Tag Archives: Hot Holy Humorous

Are You Guilty of Whataboutism in Your Marriage?

I’ve been hearing a lot lately on the topic of whataboutism. Don’t know what that is? It’s defined as “the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue” (Oxford Dictionaries).

Basically, it’s when one person says, “So-and-so did this bad thing.” And the other person replies, “Yeah, well, what about so-and-so and their bad thing?” You hear it in politics all the time. In American politics, it often comes across this way: “Democrat A did this terrible thing,” to which someone replies, “Yeah, well, what about Republican B and the terrible thing they did?” Or switch Democrat/Republican. Not surprisingly, such debates go nowhere.

If neither side will ever admit that someone actually did something wrong or unwise, and their entire defense is that someone else in the universe also does bad things, how can any progress be made to improve the situation? It just starts sounding like a bad playground fight with yo-mama insults tossed from one fool to the other and back again.

But before we all feel so superior that we would never be such fools, let me ask: Are you guilty of whataboutism in your marriage?

blog post title + older married couple arguing

I’ll be the first to raise my hand. I’ve totally done this in the middle of an argument. You know how this goes:

Him:  You said you’d pick up my dry cleaning, but it’s been three days and you haven’t done it.
Her: Yeah, well, what about that weird sound our dishwasher makes that I told you about last week?

OR

Her: We haven’t been on a date in forever, because you’re always working.
Him: Yeah, well, what about when I suggested we take dance lessons and you didn’t want to do that?

OR

Him: I want us to make love more often, because I really miss it.
Her: Yeah, well, I want you to talk to me more, but it’s not like that’s happening.

Honestly, these aren’t like the yo-mama insults, because both parties have a point. The dry cleaning should get picked up, and the dishwasher should be fixed. He might need to stop working so much, and she might need to be more open to new experiences. They should make love more often and talk more.

The problem is that the reply is a deflection tactic. It’s a way to avoid talking about the subject your spouse brought up, to defend yourself by attacking back, and to feel superior to your spouse by pointing out something you’re doing right and they’re doing wrong.

This often happens in the comments section of marriage blogs. When a suggestion is made for a spouse to address an issue, sometimes he or she responds with, “Yeah, well, my spouse…” and then they go on to identify all the awful stuff their spouse is doing. And sure, they oftentimes reveal serious problems their spouse should deal with. But it’s also a way to avoid looking at what you really ought to address with yourself.

Even if your spouse is 90% of the problem, you need to deal with your 10%.

Even if your spouse is 90% of the problem, you need to deal with your 10%. Click To Tweet

If your spouse or someone else points out that something’s a problem, resist the temptation to switch the topic. Deal with the issue brought up. If you can resolve that one, you can move on to other issues and deal with those.

But using whataboutism just ensures that no issue really gets addressed and resolved. It becomes a battle of who’s worse, and you know what?

  • For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT).
  • Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

And if you think you’re not guilty of committing a sin against your spouse, maybe this one is you:

  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17).

Next time you’re tempted to start your reply to a complaint from your spouse, or a suggestion from someone else about your marriage, with “Yeah, well, my spouse…” stop yourself. Ask whether your spouse has a point. Even if they word it very poorly (and we often do), dig into what their grievance says about their feelings and what they long to have in your marriage. Figure out how to address that issue and resolve it.

Also read blog posts and books about sexual intimacy with this in mind. As well as the Bible — especially the Bible. It’s not written for everyone else; it’s written for you and me. It’s convicting us. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Now what about that?

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A Prayer for Those in Sexless Marriages

Thank goodness for the Houston Astros being in the World Series! Or this whole month might have just been me brooding about the sad state of our world. (Sorry, Yankees fans, but again…you’ve been FORTY times in the World Series, and this is our SECOND. You can take it.)

In the world of sex, however, I’ve been struck the last several weeks by the many #MeToo stories and how those have negatively impacted how wives view their bodies, men in general, and sexual intimacy. Indeed, this is the topic of an upcoming podcast episode of Sex Chat for Christian Wives which we recorded last night.

And here on my blog, we’ve been talking about sexless marriages and what to do, along my personal struggle to provide answers that actually help a tough situation.

So many spouses are in a state of deep anxiety, and this verse really hit me today:

Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
    but a good word cheers it up (Proverbs 12:25).

I really want to give y’all a “good word.” Today, I thought the best thing I could do is offer a prayer for sexless marriages. I hope you’ll pray with me.

blog post title + woman praying outside with sunrise in back of her

Lord, Father,

We know that You desire spouses to be one flesh that no one should separate, even a spouse within the marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). But some spouses have stepped away from sexual intimacy, leaving their mate feeling sad, frustrated, and lonely.

Your Word that You are close to the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). So many in sexless marriages are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit; Lord, be near to them now. Make Your presence known in the midst of their hardship.

Although understanding is elusive, we affirm that You are present and will walk with us in the worst of circumstances (Isaiah 43:1-2). Indeed, Your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ experienced the deepest of sorrows, abandoned by others and suffering on a cross, and You brought Him through. When it seemed hopeless, You resurrected our Savior. We pray for that same power of resurrection to bring a reawakening of sexual intimacy in marriages where it’s been lacking (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Surround these couples with believers who can speak into their situation, who can provide wisdom for pursuing reconciliation. Give Your Church the yearning and the resources to speak not with timidity but with power and love in favor of Your design for sex in marriage — for regular, mutually satisfying physical intimacy (2 Timothy 1:7). Help those of us who can minister to sexless marriages to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and offer godly wisdom (Colossians 3:16).

We pray for those called to minister and teach on marriage and sexuality, for we are imperfect and stumble in our words (James 3:1-2). Help Your message come through, despite the flaws of Your messengers. Humble us to understand that we don’t have the answers so much as You are the answer. May all our “solutions” ultimately point to You.

Open the eyes and the ears, the heart and the mind of the refusing spouse (Isaiah 32:3), so they truly see the emotional pain of their spouse and be convicted of the significance of sexual intimacy in their marriage. Guide them to see that sex isn’t just for their spouse, but for their own heart and soul. Help them to see the beauty of being fully known and valued in the marriage bed (Song of Songs 2:3-5). 

Give the refused spouse compassion for their spouse and what they’ve been missing out on as well. Give them the right words to express their emotional pain and to break through the emotional barriers. Help them to be peacemakers as they pursue sexual intimacy for their marriage (Matthew 5:9). Refresh them in their weariness (Jeremiah 31:25).

Lord, above all give us love for one another. Help us in our marriages and in our churches to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). And give us Your ultimate rest in Christ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-29). Let Your love show through us (1 John 4:11-12).

In the name of Your Son and through the Holy Spirit, we pray.

Amen.

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

Y’all, I’ve been agonizing over today’s post. I’ve spent hours thinking, researching, writing, and revising the next post to answer this question: “What Can I Do About My Sexless Marriage?” I have a draft of the post, but as I sat here trying to finish it up, I felt this overwhelming sense that it’s not ready — that I can’t click Publish for that post just yet.

The question I’ve been asking myself all week long is How do I write a post that helps sexless marriages?

blog post title with image of wood person sitting down and staring at a large question mark

Look, I have ideas and specific tips. But I feel the weight of this subject on me, knowing how spouses in sexless marriages feel so beaten down. And throwing out suggestions on how to address sexual refusal, and then having the refused spouse try them and fail yet again, isn’t helpful! That could result in dashing all hopes that things could change.

And yet, I know for many of you, they can change.

How do I know?

Because that’s my story. Not specifically with sexual refusal, but in the whole realm of sex. I am a different person in my viewpoint about sex than I was thirty years ago.

It’s also the story of my marriage, that was once so bad I couldn’t see how it could ever be whole or happy again. And yet, God revived that too. Things changed.

In fact, it’s the whole story of God: That He is a God of new beginnings, of reconciliation, of hope. Ezekiel 11:19-20 puts it this way:

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

I had a heart of stone at one point. Now, if you’d asked me at the time, I would have said my heart was just fine, thank you very much. But looking back, I can see the work God did in me. So I know people can change, relationships can change, life can change — all for the better.

I want to give you that hope. Real hope.

But I don’t feel like the post I originally planned to put up today is ready. I need more time to pull it all together and present something that can genuinely help your struggling marriage. God has, for whatever reason, given me this platform to minister to marriages, wives in particular, in the arena of sexuality, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

I’ll be back next week with that post. In the meantime, I’ll be praying for your marriage. Maybe you could pray that God will give me the right words for your marriage too.

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And if you’re wondering why I don’t just spend more time today or tomorrow working on the post, I’m getting on the road in about an hour to go visit my son at college. So that’s just not possible right now. I haven’t seen my older son in almost two months, so he’s my priority this weekend. Many blessings, y’all!

Your Own World Series…in the Marriage Bed

American English has a lot of slang — like referring to sexual acts in terms of sports terminology, like scoring, getting a touchdown, or the all those bases in baseball.

In keeping with that theme — and because I cannot stop thinking about the amazing American League victory by my home team, the Houston Astros — let’s talk a bit about your own world series … in the marriage bed.

Blog post title + heart-shaped baseball image

On Deck. In baseball, being “on deck” means you’re next in line to bat. Watch someone whose in the on-deck circle, and they’re not just standing there. They’re warming up!

Your sexual intimacy needs some warming up too. The quality time you spend together, the friendship you build, the nonsexual touches throughout the day, the compliments you pay one another, the acts of service you perform — all of these are good ideas in their own right, but they also lay the groundwork for a successful “at bat.”

At Bat. Once you step into the batter’s box, you’re conveying that you’re ready to go. Initiation requires intention. Too often in marriage, spouses are stepping in and out of that box, hesitant and seeking signals from their spouse to see if things are a go tonight or not.

While I’ve suggested many ways to initiate (40, in fact), whatever you do needs to be a clear message that you want to make love. By the way, that isn’t “I need sex” or “It’s been a while,” but more in the realm of “I really want to be physically intimate with you, my beloved.” Need ideas of how to woo your mate? Go read Song of Songs.

Strikeout. Not every single at bat yields a hit, nor does every single time you want to make love mean it’s the best time for your spouse and your marriage. But while a great batting average in Major League Baseball is above .300, meaning 3 hits for every 10 at-bats, your marriage batting average should be much higher.

It’s one thing to get rain checks, which is fine in marriage, and another thing to experience long-term refusal. In a healthy marriage, you might strike out sometimes, but you’ll be back at bat very soon.

In a healthy marriage, you might strike out sometimes, but you'll be back at bat very soon. Click To Tweet

First Base. Here’s an interesting statistic: about 65% of hits in the Major League are singles. Singles aren’t as exciting as doubles or triples or that much-sought-after home run, but they’re very important in putting points on the board. Unfortunately, once married, too many couples neglect first base and lose out on some of the great benefits that kissing, and the embracing that comes with it, provides.

Kissing stirs up our arousal, fires up the brain chemicals that make us feel more connected and excited around one another, and simply express love in a sweet and wonderful way. Song of Songs begins with, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine” (2:1). Maybe you as a couple should put a little more effort into hanging out at first base.

Second Base. Houston Astros player Craig Biggio hit 668 doubles in his 20-year career, making the doubles leader list three years. I remember it being a big deal around here when Biggio hit a double, because it was his “thang.” And now you’re asking yourself now if I’m just using this point to boast about my home team. No, not entirely. Second base is also the nickname for a man fondling a woman’s breasts. And for some husbands, that’s their “thang.”

Breasts can be a highly erogenous zone for both husband and wife. Wives, let him have access and describe or show how you like to be touched. (And hubbies, communicate your appreciation for this area of her body — which many women are self-conscious about — and listen to what feels good for her as well.)

Third Base. Third base is just one away from home plate, so it’s tempting to run past it to get to the Score! moment. But just ask the New York Yankees how that plan worked out for them in their ACLS championship series against the Astros:

MLB Tweet with photo of Houston Astros catcher tagging out the Yankees runner at home plate

Tagged out at home plate!

Maybe hanging out at third base is a good idea, at least until it’s the right time to head home.

Third base in sexual intimacy includes manual play for her, hand jobs for him, and oral sex for either. It involves even more intimate caressing, kissing, and pleasure. It’s the place where many wives achieve orgasm, and husbands can as well. A triple is nothing to take for granted, so make third base count in your marriage.

Home Plate. You’ve hit well, rounded the bases, and now you’ve got your eyes on the ultimate goal. Look, there’s nothing quite like crossing home plate. In baseball or in marriage.

Look, there's nothing quite like crossing home plate. In baseball or in marriage. Click To Tweet

PIV (penis-in-vagina) intercourse is the centerpiece of sexual intimacy in marriage. It’s the ultimate act of joining a husband’s body and a wife’s body in the physical representation of the one flesh God spoke about in Genesis 2:24 and Jesus reiterated in Mark 10:7-8. Many spouses report this connection is their favorite thing about sex — his feeling of being inside her, and her feeling of him being inside her. Score!

Grand Slam. A “grand slam” in baseball is when a batter hits a home run with three runners already on base. With that one hit, four players cross home plate. It’s the pinnacle of scoring in baseball. As Major League Baseball says, “Grand slams are incredibly rare.” In the season for which I found a statistic (2005), grand slams only accounted for 2.6% of home runs, and home runs were only 4.8% of batted balls in 2017 (which is actually a record). I know those are different years, but if you take 2.6% of 4.8% … well, that’s a really small number.

So what’s the “grand slam” in sexual intimacy? Scoring more than once. That could be sex more than once in the day, or multiple orgasms in the course of a single sexual encounter. Some couples experience these with regular frequency, but if your grand slams are rare, just enjoy the ones you have. You can certainly swing for the fences, but all of those other bases and experiences are delightful for your marriage.

By the way, when you do score, it’s customary to pat your teammate on the butt. That’s just good sportsmanship. 😉

And now I hope I’ve convinced you of two main points:

  • You should savor every experience in the game of loving sexual intimacy in your marriage.
  • You should root for the Houston Astros in the World Series.

same image as above, sized for Pinterest

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

So no one actually asked that question exactly as the title communicates. But it’s been asked of me, and several marriage bloggers I know, quite a few times. Too. Many. Times.

Blog post title + woman sitting on bed with head in hands

You might be wondering how prevalent sexless marriages are. Someone asked this question in the comment thread of my last post (Is the Church Failing Sexless Marriages?). Here’s my answer:

It’s really hard to get great statistics with sex. For obvious reasons, it’s all self-report, and people don’t always report accurately. Maybe someday, some tech guru will devise a study where you wear an innocuous gadget that will note when you have sex and then report that. (Although, even then wouldn’t people try to game the system like they do with FitBits?) But the primary estimate I’ve seen is 15% of marriages being sexless, meaning fewer than 10 encounters per year.

As for actual data, here are two snippets:

“Searches for ‘sexless marriage’ are three and a half times more common than ‘unhappy marriage’ and eight times more common than ‘loveless marriage.’ There are 16 times more complaints about a spouse not wanting sex than about a married partner not being willing to talk.” – Searching for Sex, New York Times

In a survey of nearly 16,000 Americans between age 18 and 60, by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, 12% reported not having sex in the prior year. How common are sexually “inactive” marriages?, Relationships in America

So yeah, it’s a common issue which needs to be addressed.

And as much as I’d love that title above to say, “5 Foolproof Ways to Bring Your Sexless Marriage to Sizzling!” that’s more cow pattie than I’m willing to step in. Even in my tallest boots.

Thus, I’m going to take some time with this topic, probably a series of three posts about marriages that are sexless or experience highly mismatched drives. If you’re in a drought, you’ll likely want to stay tuned.

But if you’re not in a sexless marriage, you may be tempted to skip the next few Q&A posts. I urge you to keep reading, however. Because you know someone in a sexless marriage. It could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a close friend, a family member, the woman who sits next to you in the pew at church, or the preacher standing at the front. How can our churches minister to them if we as individual Christians don’t understand the problem, show compassion and support, and help them address their struggle?

So let’s begin…

In everything I write, I want to be both biblical and helpful.

When I turn to Scripture, there is a specific answer for confronting someone who sins against you, in Matthew 18:15-17. But is it wise to follow that prescription to the exclusion of others on the topic of marriage? Shouldn’t we have a broader understanding of what God thinks about marriage and problems therein? After all, just one chapter later, Jesus says this:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

So what should you do? Should you start with confronting sin, as persistent, unyielding sexual refusal is? Should you focus on praying for your spouse? Should you just suck it up and “love your spouse more,” as is often suggested?

After thinking about this long and hard (and with a thanks to this comment from E), I believe the starting point must be this: TRUST.

Most spouses do not one day decide to turn into Maleficent or Darth Vader and become your worst enemy, at least in the realm of sexual intimacy. They don’t think to themselves, I don’t care how much it hurts him/her.

Instead, what I’ve most often heard from formerly refusing spouses who turned things around is they were protecting themselves from something that felt worse to them than denying their spouse sex. Meaning their refusal came from a place of fear.

That fear could take all kinds of forms:

  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Fear of awkwardness
  • Fear of being in pain or discomfort
  • Fear that their spouse’s love is only about the physical
  • Fear of being taken advantaged of
  • Fear of being made to do something they don’t like
  • Fear of being compared to previous lovers
  • Fear of being compared to porn

I’m not saying every single instance of sexual refusal is about fear, but I’d venture to say it’s a very high majority. For some reason, the refusing spouse feels unsafe in the marriage bed.

For some reason, the refusing spouse feels unsafe in the marriage bed. Click To Tweet

So is it any surprise that when you bring up the topic of sex, they become defensive right away?

But what if you’re confronted by someone you trust entirely? When you are 100% sure that the person has your interests foremost in your mind, that they genuinely want the best for you, that they are a friend who loves at all times? What if you feel entirely safe with someone?

That’s what Dr. Gary Smalley in his book, The DNA of Relationships, identified as a core principle of a healthy marriage — a safe environment. Too often, we are caught up in a “Fear Dance,” in which we protect ourselves by building a wall or even a battering ram against others.

Truth is, you have your own fears too. I get it. But 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.

I’m not saying you support the sin — of course not! But you show understanding and sympathy for the fear underlying their refusal.

(By the way, yes, I also believe you should feel validated, loved, and supported in your marriage. But your spouse isn’t reading this post, so let’s start the change with you.)

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Consider that church discipline passage mentioned above, Matthew 18:15-17. Immediately before that section, Jesus tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep, in which the loving shepherd seeks tirelessly for the one lost sheep and rejoices when he finds it. Jesus starts by valuing others and showing that He can be trusted. Likewise, it’s our compassion and trustworthiness that allows us to confront a fellow believer and have a chance of breaking through to reconciliation.

Look at these verses as well:

Wounds from a friend can be trustedbut an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:5-6).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Whatever you do next, the foundation must be trust. Isn’t trust something you had when you married each other? Didn’t you believe that this person loved you and thus wanted good things for you? Didn’t your spouse believe that about you?

But it’s easy to lose trust over time. Or for the falling-in-love feelings to fade and fear in your present or from your past to come creeping back in. And we often don’t even realize what happened. We just feel like we have to fend for ourselves, because no one else is going to do it. Or at least not as well as we can.

Our barriers are intended to preserve our soft places, to cover our crevices of fear.

What I’m asking is easy to understand, but extremely hard to do: Let go of your own fear, your own barriers, and open yourself up to your spouse’s fear. It’s what needs to happen to create or rebuild trust.

For you to make any headway with “I want more sex,” your spouse has to believe that you want more sex not just for you, but for them. They have to see you as a safe person with whom they can share themselves fully, and still be accepted and loved. They have to trust that your perfect love can drive out their fear.

Your spouse has to believe that you want more sex not just for you, but for them. Click To Tweet

Which, no, won’t be perfect, but buoyed by the Holy Spirit, it will be enough.

Next week, I want to talk specifically about how to build that trust — that is, actual steps to demonstrate your trustworthiness and begin to break down the barriers that divide you. Then we’ll get to some specifics on addressing the issue of sexlessness in your marriage.

In the meantime, I want to hear from those of you who went from a sexless or sexually unsatisfying marriage to healthy and holy sexual intimacy. Please send me an email and tell me your story, particularly what actually began the turnaround. Thanks!