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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
If you missed my post, “Surrender vs. Satisfaction,” which sets the stage for this post, please go back and read it now before reading on.

Today I am addressing wives on the topic of sexual surrender. I addressed husbands in my last post, and I’ll be addressing you as a couple in my next one.

For you as a wife, sexual surrender will likely take a different course than it does for your husband, but there are many corollaries. Your sexual surrender starts by understanding that your husband’s need and desire for sex is God-inspired and God-given, even though it tends to look very different from your own. He does not have the same prerequisite of emotional connection you do. In fact, his prerequisite tends to flow in the opposite direction of yours: he wants sex first, then emotional connection.

Your sexual surrender implies that you should work to understand and cooperate with your husband’s sexual nature rather than struggling against it.
  • Don’t accuse him of being a sex-fiend just because he has a high desire for sex, or because he likes to touch and look at you in a sexually explicit manner. This is how he is made to be! Instead of rejecting him, appreciate the fact that he desires you!
  • Develop or enhance your sexual nature in order to satisfy your husband’s desire for sexual intimacy. It’s not acceptable to simply say “I’m not that sexual.” Find your own way of sexual expression, but find it just the same. He needs to know you desire him sexually.
  • Scripturally, the “rights” to your body belong to your husband. Likewise, you have the rights to his body. (1 Cor 7:3-4). For me these verses speak more to mutual sexual fulfillment than to simply to the act of sex. Viewing these verses through the lens of surrender implies that you should not only strive to make your body available to your husband for sex, but also do so in a way that goes beyond giving him “duty sex.” Learn to delight in delighting your husband in this way.
  • Sexual surrender implies respecting your husband’s sexuality, even though it is different than your own. Because the two of you are “one flesh,” enjoy the journey of learning how you two, though very different in sexual nature, can become sexually one. Honor and value your husband for who God made him to be, strong sexuality and all.
  • Submitting to your husband sexually has nothing to do with the dominant/submissive or master/slave lifestyle, which is an abusive and demeaning counterfeit of God’s biblical design for marriage. Sexual submission means giving yourself completely to your husband, responding to his love as Jesus desires us to respond to Him, wholeheartedly and without reservation, in an atmosphere of trust and security.
  • Part of your sexual surrender includes loving your husband “as if.” While I believe he should lead the way in sexual surrender, I also believe that sometimes you need to be able to give yourself sexually even when you don’t feel the emotional connection you desire. When you are willing to give yourself to your husband “as if” you two were already emotionally fulfilled, it can lead to that becoming a reality.

How would you feel if your husband said he didn’t feel like hearing about your day, holding hands or going on a date (pick your own method of emotional connection) until you had sex? You’d likely be deeply offended and more likely think he had a screw loose. But is it really that different when you make your husband jump through certain hoops before you agree to sexual intimacy? If you think about the difference in men’s and women’s wiring, it’s not really that much of a stretch to turn it around like that. If you want an example, go back and watch the video "I Need Conversation" from my first post in this series.

Your willing and enthusiastic approach to sex says, “I love you” to your husband. And as a side benefit, it is generally true that for women the more you have sex, the more you will want it

For you sex is a way of affirming your emotional intimacy. For your husband, sex is a pathway to it.

Some of my posts for wives on surrender:
Posts by other bloggers:

Next in the series:  A Husband's Sexual Surrender

Monday, August 29, 2011
If you missed my last post, “Surrender vs. Satisfaction,” which sets the stage for this post, please go back and read it now before reading on.

Today I am addressing husbands on the topic of sexual surrender. I’ll be addressing wives in my next post.

For you as a husband, sexual surrender starts with the understanding that for your wife, sexual oneness flows best out of emotional oneness. I’m not suggesting you hide or deny your sexual desires or your sexual nature – these are God-inspired and God-given. What I am suggesting is that you must acknowledge that you are joined to a woman who doesn’t work the same as you do when it comes to sex. Your sexual surrender means understanding and cooperating with rather than working against your wife’s sexual nature.
  • Don’t accuse her of being sexually cold just because she isn’t constantly after your body the way you are after hers. That’s generally an unrealistic expectation.
  • Develop or enhance your romantic nature in order to satisfy your wife’s desire for emotional intimacy. It’s not acceptable to simply say “I’m not the romantic type.” Find your own way of romantic expression and emotional connection, but find it just the same. She needs this from you.
  • Scripturally, the “rights” to your wife’s body belong to you Likewise, she has the rights to yours. (1 Cor 7:3-4). For me these verses speak more to mutual sexual fulfillment than to simply to the act of sex. Viewing these verses through the lens of surrender implies that you must focus more on fulfilling her desires than on demanding that yours be met.
  • Sexual surrender implies cherishing and nurturing your wife’s sexuality as your own. “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” (Eph 5:28-29) Make sure you are feeding and caring for your wife’s sexual nature, not crushing and reshaping it for your own self-satisfaction.
  • Part of your sexual surrender includes loving your wife “as if.” What I mean is that even though your nature is to require sexual satisfaction in order to feel and act emotionally connected to your wife, I challenge you to give yourself emotionally and romantically to your wife “as if” you are already completely satisfied sexually. In other words, you go first in surrendering.

Surrender in the sexual arena can be among the more difficult aspects of your Journey to Surrender. Sex is not only an emotionally charged topic that comes with all kinds of historical baggage, but dealing with it requires vulnerability and trust. Regardless, I encourage you to face your sexual surrender head on, with confidence, love and grace, no matter where you are in your sexual relationship. There is always room for more sexual intimacy in your marriage.

As husband, you have the chance to demonstrate Christ-like loving leadership of your marriage through your sexual surrender. Rather than pushing your wife for the sexual satisfaction you desire, pull her into deeper sexual intimacy by meeting her need for emotional connection and romantic encounters. Nurture her sexuality in a loving and patient way that cooperates with rather than punishes her for her nature.

If you want to deepen sexual intimacy in your marriage, you must lead the way.

Suggested reading for husbands:

Next in this series: Concluding Thoughts on Sexual Surrender

Saturday, August 27, 2011
I’ve wanted to write on today’s topic for several weeks now, but my crazy travel schedule is keeping me from writing much at all these days. Fortunately, or unfortunately, a rainy Saturday in Germany has me stuck in a hotel room with a little time to write.

I’ll preface this post by admitting that I am speaking to the majority case – to the typical situation where a husband wants and needs sex in order to feel emotionally connected to his wife and a wife needs emotional connection in order to make way for sexual intimacy. I understand that this is not the case in 100% of marriages.

I don’t pretend to know what was in God’s mind when he wired men and women to work so differently when it comes to sex, but I have a theory. My theory goes something like this:
Marriage is meant to be more about your surrender than about your satisfaction

Bottom line: it’s not just about you and your needs! It’s about two becoming one.

The Journey into Oneness

It’s clear from what the Bible says about marriage that it’s a journey toward becoming one. I believe that on your wedding day you two become one in a spiritual sense. This is part of the “great mystery” that Paul talks about in Ephesians, and is the direct corollary to the way we become one with the Holy Spirit when we choose to become believers in Jesus.

Growing in oneness in the realm of the soul (emotions, thoughts and desires) is a process, a journey. It’s a journey into deeper intimacy, and it’s a lifelong journey. Likewise, physical oneness is a lifelong journey into ever-deeper sexual intimacy.

It’s important, however, to understand that oneness is NOT sameness. Men and women are different by design. Oneness is not about hiding your true self or about conforming yourself to your spouse. Oneness is not being a doormat or giving up your identity. Oneness is about each of you bringing the fullness of who you are to your marriage, and choosing to apply yourself (spirit, soul and body) for the benefit of your marriage and the delight of your spouse. This is what I mean by a Surrendered Marriage.

So what does surrender in marriage actually look like, and how do I take this journey to surrender? How do I surrender to my spouse without losing myself? How does surrender move our marriage toward the goal of two becoming one? If I focus on surrender to my spouse instead of my own satisfaction, won’t I end up disappointed and dissatisfied in my marriage?

All good questions.

I’ll be using the next three posts to explore what surrender means using the context of your sexual relationship. Sexual surrender is only one aspect of a Surrendered Marriage, but a very important one, because sexual intimacy is the ultimate expression of oneness and the pinnacle of intimacy in marriage.

Stay tuned this week as I address husbands and wives separately in the next two posts and then address you as a couple in the third post.

Meanwhile, take a look at this tongue-in-cheek video that turns the typical emotional vs. sexual intimacy debate on its head.

Direct YouTube Link

Next in this series:  A Wife's Sexual Surrender

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
In the past week I read several good posts by female bloggers addressing the important topic of a body image. These were all written by women and all for women. I thought I would chime in and add a male perspective to this discussion.

I’ll point you specifically to the blog “Hot, Holy and Humorous,” which has two post that are both excellent. The first, “Facts and Figures,”  gives some data to back up the fact that what you think is average appearance is probably not average. She encourages wives to love the body God gave them. The second post, “Husbands - Help Us Feel & Be Beautiful,”  is obviously directed at husbands, explaining how they can help their wives’ win body image battle.

In a similar vein, I did a post last summer directed at husbands, “The Body Image Battle,” that continues to be quite popular, even a year later. It’s a must-read for husbands.

Today, however, I want to specifically address wives and give you a little insight from your husband’s viewpoint.

First of all, your husband wants you to feel beautiful. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but any good-willed husband wants his wife to feel attractive, even if he isn’t very good at saying the right things at the right times to help you feel that way. That also means he wants you to believe him when he does pay you a compliment instead of trying to refute it. Instead, make a habit of thanking him.

Second, your husband already knows the parts of your body you don’t like. There is no point in repeatedly pointing out every flaw, every time you dress and undress, as if you are trying to convince him to just accept the fact that you really are an ugly duckling. He isn’t going to accept it. And you really don’t want him to do you? Stop the negative self-talk; it only reinforces your wrong thinking.

Third, he likes your body. Whether you are fully clothed, in frilly lingerie or completely naked he likes to look at you. He is a visual creature, so let him look! Encourage him to look by dressing and/or undressing in front of him. Pick clothing or lingerie that you know he finds alluring on you – even if you don’t necessarily agree with him on that point. Have sex with the lights ON, and learn to be “naked without shame” before your husband (this is a term I use that refers back to God’s original intent for couples back in the Garden of Eden.)

Finally, your husband will be attracted to you as much by your confidence as by your appearance. This may be the toughest one and is probably the most important. Doing some of the things above will help you with the “appearance of confidence,” but I encourage you to go even further. It requires going beyond believing that your husband thinks you are beautiful, beyond stopping the negative self-descriptions, and beyond letting him enjoy looking at you. It requires a new way of thinking about yourself and your body. Loving your body, imperfections and all, is the very foundation of confidence.

It’s not likely that a single blog post is going to transform your self-image or get you to love your body and see it the way your husband does. But the first step is to determine in your mind to do something about your body image issues for your own sake and the sake of your marriage. It's time to do battle!

For a little further reading and inspiration, see the article “20 Reasons Why You Should Love and Appreciate Your Body,” on (Caution: YourTango is not written from Christian world view – browse with discretion)

I’d love to hear more from husbands and wives on this important topic:

Husbands, did I miss something above that you want your wife to know about her body image?

Wives, what is your experience with the body image battle?

Friday, August 12, 2011
During last night’s presidential debate Michelle Bachmann was asked by moderator Byron York if she would, as president, submit to her husband. Despite the boos from the audience, the question was not as completely out of left field as you might think, because she had on several occasions publically stated her belief in and practice of submitting to her husband.(Good for her for being willing to state her beliefs publically!)

Her answer was both gracious and sincere. "Thank you for that question, Byron,” she said after a brief pause and a big smile. “Marcus and I will have been married for 33 years this September 10. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. What submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage.”

Not surprisingly I’ve gotten a bunch of hits on my blog since last night from people searching on some combination of “submission” and “respect.” Most of these landed folks on the same post: “Respect, Submission and Trust.

I’ll quote the relevant part of that post here to save you the trouble of going back and forth. In what follows, I am explaining my interpretation of the words typically translated as “respect” and “submission.”


I’ll start with respect by noting how the Apostle Paul ends his instructions on marriage in Ephesians 5 with this summary:
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 5:33)
Though he begins this text in with instructions to wives on submission, he ends with the need for them to respect their husband. But are these really the same thing? Let’s look more closely.

Strong’s defines the Greek word Phobeo, in this context, as to reverence or treat with deference. Some dictionary definitions I’d like to include here are: holding in honor or esteem, to pay proper attention, and to show consideration for.

I have mentioned before the survey results that clearly show the highest stated need for husbands is the need to feel respected, in contrast to wives’ highest need, which is for love and affection. Interestingly, these are the very two things that Paul includes in his summary, quoted above. [ed. See the link in the left sidebar to the “Marital Needs Poll” for an interesting confirmation of Eggerich’s assertions.]


In contrast, Strong’s defines the Greek word for submission, hupotasso, as “to arrange ones self under,” and “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”

So what’s the difference between submission and respect? The way I see it, respect is the attitude and submission is the action that flows out of the attitude.

Emmerson Eggerichs, in his book “Love and Respect,” makes a pretty strong case that a wife’s respect should be unconditional in the same manner that a husband’s love should be unconditional. By this he does not mean unconditional admiration, agreement or approval. What I think he is getting at is the idea that if respect and honor is not the primary expression of your unconditional love for your husband, he will not feel loved. Again, this doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with or approve of his attitudes and actions. It means you approach him with respect out of reverence for that fact that he is your husband. See the difference? 

But I also believe that without respect, martial submission is really hard. A husband who requires grace from his wife in order for her to act with respect toward him will make her job of submission much more difficult. So although I tend to agree with Eggerich’s call for unconditional respect, a husband who works to earn that respect will add grace to his wife rather than requiring it from her, and in so doing further enable her to walk in submission to him.

In all I think Michelle Bachmann’s answer, that submission means respect, was the best you could hope for given the context.

Though she didn’t answer the moderator’s question directly, neither did she deny her belief being submissive to her husband. Of course she was careful to stay away from the hot button questions of “authority” and “obedience,” but she did get at the heart of the issue of biblical marriage roles. It would not have been possible for her to go into the meaning of the original Greek, the complexities of biblical translation, or expounded upon the theological arguments of complentarians and egalitarians.

She also made it clear that her answer was in terms of “what submission means to us,” a point that many in the inflamed (and mis-informed) liberal blogosphere have missed completely in their rantings on this subject today.

To use my own term, I would say the Bachmann’s probably have a Surrendered Marriage*. In any event, it at least seems to be one of the few highly visible examples of a thriving biblical marriage. Pray for them. This probably isn’t the last time we’ll see their marriage beliefs under attack!

How did the question and her answer strike you? Does submission and respect mean the same thing to you? I’d love to hear your take!


* For more details on Surrendered Marriage, check out the “Notable Series” on the left sidebar entitled “My Marriage Beliefs.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm long overdue in reviewing some of the many marriage resources I regularly read. In a typical week I often read over fifty blog posts, but I can't remember the last time I added to my blog roll!

So today I’d like to point out two blogs that I strongly encourage you to take advantage of...

Stupendous Marriage – Stu Gray

The first resource I have mentioned in several recent posts. Stu Gray, famous sponsor of the Top Ten Marriage Blog contest, re-launched his website  a few months back. In addition to blog posts, he and his wife, Lisa have a regular (weekly-ish) podcast that is always informative and fun. The podcasts are well-planned, well-produced and well-paced. In short, they are, well, great!

For example, the latest episode, Stupendous Marriage Show 007, touches on three very relevant topics: making your bedroom a sanctuary, praying for your spouse, and improving communication over disagreements. Each of the topics this week, as is often the case, explores a post from another marriage blog or website, with some additional insight from Stu and Lisa from their own relationship.

I like the way the podcasts balance instruction/suggestions with experiences from their own relationship, all shared with humor and wit. You have the option of listening on their website or subscribing via Itunes.

To Love Honor and Vacuum – Sheila Gregoire

Canadian author, speaker and blogger Sheila Gergoire doesn’t write exclusively on marriage, but she does have a weekly Wifey Wednesday feature that is always insightful and informative. Many of her other posts also touch on marriage and family life.

The tag line of her blog is “No pretensions. Just real life and real solutions.” And I find that an accurate description. What attracts me to Sheila’s blog is that sense of “realness” I see in her writing. In addition to being genuine, I sense that she really cares about making a positive difference in marriages and families.

On her website you can explore Sheila’s books, articles, retreat materials and more, as well as see a few video clips of her teachings. I encourage you to check out her blog, To Love Honor and Vacuum,  . To get you started, here are a few links to some of my favorite recent posts:
You can catch up on all her Wifey Wednesday posts here

Sheila is a great writer, who writes with an effective mix of sincerity and humor. Even though I'm not of the female persuasion, I’m looking forward to reading the book she is just finishing entitled “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex.”

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I hope to be doing a few more resource reviews as soon as time permits. I especially want to add a few book suggestions to my list of recommendations.  

Do you have a marriage book that you has been truly transformational to your own marriage? Leave a comment below with the title and author as well as a note on how the book impacted you and your marriage!

Saturday, August 6, 2011
It’s no secret that men and women typically process things differently. Men tend to be more the “let me go away and think it through” type, whereas women are more often the “let’s talk it out” type. My wife and I fit this somewhat stereotypical mold.

I’ve been under growing stress since returning from two glorious weeks of vacation. Many work, home and ministry pressures have been building up on me, resulting in a feeling of being rather overwhelmed. My natural reaction to stress is that I get short tempered. It’s often not pretty! It’s a long-standing personal deficiency that God is still trying to work out of me, but I’m not there yet.

As is sometimes the case when I get stressed, this week I got sharp with Jenni several times and also tended to take her attempts to encourage me as accusation, which only added to the tension between us. We were not communicating well at all! As much as I could see it happening, I was at a loss for how to reign in my emotions and get things back on a solid footing with us. It’s kind of like trying to save yourself from drowning. If you knew how to swim you wouldn’t be drowning in the first place.

As a result we withdrew further from each other emotionally. I needed time to think things over and to get a handle on what to do about my situation. Jenni was feeling hurt because we’d been close during our vacation, and now her attempts to encourage me and help bring us back together were having the opposite effect. It was difficult and painful for both of us.

Yesterday I spent a significant time in prayer, and I felt the Lord direct me to change my morning routine. To better equip myself for the day’s battles, I felt impressed to get out of bed and immediately listen to 15 minutes or so of worship music while interspersing it with prayer. This was not to be a time of major intercession for all my woes and worries, but to simply rest in his presence and start my day with Him.

So, yesterday afternoon I let Jenni know about what I felt led to do. I had “the answer” or at least a good strategy to get to one. In my mind it was (hopefully) over. But although she liked my idea very much, in her mind it was only part of it.

Fixing It vs. Fixing Us

You see, I had set about getting myself set on a better course. For me it was about seeking the fix for my problem of responding with negative emotions while under stress. But she was about fixing us, about restoring our connection. And I completely failed to see it.

Last night we decided to watch a movie. I could have given into the crush of stuff and skipped it, but I felt like we needed that time together and I was completely wiped out anyway. I snuggled close to her during the movie and touched her in ways I know she likes. But we were in two different places.

While I had processed things in my head and felt settled on my course of action, she didn’t have the benefit of all that was going on in my mind. I was thinking that all that was needed was to get myself in a better place to handling my stress and we would no longer be separated. But we hadn’t had the chance to talk things through, which for her was necessary for things to feel resolved.

In order for her to overcome the feeling of separation it meant talking through what happened and why. For example, she wanted to understand why I felt accused when she was attempting to help me and to be forgiven for any wrong she may have done. She wanted us to reconcile what happened in order to reconnect.

As much as she appreciated my functional fix, what she wanted wasn’t functional in nature – it was relational. The thoughts in my head weren’t enough; she wanted conversation and closure.

Note To Self

I need to remember that sometimes the solution isn’t the answer. At least it isn’t the whole answer.

There are many times when my introspective, factual-based, problem-solving nature comes in handy. But I’ve realized that there are also times when I need to be more transparent with my wife through the process, especially when the issue affects our relationship. To maintain intimacy when things get strained, she needs to know what I’m thinking and feeling as I work toward the solution to the problem.

What about you? Have you fallen into the same trap as I have? Do you find that the way you process through a problem is different that how your spouse does? More to the point, does your method of working things out leave your spouse in the dark and in need of connection?

I’d love to hear your own experiences with this issue and any trick you’ve found to deal with it!

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