Guest Post: Janel Breitenstein is a married mother of 4 who writes frequently for FamilyLife. Janel and her husband John currently serve with eMi in Uganda. Additionally, Janel’s husband serves on the Board of Marriage Revolution.
It was nearly a decade and a half ago that I read, “Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask about Sex.” But still, Melinda’s story in one of the chapters stuck with me:
Melinda and her husband were understandably discouraged. She’d never been able to experience sexual climax. But she decided that rather than complain, she’d thank God for every little thing when she and her husband made love. Every satisfying kiss, every enjoyable sensation meant she was no longer wondering whether she’d feel something:
It was wonderful because it changed my attitude about lovemaking…[to] “There will be something to thank God for.” Slowly, I began to tune into my sexual feelings. It has been a long process but I have now experienced orgasm. I believe thanking God had a lot to do with it.
Can gratitude really do that?
Even now, this gets me thinking: What else can thankfulness do for Christian sex?
The truth: A lot.
I’m sorry to be offensive, but if you’re a guy reading this there’s a good chance you might be…
I know this because I was clueless, still struggle with being clueless, and see men almost everyday that are clueless about the condition of their marriage.
My wife begged me to go to counseling for almost 12 months before we got separated. She tried to tell me things were bad, but I just didn’t see it. I know we had things to work on, but I had no idea things were as bad as what she said they were.
I’ve since learned that it matters less if my wife’s perception about the condition of our marriage is right or wrong, but rather if and how I respond to her perception.
If her perception is right, I have a problem. If her perception is wrong, I ALSO have a problem. The only wrong way to deal with my wife’s perception is to ignore it.
I want to help you determine and discuss the condition of your marriage with your spouse.
In order to understand how to be a good lover of your spouse, you need to be a good mind reader.
Most people have a fairly decent understanding of what love looks like. In fact, if you ask most people what the Bible has to say about love they can recite some or all of 1 Corinthians 13…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not….”
And granted, this chapter provides a good summary. But, it isn’t enough to know what love is…
Can I talk out of both sides of my mouth for a second?
In a previous post, I explained how Adam’s aloneness in the Garden reveals that we should view our spouse as God’s property, not our own, to love and sacrificially serve.
And further, we should reject the idea of primarily seeing our spouse as an object to meet our needs because Christ is sufficient to provide us everything we need for this life (2 Peter 1:3).
So, someone could summarize my last post by saying, “God is ALL we need”. And, depending on what they mean by that statement they might be summarizing correctly. But let me clarify…
Is God all we need?
I’ve written a good amount of anniversary and birthday cards over the past 20 years of being married to Star. Don’t tell her, but I have a couple phrases that I’ve used in those cards more than a few times over:
- “I’m so glad I’m married to you”
- “I’d marry you all over again”
- “What we’ve gone through has been worth it to have what we have”
- “I’m a better person because of you”
- “I thank God for you”
And on and on…(I’ll spare you the more intimate ones)
One phrase that I’ve been tempted to include ever since the late 90’s is, “You complete me”. Yes, the famous scene you know so well from Jerry Maguire stuck with me.
As romantic a phrase as this is, and as many people that may well intentionally use it, I’ve chosen not to. Here’s why…
This year has the potential to be the best year yet in your marriage.
You probably have good intentions for this to happen, but unless you are already moving in this direction it probably won’t come to be. Andy Stanley says it this way:
“Direction not intention determines your destination.”
Tonight, we want to help you get moving in the right direction.
One of the ways to start this process is to lay out a plan. We plan our vacations, we plan in our businesses, but few people have a plan for their marriage. God wants you to be intentional in laying out a plan for your marriage to be better this year than ever before.
Tonight is about conflict.
Since every marriage deals with it, we need to address it. But don’t worry, it won’t be that bad. What better time to talk about conflict than outside of an argument and with a clear head!
Throughout your date night consider this alternative view of conflict:
“Instead of seeing conflict as an unfortunate event you have to go through, God wants you to see it as an opportunity you get to grow through.”
When you first got married what were you expecting from your relationship?
It’s likely one of the things on your list was companionship. Although many marry for this reason, the distractions of career, kids, and to-do lists often take the place of spending the time necessary to develop this key ingredient of a healthy marriage.
Companionship – An intimate friendship that occurs as two people are knit together in love.
Every time you and your spouse pursue companionship (dating each other, forgiving one another, praying together, praising each other) the “knit” of your companionship is strengthened.
However, each time you neglect each other, hold grudges, and pursue other relationships ahead of your marriage, the “knit” of companionship is weakened and is more vulnerable to being severed.
Communication is an essential part of any relationship, especially marriage!
Maybe you’ve heard the cliché’, “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use proportionately.” I couldn’t agree more. Tedd Tripp puts it like this:
“The finest art of communication is not learning how to express your thoughts. It is learning how to draw out the thoughts of another.”
Your mission tonight is to draw out the thoughts of your spouse. Ready? Let’s go…
I’d be willing to put money on the fact that your life is too busy…
When Star and I first got married I was making $10.49 an hour and she was running an in home daycare to supplement my income.
On top of that, I was working 2nd shift from 3:30 pm – 11:30 pm and parents were dropping kids off at the house as early as 6:30 am!
The schedule was crazy, but we had to do it to put food on the table and pay the bills.
Income was decent, and we were both content with our jobs for this season of our life. But, we rarely saw each other hardly ever spent any quality time together.