Physical Intimacy – Three Aspects of a Healthy Sex Life

Three of the most important aspects of a healthy physical relationship is a willingness to be vulnerable, honest and trustworthy with each other.

* Vulnerable

Dr. Leman says, “Most men don’t realize, psychologically, how vulnerable a naked woman can feel. The very act of sex is one in which she is inviting someone else into her body. You can’t get any more intimate than that.” page 58

Husbands, have you considered how your wife willingly opens her body up to embrace you wholeheartedly in sexual intercourse? Even if she struggles with how she looks or how she thinks you see her, it’s important to give her grace. Let her know that she is the only woman who satisfies you the way she does. You can’t say these words enough. I’ll repeat that again, You can’t say these words enough.

* Honest

Our society bombards women with images of the perfect body type. None of us measure up to this unrealistic Barbie doll image. If your husband struggles with pornography at any level, this will effect your self-image. Men often argue that seeing another woman has no bearing on how he sees his wife. Women struggle to believe this is true, because we tend to compare ourselves with other women from the time we are old enough to to notice the differences. And we always find ourselves wanting, unless we have a husband who tells us sincerely and often that we are beautiful.

Wives, when your husband compliments you your only response should be, “Thank you!” To argue or disregard his words is like throwing cold water on your marriage. You’re basically saying he is lying. Don’t do it! We must believe them when they say they love our body as it is.

* Trustworthy

Sex is a learned art. It takes practice. It takes time. It takes lots of communication. We have found that often it is more difficult talking about physical intimacy than taking part in the act. Just because you have sex regularly doesn’t mean you are communicating honestly and openly.

The best way to know is to ask. When was the last time you asked your spouse how they see your physical relationship? Are they satisfied or left wanting? Are they struggling in regards to what you do or don’t do in the bedroom? Don’t ask this question unless you really want to know. Healthy marriages are willing to ask such questions in order to do something to make it better. These are the marriages that continue to grow through the years.

But here’s the thing: Guard your spouse’s answers as if your life depended on it. Nothing will break trust more in your marriage than her hearing you share with someone else about these conversations. This is private, and private means for no one else to hear or know what was shared.

This goes for the wives as well. Many women love to bash their husbands when with their girlfriends. May I encourage you to keep your husband’s reputation in high regard? Every marriage has their issues. But airing them is a practice that will tear down the trust between you.

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” – Proverbs 14:1 ESV

Physical Intimacy Prompt:

Plan some time to ask each other the following questions:

1. How would you rate our current level of physical intimacy? Extremely satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, extremely dissatisfied? Talk about why you both feel this way.

2. If you knew I wouldn’t react, is there anything you would like to tell me about our physical intimacy?

3. What changes would you like to see and why?

4. Do you think I am trustworthy? Why or Why not?

5. Have I ever said anything to cause you to question my trustworthiness?

Physical Intimacy Prayer:

Father, Thank you for creating us male and female. Thank you for helping us take our physical intimacy to the next level. Would you help us be vulnerable, honest and trustworthy with each other? We know that a healthy marriage is a growing marriage. We need you to bring us to a healthy place. We are grateful you don’t leave us on our own to figure this out, but you provide the help and hope we need.

Help me be honest in my answers above. Help me be the spouse my Husband/Wife needs me to be. May our relationship bring you great glory as we walk this path of physical intimacy.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Physical Intimacy Scripture:

“My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away…” – Song of Solomon 2:10 ESV

Posted in communication, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Physical | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratefulness Abounds

This morning I awoke with the realization that the holidays are here. And not just in the stores–they don’t count since they began before Halloween; Our home is decked out for Christmas with a bit of Thanksgiving strewn about. We aren’t gathering around our table this year so I could do this, but it is a first for me. I always guard Thanksgiving refusing to let Christmas and Halloween squeeze it off the calendar.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Of course Christmas and Easter are favorites too. What we celebrate on those days changed my life forever.

But Thanksgiving is a time for our family to pause and thank God for all the other days, the ordinary and difficult days. The happy days and days worth journaling. The days when God’s nearness is felt and those when He seems faraway.

Thanksgiving allows us to pause in the midst of the busyness to give thanks to the One who holds all things together.

This year more than ever, our family has been aware of this Truth. But God! He has been our help in time of need. He has been our Great Shepherd leading and guiding us through dark valleys. And He has shown us that unexplainable peace is possible.

As much as Thanksgiving has always been a huge family celebration for us, I realize more than ever how my thanksgiving to God is a personal, one-on-one, celebration. He knows me. He helps me. He gives me strength to do what I can’t on my own, and He celebrates the progress I make in trusting Him.

Our whole family won’t gather this year, and normally this would tempt me to think Thanksgiving is less than it should be, But God!

I realize that Thanksgiving is a daily, hourly, even minute by minute celebration of my relationship with the Author and Finisher of my faith. He is good and holy. To know Him is to love Him.

May gratefulness abound at your table this week no matter who is absent.

————————–🍁

Spiritual Intimacy Prompt: Set aside time this week to talk about what you love most about Thanksgiving and what you don’t like as much. Pray for each other and ask for God to show you His perspective on this season.

Date Night Prompt: Check Out our Romantic Thanksgiving Ideas under the Only Wives and Only Husbands tab on the menu bar above.

Posted in Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Holidays, Intimacy, Spiritual, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Physical Intimacy – The Sexual Rule Book

Identifying the Sexual Rule Book in our minds goes a long way towards Physical Intimacy in marriage

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Some may call this Sexual Intimacy, but we believe Physical Intimacy more accurately describes this part of marriage. This kind of intimacy encompasses so much more than having sexual relations. Physical touch and expression throughout the day are what enhances the intimacy shared while making love. If neither of you are thinking about this special aspect of your relationship outside of the bedroom, then your sex life will suffer at it’s worst, or plateau at it’s best.

It’s like climbing a mountain. Many try and end up stopping halfway realizing it is harder than they imagined. They are satisfied with how far they’ve climbed and are willing to settle there. The motivation to keep the vision alive dissipates into thin air, and the journey becomes the destination.

Consider that no one else can satisfy this particular need in your spouse. To choose to no longer pursue a deeper intimacy in marriage is to go against the very vows you promised on your wedding day. Satisfying this need in your spouse is your privilege alone! Yes, I called it a privilege.

Privilege – a special right or advantage granted or available only to a particular person.

No one can satisfy your spouse with pleasure the way you can, and no one has the power to disappoint them more than you. We must make a conscious choice which one we will choose. The former will lead to an adventurous marriage, and the latter leads to settled marriage. We pray that as we talk about Physical Intimacy, you will begin to desire change as you climb this mountain together.

In his excellent book, Sheet Music, Dr. Kevin Leman says,

Too  many married couples settle for second best. The husband is willing to use his wife for biological release, and the wife may be willing to “accommodate” her husband just to avoid his incessant nagging. But that’s not what either of them truly desires. Neither person is fulfilled when sex is desperately asked for and only grudgingly given.

So take the plunge! Don’t settle for less than God has intended. Sex is one of the most amazing things God ever thought up–but sex this good doesn’t come naturally to any one of us. We  have to become willing to practice how to be a better lover; we need to spend time thinking of ways to keep sex fresh and fun; we even need to study our spouse to discover just what fulfills them sexually. (pgs. 13 – 14)

Are you struggling in your sex life? There is hope for you and much to discover on this grand adventure. There will be uncomfortable questions to ask yourself and your spouse. You will need to commit to being honest and vulnerable with each other in a way you may have never experienced.

We have not been taught well in this regard, and sadly many churches don’t address this topic before, much less after, marriage. We are left alone in the dark, figuratively and literally, to discover it on our own. Sometimes this mountain requires too much effort without the skills needed to make it to the top, so we are tempted to quit. With some help and encouragement we believe you can get there. And wait until you see the view…

Intimacy at this level is breathtaking!

Physical Intimacy provides an incredible view into your spouse's heart. It's worth the effort to get there!

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

Physical Intimacy Prompt:

Dr. Leman shares that we all have a unwritten, sometimes unconscious sexual rule book. Some of the rules in our book came from how we were raised. Plan a date night out or a quiet evening after the kids are in bed to consider these questions:

  1. What gets me upset in bed?
  2. What in general, most fulfills me sexually?
  3. What makes me lose interest in sex?
  4. What generates the most interest in sex?
  5. What sexual request or act creates the most fear in me?

Now step back and ask yourself why this might be so? You want to ask yourself these questions and bring the “hidden influence out into the open: Once you understand the influence, you can decide whether it’s a healthy or unhealthy one. You can choose to keep it or, if it’s hindering your marriage, get rid of it. (pgs. 26-27)

Practice connecting physically throughout the day, whether it’s

  • a lingering kiss in the morning,
  • a prolonged hug when you both return home at the end of the day
  • brushing each other secretly as you pass in the kitchen
  • rubbing your spouse’s shoulders after dinner.

These small acts of kindness are building blocks to a deeper Physical Intimacy. And it’s a great, non-threatening way to start.

Physical Intimacy Prayer:

Father,

Thank you for the hope and help You promise us if we will ask. So today we come asking that You will help us talk about this very important topic in our marriage. Give us the right words to describe what is going on in our hearts regarding Physical Intimacy. Help us both to be vulnerable and honest. May our words reveal our need accurately. I want my spouse to know my love for them is real, and that I am willing to do the hard work to make it strong and exciting. All of this is for Your glory to a watching world. Our children and our grandchildren need to see Christ’s love for the church reflected in how we love each other. May our love be genuine by the grace You supply.

In Jesus’ Name we ask,

Amen

Physical Intimacy Scripture:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:24-25 ESV (emphasis added)

Physical Intimacy Recommended Resource:

Recommended Resource available on Amazon

Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Physical | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

One Key To Growing Strong Marriages

Last night we celebrated the end of our 8th Marriage Community Group. We have dreamt for years of having couples into our home for the sole purpose of building stronger marriages. What began in 2016 as a beta group, has evolved into a ministry within our church that is by God’s grace bearing much fruit.

We marvel at the fact that we have had nearly 50 couples so far, with another group planned in January. We have welcomed couples married only months to those married for decades. Couples of all races and religious backgrounds. Some go to our church, and some from other churches. We have walked with them through job losses, miscarriages, parental issues and unresolved conflicts.

Regardless of how many years they’ve shared or from where they’ve come, all have quickly realized healthy marriages require constant attention. And we are no exception to this rule.

We’ve heard it said, “The best way to really know a topic is to have to teach it.”

Nothing inspires study as being accountable in this way. Tom and I have had many challenges in our own marriage as we’ve worked through this material in the past four years. We are grateful for those willing to speak into our marriage and help us overcome conflicts and misunderstandings. We are a better “us” as a result of leading these marriage groups. Gratefulness abounds!

Have you considered starting a marriage group in your local church? It doesn’t have to be formal, but can start organically through relationships you already have. Community is a great way to grow your marriage.

Five Tips To Help You Begin A Marriage Community Group:

  1. Find couples who want to grow their marriage and are willing to meet together on a regular basis.
  2. Choose to read a book together. We highly recommend Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish. He provides DVDs that go with the book as well as a workbook. All are tools to help your group stay focused and challenged.
  3. Share meals at each other’s homes, or gather at a favorite restaurant.
  4. Plan double dates in between meetings to grow your friendships.
  5. Ask good questions of each other. Questions are a great way to break the ice and take the conversations to a deeper level. Check out our Date Night Questions on the tab at the top of this page. Some wouldn’t be appropriate for others, but many could be used in a group setting.

Above all, be intentional in your marriage. It really makes a difference. Don’t let conflicts go unresolved. They won’t go away–they will fester and come back worse than when the conflict first started.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt:

Talk about what couples would be the best influence to help take your marriage to the next level. Discuss what you admire about them and which of their character qualities you would love to see in your own marriage.

Date Night Idea:

Plan a double date with this couple to share with them the things you admire about them. Ask them good questions to find out how they got to where they are. And most of all express your gratefulness for their influence in your life.

(If you don’t have a couple, pray and ask God to lead you to someone you can glean from in your marriage. He loves to answer these kind of prayers!)

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Thankfulness | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Intimacy In Marriage: Our Poll Results

Our Poll Results for the Five Intimacies in marriage

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

It’s been three months since we asked you to take a poll letting us know one or two areas where your marriage is most in need. We had a great response, thank you!

Our Current Need For Marriage Help poll results:

  • 15%   Spiritual Intimacy – helping each other grow in your relationship with the Lord
  • 30%   Physical Intimacy – sexual vulnerability, honesty, mismatched libido, fear, shame 
  • 5%     Intellectual Intimacy – helping each other learn and discover new likes and   interests, as well as support the ones you already know 
  • 18%   Cherishing Us – date nights, romantic ideas, building your spouse up to be the best they can be
  • 20%   Emotional Intimacy – connecting with each other heart to heart.
  • 10%   Struggles with addiction, anger, shame, bitterness, unforgiveness, fears

Physical Intimacy is by far the greatest need, according to our poll. We want to spend concerted time sharing with you encouragement, resources and help in this area of intimacy. We hope to do this in a way that will embolden you to lean in to each other as you pursue growth and change.

Join us every Thursday as we share an in-depth post about how to grow in your physical intimacy as husband and wife. We will provide a Physical Intimacy Prompt to use on your weekly date night to help you talk about this together. We will also end each post with a prayer for you to use in asking God for His help in changing this area of your marriage for His glory. 

“Intimacy is about sharing something with your spouse that you don’t share with anybody else. It’s letting [your spouse] in. It’s laughing together. And it’s also feeling that deep hunger for each other!”
Sheila Wray Gregoire, Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesn’t Happen by Accident

We encourage you to purchase the book we will be using in our series. It’s titled Sheet Music, by Dr. Kevin Leman. Our posts will refer to his advice and tips as a marriage counselor and psychologist.

Recommended Resource available on Amazon

Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman

 

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Emotional, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Can I Be Honest?

I recently talked with a wife who said she was finally in a place in their marriage where she could be honest with her husband. They didn’t have a bad marriage. But they had settled and weren’t working to make their marriage grow. Being challenged by close friends helped them see their need to pursue growth in their relationship. It has only been weeks, and they are already seeing improvement.

We have discovered this is quite common in many marriages. Just because you’ve been married for decades doesn’t guarantee your marriage is thriving. It may only be surviving. It takes honesty and transparency to grow a strong, healthy marriage. As well as a willingness to make time to communicate.

Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re being less than honest with your spouse:

1. When upset with your spouse do you tend to not say anything?

2. Do you find yourself still thinking about what upset you the next day? Do you convince yourself you can overlook it?

3. Are you afraid of how your spouse will react if you told them how you really feel?

4. Does your spouse make you feel as if your opinion is always wrong and they are in the right?

5. Do you believe it’s a sign of a healthy marriage to never fight?

6. Do you believe your perspective isn’t valid?

7. Have you tried to be honest and your spouse didn’t listen?

8. Are you hiding something and are afraid of them finding out your secret?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you are not being honest. And honestly? You’ve got work to do.

The good news is it’s never too late to make the needed changes.

We encourage you to seek help from a friend, pastor or counselor. Marriage is not meant to be lived from separate corners of the house. You didn’t marry a roommate, you married your lover, your friend.

Ask God to help you be completely honest. I’m sure He loves to answer those kinds of prayers. Maybe soon you’ll be sharing with a friend how God has helped you and your spouse be completely honest with each other. Once you’ve discovered the freedom there is in honesty, you’ll never want to go back to your corner of the house. At least not alone. 🙂

“Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.” – Proverbs 24:26 ESV

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Emotional, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Near Miss

All marriages experience emergency situations. Are you prepared for them when they hit?

Sometimes we have a near miss and don’t even realize it, but not this time. This time I happened to be looking out our window at 35,000′ when a Southwest Jet flew by our window going in the opposite direction. It was really close. Close enough that the pilots could have waved at each other as they passed.

It was a near miss that could have been tragic!

There are probably close to 200 passengers on our flight and most didn’t even see the jet; it happened so fast. But I saw it and for a second fear gripped me thinking of the “what if’s”. I’m tempted to ask the pilot about it as we exit the plane.

But God!

He is the ultimate pilot of every circumstance we face. I don’t have to fear the “what if’s” because He is in control of my life. I trust Him.

What about the near misses we have in our marriage? An unexpected conflict comes up out of the blue, and you have a choice to make: Swerve to avoid impact, or keep going full speed ahead. It happens so quickly that the impact can happen before you know it.

How many of us have memorized the emergency procedures set up on airplanes? If we’re honest, most of us tune out the instructions. If there were an actual emergency requiring the use of the various safety devices we would all struggle to remember what the flight attendant said before take-off. We would do well to pay attention.

The same applies to our marriages. Have you taken the time to consider the safety features of marriage?

  • Seat Belt – This is like our vows keeping us safely in place. You can’t wander off without making a conscious decision to undo the seatbelt.
  • Oxygen Mask – Sometimes the pressure changes drastically in your relationship. So much so that it takes your breath away. This is when it is good to pause and breathe fresh grace into your marriage. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Don’t panic thinking the worst. You are on the same team and working to help each other through the crisis.
  • Flotation Device – Sometimes the crash is inevitable. It happens to the best of marriages, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Seek outside help when necessary. Trained counselors are there to come alongside you to help you make it safely back to solid ground.
  • Emergency Exits (marked by lights on the aisle) – God’s Word provides us with wisdom to know how to escape conflict. His Word promises to be a light to our path and a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105). All we must do is ask Him to show us the way, and He will!

Are you aware of the near misses in your marriage? If so, thank God for His kindness in leading you and protecting you. Have you ended up in a devastating emergency you didn’t see coming? What did God show you through the crisis?

Emotional Intimacy Prompt – Plan time to answer the above questions. It is good to look back with thanksgiving for what God has done. And it is good to revisit past conflicts and learn from it to help you plan better for the next one.

Near misses are inevitable in this life. How we handle the emergency makes all the difference.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Conflict | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Choices and Voices

Choices. We make them everyday. But are they good for your marriage?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Choices. We make them everyday, all day long!

What motivates the choices we make? Now that’s a question worth considering.

Today Tom and I had another one of those moments that we don’t like. It was not that big a deal, except it was. {sigh}

He said something loud because he thought I was farther away than I was. So I said something back louder wanting to know why he was talking so loud. He couldn’t hear me so he said something louder. (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but the tension was real!)

Normally, we would have laughed it off. But not this time. It just wasn’t funny. I was irritated and so was he.  However, we did make a choice…

We chose to talk about it.

This made all the difference in what happened next. Our day went on as planned. It didn’t ruin anything.

All couples have moments like these. We can’t avoid them, nor should we. You read that right! We learn much about ourselves and our spouse when we let our guards down. It is good for us to remember that there is still work to do, even after 40 years together. There is no easy road in marriage. We know that. We teach that. We remind others of that. But communication on the rocky road is necessary, even for us, to find the way out of the danger zone.

Choices and voices matter.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: What choices are you currently making in your marriage? Are they navigating you to a safe place or deeper into the danger zone? What motivates those choices? Talk about it!

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

But God!

But God, He leads us through the Valley of the shadow of death.

I have contemplated writing this post for a week. Not sure what to say to offer help for your marriage when we are struggling with our own dark valley. When we asked for your prayers in our last post we had no idea how much those prayers would be what would sustain us. Each step on this unfamiliar path has been painful, uncertain and dark.

But God!

He knows where He is leading us. It isn’t around the darkness, but through the darkness where we are discovering how precious the promise is that says,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

What a great God who promises to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. Therefore we will fear no evil, not even the evil caused by this horrific disease called PANDAS. 

But God!

I have seen God cause Norah to do things she was vehemently refusing to do. Every time she would refuse, I would send out a prayer alarm to help her do what she couldn’t do in her own strength. Every.time.it.worked!

How I wanted God to remove us from this valley. But instead He wanted to show us His faithfulness in the darkness. I couldn’t see Him. I couldn’t feel His presence. I couldn’t think long enough to pray effectively, or so I thought. Oftentimes the best prayers are those whispered in desperation, “Please God, help!”

This is by far the hardest thing we have walked through in our marriage. Our communication has been on misfire more than we like. Our emotions as well as our faith have been stretched thin. There has been no time to connect on any level.

But God!

He is teaching us that we can’t rely on our own strength to sustain us. No matter how well we may be doing in our marriage, there are some crosses we have to bear that will take us to the end of our selves. And it is here that we discover our greatest need has been met. Christ in us, our hope of glory.

What dark valley are you walking through today? It may be in your marriage or in the circumstances of your life. Whatever the valley, God is there walking with you. He isn’t a bystander watching and waiting for us to prove our abilities. No, He knows we are dust, yet he loves us. He sent His Son to die for us and rise again in victory so that no dark valley could ever separate us from Him.

Tom and I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit rise up in us to be there and say things to Norah that needed to be done or said. He has been faithful through it all. Even in our lack of connecting as husband and wife, He has been connecting with us individually giving us the strength to go beyond our own ability.

We aren’t through it yet, though we are home. We are tired. We have much to process and talk through. Norah continues to fight each day for normal, something we have all taken for granted. But she is out of the downward spiral and for this we are grateful!

But God!

He reminds us again of these precious promises…

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

How can we pray for you today? Please feel free to share your requests in the comments. We know that God is able and ready to hear our cries and answer from Heaven. We only must ask!

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Grandparenting, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Asking for Prayer

Last I posted I shared how I had been sick. Thank God I am well, but our granddaughter is in the biggest battle of her 12 year old life.

Tom and I drove to Atlanta a month ago to help and have been with them ever since. We are believing God is restoring Norah to health, but it will take time.

We wanted to share her story with you for two reasons:

1. To bring awareness to this horrible disorder that is effecting the lives of hundreds if not thousands of children every year. It is called PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neurological Disorder Associated with Strep. There is a 20/20 special on Netflix about it that we encourage you to watch in order to be informed and able to help others who may be facing a similar nightmare as we have!

2. To ask for you to pray for Norah. She is a fighter and has done all she can to keep going by the grace God supplies. You can read more about her journey by clicking on the following link.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/healing-for-norah?pc=fb_dn_postdonate_r&rcid=r01-156786423474-f2e69a65374c4067&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb_dn_postdonate_r

We will be back sharing with you encouragement for your marriage once this crisis is over. Thank you for understanding and mostly for your prayers!

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Blessings!

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Grandparenting, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Seasons of Life | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Try Something New For A Change

Photo from Ollie Gabriel’s music video, Something New

It’s been two weeks since my last post, and I’m still struggling to get well. Since I don’t want to leave you hanging, I figured a quick update would be good.

Being home for what seems like forever, I have been binge watching lots of shows on TV. My new favorite is Songland on NBC.  The premise of the show is for four song writers to pitch their original song to a panel of three producers and one famous artist. After hearing all the songs in their rough cut form, the artist chooses their three favorites to go forward by working with one of the producers. The producer’s job is then to help the song writer make it the best fit for the artist.

Finally, the finished songs are performed once again in front of the artist who chooses the one they want to record. The best part in my opinion is that the song is available  immediately at the end of the show for purchase or to stream on Spotify.

The only drawback is when the song you love isn’t chosen. This happened to me last week; John Legend didn’t pick my favorite by Ollie Gabriel titled, Something New. You can imagine how thrilled I was to see it had been released by Ollie himself on You Tube.

Ollie shared that the inspiration for the song was his grandparents lifelong love and commitment to each other. He said his generation had forgotten how beautiful it is when a couple chooses to stay together for a lifetime. He encourages his listeners:

“Try, try, try something new for a change.

Try, try, try, bring back that old thing again, something new.

Bring back that old kind of lovin’, the kind that don’t leave, that don’t bend, that don’t break.”

YES!

Life passes too fast. We must purpose to make the most of every chance we have to slow down and embrace the moment. Why not pause and invite your spouse to slow dance with you. See if this song doesn’t follow you as it has me for the last week.

 

Posted in Aging, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, In Sickness, Love Songs, Music, Romantic Ideas, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Spouse is Sick and Tired

Photo by twinsfisch on Unsplash

We have all been there. Schedules have to be adjusted and plans canceled. It’s never fun when sickness hits your spouse. How prepared are you to love and cherish your spouse when they get sick and tired?

I am posting today from our bed and it’s 3:45 in the afternoon. Not where I like to be this time of day, but it’s a must for me. I have been fighting this thing for over a month now and doctor’s orders are for me to lay low for the next three weeks. What?! I don’t have time to be sick and tired. But.I.am.

Tom has been great to help me by doing things around the house. I love that about him. He is a servant at heart in all seasons.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because I am taking a break from the blog for the next couple of weeks. Our kids and grandkids will be visiting and I want to spend my limited energy on them.

We are getting a great response to our survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, won’t you please do so? We want to provide helpful posts relevant to current areas of need. This will also help us know what topics to focus on once I’m better. You can find the survey by going to the post right before this one.

We are grateful for each of you and the way you continually encourage us in our ministry. Enjoy the final days of Summer.

Blessings,

Debi

Posted in Christian Marriage, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Seasons of Life | Tagged , | 9 Comments

What Are Your Top Two?

Talking to others about your current struggles is what all marriages need.

Photo by Taylor Hernandez on Unsplash

We all have areas in our marriage that are in need of attention. What we do with these areas is the defining difference between a healthy marriage and an unhealthy marriage. Having a church community of friends who know and love us has helped us make it thus far. And we are doing our part to give away to younger couples what we have so generously received.

What does caring for other marriages look like for us?

  1. We have regular meetings in our home throughout the year encouraging couples in all stages of their marriage.
  2. Whenever we get with a married couple this question is asked, “How are you doing in your marriage?”
  3. After we ask the above question, we listen and ask more questions to understand their struggle. The conversation ends up being encouraging for all of us as we are reminded of the importance of marriage from God’s perspective.
  4. We read marriage books. We recommend them and we often give them away.
  5. We read other marriage blogs and look for ways to encourage their marriages as well. No marriage is exempt from needing encouragement and help.
  6. We realize we aren’t experts, but we care. Surrendering this to God allows us to be used as He desires, whenever and wherever He chooses.

We would love to be able to sit with you and your spouse to ask you how you are doing in your marriage? Since this isn’t possible, we did the next best thing; We have created a poll to find out your current struggles in marriage. Won’t you take a couple of minutes and answer the question honestly.

Our desire is for The Romantic Vineyard to be a place of hope and help in your relationship. Your answers will help us to that end as we will spend the rest of this month addressing the top two areas. So…

What are your top two?

 
Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

From Darkness To Light – Take Our Marriage Poll

Bringing light to the dark places of your marriage in need of change.

Photo by Jarrod Reed on Unsplash

Light. It has a way of providing direction when we need it most. Have you ever experienced total darkness? The kind where you can’t see your hand in front of your face? I have and it can be paralyzing.

We visited Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee years ago and I will never forget being in the back of the cave. They provided benches for us to sit on while they turned off all the lights. With one flick of the switch we were in total darkness. I didn’t like it and was relieved when the light returned.

Difficulty in marriage can feel like this. We get stuck in the dark and aren’t sure how to find our way out into the light of understanding. If left alone it can drive you crazy and make you feel alone even if you aren’t.

With a new month we would like to devote time addressing areas in your marriage in need of help. We have created the following poll to allow you to anonymously share your honest answers.

While we are not professional marriage counselors, we care deeply about marriages. We want yours to succeed. And we want to know the topics which are of most importance to you and your spouse right now. We will take the top answers and spend time this month discussing them at length. We will share what some of our favorite pastors and authors have to say on the topic, as well as things we have learned ourselves. We pray this series will prove to be helpful and allow the light to shine brightly again in your relationship.

Thank you for taking the time to do this, and please, feel free to share this post with your married friends.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Emotional, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Sexual Intimacy, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Five Friday Favorites – Retired Life

Tom retired a year ago, after what I like to call three soft-landings. It was strange for him to switch from a “work to save for retirement” mentality to a “let’s live on what we’ve saved for retirement” mindset. I get it. Such a paradigm shift for those who have spent their entire lives working. He enjoyed his career, but he has learned to embrace retirement. It has become my favorite season so far!

Which leads me to this week’s Friday Favorites List:

What We Love About Retired Life:

  1. Slow Mornings – We have a slow morning routine. We have our quiet time separately, but together. We talk about what the Lord impressed on us during our time, which we never were able to do while he was working. After this we fix breakfast–either he will cook or I do, whoever is in the mood. Or sometimes we cook together.
  2. Free To Move About The Country, (As Tom likes to say) – Since all of our married kids and our 8 grandchildren live in three different states, it’s nice to pick-up and go when we can. This year has been a bit challenging as Tom is helping his Dad care for his ailing Stepmom. They live in CA. I am grateful Tom has had the means as well as the time to go and help him. We look forward to a long-awaited vacation this Fall in Montana. Someplace we have never been.
  3. Dates Anytime We Want – Our weekly dates nights have been on Monday nights most of our marriage. Now we can call any day a date. We have, and we will! 🙂
  4. Household Responsibilities – There are parts of housekeeping that I have never enjoyed. Mopping is my least favorite, and cleaning the shower is right up there with it. It just so happens that Tom enjoys these chores and doesn’t mind doing them. Yay! That’s a win-win for both of us. It gives me more time to write for me and bake for him.
  5. Ministry – More often then not we are able to say yes to ministry opportunities. We host a Marriage Community Group in our home in 6 month intervals. It has been a dream come true for both of us. Our next group begins on Sunday night where we will take 8 couples through Gary Thomas’ excellent series on, Cherish, the one word that changes everything.

Retirement comes with adjusting to a new norm. If you know this going in, it won’t surprise you like it did us. We have finally found our stride , and we are sprinting to the finish line in the grace God supplies.

_______________________

Intimacy Prompt: Talk about what your retirement will look like based on the choices you are making today. It will be here sooner than you know. Those who plan for the future aren’t surprised by the shift in seasons.

Helpful Tip: Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else by saving, so that one day you can give like no one else when retired.”

Posted in Aging, Caring for Parents, Christian Marriage, Five Friday Favorites, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Open Nest, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Our Emotional Roller Coaster

I hate roller coasters. They throw off your equilibrium and make you have to regain footing once you're back on solid ground. Not to mention the unexpected twists, turns and drops along the way. I'd rather not take part, thank you very much.  This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. All the above applies.  But unlike choosing to buy a ticket to ride or not, I found myself on this one unaware until the first drop. 

I hate roller coasters. They throw off your equilibrium and make you have to regain footing once you’re back on solid ground. Not to mention the unexpected twists, turns and drops along the way. I’d rather not take part, thank you very much.

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. All the above applies.  But unlike choosing to buy a ticket to ride or not, I found myself on this one unaware until the first drop.

We don’t have to tell you that we are passionate about seeing marriages thrive for the glory of God. And when we hear of marriages ending, it is heart wrenching for all those affected by it.

This past week alone we have received…

…SAD NEWS

  • We learned about a marriage of 20 years with a huge influence that is ending in divorce. While we don’t know all the reasons for the decision, we know that divorce is painful.
  • We followed the updates of a dear friend who is watching his wife of 30 years lose her battle against cancer. He and their children are all by her side as they say their final goodbyes. (Update: She entered Heaven’s gate before this post was finished.)
  • Tom traveled to CA to help his Dad care for his Stepmom who is suffering from complications after breaking her hip in April. This is his 3rd trip in four months.

…GOOD NEWS

  • We attended the celebration of a dear friend who at 60 years of age has found the love of her life.
  • We read a FB message from dear friends in Ukraine who’s daughter got married yesterday. It is the first of their four children to tie the knot and what a celebration!

I believe the good news sprinkled into such a heartbreaking week is God’s grace extended to us.

Tom knew of my struggle and felt bad that he was so far away. I was fighting sickness, feeling sad, and physically weak. Being alone with my thoughts can often be a temptation to fear and anxiety, so Tom wanted to help in some way. I mentioned that I really wanted a hamburger but didn’t think I could drive to get one. The next thing I knew the doorbell rang with an Uber Eats delivery from Backyard Burger for me! It made my day!

Having a spouse who knows you well and cares for you in ways no one else can is a gift. This is why we are passionate to help marriages stay the course. It’s not so much the big moments in your lives as it is the tiny mundane moments that reveal the depth of your love and commitment to each other.

Are you in a rough place in your relationship? Do all you can to work on it. Ignoring it will not make it go away. It will only fester and cause more pain. Every marriage has them. A healthy marriage uses adversity as a spring board to a better place of intimacy and understanding. Who knows? We may get to the place where the roller coaster is actually fun when we face it together.

———————————-

Intimacy Prompt: Pay attention to little requests your spouse makes. Then do all you can to see it happens. Such acts of service will help cultivate a healthy marriage.

Helpful Tip: What works for us may not be what will work for your marriage. Remember just as our gifts vary in the church, so too our strengths and weaknesses vary from marriage to marriage.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”

– 1 Corinthians 12:14-18 ESV

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Caring for Parents, Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Seasons of Life | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Vintage Post – Rainy Date Ideas

11 Rainy Date Ideas

Photo by Thomas Grams on Unsplash

Since we are having so much rain on the east coast this summer, I figured it’s a good time to inspire some creative date nights. The following was originally posted on May 28, 2009.

The rainy season is upon us, and this can put a real damper on a planned date (pun intended).  So, why not plan a date with the rain in mind?  Here are some great ideas to do when it’s raining!

  1. Using a large umbrella, go for a walk around a local park or lake in the rain.  Feeling adventurous?  Forget the umbrella!
  2. Ten Dollar Mall Challenge – Take the money you would have spent going to dinner or a movie and divide it equally between yourselves.  Go to the nearest mall and split up purposing to find the best deal with your ten dollar bill.  As an added challenge – the purchase has to be something your spouse would enjoy.  Plan to meet at a certain mall location for ice cream to reveal your purchase.  For extra fun, decide ahead of time what the winner will receive!
  3. Go to the library or bookstore and look for books on topics you both enjoy.  If you like to travel, spend the time looking at places you’d love to visit.
  4. Go bowling.  This is a great way to have fun, but still have time to talk.  Plus you can’t beat bowling alley hamburgers and fries – simply the best!
  5. Go to a local pool hall.  This is a great sport that anyone can play – and it’s fun to flirt with your spouse around the dimly lit table.
  6. Personal photo shoot – put the kids to bed early and have fun taking pictures of each other in different outfits and poses; the sillier the clothes the better.  Once finished take time to edit your pictures and make a personal album that’s sure to make you smile on rainy days.
  7. Take your favorite board game, cards or a puzzle to either a coffee shop or bookstore, and spend the evening together.  Sit close to a window so you can enjoy the rain from your cozy seat inside.
  8. Take a drive to the beach or lake and enjoy watching the rain from your car.  Put on some romantic music and pack some favorite snacks.  You can even purpose to listen to a specific artist, or make your own CD of songs about rain!
  9. Read a book to each other by candle light.  This is especially romantic if it’s lightning outside.
  10. Play Flashlight tag.  This one is simple and is played at home.  Turn off all the lights and search for each other using only a flashlight.  You can make up your own rules as well as who wins what when found.
  11. Watch a classic movie like “Singing In The Rain”.

What are your rainy date ideas?  We would love to add yours to the list – simply scroll down to leave your comments!  

Posted in Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Rainy Day Dates, romantic date nights, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Not This Time

Change. We change clothes daily. We change our schedules to meet demands. We change our attitudes when it’s hurting others. Change can be easy if it’s something we want to do. But not all change is easy.

I have found changing routines takes the most effort for me. If we have had a bad habit it takes commitment to change our normal. If we have ignored things, it is difficult to make ourselves see the need, much less resolve to do it. But…

Change is necessary for growth.

In marriage we have a benefit that those who live alone don’t. We have someone to help us see what we don’t see. And they encourage us to change those things we may not ever notice left to ourselves.

Today I’m thinking in very practical terms. We have lived in our home for going on 27 years. It isn’t a visibly cluttered home, but the need is there. Drawers that haven’t seen the light of day in years contain things we no longer need. Closets that once held our children’s clothes are now stacked with boxes of all kinds of things.

I am a sentimentalist. I can attach meaning to almost anything and find it difficult to get rid of things. I can’t tell you how many times my hand has hovered over a trash can not sure if I could throw something away–forever!

This is where I must once again talk to myself instead of listen to myself. I can make all kinds of excuses. My resolve must be to change how I’ve always been to embrace a new, less-cluttered home.

Change comes at a cost.

I must give my full commitment to embrace the change or it won’t last. It will become another resolution tossed on the floor of forgotten convictions. May it not be so this time!

What changes are you needing to make in your life? Your marriage? Your home? Set the stage for change by opening the curtain and letting others see your struggle.

———————————-

Intimacy Prompt: Ask your spouse in what ways they see a need for change in your life, their life or in your marriage? You may want to give them time to think about this before discussing it on your next date night.

Helpful Tip: Make a list of changes needed. Give yourself a reasonable deadline to finish. Plan a reward for completing your task.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11 ESV

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Open Nest, Priorities | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – Turning 60, Off To A Good Start

On Wednesday I awoke with the realization that time passes so quickly. How did I get to 60? I don’t feel 60 most days, but recently I feel older than that. I have been fighting an ongoing health issue–not serious, but certainly annoying. On top of this, my favorite thing to do for birthdays is to gather as a family and celebrate. But with our kids all living out-of-state, those days are pretty much over. We get together when we can, but it rarely happens on specific days, like birthdays. Normally I am fine with it, but this year was a bigger struggle. It led me to pray and seek God leading up to my BIG day. I somewhat dreaded it.

Why am I telling you all about this? I am sharing this because this is real life. We all face huge disappointments and discouragement. This post is not about me as much as it is about Tom and how he managed to give me the best birthday in the midst of my emotional and physical struggle.

Here is my list commending Tom for his care and love for me.

1. Gift – He gave me a nice tri-pod for my new camera to aid in capturing great photos. This is my newest hobby and one I am enjoying more than I ever thought I would.

2. Shopping – I had mentioned in sharing my heart-ache with him how I missed going shopping with my Mom. We would go to the mall and walk around and look, talk, have lunch and just enjoy being out together. When we got to the store he kept following close behind me. He even said, “I want to be like your friends so just enjoy yourself.” So sweet, but I told him my friends don’t follow close behind me like a puppy dog. They go looking at things themselves. We laughed realizing there are limits to his ability to fill the gap of shopping with my Mom or girlfriends. And I’m ok with that for sure!

3. Lunch – Tom had arranged for us to have lunch at a really nice restaurant in the mall. He had called ahead telling them it was my birthday. It was like when we were first dating and he had thought out what we would do and where we would eat. I loved it! Our white-linen table was decorated with rose petals and confetti and included a hand-written birthday card from our server. It was a special time together–and the food was amazing! 🙂

4. Dinner – Tom heard me say a while back that I was wanting crab legs again like we had on vacation on Pawley’s Island. He dropped me off at Starbucks to get my birthday treat while he “ran an errand”. That errand was to pick up the crab legs to make at home for dinner. He had invited another couple over to eat with us who also love crab legs.

5. Out for the evening – I love to go to this place in town called “M” Bar. It is owned by a man who owns dozens of classic British sports cars. He has them on display inside this warehouse that he has turned into a place to gather. There are free video games, pinball machines and lots of cozy spots to sit and enjoy with others. I was surprised when another couple showed up to join us. We relaxed, laughed and celebrated together.

I had a wonderful birthday. Tom listened to my heart and did all he could to give me the gift of presence. And he sprinkled it in with things I love to do. I didn’t think once about my disappointments or struggles–such a gift to be able to help me do that!

I think my 60’s are off to a good start.

——————————————

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: What can you do today to alleviate the stress, disappointment or struggles your spouse is facing? Listen to them and take notes. Hints are often given as passing comments.

Posted in Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Emotional, Encouraging Your Spouse, Five Friday Favorites, Intimacy, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Time To Stop Listening, And Start Talking Loud And Clear

The title may seem backwards, but it’s not. I’m not talking about listening to others. I’m talking about how often we listen to our own thoughts and allow them to inform our mood for the day. Instead, we should speak the TRUTH to ourselves and stop listening to the lies the enemy whispers.

I’ve had quite the battle recently on many fronts. I realize this is  because I have stopped speaking the TRUTH to myself. My thoughts when left unchecked never lead to anything uplifting or positive. I end up discouraged, disappointed or worse–angry. None of those are how I want to spend my time, especially if I have it in my ability to thwart it.

How about you? Are you listening more to yourself or speaking the TRUTH to yourself?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 NIV

It’s time we start talking loud and clear.

———————-

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: What struggles are you having in your thought-life? What TRUTH do you think would help you battle those thoughts?

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Emotional, Intimacy, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , | 4 Comments