5 Things that Burn Me Out on Marriage Ministry

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.

Gender Bashing.

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

Martyrdom.

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?

Hedonism.

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

Argumentativeness.

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.

Sales pitches.

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!

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

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?

32 thoughts on “5 Things that Burn Me Out on Marriage Ministry

  1. Cara

    I am completely burned out (homeschooling mom of 15 years with about 8 to go) and I get it-the feeling of burnout that is, not the specific ones you have. You often get the brunt of the frustrations people are dealing with. I doubt most people write to you when things are just peachy keen. Hang in there J! You do a fabulous job and have helped so many that you don’t even know you helped (people who just search for the topic and don’t ever write!). I appreciate your lack of sales pitches. And because of that I did buy your book. It was the first purchase like that I made. <3
    I also love how thoughtful you are on the spiritual aspect of the things you write about. So important for breaking down barriers when you point out scripture that is freeing or just plain sets a boundary. Sometimes boundaries also set us free!!!!
    Life is hard and sometimes people on the internet feel free to beat others over the head.

    Reply
    1. C

      P.S. and I see an area I need to work on from what you list. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of something it is easier to be a martyr than to work for a solution.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Oh, I got mileage out of that for years, wanting to focus on what my husband was doing wrong. And I’m not saying he wasn’t doing some things wrong, but I wasn’t nearly as good at looking at where I needed to change. Blessings!

        Reply
  2. kim

    I’m also so thankful for your honestly. Your wit and wisdom are an unmistakable gift from the Lord. You’re winsome in how you approach hard subjects which, I think, makes it easier to see the truth. Keep bringing God’s heart to marriage! You have an obvious love and gratitude for your salvation coupled with a high view of scripture. The Christian world would miss your voice so I pray for continued stamina AND finances to keep your blog rolling!

    Reply
  3. Active Mom

    I will be praying for you. It can be hard to feel overwhelmed and burned out. I hope you are able to relax and enjoy your cruise, especially since you got a good deal on it! I always seem to enjoy vacations more when I know I got a deal. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Kelley

    I am getting burned out taking care of my stroke affected aphasic mom from a distance (700 miles/3 states away). I’ve been managing caregivers, bills, and 2 households for nearly 2 years since my daddy died. I have an older sister, but due to some disabilities, most of it is on me. In the last year, my daughter graduated high school and started college, while my son graduated with his masters and moved to China (for 2 years). I have a near saint husband and gokd Christian friends, but I would like to rest a little from the stress. Not knowing what the long-term care solution for my mom is going to be is exhausting. God has provided so far, and will I know in the future. He led me to the podcast you share with the other ladies and blogs y’all write. I’ve determined to reignite the fire we share together and am so thankful for the intimacy in marriage that God gifted us. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I’m really getting bummed out
    on the difficulty of drawing breath,
    but it will not make me shout,
    “Cancer’s burning me to death!”
    It’s a perverse place of honour,
    a fearsome kind of test,
    and even though I am a goner,
    I’m going to do my best.
    I will write that grace abounds,
    and of the Love I feel,
    and of my daily blessed rounds
    that show me God is real.
    In reality, one might envy me;
    for now I know, grave holds no victory.

    Reply
  6. Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing this! Some of these are similar to the things I struggle with. Until I read your blog and some like it, I had quit reading marriage books and blogs. It seemed as if it was always the man’s faukt, and I knew that wasn’t so. I wanted someone who would use God’s word as the standard and lovingly call for His marriage plan. Thank you for doing that very thing. Praying you are able to receive rest and oeace, even in the middle of busy.

    Reply
  7. Ngina Otiende

    Oh J, I feel your burnout. I took a break from blogging for a couple of months to focus on my health and writting a marriage course. It’s so hard juggling All Of It, isn’t it, especially when that last point is screaming for attention. I finally decided to display ads to help with the blog income. Is that something you have considered? 🙈 (because you asked for ideas!) I know most  Christian bloggers dislike the idea of ads but I’ve found it an easy way to monetize and add some passive income.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’ve resisted that for so long! But it may be the way to go. Thanks, and I’m glad that’s working for you. Also glad you took that needed break.

      And hey, ladies, if you’re not following Ngina’s blog, check it out! She does a great job.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Thank you for these insightful words. I sometimes like to play the martyr and I was convicted of this through your words today.

    Reply
  9. David C

    Why not have a little donate link. A buck here and there times the thousands of readers can add up nicely. Make it through PayPal.

    Reply
  10. Ol'Will

    J,
    Thanks for the video. I laughed and laughed.
    I’m surprised that this couple’s videos haven’t had millions of views.
    Thanks again & God bless,
    Bill

    Reply
  11. B

    For the most part, this is why I stopped commenting here. I felt I was the one burning everyone out. I don’t want to be that person. I found solace in a couple blogs, a place I could try to be heard and have someone communicate with me. During our deepest troubles, my husband didn’t hear me. He was so deep in his own issues. I’d endure a minimum of an hour of being screamed at, per day. It was rough. No I wasn’t perfect, but I also felt SO lonely.
    We went to counseling, and it helped my husband, but then the counselor said we’d done well and we were done. I was SO SAD. I hadn’t had a turn to even bring up my own issues, let alone work on them. I felt brushed off, again, and it kind of cemented the idea Id learned from my childhood, that I was basically worthless, just someone who took up space.
    But in a blog that’s hard to convey. People tend to get upset that you won’t just listen to them and smile and act confident and all will be well. It was a really tough decade of my life.
    I started to feel like in my desperation to get anyone to understand, or even care at all, or yes even validate that I was in fact having an emotion – be it right or wrong – I talked WAY too much. Or typed way too much I should say. So I stopped. I figured if my problems/issues were meant to be, was it really fair to burden the blog folks? No, of course it wasn’t.
    I’m pleased to report that things in my marriage have changed for the better. My husband is much more relaxed and willing to communicate with me. He’s acting like he loves me. He says he always has, very much, but never knew how to express it. Things aren’t perfect, but at least now he and I are able to talk about things together, as versus me pouring my guts out on a blog just to end up getting everyone else all mad. So that’s a positive change and how it should be.

    Please accept my apologies if I’ve been the cause of any burn out. I know I haven’t in the last few months because I’ve been making a concerted effort to remain quiet. 😊 But in the past I know I’d go on, unproductively, and for that I apologize.
    Please hang in there. You kept me going at a time when I very much needed support to stay afloat.

    Reply
  12. Wayne Shaw

    Lou Gehrig, yes, one of my very favorites of the before-I-was-even-born generation!

    I’m still reading you these days, just commenting less, but I feel ya on the burnout stuff. It can hit any of us from multiple sources.

    (Oh and congrats to your Astros! I still want Verlander back, though, especially after this horrific season….I know, I’ll stop. I’m veering way off topic.)

    Reply
  13. R

    Please don’t go the ads route, unless they’re ads for your own stuff.

    Most people believe selling is about getting people to buy stuff they don’t want – this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s about helping people get from a “before” state that they’re unhappy with to an “after” state that they long to be in. They simply need to know that your product/service will get them there.

    Reply
  14. Lauren

    I love your balanced approach that comes from a counselor’s perspective!

    Maybe a PayPal link or Patreon account? At some point, your main readers have purchased your resources, but are still benefitting from the blog so donations/subscriptions could be the way to go. I know podcast and YouTube creators who have Patreon accounts that have just a one time donation/payment or low monthly subscriptions $5, sometimes for access to exclusive content.

    The Homesick Texan (food blogger) went to a subscription site to keep doing what she loved and stay afloat. You deserve pay for the thoughtful, consistent work you put in to build this site. Blessings!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Great idea! I finally put up a Support My Ministry button (for donations) on the sidebar, which probably appears beneath the blog post on a mobile phone. And I’m figuring out how to make that more prominent. I’ve had a Patreon page for a while, but people shouldn’t go there yet, because I haven’t automated the rewards yet. On my crazy-long to-do list!

      Thanks so much.

      Reply
  15. Chris

    This is my day to catch up on your blog. I am also motivated to make some comments. I appreciate your blog, as you tend to give very balanced ideas and opinions without getting into other areas of theological debate. My mind, as well as my wife’s mind, is made up in the theological arguments between patriarchy and egalitarian theology. I am not here to argue about it. I would prefer to read about the topic on hand;what can be done to enhance the relationship of spouses within a marriage and improve intimacy in and out of the bedroom. So, your articles are really appreciated.

    Also, I noticed that you seem to have a regular schedule for posting new articles, and I think that is smart. It is good to have a balanced life and ensure that you have time for your relationship with Christ, time for yourself, and time for your family.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.