The Unexpected Realities in Marriage: Part 4 – Intimacy in Marriage

This week we are going to expand on Great Sexpectations, and talk about Intimacy in Marriage. We want to keep our conversation focused on progressing forward in your relationships and not getting bogged down in guilt and shame.  Guilt and shame are not of God but are used by the enemy to keep you from reaching your full Godly potential in your marriage.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin in order to lead us closer to God; not to bury us under the weight of our sin.

Everything God created, He did for a specific purpose and called it good.  Tweet This!

God created sex!  It is not dirty or taboo.  It is not some forbidden act that God allows us to do, while He turns His back.  It is also not intended for the exclusive use of reproduction. Reproduction can be a result of intimacy in marriage but it is not the sole purpose of it.  God looked at all that He created and said that it was good. He created man and woman with the physical ability and desire to be sexual and still called it good.  Sex is good! God said so and He cannot lie.  Tweet This!

Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25

God did not intend for us to have shame in our marriage; when it comes to our sexuality and intimacy.  He didn't create it that way, according to scripture.  So, why does shame exist in our marriages?  Sin is the reason that we have shame in our marriage.  If you think about it, what would be the angle of satan concerning sexual relationships?  Wouldn't he work against the purpose of God?

God's design for sex was for the benefit of a husband and wife; to create a bond of between them.  He created our bodies to release chemicals in our brain during intimacy that strengthens and bonds us emotionally.  Satan has been successful in undermining the design throughout time.  All he needed to do was convince people that it was okay to give in to their lust and become vocal about how wonderful sex is outside of marriage.  Today, Hollywood and the porn industry are the leaders of sexual promiscuity outside of marriage. Our children are being taught, through television and liberal school systems, that there is no God and it's okay to be sexually active outside of marriage.  They are watching all kinds of sexual alternatives to God's plan played out in front of them and told that it is good.

As parents, our voices have been silenced.We also may have participated in premarital sex and adultery.  We remain silent out of shame. There are still people who have not given into these temptations.  However, those numbers are diminishing rapidly.  We must break the silence and speak God's word about the grace and forgiveness found in Christ.  We must talk about the destructive effects that sexual fornication, pornography, and adultery have on a person's life and their marriage.  How marriages are destroyed and plagued with disease, unrest, violence, and unrealistic expectations because of it.  We must find a way to communicate this truth to everyone. God's people can no longer be silent.

Imagine this.  What if our children and grandchildren could preserve themselves for marriage because you were open and honest with them?  What if they never exposed themselves to pornography because they understood how dangerous it was for them long term?  What if we raise them with a full understanding that sexuality in marriage is holy and an act of worship, if kept within God's design?  What would that marriage look like compared to our own?

  Tweet This!There is hope, forgiveness, and healing for your marriage.  Tweet This!

You may be reading this and thinking that you've gone too far and can never experience true intimacy in your marriage.  We are here to tell you that there is hope and healing in Christ and you can move beyond it.  The Bible tells us that we are ALL sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus Christ came and died for our sins.  He suffered for us so that we could live free from the bondage of sin.  All we need to do it repent of our sins and accept His salvation.

Make the decision today.  You can walk away from sexual sin and begin a new life in Christ.  Some things won't be easy to let go of and can have lasting effects on our mind and body.  However, you don't have to walk through it alone.  We serve a God who will never leave or forsake us.  You may find that you need to work through some issues in marital counseling.  If you are committed to a life in Christ, He can redeem your life from your past.

Be bless and live free in Christ,
Tim & Heather
Life Travelers

The Unexpected Realities of Marriage: Part 3 – "Great Sexpectations"

We continue our discussion this week on expectations vs reality.  We are going to branch off into the area of sexual expectations that we will call "Great Sexpectations".  I know all too well that this is a taboo subject in our culture (Christian America).  The varying opinions concerning the sexual topic are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  Though we do our best to not be offensive, we will not apologize for speaking the truth.  We will be speaking very openly to ensure that we are clear in our message.  Let's get started.

How do we develop our sexual expectations before we get married?    Tweet This!

There is no doubt that everyone has some kind of expectation, as they enter marriage, about what the sex life should be like.  There seems to be some natural phenomenon built into human nature to attract to a partner sexually that begins with puberty.  Certain body parts begin developing in a new way and our hormones start driving themselves.  Obviously, the experience differs between males and females and also varies within the same gender role. But, something is certainly changing in our bodies in this period of our life.

Perhaps you grew up in a home with parents who talked openly about our sexuality. Maybe you even had meaningful conversations about what a marital sex life should look like. It could possibly be that they even told you about God's expectations concerning healthy relationships and respect for your own body.  If that is your situation, consider yourself blessed beyond measure because it is NOT the normal situation.  In fact, what we are mostly told by our parents is "do not have sex outside of marriage because it's a sin".  If you got much beyond that information, you are very fortunate.

Let me (Tim) walk you through growing up in my house and perhaps it will bring clarity to what we are talking about.  My parents had an active sexual relationship when I was a child.  We never talked about it but the "sounds of love" were in the house, after bedtime, on a regular basis.  (I'm smiling as I write)  I wondered, for a long time, what all the noise was about but never quite had the nerve to ask about it. Then, out of nowhere one evening, at the dinner table, I blurted out

"What are y'all doing in bed at night making all that noise?"

I was probably 10-11 years old, at the time.  Well, that didn't go over well and I didn't get an answer either.  My mother ran out of the room and into her bedroom, closing the door.  My older sister chuckles while not wanting to look up from her plate and my dad is smiling from ear to ear but saying nothing.  I then said, "Well, I want to know".  Dad calmly told me to hush, while still grinning and red-faced, and that was the end of my questioning.

Reflecting now, I think my timing was a little off for getting answers and the situation wasn't optimal for the conversation.  However, the answer never came from my parents.  That was the last question about sex that came from me to them.  I got my information, after that, from friends, Playboy, and Hustler.  I didn't feel like I needed anything more from them on the subject.  In fact, I knew way too much after the introduction to porn magazines.

That being said, I developed my sexual expectations about marriage from locker room chats, pre-marital relationships, and pornography. I was set up for a huge reality check after we got married.

My (Heather) situation was very different.  My mother was a nurse, there was no topic she would not discuss. At times,she became very embarrassing. My dad, on the other hand, did not talk about it. My mom told me about sex, what she thought about it, what God thought about it, and the choice was mine.  We all knew they did it; I walked in on it a few times but learned when the door was shut, walk away.  It wasn't a big taboo at our house.  It was just a part of life.  Perhaps, if she had told me that I couldn't do it, things might have been very different for me.  When Tim and I began dating, before we left the driveway on our first date, I told him that if he expected more than a hug and kiss while we were dating, he would have to go somewhere else.  He was okay with this, so we went out that night.

Heather set the stage for our relationship.  

I remember her telling me that and I also remember that being a quality in which I liked about her.  I had never had anyone tell me that so bluntly and be so established in their values.  I wanted to get to know this lady because she had tapped into something that I had never seen before.

I don't recall us ever bringing up the subject again, while we were dating.  She never had to remind me. That boundary was established and I honored her for it.  Needless to say, it did not prepare me for the variance that we would find in our "sexpectations" after we were married.  No, I wish there had been someone in my life, at the time, that was willing to expose themselves and tell me the honest truth like we are doing here now.

There is a rhythm to marriage and sexual fulfillment.  Tweet This!

Heather and I were unequally yoked in our sexual expectations when we got married. I will admit it, I was ignorant about sexual reality.  I falsely believed that she was immediately available to every sexual desire I could imagine and on-demand.  Boy, was I introduced to an alternate reality real quick.  Listen, we are not here to describe our sexuality in minute detail.  We are trying to show you a distinction between expectations and reality.  The honeymoon was a great experience for me and not so great for Heather (I found out years later).  It was several years before we found a true rhythm in our marriage and an understanding that has lead us to have a great intimate marital relationship.  But we are not alone in our venture.

It has been our experience, in talking with couples and conducting research, that most couples usually have one partner that is way more aggressive sexually than is the other. Meaning, one partner prefers 4 or more intimate encounters per week while the other partner would be okay with 1 encounter per week or less.  There are extremes in the frequency on both ends of the spectrum where one partner wants daily or multiple times per day and another person, prefers no sexual relationship at all or only for procreation.

Let's wade out a little further, into the deeper waters.

Our cultural taboos and silence about real sexual intimacy have left the doors open for every form of perversion and depravity to grow secretly.  Each person is left to figure things out for themselves.  The internet brought us pornography on-demand and freely available to anyone seeking to spice up their sex life or falsely seek to educate themselves about sexuality.  People enter marriage with wildly unrealistic expectations about intimacy and how things will be.  It often leads to unhappiness, isolation, violence, shame, brutality, divorce, or some other horrible and unhealthy marital situation. Some people, usually women, get trapped in horrible marital relationships that they were totally unprepared for and have no idea on how to get out of. And they can't talk about it because it's taboo and God hates divorce.

It is time that we break the silence and talk about sexuality in a godly manner.  Everyone knows, or most know, that God expects us to remain sexually pure until marriage.  What they don't know is why.  It is an abstract concept in our culture today.  Regardless, we need to speak the truth and share the reality for others to follow. The good, the bad, and the ugly.  If our story can save even one marriage, it's worth sharing.

Next week, we will explore this topic even further.  God bless and pray for marriages around the world.

Tim & Heather
Life Travelers

The Unexpected Realities in Marriage : Part 2

In marriage, there is often a gap between expectations and reality. This week, in part 2 of "The Unexpected Realities in Marriage", we talk about some things that you can do to overcome these breakdowns and improve the quality of your relationship. We would love to hear from you on this topic. Leave us a comment below or send us a private message.  Let's get started:

Wife: Will you wash the dishes?
Husband: I mowed the lawn and washed the cars today...
Wife: Honey, I can't cook, do the laundry, take care of the kids, do all the shopping, and everything else around here!  I need some help!
Husband: I do help out around here.  I work hard every day to provide for our family.
Wife: I didn't say that you don't "provide for our family".  I said I need help around the home. I work too you know.
Husband: I fixed the broken sink the other day.  I do help around here.  You act like I don't do anything.
Wife: Oh I know you do stuff around here.  You watch a lot of TV, leave your laundry on the floor, leave your dishes on the table, and...

And there we go, the fight just launched into orbit.  Does this conversation sound familiar to you?  If you have been married more than a week, then you have most likely experienced this type of conversation or something similar.  Each one of us has an expectation of how the relationship and shared responsibility is supposed to go.  However, we generally do not take the time to relay those expectations, in such a way, that our spouse can produce that reality.  Heck, we cannot even tell if that reality is within our spouse's ability to create.  Heather calls this the "Reality Clash".

There are times that I (Tim) am cruising through life all fat, dumb, and happy when I notice that Heather is somewhat distanced and quiet.  I press in to figure out what she is upset about and, after a few "I'm fine" or "don't worry about it" statements, she will say "reality clash".  At that moment, I know exactly what's going on.  I have missed something that was important to her. I have missed her expectation and created an unpleasant reality for both of us.  Don't get me wrong, this works in both directions.  We have been married more than 26 years and there are times that we still let the reality violate the expectation.  So, what is the solution?  Here are a couple of thoughts on overcoming this dilemma and keeping the expectations in check so that the reality can be peaceful.

Communication

Perhaps the most effective tool you can put into your relationship toolbox is good communication skills.  

This was a foundation stone in our relationship.  Throughout every struggle that we have found ourselves to be engaged in, we can talk our way through it and get back to living our lives.  Our brief but successful dating relationship that lasted a mere 6 months from our first date to the altar of marriage was filled with great conversation.  Somehow, we lost this ability in the first 7 years of marriage.  Then, through a conversation, we made this connection again.  We love talking to each other!  Since then, we have found great solstice in communication and problem solving.

There is a very good reason that you fell in love with your spouse. Sometimes, we lose sight of that reason and it becomes very difficult to find a reason to stay the course.  Sometimes you have to hit the pause button and reconnect with the reason that you committed to spending your lives together.  No married couple can deny that there was a time that they were connected on some level of commitment.  You need to find that connection point and focus on it. Make it a primary point of your relationship.

Respect

Never allow your words to degrade into hurtful rants that you will regret later.  

Maintain enough self-control to ensure that you never lose sight of respect for each other.  It is okay to disagree and you will argue from time to time.  Learn how to do these things in love.  Compromise is not always win-win.  Sometimes, you have to pick your battles and surrender other times.  Trusting your mate and putting those times in God's hands for guidance.  Some battles are worth winning, other things are menial and not worthy of fighting over.  Choose wisely but never lose respect.

Compassion

Whatever you do, do it with the compassion and love of Christ.

We love our spouse and, therefore, our hearts should seek to be compassionate when we are challenged.  The truth of the matter is that we, as a couple, are rarely on the same page throughout life.  Typically, one in the relationship will move beyond the other on a certain subject matter.  In our relationship, Heather is a genius when it comes to our finances.  She is an accounting/finance major.  It isn't that I don't understand accounting and finances; it is that I don't care about that level of detail in the same way that she does.  It is in my best interest to surrender to her authority on all things related to finances.  I have not put in the time and effort to override her expertise.  Also, she has never given me any reason to believe that my thoughts on the matter are greater than hers.

It reciprocates, there are other important areas of life that I am the expert and she willfully surrenders to my expertise on those matters.  We balance each other.  We recognize our own areas of weakness and allow the other to excel in their own gifts.  We do not judge the others weakness but work through it with compassion, respect, and good communication.

Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corintians 13:13 NIV

No matter what challenge you are faced with in your relationship, you should always reflect in the mirror and ensure that you remain focused with love in your heart.  It is when we derail to something outside of love that we enter the destructive zone.  Check your motives before you respond to your spouse.  A momentary personal reflection on your motivation could save you from saying things that you will regret tomorrow.  Love is the greatest tool to have in your relationship toolbox.  If you do not have love, your relationship will not survive.

In summary, ensure that you are communicating in such a way that you remain respectful of your mate.  Have compassion on the weakness in your partner and recognize that you may have strengths that they do not possess.  You are not intended to complete each other but to balance and complement each other.  But most of all, ensure that you heart is filled with love in all that you do.  You are Life Travelers together.

If you missed part 1 in this series, you can find it here: The Unexpected Realities in Marriage: Part 1

The Unexpected Realities in Marriage : Part 1

Most of the struggles and disappointments that have taken place in our marriage have dealt with the difference between expectations and reality.  We have had many conversations, in our relationship building process, dealing with the gap between these two points.

We enter into a relationship and both parties have a set of predefined expectations about how the relationship should be.  Sometimes, you may not even be aware of your subconscious expectations but they are there.  In our dating relationship, we spent no time discussing any of our expectations about marriage, family, money, kids, sex, where we were going to live, or anything else. We were only focused on dating and getting away from our parents.  However, we both brought a lot of expectations into our marriage and immediately began to have issues, when the honeymoon phase was over.  We did not understand why our reality was so different from what our expectations about the marriage should be.

It was shocking on how many points our expectations clashed with reality, through the early years. There are so many couples who never overcome this adjustment period.  Andy Stanley calls this the "iMarriage".  Our desires are focused on "I" rather than "we".  We recommend watching his segment from the series.  It helped us to gather our focus on some of these kinds of issues and begin making adjustments for a new reality.

Next week, in Part 2, we will break down some of the specific areas of struggle that we encountered and some things that we did to overcome them.

I said I wouldn’t do this but…: Politics, Relationships, & Hope

hope-hand

I really am reluctant to write this blog post as it is not the focus of our blog.  However, the world we live in is going crazy right now over the election results.  What is bothering me, more than anything, is the fact that family and friends are being torn apart over this.  This is why I have chosen to no longer remain silent and share some insights that will hopefully help people find the resolve to heal. Continue reading I said I wouldn’t do this but…: Politics, Relationships, & Hope

Our Story: Becoming One With Our Money

marriage-money-mistakesDisagreements on how to manage money are one of the main reasons couples argue.  We have counseled with many different  couples over the years, and this area becomes a wedge dividing them.

We are no different than most other couples.  We have had a lot of issues in our marriage dealing with managing money, budgeting, over-spending, and savings.  To be perfectly honest, it was not until our 15th year of marriage that Heather and I fully settled our differences with money. Continue reading Our Story: Becoming One With Our Money

Learning to spread our own wings and fly together

Empty nest

We have entered the empty nest stage in our life.  Our oldest daughter got married in 2015 and our youngest daughter moved out early in 2016.  One of the first things that we noticed was that our house makes noises. These were previously masked by the sounds of our children.  The sounds of silence can be eerie, at times, and it is perhaps the hardest aspect of empty nesting to get used to.  But be encouraged, we are learning to spread our own wings and fly together.

When Mindy, our oldest, left home for good, we were not impacted to the same extent as when Kassondra, our youngest, moved out.  Mindy worked us into the concept over time.  She was in college and only came home 3 or 4 days per week, for a long time, before she left.  We still had Kassondra at home and she spent most of her time commuting to work and school; but she still came home on a regular basis.  There was no silence. Continue reading Learning to spread our own wings and fly together

Our Story: Not really high school sweethearts… – Part 1

Heather and I have vastly different stories to tell from this time period of our lives.  We were in two completely different mental and emotional states.  We have decided to tell this segment of our lives, and perhaps others, separately in order to give a clear perspective of the stage from which we launched our lives together.

(Tim’s Perspective) Continue reading Our Story: Not really high school sweethearts… – Part 1

Survey: Struggles in Marriage/Relationship

We value your opinion on relationship struggles. Results are completely anonymous and only the poll answers are collected.  Feel free to elaborate in the comments sections if you would like to do so or send us a private message.  We would love to hear your story.

Tim & Heather

Introduction

Welcome to Life Travelers.  20150602_163205We are Tim and Heather Key and over 26 years ago we said “I Do” and
“We Have” ever since.  It has been our heart’s desire for many years to help other’s experience the joy that we have found in marriage.  We get asked all the time, “How do you do it?” and the answer to that questions is always the same… We work at it!

If you know us in real life, then you know that Heather and I appear to be a newlywed couple or like we are a dating couple.  We learned the hard way that dating and working on our relationship throughout our married life is one of the most important things that we, as a couple, need to do.  In fact, we go out on dates more now than we did when we were actually a dating.  We just love being with each other more than anything else and God’s grace and mercy allows us to shine God’s light in a world dominated by divorce and broken families.

Continue reading Introduction