Gospel Centered Marriage

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Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication - Part 4

The best outcome for marital conflict is neither avoidance nor victory, but honor and unity. We must realize how much the mindset we take into conflict determines the outcome of our disagreements. Many of us feel like conflict is inherently wrong and, therefore, whenever it occurs, feel defeated. Others of us are competitive and when conflict arises have an instinctual “game on” response that generates a “refuse to lose” mindset.


Conflict done well can be the best friend of your marriage. This is not a nicer recasting of the mantra “fight hard; make up hard.” It is a reality rooted in the “two sides of the same coin” relationship between love and anger.


           “Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it (p. 97).” C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcom


When we get angry or experience love we are saying that something matters a lot. When we get sinfully angry we are saying that this “something” matters more than our spouse (at least in that moment). When we express self-control we are saying that our spouse matters more than this “something.” This is why conflict done well is romantic – it affirms the value of the marriage over life’s circumstances or people’s failures and creates an atmosphere of safety.


Is it natural to do conflict in a way that blesses your marriage? No, if it were, there would be no need for so many books on communication. In the next two chapters we will consider the key skills to getting conflict back on track after it goes poorly – repentance and forgiveness. But first, in this chapter, we will look at the journey into conflict using four questions to guide our thinking.


  1. Should we address a particular hurt, concern, or disagreement?
  2. How do we determine what we disagree on?
  3. How, when, and where should we have these conversations?
  4. For what do we need to be most on guard during conflict?


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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