Gospel Centered Marriage


Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication - Part 5

The first half of this seminar was about preventing the need for repentance – the better we understand the challenges of communication, how to listen well, and engage in day-to-day communication, the less we will need to repent. The last chapter was focused on limiting the severity of what we have to repent from – the better we understand what makes conflict spiral, the less damage our sin will do. But no amount of writing on this topic will remove the need for both husband and wife to be excellent at repentance.

If we want a healthy marriage, we must begin to view repentance as a skill to master rather than inconvenience to avoid. Any marriage material that does not teach on repentance as a vital part of maintaining unity is dangerously naïve about the human condition. To avoid the subject of repentance is to assume that we are going to get everything we’ve been learning right every time there is an opportunity to apply it – doubtful.

You need to be able to read this introduction without a sense of dread. Repentance done well is incredibly romantic because it says, “I value our marriage more than my pride.” Moments of sacrifice are always powerfully bonding. When we sacrifice our pride through repentance it bonds us with the one to whom we are repenting. Of all the investments you can make in your marriage, this will likely be the most impactful.

As you read this chapter, it is important that you think of three “time zones” related to repentance.

  • Past: How can I repent well before a conflict begins (much conflict is sparked by unrepentance)?
  • Present: How can I repent well during or immediately after a conflict (to minimize its negative impact)?
  • Future: How can I follow up my repentance with the fruit that would demonstrate genuineness (Matt. 3:8)?

This chapter will be broken into two major sections: (1) What is repentance? and (2) What are the marks of genuine repentance? The first section is intended to equip you to be excellent in the past and present “time zones.” The second section is designed to help you be excellent in the future “time zone” of repentance.

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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.

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