Sex and Relationships

Wife, do not refuse your husband’s compliments about your beauty

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 10 Comments

woman and manLadies…correct me if I’m wrong…you want to be found beautiful in the eyes of your man.

Am I right?

So if that’s true, let me play out a common pattern I’ve seen during my ten years of marital and premarital counseling.

Husband sees wife. He’s struck by her beauty. He comments.

“You’re beautiful.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes. You are.”

“No.” Then some variation of you’re wrong, or you’re crazy, or it’s not true.

one directionWhy would she respond this way? There are several possibilities. Wives may not want to appear conceited or vain. It may seem more honorable to deflect such attention. It’s possible One Direction’s mantra has sunk in deep (you know, you don’t know your beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful).

But, honestly, what is a husband to do with that?

Consider this: your husband is the target of a daily tsunami of sexual beauty. Their goal: his consumption of that beauty (often in unhealthy ways). He resists. He fights. He kills the lusts of his eyes and flesh.

At day’s end, he returns home. He walks through the door to a million pressing needs. None of it matters. He sees her. He sees only her. And she’s rocking it. In those jeans. With that hair. Typing away on her laptop. He desires her.

“Babe, you look great.”

“What? Why?”

“Those pants.” “That hair.” “Just you.”

“Whatever.” “No.” “These pants?” “I haven’t even done my hair.” “You. You’re weird (or fooling with me or wrong or crazy).”

Wives…could I – as directly and respectfully as possible – ask you to reconsider this type of response? Let me explain why.

He sees you. He sees only you. Let him be attracted to you. Did you hear that? Let him. Give him permission.

a woman needs to be told she is beautiful uplifting loveHe made vows to love you. Not others. You. He is, in part, fulfilling marital vows when he says such things. Do not refuse that. Receive it. Accept it. With a smile. Or a “thanks.” Don’t return it to sender. “Wrong address.” “That person doesn’t live here.” You do live here. He knows who he is saying it to. It’s you.

“But I just feel gross.” Or “ I don’t feel pretty.” Or “I got baby spit up on me, haven’t taken a shower, and still need to brush my teeth.”

He didn’t see those things. He sees you. It honors him when you receive these compliments rather than deflect them. He is loving you right now. He’s showing this. He’s telling you that he thinks you’re beautiful. Trust him.

Questions: What do you think? Why do women tend to deflect, rather than simply receive, compliments on their beauty? And how might this deflection of compliments negatively impact your relationship? Please, share your thoughts in the comments section below.

**Thanks to my wife for her helpful insights and edits to this post.**

Similar posts:

  1. How important is physical attraction?
  2. Attracted to someone? The art of expressing it.

5 essential actions husbands too often miss

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 6 Comments

Wedding kissMarriage is not easy. Many do not make the finish line.

Divorce does not happen in an instant. It results from unresolved failures and hurt over a long period of time.

In an effort to strengthen marriages, here are 5 essential actions husbands must take, but too often miss:

  • Love God with high accountability. Let’s be honest. How easy is it to appear godly on Sunday mornings? It doesn’t take that much. Say “hi” with a smile. Sit in the sanctuary during the worship service. Thank the nursery worker for holding your inconsolable infant. How much harder is it to actually be godly while at home? There is nothing that has grown me in my relationship with God like my relationship with my wife. She will not permit me to live less than God’s best for me. The Bible says one person will sharpen another as iron sharpens iron. I used to read that only as a recipe for mentoring. But it’s also a great rule in marriage. When done biblically, husband and wife sharpen one another, quickly pointing one another back to God.
  • Bear responsibility in marriage. Before marriage, I took care of me. Only me. Even at that, I did a poor job. I’d watch 20 hours of football a weekend on a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Marriage catapulted me into responsibility. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Somewhere responsibility got a bad rap. Responsibility became an object to be avoided by husbands rather than embraced. So much so that there’s a joke where husbands are counted in the family as one of the kids. That joke needs to die. It will, as husbands bear more responsibility. Men crave the respect of their wives. One way by which they will show themselves respectable is by bearing a greater amount of responsibility in marriage.

Many of you who are husbands will also become fathers. Bearing that title is not easy. For example, I can walk into just about any group of people and instantly be given some measure of respect. It may be less. It may be more. But people will grant me that, even ones who don’t know me that well. Then I walk into a room with my (then) toddlers, the only two people on the planet that can call me daddy. I tell them to hold on to that, but they drop it. I tell them to drop it, but they hold on to that. I say, “Come here,” and they run away. No obedience. No respect. The beautiful thing is that they don’t stay this way. They grow. They change. They begin to show hints of obedience and respect. And we get the privilege to share in that.

Men can have the tendency to eject themselves out of situations where they don’t have the answer. In marriage and parenting, that is going to happen often. Many of life’s challenges (e.g. miscarriage, loss of a parent, unresolved conflict, unemployment, sexual issues, unmet expectations, parenting, the holidays, the in-laws, sinful choices, etc.) do not have a clear-cut good option. There aren’t easy answers. But husbands must keep showing up. Too often marriage and family get eclipsed by work pursuits. It’s easier for men to stay in an environment where they feel exceedingly competent and highly compensated. But there’s only person on the planet who can be a husband to your wife and a dad to your kids – you. Stay engaged. Bear the responsibility that is rightfully yours.

  • Holding handsConnect emotionally. Too much of a stereotype? In all my years of marriage counseling, I’ve yet to hear from a wife who says their husband shares too much of his heart. There are rare couples where the husband is more of a “feeler” than his wife. Yet vastly more common is the stereotypical couple. She shares from her heart. He does not. Or he does so very little. In such cases I often ask the wives, do you want to hear more from him? “Absolutely!” “Well, of course!” “I would love it!” I’ve yet to hear a wife say otherwise.

So what an opportunity you husbands have! Your wives want to hear from you. They want to hear about your work project, next home remodel idea, and family vacation dreams. Believe it or not, husbands, you feel a certain way about these activities. You may feel stressed about a deadline, angry over a remodel bid, or eager for that getaway. She wants to hear about that.

Wives, you tend to start with emotion. You unwrap this bundle of feelings as you talk with your best friend, co-worker, mom, and husband. Some of these emotions have arisen out of something concrete. But not all of them. With some of the feelings you are unable to discern their cause. You just feel this way and you don’t know why. Husbands have been baffled by this for centuries. It’s why we ask, “Could it be this? This? That?” We don’t get it.

Conversely, wives, your husband likely starts with something more concrete – a golf score, paying bills, hitting a work deadline. Each of those activities absolutely brings emotion. It’s just men don’t start with their emotions. They start by describing the activity. For example, “I had driven the golf ball 250 yards. It left me 230 yards out. I can never hit my 3-wood straight. It always ends up in the trees or out-of-bounds. But I hit that ball straighter than I ever have. It rolled up the front edge of the green, tracking toward the pin, and then disappeared! I fell over with excitement. Guys were hooting and hollering. It felt amazing.” Hearing him describe the event is often the tunnel through which you must pass to arrive at their emotions. What baffles wives are the activities husbands choose to get excited about. She questions, “So, you don’t like either of these football teams, but you’ve created your own team, which has a player from each of these teams, and if they get you enough points, you win a fake game.” To which he replies, “It’s not a fake game. It’s fantasy football.”

  • Measure your time. It was a perfect summer day. You know the kind that comes around only once or twice a summer? (I don’t live in SoCal. This is Minnesota.) I was on the north side of my house doing I know not what. But I’ll never forget it. On this day, this perfect day, I wanted what I wanted. I didn’t want to be doing this. And in a moment of frustration I silently cried out to God, “When do I get to do what I want to do? When do I get control over my time?” And as I stewed in self-pity God came to me gently and clearly. “Who said it was your time?” In that moment I was reminded that it’s all God’s, including my time. In marriage my time is used under God in service to my family.

Husbands, your time is not your own. It’s parceled up into countless different commitments. If you need a break or some time to yourself, talk to you wife. Do so long before the break you consider is divorce. And, those of you with children, realize that your wife hasn’t truly had a break break since nine months before the kids were born. As a bachelor, you measured free time in weeks and days. As a husband that often shrinks to an hour here and an hour there. As a dad free time is measured in minutes and seconds.

  • Bring her pleasure in sex. Imagine that. Husbands, sex might actually be for her pleasure, not just yours. One of the more common but less known realities of marriage is how sex becomes a one way street. It becomes just for him. She “gets it over with.” She “services” him. She “avoids it all costs”  whether through headache, tiredness, or monthly cycle. While not discounting the differences between the genders, let me state unequivocally, wives are designed for sexual climax and fulfillment too! It is intended to be intimate, sensual, arousing, and pleasurable for her too. If it’s been one-sided, change that. Sit down to discuss what needs to change. Do you need to learn about her body? There are books for that. Do you need to carve out more time for it? That is doable. Do you need to connect to her emotionally? Take time to talk with her, listening to what she is excited, worried, or thinking about. Do you need to bear greater responsibility with the kids so she might have a bit more energy for sex? Do it. Do it now. Sex is designed to be a two-way street, a mutual give and take. Husbands, make sure you’re giving.

What do you think? Add your comment to the conversation. We’re here to help one another learn and grow. You can help us by sharing your thoughts.

Or read of other posts on marriage and sex:

  1. Christian couple questioning value of abstinence before marriage
  2. On being single in the Church
  3. On divorce – from three people who’ve experienced its pain
  4. Should your spouse be your best friend?
  5. Learning about sex from making brownies
  6. 105 (respectful) comments regarding gay marriage

How are we in the church combating loneliness?

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 6 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.46.39 AMPeople are lonely. A Barna report found 20% of people self identify as lonely. In another study, 11% felt lonely often.

Researchers indicate there is no objective criterion for measuring loneliness. Rather it is a subjective feeling regarding either (1) a lack in number of desirable relationships or (2) a lack in intimacy within those relationships. This means, for example, that three friendships of considerable depth could lead one person to feel lonely and another not. It’s subjective.

It’s also hard to discern if others are struggling because loneliness if felt within. Yet one study above says 37% of us senses a close friend or family member is very lonely.

There are consequences to loneliness. Feeling this way consistently can negatively affect physical and mental health. Examples listed were obesity, elevated blood pressure, disrupted sleep, and even premature death.

FlyFishingIsolation is not all bad news. I read in one place where it was advocated that we all become introverts. This author believed a certain amount of introspection was necessary for creativity, self-awareness, and rejuvenation.

I can agree with this author that the problem is not just “being alone.” So the solution is not just getting people around others.

My question to you is how do we, in the church, combat loneliness in a healthy manner?

Here are a few approaches being suggested beyond church walls:

  • I came across this article titled, “Fighting loneliness with cuddle parties.” It’s a place intended for individuals who crave non-sexual human connection to “meet new people, to enjoy amazing conversations, to touch, to be touched, to have fun…all in a setting structured to be a safe place for exploration and enjoyment.” I don’t agree at all with this solution. But I think it reveals people’s desire for connection through touch.
  • Others would advocate a more cognitive approach. Such people believe stopping destructive self talk is the primary step to combating loneliness.
  • Pet lovers may already be yelling at the screen, “Buy a dog!” I think this could be a part of the solution but it’s unlikely the entire solution.

My question to you is how do we, in the church, combat loneliness in a healthy manner? How do we combat it in ourselves? How do we help others combat it in their own lives?

John Milton said, “Loneliness was the first thing God’s eye named ‘not good.’”

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.47.47 AMMother Theresa once said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbor.”

So how can we, the church, make a difference in this area? How can we combat loneliness together?

I’m looking for any concrete, practical ways to help the lonely in our midst. What do you think?

Should your spouse be your best friend? Prominent pastor says “NO!”

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 12 Comments

1015g4“There was a time in my life when I nursed two irresponsible thoughts: I saw [my wife] as my best friend, and I concluded that my life was too busy for close friendships.”

The quote comes from Gordon MacDonald, a once prominent pastor and current chancellor of Denver Seminary. He has also served as a counselor to former President Bill Clinton and editor-at-large with Leadership Journal (connected to Christianity Today). In other words, this is one smart dude.

He makes his point explicit by saying “a spouse and a best friend are likely to be two different people.”

I find his words jarring. Especially when I consider the Christian subculture of marriage.

How often have I heard of a fiancé exclaiming, “I’m so excited to marry my best friend”?

It begs the question, what does MacDonald believe a best friend should be and do? And how does that compare to what he believes a spouse should be and do?

MacDonald clarifies that a best friend should challenge him in “such things as the quality my marriage, the state of my soul, the quality of my speech, the style of my financial life, and the depth of my relationships.” He says relieving his wife of some (emphasis mine) of that responsibility has increased their intimacy and connection.

After hearing him out, I bristle less than I did at first. He would use the term “best friend” in a manner differently than me.

I do believe that my marriage can benefit from having a dude speak into my life. And I believe I have this with several men.

In the end, I’m still likely to call Jill my “best friend.” No one knows me better than she does. There’s no one I spend more time with. And many of the the things MacDonald calls for in a best friend, I see in Jill.

I just sent her a note asking her if I’m her bestie. I’ll let you know which box she checks.

QUESTION:

1. What was your initial response to MacDonald’s quote? Did you bristle like I did or not?

2. Do you find the marriage/best friend mantra to be a part of your Christian subculture?

3. Do you think a spouse and best friend should be two different people? Do you find any benefit in MacDonald’s distinction?

Guest Post by Sarah Taylor: Ending our wedding with our first ever kiss

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 1 Comment
First-Kiss-After-Wedding-Ceremony-600x400

Does your first kiss have to be at your wedding ceremony? No. But it could be. And that would be amazing.

When my husband and I started dating we decided that we were not going to kiss. If we did end up getting engaged and married our first kiss would be at our wedding when the pastor says, “You may kiss your bride.”

I know it sounds crazy. In fact, if I were to hear of someone doing this now, I would probably think they were a little too “fundy”.

If you know me at all, you would know the last thing I want to be is a legalist. The only things I’m legalistic about are eating ice cream every night and not being legalistic.

So why did we decide to do such a crazy thing?

It’s not because we thought that kissing before marriage was wrong. But we didn’t want to get into what happens after you start kissing (what might be classified as the “danger zones” back in the days of youth group). So we avoided doing something we wanted to do to protect our physical purity before marriage.

We both had some “wish I wouldn’t have done that” feelings from past relationships and wanted to do it up right this time around.

For me it was about setting myself up for success.

If I want to lose some weight after I’ve had a baby, I cannot have ice cream in the house. If I have ice cream in the house I WILL eat it. So I can set myself up for success by not having the ice cream in the house. I can’t eat what doesn’t exist.

So if we wanted to keep ourselves pure, we knew we had to take a few steps back from the lines we didn’t want to cross.

Now I know this is not the best plan of action for everyone. Most people are probably much stronger than me and can not eat the big, delicious bowl of mint chocolate chip when it’s calling your name from the freezer. And maybe you can have clear lines in your physical relationship that you will not cross. Great for you. For us, this was an easy way (well not always so easy) to stick to our guns on our convictions.

All in all it went pretty well.

And it was pretty great to end our wedding with our first kiss.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What do you make of Sarah’s (and her husband’s) decision not to kiss until their wedding?
  2. Can you see the benefits in making such a decision, even though it was difficult to carry out?