I have several drafted, but not quite ready, posts in my queue, and I have every intention of getting to them all. But I’ve been focused recently on dealing with comments and emails, catching up on reading others’ blog posts and articles, and going through research about sexuality. And frankly, I feel a little burned out at the moment.
Don’t worry—I’m not quitting marriage ministry! Hot, Holy & Humorous will be here for a looooong time, if I have anything to say about it. 🙂
But here’s what I mean. Burnout is defined as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” (Merriam-Webster). And I do lack emotional strength or motivation sometimes, because I get stressed or frustrated with some of what I hear out there about sex in marriage!
So today, since I owe y’all a post anyway, I’m going to lay it all out there and tell you what gets me burned out on marriage ministry.
There’s always been gender bashing—men complaining about women, women complaining about men. We don’t totally understand each other, and yet we have to live together. So like siblings, we find it easy to blame and complain about the other.
To be fair, I’ve sighed or rolled my eyes about such things as “man flu.” But always in jest and with a sense that we gals have our own stuff too. But the humorous point out of differences is not what I’m talking about.
Example of such humor:
Rather, real gender bashing seems to have ramped up lately, particularly in Christian circles! Either all the problems of the world are the patriarchy or they fall at the feet of those nasty feminists. Good gravy, y’all! Have you not heard that evil was here on earth before man and woman were in conflict? Satan slipped into that garden in the form of a serpent (literally or figuratively, take your pick) and tempted humankind to sin.
Of course there are men who promote the patriarchy and angry feminists who attack men, but the vast majority of men and women around you aren’t them. So stop falling for the manosphere’s and angry-feminists’ hoopla and look at what God says. No, no, not that one verse they pulled out to support their position, but the whole of God’s Word. What does God say? ” In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Stop the gender bashing already. We need to learn to live with these other people with the kindness and respect humans made in God’s image deserve.Stop the gender bashing already. We need to learn to live with these other people with the kindness and respect humans made in God's image deserve. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
This is my tell it like it is post, so I’m just going to say it: Some of you are more invested in being a martyr than making your marriage better. If you’ve been complaining about the same thing over and over and over, and nothing ever changes, you might be a martyr.
I’ve witnessed caring, support, terrific advice, and action items given to someone struggling with the sexual intimacy in their marriage and that person rebuffing all or nearly all of it. They usually give reasons why all that won’t work with their scenario, but at the end of the day, that’s often bunk. They just don’t want to do the right thing or the hard thing to make the situation better. (Admittedly, now and then, leaving the marriage is the best decision, and that’s an incredibly tough choice.)
Ask yourself what you really want when you come to a blog like mine. Do you want ideas to make things better? Or do you secretly wish someone would tell you that you’re right, that you’ve been sorely mistreated, that have every right to be angry? And you may be correct, but what has that gotten you?
If you’re steeped in resentment and bitterness about where your marriage or the sex in your marriage is, write down ten things you’ve tried to do about it. Put the paper away, come back in a few days, and read the list. Be honest: Are all the things basically the same thing? For instance, talking to her, pointing out Scripture, over and over. Did you give those efforts long enough to work? Even if it’s 90% of your spouse’s fault, do you listen to advice on where you need to change?
I hedged on what to call this category, but I think it’s accurate, since hedonism is the belief that pleasure and the pursuit of happiness are the highest goal in life. Now apply that to the marriage bed, and you get what I hear and see: Spouses and couples chasing the sexual high.
Look, I’ve written extensively about how to make sex more pleasurable and exciting. I’ve got lots of tips here and in my books for spicing up your sex life! But at the core of everything I say is God’s design for intimacy between husband and wife.
Yet that doesn’t seem to be the goal for an increasing number of Christians anymore, or even some Christian sex authors frankly. Rather, you can find information on every kind of kink out there, with some Christian saying it’s the thing that will make your marriage bed sing! Whether it’s:
- anal sex (a risky practice that has increased in frequency with the use of porn and erotica)
- sex toys that mimic body parts (I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard from that want or use a dildo, but would they be as excited if their husband wanted to use a vaginal sleeve?)
- BDSM (bondage/discipline-domination/submission-sadism/masochism)
- exhibitionism (having sex in public, or sharing the specifics of your sex life with others, as if you’re aroused at the thought of others reading it)
Or some other fringe practice. We need to be careful not to put pleasure ahead of all other considerations. God calls us to treat our bodies and others with honor, gentleness, and kindness. Pleasure is absolutely good in the marriage bed, but it must remain in the context of agape love and covenant intimacy.Pleasure is absolutely good in the marriage bed, but it must remain in the context of agape love and covenant intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
I like debate. Raised by a father who enjoyed the back-and-forth of ideas, I was the child who took to it and remained at the dinner table with him to discuss deep topics and debate theological issues. I continued that practice with others in college and can recall many conversations, particularly with men, in which I verbally sparred over politics, religion, and philosophy. These discussions helped me hone my own viewpoint and sometimes changed my mind.
But what I like individually isn’t the same as what’s good for my ministry and my readers. All too often, I get comments or emails where someone takes me task for a statement I made or asks me a follow-up question on a particular, and while it’s an interesting idea and I might engage if we were sitting at a restaurant table over coffee, it’s not relevant to the primary point or what people need to hear.
Example: If I just spent 900 words explaining to wives that men are not pigs after all, and some dude comes on and leaves a comment arguing one point in a way that smacks of yeah, men are pigs, I’m not approving that comment! I feel bad sometimes about it, when they’ve written 900 words themselves and I know that took some time and effort, but this blog ain’t just about you! Nor is my email inbox or my Facebook page. It is about you, but not just about you.
If you want to debate something from my blog, ask whether your comment will be constructive and whether it’s primary or petty. And if you’re just going to argue no matter what, ask yourself if you wouldn’t rather use your time more productively. Because you’re exhausting the rest of us. Seriously.
I hemmed and hawed about including this one at all, because it’s my problem really. But it is causing me some burnout moments, so here we go.
I hate selling you stuff. I mean, I love offering you fantastic resources, telling you about my books and podcast webinars, encouraging you to use what’s available to improve the sexual intimacy in your marriage! But I hate selling. I always end up feeling like “Professor” Harold Hill from The Music Man or a snake oil salesman, even though my products are definitely not snake oil.
But the reality is that people don’t buy a product or service unless they’re convinced they should get it. And that convincing—which can be called marketing or selling, depending on how it happens—is increasingly a huge part of being an author and speaker.
Blatant sales pitch below!
Truth is, I make very little money from what I do. I’ve joked about it before, but I honestly would be better off working as a toll booth operator. And I’ve heard all the encouragement about how one should be in ministry and/or the creative arts for other rewards. But no one tells the surgeon who saves lives that should be enough; they get a paycheck. (And no, I’m not comparing what I do to surgeons who save lives! That would be preposterous. I was simply going for the most exaggerated version and showing they get paid too.)
So my burnout conundrum is always: How can get people to buy my resources, which I believe in 100%, without constantly doing sales pitches? A close corollary would be: How can I make enough money to continue doing this ministry, when my family needs me to bring in a higher and more consistent income? I don’t know the answer, but if you have ideas, I’m willing to listen.
The other thing that’s burned me out is my own schedule, but that’s on me. I’ve had an unusual year, with my older son getting married, releasing four books (only one with HHH), and 19 trips on my calendar. Don’t feel too bad for me, though, because one of those trips is an upcoming Caribbean cruise in November that I got for a steal! Still, it’s all sapped my energy somewhat.
Fair is fair. Are you feeling burned out? What’s sapping your energy?