Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading the Bible Together

Hey all,

Finally getting to a reader question about reading the Bible together as a couple: "What are some good ways that you guys have found that allow couples can get into the bible together?"

This has been an issue that Melissa and I have struggled with ourselves throughout the course of our relationship. From the day we started dating, we have tried to make reading the Bible together a priority in our relationship.

Here are a handful of the things we have learned:

1) Just like an individual relationship with God has ups and downs, so will your combined time with God. We have had stretches that we have done fantastic with setting aside time and we have had other times that we have done a horrible job. As you talk about your collective relationship with God, keep in mind this will be a conversation that will need to be revisited from time to time.

2) People connect with God differently. This was, and continues to be, the biggest struggle for us with spending time reading the Bible together. We simply approach and respond to the Bible differently. I like to read and then dive deeper into the notes or a commentary and then discuss it at length. Melissa likes to read a passage and then just let it sink it. We had to learn, and continue to learn, that this is ok and that one approach is not right or wrong, just different. At times we do it my preferred way, other times we do it her way and other times we find something in the middle. (For more about this, check out our past blog called "The Best Present Ever."

3) Unfortunately, we have not found very many resources to be helpful. We have tried a handful of devotionals written for couples and tend to find most of them rather annoying and shallow…but we’re both pretty picky when it comes to these kind of materials. The one that we have found to like the most is Closer by Jim and Cathy Burns. Each devotional starts off with Scripture and then has a story to go along with the message. Personally, I think the discussion questions at the end are the best I have seen in a couple’s devotional as they are really practical and have led to some great conversations.

The biggest thing I’d recommend as far as devotionals or Bible Study materials is simply to try different things and see what works for you. Head to www.cbd.com and do a search for books and guides and see what you find.

A couple of hints for those on a tight budget:

- Many libraries will order books suggested through a very simply request process. That way you can try a handful of books without cost to you.

- Most publishers, and even Christian Book Distributors or Amazon, will provide a sample of their content online. This way you can go through a couple of devotionals for free to get a feel for the material.

4) We also like to listen to sermons and then talk about them afterwards. Sometimes we’ll listen to them together, especially during long car rides, and other times we’ll listen to them apart (even different ones) and then discuss them later. Some of our favorites are Rob Bell and Shane Hipps from Mars Hill Bible Church and Perry Noble from New Spring Church.

Hope this helps! We’d love to hear what devotionals, resources or books others have tried and enjoyed…we’re always looking for new ideas ourselves.

Jake

How do you and your significant other spend time together with God?
Is there a devotional or book you have used that you really enjoy?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Article on RelevantMagizine.com...

Taking the Missionary Position: Is It OK for Christians to Date non-Christians?

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationship/features/23202-taking-the-missionary-position

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sex and Babies

So, this is a reader question posted back in mid-September.  We're wicked sorry to not have gotten to it yet, things have been a bit nuts for Jake and I the past month, which I will share about in a moment.

Question is: "What is normal sex frequency? As you mentioned in your last post there is the idea that newlyweds should be having sex all the time. Should I be worried that we only have sex once a week? What is normal?"

Well, I can say from experience,  extensive reading, loads of counseling, and talking to many other couples at all stages of married life: There is no normal.  Sex is different for every single couple.  There is the mainstream ideal that newlyweds go at it like rabbits.  The truth is, some people might have a lot of sex, some people might have a medium amount of sex, and some very little.  What we have found very important in creating a satisfying sex life (which is still very much a work in progress) is communication and information. You can figure out what is "normal" for you and your hubby by discussing how much sex each of you expects and desires per week and what types of sex that means (slow, quickie, precluded by a date or a day out together, etc.) Our counselor back in MA told us not to freak out if you find you have different desires, most people do.  Sometimes women want it more, sometimes men do.  Try and work out a compromise that satisfies both of you. 

Secondly, arm yourselves with information.  Talk to other couples (only if you feel comfortable doing so). Jake and I are super open, sorry Dad-In-Law who prob. will not read this post, and find that relating to other people opens up a huge wealth of helpful tips.  Second, read all you can about sex.  There's a lot out there that is trash and but there are some really good books.  For a scientific understanding of sex that totally blew our minds and completely changed how we viewed sex try, "Hooked" by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr. & Freda McKissic Bush, MD. There is a link to it on if you scroll down to the bottom right of this blog and click on "recommended reading".  Another great book about how men and women view sex and how to make sex work with those differences is, "Mars and Venus in the Bedroom" by John Gray Ph.D." which you can also find on Amazon or his web-site: www.marsvenus.com.

We hope this helps you and your spouse to open up some lines of communication and create an enjoyable sex life.

And finally along the same lines Jake and I would like to briefly share about our last month.  We want to be open about things here, in hopes that it helps other couples dealing with similar issues to not feel alone and to gain hope.  As many of you know Jake and I have been hoping to start a family for about two years now.  Last month with the help of a very often used fertility drug, Clomid, I found out that I was pregnant.  Obviously we were both very excited as we had been waiting and trying so long.  About a week and a half later,  I had to go into the doctors because of a cyst and they did blood-work which indicated that the pregnancy was not a healthy one and that I would miscarry the baby.  The next day I did end up having a miscarriage.  This is something very normal and happens much more than most people realize.

Many women go through this alone and I find that heartbreaking.  I was glad that we had told people.  Even though I process things by myself, knowing that all our friends and family were praying was so encouraging.  We had a sad week, but Jake and I felt the Lord's love and provision for us every day.  We are doing well and the doctors are very positive and hopeful that we will at some point be able to have a healthy baby.  God is good and his timing is perfect. He designed our bodies to have this happen when a baby will not be able to survive in this world, and we know (even though it's just really weird to think about) that our little one is fully healthy and happy with Him right now.  We'll let you all know when there is hopefully some good news to share and until then we would love prayers for....well for fertility I guess!  

-Melissa



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Sickening Couple Syndrome

Before I get into a question sent in by one of our readers, I'd like to share a quick book review. Good marriage resources can be hard to find, so when Jake or I find one we're going to be sharing it with ya'll!

The book I'd like to share is called, "Have a New Husband by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. Dr. Leman is a nationally known psychologist who has talked about relationships and marriage on The View, Fox & Friends, Today, The Early Show, American Morning, Life Today, and The 700 Club. He has also served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.

Contrary to it's title, this book does not tell us wives how to change our husbands into the men of our dreams by the end of the week. But what it DOES do is provide in-depth explanations of how many different types of men function and how women can understand their men better. Dr. Leman does not sugarcoat things. He dives deep into both the negative & positive issues that have helped form our men into who they are today. He doesn't hold back on challenging women to communicate to men in ways that their gender will understand and respond to. In striving for a better understanding of their spouses, women can then change how they act and communicate towards them....this produces the "new husband". Dr. Leman's goal in this book is for wives to gain the change in their marriages that they desire, but to gain it by having a clear understanding of who their unique spouse is and how that spouse communicates and functions in daily life. Great read. If you'd like to find this book, click here "Recommended Reading." What comes up on page 1 always changes so just scroll through the books if you don't see it right away.

A blog reader sent Jake and I the following question: "My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and are now dating more seriously - I question how much autonomy is necessary and good as far as time with others, serving in different arenas (at church or in the community) when you are dating with the intention of marriage or does it depend on the people and stage of dating?"


Our Thoughts:

At some point in any relationship a couple will go through the "Sickening Couple Syndrome."

This is when a couple can't get enough of each other. They spend all their time together, talk about the other constantly, and spend nights dreaming about the perfect person they have found. Usually people ditch their friends for a while at this juncture and can really seem to forget they have a life outside of Mr. or Miss love of the moment. This is normal, it's the infatuation stage of love and after about 6 months or so it usually wears off. (*Note - As all Gordon people going to school with Jake and I will tell you, this stage lasted waaaaayyy longer than normal for us. We were annoyingly too much together...and honestly much more involved than we should have been at that point.)

It seems as though you and your boyfriend are past the infatuation stage as you have an awareness that time and friends need to be at a healthy place. This is good. As I mentioned above, Jake and I learned about autonomy the hard way. Meaning we ditched our friends, meshed our entire lives together, and spent all our time together by the end of year one and stayed that way until right about the time we got engaged, 3 years later. So from experience what I can say is this. If you are dating make sure that you both keep your friends. Guy friends and girlfriends are invaluable to you as individuals and to your relationship. You should discuss and decide for yourselves how much time you think is healthy for your relationship to be spent apart on separate friendships. Every relationship is different.

The same goes for serving in ministries or engaging in activities. If you're not married, there should be some separation of those things. It's important to maintain who you are as individuals. That being said, it's also ok to do some of those things together. Shared interests and goals probably have a lot to do with why you two are dating in the fist place.

The key is balance. If you have a mindset towards balance, then you're on the right path. Yeah, sometimes you'll choose your man over your girlfriend and sometimes you'll find that you've spent the entire week together. Just make time the next week for friends and doing some things apart. It's always a work in progress.

Once you get married, you'll find that you have to mesh more of your lives together and spend more time together. But balance is important even in marriage. Jake and I have found how important it is to have separate friend and interests. It keeps things healthy and gives us stuff to talk about!

Hope that helps. - Melissa


Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.