Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What does your Church teach about marriage?

If our Christian Faith is the glue that holds our marriages together, why are so many Christian marriages suffering? It breaks my heart to read all the stories of those struggling with physical and emotional intimacy. What are we doing wrong with our Faith where it is not helping as much as it should? Shouldn't our Faith be spilling over into our natural married lives?

I am curious--

What does your own church teach about "marriage"? Do you feel their teachings are sufficient for healthy intimacy? Does your church even teach anything on this topic? I am a Christian Orthodox although OCA is not the church we belong to. I took the liberty of posting here , an article that the OCA church teaches on "marriage". I am wondering how different this article is from what is taught at your own church? Do you feel that your church's teachings on marriage are sufficient or do you feel it needs to be revamped? Do you feel that both you and your spouse have a clear understanding of what Christ Jesus wants for your marriage?

I have heard many folks comment that they would like to teach a course on marital sexuality in their church. Do you see yourself possibly moving into that type of ministry anytime in the near or far away future? It seems that many churches have a need in this area.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Feeling nostalgic?

Bear with me-- I am feeling nostalgic today. My mom's been gone for over 6 years now. I remember her sharing so many stories of the old days, late 1940's-early 1950's, when Mom and Dad were fairly new parents and poor as church mice. Going on dates at that time was financially challenging for them but in spite of the challenge, they still figured out how to romance each other. Thought I would share a couple of her stories in an effort to entice some of you to do likewise and share some of your own, older memories of your parents or of a long ago time in your own life.

Back in the late 40's my mom quit high school to get married. She and Dad were both young and began having kids a couple of years into the marriage. Before long, they found themselves with several kids but still.... no money. I remember Mom telling me that when they needed a break, my grandmother or one of my aunts would babysit while my parents would go out on a cheap date. I was one of the middle kids so I remember many of those times. On one such date they would go out and buy 2 cokes and just walk through town sipping on coke. This was at a time when you could buy a coke for 5 cents so it was a 10 cents date.

Our church's mens group sponsored a weekly dance that was free for the group members and their spouses. My parents always loved to dance and since my dad was a member, once a week they were able to go dancing for free. They became very good at finding creative, cheap ways to go on dates during those years when money was tight.

A side note---

Although I have never discussed details with them, I assume that my parents must have enjoyed a healthy, active sex life. They always took time for dates and they ended up having 8 children. As the oldest kids were getting married Mom was still having babies. Up until the time she passed on, Mom and Dad could often be seen kissing or hugging. They'd even watch tv with arms wrapped around each other. Our background is a mix of French and Italian which I'm sure contributed to the affections they shared but I have to believe that some of it was plain old "being in love".

Do you have any old romantic or sexual stories to share? Has your upbringing, in any way, positively affected the sex and/or romance in your marriage? Do tell!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All caught up

Just popping in to say that GR and I are all caught up on what we missed during our 5 days apart. It is good to be back in the saddle. One thing that seems kind of odd--- Since he has been back, he has wanted a lot of bedtime (before sleep) sex. Prior to the trip his preference was more for middle of the night or early morning hours. I have not had a chance to ask him about it so I am really clueless. And we have only been back together for the last three nights so what does three nights of this tell me?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lonely nights!

I only have one more night, tonight, before GR arrives back home tomorrow evening. I hate going to bed alone. The nights are the loneliest when we're apart this long. It's like half of me is missing. I can't wait until tomorrow evening so I can have my other half back with me.

Good night all!

Are we ministering or being ministered to by "sloppy agape" in our marriage?

While reading on a marriage forum recently I found this thought-provoking comment that caused me to ponder. The poster stated:

"..... there seem to be many spouses who are also not giving anything sexual (even the non PIV things) even at the end of the day. This is a time that is traditionally thought of as "bed time is sex time." So when a spouse sees bedtime approaching I think it is reasonable to expect him/her to start preparing his/her mind and emotions for intimacy, or at least to respond to intimate requests."

The more I thought about this, the more I began to think that there are waaaaay too many young folks getting married and older folks who have been married a while, who are clueless about the fact that sexual intimacy is a major portion of what sets the marriage relationship apart from mere friendships. [And please, I'm not even getting into the idea that so many singles are engaging in sex these days.]

Some friends are very physically affectionate depending on their cultural upbringing. You may see them walking along holding hands, or arms wrapped around each other, or touching/kissing in non-sexual ways, etc. Friends do these things if they are of the affectionate variety. However, when we cross over from a friendship to a marriage, what is it that sets marriage apart from mere friendship? Why, it's the sex, of course.

Now what goes through the mind of an individual when he/she is preparing for marriage? Are they doing anything to prepare themselves for the level of spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy that a healthy Christian marriage requires? I don't think so! It seems to me that for many who are in the premarital/engagement stage and older married folks, their perception of married life is extremely skewed. It's like they want their fiance to be affectionate and loving in the marriage... kissing, hugging, cuddling... you can do those things with a stuffed, teddy bear... and they look forward to "playing house" after the wedding but... where is the ambition, the goal to work towards developing a sexually passionate relationship once they marry?

Think about this-- How many of you talked to your fiance about marital sex during your engagement as you waited in anticipation to begin enjoying sex after the wedding? Can you now look back and see that perhaps your spouse was nodding his/her head "yes" in agreement when in their heart of hearts, they may have been only agreeing to live together as friends? How many of you now, today, see your spouse enjoying the benefits of being "roomies" only with the addition of getting pregnant and raising kids together? Yet they are overwhelmingly ignoring their God-given, sexual calling to fulfill their spouse's sexual needs and desires.

How many can say their spouse enthusiastically enjoyed sex while attempting pregnancy but most other times, preferred giving excuses? [I've heard that story a million times over.] OK, let's assume that they are of low or no-SD; many people are. What about their spiritual calling to unselfishly give in sexual abundance... not leftovers, ABUNDANCE??? Does Christ give us His leftovers? Of course not and neither should we.

Do we only love God when we feel like it, only when we are in the mood? Is spirituality based on feelings? I think not. Where do we, as Christians, find it acceptable to base our sex life on feelings? I'm speaking to the choir here, folks. This mixed up view of married life is part of what entrapped me into living the life of a refuser for so many years. So you say, "But my spouse isn't a refuser. He/she is just not enthused and sometimes makes excuses." OK, but are they USUALLY giving of themselves in sexual abundance? If not then they are basing their sex life on feelings.

What are "feelings"? Merriam-Webster defines it as such:

1. an emotional state or reaction
2. the undifferentiated background of one's awareness considered apart from any identifiable sensation, perception, or thought
3. often unreasoned opinion or belief

Compare that with Merriam-Webster's definition of a "calling":

1. a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
2. the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
3. the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat ; also : the period of heat

So when we marry and also throughout our marriage do we view sex as something we only do when we feel like it or do we give in joyful abundance because we are called to do so? We are called to love God. We are also called to keep our spouse sexually satisfied? Can you see what is wrong with viewing sexuality from a "feelings-based" POV rather than from a higher "calling-based" view? Are we ministering "sloppy agape" in our marriage? Comments?

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Phil.3.13 NKJV)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Five days apart-- woe is me!

Oh, woe is me!!! GR is having to leave town for a business trip. He's leaving in the morning and won't be back until Monday evening. Major bummy!!! And I can't go with him because our girls are currently in college and working part-time jobs. Our oldest has her drivers permit but not her license yet. She will be getting her license very, very soon. Until then, I have to be here to tote them to school and work.

Guess what GR and I will be doing tonight and/or early in the morning before he leaves? I realize that absence makes the heart grow fonder but if our hearts grow any more fonder, they will bust! How do you handle things when you and your spouse are apart? It's not like I have nothing to do. On the contrary, there are many things in my life to keep me busy. But what do you do when you are apart from your spouse and you get to missing them? The nights, especially, are so lonely when we are away from each other. We are used to wrapping our bodies around each other when we sleep.

Please keep us in your prayers these next few days.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

i want you

I read this poem today and it reminded me of how I felt this morning at 3am when I woke GR. When I get this way it makes me crazy where I can hardly focus on anything else, not even sleep. We are both this way. How do you feel when you want your spouse? Does he or she understand the intensity of your desire during those times?

i want to sing
a piercing note
lazily throwing my legs
across the moon
my voice carrying all the way
over to your pillow
i want you

i need i swear to loll
about the sun
and have it smelt me
the ionosphere carrying
my ashes all
the way over
to your pillow
i want you

~nikki giovanni

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deleted.

Does having sex help you stay connected to your spouse even when you're tired?

Have you ever gone to bed really, really tired and it showed but you still wanted sex? Recently, I had this happen to me although, GR has done this, too. The other night he and I hit the bed and I remember thinking how worn out I felt. [While waiting for my surgery, I frequently go to bed this way.] We talked about having sex but he was not convinced that I was up to it so he suggested to me, "Let's wait until later in the night when you are feeling better." I knew I was up to it but I could not convince him. To be honest, it kind of irritated me that he would not believe me so.... I am ashamed to admit this but... I resorted to pouting. Anyway, at that point I think he finally understood that I really did want to have a quickie; so we did.

Sometimes, even if I am wrung out at bedtime I can still enjoy and benefit, both physically and emotionally, from having sex. Sure, there are times for both of us when we are truly too tired to even make an attempt so we do postpone it until later in the night or in the early morning hours. But this was not one of those times. I know GR worries about me while we are waiting for my surgery but I told him, "Look, I know when I am in so much pain that I cannot enjoy sex. Please believe me and trust me when I say that I want sex and that I am up to it. I would never push for it if it would physically hurt me." The misunderstanding sort of came about because I was not "jumping his bones" ;-).

And thus we came to a new understanding of this daily decision of when to do it and when to take a rain check. Like I told him, "Having sex gives me a lift even when I am tired, as long as I am not too tired. It helps me stay connected to you."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sometimes sex is like a lake

Last night GR and I drove in the rain to a nearby lake and just sat in the car... talking... making out... watching the day's light and life gradually get sucked away from the lake by the evening darkness. There is something so calming about being around a body of water. There were no boats out on account of the rain but we did see several groups of geese slowly floating by as if they were heading towards their own nighttime destination... just as we were. It was a pleasant way for us to end the day.

Then we drove back home, crawled into bed and made passionate love. When we were done, I only remember falling fast asleep in the dark room in each others' arms. Just like the dark lake, it was calming. We were satisfied. We slept 'til morning.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Choice #1 or #2?

If a HD spouse wanted sex 5x a week and LD spouse would be content with 1x every 1-2 weeks, which of these choices below would you pick and why? Yes, I know that if the LD spouse would do what he's supposed to do in meeting needs of his HD spouse, it would be hot sex 5x a week.

Choice #1
They would decide to have hot, sizzling sex 3-4 times a week with both spouses being totally, emotionally engaged in the sessions. Both walk away with sexual and emotional love tanks being full, although LD spouse has to stretch himself a bit to keep this up.

Choice #2
They would decide to have sex 5 days a week with LD spouse less than enthused, thereby, causing the sex to be rather hum-drum. They walk away with LD being overwhelmed by the frequency and HD happy with frequency but not getting emotional needs met.

For myself and my dh, we are daily doers so I'm not saying 3-4 days a week is ideal for a dh who wants 5 days a week. But if given a choice between the two scenarios that I described, which would be best for you? I would prefer 3-4 days of hot sex and then MB on the "off days" if needed. I don't like anything done when the heart is not into it. There is no perfect answer. Each couple in this same situation will likely handle it in their own unique way that works for them or..... they continue to lock horns.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sizzling sex for a lifetime

This article talks about how to keep your sex life sizzling throughout your married years, even into the "sizzling 70's" and beyond.

Help with communication skills

Do you need help with communication skills? Read here and begin talking and listening better.

Bridging the gap between sex drives

Here are some ways to match up sex drives which are mix-matched. Sure, not all of the ideas will work in every marriage, but don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Why it should go on the calendar

This article gives 7 good reasons to schedule sex. If just doing it doesn't make it into the schedule, try a calendar.

Overcoming reservations

Here is a good article which talks about sexual reservations that people take into their marriage AND......... it even offers several solutions for overcoming each one.

Are we having fun?

While browsing the 'net this morning I stumbled upon this article. It is all about having fun with sex. I thought it might help lighten up the mood in some of our marriage beds.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The pearl of great price!

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:45)

My bible has a study note for this verse which states:
"In this parable, receiving the treasure requires that everything else must be sold, that is, a person must surrender all things [in order to receive Christ]." (my brackets added)

I found this description of a pearl:

The pearl itself is a beautiful, single entity, formed through suffering in the heart of the oyster.... and like the Church, will be put on display in a coming day. Unlike precious stones which must be cut and polished to reveal their clarity and beauty, the pearl is perfect as it comes from the oyster - the hand of man could only spoil it.

Are we even searching for that which is the highly sought after treasure in our marriage? If we don't see the "pearl of great price" as being worthy of our search and if we're not willing to surrender all other things... well.. we will not possess it. Instead, we will settle for slightly less than what God has to offer us.

What does that have to do with cultivating a desire for sex and meeting emotional needs during the sex act?

Perhaps some dw's don't know how to cultivate a desire for sex and are either afraid to move into that realm of eroticism or they just don't want to make it a priority for whatever reason. (ie- job, church, friends, kids, hobbies, distractions such as tv/computer, etc.) However, scripturally speaking, after our relationship with God our marriage relationship should come next, before all else.

If a wife is just going through the motions of having sex without passion she is, perhaps unknowingly, not meeting the husband's need for emotional release. He may as well masturbate or have sex with anyone to simply receive those same physical feelings. With dispassionate sex, a husband's hunger for an emotional tie is not satisfied.

So what is the point of having sex with our spouse? Is it just a "feel good" activity to pass our time away? No! No! No! God intended for it to be waaay more than just the physical release. Through physical intimacy we not only bond sexually but also emotionally and spiritually. We cannot separate the areas of intimacy in marriage. They are uniquely meshed together by God. If we have sex out of duty, it's like we are telling our spouse, "See, I'm doing what you want but don't ask me to fully give myself to you in an emotional or spiritual way while we're having sex. I am not going to do it!"

Why do you think sexual relationships outside of marriage are not mutually satisfying? It's because the sex is only......... sex. Usually one sexual partner wants more emotional and spiritual connection from the relationship than what the other partner is willing or able to give.

When a Christian is content to have sex purely out of "physical duty" while under the spiritual covering of marriage, it is really not much different than a worldly whore having sex. "WHOA," you say. But think about it. A whore goes through the motions of having sex and then walks away from the bed with no emotional ties to the sexual encounter. I can say this because I used to live as a worldly whore; I'm well acquainted with the mindset. A worldly whore cannot connect the dots of sex with emotions. Do we also experience that disconnect in our marriage bed? Could that be why we lack passion?

Wives who earnestly pursue having all that God intends for their marriage are usually rewarded with heightened sexual passion. We have to strongly desire sexual passion in order to pursue it. Do we want it? Do we even recognize that God wants it for our marriage? Other wives willingly acknowledge that they find no satisfaction in eroticism. Their honesty is a good place in which to start. Now if they are willing to earnestly seek through prayer they will learn to find delight in eroticism because they will know by faith that it is, indeed, a treasure to be sought. With renewed satisfaction in eroticism, comes passionate sex.

God wants and has so very much more for Christian marriages, truly. Are we willing to go after that pearl of great price?