It can be difficult to know how to respond when our spouse’s actions negatively affect us. We want to be gracious people, as God has been gracious to us, but we also don’t want our grace to be taken advantage of and used as an excuse for our spouse to continue sinning.
How do we offer grace that empowers while still allowing our spouse to be responsible for any wrong or sinful habits? This is the challenge for many.
Grace that empowers gives us the strength to face and accomplish the tasks of life. We are freed to move toward our fullest potential without the fear of hang-ups holding us back.
On the other hand, when we enable we interrupt God’s basic law of sowing and reaping and prevent the natural cause and effect consequences he has in place. For example, when our spouse’s actions are damaging to our marriage but we pretend everything is “okay” just to keep the peace.
Placating difficult situations prevents our spouse from facing the hurt and pain of their decisions, and without experiencing certain consequences, their behavior is likely to continue.
Enabling has the appearance of grace, but is not grace at all.
For most of human history, we have been personally tied to the land we live on as a source of sustenance. In this modern age, advancements in technology have all but severed this connection. While there is a move back to more locally grown food, chances are the food you eat travels hundreds of miles to get to your table.
While there are undoubtedly advantages to our modern system, there is certainly much that has been lost due to the disappearance of a personal vested interest in the land.
For example, little thought goes in to what it takes to produce food pulled from a grocery store shelf or ordered at a fast food window. There is something about working the land with your own hands that makes you intimately aware of all that goes in to producing a sustainable crop. This awareness would naturally make you more vigilant in protecting and stewarding the land.
I can’t help but see the parallels in farming the land and cultivating a good relationship.
Many couples seek counseling to increase intimacy and feelings of closeness and connection. Likewise, these couples often report difficulty in the area of sexual desire, in particular, tension due to differing levels of sexual desire. Interesting to note, scholars and therapists have acknowledged an erotic paradox that exists in the area of intimacy and sexual desire, such that, desire hinges on wanting something which centers around mystery, unfamiliarity, distance, dangerousness, and the unknown. Intimacy on the other hand, hinges on closeness, connection, trust, familiarity, safety, and knowing or being known. Therefore, the question begs to be asked, how do couples balance these two paradoxical aspects of sexual desire and intimacy? How can couples balance mystery with familiarity, danger with safety, and distance with closeness?
Problems often arise in relationships where boundaries do not exist. When partners struggle to set proper boundaries resentment, anger, and feeling taken advantage of often arise, leading partners to blame one another for such feelings. While one partner may have acted in a hurtful manner, we are each personally responsible for setting our own boundaries, which then help us decide what we will and will not tolerate from our partner.
When there is a lack of healthy boundaries in relationships, choices are often made out of guilt, fear, or obligation. For example, saying “yes” and agreeing to something out of guilt or fear, when you really wanted to say “no”. Such exchanges only lead to further resentment. By not sharing our true thoughts, we disempower ourselves and quiet our voices. While the act of setting boundaries can be difficult, learning to do so can be an empowering experience, allowing us to regain our voice in the process.
This article was written for my friend Shaunti Feldhahn's website - Shaunti.com. It is copied here but I recommend you also view it and the comments on her website. While there, sign up for her email list. - Dr. Mike
When She Has the Stronger Sex Drive; Part One.
By Dr. Michael Sytsma
Conflict over sexual desire and frequency is the most common sexual issue causing distress in couples today. The age-old stereotype, of course, is that the husband wants sex all the time but the wife isn’t interested. Increasingly, though, we hear from wives who are trying to figure out what it means when they are the high-desire spouse and the husband doesn’t seem to want it as often. These women want to know what on earth is going on and what to do.
Ladies, while you can’t change your husband, there is a path you can start down that can help remove the conflict related to sexual desire within your marriage – and bring hope for a great mutual connection.
But are you ready for the hard truth? As with many worthwhile changes, the first stage begins with you. So the focus of this Part One article is this:
Prepare Yourself Before Addressing it with Him
Conflict over sexual desire is often really difficult for couples to work through, especially since many don’t have the critical tools they need. Since you must understand each other to make progress, the most important tool is good communication. So….how are you at that? If you personally can’t talk about finances, in-laws, or parenting without getting defensive, shutting down, or blowing up, it is unlikely you will be able to talk about the emotional topic of sexual intimacy without doing the same. If you need to, first seek some help learning good, solid communication skills.
Next, prepare yourself to address this well. Keep in mind that beautiful flowers grow when we have provided the proper soil, nutrients, and moisture. Similarly, here are three critical steps you can work on to build a great environment for addressing this important topic with your husband.