Friday, 8 June 2012

Too Shy to Ask?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal has prompted me to write on a subject which surely I have tackled before, that being sex.

The gist of the article is that most married couples are too embarrassed to talk about their sex life.  Consequently it is not difficult to understand why a reasonable number of partners may be sexually unfulfilled when a simple conversation might be the cure.  The article points out how ironic it is that we are reluctant to talk to the person with whom we are most intimate about a subject that is so personal.  At the same time our culture bombards us with advertising featuring sexual images that have little to do with the product being sold; prime time TV offers up “adult situations” that leave little to the imagination; and magazines prominently displayed at the local supermarket use sexual innuendos to lure shoppers while waiting in line.

The article does acknowledge that sex is important but not necessarily at the core of what binds couples together but falls short of suggesting what those other things might be.  Apparently what sex can do is energize the relationship, make each person feel desirable and serve as a buffer against trials and difficulties.  But the author acknowledges that the longer the term of the relationship, the more difficult it is to talk about intimacy.

I love Mark Driscoll’s description of how our parents came about, from his book Real Marriage.  “For Eve, it was a big day. She had just been created, met God, and was going to her first “date” and wedding naked…As her father walking her down the aisle, God brought Eve to Adam…as their pastor, He officiated the first wedding ceremony, declaring them husband and wife…He declared it all to be very good…God created sex.  He created our bodies for sex.  The reason that sex is fun, pleasurable and wonderful is because it is a reflection of the loving goodness of God, who created it as a gift for u s to steward and enjoy. (Within the confines of marriage).

Here’s the bottom line.  God has never created anything that was mediocre. There are certainly some physiological and psychological reasons why a couple’s sexual relations are not that enjoyable but that would be the minority of cases.  Like so many other of God’s creations, we have managed to take something that should be beautiful and pleasurable and glorifying to God and make a mess of it.

If you are not experiencing a level of intimacy that is fulfilling, at least have a candid, non-accusatory, conversation with your spouse. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Will Counseling Help Our Marriage?

I have tried to stay away from this topic since I began publishing this blog.  The bottom line answer to the question “will counseling help our marriage?” is perhaps.  Hold your applause.

First, counseling is only effective for the person who wants to change.  Not for the person you want to change.

Secular counseling, which includes most fee based counseling, has been effective for some.  By secular I mean behavioral based approaches, i.e. have a date night, talk a minimum of two hours a week about non-household related subjects, etc.  The problem is there is no heart change.

Christian and Biblical approaches to counseling are normally not incorporated in for- profit counseling centers, and then only at the request of the client. Biblical counseling uses Scripture as the basis for what is covered; Christian counseling may or may not use Scripture.

Ideally the couple comes prior to the buildup of animosity and both accept they are part of the problem and need to change.  If only one partner attends counseling they can only work on themselves.  If there is enough positive change over time, it may encourage the other partner to attend.

Many counselors tend to specialize, though they may be willing to take any clients.  A counselor who has a great deal of experience handling obsessive-compulsive disorder may be a good marriage counselor as well but maybe not.

Most couples wait too long to seek help.  The acrimony that has accumulated over the years makes it nearly impossible to “right the ship”, though with God all things are possible.

There can be no exit strategy.  The couple must agree that divorce is not an option.

Noted author and lecturer Paul Tripp says, “All marriage problems are heart problems and all heart problems are worship problems.”  In my opinion the most successful marriage counseling can best take place if God is given His rightful place in the marriage.  God’s purpose for marriage is to glorify Him.  It is not to make us happy, fulfilled or complete.  A secondary purpose for marriage is given in Romans 8:29 which says, “those that God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”  If you can accept that God is using your spouse as a means for you to become more like His Son then counseling can be very effective.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Where's Your Joy

Gary Thomas makes an excellent point, i.e. that God is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness.  However Proverbs 5:17-9 ( one of many verses) says that we are to have joy.  May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”   The term rejoice in Hebrew is (sa-may-achhh), meaning to rejoice, to be glad and to exult.

This does not mean that we will always be happy, that all will be smooth sailing.  In fact it is quite conceivable that some horrific things might befall a Godly couple.

Here is the difference.  A couple who has God at the center of their lives firmly believes with every fiber of their being that God has a plan for their lives, that He doesn’t waste pain, and  that His plan is better than anything they can imagine.  Based on such a faith they can exhibit great joy even in the midst of major challenges.

This is not a Pollyanna, pie in the sky optimism that fails to take reality into account.  This joy stems from an assurance that the Creator of the Universe has everything in His loving control.  Such a couple is able to maintain a smile even in adversity.  They are still able to see humor in the events of daily life.  They are able to appreciate the simple things in life that most of us take for granted.  They love a sunrise or a sunset. They love the fragrant smells of spring or coffee brewing in the morning.  They enjoy being with each other more than being with anyone else.  Their love for one another is almost contagious which is quite apparent when you are in their company.

They give life to the phrase “love and respect” found in Ephesians 5:33.

The wife’s admiration for her husband is captured by her gaze as he speaks.  The selfless love that her husband provides plays out in numerous scenarios that make her feel cherished, secure, and safe.  A marriage that glorifies God will be filled with much joy.