5 Powerful Reasons to Suck it Up and Say “I Was Wrong”

No one likes admitting they’re wrong, but Juli’s post today @ Authentic Intimacy makes it a little bit easier. I especially like her point about “black and white thinking.” Hope you enjoy! 

If you are old enough to recall the sitcom Happy Days, you’ll remember “The Fonz.” Henry Winkler played the character of Arthur Fonzarelli, the coolest guy in town. The Fonz in his leather jacket and perfect hair could get all the ladies with the snap of his fingers. Despite his bad-boy persona, the Fonz was a warm-hearted guy who could surprise you with sage advice. But the Fonz had one fatal flaw: he could never admit that he was wrong. In those rare cases when he erred, Fonz would humorously try to say, “I was wwwrrrr . . . ” or “I’m sssoorr . . .” but couldn’t finish his statement.

Do you know anyone like that? At work, in marriage, and in friendship, they simply never own up to their mistakes. They may even be overly kind or generous for a period of time as an unspoken way of making up for faults, but the words, “I was wrong” will never cross their lips.

It never feels good to apologize or own up to our failings. Most of us can get the words “I’m sorry” out of our mouths, but we quickly follow with an explanation of why we were justified in our actions. Or we follow an apology with making the case that the other person has even more to apologize for.

Admitting your faults isn’t the same as giving into them. We all know people who excuse their destructive behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am. Deal with it!” This attitude actually discounts the harm their behavior causes and also neglects God’s call for us to pursue the perfection of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, we are all called to embrace a humble spirit that seeks true reconciliation when we’ve done something wrong or hurtful.

Getting Past Black and White Thinking

The biggest barrier to being honest with our faults is destructive thinking that often plagues us. Admitting, “I was wrong” can be the first domino that triggers a downward spiral of negative thoughts. “I was wrong” leads to “I’m a terrible person,” which leads to “how can anyone love me,” which leads to “I hate myself,” which leads to “God must hate me.”

Although it’s illogical, admitting a mistake or fault can feel like accepting the blame for everything that’s wrong with your marriage, your children, or your workplace. A woman often believes that admitting her faults as a wife would mean letting her husband completely off the hook for his offenses. No wonder we don’t want to say, “I’m sorry” if it ends in conclusions like these! But why do logical, intelligent people fall into this trap?

I don’t mean this to sound patronizing, but the core of the issue is that we haven’t moved past the black and white reasoning of pre-adolescence. Think about the cartoon and movie characters represented in children’s shows. There are good guys and bad guys, villains and superheroes, cops and robbers. Pre-adolescent minds have great difficulty holding together the concept that people aren’t all good or all bad. A small child being disciplined feels incredible shame for his misbehavior. He goes beyond, “I did something bad” and believes “I am something bad.” For a while, he may fear that he has lost his parents’ love.

As we grow, we develop the intellectual capacity to accept that people are never all good or all bad. Your best friend is capable of doing something cruel, and a selfish person is capable of an act of kindness. While we have the intellectual ability to understand this, sometimes we lack the emotional maturity to apply it to ourselves. Even as full-grown adults, we can fall into black and white thinking. “I made a mistake” all of a sudden gets blown into “I must be a terrible employee. I can’t do anything right!”

Moving Toward Maturity

Like every other person on the planet, you are limited and sinful. So stop pretending that you’re not! I remember several years ago getting showered at the gym when I had my period. I was coyly trying to hide my tampon in the bundle of clothes I carried to the shower. A kind lady stopped me and pointed out that I had dropped the tampon. I was very embarrassed, but why? The irony of it hit me. I was in the women’s locker room surrounded by other women who have a period every month. Why was I ashamed to admit that I was normal?

We do the same thing, trying to hide the obvious fact that we are human, sinful, and fallen. Why am I embarrassed when I can’t remember someone’s name? Why do I deny the fact that I get grumpy and can be difficult to live with? Why am I offended when someone points out the negative qualities I know to be true about myself?

Maturity means accepting your faults and limitations but rejoicing in God’s grace that he loves you and uses you in spite of yourself. Learning to be honest with your faults and failures can impact your life in five significant ways.

1. You can only change what you are responsible for.

When you blame others for your circumstances, you are a victim of their choices. When you step up and own your contribution, you can do something to improve things. If the problems in your marriage are 100 percent your husband’s fault, you’re helpless. But if you own your piece of the dysfunction, guess what. You have the power to make an impactful change in your marriage.

2. God gets the glory for every success.

When you are open about your failings and limitations, others around you can give glory to God when good things happen. For example, the more aware I am of my failings as a mom, the more grateful I am for the Lord’s work in my children’s lives. When my children thrive, I know it’s not because I’m such a great mom; it’s because He is such a gracious God.

3. Confession is contagious.

We often avoid asking for forgiveness because we think it will give the other person a free pass for their part in the problem. Ironically, when we are truly honest and repentant, we allow room for the Holy Spirit to convict the other person. Defensiveness is contagious and so is confession. Like a game of tug-of-war, when you let go of the battle of blame, the other person is stuck holding the rope.

4. You don’t have to pretend anymore.

How much emotional energy do you spend trying to convince everyone (including yourself) that you have it all together? Just get it out there . . . “I’m an anxious person.” “I have a short temper.” “I’m forgetful.” “I’m a sinful, fallen human being, but I’m asking God to change me.”

5. You’re growing up.

David wrote, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine” (Psalm 141:5). Taking responsibility for your mistakes is not a sign of weakness but an indication of great inner-personal strength. A major benchmark of emotional and relational maturity is the ability to admit fault and even ask for constructive criticism.

I’m convinced that our unwillingness to acknowledge our faults is a serious illness within the body of Christ. Whether it is disagreements between denominations or within a marriage, a humble heart allows the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Our stubbornness and defensiveness grieves the Holy Spirit and prevents his work from creating deep love and unity among God’s children.

My Spouse Watches Porn: Now What?

Today’s post involves a wife asking Juli Slattery @ Authentic Intimacy what she should do after catching her husband viewing pornography. A thought up front: Some statistics show 1 in 3 women regularly view pornography, so this isn’t a “men v. women” issue. Porn is a pandemic that is eroding our society. Today’s post is a grace-filled look at how to fight it in your marriage. 

“Last night I walked in on my husband viewing porn. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I feel so violated—like I could never share my body with him again. Why should I, anyway? I could never compete with porn!”

If your husband has been involved with pornography, you know the feeling of betrayal in discovery. You question everything: his love for you, your desirability, his credibility. Every sexual experience you’ve ever had with your husband is now viewed through a different lens.

The issue of porn has become increasingly common among women as well. It’s no longer “Every Man’s Battle” but is now “Every Marriage’s Battle.” Pornography is, unfortunately, a growing reality in our world. When meeting with a married couple, I no longer ask if it has played a role in the husband or wife’s life. Instead, I ask what role it has played in their lives. Even a man or woman who isn’t tempted by porn has seen it and been impacted by it.

In one respect, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife can’t compete with pornography. Porn is selfish sex, requiring no sacrifice and no effort to love another person. You can have what you want, when you want, how you want it. Sex with a real person requires patience, communication, delaying what you want to meet the needs of the other person.

A man whose sex drive is hyped up on porn will have great difficulty enjoying the beauty of sex with his wife. Research consistently demonstrates that men who regularly watch porn rate their sexual partners as less attractive than men who don’t view porn. Pornographic material fuels the illusion that fantasy and a sexual release will bring satisfaction. Instead of satisfying, it leads to an insatiable desire for more. If you are trying to compete with the pornographic images on a computer screen, you are out of luck. However, we must remember that porn is not intimacy; it’s a cheap counterfeit. Your husband needs more than sex; he was designed for intimacy.

Couples who experience true intimacy know how to fully share their sexuality—how to communicate the most intimate of experiences with and without words. Being emotionally naked makes you extremely vulnerable. Both you and your spouse have to feel completely safe to let go, to share thoughts, desires, and physical sensations. The journey toward authentic intimacy is one of creating the safest environment possible so that you can explore to­gether without fear of betrayal or humiliation. Porn does the exact opposite. It makes your bedroom an emotional landmine.

As rampant as pornography and sexual addictions have become, God is still in the business of healing. No one is beyond his redemption and restoration. As you seek authentic intimacy in your marriage, here are a few practical steps to take.

Have Empathy for Your Spouse’s Struggle

Although you may not understand your husband’s sexual temptations, you know what it feels like to battle against sin. Empathy begins with humility, the acknowledgment that you are just as flawed and broken as your spouse. If you’re honest, you struggle with sin just like he does. Your besetting sin could be anxiety, self-righteousness, the desire to be esteemed by others, gossip, bitterness, complaining, dishonesty, or even wishing you had a different husband.

Empathy also means understanding that good men are tempted by sexual sin. Christian men who struggle with sexual temptation carry an enormous amount of shame. Just the fact that they are tempted to look at porn or to think sexually about a coworker brings about thoughts like:

What’s wrong with me? No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking this way!

I hate myself for the thoughts I have. If anyone knew what really went through my mind, they would be sickened.

I have met wonderful, Christian men who doubt their salvation because the fight against lust is so great. A godly husband is not a man who doesn’t struggle with sexual sin, but one who continually fights and refuses to give into temptation.

Call Your Husband to Purity

While some wives have a difficult time understanding why their husbands struggle sexually, others approach the issue as if it isn’t a big deal. This is particularly true with porn. I’ve heard wives buy into this thinking with statements like: “It’s not like he’s having an affair. Plus, it takes pressure off of me having to always satisfy him.”

While Jesus extends overwhelming grace and forgiveness to us in our sin, he also calls us to pursue purity. As a godly wife, you are called to help your husband set his eyes on a standard of holiness in your marriage. But how do you do this?

One of the primary ways you can help your husband is to link his behavior with the impact on your marriage. Satan deceives men into compartmentalizing their sexual sin. In other words, a man may believe that he can fantasize about another woman, flirt with someone at work, or look at sexual pictures on the Internet and that this has no impact on how deeply he loves his wife.

Sexual sin of any kind destroys the possibility of intimacy between you and your husband. You can help him make this link.

If your husband is open about his struggle, asking for forgiveness, and wanting help, do all that you can to support him. If however, he denies that it is a problem and refuses to address it, you must begin lovingly drawing boundaries and creating an atmosphere that does not enable sin to continue. These decisions require great discernment, which is why Jesus tells us to bring in a wise third party (pastor or counselor) to help us walk biblically.

Fight Like a Team

One of the most damaging aspects of sexual temptation is that it divides couples. Rarely will a husband and wife discuss how they are tempted sexually unless one of them catches the other in the act. Because of the shame and feelings of rejection associated with sexual temptations, most people keep it a secret from their spouse.

As much as Satan would love to have one or both of you fall into sexual sin, he is happy to use the temptation itself as a wedge between you. The last thing he wants is for you and your husband to work together in combating temptation.

Remember who the true enemy is. Regardless of which of you in the relationship struggles with sexual temptation, you must begin to see this as your problem as a couple. I don’t mean that a wife should take responsibility for her husband’s purity or vice versa. However, when sexual sin and temptation hits one of you, it impacts both of you. Satan will use pornography, inappropriate emotional attachments, and other forms of temptation to further divide you if he can define your spouse as “the problem” or “the enemy.” As long as you are fighting each other, you cannot stand together.

Mike and I have learned over the years what it means to fight temptation as a team. At first, it seemed like an invasion of privacy to ask each other about how we were tempted. Then we realized that it was actually a step toward deep intimacy to be so vulnerable with one another. Fighting together against the Enemy has deepened our trust in one another and profoundly impacted our intimacy.

Being a team doesn’t mean being each other’s primary accountability partners. Although it is healthy for a husband and wife to understand how and when the other is most tempted, you need a woman you trust to ask you the difficult questions, and he needs another man to do the same for him.

Mike and I have also learned that being a team means playing “offense,” not just defense. In other words, we want to have an exciting sexual relationship and enjoy each other as friends. Sexual temptations are not as powerful when intimacy in marriage is satisfying.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 can easily be applied to marriage:

Though one may be overpowered,

Two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (NIV).

This verse speaks of a cord of three strands. Remember that the Christian marriage is not made up of two, but of three. You and your spouse do not stand against the Enemy by yourselves. You stand with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ ready and able to fight with and for you. The Lord’s opinion of your marriage is not neutral. He says in Hebrews 13:4 that the marriage bed should be pure and marriage should be honored by all. The Almighty One also declares that whom he has joined together, let no one tear apart. Begin fighting the true enemy of your marriage as a team by reminding one another that, “If God is for us, who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31).

Author’s note: It is important to understand the difference between sexual temptation and a sexual addiction. Although the psychological community is still debating the symptoms of sexual addiction, we know that it typically involves compulsively thinking about sex, engaging in high-risk behavior (like looking at porn at work or paying for prostitution) and an inability to stop these behaviors despite repeated attempts. Please understand that a sexual addiction, like any addiction, isn’t going to go away with normal marriage interventions. If you or your husband have symptoms of a sexual addiction, please reach out to someone who is trained psychologically and spiritually to address this issue. Here are a few ministries to follow up with: StoneGateResources.org and PureLifeMinistries.org.

Something More Important than Spontaneity

My marriage is the reverse of what today’s article by Hannah at Authentic Intimacy describes: my wife is the planner, and I’m the one who craves spontaneity. In most marriages some form of this dynamic exists, which is what makes this post so great. Enjoy!

Want to watch a group of women swoon? Tell a story about a husband who was completely spontaneous. There is something about the mystery and surprise of impromptu romance that fills women with passion! Anything from randomly picking up flowers to a last minute road trip “just to get away together”. Romantic comedies and chick flicks have picked up on this desire in women- for a man to be so overwhelmed with love that he can’t help but do the outrageous and unexpected for his woman. Sometimes that even means having sex in the middle of cooking dinner!

Well, I didn’t marry a spontaneous man. He is a planner who loves a good schedule. He is intentional about every decision he makes, every meal he eats, and every pair of pants he buys. I learned very quickly that I cannot go clothes shopping with him because I will end up screaming after he tries on the 10th pair of work pants that “just don’t seem quite right.”

For the first few years of our marriage, I started to wonder if the passion and excitement other couples had just wasn’t what I would experience. Caleb would never randomly skip work to have a date, he isn’t much of an improviser, and he definitely doesn’t stand up in a crowded area and say “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” (Although that does sound like something I would do). However, as we have gone through hard seasons and walked through challenges, I realized my husband has a quality far greater and more important than being spontaneous. He is intentional.

Caleb is intentional with conversations we have over dinner. Each year he sits down to ask what our goals are as a couple for the next year. He says “no” to other commitments and important opportunities because he knows we haven’t spent much time together. In every decision he makes, he is intentional about building our marriage.

The Lord has been slowly teaching me that what I am craving in my relationship (intimacy, passion, and closeness), doesn’t come with the impromptu decisions I’ve wanted Caleb to make, but with the sweet secret of being intentional. Caleb was right all along.  While an unscripted plan may feel a lot more fun at the moment, long-term growth comes from being intentional. As I have realized this important difference, it has given me a thirst and desire for things planned together on our calendar more than an impulsive night of sex before dinner.

While an unscripted plan may feel a lot more fun at the moment, long-term growth comes from being intentional.

Not quite sold on this idea? Here are a few things I’ve learned about the importance of being intentional.

Success Comes From Planning

Construction of a building, becoming a professional athlete or starting a business… Nothing grows and builds into something significant because of a spur-of-the-moment decision. Building require plans and measurements, athletes must be disciplined and train for years, and business requires sacrifice, projections, and goals.

I want to stay married, have a strong marriage, and hope to glorify Jesus through our relationship. So how do I do that? Previously in my “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of living, I would just have fun along the way and hope we would end up with something great. However, my planning husband has shown me the value of making goals and working towards them.

Just like a small business, take the time to sit down with your spouse and map out your goals. Where do you want your marriage to be in five, ten, or twenty-five years? What are you doing to get there, or are you just hoping growth will pop up along the way? The road to that relationship of sweetness, intimacy, and friendship is paved with planning.

Being Intentional Gives You Projects To Work On Together

When I have been hoping for my husband to be spontaneous, I find myself waiting. I’m not working toward something, but waiting for Caleb to romance me away.  When I instead crave intentionality, I feel like a player in the game. I’m talking WITH Caleb about decisions we are making, I’m planning date nights to get them on our calendar, and I’m a part of building something together.

Can you treat your marriage like a home project? Pull down the old wallpaper, get a new rug, or maybe even tear down an entire wall. View your relationship as something you have the honor and privilege of working on.

You Will Reap What You Sow

Biblical principals clearly teach that where you are is a direct result of the decisions you make. Here is just one verse that shows the concept that what whatever you plant is what you will harvest. It’s from Galatians chapter 6.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

For a while, I wasn’t sowing anything. I felt like marriage was just supposed to happen, our love was just going to grow on its own, and my prince charming would always know how to love me. I was walking around the field just looking for fruit to pop up, and was confused when I couldn’t find anything. In His grace, God saw my confusion and handed me some seeds. He said “Hannah, you can’t reap a strong marriage if you’re not intentionally doing the work. Throw those seeds down, water them, take care of them, and growth will come up from the ground.”

Plans, goals, and being intentional isn’t quite as sexy as the unplanned surprise, but over the past few years, I’ve been able to witness how beautiful it truly is to pursue a strong marriage together, on purpose. Instead of dreaming of an overly romantic, spontaneous spouse, start to grow your love through the work of intentionality.

Making Time for Making Love

Today’s post from Juli @ Authentic Intimacy post is a practical, honest look at the challenges of making sex a priority when you have young kids. Share this with your spouse, and use it as a springboard for a conversation (and maybe more?) this weekend. 

After a long day of taking care of three little boys, cooking, cleaning, and juggling work responsibilities, I had reached the “finish line.” It was my time to rest. I ignored the subtle flirtations of my husband, Mike, hoping he would get the hint that I was not in the mood. As we were getting ready for bed, I changed into my pj’s and he caught a “glimpse” of flesh.  He looked at me amorously as if the act of changing my clothes was an invitation. I faced a fork in the road: would I “do my wifely duty” or tell Mike what I was really thinking. I responded with a compromise, “We can do it as long as I don’t have to be awake.”

If this had only happened once in a blue moon, our marriage could weather the storm. However, scenes like this one were regular occurrences during the busy years of babies and toddlers. I began to dread sex. Although I loved my husband, I resented that he wanted my body and was encroaching on my rare moments of free time. I remembered hearing that sex was supposed to be a gift from God to a married couple. Frankly, I wanted a gift receipt so I could exchange it for something more useful.

I’m guessing that many young moms can relate to this scenario. The number one barrier to sexual enjoyment for women is a lack of time and energy. Men often don’t understand the mammoth endeavor it can be to switch from “mommy mode” to “lover,” especially when a screaming child is in the next room and dirty dishes are piled in the sink. Who has time for sex?

It was during these busy years that I wrote a book called, No More Headaches. How ironic that I could find time to write a book about sex, but not find the time to actually engage in it! I desperately wanted to discover the secret to getting past the barriers that kept our sex life at best mediocre.

My boys are now 20,18, and 15. There are still challenges, including the fact that teenagers NEVER go to bed and they don’t fall for the whole, “Mom and dad are just wrestling” line. But God has taught me a lot about the importance of sex in marriage and how to make it happen, even in the busiest stage of your life.

Why you can’t put sex on the back burner

Study after study shows that sexual satisfaction and a healthy marriage go together. From a woman’s perspective, we think, “Of course! If the marriage is good, so will the sex.” Men have a different approach, “How could marriage be good without great sex?” According to recent research, the guys actually have a point.

Oxytocin is the powerful bonding hormone that flows through your body in mass quantities when you have a baby. Oxytocin helps you to feel connected to your baby and helps you weather the crazy years of toddlerhood. The power of oxytocin makes your baby the most beautiful creature in the world to you. Women have varying levels of oxytocin running through their bodies at any given time. You may get a surge of it when you have an intimate conversation with a friend or when your husband gives you a backrub. Men are less endowed in the oxytocin department. Your husband will only have huge surges of the hormone at one time – after orgasm. Have you ever noticed that he acts more in love with you after sex? He thinks you are gorgeous with your hair sticking up and your morning breath. That’s oxytocin!

I need my husband to be bonded with me. I need his attention and his help with the demands of children and life. God has designed a way for this to happen through sexual intercourse. It truly is how many men feel the closest to their wives. Understanding the power of the chemicals involved in sex has given me a new appreciation for how critical it is to the health of our marriage. When I sense tension between my husband  and me I often think, “That man needs some oxytocin!”

I could give you many other reason why sex is so powerful, important and not to be neglected. A few of them include the positive impact oxytocin and endorphins (also released after sex) have on you. Regular sex lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, boosts immunity, burns calories, helps you sleep better, and even slows the aging process. Yet, with all this information, it may seem like a monumental task to make sex a priority in your marriage. You may have legitimate barriers to overcome like body image issues, deep conflict with your husband, broken trust, wounds from sexual trauma or physical pain during sex. I don’t want to make light of these painful circumstances. (If this describes your situation, please get in touch with us through our website www.authenticintimacy.com.) But often, great sex doesn’t happen because it’s simply not a priority.

Practical ways to make sex a reality during busy times

Although you may never feel as tired as you do as a young mom, there will always be some reason to neglect sex in your marriage. Like anything else, it won’t get better until you determine to change some things. Busy women find time to do what they deem important. They work out, go to Bible studies, volunteer in the classroom and create elaborate scrapbooks. Is it time for you to make sex a priority? If so, here are some ways to make that happen.

Schedule Sex

This might sound like the most unromantic idea on the planet, but spontaneous sex rarely happens in the busy years of raising kids. You need time to get your mind and body prepared to be intimate with your husband. If you simply wait until bedtime, the chances of you both being ready with energy at the same time are slim to none. Then sex becomes an act of service for one of you. The goal is for you both to enjoy the intimacy and pleasure of great sex.

Couples “schedule sex” in different ways. Some actually put it on the calendar one to three times a week. Other couples agree that each of them will initiate at least once a week. My husband and I had a code word that he would use meaning, “Let’s have sex sometime in the next 24 hours.” Then I had the freedom to initiate within that time frame when it was good for me.

Think about sex

The bestselling book series, Fifty Shades of Grey has proven one thing. Women want to think about sex and feel sexually stimulated. I’ve heard from scores of Christian women who are eating up erotic books like Fifty Shades because reading about sex helps their sex life.

I’ve read the book series (and written a book in response with Dannah Gresh Pulling Back the Shades: Revive more than your sex life – April 2014.) Please don’t fall into the trap of erotica. It is pornography for women. Although it will initially stimulate your sexuality, it will ultimately lead to distance between you and your husband. The greatest sex happens when we are naked in all ways. Porn and erotica cause you to share your body with your husband but stay “hidden” from him in your own secret fantasies.

A holy, erotic book called The Song of Solomon gives a Christian woman permission to fantasize and think about being sexual with her husband in a way that honors God. When you understand the symbolism of the book, you will be surprised by how specific, steamy and erotic this book is – and it’s in the Bible! If you are married, God wants you to think about sex, but to keep your fantasies and thoughts geared only toward your husband. The brain is the most powerful sex organ, especially for women. (Linda Dillow and I recently published a Bible study called Passion Pursuit for married women to help them think about sex in a biblical and holy way.)

Pray about Sex

Yes, you read right. God cares about your sex life. He understands the devastation of finding out your husband is looking at porn or has no interest in sex. He knows the pain of sexual trauma. He even cares about your exhaustion or depression. As a clinical psychologist, I’ve worked with many women through such barriers. While counseling can be a step in healing, God is the ultimate healer.

If your husband is willing, get on your knees together once a week and ask God to show you how to love each other sexually. Ask Him to help you work through the barriers that cause division between you.

There are a lot of great things you can give your kids. You may be sacrificing time and money to take them to play groups, sporting events, and music lessons. But remember this: none of these compare to the foundation of growing up in a home in which mom and dad love each other. Work hard at being a mom, but never at the expense of having a thriving marriage.

Re-finding the Fun In Your Marriage

You know, sometimes it’s not complicated. Today’s post from Juli Slattery is a simple reminder that marriage needs to be – and CAN be – fun. What’s one way you and your spouse could inject some simple moments of fun into the craziness of day-to-day life?

Someone once asked my husband, Mike, “What’s it like being married to a psychologist?” Mike answered, “It’s great. I get to sleep with my therapist.”

In all seriousness, there are some very frustrating things about having a wife who is a psychologist. Probably the greatest drawback is that I always notice what is wrong. Remember the story of “The Princess and the Pea”? She could feel the slightest item under a pile of mattresses. That’s how I feel sometimes in family life. I notice when there is the tiniest hint of conflict, and I am super aware of how we should be improving our marriage and parenting efforts.

To be fair, this may be more the result of being a woman than of being a psychologist. Most women are far more sensitive to relational problems than their husbands are.

My marriage and family “perfectionism” went to a whole new level when I worked at Focus on the Family where my job was to interview marriage and family experts. Practically every day I’d come home with the latest strategy to improve our marriage or a new concern about how we were raising the boys. While Mike was interested to hear what I was learning, he was also realistic about living in the real world rather than in a marriage and parenting utopia. Some nights I’d lie awake worrying about all of the things we were doing wrong, frustrated that my husband wouldn’t “get with the program.”

I can become so uptight about all the things we should be working on that I forget one of the most important elements of family life: enjoying each other. Even with all of my sophisticated knowledge, my husband’s approach to marriage may be better than mine. He continually invites me to “play” with him. “Juli, it’s time to come out of the submarine and join the rest of us,” Mike playfully teases me when I’m deep in thought.

Mike loves vacation, laughing, and wrestling with our three boys. About once a week, he will remind me, “You are my favorite person in the world! I wouldn’t want to be spending time with anyone else but you.” Now that’s worth about 10,000 pages of advice in any marriage book.

If it weren’t for my fun-loving husband, I might work our marriage to death. When we were dating, I was so serious about our relationship that I often squelched the fun of it. One day, Mike was playfully kissing my face and I pushed him away and said, “Those kisses don’t mean anything!” It’s a wonder the guy stayed with me. Talk about a wet blanket!

Yes, there is a time to resolve conflict and learn about having a sacred marriage, but there is also a time to laugh. One of the most effective marriage counseling strategies is to help couples learn to have fun together again. Your brain chemistry actually changes when you and your husband can laugh and truly enjoy each other. Do you remember how to simply delight in each other’s company? Here are three simple things you can do to build fun back into your marriage:

1. Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

Rekindling love and romance sometimes begins with remembering. Get out some pictures from your dating days or watch your wedding video. Go out for dinner at a nostalgic place. Reminisce about your engagement, your honeymoon, or your favorite night together as newlyweds.

2. Try Something New

Your brain likes novelty. When you and your husband do something as simple as going to a restaurant you’ve never been to, your brain will release dopamine, which is how it “rewards” you with pleasure. Pursue a new hobby together, or do something random on a date like painting pottery or cooking a gourmet meal.

3. Create a Work-Free Zone

A few years ago, Mike and I got away for a romantic weekend alone. While he was excited to be with me without kids, I was planning how to bring up an issue I thought needed to be resolved. What better time than a weekend away to address difficult topics, right? While we were enjoying a leisurely stroll, I brought up the issue. Mike felt blindsided. His guard was down and we were supposed to be having fun.

I learned the hard way to separate fun from working on our marriage. There are times to talk and pray through difficult problems, but those times should be separate from recreational time together. If you need to address things in your marriage, have a “meeting”—don’t sneak it in on a date.

Your marriage isn’t a project to build; it’s a gift to enjoy. If God made one of you serious and one of you fun, thank him for the balance your husband brings to your life and your marriage.

When the Husband Has the “Headache”

Today’s post comes from new Friends of the Newsletter,™  the team over at Authentic Intimacy. I love how it flips the stereotype of “women don’t want sex” on its head. Enjoy!

Watch a movie or flip through some TV sitcoms and you will hear men always want sex. Men are portrayed as constantly turned on and trying to get their wives into bed while the women are typically shown rolling their eyes. Ask a group “What do men think about most often?” and their answer will no doubt be, “Sex!”

When you step into the Christian culture, this stereotype may be even worse.  There are books and articles talking to wives and encouraging them to love their husbands through sex, and women who are writing in saying “I have no desire but my husband wants it every day! What do I do?”

So what do you do when you’re a woman but YOU’RE the one desiring sex? What happens when your husband isn’t as interested as you? I see this question come through Authentic Intimacy’s email box at least 3 times a week, and it is always covered in shame and confusion. Women say things like “What is wrong with me? Why do I desire sex more than my husband?” and “How can I fix this? I know as a woman I shouldn’t have such a strong sex drive, but I do.”

If I’m being completely honest, this is something I have personally wrestled with at times. In a culture that screams MEN ARE THE ONE WANTING THE SEX, women aren’t sure what to do with their desires. While each couple is certainly unique, here are some tips to deal with the difference in sexual drive between you and your husband.

Drop the Stereotypes:

Believe it or not, it isn’t a rule or Biblical mandate that men have to be the ones with the stronger sex drive.That is just a stereotype! It is okay to be the wife and also have the stronger sex drive in your marriage. In fact, that’s exactly what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4.

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.”

Did you notice that he listed the wife’s needs first? Paul doesn’t say “Listen, ladies, the men are going to want sex”. Instead, he says we both have needs and desires for our spouse. If you need more proof, crack open the Song of Solomon and read the passionate drive the bride had for her husband. She even took her groom outside in the vineyard for a sexual field trip. That sounds like a woman with a sex drive to me!

Take a deep breath and realize God’s freedom is for both of us to have a desire within marriage.

Pray About It:

We serve a God who cares deeply about our needs, our situation, and certainly our marriages. If this is an area that is causing you to struggle with your spouse, take it to our Lord! Ask Him for wisdom with how to deal with this and how to talk with your husband about it. As I have started to pray about the sexual relationship between my husband and me, I am reminded this is another area of my life I can surrender to the Lord.

Tell Your Husband:

Many women with a stronger sex drive than their husbands’ have so much shame that they have never brought the issue up with their spouse. One of the best secrets to a growing sexual union is communication.

If you are feeling rejected or confused due to your husband’s lack of desire, talk to him about it. For many men, sexuality is linked to their masculinity and plays into their confidence. So prayerfully share your words without being harmful. You can start with something like “I just want to talk to you a little bit about our sexual relationship. I very much enjoy the intimate times we have together, but I feel as though I have desired to have sex more often than we are. What do you think about that?”

In conversations I have had with my husband about this area, it has helped us to be more honest and open about my sexual desire and not view it as negative. In fact, many husbands would say having a wife who initiates more and is pleased during sex would be a home run!

Cut Down on Rejection

I remember talking to a wife who had a stronger desire sexually than her husband. She said “The ironic thing is during the first few years of marriage, he was the one who always wanted sex. I talked to him a few weeks ago and expressed how I often feel rejected by him sexually. He said ‘Now you know how I felt for so many years. I guess I have learned to shut it off’. I never realized it but we have just been in a pattern of rejecting each other. Somehow, I am going to break it”. While this wife admitted she hasn’t always handled their sexual relationship in the best way, she is now walking forward in healing. Is there a way you can build intimacy within your marriage without feeling rejected? Pray and talk with your husband about other ways to connected intimately that may not lead to sex.

For many wives with a strong sexual desire, this is a tough conversation. Like all different areas of our lives, how may the Lord be using this to teach you more about Him? How can you take this difference between your spouse and use it to build an intimate friendship instead of enemies?