5 Toxic Phrases to Immediately Remove from Your Marriage Vocabulary

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You see it as a central theme in most television shows and movies: “Lack of Effective Communication.”  Ya know what else, that could be the same theme for Marriages.

Kerry and I facilitate to couples the benefits of effective communication; however, too often we both have learned that when it comes to communication, it’s not a matter of if we disagree, but when we do disagree, how well will we handle it? Yes, Kerry and I have not fully mastered “Effective Communication.”

In a sentence, here’s the key to healthy communication through virtually anything: Both Husband and Wife should never quit and always communicate until they begin to reach the other side. This, of course, takes courage, humility and constant dedication… and a few bits of sound wisdom on how to resolve things more healthily wouldn’t hurt either. Thus, this article.

It’s not our intentions to define everything everyone should or shouldn’t say in every situation. That’s impossible. Instead, we should seek to remove some phrases from our vocabulary as husband and wife. Here’s our list from our personal experiences.

5 Toxic Phrases to Immediately Remove from Your Marriage Vocabulary

1: “I’m busy…”

This could be the easiest to begin to remove. Do you know why you’ll want to remove “I’m busy…” from your vocabulary for good?

Because saying “I’m busy” is often just a force of habit and usually an indication of some deeper dysfunction (no, not always, but often). There’s a saying: “If you’re too busy for your spouse, you’re too busy”. That being the case, we should always make time for our spouses without relegating ourselves to simply being “busy”.

If you are actually busy, that’s fine, just articulate exactly what’s going on so your spouse may understand and support you with your tasks!

2: “You always…”

Absolute statements like “you always…” or “you never…” are something Kerry and I have worked very hard to remove from our marriage. We’ve yet to fully succeed in this endeavor, but we recognize it and continue to grow in reducing those statements.

The problem with absolute statements is that they’re never true when speaking of behavior, and they are always hurtful (there are two absolute statements you can be sure of!). Absolute statements say more about who’s saying them then they do about whom they’re directed at.

If I may be blunt, absolute statements are just plain lazy.  Let me explain why. Follow the example below.

Example: Instead of “You never want want sex…”, consider a statement like “lately, I’ve felt like we’re not connecting intimately enough. Can we talk about what’s going on?”

By being specific and purposeful with your language, you can actually move forward together instead of accusing one another. Removing absolute statements from your marriage vocabulary will do wonders.

3: “Whatever.”

How many times have we ended an argument with a single dismissive “whatever”?

Whatever” is the Arch Enemy of Biblical Reconciliation. By dismissing disagreements with “whatever”, you’re essentially stating that you don’t care enough about the person or disagreement to discuss further. Love never quits. Love is patient, kind, not easily angered, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13).

It’s not that whatever is a bad word, it’s just usually used in times when love isn’t at it’s best. Removing whatever from your marriage vocabulary will force to to either 1) explain why you’re OK with dismissing the conversation, or 2) explain why you’re truly ok with whatever.

4: The word Divorce

It’s tragic when we hear couples use the word “divorce”, either jokingly or seriously, in reference to their own marriage. Marriage only works if divorce is not an option; If there’s no back door, you’ll both be committed to working through anything.

The greatest enemy we’ve seen at play in marriage is simply giving up; someone decides to step out the back door. They mentally, emotionally, and spiritually check-out of the marriage. How can you work something out if one person leaves or refuses to engage? Divorce is just that: giving up on the marriage.

Using the word “divorce” potentially cracks the door on a terrible possibility into your marriage. Would it be funny or appropriate ever if you said “I sincerely hope you die a horrible painful death”? Nope. It’s hurtful no matter how you slice it.

Kerry and I implore you, please remove “divorce” from your vocabulary. Don’t use it as a threat, comedic relief, or otherwise. It is toxic from the get go.

5: “I wish you were more like…” and “you’re just like your [parent]”

Ok, yes this is two phrases. I wanted to combine them here because I believe they come from the same place: comparison.

Comparison is truly heartbreaking. Nobody likes being compared to someone else, whether it’s a friend, a stranger, a family member, or a celebrity. People aren’t things, like cars with features to be compared. “This one has GPS”, “that one gets 40 MPG”, etc.

Nothing makes me feel smaller than when I’m unscrupulously compared to someone greater than me. Feeling that kind of small is ok, I guess, but only if it’s relation to Jesus. May Jesus be the only person we compare ourselves and our spouses to.

Here are some tough comparisons married folks tend to make; some explicitly and some internally that Kerry and I have heard through marriage counseling.

  1. I wish [my wife] looked more like [other woman]

 

  1. I wish [my husband] acted more like [other man]

 

  1. You’re just like your father/mother.Usually used to illustrate an undesirable behavior, thus pigeonholing the person compared.

 

  1. Why can’t we be more like [some other couple]?

 

Let’s close with this thought…

Be selective with your words. There are two things in this life you can never get back once used, words and time. Use your words to give life.

Joe & Kerry

 

 

Pulling Back the Curtain on Physical Intimacy

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The past several Monday’s have gone very fast and have, for a better word, exposed some of the honest truth about physical intimacy in a marriage. Comments we have received runs the spectrum: “Thank you for discussing a topic on marriage that churches seem to shy away from.”  “Appreciate your honesty and candor. This is an important issue that seems to be brushed aside and avoided by most pastors.”  “You are wrong to be spreading these ideas. Sex is strictly for procreation in a marriage, nothing else.”  “Thank you for allowing me to feel sexy and giving me permission to enjoy sex.”  “Keep your comments to yourself, you will only increase promiscuity by your posts!” “By sleeping naked this past week, my husband and I for the first time in our marriage have enjoyed our time between the sheets like never before.”

So, you see, we are causing a stir and making people think again about physical intimacy in a marriage.  Whether it be good, bad, or just convicting…people are thinking. That’s good.

This now leads us into this day’s post. Communication is key when it comes to fully enjoying each other’s bodies as well as enjoying an active sex life as husband and wife.  However, too often we shy away from asking the key questions that will allow us to grow in our physical, sexual intimacy with one another. We are too embarrassed to ask and very embarrassed to respond truthfully. To those reactions, I say “STOP!”

It’s time to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. It’s time to become transparent with one another. Genesis 2:25 says it clearly, “The two were naked and not ashamed.” They were completely vulnerable before one another. They were transparent and had no shame for being so.  As husband and wife, we should be the same. The questions will be difficult at times but our hope is that they will first encourage each of you to open up emotionally which in turn will allow you to open up physically. Treat these as conversation starters, modify them to suit your marriage, pick and choose what you wish to discuss; however, please don’t try to rush through all of them in one sitting. That’s not what they are for. It’s important to ask these questions so as to learn more about your spouse. These will help you be a student of your spouse.  Don’t get upset and try to “readjust” their answers, instead, explore the answers, listen to your spouse and grow! Also, final instruction, answer in complete and clear sentences, don’t give vague answers because you are embarrassed of the answer as well as give specific answers.

So here are 30 Sex Questions to Ask Your Spouse:

  1. Where is your favorite place to be touched that isn’t sexual to you?
  2. When I initiate sex, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
  3. What is your favorite way for me to initiate sex?
  4. How do you usually try to let me know you are in the mood for sex?
  5. What does sex mean to you?
  6. Describe your favorite memory of us having sex.
  7. Where and how do you like to be touched the most during sex? Why?
  8. Where do you not like to be touched during sex and why not?
  9. Describe something you’d like to try, regarding sex, which we haven’t tried together.
  10. Describe something we have tried before, regarding sex, which you’d like more of.
  11. How often would you like to have sex, ideally?
  12. What do you think about during sex?
  13. What’s your favorite position? Why?
  14. Would you rather have sex with the lights on or off? Are you afraid of having sex with the lights on?
  15. Does being naked in front of me make you uncomfortable? What can I do to make you more comfortable?
  16. Are you happy with how long we spend on foreplay? Would you like more or less?
  17. Are you happy with how long we spend having sex? Would you like more or less?
  18. What is your favorite foreplay activity?
  19. If there was one thing you’d like to improve about our sex life, what would it be?
  20. What is your favorite thing for me to say during sex?
  21. What activity gives you the strongest, or longest, orgasms?
  22. Describe what an orgasm feels like to you.
  23. Describe what it feels like to you when I have an orgasm (physically or emotionally).
  24. What is the most important part of sex to you? Why?
  25. Is there someplace you’d like to have sex that we haven’t already?
  26. Would you rather have sex in the morning or in the evening?
  27. Would you rather give oral sex, receive it, or neither? Why?
  28. What do we do in bed that you never thought you’d participate in?
  29. Which one of my body parts are you favorite? Which one of your body parts are your favorite?
  30. Name one thing that really turns you on.

 

There you have it. Here is our list of 30 questions. You may have additional ones and you may think that these are 29 too many. Either way, the key here is to communicate with your spouse. Talk to them and begin to open up to one another.  Be transparent with one another and don’t be ashamed of the answers.

 

Joe & Kerry

A Prayer for Your Children

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It was about 15 years ago that Kerry came across a “Daily Prayers for Your Children” article from Focus on the Family.  Since then, she has made copy after copy for us. She has also implemented those daily prayers as a guide for the teachers at her school as they pray for their students. She has even made copies to hand out to parents in our Bible Study classes.

What I appreciate most is that my wife not only realizes the importance of prayer, she is gifted by the Holy Spirit and is a dedicated prayer warrior. Since Samantha was an infant, we have prayed over our children daily. For their future spouses, for their protection, for them to get caught in lies or deception. Most of all, we have prayed for their salvation through Jesus Christ. That they will live for Him, first and foremost.

So I will share with you the prayer plan we have adopted and made our own, originally from Focus on the Family.

Monday                                                                                                                                    -Place a protective, solid hedge around them so satan can’t reach in and lead them into temptation and so they will be safe from harm.  2 Thess 3:3, Ps 33:20

Tuesday                                                                                                                                  -They will use Godly wisdom in selecting friends and that they will make a positive difference in their lives. Give them discernment of people and knowing right from wrong.  Prov 1:10, 18:24, Deut 13:6,8

Wednesday                                                                                                                            -Stay pure in their thoughts and deeds. Ps 24:4-5, Job 17:9

Thursday                                                                                                                                 -They will be caught if they cheat, lie, or are mischievous. Heb 13:18-19

Friday                                                                                                                                     -They will be alert and think clearly in school and activities. Help them to be motivated to do their best.  Col 3:17, 1 Cor 10:31

Saturday                                                                                                                                 -Their future spouse. That they will come from a Godly background and desire the life you want from them. That their goals will be the same and their homes will be one that seeks holiness first.  Deut 5:29

Sunday                                                                                                                                   -They will live for Him and that He will use them for His Glory. That they will fully mature spiritually.       Ps 78:1-8, 103:17-18, Is 54:13, Eph 3:20-21

5 Questions That Should Be Asked….

Kerry and I spent this past Saturday on a date night. Anyone that knows us well knows how much we advocate “Date Nights” for husbands and wives. This is a time to focus on one another and continue the pursuit of both romance and well as intimacy in your growing marriage. Yet, last week I came across an article that opened my perspective on “Date Nights.”
The article came from Intimate Marriage. They talked about two types of Date Nights. The first one was the one that I always think of, the “Fun Date Nite.” This is the one that is reminiscent of those dates you had when you were courting each other. Very light hearted and a getting to know each other in a fun and creative way. You both took time to enjoy one another’s company and create memories from that date. They introduced another “Date Night” that I feel should be a vital and necessary date time with your spouse: The Working Date.
A “Working Date ” is a regular hour block each week when a husband and wife come together to work on their marriage. In contrast to a “Fun Date Night” where no business is allowed, the working date is set
aside to do the business of marriage. This is the time to ask the 5 questions to one another and instead of justifying your answers or manipulating the conversation, stop and listen to your spouse and ask God to guide you to fulfill the answers shared by your spouse.
This is not an easy task at hand. The questions require prayer, thought, and transparency. Fulfilling those answers requires humility, obedience to God’s will, and a willingness to grow closer to your spouse; the one God ordained for you.

Here are the 5 questions:
1. How did you feel loved this past week? How did you feel hurt this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy this week?
5. How can I pray for you this week?

Kerry and I spent the entire night asking and answering those 5 questions. Yes, some of the answers were hard to hear and there were times we felt we both needed to justify the “why’s,” however, we knew that this was the time to capture our thoughts, make them obedient to Christ, and serve one another by fulfilling those answers. It turned out to be one of the best “Date Nights” we have had in many years.

So are there any other questions you may add?  What are your thoughts?

What Makes an Orgasm So…

I’ve had some pretty amazing orgasms with my husband, and each time I am in awe of God. In awe that of all the ways He could show off His creativity, He would choose this.

Oh my, what intense, profound, and whimsical depth of pleasure an orgasm is. Only you, God. Only you could come up with something like that.  Remember women and men, that the clitoris serves no other purpose than a wife’s sexual pleasure. None. That’s its only job description. However, we ladies too often fail in allowing it to do its job.

And no other experience even comesIMG_0451 close to the feeling of an orgasm.

Which is why when I hear from wives who have yet to have an orgasm – or who have extreme difficulty experiencing one – I morph into some kind of sex cheerleader, urging them to not give up.

“You do not want to miss out on this! Seriously. Please don’t give up. Don’t fake it. Don’t rob yourself of this. And don’t rob your husband of seeing you and feeling you experience this.”

Sure, I can hear your skepticism at my enthusiasm, as you mull over whether I’m making waayyy too big a deal about sexual climax in the marriage bed.

“Sex isn’t all about orgasm, Kerry!”

True. But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a lot about orgasm! Yes, I said it!

Ask yourself this question: “When a husband and a wife are physically able to be sexually intimate, yet their sexual encounters drift toward only the husband being sexually satisfied, what happens?”

Enter bored wife, stage right.

Not only does sex become boring, routine and chore-like to a wife in this scenario, it also becomes a source of tremendous resentment.
She begins to begrudge sex; find ways to avoid it; and possibly even blame him. And before long, the whole fabric of the marriage is taking a hit.  Ironically, even he starts to not really enjoy sex, because she’s not into it.  And how could she be? I mean, there’s no pleasure in it for her.

Sure, we’d like to think sexually unsatisfied wives could rise above all that, but human nature being what it is tells us that few wives (if any) really can  just keep “taking one for the team” – without ever getting to hoist the trophy.  And honestly, why would we want them to rise above it?

Why would we want them to keep missing out on the mind-blowing experience of sexual release?

If you are a wife who has never experienced an orgasm and have resigned yourself to never having one, there’s nothing – nothing – noble about your lack of sexual climax.

“But Kerry, if God is such a generous God, why is this so difficult for so many of us wives? Why isn’t a wife’s orgasm as predictable as a husband’s?”

Valid question. Very valid question.

And I used to think that when I get to heaven, I would finally be able to ask God face-to-face my most perplexing sex questions (I know. Probably not what should be high on my priority list at that point, but if you know me at all, you can’t seriously be surprised I wonder these things, right?)

I think, though, I won’t have to wait for my answer, because I think God has already given it to me.

I believe God has created a unique opportunity for a husband and a wife to discover a level of intimacy they otherwise would miss if it was really easy for both of them to climax.  If it was always easy for both a husband and a wife to have an orgasm, I think we would downplay  God’s intention for sex to be this profound connection.

And if it was difficult for both a husband and a wife to have an orgasm, I think we would give up too easily, also missing out on that profound connection.

So instead, God creates a situation where a married couple is left with no other option than to learn together what it will take for them both to experience sexual pleasure.

In the exclusivity of the marriage bed, God invites a husband and a wife to vulnerably and intentionally explore each other’s bodies, to teach each other sexual pleasure, to try new techniques.

Yes, the penis tends to be more predictable than the clitoris, which may leave us assuming that the wife must have greater patience.  But think about the scenario again, okay?  Do you see where both a husband and a wife need patience?  Arousal is an opportunity; not a burden.

Wives, if you struggle experiencing orgasm, I pray you will hear my heart on this.  Your sexual pleasure matters.   If you have thought it doesn’t matter or if your husband has been indifferent, I encourage you to courageously shed light on this.

I know of a wife who was years into her marriage when she finally got the courage to talk to her husband about the reality that she had never been completely satisfied.  She knew that together they had to figure out how to change that unhealthy pattern into a healthier one where they valued pleasure for both of them.

Her marriage and their sexual intimacy are better today because of what at the time was an incredibly awkward conversation. Praise God she pushed through that hesitancy.  By the way, that wife is me and both Joe and I are better for it because of our transparency, not only between the sheets, but in all facets of our marriage.

Ladies, you have heard both Joe and I scream from the rooftops….COMMUNICATE with each other!!  Take time to share with your husband your struggles all the while communicating with him where to touch and how to touch you.

In the next few weeks both Joe and I will contribute to articles on the How, When, Where, and Why of Orgasm. Please know we do not take this lightly nor make this a trivial topic, but we both agree as a husband and wife how important sexually intimacy is in a marriage. When a husband learns because of the communication of his wife on how to bring her to orgasm, or if the wife begins to allow herself to learn more about her body so she can share that with her husband, it is then that a physical intimacy grows exponentially!

What about you?  If you are a wife who struggles experiencing orgasm or if you are a husband with a wife who is missing out on sexual pleasure, what are you going to do today?

The most profound intimate places in a marriage begin with authentic vulnerability.

Kerry

A simple bar of soap: 3 ways to serve your spouse

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I stepped into the shower the other morning to find a brand new bar of my soap.  Before you jump to those clever and sarcastic replies as to why I was presented a new bar of soap, it had more to do with the wonderful display of love by Kerry than the possibility of fear that I have odor.

What I am sharing is that Kerry took the time to notice my bar of soap was down to a sliver and she took time to get out a new bar and replace it with the diminishing one.  She was thinking of me. She was choosing to display her love for me in a simple act of service.  As busy as we are in the morning, getting ready for work and school, she stopped and placed my needs first, even as simple as a bar of soap.

We both take time each morning to ask God to reveal to us how we can display His love to each other by serving each other in ways of sacrificial love. This is a habit that has become as natural as walking. We have made a commitment to each other that before our feet hit the floor in the morning, we spend time in prayer with God, thanking Him for the blessings He has given us. We ask Him to guide our thoughts and actions so as to display a heart of worship to Him. We close by asking Him to reveal to us how we love on each other in a way that we have not done in either a long time or in a new way.

So let me share 3 simple ways to help guide you into acts of sacrificial service to your spouse that will also display a heart of worship to God for the spouse He has graciously given to you.

  1. Start the day praying for your spouse: As I stated above, you must start your day in the proper posture and direction for your marriage. Thanking God for what He has given you. Remember, you are married to His child.
  2. Be a student of your spouse: Watch and observe those acts of service that make them smile and what eases their burdens. If you see that when you cleared the table, your wife was smiling and thanking you, then remember she appreciates you taking the lead and allowing her to rest.  If you know your husband enjoys having a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe you make sure to bring him a cup of coffee before he goes to get his own.  Study, take mental notes, and be observant.
  3. Expect NOTHING in return: When you serve your spouse, you must do it with a sacrificial heart. In other words, DO NOT expect anything in return. Not a thank you, not an acknowledgement, not even the possibility of an act of service in return.  You serve your spouse out of reverence and worship to God, first and foremost.  Your spouse is a gift from God and the way you serve them is a display of your thanks to Him for that gift.

Our prayer is that each day you display love to one another through your words, actions and deeds.  By the way, it’s never too late to change the bar of soap.

Stay True Advice…Baylee’s list of roughly 55 things all teenagers need to know

We shared this 2 years ago when our youngest daughter graduated from high school. Since it’s that time of the year again, it seemed appropriate to share again.
Baylee, as well as the other graduating Seniors from our Youth Group, were asked by our Youth Pastor to share some wisdom and advice to those still in the Youth Group.  In her usual fashion, Baylee took this time to truly share what was on her heart and what she has learned these past 7 years as a Youth.  Both Kerry and I, as well as Pastor Bill, were so touched by her reflections on life and God, we just had to share.
Parents, go through the list. Whether you agree with it or not is not the issue, instead listen to the heart of a young lady who loves the Lord. You may learn something about your own child.
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Stay True Advice aka
A list of roughly 55 things that Baylee thinks is important for you all to know:
•Make it a point to say a prayer before you even step foot out of bed, I promise it’ll help your day.
•Never be friends with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable (for any reason, whether it’s your beliefs or actions or something they say.)
•Love yourself so much that when someone treats you wrong, you recognize it.
•Never underestimate Gods grace in the midst of your brokenness.
•Boys, girls are not machines that you put kindness coins into until sex falls out. The friend zone is not a real thing.
•Falling in love with yourself first doesn’t make you vain or selfish, it makes you indestructible.
•Boys, if you want to get a girls attention learn to compliment her on things OTHER than her beauty.
•Just because someone desires you, does not mean that they value you.
•Boys, If your not going to marry her take your hands off another mans future.
•Girls, If your not going to marry him take your hands off another womans future.
•Don’t act like someone else. Don’t waste time on pretending.
•If they won’t hold your hand, don’t let them hold your heart.
•If you aren’t walking with God maybe you aren’t right for the person that’s right for you.
•There is no way to follow Jesus without Him interfering with your life.
•When entrusted with a secret, keep it. I don’t care if you and that person are mortal enemies now, you still don’t tell a soul.
•It’s never too late for an apology.
•If you’ve made your point, stop talking.
•Learn to admit when you’re wrong.
•Be understanding. If someone has a different opinion than you, listen to them. Don’t just sit there ignorantly, plugging your ears and screaming your opinion to the world.
•Set goals. Set them high and learn to accomplish every goal you set for yourself.
•Alcohol does not make you cooler.
•Girls, never EVER send boys naked pictures. The boys asking for them are the boys that should not be trusted.
•Never beg someone to stay in your life. If they choose to leave, let them.
•Discover your passion and run with it.
•Dance a LOT!
•High school dances are overrated.
•Girls, never spend more than $7 for mascara.
•If you’re ever uncomfortable in a situation you’ve ended up in, call your parents. I promise they’d rather you be safe and they will forgive you.
•Go to as many concerts as possible.
•Just because you turn 18 does not mean suddenly you can do whatever the heck you want. If you’re under their roof, you’re still under their rules.
•The stupid cliche “you can’t be loved until you love yourself” is so false. Listen to what others love about you and learn to love that about yourself too.
•Stop underestimating yourself. If you’re walking with the Lord He’s got your back!
•Eating a whole tray of brownies while watching Grease with your best friend can and will help you feel better. Trust me, I’ve tested this one out multiple times.
•If your parents don’t like you hanging out with a certain person, listen to them. They are smarter than us.
•Comparing yourself to others is NEVER a good idea.
•If you can’t say it to their face, don’t say it to them over text.
•Changes don’t happen overnight.
•No one can live a perfect Christian life, but you CAN intentionally decide that next time you are faced with a choice, you choose the one that glorifies God.
•When somebody hurts you, don’t try to hurt them back.
•Learn the importance of calling your friends out if they are in sin. It may feel awkward but they need it, and you’re called to do it.
•Save your money every chance you get. Future you will be thankful.
•Your mental health is so important, and if you’re ever struggling please find someone you can talk to.
•Your value is NOT based on the number of likes you get on Instagram.
•You are going to mess up, and you’re going to regret some choices you’ve made. But you have to learn how to forgive yourself, and decide to grow from the situation and not let it destroy you.
•Reading a book is more fun than reading your Twitter feed.
•One day you’ll realize how much your parents have sacrificed for you. Thank them over and over and over.
•Like people’s selfies. It takes guts to post them.
•Every time before you read scripture, pray and ask God to reveal something new to you. He’ll blow your mind every single time!
•Take pictures. So so so many pictures.
•Don’t take yourself too seriously.
•Breakups hurt. And they are allowed to hurt. They suck and knock you on your back, but the key is not staying down on your back. Look to God, use Him to fill up and repair that broken heart.
•Never diminish other’s feelings.
•Deciding to live your life completely surrendered to God is the best decision you’ll ever make!
~Baylee Vivian – Class of 2015