You Have Less Than 48 Hours!

If you aren’t aware, Valentine’s Day is Wednesday. Apparently, Valentine’s is a big deal to some women, and for most of the rest, it at least matters. This means doing nothing is a really bad plan.

You Have Less Than 48 Hours!

A few last-minute ideas:

  • Coupons allow you to give anything you like. Just download, fill in, and print.
  • Suggest celebrating with an extra special date night on Friday or Saturday, with you doing all the planning.
  • Get Melt’s massage course videos – the gift that can keep giving for years to come. Pay, download, and you’re ready. Melt even has some suggestions on how to give this gift in creative ways. And best of all, they have a sale going for Valentine’s.
  • Buy a box of kids Valentine’s cards. Write various loving things on them and hide them all over the place. 
  • Spread the holiday out!
  • Finally, if you are the lower drive spouse, please be sure to seduce her on Wednesday. 

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How Much Should You Ask of Your Marriage?

Last Sunday in What Marriage Is Becoming I introduced you to Eli Finkel and the idea of “all or nothing marriages.” I want to expand on that, starting with another Finkel quote:

“The question isn’t, ‘Are you asking too much?’ The question is, ‘Are you asking the appropriate amount, in light of the nature of the relationship right now?’ — There’s no shame at all in thinking of ways that you can ask less”. ~ Eli J. Finkel

If you ask more from your marriage than your wife is willing (or able) to provide, that could hurt or even end a marriage that could be good.

How Much Should You Ask of Your Marriage?

It’s not wrong to want your wife to help you achieve maturity and personal fulfilment. Personally, I think that’s a good thing, and a powerful way to accomplish those goals. However, if your wife wants a more traditional marriage in which each person seeks those things beyond the marriage, you’re going to have problems. You will be frustrated with her and she will be frustrated with you. You will feel neglected while she feels overwhelmed.

Perhaps she has figured out what you want and is half-heartedly trying to provide it. She may try to meet some of those needs by diverting energy from other things you want. Or she might try to meet those needs by cheating herself. Neither of these is healthy or sustainable.

If you suspect you’re expecting things beyond what she thought would be her responsibility in your marriage, you need to have a serious talk about it. Actually, I’d say it’s a good conversation for every couple to have, even if there’s no apparent problem. If you realise you want things she didn’t think she would be providing, you need to pull back. She might be willing and able to do part. If she says she is, make sure she feels able, and check back with her every so often. Whatever she’s not willing to do you will have to get in some other way. If she’s willing, make her a part of that discussion.

Of course, there are things you should only get from her. Sex is an obvious one. Certain other types of intimacy also need to be limited to our spouses. This is another area to discuss. These things need to be cared for before you ask her to do something that you could get from outside the marriage.

There are also things that you clearly can’t get from your wife. Male bonding for example. Even if your wife is down with helping you with personal growth and fulfilment there are places you will need other people. Trying to get her to do those things is asking for problems for both of you.

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Current TMB Survey:

How has having kids changed sex? Minor issue, or big problem?

Great tweet of the week:

True love is humble. @FierceMarriage:

The Generous Wife

As You Wish ◄ Make a list of wishes, then make them come true.
THe Matters ◄ She matters too. Make sure she knows she does!


Hot, Holy and Humorous

5 Kisses You Need to Master ◄ Practice makes perfect.


Intimacy in Marriage

What If We Physically Can’t Have Sex? ◄ Great advice.


Kevin A Thompson

Is Envy Hindering Your Marriage? ◄ You can’t love the one you envy.

Wait For It…

This idea will drive some women crazy in a good way, and others in a bad way. If you’re not sure which your wife is, try a very small dose and get feedback.

Wait For It...

One way to intensify orgasm is to prolong the trip. Slowing down will do this. Another way is to stop for a moment shortly before she is going to climax. Then start again. And repeat. Some women will enjoy being stopped on the verge of orgasm, others want to be a bit less close when they are stopped.

Even if a woman is into this kind of teasing, there is a limit. Start small, teasing her just a bit and then letting her climax. Gradually take it further and further until she lets you know you have gone far enough. Also, learn when she will enjoy this and when she won’t. If she’s tired or stressed she will probably want the short, direct route. Where she is in her cycle will likely also be a factor.

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A Good Marriage With A Broken Spouse

We’re all broken, but some folks are deeply broken and are never going to be able to fix some major issues. Others probably could fix things, but are unwilling to go past a certain point. If you’re married to a woman like that, what do you do?

A Good Marriage With A Broken Spouse

I knew a wonderful godly man in that situation. Not because he described it that way, but because we got to know him and his wife well enough to see it. She had reached a level of healing that allowed her to be functional and then stopped. She had gone as far as she was going to go. 

I don’t know what it took this man to get to where he was when I met him, I suspect it was a difficult battle. He travelled a fair amount for ministry and his wife only joined him if it was in driving distance. He made a point of limiting his time away, and he talked lovingly about his wife to anyone who would listen. When he was with her he was very loving and supportive. I don’t know if he had somehow gotten past his frustration or had just chosen to set it down, but there was no hint of it. I do know he limited his life in many ways because of his wife, something he once admitted to Lori and me.

I see what this man did as loving and very, very Christlike. He didn’t stand up for his “rights” and he didn’t tell the world how broken his wife was. He accepted her limitations and made significant concessions for her. He made a good marriage where most would have been miserable, and that made life better for his wife and for him. I can see how his choices changed him, and how God used those things for good well beyond their marriage.

The point here is you can have a decent marriage with a broken wife if you’re willing to make it happen and she doesn’t walk away. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun dying to yourself and some of your desires. However it will be right before God, and He will use your sacrifices for good.

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Non-Negotiables

If I were talking with a single person about someday getting married, I would strongly advise them to make a list of non-negotiables. That would be the things their spouse must be (or do), and the things they can’t be (or do). Then I would advise them to not continue dating anyone who was missing any of the must haves or had any of the must not haves.

Non-Negotiable's

Given you’re already married, it’s a bit late for that. Or is it?

I realise the idea of making such a list now is scary given you are already “stuck” with what you have. What good could come from it? Still, whether you make a list or not, there are make or break issues for your marriage. Ignoring those things won’t make them go away, and pushing them off is just kicking the can down the road. 

My suggestion is to make the list and then spend a good deal of time thinking and praying about where your wife lacks something you want or has something you don’t want. What is really non-negotiable for you, and what can you live with? If something is non-negotiable it’s just a matter of time till it becomes a problem. I realise bringing it up now feels like picking a fight, but dealing with it sooner rather than later makes it more likely you can resolve it. What’s more, choosing your time is way better than having it come out in the midst of an argument or during a difficult time in your marriage. 

The other side of this is your wife’s list of non-negotiables. Why not ask her to make a list, pray about it, and then share it with you. Again it seems like asking for trouble, but it’s a whole lot better than dealing with it five years from now when she’s talking divorce!

Tomorrow I’ll talk about what to do if she is never going to be something you feel you really need.

 

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A Few Ways To Ruin Your Life

A while back I somehow stumbled on a post entitled How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are) by Bianca Sparacino. I liked the premise of the article, which I see as “Your choices can ruin your life.” Your choices. Not what others do to you, not what happens to you, but your choices. The good side of that is we can choose something different. Even when we really mess up, we can choose to be different from this day forward. It might be really difficult, and it might take a long time for anyone to agree we have changed, but we can do it.

A Few Ways To Ruin Your Life

I’m going to riff on a couple of the things Bianca mentioned in her post.

You ruin your life by letting your past govern it.

Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. Letting it do that is the easy path, but it’s not the only choice. No matter what others did to you, you can get free of that. And no matter what you have done, you can get free of it. Granted some things are easier than others, and some things do leave a mark on us for the rest of our lives, but we are only victims of our past if we choose to be. 

You ruin your life when you compare yourself to others.

God made you to be you and to do what He called you to do. In John 20 Peter looks at John and asks Jesus “Lord, what about him?” Jesus’ answer is basically “If I want something different for him, what is that to you? The only person I need to compare myself to is the one God wants me to be. Thinking about how I measure up to others is just wasting time and energy I could be using to move closer to how God sees me. If I get jealous because Fred has more money, Jack has a bigger house, or Ben’s wife chases him for sex, I am just making myself unhappy. 

Have you made choices that are ruining your life? The good news is you can make new choices!

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Hand In Hand

On Mondays, I try to give you something simple you can do that will make a difference in your marriage.

Hand In Hand

So, hold hands as often as you can.

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What Marriage Is Becoming

The average marriage today is weaker than the average marriage of yore, in terms of both satisfaction and divorce rate, but the best marriages today are much stronger, in terms of both satisfaction and personal well-being, than the best marriages of yore.” ~ Eli J. Finkel

Finkel has been talking about the “all or nothing” marriage for four years now. For about half that time I’ve been reading what he and others have to say about what marriage is becoming.

Finkel, says what we have today is self-expressive marriages, where marriage is seen “less as an essential institution and more as an elective means of achieving personal fulfillment.” You can throw rocks at that if you want, but I agree with him; that is a significant part of why most people get married these days. And while Christians may be holding on to marriage as a necessary institution, they’re also taking up the desire for marriage to help them with personal fulfilment. If this is so, then we need to understand that and what it means for us.   

What Marriage Is Becoming

Finkel suggests that this change is because life is not as difficult as it used to be. In the past marriage made life easier and safer for people. If a marriage provided these things, it was successful. Happiness is nice, but it’s not as important as survival. An unhappy marriage was way better than not being married. Some found far more than survival in marriage, but it wasn’t necessary and given human nature many wouldn’t spend the effort to build more. 

Now we live in a time and place where a single man or woman can have a successful life on their own. What was a strong motivation for marriage in the past no longer exists. Marriage has continued because people have found other benefits to be had from marriage. Marriage can bring happiness and contentment. It can also help us grow, becoming better people. Basically, we now expect our spouse to facilitate our personal growth and fulfilment. 

I’ve read several articles by Eli Finkel, and the following really hit me:

Our central claim is that Americans today have elevated their expectations of marriage and can in fact achieve an unprecedentedly high level of marital quality — but only if they are able to invest a great deal of time and energy in their partnership. If they are not able to do so, their marriage will likely fall short of these new expectations. [Bolding by me. The “our” in this quote refers to Finkel’s co-authors Chin Ming Hui, Kathleen L. Carswell and Grace M. Larson for articles published in Psychological Inquiry]

This is right in line with my regular nagging about the importance of giving our spouse enough of our time. If the all or nothing marriage concept is accurate (and I think it is) then what separates great marriages from horrible marriages is the amount of time and energy the spouses put into their marriage. What’s more, there is no middle ground. You can’t have an okay marriage by putting in half as much time and energy as would be required for a great marriage. The era of okay marriages is gone, as is being okay with a poor marriage. In the era of all or nothing, if you won’t work for all, you’re in great danger or ending up with nothing!

If all of this is accurate, it means we can’t continue to do marriage as usual. Frankly, I see a lot of good in the changes. I don’t think God ever intended marriage to be just a way to survive. These changes raise the bar. It means doing what was once enough is no longer be enough. Some identify this as modern society destroying marriage. I see it more as society no longer being willing to put up with mediocre marriages. I’m not saying I think it’s okay to divorce just because your marriage is mediocre, but I think knowing mediocre may not be enough is good motivation for us all to up our game.

What do you want from your marriage? What do you expect from your wife? What does she want and expect? If either of you has expectations the other doesn’t know about, that is going to hurt your marriage, and it might even end your marriage. 

Please, don’t assume you know each other’s expectations, talk about it.

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Great tweet of the week:

We came back from the brink of divorce and are BEST friends today. If God did that for us, He can certainly do it for you too!@SongSix3

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

Gary Thomas

The Bubble Busting Spouse ◄ No matter who messed things up, both spouses need to work on being better.


The Generous Wife

Take A Technology Break ◄ Yes, you!
His Dream Job ◄ Applies to women too.


Heaven Made Marriage

Choose the Road Less Traveled ◄ You have a choice – choose well!


Intimacy in Marriage

Sex as Stress Relief? It’s Like Exercising Naked, Right? ◄ Sacrifice for her needs!
Finding Lost Diamonds. And the Elusive G-Spot! ◄ A G-spot road map.


Kevin A Thompson

5 Acts of Kindness to Add to Your Marriage ◄ Because EVERY marriage could use more kindness.