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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Love Letter To My Grown-Up Children

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Kaila and Kieran–Austalia, January 2016

Dear Kieran and Kaila,

I hope you don’t mind that I’m openly sharing this personal peek into my heart. I was going to mail this letter, but then I thought about all the other mamas who are where I am or will be one day and I wondered if they needed words to attach to the jumble of emotions that are inevitably part of this “letting go” process.

I can’t believe this moment took me by surprise. After all, I’ve had two decades to prepare for it. Still, it hit me pretty hard that you two are turning 18 and 21 in just a matter of days. The reality of what that means has left me a bit breathless, and to be honest, a lot scared.

I feel like I’m short on time, and I wonder about all the things I left unsaid and untaught and undone. Never did I think it would be so hard. I always thought moms knew instinctively what to do to settle their babies, and to conquer life for their children, and then to launch their adults, ready to face life’s challenges.

But I quickly found out I was not one of those moms!

I was a blundering mom, trudging my way through every new phase wondering what the right thing to do was. I was sure I was going to have to pay for your counseling sessions one day (thank you for sparing me that expense…so far 🙂 ). Every day, I asked God to parent you because I was certain I was messing it all up on a large scale. It’s okay if you agree. You still turned out amazing despite me.

But here I am again.

Kayla's first day in the world--Feb 8, 1998

Kaila’s first day in the world–Feb 8, 1998

Trudging through.

Scared.

Asking myself questions like,

“Did you know how much I loved you or were you unsure of the priorities of my life?”

“Did I hold you enough while there was still time or did I let my to-do list trump my heart?”

“Did I model to you how to love your spouse and live with their best in front of you, or did you see me seek my own way over Dad’s too often?”

“Did Dad and I prepare you to be a servant in your homes and communities by modeling that or did you see too often that our flesh and selfishness took over?”

“Did we authentically live out our faith before you, or did we cripple your faith with our own weaknesses and doubts?”

“Did Dad and I teach you how to really build a life and a home and give you the tools to do it?”

Those questions and more keep wiggling their way into my consciousness and making me feel a sense of urgency at the disappearing days. I can’t take back the years. I can only pause in this blink of a moment to tell you what I hope you already know, but want to make sure you do.

1—I have failed you and will continue to fail you, but God never will. He is a perfect parent who is never too tired to listen, or too selfish to see what you need, or too insecure to handle all your emotions. He is always good, always kind, always right. He will never let you down. Ever.

2—I’m sorry. I am. You know I could list a gazillion ways I got it wrong. I never meant to. I’ve prayed through the years that the scripture be fulfilled that claims, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” If my love isn’t enough, I know God’s is.

3—Love others better than they love you. Love without fear of getting hurt or getting behind. Love when it’s hard. Be the one who says, “I’m sorry.” Be the one who forgives first. Be the one who gives in. It may not gain you the promotion, or the recognition or even any appreciation, but it will allow you to live a life without regret.

4—Be patient with me as I release you. I once was your home. My heart beat to keep you alive. It always will. Only, you’re grown-ups now. You don’t need me for survival anymore, but I’ll forget that sometimes. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I’m learning how to trust you to the One who has been the true Sustainer of your lives all along. It’s hard but I’m trying.

Friends always.

Friends always.

5—I am so, so proud of you. You are amazing. There aren’t enough words to fully convey that to you. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in my life, nothing compares to our family collectively and individually. Not because I take the credit. But because you are evidence of a Living God who can and will do what I cannot. He traded my inadequacies for His sufficiency. I asked Him to parent you and He did. The proof is in the fact that you look more like him than you do me.

So, you two, it is with some yearning that I look back on years that went by much too quickly. But I also look with promise into the future that is before you now. You are ready for it. Be patient if I’m a little behind the curve; I’ll get there.

I love you both so much,

Mom

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Kieran-always a snuggler.

Sweet Kaila.

Sweet Kaila.

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.