Will You Be A Hero or A Roadblock?

This is sort of a follow up on last Sunday’s How Much Should Your Wife Ask of Your Marriage? post.

The year that a marriage is most likely to end is not when we think it is. A marriage is more likely to end the year after the last child leaves home than any other single year. Empty nest divorces, also called the grey divorce revolution, are increasingly common. In fact, of those divorced in 2009, one in four was 50 or older!

Part of this is couples who had reached a place where the kids were the only thing they had in common. This is why it’s so important for a couple to make time for each other; you must have common interests and a solid connection!

Will You Be A Hero or A Roadblock?

Another factor is women who have spent a couple of decades raising children are ready for something more. Their duty is done, and they’re ready to get out there and live! This is where a husband will be either her hero or her roadblock.

The hero husband understands what his wife is feeling, and he sees it as valid. He realises child raising limited his wife more than it limited him, and he accepts her desire to do something more with her life. He’s not trying to hold her back, he’s actively encouraging her. He doesn’t just listen when she talks about what she wants to do, he draws it out of her in conversation. He learns about what she wants to do so he can speak intelligently about it. He gives her a place to brainstorm and dream. He also looks for ways to help her do what she wants to do and become what she wants to become. He suggests classes or groups that will give her skills or experience. He considers her dreams as he plans vacations and other events. 

The roadblock husband does whatever he can to dampen his wife’s interest in anything new. He is happy with his life as it is, and he resists any change. He tells his wife her dreams are silly and tells her she can’t possibly do the things she wants to do.

The hero husband can expect the second half of his marriage to be even better than what came before. The roadblock husband is setting himself up for his wife to leave. Maybe that means divorce, maybe it means she gets a life he’s not part of and they become roommates.

If you want to be a hero, start early. Be all about your wife doing things she wants to do, even when young children make that difficult. Dream with her when dreaming is all she can do, and look for any way to promote and support who she wants to become. Being this way is right, wise, loving, and in your own best interest.

Be her hero, not a roadblock!

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Gnosticism, the Heresy That Won’t Die

Comments on a recent post made me realise it’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned ranted about Gnosticism. This heretical teaching has been around since the time of Jesus, “growing up” alongside the early church and influencing it more than a little. Paul attacked Gnostic teaching several times in his letters, but that didn’t end it.

Gnosticism, the Heresy That Won't Die

The part of Gnosticism that matters here is the idea that spiritual things are inherently good while things of the flesh are inherently bad. Based on this, reaching spiritual enlightenment requires us to deny our bodies. Gnostics wore only plain, scratchy clothes, ate only bland food, slept on boards, and avoided all forms of sex. Even married couples were told to avoid sex so they could grow closer to God. (This is almost certainly why Paul wrote the first part of 1 Cor 7.) A few even went so far as to castrate themselves because they thought it would impress God or help them become more spiritual. 

We no longer see those extremes, but the weed of Gnosticism still shows up in a lot of Christian thinking. I’ve had people tell me the more spiritual one becomes the less they want sex. Women have told me God wants them to deny their husband sex so he will learn to be more spiritual. And I’ve talked to many women and more than a few men who are worried because they enjoy sex with their spouse “too much”. These things are not from God, but many think or fear they are.

Allow me to counter these lies with a bit of Bible.

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” [Prov 5:18-19 ESV]

The word fountain there is talking about the man’s sexuality. He is told to enjoy her breasts all the time and to be drunk in her love. Clearly, the love here includes sex.

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” [SS 5:1 ESV]

This starts with the man talking about consummating his marriage with his new wife. Some say the last sentence is God speaking to the couple on their wedding night. Again we see the command to be drunk with sexual love. 

When God talks about sex in marriage there is no restraint. It’s not once a week with the lights off and the man on top; it’s so passionate and unrestrained it is likened to being drunk. God doesn’t “allow” us to enjoy sex, He commands us to enjoy it. He doesn’t allow us to do it often, He encourages us to do it often. Gnosticism is a lie, and we need to reject it. We also need to stand up and lovingly disagree with those who call heresy the Word of God!

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Friday Flashback: Invalidation

Invalidation is trying to “win” by saying the other person’s argument, point, or expectation is not valid. Sometimes it’s done because the person really feels what is being offered is not valid, but often it’s an attempt to avoid discussing an issue. Label what your wife wants as invalid and you can ignore her and move on, right? It doesn’t generally work that way, but that doesn’t seem to keep people from doing it.

There is often a gender difference here. Men have a bad habit of invalidating feelings. Women may reject what a man offers because he doesn’t present his thoughts or desires with accompanying feelings. 

Different life experience and what has been expected of us in the past also leads to invalidation. Invalidation can also follow a stereotype, with, for example, men invalidating woman’s driving or women invalidating men’s sexuality. These positions seem to have some “cover” because so many others will agree with them, at least on some level.

Regardless of why invalidation happens, the reality is it hurts. Invalidation often comes across not only as a rejection of someone’s idea but also of them as a person. Invalidation may be useful for winning a fight, but it’s not a tool that has any place in marriage. You would do well to assume that invalidating your bride’s ideas, feelings, needs or expectations is a great way to hurt or anger her.

[This post first appeared May 13, 2010.]

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Denial Is Not Preventing Divorce

Yesterday I ranted a bit about divorce. Seems it was not enough to get it out of my system.

One of the big problems is denial. We deny that certain problems can get bad enough to cause people to say “I’m done, I want a divorce.” We pretend people can and will put up with horrible behaviour because they’re “supposed to”. We pretend that saying “God hates divorce” will keep it from happening.

Denial Is Not Preventing Divorce

In some churches, divorce isn’t allowed, even when the Bible would allow for it. The church will ignore or downplay horrible marriage sins in an attempt to keep a marriage going. If a person in such a church is in a marriage that is destroying them, they will leave the church and then leave the marriage. All too often they leave God as well as the church. The divorce is not prevented, it just happens outside the church. Then the church can blame the one who leaves, talking about their lack of faith. Sometimes a church gathers around the “wronged spouse” who didn’t leave. Never mind the one who didn’t leave was committing unspeakable sins against his or her spouse. Divorce is the ultimate sin, so the one who did it is demonic and the one who didn’t is justified.

Then there’s the individual who tries to ignore or downplay their spouse’s sins because they know they’re not supposed to even think about divorce. They feel they must put up with the sins because divorce is the only alternative. On the other side of this are those who keep walking in marital sin because they assume their spouse won’t ever divorce them.

Let’s stop ignoring marital sins. Let’s start making noise about adultery, emotional affairs, sexual refusal, abuse, neglect, and apathy. When we see hints of any of these let’s confront the sinner and offer counsel and comfort to the one being sinned against. Let’s make getting help an expectation, a very serious expectation. 

What would happen if we treated those who won’t get help the way we treat those who seek divorce? What if we admitted there is a connection between ongoing marital sins and divorce? What if we paid as much attention to the sins that cause divorces as we do to divorce? What if we called those sins horrible? What if we went so far as to say God hates marital sins?

I’m very much against divorce. I’m also very much against bad marriages. Since the latter are a major cause of the former, I think we need to be serious about them. If we do a better job of dealing with the sins, we will have far fewer divorces to deal with.

A Related RantThree Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stay Married | Be Fully Well, the blog of Dr. Jessica McCleese

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Till Divorce Do Us Part

Can we please stop saying “Divorce is not in our vocabulary”? I mean yeah, it sounds good, but I know a number of people who said that who later filed for divorce. The cold hard fact is saying you will never consider divorce doesn’t mean you will never consider divorce! 

Till Divorce Do Us Part

The whole “We never use the ‘D'” word attitude has become a pretty empty gesture. I have no doubt it really means something to some, but far more say it because they feel they should.

Divorce is all around us. If you attend a church of 100 couples odds are several of those ended their marriage in the last year. Often we don’t really see it because they leave the church before or when they split up. Sometimes one or both go to a new church, sometimes they just stop going to church.

Catchy anti-divorce phrases are not helping. Neither is ignoring the issue from the pulpit because we don’t want to make people uncomfortable. While it is true divorce rates are down a bit, it’s not nearly enough. 

What helps? 

I know several couples that are still married today because friends and family were not willing to stand by and watch as the marriage died. Getting involved in a marriage on the rocks is no one’s idea of a good time, but if it prevents a divorce it’s worth it.

Sometimes, love means you get in their face!

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Why You BOTH Need “Me” Time

By now you no doubt know I’m big on couples doing things together. You can’t have a good marriage if you don’t hang out with one another!

However, you both also need some alone time too.

Why You BOTH Need "Me" Time

Being alone allows you to think through things. It gives you time to dig into how you feel. And it allows you to connect with God. You can and should do all of those things as a couple, but you must also do them on your own. 

Given most of us find it difficult to make time for the things yelling to be done, finding time for ourselves can seem unimportant. This is particularly true for extroverts who don’t feel a need for solitude. However, not feeling the need doesn’t mean it’s not there.

BTW, playing video games doesn’t qualify as what I’m talking about here. You need to be doing something that allows you to do a lot of thinking.

Related7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone | Psychology Today

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A Compliment Reminder

I bet your wife would be thrilled if you said more nice things to her.

A Compliment Reminder

What kind of a reminder could you make to help you do this? Maybe set something “out of place” to jog your memory. Or put a note someplace only you will see it. Or set an alarm on your phone, but then wait at least an hour before you compliment her. (Or have it go off just as you arrive home.)

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How Much Should Your Wife Ask of Your Marriage?

Last Sunday’s post was How Much Should You Ask of Your Marriage? Today I’m doing the reverse question: How much should your wife ask of your marriage? How much is reasonable for her to ask? 

This is one of those times when my advice is going to look “unfair” because I’m going to ask more of you than I suggested you should ask of your wife. However, if I were talking to women about how much their husband should ask I would say the same thing to them I’m saying to you here. This isn’t about gender, it’s about audience.

How Much Should Your Wife Ask of Your Marriage?

What I’m suggesting is that it’s right and good to ask more of yourself than you would ever ask of your wife. It is proper to stretch yourself and sacrifice for your wife. 

So, if she wants more than a marriage focused on meeting basic needs, I think you should do everything you can to provide her with that. Encourage her to stretch and grow. Be ready to care for the kids so she can do things she wants to do. Be ready to budget money for things that will help her become the woman she wants to be. And be actively involved in all of those things.

What about bait-and-switch?

I’ve seen plenty of women decide they want more from their marriage. Usually, these women are a decade or more into their marriage when they start wanting more. This is not a case of bait-and-switch; it’s about a growing realisation of who she is and who she wants to be. If she starts to want more than you signed on for that may be unfair, but if it’s what she’s feeling your choices are trying to provide what she wants or just ignoring her needs. Only one of those is good for her and for your marriage. And, only one of those is in line with what God expects of us.

Of course, none of this means you should support things that are wrong. That would include things that are clearly harmful to your marriage. 

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TMB Survey Results

Men’s Sex Changes With Age Age has an effect, but it’s not as strong as you might think.

Great tweet of the week:

Love God. Love each other. (everything else will follow) @FierceMarriage

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

 

The Generous Wife

PERSONAL PERMISSIONS ◄ This is a good plan for any couple.


Intimacy in Marriage

Could a High-End Escort Reveal Anything About Sex in Marriage? ◄ Some very interesting thoughts!
Sexual Playfulness in Your Marriage: 3 Rules to Live By ◄ Making sex better.


The Romantic Vineyard

Cherishing Us – A New Resource to Help Your Marriage Grow ◄ I’ve not had a chance to read this, but I know Tome and Debi well enough to know it’s good stuff!


…to Love Honor and Vacuum

Top 10 Ways Husbands Can Improve Their Sex Lives ◄ Some good stuff here – check it out!