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Monday, February 23, 2015

The strongest marriages are those that are lived in community.

My lovely wife and I are leading another marriage small group at our church. We purposefully targeted this particular session to be for those who are in or approaching their "empty nest" years, and we have a great group of couples who will be looking at the question, "What's next for our marriage in the season ahead?"

This is the fifth time we have led this same 12-week marriage curriculum, but each time has been totally unique because of there have been different marriages involved in each group. Each couple brought their unique history, perspective, insights and yes, problems, to our group. In addition to our current group of seasoned marriages, we've had a group of mostly newly-marrieds and several groups that spanned multiple life stages.

We've had a great deal of fun digging into what God has to say about marriage in His Word and applying it practically.

Marriage is Best Done in Community

In many ways, marriage is a very private affair. No one else can or needs to know the depths of any couple's relationship. Much of your relationship will remain just between the two of you.

Yet, I do believe that marriages benefit greatly when couples choose to place themselves in community. And I'm not talking about men's groups and women's groups, which have their place. I'm talking about making a habit of engaging with other married couples as a couple.

The sad truth is that many, if not most, churches don't have an official marriage ministry. But even if that is true in your church, there is nothing to stop you from getting together with other couples whose marriages you admire.

Finding Other Couples

Good, strong marriages are usually not that hard to spot. I'd suggest you start in your church. Look around for couples who show honor to one another, who support one another. Watch for those couples who speak to each other with admiration and respect. Watch how they look at each other.

Trust me, you'll be able to discern pretty quickly which marriages are filled with intimacy and passion and which ones are not.

Should you pick couples who are a little older and more experienced? Or should you get with others who are in a similar life stage to your own? There are good reasons to do both. It depends on what you hope to gain from the relationship. If you are wanting more of a mentoring relationship, look for a seasoned marriage. If you are wanting to develop mutual long term friendships, look for couples near your own age.

Anything you do to build your marriage is a great step forward.

Get Real

Regardless of whether you join a regular marriage group or just get together with another couple or two once in a while, you'll gain the most benefit by being honest about your marriage, the good and the not so good. This kind of vulnerability requires that you develop a certain level of trust.

I would suggest that you, your spouse and your new couple friends agree to a few ground rules in discussing your marriage:
  • Agree with your spouse ahead of time about what is okay to discuss with others.
  • Have a firm understanding of confidentiality. What is shared among you stays among you.
  • Invite the other couple(s) to speak into your marriage. They will be for forthright if they are given formal permission to do so.
  • Acknowledge that it is okay if you are not in agreement about everything, but agree to disagree respectfully and with honor.
Regardless of how you choose to go about it, be purposeful in seeking out a strong, marriage-positive community in which to live out your marriage. You'll be glad you did.

Now it's your turn. Do you have any advice to share with couples looking to grow their marriage in community? What have you and your spouse experienced along this line? Does your church have a marriage ministry? Have you participated? What benefits have you seen in your marriage from rubbing shoulders with other married couples? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Free intimacy building download, just in time for Valentine's Day!

That's right. I'm offering my popular 14-Day Intimacy Challenge for Husbands and Wives for free through Noisetrade. Thousands of couples have already downloaded these great eBooks and taken the challenge. Now is your chance. 

Get the Husbands Challenge Here.

Get the Wife's Challenge Here.

This is a limited time offer, so get them while you can!

Learn to Think, Act and Communicate in Ways That Cultivate Intimacy in Your Marriage!

What is the Intimacy Challenge?

If you aren’t satisfied with the intimacy level in your marriage (and I don’t think you ever should be), it’s time to challenge yourself to take a fresh approach. The Intimacy Challenge dares you to do things differently in order to get different results. By following each daily call to action you will begin to think, act and communicate in new ways that encourage intimacy to thrive.

Who should take the challenge?

For many couples, intimacy is an ever-elusive goal. Every couple wants more of it, though many can’t agree on what exactly it is. Few couples know how to get it, and even fewer actually attain it. If this describes your marriage, even a little, take this 14-day challenge and watch the intimacy level rise to new heights.

Why should I take the challenge?

Every couple will benefit from making intimacy a priority. The truth is there is always more intimacy available.

What real couples say

Here's what real couples have shared about their experience with The 14 Day Intimacy Challenge:
  • "Thank you for the helpful tips and advice. It has really helped us grow closer together!"
  • "Sometimes it is just the awareness that helps to make things work better, and you provided that for me."
  • "Thank you for so many great ideas that stretched me out of my comfort zone!"
  • "Thank you for your investment in marriage. Many need this type of encouragement and advice!"
  • "Thank you for such a wonderful marriage building exercise!"
How to Give It

This challenge makes the perfect gift for Valentine's day.

Here's one suggestion for how to give it. Print out the cover and wrap it or put it in card. When your spouse opens it, explain that every day for the next two weeks you'll be taking the challenge, which is designed to build more intimacy in your marriage. Each day has something to think about, something to do, and something to ask. You could leave it at that, or explain further, as you wish.

Another way to give the challenge is to not say anything about it until the challenge is over, or unless your spouse begins to suspect that something is "different" and asks.

The third way to give it is to decide to do the challenge together and take turns with each day, spreading the challenge out to 28 days. (He does his Day 1, then she does her Day 1, etc.)

However you decide to give it, please do make this investment in your marriage. You'll be glad you did.

Feel free to drop back by and tell us how it went with a comment below.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Helpful posts for marriages hurting from a lack of sexual intimacy

I promised in my last post, The Gift of Sex - When Your Spouse Won't Give It, to follow up with links to some great posts by fellow marriage bloggers on this important topic.

As I said in my last post, marriages fall into the sexual doldrums at a sad and alarming rate. Unfortunately there are no silver bullets, no magic answers. Every marriage that is struggling with sexual intimacy is as unique as the two individuals involved.

But don't give up. There is hope and healing. God is a redeemer and He is FOR your marriage.

Below you will find a lot of different posts written by different bloggers with different perspectives. Check them out.

The beginnings of your answer may be found in one of these great posts.

Posts for Husbands of Low-Drive Wives:

Why She Has a Low Sex Drive - from The Generous Husband
When a Wife Won't Have Sex - What Does the Bible Say?  from the Forgiven Wife
Want a Happier Marriage? Just Ask from Mission:Husband
Dealing With Anger Over Sex  from The Generous Husband
My Wife Hats Sex from Brad at One Flesh Marriage

Posts for Wives of Low-Drive Husbands:

When your Husband Has a Low Sex Drive from the Happy Wives Club
Confessions of a Higher-Drive Wife from J of Hot, Holy and Humorous
Help! My Husband Doesn't Want Sex l Kate at One Flesh Marriage

More Helpful Posts

One former withholding wife's story: Living in a Near Sexless Marriage  from Forgiven Wife.

Four posts encouraging wives regarding sex from the Generous Wife:
     You Have a Sex Drive
     It's All Connected
     A Loose Thought
     But What About

Some conversation-starting posts to share with your spouse:

Intentional Sex  Why it pays to be deliberate. From Do Not Disturb blog.

Has Your Husband Stopped Initiating Sex? from Julie at Intimacy in Marriage (Read the Comments)

Survey from The Marriage Bed regarding frequency - How Much Is Enough?  Pretty much lines up with my recent survey results.

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