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After my husband drives my vehicle, he rarely returns the seat to the position I need it. And truth be told, I am not all that great at loading the dishwasher (I really do suck at it). Yeah, we sometimes get on each other's nerves. And years ago, this got me thinking, "Can too much communication ever be a bad thing in a marriage?"
Marriage is such a unique little incubator in which human depravity -- and human goodness -- are allowed to run their course on a consistent basis. Within no other relationship is there so much... well... oneness.
But oneness comes with price tags. And the one we are often most unwilling to pay is that we have to figure out how to live with another person's shortcomings. No one ever mentions that in wedding vows, do they? Why tell two impeccably dressed people that they are about to be driven to insanity with things like dirty socks on the floor, a disorganized fridge and nearly-empty gas tanks?
Okie dokie then. What does this have to do with too much communication being a bad thing? What does this have to do with "friends with benefits" and sexual intimacy in your marriage?
Here's a tip: Don't offer up commentary every time your spouse gets on your nerves. Mind you, I'm not talking about the big issues here (money, parenting, whether to buy the Winnebago, etc).
I'm talking about things like my husband's habit of letting newspapers pile up "because he's going to read them later." Or my pesky little habit of doing the laundry and leaving it for days on end folded in baskets, instead of put away. (In his defense, I do really suck at this too).
Marriage calls us to grow up and to learn discernment. So, we just need to not nag or not be sarcastic, right? Wrong. We need to develop the ability to extend grace -- and mean it. Because if you just don't nag, but internally your discontent is making you resent your spouse, then all traction is lost. You have learned no lesson. You haven't grown up at all.
My husband doesn't need me pointing out with dripping annoyance that I'm not thrilled with his desire to keep the lamp he made in 10th grade metal shop. And I don't really need remarks that I'm regularly leaving the curling iron and other womanly paraphernalia scattered across our very small bathroom counter. Instead, we need grace.
Trust me, we don't have the process mastered, but we are a lot better now than we were when we married nearly 8 years ago. We are better at not letting the "little things" become "big things."
So what does this have to do with "friends with benefits" and sex? The more we "grow up" in our marriage and not say every thought that comes into our head about our spouse's shortcomings, the more we experience authentic friendship.
When we experience authentic friendship with the person we married, we can even learn to laugh about the little idiosyncrasies that used to drive us nuts. That kind of friendship -- the endearing graceful kind -- is sweet foundation for amazing sexual intimacy. Friends. With Benefits.
God wants you to have an FWB relationship. He just wants you to have it with your spouse.
Copyright 2010, Julie Sibert, Sexual Intimacy in Marriage blog.