What To Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe

cropped-img_7845.jpgEthan and I decided to get baptized together just before marriage. It was Ethan’s idea and I was elated. He even wrote a testimony to share when it was our turn to get in the pool. It was beautiful. He talked about how we were committed to building our marriage on the rock and foundation of Jesus. It is still a joyful and precious moment in my mind.

But Ethan has really struggled in his faith for the last few years. He has such a passionate heart for justice, and in a world full of the suffering of the innocent and helpless, it makes him really question and even doubt God’s love and control simultaneously. For him, it is hard to make those two things reconcile with the world we live in. He also believes that science has started to point away from the existence of God, which makes him question further.

At first, seeing him pull away from God made me do the same, because I was praying that God would speak so clearly to him, that the scales would be removed from his eyes, that he would get revelation from the Lord for the answers to the things he couldn’t figure out or peace about the things God doesn’t want to reveal to him… but it doesn’t always happen immediately or in the time frame we think is best.

It’s God’s plan. We’ve gotta trust it.

So here are some things we can do for our spouses as they wrestle with their faith:

PRAY FOR THEM. Knew that was coming, huh? It is imperative that we do this!!! These prayers may not be answered right away, but we must persevere. Do they need a better group of friends? Pray for it! Do they need a mentor? Pray for it! Do they need to hear God’s voice? Pray for it! We also need to pray against the enemy for them, as they probably aren’t doing that for themselves. You can be fighting spiritually for them, on their behalf, helping them along the journey, as it is, ultimately, the enemy trying to keep them from joining with Christ to fulfill their God-given purpose and bring glory to His kingdom. Think “War Room” (if you haven’t seen it, it is worth renting and even purchasing – this movie is powerful). Tell the enemy he can’t have your husband. Pray against any spiritual attacks against your husband that God brings to your mind. Get your sword out and keep it bloody!!!

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up…(The Parable of the Persistent Widow)…’And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'” – Luke 18:1,7-8

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose you have a friend, an you go to him at midnight and say, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.” And suppose the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Luke 11:5-10

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, event the demons submit to us in Your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample of snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'” Luke 10:17-20

“‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.'” – Ephesians 6:10-12

See also Ephesians 1:15-23 – this really parallels how I feel praying for Ethan. This is a great place to start if you like to pray scripture!

DO NOT LET YOUR FAITH WALK SUFFER IN ANY WAY. IN FACT, KICK IT UP A NOTCH. When Ethan started to really doubt, I started to feel awkward about talking to him about God stuff and doing God stuff with him and around him, so I toned it down substantially. But then I realized that my faith walk is my own, as is his. We can play a part in each others, but with Jesus, it’s a relationship, and the only way to have a relationship with somebody is to personally pursue them, to spend time with them, to put in the effort yourselfMy relationship with Christ is mine to own, and mine alone, as is Ethan’s. That’s when I decided I would continue to pursue Christ openly, and that changed everything. I ask Ethan to pray with me when I feel led, I share my cool God stories with him, I ask him to read the Word with me when I feel led to, I talk to him about my faith, even struggles with my faith, I talk to him about his faith, I tell him I’m praying for him, I ask him if I can pray over him when God prompts me… You have to decide to be obedient to Christ first and foremost. You have to live out the command to love God first and others second. 

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” – Matthew 22:34-40

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS – BE AN EXAMPLE OF CHRIST AND WALK THE WALK. There is nothing more inspiring than watching somebody you know truly live out their faith and seeing God’s transformation in them. Show them that your faith isn’t just words, that it is a life choice – something more than just a belief, something that is worth living for. Something that is real, tangible, and powerful. As you pursue Jesus each day, you will learn more about Him and He will continue to renew your mind to be more like His. Serve as Jesus serves. Forgive as Jesus forgives. Ask forgiveness in humility when you do wrong. Pursue joy and peace in the Lord. Be obedient. Take leaps of faith.

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do no believe the word, they may be won over without words but by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3: 1-6

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Event the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2: 14-22

RESPECT THE JOURNEY GOD HAS THEM ON. God is not surprised by their unbelief. He made them. He knows them (Psalm 139). He knows the struggle in their hearts. He can handle the questions. He can even handle the anger. They are on their own journey, a journey God knew would be their path. We have to surrender our spouses over to the Lord and trust Him. Worrying and stressing about it will not convert your spouse, but exhaust and frustrate you both. All we need to do is be obedient to God’s nudges and love them through it. Appreciate their journey and where they are at in it.

YOU PROBABLY WON’T WIN YOUR SPOUSE OVER BY DEBATING/ARGUING. You want to keep the door open on communication about faith. Arguing is actually a way the enemy can get in to shut it, making it you against your spouse, as opposed to you walking alongside your spouse. If any of you have taken the 16 Personalities test, check this out: my husband got “The Debator” and I got “The Defender,” (according to this test, we are each other’s exact opposite in personality types). Can you imagine a heated debate between us about the most important thing in the universe? Not. Pretty. And not productive. These impassioned debates-turned-arguments created a big rift in the faith part of our relationship. I was so focused on winning him back, winning those debates, getting my points across, that I lost focus on just loving him through his questions, doubts, and fears, which again, goes back to the previous point – appreciate the journey God has them on. God kept telling me, over and over, “I don’t need you to defend Me.” But it took me forever to believe it and realize that He just wants me to continue to show him compassion. To be a good listener. And to be a good listener to Him in those situations, so He can tell me when to speak, what to say, or when to only listen.

“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.'” – Luke 11:17

REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Whose are they first and foremost? God’s. And through God, how should we see them? As a potential brother or sister in Christ. How does God see them? As worthy of unconditional love and grace. We should not stop loving them or divorce them (see 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16) because they doubt or struggle or have turned their backs on God entirely, we must be an example of Christ to them and show them unconditional love. God loved us before we believed in Him, we should love our spouses whether they believe or not. This was a game changer for me, and I was finally able to let go of the idea that I had to have a Christian husband, which had really become an idol to me. I started to look at Ethan as a child of God – somebody God imagined and masterfully created for a purpose (Ephesians 1:11-12), somebody God was willing to die for. I saw him completely differently. I stopped focusing on “flaws,” which are really just wounds surfacing or differences in our preferences, pasts, and personalities, and I started focusing on his gifts and strengths. I started to see the beauty of God’s creation that is Ethan. I started to really appreciate his character. And because of this renewed perspective of my husband, grace flows much more easily, and I’m getting that much closer to learning what it looks like to love unconditionally. It’s about choosing to love them sacrificially and in spite of their short-comings. This unconditional love, I’ve found, is an essential piece to the joyful and successful marriage puzzle.

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'” – John 13:34

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” – John 3:16

So, brothers and sisters, let’s continue to fight for our spouses, to love them in the middle of the mighty battle over their hearts and souls. Have a tender heart and a tough hide. Seek first the kingdom of God and He will guide you through the battlefield. The enemy cannot have our spouses or our marriages, in Jesus’ name!!!

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6 Ways to Become a Submissive & Respectful Wife

6 ways to be a submissive and respectful wife2

I have pondered a great deal on what it means to be a submissive wife. Ever since I gave my life to the Lord and began preparing my heart for my husband, I wondered at the concept. Now I’m well into the thick of marriage (over one year!) and God told me it’s time to stop wondering and start doing the work.

My husband and I have finally started learning afresh what God’s design is for the dynamic between a husband & wife, why He designed it that way, and how to live it out. I have relied on revelations from the Lord to show me how to take on this challenge of renewing my mind on these roles day by day. Both of our mothers grew up in broken, abusive homes, where their mothers lead out of necessity more than anything, so neither me, nor my husband, grew up seeing an example what this looks like.

Keep in mind as you embark on this journey – sometimes revelations come before mistakes are made, sometimes after. Be patient and keep one ear up to the Lord through it all and be sure to deal out plenty of grace!

Let’s start with scripture.

I had heard this one at least one million times, but it only sank in very recently:

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:22-24

Yeah, yeah. Read it before, give me something new… Right? That’s what I would’ve thought!

But let me rephrase and begin with the first strategy:


ONE: Submit your life daily to the Lord and you will be a submissive wife.

God designed marriage, therefore He wants you to be a submissive wife. If you seek the Lord first, He will prompt you on HOW to be a submissive wife. Let the creator coach you! Consider asking Him some questions throughout your day. Like: “What can I do to make my husband feel honored today?” “What can I do to show respect to my husband?” “How can I serve my husband right now?” “What does my husband need from me right now?”

It was also extremely helpful for me to think of it in these terms because it gives me something more tangible to go off of, something that I do have experience with, having been a believer for years now. I have been practicing submitting my life to the Lord since that first day I surrendered! So I ask myself, “What does my submission to the Lord look like?”

  1. I ask Him what He wants me to do. After He tells me, obedience is the submissive way.
  2. I trust Him with scary decisions, that He knows my heart’s desires, and that He knows what is best. Then, once again, obedience to His will is the submissive way.
  3. I trust Him with small decisions and trust that He cares when I ask.
  4. I lean on Him when I feel drained, confused, or too weak to continue on my own.
  5. I am honest with Him about my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Then I seek wisdom from Him on how I can fix it.
  6. I try to bring Him honor and glory with my actions and words.
  7. I try to honor him with my body and my sexuality.

Now, just as the scripture says, let’s apply these things to my husband.

  1. I ask him what he needs from me – that day or bigger picture. “Is there anything you would like me to get done around the house today?” “How can I be a better wife for you?” “How are we doing?” “What would you like to do today?”
  2. I trust him with big-decision situations. If I disagree with him, I will lovingly and respectfully share my concerns, trust that he hears them, and trust that he is taking them into consideration because of his love for me and our family. After he decides what is best, I respect his decision by supporting him in it. If it goes wrong, I will not gloat or belittle him, but continue to show him respect and give him encouragement and, most importantly, grace.
  3. If he is asks me, “How are you?” or “What’s the matter?” I will answer honestly in a respectful way. If he has upset me, I will answer without casting blame or condemnation for something he has done wrong, but share openly how I feel. I will confide in him so that our conversations can be real, authentic, and relationship building.
  4. I will let him know when I need him. I will ask him for help and swallow my pride. Men need to feel needed. I will honor my husband by asking him to step in and be my knight in shining armor.
  5. I will admit my mistakes and genuinely ask him for his forgiveness. I will honor him by accepting it and promising him that I will work on that part of my flesh.
  6. When I speak of my husband to others, it will be words of respect and admiration. My words will honor my husband in that they will speak life over him to others so that they have no reason to look at him in a negative light. I will speak of his good qualities or hold my tongue. I will not give into temptation when surrounded by other women complaining about their husbands. I have realized this is incredibly important, but not a commonly shared belief in the world. As a wife, you will see his deep-rooted character flaws, and he will see yours. Just because those truths are found does not give you permission to speak of them publicly. If you need to vent, I encourage you to go to the Lord before anybody else. He is an amazing listener. There have been countless days where He has completely satisfied my need to talk about some struggle in my marriage.
  7. I put effort into my appearance out of love and respect for my husband. I dress in a beautiful, modest way when in public. I dress sexy for him at home. I show interest in sex with my husband, and even initiate intimacy. I try to keep my eyes and thoughts for him and him alone.

How do you submit to the Lord? Write it out and use that as a guideline for some tangible ways on how to submit to your husband!

Notice that all of the ways one can submit to the Lord (see above) are closely tied to an act of obedience. Which brings me to…


TWO: Be obedient to the Lord and you will be a submissive wife.

Scary or difficult though it may be at times to be obedient to the Lord, it always bears fruit. Whether the Lord is telling me to drop the subject, not say anything at all (because it’s not a big deal), do the dishes, or put more effort into my appearance, if you are obedient to the Lord, your actions will honor your husband.

“God, do I keep fighting for my way or let him make the choice?”“God, I don’t feel like he’s listening to me, do I keep pushing or back off?” “God, how can I submit to him when I think he’s making the wrong choice?” “God, what do you want me to do, right now, in this moment, to be a submissive wife?”

Don’t be afraid to be honest with the Lord about how you’re feeling. There have been many moments where I feel intensely upset, because I feel like my feelings are being swept under the rug. I told God exactly how I felt in that moment, how frustrated I was, how I felt like I had to stick up for myself to be heard, then asked the Lord what He thinks. In most cases, he told me I was the one not listening, that I was actually being selfish, to trust Him with it and let it go, etc. Then I would find out later on that the Lord was working on my husbands heart in amazing ways behind the scenes the whole time.

God knows what He is doing!!

Sometimes, your husband will make mistakes. Sometimes, if you are being obedient and prayerful in those moments of do-i-submit-or-do-I-fight, God will ask you to let him make those mistakes. I know I certainly learn from my mistakes! Remember – he is on his own journey with the Lord, too!

If, however, your husband is asking you to do something that is morally wrong or something that the Lord is pressing on your heart as wrong, remember that you are to submit to the Lord first, before your husband. That means that you choose to please the Lord before your husband. Always.


THREE: Have a servant’s heart.

You need to be ready and willing to serve the Lord to serve your husband (see scripture above). A lot of days, there aren’t any family decisions that need to be made, so how best do I show that love and respect to my husband then?

A lot of the time, the Lord will put tasks on my heart. A lot of times, they’re menial – tasks that can wait till tomorrow and tasks that I don’t often feel like taking care of. Sometimes they are tasks that are cumbersome, highly inconvenient, or force me out of my comfort zone. That’s where obedience comes back into play.

Selfishness is my greatest enemy in my quest to be a servant and a submissive wife. Oh, how many times I think “later” or “tomorrow” or “wow, I really don’t feel like doing that right now… I’d rather just blah blah blah.” So we have to choose whether we are going to obey the Lord or obey our flesh.

Also, these “menial” tasks mean so much to our family. My husband has texted me multiple times in the last month saying how much he appreciates that when he gets home, he doesn’t have to worry about dishes or picking up, and that he loves that I take care of the home for our family. (Granted, I am working part time, so I can’t speak into this too much for full-time workers, but that is all the more reason to explore this with the Lord, and what serving looks like for you in your home!)

Don’t get me wrong, there have been tasks that I’ve completed that I never got verbal appreciation for – that’s okay! I was obedient and submissive to the Lord. He saw and He appreciates it.


FOUR: Keep your husband’s role in perspective.

God’s design for marriage is for the husband to be the head of the household. He is responsible for the well-being of the family.

It is his job to lead with a servant’s heart, to make decisions out of love and consideration for his family over himself, to be deferential to his family, to protect with his life, to raise his family in the Lord, to show his wife that she is loved and cherished and beautiful, and more, as is explained in the rest of Ephesians 5.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are all members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5: 25-33

As one of my mentors told me: “At the end of the day, it’s his head on the chopping block. Everybody will hold him responsible for a lot of what happens to your family. That’s a lot of pressure!” It is a truly noble and difficult role – one God designed men to shoulder for His perfect reasons.

Ask God to renew your mind about what your husband’s role truly looks like.


FIVE: The only part of your marriage you can work on is you. SUBMIT the rest to God.

If you feel your husband is not doing one or any of those jobs listed in the previous strategy correctly/whole-heartedly/at all, that is something you need to submit to the Lord. Give it to Him to work on, pray for your husband, and then do your part. Just because your husband is not leading the way you would like does not give you the go-ahead to not be a submissive wife.

In “Captivating” by Stasi Elderedge, it talks about how the sin tendency of women is to control, and the sin tendency of men is to become passive. You don’t want to live a life being deceived by the enemy that you have to run the home for it to be done well or correctly. Dig into that with the Lord.

The more I’ve submitted to the Lord, and therefore my husband, the healthier our relationship has been, and the more my husband’s leadership role has developed and strengthened. Trust that whatever steps God asks you to take, He knows your heart, He hears your needs, and He is working on it in ways that you cannot see. So focus on your part and what God is asking you to do, give your husband grace, pray for him, and watch God work!


SIX: Work on unconditionally respecting your husband.

Whoa, wait. What?

In the book “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs, it talks about how a woman’s greatest desire is to be loved, and a man’s greatest desire is to be respected. It also talks about how women expect their husbands to love them unconditionally, but laughed when asked if they could unconditionally respect their husbands. They said that respect was something to be earned by them, and that they often did not earn it.

Ironic, isn’t it? When I read this, my jaw dropped. I had never thought about how unbalanced I was in my expectations from my husband vs. my output to my husband.

We expect our husbands to speak to us in a loving way during disagreements – even when they think we are wrong or when they are upset or hurt. They deserve to be spoken to with respect in that same situation.

We expect our husbands to love us after a heated fight. They deserve to be treated with respect and honor after a heated fight.

We expect our husbands to talk about us to others with love in his words and voice. Our husbands deserve for us to talk about them with respect and honor to others. That means you speak life over each other or you hold your tongue.

We should try to unconditionally respect our husbands, just like we want them to try to unconditionally love us.


It’s been about a month now, and the Lord has already begun to change my heart and behaviors in major ways. He has shed light on my tone of voice, my argumentative attitude that would flare up, my struggle with procrastination, our sex life, letting my anger get to the point of a digging comment, being slow to anger in general, trying to protect my husband by asking him to not do dangerous things, where I struggle most with selfishness, and on, and on, and on… It has been truly an amazing transformation already. Because of all these things, my relationship with my husband has drastically improved, and he has noticed and thanked me for it. We argue far less, he feels more loved, respected, and appreciated, there is less stress in our home, our marriage is healthier than ever, I am feeling closer to and more in love with him, I am bringing glory to the Lord and strengthening my relationship with Jesus, I am becoming more and more the woman he designed me to be, and on, and on, and on… The benefits are endless!

Though embarking on this journey was intimidating, scary at times, and occasionally overwhelming, I am overcome with excitement about it. I am seeing God’s transformative and redemptive power in a whole new way! I am witnessing Him working daily in my relationship with my husband and in our family dynamic. And, I’m overjoyed to say, because my mother found Christ and because she did the work to get healing from her past through Jesus, I can now explore this new concept with her, and I get to witness the fruit of this labor in a marriage outside of my own, that I have observed my whole life. This journey has greatly strengthened my faith and brought me closer to the Lord! I’m so thankful to serve a God that cares so deeply about every one of us, our husbands, our marriages, and the legacies we are creating for our families. Praise God, who gives wisdom generously and freely to those that seek Him!!

Soul Mates or Spouses by Choice?

Locking and Unlocking: Wedding Vows

The above article is such a tremendous peek into the mystery and wonder of marriage.  Me and my hubby have been married almost 8 months now, and I still cannot believe how much we have grown as a couple.  We have fought through the hardest of times and enjoyed the best of times together.  Our relationship is full of laughter, but also full of effort and sacrifice.  Christ knew what He was doing when He created the covenant of marriage, and I am thankful for it.

I always tease Ethan and say, “we’re soul mates” when we both do the same ridiculous thing or learn the most ludicrous facts about each other… Like that my cheek fits perfectly in his eye socket… No joke.  Then one day, during a discussion, he asked me if I am married to him because God told me he was “the one.”  I pondered that for a while, and answered something along the lines of, “That’s part of it!”  And then he pointed out the fact that, while that is amazing because the Creator, who knows my heart’s desires and needs, has brought me a man He sees as suitable for me, He also loves me enough to let me choose.  Then he told me that if I were in a line of the most beautiful women in the world that were also highly compatible with him, he would still choose me.  He didn’t only marry me because God gave him the green light (which is pivotal), but that he wanted to choose me, above all the other possibilities out there, because… well… because he wanted to.

That is amazing.  The power of choice is a very big deal on this earth.  God nudges, God speaks, but we must choose the path, either the path to obedience and surrender, or the path we make for ourselves.  It is a choice to let the Lord guide your steps.  Our choice to obey, to surrender, to have faith, to worship Him are how we show the Lord we truly love him.  He does not force us to do so.  Just like the Lord did not force me to marry Ethan, or force him to marry me.  He brought us together with all of our gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, baggage, and brokenness and let US choose so that each day we spend together, every fight we have, we can always remember the most important facts – that God is for us, and that we chose to vow our lifetime, our energy, our love, our affection, our sexuality, everything to the one person we married – and how very big of a deal that is.

When I am being the biggest turd in the world, just a total putz… Ethan chooses to show me love and forgiveness.  He chooses to believe the best of me, even when faced with my worst.  If Ethan wasn’t given the choice to love me or not, if he was somehow forced to love me day in and day out, if it was a mechanical autopilot thing…  I wouldn’t see it as love, but as his job, an obligation, and nothing more.  It wouldn’t be special.  It may seem like a very daunting task in that moment of anger or frustration or hurt to show me love, but it is something he saw worthy to commit to for the rest of his life.  That is truly special.

My God, my Father that loves me, brought me a man.  He told me that he could be the one I marry.  He gave me nothing but green lights.  That man, though he knew he was also taking on the responsibility of another life, one that he played no part in, saw something special about me and got all green lights from the Lord as well.  There were hard times, harder than most dating people have to go through, including the moment he had to turn his back on his family because they thought and publicly announced the worst of me for having a child out of wedlock (though they do not acknowledge that I chose not to have an abortion).  Ethan chose me.  Regardless of what the world said, regardless of the verbal abuse from his family that we both had to endure, regardless of the reprimanding from friends because I have a child…  That man had to turn his back on the world for me, and he continues to do so on a daily basis because he believes I am worth fighting for.  Not just because God told him to, but because he chooses to each day out of love for me.

There is so much to be amazed by in marriage.  The power of choice is one of those things, and man… does it carry a lot of weight.  God’s lead + our choice = a very very big deal.

An update on saving sex for marriage: 3 months into marriage

An update on saving sex for marriage 3 months

I am writing this as a follow-up of my other article Why sex is for marriage ONLY & 8 benefits of waiting, because I could not read enough life experiences and witness accounts for the purity battle while we were fighting through it.  It is one of the hardest battles I believe any person will go through.

Here is some encouragement for those out there: I am nothing but grateful that we fought that hard and succeeded in our battle to save our sex life for marriage, and it was worth every moment of struggle.

Here is why and/or what I have learned about sex within marriage, after saving it for marriage:

a.)  Our wedding night was beyond all of my hopes and dreams and expectations.  But understand this: we went into the first time with little to no expectation other than to just enjoy each other (I strongly recommend this for reasons c and d).  We did just that, and it was amazing.  After the bond that was created after 2.5 years of spiritual and emotional bonding, after the healing process I had to go through for my sexual past, after all of the vulnerable moments… we were ready.  Ready to learn what God intended sex to be.  Here is what I experienced – no shame, no guilt, no insecurity, only excitement, anticipation, love, and peace.  That was a huge moment for me, because that was something I had never experienced before.  I took so much comfort in knowing that Ethan is my husband, because I knew that I could trust him with my sexuality and that he would not change.  I knew he would still strive to love me unconditionally.

b.)  Sex is extraordinary, and extraordinarily temporary.  I remember my mom suggesting before the honeymoon, “You guys can go for a day trip here, and see the sites there, and yaddah yaddah yaddah…” and I remember thinking, “Woman, we are not leaving our cabin!  We’re gonna be too busy having sex!  Do you understand how excited we are after all this waiting?  Sheesh!!”  But guess what – our bodies could only have so much sex.  Literally, things stopped working after day 3 and we had to start setting time restraints so that we could let our bodies recuperate adequately enough, because without them we wanted to keep trying.  It sounds so funny, but it’s the honest truth!

So during our 8 hours of rest, we were back to our old way of life – just hanging out together, shooting the breeze, making each other laugh, being silly, talking about things that matter to us, bickering from time to time.  It was then that I realized that had I been spending that time with anybody but my husband, I would have been disappointed and bored out of my mind.  But our relationship was not built on the foundation of sex, it was built on an emotional and spiritual bond.  That time that we spent together one-on-one, in nature, without our daughter… was priceless.  Sex supplements a relationship – it cannot sustain it or build a relationship past physical gratification.

c.)  Keep sex in perspective.  Keep reminding yourself what God intended sex to be.

The world has twisted sex into being something other than what it was made to be: something based on performance, physical satisfaction, the need to reach orgasm, and the need for sexual encounters to be wild and exotic.  Something purely physical that doesn’t often enter into the realm of emotional or spiritual connection.  Something revolving around the selfish desires of the person seeking satisfaction rather than seeking to satisfy the desires of the other.

This worldly vision of sex is something that a couple must fight together.  We have to focus on what sex was made to be, not what the world says it should be.  God opened my eyes to my own thoughts starting to follow this path about a month into our marriage.  I found myself thinking more about performance than connecting with my husband.  I thought more about my own satisfaction than showing him how much I love him, and making him feel how much I love him.  I was thinking more about my own wants and desires than my husband’s.

God made sex to connect a husband and wife physically.  God made sex to make babies.  God made sex to be a service to each other, a way of showing physically how much a wife loves her husband or how much a husband loves his wife.  It is a humbling experience when you realize that your thoughts have strayed to the selfish end with sex, and it has been so freeing for me since I have redirected my thoughts to purely enjoying my husband and wanting him to feel deeply loved and happy.  I will also say that without my selfishness, sex has been far more pleasurable and powerful for me.

d.)  Be willing and ready to work at it.  It takes trial and error, it takes moments of laughter, it may even be frustrating at times.  Nobody can do it flawlessly.  Don’t expect that from yourself or your spouse.  Just enjoy each other, remember that sex is meant to be a loving act and an act of service to your spouse – it doesn’t always have to produce great or mind-blowing results.  As Timothy Keller says in “The Meaning of Marriage”,

“With sex, we were trying to be vulnerable to each other, to give each other the gift of barefaced rejoicing in one another, and to know the pleasure of giving one another pleasure.  And as the weeks went by, and then the years, we did it better and better.  Yes, it means making love sometimes when one or even both of you are not “in the mood.”  But sex in a marriage, done to give joy rather than to impress, can change your mood on the spot.  The best sex makes you want to weep tears of joy, not bask in the glow of a good performance.”

e.)  You will find your sex life under attack at some point.  Sex is an important part of marriage, and marriage is a very sacred thing – of course Satan would attack your sex life.  We were certainly under attack within the first month or so.  Wounds from my husband’s past and my own mistakes (no matter how small) were stirring up feelings of distrust.  Distrust and the vulnerability that comes with sex do not mix.  Our sex life suffered from that for a while, and it was extremely scary and disheartening.  But after a lot of talks, and a lot of prayer, we are back on track building our relationship emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

I have read and heard a lot of stories from people who reprimand others for waiting to have sex until marriage because they had an awful experience doing so and it ended their marriage.  In most cases, I would be willing to bet that some, if not all, of the following were at play: their expectations of each other were too high (probably brought on by our hyper sexualized culture and/or pornography), they were thinking more of their own satisfaction than their spouse’s, they were seeking to impress rather than connect, their sexual relationship was under serious attack from the enemy.

Push through the attacks, seek God in how to fight for your marriage, and then obey.

Why sex is for marriage ONLY & 8 benefits of waiting.

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This topic sparks such a passion in me.  I know all too well the consequences of sex before marriage.  Now that I am in a relationship that has NOTHING to do with sex (yes, we have been dating almost 2 years, engaged for the last year, and have NOT had sex), I see the blessings and benefits in waiting for marriage.  Now it is clear to me that God made sex to be for marriage only, and I want to share what He’s taught me so far.

Before I had found and committed myself to following Jesus, I didn’t really see sex before marriage as a problem.  If we are have all these sexual urges and desires, it must not be a bad thing… right?  It was completely normal in my high school, actually.  I remember the pressure I felt to have sex with each boy I dated.  I wanted to experience it, yes, but the biggest reason was this: I hoped that once I gave them what they wanted, they would give me what I wanted – a loving, committed, romantic, thoughtful, ready-for-the-long-haul man.  I also wanted to give my boyfriend a reason to stay and hoped that our relationship would grow stronger.

This never works.  In fact, often times, when it’s not with THE man God has picked out for you, it works completely opposite.  I have a lot of proof of this being the case.  Boyfriend #1 of 2 years got bored with me and we grew apart, boyfriend #2 of a few months cheated on me with some girl on myspace, boyfriend #3 of 1 year called me only out of desperation to hang out with somebody (literally I was the last person he wanted to hang out with), and boyfriend #4 of 2 years broke up with me after I found Christ and told him I didn’t want to have sex unless we were married.

I have another example.  My wonderful and beautiful Aunt.  She was cheated on and got divorced when I was a child.  It must be about 10 years later and she found a great guy.  Christian, funny, nice, just a great fit for her.  My whole family loves this guy.  She made the decision to sleep with him at some point.  My aunt very badly wants to marry him, but he’s got some financial issues that could hurt her in the near future.  She’s been trying to get him to come up with a money plan to get himself back on track so they can move forward… but he hasn’t.  Think about it, what’s the rush?  He’s got my aunt sleeping in his bed every few days, he’s got his bachelor pad the rest of the time, he’s free to spend his time and money as he pleases, and he doesn’t have to answer to anybody. He’s got the best of all worlds from a guy’s perspective!!

Having sex complicates and destroys outside of marriage (James 1:13-15).  When sex is brought to the table, often times,  guys lose motivation to step up and get serious.  They aren’t as concerned with getting married as women are.  They’ve got everything they want for the most part, why complicate or change it? Being with all of the boys of my past and hearing the testimonies of family and friends have taught me all about the negative consequences of sex before marriage and have basically proven this theory.

Other reasons to not have sex before marriage:

First and foremost, outside of marriage, it is a sin.  God is the Creator of sex, therefore He knows best.  He says that sex should ONLY be between a married man and woman.  The sex between a married couple is blessed by God, God is all about it, He fully supports it, He is psyched when a married couple gets to fully enjoy the blessings of sex.  Sexual intimacy between a married man and woman is sacred, and having that lust for each other is an important part of a healthy marriage, hence the entire book of Songs of Solomon.  BUT just because we have the urges and desires, just because God made us sexual creatures, does not make sex whenever we want, with whomever we want, excusable or acceptable.  God didn’t design it this way, He instructs us not to do it (for all of these reasons and more), we should listen.

There’s also unplanned pregnancy, which is something I’ve experienced.  Children are a blessing, and their lives are precious and irreplaceable.  The love I have for my daughter opened my eyes to a whole new level of love that is impossible to compare.  She’s brought me more happiness than I could have ever imagined.  But guys, having a child before you’re with the right man and before you’re ready is so hard.  College is hard enough, add an infant or toddler in the mix and it is hard x 100 because you’ve got less sleep and less time to actually work at it and money is VERY tight (if you’re fortunate enough to have the money at all with tuition nowadays).  Babies are expensive!!  Relationships are more complicated – you’re not just dating for you, you’re dating to find the right man for your child.  Your day revolves around your baby.  Your money revolves around your baby.  Your sleep revolves around your baby.  Your social life revolves around your baby.  When the child is with somebody that you’ve decided not to be with it’s complicated and full of hard situations and conversations.

Then there’s STDs.  Those can be lethal for both the carrier and their future children.

And there’s the tendency to try too hard to make it work and give far too many chances.  We are biologically engineered to invest in one sexual partner.  There is a chemical in our brain that is released during sex, oxytocin.  It bonds us emotionally with our partner.  This bond makes us want to stay with that person, and therefore makes it difficult to accept when a relationship is unhealthy and ready to be ended, and therefore, deeper heartbreak when it does.  Every time we have sex with somebody and don’t stay with that person, it’s like a scab being ripped off of a wound.  It scars and scars and scars until eventually the effect that chemical has on the brain, meaning the bond itself, is weakened.  This means that the more sex you have with anybody but your spouse, the weaker that chemical/emotional bond with them will be.  If you want more on this, read “Bringing Up Girls” by Dr. James Dobson, which is where I got this information.  He has a whole chapter about it.

Being with my fiance, however, has been completely different from all of my past relationships.  It has been extremely enlightening in showing me the blessings to be had in waiting.  Here are some things I’ve learned:

1. If you don’t want to have sex before marriage, get that out on the table ASAP.  This is a very important topic for you both to agree on – meaning he needs to respect you and be on board.  I know it’s scary, believe me, I was terrified, but establishing this early on makes that pressure and fear of handling it disappear.   Afterward, I felt so empowered and strong in Christ for standing firm in what I believe in. If he doesn’t agree or fights you on it, and you wish to grow in your faith, he’s not the right guy.  He’ll only lead you down a bad path, and he definitely doesn’t deserve you or your body (Romans 12:1).

2. There are men out there that will respect this choice and help you through struggles.  It’s important to you, it’s important to God, you WILL find a man that will respect your boundaries and even become a rock in this battle.

3. After boundaries are established and consistently respected, that line becomes easier not to cross.  Ethan and I have not been perfect, and trust me, NOTHING good comes from roaming hands.  We leave each other on a bad note – unhappy, frustrated, and knowing that we aren’t staying true to what God wants for us.  Ironically, it also often leads to a fight, bitterness, frustration, and feelings of being unsatisfied.  But in one of our darkest valleys where we couldn’t see God at work in our lives, we actually talked about having sex.  We had been waiting over a year and a half.  We’d known for a long time, beyond a doubt, that we were meant to be together and we’d already been engaged 7 months.  The only thing stopping us was money.  We’d been waiting for enough money to come to support ourselves, were working our butts off, and fighting this purity battle, all to no avail.  However, after venting about this and talking about just doing it, we both felt terrified and guilty.  Neither of us wanted to cross that line now.  God had totally convicted our hearts.  Neither of us want any trace of guilt on our first night together, and the thought of blowing it after fighting temptation so long, really scared both of us.  Even when we were feeling weak in our walk with Christ, God came back strong by giving us that fear and guilt (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

4. God blesses couples that wait for marriage. PROFOUNDLY.  Not only will your relationship with each other become more deep and meaningful, but so will your walk with Christ.  Then as you go, your relationship will compliment and strengthen your relationship with Christ, and your relationship with Christ will strengthen your relationship with your man.

5. Your relationship will be built on a love that is real, substantial, and stable.  You will be falling in love with your man for who he is alone, and he will be falling in love with you for who you are alone.  No sex to cloud judgement and feelings.  Just raw chemistry and happiness in each others’ company.  You will be so emotionally and spiritually connected with him that the sex to be had within your marriage will be like the cherry on top.  The final finishing touch to seal the deal and deepen the bond of marriage.

6. The period of waiting for sex teaches you how to control your lust.  This time will greatly strengthen your trust in each other.  Ethan and I have used this time to practice controlling our lustful thoughts and keeping our eyes only for each other – something we are all called to do, but is often forgotten and ignored (Matt 5:28, Colossians 3:5, Job 31:1, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” – 1 Peter 2:11).  9 ways Ethan and I fight sexual temptations here.

7. You become very good communicators.  When there’s no sex, you talk.  A lot.  That is a very good thing.  Ethan and I have broken down some serious walls over these last 2 years.  You become best friends, knowing each other better than anybody, trusting each other with extremely personal information, trusting each other when vulnerabilities and flaws in your character are exposed… It is a different type of intimacy that sex can never achieve.  And better communication means more productive “fighting.”  The issues will be easier to resolve because you will be comfortable and open with each other at that point, so you will both be able to express your emotions and needs better.

8.  You’re fighting for a healthy sex life for your future marriage.  {Updated 8.28.16} I experienced sex outside of marriage, and it left me feeling extremely vulnerable, afraid of losing that person, empty, used, self conscious – just awful in general – because that lack of commitment was still here, looming over me once the happy hormones wore off.

But in marriage, sex is a physical expression of a deep love and appreciation for one another, and that deep love and appreciation was built through the time spent learning their character and what makes them who they are. Are you guaranteed your first night and honeymoon will be flawless because you waited? NO! But with the right mindset, I guarantee you, it will be meaningful. So so meaningful. Which is what sex is all about. It’s about connecting to your partner in every way, it’s not about performance. And when sex is just a joyous celebration of each other, it is truly a beautiful gift. When sex is an instrument of a healthy marriage, it is nothing short of a blessing, as God intended it to be.

It is in marriage that I am able to be vulnerable without fear, be myself without feeling self-conscious, and feel secure in the commitment Ethan has made to me and me alone. I can feel confident, beautiful, and valuable knowing that I do not have to earn his love or his loyalty with my body, but that he promised me his love and loyalty because of who I am. What a blessing to be loved and valued for who you are alone.

For all those with a past: it is never too late to make the decision to pursue purity.  Christ died for our sins, His grace is sufficient.  All you have to do is commit and repent.  Leave the old ways behind and follow Jesus’ plan for your life (Ephesians 4:22-24), you will find a joy that lasts and endures even through hardship.  God Himself promises this!

I wrote an update on September 12th, 2014, called An Update on Saving Sex for Marriage: 3 Months into Marriage, that talks about all that I have learned about sex within marriage and why I am so glad that we waited!