Archive | August 2014

Are You Up for a Challenge?

Being Married is Like Riding a Bike

Twenty-seven years, two days, eleven hours, and thirty-nine minutes. That’s how long I’ve been married to my husband.

You might think that after more than a quarter of a century, we’d have this marriage thing down pat. That by now, the hard work would be behind us. That maybe we could just coast through the rest of our marriage with the wind on our faces, enjoying the view.

You might also think that writing books on love and respect would so cement those concepts in my mind that I’d no longer struggle with them myself.

But if you thought any of those things (like I sometimes do in my naiveté), you’d be wrong.

Marriage is like riding a bike. You can only coast for so long before losing your momentum and falling over. You’ve got to keep pedaling if you don’t want to crash.

That’s part of the reason I signed up for Revive Our Heart’s new 30-Day Respect Challenge over the weekend.

I’ve been waiting since February for this challenge to be released. That’s when Revive Our Hearts first contacted me about turning my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect, into a 30-day Challenge.

I enthusiastically agreed and provided the extra 5 days worth of material they requested, then waited eagerly for their design team to get everything else ready.

The process took several months, but last Friday, on my own 27th wedding anniversary, the project was finally completed and released.

I signed up for it immediately, wanting to experience the challenge myself and thinking it would be a nice review. At least on a subconscious level, I imagined myself being able to check, check, check off each day’s challenge. After all, I wrote the book. It should be old hat by now, right?

Well, the first day’s challenge was delivered to my inbox yesterday morning. It took all of sixty seconds to read, but brought with it something I wasn’t really expecting: Conviction.

Not initially, but within an hour of reading it.

I’d checked my email before church and found the first day’s challenge waiting for me: CHOOSE JOY. Been there. Done that. I’m a naturally happy person, so I marked that off my list and moved on.

Flash forward forty-five minutes, and I was sitting at a breakfast table in a bagel cafe listening to my husband recount how he’d fed the goldfish before we left for church that morning.

We have an unusually friendly goldfish who lives in a bowl on a ledge behind our kitchen sink. He swims to our side of the bowl every time anybody comes into the kitchen, wagging his tail like a puppy and begging for food. My husband, especially, finds this behavior impossible to resist.

But unbeknownst to Doug, I’d already fed the fish when I first got up. And I’d changed the water in his fishbowl, too.

And so I immediately began quizzing my husband on how many pellets he’d dropped into the bowl. And reminding him that if he gives the fish more than three or four at a time, they sink to the bottom faster than Gill can eat them. And explaining that when food sits in the bottom of the bowl, it turns the water murky, which means I have to change it every other day instead of once or twice a week.

Can you sense what’s happening here? I’m getting testy over four extra flakes of fish food! My husband’s been as generous with the fish as he is with all the people in his life, and I’m letting that fact threaten to steal my joy.

That’s how easily I’m tripped up at times.

But fortunately for all of us, that first day’s challenge was fresh on my mind, and it helped me to recognize this situation for what it truly was: An opportunity to CHOOSE JOY. A chance to practice what I preach. A moment that called for grace and love and respect and thankfulness.

And so, mid-way into my exasperated lecture on The Proper Way to Feed a Fish, I stopped and chose to laugh instead.

I smiled at my husband and told him how much I love him. Our family had an absolutely wonderful day worshipping together, sharing meals, and fellowshipping with dear friends.

And the fishbowl was still crystal clear when we got home.

I’m looking forward to the next 29 days of this free 30-Day Challenge. I think it’s going to be a great time of growth for me and of blessing for my husband. Want to join me? You can sign up here.

And if you’d like more than a 60-second synopsis of each chapter, I’d encourage you to get the book. When you order a print copy through Revive Our Hearts, you help support their wonderful ministry worldwide.

Or, if you’d prefer reading a digital copy, you can get it on your Kindle for just 99-cents through Wednesday of this week.

Why I Keep Saying “Yes” to Sex

Why I Keep Saying Yes to Sex | a word to wives from lovinglifeathomeAuthor Leah Holder wrote a terrific post this week for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which she entitled Why I Keep Saying “No” to Sex.

The gist of the article is this: She says “no” because she is not yet married.

Sexual purity is important to her because it is important to God, and she has therefore made a commitment to save sex for marriage, however unpopular or difficult such a decision has sometimes seemed.

The Bible is very clear in its stance regarding sex outside of marriage. (Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:4)

The reason we have the skyrocketing rates of STDs, abortion, divorce, and single-parent families we see today is because far too many people have ignored God’s guidelines in the area of sex for far too long.

But there is a flip-side to the coin: The Bible also speaks clearly about what our attitude toward sex should be once we’ve walked down the aisle. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Sex between husband and wife, says God, is a good thing. (Genesis 2:24-25; Genesis 1:28, 31)

Sex within the context of marriage is part of His perfect design. That is why I keep saying “yes” to sex within the context of mine:

  • Sex is Protective
  • I’ll be honest. I didn’t fully appreciate how vitally important sex would be to my husband (and to my marriage), until after I’d married him. Like the vast majority of men, my husband likes to have sex. Often. After my early attempts to lower his expectations concerning frequency failed to convince him, I did what I should have done from the start: I changed my priorities to match his. Sure, I could have stubbornly insisted he wait for the weekend. He married me for better or worse, and — being a man of integrity — I believe he would have honored his vows regardless. But much of the joy and happiness and satisfaction and delight that comes from fully embracing God’s purpose for passion in marriage would have been forfeited had I done so. And it would also have made it far more difficult to resist the many, many, many temptations that daily present themselves in this sexually-charged culture, if he didn’t have a wife at home who is ready and willing to take care of his needs. To deny your husband physically is to leave him vulnerable and unprotected. (1 Corinthians 7:5) It is foolishly shortsighted. Why would any thinking woman do it?

  • Sex Promotes Good Health
  • There is not a vitamin, supplement, or herb on the market that benefits our bodies as much as monogamous sex in a loving relationship: It boosts energy and immunity; increases longevity; decreases the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease; alleviates stress, anxiety, and depression; strengthens and tones muscles; improves mental and emotional health; promotes deeper, more satisfying sleep; and fosters a more youthful looking appearance… just to name a few. Want to know more? The first 11 chapters of my book, Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself, discuss in detail the studies that support these and myriad other blessings that come from prioritizing sex in marriage.

  • Sex is Pleasurable
  • My husband took me out for a hibachi dinner date a couple of nights ago, and the other people at our table complimented our deft use of chopsticks. Where did you learn to do that? they wanted to know.The answer? We first visited a hibachi grill on our honeymoon, and my husband thought it would be fun to eat the entire meal with chopsticks, so we did (albeit very awkwardly). With every bite, more food fell back to our plate than made it to our mouth. But after 27 years of practicing every time we go out for Asian food of any sort, we’ve steadily improved so that now we’re both very comfortable and adept at eating with chopsticks. You may not realize it, but a similar thing happens with sex. Sex may be novel and new on your honeymoon, but it just gets better and better with practice, so don’t give up or quit too soon. I can testify that after 27 years, sharing physical intimacy with my husband is more pleasurable than I ever imagined possible when we were first getting started. What was fun but fumbling and awkward in the beginning, is still fun but has become more natural and easy over time.

  • Sex is Procreative
  • I love babies, and sex makes babies, so that’s just one more reason to love sex! While it is true that God intended sex for marital oneness, that’s only half the story. He also intended it for fruitfulness. And one of the advantages to embracing this aspect of sex is that it makes for greater spontaneity — no pills to pop or scrambling around in the heat of the moment for a misplaced diaphragm. Of course, being open to children does not automatically guarantee you a Duggar-sized family — we’ve known lots of couples who would’ve loved to have lots of children, but were only blessed with one or two despite never doing anything to prevent pregnancy. Still, there remains an obvious link between having sex and having babies, and the more comfortable you are with that fact, the easier it will be to fully enjoy the physical part of your marriage relationship.

  • Sex is Part of God’s Plan
  • God made sex. He made it for a purpose, and He made it good. Even if your marriage isn’t what it should be — or if sex with your husband isn’t what you thought it would be — you can still choose to live in cooperation and obedience to God’s original purpose and plan for sex in marriage. If your husband shows interest when you’re not in the mood, accept his advances anyway. Willingness often precedes desire for many wives, and responding positively and sincerely to your husband’s romantic overtures will put you in the mood in a hurry. If you are interested when your husband is not, initiate sex yourself. Admire him, flirt with him, and encourage him every chance you get, praying that God transform this aspect of your relationship into everything it was meant to be.

In our society today, I know a lot of women say yes, yes, yes to sex before marriage, and a lot of wives say no, no, no to sex afterwards. This is completely backwards. In the end, such practices lead only to heartache, frustration, disease, and constant emotional turmoil. This was never God’s plan for sex.

If you are single, do everything you can to protect this vulnerable side of yourself and save it for marriage, then share it with one person, completely and consistently, for the rest of your life.

If you are married, don’t treat sex like some rare, exotic spice to be sprinkled sparingly on special occasions. Realize, instead, that sex was meant to be a staple for married couples — more akin to bread and water or meat and potatoes — and should be enjoyed regularly in liberal amounts. Doing so will strengthen, support, and sustain your marriage like nothing else.


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