We live in a world awash in adultery and divorce.
Regularly tell your wife you love her, you only want her, and you’re not going anywhere.
Over on The XY Code, I recently posted I Don’t Want No Help Meet!, a rant about how poorly Genesis 2:18 is translated in most versions of the Bible. This is the foundational verse for how many explain marriage, and if the foundation is wrong what we build on it can’t be right.
For the next few Sundays, I want to kick around what God intends marriage to look like. This is an area of great debate in the church. I don’t think I have all the answers, and I don’t expect to change a lot of minds with my posts. What I do hope and pray I can do is to get everyone to think about the issue and to try to find what the Bible says.
As a starting place, please think about what you believe. Does the Bible actually say what you think, or is it more a matter of the teachings or traditions of men. It can be very hard to see the difference when we’re dealing with something that we have been taught all of our lives. Just realise how long something has been taught or how many people believe it doesn’t make it either true or untrue. Jesus had a major problem with this because the Pharisees put some of their traditions ahead of what their Scriptures actually said, or ahead of the spirit of what was intended.
I would also point you to an excellent series that Scott Means is doing on this issue. I will probably reference some of what he has to say as I go through this.
On Thursday I told you that Anger Won’t Fix Your Marriage. Today I want to let you know anger won’t fix your sex life either. In fact, anger is probably even more destructive to your sex life than your marriage as a whole. Your anger over sexual issues will certainly motivate your wife, but it won’t motivate her in ways you should want.
Please know I understand the anger. I can recall screaming at the top of my lungs and punching the ceiling of my car on more than one occasion when Lori and I were having sexual problems. Being denied something you really want by the only person who can give it to you is certainly going to generate anger. I’m not saying the anger is a wrong response, but I am saying it’s a counter-productive response. If you can’t beat the anger it will get in the way of fixing your sex life regardless of what the problems are or who needs to do most of the changing.
On Thursday’s post, Bonny (of Bonny’s Oysterbed7) commented, “I’ve written about anger because it is no secret that this is something my husband had to deal with. Part of our marriage bed reclamation came about in direct response to him getting a handle on his baggage and dealing with the anger.” She didn’t say it was all about his anger, and I know Bonny has owned plenty of the problem, but it was a part of the issue and I doubt things could have changed if her husband had not dealt with his anger.
By the way, the anger need not be about sex to be a problem. Women find it difficult to impossible to switch on sex mode if they don’t feel safe. If you’re given to outbursts of anger about ANYTHING she won’t feel safe and that will very much hurt your sex life.
The other part of this is that anger may get you more sex on occasion, but that will be because of your wife’s fear or her desire to avoid your anger. Sex driven by fear or avoidance is even worse than mercy sex. It’s not what you need, and it’s destructive to your wife’s sexuality. It’s getting a bit now at the cost of having even less down the road.
If you have an anger issue, please deal with it. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for those around you. Anger hurts your marriage, and it hurts your sex life. Why you’re angry is irrelevant because ongoing anger is harmful even when it’s understandable.
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It is my firm conviction that God calls us to our spouse and children first and foremost. In fact, 1 Timothy 3 says to me that men who are failing as fathers and/or husbands are neither qualified nor allowed to be leaders. Based on this, I’m convinced that God never calls us to sacrifice our marriage, or deny our spouse, in the name of serving Him.
This is not to say marriage is more important than serving the Lord, rather He has made marriage sacred and because of that He will never call us to a position where serving Him will destroy our marriage. (Please note that I see a difference between following Him and serving Him – and there are times when a spouse’s hard heart means following the Lord can harm or destroy a marriage.)
Unfortunately, ministry often hurts and even ends marriages. Consider these statistics*:
- 1 in 3 ministry leaders say being in ministry is hazardous for their families
- 77% of ministry leaders said they don’t have a good marriage
- 80% of ministry wives think their husband is overworked
- 80% of ministry wives wish their husband would change professions
- “Wives’ issues” is the No. 1 reason pastors leave their ministries
- The divorce rate for pastors is no better than for the public as a whole
Additionally, those who minister to pastors and their spouses agree that pastors have worse marriages than their congregations, worse sex lives than their congregations, and higher levels of porn use than their congregations.
The above is for church ministers, but things are no better for missionaries and those involved in para-church ministries. Why is it so bad? Why is it that being a minister puts your marriage in danger, and often means your wife is miserable? Clearly, the way we’re doing things isn’t right because the result is something far from the will of God.
If you’re in ministry:
Please get your priorities right – with your wife and minor children being ahead of your church or ministry. If your ministry is hurting your family, make changes. If your ministry is killing your marriage, do whatever it takes, up to and including getting out of ministry, to save your marriage.
If you’re not in ministry:
Please understand how difficult ministry is. It’s not as easy or footloose as you think. Ministry is hard on those who do it and on their families. Pray for and support those in ministry, starting with your pastor. Be an advocate for getting your pastor more help, better pay, needed time off, and so on. Refuse to let your church be a marriage killer!
*Statistic sources: Schaeffer Institute, Barna, Focus on the Family, Global Pastors Wives Network, and Fuller Seminary
[This post first appeared June 6, 2010.]
From time to time I see some significant anger in the comments section of this blog. Some of it looks like anger at women in general, and it may be, but I suspect that is usually a result of a man’s anger toward his wife. Other comments are clearly aimed at the man’s wife.
I get it, I really do. I’ve had my share of marriage-related anger over the years, including some that was probably justified. The problem is anger is counter-productive. Your anger won’t motivate your wife in good ways. At best she makes an attempt to do what you want out of fear. It’s more likely she will push back because of your anger. No one reacts well to anger, and in an intimate relationship expressions of anger can feel like a violation.
Anger is going to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to invite it to set up camp and stay. Deal with your anger quickly before it makes a bad situation worse. When you can become calm, deal with the issue. If you can’t get to calm, you need some help.
Loving your wife is all well and good, but she needs to hear you tell her that you love her.
Skip the strong silent routine and express your love for your wife often.
For the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and answering over on Quora. The following is my answer to “What are the tips for a long last marriage?“ – I thought it was worth repeating here.
Three things – integrity, generosity, and kindness. If you constantly express these to your spouse your marriage will just keep getting better.
Integrity: This one is simple: be a man or woman of your word. Be honest and trustworthy. This includes fidelity of body, heart, and mind.
Generosity: This one is more difficult because for it to be effective you must give your spouse what they want. If she enjoys long walks, you take long walks. If he likes movies, you go to a lot of movies. Is she feels loved when she receives gifts, then you give gifts often. If he feels loved when he hears words of affirmation then you must do that often. One important area often missed is sex. If your spouse has a higher drive than you have, then being sexually generous is critical.
Kindness: You could do both of the above well and still not be kind. Kindness is about being warm, gentle, and loving. It’s about little courtesies and simple actions. It also means always giving the benefit of the doubt and always assuming the best. Kindness makes your marriage a safe, comfortable place; a place your spouse wants to be!
I’ve found Quora an interesting experience. Much of the audience is not Christian, so I’m exposed to folks I wouldn’t normally connect with – and vice versa. This has been both challenging and informative, and I think it is improving what I do here. And I must be doing something someone likes over there, I was just named a top writer!
My focus this year is giving your marriage the time it needs to be healthy. For most men, job/work is the biggest time suck. This is generally unavoidable, but it’s still worth thinking about how you might spend less time making a living and more time actually living.
BTW, when we talk time spent working that needs to include our commute. It’s all well and good to say you only work eight hours a day, but if you have an hour lunch and an hour fifteen minute drive each way you are away from home for eleven and a half hours a day.
The reality is the way we work in the USofA is crazy. It’s not even close to what gives the most productivity. Growing number of studies show that working more than 35-45 hours a week reduces the total amount of work you get done. Excessive hours and limited time off cause burn out and apathy, further reducing effectiveness.
If you have some control over your work hours, the links at the bottom (and the studies linked from those articles) might convince you it’s time to work less and get more done while also having more time for your family. However, if you work for someone it might not be possible to convince them to pay you the same to work fewer hours.
A big part of the work equation is how much we spend. We need to earn at least enough to pay the bills. Unfortunately, most North Americans are very good at living beyond their means. The majority of us don’t have enough money saved to cover a month of bills. If we spend less and owe less, we don’t need as much income. That would mean we can work less.
I realise these are very complex and personal issues, and for most of you what I’m picking at here would be a significant change. It’s difficult, it’s scary, and it takes a lot of effort to make it happen.
I’ve talked to plenty of folks who found a way to work less and I’ve yet to have one tell me they regret doing it. For most, the only regret is they didn’t do it earlier. Medical doctor Richard Swenson, author of Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives reduced his work week based on his research into time use and margin. He was told it was career suicide but he did it anyway and never regretted it.
On a personal note, I’ve reduced my hours of work over the last half dozen years. I still manage a little more than 40 hours most weeks, but not as many as in the past. I’ve learned to be more flexible with my work, doing certain tasks at times when my brain does them best and leaving grunt work for the end of the day when I’m less functional. I also take regular breaks during the day. So while my workday often spans 12 hours, up to a third of that is not spent working. All of this has lead to me getting more done and being far less stressed. Like so many others I just wish I’d done it years ago!
Work and time Science Says You Shouldn’t Work More Than This Number of Hours a Week | Inc.
Working Over 40 Hours a Week Makes You Less Productive, Not More | lifehacker
3 Scientifically Backed Reasons Why Working Less Leads to More Productivity | Jonathan Chan via Huffpost