Monday, April 4, 2016

Happiness is...a moral obligation.

Happiness.  We all want it, but along the way it's easy to lose hope.  In fact, sometimes others tell us that it's just selfishness anyway.  Heck, we say that to ourselves too!

I believe pursuing your own happiness is...a moral obligation.  That's fancy for "you must do it."  I didn't believe this until I started hearing the perspective of the guy in this 5 minute video.  Check it out.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Marriage Cliches: "Getting Hitched"

Another marriage cliche is "Getting hitched."

It even spawned a great Will Smith movie called Hitch! (Great date night flick by the way)

Do you know what a hitch is?

A hitch is an attachment used to allow a vehicle to tow something.

Do you even wonder if you're still hitched?  Do you ever wonder if you're still going in the same direction...together?

I remember when Beth and I were dating seriously and thoughts of our futures became an issue.  Would our dreams for the future work together?  It caused some serious soul-searching because we wanted to live a meaningful life together and didn't want to pull the other away from where they saw God moving them.

As we have been married now for over 17 years we can see how we have to had to figure out how to keep meshing our visions as our lives, energies, and aspirations have changed.  Beth built a photography business at one point.  I pursued playwriting for a number of years.  We jumped into homeschooling.  We also combined creative juices to form For Real Wedding Films.  In each case we either worked together or one of us had to make sacrifices to support the other.

At times we differed on where we were headed, but we used patience, prayer, and a lot of talking to try to make the ultimate decisions together.

We know we love each other, but we also want to keep facing life and pursuing the future together.

When I meet a couple who seem to be living separate lives, it makes me thankful that we've tried to avoid that outcome and have kept "hitched."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bored with sex. Ok, here's the deal, bro...

I'm cheating today and copying a blog post I came across online.  But, I must say, it is reeeally good.  I know nothing about the site or the blogger other than her name is Mrs. Happy.  It's from a Christian perspective, but I still think it has relevance if you're not of that faith.

The post begins with what I assume is a "Dear Abby" style write in.  And now... Mrs. Happy!

"I love my wife very much and hate to hurt her. But I am tired of her not meeting my needs. These
days she turns me off with her sweatpants in bed, her overweight body, and the same old missionary position she has done from Day One. She is rarely in the mood, and I am so fed up with the fake headaches and fatigue she throws at me. I have tried to talk to her and told her to read some books, to no avail. What do I do? I do not want to turn to pornography or another woman, and my patience is running out. 

Your wife is bored with sex. She was probably interested in the beginning of your marriage, when the excitement of being with you eclipsed all else. But the initial thrill wore off long ago, and now sex is physically unsatisfying for her. She doesn’t reach orgasm. Perhaps she never has. So what is there to get excited about?

She occasionally allows you to have sex in the missionary position. Why? Because men tend to ejaculate the quickest this way, and she is not physically or emotionally invested in sex. Her attitude is, “Get it over with.”

She doesn’t respond to the books you give her. They probably feel like unspoken demands and indictments: “Here—fix our sex life. You’re the problem.” The sweatpants say “leave me alone”; same with the headaches and fatigue.

You say that you love her, and I believe she also loves you. So how did the two of you, who love Christ and love each other, get in this predicament? Let’s go back in time.

The vast majority of couples go into marriage completely clueless about good sex. Sure, they might have something they call “experience,” usually from hurried couplings in illicit relationships. Sorry to be so blunt, but I have listened to these girlfriends, and while they might be attracted to you, the sex itself is not attractive. It is usually very bad sex—emotionally empty and physically unsatisfying—but they endure it (and might even pretend to like it) in the hopes of deepening the relationship.

These men enter marriage none the wiser that their sexual practices bring little or no pleasure to their wives. Since they’re excited–since they are so into it–they assume their wives are having the same experience. Not so. And if the wife doesn’t speak up early on and say, “This isn’t working. Can we try something else?”, the husband continues doing whatever he’s doing that isn’t working, and the wife gets more and more disappointed with sex. Eventually, she just avoids it. Sure, she lets you do it every now and then—because she actually does love you and care about your needs—but it’s nothing she looks forward to.

So, how does one turn around this sad (but sadly common) situation? First, pray. Tell God what’s on your heart. He understands your sex drive—He made you that way, after all. He invented sex. He decreed it good.

Then stop blaming your wife. Fault-finding will accomplish nothing. If you want to see a turnaround—and it is well within reach, with God’s help–you must forgive your wife, humble yourself, and communicate with her openly but gently. Here are some examples of talking points that don’t involve the blame game:

“I really miss the closeness with you that we have during sex. I’m concerned that we’re becoming too distant. I love you very much. What can we do to improve our intimacy? Can we maybe start over with sex? I want to learn what pleases you. Will you let me take things slow and touch you? If you don’t want to have sex, that’s OK. I want to be close to you.”

Ask God for wisdom, and adapt those words as you see fit. Be aware that this could initiate some
pretty deep conversations. You might have to hear about your own failings. Trust God and absorb the blow—you can take it.

So, if you get a favorable reception, what next? We know you guys are doers, so here are some simple suggestions. Kiss her. Rub her back. Everyone enjoys a back rub. Start high; move down…slowly…slowly.

Ask if you can rub her there with your hand. Now—brothers, listen carefully—you’re a lot stronger than you think. You tend to jab, poke…lighten your touch. Let her guide you to the right degree of firmness. If she is becoming aroused—you will know when her body produces its own lubricant—gently penetrate her with your fingers. See if you can bring her to climax with your hands.

Keep in mind that your pent-up sexual energy can be a bit intimidating for a wife who hasn’t enjoyed sex in a long, long time. You might want to lie behind her or sit behind her as you touch her, and if she wants the lights out for now, leave her be. This will help keep things low-key. Above all, take it slow. Mrs. Happys aren’t made overnight.

Mrs. Happy has been married to one man for a long time.

- See more here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Marriage cliches: "Love is Blind"

Do you ever look at your spouse, remembering how mesmerized you were by her, and say to
yourself, "Shoot, I married a human"?

Ok, probably not in those words.

The cliche goes like this: "Love is blind."  In the early stages it really is.  It really can't help itself.  Time and experience are limited at that point and all that you see is possibilities.

After you marry, you can't stay blind because, well, she's a l w a y s there.  Now there are weaknesses and quirks to deal with too.  Love ain't blind no more.  Your eyes are wide open and you got a real human on your hands.

This is where it gets tough.  What do you do with the reality before you?

I'll tell you what I do: I remind myself what a privilege it is to know someone so deeply, warts and all.  No one else gets this chance.  Only I have the opportunity to know and love this woman in my life.  She turned aside all the other men on the globe and gave her life to me.  I want to cherish, love, nature, and laugh with her.  I want to make her, well, happy.

I also do this: I remember when I was single and it was so crazy to think that I could have woman that was all my own.  It was like a fantasy!  And now...I've got one!  This woman is my woman!  She digs me!  I get to not only live life with her, but I get to kiss her and hold her and, you know!

This is not to forget that some of you have spouses that have serious issues.  Can you help her get the help she needs?  Will you be willing to go to counseling with her?  Will you be up for finding a counselor or doctor for her to visit?  Will you be willing to listen to her, even if it's painful?

These are tough, no doubt, and sometimes all you can do is pray.

But whatever the issues, train your heart in gratitude and remember the honor it is to be her man.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Queen's Code: Do you have the WOW factor?

So, we've been doing this series for a bit now....the one on the book the Queen's Code by Alison Armstrong.  Well, just to deviate from the norm, we put up a little video of Alison.  Thought you might enjoy seeing this classy queen!  :). The topic I think is super important and it's all about us women getting the WOW factor we need!  Check it out and I hope your man says W-O-W to you the next time you're all gussied up or just whenever you need it!  

Monday, March 14, 2016

"I wish girls knew that guys can be emotional too"

I asked a group of male high school students: What is one thing you wish girls knew about guys?

A guy's response: "I wish girls knew that guys can be emotional too sometimes."

Men tend to compartmentalize naturally.  Without much effort, they put aside the argument they had with their wife that morning and can switch to focusing on work or even the football game.

To many women this seems to reinforce the idea that men are not emotional.

In all reality, we have many emotions, maybe even as many as a woman.  But, we want our woman to know: We don't hide them intentionally (if we're healthy).  We hide them because we are designed to be hunters and protectors.  In order to slay those dragons to protect our woman and family, we leave our feelings behind a lot.

On one hand, we would be so blessed if our woman would honor us by recognizing that we often make emotional sacrifices so that we can take care of them.

But we also want a safe place to share those emotions, though each man needs his wife to learn the way to bring them out.  Please know it won't work the way women do it.  We may need to be asked at the right time, often after we have had space to unwind or get distracted, before we can tap into our feelings.  Or we may need to experience safety from her by having her full attention, or seeing her honor our feelings and not dismiss, interrupt, or criticize them.  For some relationships this may take time if the opposite has been true.

Men and women deal with their emotions in different ways, and a little understanding can help us find a way to honor those differences.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Queen's Code: Where a man can be vulnerable

For those of you joining us for the first time, we are discussing key ideas about intimacy discussed in the book the Queen's Code by Alison Armstrong.

Are you ready?  Ok, here we go again!  :)  (I love that we're doing this together!!). Here's the next quote from Ch. 5 which I thought was again super insightful!  

(Just to set the scene, Mike, a married 30-something, is talking to Claudia, a friend who is the mentor role in this situation.  Mike's wife, Karen, is sitting next to him as the conversation expands.  Last week we talked about the idea of finding of what physical intimacy provides for each spouse.  Here is Mike expounding on this topic.)

“Mike continued, “I can’t prove it but I’d swear intercourse supplies essential nutrients that can’t be found in any food or beverage. It gives me the fuel to be a man; to be protective and to provide for Karen. Without it, I am inevitably emasculated.”

“Emotionally, sex is the one time — besides watching a great race — when I can let go.” He took Karen’s hand. “I don’t have to be careful or conceal myself. I’m not on guard. I can be vulnerable and it’s okay.”

He looked directly at Karen, “When these small, soft hands touch my shoulders, my back, my face, I’m moved beyond words.”

WOW!!  Now I know this is just a book, but still a man sharing what intimacy provides for him is quite revealing!  Just for fun, I thought we'd make a list to see what sex provides for Mike (and well, men, in general). Maybe you can casually throw this by your man to see if the same might be true for him!  I'm almost positive this is a conversation that he'd love to be a part of !!  ;)

What Intimacy Provides for a Man:
- literally feels more healthy
- gives him the energy to be a man
- helps him provide for his wife
- encourages him to be the protector for his wife
- can let go emotionally
- not on guard
- can be vulnerable and it's ok!  It's safe!
- fine to be himself, not conceal

I'm curious of what you found interesting or new to you.  And then the big kicker, would be, to step up and ask your man!  Maybe it is very different?  Wouldn't it be so insightful to know?  

Thanks again for doing this journey together!