Complaints in marriage are as plentiful as summer dandelions. Left alone, they multiply and their roots grow deeper. Guest writer and Heart2Heart Counselor Julie Ganschow gives effective, biblical cures to marital complaints. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used by permssion.
It’s no secret that most of the couples who come for biblical counseling have marriages that are in trouble. The reasons won’t surprise you much, the solutions might!
Here are some common complaints and some rapid-fire thoughts I have on how to fix your marriage. The complaints are nothing new and fall into the typical categories: time, money, and sex. The mother of all complaints: “I’m not happy.” Usually at least one person will tell us they are not happy with their marriage.
Spending Time Together
It really surprises me how little time couples spend together and how much of marriage is conducted via text message. If you are a wife whose primary means of “talking” to your husband is a text message or a social media post I have some advice for you–STOP IT. It is impossible to have a true relationship in 140 characters or through your cell phone text box.
Spending time together is the only way a couple will remain a couple. Every couple needs a date night. EVERY couple, EVERY week needs to go on a date.
For those of you who don’t remember what a “date” actually is I will refresh your memory. A date is when a man asks a woman to accompany him somewhere outside the house for several hours. A date can include dinner, coffee, dessert, water over ice, seeing a show or movie (not my personal favorite because there is no communication), a walk, a boat ride, a ride in the car or on horseback. In short, anything that the two of you do together for the purpose of enjoying each others company can be a date.
The couple can take turns determining what date night will consist of, or one person can always decide. It does not have to cost a fortune or any money at all. The purpose of a date is to enjoy being alone together.
TALK while you are together. LEARN what is going on in each others lives during the day. LISTEN to your spouse talk about their hopes, dreams, job, latest project, favorite cooking show, the thing that bothers them the most, their favorite color, or hand tool. Talking leads to relationship building, relationship building leads to understanding.
Figure Out Finances
Talk about money and finances. Create and live by a budget! Discuss what your financial goals are for your family in 1-5-10 years and beyond. All of these things lead to what is known as happiness. Relationship building will also lead to that emotional connectedness that will increase sexual desire with your spouse.
Sex and Marriage
While I am at it, let’s talk a bit about sex. I am really astonished that so many Christian marriages are sex-less! It is heartbreaking to listen to couples say there is no physical desire between them, or that one partner could live without sexual intimacy for the rest of their lives.
People…can I tell you how wrong that is?! Husbands and wives are to meet each other’s physical needs on a regular basis. If you have no desire for one another, get to the doctor and be sure you have no medical condition that needs addressing. Once that is taken care of, if there is still no desire for sexual intimacy with your husband it is clear you have relationship issues that must be addressed.
3 Common Desire Killers
ONE: being overweight. Yes, I dare to say it. As a person who struggles with her own weight, there have been times when I was self-conscious about my appearance because I packed on a few too many pounds.
I didn’t want to be physical because I thought I looked bad. Few women will admit it, but many know it’s true; some women hide from intimacy behind their size. The “simple” solution….you already know it. Lose the weight, every pound helps.
TWO: tiredness. Some women just do too many things in a day and are too tired to be interested in physical intimacy. If this is you, cut things out of your daily schedule that are non-essential like crafts, book reading, television watching, and so on, and go to bed early with your spouse! If you have time, take a short nap so you are refreshed and awake enough to be interested.
THREE: kids in your bed. Get the kids out of your bed and your bedroom. Your children do not need to sleep with you, even if you are nursing them! It is dangerous to have them in bed because they can be crushed as you sleep. It is also wrong to use the kids as a shield against intimacy. Even if they cry, like their little heart is breaking in the beginning I promise, your little one will be just fine in his or her own bed or crib.
You and your husband need the private time in your room that will grow your relationship. Once the kids are out of there, determine not to have difficult discussions in your bedroom either. There are most likely several other places to have unpleasant discussions in your home.
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, the place that is uniquely yours as a couple. Fix it up in a way that stirs up romance and desire. If the television is a distraction, get it out of there and replace it with soft, sensual music. Repaint, recover, or redecorate if you can afford it. These things are simple and will help your mindset turn toward romance.
These are only a few of the more basic complaints and cures to think about if your marriage is a mess.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
With self care, a woman flourishes. Yet we women often stumble into a dangerous trap: self neglect.
A while back, I counseled a woman who felll into self-neglect after months of caring for ill relatives, one after another. She ran their errands, took them to the doctor, cooked and cleaned and cared for them. Then she hit extreme exhaustion that brought of depression. Her adult son cared for her!
When you neglect yourself, it’s tough to be the mom-friend-worker-wife God desires. You may become anxious, angry, moody, and self-absorbed. You may also become physically and spiritually weak. Self care is taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It is whole health wellness.
In this short article, you’ll discover:
- Self care is not selfish.
- 7 signs of self-neglect.
Self Care Is NOT Selfishness
There’s a Grand Canyon-sized difference between selfishness and self care.
As mentioned, self care is taking care of your emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs with a heart motivation of loving God and loving others. Wouldn’t you agree healthy self care is good since your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, ESV
On the flip side, selfishness is putting yourself above everyone else. Your needs, your wants, your everything prevails. This is neither healthy nor caring.
Jesus prioritized the most important attitudes and actions:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:25-28, NIV
7 Signs of Self Neglect
Neglecting self care may signal a need to show greater care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, and in turn, God. Are any of these true of you?
1. You want to lose excess weight.
2. You have fatigue because you lack sleep and exercise.
3. Your emotions are frazzled.
4. You lack laughter.
5. You spend little meaningful time with friends in real life.
6. Your financial budget spells stress stress and more stress.
7. You think God doesn’t love you or care or is too busy elsewhere.
If you’ve gotten off track, you can choose self care out of love for God. You can lose weight, get great sleep, start walking, have better emotions, laugh again, spend time with friends, get financial peace, and know that God loves you.
God promises to change your heart. Why not choose selfless self-care?
Just for You
Download: Get this New Priorities and Planning download.
Counseling: Would you like biblical help in making better choices–emotional or spiritual? Contact me and we’ll set up a time to talk in person or by Skype.
Free journal: Sign up here to receive your “Transform Your Throughts Journal.”
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Don’t you agree a routine that helps any Christian woman is a stress-free family budget that works?
As you may know, adjusting for inflation, wages for Americans have remain stagnant — or decreased while costs zoom. A story in Huffington Post reported that inflation-adjusted income for the median male worker at a few hundred bucks below what he earned in 1968. Yes, 1968. This is way before Apple this and Apple that.
So what’s a Christian woman to do? Here are 3 simple tips to achieve a no-stress budget:
1. Basics First
I know this is boooooring but track what you spend each month. Starting today keep of every dollar you spend from the electric bill to a pack of gum for a month. Then review your spending history. Do you see obvious places you can save money (like those phone apps you no longer use) OR should spend money (a dental checkup for you)?
The payoff: You are less likely to impulse buy, and you’re gaining control of your finances.
2. A Thousand Dollars
Make an emergency saving account and put $1,000 in it. If not today, tomorrow.
You may already know how you’d drop a thousand in this emergency savings account. Ideas: Hold a garage sale and put your earnings in the account. Or sell jewelry you no longer wear. Or sell other items on eBay or Craig’s List. Or get a part-time job and save your wages.
Just so you know, you may use this emergency account for unexpected emergencies to avoid using credit cards. Say your hot water heater blows. You already have money to buy a new one. As soon as possible build the emergency fund back up to $1,000.
The payoff: With $1,000 in savings, you know how you’ll pay for an unexpected car repair or other surprise bill.
3. Give money away
As crazy as this sounds, when you give money to a charity, a family in need, or whomever God nudges you to bless, you’ll have a sense of peace.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Mathew 6:24, NIV
The payoff: Less worry, more trust in God.
Resources for You!
DOWNLOAD: Here’s a resource to help you. Download New Priorities and Planning.
When a police officer phoned me at dawn and told me my mom died, a bible verse pierced my heart.
God spoke priorities that morning in my kitchen. He talked money.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:7, NIV
My mom loved to spoil me with the things she lacked growing up. She spoiled herself too. Shoes and clothes, some with price tags attached, spilled from her bedroom closet. Never-used kitchen gadgets overflowed drawers. She filled up with stuff love. Still. . .
I praise our God of hope that by the Holy Spirit, she became a believer in her last days.
My internet friend Carrie Stone was the first person I met who had a home foreclosure and career upheaval.
You can listen to her story of fear and foreclosure and more on this replay of my online radio talk show. Click this link. You may check out her book Defeating Fear here.
Then many For Sale signs poked lawns throughout my town. Friends lost their jobs. Husbands too. Teens hunted for fast-food work and few found it.
My husband switched careers. I found extra work to make ends meet. In the midst of the craziness, I’ve remembered the Bible verse I heard in my heart the day my mom died: We take no stuff to heaven. Stuff is stuff of next-to-no value.
My worth, your worth, isn’t determined by a back account balance or possessions. God determines your worth: YOU ARE ONE IN A MILLION.
Do you believe that you have amazing worth? What or who determines your worth?
What Financial Crisis Feels Like
Financial loss plays a huge part in emotional and spiritual life of a woman and her family. It can bring on feelings of anger, fear, and despair as well loss of self-confidence.
Second-guessing your decisions and actions suck up your energy and time, and spiral to more anger, fear and despair. “If only I had . . .” becomes a sick mantra.
On top of this, women and couples tend to keep money problems to themselves, compounding their shame. They fear what others will say. Sadly, some friends and family say highly painful things, like:
You should have known better.
You were irresponsible with money as a child. This prove you haven’t learned.
What did you do to lose your job?
How to Help Someone in Financial Crisis
3 things to do.
1. Listen attentively and do not judge. Consider asking, “How are you doing with this?”
2. If God have given you the ability to help financially, consider buying a week of groceries or paying a bill for the family in crisis. Ask your small group or Sunday school to help too.
3. Pray with your friend about God’s faithfulness and care. Great scriptures are Matthew 6:25-26, Isaiah 41:10, and Philippians 4:18,19.
3 things to avoid.
1. Hurtful responses are things like, “Didn’t you check out the history of the investment?” and “It could be worse” and “Look on the bright side.”
2. Make yourself available to support but do not take on their problem and try to solve it.
3. Don’t give unwanted financial advice. Rather, point her to church and community resources.
Ultimately, choose to trust Jesus. Say, “I will trust you, Jesus” when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed. God knows what you are going through and he has wonderful plans for all of his precious children.
Did you know that any crisis, including financial loss and unemployment, brings on emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil? As a certified biblical counselor who has help thousands women — especially through meetings on Skype and Google Hangout — I’d love to point your to hope too.
COUNSELING: Check out my counseling page to learn more.
WELCOME back to my SUPER SELF CARE series! Today is the finale. I pray you enjoyed reading this series as much as I loved writing it. Keep reading to hear the name of the big book giveaway AND a special announcement.
During this eight-week series, I promised a big book giveaway of five books Christian women love to a reader who left at least one comment on a SUPER SELF CARE post and whose name I chose randomly. (Each comment counted as one entry into the giveaway.) And the winner is. . .
A Southern gal who loves Jesus, dogs, and her friends, Becca commented on several posts in the series, increasing her chances to win. Her name was drawn by random. Congrats, Becca. The box of five books Christian women love will land at your home next week.
The Top 3
Here are links to the most popular posts in the eight week series, based on page views. They are:
1. Celebrate Friends IRL. . .and On-line — With over 4,400 views, it is my best-read post ever.
2. Is It Sinful to Diet?
3. A No-Stress Budget?
With a personal concern for self care — remember, self care is NOT selfish as long as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus — I’m making a special offer:
A 20-minute counseling intro with me at no cost to you.
If you’re considering this free offer, please stop by my counseling information page. You’ll gain a better understanding of biblical counseling and why it’s powerful and effective in hope and healing the heart. Send me a message and say why you want to try biblical counseling. I’ll contact you within the week. To send a message, click here.
May I pray for you?
Heavenly Father, your daughter is wonderfully and fearfully made. She is your masterpiece, fashioned to do good works that you’ve planned for her in advance. Help your daughter to reach out for godly counsel if this is your will for her now. Give her peace that surpasses understanding. May she know true contentment in you and experience the abundant life you have for her. Amen.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10