- How familiar are you with how men and women view romance differently? With this in mind, how are you looking for ways to meet your spouse’s unique needs?
- In what ways are you considering your spouse’s needs above your own, or are your demands front and center? (Philippians 2:3‐4)
- How do you and your spouse resolve conflicts without allowing bitterness or resentment to creep in? Is anything unresolved over past grievances?
- How could your spouse take one small step in the right direction? Have you asked God for wisdom in how and when to express this to your spouse?
- What is your plan to combat busyness, isolation, or stress in your home? What can you do today to start dealing with these “little foxes ruining the vineyard,” i.e. things that come between you? (Song of Solomon 2:15)
- Do you pray together and ask God to be at the center of your marriage? Is He your “first love?” (Revelation 2:4‐5)
- How would you rate you and your spouse in terms of non-sexual physical closeness (e.g. holding hands, snuggling, hugging)? How has that contributed to or taken away from your overall feelings of sexual intimacy?
- Do you go to bed at the same time at night? Do you go to bed early enough to talk and listen and laugh together?
- Is your bedroom a sanctuary or is it full of distractions, such as television, computer, kids’ toys, or clutter? What would you and your spouse think about removing those distractions together? How would that be helpful to you?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
by Suzanne Thomas
I hear from women all too often who struggle with unhealthy body image issues and self-doubt, even in their marriage relationships. That’s not what God wants for you, or for your marriage! When you look at yourself in the mirror, I want you to see yourself the way God sees you, and the way your husband sees you. I am going to share my story with you, and maybe you can learn from my journey through mastectomy, and my worries about intimacy with my husband post-mastectomy.
When I was first told that I was going to have to have a double mastectomy, I was initially shocked, and scared about the surgery itself, and then about what the resultant scars would look like, what I would look like. I scoured the web for any information I could find on the subject. My family physician told me that compared to other surgeries, it wasn’t too bad, that surgeries which go into a body cavity, like heart surgery, or hip surgery, are much more invasive, much more difficult to recover from physically. He also acknowledged that the emotional aspect could be significant.
In the middle of all this confusion, my husband said an amazing thing to me. He said, “You’re my wife. I love you, and that’s never going to change. I didn’t marry you for your breasts.” I needed to trust my husband to mean what he said, and remember that my breasts don’t define who I am as a woman! I’m so much more than that! I am a daughter of God! I’m a wife. I’m a mom, a friend, a sister, and many other things. NO surgery can remove those things.
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to go home from the hospital after surgery, look in the mirror and say, “Oh, that’s not so bad!” In fact, it probably took me a week to get up my nerve to actually look at myself. I was afraid to look. I looked in the mirror, and thought, “I look like a skinny pre-adolescent boy!” And, I did, sort of. Then, I kept reminding myself what my husband said to me. I’m his wife, he loves me, and that’s never going to change! But I had to be okay with how I looked. God tells us, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (I Peter 3:3-4) I never have been a rocking beauty physically. And, that’s okay. But, beauty, according to God, is who we are to Him. The real me was still there.
After a few weeks, my surgeon said that it would be okay for us to resume our sexual relationship. I was still concerned about how it would go with my husband, if he would be okay with me, as I am, post-mastectomy, and if I would be okay with intimacy. But, my concerns were wasted time. I should have trusted my husband more, and I should have rested in God’s Word, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) I had worried that my husband would not really be comfortable hugging me. I made a lame joke that when he hugged me, there was “nothing between us,” meaning that my chest no longer was “between us,” making us stand slightly apart when we hugged. I couldn’t help but think of the Proverb that says to men, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth….may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-20) Clearly, my breasts couldn’t satisfy him. Since he doesn’t look at pornography, he would never see a woman’s breast again! Open communication was needed, and it was the lifeline of our intimate relationship, the same as it is for every marriage. After we resumed intimacy, I simply asked him if he could still be happy with me, with my new body, and, thankfully, he was. The insecurities were all mine, not his. He was fine with the new me!
Anyone with insecurities about body image can do something similar. Talk to your husband about how you feel. If you are shy, find a way to still be intimate with your husband, and work with your shyness. Let your husband know how you feel so that he can be sensitive to your feelings as you work through them.
For all of you who struggle with body image issues, if you think you are overweight, or too thin, or too this, or too that, try to remember that your husband married you because he loves you! You are the one who is beautiful to him! Give yourself grace. The flaws, as you perceive them, are probably miniscule in comparison to what you’re missing if you allow them to take away from having an amazing, fulfilling sexual relationship with your man. Discuss your insecurities with him. Remember that outward beauty is a fleeting thing, and that real beauty is your inner self, a gentle and quiet spirit! And, for me, I just keep reminding myself that I’m his wife, he loves me, and that’s never going to change!
Adapted from MomLife Today
Taking it One-to-One:
• Is there someone you know who would be encouraged by this article?
• Have you and your spouse avoided a much-needed conversation in this area?
• Do you need to be reminded today that your beauty comes from God alone?
by Cindy Blunier
This article is not about the right to vote, or equal pay or even the right to choose whether or not you terminate a pregnancy. It’s about sex.
At some point, as a wife and a mom, you may wonder just how much ownership you have of your own body. Someone else always seems to need it in some way, shape or form! On a good day, this is very fulfilling. But at other times you may become weary with a whining toddler hanging on you while the baby is resting on one hip as you make dinner. Or you may have a teenage daughter that wants to talk late at night about a “major event” going on in her life.
At last everyone is finally in bed, except your husband. You sit down to relax and discover that he’d like to petition for a bit of his ownership, too.
Dave Harvey writes about this in his book When Sinners Say I Do: “Nothing makes you feel less like a lover than living like a parent. But God’s Word speaks to us: real people in real life–not characters in romance movies or sexual Olympians. Scripture brings sound wisdom for the daily experience of marriage, where real people have real problems and need real help from a real God.”
So what does the Bible say?
Romans 6:19b-20 says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” Basically, our bodies belong to God; a temple of the Holy Spirit.
I Cor. 7:4 also gives your spouse ownership: “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.”
Philippians 2 reminds us that we are to put others’ needs above our own. That goes both ways. But sometimes we have to be the one to say, “OK, I am exhausted, but I know he needs me; we need each other. I need to put his need for sex above my need for sleep.”
So once I’ve made that decision, how do I get in the mood so that I am fully engaged in yet another opportunity to share my body?
I’ve heard a lot of good suggestions. Take a bubble bath and relax. Put on a sexy negligee. Light candles. Play romantic music. But honestly, none of these suggestions have worked really well for me.
So what is the silver bullet for getting in the mood? At one of the FamilyLife marriage get-a-ways the female speaker said, “I pray that God will make me a sexy wife.” Hmmm… Prayer? Really? Really. It works. If the mind is truly the most profound sexual organ, then Romans 12:1-2 works pretty well. I’m not referring to the part about being a living sacrifice, but the part that talks about “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Pray for energy. Desire. Responsiveness. Excitement. Or whatever else comes to mind that might help you get in the mood.
My husband often prays for our sexual intimacy as well. Sometimes I wonder if we have “dueling prayers” ascending heavenward! But the results in our marriage have a proven track record that prayer works. So next time you’re feeling like you want to claim the rights to your body or that of your spouse, pray first. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results!
By Branden DesCarpentrie
Tonight I am taking the woman I love out for Valentine’s Day. What did you do to romance your spouse? Maybe you purchased a dozen red roses, went to an extravagant restaurant or perhaps you got her some lingerie. Let me encourage you now…find out what really makes your wife tick. Simply ask her what makes her feel romanced and start to practice it. Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with romance. Let me explain.
Several years ago, I found myself sleeping in my wife Julia’s old bedroom at my in-laws. We were not there to visit. In fact, we lived only a few minutes away. We were there to say goodbye to a woman whose memory still makes me smile – her mom. I was awakened to join my wife, my father-in-law, her sister, three brothers and my two sisters-in-law. As a family, we tearfully shared her last breath that night, knowing she was drawing in her next one on the other side – cancer free.
In the weeks and months following the loss of her mother, my wife coped with a huge pain-filled void in her life. The loss also exposed another large void, one I had never before realized but that was now painfully evident. Julia had lost her biggest cheerleader, the person who gave her encouragement – something she craved in order to feel loved. I had never been that to her…in fact my gift seems to be finding what’s wrong, not right. This trait came in very handy at my job, but not so much at home. Now, instead of getting fed a daily dose of encouragement and attentive conversation, she was left with me, and because of this, our romantic relationship suffered.
Julia needed that cheerleader. Her mom wore that “uniform” before, but now I had to put it on… and it was an uncomfortable fit. It was time for me to tell her she was doing a good job, ask her how her day went and care enough to listen well. I needed to give credence to her dreams, laugh with her and honor her efforts as important.
So here I am today, three years later, writing these words and still struggling to be what came so naturally to my mother-in-law. However, here is what I’ve found: In the times when I’m walking in the Spirit and am able to encourage her like she needs to be encouraged, I find a woman who is more prepared to engage with me romantically.
Well, I am off on a date with Julia, ready to cheer her on like she deserves. For my wife, true romance begins with encouragement.
by Jim Mitchell
I’m too tired” the wife says, meaning too tired for sex of course. But is that really what she means?
For many wives, yes, that is precisely what she means. She’s tired… physically exhausted, in fact. This is especially true for young mothers and women who work outside the home. Any man who doubts this should try being “Mr. Mom” for a day. Trust me, you’ll be begging for your regular job back in no time!
What a wife doesn’t mean by “I’m too tired” is some kind of indictment on her husband, though that’s often what he hears.
Despite a woman’s best intentions, studies show that being physically tired is her most common sexual deterrent. Add to this the fact that even when she is interested, it usually takes her considerably more time to “warm up” and this even further explains why sex can get left off the daily agenda.
She’s not just physically tired either. Emotional fatigue can occur when a wife feels prolonged isolation and disconnection from her husband. For her sex is built on a foundation of deep, regular, non-sexual romance, as Emerson Eggerichs writes in his book Love and Respect:
“When Scripture speaks of ‘cleaving,’ the idea in the Hebrew is to cling, hold, or keep close… Cleaving, however, is more than sexual. Cleaving also means spiritual and emotional closeness. This is a salient passage for husbands–full of insight. Your wife will feel loved when your move toward her and let her know you want to be close with a look, a touch, or a smile.” (p.125)
The wise husband, if he truly desires real sexual intimacy and not just immediate sexual gratification, will be a man who strives to carry a heavier share of the household chores to relieve her physical burden and who will invest in regular, meaningful conversation to make her feel cherished and secure.
In other words, healthy marital sex starts well before the physical. To put it graphically, husbands, you need to penetrate her world… offer companionship… offer loving self-sacrifice. She’s not too tired for that.