Let’s Talk About S-E-X

They see you in your most vulnerable state.  Your spouse sees you in the morning when you have bed head and morning breath.  They comfort you when you are vomiting into the porcelain throne.  You are most likely together during childbirth.  Your spouse sees you get dressed and undressed and freshly clean just out of the shower.  You talk about gross infant facts and toddler messes.  After all, you said vows “for better or for worse” right?  So why then do most couples find it difficult to talk about the most important aspect of their marriage?  Why is talk about great sex or even dysfunctional sex such an awkward topic of discussion for many couples?

 

When I was a young married woman, I found it very difficult to talk about sex.  He was my one and only and I grew up in a household where we didn’t discuss that topic.  Thankfully, over the many years of marriage and all of the ups and downs, I have found it easier and easier.  You want to know something?  Your husband probably likes to talk about it.  For your husband, it is on his mind almost always and if you want to get him to talk, there is no better subject matter.  Surprise him and begin talking about sex.  Begin where you are comfortable but don’t stay there – get out of your comfort zone.  If you find that starting with verbal communication is too difficult for you, try writing a note.  Tell him what you want to do.  My husband and I now make it a game – conversation that we can quietly get in while the children are out of earshot.

 

Learn to talk about this with your spouse in and outside of the bedroom.    Give your spouse a verbal high-five – positive feedback is great. If you are having difficulties in the area of sexual intimacy, talk about those problems and work together to find solutions.  It’s a lie of the enemy that sex gets hum drum by staying with the same person for life.  Sex with your spouse can get better as the years wear on and the key to this is open communication.

Seeing Ourselves in the Resurrection Reflection

Self-image is defined as the mental picture that we have of ourselves.  It can be positive, negative or somewhere in between.  Too often we derive our self-image from flawed and ever changing human opinion and usually these trends are completely based on physical attributes.

Please notice that I am writing about self-image – not self-esteem.  I believe that we can have a balanced self-image and we already have too much self-esteem.  Some have an unusually positive self-image or high opinion of themselves.  This personality can even sometimes be a self-indulgent narcissist.  Some have a depressingly low self-image – always emphasizing their flaws.  Both of these extremes are unpleasant and unhealthy.

So, how do we get to a healthy self-image?  We look up.  We go vertical.  Our healthy and true self-image comes from God and Him alone.  This is the opposite of what most of us do.  Most of us look at other human beings.  We go horizontal.  We find another person who isn’t as attractive or talented as us and we feel better about ourselves or we look around and see others who are more attractive, more successful and more talented and you guessed it, we get down on ourselves.  It is a never ending cycle of elation to despair.  There will always be others that don’t “measure up” to us and likewise, there will always be more that will surpass us.  We must look vertical to God our creator – the One who knows us intimately.  How can we learn about our true image?  The answers are all in the Bible.

He created us in His image.  We are so loved by the Creator of the universe, that He came down to die on the cross and pay for our sins and if you have trusted in Christ’s work alone, you are now clothed in His righteousness.  That’s right – when He looks at you, God sees His perfect Son.  You are called beloved.  Don’t we absolutely love it when another human loves us and refers to us in an endearing way?  Well, the Creator loves you and calls you His beloved and you have the most beautiful garment on – Christ’s garment of righteousness.

A healthy self-image will benefit your marriage, parenting and other relationships.  A healthy self-image helps you pour out into other lives instead of retreating inward and you will model healthy behavior for your children too.  Finally, a healthy self-image stops the cycle of elation to despair and you will find peace.

I hope that you will put your trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross and His powerful resurrection.  As we celebrate Easter Sunday or as many of us call it, Resurrection Sunday, we are reminded that Jesus’ resurrection represents God’s acceptance of Jesus’ payment for sins and His victory over death.  Put your trust in Him alone and discover through reading His word, your real image.

It’s Not About the Gushy Mushy Stuff

We meet them and we fall in love. They’re perfect and if our parents or anyone else said a word against them, we wouldn’t hear it. So what happens? Why does our spouse suddenly become this human being with countless imperfections that we feel compelled to nag at? We want an easy life and we think that we deserve it. Basically, we have such a high opinion of ourselves that we believe that we are entitled to never be inconvenienced by others who are different from us.

James 4:1-3 says what causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

When we nag at our spouse, we are communicating to them, in a loud clear voice “I don’t love you just the way that you are – you must perform or change in order to receive my love”. This is not what God calls us to. God calls us to love others. God doesn’t call us to change others. When we demand change in order to love, we are in sin. I’m not advocating staying in a relationship that is abusive. I’m not talking about love as the world defines love – gushy mushy feeling love. I’m talking about love as it is defined in God’s word. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and keeps no record of wrongs. Love is never glad about injustices and rejoices when truth wins. Love never gives up, never loses faith and is hopeful and endures. This is the kind of love that we make a choice to give. It’s not a feeling – it’s a decision. I will love this person today.

A spouse that is unfairly criticized and picked at gets the wind taken out of their sail. They become disheartened and feel unsafe in the marriage. They will stop opening up to their spouse. They may become overly defensive or even seek comfort from others outside of the marriage. This of course, is where many extramarital affairs begin.

I’m convinced that we could all overlook more, especially in our marriages. Most of the time these traits are not sinful, they are just annoying. Pray for yourself – ask God to help you love the way that He intends.

The Simple Gestures That Make a Strong Marriage

Have you ever sat and watched an older couple that has that special something? There is a noticeable depth to their relationship. There is mutual respect and admiration. They enjoy each other and have fun. We sit back and watch and want what they have. We want it but are we willing to do the work? How do we get there in our marriage?

These longevity couples have practiced a few simple daily gestures. These gestures are so simple that every one of us can incorporate them into our marriage.

>They talk. They talk about important things, unimportant things and silly things. They just talk – a lot.
>They spend time together. They are not ships passing in the night. They make intentional time for each other. This doesn’t mean that they are never apart or don’t have some separate interests. It does mean that they are each other’s priority and that they make time to be together.
>The touch, hug and kiss. They hold hands. They look at each other.
>They lift each other up with encouragement. One is strong when the other is weak.
>They laugh together. They know how to be silly with each other. They don’t take themselves too seriously but they do take their relationship seriously.
>They dream together. They dream big dreams and little dreams. They dream practical dreams and dreamy dreams that seem impossible.
>They pray together regularly. If you can, even if it is over the telephone, pray together daily.
>They wake up each morning and make a decision to love their spouse that day.
>They each provide a safe zone to the other so that there can be open dialogue about feelings and struggles.
>They mutually serve each other in all ways.

So you see, it isn’t good luck or the right spouse. It is intentional effort. Each of these gestures is uncomplicated. We can all do these things starting right now.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Thank you for your support of my recent interview with author & playwright Travis W. Inman. Record numbers of you read, liked and shared that post. Please support this author by purchasing Shadows if you are able.

In that interview, Travis and I discussed how a husband and wife can protect their marriage. Travis brought up a point that I would like to delve into. Here is what Travis said:

“Another great thing a wife can do is offering her husband respect. Any man who feels respected by his wife will be much less likely to fall prey to an affair.” – Travis W. Inman

Let’s take a look at how every wife can demonstrate respect for her husband.

> Put his needs before any other human being.
> Don’t try to make him into your girlfriend. Don’t force him to do things that he is uncomfortable with doing. You can ask him – but don’t force him or use guilt or manipulation. Don’t expect him to converse the way that you would with a girlfriend. Less is more. Don’t ask him for his opinion, if you can’t take the truth – “does this make me look fat?”
> Communicate to him through words, actions and attitude that you trust his decisions.
> Communicate to him through words, actions and attitude that you think he is capable.
> Allow him to be competitive. You know, like when he turns the car ride to church into the Indy 500.
> Don’t make him pay for the things that happened to you in your childhood.
> Celebrate with him when he is excited about something even if you don’t really get it.
> Thank him for his efforts even when things don’t go well.
> Don’t minimize or criticize his efforts when he helps with the kids or around the house.
> Let him know that he is your hero. Recently, I was forced to replace my beloved tablet. I had no clue on how to set up the new tablet but my husband did. I let him know how much that I appreciated him for knowing how to do this. He is my hero. After that, he jumped to help every time that I needed help.
>Be available to drop your work and spend time with him.
>Look him in the eye when he speaks to you.
>Show your imperfections by needing his help.
>Let him enjoy your body.
>Allow him the time to do things away from you and the kids without making him feel guilty.
>Accept him the way that he is right now – stop trying to change him.
>Tell him what you need or what he did that hurt you. Don’t make him guess.

So you see, showing that you respect your husband is simple but not easy. If this is an area that you struggle, I hope that you will put a few of these into action right away and add a few each week.

Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes – An Interview With the Author

Today, I have the honor of introducing you to author & playwright, Travis W. Inman. Travis’ most recent release entitled, Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes, is an intriguing story which causes the reader to consider their own choices.  An ordinary man named Justin “Flip” Grey travels across country where he is privileged to speak at a prestigious banking conference. After a successful night, he fights with his wife on the telephone, meets a seductress and faces the proverbial fork in the road. Will he be faithful to his wife or will he succumb to the most tempting woman that he has ever encountered? Travis gives us a valuable look into the consequences, both good and bad, by taking us down two divergent roads. On one road Justin does the right thing and on the other road, traveled by Flip, we see that when we play with fire, we will surely get burned. I highly recommend this well written book – I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t put it down. I believe that Shadows is an important story and can potentially prevent extramarital affairs and even stop them and as a bonus, the book contains a study guide.

Now, let’s meet the author.

Madeline: Welcome Travis. I’ve read your first release When Love Called, which is an uplifting innocent love story. Why would you write a dark tale such as Shadows?
Travis: I believe there is great power in any story to teach. Sweet, uplifting stories have their place in our culture, and as well they should. But, what happens when love and marriage go wrong? Where are the stories that demonstrate the consequences of our sinful choices? I deliberately designed Shadows to be dark and edgy because the topic demanded that approach. Affairs are dark and edgy, and in order for the story to be powerful, it had to bear a similar edge. Of course, the dark edge is filtered through a Christian worldview, and is a safe read for older teens.

 

Madeline: In Shadows, you give the reader a valuable look into possible consequences, both good and bad. As a writer, which did you most enjoy writing about?
Travis: This is like asking if you love your children, even when they do bad things. In the story Justin follows the straight path, and God richly blesses him. Richly? Indeed. Of course my story is fiction, so I bestowed Justin with vast wealth, which he used to invest into the Kingdom of God and made a positive impact in his world. That was fun to write, trying to figure out how to spend and invest his wealth. It was like having a genie in a bottle. That being said, I also had the dark story to write—the part where Justin becomes Flip and walks the sinful path. The people who suffered the most in his dark journey were his family members. While I hated to inflict such pain on them, I enjoyed delving into a story that bears the fruit of redemption. I had to make the darkness miserable enough that the reader understood their pain, but not so much that the reader was dissatisfied. Writers love challenges like that. So, I’d say I enjoyed writing the dark path the most.

 

Madeline: Which character was the most painful for you to write about?
Travis: Justin’s wife, Connie, plays a part in both realities. In the blessed path where she is married to Justin, we see how she reaches out to help others and even starts a ministry that helps rescue battered women. We see her as a fun, energetic, witty, faith-empowered woman. However, in the dark path, where she is married to Flip, there is no one there to help her in her moment of need. I really hated to inflict pain on her. She is a strong woman, but even strong women have a breaking point. And taking her to the very edge of that point was hard for me.

 

Madeline: Tell the readers, in your opinion, what you think is the most important thing that a husband can do to protect his marriage.
Travis: Communication. Open, honest communication with his wife about what is happening in his life, and the struggles he’s facing. Many times men are reluctant to openly share with their wives. Strike that. MOST of the time men are reluctant to openly share what’s going on in their hearts with their wives. If a man can reach a point in his relationship with his wife where he can openly talk about his struggles and his failures without fearing her response, then they will have a foundation of trust and respect. Any marriage rooted in trust and respect cannot only endure the difficult days, it can even repel the darkness. Sadly, most men don’t trust their wives to listen to them without reacting negatively. If they fear their wife will become obnoxiously jealous, why would he tell her that he has a woman at work who was flirting with him? The secrecy of that knowledge can fester in his heart and even cause him to fear that flirtatious woman in an unhealthy way. Soon, his fear becomes shame. From that shame he might feel powerless. From that position of weakness, he might develop intrigue, and his intrigue becomes familiarity, which can become an affair. But, if that same man is able to express his struggle to his wife, she can pray with him, and stand by him, and help him find accountability. Now there is no secret struggle. There is no shame. There are no barriers between him and his wife. They are in harmony, and there is safety for him there. He has to trust his wife enough to share his heart with her. There is a great blessing of refuge and strength in that kind of trust.

 

Madeline: Now tell the readers, in your opinion, what you think is the most important thing that a wife can do to protect her marriage.
Travis: My answer will piggy back onto my previous response. If you are able to allow your husband to open his heart, don’t judge him. Rather, listen to what he is saying and don’t over react. Don’t go batty on him and then demand things from him that he can’t deliver. Once he feels that you don’t trust him, he’s never going to come to you and open his heart again. If your man trusts you enough to share his heart in a way that makes him vulnerable, then re-enforce that trust with respect. And don’t play games with him. For instance, if you are the wife who withholds sex from her husband and uses it as a manipulative tool, then you might very well foster the environment that enables him to seek out that affair. Another great thing a wife can do is offering her husband respect. Any man who feels respected by his wife will be much less likely to fall prey to an affair.

 

Madeline: Ok, let’s get serious.
Madeline: Toilet paper – over or under?  Travis: Over. Over and out.
Madeline:  Coffee or tea?   Travis: Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Madeline:  Steak or burger?   Travis: Burger. Whataburger, if possible.
Madeline:  Bourbon or Scotch?   Travis: Scotch. Please!
Madeline:  Chocolate or pastry?   Travis: Chocolate. Goes great with Scotch!

 

Madeline: Travis, please tell the readers where they can find you.
Travis: http://www.traviswinman.com
http://traviswinman.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/travis.w.inman
https://twitter.com/traviswinman
And here is a link for Shadows on Amazon.

 

Madeline: What are you working on right now?
Travis: I just signed a contract to finish out the When Love Called Series, which should be a total of four books.  I am also currently working on producing a play that I wrote.  It is called 16 Hours.

 

Madeline: Tell us more about your play.
Travis: An elderly holocaust survivor finally tracks down the men who killed his wife and daughter, and traps them in a bank.  Holding the men hostage, along with a few others, he plans to execute them on live TV, but nothing goes according to plan when the hostages refuse to cooperate with him.  All of his life he had hoped for justice.  Never did he imagine that in justice, he would find hope.  Under the expert direction of Jesus Quintero, the play, performed by American Laboratory Theater, has alternate endings, depending on how the audience votes.

 

Madeline: When will we be seeing the rest of the When Love Called Series from you?
Travis: They should be available by the fall or possibly by the first of winter.

 

Madeline: Travis, thank you for joining us and thank you for this incredibly courageous and important book.
Travis: Thank you! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to share with your readers. You have an incredible blog, and I’m honored to be highlighted.

 

Be sure to check out the other works of Travis W. Inman but do yourself and your marriage a favor and get Shadows today.