Intimacy and Sex: How Men and Women are Different— and Why

intimacy
Although couples often argue about sex, they rarely talk about it. Try to talk and pray together about your sex life at least once a month.
by Dr. Juli Slattery

The first path to a satisfying sex life is through increased knowledge of your spouse’s sexual mindset.

Guys, one of your challenges is to understand the incredible complexity of your wife’s sexuality. I recommend reading The Way to Love Your Wife by Cliff and Joyce Penner. Gals, we need help understanding our husbands’ struggles and temptations. My eyes were opened after I read about the sexual temptations men face. As you read, talk openly about what you are learning.

I’ve already mentioned the need to become a student of your spouse. The greatest roadblock to this is a lack of communication. Although couples often argue about sex, they rarely talk about it. Consider discussing your insecurities, temptations, turn-ons and turn-offs. Try to talk and pray together about your sex life at least once a month. Because these topics are so sensitive, be a sympathetic and supportive listener.

Accept what you can’t understand. In all my efforts to understand my husband, I eventually became frustrated with the gender gap that we could never bridge. We could talk until we had no words left and still not know what it feels like to be in the other person’s skin.

The problem was rooted in the fact that neither of us had accepted what we could not understand: Men often view sex as a physical release and a way to reconnect with their wives, while women tend to see it as an outgrowth of their emotional intimacy.

Gals, we struggle to understand why men are tempted visually. Guys, you may not understand the emotional energy sex requires from your wife. (What makes matters more complicated is our own human shortcomings and selfishness.)

There comes a point when we have to move beyond understanding and come to a place of acceptance. God simply created men and women differently. When we genuinely accept each other, without judgment and resentment, we can begin to enjoy our differences.

I have often wondered why God made men and women so different. Wouldn’t it have been easier and more pleasurable if we had the same needs, drives and preferences?

These differences are actually designed to show us how to give ourselves to each other in love. According to the Bible, true love can be expressed only through unselfishness.

Were it possible for me to love my husband while pursuing my own selfish desires, I would never know the beauty of real love. A great sex life is only possible as both the husband and wife commit to laying their needs down for the other.

One of God’s great gifts for us is marital sex. Through it, we gain an even richer blessing: the experience of loving and being loved unselfishly.

The article originally appeared in the February 2007 edition of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007 by Juli Slattery. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission

Defending Your Marriage Against Mediocrity

Defending Your Marriage Against Mediocrity
When couples compromise on obedience to God, their marriages drift towards mediocrity. Abundant marriage, however, is within reach when attending to five key areas.
by Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr.

Chip and Sandy are like many married couples who say, “We’re making it” in marriage. Recently I asked Sandy, “Do you ever feel great about your marriage?” She paused, clearly uncomfortable with the question, and replied, “My husband doesn’t abuse me, doesn’t cheat on me and hasn’t left me. I would say that I am blessed.”

Indeed, God has blessed Chip and Sandy. But, Sandy’s response left me pondering the meaning of “great” marriage. God wants us to have not only life but to experience it abundantly (3 John 2). Yet, Sandy seems more aware of what is thankfully absent than nourished by what is abundantly present.

Maybe I should have asked Sandy a different question: “Does God occupy the center of your marriage?” After all, a God-centered marriage assures God’s blessings upon the marriage covenant, fosters authentic partnership and models genuine love for others.

Many couples fall short on this point because God is pushed to the margin of the relationship. These couples have a sense of God, but they may compromise on obedience to His Word. They may pray for God’s presence in their decisions, but lack the patience to wait for God’s timing. They may seek more godly influences in their lives, yet their jam-packed schedules leave little room for meaningful relationships. The Apostle Paul describes this phenomenon as a form of godliness, but one lacking its power (2 Timothy 3:5). These power-deficient marriages are mediocre. Are you settling for the mediocre in your marriage?

Avoiding the Threat of Mediocre Marriage
The secular influences that surround us can exact a toll on marriage. Protecting your marriage against these stressors requires effort in five areas: unconditional commitment to the marriage, trust, respect, healthy boundaries and protected couple time.

Unconditional Commitment. Secular western culture defines individual happiness and satisfaction as the endpoint of marriage. While these are good things, we may have lost the equally critical concept of commitment. Despite culture’s prioritization of pleasure and convenience, God expects us to be committed to Him and to our marriage regardless of how satisfied we feel at the moment. This requires an abundance of forgiveness, grace and humility between husbands and wives, even in the face of difficult circumstances.
Increased Trust. Many Christian marriages lack godly trust yet fail to realize it. Similar to Sandy’s response, many Christian couples think of trust only in the context of marital fidelity. However, when God is marginalized in your marriage, trust deficits are also characterized by blaming, suspiciousness, power plays, jealousy, secrecy and hidden agendas.

Increasing the level of trust in your marriage requires a commitment to care for the needs of your spouse more than your own needs. This also requires trusting that your spouse knows what they need more than you do, and honoring them. Trust, like marriage in general, only works as both you and your spouse agree to move forward together.
Increased Respect. Husbands feel respected when their wives express appreciation for what they do. Women, by contrast, feel respect when they are supported for who they are. Marital disrespect, however, almost always derives from one of three types of issues: delusions of grandeur, devalued self-worth or unchecked fears. These selfish tendencies push God into the margin — resulting in an unbalanced marriage where spouses behave defensively. Increasing respect necessitates understanding how your spouse feels respected, assessing your own control issues and praying for healing in this area.
Healthy Boundaries. Boundaries are an imaginary and internal line where your self ends and another’s self begins. There are three types of boundaries: rigid (unhealthy because they are inflexible and disinterested in the perspectives of others); enmeshed (unhealthy because they are so weak that they cannot guarantee safety); and permeable (healthy because they are strong and flexible; able to accept a learning posture while restricting influences which are unsafe for the marriage). God-centered marriages work to maintain marriages with permeable boundaries.
Increased Couple Time. Time is your most valuable asset. The value that you place in your marriage can be assessed by how much of your time is spent cultivating it. Couples voice a desire for intimate companionship. Yet, most couples spend more time microwaving dinner than investing in their marriage. The commitment, trust and respect so vital to healthy marriage are only fostered with a primary investment of time.
An Abundant Marriage
The Holy Spirit emboldens couples to resist the stressors that erode their marriage only if they move God to the center of the marriage. Abundant marriage is within your reach as you allow the Holy Spirit to reveal and heal your strengths and weaknesses. In healthier marriages, this may just require additional insight. More troubled marriages are likely to require intervention by others who are committed to the health of your marriage.

Many couples enter into marriage with false or unrealistic expectations. Some believe that marriage will solve their problems. Some do not understand that strong and rowing marriages are a result of hard work.

Copyright © 2008, Dr. Harold L. Arnold, Jr. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

If my child marries yours

If my child marries yours

Rings
If my child marries yours…

I just want you to know that I’m praying for you.

When I’m awake at night – feeding babies, burping babies, giving tylenol to a feverish toddler, covering up chilly toes, tucking green monkeys under little arms – I think of you. Because chances are, you’re awake too, doing the same sorts of things. Taking care of tiny children that I already love because they will someday hold the hearts that are beating against my chest tonight.

I’m praying that you’ll stand firm against the pressures to over commit and hyper-schedule, that you’ll shut out the voices that tell you you’re not doing enough, that your kids aren’t doing enough.

I’m praying you’ll have the wisdom to know when to pick that crying baby up out of her crib and when to just sit outside her door, your fingertips pressed to the wood, willing her to feel your love and comfort and just finally fall asleep.

I’m praying that you will take those children to church…that the mothers and fathers of our future grandchildren will grow up knowing what it means to worship, even when that means missing out-of-town basketball tournaments and marathon sleepovers.

I’m praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year you’re together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you’re creating it with.

I’m praying that you take lots of pictures so that I can see where our grandchildren got their sticky-out ears and their mischievous grins.

I’m praying that Jesus will give you just enough strength each day to keep you from losing it but not so much that you forget Who that strength comes from.

I’m praying that we will be friends.

Will you pray those things for me too?

I don’t really pray for your child. Maybe I should. My husband does that, and I think it’s wonderful. But chances are, your child is just fine. And chances are, a lot of the time, you aren’t. Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you’re very tired. And some days, you get so discouraged. Sometimes, your temper erupts, your selfishness wins, and your smile is fake. Sometimes you forget to change the baby’s diaper, to spend time being silly with your toddler, to really see your spouse. So it’s you I am praying for right now, in the still darkness, with this baby fist pressed up under my chin and this sweet, sleepy breath on my ear. May you feel these prayers when you need them the most.

We are in this together, you and I. We are building something beautiful with each onesie folded, each invisible owie kissed, each story read.

You don’t know how much it means to me that you give your children everything you have every single day…even on days when it’s not much at all. Because your child will fall asleep next to mine for fifty-some years. Your child will be the one holding my child’s hand when our first grandchild is born. And when they face the darkest days of their lives, it will be your child and mine, facing into the struggle together.

I’m pretty sure that our longest days – the ones that are brim-full with hair-pulling moments, impossible messes, and toddler meltdowns – those are the days that we are fashioning hearts. And someday, one of the hearts I’m helping create will crash into one of your love-crafted hearts, and what spills out as a result of that jolt…it’s kind of up to us. I promise to tend to these hearts with utmost care, to plant in them humility and peace and selflessness…especially selflessness. I promise to plant Jesus seeds in these hearts every chance I get. And I promise to keep praying for you.

I’m praying that you will hug your boy tight when he’s sad or lonely or scared. Because someday, my girl – all grown beautiful with babies of her own – will be sad or lonely or scared. And he’ll need to know how to hold her. Teach him.

And let your daughters hear you speak righteous words that bring life and hope. Because someday, my sons will be worn and weary, and the words you’re placing in your daughters’ minds today just might become the balm to my sons’ souls.

I’m doing my best to do the same. And sometimes…much of the time…I fail. Pray for me too.

Someday we will sit on opposite sides of the aisle…all fancy and with gobs of tissues tucked into our fists. We’ll watch our silly, sticky, sweet babies somehow transform into brides and grooms and make the same promises to one another that we ourselves have kept…against all odds and only by His grace. And we will watch these children create families of their own with the ingredients we have given them. The ingredients we are slipping into their souls today.

But until then, I’m sitting here in the dark with babies in my arms.

And I’m praying for you.

This blog was from http://teachmetobraid.blogspot.com/

Speak out for that which is good.

It has become very apparent in our society that those who are loudest seem to bully the majority. The loud cursing, vulgar and obscene display of behavior is becoming acceptable in our society as the norm.  It is my belief that we should learn from Acts 18:9-10, where the Lord speaks to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you: for I have many people in this city.”

Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. … needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

I challenge you to speak up for good, love, righteousness as an example to the world.  Scream from the mountain top what your faith in God means to a lost and hurting world.  Remember, no one will attack you to hurt you.

Joel Wiggins

 

Tips and Tools for Healthy Conflict Resolution

Tips and Tools for Healthy Conflict Resolution

by Mary J. Yerkes

Do you find yourself at odds with a close friend? Is a co-worker trying to undermine your credibility with your boss? If so, you are not alone. Opportunities for conflict are everywhere—in your home, workplace, church, and community. Your response could make or break the relationship.

Pamela Conrad understands the difference a biblical response could make. Several years ago, she received a letter from her mother-in-law that contained “20 years of pent up anger.” She had just buried her 35-year-old brother who had committed suicide and was recovering from pneumonia. Unable to reach her mother-in-law by phone, Pamela sat down to write her a letter. “I prayed it would be constructive and that I could rise above the hurt and anger to address her concerns and fears,” explains Pam. The result? “Today we are friends,” says Pam. “This was a hard turn-the-other-cheek lesson for me, but it had a wonderful outcome.”

Author and Christian counselor Leslie Vernick works with people like Pamela to resolve conflict in their relationships. She instructs clients to pray, prepare, and practice. “Pray about it,” says Vernick. “Pray for wisdom, humility and the right words. Then prepare.” She suggests they write out what they want to say and practice saying it over and over again. “One of the things I tell people when they’re practicing is to rehearse in their heads ways things could go wrong,” she says. This way, when you hit a bump in the conversation, you’re prepared to steer the conversation back on course.

Tips for Biblical Conflict Resolution

Skill and practical tools for resolving conflict are important. But, according to Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict and president of Peacemaker® Ministries: “As important as practical skills are, the focus always has to be on motive. If our desire is to honor Christ, everything else will follow.”

Keeping that in mind, here some practical tips, gleaned from professional conciliators, that can help you resolve personal conflict:

  • Define the problem and stick to the issue. Clearly define the issue and stay on topic during the discussion. Conflict deteriorates when the issue that started the conflict gets lost in angry words, past issues, or hurts tossed into the mix.
  • Pursue purity of heart. “Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5 NASB). Before approaching others regarding their faults and shortcomings, prayerfully face up to your own. Confess any way you might have contributed to the problem.
  • Plan a time for the discussion. Plan a time to meet with the other person when you are both rested and likely to respond in love to the other person’s concerns. When you are tired, stressed, and distracted with other responsibilities, things rarely will go well.
  • Affirm the Relationship. Affirm the relationship before clearly defining the problem. For example, “Our relationship is important to me. But when you don’t return my calls, I feel rejected and unimportant.” Avoid blaming the other person and saying, “You make me feel…” Instead, say, “When you do ‘A’, I feel ‘B’.”1By applying these practical tips and tools for resolving conflict to your relationships, you can turn obstacles into opportunities to demonstrate the love and power of the gospel. What’s more, you will know the deep, abiding joy that comes through obedience to God’s Word.“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
  • Listen carefully. Once you share your feelings, listen to the other person’s perspective. Lean in; be present. “One of the most powerful communication techniques I know is to listen well,” points out Sande. Make sure your body language conveys that you are open to the other’s perspective. Reflect back to the individual what you believe you have heard. For example, “I heard you say that you feel expectations from me. Is that correct?”
  • Forgive. Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. “Forgiveness is both an event and a process,” Sande says. He suggests you make forgiveness concrete with four promises:
    • I promise I won’t bring this up and use it against you in the future.
    • I promise I’m not going to dwell on it in my own heart and mind.
    • I’m not going to talk to other people about it.
    • I’m not going to let it stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.
  • Propose a solution. Remember the relationship is more important than the issue. When working toward a solution, consider Philippians 2:4-5: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Seek solutions that keep everyone’s best interests in mind.

 

Counterculture

Word for today: Counterculture
A counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.[1][2]

A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, we must be countercultural.

Editor’s Note

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Editor’s Note: I asked entrepreneur, business owner and dad Joel Wiggins to share his thoughts on the importance of fatherhood this Father’s Day. Wiggins group Men Standing in the Gap is behind the popular Triangle Father Daughter Dance and this year’s Mother Son Valentine’s Ball in February. He works to help men strengthen their bonds with their families and their communities.

When I think of the importance of dads, my first inclination is to speak on the role I play with my children. In a culture that devalues the importance of fathers, I will challenge you to consider that dads are more important than ever.

As a dad, I realize how important my leadership is to my home and the example set for my kids. We have all seen the videos of military dads surprising their children, big or small, toddler or teen. The emotion shown reflects the value. A new commercial by GM shows military dads returning and one little girls says, ¿oh, daddy.”

Dads are not just protectors in the military, but of their families. Any real dad would be willing to die at any minute if it would save just one of his children. Dads are to be the protectors of hearts and minds for their children. A dad who works two jobs, drives trucks on the lonely highways or struggles to keep the family business going so he can provide for his family is priceless.

The presence of a dad makes a noticeable difference in the lives of adult children. You show me an adult who had a loving dad who set a great example, and I will show someone of great wealth.

It is very easy to identify a person with a close relationship to their dad because they seem to shine. It is my belief, verified by many research findings, that a dad¿s presence can prevent many issues that affect our society. Poverty, dropout rates, teen pregnancy, low self-esteem, gang activity and prison rates are all decreased dramatically when a dad is present in the lives of his children.

I have pictures from a daddy-daughter dance that I have sponsored for years and almost all of the photos show a little girl who looks very much like her dad. It amazes me that when you sit a daughter on her fathers¿ knee, you see a beautiful female version of her dad.

Dads are the producers of children. We all came from a man. Mom carried us. Dad planted that seed. How important is it for the seed to know the one they came from? How important is it for a child to be spoken to with words of affirmation from their dad?

Just ask the millions of children in America who do not know what it is like to have this person in their lives. The hole left in a heart from not having this man involved will last a lifetime for many.

As I write this article, I realize I have never called a man “Daddy.” I called my stepfather by his name and did not know my biological father until I was a teen. He never earned the right to be called dad by a stubborn 16-year-old boy who was very independent.

His early death came when I was 28. Now I hear “Daddy” from my children every day.

And you know what? Being called Dad is always the highlight of my day.