Putting Sex In Its Place

I could feel his eyes on me. And not with appreciation. Then, only half-joking, he said, “If I ever catch those sweatpants off your body, I’m going to throw them away.”

Umm, since when does he care about fashion? Good luck with that anyway. I like my sweats.

Out loud, though, I laughed and quipped, “They’re comfy. I like ’em,” and went on my way.

Later, as I was tossing them into the hamper, I realized that my husband doesn’t mind my comfy sweats. What he minds is my forgetting to trade them for something sexy and remember him. Lately, I’ve been mopey, he’s been sick, and the calendar has been too full. So needless to say, it has not culminated into a heavenly, lose-your-mind moment.

ID-10076442Instead of falling into his arms at night, I’ve been falling onto my side of the bed thinking, I have to be up in 7 hours. Yeah, I should sleep. I have forgotten that Jon needs me—all of me—just as much as I need sleep. I’ve fallen into the dangerous trap of letting my chaos dictate my choices and letting sex fall from its place at the top of my priorities.

Why does it matter? Because, except in extreme cases, married sex is the tie that binds. As we intertwine our bodies, we also intertwine our hearts. I want that. I want him.

So I’ve decided to tell him more often and put sex back in its place. Maybe you need to, too. Maybe life has gotten a bit chaotic and you’d rather take a long bath or eat leftover Valentine’s chocolate.

Maybe you’ve forgotten that you were a lover before you were a mother. 

What do we do?

1—Talk about it and address the real issue. Tell your husband where you are and what you’re struggling with. Talk about what you need and ask what he needs from you. You might be surprised.

2—Put it on the to-do list. I know, I know, that sounds terribly unromantic! But really, it’s important. Now, not in writing mind you—that would be weird even for this die-hard planner—but if we don’t make a mental note and plan to set aside time and energy for our husbands, then we’ll be drained of both by the end of the day. My husband knows I attack everything on my to-do list, so he periodically pencils his name on it to make sure he also gets attacked ;-).

3—Wear pretty underthings and lingerie that make you feel beautiful. This one thing speaks volumes! Since our husbands are the only ones who ever see our intimate apparel, shouldn’t we give more attention to it than to what the world sees? I understand we all have a different degree of comfort here based on beliefs and body image, but just as putting on a smile makes you feel happier, putting on sexy things makes you feel sexier.

4—Pray about it. Really. God is not nearly as uncomfortable as we are talking about sex. He won’t be shocked or offended by your questions and doubts. He wants us to enjoy married sex. He tells husbands, “…may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated by her love.” (Prov. 5:19 NIV) Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Over the years, I’ve recognized that sex has its seasons just like everything else in marriage. Babies, illnesses, crises—life—all make it easy to neglect this area. But let’s determine to put sex in its rightful place. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy each other, draw closer to each other, and burn a few calories to boot. Not too bad a way to spend our time.

 

 

 

 

Before I Was a Mom

thumb_12711248_10208670476670126_7701215921334925346_o_1024I still remember it. Those baby days when life was all about the urgent like  blowout diapers and lost blankies–those days that rarely included a daily shower and shaved legs were a luxury.

I came across this post today at “The Other Johnsons” and thought I’d share it because although I’m past that baby stage, I still have a tendency to let the urgent rather than the significant govern my time. This Valentine’s Day though, I think I’ll toss the sweats and don some lace for the man who still thinks I’m hot and wants to catch my eye. The kids will have to survive for a bit without me ;-).

I hope you’ll also be encouraged to remember that you were a woman before you were a mother, and that your husband likes to see her every now and then also. Happy Valentine’s Day.

The Other Johnsons

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, I’m thinking about what my husband and I will do to celebrate. We actually have a babysitter for the afternoon, so Aaronand I get to take a much needed break andenjoy one another’s company.

I think that this Valentine’s Day will be my favorite because I actually need Valentine’s Day.This is my first Valentine’s Day since becoming a mom. Before I was a mom, Valentine’s Day was just anextra celebration thrown in each year that made us turna nice date into an extravagant date and a simple “I love you” into a long romantic dissertation.

This year, Valentine’s Day has arrived to remind me that before I was a mom, I was a wife. Before we had Desirae, we only had each other. With a baby and no regular babysitter, it’s easy to forget that sometimes. Smelling likebaby spit up and spending…

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For The Fixer-Upper Family–5 Things You Need To Know

I live in a turn of the century farmhouse with an old charm I love, but I also remember the work that went into making it that way. My parents bought this fixer-upper house when I was 15 and invested countless sweat hours, money, and tears into making it our home. It was stripped to undo the years of neglect and refurbished from the ground up. Since my husband and I bought it 14 years ago, we too have worked to make “our” space a place we always want to be.

4681572110_1e72d91afe_zRecently, I found myself looking at “This Old House” for ideas on updating our kitchen. I couldn’t help but see the parallels between making a fixer-upper house functional and beautiful and making a family the same. With a little knowledge and a lot of hard work, we can be assured both will become a place of sanctuary and rest instead of a dilapidated mess.

5 things to keep in mind when working on a fixer-upper:

1—They’re all fixer-uppers. Whether homes or families, they all need constant attention. It’s easy to look around and think you’re the only one with problems like yours. Don’t believe it. Every home, including the brand new ones requires work. The same is true for families. Your family is unique, but your problems are not. And remember that just because something is beautiful on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s not a landmine on the inside. Comparison is the surest way to envy what you don’t have and be ungrateful for what you do have. If you were to switch places, you’d quickly find yourself with just a different set of issues.

2—Start with the foundation. My husband was a builder for 25 years, and he can tell you that the foundation is the first thing to get right and keep right. No matter how well everything else is done, it all will eventually crumble without a solid foundation.

For us, it’s a home built on the principles of God’s word. We believe that “everyone who hears these words of [God] and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

3—It requires constant inspection, maintenance, and investment. There is never a time we’re not working on our “fixer-upper” home. We seem to constantly be fixing cracks in the walls, leaking faucets or pipes, or unsealed windows and doors—you know what I mean. We’re often tired and without the money in the budget to make repairs, but to ignore the problems means bigger problems later.

We’ve found the same is true in our family. Problems don’t go away just because we ignore them. They simply build up under a façade that’s waiting to collapse.

We routinely seek to inspect our family for “cracks” to determine what’s getting in that we aren’t aware of and what’s leaking out that we want to keep. When attitudes and behaviors that we are uneasy with begin to creep in, we try to take stock, assess the cause and go to work on repairs. The longer it goes unattended, the longer it takes to fix, but be patient. Nothing falls apart overnight and nothing is fixed overnight either.

4—When the job is too overwhelming or beyond your expertise, call in the professionals. Why does this seem smart in regard to a house, but like a failure in regard to a family? Can I just revert to my growing-up-country-girl-days and say plainly, “That’s dumber’n a doornail”?

My husband is the best carpenter and fisherman around, but let him under the hood of our car and someone might die. He doesn’t have the knowledge or skills for it, so why jeopardize our lives to prove himself in this area? We can be just as stubborn in our families. We lack the knowledge and skills we need but we jeopardize everything rather than ask for help.

Let’s face it, we can’t know everything or do everything and it’s just smart to ask for help.

5—It’s all worth it. We’ll never be done fixing up our homes, and we’ll never be done fixing up our families. But with the time and energy and money we invest, both grow in value.

My kitchen is a mess right now. After sanding and painting, and sanding and painting, I think I may find sawdust for years. But it’s a good reminder that this process of improvement is a slow one and things definitely always look worse before they look better. Keep the end in sight and don’t grow weary. The dividends are worth the investment.

 

Where are you today in your fixer-upper family? What do you think might need a little extra attention? Happy renovating!

 

He Just Doesn’t Love Me Like I Deserve To Be Loved

Shortly after I was married, I felt the first claws of resentment reaching into my heart because my husband just didn’t love me like I deserved to be loved. I decided that in order to move forward, we should air our frustrations. We sat together with our own notebooks and wrote out each grievance line by line. Jon began to write…and write…and write…and with each stroke of his pen, I became more and more irritated and began to write just as furiously.

ID-100186774He filled a page, and I filled a page. He filled another and I kept in step. Finally out of things to complain about, I put down my pen and he did the same. We traded notebooks and to my horror, I read several pages of “I love you. I love you. I love you.” And to my shame, he read a barrage of accusations against him.

My husband may not have loved me liked I deserved to be loved, but then I didn’t love him like he deserved to be loved either. And most of the time, I still don’t. Next month, Jon and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage. Some of those years have been full of fun and movie-screen romance and some have been filled with hurt, disappointment, and the sheer determination to make it through no matter what.

Through it all, I’ve learned that the greatest destroyer of genuine love in my marriage is a spirit of entitlement rather than a spirit of gratitude. Yes, I have inestimable value. Yes, I am worthy of love. But entitlement to anything makes me a taker, while gratitude makes me a giver. Focusing on what I deserve leaves me wanting, while focusing on what I can offer satisfies me.

I don’t know how it works, but gratitude somehow multiplies my blessings and shrinks my longings. I’m also still learning that the more I appreciate and love Jon, the more easily he can reciprocate that.

I wish I could say I have perfected gratitude. Unfortunately, there are still days I grumble and think he just doesn’t love me like I deserve to be loved, but then I remember this: Love is a choice and, each day, Jon still chooses me. He has done so for 9,449 days and I know he will continue to do so until the day he dies. That alone is reason enough to be incredibly grateful.

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Why It’s Important to Speak Well of Our Husbands

As wives, we’re partners. As moms, we’re leaders. As women, we’re influencers. I have discovered that if I want to be effective in any area of my life, I must first and foremost be effective in my marriage. When it suffers, everything else soon follows suit. And conversely, when my marriage is thriving, then the other areas of my life and leadership thrive also as my passion overflows into everything else I do. I have also discovered that nothing sabotages my marriage more than my own words, especially words spoken publicly.ID-10034235

Lately, I’ve been buried in my husband’s business requirements–calls to make, forms to fill out, and emails to send on top of my own tight schedule. I’ve been tired and frustrated, and I have not been silent about it (um, for those who don’t know me, I’m not silent on much). The challenge to use my words to build up and not tear down has been difficult, and it’s reminded me that to speak life is not always easy, but always worth it, especially when it comes to our marriages.

I am convinced that speaking well of my husband to him and about him is one of the most important things I can do for my marriage. 

Four reasons why our words matter:

1. It impacts our attitude. The more we speak anything, the more we believe it. The more we believe it, the more our actions reflect it. This helps us find joy in our marriages as well as protects it from temptation.

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 (NASB)

2. It impacts our spouse’s behavior. Ever notice how inspired you feel when someone authentically praises you? Our husbands are no different. Our words are a powerful motivator. Be careful though to be genuine. Insincerity is manipulation not encouragement.

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)

3. It impacts our children. Oh how tempting it could be to give our children a front row seat to our grumbling, but what a mistake that is! Our children desperately need to trust their father, and right or wrong, our words can cost him his credibility which in turn have a powerful impact on every future relationship our children will have.

“A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1 (NLT) I would add that we do this most effectively with our own words.

4. It impacts our influence. Our marriage is the most visible way to demonstrate God’s unselfish love. It requires self-control to bite our tongues when we feel we’ve been wronged, but every time we choose to speak praise when we have reason to complain, we breathe life into our marriages and into those who are watching it. The world is broken and an intact marriage is refreshing and gives hope to those who get to witness it.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

I’m not talking about being fake with our words. I’m talking about being generous. All of us are fallible, imperfect, and at times difficult to love. Our husbands are no exception. Then again, neither are we.

I don’t want my husband to take my weaknesses and put them on display and I don’t want to do that to him either.

If you struggle in this area, then let me challenge you to make a change TODAY to find what is good and redeeming in your husband’s character and then be intentional to speak life-building encouragement, not soul-sucking complaints about him. It will change you, him, your children, and your world.

For more encouragement on the power of our words, please read, Toothbrushes and Other Things Not to Share.

Photo courtesy photostock at freedigitalphotos.net.