Thursday, April 14, 2011

Desiring Him, Part 2

Here is the last portion of the final chapter of Aileen Challies's booklet, False Messages.  I hope you've enjoyed my sharing this series with you.  When I found it, I thought it was too good not to share.  As always, you can download the booklet in its entirety here.

To write this little book I made a bunch of awkward phone calls to my girlfriends to ask them how they deal with this. I asked them what things they do to find delight in their husbands and between the bunch of us we made up a list of practical ideas that may help you. Here they are:  
Pray. First, and most importantly, pray. Don’t pray just before or during sex (though you may have to do so then, too) but pray as part of your day-to-day walk with the Lord that he would help you desire your husband and that he would help you serve and enjoy him in this way. Do you pray regularly for joy and freedom and fulfillment in sex? Do you pray the same for your husband? If not, you should!  
Study. Look to the Bible to learn God’s will for sex.  Know that he wants you to desire your husband, that he wants your husband to desire you, and that he wants both of you to enjoy sex. Don’t believe the lies that good girls can’t find great joy and satisfaction in sex. By regularly enjoying sex with your husband, you are doing exactly what God commands and you are bringing glory to him (Read Song of Solomon and see how the woman is not passive, but a woman who feels strong emotional and physical desire for her lover.). Form a theology of sex; believe it and live by it.  
Remember. In the midst of all your responsibilities as a mother, it is sometimes difficult to remember that you married your husband, not your children.  Biblically, he is your priority over your children. Obviously you cannot abandon your children—you still have to be a mother to them. But do not lose sight of your marriage amidst the busyness of motherhood. 
Stop. Learn how to carve out time for your husband, not just to have sex with him but to find and enjoy common interests (television probably doesn’t count). So often with married couples the concerns of life begin to outpace the importance placed on the relationship. Everyday schedules and worries begin to take over until you forget to take time to enjoy your husband. No wonder, then, that you have trouble desiring him! If you are anxious, thinking about the needs of the kids, worrying about what to serve for dinner the next night, thinking about the laundry that needs to be done, or any of the other 10,000 things you need to do every day, all of this will negatively impact your willingness and ability to enjoy physical intimacy. So take time to be with him, to hang out, to cuddle, to just be together.  
Tell. Spend time deliberately focusing on what is desirable about your husband. Write and leave notes about what you find desirable about him where he will find them (and where only he will find them).  Email him during the day and let him know you are thinking about him in that way. Be coy, be fun, be alluring. Stewing about the fact that he didn’t put his towel in the hamper or take out the garbage hardly instills feelings of desire.  Focus on the positive.  Anticipation is wonderful for you and for him.  
Initiate. Most men love it when their wives initiate.  Instead of always waiting for him to make the first move, let him know you are interested even hours before bedtime—and remind him a few times. And even if you aren’t truly interested, act like you are. Let your mind take the lead and your body will catch up eventually.  
Beautify. It’s hard to desire intimacy when you feel that you are frumpy or unattractive (or when you are deliberately making yourself frumpy or unattractive). Feeling beautiful helps you feel desirable and helps your husband desire you. Get rid of the sweats and stop hoarding his old t-shirts for your own use. Keep the floor-length flannel nightgowns for only the coldest nights.  
Decorate. Make the master bedroom an attractive room in the house. You spend around one third of your life in your bedroom, so why not make it a pleasant place to be? Nice sheets, candles and lack of clutter can go a long way to encouraging a romantic atmosphere. 
Delight. Be thankful that your husband desires you.  This is good and right before God. Think about it: your husband wants you. Your husband wants you! Would you really be happier if he showed no interest at all?  Of course not! So be grateful that God has given him a desire for you and be sure to thank God for it.  
Schedule. This can be controversial, but it has its place. If you truly struggle to have sex regularly, it may be beneficial, at least for a season, to schedule sex. This may happen when you have young children or maybe when you are struggling in marriage. All I mean is that you may want to set aside certain nights of the week and make sure that you have sex on those nights. And on those days, do your part! Coming to him with willingness and joy is far better than making him beg and then rejecting him. Remember what we learned in the last chapter about setting up your husband (or yourself ) to be tempted by sexual sin.  
Here’s the rub. God calls you to love and serve and desire your husband. He created sex as a means of cementing (or supergluing!) the marriage relationship.  God gives your husband sexual desire as a trigger to remind him to pursue you. God has provided you, the wife, as the one who can and should and must provide the fulfillment of that desire. And he provided the act of making love so that it becomes about far more than just the physical act. To reject any of this is to reject God’s perfect plan for marriage.  
In all things remember that God is for you, that he is for godly marriages, that he is for the godly woman who is committed to loving her husband! When you seek Him you can have confidence in his help.  Strive in all things, even in this, to bring glory to God (Challies, False Messages, pg. 17-19).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Desiring Him, Part 1

I'm almost finished with this booklet now.  Here is the introduction to the last chapter:
Desiring Him
So far we’ve come to the conclusion that as a wife you need to be willing to constantly examine your heart and your motives when it comes to sex.  For some reason this is a real challenge for so many women. Many of us struggle to enjoy and express gratitude for what is meant to be a great gift from God. We express anger about this gift. We resent this gift. If God had left us a gift receipt for it, we’d take it back in an instant and trade it in for something better (like a good night’s sleep).
The challenge for you, as a wife, is not just to tolerate sex but to find real joy in it. The challenge is to find joy in the act itself—as a means of grace within your marriage, as a means of blessing your husband, as a means of knitting yourself ever-closer to him, as a means of bringing glory to God. It is not only something you can tolerate, but something you can delight in.
Statistics say that you, as a woman, very likely have less desire for sex than your husband does. Meanwhile your sexual desire is more deeply tied to your mind and emotions than is the case for him; his desire (like you haven’t figured this out) tends to be more physical in nature. He has the easy job of having his body speak to his mind; we’ve got it tough in having to make our minds talk to our bodies. So how then do you work on your mind and your heart so you do not just put up with sex but that you actually desire your husband?
In this final chapter I want to give suggestions on how you can increase your desire for your husband.  I’m hoping to offer some practical suggestions that help you enter the bedroom open, willing, joyful and even initiating physical intimacy with your husband. I’m not talking about techniques to help get you in the mood “in the moment,” but rather practices for all of life to help you align your heart to do what God wants you to do—to desire your husband and to enjoy his desire for you (Challies, False Messages, pg. 17).
 Again, to download the booklet in its entirety, click here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Heart of Rejection, Part 4: Conclusion

A pattern of rejection is dangerous to a marriage. It gives the wife a great deal of power over her husband’s heart—a power that she may wield wrongly.  Rejection by the wife leads to feelings of inadequacy, bitterness and temptation in the husband. This may then lead him to be less loving, to lead him to struggle in his role as a husband. This in turn leads the wife to reject him more as she desires him less as she sees him as not loving her as she wants. Remember, by rejecting sex, she is rejecting him, rejecting his heart. Meanwhile the wife may grow bitter as her rejection causes her to wrestle with guilt and to push the blame for this guilt upon her husband and his desires. The ugly cycle of sin continues. 
It is God’s design for marriage that sex displays total love and acceptance. Therefore a wife ought to be eager to accept her husband’s advances and a husband ought to be eager to accept the body and soul of his wife as they are united as one. It is Satan’s design for marriage that sex, instead of being all about acceptance, should be all about rejection. Whose team are you playing on (Challies, False Messages, Pg. 16)?
 As always, to download the entire booklet, click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Heart of Rejection, Part 3: Rejection and HIS Heart

Rejection and His Heart 
Women are often said to be the more complex sex—we are more difficult to understand, we have more hidden nuances. However, when it comes to sex, the male psyche is far more difficult to understand (though men would probably beg to differ). In a woman’s mind, we don’t feel like having sex simply because we don’t feel like having sex. Therefore, we say “No, not tonight.” And most of us could be happy going weeks or months like this (and especially when we’ve got little kids hanging off us for years at a time).  But the rejection that a man feels in such refusals is far deeper and far more significant then we imagine.  We have not just rejected sex; we have rejected him.  
Sin has deeply marred our perception of sex and, as we’ve seen, we tend to believe that it is the physical release men seek rather than the emotional and spiritual connection they experience when making love to their wives. But the truth is, your husband sees sex as a means to show his love for you and in rejecting that act, you are hampering his ability to express his love for you. In his mind you are rejecting not the act, but him and his love. This, more than any other, is an area in which your husband is vulnerable to being deeply hurt. God has given you a huge amount of power over your husband’s perception of his manhood.  You can make him feel like a sexual superstar or a complete loser without ever leaving your bed. By rejecting sex, you are rejecting his manhood. It’s not that you can never say “No honey, not tonight” to your husband, but that you need to be careful in how you respond. As always, the heart is the heart of the matter.  In her book Becoming the Woman of his Dreams, Sharon Jaynes says that one thing she learned through all of her interviews and surveys is that men are surprisingly fragile when it comes to their sexuality.  They may act all big and macho but they are actually very weak in this way, very vulnerable to rejection. So here is a question for you: how often are you acting from pure motives when you refuse your husband? And even if you are not being sinful in motive, are you perhaps being sinful in the way you refuse?  Do you maybe even get a bit of sick joy from spurning his advances? Sex is a wonderful opportunity to give back to your husband, to accept his love, to show your love for him. Why, then, are you sometimes
(often? all the time?) so quick to turn it down?
Take a look at two scenarios Jaynes offers in her book. In the first, hubby comes slinking into the bathroom as you are putting the finishing touches on your 15 minute face cleansing and moisturizing regiment. He runs his hand down your back and grins. You know exactly what he has in mind. “Not now!” you snap. “I’ve had a hard day and that is the last thing on my mind!” End of story. In the second, hubby comes slinking into the bathroom as you are putting the finishing touches on that same cleansing and moisturizing regiment. He runs his hand down your back and grins. “Now that’s a nice idea,” you reply.  “I’ll tell you what, I’ve had an extremely tiring day today, but if you hold that thought until tomorrow, I’ll make it worth your while.” This story has just begun! 
I love these examples. See, in both cases hubby is disappointed, but in only one is he dejected! In one scenario he is rejected, in the other he is simply asked to wait. A man who feels he is begging or asking his wife for a favor feels humiliated. He knows that begging costs him his masculinity. In one scenario the wife protects her husband’s heart; in the other scenario she abuses it. And there is a great danger in this.  
Let’s go back for a second to 1 Corinthians 7 and make it a little bit more personal, seeing what can happen when you reject your husband: “Do not deprive your husband…so that Satan may not tempt him.” Have you ever thought about it this way before?  Could you actually be setting up your husband to experience temptation to sin by rejecting him and refusing to have sex with him on a regular basis?  Could you in some way be contributing to his sin?  In an age of pervasive sexuality where so many men struggle with sexual addiction and pornography, this may sound like a justification for these acts. Of course this is not my intention at all and no man ever has justification to turn to pornography or self-pleasure.  However, I think it is wise to remember that when there is sin in one aspect of a relationship, it tends to spill over into other areas of that relationship. A wife’s rejection may actually leave her husband more vulnerable to sexual sin. While the rejection is not the cause of the subsequent sin it may be the catalyst. 
Men can end up acting out through pornography or masturbation because of shame, humiliation or rejection.  This is not to say that the sin of pornography is always a result of this. But is wise to remember that a denial of God’s commands in marriage can only have negative results. In a perfect world, in a perfect relationship, a woman would never say “no” to her husband and a husband would never ask when his wife is not desirous. Of course in that perfect world a woman would also never be up all night with a sick baby! In the real world, though, a woman often ends up rejecting her husband, not knowing just how deep this cuts. 
Men, when they feel like men, make better men!  They lead better, they work better and yes, they serve their wives better. Feeling like a man includes having a joyful, willing wife. If we are to be truly good wives to our husbands, we need to serve them in all areas, building them up as men. Sex is an important part of that—passionate, joyful, willing sex. Our hearts and attitudes need to be pure. We need to regularly have sex with our husbands and always we need to be careful that we are not tearing them down with our rejection (Challies, False Messages, Pg. 14-16, emphasis mine).
You may click here to download the rest of this booklet.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Heart of Rejection, Part 2: Rejection and YOUR Heart

Rejection and Your Heart 
Humans are selfish at heart; wives are selfish at heart. Though we know that God calls us to esteem others higher than ourselves, though we know that he calls us to love our husbands more than we love ourselves, we naturally tend toward self-love. Often we love ourselves more than our own husbands. Often rejection is not a reflection of our bodies or our lives, but of our hearts.  
What happens to our hearts when we continually reject our husbands and do so out of selfishness?  I believe the answer is that we grow bitter, increasingly hardened toward our husbands. I recently spoke with several friends about our reactions when we tell our husbands “no.” The overwhelming agreement was that we feel guilty and then, from that guilt comes anger. We grow angry at him for placing us in this situation in which we end up feeling guilty.  The conversation in our heads goes something like this. “I should be having sex with him tonight. But I don’t want to have sex with him tonight. He should see that I’m too tired. It is his fault for asking. How dare he!” Instead of putting him first, we look first to ourselves and justify our sin by placing blame on him. If we do not deal properly with this heart sin, it grows and bitterness develops. While there are certainly valid reasons for not wanting to have sex or not being able to have sex on a particular night, like so much sin, it often comes down to attitude and selfishness.  You are called to serve your husband as he is called to serve you. That calling extends beyond making sure he has clean underwear and a good meal every night (and, in fact, I’m guessing most men would forgo the clean underwear and the meal if it meant they could have regular joyful sex with you).  
Angry rejection is not a sign of a heart that is joyfully engaged with their[sic] husband. Neither is mere placid participation. A heart that is engaged and willing to serve will find joy in that service if not the act itself.  One flows into the other. Regular, joyful sex is for you too! It allows you to connect on the most intimate level with your husband, just as God intended. Your marriage need this connection if it is going to stay strong (Challies, False Messages, Pg. 13-14).
 The link to download the booklet is here.