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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Time to Start Planning for the Big Day

You know what I'm talking about - Valentine's Day!

I realize that not every couple celebrates Valentine's Day like we do. Maybe you think it's too crass and commercial, and you'd be partly right. If you are in that camp, let me encourage you to simply think of this as an opportunity to bless your spouse, to lavish love on him or her. Sure, you should do that all the time, but this is one holiday dedicated to the task.

So why not go for it?

Maybe you are just intimidated by the whole notion of Valentine's Day. Maybe you think of yourself as romantically challenged. I get it. But I'm here to help!

Below are four sure-fire romantic hits from my archive, all personally tested by me!

The Numbers Game

What do you love about your husband or wife? Here's your chance to say them all in a fun and creative way. Write down all the reasons you love your spouse, as many as you can think of,  and spend the entire day revealing them all to him or her.  I share specific creative ways to do this!

See the details...

Romantic Balloon Pop

A really fun one! Think up a dozen little  fun/romantic activities,  love-coupons, or little gifts. Blow up a dozen red, pink and white balloons and put each item, or something representing it, or a clue to where it is hidden inside the balloon. Have your spouse pick a balloon and pop it! You can pop them all at once or spread the fun throughout the day!

See the details...

Homemade Luxury Spa

No money for a spa gift certificate? No worries. Create your own in-home spa experience! I tell you how. It's not as hard as you might think, and definitely more fun and intimate than any gift certificate!

See the details...

Romantic Surprise Getaway

No, this one's not for the faint of heart. My lovely wife describes a romantic surprise getaway I planned for her not long ago. This kind of thing can be rather involved, but it's well worth the time and effort, believe me!

See the details...

Romantic Conversation Starters - Free Download

I put together a free Romantic Connections PDF download filled with fill-in-the-blank questions that are sure to get you talking on an intimate level. The pages cover a range of topics, such as places you want to visit together, dream dates, and the "love me all day" list.

Download/Print here...

I am also offering a newly expanded and updated version of this download, called Intimate Connections, with tons more content. You can get it for free by signing up for my Pathways monthly e-newsletter.  Check the sidebar for the sign up link or just click here.

Special announcement coming!

In my next post I'll have one last V-day idea that just may top all the one's above. Be sure to check back for it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Submission is not: The Doormat, The Boss, and The Grouch

Announcing the random winner of our last Friday Freebie: Spicey won the copy of Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage. Please contact me with your email address so I can make arrangements to get the book to you courtesy of Julie Sibert. See the Contact Scott tab on my blog.

In my Wives Only Wednesday post last week, Strong and Submissive, I explained how strength goes hand in hand with the submission that God calls wives to. True biblical submission has nothing to do with weakness or subjugation, as it is so often wrongly characterized.

In fact, submission actually requires strength.

Submission Misconstrued

Unfortunately, there is a pretty strong cultural push back against God's design for marriage, but I find it is mainly due to a lack of understanding of what submission really is. In an effort to dispel these common mis-characterizations, in today's post I want to explore specifically what the submission of a wife to her husband is not.

What does it mean for a husband to have the "headship" or leadership role and for a wife to respect and support him with the gift of her submission? Recall from my last post this chart:

(Note: you can find the corresponding husband's chart in my post What Headship Is Not.)

I discussed the wife of the upper right quadrant in my last post. This is the "church-like" wife the Bible describes, alluding to the fact that God designed marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church.  Today I want to introduce you to the three wives represented by the other quadrants: the Doormat, the Boss and the Grouch.

The Doormat

This is probably the wife I hear described most often when people protest the notion of submission. "I'm not going to be a doormat for anyone!" The good news is your aren't supposed to be!

This wife makes the mistake of equating submission with weakness. She is often filled with self-doubt and insecurity. She thinks her opinions don't matter and that her needs are unimportant, even as the resentment over her presumed "less than" status builds. She thinks she has no voice.

The Doormat can be withdrawn from the relationship with her husband, mistaking passivity for humility. She feels uncertain of her identity in Christ, as co-heir with her husband of the full inheritance that is hers by virtue of her faith in Jesus.

The Boss

This is the wife who feels she must lay submission aside in order to show herself strong and to prove herself capable.

This wife tends to be disrespectful to her husband, her words and tone letting him know of her frequent disapproval. She will put him down to friends and family and broadcast his mistakes in order to "keep him in his place." She thinks that in order to avoid subjugation she must push for her own way. Her self-interest is front and center of most decisions.

The Boss frequently contends for power, thinking that to do otherwise shows her to be weak.

The Grouch

This wife is neither submissive nor strong, sharing some of the characteristics of both the Boss and the Doormat.

The Grouch comes across as uncaring toward her husband, from  her expressions of disrespect to her self-protective withdrawal from him. She is fearful and distrustful of any expression of leadership on his part.

She lacks the emotional strength and the integrity to deal with her husband forthrightly. She may try to bury  her emotions, but they will eventually bubble up into an outburst of some kind. 

- - - - - -

To make the point clear, I've described the behaviors of these wives in pretty extreme terms.  Chances are none of these describes you exactly, but beware of the characteristics they portray. Be vigilant against the mindset that equates submission with weakness. And be vigilant against the prevailing sentiment against submission in any form.

Pursue strength and submission with equal vigor. Glean from your relationship with Jesus the kinds of attitudes and attributes that should attend biblical submission. If you are watchful, you will see lots of parallels between your spiritual walk and your marriage. They are everywhere.

A note to any husbands reading this post. The post is title Wives Only Wednesday for a reason. There is nowhere in scripture where it says your are to make your wife submit to you. Demanded or coerced submission isn't submission at all, so don't try it.

Work on your end of the marriage partnership, to love and serve your wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her.  Loving your wife well will draw out both her submission and her strength.

Read my corresponding post for husbands: What Headship is Not

Friday, January 17, 2014

Who wouldn't want a little perfected lovemaking in their marriage?

Today I am pleased to have Julie Sibert posting about one of the many important topics  from the book she co-authored, Pursuit of Passion. Read on to find out more about what "perfected lovemaking" is and what it means for your marriage.

I'm also pleased to start a regular tradition I'm calling "Friday Freebies." This year, I'll be periodically doing giveaways (on Fridays, as the name indicates) featuring great resources and tools for your marriage.

See the end of Julie's post for today's giveaway details. My thanks to her for providing our first Friday Freebie.

By Julie Sibert

“The camera never lies.”

Movie directors ride our dollars all the way to the bank on that one little phrase, especially when it comes to romantic dramas.  Who among us doesn’t love a good love story?

Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl go through angst.  Boy and girl find their way back to each other.

Happily. Ever. After.

In many of those romantic dramas, there are sometimes a few sex scenes thrown in as well.  Often, they are not even overtly sexual.  They discretely and flawlessly convey passion, love and pleasure, relying on the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks.

We are left with this idea of love perfectly played out in a physical way. Yes, that is what the movies often tell us about sex.

And then, of course, there’s what mama tells you about sex.  Or doesn’t tell you, depending on how your upbringing unfolded. Each of us could offer up a different version of the messages our parents conveyed to us about sex, but in Christian camps, those versions tend to migrate to one of two lines.

Along one line, sex is portrayed as a horrendous sin of which teens and young single adults best steer clear.  A big no-no.  Bad. Gross. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Along the other line, a lot of silence.  Sex is rarely or never discussed.  It is an elusive mystery, and all that silence seems to perpetually shroud it in shame, embarrassment and awkwardness.

Is it no wonder many of us stumble through puberty and right into adulthood without even our little toe standing on a solid foundation of accurate information about sex?

So we try to sort it out on our own, right?  Usually we do this with a fair amount of commentary from people who are as misinformed as we are.  It’s like navigating the relational landscape with a trail mix of half-truths, exaggerations, assumptions and crude jokes.

No surprise, we are left hungry.

Some people (including myself in my younger days) tried to fill that hunger by actually exploring the path of arousal and sex.

“If I’m turned on, is that a sign of love?”

“If I really like this person, should we have sex?”

“If we have sex, and we both seem to enjoy it, does that mean we have a future together?”

What a confusing and exhausting journey, compounded by the fact that learning about sex this way has become the societal norm.

But you know what the movies and mama (and your friends) never told you about sex?

That there is a difference between having sex, making love and perfected love making.  Of the three, it’s the last camp that should really pique your interest.  Only with perfected love making is God happily in the mix, willingly revealing to you authentic intimacy.

Sex isn’t just about a physical connection or even genuine emotional connection.  Certainly we can find plenty of examples among single people where there is a mix of those connections.  Sexual encounters that are purely physical may even be categorized as “just sex.”   Encounters where there also is a deep emotional connection may be thought of as “more than sex” or “making love.”

“So why should I care about perfected love making?” you may be wondering.

First of all, don't let that word “perfected” throw you into confusion.  This isn’t about being perfect.  Rather, it’s about embracing God’s vision for intimacy in your marriage.

Perfected love making is one of the many aspects of intimacy that my co-author and I explore in our new eBook Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage

The reason we dig into it is because so many couples come into marriage with skewed sexual messages and experiences.  To say there are a lot of sexual struggles going on in many marriages would be an understatement.

We want married couples to embrace that no matter the skewed sexual messages or experiences they had coming into marriage, the Lord equips them to experience something authentically profound in their sexual intimacy.
Perfected Love Making is much more than how a couple feels physically and emotionally when they have sex. This only takes place completely where oneness is found – and that’s within the context of a God-ordained marriage.  PLM is distinctly different (and better!) than having sex or making love because those experiences lack the oneness that can be found only when a husband and a wife are covenantally united before God in marriage.
God definitely wants you having sex with your spouse that is passionate, pleasurable and abundant in love.  He offers you perfected love making that is far beyond the distorted or vague messages you may have heard from the movies, your mama, your friends or your past sexual encounters.

He is so generous in this regard!  He cares deeply about what is happening in your marriage bed.

What do you believe you and your spouse could do to embrace God’s vision for your intimacy?

Comment on this post by midnight Tuesday (January 21st) and you will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle copy of the eBook Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage. Be sure to check back on Wednesday, when the winner will be announced.

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage and is the co-author of Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage.  You can follow her blog at She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer dog who kind of wants to chew up the kitchen floor.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Submission and strength go hand in hand.

A few weeks ago I promised to follow up my two posts on biblical headship for husbands by giving wives equal time. (If you missed them, the posts are here: "Good and Strong" and "That's Not Headship").

So I turn now to looking at your role in marriage as described in the New Testament scriptures. Hang onto your hats, ladies, because we're talking about...

Submission? Today? Really?

Most of you have probably at least heard that there is something about wives and submission in the Bible. Some of you may even know the verses by heart.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV)
You can choose to ignore these verses or pass them off as out of date for our modern world.  But my belief is that if it's in the Bible, especially if it's in the New Testament, it's probably something God cares about today and something we should try to understand.

Seeking Understanding

Most of the women (and men) that have a problem with submission have a wrong understanding of what it actually is and what it isn't. That's what this post and my next post are about. understanding true biblical submission.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot of explanation in the scriptures about submission. So people seek out understanding from a lot of different sources. For example:
  • Feminism - women don't need men in the first place and calling a wife to submission is like calling her to a life of slavery.
  • Culture at large - 50/50 is the best way to run a marriage. Equality is the goal. Submission is unfair.
  • Wrong paradigms - Captain/first mate, pilot/co-pilot, CEO/VP, etc.
None of these sources are biblical. None of them work as a model for marriage. The one we should focus on is the only one in the Bible: marriage is to be a reflection Christ and the church. Specifically, you are to submit yourself to your husband as you do the the Lord.(No husbands are not gods or equal to Christ. It means you should glean lessons for your marriage from way in which you submit to Christ).

Submission and Strength

As I pointed out in my earlier posts for husbands, we often wrongly assume that goodness (being loving) and strength are mutually exclusive.But the corresponding call for husbands to love and lead their wives as Christ does for the church means that they should be both strong and good, just like Jesus is.

In a similar fashion, you may mistakenly think that, as a wife, you cannot be both strong and submissive. So too for you, submission and strength are both important dimensions of your role as a wife. They are not mutually exclusive.

Here is how I frame it up:

The upper right quadrant, the one labeled "church-like," is what I think the Bible calls you to as a wife: to be both strong and submissive.

Forget the notion that submission means you are are to be a slave or a doormat or a Stepford automaton. No, the church-like imperative means you are to be empowered by your husband, secure and confident in his love, with a sure sense of God-given identity and purpose. 

But your strength does not conflict at all with the call for you to honor your husband with your respect, to follow and support him in humility, or to be selfless in giving your husband your love and devotion.

The truth is that true biblical submission requires real strength. It requires you to have the mental strength to do battle with the lies you hear all around you about the 50/50 marriage paradigm, about needing to look out for yourself and to stand up for your rights. It requires the emotional strength to face your doubts and fears. And it requires strength of will to let go of your need to control, to follow God's design for your marriage and to follow your husband's lead.

Yes, you can and should be both strong and submissive in your marriage. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Your submission actually makes you powerful.  True submission is a gift you give to your husband, because when submission is demanded or coerced it isn't submission at all. The choice is wholly yours.

Where do you tend to struggle the most in your marriage, with submission or with being strong? Share your story, leave a comment.

Next time we'll take a look at what happens if you falter in either the strength or submission dimension of your role as a wife. Until then, you might want to check out what some other wives have to say about what submission means to them.

More Reading from wives on this topic:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The change you seek in your marriage starts with you.

I heard a disturbing advertisement on a local radio station this week. The crux of it was something like this: "You know you are tired of suffering in your bad marriage. Hey it's a new year, why not  make a plan to get out of your marriage this year." It was an ad for a divorce attorney group.

Seriously? Do people really think this "It's a new year so get rid of your old marriage" ad will be effective? Is the divorce business so bad that divorce attorneys need to actually try to push people into divorce?

After shaking off the disgust, the ad actually gave me the idea for this post.

Time For a Change?

Let me encourage you in an entirely different direction than the divorce attorney ad. Yes, if you have a struggling or difficult marriage, maybe it is time to get a different one.

But I'm not talking about divorce and re-marriage. I'm talking about changing the marriage you have.

What's the best thing to focus on when something has got to change? You already know what I'm going to say, but I'm going to say it anyways. It's YOU!

The truth is that you CAN change your marriage. But it isn't going to happen by trying to change your spouse. No, it starts with changing you. Ultimately, that's the only thing you really have control over anyway.

Most of us can easily list the things we'd like to change about our spouse. It takes a little brutally honest self-reflection to make a list for yourself.

Now to be clear, I'm not talking about just beating yourself up. I'm talking about getting before God and asking the Holy Spirit to shine light into the dark corners of your life. God is NOT an accuser, so if you feel accusation, that's the enemy. But God does want to grow you into the fullness of all that he has for you and all that he has for your marriage.

What do you do when the issues seem insurmountable and change seems impossible? Dr. Corey Allan at Simple Marriage has a great post called "Every Day, Take Action." I suggest you read the entire post, but in summary he describes three simple steps to meaningful change.
  1. Get the right mindset and gain the proper perspective. See the issues before you as an opportunity to grow. Know that God is completely for you and for your marriage.
  2. Own your own junk. Pack off the other stuff. As I said, you have to own your own issues and take responsibility for your own missteps, as well as for your own happiness. Own what's yours, but don't try to own what isn't. You can't own your spouse's issues.
  3. Take action every day to live according to what you hold dear.  When the road ahead seems steep and rocky, just concentrate on the next step. Look to what you can do today to live according to what you know to be true, despite your circumstances.

We Can Do Hard!

I don't want to downplay those in difficult marriage situations. Really hard stuff happens. Maybe you've even suffered infidelity or some other devastating blow to your marriage relationship. Maybe you've lost a close relative and your marriage has taken it on the chin as a result. Maybe financial difficulties have you constantly fighting over money.

There is stuff that is really, really hard. No denying it.

My wife and I have a saying that has developed in recent months. "We can do hard."

God is eternally faithful, even if our spouse is not. His love is unflinching, even when ours changes as often as the weather. His promises are true, even when we aren't so sure of them. He is strong when we are weak. He is steady and steadfast, even when our patience wears thin. He is for us, no matter what.

God is what makes us able to say, "We can do hard."

If you are facing longstanding issues and need a little encouragement, go read my last post, "The Weight, The Wait and the Hope."

A Different Marriage

Whether you are in a marriage that is struggling or one that is thriving, there is always room to grow. There is always deeper intimacy, more passion, stronger trust and better communication.

There's always more!

We all have stuff to work on that can lead us to a different, better marriage. Never grow complacent, because your marriage is a living organism. It's either growing or dying. There really is no static state.

If you want something more, something different, then you have to actually do something different.

So think about what you want more of in your marriage. Maybe even just start with one thing. Then ask God what you can change about what you are thinking, doing and speaking that can help bring that about. 

If you could have more of one thing in your marriage this year, what would it be? Leave a comment and let us know!

I wanted to share a few of the many great related "New Year" posts from my blogging friends:

photo credit: ximagination /

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