Are You Listening to Your Body?

Do you listen to your body when you are making love? Do you hear it telling you, “oh my gosh, that feels so good”, “I want more of that”, or “touch my ______”.  Staying connected to what our body enjoys and following it where it takes us is one of the ways that sex remains fresh and new every time. But a lot of things can get in the way.

Beware of Automatic

Sometimes we just begin to do life on automatic. We fail to notice or enjoy the small pleasures that God gives us. Kissing our husbands when we greet becomes an automatic response and we aren’t even present. We are thinking about the day ahead of us and our “to do” list. But if we disengage from life, and actually feel him, and smell him and awaken our bodies to what we love, we can make a connection. It doesn’t really take any more time, it is just a different mindset.

We can also get into the rut of making love on automatic. We get our routine down to a science, and figure out what works. We miss wonderful detours that our body is taking us on. Don’t be afraid to let your husband know what your body is asking for or what it is enjoying.  It is part of revealing who you are.  Sex stays fresh because it is a constant window into our spouse and ourselves. It is God’s design that we “know” each other thru sex.It is in revealing what our bodies love that we “know” each other.

Also, beware of becoming a spectator. Our mind can get distracted if we worry about whether he’s touching us right, or whether we will have an orgasm, or whether he will last long enough, or if he’s getting tired. It is like being a photographer at a family reunion, focusing on getting the right shot, and the lighting and the background. And when it is over, we realize that we really didn’t connect at all, we totally missed the reunion. Stop watching and start feeling.

So your mission this week is to listen to what your body loves, enjoy it, follow it, share it with your husband, and see where it takes you.

Originally published as What DO You Love on March 19, 2014

God Can Transform You and Your Marriage

One of the first things I tell women taking Awaken-Love is, “What I say will not change you. The books your read will not change you. If you are looking for real transformation, you need to ask God, because He is the only one that can change you.”

God changes lives.

I know, because He has profoundly changed my life. I am nothing like the person that I used to be. He has given me the courage to feel and to intimately connect – with Him and with my husband.  I have emerged from the shadow of shame with the desire to be fully known. God has freed be from trying to create the illusion of perfection and instead trust that He can work through even my mistakes. I act different, I feel different and I look different and He just keeps changing me.

I constantly see God transform women in Awaken-Love classes.

They come carrying burdens, secrets, walls of protection and He begins slowly softening their heart. As trust builds they open up and bring hiddenness to the light. Women that are totally broken, surrender everything to God as we ask for breakthrough and return the next week to share stories of miracles. God can heal anything. He can reveal lies and bondage, He can break down walls, He can bind up the broken hearted, and He can speak his truth.  God shows up all the time.

If you want your marriage to change, then start by asking God to change you.

Quieting the Mind

We all know it’s happened to us. We’re in bed with our husband, and he is being oh so attentive. Softly stroking us, gently kissing us, when out of nowhere pops the thought, “Did I start the dishwasher?” And it opens up the floodgates of things that will run our day tomorrow. “I’ve got to remember to sign Sarah’s permission slip”, and” don’t forget to buy a gift for Anne’s party”, and on and on it goes. So many things to keep track of, and yet in this moment, I am missing out on one of the most important things I do, connecting with my husband.

So how do we quiet our mind? How do we think about nothing besides this amazing moment?

It takes faith….It takes not worrying. It takes knowing that God will provide everything that I need. When I realize that I can accomplish nothing on my own, and surrender control to God, it allows me to live in the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.

Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God…

It takes practice… quieting my mind as I pray to God allows me to hear Him. It allows me to sense His presence and to sometimes just be with Him.  In the same way, when I quiet my mind as I connect with my husband, I will feel him, see him and know him as I have never known him before.

It takes clearing my head in advance … I am all for any practical ways that you can let your mind rest. If it takes making a quick list before going to bed, do it. If it takes talking through tomorrows schedule with your husband, go for it. But then let it rest.

It takes breathing deeply and letting go … sometimes we need to let our bodies express what we want our mind to experience. Breath in,  breath out.  Breath in, breath out. Breath in quiet and breath out stress, worry, busyness.

It takes pulling myself back with a gentle persistence… don’t get frustrated. When you feel yourself going there, just gently pull yourself back and reengage with your husband. See him, hear him, feel him.

So for your mission this week, practice having a quiet mind and be absolutely present with your husband.

Originally published as The Quiet Mind on March 12, 2014

Time to Recharge

I will be honest with you; this year has been super hard.

I have struggled with depression in the midst of God calling me to experience His weeping over brokenness. My ministry partner Melanie had to step away leaving me feeling lonely, overwhelmed and lost.  Awaken-Love classes continue to fill to capacity. Countless women communicate the great impact and need, while few have stepped in to join the battle. I continue to feel called to Awaken-Love, and I know there is much to do, but I am exhausted – so it is time to recharge

This summer I need to take a break.

I need to recharge and refocus and spend time with God. My plan is to write a short post on Mondays based on the 10 Foundational Truths that Awaken-Love believes.  On Thursdays, I plan to repost one of my favorite articles from a couple of years ago. Please extend grace during this time as I recharge.

Join the Battle

Would you also pray about whether you feel called to make a difference in the area of sexual wholeness for Christian wives? It is time to raise up an army of women willing to make a stand. I would love to talk to about either facilitating an Awaken-Love video class or getting equipped to teach classes live.

Blessings, Ruth

Feather Touches – Awaken and Entice her Body

Feather touches awaken our senses and cause every fiber of our body to stand on high alert waiting in anticipation. They are the softest of touches that whisper to us and ask for more. The gentle graze of fingers rustling the hair on an arm. The slow drawl of nails drawn across a palm. The whisper of the breeze through the hair. Feather touches contrast the stillness of solitude with luxurious connection that yearns for more.

God speaks to us through feather touches all the time…

Standing at the water’s edge my eyes gaze across the blue as I behold His creation. I close my eyes to praise Him in stillness and breathe in His goodness. The nerves of my neck gently stand at attention as a quiet breeze catches my hair.  I smile because I know that my God is so very good.

A community of believers worship from their heart, pouring out their soul. The air is thick and even though you can see nothing, person after person comments that the room was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Weeping at Jesus’ feet in the midst of brokenness and surrender, tears stream down my face. I bow in reverence, realizing just how unworthy I am. And then out of nowhere, I feel His fingers gently pass through my hair. I startle with His touch, but no one is there.

Feather touches from God come out of nowhere. They surprise us and yet somehow feel like a taste of home. Gone in an instant they awaken in us a desire for more connection.

Feather touches are also a great way to connect in the marriage bed…

They require laser sharp focus combined with the relaxation of floating down a lazy river in August. Fingertips that feel the hair rise from the skin float effortlessly down arms or legs. The backs of fingernails gently graze goose bump risen skin. Lighter than a feather touch leisurely strolls across insides of elbows, back of knees and inner thighs. Gentle breath whispers behind ears and under hair until shivers rise up. These feather touches awaken us.

Softer than you think, slower than you can imagine, feather touches are the works of an artist. They come out of nowhere and leave you guessing where they will show up next. The artist’s tools are only limited by their imagination – fingers, feathers, brushes, nipples, breath, hair, penis – the possibilities are endless. The creator dabbles with a playfulness that is not controlled by time, pressure or results. Pure enjoyment comes from the gentle strokes that entice.

Helping Your Husband Battle Pornography

I am going to be perfectly frank with you, my husband has never struggled with pornography and I have never experienced the pain of betrayal. But because I teach Awaken-Love, I have walked beside a lot of women that have. It breaks my heart to see the pain that pornography causes for these women, but it also breaks my heart to see how pornography has impacted their husband.

God keeps calling me to speak into this arena, I don’t know why.  Maybe it is because I haven’t been personally impacted and so I have a different perspective.  Is it possible that what might be most helpful for a wife to do to help her husband battle pornography is the exact opposite of what every fiber in her body is telling her to do? Read more about How to Create a Safe Place for Your Husband to Share about Porn.

Maybe we need to take a huge step back and ask ourselves a few questions…

  • What is the goal in marriage? Is it connection? Being fully known and fully knowing our spouse? Or is it pretending and keeping a safe distance?
  • What do we value in our husband? Do we value a husband that is gaining the courage to be honest? Or do we value a husband that is pretending that everything is ok?
  • What do we want to encourage in our husband? Do we want to encourage our husband to be real or to be perfect?

If your husband struggles with pornography or lust, the only way he will stop, is if he wants to stop. You cannot shame him into it, you cannot force him, and you cannot police him enough to make him change. He has to be truly repentant, filled with Godly sorrow and willing to do anything to make things right. A husband that is truly repentant will do whatever it takes to rebuild trust with his wife by being an open book. A repentant husband will seek accountability partners, counselors, Celebrate Recovery or other resources to seek healing. He will not just give her lip service, but he will make changes to gain freedom and to rebuild trust in the marriage. He may have setbacks, but ground is taken back bit by bit through openness, vulnerability and honesty.

Though we cannot make our husband stop viewing pornography, there are things a wife can do to help a repentant husband gain freedom. We have the power to either inspire or deflate. Even when you feel hurt, betrayed or angry, he must know that you value his honesty and that you hate the sin, not the sinner. Communicate that you are on his side and your greatest desire is for him to experience freedom and true intimacy. So what are some practical ideas to help your husband battle lust or porn?

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most important parts of helping your husband battle porn is to take care of yourself. Do not go through this alone. Tell your husband you need a couple of safe, Godly girl friends to open up with, that will point you to God’s truth and that will pray for you. Read up on pornography, I recommend Shattered Vows by Debra Laaser, and seek out resources on healing. Meet with a counselor, support group or Celebrate Recovery Group. Forgive your husband because it is the best thing you can do for yourself, but also communicate your needs in order for him to rebuild trust. Work on yourself and your own insecurities. Why does his brokenness impact how you see yourself? Do you believe that God created you unique and beautiful? Can you be the women God wants you to be regardless of anyone else’s actions?  Seek out opportunities to connect with God and deepen your relationship because your worth must come from Him.

Understand the Battle

Getting clean from porn or lust can be harder than getting off of drugs. Your husband must hate his life of lust and porn more than the battle that he will wage for freedom. It might be 2 steps forward and 1 step back, but if he is truly repentant and moving towards healing, then Christ calls us to offer grace and forgiveness over and over. Battling pornography requires a multi-pronged approach – accountability, setting controls and going after the core issues. Habits that have taken years to form may take years to break. See his small steps of honesty, openness, connection or taking his mind captive and encourage him in order to spur him on.

Understand His Triggers

Most men have certain triggers when they reach for pornography. It might be when they are stressed from work, or feeling inadequate at home. It might be when life gets too busy and he doesn’t take time to connect with God, or you or friends. Feeling like a failure can drive a man to struggle. Your husband needs to know and understand when he struggles and you need to know too. As a wife, you can begin to recognize his triggers and during those times reach towards him in connection. Provide a safe place for him to open up and share about what is going on and how he is feeling. Take him for a walk and hold his hand. Encourage him to connect with a friend. Fill his needs with intimacy and grace rather than porn and shame.

Accountability

At some point in this battle if you are growing in intimacy with your husband, you may decide that you should be part of his accountability.  I have a friend that realized she could usually tell when  her husband struggled, whether he told her not. A husband might avoid connection, or eye contact, or I don’t know what… but you know the difference. Accountability with you may look different than with a friend. You do not need to know every detail of how he slipped, but you could help him wrestle with what triggered it, how he was feeling and how he could react differently next time.  For some couples, regular check ins make the process easier. Other couples just check in when necessary. In some ways, a wife makes the most sense for an accountability partner, because what greater incentive to stay clean then to be able to tell your wife it has been a good week.

Create the Sex Life that God wants for You

Part of battling pornography is creating a great sex life together. It is not about competing with what happens in pornography, it is about claiming God’s gift of sex to create intimacy. In fact create something drastically different than pornography. Bring God into your marriage and pray over your marriage asking that God bless your time together and help you encounter each other in a new way. Stay present during sex through eye to eye contact, using words to draw each other back and  really feeling each other. Generously serve each other and enjoy your spouses pleasure as much as your own. Praise God after your connection and thank Him for how He showed up. Embrace the freedom God wants for you and create a sex life based on intimacy and not performance.

Believe in What God Can Do

Your husband may be in for the battle of his life and honestly breaking free of pornography might take a miracle. Do you believe that God truly changes lives and that he can change your husband? Can you speak it to your husband? Do you believe that God can heal you enough that you can trust and cherish your husband? Do you believe that God can restore your sex life and make it brand new? Ask God for what you want, take small steps of faith, and watch God show up.

Conclusion

The hard work of helping your husband battle pornography is an opportunity for change and growth- for both of you. Pornography is fueled by hiddenness, deceptions and pretending – the opposite of intimacy. Battle pornography by creating what God originally desired, intimacy, to be fully known.  Strengthen your relationship with God and your dependence on him. Know who you are and who He created you to be – regardless of anyone else’s action. Make your goal in marriage connection. Create an environment of openness, trust and vulnerability that is founded on God’s grace, even when someone messes up.  Affirm your husband for the small steps that he takes and encourage him to step into the man that God created him to be.

Create a safe place for your husband to share about Porn

I know this is a crazy idea, but in marriage I think we are supposed to battle pornography together.What we have been doing does not work – men shuffling off to their secret accountability group. Pornography impacts the marriage, whether both spouses know about it or not. When we get married, we vow, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” If my husband is battling something, then I want to battle with him. I want to hold him up, encourage him, speak truth to him, and be there even when he slides backward. The idea that a husband protects his wife by not telling her the truth is a lie. A strong husband has the courage to share everything with his wife – even his brokenness – and he has the courage to help both of them go after their own healing and wholeness. The couples that I know making real progress battling pornography are battling side by side.

Most men hate struggling with porn and the last thing they want to do is hurt their wife. Men usually test the waters to find out if it is safe to share. If disclosure to a wife is met with disgust, or “how could you do this to me?”communication comes to a screeching halt. As hard as this sounds, the more we can offer grace to our husband, the more likely we are to get the whole story.

One of the reasons porn holds so much power is because shame has kept it hidden.The best thing a wife can do to help her husband begin to heal is to create a safe environment for him to be honest. This is super hard! It takes us becoming healthy enough to realize that our husband’s brokenness is not a reflection of whether he loves us or who we are. Our worth must be dependent on God and no one else.

So how do wives create a safe place for a husband to share….

Educate yourself about Porn and cultivate compassion 

Most people started viewing porn as kids or young adults when a friend introduced them or they fell into it by accident. Porn grabbed their attention and held them captive. They figured when they got married, they wouldn’t need it anymore and for a while that was true. But when the kids came along, or stress filled their life or they just never felt like they measured up – porn was the easiest place to turn.

I think reaching for porn must be a little like reaching for that piece of chocolate. When I am stressed, frustrated, bored, don’t know what to do, or I just need something – that chocolate calls out to me. And for a moment it makes life better – but my problem has not gone away – and now I am filled with shame.

Porn is not about whether your husband finds you sexy, or beautiful or whether he loves you – it is a coping mechanism. Porn is the opposite of intimacy, it is what you do when you don’t know how to connect or let someone know you. Viewing porn never satisfies and it always leaves you feeling emptier than you started.

I would encourage you to read some books about porn like Clean, Surfing for God, Healing Wounds of Sexual Addiction or Shattered Vows. Regardless of whether porn impacts you or your husband, it will most likely impact someone that you know. We need to understand more about porn, become equipped and cultivate compassion for those that struggle.

Bring up discussions that share your understanding of porn

As strange as this sounds, talking about porn needs to become part of normal conversations with our husband, our kids and even our friends. We need to communicate about porn to normalize it, remove the power of shame, and communicate compassion. People that struggle with porn are not the enemy. The enemy is Satan.

You could say something like,

“I didn’t know so many people struggle with porn, both men and women – even Christians… it must be hard, feeling like you can’t talk to anybody about it.”

“You know when I was a kid, my friend showed me her dad’s Playboy magazines. It must be so much harder now with internet porn available on every phone or computer.”

“I feel really bad for Bob and his wife. They are going thru a lot, but at least now they know what they are battling.”

I have had women in Awaken-Love classes share what they are learning about porn and more than one husband has jumped at the chance to come clean with his wife.

Don’t go fishing for information, but don’t avoid talking about porn either. Get educated, share what you are learning, and clothe yourself with compassion.

Communicate that you want to know all of your spouse

If you want to create intimacy with your spouse, then you have to know all of them – even their muck. Do you have the courage to create a safe place or would you rather just keep pretending? Our husband is not perfect and neither are we. We must gently affirm to our spouse that we really want to know all of them – even if it is hard, and even if it hurts.

Do we share our own brokenness with our husband or are we still pretending like we have it all together? Does pride control how much we share? Do we have a critical spirit that easily picks apart all the things someone else does wrong? Do we judge others when we have no idea what they have been through? We cannot expect our husband to share if we are not being honest with him about our own brokenness.

Are you ready to commit to that kind of intimacy? I know women that say it is the hardest thing they have ever done, and yet it was the beginning of freedom. No more pretending or hiding. They grieved, clung to God, healed, forgave and discovered what grace is really about.

Affirm your husband for sharing

We need to get in the habit of affirming our husband whenever he shares something from the heart, especially a struggle. Sharing words and insecurities can be so easy for me that I can almost belittle my husband for the things he talks about. I have a hard time remembering how hard it is for him to speak about struggles  I need to get in the habit of affirming him with things like,

“Thank you for being brave enough to share that with me. I know that must have been hard.”

“Thank you for being honest with me. This is hard for me, but I’m glad you trust me.”

“Thank you for sharing. It helps me to feel connected to you.”

And even when what he shared feels like it just knocked the breath out of you, remember that it was probably one of the hardest things he ever did, and affirm him.

Just like you need your husband to constantly affirm your beauty, you need to constantly affirm his words. Notice them, hear his heart, and thank him.

(Of course, first steps in healing from pornography might be a husband opening up to a counselor, friend or a men’s accountability group, but once he is truly repentant his wife needs to know. He needs to tell her the truth out of a heart of love and encourage her to seek help with a counselor or trusted friend. She will need time to grieve, heal and rebuild trust. But she also needs to equip herself for battle.)

God’s design for marriage is that we be fully know each other – even  our struggles. We need to create a safe place for our husband to share – even about porn. Educate yourself about Porn, cultivate a compassion for those tangled in its web and depend on God for your worth. Begin conversations in your home about porn and remove the power of silence. Commit that you are all in and share your own failures. Affirm your husband every time he shares, and you will create an intimacy that porn can never compete with. 

Join me next week as I write about some specific ways a wife can help her husband in the battle against pornography.