Month: August 2017

The Importance of Intimacy

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

I looked up the definition of intimacy and it included everything from familiarity, closeness, rapport, and affection all the way to sexual intercourse. For the sake of this blog, let’s talk about sexual intimacy. I consider sex to be the ultimate union between a married man and woman. Many people argue about the importance of intimacy in a marriage and exactly where it belongs in the scheme of the relationship. Yes, there should be respect, friendship, laughter, responsibility, honesty, trust, communication and more, but I also expect those things from my friends. I want the relationship with my husband to include those characteristics too but definitely include some good physical loving as well.

God starts right out in the first book of the Bible referencing to the importance of intimacy. In Genesis 1:28 God blesses man and woman commanding them to be fruitful and increase in number. In 2:18 He says it is not good for man to be alone, so He makes a helpmeet or helpmate for him, and we all know that in 2:24 a man is to leave his parents, cleave to a wife and become one flesh. There must be a certain level of intimacy that comes with becoming one flesh and with being fruitful.

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Still, the questions bounce around in our heads: How often should we be intimate? What is acceptable or okay in the bedroom, in the eyes of God? Is there a list of what we are allowed to do to each other? What if one of us wants to make love and the other one doesn’t? What if what he wants to do makes me feel uncomfortable? Sadly, there is no list we can check off about what is acceptable in each relationship. The Bible gives us guidelines, yes, but a list, no. Think about how Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” This would answer the question about doing something that feels uncomfortable to you. Your husband or wife should never ask you to do something that feels disagreeable to you. Make sure that you are open with your spouse about any past abuse or trauma that you may have had that may interfere with sexual intimacy. Often one partner has no idea why the other had a bad reaction or an aversion to something he or she thought was no big deal.

The Bible also talks about marriage in 1 Corinthians. Read from 7:1-11 and you will see that not only does a woman’s body belong to her husband, but his body belongs to her as well. Husbands should fulfill their duty to their wives just as the wife should fulfill her duty to her husband. This clears up the question about making love even when you are not in the mood. Sometimes you have to “take one for the team” and just show up for your spouse. I know there are times when you are tired, distracted, feel frumpy, or have a lot on your mind. These may be the times when you need good love making the most! Believe me, there have been many nights where I know my husband needed an intimate moment much more than I thought I did. I would oblige simply out of respect for my husband’s desire. Almost miraculously, along the course of the evening, I would end up enjoying myself much more than I had expected. Always be open to sharing yourself with your mate.

As your marriage evolves, remember that your lovemaking will too. Don’t expect you or your spouse to always want the same position, duration, or even frequency. As you learn new ways to pray together, raise children together, and adapt to the various situations life throws at you, you will also find that your intimacy may also change and evolve. That is part of the fun of being married. It is never the same day. When it does become a burden, it is not the time to give up, but merely a time to seek help and pray about a solution. Solidify your marriage in all ways and you will never regret the intimate moments.

Song of Songs 7:10 “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.”

The Talk Table-When Critical Things Need to Be Discussed

James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

During a stressful time in my marriage (raising young kids while taking care of aging parents with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) my husband and I had a series of less than ideal date nights. I knew date night was still important but I had so many logistical things to discuss with my husband in order to keep the family unit running on all pistons. When we were on a date I felt as if it was the only time no one else was requiring my attention. One day a lovely friend of mine heard my tales of woe about our horrible dates and she pointed out to me that my date nights sounded more like board meetings. I tried hard to self-correct and to keep date nights as a time for fun, recreation, relaxation, and reconnection.

However, I realized that in order to run a successful and Godly family, there had to be that occasional board meeting. The two problems I faced the most often were that when we talked at the couch, one of us would be distracted by the TV and when we talked at dinner, the subject matter (lack of finances, little arguments, scheduling the kids activities and such) could be a real downer at what should be a relaxing and enjoyable family time.

My brilliant plan? The talk table. What is a talk table? For us it is a small, wooden TV tray that can be put up and taken down to be stored away in a moment. When I drag out the TV tray and place 2 chairs opposite of each other, Jimmie knows it is time to talk. I chose this tiny table with a purpose. When you are facing each other at a tiny table, you are forced to have a face to face, heart to heart and soul to soul communication.

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As I am the talker in the family, (shocker, right?) I will usually lead with what is a concern for me. It may be something simple like wanting to go over the weekly schedule and see who is picking up which kid from which activity, or it could be deep like I was cleaning and I found an inappropriate magazine, or the property tax bill came and we were a bit short. No matter what the subject, the talk table is sacred for open communication and for finding solutions.

That being said, do not always expect the communication to be equal. Men and women are wired differently and often marriage counselors and therapists go out of their way to get the couples to communicate on a 50-50% basis. That will never happen. That’s ok. Women will tend to communicate more but never assume the man is not listening and taking it all in. Men hear more than we give them credit for, and most men really do want to make their wife happy.

When subjects are sensitive (like finances, health or sex) be tactful when sharing your feelings. Telling your husband that you don’t like a particular way he makes love to you or telling your wife that her weight gain has you concerned for her health are paramount to a healthy relationship, but blurted out in a callous way can cause more harm than good. Always check yourself to see if you sound judgemental or preachy. That simply will not go over well.

Do you pray before taking a test or giving a speech? Do you pray when your paycheck did not stretch far enough? I sure do. Consider praying before going to the talk table. It is just as important. A quick prayer may sound something like this: “Lord, give me the right words to discuss this sensitive issue with my man, with no anger or judgment. Let the words and the solutions we come up with be a blessing to our marriage.” If your mate is a believer too, hold hands and pray together before presenting your concerns. Always finish with a kiss and an understanding that marriages are worth the effort. Don’t forget to put the table away. Putting the table away is a physical symbol that we are done with “business” and can move onto playtime!

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will all grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Baby Steps in Ministry in the Home

In an ideal world a marriage would consist of a saved husband and wife, happily going to church each Sunday and sharing a love of God by also ministering outside of the church. More common, however, is a couple with all sorts of baggage that they bring into the relationship and often only one of the two is a saved Christian. In my case, I was a very new Christian when I fell in love with my husband. I had not yet grown up in my salvation (1 Peter 2:2). I had not read enough of the Bible to understand how difficult it would be to be unequally yoked. Now, as a woman a bit older in my faith, I see several verses about not committing to an unbeliever. Check out 2 Corinthians 6:14, Amos 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Ephesians 5:7 or Isaiah 52:11.

As I truly do love my husband, I am relieved to read that Paul told the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:12-14) that if you are married to non-believer to stay with that person unless the non-believer wants out of the marriage. If you stay and can be a Godly example to them, you may have an opportunity to bring them to their faith. Now here is where it can get sticky. What if you are active in your church and outside of the church as your ministry pulls your time and attention away from your spouse? Your husband or wife may feel resentful and neglected.

Early in my faith and my marriage I had a serious conflict. As Christians, we are commanded to tithe (Malachi 3:10) but also commanded to be submissive to your husband so that if they do not believe the word, they can believe by your example (1 Peter 3:1-6). I asked my pastor “Do I tithe or listen to my husband who thinks that 10% is too much?” He told me to listen to my husband. I felt like I was cheating the church and robbing God. I felt like I would never get the big blessings that the book of Malachi talks about. I am thankful that I trusted my pastor and continued to do my fool headed best at being a good wife. Years later, I am tithing with my husband’s knowledge and no guilt.

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My husband never stepped foot in the church to see our firstborn child get Baptized. For our second child, he came to the church and sat in the very back row. For our third child, he sat closer to the front. Baby steps. Eventually, he went to a concert where a Christian artist performed. More baby steps. He also began to come to church on Christmas and Easter. Later he attended more regularly if I would ask him to. Baby steps. Now, 30 years into our marriage, he attends without being asked, seems to enjoy the sermon and even stays afterward for coffee in the fellowship hall. He volunteered once or twice to serve breakfast for a mission group I am involved in and just this past Christmas he began to sing instead of staring blankly at the church screen that shows the readings and the Hymn lyrics. Baby steps. Perhaps, one day, he will come to the Lord as I have. I must always remember that his salvation is in God’s time, not mine.

So I ask you, is your ministry taking time away from your husband or your wife? Remember that although God should be first in your heart, your spouse should be the most important person you minister to. Make sure it is in a way that he or she feels comfortable with. Your ministry to your mate should be subtle and loving, not badgering or placing blame or guilt. If you ever find yourself saying things like “Why are you watching that show?”, or “When was the last time you went to church with me?” then you will fail epically. I know. I was always pushing self-help and religious books on my husband, and playing the guilt card. It never worked. When I understood that he was curious but skeptical, I took the pressure not only off of him, but also off of myself. I began praying that I would continue to be a good example, but also that some Godly man would come into his life and show him that it is not nerdy or weird to love God. Several years ago we met a lovely couple on our camping vacation. Although we live in different states, we became friends. The two men get together often for weekend kayak trips and I cannot help but to wonder if the time we all met was about the time Jimmy started attending church more often. As the old saying goes……..God works in mysterious ways. Allow your ministry to shine at home as well as outside of the church.