★ Re|Engage – Emotional Intimacy ★

ReEngage - Lesson 13

Within the reading they posed this question..

 “The point in all this is to give you tools to have a conversation about intimacy. Ask yourself the question, ‘What could we do to take a next step towards a healthy sex life.’”

It is critical for the health of your marriage to make sure that the two of you are talking about this as this can cause issues within your marriage.  My wife and I too a marriage class by Kevin Leman and he had this funny statement that his favorite scripture in the Bible was 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT),

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul is giving us some practical insight and simultaneously a warning, that Satan will use the interruption of sexual intimacy to put a wedge between you and your spouse.  God intended sex to be good, in Genesis 1:28a (NLT) He gave us the command to

“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.”

But like in all areas of our life, Satan always introduces a counterfeit to what God has established, and as a result tries to corrupt this beautiful gift God has given us but we will dig into that later.  This post will be talking about Emotional Intimacy first.

The reading focused on this Principle:  Grow in Intimacy.

The main idea of Lesson 13 was:

“Intimacy is to “fully know and be known, without the fear of rejection.” Being fully known and accepted by God allows you to be authentic with your spouse.”

Being “fully known” is a scary thing isn’t it?  Will my spouse like those areas in my life that are not so attractive?  Can I trust them with everything?  The “fear of rejection” is something that Satan keeps on the forefront of our minds.  This lesson started off with a very interesting comment that prior to taking this class I never really thought about…

“Adam and Eve experienced what many married couples desire: they were completely and totally vulnerable with each other and they didn’t feel any shame…They experienced love and intimacy and its purest form it was perfect.”

I would love to live in such complete openness as Genesis 2:25 (NLT)

“Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.”

But unfortunately just one chapter later, God’s plan was ruined (see chapter 3)…

“As a result of sin entering the world, Adam and Eve – and all other married couples after them – have to work to maintain intimacy in their marriage…You and your spouse will have to work at it, but you can experience the freedom, intimacy and love that come from being known by your spouse.”

I like how they made the differentiation between understanding your spouse and knowing them…

“Allowing your spouse to know you will probably be much more difficult than you getting to know them (Lesson 12).  Being known is difficult, because you may pretend to have it all together on the outside, but deep down, you know you’re not all your cracked up to be.  You know the thoughts you have, the selfish desires that rule your mind, and the flaws that often distract you and hurt others.”

It is hard to think of letting someone in so completely isn’t it?  But if we want emotional intimacy as God designed it, then we need to trust in the one we have committed out lives too!

“Here’s the truth: you have already been found out by God, and he accepts you. No matter what you’ve done in the past or you’re doing today, you are accepted by Him.”

Romans 5:8 says,

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

What an amazing truth!  I love this closing thought!

“You are loved by God, despite your flaws; don’t reject your spouse because of their flaws. You worship a God who doesn’t deal with you according to your sins, who doesn’t repay you according to your iniquities, whose steadfast love for you is as high as the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103:10-11), and you can be an expression of that for your spouse. You have an amazing opportunity to help your spouse grow in the relationship with Christ by doing all you can to make sure your marriage is full of love and acceptance!”

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Sexual Intimacy ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

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★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

ReEngage - Lesson 12

Continuing in the Principle of Adore and Respect, Lesson 12 delves into the topic of Understanding. The main idea is:

“God calls you to live with your spouse in “an understanding way.” This means you will need to become a student of your spouse so that you can best love and celebrate them. Your relationship with your spouse is also tied to your relationship with God.”

“Your relationship with your spouse is also tied to your relationship with God.”  This one statement is the lynch to this whole lesson.  If we get this, it will change how we will move forward.

“We need to be servants to one another by studying our spouse and not just be looking out for #1 which is our natural bent.  If you want a better marriage then we need to always be looking out for ways to love and respect our spouse.”  

42 - Daily Dependence - UndersatndingI once heard this definition which I think defines it perfectly…

“Understanding is a three-edged sword.  Your side, my side, and the truth.”  J. Michael Straczynski

The key to understanding people and especially your spouse in every situation is seeing all three sides…Understanding happens at the confluence of all three.  Persevere to understand the one God has blessed you with!!

I love how this lesson started out,

“God made you different, and your differences actually help you to be stronger as a couple then you are alone. By understanding some of these differences, you’ll be better able to serve and celebrate your spouse and help them become the person God has uniquely created them to be.”

Psalms 139:13-14 talks about being “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that is the truth for sure but you know what else is the truth?  Your spouse is fearfully and wonderfully made too!  AND they were made in God’s image (see Genesis 1:27).  When we tear down our spouse, we are tearing down God’s masterpiece!  That is why we need to understand the person God has blessed us with and focus on that as a team, together you are better!

I love how the book posed this challenge to us…

“The challenge all couples face in marriage is to view these differences in a way that will actually bring you together and strengthen your marriage, rather than pushing your apart or driving a wedge between you.”

It is important to remember that we will experience spiritual warfare; Satan will exploit those differences to try at increase that “wedge between you.”

“Your differences are from God and are intended to create a stronger combined entity (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  You are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27-28), and you are to celebrate the unique ways God has created each of you.”

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV) says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Live with your spouse in an understanding way.  What does that mean to you?

The book made 2 points about this verse that I want to share.  First that “weaker vessel” means “physically weaker, not of less value.”ReEngage - Lesson 12 - Glass Vs Thermos

They made a great comparison between a crystal glass and Thermos both having value but for different purposes…

“A crystal glass is weaker than a Thermos, but the Thermos does not possess more values than the glass.  In the same way, while a woman may be physically weaker, she is not in any way less valuable than her husband.”

In the last post, ★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★ I shared about my wife’s uncle who married us that he gave me some great advice when he performed the marriage counseling.  The parallel between the wine glass and Thermos reminds me of another piece of advice that he gave me to be a “bull in a china shop.”  Men need to understand their wives are delicate and precious just how a wine glass is.

The second point from 1 Peter 3:7 that the lesson made was that “a clear connection exists between the way you understand (or don’t understand) your spouse and your spiritual intimacy.

For men, Peter makes the distinction that if we fail to do so, our “prayers may be hindered.” 

“The implication is that you cannot separate your relationship with God from your relationship with your spouse.”

So like anything in life, the only way to understand anything is to study it right?  Here is a great question to ask your spouse periodically…How am I doing showing you love or respect?  And then listen and learn from what they say.

I like what they said in the lesson that understanding and studying your spouse…

“is a lifelong process…it requires time and attention.  It requires intentional effort such as regularly dating one another, purposefully pursuing one another and taking time to communicate with one another.”

Here is a great prayer to pray to God:

Show me one way to love and respect my spouse.  Let me see my spouse through your eyes.

I will close with this great advice from James McDonald who suggested these 4 things to improve your marriage:

“Nothing will transform your marriage like spending time on your marriage.”

  • 15 minutes a day(just talking to your spouse) – Guys don’t pull out a stop watch to time it!
  • 1evening per week (spend time together)
  • 1 day per month(really devoted to your marriage)
  • 1 weekend per year (To a conference or something to really improve your marriage)

“The opportunity we have to live with our spouses in an understanding way is one of the greatest challenges and privileges we experience in marriage.”

 

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Emotional Intimacy ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here… 

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★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★

ReEngage - Lesson 11So how are you enjoying the series from the re|engage class?  I know they have been strung out over time but if you have missed any you can read previous posts on lessons… DailyDependence.WordPress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

My hope is that as you read these that you will start to apply the principles that you are learning about.  The goal is to get better at extending grace and forgiveness…to try to communicate more so that conflict is stopped before it escalates?  It is important to put into practice what we learn.  Knowledge without application is pointless.

In the Communication lesson I mentioned that the first 8 lessons are all about explaining the gospel and how it relates to marriages, the second half is all about the practical response to the Gospel.

And that is the point; each additional lesson will give you another tool in your toolbox to improve your marriage.  2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) says,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Consider this your battle cry to fight for your marriage!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Adore and Respect.

The main idea of Lesson 11 was:

You have many expectations about your spouse and your marriage that, if unmet and handled incorrectly, will lead to disappointment and anger. You need to be able to articulate and deal with unmet expectations and realize that God is your only true hope.

Unmet expectations are one of the major causes for conflict in a marriage.  They can really damage a marriage if we are not careful.  Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) says,

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

As we delve into the topic of “Expectations,” a good thing to remember in marriage is to…ALWAYS test the voice in your head.  As your expectations of your spouse are not met think through what is going on.

For instance, when your husband forgets to take out the trash, Satan will whisper, “He is so lazy. He’ll never change.”  You will start dwelling on that characteristic.

However, if you ask yourself the question about who would be whispering that to you, you’ll realize that your Heavenly Father would NOT be telling you how lazy your husband is.

God’s voice would be saying, “I love this guy, and I sent my son to die for him. Treat him as I would.”

The same obviously applies to woman as well, but I will just pick on the men!

Ultimately we need to change the way we approach situations because if we continue to expect the same thing without changing anything, we will continue in the crazy cycle.

You’ve heard it said, “Insanity: Doing the Same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Albert EinsteinReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence - Albert Einstein - Insanity

The book had this great definition of what expectations are, and if we can grasp this, we can get out of the insanity cycle.

“Expectations are attitudes and thoughts regarding the way things could be or should be, and you have expectations for every area of your life.”

Right before I was married by my wife’s uncle, he said something which has stuck with us for our entire marriage,

“The things that attract you to your spouse have a flip side.  Over time the very thing that you loved can cause conflict.”

For instance:

  • You could be attracted to someone who is very dependable and that you can count on, the flip side of that is that person may be boring.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very good at managing money, the flip side of that is that person may be very cheap and never wants to go out anywhere.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very healthy and works out all the time, the flip side of that is that person may be at the gym all the time, leaving the other person home alone often.

This piece of advice really helped us to keep an eye on our expectations and understand the reality of this “flip side.”  ReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence -FlipsideSo for a bonus action item, think about what attracted your spouse and then think about whether the “flip side” is causing conflict or hurt right now.  Then discuss it together.

“You joy is your job…I own my emotions, emotions don’t own me.”  Steven Furtick

I think everyone will agree that expectations can be a very dangerous thing, especially when they are not met.  I love this quote,

“In marriage, your spouse often doesn’t have the same expectations or isn’t aware of yours, which can create tension in a relationship.”

Amen?  I think the book nailed it when they said that,

“Generally, your expectations are not right or wrong; however, the way you deal with unmet expectations can have a lot to do with whether you experience oneness in your marriage.”

Most people have an idealized view of marriage that it will be the perfect fulfillment of all their dreams…that the woman will be swept off her feet by her knight in shining armor and the two will live happily ever after.

Months and months are spent planning a wedding, working on all the intricate details, but what is usually left out of the equation is what happens when the Honeymoon’s over (literally).

  • How will we raise the kids, will someone stay home?
  • Who will manage the checkbook/finances?
  • How will we handle conflict? Etc.

When you think about this, it is absolutely insane, planning for months for one day but giving little thought for the future.  We have all done it, whether consciously or unconsciously, we all came into marriage with expectations.  The lesson made this point,    

“Expectations are powerful. When they are unmet, they lead to disappointment, frustration and often anger.” 

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) says,

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

That is so true!!  What else is true is the point that,

“When you’re disappointed or frustrated, you may stop giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt.”

“When you are angry, small disagreements can escalate, and you can begin to believe the worst about your spouse. You may begin to think that they are doing (or not doing) things out of spite.”

Like not taking out the garbage, this is an easy shot since I miss that mid-week pick up all the time!

“Unmet expectations lead to negative emotions, and these negative emotions are the soil from which bitterness and anger grow.”

In the book, they talked about “How to Handle Expectations.”

  1. Identify Your Expectations.

“Most of the time, you don’t realize the source of your expectations. Your expectations about life and marriage or formed from a variety of sources like family, friends, church, books, movies and television.”

Ask yourself, “Where does this expectation come from?” And “Is this expectation reasonable?”

  1. Communicate Beforehand.

“Remember, expectations are clear in your mind, but need to be communicated so that they will be clear in your spouse’s mind.”

Your spouse is not a mind reader.

  1. Believe the best.

“If your expectations are met, don’t let it negatively affect how you view your spouse and marriage. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and be gracious and kind.”

“Relate to them the way you hope they will relate to you the next time you don’t meet their expectations.”  Remember “The Golden Rule”

  1. Communicate with God.

“Because your spouse is human, they will disappoint you and let you down. God is the only one who does not disappoint. When your hopes are placed on Him, you will not be disappointed or let down.”

Which one of these do you struggle with?  My favorite quote from the lesson is the “The Great Irony”…

“Just as your spouse is a source of unmet expectations, remember that you are the source of unmet expectations for them. This levels the playing field and reminds you that you need to be gracious and forgiving.”

“The temptation is to focus on the fact that your spouse did not meet your expectations and blame them for your reaction.”

The book reiterates this over and over, the key is to draw the circle around you and work on changing everyone inside that circle.  You cannot change your spouse; Only God can…so we need to stop trying!!

“Regardless of the circumstances, you are responsible for the way you handle your negative emotions. Therefore, the proper response is not to focus on what your spouse did or did not do, but rather how you can best honor God in the midst of your unmet expectations.”

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

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