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Saturday, December 27, 2014
More Great Gifts for Your Marriage
There are three unique aspects to this final Friday Freebie of 2014.
First, I'm posting it on Saturday (blame it on the holidays). Second, I'm actually giving away THREE books instead of just one, so there will be THREE winners. Finally, I'm extending the length of this contest through midnight, New Year's Eve.
Each of these books would be a great gift for your marriage!
Yes, it's after Christmas, and I'm still talking about giving gifts. That's because The Gift of Sex is something to be given to your marriage all year round! So I'll be continuing with the series for at least a few more posts. (To get all these great posts sent right to your inbox, you'll want to subscribe here, but if you want credit toward the giveaway, sign up through RaffleCopter below).
Please help me spread the word about this giveaway.
- Visit my Facebook Page and like and share any post you find there about the giveaway!
- Use the Facebook buttons at the bottom of this page to like and share this post with friends.
- You can also click right here to Tweet About The Contest now.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can explore the books from the giveaway using the links below. Also if you choose to purchase them through the affiliate links below, you help support this ministry:
The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex: (Kindle Edition)
The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex: (Paperback)
Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage (Kindle Only)
Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication & Boundaries (Kindle Edition)
Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries (Paperback)
Monday, December 22, 2014
It's not high drive vs. low drive. It's the two of you, as one, battling for intimacy in your marriage.
When your spouse says they want more sex, chances are what they are actually wanting is more of you.
It is very helpful to remind yourself, when you are working on improving your sex life, that the real goal is increased intimacy between you and your spouse. The end goal is to enjoy more of each other.
Today's "more" is a common battleground for couples: frequency. How much sex is enough sex for you? How much is enough for your spouse? How do you negotiate the difference?
The Once Per Week Dividing Line
Of course frequency is not the only thing that matters when it comes to sexual satisfaction, but two things rang true in my recent poll. First, there was a strong correlation between frequency and satisfaction. Second, almost everyone wanted "more" sex than they were currently having.
Look at how the shape of the two lines in the chart below track together pretty closely through the various stages of marriage. The line of lips is the frequency of sexual encounters in an average month. The smiley face line shows the overall sexual satisfaction on a ten point scale.
Non-geeky-chart-person interpretation: more frequent sexual encounters corresponds to a higher level of sexual satisfaction (and conversely, fewer encounters meant a lower satisfaction). Certainly there are other factors that cause sexual satisfaction to ebb and flow through the years of marriage, but it appears to me that frequency is one key factor.
click to enlarge chart
The "average" number of sexual monthly encounters from the poll was around 8, or roughly twice per week. But averages can be deceiving. What was interesting was the sharp break in satisfaction level when a couple was having sex less than once per week compared to more than once per week. Have a look:
click to enlarge chart
For couples who were having sex more than once per week, 85% reported being satisfied or very satisfied in their sex life (97% of women and 74% of men). Maybe even more importantly, only five percent (1 in 20) were dissatisfied when having sex two or more times per week. Conversely, when sex dropped below once per week, 68% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied (68% of men and 69% of women). The contrast is startling.
Compromise or Cooperation
You hear a lot of marital advice around the notion of compromise.
Personally, I think compromise isn't necessarily the best solution. To me compromise means somebody (or both parties) gave in and probably neither person actually got what they wanted. Compromise is often simply managing each other's degree of unhappiness.
Remember, you are talking about lovemaking, the deepest form of human intimacy, not negotiating a deal!
Better than just a mathematical medium point between how much sex you want and how much your spouse wants, why not have a conversation about what is best for your marriage and the intimacy you share. Ask important questions like, "what is keeping us from having sex more often?" How long before lack of sex becomes difficult for the highest drive spouse? Are there things the higher drive spouse can do to contribute to the sexual interest of the lower drive spouse (including emotional intimacy outside the bedroom)?
The thing to remember is that you are both on the same team in the frequency debate. It's not high drive vs. low drive. It's the two of you, as one, battling for intimacy in your marriage. And I'm not using "intimacy" here as a euphemism for sex. I mean intimacy in all forms, which will definitely be capped when there is sexual dissatisfaction in your marriage.
The Desire for More
The numbers above say that if you aren't having sex more than once per week, both of you are more than likely unhappy about it. And I do mean both. And both of you probably want it more.
The survey found that when sexual frequency dropped below once per week, 93% of husbands and 64% of wives said that they wanted more sex (or much more sex). Overall, only one in six wives (and almost no husbands) reported actually wanting less sex than they were currently having. It's probably safe to say that for these few people, there are non-sexual relationship issues that need to be resolved.
It's important to understand, however, that those who indicated that they want more sex, don't necessarily mean they want more sex in the current state of their marriage. Many may be saying they want a better marriage, and thus would want sex more. The thing to realize is that while a lack of sex may point to unhappiness in a marriage, it can also contribute to it.
Now if frequency is not an issue in your marriage bed, I'm happy for you. But stick around. We'll look at another kind of "more" next time: more variety. You can subscribe here to make sure you don't miss out.
I challenge you to try upping your game to having sex at least twice a week and see what happens to the atmosphere of your marriage. If you are already doing that, step it up one more notch to three or four times a week.
How have you and your spouse settled the frequency question? Do you have some thoughts you would share with my readers on this very important and often contentious topic? Leave a comment.
The Marriage Bed survey on Sexual Frequency
core image credit: lightwise / 123rf.com
Friday, December 19, 2014
Your spouse doesn't just want more sex, he or she wants more of you.
How much sex is enough sex? Who gets to decide? Is compromise the best strategy? Which matters more: quantity or quality? What constitutes a good sex life? What about the whole high drive/low drive thing?
These are all good and important questions when it comes to sexual satisfaction in marriage, and yet they only touch the surface of what it means to have a sexually satisfying marriage.
Back when I started this Gift of Sex series, I explained why sex is so important to a strong, intimate marriage. If you still aren't convinced, go back and read it again. Bottom line: a marriage where either partner is sexually dissatisfied for a prolonged period is a marriage at risk.
Sex matters, because couples say it matters. In my recent poll on the meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 (Who Owns My Body?), 95% of men and 92% of women, agreed or agree strongly that "sex is essential to keep a marriage strong." That's 94% overall. Less than 3% overall disagreed. The other 3% were unsure.
Another startling result was the fact that 98% of men and 97% of women agreed (or strongly agreed) that "It is important for me to know that my spouse desires me sexually."
Sex really matters!
More of You
As can happen for any couple, a few years ago our sex life had become somewhat routine. Due to some physical issues Jenni was having, not only was it routine but also a bit clinical. Yes, we were having sex, but it wasn't passionate or spontaneous. Eventually Jenni picked up on my dissatisfaction. I admitted it was an issue, and I disclosed my desire for "more" to her.
Initially Jenni felt hurt, like I was saying she didn't satisfy me or excite me. She responded by withdrawing, saying that she wasn't what I wanted. It left me feeling sorry I had said anything. But then the Lord broke in and whispered to her, "It's not that you aren't what he wants; it's that he wants more of you."
She asked me if it was true and then, after I said "exactly," she chose to believe it. It's made a dramatic difference not only in our sex life, but in our ability to talk about it more openly, without condemnation or shame creeping in.
Couples whose sex life is less than satisfactory often argue over three kinds of "more:"
- More frequency
- More variety and less routine
- More active engagement from their partner
We'll start next time with the most obvious one: frequency. So check back for some fascinating results on frequency from my recent survey. You won't want to miss The Gift of More Frequent or any of the other coming "more" posts. You can subscribe here to make sure you don't miss any posts.
Meanwhile, enter the giveaway below. If you leave a comment, please note it in RaffleCopter so it counts toward the giveaway. You can tweet about this post once per day for additional entries. Ends Monday at midnight, as usual.
Whether you enter the giveaway or not, I highly recommend this weeks Friday Freebie as one of the best books on sex from a Christian perspective that I've read, and I've read a lot of books on the subject. It's comprehensive. It's frank. Yet it's written in a open and friendly style. If you buy through my links below on Amazon, you help support this ministry.
Click for Kindle Version or for Paperback Version.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Christmas is coming! Here is your last minute gift help!
I'm interrupting my Gift of Sex series for this very important post!
I probably don't need to remind you that Christmas is only 9 days away. Sorry if that gives you sweaty palms. But not to worry. I'm here to help.
Before I offer the promised help, I would like to remind you (once again) that Christmas is NOT about gifts. Sure, if you are like me you probably enjoy the chance to bless your wife (or husband) with a nice gift. But don't lose your focus. Remind yourself that we are celebrating the ultimate gift.
The God of the Universe stepped out of the perfection of heaven and came to Earth as a man to win you and me as His eternal bride. Now that's a gift.
Now back to the main reason for this post.
Indeed, I've been watching out for you, studiously monitoring my inbox, Facebook, Twitter and blog reader feed for Christmas gift idea lists from marriage bloggers I follow and respect. I'm sure you can find a great gift idea for your spouse among these lists!
So relax and click away...
What to Get Your Husband:
Wife’s Gift Guide to Knock Your Hubby’s Socks Off! 2014 Edition from Kate of One Flesh Marriage
Gifts for Him from Lori, The Generous Wife
Romantic Gift Ideas for Him from The Romantic Vineyard
15 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Husband from Jennifer, The Unveiled Wife
Sexy Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband from Sheila of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
50 Gift Ideas for Him, Under $20 Each from Darlene at Time Warp Wife
10 Sexy, Manly Items for Your Hubby’s Christmas Stocking from J at Hot, Holy and Humorous
What to Get Your Wife:
Christmas Gift Guide to Wow Your Wife – 2014 Edition from Brad of One Flesh Marriage
What Does Your Wife Want for Christmas? From J at Hot, Holy and Humorous
Gifts for Her from Paul, the Generous Husband
Romantic Gift Ideas for Her from The Romantic Vineyard
The all-important What Not to Give Her For Christmas list from First Things First
Gift Ideas for Women from Jolene Engle
10 Creative Gifts That Cost Little or Nothing form Jerry Stumpf of Cracking the Marriage Code
More For Him or Her:
The One Flesh Marriage Gift Idea Archive from One Flesh Marriage
Christmas Gifts to Nurture the Soul from Sheila at To Love, Honor and Vacuum
For the wives of husbands who struggle with the whole gift thing: Giving Your Husband Gift Giving Help from The XY Code
How to Get the Perfect Present for Your Spouse from Simple Marriage
Top Marriage Book Picks from Hot, Holy and Humorous
From Journey to Surrender
Sign up for my Pathways monthly marriage newsletter and get a free copy of the updated and expanded Intimate Connections, Print out the 20 fun fill-in-the-blank intimate conversation starters and put them in a nice binder.
See my archive of Romantic Ideas. Dozens of romantic gift ideas for her and even some for him.
Do you have a gift idea? Care to let us in on what you are giving your spouse this Christmas? Do you know of a good idea list that should be added to my list of lists? Bring it on! Comment!
image credit: dimol / 123rf.com
Friday, December 12, 2014
Pour a little passion into your marriage this Christmas.
It's Friday Freebie time again! Each week this month I'm giving a different gift to you as part of my Gift of Sex series. This week you can win a copy of Shannon Ethridge's book Passion Principles through the contest at the bottom of this post.
I choose this book for the giveaway this week because Shannon really gets it that sex is much more than just a physical thing. It is also spiritual, mental and emotional. Great sex involves your whole beings, and this book dedicates sections to how to integrate each area into your sex life.
This is a great book to read as a couple in order to spark some conversations, especially if you have a little trouble talking about your sex life. Each chapter includes a "Ponder the Principle" section with conversation inducing questions.
I highly recommend The Passion Principles as a way to give your spouse a gift that will spark a little more passion this Christmas. If you by the book on Amazon through my links you will help support this ministry. Click the links below for the version you want.
In case you missed my recent series Pump Up the Passion. I've recapped it below. Each post has practical tips on how to grow the passion and intimacy level in your marriage. You'll even find some tips that will make great Christmas presents.
Enter the contest below before midnight on Monday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
- Passion: The Key to Moving from Duty to Delight
- Pursuit (for Husbands)
- Pursuit (for Wives)
- New Passion Perspectives
- Positivity (for Husbands)
- Positivity (for Wives)
Enter the contest below before midnight on Monday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Give the gift of yourself to your spouse this Christmas
[Tweet This Post]
Christmas is a giving kind of season, and we're talking about giving one of the most important gifts to the most important person in your life. Yes, we're talking about the giving "The gift of Sex" to your spouse.
Last month I did a survey on a portion of scripture that doesn't get a whole lot of attention in the church. My wife actually shared in her post, The Gift of As You Wish - In Bed.
The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife.I realize these verses convey a pretty radical idea, but that's the Kingdom of God for you. Yes, there it is in black and white: your spouse has authority over your body. I was happy to see that in my survey, 93% of people said they thought this scripture still applies today. I heartily agree. But some of the other results in the survey made me wonder why the marriages represented in the survey aren't sexually stronger than what they reported.
1 Cor 7:3-4 NLT
Here is a quick look at sexual satisfaction by gender.
The Rights and Wrongs of It
Whiles it's true that spouses have the rights to sexual satisfaction from each other, there is are wrong ways to go about it. Demanding, berating, begging and bargaining are definitely the wrong way to go about getting sexual satisfaction. Throwing the above Scripture in your spouse's face isn't likely to produce any positive results either.
So what is the right way to go about assuring sexual satisfaction in your marriage? The truth is that this is a shared responsibility. I describe this shared responsibility as mutual sexual surrender. Mutual sexual surrender is simply the notion that each of you is to freely give the gift of yourselves and your bodies to each other.
It means not withholding sex or gate-keeping where physical intimacy is concerned. It means saying yes unless you have a very good reason to say no. And "I don't feel like it" is not a good reason. In my survey, almost one third of wives and 10% of husbands admitted to regularly saying no to their partners. In addition, one in three wives and one in seven husbands said that "not feeling in the mood" was a reason to deny their partner sex. These are not good numbers.
Giving Yourself Freely
I'm going to pause here to remind you of a very important Bridal Paradigm principle - the a marriage model based on the notion that we are the bride of Christ, and Jesus is our Bridegroom:
The Bridal Paradigm is more about what it compels you to give than what it permits you to demand. [Tweet This]Put another way, you should read and take to heart the scriptures on marriage that apply to you and disregard the ones that apply to your spouse. In other words, work on your half of the bargain. It's the only part you actually have any real control over.
If you are like some in my survey who regularly deny their spouses sex, for whatever reason, I'm asking you to change your thinking. Remind yourself that your body was created so the you could choose to give it as a gift to your spouse. You and your spouse are one, so any gift given to your spouse is actually given to yourself as well.
Think of the delight your spouse will feel when you give yourself as a gift to be "unwrapped." Whatever self-image issues you may have with your body, try to lay them aside for the sake of the sexual oneness that God intends for your marriage.
If you want test out what this kind of mutual sexual surrender can do to radically change your marriage, make a pledge to yourself that you will not say "no" for an entire month. Watch what happens to the intimacy and passion level in your relationship.
If you are feeling really, bold, write a card to your spouse with the one month pledge on it. Explain that you are giving yourself as a gift to him or her this Christmas.
Friday, December 5, 2014
I thought Gift of Sex month would be a great time to bring back Friday Freebies by offering my own "gifts of sex."
This week I'm happy to give away a copy of a great new devotional book by J. Parker of Hot Holy and Humorous fame (Thanks to J for making this available to my readers!)
If you aren't familiar with J's blog, and you should be, she writes about sex from a Christian perspective, with both wit and sensitivity, something that isn't all that easy to pull off. Her new book, however, filled with 52 weekly biblically-based devotions, is a bit more on the "serious" side - and that's a good thing in this context.
Although each weekly devotion is short and easy to read in just a few minutes, there is plenty to chew on. Each devotion starts with a scripture passage, then J. shares her reflections on what it means for our sexual relationship with our spouse. There are also a few thought-provoking questions, followed by a related prayer.
If you want a taste of the content check out her post, What Does a Sex Devotion Look Like?, where J shares one of the devotions that didn't make the cut of 52 that are in the book.
This is a fantastic resource. I love the idea of taking the Bible into the bedroom. After all, sex was God's idea in the first place. There is no reason to separate the spiritual from the sexual. It's all spiritual!
Below you'll find the details of giveaway, including the opportunity to take my newest poll on sexual satisfaction in marriage. Of course you can also take the poll without entering the contest at this link.
Give your marriage the gift of a better, more spiritually aware sex life. I highly recommend you get J's book for yourself or a friend. (You can get it through my Amazon affiliate link and support this ministry by clicking on the book at top of his post, or by clicking these links for Kindle or paperback.)
Hurry and enter! Contest only runs until 11:59 PM Monday!
Giveaway Details: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
When you lean into your husband's desires, rather than resist them, you can rediscover God's amazing gift of sex.
I'm pleased to present part two of my wife's previous Wives Only Wednesday post. Today, "As you wish" moves to the bedroom.
This is also first up in my series The Gift of Sex. If you missed my post setting up the series, go back and check it out.
I'll remind you that my wife originally shared this message with a group of women in the "empty nest" stage of life, but the truths here apply to marriages at any life stage.
In Part 1 of this post I pointed out that when you say "As you wish" to your husband you are actually saying "I love you." [Tweet This]
Last week we saw how your "As you wish" translates into respect, which a key need for most husbands. Not surprisingly, the other key need, as reported by husbands in our recent survey, is the need for a satisfying sex life.
While most women can give mental and experiential agreement to this wish for sex, more sex, variety in sex..., I'm not sure we really get it. That's why this quote from Paul Byerly, written on his X-Y Code blog, is so helpful:
For men sex communicates love and acceptance, while a lack of sex communicates the opposite. I realize this is not usually what women are communicating with sex and saying no, but it is what men feel. Even when you convince a man this is not what she means, he will still feel it.I'd also like to share this important "As you wish" Scripture passage:
When a man feels a good sexual connection with his wife he starts to want other forms of intimacy. Not tolerate, want. The need was always there, but it is hard to hear over the much louder need for sexual intimacy.
The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.Now don’t freak out Ladies! We can give the gift of "As you wish" in the bedroom (or anyplace he may wish), but you are the one to decide how far this gift goes. I don't know about you, but for me when I feel like I have to do something, it affects my mood, and it actually makes it difficult for me to want sex. But I have discovered that if I will lean into my husband’s desires rather than fight against or avoid them, I actually have an amazing time!! I find the truth is that great sex is important for me too!
Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together gain so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT)
Also, for empty-nesters it's important to realize that older men who want sex are not dirty old men, they are just being men! This chemistry inside of them is involuntary, and it was GOD who made them that way! It is not fair to shame your husband for something God-given and good. This is God’s idea and His plan, not just for our husbands, but for us and our marriages.
(I realize that in 15-20% of marriages, it is the wife who is the higher drive spouse, so your "As you wish" may need to be expressed in other ways. See my "As you wish" list at the end of this post.)
Sex Still Matters
As men age, their drive may appear to lessen, but in reality that drive is still chemically in him. It may take more than a thought or visual stimulation at this point, so their desire/drive may not be as obvious to you. The arousal is still there, but they may need more physical stimuli than when they were younger, and frequency may change, but remember, you are changing too!
If you are dealing with tiredness, change up the times of day that you come together. After all, you have an empty nest! Take advantage of it! Before or after dinner are great times, and it allows you to unwind for the rest of the evening. Mornings can work too!
If you are dealing with dryness and/or hot flashes or other physical issues, I encourage you to talk to your gynecologist. Research is constantly changing and there are ways to help with the symptoms you may be experiencing. KY Jelly may no longer be the lubricant of choice as it’s properties don’t address the kind of dryness that accompanies menopause or help with painful intercourse. I prefer Poise and have friends that rave about coconut oil. Care enough to research it, and be willing to try different options.
As far as the changes in your libido go, I have found that regardless of age, having sex makes me want to have sex. If I watch my energy level and get enough sleep, I find that I can think sex and my desire goes up with my thoughts. Remind yourself that sex is good and desirable and so are our husbands. Don't believe the misconception that says that if you are a powerful woman, you don't need sex.
Regardless of your age or previous sexual struggles, don't ever decide that sex is over. Sex can always begin again; it is never too late.
As You Wish Ideas
So think about how you can give your husband the gift of "As you wish" for Christmas this year, whether it in the bedroom or in the other areas of your marriage. Here are a few ideas to prompt your thinking:
- Use the phrase “As you wish” at least once a day.
- Find a way to express and say to your husband, “You are my hero”
- Change your tone
- Make a celebration list of 5 things you love about your husband. This is for you not him. As you look at this list your heart will soften towards him.
- Add something new in your sex life, perhaps this will be having sex!!
- Try texting! You can be as casual as “I am thinking of you” to using a private communication app like Couple or Avocado.
- Fight your urge to nag. Don’t do it!
- Let it go, even though you have a RIGHT to whatever it is
- Ask your husband, “What says I Love You to you?”
- Plan a surprise that is obviously as HE wishes rather than you
- Other opportunities to express “As You Wish:” What’s for dinner, which restaurant, control of the remote, which movie, how you spend your time, which route to drive, your outfit, your hair style, your perfume, how the money is spent.
With this post, you have your first opportunity to give your spouse and your marriage The Gift of Sex.
If you tend to think of sex in terms of "If I must," work on adjusting your thinking to be more in line with "As you wish." Such a change in mindset can transform sex from a duty to a delight!
My current poll, "Who Owns My Body," asks some questions around the verses of the Bible quoted above (1 Cor 7:3-5). If you haven't yet, it's not too late to take the survey now.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Stuck for what to give your spouse for Christmas? How about the gift of a better sex life?
I'll admit it. I love the Christmas season. Christmas decorations. Christmas music. Christmas trees. Christmas cookies. All of it. Well, I love almost all of it.
My one exception: Christmas shopping. Even with the online shopping revolution (Amazon is my best friend!), I tend to agonize over selecting just the right gifts for those I love the most.
A Gift for Your Marriage?
As you ponder what to give your spouse this Christmas, let me suggest you think of it from a slightly different angle. Why not give a gift to your spouse that will help build your marriage? That's right, give your marriage a gift this Christmas.
What can you give your marriage? I believe that one of the best gifts you can give your marriage is the gift of a better sex life. [Tweet This]
The main goal of every marriage is intimacy in every form (or if it isn't it should be!). God created sex as the deepest form of intimacy, and He set it up to be something unique to the relationship between husband and wife. That's His design. That's His desire. God likes sex.
A marriage where sexual intimacy is a struggle, or worse yet, is practically non-existent, is a marriage headed for trouble. Even when sex is good, there is always room to grow in sexual intimacy. No, I'm not saying marriage is all about sex. What I am saying is what many experts say. Sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. [Tweet This]
Here are just a few reasons to give the gift of sex this Christmas:
- Sex is unique. It is the one thing that distinguishes your marriage from every other relationship in your life.
- Sex is powerful. A vibrant sex life can transform your marriage.
- Sex is essential. If your sex life is hurting, you need to work on it.
- Sex is beautiful. When it is working as it should, it creates a wonderful sense of well-being.
- Sex is a window. What's happening (or not) in your bedroom often points to what is happening (or not) in your marriage.
- Sex is holy. Physical intimacy is God's gift to couples. It is a celebration of the "one flesh" covenant you share with your spouse.
- Sex is worth it. It's not always easy to embrace the vulnerability that working on your sex life requires, but it is more than worth the effort.
December: A Month of Sex
This month I'll be doing a month-long series called "The Gift of Sex."
Each post will examine a different aspect of physical intimacy. Expect that I'll be challenging some of your current thinking on the topic. Expect that I'll be giving you some unique "gift" ideas. Expect that I'll be giving you some assignments and suggestions for how to improve your sex life.
I'm kicking things off on Wednesday with a follow up to my wife's last post. Be sure to check out "The Gift of As You Wish in the Bedroom."
As part of this series, between now and Christmas, I'll also be doing weekly Freebie Friday giveaways, the first of which I'll announce on Friday. Stay tuned!
I'll also be covering some results from my recent poll, "Who Owns My Body," where I ask some questions around the verses of the Bible that say your spouse actually owns the rights to your body (1 Cor 7:3-4). If you haven't yet, it's not too late to take the survey now.
Finally, so as not to ignore the topic of non-sexual gifts, I'll be pointing you to some great posts by other marriage bloggers with tons of gift ideas for your spouse.
You don't want to miss any of this, so if you aren't a subscriber, click here and sign up to get my posts sent right to your inbox!
Check out all the posts in the Gift of Sex series:
- The Gift of "As You Wish" - in the Bedroom
- Friday Freebie: Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage
- The Gift of Yourself
- The Gift of Passion
- The Gift of More
- The Gift of More Often
- The Gift of More Engagement
- The Gift of More Variety
- The Gift of Sex: When Your Spouse Won't Give It
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
When you say "As you wish," what you are really saying is "I love you."
I'm excited to share with you a guest post by my lovely wife, Jenni.
Although the post is mostly slanted toward wives in the "empty nest" stage of marriage, the insights she shares can be applied to any life stage.
Don't forget to come back next week for part two of this fabulous Wives Only Wednesday post!
by Jenni Means
I recently had the privilege of speaking for a group of fellow empty-nester wives on the subject of marriage. Not only am I an empty-nester wife, but I am also a movie buff (especially old ones!) So to kick off our evening I showed the following clip from a classic, The Princess Bride.
Can't see the video? Click here.
In this great opening scene we discover that “As you wish” actually is another way of saying “I love you!”
This is a gift that we can give our husbands at any stage of our marriage, but I suggest it is increasingly important in the later years.
In keeping with the Bridal Paradigm our husbands are doing their best to love us sacrificially, laying down their lives for us. We are endeavoring to love them by allowing them to lead us in this surrendered love lifestyle. We look to Jesus as our example for what love looks like, “Not my will, but Yours be done” or in other words, “As You Wish”.
Choosing "As You Wish"
“As You Wish” can’t be an obligation, or a duty. For it to mean “I Love You” it must be a choice, a gift. It says you matter to me and I am willing to put your wants above my own.
- It is sacrificial.
- It is respect.
- It will probably often involve sex. (Or sex often, teehee!)
- It is not about “rights”
- It is a gift you and you alone can give your spouse.
Giving the gift of “As You Wish” makes you powerful. It is you making a choice and carrying it out. You are choosing to love as you would like to be loved and as you are loved by God.
Fighting for our own way isn’t worth it. It’s not even enjoyable when we “win” that battle. And you don’t want things to be even. Such a win-lose view makes no sense because you and your husband are one!
My wonderful husband has posted before on the statistics of what our husbands say they need most from their wives. The chart below shows the things that husbands say they need most from their wives. (The dark blue bars show the percent of husbands who chose each as their top need. The pink bars represent the percentage of wives who chose that same need as most important. Click the chart to enlarge it.)
This week we'll take a closer look at one of the top two needs of husbands: respect.
As we enter the second half of our lives, I believe that respect becomes increasingly important to our husbands. Chances are they are not going to be the young hot shot at work. No matter how great they are at keeping up with technology there’s a good chance a younger person will surpass them in some areas. They are not dinosaurs but a gold mine of experience, and they need us, their wives, to reflect their value and awesomeness back at them.
They can’t make themselves young again, but they still need to feel like a hero, our hero. Age does not change our feelings for them. They are still our hot shot and hero. We see them as they really are and let them know with our words.
As our husbands age, they need more respect than usual, and usual is more than you think!
When you give your husband the gift of "As you wish," you are saying that you respect his preferences and honor his wishes. It also communicates your trust and your confidence that he will choose wisely. It says to him that you believe in his leadership.
Yes, "As you wish" shows your man the respect he needs.
Next week Jenni will be back with part two of this post: The Gift of As You Wish in the Bedroom. Don't miss it!
Meanwhile, if you have communicated respect to your husband with an "As you wish, " we'd love to hear about it. Share it in a comment.
Related Post: From Shiela Gregoire - Why It Can Be Hard to Respect Your Husband
Monday, October 6, 2014
My marriage vows are all about what I am going to do.
The first kind of surrender involves giving your marriage, your self and your spouse over to God. This is what I refer to as the vertical surrender in marriage. That's a topic for another post.
Today I want to focus on the horizontal surrender in marriage. In essence, this kind of surrender means the surrender of self. Self-centeredness, self-protection and self-reliance don't fit in a surrendered marriage. Surrender, in this context, means not looking so much to your rights as to your responsibilities and to the good of your relationship. At times it may involve laying aside your personal preferences, sacrificing your self for the sake of your spouse and for the good of your marriage.
Surrender is not necessarily easy, but it is hugely rewarding.
If couples could really get this, I mean really learn to live lives of surrender, each unto the other, it would radically alter the course of their marriage journey for the better. That is a big promise, but I honestly believe that this kind of mutual surrender creates a wide pathway to a strong, passionate and intimate marriage. It's why I do what I do here.
My Wedding Vows Point to Me
Think for a moment about your wedding vows.
We used traditional vows at our wedding. The vows I made to my wife before God and the witnesses gathered there are all about what I promise to do. There were no ifs, ands or buts. There were no escape clauses or convenient outs. I promised to love my wife, for better or worse. I pledged to care for her, whether we be rich for poor. I made a covenant to stick by her side that includes times of sickness and times of health.
Over our 32 years we've seen both ends of the spectrum of good times and tough times. If you are like most couples, you probably have too. Whether you used a traditional form of vows, as we did, or wrote your own, the promises you made point to the choices YOU vowed to make and the things YOU pledged to do for your spouse. I'm pretty sure you didn't include any ifs, ands or buts in your vows either.
You and I, when we said our vows, we said, in essence, "I'm in this for keeps, no matter what." We believed our love was worth it, and we committed to endure any hardship.
I love how Danny Silk writes about this in his book Keep Your Love On.
A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. This choice must be based on who they are, what they want, and what they are committed to doing as individuals.
Traditional marriage vows express the nature of this choice beautifully. The two people standing at the altar do not say, “You will. You will love me and cherish me in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” And they don’t say, “I will love you as long as you love me. I will be faithful to you as long as you are faithful to me.” Their vows are all about what they are going to do. “I will love you. I will protect you. I will serve you. I will be faithful to you, no matter what.Every Day is A New Set of Choices
None of us are perfect at this surrendered marriage thing. We are all going to struggle with the many "selfs" that want to creep in. Self-focus is as easy and natural as breathing in and out. But we don't have to live self-absorbed. We have choices.
I'm thankful that every day I have a new set of choices before me when it comes to how I'm going to approach my marriage. God's mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). So I start each day with a fresh dose of grace to live the marriage I want to have instead of the marriage I used to have. Hold fast to this fabulous truth.
Choose today to focus more on your half of the marriage equation than on your spouse's half. Think of one small action you could take today that would bless your husband or wife? What choice can you make today that would put your relationship ahead of your personal preferences?
Don't worry about how your spouse will respond or if they will respond with a similar kind of selfless surrender. You can only control only your end of the vows. Remember that you pledged "no matter what." It doesn't matter how or even if they notice.
Refuse the bait of offense when your actions go unappreciated or unnoticed. Yield your feelings of offense to God and press on. Tomorrow, you will have another set of similar choices to make.
When you screw it up, and you will, forgive yourself. Give yourself the same grace God gives. And move on.
Today, and every day, ask yourself, "What Am I Going to Do for My Marriage Today?"
Do you have a story to share of how a decision to surrender changed your marriage? Share it in a comment.
image credit: lightwise / 123rf.com
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Pleasure begets passion, which begets more pleasure, which begets more passion...
Which comes first: passion or pleasure?
The answer: it doesn't matter.
Pleasure and passion go hand in hand; each feeds the other.
Yes, THAT Kind of Pleasure
Having just returned from two weeks in Asia for business, I can tell you that my wife and I both had some pent up passion that spawned some frequent pleasure when I got home - despite the serious jet lag! And the more pleasure we found in each other's arms, the more we kept passion stirred up. That's just how it works.
You see, sexual pleasure isn't like letting the air out of balloon. No, the more you enjoy each other sexually, the more passion grows between you. Frequent enjoyable sexual encounters create an unbreakable bond of intimacy that cements passion in place. This in turn creates a desire to experience more pleasure together.
It's a happy circle. A very happy circle.
I understand the life will cause passion and pleasure to ebb and flow. What if the pleasure cycle is broken and passion seems hard to grasp? You bring back the happy circle one of two ways.
- Method 1: stir your passions. Read this whole series on building passion (starting here) and do the things that create a passionate atmosphere in your marriage. Stir your sexual passions by reminding yourself of past pleasures. Do whatever it takes to get your head back in the game!
- Method 2: jump into pleasure. That's right! Remember the chicken and egg. It doesn't matter where you start. Tell your spouse you want to get your sexual connection back, and tell him or her you want to make love. Don't ask, tell. Asking doesn't count. Put yourself out there. If he or she declines, ask when you can make a date for sex. Don't relent in this. You have to start somewhere. Once you do, allow each encounter to stir passion and build intimacy.
As important as sexual pleasure is in marriage, you need more than sex to keep passion alive and well. You should deliberately do something every day that feeds your soul, something in which you can take pleasure and delight. It doesn't have to be a major thing, in fact it shouldn't be. It can be something as simple as listening to music, or enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in a quiet place. It shouldn't be anything on your task list or that accomplishes anything. It should be done for the pure pleasure of it.
I admit I struggle with this. A lot. I'm driven and busy and live by my to do list. I have difficulty taking time just for pleasure.
If you don't have a habit of taking time daily for pleasure, I suggest you start by making a list of "little pleasures." These should be things you can do in 5-20 minutes, because after all, let's be realistic. If it takes more than that, you are a lot less likely to do it consistently. Life is too busy. Now the trick is to DO them and do them consistently.
It's not easy to take time for pleasure, but it is so important to keep your soul regularly fed.
In addition to doing things specifically for the pleasure of it, it is also import to learn to take pleasure in doing the things you have to do. Again, this is not something I'm always good at. I tend to be very goal oriented. The objective is often to check it off the list. But the Lord reminds me again and again to take delight in the doing and not just in the being done.
Work at it. Remind yourself.
And remind each other.
Help Each Other Find Pleasure
The cool thing about having a life-mate is that you can help each other find pleasure.
Help each other with pleasure seeking by asking "What did you do for pleasure today?" "How did you feed your soul?" And of course if they answer in the negative, you can always offer to help them find a little of THAT kind of pleasure later on or (or maybe right now). I wouldn't make a habit of this, however, because your spouse might begin to avoid pleasure for the express purpose of garnering such an offer from you!! And like I said, you need more than sexual pleasure in your life.
This isn't something to nag each other about but to gently encourage each other toward.
Alright, let's get practical. Here are a few ideas for infusing your life with pleasure and helping your spouse do the same.
- Make a list of "little pleasures" and keep it handy. Little things you can do in 5-20 minutes that feed your soul and make you feel good.
- Learn some tasty treats that your spouse enjoys and bring one to him or her once in a while for no reason than to just enjoy.
- Be deliberate. If you are a list maker, put little pleasures on your list or in your day planner.
- Make it a goal to have sex at least twice every week. Pleasure makes you want more of it. Plan it if you need to. It still counts.
- Offer your spouse a back rub, foot rub or "other" rub. Offer the pleasure of both non-sexual and sexual touch.
- Make a "peaceful place" in your home or in your yard where you can sit comfortably in a nice ambiance.
- Connect regularly with beauty. I like natural habitats. You might find beauty in paintings or music. Beauty feed your soul.
What do you do to regularly find pleasure? Leave a comment.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
[Wives Only Wednesday]
Learning to express appreciation to your husband will positively impact the passion level between you.
Monday I told husbands about the power that being intentionally positive has to grow passion. Today I’m addressing wives with a slightly different take on the topic.
The relationship between positivity and passion may not be all that obvious to you, so let me explain a little further.
As I said in my last post, it’s really about shifting the atmosphere in your marriage. Think about. If what you think on and speak about is mostly the problems and issues in your relationship with your husband, they will tend to be amplified and multiplied. But the same is true when you are able to shift your words and thoughts to the many good things about your man and your marriage.
Whatever you focus on grows. If you want to good stuff to grow, think and speak these things.
It largely comes down to a whole bunch of little daily decisions. You can choose either to amplify the positive or the negative as each issue/opportunity presents itself. You can also learn habits of thankfulness and gratitude.
Idealism or Realism
You might be reading this and thinking that I’m being too idealistic with such talk. You might be saying, “You don’t know my husband or my situations” or “The problems are too in my face to ignore.”
But I’m not saying you can or should ignore problems and hope they go away. No, not at all. What I’m saying is that if those are ALL you focus on, if they preoccupy your thoughts and dominate your conversations, it will poison the atmosphere and leave little space for the good things to see the light of day. Negativity kills passion. Period.
So acknowledge and deal with issues that matter, but don’t let them define your relationship. Your marriage is not defined by the problems you face. Your marriage is defined by the fact that you and your husband are one, even if you don’t feel like it, so you might as well enjoy the fruit of that oneness and let intimacy and passion that results be what defines your marriage. I believe it is possible.
Opinions vary, but I’ve heard it said that it takes doing something anywhere from 15-25 times before it becomes a habit. So if you can purposefully choose positivity a couple times a day, it will only take a week or two before you will begin to change your default actions and reactions. Do this, and watch the passion in your marriage begin to grow.
Here are a few ways to be purposefully positive with your husband:
- Thank your husband for working so hard to support the family (assuming he is the primary bread winner). It’s easy to take this for granted, but it will mean a lot to him when you acknowledge it out loud. Chances are he feels tremendous financial pressure to provide.
- Pay your husband a compliment about his physical appearance. We tend to think that this is primarily a female need, but your husband does want to know you are attracted to him. Truthfully the best way to communicate your attraction to him is to initiate sex. Words are helpful, but actions in this area matter more.
- Send your husband a text to say you are thinking about something he did for you recently and specifically thank him for it. Tell him what it meant to you. Gratefulness will definitely cause him to want to do these kinds of things for you more in the future.
- Is there something your husband does as a matter of routine that you have come to take for granted? It’s easy to do, especially if he’s been doing it all of your married life. Stop and think, and then occasionally, when he does one of them, tell him you appreciate it. It will count double if you give him a slightly longer than usual kiss to go along with it.
For the next week or two, really listen to the words you speak and pay attention to the thoughts you think. Choose to turn them toward the many good things about your husband and your marriage. Come back and let us know how it affected the atmosphere between you and your husband.
Monday, September 15, 2014
[Men Only Monday]
Sincere expressions of genuine thanks hold great power to deepen intimacy and increase passion.
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.
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.
What other ways do you keep things in your marriage positive? Share your ideas in a comment.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
5:59 AM | Posted by Scott | Edit Post
What do a sports fan, an activist and a health nut have in common with the God of the universe?
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.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 of affection and longing for you and me.
Romans 8:38-39 (AMP)
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?
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.
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.
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:
- Passion: the key to delighting in one another
- Pursue your wife (Men Only Monday)
- Pursue your Husband (Wives Only Wednesday)
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