To a great marriage, awesome sex life, and stress-free relationship!
We haven't always been in the kind of marriage we have now. Digging into the Bible and letting God's word guide our relationship has made a world of difference! We want to share some secrets we've learned along the way to help you start 2023 off on the right foot!
With the new year comes new years resolutions. Some call them goals. Some of you love setting goals and resolutions, while others feel a sense of dread at the thought of it all. Whether you love it or hate it, all people have something in common when it comes to looking ahead.
You set goals to aim for what you want and take you away from what you don't want.
That's really what motivates us all. Some mix of pain or discomfort that you'd rather not continue with. Instead, you'd rather have ________, or feel _________. This is the birthplace of change. There's much to learn about change and goal setting and following through! But that's not what I'm diving into today. BUT - if you want to learn more about how to set goals and accomplish them I would highly recommend you jump on to Jon Acuf's podcast, "All it takes is a goal."
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE EVERY PICTURE WITH YOUR SPOUSE TO CONTAIN 2 BIG [sincere] SMILES?
No matter where we are, what the weather is like, or what we're doing, we are honestly always smiling. We really do live this way in real life!
I want to share some secrets with you about
How we have such a happy marriage
Why our sex life is amazing (blush)
How we eliminate stress
LET'S TALK - HAPPY MARRIAGE
You can read a hundred books on marriage and go to workshops or counseling but none of that will have a long-lasting impact on your marriage unless you actually like each other.
That sounds like one of those over-simplified things right? Of course, we like each other, we're married. Unfortunately, that's actually far less common than you probably realize. People fall in love, lust, or rescue, or any number of ways to get started. Then somewhere along the way, they start noticing all the ways they're different. The things you don't have in common. In other words, it's easy to start letting yourself think far too much about what you don't like about each other. You may try to dismiss this habit and sweep those thoughts under the rug, only to feel shocked later when you have concluded, "I just don't think we're actually friends." Or, "we just don't have anything in common anymore." The slippery slope of "what you don't like" about each other will always pull you away from actually liking your spouse.
So, what's the fix? At the risk of being too obvious, try actually liking your spouse. There are SOOOoooooo many ways you can do this - it's awesome! Here are some things we do that may help you grow in this area.
- WRITE DOWN THE THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE.
What do you do with ALL those passwords you have to keep track of? I bet you have some system, even if it's a bad one (like mine), you have one. When you have something that's really important, like a password, you write it down so you won't forget it. We've all tried using the same 2 or 3 passwords so we didn't have to write them down, but over time we're forced to update them, and eventually, there's no way to keep them straight without a plan.
I would suggest to you that, the things you like about your spouse, are more important than your passwords. If you made a plan so you wouldn't forget your passwords, how about making a plan so you don't forget what you like about him/her?
Making a list on your phone notepad is a great way because it's always with you. When you think of something you like about them, or that they do, or how they act, talk, etc - add it to your list. Little do you know, you're actually building the code to unlock the happiest, most enjoyable marriage you can imagine.
Here's where it gets fun! Start pulling that list up and putting it into action. Imagine how your spouse will feel when you tell them in a personal way, some of the things that you really like about them. Get creative. Say it to them directly of course. Jot it on a note and tuck it in their work bag. Send it as a text in the afternoon. Leave it as a post-it note on the front door for them to see before they come in from work or the store.
Can you imagine how great YOU would feel if the day came when you were so accustomed to thinking about and talking about the things you like about your spouse that you actually felt stumped if someone asked you what you don't like? Life Goals!
There are so many resources out there about marriage, but remember to build the friendship foundation first. By the way.... you never stop building that foundation.
Let's TALK AWESOME SEX LIFE
Again, there are more books and resources available on this topic than any person could ever need. Let me save you some time, money, and effort, and let you in on our secret to an awesome sex life.
When you actually like each other, it's not a stretch to genuinely want to please each other. Here I go again with another one of these, "it sounds too simple" kind of statements. But, it's true. I realize this is a complicated subject and many people have a variety of factors in their lives that are real and important. What I share here are insights that have helped us.
When it comes to great sex life, genuinely caring about pleasing each other is key. Yes, you can have boundaries (or safe words if that's your thing).
- APPROACH INTIMACY SINCERELY TRYING TO GIVE THE OTHER PERSON WHAT THEY WANT.
This means you're going to have to talk about it. - GASP! We just passed Christmas time and you probably did some shopping for each other. Sure, you had some ideas of what they would want or like, but truth be told, a smart person probably asked something like, "So, is there anything you're hoping Santa might bring you this year?" When it comes to giving someone a gift, asking ahead of time is really smart, and caring. You don't waste your time and money getting something they don't really want. And they're given a gift that they really, sincerely wanted. I hope you've had the pleasure of giving your spouse a gift that they really wanted. Yes, it's awesome for them to receive it, but it's equally as rewarding to be the giver of that gift. My wife, Kaila, has always wanted to play the guitar. So I asked a guitar-playing friend for help and found a great guitar for her. That was a great day for her and for me when she opened up her gift.
Now, what if you took that same approach with your sex life? Instead of asking them what they might want Santa to bring (That would be really weird!), try asking your spouse about what they enjoy when it comes to physical intimacy. For some of you, this may be very uncomfortable. Just thinking about it may be making you squirm a bit. For others, it's second nature and it's something you are comfortable talking about. Regardless of your comfort level, you're smart to put in some effort to grow in this area.
For those who are comfortable talking about sex with their spouse, remember that timing matters. Asking them if there's anything they would like you to do in the bedroom as you're driving to a parent-teacher conference is probably not a good idea. So be smart about when to bring it up. Here's a cool tip.... If you're not sure when would be a good time, go to your spouse and say something like, "Hey (babe, honey, snookums) I wanted to visit with you about our love life - nothing wrong - I just wanted to ask you some questions and I was wondering when would be a good time for us to talk?" Then, listen for their answer. Acknowledge their answer and tell them thanks! Then go somewhere private and do a happy dance! You just made a date to talk to your spouse about sexy stuff!
For those of you that are less comfortable talking about this topic, here are some suggestions to help you break the ice and get started.
TRADE A JOURNAL BACK AND FORTH
For many people, talking about sex is hard. And sharing with their spouse about what they like, don't like, or would like to try, is simply too embarrassing or weird. Consider getting a journal and discussing this idea with your spouse. Explain that the goal of the journal is to create a way to "talk" to each other about your sex life. There are only 2 rules. #1 if you write in the journal, be sure to let your spouse know. Don't hope they'll notice and then stew or get hurt feelings if they don't respond. #2 If your spouse writes in it and lets you know, then you have to write something back in response to what they shared. That's it. What you do with it from there is up to you, but at least you have an easier way to open up the conversation about sex and physical intimacy with your spouse.
QUIK WARNING: avoid texting as a replacement for the journal idea. If you're not comfortable talking about it, then sitting down with a pen and paper is a good next step. If you're not comfortable writing it out, BUT you would text it - "Houston you have a problem"
The journal is personal. It's in your handwriting. It can be read by the other spouse at an appropriate time and place. AND they have some idea of what they're about to read.
Texting someone these things doesn't take into account where the other person might be, what frame of mind they are in, etc. Trust me, if your goal is to actually develop trust and develop a level of comfort between you and your spouse talking about sex, texting is not the place to start!
WHAT TO ASK THEM & HOW TO MAKE A REQUEST FOR YOURSELF
In terms of how to ask your partner, keep the Christmas gift idea in mind. You're trying to learn what THEY would really enjoy or appreciate. Ask, don't pester. If you ask them for some ideas or input on what they like, don't like, etc and they don't offer much feedback, don't keep pestering them. There could be any number of reasons why they are not giving much input. When the time is right, ask more about their hesitation or low engagement.
You may be thinking, "What if I have something in mind and I'm not sure if my spouse is comfortable asking me about these things?" Communication is key. Don't let the dreaded assumptions sneak in. It's always best to be open and honest and communicate.
If you're having a hard time talking to your spouse about something "bedroom related" consider these points:
Is that the Holy Spirit giving you the internal stop sign?
Take some time to think about why you want to bring it up. What's motivating you?
If it passes the internal, "It's ok with God" checks then why is it hard to talk about?
If you've never really talked about this topic try the journal idea and read the WARNING above.
If all of this seems a bit too much and you feel like you'd do better with some one-on-one coaching in this area, consider reaching out to a Sexual Intimacy Coach.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST - ELIMINATING STRESS IN YOUR MARRIAGE
There's no such thing as ZERO stress, at least not in the real world. But, you can do some things to drastically reduce the stress in your most important relationship! Here are a few ideas, you can try one or more and see what works for you.
WEEKLY MEETING --- WITH A TWIST!
You've probably heard that booking a weekly meeting together is a great way to help you:
Manage family and work schedules
Discuss parenting issues
Circle back on any "loose end" conversations that need to be wrapped up.
And it's true! Making a weekly meeting with your spouse to discuss the things listed above will GREATLY reduce stress in your marriage relationship.
There's only one problem. It's pretty common for one spouse or both to sincerely dread the idea of a weekly meeting. You've probably heard that you can motivate people with a carrot or a stick. Nobody likes the stick. So, think of a good "carrot" to hold out as a way to end the meeting. Maybe something like, "Our weekly meeting will always end with a quickie." Or, "Our weekly meeting will always end with a walk around the block holding hands."
You get the idea. Talk it over with your spouse and see if you can land on a few "carrots" to end your next 3 weeks of meetings with.
GET OUTSIDE TOGETHER
You may or may not be "outdoorsy" and to be honest, it really doesn't matter. I think one of the smartest things you can do WITH your spouse to eliminate stress in your relationship is to get outside together several times a week. Rain or shine, warm or cold, get out of your house, apartment, RV, and go BE outside together. This is perhaps the most stress-relieving, soul-healing, relationship building things you can do! And best of all - IT'S FREE! Here are 5 fun ideas to get you started!
Sit around any kind of outdoor fire together.
Go for a walk on a trail (off pavement)
When you're out walking - whoever is more of the "point person" in your marriage can walk behind the other person. Practice letting them lead and enjoy the view.
Find a "target" and take turns throwing rocks at it.
Walk around your neighborhood and pray out loud together as you walk
Nothing orients your heart back to God and eliminates stress like serving the least of these. I'm not talking about coaching your kid's little league team. That's great but rarely do spouses coach a kid's team together. I'm talking about the two of you going out and purposely serving those who are hungry, poor, widowed, orphaned, jailed, and thirsty. Jesus says that when we serve these people we are very much serving Him. That's powerful medicine right there!
If you're not sure how to "find" these people then have some fun with your spouse (and kids) and ask everyone to do some detective work for 1 week. Ask Google, neighbors, co-workers, and friends, and then everyone comes back together and reports your findings.
Take some time to pray and see if you sense God leading you and your spouse (and kids) to any people in particular. And then........ drumroll, please..... Go serve them.
Kaila and I have melted away potential stress by orienting our lives around serving others. The difficult things we're going through are kept in the right perspective as we keep our eyes on Jesus and our hearts on serving Him.
GOT QUESTIONS? NEED SOMEONE TO TALK WITH?
We're here to listen and help however we can. Please don't hesitate to reach out.
email@example.com FYI: Kaila and I are the only ones with access to this email.