Tag Archives: marriage blogging

Stop Competing & Envying (and a Bit of a Rant)

Saturday is the day I share a Bible verse passage that we can apply to our marriages. I’ve been encouraging y’all, as well as myself, to memorize more scripture and apply it to our daily lives.

Today, I have a scripture to share for your marriage, but it’s also part of a plea I want to make to my commenters. Here it goes:

“Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26, NRSV).

Stop Competing & Envying: Galatians 5:26

Merriam-Webster defines conceited as “having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself.” And let’s face it, we’re all prone to being self-centered. We see our day, our community, our universe in terms of how everything affects us.

We also see our marriages in terms of how we’re getting our own needs met. It’s our set-point that we have to reach beyond, learning how to love as Christ did — with a humble, other-focused, sacrificial love.

That’s not to say we let ourselves be doormats. By no means! But we should look at our marriages in terms of how we are doing, not just me.

We should look at our marriages in terms of how we are doing, not just me. Click To Tweet

Yet I see so many spouses doing what this scripture says not to do: competing against each other and envying one another. How? We constantly complain that we are the ones being mistreated in our marriage, that our spouse has it better than we do, that we are victims while they are villains.

I’ve done it in the past. I have years of prior marital unhappiness to demonstrate what a bad idea that is. At the height of my troubled marriage, I’d have said that I was the spouse who suffered the greater hardship. But now, with a clearer perspective, I recognize how deeply my husband was hurting. Back then, I discounted his pain because I was so focused on mine.

I wish I could do that over again. But I can’t. All I can do is remember what I’ve learned and share it with you: It doesn’t matter who has it worse. You’re one-flesh now, so if one of you is hurting, both of you are hurting.

You're one-flesh now, so if one of you is hurting, both of you are hurting. #marriage Click To Tweet

For example, if your spouse isn’t giving you the sex you should get, you’re missing what God desires you to have. But — whether they understand or not — your wife or husband is missing that too. If your spouse is watching porn, you’re being denied the exclusivity of sexual focus you should have in marriage. But your porn-addicted spouse is being injured as well. As a pastor I know often said, a self-inflicted wound still hurts.

People all around us are hurting, including our spouses, in ways we don’t understand. And one spouse being worse off, whoever it is, affects the whole. A good marriage isn’t preoccupied with being conceited, envying, or competing.

Nor should our lives reflect that attitude …

There have been several comments lately in which readers want to argue the point of my post by essentially saying, “Yeah, what you describe is bad, but isn’t my situation way, way worse?”

Honestly, it’s often not worse. And even if it is, how does it help you to compete against others and envy their presumably better situation? For the love of God, can I please get across how destructive this attitude can be! That way madness lies! (King Lear)

You can get so caught up justifying the comparisons, the competition, the envy that you waste precious time and effort that could be spent on changing what really matters. You could be working on yourself, becoming the person God wants you to be. You’re far more likely to see positive outcomes by moving away from selfishness and into humility, as modeled by Jesus Christ, and working on your own issues.

Truth is, I’ve gotten caught up with you, arguing a point far too long — back and forth, back and forth — in an effort to get through. Frankly, wasting time that could be better spent writing and speaking about godly sexual intimacy in marriage. This past week, God reminded me that is mission.

Thus, my Comments Policy might be getting an addition soon — something about how discussions of I have it bad … no, I have it worse … no, I have it way worse are fruitless and destructive. Because by allowing those conversations to continue ad infinitum, I feel like I’m enabling what this verse says not to do. When all our time would be better spent in prayer with God, in conversation with our spouse, or in flat-out fixing ourselves.

Yes, I know some of my readers have been through hell and back, and I do not take that lightly. I want this blog to be a place where we can share our real struggles and find compassion, encouragement, and answers. Such comments will be approved, and we can hopefully hammer out some ideas on how to help you where you are.

But those who want to set up imaginary scenarios, use bad statistics, or give a detailed account of their own woe-is-me moments so that they feel justified calling themselves victims, I don’t see the benefit of that. As we look across the world or across history, we always find someone who has it better. And someone who has it worse. The comparisons don’t change where we are or what we need to do to embrace a better life — the beauty God has stored for us.

Let’s stop competing and envying. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. And let’s pursue health, holiness, and happiness in our own lives and for those in our sphere of influence.

november-giveaway

7 Tips for New or Aspiring Marriage Bloggers

I’m a bit reluctant about today’s post, since it won’t appeal to a number of my readers. However, I don’t know where else to publish this, and I wanted to give a few tips to those who are new to blogging or considering a blog.

Here are some things I’ve learned in my years of blogging:

Blogging word cloudFind your voice. When I first started writing fiction, I really wanted to write like Jane Austen. But I couldn’t get too many words on the page before my characters started cracking jokes, and eventually I figured out I was just a snarky girl.

Likewise, I hesitated writing and speaking for a long time because I didn’t sound like a lot of the female Christian authors and speakers I admire. But I am no Stormie O’Martian, Beth Moore, or Sheila Gregoire. My voice is my voice. And once I embraced that I enjoy writing about biblical sex (holy), that I believed it could be exciting (hot), and that certain things about sex crack me up (humorous), I’d found my voice.

Thankfully, what’s demonstrated again and again in Scripture is that God wants all personality types and spiritual gifts engaged in furthering His kingdom. Your own perspective, aligned with God’s Word, can be the fresh take that helps someone else who finds your blog. As Oscar Wilde (reportedly) said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Keep your posts brief and readable. What constitutes “brief” may vary from reader to reader, blog to blog, but as a rule of thumb, most people don’t want super-long posts. So if your standard writing length is 2000+ words, consider whether you can pare that down or break it into a series of posts.

You may need to edit your posts several times to get to a manageable length. Writing shorter posts can at times be harder than long ones. After all, consider Mark Twain’s marvelous observation: “‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” But make the extra effort, and resist the urge to cover everything about a topic in one post.

Get to the point quickly. Sometimes I read blog posts in which the introduction is half the post. My own drafts often start this way, with my explaining how I got an idea for a post and then why I want to cover it and what difference it will make. Or telling a personal story or an apt analogy with deep description and fervor. Blah, blah, blah. Your reader needs to know pretty quickly why she’s reading this post — what’s in it for her.

Imagine a 250-page book that didn’t get to anything meaty until page 100. You’d stop reading, right? Use a few words of introduction, but get to your theme fairly quickly. Honor your reader’s time.

Be consistent. Try not to post 11 times in November and twice in the next six months. Some successful blog authors do post whenever time and inspiration allow. However, the more common pattern for success is consistent posting, whether that’s once a week, twice a week, or every day of the week.

Choose what frequency you can honestly manage, and then try to stick to it. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it. If you want to put up an extra post, go for it. But remain fairly consistent so your readers know what to anticipate and expect.

Watch what you cite. Quotations and statistics are often cited incorrectly. Make an extra effort to check your sources. You needn’t hunt down every single citation like a bloodhound on a scavenger hunt, but try to find two sources or the original study or a reputable source. It’s easy to get this stuff wrong, because bad statistics, in particular, float around like dust specks in the air. For instance, in Shaunti Feldhahn’s recent book, The Good News about Marriage (which I haven’t read but plan to!), she talks about how we’ve all been citing a 50% divorce rate for years — and it’s flat-out wrong.

I’m sure I’ve messed up a citation now and then, but I try to get it right. And it’s one thing to be human and err, and another thing altogether to be careless and irresponsible. Check your citations as best you can. And while you’re at it, give credit to others for their words, stats, and ideas.

Decide what your comment policy will be. Some blogs take any and all comments, others moderate all comments, and some are in between. Simply consider ahead of time what kind of blog you want this to be. Do you want to encourage vigorous debate, like a public forum? Do you want to have deep discussions, like a college class? Do you want more lighthearted give-and-take, like a cocktail party? It really helped me when I finally realized I want my blog to be like my home. Respectful guests and lively conversation are welcome. People who insult or make others extremely uncomfortable are not asked back. Those who encourage me and make me laugh will probably get served dessert first. *smile*

Imagining my blog as a particular setting helped me figure out how to treat the variety of comments I receive. Encouragement, respectful disagreement, helpful tips, and personal testimony are welcome, but disrespectful trolls are shown the door.* My house, my rules.

Keep your own priorities. Sometimes it’s difficult to walk away from answering comments or emails or drafting another blog post, when I really need to go on a date with my husband or spend time with my family. You can get swept up interacting with others on your blog or social media, or feel the strong tug of wanting to help others. But having a marriage ministry should never take precedence over your own marriage.

Maintain your own priorities. Since I write about sex, I’d better step away from this screen when my husband approaches me to engage in sexual intimacy. (Sure, I’ll say, “Let me finish this thought,” but then I step away and head to our bedroom.)  First things first, and that includes God and your family.

So those are my tips for new or inspiring bloggers. Do you have any tips of your own to share?

*By the way, spam is constant, but disrespectful trolls are not common.

Too Pooped to Pop, or Why I Want a Vacation

When I write a blog post, I sometimes consider the reading audience as a whole, but more often I imagine sitting across a coffee shop table from a girlfriend and sharing advice, encouragement, and laughter about this gift of sexuality from our Heavenly Father. In the vein of that authentic girlfriend-to-girlfriend moment, here’s the scoop on J of Hot, Holy & Humorous.

I have written before about not withholding sex when you are tired and making sex a priority in your schedule. But honestly, my sweet fellow wives, I am on week four of a lung-crunching cough that will not quit. I haven’t even been able to mouth-to-mouth kiss my ever-so-susceptible-to-sickness husband in about a month, which has made sex a challenge to say the least.

On top of this lingering illness — which, yes, I have been to the doctor and used medication and home remedies for — I’ve been working with my lovely website designer on a blog move that ended up involving more glitches than my junior high home economics project (and, trust me, that’s saying a lot). I’m thrilled with the new look, but there are still some kinks to work out. For instance, you may have noticed that my “blog roll” — that list on my side bar of marriage sites I recommend — is missing. Also, I’m trying to determine whether my RSS feed and email subscribers are still getting these posts and how to move anyone who isn’t. All of that has added work hours to my already full schedule.

Then there’s my husband’s work schedule, which has been unpredictable at best, and irritatingly long at worst. I’m so thankful that he is working, because I know some people in this economy would love to have a job, but it can be a hard to deal with a spouse gone so much and the need to pick up that extra slack.

All that said, maintaining our sexual intimacy has been a challenge lately. There have been plenty of days in the last few weeks when I’ve thought, I am just too pooped to pop.

Yet the reality is that when we’ve made time to physically connect, when I’ve mustered the energy from somewhere to be sexual with my husband, when we’ve met our obstacles with determination to be creative and figure out how to keep having sex amidst the chaos . . . we feel better. It’s still not easy, but it is worthwhile.

(And just an FYI: The coughing goes away completely during orgasm. How’s that for a prescription for health?)

I’m praying that I will feel 100% better very soon, that my lips will happily engage with my husband’s lips (which I miss very much), that my website issues will resolve, that groceries will suddenly appear in my pantry (oh wait, that ain’t gonna happen!), and that the recent nipping of life at our calendar’s heels will subside.

Or that I can take a vacation very soon. Because that sounds so very nice right now.

Young woman sitting on tropical beach

Bring it on!
Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

In the meantime, here are a few takeaways and one question for you, my wonderful coffee-shop friend:

  • Marriage is lived out in the real world — a world of daily demands, sickness and health, joy and stress, give and take. When extra challenges appear, it takes extra thought and effort to stay emotionally and sexually connected.
  • Some marriages face huge obstacles to sexual intimacy, but I believe that more marriages face small, niggling issues that interfere with experiencing the best we can have. We have to be intentional about not letting the small stuff pile up, form a barrier between spouses, and turn into a big obstacle — about keeping our priorities straight.
  • Gratitude is foundational in staying connected in marriage. Usually, you hear that communication is the foundation, and I agree that it is so important. But when you’re being buffeted by the winds of life, taking stock of your blessings can keep you grounded. Yes, things have been a little tough lately, but I am so blessed to have a husband who provides, who cares for me, who does life with me, who feels like a gift-wrapped present from my Heavenly Father. So when we have to squeeze sex in at 5:00 in the morning, between coughs no less, my mind is still turning toward how grateful I am to have my husband and remembering that love that we share. That gratitude is foundational for me to feel connected to him.
  • And now my question: If you are a regular subscriber to my blog, how do you subscribe? Are you receiving my posts? I want to check the various methods through which people receive this blog (Blogger follow, RSS feed, email subscription, etc.).
  • Also please check out my recent guest post on Unveiled Wife about The Other Scriptures about Marital Sex. You might be surprised to discover that the Bible speaks to your marital bedroom a lot more than you think.

How You Can Pray for Marriage Bloggers

Typing on keyboard

Last week, I heard from marriage bloggers who had their site hacked and taken down, received suggestive emails from a creepy follower, got personally attacked for word choice, sifted through loads of spam, and more.

Yep, it’s a typical week.

I love what I do here, and the marriage bloggers I know are also passionate about reaching out and ministering to couples in any way they can. But yeah, there are moments when it feels like we’re at an archery range with apples on our heads, and I ask myself, What did I sign up for?!!

So today I want to suggest ways you can pray for marriage bloggers.

Pray for their message. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

We need prayers to correctly handle the word of truth. It does no good to have a marriage blog that shoots out terrible advice like poorly-aimed buckshot. Maybe one shot hits a target, but we can do a lot of damage if we mess up the message.

The best marriage bloggers are constantly studying the Word of God, sifting through information and wisdom from others, considering what they say and how they say it, and clarifying if misunderstanding occurs. We want to be faithful in speaking God’s truth. Pray that we do it well.

Pray for their courage. “…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

Being advocates for godly marriage oftentimes puts you at odds with people in the world. “Wait for sex until marriage,” “Don’t use porn,” “Submit to your husband,” — these and other messages are not ways to get invited to sit at the Cool Table of Life.

It takes a certain amount of boldness to speak up for what the Word of God says about relationships and marriage, because there are plenty of people who want to say you’re stupid, narrow-minded, misguided, or whatever. (In all fairness, I think that about plenty of secular sex bloggers, although I avoid personal attacks.)

But please pray for godly marriage bloggers to continue to speak with boldness about God’s heart for marriage. The Cool Table is overrated, and we’d rather be in the Book of Life.

Pray for their technology. “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

Of course there isn’t a Bible verse about using the Internet for ministry. However, the story of Nehemiah and his fellow Jews rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem seems appropriate. You see, those against the rebuilding of the wall did everything they could think of to frustrate Nehemiah and the workers. Sometimes, naysayers of marriage ministry can frustrate our efforts to get the message out by messing with the tools we use.

Recently, Sheila Wray Gregoire had a hacker repeatedly take down her website because he didn’t like what she said about porn. (He was identified and reported to the police.) I easily delete 10 or more spam messages every day, many of them giving links to porn sites (and yes, male enhancement *eye roll*). Other bloggers cull through phony email messages to find the couples really needing their help.

To continue with our message — and for me currently, my anonymity — marriage bloggers may pay for websites, security services, file retrieval, and tech support. Additionally, we spend time dealing with miscellaneous technology issues. A prayer that these tools will hold would be much welcome.

Pray for their readers. “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Colossians 4:3

Sometimes a reader ends up on my blog and says something like, “This is just what I needed to hear!” I’ve had that same experience with posts from other bloggers. I vividly remember opening an Unveiled Wife Prayer of the Day one time and thinking, “Oh my, was Jennifer in my house watching us?” It was just the prayer I needed at just the right time.

Please pray that God opens the right doors and sends the readers that need to hear our message, and that their hearts will be open to receive whatever sliver of wisdom or hope we can offer in God’s name.

Pray for their marriages. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

Reading this blog, you all think I have the Best. Sex. Life. Ever. Right?

Hey, I’d rate my marital intimacy very high, but it’s not perfect. (For one thing, I’ve yet to master that one sexual position where I have to twist . . .  Just kidding.)

Like all other marriages, marriage bloggers must cultivate a quality relationship with communication, time together, patience and understanding, focused priorities, and sexual intimacy. It’s easy, in fact, for people in ministry to neglect their own marriage — to take their own relationships for granted and to focus their efforts on working for some larger cause. Bad idea.

Please pray for the marriages of those involved in marriage ministry. We need to feel like it’s okay to ignore our emails for a few days, pass up an offer to speak, or skip a blog post if we need that time instead to be with our spouse and our family. “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Matthew 16:26a). Likewise, what benefit is there to helping other marriages if it costs us our own?

Just pray that we continue in strengthening our own marriages so that we can continue to speak boldly for godly marriage.

Thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers. Can you think of other ways to pray for marriage bloggers or ministers?