What I Have Learned

Being married is hard.  And attempting a challenge like Chandra and I just finished made it even harder! But nothing worth doing is ever easy.  We attacked TheChallenge head-on, and after 224 days of discovering what works for us, and what doesn’t, we emerged on the other side victorious – and stronger.  

Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate,” (Matthew 19:6). Our goal is to see more marriages survive the hard times – that was our purpose in sharing this journey with others.  If Chandra and I, two flawed 40-somethings who have been married 25 years, can complete a 224-day sex challenge, I often wonder what can God could have done if we had discovered this earlier?

Little did I know that pressing into God and pressing into my marriage through sex would bring up issues that were long overdue:

I had a habit of sweeping stuff under the rug and not dealing with it.  That doesn’t work during a challenge that requires INTIMACY and SEXUAL HEALING before bed EVERY NIGHT!

My wife also enjoys sex. . . a lot. . . so there was not ALWAYS a lot of romancing required of me, and that eventually led to Chandra feeling like I took her for granted.  I had to take responsibility for at least an occasional seduction, and make sure she ALWAYS knew how much I adored her body and making love to her – and even spending time with her.

And here is a biggie:  my wife’s top love language is affirmation. . . and I am terrible at giving her affirmation that she needs.  I’m getting better, but I am far from good at it.  I want my wife to know how much I appreciate and love her, and the best way for me to do that is to TELL HER – MANY TIMES A DAY.

I know that TheChallenge has made me a better man, a better husband, and brought me closer to my God.  And both of us are looking forward to this next season in our life.  We will be continuing this blog to share how God blesses our marriage through SEX.

Readers, if you are curious, we encourage you to ask us anything!  We are not ashamed!

He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6 MSG)

“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25 MSG)

 

 

 

 

In order to submit, she has to be led!

Tonight I wanted to respond to my wife’s post from last weekend about submission. I know that submission has to be hard for her.  During a difficult time near the beginning of TheChallenge, one of our counselors had us take a personality test – and it had a scale for dominant/submissive. She scored herself over 90% dominant, and I scored over 90% submissive.  That is our “go to” behavior, crafted out of our brokenness, which ultimately fails as God brings us back to Him.

Chandra was so good at leading when we were younger that I just sat back and let her lead. And she ended up almost working herself to death. . . literally.  She couldn’t (wouldn’t?) take enough time off work to heal after several surgeries, and in 2009 ended up in the ICU on a ventilator for a week.  She had to learn to stand, walk, write, text, and use a computer all over again. Her immune system was compromised, and her health has never been the same.

It’s amazing what happened to me when I was forced to support my family after years of leaving it to my wife to do.  When she could no longer work, I had to pick up the slack.  Thank you, Jesus, for the strength and courage to just take over!

I know I have the ability, and I might even be gifted at leading. But the enemy had me convinced I was terrible at it.  I constantly second-guess myself.  At times I have even been frozen with fear and indecision.  I’m sure that’s why Chandra stepped up to lead when we were younger, and my passivity allowed it. But as the leader that God expects me to be now, I can no longer just stand by and let her lead.  We have both learned that she was not made to lead, emotionally or physically, and when she tries it has terrible effects on her health and on our relationship.

So God calls me to lead, and her to follow, both of us with His help! My wife shared this verse last week:

“As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:24

I have heard many sermons on this verse by pastors who meant well, I’m sure.

But what about the verse that follows:

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. . .” Ephesians 5:25

How can we ask our wives to submit to us if we don’t submit to Christ?  When I am allowing Jesus to live through me, submitting to His will for my life, my wife lines up right beside me, under my arm, to live in submission to God’s will for our lives.  So I ask God every morning to help me lead my wife and my family.  I ask Jesus to live through me and love others through me.  And day by day, by practicing courage and compassion I am becoming a leader, submitted to the One who leads me.

And Chandra, you are way better at submission than you give yourself credit for!  I love the woman you have become through submission and your relationship with Jesus. 

Home Stretch

We are in the home stretch, on day 210 of TheChallenge.  That is 30 weeks of sex – for those who are counting. I was impressed when we made it to 100 days, even more so now!

We have had our ups and down, but now that we are in the last month of TheChallenge things seem to be coasting downhill. Sex has become a normal part of our daily routine.  Notice I didn’t say it had become routine.  Anything but!  We have discovered (and rediscovered) lots of ways to keep sex exciting and new.  

Even though we are looking forward to the occasional evening of rest, I don’t think either of us are ready to give up the intimacy we found through sex.  I go to bed each night with the confidence of knowing my wife loves me enough to offer her body to me, and I do not have to wonder how long it will be until we have sex again!

In the earlier years of our marriage (when we had young kids, and my wife had body confidence issues – partially my fault!) we usually had sex 1-2 times per week, but it might be a week or more between sessions. But in the last few years since our sexual reawakening, I have been able to count on sex at least 3 times per week (sometimes more), and throughout TheChallenge I have known each day that my wife loved me enough to offer herself to me – and our sex life, and the woman I get to share it with, have both become more than I could have ever dreamed.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love is more delightful than wine.”

Song of Solomon 1:2

 

 

Covenant

What does a “covenant” look like?

I was reading a new Bible Study this morning, and it had a great, real world explanation of what a covenant really looks like:

First, an explanation of what a covenant IS NOT:

“I probably looked at thousands of houses and signed purchase offers on hundreds of them. . . I learned to always use a contingency clause that would allow us to back out of our agreement if we discovered something about the property we didn’t like.  Using contingency clauses gave me the freedom to make offers, sign agreements, and even fall in “love” with houses knowing it wasn’t permanent. It’s a great clause for real estate transactions, but a terrible one for marriage.”

So what is a covenant:

“A commitment in marriage is more than an agreement contingent upon one or both persons doing certain things.  It’s a covenant with UNCONDITIONAL PROMISES (caps mine).”

Unconditional promises.  Now there is something most people do not understand.  But that is what a covenant is.  I promise to love you, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part – EVEN IF YOU DO NOT DO THOSE THINGS FOR ME.  No place do the vows say “if you do the same for me.”  That is a covenant.  

I promised my wife, in front of my parents, her parents and our friends to love and cherish her forever, no matter what she does to/for me.  And I still believe that – I am committed to THE COVENANT OF OUR MARRIAGE.  Nothing is more important to me than our marriage, except my relationship with God our Father. 

And I know my wife has the same commitment to me. And we both live in the security of knowing there is nothing in this world that is going to come before our marriage. 

By having that security, we can share how God uses sex, intimacy, and even struggles in our marriage to grow us closer to each other and to Him. God is using TheChallenge to deepen our commitment, solidify our covenant, and develop a bond that will withstand any storm. I am grateful for our covenant. 

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/2239-the-7-rings-of-marriage-5-day-devotional?id=2239-the-7-rings-of-marriage-5-day-devotional

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”  – Matthew 19:6

Want or need?

Here it is Monday night (well Tuesday morning, technically), and this post was supposed to happen on Sunday!  I have a real problem with following through right now!  I am letting what I think my wife and my family WANTS from me, in the moment, disrupt my life, and in the long run letting them down by not giving them what they NEED.

This weekend I heard several times how my wife NEEDS me to ask for help instead of trying to do everything myself.  And yet I got up and fixed coffee, ran to the store for things we forgot on our trip, fixed breakfast, tried to keep everyone organized, and never once asked for any of their help.  Maybe it’s self-reliance.  Maybe it is fear of rejection.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve done it for so long I think they all expect it.

I don’t know but tonight I am tired.  I didn’t hold up my commitment to blog by the end of the weekend so I’m doing it now.  I didn’t do it earlier tonight because I was trying to finish something I committed to finish this weekend while we were gone. But we didn’t finish that thing because I thought that I would upset them if I told them no when they wanted to rent a boat all day Sunday.  When what we NEEDED to do was stay at the cabin and finish the thing we agreed to finish this weekend.  

My leadership in my family is suffering.  My expectations and my family’s expectations are not matching up, and I think it is affecting our relationships, and we are not communicating very well.  Maybe it’s just me who is not communicating.  I don’t know.  Pray that God will give me the strength and the answers I need.

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”               – Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB)

Welcome home!

I took my son to Kansas Monday night to just hang out, and then play golf yesterday.  It was a great time for he and I to reconnect and become better friends! He’s 21, and he’s been overseas for 2 years in the Air Force – he’s being restationed next month at a base on American soil –  yay!

But because I took a night away we didn’t have sex on Monday. (We DID have sex twice on Saturday – does that make up for it?)

Monday night away made our sex Tuesday night really good!  Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder?  At least for Chandra and me.  We made love 4 times from Friday – Sunday, and we have had sex 186+ times over the last 186 days.  When we miss a day we really crave that physical intimacy. 

So Tuesday night was really good:  we couldn’t keep our hands off each other – lots of kissing and grabbing and cuddling – and the orgasm was really good. When you have sex every day you forget what it feels like to let the anticipation build up! I wish for all couples to find what Chandra and I have found through God’s gift of sex.

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.”  – 1 Corinthians 7:3-4

 

Celebrate Marriage

We went to the KLOVE/Air1 Positive Hits concert on Friday night – we love worshiping our God together!  We have liked Danny Gokey since he was on American Idol, and his performance at the concert made me like him even more.  Of course he played his hits, but he also played two songs he had written to CELEBRATE MARRIAGE:  Pretty Beautiful, and Better than Gold (above).  

I rarely see anyone celebrate marriage in America today.  It seems that marriage is just a place where men and women go to get their own needs met, and as soon as it doesn’t work out they just discard it like it doesn’t matter.  Sitcoms make fun of it.  Governments try to minimize the importance of it by legislating what they want it to mean.  

I think we should celebrate marriage.  Any couple who would stick it out through the hard times in order to receive the blessings on the other side should be congratulated! I feel so blessed to have Chandra as my wife, and to have her offer her love, her time, her body to me after 25 years!  I want to offer her my leadership and my service as her husband.  And I want to be a shining example for what is available IN MARRIAGE to those who will FIGHT FOR IT.  

Let’s celebrate marriage as the vehicle which God uses to spread LOVE in this world!  Let’s celebrate those couples who lay down SELF to serve their spouse and love like our God loves.

“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  – Matthew 20:28

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[b] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.  31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  – Ephesians 5:25-31

Hypertension, and sex

For a couple years I have had borderline high blood pressure – not dangerously high, but outside what is considered healthy. I am 45, which I don’t consider old, but apparently now I’m old enough to have a cardiologist.

Yesterday I had my first appointment, and he ordered a heart CT to check for calcium deposits in my coronary arteries and an ultrasound of my heart just to be safe.  He also put me on a mild medication to help keep my pressure down.  It’s hard to admit that I am getting older!

In addition to traditional medical care, he also suggested I get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week, and then proceeded to list about 30 different types of aerobic exercise.  My wife was with me and asked, “Does sex count?”  The doctor said absolutely it did, and encouraged it – Thanks, Chandra!

I’m going to clean up my diet a little bit (I eat way too many burgers and fries), but I don’t think I’m going to have to change my exercise routine too much!  I already stretch and lift 3 days a week, and I’m having sex every day, so. . . 30 minutes of exercise – done!

I don’t know what I’ll do after TheChallenge; I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Maybe we will continue with our own customized workout schedule – aerobic sex 5 days per week!  We will keep you updated!

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

– Proverbs 5:18

Day 177

Now that we’ve reached day 177 of TheChallenge, I kinda feel like we are back in the groove, so to speak.  Like Chandra said in her last post, we are at peace most of the time, and it doesn’t take long for us to get back there, either.

Whatever wounds or pain this challenge uncovered in me were tough to get through. And I know I still have a lot of healing to go.  I had to let go of a lot of unforgiveness that I had swept under the rug and ignored, where it was growing, unchecked – apparently for a long time!  And now I am able to respond to my wife out of God’s love instead of my own anger and resentment.

I have “posed” for so long, hiding behind “I’m ok, everything’s ok”. But really I have been a real mess not wanting to examine where I had unmet expectations and unforgiveness in exchange for just keeping the peace – which eventually led to the short temper and cold shoulders I had been giving my wife. 

Now that I’ve repented I think we are moving forward and building on the love we both have for each other and for our God. And we are truly striving for peace

“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:26‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Dazed and Confused

Since Chandra got back from Florida things have been a roller coaster ride here. Like she said in her last post the first 2 days she was home were incredible. We reconnected just as I had hoped, and the sex was as good as ever. 

On Thursday afternoon she confronted me with a commitment I had made to her and not fulfilled. Partially because I never wanted to make the commitment in the first place, but I was afraid of the repercussions if I didn’t. And partly because I didn’t know the best way to do it, so I procrastinated. 

The disagreement grew until it all came to a head Friday night. I am not going to share details but it was very bad. Saturday there was repentance and reconnection on both our parts and things were getting better a little at a time over the weekend. Plus our son is home for an extended stay after two years overseas which I thought would make things a little easier. 

Then we had counseling yesterday, and things went downhill fast. We had to spend time apart and arrived late and separate to a get together with some friends. 

Afterward I apologized for what I saw as my part, and eventually she said she forgave me. But even though she offered herself to me I was not in a place after the events of the weekend or of the evening to make love to her, and her feelings are hurt. There is so much more to this story, and maybe I will get a chance to share it with you as I disentangle all the pieces, but for now I remain dazed and confused about where we are with TheChallenge, with our relationship, and with our future. 

Please pray that God will reveal my sin and allow for healing and restoration. I hope to be able to bring good news soon. 

In Christ.