“Lawless Christians, part 1” [link]

There is a new post on my other blog, CSL On The Bible, is you should be so inclined…

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Of Resets, Resolutions and Reality, part 3

reset3

 

[This is the last of a three-part series; the first post can be found here, and the second post can be found here.]

First off, please accept my apology for the delay in following up with another post to complete this series on Resets. I have been working on developing, from the ground up, a class for my church on the Roots of Christianity. With no textbook, I have been busy creating lessons and resources, creating PowerPoints and .pdfs, loading movies up to YouTube, and creating a web platform on Moodle for my lesson resources. As you might imagine, that occupied all my summer and September. With most of the work behind, I find I can devote a little time to writing for my blogs, and so I especially wanted to finish with the final post in this Reset series.

In Reset post #1, I began an elaboration on trying to define what better looks like when your spouse promises that s/he will “try to do better.” As I mentioned, I learned after my Better series that there is a difference between Reset Sex, Resolution Sex and Real Sex. In that series, I wrote about looking for better for guys, and I want to reiterate the need to look for more after the “I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better.”

In my last post, Reset #2, I took a major detour and spoke about the drastic wonderful weight loss that I have experienced in the last year. I’m not gloating, mind you, (at least I hope not), but this is just to illustrate my point of the difference between Resolution and Reality.

As I said in my last post, I have been on and off a plethora of diets in my life. With varying degrees of success. But ultimately failure. This is because I merely made resolutions but didn’t plan on how to follow through to achieve the result I wanted.

Making a Resolution a Reality

But can a Reset be more than a Resolution? Yes, but only if it is the real thing and is accompanied by actionable goals and mile-markers and planning on how to get there; without these it remains merely a well-intentioned but infirm resolution.

Mind you, a good-willed spouse truly means to make things better in the marriage. However, despite good-will and good intentions, a temporary uptick in sexual frequency that tapers off into the old normal is all too often the only outcome of just such good-willed intention. Why? Because desire for change was not transformed into the resolve that empowers change.

So, with a good-willed spouse, the problem isn’t necessarily the desire to change, but with converting well-meant intentions into sustained action.  I believe that a sex life that pans out as merely a resolution comes about because one of three reasons. I further believe that there are ways to deal with these reasons in order to help the marriage to turn around.

Knowledge:
A spouse, while good-willed, may simply be, erm, well…, to be blunt,  ignorant. I know, that’s harsh, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest that you tell your husband/wife  that they are ignorant. But when it comes down to it, many people are operating their sex lives off of stinkin’ information. Whether it be the idea that sex is just for youngsters, or just for husbands, or that sex is simply an optional accessory to a marriage, etc., someone has bought into lies that they have heard or read or (unfortunately!) had drummed into them by the Church.

Pure and simple, they don’t know that sex in marriage is good, that it is God-ordained, and that it is a loving act that both husband and wife do for and with the other, and that it is an integral part of a godly marriage.

With that in mind, the goal is to increase y’all’s (I include both of you, ‘cause we all have room to grow) knowledge about married sexuality. Fortunately, there is a plethora of resources available, which offer more than the standard pablum that you will probably get from a local pastor. (Not really knocking preachers, here, but we all know that pastors, above all, want to keep peace in the congregation, and thus can’t afford to get too explicit.)

If your spouse has made a resolution to try to make your marriage bed better, then accessing good marriage and sexuality resources together is an excellent way to begin. In my sidebar, I link to several good bloggers from the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, and they represent some wonderful founts of knowledge.

As to books, I can’t do any better than to direct you to the excellent Marriage Library that Lori Byerly has amassed over at her Generous Wife page. I confess that I have not read every book in her library, but I’ve read a few, and they will be helpful to a good-willed spouse who wants to turn a resolution into reality.

I will add one other resource, one that can be accessed on-line, and that is the Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast. Hosted by four Christian women bloggers, their monthly podcast addresses many sex-positive topics for Christian wives.

Skill:
You know the old saw, “I stopped a guy on the street and asked he how to get to Carnegie Hall and he told me ‘Practice.’”

First, skills can’t improve if you don’t practice them, so opportunities for practice have to be created, which means actually engaging in sexual intimacy. To create this time, if an I’ll try to do better spouse actually means it, push for more opportunities; if necessary, resort to scheduling sex (see my New Tool post for scheduling information.)

As well, several resolutions that you need to put in place in order make this happen would be:

  1. Commit to going to bed together at the same time.
  2. Commit to going to bed at a reasonable time!
  3. Commit to prioritizing bed over screentime.

There shouldn’t be a need to explicate these three helper resolutions, but as a mental aid, imagine this scenario:

You get up off the couch and say, “Hon, I’m going to go to bed now”, and Hon responds, “Okay, I’ll be right up, after watching the next three Matlock reruns.”

Uh-uh, nothing’s gonna happen. Point out your supposed good-willed spouse that relationship takes precedence over Facebook, if you really meant that you want to do better.

Skills for Him:
Guys, I’m going to clue you in on something: maybe you’re not all that and a bag of chips, as they used to say back in the dark ages. Maybe, just maybe, your two-move repertoire could use a little infusion of skill and technique. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend the most explicit site I have in my librarian’s bag o’ references, Give Her An Orgasm. This isn’t a safe-for-work site, but neither is it porn. Using a plastic model of a female vulva, a woman demonstrates, in 20-30 second videos, different techniques for stimulating your wife. This isn’t a Christian site, but I think it useful. I do know that I have had more than a couple of “Thank you!”s for this recommendation.

Also not a Christian resource is the book She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. Guys, we aren’t the only ones who enjoy oral sex. If done properly and lovingly, oral sex brings pleasure to our wives. Written by Dr. Ian Kerner, this book is considered the gold-standard for learning how to bring oral pleasure to your wife.

Skills for Her:
Wives…. Hmm. Um.
What to say, what to say, what to say… (Hey, cut me some slack; after all, talking to wives isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse.)

First, know thyself! If you have not been someone who has been into sex, as in “Meh, I can take or leave it, and leaving it is no sacrifice for me,” then start learning about your body and what WOULD make it a sacrifice to leave it. Like I said above, “Practice, practice, practice.” If that means creating time for yourself to explore your body and what makes it feel good, then do so. You’re married, ‘taint no sin. (Just be sure you share with the Hubs what you’ve discovered, btw. After all, he’s dying to know, too.)

After that, I’m gonna pull an old librarian’s trick and hand you off to an expert. Chris Taylor, over at Forgiven Wife, has a portion of her blog dedicated to articles for helping wives learn to “dance with desire”, as her tagline goes. In addition to dealing with emotional blockages, Chris and guests have written a goodly number of articles on sexual techniques, and I recommend them highly to any wife wanting to learn how to up her game in the bedroom.

Finally, Emotionally Able:
A spouse, while good-willed, may simply not be emotionally-enabled, at this time, to truly engage sexually. (The at this time is intentional, on my part, and I will come to that shortly.) In other posts, I have addressed the fact that all too often, one or both spouses come into a marriage with emotional baggage, and quite often, this baggage is centered on sex.

It may be feelings of inferiority, it may be bad teachings from church or parents, it may be bad sexual history (promiscuity or abuse can both come into play, here.) The problem isn’t that the baggage was brought into the house; after all, as Paul Byerly, over at The Generous Husband, is wont to say, “Everyone comes into marriage with baggage.” The problem is that the baggage took up residence, even to the point of being enshrined in the relationship, so to speak.

If your spouse, either husband or wife, does carry emotional baggage concerning their sexuality, as a couple you have two goals:

  1. You – to support and encourage your spouse as they deal with clearing up this baggage that is interfering with your marriage.
  2. Spouse – to actually do the heavy-lifting in dealing with the personal baggage. If that means meeting with a pastor or counselor, so be it. If it means researching and finding solutions, so be it.

But the standard is that, while sex may be difficult, or even not yet on the table, the “afflicted” (sorry for that term, but I’m open to a more appropriate descriptor) spouse is actively seeking out help in putting said baggage to rest and restoring the marriage to what it should be. For the assisting spouse, that may mean that you join him/her in working with the counselor/mentor that you have sought out.

How Long Should I Wait? Months? Years?

The answer to that is “It depends.” And for good reason. After all, different spouses will have different emotional baggage and damage that they are going to have to fight through. But what I think it comes down to is true effort.

In my readings over the past years, I have come across many different stories, ranging from one who said that she was working on her “issues”, but never went to counseling, never did any reading, and never did any changing, to another who (having to overcome major trauma) tore up the book that was assigned by her counselor, not once, but twice, and yet powered through a third copy to come out on the other side.

Just a quick aside on counselors; like any other field, there are good ones and bad ones. There are any number of horror stories about counselors who side with refusers, but on the other hand, there are just as many stories of counselors who are willing to confront refusers and make them see reality. I don’t say that it is a crap shoot, but I do have one piece of advice in selecting counselors: Make sure that the counselor is willing to keep the main thing the main thing.

I have read many times of situations where counselors have pushed aside the sexless state of a marriage, saying it would be dealt with later when others things are taken care of first. I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong. Sexlessness is part and parcel of the whole marital problem, and needs to be addressed as part of the whole, not an add-on item to be considered down the road.

So, my rule of thumb about how long? Depending on if actual good-willed efforts are being made and real progress in intimacy is coming along, I would say stick with it for the long haul. But that is only if real progress and effort is continuous.

I have heard it said that it takes 45 days for an action to become ingrained as a habit. I believe that an permanent habit takes longer, and so to be on the safe side, I would say double it. I believe that if steps in intimacy are to become a habit it will be 90 days. Intention kissing (make-out sessions, not pecks), sexual touch, etc., if they are to become a real part of the marriage, will have to be a part of the marriage routine for at least 90 days, I believe. Basically, from all I’m reading, Resets don’t last three months because of the emotional strength that real change requires, so progress that continues over that period of time can be, I believe, accepted as being the turning of a new leaf.

Bottom Line

In my Aphorisms series, I spoke about the need to live out repentance. As that old evangelist I referenced said, “I don’t care how high a man jumps when he gets saved, I’m more concerned with how straight he walks when he comes down.” I can tell you that there are an awful lot of  “snot and slobber” repentances, but as the line from Habakkuk says, “The just shall live by faithfulness.”

I know that in the Church, we have changed the idea of a life of faithfulness to a mere moment of confession and professed faith, but in actuality, it is the choice made daily to live in the covenant that we have made that demonstrates the sincerity of our confession. The same thing holds true for those who promise to “do better” in marital intimacy.

It comes down to this: if a spouse makes a promise to “do better”, s/he will be willing to do the work required to learn, develop skills and/or become emotionally capable for improving intimacy in marriage. Otherwise, it’s just another Resolution that isn’t Real.

CSL

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Of Resets, Resolutions And Reality: part 2

reset2

 

[This is the second post of a three-part series; the first post can be found here, and the third post can be found here.

In my last post, I spoke of Reset and Resolution sex as being possible outcomes of having The Talk™, neither of which help a marriage bed to get back on track. In the case of Reset Sex, any uptick in sexual activity is illusory, as it is merely a ploy to tamp down any threatened mutinies to the sacred status quo.

In the case of Resolution Sex, there is intention to improve, to change things for the better, but there is a serious problem with Resolution Sex. While there is intent, there is no intentionality. Continue reading

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Of Resets, Resolutions and Reality: part 1

Wellreset1

 

[This is the first of a three part series; the second part can be found here, while the third part can be found here.

Well, I thought I was done with aphorisms, but while reading old posts for a project that I am working on, I realized that one of the aphorisms that I mentioned needed another going-over. Rather than the Gamble Rogers’ line about works speaking for themselves, I am going to flesh out some thoughts I have on the Bob Jones line, I don’t care how high a man jumps when he gets saved; I’m more concerned with how straight he walks when he comes down.

Two years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about what “Better” looks like; you know what I mean–“I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better.” In the first post I talked about the need to get down to specifics when having The Talk™, to not speak in broad, amorphous generalities, and in the second post I wrote about ways to start defining “better”. Continue reading

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“Am I A Disciple?”, part two [link]

There is a new post on my other blog, CSL On The Bible, should you be so inclined…

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“Am I A Disciple?”, part 1 [link]

There is a new post on my other blog, CSL On The Bible, should you be so inclined…

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Beliefs, CSL On The Bible

Aphorisms For Marriage, part 2

aphorism 2

[This is the second of a two-part series; the first post can be found here.]

In my last post, jumping off of a Gamble Rogers aphorism, I spoke about letting your works do your talking, about living out your repentance. After all, one of my pet topics that I will occasionally get exercised about on this blog is the need for integrity, for being a man of your word.

In today’s post, I want to do a slight modification of Rogers’ aphorism, “When your works speak for themselves, shut up!”, and take it in a different direction. As I wrote before, what we do speaks louder than our words, so we need to make sure that the way we live our lives with our spouses lines up with how we talk. Continue reading

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Aphorisms For Marriage, part 1

aphorism 1

[This is the first of a two-part series; the second part can be found here.]

I am working on a project that has me re-reading many of my posts and the comments that followed them, and in doing so, I came across something that I said in response to remarks about making apologies for past hurts.

Over the years, I have read marriage blogs and listened to sermons and podcasts on relationships in which the writers/speakers admonish people to accept the fact that they have something for which they need to apologize. I, myself, have written about sincere apologies, saying that the “If you’re upset, I apologize” isn’t an apology, but a back-handed insult, so I accept the need for truly repenting of something that you’ve done wrong. Continue reading

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Of Marriages and Splinters

splinter

Back in the 70’s, a self-help book entitled I’m Okay, You’re Okay was all the rage, spending a couple of years on best-seller lists. I remember it being used in educational circles in the schools I worked in. After several years of observing how our culture seemed to embrace every new fad that came down the pike but thumped Christians to a fare-thee-well, I articulated the I’m Okay, You’re Okay Social Contract.

The gist of this modern social contract was that all segments of our culture made silent agreement to give okays and attaboys to each other, as long as the others gave okays and attaboys back, and to join together to kick the stuffings out of anyone who had the temerity to not go along with the arrangement. A cultural NATO, if you will.

Okay, that’s past history, but I have to confess that recently, in my thinking, I’ve revisited the I’m Okay construct again. As I was thinking about how spouses blame each other for problems in the marriage, I’ve come to realize that, consciously or unconsciously, both are engaging in another I’m okay behavior. Continue reading

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“Are You Where You’re Needed?” [link]

There is a new post on my other site, CSL On The Bible, should you be so inclined…

btw – for those who don’t get my Twitter announcements, my lead in to this story was “A Methodist minister meets Jesus”. Hope that is intriguing enough. 🙂

 

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