Posted in Home, Love, Marriage & Family

Blessed to be Married

Roses from my husband

My husband had roses waiting for me in the car when he picked me up at the airport, after I returned from visiting my family in Manitoba. He said they were for me because he was glad to have me home, because I was special, and because he knew how much I liked them.

I can never get over the beauty of roses. They speak to me with their delicate, layered petals, their sweet fragrance, their cool, smooth softness, their perfection.

October 17, 2012

There were no roses waiting for me when my husband once again picked me up at the airport yesterday. I went to Arizona to spend a few days with my sisters. While I was there I visited a mall where a woman who ran a small kiosk commented that she didn’t need a man in her life. She had tried that. Now she was free to go to bed when she wanted, get up when she wanted, eat when she wanted, etc. Nobody was telling her what to do.

Well, I listened, quietly, and thought to myself, yes, those would be the advantages of being alone. But, I had someone to pick me up at the airport, kiss me, help me with my luggage. I had someone to tell my stories to as we drove home, someone who told me about his week. Later we planned a little get together with our son and his wife for his birthday.

As we cuddled on the couch that evening I was content that I had someone in my life, and I was willing to make a few adjustments.

Yes, I fully agree that marriage requires that we adjust our lives to the preferences and needs of another person. When we sign up for marriage, we had better be willing to do so.

There is this thing called reciprocity in marriage. Another way of saying it is that there is a lot of “give and take.” When one partner thinks they are making an unfair contribution in relation to the other, resentment can set in and this will begin to poison the marriage.

I make certain contributions, and my husband makes certain contributions. Our marriage is very different from the standard with which I grew up. In our home we both cook meals, we both clean and usually we are both contributing to the family income.

In my home, as a child, the woman did the housework and the man brought in the money. When my mother decided to train for a career and go to work outside the home, my dad considered it an insult to his manhood. Instead of appreciating what she was doing, he resented it. That was unfortunate, especially when his health eventually failed and prevented him from continuing to work.

During my time with my sisters we talked about what makes a marriage work and why marriages fail. I know there are many reasons. Relationships are complicated. But I think there are some basic principles that could make virtually every marriage successful. If we love each other, trust one another, are able to communicate and understand each other’s reasoning, are willing to negotiate and give in sometimes, and practice kindness and thoughtfulness in our attitude and actions on a daily basis, I think we have a very high probability of a successful marriage.

A marriage, by my understanding, is a relationship from which we ought to derive some benefit. We cannot be petty, selfish, self-centred, inattentive and oblivious to the other’s needs and desires and then expect to have a good marriage. This is not the right formula for a thriving marriage.

As I said earlier, there ought to be a feeling of balance, that each one is contributing their fair share, though it may be different. When two people have a shared picture of the marriage they want then they will be more inclined to put in the effort needed to reach this goal. A couple ought to talk about the ideals they have for their relationship. Some may be unrealistic. Some may be easily achieved.

The romance will not always be at its peak, but there can still be warmth and affection. This is a reasonable expectation and I can say this with confidence after being blessed with nearly thirty years of marriage.

Posted in Love, Marriage & Family

Why Pornography is Hurting Your Marriage

You might not think it is making any difference in your marriage relationship if you frequently look at that magazine or view a particular site on the internet. Or you may think it doesn’t matter if you click daily on certain images or articles that feature attractive women or men. After all, it’s what everyone does, right? It’s how we’re wired, you could be telling yourself.

I suggest that there are at least four reasons why pornography could be hurting your marriage.

ID-10076673
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/ FreeDigitalPhotos.ne

1. Shame

When I was a teen a girlfriend loaned me a novel that happened to have some rather explicit sexual content. As I was reading it I remember thinking, What if my mom walked in and asked me what I was reading? You know how people flip books upside down when someone approaches them? Instinctively we hide what might cause us to be embarrassed.

A young boy was exposed to pornography by his playmates and when the feelings of guilt and shame became too much he approached his mother in tears and asked her to spank him for the bad thing he had done. In her wisdom she comforted him and told him he didn’t need to be spanked, that being sorry was enough. He so badly wanted to be restored to his former innocence.

A man was engaging in viewing some questionable material, maybe not exactly a porn site, but very suggestive. He seemed to think this was excusable. I asked him if he would be alright with his children looking over his shoulder when he was clicking these articles. He told me that my question was helpful because it gave him a new standard for the future.

Shame is an ugly burden to carry around. It erodes confidence. It makes it difficult to look people in the eye. It causes a person to have to cover up, pretend, and even deceive. This is not a pleasant way to live.

When a person lives with shame it will make them less open, less honest, and ultimately, less desirable.

A spouse can sense when the other is hiding something and most are particularly sensitive to feelings of shame. Intimacy in marriage is based on transparency and honesty. When we have to hide something we are ashamed to have exposed then we become distant.

2. Unfaithfulness

You may not think you have been unfaithful to your spouse because you only looked, you did not act out your fantasies. I actually heard this in a Christian context: It is OK to look as long as you don’t touch. Well, if you read your Bible, you will find that is pretty far from what it teaches. My Bible reads that if your eye causes you to sin, you should pluck it out and cast it away. How can our eyes cause us to sin? By looking at something that is not ours and desiring to have it.

I do not deny or minimize the struggle. I think Jesus recognized the intensity of the temptation too, judging by his extreme remedy. He did not mean for his words to be taken literally, but he was communicating a strong message and that was the absolute necessity of dealing with the problem

Your spouse is the only one who has the privilege and honour of satisfying you sexually.

When another person or image displaces your spouse in your fantasies then you are being unfaithful. Let’s be honest.

3. Lack of Control

Losing control over our body or our thoughts is humiliating. We want to have a sense of personal autonomy, the confidence that we can make choices and commitments and abide by them. If an attractive image can absorb my thoughts, even against my will, then my sense of power over myself is diminished.

This of course can lead to feelings of shame too. It can begin a downward spiral of thinking we are inadequate, unreliable, powerless. It can even turn us against the world, against those “fundamentals” who preach sexual purity, against constricting marriage vows, against women, etc. But the real issue resides within us.

We all admire people who have risen to statures of personal success in business, politics, or society. We believe that they have qualities like intelligence and discipline and emotional IQ that have enabled them to succeed. We all want to be successful. And when we are faced with repeated failure in an area of our lives, it can become very discouraging.

A sense of control over self is confidence building.

Eroded confidence will communicate itself in different ways in marriage. It will often manifest itself in discontent with others, accusations, and defensiveness. If I am bad, then you are bad too. It may sound childish but it happens. Especially in marriage.

4. Desire for Something More

A pornographic habit may not mean that a person wants out of their marriage. It may not even mean that they have found something or someone better. But it does indicate a desire for something more.

We all love the stories where a couple finds profound satisfaction in each other, to the exclusion of all others. This is the image of first love. But it can also be that of enduring love. However, it has to be cultivated. That means that we have to delete from our lives those things that do not contribute to marital happiness and add those things that do.

A pornographic habit absorbs a lot of time and energy and thought that ought to be given to our family. Think of it. You are living in an imaginary world when you could be interacting in the real one.

Your partner deserves to be able to relax and be at ease instead of fighting for your attention.

Each of us want to be the one and only, the most desired person. Marriage gives us this exclusive status. But pornography displaces your spouse. It is gravely affecting your marriage.

So, what is a person to do?

The first step is acknowledgement and if you have read this far then you may already be there.

Secondly, steps of prevention must be taken. Set up a standard, like the man I mentioned earlier. Maybe you will not view anything that you would not look at with your children or your spouse present.

My third suggestion is to revolutionize your view of the opposite gender. Never think of a person simply in terms of their body. Discipline yourself to think of the whole person. Think of their childhood, their dreams, their needs, their role in their family. One pastor suggested praying for them.

If you are buying into pornography, you are buying into the deception that this is what people want.

If a man or woman appears to be enjoy being objectified, I will tell you, from numerous observations, that this is only a very temporary, fleeting state.

Every person wants to be loved, not just for their body, but for their whole person, for who they really are.

Yes, some personality types are very self-absorbed, but underneath is the fear of rejection and the longing to be loved with an unconditional, committed and exclusive kind of love, the kind that a marriage should offer.

So, shake off those things you are ashamed of. Pray for forgiveness and grace. Become the person you want to be. One of the best gifts you can give your partner is to make him or her the object of all your sexual fantasies, exclusively.