Get in the Game – Play Offense Not Defense

Far too many of us spend our lives constantly playing defense. We react to problems as they arise, focusing our time and energy because we must. We do what we have to do to salvage a relationship, get along and just survive. We put out the fires when and where they ignite. And we assume that if an issue doesn’t surface than we’re good. But what would happen, if instead of always playing defense, we played offense in marriage.

Most of us are only one crisis away from real struggles in marriage. That’s why marriages that go through the loss of a job, or the birth of a special needs child have such high divorce rates. The challenge didn’t create the crack in the marriage, it just highlighted and widened it.

Even seemingly good sex lives can fall apart when we fail to continue growing. Without communication skills, an expanded repertoire and established trust, one bad night can create enough anxiety to cause our natural responses to short circuit.

Playing defense does not build a strong marriage nor a sex life resilient enough to handle challenges. Most of us take our marriage for granted and would rather ignore the cracks then fix them. What would happen if we repaired the cracks by working on ourselves and our marriage before we encountered challenges? Could we prepare for the inevitable curve balls that life throws us? What would it look like to play offense in marriage?

Work on Yourself

The longer I am married the more I realize that marriage is not about losing yourself, but about sharing yourself. The idea that we continually compromise and deny ourselves misses the point. How do we focus on becoming more Christlike regardless of what our spouse does? Can we love our spouse even when they don’t meet our needs? Can we help them become who God wants them to be instead of who we want them to be?

That doesn’t mean that we allow our spouse to trample over us. Just like Jesus, we must extend grace and speak truth in love. Sometimes the best thing we do for our spouse is to set boundaries and say, “This is not okay, and this is not who God created you to be.”

Don’t buy into the victim mentality of blaming your parents, your circumstance or your spouse. Play offense. What can you do regardless of anyone else?

Work on your relationship with God and stop expecting your husband or wife to make you happy. Meet with a group to gain freedom over addictions or bondage. Start seeing a Christian counselor even if your spouse won’t.  Get healthy, emotionally, physically and spiritually. If you have experience betrayal than go after healing. Nurture your soul through friendships, using your gifts or by serving others. Understand that if Christ is in you, then anything is possible.

Work on Your Marriage

Couples that have strong, healthy, resilient marriages, intentionally work on their marriage. They seek out resources like books to read, retreats or conferences to learn about each other and to encourage sharing. They schedule their priorities instead of letting the rest of life rule them. They take date night seriously, and spend time talking each day. Instead of ignoring issues, they embrace conflict as an opportunity to strengthen their marriage.

When something big happens that they can’t seem to navigate, they look for outside help from a friend, counselor or pastor. They live in community for encouragement, accountability and to pour into others. When challenges strike, they don’t hide or run for cover. They vulnerably share and seek wise counsel.

Work on Your Sex Life

My husband and I spent almost 25 years playing defense with our sex life. Besides the first few years, we didn’t read books or try to learn anything new. Communication rarely happened and honestly felt tortuous. Until we intentionally invested in our sex life things did not improve.

So many great sex resources are easily accessible today. To improve communication read a book together. Awaken Love will help you both understand the challenges that wives face, but  also help you create a sex life that will thrill both husband and wife. From Feb 1 – 14 the paperback is 30% off and reduced to just $9.99!!

Listen to a podcast like Sex Chat for Christian Wives or Sexy Marriage Radio and talk about it afterwards. Take an Awaken Love class to learn God’s Design and expand your repertoire. Subscribe to my blog, or to one of the other great blogs like Hot Holy Humorous or Uncovering Intimacy. Sign up for mentoring with Chris over at the Forgiven Wife. Don’t wait until your spouse is ready to give up before you invest in your sex life. Do it today.

Churches

Most churches play defense when it comes to marriage and sex. Pastor’s schedules fill up with counseling sessions for couples already struggling or in crisis. Yet few marriage ministries exist to educate or provide date opportunities for couples. Groups exist for those struggling with sexual sin but how many churches provide classes to help wives and husbands create an amazing sex life in their marriage.

Both personally and in church, we must stop playing defense and start playing offense in marriage.

How are you investing in your marriage?

How can you help your church invest in marriages?

Sexual Discipleship – Changing the World

Discipleship. A word not normally connected with sexuality and yet crucial to changing our world.  In her book Rethinking Sexuality, Juli Slattery challenges us that while the culture bombards us with distorted sexual messages, the church cannot and must not remain silent. She coins the term “sexual discipleship“, which on the surface feels awkward, forced and even foreign. How can sexuality and discipleship go together? What does sexual discipleship even mean and who the heck is going to do it?

Talking About Sex

The whole idea of talking about sex face to face with another Christian feels radical. While Sex in the City may have brought open conversations about sex into the secular world, it did nothing to help Christians understand how to have open, honest, helpful conversations about sex. Online Christian communities and blogs can act as a great starting point to discover the truth about sex, but they do little to help us start face to face discipleship. If you can’t talk to your husband about sex, then how will you talk to your kids, or even your friends. When was the last time you prayed with a friend about sex or intimacy in their marriage? How do you even bring up the topic of sex?

In my book Awaken Love, I conclude with a chapter titled Changing the World that begins…

“Does anyone else here feel angry!?” It wasn’t the first time I had heard it during class. When women realize how wrong they’ve been about sex, they get angry. Some feel betrayed or let down by the important people in their lives for not talking about sex. Others feel angry at the church for purity messages that set them up for failure or that always slanted sex towards the needs of men. Some realize how much baggage they’ve carried because sex outside of marriage was treated like the unpardonable sin. A few women wonder how they could have understood so little about their own bodies. Others hate how culture has shaped what they believed about their husband. Most of us have something to feel angry about involving our sexuality.

When righteous anger boils up, it moves us to action. I will never forget the fear of teaching my first classes. Regardless of how crazy or uncomfortable it felt, I knew I had to do something! Reading a book about sex may help you personally, but until you have the courage to engage in conversations face to face with others, our world does not change.

Righteous anger moves us to action to make a difference for others.  We move beyond what we’ve always known, or how our parents did things, and we do things different. We get uncomfortable and step out in obedience, trusting that God will show up. Uncomfortable growth becomes a better option than the status quo.

Sexual Discipleship in Action

I’ve seen sexual discipleship in action. Women that attend Awaken-Love tell friend after friend because they cannot keep it to themselves. They openly talk about the importance of sex in marriage with girl friends and how their mindset changed when they understood the truth. Some even have the courage to host an Awaken-Love video class.

Moms talk to their daughters about sex, determined to make things easier for them. Men that spent years silently struggling with porn, open up conversations with their young kids.  They know the importance of open conversations from a young age. Because these men and women understand the truth about sex, they fearlessly change their world. These changes ripple and will continue to impact generations to come.

This Year

My focus for 2019 is discipleship. On the blog we will spend time wrestling with what God says about discipleship and how it applies to sexuality. Guest posts will share stories about sexual discipleship in order to help you understand practical application and examples of even small things that can impact sexuality. I want to disciple others so that they can make disciples. Sexual discipleship in the church is possible and will make a profound impact that will ripple to impact generations.

It is not enough for me to help people so that they can silently enjoy a better sex life. God wants to change the trajectory of their friends, family and churches. Online communities are a great starting point, but until we can have face to face conversations about sex, our world will not change. I am asking God to radically change lives and marriages so that they can’t help but tell others the good news.

Don’t think for a second that you need to have everything figured out before God can use you to disciple other’s in the area of sexuality. In the Bible, God constantly used ordinary people. Sometimes people learn best from our testimonies and our mistakes . He has used me, and He can use you.

Awaken-Love classes are a great way to get comfortable talking about sex face to face. In this next year, I would like to equip more teachers or video facilitators for Awaken-Love. If you want to learn more about Awaken-Love classes and they are not offered in your area, I am going to offer a special online class experience using Zoom. Just email me at ruth.awakenlove@gmail.com. When we get at least 5 participants, we will find a time that works and set things up.

If you have righteous anger over the lack of good information about sex in the church, then are you ready to make a change? What are you going to do?