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Monday, September 15, 2014

[Men Only Monday]

Sincere expressions of genuine thanks hold great power to deepen intimacy and increase passion.

Have you ever heard the phrase “You become what you behold?” The idea is that whatever you focus on will tend to grow and intensify. Nowhere is this more true than in your marriage.

Today we continue to delve into ways you can grow the passion level between you and your wife by being a little more positive.

Change the Atmosphere

It’s easy to focus mostly on the areas in your marriage where you feel your wife isn’t meeting your needs. It’s natural to give disproportionate attention to the things she does that annoy you. Even though it’s easy and natural to become preoccupied with the negative stuff in your marriage, it’s also a total passion killer.

On the other hand, if you can learn to focus your mental and emotional energy mostly on the many good things about your wife, it will drastically shift the atmosphere in your marriage. I promise you that when you develop a habit of being grateful, appreciative and positive, your wife will respond by mirroring what she sees you doing, even if it isn't a conscious response.

The Power of Sincere Thanks

Chances are your wife is already well aware of the areas where she disappoints you. When you reinforce those thoughts it simply drives the wedge between you deeper. But when you learn to give grace in the areas where there is lack or weakness on her part and instead express sincere appreciation for her, it builds intimacy and makes it easier for her to draw close to you.

Sincere thanks hold great power to deepen intimacy and enhance passion.

How often do you thank your wife for the things she does routinely for you and the family? Do you compliment her on meals well prepared or do you tend to just stuff the food down and move on? Do you specifically thank her for taking care of the kids or working outside the home and supporting the family in this way or do you just take it for granted? Be watchful and purposeful to express appreciation for all that she does for you and the family.

Passion Pointers

Here are a few specific habits you can work on that will help you become more positive in a way that will help build a more passionate atmosphere in your marriage.
  • Pay your wife a specific compliment on her appearance. Every. Single. Day. Chances are that she is in a significant body image battle , and you are either fighting for her or against her.
  • Several times a week thank your wife for something she’s done as a matter of routine (laundry, dishes, kid’s baths, cooking, working, whatever). Pair your thanks with some physical, non-sexual touch, such as a tender kiss or a firm hug to drive the point home further.
  • Make yourself a list of things you most appreciate about your wife and about your marriage. Keep it handy, on your phone or computer or in your wallet. Once in awhile, take it out and remind  yourself of these things.
  • Next time your wife does something that would normally annoy you (come one, you know what I mean - we all have those pet peeves), pass it off with an attitude of grace instead of smirking, badgering her or getting huffy. Of course, serious offenses need to be dealt with in a healthy and respectful manner so as not to allow resentment to build up.
It's true that focusing on the positive has definite potential to up the passion in your marriage, if you can just learn to shift your thinking.

What other ways do you keep things in your marriage positive?  Share your ideas in a comment.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

What do a sports fan, an activist and a health nut have in common with the God of the universe?

I’m continuing today with my series on passion, which started back here.

Next time we will continue looking at more ways to build the passion in your marriage, but for today I want to pause to examine passion from some non-marital perspectives in the hopes of broadening your thinking.

If you’ve been following this series, you could already be catching on that passion in marriage might go beyond what you thought. However, maybe you need some help thinking beyond the romantic and sexual dimensions of passion? If so, read on.

Passion's Many Forms

What is a passionate sports fan? One who is super excited about their team. They probably talk enthusiastically about their team to anyone who will listen, and maybe some who would rather not. They proudly display their team's colors. They get to know their team’s every intimate detail. Are you this passionate about the team you and your spouse make?

Some are passionate for a cause. These are those activists who give lots of their time to it and prioritize it above other things in their life. They give generously to the cause. They believe in the cause and fight for it. They might read about it and study to gain more insight into whatever their cause is. Are you this passionate about the cause of your marriage?

Still others are passionate about health and fitness. They watch over their diet, ensuring only good things go into their bodies. They are intentional about working out regularly, keeping themselves strong and fit. Disinterested observers might label them a health nut. What about you? Are you a marriage-health nut?

The Ultimate Passion

There is one passion that makes all others pale in comparison.

Did you know that God is passionate about you? Do you have any idea how fiery and zealous His love for you is? Do you realize the lengths He will go to in order to have an intimate relationship with you, including sending His Son Jesus to die a cruel death?

God pursues you endlessly. He knows you completely, yet loves you radically.
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (AMP)
Yes, it is safe to say that God is a passionate lover! Does that notion make you uncomfortable? It shouldn't. The truth is that we are made in His image. If we experience passion, He must also. Of course God's passion has no sexual component, but a direct spiritual parallel that is full is affection and longing for you and me.

Take some time to think about your passions and the passions of those around you. Consider how these other passion perspectives can help to expand your view of the passion you have for your marriage and your spouse. Most of all, study the passion of God and let it inspire you toward a passionate marriage.

Can you think of other examples of passion that might help us understand passion in marriage a little better? Let’s hear you ideas.  Leave a comment.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When was the last time you and your spouse did something just because it was fun?

Next up in this series on how to grow a more passionate marriage: Playfulness.

Looking for the Passion Switch

I think it's fair to say that most couples would like to have more passion in their marriage. So, why don't more couples achieve it?

One reason is that passion requires persistence. There is no "passion switch" that will suddenly triple the passion level in your marriage. Even occasional intensely passionate encounters, as great as they are, won't be enough to sustain passion.

Remember, passion is more than just what happens in the bedroom (or wherever). Passion has to do with relishing in every dimension of your marriage, the sexual, the spiritual, the relational - all of it. It's being crazy about your spouse and being willing to show it consistently, every single day. It's spending time together and connecting regularly on an emotional level. Maybe you think that's too idealistic, but passion is truly a daily choice, or rather, a set of daily choices.

Developing a passionate atmosphere in your marriage is mostly a frame of mind; it's something that burns on the inside of you. Learn to take delight in who your spouse is. Take pleasure in your marriage. Be thankful for what you have, but always go for more!

One thing you should be deliberate about is to regularly inject playfulness into your marriage.

Just For the Fun of It

How long has it been since you and your spouse did something just to have some fun? Really. No agendas, not on the to do list, no real purpose even. Just for fun.

Regularly injecting a little playfulness into your marriage will go a long way toward keeping passions alive.

When was the last time you laughed together until your sides hurt? Can't remember? Maybe you need to play a little more.

In addition to regularly having fun, another important dimension of playfulness is maintaining a sense of adventure.

Once in a while, do something you have never done before, just to mix things up a little and keep life interesting. And I'm not just talking about in the bedroom. Even small adventures, like visiting a park you've never gone to before, enjoying a new cuisine or trying a new sexual position, will add to the sense of freshness and help keep you from getting stuck in a rut.

Here's the truth, too much routine can be passion poison!

So step outside your comfort zone once in a while and infuse your marriage with a bit of creativity and excitement. It will do wonders for the passion in your marriage.

Passion Pointers

What is fun or exciting is going to be different for every marriage. What's fun to one couple is going to be lame to another. It can also be true that what is exciting to you might be either terrifying or completely boring to your spouse. That's why you have to work together on playfulness. Find what works for you both.

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:
  • Go see a funny movie together. Yes, go to an actual theater.
  • Learn a new card game. Add some adventure by making up a strip version!
  • Buy and play a new board game.
  • Make love in a different room of the house.
  • Pick a new restaurant to visit next time you go out to dinner instead of "the usual." Try ordering something you've never tasted before.
  • Make plans to explore a new nearby city together
  • Take a cooking class or dancing lessons
  • Surprise your spouse with one of these ideas.
On a whim, I recently shocked Jenni when I agreed for us to take some Salsa dancing lessons that were being offered at our church. We quickly discovered that we are no Fred and Ginger, but we had lots of fun and got to laugh hysterically at ourselves once every week for several months.

The thing is, as I said above, you are going to have to be purposeful about playfulness. In the midst of the craziness of life, fun and adventure won't necessarily just happen on their own. You will have to make room for them and be intentional about it. Trust me, though, it will pay off.

What do you and your spouse do to play together? Share your experiences and ideas in a comment.



If you missed the other post in the Passion Series:



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

[Wives Only Wednesday]

Spark passion by relentlessly pursuing your husband HIS way.

I proposed last week in "From Discipline and Duty to Delight"  that passion is a key ingredient to delighting in your husband. When passion runs deep in your marriage, it is a delight to give generously and to love and serve him.

On Monday I offered husbands the first of four ways to pump up the passion: pursuit.

Today, I'm addressing wives separately, because pursuit typically looks very different to men and women.  As I told the guys, if you want to raise the passion level in your marriage, you are going to have to pay attention to it and purposefully cultivate a more passionate atmosphere.

Rethinking Passion

What do you envision when you hear the term “passionate marriage?”

If you are like many women, then you likely think of scenes from some of the chick flicks you’ve watched or the romance novels you’ve read.  Or maybe you are thinking more like your husband might and envisioning steamy lovemaking scenes.  Regardless, I want to push you to expand your thinking a bit beyond the romantic and sexual aspects of your marriage, though passion certainly does include those.

The kind of passion I'm talking about refers to having an underlying sense of excitement and fervor about your spouse and your marriage, having a relationship full of intensity, joyfulness and unbridled enthusiasm in both the sexual and non-sexual dimensions of your relationship.

Building a passionate marriage starts with desire. You have to want it, and you have to be willing to go after it with determination. Passionate marriages don't just happen. They are sought, cultivated and guarded. Passionate marriages only happen on purpose.

Passion = Pursuit

It's fairly common knowledge that every woman likes to feel pursued, but did you know that your husband also wants to be pursued? It's true. But the nature of what he considers pursuit is likely quite different than what you think of as pursuit.

If you want your husband to feel pursued by you, then you have to pursue him HIS way. And that may not be a way you are used to thinking.

The kind of pursuit your husband has in mind probably has a significant sexual component. There is some truth to the adage that "Men want a princess in the streets and a wildcat between the sheets." There are various versions of this, some much more vulgar, but the idea is the same. Your man feels desired and pursued when you act overtly sexual toward him. That idea might be uncomfortable for you, but I challenge you to try it for yourself. Step outside your comfort zone once in a while and watch his reaction.

The other way your husband will feel pursued is when you let him know how much you admire him as a man, as a leader, as a provider. Your husband wants to be your hero, even if he knows he sometimes falls short of that mark. I can tell you that if you pursue him with your admiration, he is much more likely to step into the hero role than if you criticize him.

Passion Pointers

What matters most is what constitutes genuine pursuit to your own husband. It could be that sexual advances and admiration won't do it for him. If you don't have a clue where to start, come right out and ask him. Be willing to really hear what he says without defending your past actions (or inactions).

Just in case you aren't sure where to start,  I'll give you a few suggestions:

  • Write him a suggestive love note. Recall a favorite encounter or tell him a few specific things about how he made you feel in bed recently.
  • Surprise him with tickets to his favorite sporting event or musical group. You get bonus points if it is something he knows isn't your favorite pastime.
  • Bring him a little token of your love the next time you are out shopping, something you know he'll really appreciate. Tell him, "I saw this and thought of you."
  • Give him a back, neck or foot rub. While you do thank him sincerely for things he's done for you recently or for working so hard at his job to provide for you.
  • Initiate sex in a creative way. Example: leave a note on the kitchen table for him to find telling him you are waiting for him in bed and to come up now.
  • Learn how to flirt with him over text message. If you want to get more explicit, there are a number of private, secure apps you can use.

You'll find a few other tips in my post "Endless Pursuit."

Two things are true about pursuit: 1) you should never stop doing it, and 2) it has to be done in whatever way means pursuit to your husband.

How are you doing in the area of pursuit? What have you found that means pursuit to your man? If there are any husbands  listening in, can you offer your thoughts on what makes you feel pursued? Leave a comment.



Monday, August 25, 2014

[Men Only Monday]

Spark passion by relentlessly pursuing your wife HER way.

I proposed in my last post, From Discipline and Duty to Delight, that passion is a key ingredient to delighting in your wife. When passion runs deep in your marriage, it is a delight to give generously and to love and serve her.

But how do you raise the passion level in your marriage? It doesn't happen by default. It requires you to purposefully cultivate a more passionate atmosphere.

In this series I propose four ways to pump up the passion. Today I'm addressing husbands with Part 1: Pursuit.

(For the wives version, check back on Wednesday!)

Passion Re-framed

What do you envision when you hear the term “passionate marriage?”

If you are a typical male, then you likely think of steamy sex and lots of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that! However, I want to push you to expand your thinking beyond the bedroom.

While it may be possible to have a passionate sex life while the rest of your marriage is in the doldrums, it’s a pretty unlikely combination. So if you want things to heat up in the bedroom, work to set the rest of your marriage on fire. Learn to cultivate passion in the entirety of your marriage.

Passion = Pursuit

You should never stop pursuing your wife. I mean never, even if you've been marriage 50 years. When you stop pursuing her, it sends your wife the message, "You are no longer the one I would choose."

How do you pursue your wife?  Let me get this out of the way early: relentlessly pestering her for sex does not constitute pursuit, at least not for most wives.

Instead, pursue your wife her way.  For many wives this means romancing her and wooing her with your love. For some of you it means going back to the kind of things you did when you were trying to win her heart. Maybe you need to bring back the things you used to do to show her your love, but have since let go of, as you allowed every day life to push out the passion.

Pursuit means being attentive to her and really listening to her. Engage and gain understanding of what she has to say.

Most importantly, learn what says "I love you" to your wife, and then go about doing those things on a regular basis.

Your wife wants to be pursued, to know she is worth your time and attention, the center of your affection, and yes, that she is desirable to you. Learn to be passionate and relentless in your pursuit of your wife.

Passion Pointers

As I said above, what matters most is what constitutes genuine pursuit to your wife. If you don't have a clue where to start, you could always ask her (I know, novel thought).

But in case you need a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction, I'll offer these:
  • Write her a love letter (keep in mind the kind of letter SHE would like).
  • Plan a romantic date. Take care of all the details like reservations and sitter.
  • Surprise her with tickets to her favorite show or concert (even and especially if it isn't your favorite)
  • Bring her a small gift out of the blue. Tell her it's for no reason other than that you love her and were thinking of her.
  • Go for a walk. Hold her hand or put your arm around her. Really listen to her.
  • Text her in the middle of the day just to make a connection. Ask her how she is doing. Tell her you miss her. Tell her you love her. 
You'll find a few other tips in my post "Endless Pursuit."

Remember these two truths about pursuit: 1) you must never stop doing it, and 2) it has to be done in a way that means pursuit to your wife.

How are you doing in the area of pursuit? Have you found what means pursuit to your wife? If there are any wives listening in, can you offer us husbands your thoughts on what makes you feel pursued? Leave a comment.


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