We all have to work, right? I mean we gotta work to survive and thrive. Some of us have jobs that we really love, and some of us have jobs (or school) that can be pretty demanding. There is nothing wrong with having a job that you love and are passionate about. But there is always a danger of work getting in the way of intimacy with your partner.
I’ve experienced this with my husband. He loves his job in insurance, but he is in a season where he works 12-13 hour days. His work schedule can be pretty hard because we’re not spending as much time together than we usually do. So we have had to work a little harder to promote intimacy with each other. Here are a few things we’ve done to encourage intamcy and continue to strengthen our marriage.
1. Communicate Your Love
Like the late songbird Whitney Houston sang, “how do I know that he really loves me?” You won’t know unless your told! My husband and I need reassurance that we still love and are attracted to each other. You can do this by leaving little notes for your partner to see: write a love message on a sticky note, or text them a sweet message, or surprise them with a small gift or card. A little goes a long way. Leave no room for speculation or doubt by telling your partner directly you love them.
2. Carve Out Time for Each Other
I know there can be times where it feels like we literally have no time to even breathe or eat, but its important to make time for the ones we love. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Even if its just an hour or two to share a cup of coffee together in the morning, or a saturday night to watch a movie together, or do something new together. Make the time. There’s an old saying that goes like this: love is spelled: T-I-M-E.
3. Cuddle More
Studies show cuddling is a great way to deepen love between spouses. Cuddling (hugging as well) releases the brain hormone oxytocin. This hormone makes you feel a connection with your spouse and deepens intimacy. Dr. Katherine Harmon studies the power of touch and found that cuddling also is shown to reduce anxiety and stress by increasing brain hormones like oxcytocin and dopamine (which makes you feel good) and lowers cortisol (a stress hormone)which could give you a better sleep. So if youre feeling especially disconnected from your spouse, get your cuddle (or hugging) on! Cuddle your spouse in the evenings and mornings before you start your day.
Intimacy is so important in marriage. When we’re married and just living our lives, its easy to get comfortable with our spouses and feel like we dont have to work too hard to woo our spouse anymore. Dont fall for that trap! Work to continue to woo your spouse and love on your spouse. But, intimacy is important outside of marriage too: if you have a boyfriend or friend or family member you’re not spending as much time with, find time to reach out or spend time with them whenever possible.
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Divorce sucks. When it happens, it affects everyone-not just the husband and wife. My parents divorced when I was in high school, and the experience hurt. But I learned a lot examining my parents marriage-the highs, the lows and its eventual end taught me a lot of lessons that I draw upon now as a wife. Hopefully these lessons help you too.
1. Communicate as Much as You Can
As an introvert, I struggle sometimes with communicating with my spouse. I find it easier to withhold my thoughts and feelings and retreat into the safety of my mind. But I learned its better for the relationship to talk about any concerns or thoughts you have. Because your spouse wont know how you’re feeling until you tell them. Satan comes to destroy your marriage. He hates unity. He will speak lies to you about your spouse and continue to tell them until you believe it.
Satan: “He doesn’t think you look good in that outfit. In fact he thinks you’re ugly and wishes he was with his ex.”
Wife: “Does he still think about his ex? Does he think I’m ugly?”
By communicating, you put a stop to these lies and get the truth from your spouse yourself instead of assuming. Don’t be afraid to be real with your spouse. Ask him directly, “do you think I’m beautiful?” And don’t be afraid to talk back to those lying thoughts.
Wife: “that’s not true! My husband thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the world!”
Speaking of beauty, I’ve noticed insecurities can lead to assumptions. Which can also lead to arguments. Leading to my next point.
2. Assume the Best, Not the Worst
This one can be tricky because if you’re offended, its easy to assume your husband intentionally tried to hurt you. Especially if the offense is rooted in an insecurity. Insecurities are like healing scars: if you poke or pick at it, it’ll sting. If our spouse unintentionally (or intentionally) pokes at your insecurity, it can hurt a lot. The best thing to do is to first communicate with your spouse and tell them you were hurt by them. Try your best not to attack or assume they intentionally tried to hurt you. I’ve learned the best thing to do with insecurities is recognize them, and grow from it. Assuming things about your spouse can be perceived as disrespectful. You never want to disrespect your spouse.
3. Unconditional Respect
We’ve all heard of unconditional love, but what about unconditional respect? I’ve learned that respect and love are equally important in marriage. Even the apostle Paul talks about the importance of respect as being as important as love in marriage. He commands the husband in Ephesians 5:25-33 to “love his wife as Christ loved the church and died for it…let everyone of you love his wife even as himself.”
But he also adds in verse 33 “…and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” As wives, we are to respect our husbands. Yes, our husbands should respect us too, but Paul specifically commands wives to respect their husbands. Why would he say this? I believe its because he knew respect is as important to men as love is to women and there would be times where we don’t want to respect our husbands. I’ve learned that respect is something that, when lacking, can cause lasting damage in a marriage. It can cause spouses to be embittered by one another. If a person doesn’t feel respected, they will find respect elsewhere.
Respect, like love, is a basic marital need. There will be times when I don’t feel my husband deserves respect, but I give it because in marriage, respect isn’t earned its required. More on this love and respect principle can be viewed in this awesome book: “Love and Respect: the love she most desires and respect he desperately needs” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs which I’ve linked below.
Love and respect in marriage helps maintain unity in marriage like a glue. Glue is a perfect Segway to my next lesson, which is:
4. Keep the Unity
Unity is so important in marriage. I don’t just mean staying together forever. I also mean unity in goals for your lives. Before we got married, we spoke about life goals together and ensured we agreed on things like: children, pets, home ownership, debt, career goals, etc. We had to make sure we were both on the same page, or else we would not be unified on these topics. Jumping back on that respect point, I make sure never to disrespect or talk bad about my spouse to others including family. Because that will bring division. Speaking of family, family can be a cause of division in marriage. I spoke on this in a previous post called I married you, not your family
It’s important to set up appropriate boundaries with family members, and ensure the family knows your spouse is to be respected as another member of the family. An important member of the marriage should be: Jesus.
5. Keep God in the Center
Keeping God in the center of your marriage will do wonders for your marriage and even before your marriage. Ask yourselves: Does God want us to be together in the first place? Plead the blood of Jesus over your marriage daily. Pray for and with each other. Go to church together.
Make sure your heart is right with the Lord so you can love and serve your spouse the way you should. If you include God in your marriage, you will never be disappointed. Finally, the last one which is:
6. Divorce is Never an Option
Jason and I do as much as we can to ensure divorce is never an option for us. By not only implementing the lessons above, but also loving on each other, serving each other, keeping ourselves at our best so we maintain attraction for each other, and keeping our marriage first (after God). Of course, I understand there are instances where divorce should definitely happen, and God is able to make every broken situation into a beautiful one. I want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure its never an option.
Reiterating what I said above: I think divorce sucks. Divorce is like a bomb. Once its dropped it damages everything in its path: the children, the spouses, your finances, your home. So I want to do everything in my power to ensure divorce is not an option for myself and my husband.
****Just to be frank, I am not trying to control or coerce anyone to do anything. I am NOT a doctor, or nurse. Everyone’s situation is different. My goal here is to inform and tell my story. Do your own research, consult your doctor, and make a decision based on what’s best for you.****
Before I got married last July, I started on birth control. I was actually kind of excited because I felt like a “lady” taking her birth control pills. I laugh at my naïveté now, but back then taking birth control was a big deal for me! You see, before I got married I was told by family members that women on both sides of my family are super fertile and as soon as I have sex, I’ll have a baby! As, a a woman who wasn’t ready to have kids yet (and also a twin!), I was quick to start popping birth control pills. I didn’t understand that women are only fertile for a short period of time (around 6 days) after the date of your last period. While the pill did prevent pregnancy, they destroyed my body in so many ways: I experienced hair loss, I was tired literally all the time which got in the way of my school work, I had deep abdominal pain, I developed a fibroid (a benign tumor), and I was moody a lot.
After doing some research I discovered the pill is associated with the symptoms I had. I recently started reading the book Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten, a nutritional biochemist and leading expert in women’s medicine. Dr. Brighten explains in her book how the pill can wreak havoc on your body and is associated with symptoms like anxiety, depression, low sex drive, fibroids, fatigue, hair loss, and even cancer.
Dr. Brighten also speaks on how to restore your body to its best state after the pill and while you’re taking the pill. Dr. Brighten also details what medical test to take to determine what hormones may be off balance, and provides supplement, food and recipe recommendations for those needing to get their hormones back on track both on and off the pill.
So onto the juicy stuff: how to prevent pregnancy without the help of birth control. Again, everyone is different but I believe the tips I provide can be beneficial to every woman.
Number 1: Track your period!
First things first, you need to track your period. Most women’s cycle lasts around 26-28 days. This is the cycle when the body prepares for pregnancy by producing an egg. This counts as the first day of first period to the first day of the period of the next month. There are multiple apps to track your period, one of the ones I use that is great for any forgetful woman is the health app on the iPhone. It’s great because the app will remind you to track your period if you haven’t started tracking it yet. The app allows you to track symptoms and how long your period lasts. It will then predict when your next period could start and when your fertile days are (super important, keep this in mind for later). Other great apps are the Clue app (in-app purchases), Flo Period Tracker App (in-app purchases), and Period tracker app.
Number 2: Know when you’re fertile days are!
Using your app, plan for when your fertile days are! Again you are only fertile on five to six days after your period ends. Five to six days a month. I was so naïve to think as soon as I have sex without the pill, I will have a baby!
Number 3: Find your method for protection
Now, knowing that women are only fertile for five to six days a month, you could simply not have sex on those days. While the pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if used perfectly, and 91% effective, according to Planned Parenthood, if not used effectively which is very good. But, there are other methods you could use. You could combine two effective methods: condoms and withdrawal. According to Planned Parenthood, male condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy if used perfectly, and 85% effective if not used effectively. Another way of protection is withdrawal. According to Planned Parenthood, withdrawal is 96% effective if done perfectly, and 78% effective if not done perfectly. So, one could combine these two methods for more preventative power!
Again, everyone is different, and everyone’s situation is different. So please keep that in mind for your own plans. You don’t have to get on the pill to prevent pregnancy. There are other ways to prevent pregnancy without experiencing the debilitating side effects like fatigue, hair loss, fibroids, or even breast cancer (the pill increases risk of breast cancer by 20-30%). Once I got off the pill two months ago, my cycle was a little wonky for a month but I’ve returned to my regular cycle. And, a lot of my bad symptoms have subsided since I’ve given up the pill.