"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why Husbands Leave, Part 2: Love

I've recently been exploring a list of reasons men leave their wives.  Today I will delve into the topic of love; specifically men who do not feel loved by their wives.

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Love is an emotional topic, but one that can also be approached for a no-nonsense, logical angle.  When we feel loved, we feel content.  The person who makes us feel loved becomes an important focus in our daily thought lives as well as (usually) our daily physical lives. When that person doesn't make us feel loved it can have a devastating effect on a husband.

What kind of effect?
When husbands feel unloved by their wives, they will either (a.) adjust or (b.) leave.  Simple as that.  Which one he chooses depends largely on how unloved he actually feels.


If the marriage isn't quite what he thought it would be, but it isn't horrible, he will probably adjust to a "good enough" relationship and he'll eventually fill in the gaps without her.  This could mean a mistress, a friend, pornography, or just a bunch of hobbies that take him away from the bad feelings and place him in a situation where he feels loved and comfortable again. Yes, he'll adjust, but he won't be happy and neither will his wife. 

On the other extreme there is the husband who has let his resentment fester until there is downright contempt toward his wife.  This is the husband who will leave the marriage.  He isn't feeling good about himself when he is near his wife, and he packs his bags.  He will probably end up searching for a new relationship with someone who gives him the love he needs.

What is love?
According to the Merriam - Webster dictionary, love is:

(1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties 
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers

These are the basic ingredients we need to feel loved.  When a wife shows her husband love he will feel secure and happy being married to her.

How should a wife show love to her husband?

1. Realize that love is a choice.  A wife can choose to love her husband or choose to not love him.  It is an act of the will.  It requires one to deny oneself to meet another's needs and desires.  If a wife is willing to do that, then her husband will feel her affection toward him and it will have a ripple affect throughout their marriage.  If she is unwilling to meet his needs and desires, then her choice will have consequences.  She might lose her husband to another love.

2. Understand that each person speaks a different love language.  Husbands and wives feel love in different ways.  They have to learn how to speak their spouses' love language (not only speak it, but become fluent in it).  When a wife learns to speak her husband's love language, he feels blissfully happy.

*Have you ever noticed what happens when one day you decide to surprise your husband and do something for him that fulfills one of his deep desires?  Does he treat you differently?  Better?  More loving?  It isn't a coincidence.  You have finally spoken his love language and he feels more secure in your arms and in your marriage. Real love isn't based on your preferences, but on your spouse's preferences.
3. Communicate.  Saying "I love you" has not and will not go out of style. Also, the expression "actions speak louder than words" applies to this situation.  Do something for him that shows you are paying attention to his needs.

Just remember that whatever you do out of love must (MUST) be done with a loving attitude (Romans 12:9).  Don't try to show him love by doing something begrudgingly (Deuteronomy 15:10).  What an insult!  Most husbands would rather not have your love at all than to feel like an ass because you are obviously just going through the motions out of duty.  

4. Be there for him.  When he needs to cuddle (and believe it or not, men do need to cuddle), make sure you give him the time he needs.  If he is going through a crisis, make sure you are there, going through the crisis with him.  Make sure you experience him.  The REAL him.  Let him be vulnerable without judging (Romans 15:7).  He needs that kind of unconditional love (the kind he can always get from his friends- hint, hint).

5. Pray for your husband and for yourself.  Pray for an understanding and loving heart, and pray that your husband will feel the love you are expressing in a way that speaks directly to his heart. 

Husbands need to feel loved.  Wives are the number one person who can make or break a husband in this area.

What say you?  As always I would love to know your thoughts on this topic.

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The rest of the series:


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Husbands Leave, Part 1: Significance

Photo from www.fanzwave.net
A couple weeks ago I posted a list I received from someone I met at an Iron Sharpens Iron conference.  My friend had an inventory of reasons husbands leave their wives.  Basically it all boils down to how a man feels about himself when he is with his wife.  You can read my post here.   

The first thing on his list was significance.    Many husbands need to feel significant.  It’s like air or water.  It’s a basic element in a man’s life.  We want to know that we are a high priority; that we matter to those around us, especially our wives.

First let me give a definition of the word significance.  The Merriam – Webster Dictionary defines it as the quality of being important. 

What, then makes a husband feel important when he is with his wife? 

Basically it boils down to this.  When she is willing to put aside other things to spend time with him, or to show him that he takes precedence over everything else (except God, of course), then he will feel significant.

If she places him lower on her list of priorities, he likely will not have a warm fuzzy feeling when he’s around her.  He will be less than satisfied with the marriage relationship, and will be vulnerable and open to temptation by any woman who makes him feel more important than his wife does.

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Scenario 1:

A husband rents a favorite DVD and wants his wife to watch with him.  She is very busy organizing the freezer, then cleaning the oven, so she is unable to watch.  If this happens once, it probably isn’t a big deal.  If it is a consistent pattern, however, it spells trouble.  The husband will eventually stop bringing movies home, and will occupy himself elsewhere instead of with his wife.

Scenario 2:

A husband tries to initiate sex with his wife.  She shares with him a list of things that have to be done around the house.  She lets him know that she is more than willing to “do the deed” after the items on the list are finished.  They both go about their tasks, after which he or she or both fall asleep.  Voila!  He is feeling less important than housework.  Eventually he will just go to bed without her every night, not even bothering to wait up for her.

Scenario 3:

A husband asks his wife to pick up his suit from the cleaners.  It’s important that he have the suit because he has an important meeting in the morning and he wants to give a good impression.  She gets busy with other things during her day and forgets all about the suit.  Again, like in scenario 1, if it is a one-time thing, no biggie.  But if it happens consistently, then clearly he will feel (and rightly so) that he in fact is a very low priority for her.  Eventually he will just take care of his own errands, being self-sufficient, not bothering to ask his wife for a favor.

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You see, husbands need to feel like they matter more than the housework, more than having a clean oven or an organized freezer.  They need to feel significant when they are with you (and when they aren't). 

Don’t get me wrong.  Feeling insignificant is not an excuse for bad behavior such as abuse or infidelity.  However, by choosing to place their husbands lower on the totem pole, many wives face the penalty that comes with making that choice.  They place their marriages in a precarious position.  Even if their husbands don’t run out and grab the first woman who smiles at them, there will be consequences in terms of the lack of loving feelings it produces in the marriage. A husband will be less likely to want to spend time with a person who has placed such little value on his significance.

One deep desire drives every (man’s) heart: we need to be significant. We need to know we matter.  Our need transcends doing something special; we long for being something special.  - Sam Williamson

And, um, before you get all hyper on me and yell at me for ignoring the fact that many husbands place a low priority on their wives … Yes, they do. Granted. There are many men who place jobs, hobbies, friends, etc. far above their wives.  They too will pay for their choices.  And I would address that issue if I were a woman blogging about stuff facing Christian wives, but I am not, so I will stick to what I know and let someone else deal with the flip side.

Let me know what you think about this topic.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.


From the inside out,

TB

Friday, April 20, 2012

Are You the Wrong Person?


It’s time to be blunt.  It’s time someone stopped dancing around this subject and laid it on the line.

In the past few weeks I’ve seen a lot of people blogging about being married to the “wrong person.”  Blogs like this one from Up With Marriage and this one from Marriage Life Ministries.  Both very good posts, very well written, godly, agreeable and correct.  Both bloggers touch on the real issue, but they don't go deep enough into the true essence.  

Okay, so let’s examine the wrong person phenomenon. 

Let’s say you and your spouse fell head over heels in love with each other, and under those circumstances, were married in a lovely ceremony, surrounded by 300 of your closest friends (300? Closest friends?  Really???)  Anyway, after a few years the cracks and flaws began to show and one day you realized how little you actually have in common. 

Every married person gets a surprise or two along the way.  Does it mean you married the wrong person?  Maybe.  Does it mean you are the wrong person for your spouse?  Probably.

What to do, what to do?

Here’s an idea.  Instead of throwing a gigantic pity party for yourself and wallowing in the misery of knowing that you married the wrong person, why don’t you start BEING the right person? 

Impossible, you say?  Nothing is impossible when we keep our eyes on God. 

(Provebs 3:6)
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Does your spouse want something you aren’t willing to give? Then grow up and start giving.  Start doing.  Do you take your role seriously?  Are you married or not?  Is she your wife?  Is he your husband?  Your spouse is supposed to count on you to meet his/her needs and desires. 

But, society tells us what is proper and dignified.  It isn’t dignified to do some of those things. 

Why should we give a rat’s butt what society thinks?  Do we obey society or God?  Are we not followers of Jesus Christ?  Hasn’t He given commands to husbands and wives with regard to their duties to one another?  Have we lost our focus?  I believe so.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow His lead, surrendering our marriages to His will, when we live for Him and do what he has commanded, then we fulfill our roles as husbands and wives.  We live our lives and fulfill our roles as husband and wife as God intended it to be, naked and unashamed.

Married people should never feel embarrassed ashamed or feel humiliated to do something to please their spouses.  Never.  We should delight in pleasing our spouses enthusiastically, without a single thought about being humiliated.  Humiliated?  By obeying God?  I don’t think so. 

(1 Corinthians 7: 4-5)
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. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Husband

Your role is to love your wife.  Love YOUR wife, in the way your wife wants you to love her.  She was given to you as a helper.  Your job is to love her as Christ loved the church, to sacrifice your life for her, to put everything aside in order to serve her. You must provide her with the things she needs and do for her the things she desires.  Be the right person for her, and she will not go through life believing she married the wrong person. 
  • If she needs you to fix something, do it. 
  • If she needs something from the store, get it for her.  If she is running out of toothpaste, buy it for her (please be sure to buy the brand she likes, not the one that’s one sale).
  • If she needs to talk, listen to her. 
  • If she needs some quiet time, take charge of the kids and let her have some time for herself. 
  • If she wants to cuddle, pour two beverages and cuddle with her. 
  • If she wants something particular in the bedroom (hey, it could happen), learn about it and indulge her with enthusiasm.
She is your wife and you are her husband.  It’s time to grow up and become the right person, the person she can count on to grant those deep wishes that until now have gone unsatisfied.  Be the man who fully commits to satisfying her most intimate desires until she couldn’t possibly entertain the notion that she married the wrong guy.
 
Wife

Your role is to submit to your husband in everything.  Submit to YOUR husband, not society’s idea of what a husband should be (remember – we don not serve society, we serve God, and He said this is how it should be).  He is unique with unique needs and desires.  You are his wife; you were given to him as a help meet for him and your role is to be there for him, and to do things that please him.  Be the right person for him, and he will not go through life believing he married the wrong person. 
  • If he needs clean clothes, wash them for him. 
  • If he needs a quiet place to work, clear out a quiet corner for him. 
  • If he needs comfort, hug him. 
  • If he needs extra cash to pay a bill, find ways to cut corners. 
  • If he likes certain foods, cook them for him.  If he enjoys a certain beverage, bring it to him. 
  • If he wants something particular in the bedroom (hey, it could happen), learn about it and indulge him with enthusiasm.   
He is your husband and you are his wife.  It’s time to grow up and become the right person, the person he can count on to grant those deep wishes that until now have gone unsatisfied.  Be the woman who fully commits to satisfying his most intimate desires until he couldn’t possibly entertain the notion that he married the wrong girl.

How wonderful would our marriages be if each of us stopped complaining and became the right person for our spouse?  It comes down to this:  If you are married, then it is your job to do everything you can to satisfy your spouse’s wants and needs. 

Be the right person.

From the inside out,

TB
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Genuine Husband Answers Questions

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Many people write to me each week with questions about God, the Bible, marriage, sex (*SNORT* - hahaha .... he said "sex"), and I try to answer those questions to the best of my ability, weak as it sometimes is.  When I can I will answer a question via the blogosphere and let my readers in on some opinionated pearls of genuine wisdom.  Not all the questions have to do with marriage, or God, or the Bible, or even (*SNORT*) the "s" word.  Sometimes people just want to know a little bit about the Genuine Husband and what makes him tick.  Following are some of those questions.  I will answer them clearly, but without giving too many specifics.  After all, it's always good to leave something to the imagination, right? 

So, here goes!!

You sound like a model Christian husband.  Are you really that good?

I am a typical guy. I face the same thought life and the same temptations as every other guy.  I want what I want, just like other typical men.  I'm a pig and a pervert and not the least bit gentlemanly.  But with God on my side I am able to squash the pig and be a nice guy for my wife (though I don't always want to).

How old are you?

I'm as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. Seriously, I'm somewhere between 40 and death.  But don't tell my wife.  She still thinks I'm a young stallion. :)

How much money do you make from blogging?

As fabulous as that would be, I do not earn an  income from blogging.   I've looked into that possibility, but it's just too much work for too little return.  That is, of course, unless I suddenly become wildly famous.

What sort of church do you attend?

We attend a brand new community church that holds worship services in a very old building. We have a good mix of contemporary and traditional worship styles, and we love our fellow church members - they're a joyful bunch who really are serious about the whole "doing life together" idea.

Would you ever consider doing podcast or a vlog?

I have considered podcasting as well as vlogging as viable options.  It's all about getting the correct info out to as many people as possible, right?  I have to admit, however, that I'm a bit apprehensive about being the "star" of my own vlog.  I've had my taste of fame, and while it was on a very limited basis, I found it a tremendous bother to go to the store without being surrounded by people who wanted a moment of my time.  I rather like the obscurity that comes with being anonymous.
  
How long have you been married?

We've been married 17 wonderful years. Would I do it all over again? You bet I would!  I definitely married above me.  Would my bride do it all over again? Ummmm .......  ???

Do you enjoy writing a blog?

I do.  At first it was a bit puzzling until I got the hang of it and developed my "style."   I finally figured out that the best style happens naturally when you can relax and be yourself.

Do you have other blogs?

I have a personal blog called Tenorboy Journal.  That is the place where I unleash all the madness of the day-in-day-out stuff that happens to me (though I usually try to restrain myself).
 
What is your favorite thing to blog about?

I have a passion for being a husband and the journey I'm on to become a better husband to my bride.  I also love to research and write articles about how to develop intimacy in marriage.

Do you practice what you preach?

I try to put into practice all the things I blog about, but sadly, I don't always do as I say.  Like I said earlier, I am a typical guy with all the typical faults.  That means I fall down.  A lot.  I would love to say that I am perfect in every way and that I have laid open everything for my bride to see, but I am still very much a scared, timid creature who is afraid that the one I love will run away screaming if she ever discovers who I really am.  Silly, I know.  Nevertheless, I am who I am.  But God is good, and He is still working on me.

Does your wife read your blog?  What is her opinion of it?

ARE YOU CRAZY??!!!??  I would be in SOOO MUCH TROUBLE!!!! 
Actually she reads it, though not everything.  She has kids underfoot all day, so it's difficult for her to read some of the more "delicate" marital topics right out in the open.

What is her opinion?  Well, she "likes" some of my posts, so I guess that's a promising sign. :)

Does your wife have her own blog?

She doesn't have a blog as she is not into the whole spilling-my-guts-so-the-world-can-feel-my-pain aspect of blogging.  I may ask her to write a guest post for Genuine Husband in the near future, but it will be up to her to accept or decline.


Do you have questions you'd like to ask me?  If so, write to me.  I'd love to hear from you.


From the inside out,

TB

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Mailbag Monday: Romancing the Wife

This week's reader mail is from an unromantic male.  Here is part of his email ...

I don't do the romantic thing very well.  My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me and I want to show her how much she means to me.  Is there a list of good romantic ideas the average man can use to show his wife how great she is? 

The best gifts come from the heart, so you're starting off on the right track! 

There are many romantic ideas out there.  It's just a matter of finding the right one(s) for you and your bride.   I've tried most of these.  To be honest, some worked and some didn't.  If your wife is the kind who will "play along," so to speak, then most of these will be a piece of cake to pull off.  Bottom line: only you know your bride.  You know her likes and dislikes (or at least you should).  If she's the sentimental type, pick something that will tug on her heartstrings.  If she's playful, pick a romantic, flirty game.  If loves to read, perhaps a romance novel and some "alone time" so she can actually read it.

Here is a partial list things I have tried.  Again, some worked, some didn't.  You decide what will work for you.  Don't "surprise" her with a new Swiffer unless you are VERY sure she'll see the romance in this oh-so extravagant gift.
  • Send her an e-card.  Many of them are free and very, very cute.
  • Are you stopping at the grocery store on your way home?  Most grocers sell flowers now.  They're much less expensive than the same flowers from your local florist.
  • Does she have a favorite decadent treat?  Maybe a special piece of chocolate?  Pick one up on the way home and put it on her dinner plate so it's there when she sits down to eat.
  • Call her at lunch time to tell her you love her.  After she recovers, ask if there is anything she wants you to pick up on the way home.
  • Cook dinner, wash the dishes, and put the kids in bed (make sure you brush their teeth first).

    For those husbands who are on the same page as their wives, and sort of speak the same "sexual language," you can try some of these
  • Try some toothbrush play.
  • Flirt with her via text message.  Maybe even start your own "flirt channel."
  • Play an intimate board game, or download a sexy game for your computer.
Whatever you do, make sure it comes from the heart, and make sure it's something personal and meaningful to her.  It doesn't have to cost a ton of cash, either.  My wife loves Jack Link's spicy beef sticks.  She also loves Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  Each of these treats costs about a dollar.  She loves them and I lover her, so it gives me joy to surprise her from time to time.

Of course, if this breaks character for you (in other words, if being romantic just isn't something you normally do), then it will take some time to get used to doing romantic things.  By the same token, it will take your wife some time to get used to receiving romantic gestures.  She'll probably be suspicious at first, but keep going.  You'll soon turn into a romantic husband ... well, sort of.

From the inside out,

TB 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You're THAT Blogger! ... An Unlikely Meeting

Yesterday I had the joy of attending an Iron Sharpens Iron conference in Albany, NY.  It's been a long time since I spent an entire day with my brothers in Christ, traveling, praying, fellowshipping, and learning how to be better husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, and just plain men. (I won't mention the unlikely trio of middle-aged men in the backseat of a certain old Toyota who were singing and waving their arms and bumping their hips like school children.) 

The day was chock full of informative seminars from men, each of whom is a humble example of Christian manhood in his own right. And while it was wonderful to hear the speakers, eat the muffins, and drink the free java, the best part for me was the conversations that took place in between sessions.  As I walked from room to room to see the information from each vendor and speaker, I struck up many conversations with men whom I did not know, but with whom I share an important bond - brotherhood.

One pastor I met was quite versed in marriage blogs, so I visited with him to continue the impromptu conversation we had begun after the morning seminar.  It was cool to talk to a fellow blogger who also reads most of the blogs I read and contributes to comments and questions, just like I do.

We compared notes for quite a while, then he got a very thoughtful look on his face, and looked at me in a most unusual way.  I have to say I was a little taken back.  But then he said, "Did you used to be Tenorboy?"

"Used to be?"  I said.  "I am Tenorboy, but I moved most of the useful husband/marriage stuff from TenorboyJournal to another blog called Genuine Husband, then I trashed the garbage." 


"Genuine Husband!" he said almost in unison with me,  nodding and pointing simultaneously.  "You're THAT blogger!"  He went on to say that too many bloggers circumvent the real meat of difficult issues for Christian husbands, but there are a few who have the guts to say what needs to be said, in a way that is strong and truthful, but not too offensive. (I'm pretty sure that was a compliment.)

Anyway, he congratulated me for my intestinal fortitude (aw, shucks), and passed along a valuable list from what he referred to as his "husband arsenal."  The "arsenal" as he explained it, is a collection of information that he has compiled over many years of counseling husbands. 

This particular list encompasses a wide range of emotions centering on why husbands leave their wives (it isn't why you think).  According to his information, a husband leaves his wife because of how he feels when he's with her.

Does he feel ...
  • significant?
  • loved?
  • respected?
  • youthful and vibrant?
  • sexy and desired?
  • intelligent?
  • useful and needed?
  • virile and powerful?
  • hopeful and positive?
  • in control of his own life and future?
  • free and liberated?
  • as though he has a trusted, equal partner/side kick in her?
  • as though he can count on her? 
  • generally good about himself when he is with her?

Or does he feel…
  • unimportant?
  • unloved?
  • that he lacks respect from her or others?
  • old, worn and decaying?
  • unsexy and undesirable?
  • stupid, flawed or unnecessary?
  • impotent and powerless?
  • hopeless and pessimistic?
  • as though he has no control in his life or his future?
  • limited, suffocated or burdened?
  • afraid or threatened?
  • as though he and his wife are not on the same team?
  • as though he can't count on her?
  • generally feels negative about himself when he is with her?

According to his research, when husbands feel lousy about themselves, they will seek out (consciously or subconsciously) situations and people who make them feel better.  When that happens, they naturally gravitate toward the good feelings and away from the bad ones, and voila!

I left the conference with joy in my heart, but also with a stronger burden to improve my marriage and to help other married people.  In the next few weeks I will be exploring the topic of why husbands leave, and what can be done to prevent it.  I hope you will indulge me as I will be addressing both husbands and wives in this difficult but important area.


From the inside out,

TB

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lowes - Never Stop Improving

We're doing major repairs to our home, which was severely damaged but Tropical Storm Lee last September.  This type of project requires many trips to hardware stores and home improvement outlets (did I mention that it requires many trips? MANY).

I never pay much attention to receipts beyond the total at the bottom, and perhaps a detail or two about specific items that may have to be returned because of size, color, missing parts, etc.

Recently, however, I noticed the words that were printed at the top of my receipt from Lowe's Home Improvement Center:

Never Stop Improving.

My mind went immediately into overdrive as I pondered this statement ... and it's significance to marriage.  That simple statement hit me right between the eyes.  Have I stopped improving?  Has my marriage become stale?  Have we stopped moving in an upward direction?  

YIKES!!

The Word of God tells us to keep increasing in knowledge.  Take these Proverbs, for example:

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 
Proverbs 1:5

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. 
Proverbs 10:17


An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. 
Proverbs 18:15

OK, but what kind of knowledge?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

Knowledge about true things, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent things. Stuff that is worthy of praise.   


Is marriage good?
Is it true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent?  If it weren't, God wouldn't have created it, right?
    
Then, why would a husband or wife stop improving in the most important of earthly relationships?  Why would they ever settle for good enough?  The wedding is supposed to be the beginning of their journey together, not the end.  It isn't as though there isn't anything left to do after you "get" a husband or wife.  The goal is supposed to be a never-ending one.

So, I urge you to keep learning about your spouse.  Keep finding new ways to pursue, surprise, and please him/her.  Learn about how to improve your part of the marriage.  If your spouse needs something, find a way to give it.  If you have to learn a new skill to please your spouse, then by all means, do it.  Check out a book from the library and study or Google it for goodness sake. There are a gazillion free resources on the internet to help you.  

Whatever you do, never stop improving.   


From the inside out,

TB
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Mailbag Monday ... Being a Help Meet Through Infidelity

As a blogger who tackles controversial topics, I get some unusual, gross, and sometimes angry (Sometimes?  Make that OFTEN!) emails from readers who either disagree with me or want me to fix whatever problems they have created for themselves.

Recently I received the following email.  There isn't really a question in the email, just a wife expressing a collection of emotions about her husband's infidelity.  What struck me (and convinced me to address this email) was the faith that is evident behind the words of this woman and her resolve to work out the problem with her husband.  Of course, the fact that she doesn't use bad language like so many others, is a huge plus.  So, here is a portion of her email ...

I used to think that what you wrote about submission was a load of garbage, but recently my refusal as a wife came home to roost in our house.  A couple months ago I found out that my husband has been having sex with a woman from his plant.... What an ugly scene when I confronted them.  It was awful - I screamed and carried on like a lunatic....  When I calmed down enough to talk to him, he told me that he can't count on me, that I've promised him things and never came through.  He said that"she" understands him, and that she gives him things (sexual - I'm not going into details, you can guess) that I don't give him....  She "speaks his language," and he feels like she really knows him and what he needs.  He said that he feels like he can open up to her, and that he can't do the same with me....  I'm really angry with him for cheating, but I'm also angry at myself for not seeing how my attitude was affecting him.  I never really took his desires seriously.  I kept putting him off for different things he wanted, I told him that someday I would, maybe next week, maybe, maybe, maybe.... If I would have just submitted to him I could have avoided this....  Then he just stopped asking so I thought he lost interest and wouldn't ask again....  And now he attached himself to somebody else....  I'm not sure how this will play out, but I'm hoping that somehow he will get bored with her or vice-versa, that I will be a better wife for of him, and that God will place it in my heart to forgive him.  I don't know how long it will take or if it will happen at all, but I pray that it will.
*Because this letter was from a wife and not a husband, I'm going to address her and her portion of the issues as I see them.  I say "as I see them," because I do not know these people, nor do I know the entire history that led up to this moment.  What I glean from reading the above words is that it is a bedroom-related issue as well as a submission issue, as stated by her words, not mine (possibly the two are intertwined?).  Anyway, I am by no means placing all the onus on women to fix all of their marital problems, but merely addressing the email as I see it.  I'm going to utter my opinion along with some other stuff that ive learned along the way.  I am not an expert in these matters, and this response isn't meant to be an easy fix or an answer to a question (as there wasn't a question in her email).  It is what it is - just a guy spewing out yet another opinion. 

Okay, on to my response ....

****************

First of all, I don't think there is a person on earth who blames you for screaming and carrying on like a lunatic.  To bring adultery into a marriage bed is abhorent, to say the least, on the part of your husband.

That said, I think your insight into the situation is amazing.  I'm impressed by the grace you are showing toward him.  I'm not in any way saying that he isn't wrong for straying, but in recognition of marriage as the proverbial "two-way street," and since you are the one who responded to my blog, I'm going to give you my "take" on what you wrote.

First things first.  You should watch this video, then this one, then this one. Then come back and read the rest of my post.  Go ahead and watch the videos, I'll wait ..............
 
It's true.  There are women out there who are willing to be the woman of his dreams, women with whom your husband will become friendly, in a perfectly natural, innocent way, by matter of circumstance.  Most of these are relationships over which he has no control.  That's just the way it is.  If he goes out to a job, there will undoubtedly be women there - women he has to work with, women he is "teamed-up" with.  One consequence of these working conditions is that he will have female friends.  Most of these women will act very professionally, but occasionally one will not.  Unless he is very strong, he will be tempted at some point by someone he meets ...
  • at work
  • in church
  • at your kids' school
  • while attending activities
  • in the neighborhood
  • you name it ...
In today's world, anywhere (or I should say EVERYWHERE) your husband goes, he is bombarded with visual and spoken temptation, from the way women dress (or don't dress, to be more precise) to the out-of-bounds, inappropriate jokes that are told by both genders.

"But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control." 
(1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

The inference I get from your letter is that your husband is getting sexual gratification from this woman.  I am by no means condoning his behavior, but I will say that the more satisfied he is at home, the less susceptible he will be to temptation away from home.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
(Genesis 2:18)

By being a help meet for him you will have his back and will be the proper assistant especially for him and his needs.  FYI: "help meet" is two (2) words, not one.
Help (n.): that which gives assistance
Meet (adj.): precisely adapted to a particular situation, need, or circumstance
In other words, your job as his help meet is to assist him with his needs in a proper way, (proper for what he needs rather than what the average person needs, or what the media says he should need, or what you think he needs.  


I found a disturbing study recently (I can't place my finger on it right now, so if someone else is familiar with this study, PLEASE write to me and point me to it so I can give proper credit where credit is due).  According to this study, the majority of men who remarry after a divorce, do so because the new wife will do things that the ex-wife would not do.  In addition, the same study found that women will do things for their second husbands that they would not do for their ex-husbands.
 I'm disturbed by this because of the idiocy of the whole idea.  If the first wife and the first husband would only communicate and educate themselves, the whole fiasco wouldn't have to occur. (Oy vey!)
Okay, it's time for the question of questions.  Why do people choose to get married?  The answers differ significantly between men and women.

First, there are a whole slew of reasons why women choose to get married, including
  • Love - hey this is the BIG one, right?  Two people meet and fall in love, then they live happily ever after.
  • The need to have children - The biological clock starts ticking and time is of the essence.
  • Security - The need to be taken care of is a big reason for some women to get married.
  • Tradition - Get married, because "that's what we're supposed to do."
Why do men choose to get married?

While some of the reasons above are certainly valid motives for men, there is one thing a man gets out of marriage that he is largely unable to obtain elsewhere:  Regular sexual intimacy.


Before you start writing to me telling me what an idiot I am, hear me out.

Just think about it for a minute.  I am not saying that sex is the only thing men are looking for.  On the contrary, as I stated above, each of the reasons women choose to marry is also a valid reason for men.

However, here's some food for thought:

Everything you give your husband, he can get the same or better from his best friend, with the exception of sexual intimacy.  The only person he's allowed  to get physically (sexually) intimate with is you.   And that intimacy (or lack thereof) can make or break him.

Oh yeah, and, um ... sexual activity and sexual intimacy are not necessarily the same thing (more about that in a future post).

I can almost hear what you're saying:
"No way!  My husband can't get the same kind of relationship from his best friend as he gets from me!  After all, I'm his wife!"

Let's run through a few possibilities.
  • "I always show great respect for my husband." ... so does his best friend.  In fact, in most cases the respect between two male friends is so deep they will show up to help each other without even thinking about consequences for doing so.  
  • "My husband and I communicate very well.  We talk about everything." ... so does his best friend.  In fact, there is not a better person to lend an open, perfectly non-judgmental ear than a best friend.
  • My husband can always count on me." ... I read recently (another source that I can't find right now, when I need it) that men are more likely to rely on a best friend to keep his word  ("My word is my bond") than from anyone else, including a spouse.

Your task, then, as his wife is to learn what he needs and become that help meet, that best friend, in the truest sense of the term.

If this other woman is giving him something that you don't give him, you need to find out what that is, and if you are, in fact, his wife (his "help meet"), and you are earnest in your desire to restore your marriage, then you have to do your part, regardless of whether it changes his mind or his behavior.  You need to find a way to be the helper who was made particularly for him, to fill his precise, quirky, weirdo need.
  • Pray for guidance and pray that God will change you into a help, meet for your husband.
  • Pray for him, as he is living in sin and is in need of repentance.
  • Learn whatever it is that he needs from you. Learn what true biblical submission is (but don't be a doormat).
  • Start practicing what you learn.  Show him that you are sincere in wanting to reconcile and  in wanting to be the woman of his dreams.  Become his best friend.  Make sure he can count on you.
Well, that's all I have.  I'm not sure my words will be of any help to you.  I am just one genuine husband spouting off about stuff I've read and knowledge I've come across.   It may be helpful or it may be drivel.  You decide.


From the inside out,

TB
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Husband ... Express Thyself!

This morning I was reading Husband, Open Up, an article from Marriage Today, when I realized that the author was speaking directly to me.  If you follow my blogs, then you know some of my personal journey for intimacy.  You also know that I have been working at being more genuine, honest and open in my relationships.

The question is, do I open myself up for others to see?  My friends and family?  My co-workers? My wife? 

If I'm going to completely honest here, I will have to say no.  Shocking, I know.  I am not the genuine husband I claim to be.

Sadly, I still keep most of what I think, want, and feel bottled up inside.  I just go with the flow.  I don't make waves. 

Why?  Because it's easier that way.

Wait a minute ... is it really??

Hmmmmm ....

I guess deep down inside I'm afraid that who I am inside is too ugly to reveal to another person. If I share, then people won't like me.  My wife will look at me with disgust.  In the back of her mind she will always see my true ugliness behind her husband.

Like many other men, I fear rejection, so I go on being the person others want me to be so I don't have the less-that-delightful experience of rejection. If I don't ask, no one will say no.  My experience with people has shown me that I should be careful about trusting them.  I certainly am not talking about all the people, but if we all would take an honest look at this quandary, we would realize the number of people we can truly count on is, indeed, very small.

I'm afraid that my desires are wrong or weird, so I put them away.  I think I'm the only man who thinks and feels this way.  I have desires that are, and will forever remain, unfulfilled.  The reason for this is because either (a) I haven't made them known, or (b) I have made them know as "no big deal," when they are, in fact, a VERY BIG DEAL.  

I'm afraid to lose hope that my goals and dreams will be realized, so I never let them out.  I have a very active fantasy life where all my desires are realized and all my goals are attained.  The moment I let a desire escape my mouth, I risk the possibility that someone will put an end to my dream with a simple 2-letter word: "No."  If I keep them all inside they won't be dismissed, and I will be able to hold onto them a little while longer. 

I, like most me, live my life this way.  Is it a good thing?  Definitely not.  Can I change?  Yes, but it ain't gonna be pleasant.

  • First, I have to accept that I have wants, desires, dreams.  I have to own them and not be afraid of them or ashamed of them.

  • Secondly, I have to be brave enough to let them out of their hiding place. I need to learn to truly express my desires and feelings instead of saying, "whatever you want," or "that's fine," or "I don't care." 
 *A quick word about expressing desires ....

"Expressing desires" is just a fancy way of saying, "asking for what you want."    When we ask for what we want we will get one of three answers:
  1. Yes - If the answer is yes, well, then COOL!  We never really had anything to worry about.
  2. No - If the answer is no, it will hurt, sometimes A LOT.  You have to ask God to remove this desire.  
  3. Maybe - Maybe is generally a postponed "no."  See No. 2.  

  • Finally, I have to pray that God will open me up (this probably should have been first) so that I will be more genuine and learn to express myself honestly.
I have a lot of work to do as a man and as a husband.  I need to open up more and be more genuine in my relationships.  I know that I will risk my comfort and will have to let many desires go unfulfilled, maybe even for a lifetime.  I know it won't always be a smooth road, and people won't react the way they do in my fantasy world.

Still, I must try. 


From the inside out,

TB

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Daily Devotions - A Time to Focus

Daily devotions.  The kindergarten of Bible study.  At least that's how it feels at times.  There is very little substance that can poured into a short reading and lesson that takes a matter of minutes to complete.

Devotionals are often frowned upon in the "seriously christian" world, as they are generally a mile wide and an inch deep, meaning they cover a wide array of topics without the depth of an actual "bible study.

I'm here to tell you that I like daily devotions because they give me an opportunity to pause and reflect on my walk with God.  When I take a moment first thing every morning for daily devotions, I feel a clearer focus to my day because I have invited Jesus to be a part of it.

I realize that devotionals are written , for the most part, on a less-than-scholarly level.  Well, that's perfect, because I am less-than a bible scholar.  Much less.  So for me a short devotional is perfect for my morning quiet time.

There are also many devotionals written for couples.  I highly recommend that every married couple carve out some time in the schedule for devotions.  Even if one of you is a scholar and the other is not, there is great value in spending time together developing spiritual intimacy in your marriage.  Following are some links to devotionals that I highly recommend.  Two of them are free online readings, and one is a very inexpensive e-book.

My wife and I have used devotional time as a couple to delve deep into our relationship and into our walk with God, as a couple.  I believe these times to have been some pivotal moments in our marriage.
So, find a devotional for yourself and for your marriage, and make time to connect with God, and each other.     

Moments With You
Online daily devotional for couples from Crosswalk.

Devotions for Married Couples by Dr. James Dobson. 
A free online devotional study from Focus on the Family

15-Minute Marriage Makeover by Dustin Reichmann
This is an excellent 4-week devotional that probes deep into a couple's intimacy.


From the inside out,

TB

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mailbag Monday: Should A Husband Stop Asking?

Okay, I've decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I'm still having a hard time believing that people would actually write to me for marriage advice.  I am hardly a marriage expert or counselor, but merely a husband and father who does his best every day to live by God's word, loving my wife the way Christ loved the church.

Anyway, I've received quite a few emails from readers who either agree or disagree with my opinions (imagine that!), and some with very thought provoking questions, the kind which would be helpful if they were answered (or at least brought out into the light). 

With that in mind, I've decided to answer a question each Monday, at least until my patience wears thin, or my "expertise" dries up, or it proves to be a dismal failure. (Note "expertise" is in quotes because I am nowhere close to being an expert by any stretch of the imagination.)  I will do my best with what research I have available to me, to answer the question.  Please understand that I am a sinner and a deeply flawed husband, so.... here goes nothing!

This week's question:

When do you give up on intimacy?  My wife and I used to be excited to be together, but more and more we are just leading a boring sex life.  I keep asking her to try new things to spice it up but she won't even think about it.  I don't like to feel like an idiot for always asking. It's embarrassing to keep getting shot down.  I'm fed up and I feel like I can't take her saying no even one more time .  When is it time to say enough and just give up?

(Name Withheld), Stryker, Ohio

Dear Friend,

Many men who are turned down constantly by their wives when they suggest ways to improve the physical intimacy in their marriages, will stop asking and stop initiating intimacy with their wives.  It's normal (not necessarily good,  but normal).  The pain of rejection and the embarrassment of feeling like they are begging for a naughty "treat" is something they no longer wish to experience, so they either give up or seek intimacy elsewhere, like pornography, masturbation, or another person who "understands" them.  Please do not be one of these men. 
 The first place I would point you is Ephesians 5:25-30, which says:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body. 


These verses provide a perfect description our task.  As husbands we are supposed to love our wives - to sacrifice ourselves for them.  There is no "if."  They may be nice or nasty, they may submit or dominate.  Whoever they are, that's who they are.  We cannot change them.  The change must come from their own personal decision to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.  We must love them.  Period.

A WORD ABOUT SACRIFICE:
To sacrifice means to give up something, usually something important, something the loss of which causes us distress.  We are to make that kind of sacrifice, even if it costs our very lives, for our brides.  We must always think of them before ourselves.  

TRANSLATION:
This probably isn't what you want to hear, but you're gonna have to man up and put up with frustration.  If your wife wants "vanilla intimacy" in the bedroom, then she gets vanilla, even if you want strawberry twist.  If she wants to do it exactly the same way every time, then that's what you have to do  Let's face it, studies have shown that wives are the ones in charge when it comes to all things bedroom.  They are the ones who say yea or nay to sex, not husbands.  Wives decide if and when anything physical will happen in the bedroom. They also decide the specifics of what will and will not be done between the sheets.  

Basically, if she says "no," then it's no, regardless of what you say.  Sorry to tell you, but that's how it works.  Sometimes we have to lower our expectations in the area of physical intimacy.  If we don't expect much, then we'll be more appreciative of whatever our wives "give," so to speak.



That said, is it easy to push your desires aside?  No, it isn't  In most cases, men are hardwired to desire sex more than women, and to desire more types of sex than women (in most, but not in all cases).  If this is you, then you have some work to do.
  1. Pray for your wife.  Pray that she will open up more to you and allow more intimacy in your marriage.  
  2. Pray for God to remove this desire from your heart.  If your wife won't change, you're going to have to deal with this head-on.  The more you foster your desire, the more it will grow, and the more disappointed you will be.
  3. Pray with your wife.  Physical (sexual) intimacy is not the only type of intimacy.  Start developing more spiritual intimacy in your marriage.   
  4. Find a friend who will help you stay strong.  You will need someone in whom to confide, someone who will provide encouragement and accountability.
  5. Study - seek God's word on the subject.  You can also seek out other christian marriage resources and study them.  If you are able to read together that is great.  If not, don't let it stop you.  
Let me direct you to another passage:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Always seek the Lord. Grow your relationship with God.  The greater your intimacy with your Lord and Savior, the more satisfying your marriage will be.  I don't know why your wife will not grow with you in physical intimacy.  I do know that God understands your desires and He will help you through it if you seek Him.




I hope this helps a little. Keep trusting in Him.



From the inside out,

TB