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Gospel Centered Marriage

Marriage Resources from Brad Hambrick

2017-8-1

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy - Part 5

If you do a good job applying chapter four and have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of intercourse, then you may be wondering, “Is there really anything else we need to know? Let us go and do our thing already.” Which brings up an important point, you can be so intentional that sex becomes mechanical and loses its passion.


There is still more to learn – things that can enhance your sexual experience and common obstacles to avoid – but do not fall into the pattern of thinking that you need a “Masters in Sexology” in order to enjoy a satisfying sex life.


Sex is not unlike tennis. You can enjoy the game whether or not you know all the fundamentals and strategies. Many people who have never had a tennis lesson enjoy the game more than the “professionals.” You can lose your love of the game in the effort to master the game.


But there are some basic principles and advanced strategies that those who excel at tennis share in common. Most of those who love the game of tennis over a long period of time either pick up on these or seek ways to learn them. Likewise, this material is intended to reinforce those things that you naturally do well and refine those areas where you are not getting the optimal, mutual enjoyment from your romantic efforts.


In this chapter, we will pick up where we left off last chapter. In the last chapter we did not get any more physically intimate than a passionate kiss and caressing your spouse’s cheek. Hopefully you now have a much greater appreciation for how much affection can be communicated and passion generated from romance available while your clothes are still on.


Now we will transition to the point where you communicate to each other that you would like this romance to “lead to something else.” For many couples this can be an awkward juncture. Initiating sex can be a point ripe for confusion (“I didn’t know that’s what you were asking”), crudeness (“I don’t like it when you talk about sex that way”), or rejection (“I know you’re [legitimate reason], but it hurts when you decline my initiation”). So we will discuss the challenges and opportunities around initiating sex.


Then we will look at how to understand, protect, and build upon the phases of arousal in intercourse. Arousal should build momentum. When you build upon it, the experience escalates into something increasingly wonderful. But when you break the momentum it can be hard to regain it. The better we understand the physical and emotional processes that contribute to arousal’s momentum the more consistently (never perfectly) we will use it in our favor.


Finally, we will refocus ourselves on the real meaning of sex. The goal of marital sex is not to have the intensity and synchronization of your orgasms perpetually increase. Aging bodies won’t allow that. Pinnacle experiences never sustain a life-long relationship. Even in marriages with the most vibrant sex lives, sex comprises only 60 minutes of their week at most (three occurrences lasting 20 minutes each). It’s the other 167 hours that will define the relationship. Sex, at its best, only celebrates the other 167 hours. We will consider how to remind ourselves of this truth and of those facets of our relationship with God which sex was given to teach us.

2017-8-1

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy - Part 4

How do you feel as we get ready to talk about sex? Nervous, excited, guilty, awkward, self-conscious, aroused, or tired of me asking question and ready to get the conversation started? Surprising to many people, the first step towards a great sex life is the ability to talk about sex. Sex is a “team sport” and communication is essential to anything involving the synchronization of two people’s bodily movements (not to mention schedules and emotions).


For many couples the most beneficial thing they will gain from this chapter and the next will be a conversation guide. Hopefully, the content will be informative and stimulating, but what they really need most-first is a series of positively-framed prompts to have some awkward but exciting conversations they may only try to have when one of them thinks “the moment is right” and the other is not so sure.


But even when there is agreement on the frequency and initiation of sex, communication is paramount to a healthy and thriving sex life. Talking about sex should not just be educational (i.e., learning what your spouse does and does not enjoy), but also arousing (i.e., part of the foreplay and building of a healthy sexual tension between husband and wife which adds to the climax of intercourse).


“Many couples find it uncomfortable to initiate sexual conversations and openly discuss individual needs and desires (p. 16)… Great sex is based on mature lovers who can be honest with themselves and with their mates. They are self-aware and assertively communicate (p. 17).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex
2017-8-1

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy - Part 3

What is the love story mold into which you want your marriage to grow? Cinderella, Pretty Woman, Snow White, Titanic, Gone with the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sleepless in Seattle, Grease, Jerry Maguire, Dirty Dancing, etc…? Whether the plot line comes from Hollywood cinema or not, we all have an ideal “narrative” we want our marriage to follow.


As one friend of my wife pointed out, “All chic-flicks are about the same thing. The guy does everything the girl wants to win the girl’s love and attention. She gets to be a god.” The same could be said of the pornographic films to which many men are becoming addicted, “The girl does everything the guy wants to win his love and attention. He gets to be a god.”


This is the really dangerous parts about our ideal love stories (even more than sexual lust); we are a god in the story–the story centers on us. Everyone else, including God, is a supporting actor in our story. This tendency doesn’t go away when we get married. In fact, for many people, it only gets worse as we try to make our “forever relationship” into the “happily ever after” we’ve been creating with each book we read and move we watch. This was the human tendency before modern media, but the multi-billion dollar, idealized story-telling industry greatly exacerbates the tendency.


In this chapter we want to combat these tendencies in two ways:


  1. Examine how and where a non-gospel narrative takes root and gains power in your marriage.
  2. Discover simple, powerful practices to keep the gospel as the grand narrative of your marital love.


In order to help you appreciate how we’ll approach these two things, consider the following question, “How does a news story catch traction and gain definition in our modern media?” The answer is “sound bites” – a clip is played over and over, and opposite sides compete so their phrase is used to describe the event.

 

This is more than political theatre or the product of cramming world news into a 30 minute program. It is a basic human tendency played out on a large scale. We give things meaning and reinforce that meaning through frequently repeated small messages or images. This is as true of individuals as it is of cultures.


Where does it happen for individuals? In our self-talk, the things we replay in our minds. As Paul Tripp is fond of saying, “No one is more influential in your world than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.” We spin (for better or worse) the events of our lives and quality of our marriage in our own mind constantly. The bias of our “coverage” will either be gospel-gospel-gospel or self-self-self.