Inside Your Circle – Working on Yourself.

ReEngage

The best thing Jim and I have done recently to strengthen our marriage was to attend a 16 week marriage ministry called ReEngage. We have since become leaders and  taken multiple groups through. Every time we learn something new about ourselves and about each other. Re Engage uses a small group model to create a safe  community where we can be honest, authentic, and real. We spend 8 weeks working on our relationship with God and 8 weeks learning about aspects of marriage. Alongside our spouse and 5 other couples, we dive deep into working on ourselves.

The Circle

One of the most powerful things we teach in ReEngage is to draw a circle around yourself and then to work on every one that is inside the circle. Really staying in your circle is just a practical principal that empowers us to stop trying to change our spouse. Though it sounds like a simple thing, it is much harder to practice. Learning to stay in your circle will change your marriage, your parenting and even how you foster deep friend ships.

Staying inside my circle does not come easily. It is much easier to look at all the reasons and causes of my actions, than to focus only on myself. I would prefer to share all the circumstances that led up to me pouting. If he just loved me more…If he just talked to me more…If I wasn’t so stressed at work, then I wouldn’t pout.  When I realize that regardless of my circumstances, I get to react in a way honoring to God, then I am empowered to change myself

Focusing on ourselves can feel uncomfortable. Many times, people would rather generalize when they answer questions. We say things like, “We…” or “Most of us…” But when we get in our own circle, then we own our actions, with statements like… “I did this….” Or “I feel …” We vulnerably, honestly share our stuff. It becomes a much stronger statement that pierces our heart when we hurt others.  Learning to own your own stuff takes practice, courage and will change your relationships.

Create a Safe Place

Staying inside your circle also means not giving other people advice on how to fix their situation, unless they ask. When people share hard situations or get emotional, most of us feel pretty uncomfortable. We try to make it go away as fast as we can by trying to fix the problem or directing the focus somewhere else. Not giving advice creates a safe place for honesty and openness about struggles. Leaving space for emotions validates feelings. We have to trust God in the process instead of trying to fix others ourselves.

Another way we get out of our circle is by keeping score. We work on our marriage for a while but as soon as we notice that we’ve made more changes than our spouse, then we feel like they owe us something. We become resentful and backslide thinking why should I do all this work if they aren’t even trying. Working on yourself is not about becoming who your spouse wants you to be. It is about becoming who Christ wants you to be. Regardless of what your spouse does or if they do anything at all, we can work on ourselves.

Draw a Circle

One of the most powerful exercises you can do to help you sort through any struggle is to take a piece of paper and draw a big circle. Then write everything that you can control inside the circle. Everything that you cannot control write outside of the circle.  Pray over the things on the outside of the circle and give them to God. Then focus on the few things on the inside of the circle that you can control and focus on them. What changes can you make? What small practical steps that might help? Where you can start? What choices do you have?

I am often reminded of Matthew 7:3  which says, Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Regardless of our situation, we all have things to learn. Rather than feeling helpless in your situation, get inside your circle and discover what you can change. Own your brokenness and give the rest to God.

Learning to Like Giving Your Husband Oral Sex

Most men love to receive oral sex, but many wives struggle to enjoy giving it. A penis can feel scary and foreign up close. Oral sex can also feel dirty because of past experiences or messages we’ve received. Though we are all very different, I would challenge you that oral sex can be a very intimate way to know a husband. It takes great trust and you can learn new things while focusing just on his pleasure.

But ultimately, if you don’t want to do it, you probably shouldn’t. No one should ever feel forced, coerced or guilted into doing something sexually. But if you want to learn to enjoy giving oral sex, I have a few suggestions for you.

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Battling Satan’s Lies with God’s Truth

We are in a battle. Satan loves to fill us with lies that render us impotent to growth in marriage, parenting or even ministry. He picks at the broken parts of our soul causing us to feel defective, unlovable and stuck. We either lash out trying to prove ourselves or retreat into hiding. But when we embrace God’s unconditional love, rather than striving to measure up, we can learn from past experiences, conflict or suffering. Instead of shrinking into isolation, shame and believing Satan’s lies, we choose to move forward in confidence. We have the courage to live fully known by sharing our  insecurities, failures, hopes and dreams. But Satan doesn’t stop coming at us with lies. He waits for just the right moment and then he’s right back at it, speaking the same old lies, and trying to make us doubt who we are.

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Hidden Struggles

You cannot always tell how people are doing, or what kind of shape their marriage is in.

I remember more than one marriage at church that imploded and nobody had a clue until one spouse completely threw in the towel.

A few months ago we received this letter from a women that participated in an Awaken-Love Class.

When I was asked to be apart of a 6-week Awaken Love class, I thought to myself what in the world was God thinking! Turns out he knew what he was doing. My marriage of 24 years was on the brink of divorce. There wasn’t any thing that was going to change my mind, I was done.

During this class, I learned a lot about how much God loves marriage and how much he’s involved in our marriage beds. I will forever be grateful for the class and the other 6 women, who have become sweet friends. I cherish the time we shared together. The books are awesome too. I plan to read them from front to back. Oh and by the way, my husband was disappointed when the 6 weeks was over. He looked forward to each weeks homework. Our intimacy, our sex life, our love for each other has grown. He told me just this morning that we’re making love more now than ever before. We have both been changed.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart,

This woman had been involved in church and marriage ministry for years, and my guess is that few people knew what was really going on in her life.

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Happy Thanksgiving

We are so Thankful for what God has done over the last year.

We are thankful for the women in Awaken-Love classes that have shared their stories, ministered to each other, bravely stepped into something new, and committed to bring God back into marriage beds.

We are thankful that the video class has launched,  and that we have several groups taking it for a spin.

We are thankful for the women that God has put in our lives that speak truth to us, pray for us and pick us up when we are down.

We are thankful that we have amazing husbands that stretch with us, pray for us and lead us.

We are thankful for our kids that keep us young and challenge us to think new ideas.

We are thankful for time spent together between Texas and Minnesota.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Ruth and  Mel

What are you thankful for?

 

The Gift of Contentment

We don’t live in a world that values or encourages contentment. We’re constantly told that the grass is greener on the other side or the next best thing is just around the corner. As Christ followers, we are urged to be content. The Apostle Paul even shares the secret to contentment:

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

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Sensuous Shadows

Ruth and I are members of The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, and this month we have been challenged to write a post based on this fun photo by Kate Aldrich Photography of the One Flesh Marriage blog.

As soon as I saw the picture, this memory popped into my head.

Quite a long time ago, my husband, sons and I spent the evening in a hotel while traveling. The room was set up where the bathroom sink area opened to the room. As a result, I hung a bed sheet between the sleeping area and the sink so that I could discreetly shower while my sons were sleeping.

This seemed to be an ordinary experience. I showered, dried off and applied everything needed to regain the precious hydration equilibrium that my senses demand. In contrast, it was an out of the ordinary experience for my husband. It never occurred to me that the bathroom light behind the bed sheet created a perfect shadow show for my husband who was resting in the second bed.  Despite my surprise, it worked out well – I was clean and I had a happy husband.

Shadows offer you a softened glimpse of whatever is blocking the light. They can create a mystique – exaggerating shapes and dimensions. They can be sensuous – creating just enough of a covering that we stretch outside of our comfort zone. Often our husbands are just as aroused by what they can almost see than what they can clearly see. I challenge you to creatively think about how you can use shadows to entice your husband.

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Sleep Aid

A few years ago my husband took a business trip to Taiwan for a couple of weeks. You can imagine how exhausted he felt when he got home after working in a strange city. Sleeping in a hotel bed and then traveling for 20 plus hours to get back to Minnesota wore him out. Add on top of that a 13-hour time change that left him wide awake when he most wanted to sleep and it sounds like a nightmare.

Back then, my drive was through the roof, so I got the bright idea to become his sleep aid. I made him promise that whenever he found himself wide awake in the middle of the night, he would rouse me for some extracurricular activities. We have never before transitioned so quickly back into life together and feeling connected. In no time he was back on his regular sleep schedule and we had made some wonderful memories.

This week I was reminded of my great experiment – being the sleep aid.

My husband lost his brother last week to liver failure and has been dealing with all the hard choices that come with aging parents. Needless to say, he has a ton of things on his mind and timidly admitted he has not been sleeping well, at all. I wish I could take away all of his pain and wrestling, but I can’t. I wish I could say something to make it better, but words seem so inadequate. But I can keep loving him, and comfort him, and help him sleep. And so for a while, I have made myself available to my husband whenever he needs me. In fact I have admonished him – please wake me – because I don’t want him doing this on his own. And hopefully, it will bring him the sleep he needs.

What would I write about sex?

Recently I read a great book on marriage by a well respected author and of course there was a chapter on sex buried near the end of the book. Since I have been teaching women about sex, I have this habit of filtering whatever I read thru the lens of what a Christian wife would hear.

What I remember from the sex chapters in most Christian books is 2 things…

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What About Romance Novels?

Recently when I was speaking to a group, one of the women asked,

“Are there Christian romance novels that you would recommend?”

I knew exactly what she was asking and so did most of the women in the room. Romance novels help women to get in the mood.

I remember as a teenager just beginning to read real books and stumbling upon the scenes that began to wake up my body. Romances where the guy said all the right things, whisked her off her feet, knew how to take her to the moon and back, and that honestly, stirred warm places in my body.

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