Anyone who reads my blog for any amount of time knows that I see great value in professional counseling.
I personally go to a counselor about once a month, because I appreciate having a sounding board who is objective.
My friends and my husband are awesome support, but there also is value in hearing the wisdom and insights from someone who does not have a personal relationship with me.
She helps me "think out loud," particularly about some of my goals and angst. Counseling simply offers a lot to life's journey, whether it is for personal reasons or marriage struggles.
Honestly, I think the world would be a kinder and better place if everyone sat across from a counselor on a regular basis.
Obviously, I think it's best to find a professional counselor who is the right fit for you and shares your values.
All that being said...
I know that professional counseling can be expensive, especially if you don't have insurance that will cover all or part of the charges.
Some counselors do offer sliding fee scales, on a case-by-case basis, based on your situation or income level, but not all do. You have to ask if such sliding scales are available.
Here are three ideas if you can't afford professional counseling:
1. Check with your church or another local church.
I realize you may feel trepidation to talk to your pastor or another person on a church staff about your marriage.
Sometimes that trepidation is well founded. Just because pastors have been to seminary, it doesn't necessarily mean they are equipped to counsel on some of the more difficult aspects of marriage (including sex). Even some pastors would agree with what I just wrote.
But if you can't afford a professional marriage counselor, don't rule out courageously approaching your pastor, someone else on the church staff who you trust, or even someone at another church.
Tell them you and/or your spouse need to talk to someone about some struggles in your marriage, but you are limited on funds.
They may indeed be equipped to talk with you and your spouse OR they may know of other community resources OR they may have a line in the church budget specifically for subsidizing counseling needs of church members.
And even if they can't help you find one-on-one counseling, they may know of marriage classes, DVD series, workshops and seminars that offer specific and sound marital wisdom to heal and grow your marriage.
Discouraged to have to ask? I get that.
But it's also discouraging to have your marriage suffer without any effort to move it in a healthier direction.
2. Consider resources through local colleges and universities.
When people are studying to be counselors, they often have to complete internship hours or practical hours. In other words, they are still students, but they need to get experience counseling people.
Sometimes they do these hours at an office set up at the school. And sometimes they work under a local licensed counselor.
These services are often offered free or for a reduced charge.
If you want counseling, this is a route to at least explore in your own community or neighboring communities.
3. Find a mentor.
Do you know of a couple who has been married longer than you and your spouse who seem to be wise and compassionate?
There is a lot to be said for marriage mentoring, where more experienced couples speak into couples who have been married for a shorter period of time.
Certainly I think it is wise to make sure such a couple shares your values.
Not sure where to find a couple like this? What about at your church or in your neighborhood or through other connections you have? Some churches even have mentoring ministries specifically for marriage.
Even if you can't find another couple who fits what you need, consider you and your spouse each having your own mentors. As a woman, you should have a female mentor, and your husband should have a male mentor.
What you are looking for is someone who is a mature Christian, will pray for you and your spouse, will listen non-judgmentally, will keep all conversations in confidence, and will encourage you biblically.
If you can't immediately think of mentors of this sort, pray that the Lord would reveal someone to you.
When it comes to counseling, all of the above options are worth exploring.
And even if you can afford a professional counselor, the above options could be amazing supplemental ways to also strengthen your marriage.
The old cliche that "You'll never know unless you ask" has a lot of truth behind it.
The older I get, the more I discover resources and insights right at my finger tips, all because I asked.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Click on the below image for more about the book:
Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: christian counseling, counseling, counselor, marriage problems, sexual intimacy in marriage, sexual intimacy problems
It wasn't until he stopped initiating that it occurred to her something could be wrong.
And it wasn't that she was necessarily concerned he was "getting it elsewhere" (although, she knew that wasn't such a far-fetched possibility, if statistics told her anything.)
Even so, him no longer initiating sex did have her thinking. Wondering if indeed her marriage was what she had always envisioned a marriage to be.
Wondering if it was what he envisioned it would be.
Anyway. He had stopped initiating sex with her.
And now she began to recall all those times she avoided sex. Came up with excuses as to why they couldn't make love. Made him feel guilty for even attempting.
All those times she pulled away from his touch when he crawled in bed. And the times she even snapped at him when he wanted to get in the shower with her. Convinced herself that he was selfish and insensitive for ever wanting it in the first place.
And what about those times she was too tired for sex? Yes, there were times she was exhausted. No doubt about it.
But she was often plenty awake to tend to the kids' needs, church activities and her favorite TV shows. She vaguely remembers him pointing that out. Something about him always being last (or never) on her "list."
Yes, him not initiating anymore really had her thinking now.
She almost cried when she considered the irony.
Him no longer initiating meant she had arrived at what she implied she wanted -- no more sex. But she felt anything but victorious.
She felt empty.
There was a chasm between them that she couldn't quite name. Couldn't quite put her finger on. But it stirred just beneath the surface nonetheless.
They did life. They exchanged pleasantries. They moved through their own agendas and managed to keep things functioning.
Kids got fed. Bills got paid. Birthdays got planned. Lawns got mowed.
If there was tension -- and in moments of brutal honesty, she could not deny there was -- she simply rationalized it away.
"This is what happens to all married couples."
It had been a long time -- a long time since he last initiated. So long that she couldn't recall with any clarity the last time they made love. It was hazy at best. And "going through the motions" for sure.
She recalled feeling relieved at first when he stopped initiating. She finally could stop feeling anxious about sex.
But now. Now she started to wonder.
Did she have a hand in the collateral damage in their relationship? Were they really as close as everyone else viewed them to be?
It felt like forever since they had done anything alone together.
He stopped initiating sex. And in a way, they both stopped initiating everything.
He stopped initiating sex.
And now? She felt anything but victorious.
Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Click on the below image for more about my book:
Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: initiating sex, marriage problems, sex, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual problems
I don't really want to use Coach Jimbo Fisher and Florida State football as my lead in (in light of the controversy around quarterback Jameis Winston).
BUT Fisher's post-game on-field interview after FSU's win over Notre Dame really caught my attention.
The reporter asked him what he said to the team at halftime, and Fisher said that he basically told them that he has no magic solution and that they have to simply go out and do their job.
No magic fairy dust. No magic pill. Go out and do what you know you need to do.
That kind of obvious wisdom is often what comes to my mind as I'm trying to encourage marriages. I imagine some of my marriage blogger peers and marriage counselors often feel the same.
I don't want to go too far with the "job" analogy in regard to your role as a wife or a husband, but Fisher really is right.
There is no magic fairy dust that leads to a strong healthy marriage (and mutually-satisfying sexual intimacy for that matter).
A husband and wife have to do what they know they need to do.
We have no better play book than the Bible. It's chock full of all these clear instructions about what marital love looks like. (And honestly, just what love looks like regardless of whether it is in the context of marriage).
So if you don't know what to do as a wife or as a husband, then start with what the Bible says. Seek Jesus. Seek wisdom. Seek good Christian resources. And then do what you are supposed to do as a husband or wife.
If you need to grow up, then grow up. If you need to ask for forgiveness, then ask. If you need to repent and change bad habits, then change. If you need to heal from your own deep pains and issues, then seek healing.
If you need to be kinder, more loving, more available and more sacrificial, then be that person. Be that person in your marriage and your home.
I imagine by this point in the post, some of you are seething at me.
You've been doing your "job" as a spouse for a long time, and you're doing it in the presence of someone who is not doing theirs.
Which sucks. And is hard. And gives a whole new meaning to long-suffering and exasperation and discouragement and anger.
If that describes your marriage, you are not alone.
I receive many comments and emails from people who have poured their entire selves into strengthening the marriage. They are indeed fulfilling God's command as a husband or wife.
They are trying -- sometimes desperately -- to build a strong healthy marriage.
To no avail.
I'm grieved deeply by these circumstances and I don't have easy answers.
Here's what I would say:
If your marriage is simply stagnant -- simply coasting and your spouse sees no reason to improve the circumstances with you, then I encourage you to keep doing your role -- while also seeking support to keep yourself balanced and healthy.
Get counseling for yourself. Nurture same-sex Christian friendships where you have confidantes who will listen non-judgmentally and pray with you and for your marriage. Keep yourself in check to not become resentful, spiteful and manipulative in your marriage.
If, on the other hand, the marriage is emotionally or physically abusive or your spouse is adulterous or addicted to porn, then I encourage you to seek wise Christian counsel and the Bible as to what to do to keep yourself (and any children) safe.
Divorce is not always the solution, but if you are in a situation like I've described in the previous paragraph, you definitely need support in setting reasonable and godly boundaries.
And honestly, in some situations, divorce is the solution.
Yes, God hates divorce, but He also is not a fan at all of abuse and on-going adultery, etc. In those cases, a spouse who continues to sin, despite attempts to clearly make them aware of what needs to change, has indeed already left the marriage. They have bailed on the basic tenets of the marital covenant.
If this seems like a heavy post, it's because it is.
Wherever you are in your marriage, look closely at what it means to do what you need to do. The healthiest of marriages are ones where two people deeply understand and take serious what it means to love well.
And with everything in me, I believe more marriages could get to that place if they take baby steps in that direction.
Do what you need to do.
Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Click on the below image for more about my book:
Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems
Ok, I have met a few people who think marriage is easy.
But those conversations are rare. Count-on-one-hand-and-still-have-fingers-left rare.
Most people I meet who are willing to get vulnerable reveal something that tends to be more universal than unique -- marriage is hard.
Worth it, yes. Rich with possibilities, yes. Designed by the Creator of the universe, yes.
But easy? Uh. No.
My beloved and I have been in a hard season in our marriage as of late. Certainly not insurmountable, but difficult and discouraging and "in-the-trenches" messy. We're persevering, learning, coming out of it more aware, and -- in many ways -- deeper in love.
For that I am humbly and eternally grateful.
Some things -- ok, many things -- if they are not destroyed by fire, are refined. No place is this more true than marriage.
In this journey, I offer you three things to ponder:
1. Do the hard things of life draw you together or drive you apart?
It really isn't a question of if life is going to throw you curveballs. It's only a matter of when. And sometimes it's not even curveballs. Sometimes it's just life.
Whiney kids. Dwindling bank accounts. Rising expenses. Fast-growing lawns. Messy bathrooms. Demanding jobs. Endless laundry. Rogue calendars.
You. Get. The. Point.
In the hard things we've navigated lately, I'm increasingly aware of how better he and I do when the messiness doesn't derail us. I wish I could say we are never derailed, retreating to our own corners.
But we are growing in our ability to stand back and take note and be wise in the face of adversity.
So pay close attention to what happens when life gets messy and hard, thus making your marriage messy and hard.
Can you find a a way to inch toward each other instead of run in opposite directions?
2. Are you willing to put in the extra effort to fight for you marriage?
When marriage is cruising along, it's effortless to take things for granted. But when emotions are frazzled and miscommunication is staking ground in our hearts and home, our self-preservation mode (fueled by lies from Satan) compels us to do only the bare minimum...
Go through the motions. Be civil, but not humble. Be present, but not really available.
Well, that is a crappy approach to building anything that will endure.
Sometimes, we have to resist our natural tendency to coast. I've long believed that if unhealthy patterns (which are usually unintentional) go on long enough, they will become your normal. Who wants an unhealthy normal? Not. Me.
Putting in the extra effort -- however that looks in your situation -- is an intentional healthy God-honoring choice.
And more often than not, it's hard to do. Sorry. That's the truth. But on the other side of continually choosing to fight for your marriage, what you'll likely end up with is a marriage -- a strong covenant commitment that is safe haven.
3. What happens to your sexual intimacy in a hard season?
I love sex. I mean, really love it. And while all the physical pleasure aspects are awesome (hallelujah), I also am deeply turned on by the emotional connection to the man I married when we make love.
And I know what that connection does to our relationship -- how it helps us extend grace. And who doesn't need more grace during a hard season of marriage?
I know it comes as no surprise, but discord and division are not stellar aphrodisiacs. In fact, discord and division are horrible bedfellows to endearment and passion.
So what do you do in a hard season?
I know that some serious marriage problems are full of excruciating wounds. Sexual intimacy takes time to restore. If you are in one of those places (such as trying to heal from adultery or other deep betrayal), I encourage you to work with a professional counselor. And I encourage you to not take sex off the table indefinitely.
I believe, though, for most couples in run-of-the-mill hard seasons of marriage, sex still needs to be in the mix.
I know. I make it sound simple. Probably won't be.
But here's the cold truth: Satan is already trying to sabotage your relationship. When you stop having sex -- which neither of you can biblically go get elsewhere -- you unwittingly become a partner in Satan's schemes. You compound problems rather than relieve them.
My last piece of wisdom? Pray for your marriage.
I didn't save it for last because it's least important. I saved it for last because it is most important and I want you to remember it.
God will always be in the business of meeting you in your deepest heartache. Yes, He already knows what is going on in your marriage. But He still longs for you to come to Him -- raw and real -- and talk to Him about it.
Marriage is easy. Said no one ever.
Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Click on the below image for more about my book:
Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles
Occasionally, people think I land too much on the side of husbands when it comes to denial of sex.
Many of my posts do indeed encourage wives to be more sexually available and interested.
I do have a page on my site, though, devoted to Wives Who Want More Sex and Aren't Getting It.
Maybe a page isn't enough, and I should write more often on this topic on the blog. I am sensitive to the pain many women are suffering when their husbands reject them sexually.
Today I want to hopefully give some insights to men on what happens when a wife wants more sex and her husband is either carelessly indifferent or blatantly antagonistic about such desires.
If you are a husband who denies your wife sex, have you considered the toll this is taking on your wife and your marriage?
The pain is compounded by the fact that a wife in this scenario feels incredibly isolated and alone among her peers. After all, every time she is in a gathering of women and the topic of sex comes up, the majority of the gals in the room are likely commiserating (eye rolls included) that they can't keep their husbands off them. Their husbands want sex a lot.
A husband who wants sex a lot? That's foreign territory to her. So she offers up a half-hearted laugh to give the impression she can relate.
But she can't relate.
Her closest friends likely have no clue and she is hesitant to let them in on her struggle, because she doubts they would have any consolation to offer. Plus, she's possibly embarrassed and riddled with self doubt.
While I know that husbands also experience self-doubt when rejected, for a sexually rejected wife the circumstances are tainted by the huge emphasis our society puts on women's physical beauty.
Even with a boatload of common sense rationale, we women can easily slip into a mode of comparing ourselves against some completely unrealistic standard.
Weight, physique, hair color, hair style, clothing, breast size, muscle tone, complexion, make-up, eye color, and so forth... advertisers and entertainment seem to have an eagle's eye on how to capitalize on a women's insecurities when it comes to her degree of "sexiness."
But nothing stings more than to have the very man she married not desire her sexually.
A husband may think that sex "is no big deal" to a wife, especially if he has believed wholeheartedly everything his friends and evening sitcoms have told him. He may even think he is doing his wife a favor by not expressing interest in her sexually.
For the wife who does want sexual connection with her husband, his indifference or unwillingness to address the topic is particularly baffling and exasperating.
She wants you. And she wants you to want her.
If you as a husband are struggling with issues that make sex difficult, please invest in your marriage and address these issues.
Is there a physical issue that could be contributing to your low desire?
Physical issues can range from low hormonal levels to the effects of aging to the use of various medications. Are you concerned about your ability to get and maintain an erection? Do you think avoiding sex all together will make this matter less taxing on your relationship? It won't.
If there is a physical cause (or if you don't know), visit your health care professional. Don't be embarrassed. Be honest. Doctors are trained and are more well-versed than many of us realize on what could be going on inside the human body.
If your doctor does not seem to understand the depth of your concern and is offering no valuable insights, get another opinion. With regard to medications, certainly do not begin or stop any medications, prescription or otherwise, without consulting a doctor.
Are there emotional scars causing your lack of sexual interest in your wife?
If you were ever sexually abused and have never sought counsel and healing for this tragedy committed against you, I implore you to find healing. Many, many men have been sexually abused, yet some still feel hesitant to talk about this pain. But for the health of your marriage, you owe it to yourself and your wife to gain a right perspective on sexual intimacy and to heal from any past pain.
Are you struggling with pornography or sexual indiscretion?
Again, these are not insurmountable obstacles on the road toward healthy sexual intimacy with your wife -- but, you have to be willing to walk in the direction of repentance and health.
Are you depressed? Overwhelmed? Stressed out about work?
Whatever is causing your sexual dis-interest, stop ignoring it. Start dealing with it.
To sexually-refused wives, I'm saddened by your pain. If you haven't already, I encourage you to express to your husband (either verbally or through a letter or both) that you love him and are committed to the two of you working on strengthening all aspects of intimacy in the marriage.
Tell him it's not just about the sex, but about feeling deeply connected with him.
If he is resistant to addressing the matter, go to counseling, even if you have to go on your own. It will likely give you some unbiased insights and will at the same time demonstrate to your husband that you are doing all you can to bring healing to the marriage.
Pray for your marriage, including sex, and find at least 2 other mature Christian women who will pray with you. These should be women who will not bash your husband and will keep all conversations in confidence.
The longer I speak and write about sexual intimacy in marriage, the more aware I am of what a sensitive area of marriage sex is. It can be the source of profound connection and understanding and safety -- and a place of deep chasm and discord and miscommunication.
Whether you are a husband or a wife, if sex in your marriage is not a mutually-vauled and nurtured aspect of your marriage, consider what would happen if it was. I know that some of you reading this may think I place too much value on what sex means to a marriage.
I would argue that too many marriages place too little value on it.
Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Posted in intimacy, marriage problems, passion, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems, marriage struggles, sex and marriage, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy in marriage, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles
It's a common argument, you know.
When a couple is at the point of researching divorce lawyers and pondering if their incomes can support two households...
When two people who gave themselves to each other now envision a life away from each other...
When a marriage built over years starts to look and feel like roommate status...roommates who happen to hate each other...
Yes, it's a common argument that if they have kids, the suggestion, advice and pondering at least glances at "save your marriage for the kids."
Well, I say, "Don't save your marriage for the kids."
Don't do it.
Instead, save your marriage for you.
Yes. Save your marriage for you.
The two of you were here before those babies came and if you get courageous, the two of you will have something after those babies grow up.
That's what they're going to do, you know. They're going to grow up and leave (God willing). They may even take some of your money with them. (Likely). You'll have already given them all of your sanity. (True story).
And whether they ever say it or not, they will have engrained into their psyche and heart at least a little bit about marriage from what they saw in the two of you.
So, if you really want to save your marriage for your kids, you better figure out how to save your marriage for you.
Could you...would you...should you save your marriage for you?
I can hear the squawking from the sidelines already... that I'm traipsing into a world of idealism. Some marriages cannot be saved. (Hey, I know. I lived through the horrendous remnants of a marriage that was not saved).
But even when I look back on my own failed marriage, I still wonder if it could have been saved had we both humbly walked in that direction. Baby steps. Even one step. I was willing; he was not.
So it should come as no surprise how vested I am in speaking encouragement into lonely dark places where couples entertain the idea that ending their union would be better than saving it.
Ask any marriage mentor or counselor and they will confirm that many marriages that end in divorce could have indeed been saved.
Saved by the two people in it.
Somewhere in the depths of a marriage teetering on divorce, often we find two people who do still have a strand of hope buried under all that resentment, anger and disconnect.
Two people. Each with a strand of hope. Now we have something to work with.
If that describes you, don't bail quite yet, okay?
This is going to be hard work, but many have done it. You won't be the first to save your marriage and you won't be the last.
And let's face it -- marriage is hard work. It shouldn't surprise us that if being in one is such hard work, saving one is going to require a fair amount of exhaustion and gut level effort as well.
Lest we think it can't be done, reality would tell us otherwise! There are examples of people who have saved their marriage. I even know two couples who actually divorced and then eventually got married again...to each other. You can see videos about their stories here and here. Powerful testimonies.
As with anything, if we have fought hard to not just save it but to to make it healthy and strong, we discover such investment of ourselves was worth it. Standing on the other side of all the horrendously hard work, we see. It was worth it.
I don't know your story or all the circumstances of your marriage, but if you are not divorced yet, could you approach your spouse from the depth of your soul? Could you try one more time to weave two strands hope together to start to rebuild what has been torn apart?
My prayer is that you explore the possibilities.
And whatever you do, don't save your marriage for the kids.
Save your marriage for you.
Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Posted in intimacy, marriage problems, passion, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems, sexual intimacy
I did a post on How to Destroy Your Husband's Manhood in 10 Easy Steps.
I think it's only fair to give equal commentary to...
How to Destroy Your Wife's Womanhood in 10 Easy Steps:
1. Compare her body to other women, whether they be on the screen, in advertising, on billboards or in your neighborhood.
I'm guessing that if you are doing this, you aren't doing it out loud. But even if you are doing it only in your head and heart, you are chipping away at something sacred.
Nearly every woman you see in advertising has been photoshopped in some way to make her an effective tool in hawking beer, lingerie, cars and even siding for your house.
Your wife is not an airbrushed actress or model.
She is a real life woman whose body likely carries the real life realities of age, stress, exhaustion, child birth, breastfeeding and hormone fluctuation.
And whether she voices it or not, she possibly struggles with her body image more than you even realize. Don't add to her insecurities.
2. Minimize what she contributes to the life you share.
Whether your wife works outside the home, in it or both, she's bringing unfathomable benefits to the arena.
My grandmother once said "women just see more that needs to be done." We do. It's true.
Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but study after study shows that women carry the majority of the load in keeping a household moving along.
They are the tamers of the calendar.
The keepers of the details.
The signers of permission slips.
The shelf stockers. The ringleaders. The judge and jury of sibling fights. The baseball uniform washers.
If your mother received a birthday card or your brother received a Christmas gift, I'd be willing to bet you have your wife to thank.
No, this dynamic is not true in every household, but it's true in a lot of them. Your wife fills a vital role in the life the two of you navigate together.
3. Ignore her sexual pleasure.
I know you guys are in a bit of quandary here, because sadly many wives don't even care about their own sexual pleasure.
The truth is that God designed orgasm for both a wife and a husband, and it will strengthen your marriage in untold ways if you both take that to heart.
If you have played any part in putting your sexual pleasure consistently above hers, humble yourself and start giving equal attention to what it will take for her to climax.
If she is the one who continues to downplay it, then have a heart-to-heart conversation about the pain this is causing you and your marriage.
I honestly think if married couples would be intentional, selfless and mutual about valuing each other's sexual pleasure, many marriages would not be in the sad state that they are.
4. Undermine her parenting decisions in front of your children.
The "good cop / bad cop" scenario is wreaking havoc in many homes. And children are keen little creatures bent on manipulating any crack in the foundation.
If you have been throwing your wife under the bus when it comes to what are reasonable parenting decisions, stop doing that.
And if there seems to be extreme disagreement between the two of you on key aspects of parenting, then start having conversations away from the children about how you as a couple are going to get on the same page.
Figure out the negotiables and non-negotiables. Pray.
5. Make her feel bad about time she spends with her girlfriends.
No, she should not regularly put her time with friends over you and the kids. Yet, I'm going to call it like it is -- she needs her girlfriends to get her bearings and maybe even stay sane. Seriously.
Her girlfriends are not a replacement for you, but they are a sounding board in a way you aren't.
If "time with friends" is causing strife in your home or relationship, express to your wife that the two of you need to find some common middle ground on how friend time plays out on the calendar. And that goes for time with your friends as well, because you also need that.
6. Hold scripture over her as a way to coerce her or make her question her role as a wife.
Do not play the "submission" card. Don't do it. And also don't Bible beat her into coming around to your way of thinking.
Lead first and foremost with humility, generosity, prayer and godly obedience to your role as a husband.
If you do not know what that looks like, seek God's Word and mature brothers in Christ with whom you can grow and be accountable.
Wives, don't consistently undermine his headship. If you know you struggle with this, be honest with yourself and possibly even suggest that the two of you visit a pastor or a counselor.
7. Never compliment her. On anything.
Sure, marriage is a breeding ground for taking each other for granted. But with a little effort, this dynamic can change.
If she is like most women, she wants to know that you still find her beautiful, that you appreciate the meals she makes or the errands she runs, that you genuinely think she did a great job planning your parents' anniversary party or the neighborhood barbecue.
The best compliments are timely, specific and genuine.
8. Make it difficult for her to be vulnerable with you.
A long time ago, I read a quote that said, "Everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something."
Are you a safe landing spot for her? Can she be real with you?
She needs to be able to be messy and unglued with you -- and to know it's not going to freak you out or shut you down.
She's a woman. Messy and unglued is how we roll.
9. Choose your family over her.
Oh. My. Goodness. So many wives already feel threatened or frustrated by the role your mother (and possibly your entire family) play in your life.
You made a decision to leave your family and cleave to your wife. Do you still need to honor your parents? Absolutely.
But when "honoring" means never setting clear boundaries with your family, something is askew. I guarantee your wife will want to get the heck out of Dodge whenever they are around. That's not a good feeling.
10. Don't consult her on life-impacting decisions.
When we choose marriage, we are choosing to be partners with another person. Your wife is your partner in life. She has a voice.
And while I don't think she should be able to override what you genuinely believe are godly, prayer-drenched and Holy Spirit tested decisions, I do think you need to listen to her.
She is likely intuitive in ways you have not considered. And she wants to feel secure in her home and her relationship with you.
Even if the two of you disagree, don't be too quick to minimize the value of wrestling -- healthy emotional, mental and spiritual wrestling. Often, wrestling of this sort reveals better alternatives or brings your hearts into alignment.
I'm going to err on the side of believing that you loved your wife the day you married her and you love her now. And you want to be a husband who builds her womanhood rather than destroys it, right?
She needs that kind of husband. She needs you to help her be the woman God is calling her to be.
For more on nurturing intimacy (sexual and otherwise) in your marriage, check out the book I co-authored, Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage.
Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage.
Posted in authentic, intimacy, marriage problems, sex, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: godly, intimacy, manhood, marriage, marriage problems, womanhood
I was so encouraged the other day by blogger Lori Byerly, who shared in her post that when she and husband Paul married, quite a few people doubted it would last.
Lori and Paul just celebrated 28 years of marriage!
While she said they are still learning about marriage, she admitted they have certainly overcome many of the challenges and doubts that plagued their marriage early on.
They have persevered and prospered, despite the opinions of the naysayers.
What about your marriage?
Do you have people around you who think you won't make it?
Together you can prove them wrong! (And I bet many of them, especially those who love you, would happily rejoice in you proving them wrong).
I've always believed that each marriage is unique.
We'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't recognize that some marriages travel a tougher road than others. Maybe the road is rocky because of past and/or current sin, former relationships, poor communication skills, financial struggles, on-going illness or injury, ex-spouses, jeopardized trust, in-laws, job crises and so on.
To a degree, we all have some baggage.
Sometimes it's baggage we brought all on our own. And if we are honest, we'd confess much of it is baggage we together created after we said our vows.
Regardless of when and how the baggage showed up, unpacking it can be messy, discouraging and downright exhausting.
But God is indeed a redemptive God.
And marriage was His idea.
So, if you've entered into a marriage, you can rest assured that He desires greatly to equip you, grow you and show you how to have a marriage that doesn't just exist -- but also thrives and overflows with goodness.
Many marriages designated as "beyond repair" are anything but that. Instead, they are opportunities for profound transformation.
(Obviously, I'm not suggesting anyone stay in an abusive relationship. I instead am referring to marriages that are characterized by difficulties that are debilitating, yet not insurmountable.)
Lori and Paul Byerly offer all of us a tender reminder of the power to stay the course toward healthy relationship, even when you can't see it from where you stand in the midst of the storm.
Press into the Lord's heart and Word. Obey His commands. Pray. Seek resources. Believe. Take baby steps.
Remember always that the little things are the big things. Invest in your marriage often.
If some people believe your marriage won't make it, stop listening to them.
Start talking to your spouse instead. And start agreeing with God on His vision for your marriage.
That's what Lori and Paul did.
And 28 years later, they continue to be a beautiful testament of compassion, love and belief that "God was big enough to work them out of their messes." (You can read more about their messy history here).
Their story is one of hope. Could yours be one of hope too?
Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Posted in marriage problems, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems
I recently received an email from a woman expressing her deep regret about not addressing the sexual intimacy struggles in her marriage sooner.
She has given me permission to share her story, with the hope that it will help other wives realize the deep significance of sex.
Her experiences reflect those of many wives who struggle with sex -- whether it be because of past sexual abuse, misconceptions about sex, shame, and/or physical challenges with hormone levels.
I pray you would read her words with a tender and aware heart.
It took courage for her to be so vulnerable in sharing this...
"We have been married for 27 years. I regrettably am one who would reject my husband night after night and did not realize the impact it was having on him.
We have known each other since we were 12, high school sweethearts, married at 20, kids by 23 and it went from there. My husband is a good man, with a good heart, who has always taken care of me and our 2 daughters.
When we dated, I was interested in him and making out and wanted him.
Once we were married, it changed. I'm not sure why.
Actually I have a lot of theories. I was the one who was messed up on my perception of sex – thinking it was bad or something you don't talk about. It was embarrassing to me for some reason. My mom tried talking to me and I would just cry and cry and tell her I do not want to talk about this.
I did have some really early bad experiences when I was very young, like 4 yrs old. Older cousins who would do bad things they shouldn't have been doing. That's my theory on my mixed emotions and thoughts on sex. I actually thought, "Now that I'm married, everybody knows I'm having sex." I remember thinking this and feeling bad. How stupid!
I also started birth control about 2 or 3 months before I was married. I've read that birth control can affect hormone levels in some women, causing low sexual desire. I'm not sure if that was it or part of it, along with my misinformed, misconstrued attitude regarding sex.
After we had our girls, I was so terrified they would hear us having sex and think something. I know now how ridiculous this sounds and is.
I was always thinking about other things, mind constantly working, not being able to relax. I was a huge worrier. Not good. My husband, from the inception of our marriage had to practically beg me for sex.
I was interested and felt sexual before marriage. What happened to me?!
As life went along, I didn't think I needed help. I thought I was normal and that our marriage was normal.
I always heard the man wants it and the woman doesn't. “Honey, I've got a headache!” Just hearing jokes about this and thinking it was normal. It was far from normal.
I always tried to have relations with my husband at least every 2 weeks and I tried not to let it go over that. Sometimes it did; sometimes it was more. I would try to make an effort to do better. This tormented my husband.
Literally tormented him.
He did not understand why I didn't love him or want him. LOVE HIM – this is the way he felt loved. I didn't know or see it as that.
This was my husband’s number one need. He prayed to God, "Why doesn't she love me? What can I do to make her want me and love me?”
For years this went on. I did not realize the pain I was inflicting on him. Severe pain and agony.
I knew he wanted more sex, but I thought it was just a physical need men have. I was so wrong. It was so much more than that to him!
I should have been more attentive and cared more to realize this was a real problem. If I had realized this, our lives would have been almost perfect. We have been blessed with 2 wonderful daughters and have lived a very comfortable, secure life.
Little did I know I was killing my husband a little at a time over the years and driving him further and further away from me. He deserved so much more from me!
Fast forward 24 yrs into our marriage and the unthinkable happened.
A woman showed interest in my husband – my wonderful, handsome husband. She made him feel good about himself and showed interest in him and gave him some badly needed attention that I should have been giving him at home!
I truly understand how and why this happened and how he was so very vulnerable to her. So we have gone through some very trying times. We are still together, but we are still struggling.
This December it will be 3 years that I was aware something wasn't right. This was devastating to our family, even my husband. He is a very moral, ethical man who always gave great advice to friends and co-workers.
No one, not even my husband, thought he would ever do this. If this happened to us, it can happen to anyone.
I am writing to you because I want to be able to help any young woman out there who could learn, educate themselves, get help and avoid the most painful thing you can endure -- other than illness or worse happening to your children.
After I found out what was going on, I jumped up and did a 360 on trying to seek help and change myself."
She shared how she read books, visited marriage websites and went to her doctor to have her hormone levels checked. Her doctor, unfortunately, did not hear the seriousness of her concern. She switched doctors and did find that her low testosterone levels could be remedied through a hormonal cream.
"The cream has worked wonders for me -- I mean wonders. I have desire like I did when I was a teenager. I had forgotten what it felt like to have instant arousal.
Now I have so much more feeling...so much more desire. It's unbelievable. I also have worked on my mind and educated myself and read the Bible and understood things in a whole new way.
I never looked at myself in the mirror naked, much less my husband. Never thought, "Hey, I can enjoy this too and it's okay to enjoy it."
The thing is, it may be too late.
My efforts may be way too late.
I love my husband as much or more than the day I married him. I have forgiven him – did right away. He's a good man and you don't come by this type of man everyday.
I am fighting to save our marriage, but I may have done irrevocable damage that cannot be fixed.
We are currently so confused and messed up, it’s not funny. My husband cannot get past the way I've treated him and right now he hasn't forgiven me. We are really messed up in the bedroom right now. I started having sex with my husband every night when I found out something was wrong. I didn't know there was another woman at the time.
I wanted to prove to him that I could change and that is how much I loved him. This made him really mad as time went on, because he was thinking, "All these years and now you can change?" He fell really hard for the other woman, so we are still dealing with many issues.
There is so much to our story, but my main intention is to try and let any wife who is doing like I did to stop, get help, change your ways. Check into your testosterone levels. Change your way of thinking before its too late.
When I read the 5 Things You Must Know if You Are Denying Your Husband Sex, I just wanted to bawl. I wish I had known years ago what I know now."
Does anything in her story speak into your situation?
I recognize that each person's situation is unique and that what works for one couple may not work for another.
I think, though, that her personal experience resonates with a theme that is present in many marriages where there are sexual struggles:
If you don't intentionally address those sexual intimacy struggles, things can definitely go from bad to worse.
Whether your struggles with sex are caused by relationship issues, hormonal issues, past sexual abuse, misconceptions about sex, or a host of other reasons, do not delay.
Start now to do something.
Your marriage is worth peeling back the layers and seeking healing, solution and redemption.
I'm glad she shared her story, especially considering the pain involved. If you were enlightened by her story, please comment and share that.
Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
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Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles
The problem with marriage blogs is that there are always exceptions to what they say...
...and this can be particularly devastating to someone who finds themselves smack dab in the middle of the exception.
Like a blog on sexual intimacy could go on and on about how husbands hunger for more sex with their wives -- words that feel painfully bleak to a wife whose husband never wants to make love.
Or a blog that says it is natural for a husband to want to work hard and provide for his family -- words that are hopelessly foreign to a wife whose husband spends more time playing video games than earning a paycheck.
Or maybe a blog that says wives long for their husbands to be spiritual leaders -- words that feel like salt in a wound to a husband who has tried to faithfully lead in his home, only to have his wife undermine him at every turn.
Or a blog that sings the praises of date nights -- ideas that feel beyond distant to a couple suffering the horrendous weight of depression, financial devastation or adultery.
Every week I receive comments and emails from people in desperate situations.
And in a way, as they peruse the internet for a morsel of hope, they end up reading blog after blog that seem to cement their isolation and pain, rather than free them from it.
It's not the fault of the bloggers or the ministries or any well-intended soul who is simply trying to parlay their experience into encouragement for readers.
After all, I write a marriage blog. And I wouldn't do it if I didn't believe it has encouraged some people in their marriages.
I just feel in my heart the need to offer kindness and acknowledgement to those of you whose situations have yet to improve, no matter how many suggestions or insights you try to apply.
My heart grieves.
It particularly grieves when one person in the marriage is committed to healing and growing and nurturing the marriage, only to have their spouse not offer even an ounce of mutual effort in the process.
Countless people have journeyed for years -- sometimes even decades -- in a lifeless union.
And that makes me sad.
The problem with marriage blogs is we don't have solutions for all that ails troubled marriages or all that breaks fragile hearts.
If ever there was a reminder of our deep need for Jesus it is when humanly insight cannot reach all the crevices of our weakness and tragedy.
The problem with marriage blogs is they are not Jesus.
And oh how I am grateful for that.
When I as a marriage blogger am out of ideas... when my words run short and my encouragement and hope lose their appeal...
Jesus is still steady and strong, abundant with love and compassion and an everlasting promise.
Never will you and I be forsaken. Never will we be beyond His reach.
That truth makes me feel less sad. I pray it is a tender reminder for you as well, no matter how heartbreaking your situation may be.
Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Posted in authentic, intimacy, marriage problems, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: Jesus, marriage problems, sexual intimacy, sexual struggles