Heaven Made Marriage

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The Power of Your Paradigm

There is transformational power in the reality that Jesus is our Bridegroom and we are his bride.

What you Believe

You’ve probably heard it said that the marriage relationship reflects the relationship that Christ has with the church. Words to that effect may even have been spoken at your wedding.

That is often where we leave it: a nice idea, a trite metaphor, or an interesting point of comparison.

What if I were to tell you that our bridal identity is actually a vastly rich and beautiful expression of God’s heart for your marriage?

What if I were to tell you that pressing into this Bridal Paradigm, as I and others refer to it, has the power to radically transform your marriage?

There is Power in Your Paradigm

I’ve finally finished revamping and updating my website’s Start Here and About pages (one reason I haven’t been posting recently). In the process of polishing my What I Believe About Marriage pages, my heart has been struck anew by the transformational power of the Bridal Paradigm (Click to read my overview of The Bridal Paradigm.)

What is your marriage paradigm? I would venture to say that many people aren’t totally sure what they believe about marriage, much less what they believe about their own marriage. What’s its purpose? What’s your belief system? What are the guiding principles you live and love by?

These are actually very important questions! They are important because what you believe about your marriage will ultimately lead to how you behave in your marriage. As I often say, “Right thinking leads to right doing.” It’s a powerful principle.

What I Believe

I don’t see marriage beliefs as a salvation issue. Whatever your beliefs about marriage, all who receive Jesus as savior are going to heaven. Yes, egalitarians and complimentarians both can be saved. Even people who selfishly believe that marriage is basically about their own happiness are still going to live eternally, as long as they find salvation in Jesus.

With that said, your marriage beliefs are hugely important and will significantly impact the success of your marriage.

Over time I have developed some pretty strongly held opinions about how I see God’s design for marriage, but I don’t think you need to believe the same way I do. I read a lot about marriage, some of it by those with whom I disagree fervently. I welcome dissenting opinions here on my blog as well, providing we all maintain an attitude of honor and mutual respect.

So what do I actually believe?

Much of what I believe about marriage is based on the Bridal Paradigm, which is most clearly stated here:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

I’ve been studying this “profound mystery” that the Apostle Paul is referring to for many years, yet I only feel like I’ve scratched the surface. It’s as vast and unknowable as is the very love of Christ that Paul describes a few chapter earlier. My journey in the Bridal Paradigm, and yours if you choose to pursue it, is a lifelong pursuit.

But rather than trying in vain to summarize my marriage beliefs in a single post, I’ll point you to the pages I’ve just completed for more details.  I encourage you to read what I believe about marriage and use the opportunity to pinpoint what it is you believe.

Although comments are not available on the “About” pages, I’d love for you to leave comments or questions here on this post or send me a message.

If you and your spouse have never had a conversation about your marriage beliefs, or if its been a long time since you have, take some time in the next week to talk it over together. It matters. A lot.

A Great New Resource for Christian Wives

Four lady blogger friends are teaming up to create a powerful new sexual intimacy resource for wives.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

When four marriage blogging powerhouses team up to talk about sex in marriage, it’s time to pay attention!

Bonny Burns (Bonny’s Oyster Bed7), Gaye Christmus (Calm, Healthy, Sexy), J. Parker (Hot, Holy & Humorous), and Chris Taylor (The Forgiven Wife) agreed to let me interview them about their brand new podcast project Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

So here is what they have to say about it:

You all have successful platforms of your own, so what is your motivation for doing this particular project?

Our initial responses to this question were “Because we’re crazy,’ “Because we don’t have enough to do,” and “Because 4 ¼ brains make up one complete brain!” Seriously, though, we’re doing this to reach more women with a positive message about sex and intimacy in marriage. Our current platforms (blogs and books) reach women who read. But many women don’t have much time for reading, or they prefer to take in information by listening. So in addition to our readers, who we hope will become listeners, we want to reach women who may not have time to sit down and read a blog post or book chapter, but do have time to listen to a podcast while driving or working out or just going about their day.

We also like the idea of working on a joint venture with friends, and of creating a model of women sitting around the table (in our case it’s a virtual table) talking about things that are important to their lives and marriages. We also want to show that it’s possible to have positive and productive discussions about topics that can be difficult or controversial, even if you have differences of opinion about them. Because, believe it or not, four Christian marriage bloggers can have quite different viewpoints on some topics related to sex and intimacy! So we want to model how people can discuss these kinds of somewhat difficult topics, and hope we will encourage women who may need to address difficult topics in their marriages. And, last but not least, we want to show that it’s okay to laugh and have fun when talking about sex and intimacy!

What kind of wife would most benefit from what you will be doing in the Sex Chat podcasts?

Christian wives will probably make up the core of our audience, and in some ways we’ll be speaking primarily to them. But we welcome other wives too. We hope that women of other religious backgrounds (or no religious background) who are interested in building great sexual intimacy in their marriages will listen to the podcast. And we hope that women who think that “sex positive Christian marriage” is an oxymoron will listen too! Because the church hasn’t done a very good job of presenting sex in marriage as a great thing, especially for wives, and we hope to play a small part in changing that.

How can wives expect to benefit from your podcasts? What impact would it have on their marriage?

We’re hoping to change the game by playing offense. Christians and the church have tended to play defense when it comes to sex – by focusing heavily on “don’t do this and don’t do that” – but we’re going to play offense. We’re going to encourage women to embrace their sexuality, learn to enjoy sex and build deep emotional intimacy in their marriages. And we’re going to make it clear that God’s design for marriage is that both the wife and husband enjoy a fabulous sex life!

We’re also going to share a lot of practical tips. All four of us have a practical focus in our blogs and books. We tend to say “Here are things that you, as a busy woman, can actually do to make a difference in your life and marriage.” And we’re bringing that focus to the podcast, by sharing a variety of practical tips and ideas. From those tips and ideas, we hope that every woman who listens will find some that work for her.

We also think that women will benefit from the collaborative nature of this venture. They’ll hear regularly from four women who have different ideas and perspectives, plus the guests who will join us from time to time.

How can women connect with you?

As you can see there are many different ways to get the podcast. Pick your favorite way and follow/friend/like them right now. They launch tomorrow!

I don’t have the scoop on what their first podcast will cover, but J. mentioned in a recent blog post that so far they have recorded episodes about: Getting in the Mood, Sexual Positions, 50 Shades of Here-We-Go-Again, Stress, Sex Scheduling, Female Arousal/Response, Exercise and Sex, and Mismatched Drives. Quite a starting list!

I’m not a wife, but I assure you I’ll be listening in to what these ladies have to say about sexual intimacy. It promises to be a frank and open discussion ranging over many different helpful and important topics. 

 

She Really Does Desire You

Your wife does desire you. It’s just that her kind of desire looks and works very differently than yours.

A Men Only Monday post

She does desire you

If you are like many husbands, you probably frequently feel undesirable to your wife, especially when she doesn’t seem interested in sex. In most cases, however, that actually isn’t true.

Her Desire Is Different Than Yours

Dr. Douglas Rosenau, in his book Celebration of Sex, explains that what we often attribute to lack of desire, actually comes from differences in the nature of desire as typically found in men and women.

Sometimes the problem is not inhibited or blocked desire, but actually understanding various types of desire with their gender differences. Assertive desire is more typical of male desire, while receptive desire is more typical of female desire. Often couples believe both partners should crave and seek out sex with their partner (assertive desire). An interesting observation on assertive desire is that the partner may have already been thinking about sex and often comes to the lovemaking ready to go. This type of desire initiates and seeks out sexual adventure and connection with more of a physical drive.

Attraction, Desire and Arousal

For you, as a guy, attraction equals desire. If you have one, you have the other. For the 75-80% of wives who have a lower desire level than their husbands, however, it isn’t necessarily so.

Your wife may admire you, respect you, appreciate you as a husband and father and even think you are hot. All these give her reasons to be attracted to you, but they don’t necessarily trigger physical desire. For most women, despite what  you see in the movies, attraction does not equate to desire – at least not the kind of assertive desire you typically feel. Receptive desire doesn’t work that way. Rosenau says,

Many wives are relieved to find out that being open to sex, enjoying the closeness it can bring, and getting involved after initiation (receptive desire) is more typical of women. Sexual thoughts and arousal may come to the wife [while] engaging in lovemaking, with an internal response of ‘I wasn’t thinking of sex tonight but, wow, this was a good idea.’

It Doesn’t Mean What You Think

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the lack of expressed desire from your wife means that you just aren’t attractive enough. In For Men Only, author Jeff Feldhahn, puts it this way:

I know we guys think that if we were desirable enough, sex would be spontaneous because your wife couldn’t keep her hands off you. No such luck. If she is like most women and wired for receptive desire, even with the wonderful dinner date you planned, the flowers you brought home, or your thoughtfulness in doing the dishes so she could get to bed earlier – all that by itself doesn’t mean she’s thinking about sex.

Maybe you saw the Mr. Clean ad during Super Bowl LI yesterday.

If you can’t see the video, here is the YouTube link.

Despite the message from the advertiser, “You gotta love a guy who cleans,” it’s just not true that your wife will jump you if you clean something. It’s not even true that if you are as buff as the cartoon figure in the ad that you’ll instantly trigger a desire for sex in your wife. The actual truth in the message of the ad, as my wife had to point out to me because I’m a guy, is that a woman with receptive desire will respond to a guy who is flirty, playful and confident enough to be a little forward without being crass.

How Can You Help Her?

In a survey they did for the For Men Only book, Feldhahn found that 82% of wives would prefer to have a sex drive that matched their husband’s drive. So in most cases, your wife wants to want to. But unlike how it is for you, there are dozens of interfering forces, any one of which can derail her desire for sex. Things like too much unfinished laundry, her mother’s health, the kids’ lunches needing to be packed, her boss getting mad at her that day, her menstrual cycle, or just being tired will put the brakes on desire.

So as a husband of a receptive desire wife, your job is to figure out what will help get her foot off the brake and on the accelerator of sexual interest and desire. Ask, “What can I do that would help get you in a more sexual frame of mind?” Or maybe, “How can I make it easier for you and me to enjoy a sexual connection later?”

In asking such questions, make sure you convey that your motivation isn’t simply to get more sex, though that may be a byproduct. Your motivation is a stronger relationship built on the deep and unique kind of intimacy found in your sexual connection with each other.

It’s important to understand that your wife’s sexual desire works very differently than your own. Just because her desire is different than yours, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Work together to learn the intricacies of her sexual wiring, and discover together how to foster a deeper sexual connection. For the sake of your marriage, it’s well worth the effort!

 

He Actually Wants to Make You Happy [WoW]

Your husband really does want to make you happy, but he needs your help!

A Wives Only Wednesday post.

Dare to Believe

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Wives Only Wednesday post. As the name implies these are the posts written exclusively for wives. I also have a Men Only Monday series for Husbands.

I love my wife dearly, but I’m probably not the first husband in history to think his wife can be a bit, well, complicated.

I am willing to bet that your husband genuinely wants to make you happy and love you well. I dare you to believe the best and that he is for you. The thing is, your husband may not always know exactly what loving you well looks like, and here is where you can help him out.

Spell It Out

Even though you feel like he should know or care enough to find out what you need, your husband doesn’t get it. Trust me. If you want it, tell him. Then thank him.

I think God had a sense of humor when he created males and females so differently. I know that isn’t a popular notion today, but the fact is that statistically speaking, men and women are just different.

One way in which they are different is found in their key needs. While it isn’t true in all cases, chances are that your husband puts things like respect, being trusted and sexual intimacy high on his list of needs. You, on the other hand, most likely have a strong need for things like emotional intimacy, meaningful communication and feeling cared for.

Your husband will have a tendency to express love in ways he wants it expressed to him, as do you, which means your are going to need to communicate your needs to him. For most men, however, just expressing your general needs is not enough. He also needs help knowing what that would look like coming from him. Plainly spelling out what love looks like to you in no way invalidates his desire to make you happy. It simply increases the likelihood of him being able to do it.

Even if you have to tell him, it still counts!!

An Unsolvable Mystery

Many husbands look at their wives as an unsolvable mystery. By comparison men are much simpler creatures. If bringing you flowers made you happy last week, then he’ll assume bringing you flowers this week (or every week) will have the same result. It might. Or it might not. In fact there is a small chance that the same gesture, when repeated, will actually annoy you.

Now I’m not trying to accuse you with my observation that women can be complex and hard to figure out. But in my experience, how you receive a love gesture from your husband can depend on many factors: how your day went, your hormone cycle, whether he called you during the day, or any number of other complicating factors.

My point in saying this is that you do him (and yourself) a big favor if you keep on communicating your needs. He wants to meet them, but he may not be able to always sort out what they are in the moment. So help him out by saying, “It would be so wonderful if we could spend a few minutes together after dinner.” Or “I’m so tired, you would be my total hero if you would help get the kids in bed.” Maybe your husband is super aware and sensitive, but it will help him to know where you are and exactly what you need, since it’s likely a moving target.

Help Him Help You

Most guys want to be helpful, and we tend to like to fix stuff, even if we aren’t that great at it.

So let your husband help you out, even if it’s with something you know he will do differently than you (or perhaps not even as well as you). Ask him to carry something heavy, to reach for something you can’t or to help you solve a problem you are wrestling with. He wants to be useful, and he wants your trust.

He wants and needs to be your hero.

Affirmation Works

As your husband makes an effort to love you well and to help you out in practical ways, be sure to show appreciation. He won’t always get it just right, but criticism will cause him to withdraw and give up. He may stop making an effort altogether if he feels he will just fail in your eyes. If he doesn’t feel trusted, respected and appreciated, he will tend to withdraw.

I’m not suggesting you be insincere, but I do suggest that you be a gracious receiver. Give him the benefit of the doubt and affirm him in his efforts.
I know that there are exceptions, but I honestly believe that a vast majority of husbands are good-hearted when it comes to wanting to make their wives happy. Choose to believe in his love for you and his good intentions. And help him to know how to love you well.

 

Unstoppable Love

The unstoppable love you need for your marriage is closer than you think.

Unstoppable Love

Love.

It’s a much overused word. It’s the source of countless memes and a myriad of cutesy quotes all over the Internet. “Love” is everywhere.

Despite it’s prevalence, I chose “Love” for the third part of my website’s tag line.

Unquenchable PassionUnimaginable Intimacy – Unstoppable Love

(you can click the links above to get to the two previous posts)

Unstoppable Love

What does it mean to have marriage full of unstoppable love?

Ultimately, it’s a marriage full of the love of God.

That may sound simple, and it is. It may sound trite, but it isn’t at all. God’s unstoppable love is real, and it’s vast. Where your marriage is concerned, I’d even say it’s essential.

My sweet wife, a Children’s Pastor, pointed out to me that the Jesus Storybook Bible describes the love of God this way.

“God loves us with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”

Don’t you want a marriage full of that kind of love? That’s exactly how God planned marriage to be when he designed it. Then he sent Jesus to show us what unstoppable love looks like in human form.

Love Like That

Just before the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians about marriage, he says this.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.   

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

To me it’s no coincidence that these verses introduce us to God’s thoughts on marriage. Before you can do the rest of Ephesians 5, you have to get these first few verses down pat.

Doing marriage God’s way starts with loving each other like Jesus loves us.

The Good News

You may be thinking, “I could never love like that.”

I agree. On your own, you could never do it. But you aren’t on your own. As a believer, you have Christ living in you. That’s right, the very love you need to love your spouse in an unstoppable manner is right inside of you.

We just need to learn to let it out. We do that by first receiving and then getting to know this unstoppable love that we carry around in us. That’s not a one time, pray the sinners prayer kind of venture. It’s a lifelong pursuit. As Paul prayed a few chapter earlier:

[I pray that the Father] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, this is not a love that is far away and unreachable.

“I have revealed to them who you are, and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they may experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them!”

John 17:26 (The Passion Translation)

This is fantastic news for marriage. We get to live out the great mystery of getting to know this unknowable love that is deep inside, ever pursuing us, drawing us closer, revealing itself as we get know him more intimately.

This is the love you and I need in our marriage. This is the Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love I get to lavish on my wife. This is the love that you get to lavish on your spouse too.

 

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