Gospel Centered Marriage

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Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication - Part 2

We often miss the power of common things. Being at a little league game doesn’t seem like a big deal until you hear an adult lament, “My father never came to any of my games.” We often only fully appreciate the significance of small things our spouse does after they pass away and “life feels so empty now.” When we look back at the people who most shaped our lives, it usually because of their presence and care in ordinary moments rather than great actions or profound words.


Listening is another common thing which often has a power that few people realize. Consider the power of listening represented in this quote by C.S. Lewis on humility.


“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all (p. 128).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis


Because all we get to do as infants and children (or so it seemed at the time) is “listen to big people,” we tend to view speaking as the mature, powerful, and significant part of communication. We think listening is for the weak or immature person who lacks influence of the ability to contribute. If we applied this same logic to nutrition we would thing that eating fruits and vegetables was a sign of weakness.


An overlooked implication of devaluing listening is how we think about prayer. With a low view of listening, we “grade” God based on how He responds to our request, while missing the great honor that the Creator would be omni-available to our moment-by-moment thoughts and concerns. Yes, God answers prayer, but let’s not skip over the reality that we are never alone and we are always understood. Similarly, let’s respond to what our spouse says (in word and action), but let’s never minimize the power of listening to remind our spouse we are with them “in good times and in bad” striving to understand/share their joys and sorrows.


In this chapter we will seek to elevate our value of listening and increase our capacity to unleash its power to enrich our marriages. We will do this in three sections: (1) How Not to Listen, (2) Types of Listening, and (3) How to Listen.

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8/1/2017

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy - Part 5

If you do a good job applying chapter four and have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of intercourse, then you may be wondering, “Is there really anything else we need to know? Let us go and do our thing already.” Which brings up an important point, you can be so intentional that sex becomes mechanical and loses its passion.There is still more to learn – things that can enhance your sexual experience and common obstacles to avoid – but do not fall into the pattern of thinking that you need a “Masters in Sexology” in order to enjoy a satisfying sex life.Sex is not unlike tennis. You can enjoy the game whether or not you know all the fundamentals and strategies. Many people who have never had a tennis lesson enjoy the game more than the “professionals.” You can lose your love of the game in the effort to master the game.But there are some basic principles and advanced strategies that those who excel at tennis share in common. Most of those who love the game of tennis over a long period of time either pick up on these or seek ways to learn them. Likewise, this material is intended to reinforce those things that you naturally do well and refine those areas where you are not getting the optimal, mutual enjoyment from your romantic efforts.In this chapter, we will pick up where we left off last chapter. In the last chapter we did not get any more physically intimate than a passionate kiss and caressing your spouse’s cheek. Hopefully you now have a much greater appreciation for how much affection can be communicated and passion generated from romance available while your clothes are still on.Now we will transition to the point where you communicate to each other that you would like this romance to “lead to something else.” For many couples this can be an awkward juncture. Initiating sex can be a point ripe for confusion (“I didn’t know that’s what you were asking”), crudeness (“I don’t like it when you talk about sex that way”), or rejection (“I know you’re [legitimate reason], but it hurts when you decline my initiation”). So we will discuss the challenges and opportunities around initiating sex.Then we will look at how to understand, protect, and build upon the phases of arousal in intercourse. Arousal should build momentum. When you build upon it, the experience escalates into something increasingly wonderful. But when you break the momentum it can be hard to regain it. The better we understand the physical and emotional processes that contribute to arousal’s momentum the more consistently (never perfectly) we will use it in our favor.Finally, we will refocus ourselves on the real meaning of sex. The goal of marital sex is not to have the intensity and synchronization of your orgasms perpetually increase. Aging bodies won’t allow that. Pinnacle experiences never sustain a life-long relationship.Even in marriages with the most vibrant sex lives, sex comprises only 60 minutes of their week at most (three occurrences lasting 20 minutes each). It’s the other 167 hours that will define the relationship. Sex, at its best, only celebrates the other 167 hours. We will consider how to remind ourselves of this truth and of those facets of our relationship with God which sex was given to teach us.
8/1/2017

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy - Part 4

How do you feel as we get ready to talk about sex? Nervous, excited, guilty, awkward, self-conscious, aroused, or tired of me asking question and ready to get the conversation started? Surprising to many people, the first step towards a great sex life is the ability to talk about sex. Sex is a “team sport” and communication is essential to anything involving the synchronization of two people’s bodily movements (not to mention schedules and emotions).For many couples the most beneficial thing they will gain from this chapter and the next will be a conversation guide. Hopefully, the content will be informative and stimulating, but what they really need most-first is a series of positively-framed prompts to have some awkward but exciting conversations they may only try to have when one of them thinks “the moment is right” and the other is not so sure.But even when there is agreement on the frequency and initiation of sex, communication is paramount to a healthy and thriving sex life. Talking about sex should not just be educational (i.e., learning what your spouse does and does not enjoy), but also arousing (i.e., part of the foreplay and building of a healthy sexual tension between husband and wife which adds to the climax of intercourse).“Many couples find it uncomfortable to initiate sexual conversations and openly discuss individual needs and desires (p. 16)… Great sex is based on mature lovers who can be honest with themselves and with their mates. They are self-aware and assertively communicate (p. 17).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex