7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 3a – Romance

Romance is really a recent development in marriages. It was seldom thought of or even expected until Byron and Shelley broke onto the scene with their silly romantic poetry and sonnets. Well, except for scriptures written around 900 years before the birth of Christ. Song of Solomon is a full book of scripture dedicated to romance and sexual love.

The Goodness of Marriage

We often spend time talking about the challenges of marriage.  I do believe we should prepare for these challenges but sometimes we may spend so much time preparing for the bad that we forget to celebrate the overall goodness of marriage.  For instance, did you know:

-Financial – People who remain married have 75% more wealth than those who never marry or get divorced.

-Happiness – Research shows that married couples are generally happier, less depressed, and more joyful than their single counterparts. 61-62% of married couples report being “very happy” when questioned.   Further, of those who stated they were not happy in their marriage, 70% reported being happy 5 years later if they pushed through.

-Sexual Satisfaction – Many would say that marriage leads to a boring and stagnant sex life.  Nope, research shows that married couples have a significantly better and more enjoyable sex life than singles.

-Family – Children raised in a household with a mother and a father have outcomes that are 2 -3 times better than those raised by a single parent.

One of our leaders told me a few weeks back that they had to take a break from “working on their marriage.”  She said the work had simply drained the joy out of being married.  What great insight.

On June 23rd Three Strands Ministry will be sponsoring a 3 hour workshop followed by a date night.  I promise two things:

  1. You will have fun during the workshop and learn something new about your spouse.
  2. You will have some time to rest in the goodness of marriage and spend some time celebrating your marriage as a couple and as a community.  I hope you will join us.

For more information click here.

Sexuality – Wrapping it Up

Sex has become common in the world, a base instinct like eating and sleeping.  But sex was designed for so much more and it’s importance is different to men and women.

  • -Sex is a means of connecting to your husband both physically and emotionally.
  • -Men and women are different.  A woman desires emotional connection before physical connection while a man often has to have physical connection before he can open up emotionally.
  • -The Biblical view of sex is overwhelmingly positive.  We are told it reflects the nature of the triune God and is reflective of the relationship between Christ and his people.  Further, a whole book in the Old Testament is dedicated to the physical act of passionate love.

So why does this so often surface as a problem in marriages?  We live in a broken world where the daily challenges of life drain our time and energy.  After a day of dealing with business decisions a wife returns home to find new finger paint artwork all over the living room wall and a baby that has been sick since 3 pm.  A husband returns home after dealing with a challenging boss and finds an energetic child, an exhausted wife, a sick kiddo, bills to pay, and a tree down on a the lawn.  Add to that the challenges of hyper sexuality often caused by pornography and unrealistic expectation for sex set by the media, and you have a recipe for frustration, resentment and discontent.  Life in a broken world is a challenge, but here is the truth…we make time for what is important and your marriage in important.

So Your World is Insane – Join the Club

When the demands of the world press in on us we are required to make choices.  Simply having a discussion with your husband can hep offset some of the frustration he might feel in this area.  Here are some consideration and questions to get you started:

  • What do each of you need?  Quantity, quality, foreplay, foot rubs, back massages, putting on a superman cape.  Start thinking about what each of you need for a healthy sex life and then learn to ask for what you need.  It can be a sensitive (and even embarrassing) conversation, but having the conversation is worth it.  BTW, you may have to have the conversation again in a few years.  4 times a week for a 19 year old becomes 3 times a week with a foot massage for a 30 year old becomes 2 times a week with a back rub for a 50 year old.  I’ll have to get back to you when I turn 70.
  • Both of you approach sex as an opportunity to minister to the other.  How can your husband minister to you before, during and after sex.  How can you minister to your husband before, during and after sex.  Think along the lines of what each of you enjoy.  Would you like to buy a massage table and use it weekly (best investment I ever made)?  Would you enjoy reading poetry sometimes?  Would it help if he put the kids down a couple of nights a week. Do you get turned on when he does the dished.   Let him know what you desire and allow him to share what he desires.
  • Set realistic expectations.  Not every encounter will last 4 hours and end in the bed with him feeding you grapes.  Sometimes it will last 10 minutes and he will be snoring in 12.  A realistic sex life includes snacks (quickies), meals (casual sex) and banquets (weekend escapes or all afternoon experiences).  Your stage in life will often dictate what kind of meal you engage in, but don’t get stuck in a rut.  Just because you have three kids does not mean you cannot escape for a weekend here and there.
  • Put it on the calendar.  I know, not at all romantic.  But in todays world it may be necessary.  Our lives move at the speed of light and it is easy to look back over the last couple of weeks and realize there is a reason your husband is feeling neglected.  We know what is important to us by looking at where we spend our time (look at your calendar) and where we spend our money (look at the checkbook).

Managing an effective sex life requires commitment, patience, understanding, sacrificial love, self control and determination.  But the payoff is worth it.  A better relationship, a stronger commitment to one another, better health, better sleep, and a whole lot of fun.  It is a commitment that pays dividends for years to come.

S is for Sexuality Part II

Sex is not only a physical exercise but is also an exercise in emotional intimacy.

Many wives feel like a man only sees sex as a physical act and does not see it for it’s emotional connection as well.  As time passes between intimacy, he may start to become more grumpy and sullen.  She may feel he is withdrawing emotionally in an effort to manipulate her into sexual performance.

A woman naturally connects on an emotional level and when she feels emotionally connected she will then start to respond sexually.  That is a woman.  A man has a different cycle.  A man is almost always ready for sexual intimacy and it is after sexual release that he can then begin to engage emotionally. Without sexual intimacy he may become withdrawn and frumpy (technical term).  Everyone knows this is true.  How often have you seen your male boss come in with a smile on his face and a song in his heart and you said “He must have gotten lucky last night.”  Sure you have.  Everyone knows that a man is more emotionally expressive when his need for sexual fulfillment is met.  Further, when a man experiences sexual release he receives a dose of oxytocin, the bonding hormone.   A man is easier to connect to emotionally when he is not sexually frustrated.

So, how can you help your husband to connect with you on an emotional level more consistently?  Simply be aware of three things and then act accordingly.

  • The more sexually frustrated a man is, the more distant he is likely to become.  It is part of his psychological and physiological nature.  Yes, he can control it.  No, it is not always easy.  A lot of times women simply loose track of how long it has been:

“It’s come down to a lot of negotiations. There was a time when my husband said, ‘You know, it’s been almost a month.’ I balked. No way. I counted back — sure enough. After that we had a specific contract (which days of the week). Now it’s better, so … we generally have sex about two times a week. We intend for more — but that’s usually what it turns out to be.” (married 12 years) 1

  • The more a man feels desired and wanted physically, the more likely he is to connect with the woman that desires him emotionally.  This creates a unique opportunity for you as his wife as you are the only one that should be connecting to him either physically or emotionally.
  • Making time for intimacy, and initiating intimacy periodically, creates an environment where his need for physical release is more likely to be met, and your need for emotional connectivity is more likely to be met.  Win/Win.

“He so appreciates it when I initiate.  It creates a unique closeness that lasts for several days.”  (married 27 years) 1

It will not surprise you that these facts do not surprise God.  Throughout scripture God advises us that in marriage we are to take pleasure in each other (Proverbs 5:15-19), that we should give ourselves to one another freely and not withhold sexual intimacy from one another (1 Cor 1:3-4), and that the passionate love we express towards one another is not only “OK” with God but is celebrated (Song of Solomon 5:1).  It is when we follow the model of love that God provides (sacrificial, passionate and brotherly love) that we can truly connect with our spouse in the way He planned for us to connect from the beginning;  Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

1.  Gregoire, Sheila Wray; Gregoire, Sheila Wray. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) (pp. 212-213). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

S is for Sexuality Part I

C is for Conquest

H is for Hierarchy

A is for Authority

I is for Insight

R is for Relationship

S is for Sexuality

In almost every workshop or study I have attended regarding marriage, sexuality has been discussed.  Usually, it is discussed last and seldom is it given the time required to fully understand a subject of such depth.  I believe most men will agree with me that the average woman simply does not understand the importance of sex to a man in a marriage.  In fact, I would argue that most men do not understand why it is so important.  So, in honor of men everywhere, we will spend the next 5 days on this topic.

Before I make my first point I would like to recommend a book to help you as a wife understand this topic.  The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex,  written by Sheila Wray Gregoire, does an amazing job with a man’s perspective on sex.  I have handed it out as a resource to couples dealing with this topic and it has provided a great deal of insight.  I will be quoting the book extensively in the coming week so you can hear from a woman and not simply dismiss me as just another man focused on the only thing men focus on…sex.

A difference in libido is one of the most common problems in a marriage.  In general, a man’s libido will be significantly greater than a woman’s. When she rejects his advances he will often take offense feeling as if she is rejecting him.  He huffs off feeling angry and she simply can’t understand why he would act so childishly.  In fact, she might even reprimand him for being so shallow.  He withdraws further distancing himself from his wife emotionally.  Not feeling emotionally connected, she further withholds intimacy.  This cycles can go on for years and each time it happens another brick is built in the wall between the couple.

Here is how one man explains it:

It’s been a big issue for many years. I usually withdraw. I lose sleep, and it impacts every aspect of me. My wife then gets mad at me for letting it impact me.

Another man says this:

“I don’t feel loved because my wife doesn’t want sex. I feel like she doesn’t want me personally.” “You know there is a lack of interest, but you don’t really know why. You start to think, What is wrong with me?” “I feel rejected, like my wants, needs, and desires don’t matter.” “It really hurts. I feel like a failure and a horrible husband because she almost never lets us have sex. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I feel.”

Here is the truth of the matter.  A lot of how a man feels about himself, and feels in general, is wrapped up in his sexuality.  Yes, it is a physical need, and one that a woman may not have.  However, sex is also how a man connects emotionally to his wife.  Further, it effects his emotions, thoughts, and feelings of self worth.  When a woman minimizes the importance of sex she minimizes one of his primary needs.  Further, she minimizes a need that only she can meet according to scripture.

Here is my first question for this topic this week.  How do you perceive his need for intimacy?  Do you see it as…

____ a physical need that God has wired into his nature.

____ an opportunity to minister to your husband in a way no other person can.

____ an expression of his love for you and a desire to connect spiritually.

____ a channel for him to open up emotionally.

____ something you have never really considered.

Take some time today to think about one of your primary ministries, the sexual fulfillment of your husband.

The man said, “Finally, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!  Name her woman for she was made from Man.”  Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife.  They become one flesh.  The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:24-24 The Message.