.  The male or female will find a way to fulfill their sexual desires while maintaining the “more important” marital aspects of commitment, faithfulness, and priorities.  Not so fast, sex matters.

Sex matters.

Sex matters.

Sex matters.

A lot.

It may not be the only thing that matters, but it matters.

So, how does one begin to remove the “rocks” in your sexual relationship?  How can you discuss sex without a huge fight?

1. Set up a neutral time to talk about sex.

Not talking about the problem is NOT a solution.  If you or your spouse have differences of opinion in this area, you have to talk it through.  It you’re not able to work out an amicable solution yourselves, then feel free to seek the wisdom of a counselor.  But it must be talked about.

Wives: If your husband isn’t being sexually fulfilled, he will find a negative way to satisfy those cravings.

Husbands: If your wife isn’t being sexually fulfilled, she will flirt with others to reassure herself that she is sexually attractive.

Neither of these solutions are good for the marriage.  Find a time to talk about it, and talk about it.  Our advice: get child care and hash it out for 2-3 hours.  When it’s all said and done, you may have a great time having “make-up sex”.  And when that’s done, you may wonder why you ever fought about sex to begin with!

2. Begin working on your marriage outside the bedroom. 

Sometimes sex isn’t happening because your friendship and emotional intimacy is not strong.  This is just as likely for men as it is for women.  So take opportunities to spend as much time with each other as possible.

Wives: He wants to know just how much you appreciate all he does for the family. He wants to hear that you still find him attractive.  He wants to hear more about what he’s doing right than what he’s doing wrong.  He wants to hear more, “thank you for _________ today” more than he wants to hear, “I need you to ___________ today.”  He wants to know that you care more about him than the stuff he does.

Husbands: She needs to hear that she’s attractive.  She hears this not only in words, but in time spent with her.  When you spend time with her, she is constantly reminded that you chose HER over every other woman on earth.  She wants to hear this, both verbally and non-verbally.  The more time you spend with her, the more she knows you find HER as the post important part of your life.

The simplest solution to communicating these things is to spend more time together.  If your lives are nearly as crazy as ours, here are a couple of suggestions.  1) Stop watching television, and talk about something instead.  Yes, we know guys generally hate this.  But maybe the conversation can be about sports.  Maybe you can each listen to a podcast on a subject HE is interested in and talk about what you liked / didn’t like / understood/didn’t understand about it.  Take a Saturday to do something together that you both would be interested in doing.  It’s not brain surgery, but it does take some thinking and some work.  But this work will benefit the marriage, and most certainly your sex lives will benefit as well.

3. Understand that your spouses needs may be different than yours.

Wives: He really may need to have sex every other day, or sometimes 4-5 times a week.  And receiving this from you may be the one thing that causes him to forget about the rest of life’s worries.

Husbands: She may have emotional needs to be satisfied sexually more than you.  You may think, “I told you I loved you…and I still do!” but she still needs to be SHOWN that you love her.  She wants to know that you desire her, not your work.  She wants to know you desire her, not the ballgame.  She wants to know you desire her, not the video game.

Inevitably, this is what leads to many arguments over sex…one person has a larger sex drive than their spouse.  Each spouse must come to the understanding that their spouses drive is different.  Take time to understand these differences and then commit to working it out.

As the small pile of rocks at our doorstep grows larger and larger, we cannot help but think of the number of days our daughter has walked with some form of discomfort.  Likewise, we cannot help to think of how many marriages are regressing due to different opinions on sex.  Take opportunities to remove the rocks.  Live with the knowledge that sex is an important part of marriage.  Removing the rock will make things not only more comfortable for your spouse, but for you as well.

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Linking with: Women Living Well & To Love Honor and Vacuum

Curb Appeal: 5 Ways to Make Your Marriage More Attractive

In our post yesterday we wrote the first three ideas about how to add some curb appeal to your marriage.  Today we will continue the list.

1. Speak well of your spouse.

2. Be honest about your marital struggles.

3. Find a mentor and be a mentor.

4. Be generous.

Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes.  You can be generous with your time, your talents, your energy, your encouragement, and your service.  As humans we all tend towards selfishness and self-centeredness, but taking the first step in being generous to the one with whom you share your life makes a huge difference.  It  is so much better to be married to someone who is generous rather than stingy.  It’s important to remember that when it comes to generosity, your life will be changed as a result of giving generously.  It is great to have that generosity returned but even when it’s not, serving your spouse still changes you, and it changes you for the better.

5. Forget the bad, remember the good.

All marriages experience both good times and bad.  There are instances when remembering the commitment  you made to your spouse will pull you through a difficult season.  There are times when forgetting past wrongs will enable you to experience the freedom of the here and now and provide hope for the future rather than keep you stuck.  Forgetting the bad and remembering the good will help you to enjoy your marriage, your family, and help you recognize that the best is yet to come.  And when others see you always focusing on the positives, they’ll begin to desire the same curb appeal for their marriage as well.

These 5 Tips for Greater Curb Appeal don’t come naturally.  They each take a lot of work.  But marriages who consistently apply these 5 principles experience a great amount of joy, satisfaction and peace.  They may not be “perfect” marriages, but they are “consistent” to excel in these areas.  They get noticed, and not because they’re trying to be noticed, but simply because they’re fulfilling God’s plan for the covenant of marriage.

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Linking with: Women Living Well and To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

Curb Appeal: 5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Attractive

I (Megan) have spent the last couple days outside tending to a very late planting of our vegetable garden and some other miscellaneous yard work. It’s a lot of fun for me and it adds a somewhat nice curb appeal to our house.  Though we are far from having a magazine worthy yard, we try to do what we can to make our house look attractive and inviting.  It’s rewarding to us, even if it is just us who will regularly notice the improvements that have been made.

We try to do the same thing within our marriage.  We work on things that others may not typically notice, thus adding curb appeal to our marriage.  Overall, this makes our relationship just that much more enjoyable.  While others may not often notice the effort we put into our house, there is a much greater probability they will notice the effort we put into our marriage.  Our marriage “curb appeal” may even help others have a higher opinion of marriage.  When we talk about curb appeal we are not talking about how to make marriage simply appear better from a superficial standpoint.  We are talking about how to actually make marriage stronger and in turn helping others think more highly about marriage.

Below are a few ideas about how to add some curb appeal to your marriage.  Ideas about how to positively impact those around you and raise their opinion on marriage.

1.  Speak well of your spouse.

We believe so much in this that we have already written about it here and here.  It is a point that we deem worthy of repeating once again.  We say it over and over again because we need reminded of it and can only guess you do to.  Speaking well of your spouse enables your spouse to trust you completely and it is such an important part of communication.  When it comes to the way you speak about your spouse in front of others remember that it affects their perception of you, your spouse and the institution of marriage as a whole.  So, continue to work on this and reap the benefits of your work.

2.  Be honest about your marital struggles.

We believe that marriage is not always easy.  It takes work, good communication, lots of grace and outside support.  When we as couples are not willing to admit our weaknesses and our struggles we are suddenly out of reach of many hurting couples.  If we claim that there are no problems, then others are unable to relate to us or even worse they may feel isolated and alone with their struggles.  Our marriages become much more attractive to be in when we understand we are two broken people who have baggage we brought into the relationship.  If you want others to look at your marriage as an example then you need to be real with people.  None of us have it all together and the sooner we can admit that the sooner we can help each other out in the areas where we need help and can offer help.  ***Keep in mind that being honest about marriage struggles does not go against tip #1.  When sharing with others about struggles don’t share about your spouses struggles but about your struggles.  There is a big difference between blaming your spouse for your issues and owning up to your own junk.

3. Find a mentor and be a mentor.

If you really want life to get interesting then step out and find people to talk about life together.  Our communities need strong marriages and our marriages need strong community.  Understanding that we don’t have it all together is a step in the right direction but if we fail to understand basic principles as to how to move forward and work on our marriages then we are no better off.  Maybe there is another couple in your life that you respect and admire.   Ask them how they make it work.  Find out where their strengths are and then think of ways you can learn and adapt what helps them into your own marriage.  If you can’t think of someone who can help you then by all means think of others you can be a positive influence on.  Whether they are younger or the same age doesn’t really matter just strive to be real, honest and open about how much we all need encouragement to keep working on and engaging in our marriages.

Tomorrow we will look at two other ways to make your marriage more attractive.  Read part two here.

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Linking with: Women Living Well and To Love Honor and Vacuum