Monthly Archives: November 2017

5 (More) Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Husband

Now some of you are already done with Christmas shopping, you crazy people, but the rest of us are just now making our list or filling in the gaps. In the past, I’ve had lots of suggestions for Christmas gift ideas for hubbies!

10 Sexy Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband

10 Sexy, Manly Items for Your Hubby’s Christmas Stocking

10 Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband

Wrap It Up for Hubby: 10 Christmas Gifts for Your Marriage Bed

5 Fresh Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Husband

Not to mention my Valentine’s posts with gift ideas (here, here, and here). What else is there to suggest?

Well, here are five more Christmas gift ideas for your beloved, manly, sexy hubby! Remembering that I focus on bedroom kind of stuff. ūüėČ

Click on any image below to find the link for that product. (All Amazon links are affiliate coded.)

1. Wet Wipes for Men.

You know what kills the mood? Body odor. And let’s face it, wives, sometimes your man stinks. (Sorry, guys. Talking truth here.) I’m not saying we wives never stink, but studies show that our female noses are more sensitive than male ones so we’re more likely to pick up on body odor, even when the issue is mild.

If your guy doesn’t time to do the whole shower thing, how about some manly wet wipes? I found a couple of brands.

Whice for Men.

Whice for men

Dude Shower Body Wipes.

DUDE Shower Body Wipes, On-The-Go Singles for Travel, Unscented, Naturally Soothing Aloe and Hypoallergenic (1 Pack, 10 Wipes per Pack)

2. Body groomer.

I’ve talked here about us wives “trimming the hedges,” and our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast also covered the subject of hair removal down there with our episode on Tending Your Garden. But what about the guys? How about a little manscaping?

You don’t necessarily want him to use the same shaving equipment on his nether regions that he uses on his face. So I did a bit of research on what experts suggest for manly groin grooming, and here’s one great option for hubbies.

Phillips Norelco Bodygroom.

Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 7100, BG2040

3. Double hammock.

Hammocks are very popular right now. My teenage sons and their cohorts love to hang out in hammocks at the local park. But you know what’s more fun? You and your honey-bunny snuggling up together.

All that close affection outside of the bedroom certainly helps stoke the fires of romance inside the bedroom. Plus, even if it leads to nothing at all … it’s¬†cuddling with your hubby! Still good stuff. Here’s one example, but you can find a lot of choices at Amazon or your local sporting goods store.

Striped outdoor hammock with couple inside

4. Underwear.

A few years into our marriage, I piped up and gave my two cents about what kind of underwear I’d love to see my husband in. (No, I’m not giving you details.) Suffice it to say that he incorporated my opinion into what he now wears. But I also got the opportunity in that conversation to hear what was most important to him about underwear, and that was comfort.

Since then, I’m always on the lookout for men’s underwear that might be better or more comfortable. One particular brand was mentioned on the Art of Manliness podcast, and when I checked it out, I was impressed with its¬†BallPark Pouch‚ĄĘ design that keeps everything down there tucked in just so, allowing for comfort and “breathability.” Check them out.

Saxx.

24-Seven Men's Boxer Brief ‚Äď Heather

5. Ultimate Intimacy App.

When the creators of this app contacted me for support, I did what I always do: Took my time looking through the resource to make sure it’s something I can confidently recommend to my readers. Truth is, they did a really good job with this one.

Ultimate Intimacy App screenshot

The Ultimate Intimacy App is free, but go ahead and upgrade for $6.99 to get the restricted content. The core part of this app is a game you can play with sections on Romance, Foreplay, Heavy Foreplay, and Hot & Heavy. Don’t worry — there’s nothing extreme even in the Hot & Heavy section. And as I always say, if you don’t want to do something a game suggests, skip it. This should be a physical intimacy tool to use in ways that serve¬†your marriage.

There’s also a section on Conversation Starters to increase emotional intimacy. And I must admit the creators have excellent taste in books when¬†Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design is listed among their recommended Products. (No, I didn’t ask them to plug my book. They just chose it.) Moreover, they have a section on Positions with tasteful illustrations from Christian Friendly Sex Positions to inspire you.

And there you go — five more Christmas gift ideas for your husband and your marriage bed!

Remember as you deliver the gifts that a lot is in the presentation. For instance, add a note to the groomer about what oral delight you’ll be blessing him with once he trims with it. Or take a few screen shots of the Ultimate Intimacy game, print them out, and wrap up that paper along with instructions on how to download the app as a teaser.

Let your husband know that the gift isn’t just the item itself, but the way you’ll use that item together later to nurture your physical and emotional intimacy.

What ideas do you have to share? What are your sexy and satisfying Christmas gift ideas for hubby?

Praying Before, During, and After Sex

Some time back, a reader challenged me to cover praying about sexual intimacy right in the middle of the act itself.

I thought it was a great idea! Unfortunately, I didn’t think I was the right person to write it, because Spock and I don’t do that. In fact, while some people apparently talk quite a bit during their sexual encounters, others of us have difficulty forming coherent sentences while in the throes of passion.¬†I feel pretty sure that any attempt to pray aloud during sex would merely result in something like Romans 8:26 describes: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For¬†we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but¬†the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (ESV).

However, I have at times imagined God’s presence in the room. That more meditation than praying, but it helped me to view the physical experience of making love as having a spiritual component that delights our Heavenly Father. So I appreciate the importance of acknowledging God in our moment of sexual intimacy.

With that in mind, let’s cover some ideas for praying before, during, and after sex.

Blog post title + husband and wife hands clasped on bed

Before.

Praying beforehand is often the easiest sell, because many spouses understand how prayer could help them have the right mindset going into the sexual encounter. If you’re struggling with getting in the mood, you can pray for God to awaken your desire. If you’ve experienced difficulty connecting recently, you can pray for unity in your pleasure and intimacy. If you’ve had a hard time sharing your body, you can pray to see your nakedness in the marriage bed as God and your spouse see it — that is, beautiful.¬†You can also simply thank God for this opportunity to express and nurture intimacy.

It could be worthwhile to pray specific scriptures, adapting them to what you’re about to do. Here are a couple of brief examples:

Husband: Lord, how beautiful is my wife, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Thank you for the beauty she displays inside and out.

Wife: How handsome is my husband, my beloved!
    Oh, how charming!
    Lord, may our bed be verdant.

Together: Lord, we ask you to rejoice and delight in us as we engage in sexual intimacy. 

Song of Songs 1:15-16, 1:4

We know that at the beginning of creation You made us male and female. For this¬†reason a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife — as we did —¬†and the two become one flesh. Indeed, we are no longer two, but one flesh.¬†Bless our physical union tonight so that we both express and foster that deep intimacy You gave to marriage alone. Your Son said, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” Join us together physically, emotionally, and spiritually in Your sight and take pleasure in our sexual intimacy.

Mark 10:6-9

Intimacy Revealed ad, click to buy book

During.

It might be easier to pray during early foreplay than when things get more hot-and-heavy. One lovely idea I’ve heard is praying over one another’s bodies; that is, as you view and touch one another, stop at various places to thank God for how He crafted that body part. Such an exercise might mimic the passages in Song of Songs chapter 4 or chapter 5¬†in which the husband and then the wife praise one another’s bodies, but instead directing those thoughts to the Creator Himself.

Another reader wrote me and shared that after he enters his wife, they pause and give glory to God before continuing. Such a prayer would certainly focus your mind on embracing this act in marriage as one of God’s good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). You can pause at penetration or any other time during lovemaking to thank God for His provision of physical intimacy in marriage.

Finally, let me just note that screaming, “Oh my God!” in the middle of an orgasm doesn’t¬†technically count as praying. Though I suppose one could tag on a¬†thank you or some such statement to make it qualify. ūüėČ

After.

Lying in one another’s arms, enjoying the afterglow of sexual intimacy, you could pray for the encounter you just had. Thank your Heavenly Father for the pleasure you experienced, the vulnerability you showed one another, the connection you felt, and the overall blessing of one another.

Consider Ephesians 5:31-32 and how this illuminates what you can pray about:¬† ” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’¬†This is a profound mystery‚ÄĒbut I am talking about Christ and the church.”

The sexual intimacy you have mirrors the relationship of God to His people, which He often compares to a husband and wife. This comparison appears not only in Ephesians, but in other places like¬†Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:19, and 2 Corinthians 11:2. Keeping that in mind, it’s good not only to give God gratitude for the lovemaking act but for this glimpse at the intimacy God desires to have with us.

So what do y’all think? Have you ever prayed before, during, or after sex? If so, how have you approached God in prayer and how has that experience impacted you and your marriage bed?

same image as above, sized for Pinterest

Q&A with J: What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage? Part 3

Are you sick of this topic yet? If you’re the refused spouse in a sexless marriage, you’re not. Because you want answers.

Also, some spouses who are not engaging fully in sex in their marriage have been reading as well. While they understand the need to improve sexual intimacy, there are good reasons why they’ve been refusing ‚ÄĒ or at least reluctant ‚ÄĒ and they want answers too.

Last week, I talked about the importance of building trust as a foundation for working together toward mutually satisfying physical intimacy. This week, I want to talk about four things that blocked all progress in my own marriage in the past and that happen in sexless marriages too.

Blog post title + man sleeping on bed with tearful woman sitting on edge

These aren’t my ideas. They belong to John Gottman, Ph.D., author of¬†Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Dr. Gottman and his colleagues have done extensive research into committed relationships and what causes them to thrive or fall apart. He identified what he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Sound familiar? Yeah, because he swiped that title right from the Bible.

But Gottman contends that these four communication styles can accurately predict divorce or, if you stick it out regardless, deep unhappiness. Let’s see how these patterns directly impact what you’ve been dealing with in a sexless marriage.

1. Criticism.

One or both of you is likely critical about what’s happening. From refused spouses, it’s talk about how selfish or mean their mate is. And from withholders, it’s often about how selfish or oversexed their mate is.

Criticism isn’t voicing a complaint or concern about what’s happening; it’s an attack on the other person.¬†It’s not “We haven’t had sex in a while,” it’s “You’re a cold-hearted person.” It’s not “I feel pressured to have sex,” it’s “You’re a pervert.”

Years ago, when I took over management of a Christian preschool, I asked a schoolteacher for advice on how to talk to parents about their misbehaving child. She wisely told me that verbs are always better than adjectives. If you say, “Johnny is mean to other kids,” reasonable parents will take that as criticism (because it is). But if you say, “Johnny took a toy from another child, and when the child asked for it back, he hit her and called her a name,” reasonable parents will realize they’re child is being mean to other kids. The point being: deal with the behavior, not your presumption of what it means about the person.

Stick with talking about the issue itself: the lack of sex in your marriage and the barriers that prevent you from enjoying the intimacy God intended you to have. Don’t descend into criticism of the other person, because no one responds well to being personally attacked.

Don‚Äôt criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12, CSB)

2. Contempt.

It’s hard not to build up resentment when you’ve been at odds over sexual intimacy for so long. The refused spouse can be understandably resentful for having to go without, for their constant physical discomfort, for feeling ignored or insulted, for having their sexual longings ‚ÄĒ and thus a core part of their self ‚ÄĒ belittled. Meanwhile, the withholder can understandably be resentful of the pressure they feel, the frustration of not having a sex drive, and the sense that their worth to their spouse is wrapped up in sexual performance.

But resentment can kill a marriage, and contempt is essentially resentment on display. It’s outright disrespect expressed with ridicule, name-calling, harsh vocal tone, and body language like shrugging and eye-rolling. It’s the difference between saying, “I know you want more sex, but I’m just not sure how to get my body in the mood” and “You want more sex? Well, I’d like a week-long vacation in the Bahamas, but neither of us is going to¬†die if we don’t get what we want. Is that what you’re saying ‚ÄĒ that you’re going to die if you don’t have sex right now?”

That’s an example from a withholder, but I guarantee the contempt can go the other way. And the point is all that contempt makes the subject matter rife with negativity, such that any time the topic is brought up, you and your spouse both immediately tense up.

I’m going to digress for a moment and say¬†This One. This is the horseman that I had the hardest time with! I still struggle at times with resentment for things I wish I had gone or would go differently. But as tempting as it is to hold on to resentment, especially when you feel its source is reasonable, I cannot think of a single time it did me any good. Letting go of the¬†issue isn’t the answer, but letting go of the¬†resentment will help you better address the issue itself.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Intimacy Revealed ad, click to buy book

3. Defensiveness.

Your spouse asks a question: “Are you touching me because you want sex?” And you respond: “So what, I can’t touch you now? You think I’m so oversexed that I can’t put my hand on my own spouse without immediately wanting to get busy?!”¬†Whoa. Where did¬†that come from?

It comes from feeling like questions and statements from your spouse are personal attacks, whether or not they are. Defensiveness is a way of counterattacking, or rather a peremptory strike.¬†You know a defensive person when they ask things like “What is¬†that supposed to mean?” or “You’re just trying to get me to _________.” Defensive people also transfer blame by pointing the finger at others, circumstances, and past events. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m struggling with getting in the mood tonight,” they might say , “I can’t get in the mood when I have all this stuff to do. Do my priorities mean nothing to you?”

Defensiveness is a form of self-protection as well for those who experience fear and self-doubt, which I’ve come to believe is a primary reason why withholders don’t engage in sex. Because if the problem isn’t you but something outside of you, over which you have little control, you don’t really have to change it. And for some, changing is super-scary. It can involve pulling back layers, exposing hurts and vulnerabilities, and even risking the relationship you have now.

Defensive spouses need a different target — the struggle itself. They need a spouse who can come alongside and reassure them that marriage is a team sport. It’s not you against each other, but you together against the problem.

‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the¬†Lord¬†God asked. ‘Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?’¬†The man replied, ‘It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it’ ” (Genesis 3:11-12).

4. Stonewalling.

Try to start a conversation about sexual refusal, and some spouses will erect an invisible wall faster than you can say “one flesh.” They’re not critical, contemptuous, or defensive; they’re just not¬†there. They shut down. And that is stonewalling.

In some ways, stonewalling is the most controlling tactic, because you have absolutely nothing to work with. The shut-down spouse doesn’t respond at all, so you can’t address the underlying issues, correct any erroneous assumptions, or share your feelings. It does no good to talk to a wall.

At times, I’ve recommended that a spouse stop talking about sex in their marriage — when it’s become such a contentious subject that pushing the topic makes things worse. I’m not saying you don’t stop working on sexual intimacy, but rather stop trying for that one discussion that will result in a breakthrough. That might be what someone with a stonewalling spouse needs to do — just shut up for a while. If the topic is so painful to your spouse that they automatically shut down, you may have some other work to do to create a more trusting environment for them to be willing to engage.

Of course, stonewalling can’t be allowed to go on for too long. You have to eventually address the snarling, stomping elephant in the room. And this is a circumstance in which intervention may need occur. Interventions, however, can be effective or damaging, all depending on who intervenes and how. So approach this one carefully.

But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry” (Zechariah 7:11-12).

So I’ve laid out these four communication styles that hinder progress in sexless, or sex-challenged, marriages. Now what?

Well, I’m going to tackle this subject one more time next week — and get to concrete tips on how to confront sexless marriages. But I encourage you to make sure you’ve read what I’ve said so far, because these posts lay the foundation for being effective with those specific steps.

Is the Church Failing Sexless Marriages?

Q&A with J: “What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage?” Part 1

Q&A with J: How Do I Write a Post that Helps Sexless Marriages?

A Prayer for Those in Sexless Marriages

Q&A with J: “What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage?” Part 2

Q&A with J: “What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage?” Part 2

Welcome to my Thursday Q&A…on Saturday. Because Wednesday through Friday were Crazy Town in the Parker office, so I’m two days behind. Anyway,¬†last week, I talked about addressing sexless marriage, or ones in which your libidos are highly mismatched. In that post, I suggested “if you want to make progress in a sexless marriage, you should make every effort to create a safe environment in which your refusing spouse can share and feel validated, loved, and supported.”

But let me go back and clarify something for those of you in the midst of a sexual drought in your marriage due to a refusing spouse: You’re in a terrible spot, and I ache for you. Likely you’ve tried everything you can think of to deal with the sexlessness in your marriage.

blog post title + man sitting on bed with head in hands

Some of the things refused spouses have tried:

  • Opening up conversations about sexual intimacy, only to be shut down by their mate
  • Trying to explain their level of desire, only to be accused of being obsessed with sex
  • Expressing their emotional pain, only to have their feelings dismissed by their mate
  • Working harder to meet their spouse’s emotional needs, only to have their own remain unappreciated or unacknowledged
  • Praying for God to take away their libido, only to struggle more with frustration and loneliness
  • Telling a marriage counselor about the sexlessness, only to have the issue tabled or being advised to deal with “more important things” first

It’s all very unfair. And I have no desire to add to the burden you already feel.¬†Literally 100% of my ministry’s mission is to get marriages to embrace God’s design for sex in marriage — which includes frequent, meaningful encounters that satisfy both spouses.

However, here’s the difficulty I face in trying to help marriages like yours:

  1. Your spouse isn’t reading my blog. Refused spouses rarely read up on biblical sexual intimacy until¬†after they’re convicted that something needs to change.
  2. Your spouse probably doesn’t understand the significance of sex.¬†Yes, you’ve told them and they¬†should¬†get it, but what I’ve heard from spouse after spouse who eventually came around is they really, honestly didn’t understand what sex meant for their marriage.
  3. Your spouse is likely reacting from a place of fear or insecurity. It may have nothing to do with you, and it may not even make sense based on their previous willingness to engage, but after talking to formerly refusing spouses, I also believe this to be true. Many spouses put up barriers to engaging in sex or talking about their lack of libido out of self-protection.
  4. Your spouse isn’t likely to change unless and until you do. Whatever else Dr. Phil did or didn’t do, he gave us this gem of a phrase: “How’s that working for you?” Meaning that if what you’ve been doing hasn’t resulted in sufficient progress, it’s time to try something else.

So are you willing to try a different path and see if you can break through? I make no guarantees, but after looking at this issue from every which way I can think of, hearing others’ stories, praying for wisdom, studying the Bible, and culling through relevant research … I believe the place from which change can begin is a renewed bond of trust.

I believe the place from which change can begin is a renewed bond of trust. #marriage Click To Tweet

If your spouse trusts you, he/she is far more likely to listen to your concerns, express their own fears and insecurities, and be willing to work on sexual intimacy — because they trust that you have their best interests at heart.

Yet when the Bible talks about trust, it primarily focuses on our need to trust God. There are few Bible verses about trusting others, but several actually warn against trusting others:

  • It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans” (Psalm 118:8).
  • Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3).
  • Stop trusting in mere humans,¬†who have but a breath in their nostrils.¬†Why hold them in esteem?” (Isaiah 2:22).

Based on those verses, I have a lot of nerve suggesting spouses should trust each other. But while we’re often commanded to trust in God, the Bible doesn’t command us to trust but instead to be trustworthy. That is, it’s not “hey, go trust so-and-so” but rather “hey,¬†be¬†someone others can trust”:

  • The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22).
  • Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  • Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,¬†and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).
  • “In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (1 Timothy 3:11).

You see, we’re not commanded to trust people willy-nilly. Rather, God thinks it’s reasonable for us to discern whether someone is worthy of our trust.

And I’m going say this one without reservation: If your spouse is refusing sex and unwilling to even discuss the situation, he/she doesn’t trust you.

If your spouse is refusing sex and unwilling to even discuss the situation, he/she doesn't trust you. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying you deserve that! I’m not saying it comes from what you’ve done! It likely doesn’t. But right now, their fear and insecurity are bigger than their trust and willingness to be vulnerable. You’re going to have to build even more trust … by demonstrating (repeatedly) that you’re trustworthy.

How do you convince your refusing spouse that you’re trustworthy?

How do you convince your refusing spouse that you're trustworthy? Click To Tweet

I recently listened to an audiobook titled The Code of Trust, in which a former FBI agent lays out five principles he used to get informants to trust him and share relevant information without payment and sometimes at personal risk. As I listened, I realized that so much of what he recommended coincides with how Jesus showed us to treat others. Here are his five principles, along with a biblical viewpoint of each.

1. Suspend Your Ego. Let go of your own agenda, your own desires, and remind yourself that it’s not about you. If anything, it’s about them. When people believe someone else is pursuing their good, they don’t have to protect and defend themselves so much. They can let down their guard and just communicate.¬†This is tough, because we’re automatically egocentric. We experience everything through our own perception, but if we can let of our egos and really prioritize the other person, it can open up the path for trust.

The Bible says we should “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:¬†Who, being in very nature God,¬†did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;¬†rather, he made himself nothing¬†by taking the very nature of a servant,¬†being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus said it this way to His apostles, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Later, the apostle Paul adds, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24).

2. Be Nonjudgmental.¬†No one feels safe to express fears or insecurities when they expect criticism or contempt. Even if what your spouse feels seems utterly ridiculous to you, take it at face value and accept that it’s true for them. It’s not where you want to end up, but it makes sense from their context. Treat them with the same non-judgment you’d like to have for your feelings about sex.

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.¬†For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). That doesn’t mean that we don’t use discernment about what’s right and wrong, or we don’t set boundaries, because other scriptures cover that. But it does mean that we don’t approach others with a judgmental attitude.

3. Honor Reason.¬†What the author means here is to stick to reason rather than reaction as you interact. We tend to let our emotions get caught up in an issue as personal as sexual intimacy, and from a place of hurt, it’s easy to lash out — even with something as subtle as body language. (The issue my family has identified for me is vocal tone.)¬†But try not to let emotion rule, and instead focus on listening to your spouse and responding calmly to what they say.

James puts it this way: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20). And from Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city breached, without walls,¬†is one who lacks self-control” (NRSV).

4. Validate Others.¬†You don’t have to agree with your spouse’s point to validate the person who makes it. Just try to see things from their perspective and figure out why they might have arrived at the conclusion they reached. From the point of putting yourself in their shoes, you can probably validate their thoughts and feelings. Once you recognize where they’re coming from, you can better figure out where to go from here.

There are so many examples of how Christ met people they were. You can read story after story in the Gospels where Jesus tailored his message to the audience he faced, and by validating the person in front of him, He broke through their barriers. See His interaction with the Samaritan Woman and Zacchaeus for examples.¬†The apostle Paul approached people this way as well: “Though I am free¬†and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone,¬†to win as many as possible.¬†To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.¬†To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law),¬†so as to win those under the law.¬†To those not having the law I became like one not having the law¬†(though I am not free from God‚Äôs law but am under Christ‚Äôs law),¬†so as to win those not having the law.¬†To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.¬†I have become all things to all people¬†so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).

5. Be Generous.¬†Give more than you get. I’m not talking about all the stuff you’ve done to help or show love to your spouse (though that’s all well and good), but consider how your spouse could walk away from the conversation feeling they got something out of it, that you gave them something worthwhile. Depending on your circumstances, that could be anything from more time to talk while you listen to a specific promise to follow up with something they desire.

Proverbs 11:25 says: “A generous¬†person will prosper;¬†whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Jesus sets a more challenging standard in Luke 6:30-35: “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.¬†Do to others as you would have them do to you.¬†If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?¬†Even sinners love those who love them.¬†And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.¬†And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?¬†Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.¬†But love your enemies, do good to them,¬†and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Of course your spouse isn’t your enemy, but when you’re at odds about your sex life, they can feel like an opponent. And surely your spouse deserves as well or better than an enemy anyway.

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Now I don’t expect y’all to head off and start having incredibly effective conversations with your refusing spouse in which everything turns around in a moment. I¬†wish that would happen, but since I choose to live in the Real World (when I’m not living in Crazy Town as referenced above), I don’t want to give false hope.

Rather this is what I’m suggesting: Spend the next week thinking about these principles. Do you agree or disagree with any of these being good for your marriage? Where have you fostered trust and where have you lost trust in your interactions around sexual intimacy? What would it take for your spouse to view you as entirely trustworthy?

If you want to know more about this Code of Trust, you can check out the book or listen to a podcast interview with the author aired on The Art of Manliness. And if you want to know more about trust generally, for heaven’s sake, pick up your Bible! Do your own study and see how Jesus fostered trust with people who came to believe in Him.