About Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire loves family. She loves her family, including her three children (one in heaven) and her husband; and she loves that God made families as the primary vehicle to show His love. Probably part of this love stems from the fact that growing up, family wasn't healthy. Her dad left when she was two, and Sheila saw the damage that divorce does, even though her mom was amazing (and still is, as they take missions trips together!) So her passion in this life is to help strengthen families--to equip women to be the best wives and mothers they can be, and especially to cultivate marriages that are rock solid.

Sheila has written four books for women, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother, and she has another coming out with Zondervan soon. She also writes a weekly parenting column, and speaks at women's events and marriage conferences around North America. Usually, though, you can find her at home, where she homeschools her two daughters. And knits. Preferably simultaneously!

Sheila blogs daily at http://tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com (To Love, Honor and Vacuum), and you can find her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/sheilagregoire) and on Facebook (http://facebook.com/sheila.gregoire.books).

Taking Every Thought Captive: How Marriage is a Matter of Attitude

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When I got married, I adored my husband. I was sure he was the right man for me. He was my best friend. He was funny. He loved and protected me.

But marriage didn’t end up being what I was anticipating. I wanted my husband to love me for me, and it seemed that when we didn’t make love he got ticked off. And so I started challenging all my assumptions. I figured that Keith really didn’t love me–or at least he didn’t love me enough. And I thought that God was supremely unfair, because he made sex to be so fun for guys, but not for women. And then He made men want it all the time! Not just that, but He said that it was our responsibility to actually meet our husband’s needs. I figured people had been lying to me my whole life.

I was in that funk, off and on, for about three or four years. And then, gradually, the funk faded. It wasn’t just because sex got better. It wasn’t just because we got better at working out our problems. It was because I decided that I didn’t want to be miserable in my marriage. And it seemed to me that the only way to be happy was to start believing that the good things that I had heard about marriage and sex were true. Instead of questioning God, I turned the tables and started questioning my own experience.

This is true in many areas of marriage, not just sex. Ultimately, we need to believe that marriage is for our good, that God blesses marriage, that we can be happy, that following God’s precepts does make one more peaceful. But these are matters of belief–of faith.

If you feel that your husband doesn’t love you or talk to you enough, for instance, you can focus on that and become depressed and resentful. Or you can focus on God’s command to love and respect your husband, and to find your peace in God. And when we start to do that, often our marriage changes. When you start to act out love, the feelings often return.

The turning point in many marriages comes when a person decides to listen to God and believe. In other words, and this is so important:

The success of your marriage depends far more on what you believe about God than on how you feel about each other.

When you believe that God wants the best for you; when you believe that God created sex to be physically wonderful and spiritually intimate; when you believe that God will always be enough for you, even if you feel lonely in your marriage, then things get better.

The converse is also true:

Often the reason that we struggle in marriage is not because there is something wrong with our spouse, but because we don’t actually believe God’s promises.

Now obviously there are exceptions to this. If your spouse is abusive, or is having an affair, or is addicted to pornography, simply believing “God loves marriage, and if I cling to that these problems will disappear” is not going to help–although believing that God can give you strength and can be the source of your ultimate peace can help you take the right steps and seek the right counsel on what you should do.

But with many marriage problems, the issue is one of attitude far more than it is anything else. You’re believing things about your spouse, about sex, about marriage that aren’t true. When you can get your attitude in check, often the marriage starts to improve.

Recently, in church, our pastor was talking about The Battlefield of the Mind, and reminding us of 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

When it comes to marriage, your ultimate guide shouldn’t be your experience. It should be what God says.

I’m not saying that your husband is perfect. No one is. The question is, do you want to focus on the negative, or do you want to focus on the positive?

When you start despairing about your marriage, can you take that thought, hold it up to God, and ask, “what’s your perspective here? What are the promises you have given me?” When you start having really ugly thoughts about sex, can you take those, and hold them up to God, and say, “what do you say about sex? What do you say about whether it’s good or not?”

Sometimes God’s promises don’t seem real because we haven’t experienced them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. It just means that often we CAN’T experience them until we first BELIEVE them. Marriage success is a matter of faith.

When I started saying, “Okay, the Bible says sex is great, God made it to be good for women, too, so obviously I must be missing something,” then our sex life improved dramatically. I became optimistic that it could get better, because I believed God. And that was the huge turning point for us.

This week, when you start to feel down, or resentful, or bitter, take those thoughts captive. Look at them, and ask, “what is God’s truth here?” Then act on His truth, not on your feelings. I truly believe that that is the key to marriages turning around.

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.Sign up for her monthly marriage newsletter here!

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Stepping Back and Trusting God with Your Marriage

'Mountain View 2' photo (c) 2009, David Steltz - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m one of those people who believes in trusting God absolutely. It’s just that I fear that in most circumstances, God could really use a hand. And I try to give it to Him!

That didn’t work tremendously well growing up, and God had to hit me over the head a few times to make me trust Him. I was constantly interfering in friendships, in relationships, trying to force them to go my way because I figured I knew best. And I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie. I couldn’t do NOTHING. If something was wrong with a friend, or a boyfriend, I had to fix it RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE.

That’s why I had such a hard time trusting God with the fact that I would marry. I wanted to marry so desperately, and in my late teens I was always on the lookout for possible candidates. When I did start dating the man who is now my husband, I barrelled my way all over him. I saw that we would work together, and I made sure he realized that, too. I didn’t exactly wait for him to come to that conclusion; I made sure that he saw it my way.

Unfortunately, that scared him off, and he ended up breaking up our first engagement. I was just moving too fast. I was absolutely devastated and heartbroken, and had to wrestle my life out with God again. I had to acknowledge to God that He was my source of strength, not Keith. I had to acknowledge to God that no matter what happened, I would trust Him, not look for fulfillment in other people.

It was a very rough summer, but in retrospect one that I really needed. And Keith came back to his senses and we married anyway.

Lately I have been reminded that God perhaps isn’t finished with these lessons for me. I find in my marriage that “trust” is the last thing I’m able to do. Oh, I can trust Keith fine. I just can’t always trust God to solve my problems. So if Keith and I have a disagreement, I stew and plan and strategize all day, and often call him in the middle of the day, to work it out. I use my brilliant insights. I give him my air tight arguments of what we should do now and where we should go. And usually I end up winning. Yet is it really winning if Keith hasn’t had a chance to think it over, to go to God with it Himself?

What God has been teaching me lately is that I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t need to. God knows what’s best for me, and He knows what’s best for my husband. And sometimes what is best is simply giving my husband space to talk to God himself, rather than trying to manipulate the situation into what I think God wants.

That’s a hard thing to do. What if God doesn’t do what I think He should? And so it all comes back to one’s view of God: Is He really enough for your marriage? Or do you think you know best?

I am trying to wait on God, because it is in Him that I find peace. God is our refuge and strength, not our husbands. My happiness is not dependent on the state of my marriage, but on the state of my relationship with Christ.

And ironically, I’m finding that the closer I am to God, and the more I trust in Him, the happier I am in my marriage anyway. Maybe that’s what God intended all along!

Sheila writes more about marriage at her To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog! (http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com). She loves great conversations about how we can strengthen family and make this world resemble God’s heart. Her newest book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, will be out in February with Zondervan.

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Do We Really Mean Til Death Do Us Part?

'Lonely Woman Watching Sea Waves on Beach' photo (c) 2010, epSos .de - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When you married, you pledged that  you would stay together until death do you part.

Now I know many of you completely believed that then, and you still do today.

But other women are really struggling with this. They’re extremely lonely. They cry almost everyday. They’ve sought out counseling because the marriage is so difficult. They’re worried about their kids.

They want a new start at life, where no one is telling them what to do, criticizing them, or perhaps worse, ignoring them. I know some women who have prayed for their husbands to have affairs so that they would have biblical justification in leaving him. And I have talked to other women who have said that they find the whole affair justification strange, because having a one night stand is not nearly as bad as what her husband does to her on a daily basis, but her friend with a husband who had a fling can leave, and she can’t. It doesn’t seem fair.

No, it doesn’t. But here’s the thing: God never promised it would be. I really struggle with the idea that divorce is off limits when I talk to some of these women, because I truly feel for them, and I truly do think their husbands are horrible.

However, just because your marriage is horrible is not justification for ending it. One Christian writer I know well told me that she left her husband because he had violated his marriage vows to love her. He had an anger problem, and even though he wasn’t abusive, he was often angry and sullen, and demanded sex all the time. She felt that the Christian view of marriage was “oneness”. We have been made one, we treat each other with respect and love, and God intended for us to be connected. When that hasn’t happened, as in her case, then you’re justified in leaving.

I don’t believe this. Yes, God intended marriage ideally to be a certain way, but He never says anywhere in Scripture that if the ideal is not met we are welcome to violate our vows. When you marry, you make a vow before God. God takes that seriously. I don’t think we understand that because we live in a society where fulfillment and happiness are the prime goals. To continue in a relationship which drains your spirit rather than fills it seems like a sin in and of itself.

But for whatever reason, God made marriage this way. He gave only a very narrow excuse for leaving, and even then, He doesn’t command us to leave. He just leaves the door open, should we choose to do so. God wanted relationships to be permanent, even if they are far from perfect. Commitment matters. Stability matters.

Why? Because when we commit, we teach our children to commit. We create a society that is based on grace rather than performance. We leave room for God to work. We learn to rely on God in our hard times, rather than thinking another person can fill our voids. We learn to compromise, to accommodate, to give. We become less selfish.

And perhaps there’s a bigger reason. How about, quite simply, because God said so. That is what I am teaching my kids about their future marriages: you stay married because God said so. You don’t look for a way out. Divorce is so hard on kids, even when that divorce is justified. It usually leaves one or the other of you down the wrong path. I have seen divorces occur in my family where one of them became promiscuous and alcoholic after the divorce, which likely would not have happened had they stayed together, because they had stability. Take that stability away and everything falls apart. Marriage increases holiness, even if the husband appears petty, mean, or clueless.

The question becomes, then, “If God wants me to stay, then how am I going to manage it? What can I do to make my life bearable?” And that’s a good question to ask, because it forces us to go to God. It forces us to ask Him to be our peace. It also forces us to confront the real issues in our marriage and make an honest stab at fixing them, whether it means counseling, or a lot of prayer, or persistence.

I don’t think it’s easy. When these women in hard situations come to me, I want to say, “You’re right. You should leave.” Their husbands don’t deserve them. But I can’t say that, because I just don’t think it’s true biblically.

Here’s a bit of encouragement, though. In large scale studies of marriages, they have found that couples who split were less likely to be happy five years later than people who stayed together, even if their marriages were equally miserable. And even better, 78% of couples who had miserable marriages rated their marriages as wonderful five years later. The act of committing to riding it out made them happy. So if you’re going through a rough time, it likely will not always be like this. And no matter what, God is there to help you, to heal you, to comfort you, and to change you (and minister to him). If you’re miserable, throw yourself on Him. Wrestle with Him. He can take it. And ask Him to provide you with an escape from your misery–even if that escape is actually within your marriage!

Sheila writes more about marriage at her To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog! (http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com). She loves great conversations about how we can strengthen family and make this world resemble God’s heart. Her newest book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, will be out in January with Zondervan.

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Can You Seduce Your Husband?

'sealed with a kiss' photo (c) 2010, Amber Rae - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Shortly after my husband and I started dating, Valentine’s Day came upon us. And I decided to do something romantic. I had a friend let me in to his dorm room on campus, and I left red cut-out hearts that spelled “I love you” all over his room, in a sort of scavenger hunt.

He loved it. Everything in our relationship was so new and so fresh and that just added to it. And it became a tradition. Not necessarily every year, but most years now one of us creates a treasure hunt for the other.

You know what the fun part of the hunt actually is? It’s creating it! It takes a little bit of time, but while you’re doing it you’re a giggly little girl, thinking about what his reaction is going to be. And you think about how much you love him, and how glad you are you’re together. You renew your commitment to him because you’re going through all this work to show him that you love him. And then you can look back and smile.

Doing romantic things for our spouses doesn’t just help our husbands; it helps us. We start thinking differently. We remember how much we love them. We try to create something that’s fun in our relationship. We’re the ones who spice it up.

Sometimes we women get this romance thing all wrong. We think that romance is something that he is supposed to do for us. But what guy wouldn’t feel amazing to have his wife pursue him?

And so let me ask you: when’s the last time you left a love note for your husband, sealed with a lipstick kiss? When’s the last time you sent him a racy text message? When’s the last time you hid a love note in his pocket, so that he would discover it at work?

Why do we stop doing these things just because we’ve been married for a while? We shouldn’t stop. We should do it all the more. It’s vital that your husband know that you love him, and that you remember how much you love him, too.

Without that romance, you just become two roommates, bound together by children and finances. Don’t let that happen to you.

Perhaps you’re one of those wives that’s thinking: If I write him a note, he’ll think it’s silly or he won’t care. Maybe he won’t. But you will! And if it makes you giddy, or happy about him, isn’t that worth something? Also, sometimes we expect an immediate reaction from our husbands: he’ll instantaneously think how great you are and he’ll gush all over the note. Men don’t always work that way. Maybe you need to write several notes, a few weeks apart, before he really softens to you. Don’t give up. It’s important to tell him that you love him, and why you love him, even if he doesn’t seem too interested in “romance”.

So here are some tips to writing great love notes:

1. Don’t just say “I love you”. Tell him one or two things that you love about him.

2. Keep it short and simple. Make it into a nice surprise he finds periodically in his clothes, in his lunch, in his car.

3. Don’t forget text messages! Sometimes, send him a text message that’s just a little bit racy. Few men can resist that!

4. Want something really fun? Hide a few of these “love coupons” you can download off of my website under his pillow.

Be romantic. Don’t wait for him to be. It will change how you think, and it will make him feel very appreciated!

Sheila is the author of the upcoming “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex”. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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Keeping Your Bedroom a Sacred Place

Phocea Yacht Master Bedroomphoto © 2009 Maxine Simpson | more info (via: Wylio)
What is the most important relationship in your family?

I hope you said your marriage! Your husband was there before the kids, and he’ll be there after the kids move out. And more importantly, once you have children, you have even more of a responsibility to work on your marriage, because other people count on you now. You can’t give your life entirely to your kids. That is wrong.

And ladies, sex is a big part of marriage! Men feel loved through sex, and we women feel much closer to our husbands when we’re connecting on a regular basis.

So let me ask you: is your bedroom a haven for your marriage?
What does that mean?

It means no laundry to be folded all over the bed and the floor. Don’t use your bedroom as a place to store laundry! I know that nice, beautiful big bed, at just the right height, makes it an ideal folding surface. But if you start, chances are you won’t finish, and then at the end of the night clothes are scattered everywhere. Not inviting.

Don’t make your bedroom a repository for stuff, either! I’ve known women who have so much junk in the bedroom because it’s out of the way so company won’t see it. But who is your house supposed to nurture, first and foremost: you and your husband, or the occasional guest? When you put junk in your room, then you feel the weight of it everytime you walk in. It isn’t inviting; it’s like having a neon sign in your bedroom saying, “I need to be cleaned! I need to be organized! I take a lot of work!” That’s hardly conducive to relaxation.

And here’s the hardest one: Making your bedroom a haven means that kids go to sleep in their own rooms. Many women believe in sleeping with the babies and toddlers in the bed because it promotes bonding. You can find co-sleeping websites all over the internet, and this is a widely debated topic on many sites.

Let me give you my two cents. Most men don’t feel comfortable having the kids in bed. My husband is a pediatrician, and he talks to co-sleeping parents all the time, and he has yet to meet a couple where the man didn’t secretly admit that it gives him the creeps having the kids there all the time (and it scares them that they’ll roll on the kids). Usually this is a woman-initiated thing, and the men go along with it.

And this will ruin your sex life! Some moms have written to me saying, “we just make love in other rooms, and be more intentional about it!” But let’s be honest: most sex occurs when we’re not being intentional; we’re just lying there and we snuggle and it goes further. Being intentional takes more energy, and means that sex will be less frequent. And men really do need it.

I know when a baby is first born you may want it in bed to make nursing easier, and if you’re absolutely exhausted, perhaps that’s the best idea. But let it be very temporary. You don’t want children to be your birth control!

Of course, keeping kids out also means that you need a lock on your door. Once, when my youngest was 6, Keith and I were having a good time when we heard the pitter patter of little feet. Freeze. She rattled the doorknob. “It’s locked!” Keith yelled. “Oh, that’s okay,” she replied. Pitter patter pitter patter. We resumed. And all of a sudden the door flew open. Grab the sheets.

It seems that 6 is old enough to know how to pick a lock, but not old enough to know that you don’t want to pick it.

So do what you can to keep kids out. Keep the springs on your bed oiled so the bed doesn’t squeak. Tighten the screws periodically, if you have them, on the headboard so that it’s secure and doesn’t rattle. Invest in comfortable sheets and a nice duvet. Get some candles. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but doing little things to help you feel comfortable and stressfree in your bedroom will help you to relax in it, and then maybe more will happen!

Finally, making your bedroom a haven may involve ditching the television. Do you really need to watch TV together at night? It just intrudes on couple time. Why not let the bedroom be where you snuggle, pray, talk, and cuddle? Why not let the bedroom be just for your relationship, and keep other stuff out?

I think if we show that we prioritize the time with our husbands by keeping the bedroom free of distractions, we’ll reap rewards! Your marriage is the most precious relationship God has given you, and we need to be doing all we can to honor and nurture that relationship!

Sheila is the author of the upcoming “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex”. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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Letter to Teenaged Me

Photo by Rowdy Kittens on Flickr

I am a complete sap for tear jerker country music songs. One of my current favourites is Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me�, where he writes a letter to himself at seventeen, with all the things he wishes he could have known back then.

Thinking back on my 17-year-old days, I’ve come up with several things that could have helped me along the way, too. Here they are:

I know your biggest fear right now is being alone. You’ve been without a boyfriend for two years now and I know you feel desperate. You’re not going to believe what I’m about to say, but it’s actually better to be alone at this stage of your life, because you can concentrate on who you want to be without a guy getting in the middle of it. So take this time to read, to work, to make friendships, talk to interesting people, and figure out what you like. You don’t need a guy to do that. Looking back, that hiatus was one of the best times of growth for you. So don’t cry. Your day will come.

But I don’t mean to be so callous. I know you feel lonely right now, and worry that your friends don’t understand you. Most of them don’t! But one day you’ll be in a position to find friends that are more like you. You’ll be able to choose your university, choose your workplace, choose your church. You’ll find great people there, I promise. Right now you’re stuck in a school you can’t get out of. That’s okay. It won’t last forever. Just try to be a blessing to those with you now and make the best of it.

And when you do get to university and you do make great friends, keep in touch. Don’t let distance and busyness come between you. You’re going to miss them later on, and wish you’d written more letters.

You’ve got seasons tickets to the ballet right now, and you love all the restaurants in Toronto. Careful that you don’t become a snob. In about a decade you’re going to realize how awful the city really is, and you’re going to run as fast as you can to a small town. So get ready now! Learn to play cards. Learn to like barbecue. And learn to drive! Not every place has a subway, you know.

You’ve already been overseas once on a mission trip, but more are coming. Make the most of them. Take tons of pictures of kids’ faces. And don’t turn away because the poverty makes you uncomfortable. Look at it. Breathe it. Remember that most of the world lives like that, and you’re getting the chance to see it. Sear it into your memory, so that you never let your life become about money.

Sometimes family relationships get awkward and we don’t know what to say, so we don’t say anything. Open your mouth, especially to your uncle. You’ll find out why later. And your mother understands you more than you think she does. Give her a break. She’s done a great job raising you, so try to look at things from her point of view. One day you’re going to be great friends!

You know those kids with Down Syndrome at the camp you counsel at? Don’t ignore them. I know they make you feel awkward, but you’re looking in the face of your future son. Love them and have fun with them, and it will be easier for you when you hear the news in a few years.

You’re going to cry more tears over the next ten years than you will imagine. But one day, you will see how those tears were used to build you into a strong person. So at your lowest points, believe that God isn’t going to leave you.

You’re going to fall in love in a few years with a man you will think is perfect. Take a step back. Does he let you be yourself? Does he ask you about you? Relationships can’t be based on hero worship. Run away fast. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.

And by the way, while you’re running away from your boyfriend, take another look at your best friend. Sometimes best friends really do make the best husbands!

Sheila is the author of four books, including the upcoming “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex” with Zondervan. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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Why Do We Get Angry?

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Do you have the same fights with your husband, over and over again? Do you feel like you’re never getting anywhere with them?

It might be because you’re not actually fighting about what’s really bothering you.

I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. Anger is a very powerful emotion, and when we get angry, we often yell, seethe, lash out, or even retreat in a haughty silence. Whatever we do, we certainly do it dramatically. Anger steals the show!

But that’s part of its cunning. Anger, you see, is an expert disguise artist. When we’re angry, it’s usually a sign that there’s something else going on below the surface, something that we’d rather not talk about because it would make us feel too vulnerable. And we don’t like that vulnerable feeling. So we attack instead.

Let’s say that your husband comes home late, and you’ve been with the kids all day. You’ve been grumpy with them, and you’re worried that you’re not a very good mother. You also worry that your husband secretly doesn’t like being home anymore because it’s such a chaotic place. Instead of quietly sharing with him these fears, you immediately give him the third degree when he gets his sorry self in that door because why is he so late? How can he be so insensitive?

Your feelings of insecurity are actually a little scary to you. Is your marriage really okay? Are your kids okay? Those are scary things to think about, and even scarier things to talk about. It’s easier for your heart, and your head, to deflect these things by lashing out instead. Then, when he lashes back, you’re justified in feeling angry at him. If the family now suffers, or if the kids suffer, it’s his fault, not yours!

What’s worse is that once you’ve started that anger process, you put him on the defensive. Chances are he’s had a bad day, too, and maybe he’s wondering about his ability to support the family. Maybe he’s wondering if you actually want him home, because whenever he sticks his head in the door he gets it bitten off. But he doesn’t share about his work concerns or his fears, either, because that’s too vulnerable. Instead, he starts yelling back.

Perhaps in your house you don’t yell. Maybe you just snipe, or glare. Or perhaps you just withdraw. But the effect is the same. You build up this wall around you where it’s actually harder to now share what’s really going on below the surface.

God doesn’t like this. He wants us to be honest with each other, speaking the truth in love. He doesn’t want us to sin in our anger. And part of speaking the truth–without sinning–is also speaking the truth to ourselves. Don’t run into anger when unpleasant things pop up. Deal with them, and you’ll be much healthier spiritually and emotionally.

So next time you feel that angry feeling bubbling, take a deep breath, and go by yourself for a while. Ask yourself what’s really bothering you. Are you scared of something? Are you hurt by something? Are you worried about something? Pray that God will reveal the true cause of your anger.

If He shows you the cause, then ask God to show you how to share that with your husband. Maybe it means waiting for an opportune time to talk. Maybe it means asking if you can go out to breakfast together, or maybe it means having a special dinner together after the children are in bed. When we start talking about what’s really on our heart, even if it scares us a little, we build intimacy. When we lash out in anger because we don’t want to face what we’re feeling, we build walls.

If  you start communicating your real feelings, and stop lashing out or stop criticizing, you’ll be changing the tone in your marriage. And that will have a huge impact on your relationship and your intimacy level. He’ll probably follow suit.

So try it. You just might like it!

Sheila is the author of four books, including the upcoming “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex” with Zondervan. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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God SEES You–and He Designed You to Be Seen

God sees you. Wherever you are, He is there (Psalm 139). And He is El Roi, the God who sees all.

That can either be scary–or amazing! He sees us and still loves us, and still shows grace to us. He sees you in all that you do.

God also created marriage to be a mirror, or a reflection, of God’s relationship to us. Just as He sees us and still loves us, He wants us to see our husband–and still love him. And He wants us to be vulnerable before our husband, laid bare, and truly intimate.

This January, in these 31 days as we grow closer to God, I encourage you to also grow closer to your husband. Our spirituality and our marriage are very closely linked. When we are closer to God, we feel closer to our husband, and vice versa. So today, can you SEE your husband? Talk to him about who he is, what he loves, what he cares about, not just who will pick up the kids, who will chauffeur to hockey, who will buy the milk. See your husband. Take time to talk to him. Take time to reveal something to him. And take time to pray together to the God who sees all of your marriage–and still wants you to grow even closer.

Visit the other participants of 31 Days of Ministry Online at A Woman Inspired or:

Sheila blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
Visit the other participants of 31 Days of Ministry Online at A Woman Inspired or:

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Are Women Like Slow Cookers?

*A note from Trish:

Sheila Wray Gregoire has joined our team of authors! Sheila has a great blog at To Love, Honor and Vacuum ~ she covers all kinds of topics in an easy, relaxed atmosphere. Included in her topics are some of the more….well, difficult or private aspects of marriage. Sheila gracefully tackles some of the things that a lot of us would rather never have to talk about. Yet there is a HUGE need for honest, caring, heartfelt and godly advice in so many of the “private” issues in marriages ~ Christian marriages included. We’re thrilled to have Sheila join us on AMH!

* This article is intended for women 18 years of age and older, as it addresses one of the more private matters concerning marriage.

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Have you ever heard the expression, “men are like microwaves, women are like slow cookers�?

It’s often uttered at marriage conferences, as if it’s very profound. Here’s what it means:

Men are like microwaves. They heat up quickly, and once they’re heated up, they’re really hot. Women, on the other hand, heat up very slowly. And they continue to cook, but very slowly. Then, by the time it’s all over, she’s really tender.

I don’t buy it.

Sure, there’s an element of truth to that, as every married woman will know. Men do tend to be “in the mood� almost instantaneously, if the thought crosses their mind. We women don’t work like microwaves at all.

But are we really slow cookers? To say that we are implies that we will, eventually, actually heat up. But we may not! The truth is that for us sex is primarily in our brains. We have to have our brains in gear for our bodies to follow. So it doesn’t really matter what he does to try to heat us up, we won’t heat up unless we also decide to. It’s a head thing.

You can really only say that women are like slow cookers if you also acknowledge that it’s women who control the switch. No one else can switch us on. It’s a decision that we make to enjoy this.  And you all know what I mean. Have you ever been having a very good time with your husband when you realize all of a sudden that you don’t have milk in the fridge for breakfast in the morning? You start ticking off a mental grocery list in your head, and you’re gone! You’re not paying attention anymore, and your body follows into the abyss. Our heads need to be in the game for sex to work! That’s why, by the way, it’s often hard for a woman to a want to make love if she has a headache. The headache is a distraction, and when we’re distracted, we can’t concentrate. When we can’t concentrate, our bodies often don’t work right.

That’s not true for men. I remember soon after I was married my husband caught a horrible virus. He was in bed with a fever of 103 and a rash all over, and I crept into the bedroom. “Is there anything I can do for you?�, I whispered in sympathy.

That all too familiar look came over his face, and he smirked. “Well, since you asked…�

I thought to myself, “He is sick! In more ways than one!� But what I’ve come to realize is that this is how God made us different, and He made us this way for a reason.

Men’s bodies are more tuned to desire sex quickly and to be able to perform right away (though obviously there can be problems, which we may deal with in another article in the future). If God also made women the same way, then what would our lives together look like? We’d likely be physically intimate extremely frequently, but there would be no impetus to actually talk to each other, or get to know each other on a much deeper level.

Women, on the other hand, were designed to desire relationship first. For us, sex comes out of our feeling of being loved. When we feel safe and secure, we want to make love. If God made both genders like this, we’d probably be physically intimate far less frequently, and we’d miss out on the profound beauty that comes when we’re intimate both spiritually and physically at the same time.

Men make love to feel loved, whereas women need to feel loved in order to make love. God made us differently. Our motivations are different, and our bodies respond differently. But it’s all so that both sexes have an incredible drive and need for each other that is expressed in slightly different ways. And that means that to get our primary need met, we have to meet each other’s primary need. We are forced to be selfless, generous, and giving in the marriage relationship.

That’s a good thing. So next time you’re wondering why your husband doesn’t want to talk and snuggle as much, and why he’s only interested in one thing, realize that he is not a lesser human being. It’s not that you are morally superior because you value relationship first; it’s that you are simply different, and that’s the way God made you.

And think about this: when you do make love, chances are he talks to you a lot more afterwards. He snuggles. And the next day his step seems lighter, and he’s more fun to be with. He’s all the things that you want, but it happens after you make love, not before.

Don’t concentrate so much on what you need; try to step out and give him what he needs, too. Think about sex in a positive way, where you’re “flipping the switch�, so to speak. Anticipate it. Enjoy it. Think about how great it’s going to be to be with your husband tonight. Don’t just get in bed and then wait for him to turn you on. Jump in and be enthusiastic about it! And as you do that, you’ll find that your own emotional needs for more connection will likely be fulfilled as well.

That’s how God made us. It works beautifully when we decide that we’re going to give to each other. So can you make that decision, even if you can think of all the things he’s doing wrong? Someone has to take that first step and decide to reach out. Can it be you today? Why not pray and ask God to make you thoroughly excited for your husband. Ask God to help you anticipate being with him tonight. And you just may find that you’ll heat up, after all!

 

 

 

Sheila writes more about marriage at her To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog! (http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com).  She loves great conversations about how we can strengthen family and make this world resemble God’s heart.

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