Overcoming the 3 “Evils” in Marriage

There are three items that are misconstrued in life and marriage.  These three things are, for some, thought to be the work of an evil being.  However, my goal through this post is to change how you see these three items.

These items were created by God and they all have a godly purpose.  Reality is in the eyes of the beholder, and through this post, its my goal to give you new eyes to see how these three items are God’s gift to us.

The first has to do with our humanity.  This fight goes back to 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul is explaining that what we do in the body does matter.  Back in Paul’s time there were those teaching that what we did in the body did not matter because God was spirit.  Since God was spirit, He was only concerned with what we did in our spirit.  Christians can look at our humanness and say it is bad.  Why?  Because it makes them do evil things, think evil thoughts, and stops them from focusing on doing Godly things.  Just because we are weak, we interpret that to mean God made a mistake in creation when he formed our humanness.  No!  Just the opposite, it is our humanness that makes us unique.  Think about it.  Angels look on us in wonder.  The Bible says they long to understand forgiveness – something they do not get the luxury of experiencing.  We have to remember that it is God who created us and gave us flesh – who made  us human.  We are the only thing, in all of our creation, that was made in his likeness.  In fact, when God  finished with the creation story the Bible says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31a).  We have to stop looking at our humanness as a weakness and begin seeing it is as what separates us from anything else in all creation.

The second misconstrued item in a marriage is  darkness.  From an early age, we look at darkness as some type of evil.  Darkness is something that we quickly learn to fear.  Why is this though?  It was not until recently that I began reviewing this whole aspect of darkness in a new light.  What I found in the creation story, in my story, and I am sure you will find in your story as well.  We are created in darkness.  Think about it…how long were you in your mother’s womb before seeing the light of day?  Our marriages go through darkness, but rather than seeing it as an evil – my aim in this post is for you to start seeing it as place to create the best possible future.  In order for a picture to be displayed to the public, it first must be developed in the dark.  The same goes for our marriages.  In order for the good to be seen in public, the bad must be dealt with in the darkness.

Finally, conflict is something seen as either dark, evil, or bad.  However, it is through conflict that we learn to grow deeper.  It is when conflict arises that our best work is done in our relationship.  We break out of the old skin, shed the old habits, and grow into our new relationship.  Conflict is what strengthens a marriage (or relationship), it should not weaken one.

Begin to see these three items in a new light in your relationship.  If you do, then you will begin to experience peace like never before.  Which of these three items do you need the most work at seeing in a different light?

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The 3 Pursuits of a Great Marriage

Is a marriage successful if a couple has a house with a white picket fence?  What about if a couple makes such a comfortable living they want for nothing?  Finally, what if they are so generous they live one 10% and give 90% of their income away?

These are all niceties, but none of them are what makes for a successful relationship.  What does make for a successful relationship?  I feel they are items that cannot be bought nor do they come without work.

Here are three elements that I have found that make for a great marriage and worthy for two people to pursue:

1. Allow each other to be free – The relationships that are the strongest allow each other the freedom to find themselves.  They do not demand that each person only focus on the marriage; rather, each is allowed to pursue activities outside of the marriage as well.

2. Keep no record of wrongs – Conflict is an aspect to every relationship.  However, in marriages where wrongs are kept then there is no peace.  The person holding onto the hurts is left to relive the pain each day.  The person who caused the pain is left to be blamed continually for the cracks in the relationship.  Grace is the foundation of any relationship and its definitely needed in this situation.  Forgiveness is what brings healing.  However, forgiveness does not mean that one forgets what has happened.  Rather, it means that each determines to move on by choosing to remember them from a distance.

3. Give energy to the relationship I am flabbergasted at those couples, who after years of not putting focus on their relationship, wonder why they feel distant.  The most common statement that illustrates this sentiment is “I just don’t love him/her any longer.”  I don’t mean to make plight of someone’s circumstances; however, I wonder if these people realize that love is a choice and not a feeling.  What they are truly saying in this statement is that I am actively choosing not to love this person any longer.  Marriage (or any relationship for that matter) takes energy.  Energy can be seen by going on continual date nights, talking time to connect by talking and spending quality time together, and recreating together.  Now, this list is not all inclusive; of course there are more.  However, this is a good place to start.

I know there are other items that make marriage (and relationships) work, but these are the top three for me…as I think about it tonight.  Marriage is an active, liquid, and dynamic relationship between two people.  Even though, in our culture, marriage has taken a beating, it still has been proven to house the happiest and wealthiest people.  Marriage is not the issue, nor the problem.  It is the people within a marriage that are the problem.  This issue is to be expected since marriage is the making of two broken people trying to find wholeness in a relationship.

Are you married?  What are the elements that make you want to pursue being married?

Conflict Bouts

In your relationship, have you found yourself arguing about the some of the same issues?  How does this make you feel?  Do you wonder to yourself why or how you are discussing this topic again?

One of the reasons why some of these topics come back is the way each of the sexes handle conflict.  Men are more often to deal with conflict quickly and without much emotion.  Whereas, women are more cyclical when dealing with conflict.  If someone brings up an old conflict, try not taking an offense.  When they bring up old conflicts, do not look at it as they are trying to bring up old issues (or they are keeping a record or wrongs).   Rather, try to realize the other person has not experienced closure.  So, ask probing questions to help them understand what they need in order to find closure.

Second, and probably more concerning, is when a couple argues over the topics rather than the issues.  By this, I mean that couples will find themselves continually arguing (or more likely – nagging) over items that are around the heart of the matter, but not the actual issue.  This is the wife who might argue that her husband does not come home right after work.  The next time she might be frustrated that her husband seems to be hanging out more with his friends than her.  Please hear (or should I say read) me, I am not saying these could be issues.  What I am trying to say is that, the real heart to these matters might be “do you still find me attractive.”  However, rather than ask this question (where the heart of the matter is located), we will dance around this by bringing up the topics hoping our spouse gets what we are really trying to ask.  Let me just say…our spouse will NEVER GET IT.

Lastly, the other reason why conflicts come back up is that both people know there was no resolution when it was first brought up.  There are many different reasons why this happens.  However, it is best when these issues are resolved, so it is good these come back around.

When it comes to conflict, be sure to know that conflict is not bad.  Conflict does not mean that you are not heading for a divorce.  Rather, conflict is a good thing in your relationship.  It is through conflict that couples grow closer.

How do you handle conflict?  Have you found your self arguing over topics rather than issues?

Sex Week

Okay, some of you might be thinking that I am suggesting that you have sex every day for a week.  Although that might be a good challenge to take on as a couple, that is not what this post is about.  You have heard of a television network that takes a specific week to discuss Sharks, well this week has been my Sex Week…hence the title.

There is a difference between what is good and what is great.  We know this to be true in the business sector, thanks to the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.  What about in our relationship?  What about in our sex lives?  Don’t we deserve to have the great?  Not to say that at times it’s just going to be good.

How do we get the great?  The greatness comes through time.  This is why commitment is so important in having a great sex life.  When we are together with someone for a length of time we are able to unpeel the layers.  Trust is built and when this happens we allow the other person deeper access into what makes us tick.

When these recesses of our lives become open it then allows us to become freer in how we express ourselves to our partner.  If this is the case, then how do we get here?  Again, this comes by way of knowing each other is committed.

Now, what is the ultimate expression of commitment.  Is it telling someone that you love them?  Well, no, because there are those that throw that word around just to get in the sack with someone they find attractive.  Okay, then, is it moving in with someone?  This is a stronger sign of being committed.  However, the only contract in this relationship is the lease/rent agreement.  If something were to happen, there is nothing stronger than this contract keeping the two together.

The ultimate sign of commitment is found only in being married.  I know that today’s culture seems to be anti-marriage.  I believe this is mostly due to the divorce rate.  However, I believe it also has to do with how marriage is seen in the eyes of today’s youth.  Where has this change come from; especially when statistically 66% of married couples are happy.

I believe this is due to the misconceptions of those in the Baby Boomer generation.  This generation was more about obtaining goods and services their parents did not have in their lives – mostly due to the Great Depression – then staying connected to their spouse.  I see this in the “words of wisdom” these Baby Boomers spew to the younger generation.  They try to encourage young kids to wait to get married until they are in their 30’s because they learned that they changed so much from 20 to 35.  Yes, we change, but as long as you continue to communicate these changes taken on new meaning in your relationship.  These changes do not mean that couples need to divorce because they are “no longer in love.”  There is more to say, but that will be another discussion for later.

Commitment is needed to experience the best sex and this is truly only found when two couples are married.  Others would say they don’t need a piece of paper to be committed.  However, I would say if you are that committed, why not get married?

The 5 Ingredients to Great Sex

Sex is good!  Right?  If this is true, then is there situations where it is best?  To have the best sex, what would have to be in play?  This post will go through some thoughts I have on what would make for great sex.

We have already talked about how God created us to be sexual beings.  We also discussed how sex is an act of worship since God told us to have sex.  We have mentioned the importance of seeing each other as a whole person.  These are all components of great sex, but is there anything else?

Great sex happens needs these following ingredients for it to be great.

  1. Intimacy
  2. Selflessness
  3. Passion
  4. Playfulness
  5. Commitment

Intimacy allows each other to see into each other.  It is the ability to unveil (or unmask) each other so that you allow each other to see us for who we are underneath.  There is no pretending, there is no barriers to climb.  When we experience sex with eyes open, souls engaged, and desire pumping through our veins this brings about a great sexual experience.

Selflessness allows us to pay attention to other person.  It gets out of our heads and the worry of the performance and allows us to engage the other.  Great sex is not about performance.  It is about being in tune with our partner and flowing with their needs.  Great sex is like a dance where each other can feel where the other person wants to go and can lead them to that place.

Passion is needed because with great passion comes the desire to try new things.  Passion leaves the dullness behind and strives for new ways in order to make love to your partner.  Passion allows each other to be free and grow in their abilities to service their partner.  I know that when passion is flowing and we are extra horny, sex becomes an adventure.  Being willing to venture out and try new things.  However, be sure that each is on board…even if it is to try it and then decide later.

Playfulness allows each other to stretch themselves and try new things.  It brings the whole experience to a new place.  It allows the couple to bring in items that might spice up their sex life.  However, we need to be careful when it comes to playfulness.  If we bring in some aspects, then it brings harm more than joy.  We need to ensure that whatever we bring in allows the other 4 ingredients to continually flow throughout the experience.  Each couple has their own boundary; however, I would suggest that things such as pornography not be included.  I only say this because of what studies have proven when people look at pornography.

Commitment is required for great sex.  This is because when we know the other person is in it for the long haul with us, it gives us the freedom to be exposed.  Commitment allows us each other to let the other person in a little more.  Granted, no relationship is permanent – even if you are married.  However, studies have shown that married couples have better sex and this is because marriage proves your commitment.

What do you feel about these ingredients?  Would you add any others?  Would you take one away?

The Whole in Sex Part 2

I think God was thinking that we need to see each other as whole people when he was talking about sex.  The other aspect to the whole in sex has to do with the way it was expressed to us.  Look at how the church has expressed the concept of sex.  The church basically tells kids that sex is evil until you get married and then it’s godly.  No, sex is godly no matter when it is done – for he created it.

When we are honest with kids, then when they are married, they don’t have to make this mental jump to look at it as a godly act.  They have been taught a wholesome aspect of God’s character when it comes to sex.  Now, they can approach sex with confidence, rather than with fear and trepidation.  God said that he created everything for our enjoyment – including sex.  His truths are universal – which the church has no problem spouting when it comes to giving and receiving (i.e., tithing).  However, when it comes to other truths, it tries to manipulate thoughts in order to preserve purity.  I get it, and I used to do the same thing as a youth pastor.

However, we have to stop hand picking which topics are universal.  If God set something to be a truth, then it is a truth.  If the church was to state its opinions about sex in a loving, and non-judgmental way, I believe it would be surprised by the results of those that would listen.

What does God say about sex?  In the poem found in Genesis, it states that God created a man named Adam.  God wanted to find a partner for Adam, but none of the things yet created were what Adam needed.  It was then that God took a side of Adam and created Eve.

Side note: When Genesis says that God took a part of the man’s side, I believe he took a portion of the man all the way down to his DNA.  I find it interesting that no one has ever mentioned this in a book on marriage.  Think about this, women only have X chromosomes where men have both an X and Y chromosome.

God created two people and in the beginning they were naked and felt no shame.  They did not need to cover up their bodies because what they each saw in each other, and more importantly, in themselves, was beauty.  They were not comparing themselves to the idealistic photo shopped image in a magazine.  They were not looking for “sexual education” on the internet.

This is what we long for in the relationships we search for now…someone that accepts us just the way we are.  They only way this happens is when our loved ones can see past the portions they have as needs and see us as a whole person.

In the end, God is a God that has created sex for our enjoyment.  This can be seen through his first command he gave to mankind – go and increase in numbers.  Which in laymen terms means to go have sex.

Have you seen yourself as one that was created to have sex?  Sex is good and it is an act of worship since God created it and told us to do it in order to fulfill his purpose.  Do you see sex as a form of worship before God?  What are you thoughts?

The Whole in Sex

S – E – X!  When you see those three letters together, does it bring thoughts of joy, fun, excitement, adventure, and connection?  I think too many times we forget that we are sexual beings and our bodies are designed to enjoy sex.  If this were not the case, then why would the Creator design our bodies to enjoy sex so much?!

There will be some that disagree with my last comment.  For those that have medical conditions that have been diagnosed, this is the case.  However, there are many that have not experienced the joy of sex for other reasons.

One of the ways I believe that we don’t experience the joys of sex is that we don’t see our partner as a whole.  Rather than seeing our partner as a whole being, what we really see is the portion of them we need to satisfy our own desires.  What does this look like in a relationship?

It is when a man sees the woman only as a person that is there to meet his sexual needs.  It is when a woman who sees sex only as a tool to get her man to do things for her.  It is the person who views pornography and thinks it does not affect their relationship.  Regarding this last aspect, I am not getting all “churchy” – if that is a word.  Studies show that men are less likely to connect with their partner after viewing such images.

Think of Sméagol from the Lord of the Rings.  Due to his obession with the ring he changed.  He had one obsession and that was his “precious.”  In my opinion, this is what can happen to someone that consistently looks at porn.  They use these images to satisfy a need within them and they carry that need over to their relationship.  Thus their relationship now becomes about serving their need for sexual release.

We need to begin to see each other as a whole person and not the portion of them that we need to meet a need within ourselves.  When we begin to pursue sex in this fashion, it brings on a whole new meaning.  Sex becomes more than just ejaculating or having our sexual release.  It becomes about connecting and seeing the other person for who they are and who you are together.  Sex becomes more about meeting each other’s needs and experiencing orgasms together.  Sex becomes fun and enjoyable because it is a way to express your love for your partner.

What are ways you can ensure that you will see your partner as a whole?  What are ways you can serve  your partner this week?