Sunday, December 23, 2007

5 Ways to Bring Sexy Back

Sorry for ripping off your title JT.

Has your sex life with your spouse dwindled down to a dull roar? Does the idea of sex with your spouse give you a "headache"? Here are 5 ways you can bring "sexy" back into your marriage.

1) Entice your spouse: Leave notes, whisper in your spouses ear how much you want them, and show affection through touch. Men are like light switches when it comes to getting turned on, but your wife needs a little bit more 'umph'... like a lawn mower on a cold day, she takes a little bit to get going. So, get the thought into your spouses head early in the day and keep it going til she's ready for some loving.

2) Have dates: Try and have time together (without the kids) where you and your spouse can date again. Go out to dinner or watch a movie and make it nice. All too often we get into the routine of going out to dinner with the kids in our blue jeans and calling that a date... it's not. Dress up, get your hair done, get your spouse flowers, wear sexy underwear... whatever. This is a date with the love of your life and make it good and keep in mind step 1 during the date (don't fight or argue, keep things calm, this is a date).

3) Get in shape: Get a gym membership, elliptical, treadmill, Pilate's, whatever... but start working out and it's amazing how much more attractive you begin to feel and look. Become more confident in yourself and it will do wonders for you with your spouse. If your spouse is working out, take notice and compliment them.

4) Show Affection and Appreciation routinely: Buy/pick flowers, buy/make a card, give your spouse a call from work. Let your spouse know that you love them. Tell them they're beautiful/handsome and remind them how great they look and how much they turn you on. Thank them for what they provide and bring to the table.

5) Communicate and Respect your spouse: Let them know your desires and try to spice things up a bit and let them know how you feel. Foreplay is important; you should be comfortable enough with one another to really communicate and improve your love-life by working together to satisfy each other, but respect each other when it comes to boundaries. Remember, Love is not self seeking, nor does it delight in evil, so never do or expect something that would cause you and your spouse to stumble in your walk with God (1 Cor 10, 1 Cor 13).

Remember, these are all things to consider with your spouse and not all inclusive, as I am assuming that your sex is dwindling due to time and not infidelity or other medical problems. If you are having other types of issues seek medical help or advice from counselors or pastors.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

5 Levels of Needs

Maslows Heirarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality, 2nd ed., Harper & Row, 1970

In many of my blogs I mention fulfilling your spouses needs, and how communication, intimacy, affection, affirmation are all basic needs of your spouse. In my years going through communication, psychology, and organizational leadership training and classes, I've come across Maslow's Hierarchical needs on many occasions. How is this important to a marriage? People must have certain needs met, and part of your job as a spouse is to help your partner meet those needs. The above diagram is how I remember seeing it for the most part, but it has since expanded into 8 needs, but we'll stick to the 5 basic needs. The idea behind the pyramid is that the lower level needs must be fulfilled or our focus will be diverted to fulfilling them while forgetting about any levels above. This can be a problem in a marriage, especially since the need for love and relationships is on level 3 of the pyramid.

Level 1: Physiological Needs - These include hunger, thirst, sleep, and air, which are all basic needs that we need to survive. Sex has been added between the 1970 picture that I have shown and now, since it is now seen as a basic and necessary need and not just a desire. Obviously, the first set of needs are being provided by you working and "bringing home the bacon," but sex is just as basic of a need that is necessary to a persons essential being, (however not essential to living, it has shown health benefits) and plays an integral role in satisfying the basic needs in a marriage. Another aspect of physiological needs can be finances. To satisfy your hunger, thirst, and sleep areas of this need, you will need to ensure that provisions are in order and that the fear of losing the fulfillment of this need is not a problem. Sit down with one another and work out a budget, minimize spending, and get help if necessary, or this will be the only need on your mind until you get a little more stability in this area.

Level 2: Safety Needs - Your partner also needs some sort of security needs met, which can include physical security, but your spouse also wants to feel safe with you, and remain in a safe environment when you are together. If you remove them from a safe environment or make them feel unsafe when you get angry, you are taking away this basic need in their life. If you are having problems with a spouse that makes you feel unsafe, please get help (Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and if you are immediate danger dial 911). For further information visit If you live in a bad neighborhood, maybe installing an alarm system could help you feel safe and satisfy that need.

Level 3: Social Needs - You and your partner need to communicate with one another, but this also includes intimacy and affection as I've mentioned this in a previous blog. It's also important that you create contact, and show affection such as hugging and kissing. Your spouse needs to feel wanted and desired and that he/she belongs with you and that you belong with them. Your spouse needs an outlet, and it is best for your marriage if you provide them that basic need of conversation and affection within your marriage.

Level 4: Esteem Needs - This is where the mutual edification comes into practice that I mentioned in this blog under point number 3. This also includes recognition, which means more than just saying "Thank You", but showing true appreciation for what your spouse brings to the proverbial table. Your spouse also needs to know that you are attracted to them, that you think more of them than someone who makes the money, watches the kids, or takes out the trash to name a few.

Level 5: Self Actualization - In the final level of the pyramid, you and your spouse are able to realize or actualize their dreams. The idea is that need levels 1 through 4 have to be met prior to you and your spouse seeking to meet this highest level need. According to only 2% of the worlds population ever attain this level. Don't hold your partner back from acheiving their dreams, so you must fulfill their basic needs first.

Monday, December 17, 2007

5 Important Aspects of Communication

I've mentioned communication before in both the building the foundation and conflict resolution blogs, and I'm mentioning it again, because open lines of communication between the husband and wife will help make your marriage-life flow smoother and reduce stress on the marriage. My inspiration for this section is from James 1:19, " quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." Expanding off that, here are some ideas to help make your communication easier and better. Refer to both the previous blogs as they are helpful, but here are 5 important aspects of proper communication with your spouse:

1) Remove Barriers to Communication: Communication involves a sender, a receiver and a message. When talking with your spouse and things seem to get heated, it may be because one person is not receiving the message properly. There are multiple stumbling blocks that can interfere with the receiver properly hearing the message, ranging from voice, language barriers, and noise, but you need to adapt and overcome. The best way to communicate important issues is to set down face-to-face with no distractions. If you find times that your husband or wife is not getting your message, don't get upset, figure out what is blocking your message from your receiver and remove the obstacle if possible, or wait until an appropriate time when the distraction is no longer a problem. For instance, trying to talk when washing the dishes or vacuuming is a bad idea. If you are watching television mute or turn off the television if you have "important" things to say.

2) Actively Listen: Listening involves more than just hearing. Pay attention and let the message sink in, rather than just thinking of what you are going to say next. Communication should not be one sided, as it should involve two people, so if you find yourself controlling the conversation maybe it's time for you to switch to listening mode. Again, one person talks the other one listens and alternate.

3) Don't Interrupt: Give each other an ample amount of time to talk about something; one person talks the other one listens without interrupting. This goes along with rule 2, and do everything you can to not interrupt as this shows respect for the message that your partner is trying to convey, while interrupting just increases tensions. If you don't show respect, it's hard to receive it and hold people to not interrupting you when its your turn to speak. Remember the Golden Rule, Luke 6:31, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

4) Do not allow yourself to get angry: Try to remain calm and maintain the situation calm. If things get heated, cool down and try to discuss it after things settle down a little. "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel," Proverbs 15:18.

5) Acknowledge the speaker: Show your partner that you are listening by actively participating in the conversation rather than just saying, "mmm hmm," try to provide some feedback that shows that you are not only hearing but have something to add, but remember rules 2 and 3. Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Hope this helps... Feel free to respond and add to this conversation.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

5 Steps to Prevent That Big Scarlett "A"

For those of you that have no idea what the "Scarlett Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is, I'm referring to Adultery. In a previous blog, I mentioned that the biggest reason for divorce was the everyday little annoyances in life that just build up and deteriorate the foundation that you've built. We talked a little about that foundation and a few ways to make those arguments less of a yelling contest and more of a way to communicate your feelings with one another. However, Adultery is a problem and once something like that creeps into your marriage, it can rip your marriage apart. Most outside-of-marriage sexual encounters are not just one-night stands, they usually build up slowly with friends, acquaintances, or co-workers during rough times or when one spouse is seeking something they aren't finding at home, usually a basic need, so let's look at 5 measures you as a couple can take to prevent the big "A" before it starts:

1) Honest and Open Communication - "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully... for we are all members of one body (Ephesians 4:25)." Be honest, open, and communicate your feelings and needs with one another. If you need someone to talk to, talk to your spouse, and be there for each other. Try to fulfill that need and desire in your spouse to have an emotional bond with someone. (Refer to #2 on this blog for more on communication)

2) Set Time Aside for Love-Making - Don't neglect to have sex with each other, 1 Corinthians 7:3 says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband." I'm not saying that you have to have sex every day, but I would say a couple times a week, and at the least once per week; this is important, especially if one person has more of a sex drive than the other. 1 Corinthians 7:5 goes on to say, "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." I know couples who have gone long periods of time without sex, and in these situations it created a longing for human contact that they seeked to fulfill elsewhere. If you and your spouse haven't had sex in over a month, someone needs to take the initiative (be the bigger person) and have sex, better yet, make love! When you do come together, remove all distractions and find a time that will work for both of you (make time; your marriage is important). Make it meaningful and make it about the other person, especially if you want it to be more of a routine thing in your marriage.

3) Appreciation and Affirmation - Have together-time and tell your spouse how great they are. Your spouse needs affirmation and edification, they need to know that they still light your fire and that those passion flames are still burning for them. It is imperative to "... comfort each other and edify one another," as we should do per 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Some ways to show appreciation and affirmation to your spouse are to:

  • Create contact - touch your spouses arm or leg, run your hands through their hair, hug each other.
  • Create positive thoughts - give each other cards, leave notes, tell them thank you, say something nice, give them a call, an e-mail, a text message, and truly appreciate each other.
  • Be Thankful - Be truly thankful for all that your spouse does for you, and show appreciation whenever possible. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Please don't overlook this step, this fulfills one of the lowest levels of our natural human needs; you do want to fulfill your spouses needs don't you?

4) Don't Set Yourself Up For Failure - Most extramarital affairs occur due to these types of situations where one partner opens up to someone other than their spouse who starts filling their basic needs. Don't confide in a friend of the opposite sex; your spouse should be your best friend, and you should be sharing everything with him or her. If you have a special connection with another person of the opposite sex, it breaks down the trust you have in one another and works to emotionally attach you to someone other than your spouse. It's very important to not allow yourself in the situation where you could compromise yourself and your morals, so don't spend time alone with members of the opposite sex. Confide in your spouse and if you are having issues, you should really talk to your spouse or seek counseling. You don't have to break all ties with your friends, but what is more important to you, the relationship you had with some girl or guy that is your "friend", or your spouse? I'm hoping your marriage is more important to you than a past friendship that will surely fade away in years to come.

5) Constantly think of your spouse and family (positively) - Think about those things that brought you toward your spouse (make a list if you have to). Remember the vows you made and what they mean to you; why should that change now? Keep your spouse and family in your thoughts and prayers as your family should be your number one priority. Harboring good thoughts all day long helps you keep those thoughts when you come home after a bad day at work. Similarly, if you have nothing but bad thoughts, that will also show through in your communication with each other and spark arguments and conflict.

These 5 steps will help you satisfy basic needs in your marriage, and help ensure these bonds are built with you and your spouse while strengthening these bonds.

I hope that all helps out... feel free to respond.

Monday, December 10, 2007

5 Rules for Conflict Resolution

Have you ever heard the Gretchen Wilson song "The Bed"? It talks about a woman lying in bed crying, just wishing that her husband would reach out to her, "if he'd just reach out she'd forget about all the times that he let her down, Oh but in his mind everything's all right when the lights go out," the lyrics go. When he finally does lean over in bed to say I love you, "... all he finds are pages full of words she'd never said."

Remember if you don't communicate your feelings and your spouse isn't getting a proper read on your body language, you've got to just come out and say what you're feeling and what is on your mind. One thing that has helped my wife and I with communicating about issues and distress is to agree on certain rules about arguments (or discussions). Top 5 rules to agree upon for conflict resolution with your spouse:

1) Make an agreement to not bring up past problems that have already been resolved; this is not necessary and just adds more problems during conflict resolution. The last thing you need when you are down is to be reminded that you forgot to take out the trash last week, especially when you are discussing what is bothering you now. You should've talked about the trash last week, not now.

2) Try to resolve the issue on the day that the issue occurs, not months down the road, so that everything is fresh in your mind rather than trying to rebuild the scenario over again because you've been stewing about it for a month and have allowed your mind to exaggerate the issue. Ephesians 4:26 states, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."

3) Give each other time to speak, take turns talking, and do not interrupt. Try to stay on subject and allow the other to respond before changing the subject. Don't keep repeating yourself. State the facts and talk about what is truly bothering you, then allow your spouse to respond and listen. Think about what you are going to say before you say it, it helps if you listen fully to what your spouse has said, let it sink in before saying something rash that you'll regret. "A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction (Proverbs 16:23)"

4) Once all the facts are out there and your spouse knows how you are feeling and has been given a few minutes to respond, take time to ponder how the other person feels without talking and try to put yourself in your spouses shoes. Seriously contemplate this without any distractions if you can; this also allows you to cool down a little bit, which many times has opened up my eyes and my spouses eyes to the other person's point-of-view. Try to move on to step 5 before you go to bed that night; this is important, as without the final step this problem is not truly resolved and you will have a hard time following rule 1 and this issue will come up again if not fester and burn you up inside.

5) Apologize, forgive, and forget (don't bring it up again; see rule 1). You've just spent some time contemplating what was done, what you did, and what your spouse did. Where could you have done better, accept that, apologize, and try to change that aspect in your life (if you can). Accept the apology from your spouse and truly work in your heart and soul to forgive them.

These 5 rules to conflict resolution in a marriage have greatly helped me during those heated discussions. If both you and your spouse agree to follow these guidelines, your arguments will be fewer and will be resolved much easier.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

5 Foundations to Building a Strong Marriage

Check out eharmony's research on the top reasons for divorce.

Can you believe that everyday issues were at the top of the list?

Don't let menial things destroy your marriage. You need to build your marriage on a proper foundation. Before you build a house, you have to lay the foundation. The same is true for a marriage as well. What is this foundation I'm talking about, read these 5 foundations of a healthy marriage to help prevent you from being a statistic.

1) Have realistic expectations: You can't just say, "I do" and expect magic to happen; you've got to have realistic expectations. Don't go into a marriage expecting to change the person or thinking that the person will change, because that is the person you are marrying and they're NOT going to change. You know who you're marrying now, don't be upset if they're still the same person 5 years from now. The marriage ceremony will not make your marriage better; a grandiose wedding ceremony does not equate to a better marriage. I've known people who spent hundred's of thousands of dollars and were divorced within 9 months; they couldn't even make it a year, so believe me a wedding ceremony doesn't make a better marriage. Think about what marriage is to you, ask your partner what they think marriage is. Talk about your notions and expectations before you decide to marry one another. Are your expectations realistic? Before things get too heated, read the next item.

2) Communication and Intimacy: I've heard the statement "God, gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak." There is a lot of truth to that, think about it, if you listened and truly listened to your spouse, how much more in-tune do you think you'd be to his/her emotions. Listening also gives you a chance to receive the true message that your partner is trying to convey; all too often the message is lost during transmission and we jump to conclusions before we've even finished processing the information. Listening doesn't involve just your ears either. How many times have you asked someone, "What's wrong," only to get a, "nothing" in response? If you only heard the word, “nothing” then you probably just said, “Okay,” and walked away. This may have worked when you were dating, but not-so-much now. There’s more to communication than just listening, if you’ve ever taken any sort of public speaking or communication classes then you may have heard of the 7-38-55% rule, where the words we say account for 7% of the message we are trying to convey, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and our gestures and actions actually make up over half of the message. Go back to the situation where you ask your husband or wife, “What’s wrong,” they say nothing. Look at their body cues and posture and their facial expressions; body-language is a huge component of communication.
I know this next part is probably not really thought of as communication, but we've just discussed that communication is 55% of body language, so I think that sex is a huge part of communication. How long would your marriage last if you and your spouse didn't talk for 1 month, or 3 months? On the same note, how long do you think it will last if you don't have sex for 1 month, 3 months, or even 9 months or more? No, you're right, but there are a lot of people that I know who try to make a marriage work without having sex with each other for months at a time, even years. It's no wonder things end disastrously. Men and women both need this sexual contact and intimacy with one another, so don't doom your relationship by turning down sex every night (especially out of anger or a fight), but there are times when you should agree to not have sex. It should be something that both partners want when having it, but every once in a while you've got to take one for the team and have sex, that is if you want your marriage to work. I've heard the excuse, we just don't have time, but I tell you that you need to make time, try to set up a date with each other for at least one night a week where you can spend this intimate time together and strengthen your lines of communication. Part of communication is listening and being in-tune with your partners needs and desires not just talking.

3) Congruent Belief-System or Moral Standards: I'm not saying that you both have to be Catholic, or whatever belief system you may be, but a lot of times problems start in the marriage when you have two different sets of belief systems. Especially when children are brought into the mix and one person wants to participate in certain rituals and rites that the other person may not hold dear. Here you have to really weigh why you want your child to go through a certain ceremony, or why not. If you aren't married and don't have kids, now would be a good time to talk about your expectations in these matters (see number 1 and while talking refer to number 2). Another important aspect of congruent belief-system is does your partner have the same idea about what marriage is, what about relationships outside of marriage? If you go into a marriage with a skewed idea of marriage and don't have the same moral standards when it comes to sexual relationships outside of marriage what will prevent this person from doing so. If you know where your partner stands on these certain issues then it shouldn't become a problem down the road. Remember, you can't change your partner, nor should you expect your partner to change after you are married. If your partner is an Atheist and you're a Protestant, don't expect your partner to all of a sudden start going to church with you, or quit going to church if you're the Atheist. You know who you're marrying this falls back on number 1 (don't expect your partner to change), so you should talk about where you stand on certain issues so that they shouldn't be a problem in the future; go through major components of your beliefs and moral code and discuss: marriage, sex, children, and anything that you think of that could be a problem. If your partner can't change that aspect of their life or come to some sort of compromise or there aren't any alternatives, and you're already married you will have adapt and overcome. If you're not married and no compromises can be met, maybe you should think about what type of toll this could put on your relationship in the future if this situation were to arise (remember you know your partner now, they will not change after you are married); you're not breaking God's covenant if you decide not to get married, it's better to back out before and be judged by people, then to back out after and be judged by God.

4) Unity: When two people become married, they should now act as 1. In Genesis, the bible speaks of 2 people leaving their parents, it uses the word cleave, which is to cut off. This means cut-off the ties and the reigns your parents had, as you are now your own family and are responsible only to each other and God. I'm not saying avoid your parents completely, but they shouldn't have any sort of rules over you and your spouse, and when you have problems, you should not seek them for comfort as this has many times turned one spouse against another; if you need to seek some help, find a pastor or counselor.

5) Self-Sacrifice and Submission: Now that you are a married couple you must quit putting yourself first and put your husband/wife first. You must submit to each other; no that doesn't mean to become their slave, but going back to communication, which is probably one of the most important aspects of making a marriage work, you must be in-tune with your partners needs and be willing to work with them and compromise toward satisfying each other. Not everything needs to be a compromise or a negotiation, but if you've ever taken communication classes or management classes you may have talked about negotiating; you are looking for the win-win situations in everything that you absolutely must "negotiate," but every once in a while you will have to take one for the team or compromise. That's what you are now as a married couple, a team. I don't know any teams that want to lose... I hope you aren't setting your team up for failure.

Please feel free to comment and add some value to the conversation.

First: What is marriage?

If you look at the term marriage in the dictionary, it is no wonder that so many marriages end up in divorce. defines marriage as, "the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife..." and merriam-webster online defines it as, "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law." I'm not going to go into the same sex marriage issue here that the second definition expands upon, but marriage is seen as nothing more than an institution and a contractual relationship, basically a tax break and a contract that you both have to sign, with the idea that you can break that contract if you needed to. I'll admit, there is a contract or oath that you make with your spouse, but you also make and oath to God, which is one oath you don't want to break. Marriage is not the "next step" you take in a relationship when you "decide" to live as husband and wife. Marriage is not the answer to pleasing a boyfriend or girlfriend, nor is it a mere contract. There are a lot of things marriage isn't, but what is it?

Marriage is the joining of two people in a life-long commitment, where you and your spouse must act as one cohesive unit. Once you become married, you can no longer be the selfish being you once were, you must work together, make decisions together, have each other in mind rather than yourself. You must become separated from your parents and begin to build your own foundation and family. Marriage is built on a strong foundation... stay tuned as I talk more about this foundation.