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

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To Choose Or To Choose Not

1 Corinthians 7:4
The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 

James 1:4
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Kit Kittredge
We're not OK if we're not together.

Kentucky Colonel (that's what he likes to be called) from A Grown Up Marriage wrote a followup to his article, That's Not My Preference that discusses the consequences of a person's choice not to meet his/her spouse's wants/needs/desires.

The article's emphasis is on the person who is capable of meeting his/her spouse's needs, but chooses not do so, usually because it is too intimate. He does, however, makes a clear distinction between those who are not able (because of physical illness or injury), not yet ready (because of abuse issues), and those who are capable, but simply choose not to fulfill a spouse's need/desire.

The mature spouse works to overcome many issues for the good of his/her spouse and marriage. There are natural consequences that occur when a spouse makes a choice not to fulfill a request that falls within his/her capabilities. When someone refuses an intimate request from a spouse, it almost always results in damage to the marriage in the way of a separation from intimacy.  A piece of marital intimacy is destroyed when a need is not met by a spouse who is capable of meeting that need, but is choosing not to. Wives might begin to "nag."  Men might withdraw into themselves and not reach out anymore. In either case, the spouse will eventually find another way to meet that need, taking something that should be part of the marriage and placing it elsewhere. I do not believe that God wants married couples to grow apart, but rather to always grow closer together in oneness.

What to do?

Husbands, if your wife has asked you to do something for her, but you have chosen not to do it, then you need to start doing it.  Ask her forgiveness and tell her you intend to do better, starting right now.  If she wants you to hang a shelf, then get your hammer and do it.  If she wants you to lead a family Bible study, then open your Bible and set a time. If you are uncomfortable, then ask her to help you, and you will grow in intimacy with each other. Don't make it a one-time thing (practice makes perfect, you know).  Keep moving forward and improving, and you will see your marriage grow stronger every day.   If you choose not to, then expect her to express her disappointment, and be prepared to accept the consequences as your intimacy deteriorates.

Wives, if your husband has asked you for something but you have chosen not to do it, then you need to start doing it.  Ask for his forgiveness and tell him you intend to do better, starting right now.  If he wants a more relaxing home, then find a way to make it happen.  If he wants something different in bed, then start doing it.  If you aren't comfortable, then read a book on the subject or better yet, ask him for help.  It's going to be awkward at first, but if you learn together, then you will grow in intimacy with each other. Don't make it a one-time thing (practice makes perfect, you know).  Keep moving forward and improving, and you will see your marriage grow stronger every day.   If you choose not to, then expect him to express his disappointment, and be prepared to accept the consequences as your intimacy deteriorates.

What will I, personally, do with this information?

  • I will listen to what my wife wants and start honoring her requests.
  • I will express my own desires to my wife.
  • I will ask for her forgiveness when she expresses her disappointment, and I will work to improve whenever I can. 
  • I will express my disappointment when necessary, so she can improve and grow. 
  • I will continue to lead us toward a marriage of emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical oneness with each other.
Now, let's get out there and meet our spouses' needs!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'll Go First.

I don't expect many people to understand this as it is very inside.

 I read a lot of blogs.  While reading this week, I came across a somewhat older post that struck me with fresh insight into my life and marriage.

A Grown Up Marriage featured a post in May, entitled That's Not My Preference, in which the author discusses the changes that occur in marriages (yes, people really do change) and the adjustments that must be made to accommodate these changes in a spouse.  

The feature has some blunt things to say about love and intimacy, and the fact that some people spend a lifetime looking for something in their spouses, whether it be a closer relationship, or deeper trust, etc., that simply will never come about.  As the blogger writes, "... many of you may be searching for something you spouse doesn’t currently have the capacity to provide and may never have the capacity to provide ...."

He goes on to state, "... you should not expect your spouse to desire you the way you desire them because that may be something that they currently don’t have the personal experience to do and they may never have it. On the other hand, those of you who fall on the other end shouldn’t expect your spouse’s sexual desire to change either. Accept it for the sign of love that it is to them and be sexually generous with them. Work to understand one another and to meet their needs not in a immature, manipulative way but in a way to please and honor your spouse and marriage. Your will be stronger and you will feel better and be acting like a grown up."

In my last post I wrote about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church, giving His life for it.  I suggested that, to me, the theme of the verse is sacrifice, and that I must sacrifice what I desire for what my wife desires.  The Grown Up Marriage blogger reinforced my opinion that I must sacrifice for my wife.  Maybe she will never desire me the way I desire her.  It's my responsibility to live with it, find an alternative to meet my own needs (plan B), and move on.

Who will change and who will go first?  According to Paul Byerly (The Generous Husband), the grown-up goes first and does more.  So, if I want to please and honor God, then I will go first.  I will give her everything and more, expect absolutely nothing, and find other ways to fulfill the rest.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Husbands, Love Your Wives"

Okay, so if wives are supposed to submit to their husbands in all things, and husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church, then what is a husband (supporter, provider, leader) supposed to do when a conflict arises? I’m not talking about a small conflict, like what color to paint the kitchen, but a larger, long-term conflict – a relationship thing. 

Ephesians 5:22-25 
22Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.  24And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ. 25Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.

While it’s true that wives should submit themselves completely to their husbands (v. 24), it’s verse 25 that keeps me awake at night because it tells me to love my wife “as Christ loved the church, giving His life for it.”   
What???  I am commanded to give my life for my wife???  

As a matter of fact, I am, and I’m not supposed to complain about it.  The inference in this verse for me is sacrifice.  In times of conflict, when my wife and I are at a relationship impasse, I am supposed to sacrifice my own wants for hers, according to the Word of God, even if it means frustration and unfulfilled desires.  Even if it means forever.  (Even if it means that I won’t live to see that ’64 Mustang in its rightful place - my driveway.)  It means that I should demand nothing, but rather lay aside my wants / needs / desires in deference to hers.  I must sacrifice everything for her.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, for sure.  To be honest, I have intense, ongoing internal struggles with my desires; but I made a promise when I placed the ring on my wife’s finger and said, “I will.”  If I want to be a good Christian husband (and I do), then I will give my life for her.   

I will continue to pray, learn, and grow as a husband (please pray for me) as I continue my journey toward a one-flesh marriage with my beloved.