Oct 29

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography Addiction

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography AddictionFor some, pornography might not seem like a big deal—who doesn’t look at it?

But the truth is pornography is addictive and can lead to serious problems down the road.

Pornography and sexual addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationship.

Research has shown that 56% of divorce cases involved one partner having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

To learn of your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction can completely blindside you and leave you questioning your relationship and self-worth.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to question if they are “good enough” for their spouse, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with them.

Like any other addiction, people use pornography (or drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, etc.) as a way to self-medicate.

The first thing to remember is that your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is not your fault. Their turning away is not a reflection of a lack on your part, but on theirs.

As the spouse of an addict, many emotions may have risen from denial, hurt, anger, and guilt and has left you wondering what to do now.

There are no easy answers.

Take time to allow yourself to heal from the discovery. You cannot rush the healing process and will have to let your emotions out.

Many times a spouse won’t know where to turn, or who to talk to, and will struggle through the situation alone.

Instead seek outside help, either in a trusted friend or therapist, to help you navigate the twists and turns while you deal with the revelation.

As you move down this path, here are 5 things to do to help you move forward.

1. Map your recovery

When dealing with trauma (and yes, discovering your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is traumatic), you need to take time to acknowledge your feelings.

During this time, you may experience self-blame, outbursts of anger, depression, feelings of detachment, and many other emotions. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and create your own recovery plan.

2. Don’t isolate

During this time you may find your wanting to retreat into yourself especially when you feel your world is falling apart. Instead, find a trusted friend, spiritual leader, therapist, or support group you can talk openly with.

This experience is too difficult and traumatic to be dealing with all alone.

3. Seek understanding

You’ve probably heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and taking time to learn and understand compulsive and addictive behavior can help you on your path to recovery.

Pornography addiction, like any other addiction, is a disease and is a method of self medicating.

As you learn more about the addiction and the impact on the brain, you will have a better understanding of how their pornography addiction is not from a lack (those lies you tell yourself like, your not sexy enough, not smart enough, and so forth) on your part.

4. Practice self-care

As you move through the recovery process, self-care is vital to your healing.

This can be particularly difficult for women because, by nature, they tend to put their needs second to everyone else. When starting out, choose something to focus on from these 3 categories: personal, physical, and spiritual.

These could include keeping a journal (Julia Cameron has an excellent book, The Artist’s Way, that talks about morning pages), signing up for a zumba class, and meditating daily.

As you begin practicing the art of self-care, it may seem selfish but is essential for your own healing. Eleanor Brownn, inspirational life coach, once said, “Self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Taking time to recharge and take care of yourself will, in the long run, help you take care of those in your life.

5. Sense of community

Many great teachers have talked about the importance of “losing yourself in the service of others.”

When you are feeling overwhelmed, with emotions and life in general, take time to go out and perform an act of kindness for someone else. You can also volunteer at your local shelter, library, or community center.

What is wonderful about taking time to help someone else is that you forget about your problems for a while.

During this time it is so important to remember that you also need to take time to heal.

Through journalling new insights, feelings may arise and that can help you in your recovery.

Use this time to set boundaries, define your limits and write down what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. A therapist, spiritual teacher, or trusted friend can help you with this and help you to see things differently.

Remember to take the time to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The journey towards healing does not happen overnight and takes a lot of deep soul work.

It is also strongly recommended that you don’t make any major life decisions for a while about your relationship, unless abuse is involved.

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

Oct 27

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive

By Dustin | Romance

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive (1)At some point, almost every relationship will become stale and routine – but that doesn’t need to be the case for you.

Even the most fun and loving relationship can get dulled out by the daily stresses of life.  The reality is that our hectic lives require a routine to function.

But we have to protect against letting our interactions with our spouse become just another part of the routine.

A fantastic way inject some fresh life into your romantic life is to find ways to surprise your spouse and put a smile on their face.  A little happy moment can go a long way to restoring the spark in any relationship.

Pick one of these ideas and go put a smile on your husband or wife’s face today!

15 Sweet Surprises for Your Spouse

1. Dress Up
When couples get comfortable with each other, they often neglect their appearances. At least once in a while, dress up for your partner.

Putting effort into looking good for your lover can bring back that spark that brought the two of you together in the first place.

2. Love Notes/Letter
Sticking a love note into your partner’s pocket or purse is a great way to surprise him or her in a loving way that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

If you REALLY want to make a lasting impact, write your spouse a love letter.  Pick up one of our popular love letter templates to make it easy and make sure you hit the mark.

3. Be Spontaneous
As the years pass by in a relationship, couples often settle into a dull routine that can zap the spark right out of their love life. This is why surprising your spouse with a special, out of the ordinary activity you can do together can be a great way to put the spark back in your relationship.

4. Massages
Almost everyone loves a massage, and it’s even better when it’s a surprise massage.  Oh, and a romantic at-home massage has some major benefits for your marriage – check this post out for some awesome massage tips!

5. Try New Things
Why not take a cooking class with your spouse? Or take up some other new activity that neither of you know anything about.

Trying something new together can liven up your relationship.

6. Buy A Gift
A great way to surprise your spouse is by buying him or her a special gift. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, and it doesn’t have to be given on a special occasion.

7. Chores
If your husband usually mows the lawn, why not mow it for him one weekend? Taking over a chore usually done by your spouse can be a happy surprise.

8. Get Away
If you truly want to surprise your spouse and bring back the spark in your relationship, plan a relaxing weekend together away from the stresses of everyday life.

9. Relax
After a busy day handling life’s responsibilities, tell your spouse you want to spend some time relaxing alone with him or her. Even if it’s only a half hour a day, this time spent together can be a daily relationship pick-me-up.

10. Surprise Meal!
If your partner always handles the cooking, why not surprise him or her one night with a meal? If you don’t have very good culinary skills, you can always surprise your partner with take out.

This simple gesture can revive any relationship.

11. Good Morning
Each day, surprise your spouse with a good morning kiss. Not only will this keep intimacy alive, but it will start your spouse’s day in a happy way.

12. I Love You
Although you love your partner, you may forget to mention the words “I love you”. Every now and again, whisper these words in your spouse’s ear if you want to keep the spark alive.

13. Be Adventurous
If you are usually a very predictable type of person, shake up your romantic life by doing something with your partner that is out of your comfort zone.

Being adventurous can spice up any relationship.

14. Breakfast In Bed
Bringing your partner breakfast in bed is a perfect surprise that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

15. Picnic
If you really want to surprise your spouse in a fun and romantic way, surprise him or her with a relaxing picnic.

Unfortunately, relationships tend to become boring and predictable over time, and it requires effort by both people to keep things fresh and fun. The good news is that even simple, quick gestures can be incredibly powerful romance boosters.

Give one of these ideas a try today and enjoy the smile on your spouse’s face – and the romantic spark that’s renewed in your marriage!

Oct 23

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night!

By Dustin | Communication

Put Your Cell Phone AWAY During DATE NIGHT (1)Cell phones have changed the way we communicate with our friends and family.

While this technology can help us stay connected more than ever, it can also hurt our relationships if we spend too much time looking at a screen instead of our partner.

To keep your relationships going strong, keep these cell phone etiquette tips in mind when you’re conversing with your partner.

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night

Whenever you’re out on a date with your partner you should put your cell phone away.

Not just sitting off to the side of the table, but completely away in your purse or pocket. A study completed by psychologists at the University of Essex showed that even having a cell phone in view but not in use disrupts important conversations and lowers relationship quality.

Researchers put a cell phone or a notebook on a table and asked study participants to discuss certain topics with each other.

The group that had the cell phone said they felt that trust and empathy with their partner was lower during their conversation.

While the phone never vibrated or rang, and most participants had to be prompted to remember that it was there, its presence still affected the conversation quality.

Having your cell phone out during a date basically signals that the conversation you’re having with your partner isn’t important enough for your full concentration.

Don’t Have Important Conversations Through Text

Even though it may seem easier to have important conversations through a text message, you shouldn’t use that screen as a shield.

It’s impossible to tell mood or tone through a text, which opens up the possibility of a misunderstanding.

And don’t carry on a text conversation with another person while you and your partner are talking.

Send a Romantic Message

Of course, cell phones aren’t something that will completely ruin every relationship. They’re still a great communication tool.

You can use your cell phone to be alluring while you’re away from your partner. Send him an exciting text or leave her a romantic voicemail.

Or, if someone is out of town, use FaceTime or Skype to still see each other.

There are many new smartphones that have video chat capabilities. But you don’t have to spend fortunes on a new smartphone, you can get a great deal on a phone with the same capabilities such as the Galaxy S5 from carriers like T-Mobile.

Join an Online Space for Partners

If you’re friends with your partner on your social media websites, it doesn’t really give you the chance to create stronger bonds online.

You don’t want to share your intimate details on the same account that your mom sees, and you don’t want to be the couple who annoys everyone with their constant declarations of love.

Instead, consider joining an online space that’s just for couples. Websites such as TwoCup and Between let you share private photos and messages between just the two of you.

Get the Cell Phone Out of the Bedroom

While 75 percent of people admit to falling asleep with their cell phones within reach, experts say that not only can this habit affect intimacy, it can affect your sleep as well.

Even though it’s very convenient to use your cell phone as an alarm, it also makes it very easy to check your email or social media accounts one last time before you go to sleep.

The blue light given off by the LED screens inhibits melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us sleep.

Cell phones are also a distraction that prevent us from falling asleep quickly and stop us from reaching a deep sleep.

If you have to leave your phone in the bedroom, plug it in far away from the bed so you’re not tempted to reach for it during the night. And for the same reasons you shouldn’t take your phone with you on a date, you shouldn’t take it to bed with you, either.

There’s a time and a place for using your cell phone. While it’s a great way to stay in touch with your partner, once you’re face to face it’s time to put your phone away and enjoy each other’s company.

Oct 19

Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

I tend to be in the camp that no marriage is beyond repair as long as two people are still in it.

marriage-beyond-sexual-repairI’ve heard from couples who have gone literally years with dysfunctional patterns (sexual and otherwise), yet at some point, something compels them both to move toward each other and heal the disconnect.

Maybe even grow closer sexually than they ever could have imagined.

Personally, I think marriage is hard.  It is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done or will ever do. I think many people would agree with me.

And some of you are in marriages where the pain is incredibly raw. And deep. And debilitating. And maybe the sexual struggles have left you discouraged and disillusioned. If that describes your marriage, I want to neither minimize your pain nor haphazardly throw around false hope.

But here’s the thing.

If you are still married, in my opinion, you are left with no biblical choice but to do what you can to improve the relationship.

(I know this should go without saying, but I’m not talking about abusive relationships.  I’m talking about marriages where two people have grown apart, lost interest in sex and/or encountered relationship roadblocks that seem insurmountable).

So what does it take to heal and strengthen a marriage, particularly from a sexual angle?

If you think your marriage is beyond sexual repair, here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I refusing to own my part in it?

Sexual disconnect begins in too many ways to outline here.  Suffice to say, sex is both complex AND simple. That dichotomy can make it hard for a couple to get on the same page (or on the same bed, if we’re looking for a more accurate phrase).

But if I had to funnel the challenges into themes, one that would consistently rank at the top is that one or both people in the marriage won’t own their own stuff.

In other words, is sex difficult in your marriage because of you?

For example, you won’t seek healing from the past, such as past promiscuity, sexual abuse, adultery or pornography use.  Or you won’t let go of false messages, such as sex is bad, sex is a choresex is gross, and sex is sinful (even in marriage).

Or possibly you refuse to understand what’s going on with your body, such as hormonal issues, other physical issues, lack of orgasm and body image struggles.

Whatever your issues may be, are you dealing with them?

Because if you are letting them to continue to sabotage sexual intimacy with your spouse, that’s heartbreaking.

There is no better time to deal with your issues than now.  And there is no better time than now to find countless Christian resources available (counselors, books, seminars, blogs, DVDs, etc.)

2. Did we stop working on our friendship?

Because I write about sex, people think I know “secrets” to incredible sex in marriage. There is one “secret” that I consistently recommend (and it’s really not a secret at all).

I tell people to build great friendship with their spouse. And I’m not talking about friendship that looks like other friendships you have.  I am talking about genuine companionship and fun with the person to whom you literally pledged your life.

Many things sabotage a couple’s ability to work on their friendship.  Sure, it’s easy when you’re dating and newly married, because you likely have a ton of time to simply focus on each other.

But then life happens. Careers. Kids. Crazy calendars. House maintenance. Bigger decisions. And so on.

The other subtle thing that happens is friendship drift, meaning you start to take a lot for granted with this person standing next to you.

Those “dating days” seem like a luxury for which we just don’t have the time.”   It’s not malicious.  Two people drift apart because the demands of life became relentlessly loud and stressful.

But great friendship in a marriage is foundational to incredible sex with your spouse.  You have to walk in the direction of friendship.  Or you’ll continue to drift apart.

3.  Am I always reacting the same way to my negative spouse?

Okay, I get it.

Maybe  you aren’t the one hurting sex in your marriage. Maybe it is your spouse who is the culprit.  So what then?

What do you do when your spouse is not responding to your frustrations, pleas for marriage counseling, sexual initiation and so forth?

It’s probably time for a different approach.  If your spouse is manipulative, passive aggressive, unwilling to deal with their own issues or just generally negative, then you still need to find ways to stay healthy.

Seek counseling for yourself. Continue to build and enjoy your activities and hobbies. Invest in yourself physically, such as walking more, joining a gym, getting plenty of sleep, taking hot baths.

Read books for tips (one I recommend is How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick).  Pray. Find ways to give back to your community by getting involved in charities you believe in.

Strive to not get sucked into your spouse’s manipulative arguments.  I’m all for communication, but when a negative spouse is just trying to pick a fight, your best response is to stay calm and refuse to engage in childish behavior.

Sometimes when you start responding more maturely to a negative spouse, they will begin to see the light and realize they too need to grow up and help restore all aspects of intimacy in the relationship

Sometimes this doesn’t happen.

But even if it doesn’t, your choices still will help you be healthier emotionally and physically.

Is your marriage beyond sexual repair? I don’t know.  But I do know the above questions are worth asking.

For more reading, also check out the series What Is Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

Oct 13

Do This to Instantly Be Happier (it may shock your spouse)

By Dustin | Time Management

Do This to Instantly Be HappierIf you ever find yourself feeling stressed out or even overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, you’re going to love this post.

I’m going to share with you one of the BEST and EASIEST things you can do to bring more happiness to your home.

Check it out and then share it with your spouse today so you can take action together.

It could change your life.

How’s That Balanced Approach Workin’ for Ya?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of “work-life” balance or other similar terms.

You’ve probably heard some “expert” on Oprah or Dr. Phil telling a young husband or wife that they need better balance.  You’ve gotta get things in check and be balanced in all areas of your life, right?

WRONG.

In the lives we live today, no two days are typically the same and no two weeks are ever the same.

Between the demands of trying to share quality time with our spouse, raise our kids, work, attend any number of evening activities, exercise, take care of the house, contribute to our community, hang out with our friends, enjoy hobbies…well you get the idea.

If you tried to maintain balance between all of your responsibilities, you’d not only go crazy, you’d fail.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried it and then beat yourself up for not being able to pull it off.

Forget Balance – Do This Instead

The good news is that balancing your time is not important.  In fact, it’s probably harmfully unrealistic and stressful.

Happy families do not have balance. They have BOUNDARIES. (click here to tweet this out)

Let me explain.

At this stage in your life, you should forget about trying to keep your time balanced – instead, set healthy boundaries and stick to them as much as possible.

By boundaries, I mean you set both space but especially time boundaries.  You have work time, spouse time, kid time and so forth.  These are planned ahead and agreed upon with your family.

This may seem subtle, but it’s incredibly freeing and really powerful.

  • Spouse time is not work time, so you can put your phone away and actually have a focused conversation with your husband or wife.
  • Kid time is not chore time (at least not always), so you can play with dolls now, fully present, and take care of paying bills later.
  • Time spent on side businesses, self-education or hobbies you love is specified and held within healthy boundaries as well, so you can fully enjoy it within some self-imposed constraints that your spouse has agreed to.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work, and it cheats both you and your loved ones.  Don’t try it.

You may think you don’t have time to use boundaries in your busy life.

The truth is you don’t have time NOT to, and you’re wasting so many wonderful opportunities right now if you’re trying to be balanced.

Make A Change Today

If your marriage is anything like ours, this idea of setting healthy, specific boundaries on your time may be pretty foreign.

When you bring it up to your spouse, they may be a little shocked by what you’re suggesting.

If your schedule has been out of control for a while (like ours was), the suggestion of communicating about how you spend your time as a family and committing to some changes proactively may seem to come from left field.

But it’s so worth it – you can instantly reduce stress and guilt in your relationship and bring more happiness to your home.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to get started:

  1. Ask your spouse to read this post with you and set a time after the kids are in bed to talk about your family schedule.
  2. Share where you’ve felt frustrated both by where you’d like to spend more guilt-free time and where you’d like to cut back.  Your spouse should do the same so you can have an open conversation.
  3. Together, agree on just ONE boundary you want to put in place this week.  You can always add more later, but you want to start off simply and see how well this works for you.

What does a boundary look like?  It can take any form really, but here are some sample ideas for you to consider:

  • Phone/computer blackout zone (you can’t use them) between 6-8 p.m. to preserve family time
  • Side business/hobby time only before 7 a.m. before the rest of the house is awake
  • Minimum of 15 minutes of Couple Time at 8:30 p.m. when the kids are in bed
  • Always go to bed together at 11 p.m.

The right boundaries will be specific to your household, but you can see how setting a few at different times of the day can provide clarity and consistency that your whole family will appreciate.

It doesn’t take a big change to make a BIG difference in your marriage and family life!

Want an Action Plan to Add More Quality Time to Your Life?

If you’re interested in enjoying more quality time with your spouse and kids, be sure to check out our popular Get More Quality Time workshop.

Here’s a rundown of the benefits you’ll get from this program:

Quality Time Workshop

Go check it out now and reclaim control of your schedule today!

How to Enjoy More Quality Time

Oct 12

Babies and Toddlers and Children, Oh My! (RE)Creation Date Ideas

By Debi Walter | Romance

Untitled design (1)We have had the privilege of having our daughter along with her four children (ages 18 months to 8 years) stay with us this past week.

It has been fun, loud and wonderful, but when it comes to romance it has pretty much taken a back seat.

Especially since our 3 year old granddaughter sleeps on the little sofa in our bedroom while she’s here.

It made me rethink what it’s like to romance your spouse when you’re in the throes of raising small children.

Everyone is different when it comes to what romancing your spouse looks like in the various seasons of life.

Tom and I are planning to go out for a nice dinner tonight, since it’s our first night without lots of little people calling us “Papa” and “Nana”.

If your kids are like most, you or your wife most likely hear “Mommy!” more times than she can count, and that’s just before lunch! Kids can wear you down and drain you of any and all creative energy.

But. You Must.Reset…

…for the sake of your marriage and sanity!

Here’s a date idea you may enjoy so much that you plan these types of dates on a regular basis, and I pray that’s the case. Your marriage is that important!

(RE)Creation Date Ideas

Take time to reconnect on a regular basis by revisiting the place in your heart where the two of you fell in love. Remember that the choices you made then are what paved the way for your crazy, wonderful life today. It’s true what they say, “It all started when two people fell in love.”

To begin with make a list of the things you used to do before you had children.

Choose those things that are like snapshots in your mind of that season of life. Maybe you played a lot of tennis, or met together at a favorite coffee shop; maybe you enjoyed meeting at a favorite restaurant for a drink after work; or maybe you took long walks together. Whatever those moments are that you cherish–“recreate” some of those same dates again and see if it doesn’t (RE)ignite some fresh passion.

The only rule is–No talking about children, work, ministry or church activities. This is your time to recreate some romance–and no one else is allowed. I encourage you to leave your cell phone on silent as well. If you haven’t been this intentional lately, you may feel awkward, but don’t give up. It won’t be long until you’re both remembering what you love most about your spouse.

May this be the beginning of something not-so-new, but oh-so-good!

Until next month…

 

 

Sep 21

When You Crave Sex More Than He Does

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

When You Crave Sex More Than He DoesI am a wife with a high sex drive.

Some people would say that trait puts me in an incredibly small minority.

But word to the wise, there are more of us out there than you may realize.

I do hear from women who would love more sex with their husband — and they are baffled as to why he isn’t on board with that.

Each marriage is unique and the circumstances behind mismatched sex drives certainly vary.  I get that.

Some of the below questions, though, might spur some opportunities to either better understand what’s going on or to initiate some dialogue with your husband.

If you want sex more than he does, ask yourself:

Does he really know I want more sex?

Sometimes subtlety works in making sexual desires known, but I wouldn’t rely too heavily on this approach.

If you are “hinting” at wanting more sex or if you are simply waiting for him to always be the one to pursue you, such an approach is probably leaving you frustrated.

Somewhere along the way, I think women (particularly Christian women) got the idea that it is more appropriate to wait for him to do all the initiating. The problem is there is nothing biblical to such a thought.

If you want more sex, don’t assume he knows.  And if he is not receiving your attempts to initiate, talk to him (preferably in a non-sexual setting).

Express to him that you hunger to be with him more sexually.

Could there be a physical reason he’s not interested in sex?

I certainly can’t cover every physical possibility, but there are a few worth mentioning.

For example, some guys experience erectile dysfunction and they find this embarrassing and/or discouraging.  They simply don’t want to either initiate sex or respond to your pursuit, because they question whether they will be able to get and/or maintain an erection.

They don’t want to disappoint you or themselves, so their logic is to avoid the situation altogether.  But that approach is not doing either of you any good.

A variety of things can cause erectile dysfunction.  Sometimes age and/or alcohol consumption can play a factor. Sometimes it can be the result of medications (such as for high blood pressure) or various medical conditions.

Certainly you and your husband shouldn’t navigate this on your own or make sudden changes in medications.

If you think your husband is struggling with erectile dysfunction, talk to him.  Be his champion and partner and safe person.

Remind him that it is not a reflection of him as a man and that erectile dysfunction is increasingly a more treatable experience.

It is worth a trip to the doctor and any specialists to talk openly.  This is true not only for erectile dysfunction, but also such things as weight gain, depression, diabetes and so forth.

Doctors, nutritionists and counselors exist to help individuals and couples build healthy lives, including healthy sexual intimacy.

And it is important to remember that even if actual intercourse is no longer possible, sexual contact that is affirming to both of you is still possible.  Throughout marriage, whether we are talking about sex or anything else, we have to find ways to adapt and still nurture our oneness.

Is he stressed about something?

Stress can take a toll on any person’s sex drive.  No surprise there, but we tend to think it is women who struggle with this, not men.

As much as we like to joke around about men being able to forget about everything when they crawl beneath the sheets, this is just not always the case.

I can point to a few occasions when my husband and I tried to make love, but he admitted that his mind was preoccupied with something else.

It wasn’t that his heart wasn’t in it.  His mind wasn’t.  And he couldn’t get past that barrier in that moment.

If you think your husband might be worried or stressed about something (finances, work, family matters, other responsibilities), shed light on this. Express to him you are concerned and you want him to be able to talk to you about everything, even the stuff he maybe is trying to protect you from.

Ultimately, what makes for an intimate bond (sexual and otherwise) is a deep abiding friendship.  If he is overwhelmed or stressed, you as his wife need to know.

Dealing With Unbalanced Sex Drives...
or Other Intimacy Issues?

Intimacy Reignited was created to help you rekindle the intimacy in your marriage and create a lifestyle that encourages more and better sex. Intimacy Reignited
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Does sex always mean mutual sexual pleasure?

This question might surprise you, but hang in there with me, okay?  If the pattern in your sexual intimacy has always meant intercourse, then that is how you as a couple have come to define “sex.”

As life moved along, you found you wanted sex more than he did, and you both still saw it as always including intercourse.

But a husband and wife can experience sexual connection without intercourse every time.  Are you willing to experience nakedness with each other and closeness and sexual touch without it always concluding in an orgasm?

Are there deeper issues going on?

Sometimes a man’s sex drive with his wife decreases because of deeper (maybe even tragic) circumstances in the marriage.  These could include (but not be limited to) such things as deep communication problems, pornography use, and infidelity.

Obviously, if a husband and wife are struggling in their relationship (or if one of the spouses is struggling in the relationship), then this is going to take a huge toll on sexual intimacy in the marriage.

I think counseling can benefit a couple any time in marriage, but I think it is a necessity if the marriage is facing a crisis.  Don’t hesitate to say to your husband that you want the two of you to go to a marriage counselor.

If he won’t go, then go on your own.  Not only will this give you the insights of a professional counselor, it also will demonstrate to your husband that the status quo situation of your marriage is not okay with you.

You are going to do whatever you can to strengthen the marriage.  (If you can’t afford counseling, check out these three ideas).

Lastly, with regard to sex drive, I want to encourage you as a woman to remember that it is not wrong that your sex drive is higher than your husband’s.

Sometimes I hear from women who think there is something “wrong” with them for wanting sex.  But the truth is that sexual desire is a good thing in a marriage and couples will spend their married years navigating the impact that desire has on their relationship.

As I said at the beginning, I am a wife with a high sex drive. And that drive at times has been higher than my husband’s.

Though it can feel uncomfortable to address this in a marriage, we are grateful we have.  The health of our marriage is worth it.

Sep 15

Finding Time for Sex

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Today’s post is adapted from our book 15 Minute Marriage Makeover – Refresh Your Relationship, Add Sizzle to Your Sex Life & Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day.  Please check out the end of the post for more information.

Finding the Time for SexHave you encountered times in your marriage where one or both of you wanted to have sex, but there just wasn’t time or energy for it?

I know that we used to face this realization way too often in our own marriage.

We would exchange some “indications” earlier in the day that we were looking forward to an intimate evening.

However, after a longer-than-usual time spent getting the kids to go to sleep, we would remember the need to straighten up the house for guests the next day or a work deadline would surface that needed immediate attention.

Before we knew it, one of us was busy working on a project while the other had fallen asleep on the couch.

At this point, it’s often easier to just say, “Let’s try again tomorrow.  Good night.”

Today’s Lesson

So, how can we avoid this recurring problem where we feel there’s no time to have a quality sexual relationship with our spouse?

The simple answer is that we must make sex a priority in our marriage.  Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are practical ways to make it happen.

It all starts with our mindset.

I want you to imagine for a moment that you know that your spouse is not going to be alive tomorrow night.

Tonight is literally your last night together on Earth, and you know that both God and your spouse desperately want your last night together to be spent making love and sharing a deep intimacy with one another.

Now, do you have time for sex tonight?

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but the point is that we cannot treat sex with our spouse like another chore on our to-do list for the day.

We cannot say that we’ll have sex as soon as the “important” stuff like the dishes, laundry and baseball game are out of the way.

We’ll dig deeper into why sex is important to each of you in tomorrow’s lesson [note: the lessons in the book build on each other each day], but suffice it to say that a healthy sex life is the center of a healthy, thriving marriage.

And when you treat sex like just another chore, it becomes just another chore.

And that is not okay.

Today’s Couple Time Task

During your 15 minutes of Couple Time today, I’d like you to talk openly and honestly about where each of you sees sex fitting into your lives in terms of priorities.  Discuss both where it sits in your own mind and where you observe it to sit in your partner’s mind.

Please be forewarned that there’s a very good chance that your personal perception will not be your spouse’s reality when it comes to this sensitive topic.

Do not get into a fight about who is right or wrong, but instead treat your partner’s thoughts as the truth.

After all, when it comes to your sex life, it’s truly their perception that matters.

Spend a few minutes talking about how you can make improved intimacy (including sex) a higher priority in your daily lives.

  • When are some times when you could be intimate instead of doing other mundane things around the house?
  • Where are some areas that you could improve in your overall intimacy, including those areas that don’t directly involve sex?
  • What has been holding you back, and what can your spouse do to ease your burdens and help you desire more intimacy?

Finally, I’d encourage you to spend this evening pretending like it is your last evening together on Earth. 🙂

Today’s Tips

  • Do not fall into the trap of using your Couple Time today to argue or point blame at each other.  This is your time to be constructive and work together to improve the intimacy in your marriage.
  • While sex is the culmination of physical intimacy, keep in mind that intimacy should be alive and well in many areas of your marriage.
  • Some examples of intimacy outside of sex include recreational time spent together, physical activity together, spiritual intimacy, emotional connection and even financial intimacy.
  • For in-depth and very “HOW TO” help improving both the depth of your intimacy and the frequency and quality of sex in your marriage, be sure to check out Intimacy Reignited.

This post is adapted from one of 28 powerful daily exercises that will take your marriage from good to extraordinary in just 15 minutes per day.  To pick up your own copy (in Kindle, paperback or audiobook format) and take your marriage to the next level, just click here.

Sep 14

Make Your Own Fall Bucket List For Two

By Debi Walter | Romance

Photo credit: smokeyrow.com

We’ve all heard of and may even have a bucket list. The idea stems from the movie of the same name and provides encouragement to be intentional in making the things you hope will happen in your lifetime a reality.

It’s no surprise that we need to be intentional in romancing our spouse as well. This is by far my favorite topic when it comes to writing about marriage.

Living in Florida we look forward to Fall more than any other season of the year. I think it’s because we get so tired of the heat and humidity that we’re ready for a change.

Maybe your marriage has been enduring some heat and humidity of its own. Maybe you need to look forward to some fresh Fall romance amid the cool Autumn breezes? Well, look no further…

How To Make A Fall Bucket List For Two

The checklist in the photo can be an easy way to start, but read below to find out how you can personalize your own romantic fall themed bucket list!

What you’ll need:

One sheet of card stock

Markers of different fall colors (orange, black, brown, green, red and yellow)

Fall stickers, if you like to embellish

A Computer (for reference purposes) or to create your bucket list as pictured above.

How to make it:

Start by researching the events happening in and around your area for September, October and November. Highlight any that interest you. You can do this alone as a surprise for your spouse, or you could turn the making of your list into a date night in itself. Either way, it’s sure to be a fun project.

Write the events on your sheet of card stock, using a different color for each event.

Add stickers to make your list more colorful.

Display your project in a place where you’ll both see if often.

The fun part:

Each week, or however often you decide, pick an item off of your list to do. See if you can get through the list before you celebrate Thanksgiving. You could even plan something big as a reward for finishing the list.

Need ideas? I’ve provided a list below to get your romantic ideas flowing. Of course, you’ll discover lots of great ideas on the internet that  you can add to the list.

The most important part is to make the most of every season in your marriage. What a blessing to have a best friend with which to celebrate all the changing seasons of life.

As a friend often says…Let’s Get To…

  1. Visit an apple orchard.
  2. Drink hot apple cider.
  3. Do a corn maze challenge.
  4. Go for a scavenger hunt in the country looking for: an orange leaf, an acorn, a pine-cone, a red leaf, a feather, etc…
  5. Listen to a live concert under the stars.
  6. Watch a movie under the stars.
  7. Go to a costume party or plan your own.
  8. Make s’mores over an open fire.
  9. Enjoy a night around a fire pit outdoors.
  10. Go to a football game.
  11. Carve a pumpkin together or compete making prizes worth it for the winner.
  12. Go horseback-riding or go on a hayride.
  13. Go square dancing, or any other types of dancing you enjoy.
  14. Go watch people dance if you don’t enjoy doing it yourself.
  15. Go antique window shopping or to garage sales.
  16. Have breakfast at your local farmer’s market.
  17. Go to an art festival or craft show.
  18. Eat candied apples.
  19. Enjoy a fondue for two.

Whatever you do, make sure you plan some romance this fall. We’ve waited a while to have nice weather outdoors again–let’s make the most of it!

A Fall Bucket List may end up being an annual tradition.

Happy Fall Y’all!

(photo)

Sep 09

5 Ways to Keep Work Stress from Straining Your Marriage

By Dustin | Help

couple-hugging guest postWe’ve all been there. You have a stressful day at work and you come home feeling down, angry, worried or on edge. The last thing you want to do is end up taking it out on your spouse.

While it’s completely natural to feel this way, it’s important that you take the time to find a way to manage your stress, so that it doesn’t spill over into your family life.

Stress in Today’s Workplace

If work leaves you feeling stressed out, you’re definitely not alone. One report found that 80% of workers feel stress on the job, with 25% having felt like screaming or shouting because of it. With employees working longer and harder than ever before, it’s no wonder work-related stress has become an issue.

Some of the most common sources of work stress include:

• Heavy workloads
• Limited opportunities for career growth or advancement
• Low salaries
• Management style
• Interpersonal relationships
• Conflicting demands or unclear expectations

Feeling stressed out due to work-related pressures is not uncommon. However, it’s important that you find ways to cope with stress so that it doesn’t end up being a burden on your marriage.

Don’t Let Stress Put a Strain on Your Relationship

Even when stress stems from outside your marriage, it can still have a negative impact on your relationship. If you’re feeling stressed out, you’re more likely to argue, withdraw from each other and end up feeling frustrated, disconnected, sad or angry. Avoid letting stress impact your marriage with these 5 helpful tips.

1. Take a Moment to Unwind

When you’ve had a stressful day at work, it’s important to take a bit of time to decompress so you don’t just walk in the door complaining. Take some time to yourself to calm down and unwind. Taking that time to relax can help you to feel better equipped to handle a stressful situation.

If you can, take a moment to go outside and get some fresh air. Go for a quick stroll, breathe in the fresh air and give yourself some time to unwind. Try making this part of your routine. Having a consistent ritual gives you something to focus on and allows you to take control over part of your day.

2. Try Talking to Friends and Family

It’s great having a partner you can turn to when you are dealing with a stressful situation. While it’s important to be open and communicate with your partner, you don’t want to overwhelm them with your stresses either. Social engagement is one of the best ways to rein in stress, so it’s good to have a network of friends who you can reach out to.

Sometimes it just helps having a friend to talk to who can provide a fresh perspective on things. Having other people to talk to will help you to avoid dumping all of your problems onto your spouse, while allowing you to release some of the built-up tension by simply talking about it.

3. Create a Plan

Once you’ve had a chance to think about what is causing you stress, it’s time to take action. Feeling like you have a lack of control is one of the main causes of stress, so it helps to take back that power. Write down as many solutions as you can and pick the best one. Feeling like you have control over the situation can help to lower your stress levels and address the problem.

There are lots of other great stress management techniques out there, so make sure you take the time to deal with your stresses. Whether you set time aside to meditate, exercise or simply schedule in quality social time, make sure you address the issue before it takes its toll on your relationship.

4. Focus on the Positives

If you find yourself constantly talking about the stresses of work life, try and take a moment to talk about something more positive. Start by expressing your gratitude and letting your partner know how much you appreciate them. You can also take some time to write down all the things you are grateful for in life.

It may sound a bit cheesy, but several studies have found that expressing gratitude can help to guide behavior and even change how you feel. Showing appreciation towards your partner can have a huge effect on relationship satisfaction, while helping to reduce stress.

5. Set Aside Regular Time for Each Other

It’s common for people who are dealing with stress to distance themselves from their partner. Make sure you remember to prioritize your relationship by setting aside regular time for each other. As little as 15 minutes a day can have a real positive impact on your relationship.

Schedule in time where you don’t think about work, avoid distractions and just focus on each other. That means turning off the TV, putting your phone away and just spending quality time with your partner. This will help to open up the lines of communication and strengthen the bond with your partner.

How You Can Help Each Other

Stress affects most people, so don’t forget to check in with your partner and help them if you think they may be dealing with work-related stress.

Recognize the signs: People have different ways of dealing with stress, so it may not always be easy to recognize the signs. If you notice your partner has been snappy, moody, cranky or withdrawn, it could be due to stress.

Approach your partner: Try and remain kind and compassionate and take the time to listen to what they have to say. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t press them. Remember, we all have different ways of dealing with our issues, just let them know that you’re there if they need you.

Help ease the burden: If they’re feeling like they have too much on their plate, try and help to temporarily ease the burden. Help out where you can and give them some time to deal with their stressful situation. Of course, you don’t want to forget about your own needs, so this should only be a temporary measure.

Stress has become a part of our every day lives, with people working longer and harder than ever before. While it’s natural to feel stressed out, it’s also important that you address the issue. Take some time to deal with your stresses and try not to let it affect your relationship.

Author Bio:
Saskia is the creator of career and lifestyle blog, My Kind of Monday, which aims to help people find happiness in work and in life. For more ideas on how to deal with stress, read her post on How to Relieve Stress with Exercise.