Tag Archives: Hot Holy Humorous

Happily Book Review: Contrarian Advice for a Great Marriage

On Tuesday, we released another podcast episode on Sex Chat for Christian Wives, but this one was unusual: we hosted a male guest. Kevin A. Thompson is the lead pastor at Community Bible Church in western Arkansas, speaks at marriage and parenting conferences, and has authored two marriage books, including Friends, Lovers, and Partners.

I don’t know how I originally connected with Kevin, but I’ve read his blog for some time and interacted with him online. I’ve been impressed with his willingness to address tough topics from a biblical viewpoint. And he came at it again in his most recent book, Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last.

(Note: I received a copy of this book free from the author, but I promised nothing but to read it. My decision to write this review is entirely my own.)

Kevin starts by discussing our tendency tend to believe that happy and unhappy marriages occur through luck or by getting certain rules right, like “you must find and marry The One.” However, the real way to both avoid divorce and have a happy marriage is to embrace eight contrarian commitments he outlines in the book.

These contrarian commitments are Jesus’ contrarian principles for our lives, laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, the section we call the Beatitudes.

The First Commitment

For example, the first commitment is to Happily Humble Yourselves. Easier said than done, right? And yet, think how many marriage struggles are caused or exacerbated by our lack of humility. As Kevin says, “At the heart of nearly every marriage problem is pride,” but he also points out that “most of the people we meet who lack humility are not arrogant; we are insecure.”

What if we instead had a right perspective of ourselves in comparison to God? What if we understood our value, so we didn’t fall prey to insecurity, as well as our insufficiency, so we didn’t fall prey to arrogance?

What if both of you approached your next conflict with humility? And what if you approached your marriage bed and all the issues surrounding it with true humility—neither arrogant nor insecure? Wouldn’t you listen better, make your requests in a more loving way, pursue help more quickly?

The Second Commitment

Now take the second commitment he covers: Embrace the Hurt. What?! you say. I didn’t get married to get hurt!

Well, are you breathing and in relationship with anyone on this earth? Then welcome to some hurt. In our broken world, that’s how this goes. We will disappoint one another. But that does not mean you cannot have genuine joy, because hurt can result in healing and growth.

Kevin reminds us, “Marriage reveals our flaws and exposes our greatest wounds.” It’s the iron sharpens iron principle, which I discuss at more length in my devotional book Intimacy Revealed. That friction reveals our flaws and gives us an opportunity to improve ourselves and serve others.

Of course, there’s a big difference between the regular, inherent hurt we feel when our differences rub against each another and the pain of abuse. If you’re experiencing the latter, you do not happily endure that. Kevin states that we need to distinguish which pain is a caused by a problem not to be tolerated and which is the result of our imperfection and need for growth.

For those in abusive situations, seek help. Today. Now. Stop reading this blog post and go research abuse resources in your area.

For those in the regular conflict of marriage, Happily‘s prescription is to mourn the emotional pain we feel when let down by others. Which will inevitably happen. But then seek how to grow together through the hurt.

The Commitments & the Beatitudes

As you can see, these two commitments reflect the first two Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-4:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

The remaining six commitments do the same:

  • Happily Avoid Both Apathy and Aggression (“Blessed are the meek…”)
  • Happily See Marriage as Bigger than You (“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…”)
  • Happily Refuse Power Struggles (“Blessed are the merciful…”)
  • Happily Live in Truth (“Blessed are the pure in heart…”)
  • Happily Make Peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers …”)
  • Happily Endure Whatever May Come (“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness…“)

Maybe some of those commitments surprise you, especially when paired with the word Happily.

Yet what made the difference in my own marriage when it was failing? Yes, I benefited a lot from specific resources that helped me work through issues in our relationship. My ministry is all about providing that kind of resource for couples who are struggling or simply want to improve their sexual intimacy.

But the key for me and my marriage was, through prayer and intention, living out biblical principles day to day: principles like those found in the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13, the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, and the Beatitudes as covered in this book. Once you shift your attitude to that of Christ, you can make real progress in your marriage.

Once you shift your attitude to that of Christ, you can make real progress in your marriage. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

And as Kevin says, those who put in the effort to have a good marriage may feel lucky, but it’s because they put in the effort that yielded the blessings. I recommend this as a book for a couples to read together and discuss, but it’s also good for one spouse to read and put into practice. Check it out here:

And be sure listen to our podcast episode with Kevin here:

Hubbies, Losing Weight Could Improve Your Sex Life

In a recent post, I tackled my concern that society as a whole and women in particular are harming male body image with unrealistic appearance expectations. Most of our husbands will never have a six-pack (unless you’re talking about the beer sitting in your fridge). Instead, we should appreciate the real men in our lives for who they are and how they look.

But here’s the flip side: I hear from wives struggling in their sex lives because their husband is seriously out-of-shape and overweight. I’m not talking about a few pounds. Rather, it’s a big health problem that negatively affects their sexual intimacy.

Once we ditch the ridiculous notions about body image, we are freer to embrace what really matters about our bodies: caring for our health. That’s simply taking care of the body God gave us. And while it applies to both women and men, I’m specifically addressing husbands today.

Once we ditch the ridiculous notions about body image, we are freer to embrace what really matters about our bodies: caring for our health. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

(For more about the wife side, check out Putting Your Body to Work to Help You Feel Beautiful, a guest post from Gaye Christmas or Feel Beautiful: Dust Off Your Exercise Shoes!)

Poor health can lead to performance issues.

Obese men have a 50% increase in erectile dysfunction compared with “normal weight” men, partly because obesity is related to medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, that affect both sex drive and performance. But also because obese men have lower levels of testosterone. Additionally, wives tell me their out-of-shape husbands fatigue more easily.

And some men worry about how big their penis looks when surrounded by a lot of bulk and are thus reticent about being naked and making love.

This doesn’t mean that being obese or out-of-shape means you’ll have problems or cannot engage in sex. Don’t put your sexual intimacy on hold! You can still have a good sex life now. But trimming down and getting more fit will have a positive impact on your own health and your sexual intimacy.

Some positions are off-limits or at least hard to do.

If a man outweighs his wife by many, many pounds, some man-on-top positions are going to be difficult to accomplish, if not impossible. Look, my hubby only outweighs me by about 30 pounds, and I sometimes push him up a little and say, “You’re crushing me.” Not, not literally. But it doesn’t feel good to have a whole bunch of weight pressing down on your body.

Again, don’t wait to enjoy sex! Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife wrote a wonderful two-part series on plus-sized lovemaking. I highly encourage you to go read it: Enjoy a Plus-Size Sex Life, Part 1 and Part 2. Christian Friendly Sex Positions also has an entire section with Sex Positions for Plus-Size Lovers. But the reality is that more angles and positions will open up once you pursue better health.

By the way, this is not true just for overweight people! One can certainly be out-of-shape and still in the weight window your doctor recommends. Any out-of-shape spouse will notice an increase in flexibility and stamina after investing in better health and exercise.

Taking care of your body can increase your appeal.

Let me begin here: The last thing I want to do is “fat-shame” anyone or suggest that some body types are less attractive. I don’t believe that at all! But if your actions indicate a lack of care in how you value your own body, it can be harder for your spouse to value your body as they should in the marriage bed.

And now and then, I’m contacted by a wife who says that her husband has gained so much weight that he has lost the musculature typical of the male build. With his high ratio of body fat, he sweats more and thus struggles with smelling good. There aren’t many clothes that flatter him. And it’s just not the man she married.

Every time I get those messages, I encourage the wife to accept and embrace the man she married. You do not need to wait for a lot of progress in the health/weight area to begin enjoying your sex life as much as possible. Moreover, a spouse should be an advocate for their beloved against the problem of obesity, not in contention with their beloved.

But I understand those feelings—the disappointment the wife feels that she isn’t quite as attracted to her husband as she used to be or could be, if only he would make some effort to care for his body a little more. Most of these wives are not asking for the superhero body, just wanting to see more of the man they love.

Let’s wrap it up.

Of course, I am aware that one’s weight is related to hereditary factors, health conditions, medication side effects, and more. But again, I’m not talking about some extra pounds, which are no big deal, but rather life-impacting obesity.

Moreover, I encourage you not to make goals based on height/weight charts, which do not take your particular body into account. If you want a target to aim for, get a health professional to do a full workup on your body that considers your bone structure, body fat percentage, etc., and you may find your goal weight is far less daunting than what was on the standard chart.

And lest you guys think I’m calling you out unfairly, I want to say that yes, I could say almost all of this to women as well. While I hate the ideal-body expectations out there that cause women to struggle so much with embracing their beauty, I also know that taking care of yourself is an important aspect of both life and your marriage. Your health matters.

But husbands, if this post describes you, could you take a step this coming week toward better health? Could you commit to doing something, a small something even, that shows you want to do better for yourself and for your marriage?

Sources: Gain Weight, Lose Your Sex Life? – Everyday Health; Erectile Dysfunction – Cleveland Clinic for Continuing Education

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What A Colonoscopy Reminded Me About Marriage

Yesterday, I had my first colonoscopy.

If you have not had one and don’t want to hear about this screening until you absolutely must, I suggest you stop here and click away or fixate on the happy penguins I’ve provided below.

via GIPHY

For those still reading, let’s talk earnestly about colonoscopies. They stink. Not because the scope part is bad; you’re knocked out and don’t remember a thing about that part. But the preparation of clearing out your colon for this necessary screening can be brutal.

My preparation time

Now there’s a range of experience, with some reporting it’s not that bad and others describing tearful times on the toilet during which their discomfort on a scale from 1 to 10 would be 12½. My experience fell somewhere around an 8.

I was warned by wonderful friends, but the first few hours after I drank the first bottle of clears-colon-quickly juice, I was fine. A few visits to the restroom, but no big deal. I thought I’d weather this thing like a champ.

And then, it hit. Like a tornado appearing in the horizon, moving at ballistic speed, and ramming into you with all the force of “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Then comes the second bottle of solution. And I’m using the chemical definition of “solution” here, because if this is the solution-answer to anything, I don’t want to know the question.

Of course, this is all timed the night before in a way to make sure you sleep as little as possible. Maybe so that you’ll be too weak to fight back when you get to the surgical center and remember exactly where that scope is going.

Without going into further detail, let’s just say that one’s dignity is not exactly a high priority during this preparation process.

Two other couples in the waiting room

What does this all have to do with marriage? Well, the morning of the procedure, two other couples were also waiting in the lobby to be called, and both were clearly married—one much older, and another middle-aged like us.

When the elderly man was called, his wife was in the restroom, and he was very concerned about not being able to touch base with her first and leaving behind her purse and belongings. The front desk staff reassured him and took care of the wife’s stuff, and when she emerged, they immediately informed her where her husband had gone.

With the second couple, it was the wife getting the procedure, and as she was filling out paperwork, her husband simply brushed his hand over her head and hair—loving and familiar, a simple reminder he was there.

Sweet, huh?

And it’s my turn…

Once called back, I was given the first bed in a row of intake rooms separated by curtains. From that spot, I could hear the initial questions a nurse asked the people coming through for a procedure. When queried about whether the staff should talk to a spouse about how things were going, every person said yes. Meaning the marrieds had someone there, caring how things went, trusted to support and advocate for the patient.

Then there was the moment when my RN informed me that colon is “aired up” for visibility during the procedure, meaning afterwards…the air needs to come out. As in, they want it to come out. For a Southern gal raised with a certain view of manners, this is a challenge. I replied, “Great, so you call the spouse back into recovery, and then we’re supposed to fart all we can with them there?” The answer is yes.

Yet I know that even after all of that, my husband will find me attractive. Go figure.

Finally, there was the recovery time as I was waking up from general anesthesia. If you haven’t experienced this, it’s a bit like going from tipsy to buzzed to sober. (And now I just realized that I’m also assuming you’ve been intoxicated at some point in your life and let you know I have. I don’t do it anymore, but I was once young and stupid. Anyway, digression over.)

In that tipsy state, your filters are down. I found myself saying stuff with no ability to track the thought fully before it spilled out of my mouth. I mean, much worse than my usual inability. And what did I say? I got mushy and gushed to my husband about how much I love him.

Benefits of marriage that aren’t in the vows

Look, this marriage thing ain’t always easy, including the sex part about which I mostly write. I don’t pretend otherwise. It requires intention and effort to foster the kind of relationship we should have for a lifetime of love. But oh, the benefits!

  • Someone to drive you to and from your medical procedures
  • Someone to “have your back” when you’re unconscious and unable to speak for yourself
  • Someone who cares how you’re doing, including the health of your colon
  • Someone who loves you in spite having seen up-close-and-personal photographs of your colon
  • Someone who still thinks you’re sexy, even after you’ve farted while lying on a gurney in a hospital gown

The author of Ecclesiastes knew this too when he wrote:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(4:9-12)

What have you learned about the benefits of marriage in the face of health challenges or procedures?

Oh, and if you’ve had a colonoscopy, you already know this, but if you haven’t, it’s in your future. Allow me to provide one important tip: if at all possible, before your colonoscopy prep, purchase a toilet with a bidet. Just trust me on this one.

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Are Women Harming Male Body Image?

We’ve all seen the completely unrealistic images of women with uber-long legs, teeny waists, melon breasts, and flat tummies. They’re on magazine covers, billboards, advertisements, and posters plastered around your local mall. Too often, we look at those pictures and wonder, Is that what a beautiful woman looks like? Is that what men want?

I’ve written plenty about body image for wives, arguing that all those PhotoShopped, airbrushed images undermine the beauty of individual wives—who are varied in their appearance but beautiful nonetheless to the Creator who made them, to the husband who married them, and to all others who love them. Which should include ourselves.

The Era of the Six-Pack

These days, women are not the only ones having unrealistic images and ridiculous expectations pelted at them. Just ask any guy who’s semi-aware, and he’ll tell you the “six-pack” is the new must-have for many men.

When I Googled “how to get six-pack abs,” I got 76.5 million results. Admittedly nowhere near the 496 million one gets if they Google “how to get big boobs,” but still a crazy high number. And how many guys out there are actually going to end up with washboard abs?

Yet six-packs, tight butts, big biceps, and every other muscular show of masculine strength is all the rage now. From Magic Mike to male cover models to superhero movies, the men who garner attention female attention are sporting a body that most only get with a strict diet, extensive exercise, and methods like taking diuretics. And guess what? If a male model or actor is over a certain age and still sporting a six-pack, they may also have had surgical intervention, such as liposuction to suck out fat and reveal muscles more prominently.

Meaning the average man…just can’t live up to the ideal.

Before the Abs Frenzy Took Hold

A lean yet muscular look has become a new standard for male attractiveness. But it hasn’t always been. Just look at these classic actors once considered particularly handsome in their day (and yes, they’re shirtless to show what I mean, but I avoided anything I thought was too much):

With the exception of Paul Newman, those are all just men who are in good shape, reasonably muscled, but not ready to wear today’s Captain America unitard. They’d be sent to a dietitian and personal trainer to push themselves up to the new, ridiculous standard.

Chris Evans, the Captain America actor, told a magazine about getting into shape for his role in Avengers: Infinity War: “For this film it was about three months of training, and I wasn’t looking forward to it…I’ve always liked going to the gym, but these weren’t normal gym sessions. I was puking at the gym. They were brutal, absolutely brutal.”

Seriously, are we wanting our men to puke so that we can look at steel abs for an hour and a half? If so, I don’t think we can say that women are the only ones being fed a pile of poop when it comes to body image.

Are Women Leading This Charge?

I blame a lot of players for unreal beauty and strength standards in our culture—from casting agents to magazine publishers to advertising executives to gym promotions. But you know what? Long before the ab craze, there was Fabio. And who bought those books and fell for the cover model? Women.

Who’s sharing “man candy” pics on Twitter and Facebook? Women. (And a few gay men.)

Who oohs and aaahs over Jason Momoa’s chest? Women. (He’s the actor who played Aquaman.)

The truth is that I don’t know if women are leading the charge, but they are contributing. And for a group of people who don’t like having Barbie-shaped expectations thrown at them all the time and object to being objectified, maybe we should own our part and do better, ladies. Maybe it’s time to create a new standard in our minds for what a handsome man looks like.

What Do “Real Men” Look Like?

Real men have varied body types just like women. Some are lean, some are bulky. Some are broad-shouldered, some are narrow-shouldered. Some display strength in their chests, some in their legs. I could go on and on with the variations, but you get the point that God made a plethora of physiques, all of which can be appreciated.

But your average guy, even in shape, is not going to look like the next Fabio or Black Panther. And we wives shouldn’t make our husbands feel bad about that. Rather, we should regularly and honestly show that we like and desire our husband’s body. Men are struggling with body image too.

Men are struggling with body image too. @HotHolyHumorous Click To Tweet

Gary Thomas wrote a fabulous post about The Only Man/Woman in the World, talking about how our own spouses should become The Standard for us. And while that doesn’t mean we’re blind to the beauty or muscles of some very nice-looking people around us, it means that we cherish the real person we have in our lives.

The world will not suddenly stop the madness of throwing unrealistic body types at us, but we can make a difference in our own home by letting our husband know that he is The One for us.

Should You Have Sex or Make Love?

Several fellow Christian authors and bloggers have written about how couples should “make love” not “have sex.” These are colleagues I respect and admire, and I agree entirely with the principle underlying their point.

However, I’ve wondered if it really matters in common conversation. I’ve certainly talked about having sex in my own marriage, as one phrase among many options we have to describe our meaningful sexual intimacy. It would feel odd for me to label it as making love every time. In fact, my husband has been known to initiate in such unromantic ways as “Are we going to copulate today?” (His defense is “hey, it worked.”) Yet I still understand how meaningful sex is to him.

With this in mind, I posted to my closed Facebook group, outlining the issue and asking: What do you think about using “having sex”? Is it really important to you that you, your spouse, or others call it “making love?”

Here what I learned.

People have varied perspectives and preferences.

I cannot advise readers to use one phrase over another, because your spouse might see it differently. Among the answers I got were:

  • making love applies to the whole of sexual activities in the marriage bed while having sex is intercourse
  • making love feels cheesy and uncomfortable while having sex sounds more natural
  • having sex feels more shallow than making love
  • making love is long, slow, and passionate while having sex is fast-paced and pleasure-driven

And plenty said you can call it whatever you like, it’s always making love because that’s how their marriage bed feels.

The specific language matters a great deal to some—and not necessarily in one way or the other—and not as much to others. Whatever you call sexual intimacy in your marriage, however, it should sound respectful and attractive to your spouse. So ask what they like. You might find out it matters more than you thought or less than you thought.

Culture and generation are factors in word choice.

I remember talking to my sons once about what body parts are called these days…and being astounded by the common use of a word that has no negative connotation in their generation but certainly does in mine. Who’s right on this one? Well, we have to consider culture and context in word choices. In my culture, that label would be a no-go; in theirs, it’s not a big deal.

As it turns out, this appears to be true with making love and having sex—with several younger couples saying making love sounded weird, like a euphemism for people who can’t bring themselves to say the actual words. Now that’s not true of everyone their age, but it’s an interesting perspective.

Some phrases for sex might appeal to people from one region or in one generation or with one background while other phrases appeal to those from different regions, generations, and backgrounds. As an example, references to being “ridden” as part of sex don’t bother me a bit, maybe because I’m a Texan who’s ridden horses, enjoyed rodeos, and seen the affection a rider and the ridden can have. Yet for someone else, that phrase could feel understandably disrespectful. Culture and context matter.

Spouses want sex to be pleasurable and meaningful.

Whatever you call it, spouses want sex to be both pleasurable and meaningful. The point colleagues have made about making love > having sex gets at this very point. While I don’t see the importance of the phrasing the way they do, I agree entirely that sex should be more than a physical act. It should involve our whole selves—body, mind, heart, and soul.

The responses I got from the group members demonstrate this desire. Husbands and wives both want experiences that are physically exciting and satisfying, while recognizing the underlying commitment and intimacy to what they do in their marriage bed. As one husband aptly put it: “Yes, we have sex, intercourse, coitus, I ‘know my wife’, we ‘do it, have a quickie… and whatever else you call it, but in all of those things (and many others) we are making love to each other.”

Husbands and wives both want experiences that are physically exciting and satisfying, while recognizing the underlying commitment and intimacy to what they do in their marriage bed. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

What will I call it in my resources?

I call it everything under the sun. I’m a writer, a crafter of words, a lover of language. I like using all the options available to me, as long as they are accurate and respectful. Since I don’t personally find anything problematic about having sex or making love, I’ll use both of those. But also sexual intimacy, physical intimacy, and any number of nicknames for The Deed. You can check out a few interesting euphemisms for sex here: What Euphemisms for Sex Do You Use?

But please know that I honor your desire for sex to be both pleasurable and meaningful. That is God’s design for sex in marriage—that both spouses feel good, feel connected, feel honored in this intimate experience.

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