Tag Archives: marriage and parenting

Why Being a Good Father Turns Your Wife On

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in the United States, celebrated by the purchase of power tools, electronic gadgets, sporting goods, and neckties. And extra attention for the Beloved Dad in our homes.

But not too long ago, I heard from a wife who admitted that she had enormous difficulty letting down her guard to make love when her husband mistreated their kids. She couldn’t switch to seeing him as safe and appealing after he acted harsh and dismissive of someone else she loved so very much — her own child.

On the opposite site, several wives have told me that they feel more attraction to their husbands when those men step up and do the right thing as fathers. I absolutely understand that feeling.  Seriously, there is something sexy about seeing your man being a fabulous dad.

Why does his ability to father impact our physical attraction?

Caring for our children is caring for us. We are so connected to this little person, or people, that we cannot entirely separate ourselves from them. Our children carry a bit of their mother’s heart around at all times. So when a father treats his wife’s children well, it’s felt not only by the child, but by the mother as well. Likewise, she feels the barbs too. It’s as if we mothers naturally follow Romans 12:15 when it comes to our children: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

I’m not saying that a father should not discipline his child — he should — but I’m talking about the father who exasperates his children (see Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). It’s hard for a wife to feel a strong romantic attraction toward a man who injures her child’s heart more than he shapes her child’s character.

Being a good father reminds us that we complement each other. Ideally, children are raised in two-parent homes with a mother and father. God designed the family to flow from this one-flesh connection of male and female. A dad cannot take a mom’s place, and a mom cannot take a dad’s place. As the mom, all I can do is my part of the parenting, and when my hubby does his part as father, our complementary roles join to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

This harmony reminds a woman that she is better off with a man in the house. And hey, it’s kinda awesome to have a manly man doing his thing. In fact, there are other ways in which we complement each other… For instance, our body parts seem to line up quite nicely too. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that wives translate this to the bedroom. But I do believe that seeing the balance of male-female in the home sets a good atmosphere for that connection.

Loving the most vulnerable in our lives helps us feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. When our children are infants, they are helpless; as toddlers, fragile; as preschoolers, unguarded; as elementary age, tender; as tweens, insecure; as teens, tentative. Yes, our children are more than those traits, especially as they mature, but in a world rightly run by adults, being a minor means being vulnerable. So when a man shows tender love toward children, he demonstrates that he’s protective, safe, trustworthy.

Now, sharing our hearts and our bodies is an incredibly vulnerable act for a woman. We want to feel secure and to know that we can trust our husbands with that vulnerability. It’s kinda sexy to believe that your husband will take care of your body the way he protects and cherishes your children. We wives can feel more confident about baring ourselves, physically and emotionally, when we’ve seen how diligent and gentle our husbands can be with our kids.

Listen up, guys: I’m not saying this is an exchange where if you treat her children well, you’ll automatically get laid. You should treat children well because it’s the right thing to do. And there are no guarantees with your wife, because she may have other reasons why sex is unappealing.

But being an exasperating father will likely be a barrier to her wanting to make love. And being a godly father makes you more appealing — and may well turn her on.

So to all the great fathers out there, and to the ones who commit to do better, thank you! Your children and your wives benefit. And I pray that you will be blessed too!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Father's Day Verse: Psalm 128:3-4

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The Dating Advice I Gave Teen Girls

Last week, I was at youth church camp, hanging out with kids ranging from 8 to 18 years of age. At one point, I ended up in a small circle of teen girls, and the subject turned to boys. It’s one of their favorite subjects, so why not? *smile*

Thankfully, these lovely young ladies were comfortable sharing their thoughts about romantic relationships and asking for wisdom from me and another woman who joined the conversation. What did I tell them?

The Dating Advice I Gave Teen Girls

Let me share the dating advice I gave these teen girls, with the years of hindsight I now have. Maybe it will help another parent figure out what to say to their child.

Dating and relationships can wait. I wish I hadn’t dated so much in high school or worried about relationships. In today’s culture, the likelihood of finding The One when you’re 16 years old is extremely low. Of course I know people who married their high school sweethearts, but they’re the exception, not the rule. The rest of us bounced around boyfriends, with little more to show than wasted time, broken hearts, and only a handful of great memories. If you happen to find someone, fine, but it’s okay to take your time and start dating later.

Focus on God, yourself, and friendships. Whether you’re 16 or 46, you should feel confident and comfortable as a separate person before adding another to your mix. Figure out who you are in relationship to God, to yourself, and to your friends first. Once your own identity is better formed, you’ll be a better choice for someone else and better able to discern the right person for you.

But won’t a romantic relationship or marriage change you? Yes, it will, and should. But you won’t be mixing your baggage with someone else’s baggage. You’ll be iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), not bludgeons. I’ve had the bludgeon relationships, and they are not fun. I’ll take my solid marriage, thank you, which is far better at pushing me to become the person I should be in Christ.

Remember real hearts are involved. Skipping around from boy to boy is a bad plan, because real hearts are involved. Only two options for a relationship are possible—it stays together, it breaks apart. And broken relationships typically break at least one heart, sometimes both.

Just because you’re young or you didn’t think it was a big deal doesn’t mean your choices couldn’t hurt someone else’s heart. We need to consider others’ hearts as well as our own. Don’t jump into relationships lightly.

Guard your heart. Speaking of hearts, guard your own heart. Don’t throw yourself wily-nilly into deep romantic entanglements. When you engage in a relationship with someone, you’re giving them a bit of your heart. Can you trust them with it? You don’t have to know this person is The One before investing in a relationship, but you should have some confidence he cares about you as a person, not merely a girlfriend or Saturday night’s date.

Sometimes we pursue that guy that gives us the tingles, but we know deep-down he isn’t trustworthy. Bad. Idea. Just consider your choices and guard your heart.

Love is wonderful. A lot of what I just said might sound like I’m opposed to romance, love, passion. Not at all! When there was a discussion of which boys were cute, I immediately piped up and said that Spock (hubby’s nickname) was super-hot and totally caught my eye. They smiled and laughed, amused to see I still get the tingles for my guy—22 years later.

I let them talk about cute boys and what they liked in boys. We discussed how truly nice guys get more attractive over time and catch your eye when maybe they hadn’t before. I spoke positively of the two girls there who are in relationships (with great Christian guys). I let them know fluttery love feelings are ticklishly good, that romance is worth pursuing with a wonderful man, that love can last for decades. I also stressed that these young women are worth it for some godly young man out there waiting for each of them.

Closing up, I might want to mention that word had gotten around among a few of these young ladies about my own rules for my teenage sons being allowed to date. The one rule these girls seem to like a lot is my sons must first demonstrate they know how to treat a lady—and part of the evidence is how they treat the most prominent woman in their life, their mom.

What dating advice have you given your teenagers? What excellent dating advice did you receive? How did your dating affect how you viewed marriage?

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Marriage & Family: Southern Style

I’m a Texan, born and bred. Which means I was raised with U.S. Southern phrases, like the constant use of “sir” and “ma’am,” “fixin’ to” (meaning preparing to do something), and the quintessential plural form of you — “y’all.”

In fact, I don’t know how y’all in other places get along without this fine word. For the first few years of my blog anonymity, when I was keeping pretty much everything specific about myself to myself, one of the killers for me was making sure I didn’t default to the use of “y’all.” In case you’re wondering, it’s simply a contraction of “you” and “all.” (Oh, and never, never spelled ya’ll, but y’all.)

But that’s not the only plural form of you we use. There’s “y’all” and “all y’all.” Yep, that latter one indicates more people and usually gets used with a crowd. It’s not as common, but it’s certainly accepted down here.

Which brings me to my point. (Finally, you say.)

A couple with their feet side by side on a hay stack + blog post title

I was thinking about the various prescriptions people give about how to handle prioritizing kids and marriage. Some suggest that children should take the front-and-center role while they are young, because they need constant care. Since they cannot fend for themselves, moms and dads must anticipate and fulfill their needs, guide their actions, and provide a secure, loving home for them to thrive in life. A solid marriage can handle taking the backseat for a bit while the calling of raising godly children takes precedence.

Then there are those who say, “Poppycock!” (Not literally, I would think, because who uses the word poppycock?) These people assert the child-centered home has destroyed marriages, and couples must put these life-suckers into their rightful place — that place being well behind the relationship of husband and wife. Indeed, couples must fiercely protect their together time, making sure they have ample time away from their children and not even discussing those little knee-biters while on dates or romantic weekends. After all, the best thing you can do for your children is build a fabulous foundation of marriage for the family.

Actually, I was re-reading a section of The 7 Principles of Marriage by John Gottman (which I totally recommend) about the challenge of adding children to a marriage. Dr. Gottman, who has studied marriages extensively, reported, “What separates these blissful mothers from the rest has nothing to do with whether their baby is colicky or a good sleeper, whether they are nursing or bottle-feeding, working or staying home. Rather, it has everything to do with whether the husband experiences the transformation to parenthood along with his wife or gets left behind.”

The more I ruminate about this — and yes, how it affects a couple’s marital intimacy — the more I think we Southerners are onto something. It’s not an either/or proposition. As a member of a family, I need to attend to all three forms of the you.

You. It’s important to bring the best you possible into the marriage. For instance, I don’t think you can have a truly happy marriage when one of you is constantly unhappy.

While romantic books and novels claim otherwise, you’re not a half-individual completed by the arrival of your mate. Rather, your marriage will thrive best when you invest in being a full individual — by attending to your physical health, dealing with your insecurities, pursuing a deep relationship with God, developing confidence and joy.

You are a separate person, apart from your husband and children (Galatians 6:5, 2 Corinthians 5:10), and it’s okay to spend time alone and working on yourself. As you grow into being the person God wants you to be, you bring a healthier individual into your marriage and family.

Y’all. You and your husband constitute a “y’all” — the plural you. The Bible says that you become one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31). You must invest in that marriage to keep it holy and happy.

You need to maintain that identity as the married couple throughout the child-raising years. That means spending time with each other and engaging in conversation that isn’t all about the kids’ activities and the family schedule. It means date nights and vacations away (if you can swing that) and regular sexual intimacy. All of this is actually good for your children — for them to see your loving marriage in action. It gives them a sense of security, provides a solid foundation, and teaches them what godly marriage looks like.

All y’all. If you and your husband added children to the mix, you’re now an “all y’all.” You need that sense of family, and one thing that determines how well your marriage withstands the introduction of children is how you make that transition.

Too often, I see the “all y’all” consisting of mom and kids, with dad feeling left out. Or it could be that dad has a real connection to the kids, and mom feels left out. Some parents also invest so much time in themselves and their marriage that the kids fall by the wayside.

Mom and Dad need to both be involved in child-rearing, even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on every detail (what couple does?!). As much as possible, get on the same page and get involved and foster that sense of family. Include your husband in the mix, or take up an interest in basketball or music or whatever your kid is into that has left you feeling out of the loop. Have the frank discussions together, with both husband and wife there.

Your kids will be blessed by seeing their parents working together, another moment of modeling loving and respectful marriage. It’s an “all y’all” that benefits everyone.

You need all three — you,  y’all, and all y’all — to experience the best for your marriage and family. And of course, you need a very big HE, as in GOD, to infuse all of these parts.

How have you invested in yourself, your marriage, and your whole family? What benefits have you seen with each of these priorities?