Monthly Archives: December 2014

Finding Friends to Support Your Marital Intimacy

Three women chattingLori of The Generous Wife recently shared about the beauty of having a good friend with whom you can talk and pray.

I’ve also written about the importance of having friends who support your marriage and sexual intimacy. Whether you need information, encouragement, advice, or prayer, godly friends can be a lifeline for your marriage.

So how do you find friends like this? It’s not like you start chatting with a woman one day at church and the next you’re spilling your struggle with sex in your marriage. It takes time and effort and discernment to find women willing to discuss sexuality honestly and respectfully.

My new book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, is dedicated to four such ladies in my life — identified only by their initials (C, J, L, M). When I realized I had four women with whom I can chat honestly about sex and marriage, I was amazed. For an introvert like me, that’s kind of a lot. I know some wives would be happy to have one such friend.

I developed these relationships in different ways, so I don’t know the magic formula. One has been my friend since college, and we walked each other through bad-choice boyfriends, cheered when we each found The One, and then shared the hardships and hallelujahs of marriage. Another woman, I met when our children attended preschool together. But it was years of McDonald’s lunches and play dates before we got deep enough in conversation to share openly. A third was a former ministry coworker turned friend. And somehow that friendship has survived us each quitting our jobs at different times, moving churches, and her moving out of town. And the fourth is a recent recruit, so to speak. She’s a fellow marriage blogger, with whom I share a lot in common.

So why am I detailing all of this? Because I want wives to know that it has taken me a while to get to this place, but you can get there too. I don’t have a magic formula, but I have a few tips for finding friends who’ll support your marital intimacy:

Look for godly women. Each of my four friends is clearly seeking God in their own lives and has a spiritual foundation I admire. When we became friends, it wasn’t with the direct purpose of encouraging and praying for one another, but we shared a biblical world view, a desire to grow closer to God, and a commitment to go the distance in our marriages.

Make yourself appealing. There’s a reason why the character “Debbie Downer” gained traction; it’s because we’ve all known someone like that — a constant complainer who squelches happiness wherever they go. That’s an extreme, of course, but take care to be the kind of person you’d want to be around. That doesn’t mean faking it or being dishonest, rather displaying godly virtues in your interactions with others.

Be a good friend. You know how this goes, ladies: One-sided friendships are draining. Yes, of course, we can have mentors who give more to us than we to them, or we can be mentors ourselves. However, lifelong friends tend to have more balanced relationships. If you want someone to invest in your life, invest in hers.

Choose authenticity. When I was a young mom, one of my peeves was getting in a group of church moms who swore that motherhood was a never-ending celebration of cuddles, cute things their kid said or did, and snapshot memories. Meanwhile, I was swimming in sleep-deprivation, spit-up, and self-doubt. I just wanted to say, “That’s not my life; that’s a Hallmark commercial!” But you know what? Years later, I’ve noticed those women aren’t close friends. Or they didn’t become close friends until they shared more deeply, about the wonderful cuddles and the difficult challenges. So be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone or something else. You don’t have to reveal everything right away, but when the topic comes up and you have an opportunity to get real, be real.

Speak lovingly about your husband. I started to write “speak well about your husband,” but I’m uncomfortable with some of the advice out there that says you can never, ever say anything negative about your husband to someone else. If I’d never said to any of these friends, “My husband is driving me crazy because he’s doing X,” I’d never have received godly counsel on how to deal with X. But what we have always done is make it undoubtedly clear to one another that we love our husbands. We chose these men, stay with these men, plan to make it til’ death do us part with these men. Any concerns we have and calls for advice don’t negate the covenant love we have for our husbands. We all speak lovingly about our husbands, so it’s clear that we’ll be supporting one another’s marriages.

Be willing to step out. Once you have a friendship with some trust, you may need to be the one to speak up first about marriage and sexuality. We often worry about the potential awkwardness of such a conversation, but you’ll discover one of three things: (1) you can converse back and forth with this person about sex; (2) your openness can help the other person with sex, even if they’re not in a position to help you; or (3) you can’t talk to this person about sex. I do have close friends with whom I don’t really talk about sexual intimacy, not because I didn’t try, but because it just didn’t work out. Okay, so now I know. But by being willing to speak up, I deepened other friendships.

I pray that every wife can find at least one friend to be a confidante, a supporter, and an encourager for her marriage and sexual intimacy.

How have you found such a friend? Or how do you struggle to find friends like these?

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (NLT). — Proverbs 17:17

* * * * *

Intimacy Revealed Book Cover

What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book

What Does a Sex Devotional Look Like?

Woman readingOne of the reasons you should study your Bible again and again is that you’ll glean different lessons from different readings. Depending on where you are in your life and your spiritual journey, God can speak to you through His Word right where you are.

Have you ever had that experience? Like when you read a Bible story you’ve heard time and time again and notice something that hadn’t stuck out to you before. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is tugging you in a direction you need to pay attention to—something you need to apply to the life you’re living now.

That’s how my new book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, came about. I started looking at scriptures I’d seen numerous times and noticing that they had application to my marriage . . . and even to my sexual intimacy. Even familiar Bible stories contained biblical principles I could apply to my marriage bed.

Digging further into the Word of God, I drafted 60 devotions and then chose 52 to include in the book. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the leftover eight, but I’d either covered the point in another chapter or a devotion didn’t fit as well with all the others. From that “cutting room floor,” here’s an example of a Bible story you may have heard about Nehemiah, but with an application to your marriage and marital intimacy.

Scripture

Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

NEHEMIAH 4:10-14

Our marriages are under daily attack, just like the Israelites were when rebuilding the Jerusalem wall. Look around at the plethora of sinful sexual messages in our culture, and it’s easy for us to also say, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” It can be overwhelming at times to weed through what the world says about sex—that it’s foolish to wait until you’re married, that it’s purely physical, that there are no limits, etc.—and settle on the truth of God’s design instead. It can feel especially foolhardy to trust in God’s plan when your marital sex life isn’t everything you hoped it would be.

But maybe the wall simply isn’t built all the way yet. And the enemy doesn’t want you to succeed in erecting a strong wall in your marriage—a solid structure of satisfying sexual intimacy. He wants your marriage to be rubble. So what’s our answer? Like Nehemiah, we need to do two things: Guard the wall and trust in God’s plan.

Nehemiah set sentries to protect the workers, and likewise we need to guard our hearts and minds against wrong views of sex. Then Nehemiah appeals to the people: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” We need not cower or apologize for our view of good sex in marriage, but rather remember God and His excellent plan and fight for our families. Our best defense against the enemy is the offense of an ever-growing marriage and God-honoring sexual intimacy.

Questions

♥ What erroneous messages about sex is the world sending today? How do they differ from God’s perfect plan for sexual intimacy in marriage?

♥ Where do you need to focus in your marriage? What needs to happen to strengthen your wall of sexual intimacy?

Prayer

Glorious God, we praise You and Your perfect plan for humankind. Thank You for the excellent examples of faith and righteousness throughout the Bible. I know my marriage is under attack from the enemy, and I don’t want to give the devil even a foothold through weaknesses in our sex life. So I pray You will help me guard my heart and my mind against sinful messages from the world about sex. Help me also to trust in Your plan and to be faithful in pursuing godly sexual intimacy in my marriage. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen.

What lesson or lessons do you draw from this story of Nehemiah and the building of the wall? How can you apply God’s plan for His people to your marriage specifically?

For more devotions, check out Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage. (And yes, this would make a great Christmas gift!)

Intimacy Revealed Book CoverWhat does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase e-book:

Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book

Does Your Husband Look at Other Women?

I had an interesting conversation with Spock recently (“Spock” being my husband, that overly logical man). We discussed whether and how men and women notice physically attractive people of the other gender.

In my attempt to gain more understanding of the male species, I asked a series of questions that he answered in a way that made me appreciate, ponder, and (to be honest) wince a couple of times. The upshot? Of course Spock notices beautiful women. He’d have to be unconscious or dead not to see that God made some ladies who are gorgeous with a capital Guh.

And how does that make a wife feel?

It can make many wives feel threatened or insulted or even unloved. But before you go screaming that all men are pigs and can’t be trusted and on and on, let’s look more closely at this question: Does your husband look at other women?

Man looking at another woman while with date

Whether you see it or not, your husband likely notices beautiful women. I believe God created us to appreciate beauty in various forms — whether it’s a breathtaking landscape or a beautiful painting or a melodious song or a cute baby or an attractive body. Of course when you appreciate the beauty of the opposite sex, you’ll likely perceive that in a far different way from the cute baby. But my point is simply that it’s unrealistic to expect that we — men and women — will never notice another gorgeous person of the other gender.

So let’s not set up unreasonable expectations of our husbands or deny that they have eyeballs. He sees pretty women that aren’t you, because he’s still breathing. But that brings me to my next point . . .

Your husband registering that someone is attractive doesn’t mean he wants her. So some girl out there is pretty. So what? As anyone with a lick of sense knows, surface beauty is the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg here being love.

For centuries, the vast majority of men have longed for exactly what we women long for — True Love. Most guys who say I do are in love with their wives, and their strongest desires are for the woman they promised their lives to.

I hear it again and again from husbands: They may notice another pretty woman, but that flash through their mind pales in comparison to the heart-pounding desire they have for their wife. Most men think their wives are beautiful, not only on the surface but way down deep. And that she’s-the-whole-package thing is seriously sexy.

But what if he does more than notice other women?

Moving from noticing to lusting is an entirely different thing. Sometimes I hear from wives who say their husbands ogle women while they’re in public or talk about other pretty women or even make comparisons. Um, yeah, that’s not okay.

There’s this age-old question of when lust actually occurs: Is it when he notices another beautiful woman? When his eyes linger too long? When he dwells mentally on what he saw? When he imagines a sexual act with her?

I honestly don’t know the exact answer to that question. (Although that last scenario seems to demand a yes-that’s-lust response.) We are commanded to take control of our eyes and our minds and turn them toward good and godly things. So while noticing a beautiful women doesn’t put your husband in the swine category, it’s true that he can cross a boundary by spending too much of his gaze and his brain on someone other than his wife.

So what’s the upshot of all this? Well, I have some tips to summarize.

  • If your husband only notices a beautiful woman, relax. He’s male, and it doesn’t mean that much. Other than he’s still alive — which is a good thing, right?
  • If your husband likes the way another woman looks, it means very little about how crazy he is about how you look. Rest assured that when he holds you in his arms or you get naked in the marital bedroom, he’s happy with what he sees.
  • If your husband is pointing out other pretty women, though his gaze or words, talk to him. Calmly explain how that makes you feel, and that you want him to stop.
  • If he just won’t stop, you may need to set some boundaries. You could even say something like, “The next time you ogle our waitress or comment on her attractiveness, I will get up and leave. I very much want to spend my evening with you, but that behavior makes me feel like you don’t want to be with me.” Don’t throw a fit or make a scene, but do be firm and protective of your own self-value.
  • Pray for your husband, his eyes, and his mind. While both genders were created to notice beauty, God seemed to make men particularly visual. Thus, keeping their eyes and minds pure can be a struggle. Ask God to guide him and to give you the right heart to support your husband in keeping his eyes only for you.

In case you’re wondering how I responded to Spock, I was fine about how he reacts to other women. I know he sees them, but I’ve never caught him staring. Other than staring at me. After all, it’s only logical to stick with your own brand of pretty. Right?

Does your husband seem to look at other women? What are your thoughts on noticing other attractive people?

REMINDER: My new devotional book just released. Hope you’ll check it out!

Intimacy Revealed Book CoverWhat does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase book:

Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book