Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 14: KEEP OUT!

Scripture to reflect upon: Hebrews 13: 4 (The Message)
Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.

The whole world wants to talk about sex. Everywhere we look or turn, it’s sex, sex, sex. There’s nothing sacred or intimate about sex anymore.

As a way to earn some money last year, I became a Passion Parties Consultant—selling adult toys to women. I didn’t choose this particular business because of the products, I decided to become a consultant because the money was so promising and good. I made top sales every month, but my soul grieved with every party I did. I tried so many unique ways to avoid selling sex, and instead try and sell the notion of intimacy. That can’t work in a world where women are being sold this idea that having numerous sexual relationships are entirely acceptable.

The value of sex has decreased much like the value of the dollar. It’s worthless. When we can find sex just about anywhere we go or in anything we do, what’s the worth anymore? When sex loses the intimacy factor, all else is lost. And today’s society encourages us to chatter endlessly on and on about it.

I was currently hired to rewrite some articles for a romance website. Unfortunately, the topics are not based around “romance” as implied, but instead focus on using sex as a means of getting what we want in our relationships. We have misconstrued romance as sex. We have misplaced intimacy and allowed too many people into our bedroom.

One of the things that bothered me most about being a Passion Parties Consultant was the disgusting nature of the conversations I'd overhear. The filth and lust that ensued from these women lurked in my spirit and typically left me feeling drained. In women’s quest to be equal, they have demeaned themselves into the very type of men they despise who only look for sex. By constantly talking about sex, not only do we minimize the value of marital sex, but we also reduce our own worth. We make sex as empty and trashy as a reality television show.  

Sex between a wife and husband should remain just that: between a wife and husband. Neither one of them should be calling their best friend and telling them the intimacies of their bedroom. By doing so, you have just invited more people into your bed. “God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex” (end of verse 4). Do you really want your best friend to know about your husband’s private pleasures? It’s a thought they carry with them from that point on. Do you really want your best friend to visualize your wife naked? Then don’t EVER discuss your sexual relationship with anyone outside of your marriage! Stop minimizing intimacy, and rediscover the sacredness of sex with your spouse. Stop allowing the world into your bedroom, and make your sex life private and personal, something of great worth and value.

ACTION PLAN: Your spouse may be the best lover in the world, but no one else needs to know that! Resist the urge to blab on and on about your sex life with outsiders—I don’t care how close you are to them, they should be outsiders when it comes to this area of your life. Would you welcome your friends in the bedroom to sit and watch? Probably not! God, I hope not! But that’s what you do every time you share bedroom secrets. You have given them the key to your room to watch any time.

GO FURTHER: When your friends start to tell you about their sex life, stop them! Tell them that their sex life with their spouse is an intimate and personal connection that you don’t need to know about. Keep your friends out of your bedroom, and stay out of your friend’s bedroom, too! Learn how to put up a mental “KEEP OUT” sign on the intimate parts of your marriage.

FACT: “The marriage bed [should be] kept pure…”

Friday, October 21, 2011

No Post

I am off to a weekend retreat on becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman. So there will be no post today. If you are so inclined, feel free to read Proverbs 31, both men and women, and try to determine what that means, or could mean for your marriage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week 13: Who's Right and Who's Wrong

Scripture to practice for Relationship Revival Week 13:
Romans 12:3
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to explore Romans 12 in detail, as God has jam packed tons of helpful tips for us as couples in that chapter. We'll start with verse 3, today’s scripture.

One thing human nature predicts is that we always need to be right. We need the last word. We need to be better than everyone else. And when it comes to relationships, that can be the death of us.

This dire need to always be right suffocates good marriages. How often have you gotten into enormous fights over who’s right and who’s wrong? How many times have you found yourself unwilling to give in because you thought you knew better than your spouse? Of course this is a major pride issue, and we all know that in order to have healthy, loving relationships, we sometimes—always—need to put our pride aside.

That’s why this scripture tells us to think of ourselves with “sober judgment.” When we are prideful, it’s hard to see ourselves in the true light of day. It’s how children view the world when the sun goes down and darkness misrepresents everything around them. Suddenly, the things they saw all day now make them anxious. When we are living in pride, we are living in darkness, and the way we see ourselves is typically not accurate.

Why do we feel the need to be right all the time? And what will it hurt to admit when we don’t know something, or confess we were wrong? We sometimes make marriage a competition with our spouse, always needing to better than them and insisting they are wrong about this or that. In our need to be right, we are incredibly wrong!

My study bible explains the second portion of this scripture, “God has given,” as power from God. “There can be no basis for a superior attitude or self-righteousness since our power comes from God.” When we insist we are right, we have taken God out of the picture. We give ourselves the glory, and in the process we demean the intelligence of our partner. We might as well call them “stupid,” because when we argue about who’s right and who’s wrong, we are insulting and offending them in cruel ways without even realizing the damage that’s being done.

Sure, it’s always nice to be right. I’ll admit, I’m right about a lot of things (see that awful PRIDE!), but I’m also wrong about a lot, too. I am the first one to admit my mistakes and take full responsibility for any wrong doings I’ve done, or any wrong information I’ve provided. I am incredibly outspoken about my political beliefs, but there are some topics I’m not well versed about, so I don’t bother getting caught up in debates about them. Instead, I like to gather information from both sides. I then let common sense and facts rule my decision on where I stand.

This need to be right in all things, all the time, will lead to destructive arguments, petty resentments, and hard feelings. Is being right worth more to you than your own marriage?

ACTION PLAN: Stop looking at yourself through the eyes of pride. Sober up and consider how it looks from God’s perspective. Measure it with the faith God has given you—the abilities He’s given you! Do not consider yourself above your spouse, but rather on equal ground.

GO FURTHER: Consider what your partner is saying to you instead of only wanting to be right. Take their points and opinions into consideration, and ask them nicely why they see it that way. You can also ask them to show you the evidence of their argument. Not in a mean spirited way, but try something like this: “That’s interesting. How did you come to that conclusion? Would you mind showing me? I’d like to understand it from your point of view.” Of course that sounds a bit cheesy, but you get the point.

When I first met Jared, he was convinced he was a die-hard liberal. But on our first date, upon asking me questions about my political reasonings, he soon realized that he held those same beliefs and they didn't jive with the liberal mindset. Sometimes when we ask questions and understand why our partner believes in one thing or another, we can be pleasantly surprised to find out we actually agree on something.

FACT: Forcing others into believing you are right often makes you look incredibly wrong.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week 12: Let it Go

Scripture to reflect upon for Relationship Revival:
James 5:16 (The Message)
Live together whole and healed.

Stop holding that grudge against your husband. He said he was sorry a hundred times, didn’t he? So why, then, are you still mad and stomping around?

Let. It. Go.

When all is said and done, what does holding onto a past transgression do for you? Does it make you feel any better, or only worse? Does it resolve the issue, or only make the problem bigger than it really is?

You see, the small things—the ridiculous things—that couples typically fight about mean nothing in the long run. I spent most of my adult life struggling with men over dumb things that really didn’t mean anything except for the fact that I wasn’t perfect and that was the real problem they had with me.

Jared’s not perfect, and neither am I (believe it or not!). And yes, he does things that sometimes annoy the heck out of me, but in the larger scheme of things, my love for him overshadows all those silly things. I’d rather let it go then hang onto it and be mad at such a wonderful person for something so insignificant.

Jared sometimes doesn’t shut the shower curtain. So I shut it after he’s done. What would I solve by yelling at him? Would he shut it? Maybe. Or maybe he’d just become resentful that I would stoop so low as to get mad at him about the stupid shower curtain not being shut.

I want to live together with Jared, whole and healed. Those issues are my issues, not Jared’s, and I’m not going to make them his issues, either. And whenever I get mad at him for something so small and meaningless, I’m committing a greater sin against myself and God. So the second I feel anger struggling to surface, I remind myself that I can simply close the shower curtain myself and immediately that anger subsides. And what did it hurt me by closing it? It didn’t. It took me two seconds, tops, to shut it and that was that. I’m on my way with my day.

Jared is more important than a shower curtain. The man adores me and treats me like a princess. He respects me and showers me with love and kindness. The shower curtain could care less about me. In fact, it has no feelings about me whatsoever. Shower curtain? Jared?


ACTION PLAN: Live together whole and healed by releasing your sins. Let it go. Forget about it. Just move on. If it’s your issue, YOU deal with it, but don’t shove it on your spouse. And after you’ve dealt with it, don’t tell your partner that you dealt with it. Just do it and get over it. Don’t linger over coffee with it. Don’t entertain it. Don’t befriend it.

GO FURTHER: Confess to your partner about those piddly things that drive you nutty. But be wise with the words you choose. Don’t be accusatory and snotty. Be playful and cute about it. Present it in a funny way. Allow yourself to laugh at yourself, and allow your partner to laugh with you.

FACT: Nothing, besides God, is more important than your spouse.