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Sexual Attraction Isn't as Important as You Think, Here's Why
Within the past few months, several different people have posed questions to me about the importance of sexual attraction.  - A young woman asked, “I am in a dating relationship with a great guy. We connect on a lot of levels, but I’m not sexually attracted to him. When we kiss, it’s more like kissing my brother. Does this mean we shouldn’t get married?” - A man wrote, “I just got married and discovered that I have no physical attraction to my new wife. If I had known this earlier, I would never have gotten married. What now?” - Many single Christians have sex in dating relationships just to make sure there is a strong element of sexual attraction and compatibility. Is this a good idea?  God created physical and sexual attraction to draw us to one another. When you are attracted to someone, your brain lights up with dopamine, testosterone, and estrogen. This draw can be so strong that you can’t think about anything else other than the person you are attracted to. This desire is good because it compels us to pursue intimacy in relationships. Otherwise, we might be content to throw ourselves into work or hobbies without seeking deep, meaningful relationships.  However, the power of physical and sexual attraction is short-lived and cannot sustain a relationship in the long run. God created different hormones and brain chemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin to keep us connected to someone we love.  While sexual attraction can be a wonderful gift, I believe it is overemphasized in today’s conversations about dating and marriage.  In his book “Counterfeit Gods,” Timothy Keller reminds us that even in Old Testament times, sexual and romantic connections were over-emphasized, making a good thing into a god thing. He tells the story of Jacob and how his blind obsession with the beautiful Rachel led to a series of dysfunctional patterns in his life and relationships. Keller points out, “Romantic love is an object of enormous power for the human heart and imagination, and therefore can excessively dominate our lives.” This is even more true in today’s culture that touts sexual and romantic fulfillment as necessary elements to a meaningful life and relationship. More than meets the eye.  Marriage is a long journey. It is absolutely essential that you build a friendship with the person you will spend your life with. While physical and sexual attraction fade with familiarity, true friendship in marriage can grow deeper with time. Now in my fifties, I look back at pictures of my husband and me when we were first married. I meet with friends my age who look much different than they did thirty years ago. Less hair, weight gain, sagging skin, and wrinkles testify to years spent on this planet. Some of my friends are still deeply in love with one another after decades of marriage. Others, not so much. The difference has nothing to do with physical attraction. The ones who have stayed connected have a deep appreciation for each other’s character and personality: I love how Rob is such a hard worker. Kathy is so insightful. I rely on her wisdom every day.  Glenn and I have been on more adventures than we can count! Carmen’s relationship with the Lord makes me want to seek Him every day.  Instead of a laser-focused obsession on physical attractiveness, it’s far more important to look at the person you are attracted to. What do you love about his or her character, personality, and values? These will be far more important in the long run than how he kisses or what she looks like naked.  Sex is not the most important thing about your marriage.  A lot of couples struggle to understand the place of good sex within marriage. They hear from a secular, cultural perspective (and even in Christian circles) that marriage is all about sex. I had one couple recently ask me if they should get divorced because they have been physically unable to have intercourse in the first year of their marriage. “If we can’t have sex, what’s the point? Are we even married in God’s eyes?”  The overfocus on physical and sexual attraction often reveals a wrong understanding of the place of sex within marriage. Sexual intimacy is how we express and work out our love, not the foundation of it.  Marriage is first and foremost a covenant based on a promise to love each other. The most central aspect of marriage is the promise — the covenant. Sex is the bodily celebration of the covenant. When a married couple has sex, they are acting out with their bodies what they have covenanted to do with their whole lives: “I give myself in love to you.”  The fact that you didn’t have cake or a party on your birthday doesn’t invalidate the fact that you had a birthday. Similarly, sex doesn’t make your marriage; It is a regular celebration of your marriage. Don’t get me wrong, the celebration is important! The couple who can’t have intercourse shouldn’t accept that as their lifelong reality. God wants them to work toward a sexual celebration, even if limited by physical or emotional wounds.  The sexiest thing about a person in a long-term relationship is their character. Will they be faithful to love, honor, and cherish each other? Will they work to create a safe emotional and relational environment? The overemphasis on physical attraction can actually work against your covenant love. In essence, a person is saying, “I don’t want to be married unless I’m fulfilled sexually. I don’t want to have to work too hard to love you.” What if you meet someone down the road you are even more attracted to? Will you choose to follow your attractions? Or will you discipline your feelings to align with your character?  Whether because of waning attraction or other hardships, marriage will be difficult. Make sure your relationship is rooted in your commitment, not in the celebration of that commitment.  Attraction is something you work on. I went through a season several years ago where I was losing my attraction for my husband. All I could see during this period of time were his faults. Although I never thought of divorce, I also didn’t look forward to the many decades we might have in front of us.  At that time, God brought a mentor, Linda Dillow, into my life. I didn’t tell Linda about the battle in my mind, but she somehow knew how to encourage me. Whenever I spent time with her, she began pointing out what a wonderful man I had married. She specifically named the positive qualities she saw in my husband. I also began to read Linda’s book "What’s it Like to Be Married to Me?" Convicted, I got out a sheet of paper and began to write down everything I appreciated about my husband — his physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities. He makes me laugh. He has broad shoulders. He is an encourager. He faithfully provides for our family.  After I had filled a page with these qualities, I was in tears and began confessing to the Lord how I had been focused on all the wrong things. Yes, my husband has faults — physical, emotional, and spiritual — as do I. I realized that I will see what I choose to focus on.  This is true of every relationship. When you choose to stop comparing your spouse to some illusive image of perfection and begin to appreciate what is good, you will grow in attraction. The most important thing about you is what you consistently choose. Your feelings, even your attractions, will follow your choices.  God has many wonders to unfold for you in marriage, attraction and sexual fulfillment among them. Enjoy each season of physical and sexual attraction as gift, but a fleeting one at that.    Here are some other resources you might like: Q&A: How Do I Connect With My Emotionally Disconnected Husband? (video) Q&A: Should Sex Be Pleasurable for Both Men and Women? (video) Is Sex Sabotaging Love In Your Marriage? (blog) What's the Purpose of Your Sexuality, Really? (blog)
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Masturbarse: ¿Está mal?
Ya que mi trabajo consiste en hablar con mujeres acerca del sexo, hay pocas preguntas que no haya escuchado y que no haya respondido. Sin embargo, hay una pregunta muy común que no me gusta responder. ¿Está bien masturbarse? Esta pregunta es un poco complicada porque la Biblia nunca menciona la masturbación. Estoy casi segura de que incluso en tiempos bíblicos, la masturbación era algo con lo que los cristianos luchaban y les causaba preguntas. Dios fue muy claro al dar detalles específicos sobre la inmoralidad sexual de otros actos sexuales, pero no dijo nada específico en la Biblia acerca de la masturbación. Podría tomar la salida fácil y decir “Si lo dudas, no lo hagas.” El hecho es que muchas mujeres cristianas se masturban y se sienten muy culpables al respecto. He conocido a otras mujeres que sienten más vergüenza debido a la masturbación que a tener relaciones sexuales en una relación de noviazgo.  La masturbación es un asunto complicado que no brinda una respuesta clara. Quiero ser realista en cuanto a la lucha sin llegar a dar una libertad que quizás Dios mismo no ha dado.  En el nivel estrictamente biológico, la masturbación no es muy diferente de otras cosas que hacemos con nuestro cuerpo—como hurgarse la nariz. Los niños pequeños hacen ambas. Tocan su cuerpo por todas partes y vuelven a tocar los lugares en donde sienten placer. Los niños y niñas rápidamente descubren que se siente bien tocar sus “partes privadas”. A medida que los niños crecen, los padres sabiamente les enseñan que no es apropiado tocar algunas partes del cuerpo en público. Así como les enseñan a no hurgarse la nariz en público.  Pero, ¿por qué hurgarse la nariz tiene un estigma vergonzoso pero no moral, mientras que la masturbación se ha cargado de una tremenda culpa y vergüenza? Si bien no hay nada intrínsecamente malo en tocarse para experimentar placer, la masturbación se convierte en un problema moral porque involucra la sexualidad. Nuestra sexualidad tiene implicaciones morales y espirituales intrínsecas. En 1 Corintios 6, Pablo enseña que lo que comemos realmente no importa, pero lo que hacemos con nuestro cuerpo sexualmente es espiritualmente significativo. ¿Quiere esto decir que la masturbación es siempre un pecado? Muchos ministerios cristianos consideran la masturbación igual a ver pornografía o a pensar en fantasías sexuales. Creo que la pregunta necesita un poco más de consideración. Aquí hay algunas cosas que debes considerar al evaluar el problema dadas tus circunstancias personales. 1) El pensamiento es lo que cuenta. La masturbación, a menudo, se trata más del hecho de insistir en cosas sexuales y promover el pensamiento lujurioso que de una liberación física. Si este es el caso, la Biblia es CLARA al mostrarnos que esta no es la voluntad de Dios para ti. Si bien la masturbación puede no llamarse específicamente pecaminosa, las fantasías sexuales que generalmente la acompañan sí lo son. Muchas mujeres solo se masturban cuando piensan o miran algo sexual. Como dijo Jesús, esto es "adulterio del corazón". "Pero yo les digo que cualquiera que mira a una mujer y la codicia ya ha cometido adulterio con ella en el corazón." (Mateo 5:28). Cada vez que miras, lees o piensas en algo sexual con el propósito de excitarte (a excepción de una pareja casada que piense sexualmente el uno en el otro), estás promoviendo pensamientos lujuriosos. Para muchas mujeres, esta es una tentación constante. Es difícil quitarse de la cabeza los pensamientos e imágenes sexuales. Mi mentora (y cofundadora de Authentic Intimacy) Linda Dillow da un gran consejo sobre esto: no puedes controlar lo que te viene a la mente, pero sí puedes controlar lo que se queda ahí. Cuando sientas la tentación de mirar pornografía o pensar en una imagen o fantasía sexual, saca ese pensamiento en lugar de dejar que infecte tu mente. Si esto es algo con lo que luchas regularmente, piensa en una estrategia AHORA. ¿Qué puedes hacer para poner tu atención en otra cosa? ¿Llamar a una amiga, poner música de adoración o trabajar en un proyecto? 2) A Dios le importa tu corazón. La Biblia deja en claro que Dios se preocupa por nuestros motivos. Cuando hablo con una mujer que pregunta sobre la masturbación, me preocupa más lo que hay detrás de la lucha que el acto en sí. Muchas mujeres aprendieron (o incluso se les enseñó) a masturbarse a edades muy tempranas. Esto es particularmente cierto para aquellas que han sido violadas y "sexualizadas" en la niñez. Si bien nunca recomendaría la masturbación, reconozco que a veces la necesidad de masturbarse es un síntoma de problemas más profundos que deben abordarse. En ese caso, mi invitación sería a trabajar para sanar y restaurar una visión saludable de la sexualidad sagrada, lo cual es más fundamental para la integridad que tratar de eliminar la necesidad de masturbarse. Es más efectivo abordar la masturbación como una cuestión de madurez espiritual que como una cuestión de bueno y malo; de bien y mal. A medida que crezcas en tu caminar con Dios y vayas desarrollando una comprensión más completa de Su diseño para la sexualidad, la masturbación probablemente se convertirá en un problema menor. Dios te dará sabiduría que va más allá de una estrategia basada en tus propias fuerzas y control para suprimir el deseo sexual. Sin embargo, cuando todo tu enfoque está en controlar tus anhelos sexuales y en la vergüenza que sientes debido a la lucha, es posible que te encuentres atrapada en un patrón autodestructivo. Más importante que la pregunta, "¿Te estás masturbando?", me gustaría preguntar, "¿Estás avanzando hacia el diseño de Dios para tu sexualidad?" 3) Recuerda el propósito de la sexualidad. Nuestra sexualidad fue creada para invitarnos a vivir un amor comprometido, en el contexto de un pacto. Sin el deseo sexual, muy pocas personas pasarían por el sacrificio que se necesita para comprometerse a pasar su vida con otra persona. Estaríamos contentos con el trabajo, los pasatiempos y la amistad. Pero nuestra sexualidad nos impulsa a pensar en el romance, la pasión, la intimidad y la pertenencia a otra persona. Uno de los mayores peligros de la masturbación (junto con la fantasía, las relaciones sexuales, la erótica y la pornografía) es la creencia de que podemos satisfacer nuestras necesidades sexuales sin el pacto de amor. Creo que muchos hombres y mujeres jóvenes retrasan el matrimonio porque han aprendido a "cuidar" sus propios deseos sexuales en lugar de dirigir esos deseos hacia la búsqueda del amor de por vida. El problema es que nuestros cuerpos se despiertan sexualmente alrededor de los once (o incluso antes), en un momento en el que no estamos preparados financiera y emocionalmente para el matrimonio, sino hasta al menos una década después. Esta es una nueva tensión causada por los “avances” modernos que van desde las hormonas en nuestra comida hasta las crecientes demandas de lo que significa ser un adulto listo para el matrimonio. En los tiempos bíblicos, ¡el período entre el despertar sexual y la edad del matrimonio era mucho más corto! No es realista ni prudente (ni siquiera legal) alentar a los niños de doce años a buscar el matrimonio como respuesta a sus anhelos sexuales. Sin embargo, deberíamos preocuparnos por los hombres y mujeres en la edad adulta temprana que retrasan el matrimonio y la búsqueda romántica al redirigir su sexualidad hacia el placer propio. Sé que muchas mujeres solteras que leen este blog quieren una relación de pacto. El hecho es que hay más mujeres que hombres que tienen una mentalidad que apunta hacia el matrimonio. Las mujeres solteras son sexuales. Incluso aquellas que están comprometidos a mantener su mente y su cuerpo puro tienen hormonas sexuales, sueños y pensamientos que impactan sus cuerpos. Así como los hombres tienen "sueños húmedos", muchas mujeres se masturban y tienen orgasmos mientras duermen. Hay líderes cristianos que trabajan con solteros que creen que la masturbación puede ser una forma de mantenerse sexualmente puro hasta el matrimonio. Si bien tendría mucho cuidado al dar ese consejo, reconozco que para algunos, la masturbación es una forma de canalizar los impulsos sexuales lejos de la tentación de tener relaciones sexuales. Sin embargo, algunas investigaciones sugieren que la masturbación puede aumentar el deseo sexual en lugar de ayudar a aliviarlo. También debemos considerar que la masturbación promueve la creencia y la actitud de que la sexualidad se trata de placer personal. Algunos hombres y mujeres que se masturban con regularidad encuentran que tienen dificultades para aprender a compartir su sexualidad de manera adecuada una vez casados. Sólo saben cómo responder sexualmente al tocarse ellos mismos. 4) ¿Te está controlando?  El apóstol Pablo enseñó que "nada debe dominarnos". En otras palabras, no deberíamos ser controlados ni adictos a nada. Esto se aplica a la comida, las compras, las redes sociales y también a la masturbación. Para muchas mujeres, la masturbación puede convertirse en una forma de escapar del aburrimiento, la soledad, la depresión, el dolor y el estrés. Aprendemos, a una edad temprana, a relajarnos con algo que nos hace sentir bien. Algunas formas de lidiar con el estrés y el aburrimiento son claramente perjudiciales, como beber alcohol o cortarse. Otras formas de lidiar con ello son destructivas porque abusan de algo inherentemente bueno. Por ejemplo, la comida es un regalo maravilloso. Pero, comerme en una sola sentada todo el helado y todos los Doritos que pueda porque estoy sola es abusar de ese regalo. Lo mismo ocurre con la sexualidad. Las sustancias químicas liberadas en el cerebro durante el sexo y el orgasmo reducen el estrés, te ayudan a dormir y te hacen sentir en paz. Sin embargo, tener relaciones sexuales fuera del matrimonio o masturbarse habitualmente es un abuso de la respuesta natural del cuerpo al sexo. Si te masturbas con regularidad o usas la masturbación para lidiar con emociones negativas, te animo a que busques otras formas de afrontar esas situaciones. Dios nos dio formas saludables de liberar los químicos en el cuerpo que traen paz y alegría. La oración, la meditación, el ejercicio, hablar con un amigo o crear algo artístico pueden requerir más trabajo, pero son alternativas que pueden evitar caer en un ciclo adictivo. 5) ¿Estoy honrando a Dios con mi cuerpo? "¿Acaso no saben que su cuerpo es templo del Espíritu Santo, quien está en ustedes y al que han recibido de parte de Dios? Ustedes no son sus propios dueños; fueron comprados por un precio. Por tanto, honren con su cuerpo a Dios." (1 Corintios 6:19–20). Este versículo puede traer convicción con respecto a muchas decisiones que hacemos con nuestro cuerpo, pero fue escrito en el contexto de la sexualidad. Si hay una pregunta que debemos hacernos para saber cuál es el criterio de referencia, es esta; ¿estoy honrando a Dios con mi cuerpo? . Algunas ideas para las mujeres casadas: La pregunta más importante que le haría a una pareja casada en relación con el uso de la masturbación es: "¿Esto nos lleva a una mayor intimidad o interfiere con nuestra intimidad?" Hay una gran diferencia entre una esposa egoísta que se masturba porque le niega el sexo a su esposo y una esposa que se masturba con el propósito de construir intimidad con su esposo. Considera, por ejemplo, una pareja que se separa debido a una asignación militar o una enfermedad prolongada. ¿Es la masturbación algo que puede apoyar su matrimonio y sus votos de ser fieles el uno al otro? Es una cuestión tanto de acuerdo como de conciencia. Un esposo y una esposa deben hablar y orar juntos sobre la mejor manera de enfocarse sexualmente el uno en el otro cuando la intimidad sexual no es posible. La masturbación se convierte en un problema cuando es un secreto que ocultas de tu cónyuge, cuando se vuelve un reemplazo de la intimidad sexual o si los pensamientos sexuales van más allá de pensar solo en ustedes dos. Muchas mujeres casadas sólo pueden tener un orgasmo si se estimulan a sí mismas. Si bien animo a las mujeres en esta situación a trabajar para enseñarle a su esposo cómo complacerla (recomendaría el libro The Way to Love Your Wife de Cliff y Joyce Penner), no hay nada de malo en tocarse durante la intimidad sexual. Estás compartiendo una experiencia sexual con tu esposo. Crecer sexualmente requiere que exploren sus cuerpos juntos. La masturbación puede incluso ser beneficiosa para una pareja casada en casos de disfunción sexual. Una forma muy común de terapia sexual llamada "enfoque sensorial" ayuda a la mujer a prestar atención a cómo responde al contacto sexual, primero tocándose a sí misma y luego guiando la mano de su esposo mientras él la toca. Este puede ser un paso importante en un proceso de sanidad, particularmente para las mujeres que han experimentado un trauma sexual que desencadena ansiedad en el contacto sexual. Ideas finales: Tengo un gran respeto por las mujeres (casadas y solteras) que quieren honrar a Dios con su sexualidad. Creo que la masturbación es un tema sobre el que cada mujer tiene que preguntarle al Señor. Si bien Dios no se refirió específicamente a la masturbación en la Biblia, Dios nos dijo que quiere darnos su sabiduría. "Si a alguno de ustedes le falta sabiduría, pídasela a Dios, y él se la dará, pues Dios da a todos generosamente sin menospreciar a nadie." (Santiago 1:5). Dios es el Sumo Sacerdote que comprende tus preguntas y luchas. Incluso en este asunto tan íntimo (y quizás vergonzoso), no temas abrirle tu corazón y pedirle su dirección y sabiduría específicas.   Puede que estés interesada en este recurso: “¿La masturbación es pecado?” Puede que estés haciendo la pregunta equivocada   ¡Nueva entrada en el blog! 3 cosas que aprendí (y desearía no haberlo hecho) de la pornografía ¿Qué pasa si quiero más sexo que mi esposo? ¿Cómo reconstruyo la confianza después de una traición? ¿Qué pasa si no me gusta el sexo? Mira nuestros libros en Español​ El Sexo y la chica soltera En busca de la pasión 25 Preguntas que temes hacer acerca del amor, el sexo, y la intimidad
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Six Red Flags You Can't Ignore in Dating
by Joy Skarka Are you dating someone and wondering if the red flags you see are reason enough to break up with him or her? Do your friends and family have concerns about the relationship? If you feel in your heart that something is just not right, don’t ignore it. It might be the Holy Spirit. Does God care who you date? “The survey says, Yes!" Of course God cares! God is the perfect Father. What good father doesn’t have an opinion about who his child is dating? But our Father also gives us freedom (and boundaries) when making this decision. I'll let you know up front: I'm going to be unfairly picking on the guys in this post. But any guy or girl you read about here could easily be the opposite gender. When a past boyfriend and I were early on in our dating relationship, I saw red flags. I kept trying to convince myself that the red flags weren’t that big. The truth was that I knew God did not want me in the relationship. In my selfishness, I stayed. I didn’t care what God was revealing to me! I thank God that a few months later I obeyed Him and ended the relationship. It was not easy and there were many nights of tears. But, looking back, I can see it was the best decision. Never ignore red flags or the Holy Spirit. When you ignore the Holy Spirit, your heart becomes hardened. If you begin to notice red flags, pray about them. Talk to a wise friend or mentor, but never ignore the sparks of hesitation or concern. Many women go back and forth over, “Is this big enough to break up over?” I talked with my friend, Kate, who is in her 40s and desires to be married. She shared that being a Christian single in her 40s in the American church is drastically different than being single under age 30. There’s very little talk about navigating singleness, leaving women to wonder, "Should I settle?" Friends have shared countless stories with me about the men they've dated and the red flags that were revealed in their relationships. Here are a few examples:  "The guy who wouldn't date me because I am a virgin and he was afraid I wouldn't like sex." "The men who are divorced and blame it 1000 percent on their ex-wives who 'changed,' 'had issues,’ or ‘wouldn't change.'" "The guy with $100K in credit card debt who doesn’t see a problem with living financially irresponsibly." "The men who thought that waiting to be married to have sex was old fashioned or not possible."   Which red flags are big enough to break up over? 1. The person manipulates you or is abusive. Is there any physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or spiritual abuse? Run. Some forms of abuse are not as obvious as physical abuse, but they still violate your boundaries.  For example, forcing you to watch porn is a form of sexual abuse. My friend Kate shared that she dated a man who thought it was OK that he looked at porn. He told her he would stop if he were in a relationship. Red flag! Another friend shared a story of a man who requested that she get breast implants and dye her hair blonde because that was what turned him on the most. This is manipulation.  My friend Lindsey shared, “When my husband and I were dating, we lived in different cities. Because we wanted to spend weekends together, it often meant that I would stay in his city. I worried about overstaying my welcome on friends' couches and started enjoying overnights with my boyfriend. When we inevitably began to cross our physical boundaries, I told him that I no longer wanted to spend the night. He pushed back. I gave in. This became a cycle. When we married, and I struggled with sex, I knew it was because I was resentful toward him for not protecting my integrity when we were dating. It was an incredibly hard thing to work through in our first year of marriage.” If a person pushes you to compromise your boundaries (personal, sexual, or emotional), it’s time to have some hard conversations. Depending on how those go, consider breaking up. 2. They don’t love God or care about your relationship with God. Scripture warns us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) This may not seem like a big deal in dating, but it will impact your marriage and your family. The Bible also warns us, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) You are more likely to walk away from God if your partner doesn’t care about God. It is easier to lose faith or doubt God’s word when your partner doubts God’s word.  Do you see patterns in his life where he doesn’t really care about your relationship with God—or his own personal relationship with God? Maybe he encourages you to skip church or he never wants to join you at small group. If a person doesn’t encourage you to grow closer to God while dating, it is very unlikely that they will start encouraging you to grow closer to God when you’re married. Remember, dating is the time that a person is trying to win you over, so if you are experiencing this issue (or any other issue), it will probably get worse when they are not trying as hard!  This should always be your focus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) 3. He doesn’t listen to or care about your feelings.  My friend Elsie loves to host others and bake for them. Her boyfriend, Dan, got frustrated when she wanted to plan recipes, shop, and cook for a Superbowl party they decided to host together. He’d wanted to keep it simple;  frozen appetizers, potato chips, crackers, sliced cheese and a veggie tray. When Elsie shared that his approach takes the enjoyment out of hosting the party for her, Dan accused her of being selfish. Didn’t she realize how much more time and money it would cost to do it her way? By the time the argument was over, Elsie felt unheard and unloved.  Every relationship will have conflict, and we all have blindspots. However, when you experience a pattern of feeling unheard or talked over, that’s a red flag. 4. Your best friends don’t support the relationship (or you’re hiding it from them). If your closest friends are questioning if you should continue seeing someone, listen to their opinions. If it’s something trivial (they don’t like your boyfriend’s jokes), that’s not a reason to break up. But if they are worried that the person does not treat you right, listen up.  And if you find yourself fudging the details when you talk to your friends or family about the person you're dating, start to pay close attention to what you're sharing. Are you making things sound better than they actually are?  Jackie shared about dating a guy who had just ended a very long-term relationship. She hid the fact that she and her “friend'' were spending significant time together because she knew their mutual friends would tell her it was a mistake. Jackie confessed, “I didn't want to hear that. We sneaked around behind our friends' backs for a few weeks before I was left with nothing but heartache when his ex-girlfriend came back into the picture." 5. You don’t plan to marry him or he lacks commitment. If you know without a doubt that you won’t marry someone, why are you dating him? This does not mean that you have to decide early on if you will get married. But if there is some reason you wouldn’t marry him, don’t continue dating him.  The person you're dating should be asking themselves the same question. If they can't see themselves marrying you, why are they dating you? Kelly shared, "I once spent months dating and falling in love with a man who was very attentive, but never actually told me what his intentions were. Foolishly, I didn't ask. Even worse, I was daydreaming about marrying him!  Months later, when he got back together with his ex-girlfriend (with whom he would eventually marry), I was devastated. I know what you're thinking: It's my own fault. There's truth in that. But in the midst of a relationship that I wanted so badly, I didn’t want to ask any questions that might end the time and attention I was receiving from him. This is an easy trap to fall into. Ask your friends to help keep you accountable!" 6. He doesn’t have any goals or plans for his future. He doesn’t need a ten-year plan, but you want to see that he has some ideas of what he wants in the future. You don’t want to marry someone who doesn’t leave their couch and has no desire to keep a job. You also want to see if your goals and plans for your future align with his. My friend Kim wanted to be a missionary in Asia. She was careful to look for a man who wanted the same thing that she did. Now they live in Asia evangelizing on college campuses. Sometimes the red flags are big and waving high, and sometimes they are hidden under the surface and will only be discovered over time. I encourage you to pay attention to them, no matter how small they may seem. Desiring to be fully known and fully loved in marriage is a good thing. This is a God-given desire!  But small behaviors are indicative of larger behavioral patterns, and ignoring these red flags could be costly in the long run. What red flag would you add to this list? Tell me your story in the comments. I'd love to chat with you!   Follow-up Resources: You Can Be Single & Sexual (Juli's blog) Is Masturbation a Sin? You May Be Asking the Wrong Question (Juli's blog) Sexual Boundaries for Singles (Juli's blog) How To Deal With Porn Struggles When Dating (Juli's blog) "Sex & the Single Girl" by Juli Slattery   Photo by Canva
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Límites sexuales en la soltería
Cuando las mujeres abordan temas de sexualidad, las preguntas más comunes usualmente tienen que ver con cuáles cosas está bien que una mujer cristiana interactúe y con cuáles no. Quieren saber cuáles son los límites. ¿La masturbación es algo malo? ¿Sigo siendo virgen si tuve sexo oral? ¿Está mal leer novelas eróticas como Cincuenta sombras de Grey? ¿Qué tan lejos es “ir muy lejos” en una relación cuando estás saliendo con alguien? Hay muchas opiniones disponibles para cada una de estas preguntas. Hazle estas preguntas a cinco personas que conozcas y lo más seguro es que escuches cinco respuestas muy diferentes. Y seamos honestos. . . usualmente adoptamos la respuesta que más se acerque a lo que queramos oír. Mi opinión frente a estas preguntas no importa, y tampoco importa la opinión de tu mejor amiga. Dios es el que te creó como un ser sexual. Si realmente quieres que tu sexualidad sea una expresión de tu amor por Cristo, su opinión es la única que importa.  A medida que abordas las implicaciones prácticas de tus decisiones sexuales, puedes hacerte tres preguntas importantes que te ayudarán a discernir la opinión de Dios frente a tus inquietudes. ¿Estás lista? Pregunta #1 – ¿Qué dice la Biblia? “En esta tierra soy un extranjero; no escondas de mí tus mandamientos. A toda hora siento un nudo en la garganta por el deseo de conocer tus juicios.” (Salmo 119:19–20). Si eres una hija de Dios, eres una extranjera en esta tierra. No vas a tomar decisiones (y no deberías hacerlo) de la misma forma que el mundo. El autor del Salmo 119 tenía esto muy claro y anhelaba la instrucción de Dios. La Palabra de Dios llegó a ser su deleite porque le daba respuestas prácticas sobre cómo un hijo de Dios debería vivir la vida en la tierra. La Palabra de Dios puede ayudarte de la misma manera hoy. Debe ser una “lámpara a tus pies y lumbrera a tu camino” (Salmo 119:105). Aunque la Biblia no aborda de manera específica cada pregunta de carácter sexual, sí afirma claramente que hay ciertas actividades sexuales que no son aceptables a los ojos de Dios. Veamos cuáles son algunas de ellas.  A continuación encontrarás una lista de prácticas sexuales que la Biblia prohíbe. Algunas del Antiguo Testamento y algunas del Nuevo Testamento. Algunas personas ponen en duda la aplicabilidad de referencias del Antiguo Testamento en la vida de los cristianos hoy en día, puesto que éstas expresaban la ley judía. Después de todo, ya no seguimos reglas acerca de no comer mariscos o ser ritualmente impuras durante la menstruación. Un estudio de la Biblia podría darte una respuesta sofisticada, pero aquí te comparto una forma de pensar en esto: la enseñanza acerca de moralidad en el Antiguo Testamento fue repetida y reforzada por Jesús en el Nuevo Testamento mientras que las enseñanzas sobre lo “puro o impuro” no lo fueron. La muerte de Jesús en la cruz hizo que el sistema sacrificial se volviera obsoleto; quienes confían en Cristo son “limpios”. Sin embargo, nuestras acciones pueden seguir siendo inmorales y ofensivas hacia Dios.  En la Biblia, estas prácticas sexuales se definen como inmorales: Fornicación – Este es un término amplio para el sexo inmoral e incluye el incesto, el sexo antes del matrimonio y fuera del matrimonio. (1 Corintios 6:18–20, 7:2, Gálatas 5:19–20, 1 Tesalonicenses 4:3) Adulterio – Este término se refiere al hecho de tener sexo con alguien diferente a tu cónyuge. Está prohibido en los Diez Mandamientos; Jesús amplió su definición al hablar del “adulterio en el corazón” (Éxodo 20:14, Proverbios 6:23, Mateo 5:28, Hebreos 13:4) Homosexualidad – Tanto el Antiguo como el Nuevo Testamento describen la actividad homosexual como una perversión del diseño de Dios. No es pecado tener pensamientos o sentimientos homosexuales —¡no podemos controlar aquello por lo que somos tentados! Pero llevar esas tentaciones a la acción sí está mal a los ojos de Dios (Levítico 18:22, Levítico 20:13, Romanos 1:27, 1 Corintios 6:9). Prostitución – La profesión más antigua del mundo nunca ha sido algo bueno para Dios. (Deuteronomio 23:17, Proverbios 7:4–27, 1 Corintios 6:15). Pasiones lujuriosas – Esto no se refiere al deseo sexual dado por Dios que un hombre o una mujer siente por su cónyuge. Se refiere al deseo sexual descontrolado por alguien con quien no estás casado. (Marcos 7:21–22, Efesios 4:19). Obscenidad y bromas groseras – A Dios le importa mucho más que lo que hacemos sexualmente. Él quiere que nuestras palabras también muestren respeto frente al regalo divino que es la sexualidad (Efesios 4:29, 5:4). Estoy segura de que has notado que algunas de estas prohibiciones no son políticamente correctas. La palabra de Dios no cambia la opinión popular, así que es importante saber qué es lo que la Biblia dice realmente en lugar de confiar en interpretaciones culturales. Pregunta #2- ¿Es consistente con el diseño de Dios para la sexualidad?  ¿Alguna vez te has preguntado cuál es la voluntad de Dios para tu vida? ¿Si el matrimonio está en sus planes para tu futuro o no? ¿O qué trabajo quiere Dios que tengas? Hay muy pocos versículos que digan específicamente cuál es la voluntad de Dios para tu vida. Este es uno de ellos: 1 Tesalonicenses 4:3 dice, “La voluntad de Dios es que sean santificados; que se aparten de la inmoralidad sexual.” La inmoralidad sexual es cualquier cosa que distorsione o abuse de la sexualidad y de su santa expresión. En nuestra manera de pensar, tenemos formas “aceptables” de distorsionar el sexo. Por ejemplo, a algunas mujeres que nunca verían pornografía les parece perfectamente aceptable leer una historia de amor pornográfica como Cincuenta sombras de Grey. Cuando te preguntes si cierto acto sexual está bien o mal, hazte esta pregunta: “¿Es este pensamiento o acción consistente con el diseño de Dios para la sexualidad como una hermosa expresión de amor entre un hombre y una mujer dentro del pacto de matrimonio?” Pregunta #3 – ¿Es beneficioso? No todo acto o pensamiento sexual está enumerado en la Biblia con un “sí” o un “no” al lado. Algunas cosas simplemente parecen ser áreas grises. Por ejemplo, sabemos, gracias a la Biblia, que la expresión completa de la sexualidad debe reservarse para el matrimonio. ¿Está bien que una pareja se bese, se toque, que tenga fantasías acerca de lo que harán una vez estén casados? En su carta a la iglesia en Corinto, Pablo nos dio buenos parámetros para ayudarnos a discernir qué hacer cuando la Biblia no es clara: “Todo está permitido”, pero no todo es provechoso. “Todo está permitido”, pero no todo es constructivo. Que nadie busque sus propios intereses, sino los del prójimo.(1 Corintios 10:23–24, NVI) Aunque puede que no estés rompiendo las reglas con tu novio, algunas de las cosas que eligen hacer juntos pueden ser perjudiciales para alguno de ustedes o para ambos. Supongo que probablemente has hecho cosas con un chico en el pasado y te arrepientes de haberle dado algo de ti misma, aún si no fuiste hasta “el final”. Aún cuando algo no está específicamente prohibido, puede ser perjudicial, egoísta, u odioso. Puede que los besos apasionados no te tienten, pero si tientan a tu novio a ir más lejos y hace que su mente piense más allá, estas acciones no son beneficiosas para él. Dios no quiere que simplemente sigamos un grupo de reglas. Él quiere que busquemos su sabiduría y que lo honremos con cada decisión que tomemos. Su deseo es que tomes decisiones sabias que te guarden de daños emocionales y espirituales.  A pesar de lo mucho que nos molesten las reglas, es difícil para nosotros no contar con parámetros claros en esta área. Una parte importante al rendirle tu sexualidad al Señor consiste en pedirle sabiduría frente a estas preguntas tan personales. Si Dios ya se ha expresado claramente en su palabra, sé obediente aún cuando no entiendas sus razones. Si Dios no ha sido claro, ¡pídele que te guíe! Aquí te comparto algunas ideas de mi amiga Chelsey Nugteren acerca de su proceso al buscar límites sanos por parte de Dios al salir con alguien: Yo era esa joven mujer cristiana que solo se apropiaba de las respuestas que quería oír. En lo profundo, sabía que mis decisiones estaban mal, pero honestamente, simplemente era más fácil escuchar a mis compañeros. Mi comprensión superficial del amor de Dios por mí evitaba que pudiera comprender el hecho de que su verdad fue creada para protegerme. Intercambié la pureza que podía llenarme por el placer momentáneo.  En lugar de ver los límites creados por Dios como algo que me brindaba protección, los veía como algo que me impedía vivir mi vida. He aprendido que el amor de Dios por mí es mucho más grande de lo que me puedo imaginar, y Él verdaderamente quiere lo mejor para mi vida. Ahora entiendo que Dios me pone límites para protegerme y para cuidarme del dolor, no para ser un aguafiestas y hacerme la vida difícil. Lo cierto es que seguir la verdad de Dios trae libertad del dolor que trae el pecado sexual.  ¿Cuántas personas casadas has conocido que se alegren de haber tenido diferentes relaciones sexuales antes de casarse? ¿Cuántos solteros han dicho, de  forma honesta, que la pornografía ha sido beneficiosa en su vida? ¿O cuántas parejas comprometidas para casarse han expresado estar agradecidas por haber cruzado límites y haber ido “muy lejos” en su relación? Lo más seguro es que ninguna. El Enemigo claramente está cumpliendo con su trabajo como engañador—llevándonos a creer que estas cosas son inofensivas y divertidas, pero siempre miraremos atrás con remordimiento, deseando haber tomado decisiones diferentes. Honestamente creo que habría tomado decisiones más sabias en mis relaciones si hubiese tenido alguien a quien rendirle cuentas—alguien que me recordara la verdad de Dios y que me  ayudara a mantenerme en ella. Por muchos años intenté mantener mi pureza sexual por mi cuenta y fallé. Decidí guardar silencio acerca de esta área en mi vida. Mi vergüenza y mi culpa me aislaron. Estaba convencida de que yo era la única que luchaba con este tipo de cosas.  El propósito de este artículo no es hacerte sentir culpable por tus errores pasados, sino ayudarte a tomar mejores decisiones de aquí en adelante. El Enemigo siempre tratará de convencerte de que es demasiado tarde para ser pura. ¿Has escuchado sus susurros llenos de engaño? “Ya tuviste sexo; es demasiado tarde para ser pura a los ojos de Dios.” “Tu matrimonio va a sufrir debido a tus pecados pasados.” “Dios no puede perdonar lo que hiciste.” “Ya llegaste hasta este punto; ir un poco más lejos no te hará daño.” Reconoce estos susurros por lo que son—mentiras—y deja que la verdad de Dios acerca de ti sea una realidad. Él ya te perdonó. No es demasiado tarde. No estás sola. No importa cuál sea tu lucha, hay otras mujeres cristianas pasando por lo mismo. Puede que sientas que eres la única a la que le importa lo que Dios piensa, pero hay otras mujeres cristianas a tu alrededor que quieren honrar a Dios en su sexualidad. Sé valiente y encuentra a otras mujeres creyentes con las que puedas caminar en pureza. Puede que te sientas como una extranjera en este mundo, ¡pero hay otras “extranjeras” que están comprometidas con la Palabra de Dios como el fundamento de verdad diario y práctico! ¿Quieres aprender más acerca de la sexualidad en tu soltería? Juli publicó un estudio de seis semanas llamado El sexo y la chica soltera, haz click aquí para ver el libro en español.
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Resign As Boss: How To Help Your Husband Lead
This is part three of a three-part series from, "Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Revisited.” * As recently as a few decades ago, many Christian women believed that in order to be loving wives they had to limit their own personal potential. Loving and respecting a husband meant being essentially mute and supportive. In order to allow a man to assume the role of protector and leader, women were encouraged to hold back their opinions and strength. Today, women have realized the freedom in thinking for themselves and using their gifts, talents, and strengths. Now the problem isn’t a woman finding her voice in marriage, but the tension of using her power in a manner that builds intimacy with her husband rather than destroying it. In the previous posts in our series (part one and part two), we talked about how and why women tend to take charge. The tactics I’ve described (bossing, manipulating, backseat driving…) may work in managing the chaos of your marriage, but they also undermine the chance for intimacy. Are you ready to consider a different approach? Anna was. As a registered nurse, Anna is the sole wage earner in her marriage. Her husband, Caleb, has been working toward a counseling degree for the past few years but spends much of his “study time” playing games on his phone, working out, and relaxing with friends. When Anna gets home from a 10-hour shift, she inevitably finds dirty laundry scattered on the floor and dishes in the sink. Sometimes she fumes silently. Other days she explodes in anger. When they argue, Caleb points to the fact Anna has an unreasonable expectation of tidiness. He explains how stressed he feels by school and how unnatural it is for him to think of housework: “My mom always took care of that stuff.”  From this description, Caleb seems like a lazy, immature husband who needs to grow up. But here’s the kicker. A counselor could have explained Caleb’s frustration with Anna just as effectively. Caleb could justifiably share stories of Anna encouraging him (maybe even pushing him) to get a master’s degree. He would remind Anna that she’s the one who wanted to work full time so he could go to school. This was all her idea, not his. Caleb might tell the story of what happened last week when he cooked dinner and cleaned the apartment. As soon as Anna walked through the door, she complained about the smell of burnt toast and ended up redoing most of the work Caleb had done.  Here’s the point: Anna and Caleb have created a “dance” that prevents both of them from growing in maturity and intimacy. If Anna can lovingly and wisely change her contribution to their dance, this couple has a great chance of thriving together.  If I were having coffee with a friend like Anna who was asking me how to change this dance, here are five practical suggestions I would give:   1. Humble yourself.  About three years into my marriage, God began to show me something really ugly… my pride. I genuinely believed that I knew how to do pretty much everything better than my husband did. Even when I yielded to his opinions and ideas, I often did so with a patronizing attitude. Although I know I’m right, I’ll encourage your leadership. Do you know what I realized? I’m not always right. In fact, I’m wrong a lot. And many times, the issues Mike and I disagree on are not even a matter of right or wrong. Our approaches are just different. It has taken me a long, long time to let God chip away my pride. He’s still working on me. Not long ago, I had this thought: I think I’m more spiritually mature than my husband. The Lord quickly revealed to me that the very fact that I had that thought revealed my immaturity!  Spiritual maturity means growing in grace, love, gratitude, humility, patience, and self-control. Genuine growth means that my husband looks better to me every day, not worse, because God is giving me eyes to see Mike through His love.  In Philippians 2, Paul tells Christians, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” What if you applied this lens of humility to how you see your husband? What would happen if you truly accepted him and stopped trying to change him? As I asked the Lord to teach me to do this, I began seeing strengths in my husband that my pride kept me from appreciating.     2. Start with what you have. As personality tests like the Enneagram, StrengthsFinder, and Myers-Briggs point out, every strength has a corresponding weakness. Your husband’s personality is like two sides of a coin. This means the weaknesses that drive you crazy also have corresponding strengths.     - A charming, outgoing husband is the life of the party, but may be demanding or manipulative in relationships. - A reliable, detailed husband brings stability, but may be emotionally dull.  - A passionate man who wants to change the world may make you proud, but may also never sit still enough for you to share life with him.  Here’s the point: Your husband has inborn strengths that are probably part of the reason you married him. But those strengths also come with weaknesses. If you want to change the dynamics of your marriage, you have to build on the strengths he has rather than make him into a different man.  Let’s go back to Caleb. While this young husband has given Anna ample reason to complain, he’s also a genuinely caring guy. He may not wash the dishes in the sink, but he spent several hours last week helping an elderly neighbor with her new computer. He has great gifts of mercy and compassion and would be the first to sacrifice for a friend in need. If Anna would like to see her husband mature, her best bet is to build on what he naturally does well. She did this by encouraging him to get his counseling degree. This doesn’t feel like it’s paying off right now, but someday it will.  Your husband is a leader, but he may not be wired to lead the way you want him to. You have to look for the inborn paths of leadership that God has given him.    3. Invite his strength by revealing your weakness. When our three boys were very little, I was overwhelmed and exhausted much of the time. There were days when I wanted to meet my husband at the door and  demand, “Why are you late? I’ve taken care of them all day. It’s your turn. I need a break!” If I had that tone, Mike would have shut down or spent ten minutes telling me how much more stressful his day was than mine. I have a very caring husband who is eager to help me, but he will never respond well to being told what to do. As a young, independent woman, I had to learn to invite Mike’s help by showing him my weakness. This was not easy for me. I liked to convince myself and everyone else around that I could handle anything. This strategy left me with handling everything — and resenting it. I had to learn to say, “I’m overwhelmed. I need you. Can you please help me?” I used to think that being a great wife meant never showing him my weaknesses. Actually, the opposite is true. If I’m never weak, there’s no need for a hero. There is no room for your husband’s strength if you refuse to acknowledge your limitations. Instead of feeling angry and disappointed in Caleb, Anna may have gotten much further by showing him her legitimate weakness and appealing to his sensitivity. “Caleb, I understand that housework isn’t your thing and I know that school is stressful. But I’m about to fall apart. I’m so tired when I get home at the end of a shift. I really need you. Can we figure out a way to tackle this as a team?”   4. Stop rescuing him. At the root of many immature husbands is silence… his refusal to assume responsibility, to step into leadership, and to become the servant leader he was created to emulate. Within the silence is a void that begs to be filled. You may not fill it with words, but you take over when your husband hesitates. He forgot to pay the cable bill, so you take care of it. He doesn’t make enough money, so you increase your hours at work to fill in the shortfall. The kids are screaming while he scrolls through videos on his phone, so you jump in and parent. Before you know it, you have assumed the vast majority of responsibilities.  Think of it like a conversation. If one person does all the talking, the other person never has to say anything. Whenever there is silence, don’t fill it. Give him room to feel the tension of that silence. This might mean short-term inconvenience and stress, but it is a small price if it can help you establish a healthier dance.   You may not like this suggestion, but it’s an important part of helping your husband grow. Resist the urge to step in when he doesn’t step up. If something is clearly his responsibility, don’t nag. Don’t complain. Don’t do anything. If the power gets shut off, so be it. If the lawn hasn’t been mowed all summer, let it go. Have honest, constructive conversations about the issue (maybe with a counselor), but don’t take up the slack. This may be extremely difficult for you because you’re afraid of what might happen if you (fill in the blank). There may be some situations where you have to step in because of safety, but in most cases, the consequences of stepping back are worth the reward of watching your husband learn to step forward.    5. Let him grow into manhood, not womanhood. While we would never say it so openly, we often define maturity by what we value as women. Sensitivity, communication, spiritual devotion, and appropriately responding to every imaginable interpersonal situation.  Mature masculinity looks different from mature femininity. Sometimes we give our guys grief for being men. Why is reading to your child more valuable than roughhousing? And why is it less mature to play video games than to spend three hours on Pinterest? I’ve caught myself with these unconscious expectations. And even within the culture of “manhood,” healthy masculinity can look very different from one guy to another. Be careful not to define maturity by a narrow set of standards.  While you can encourage your husband to be a hero, you can’t teach him how to be a man. Men have to be validated by other men. They may need to be taught things they never learned from their fathers.  Male friends and mentors are an invaluable piece of maturity.  Many guys won’t respond well to the suggestion to get a mentor. You might start by asking questions like, “Who do you admire (at work, church, in your family)? You can also encourage mentoring by spending time with older couples who can pass on wisdom. Whatever the cost, invest in relationships that help you both grow. If your husband interacts with mature, godly men while hunting deer, clear the calendar during hunting season! My friend, I know that you are frustrated by your husband’s lack of maturity and willingness to take responsibility. I understand that you really believe you do things better than your husband does them. You fear that if you don’t step in, things will fall apart. But it is key for you to understand that you are the one person who can ultimately invite your husband into the challenges of authentic relationship and adult life. Even more than you fear “dropping the ball,” your husband fears failing you. As his wife, you have the delicate role of protecting your husband’s vulnerabilities while also calling forth his strengths. It sounds complicated, but it is accomplished day-by-day, moment-by-moment, by how you choose to think about him, pray for him, and respond to him. The wonderful news is that you aren’t the first woman to walk through the challenges of how to bring out the “man” in your husband. I’ve seen it done by wise women, and I’m learning the art of doing so in my own marriage. I’ve learned when to step back, when to encourage, and when to confront. When I’ve shared this perspective before, some women have responded with anger. “Why is it my fault that my husband won’t grow up?” and “Stop blaming females for men’s sin!” Let me be very clear. Some men come into marriage with insecurity, addictions, or a hard heart that is unwilling to change. God doesn’t hold us responsible for our husband’s weaknesses or sin. However, we are responsible for how we respond to our circumstances. If God has truly given you more maturity, wisdom, and strength than your husband, this means that you have much more power in your relationship than he does. How are you using that power?   Remember, you are not without a net.   Every woman will, at some point, experience the fear of trusting a husband who is capable of making drastic mistakes. No one can promise you that your husband won’t lose his job, squander your savings, or cheat on you. There are times when you need to be very assertive in setting boundaries and protecting both yourself and your husband from his weaknesses. But most often, women take over because we don’t know how to trust. Trusting is incredibly difficult, especially when you intimately know your husband’s weakness and immaturity. Investing in your husband is not ultimately about trusting him, but trusting God. You may feel like you are walking a tightrope, but you have a safety net.  I remember one particularly miserable time in my marriage. Mike and I had a major fight about a serious issue. I was hurt and angry. As he drove off, I yelled something like, “Sure. Leave! Don’t bother coming back!” I ran into the house where my three small boys were waiting. I remember closing myself in the pantry and sobbing. I felt hopeless. If you had given me the book Finding the Hero in Your Husband, I might have thrown it at you. My comfort in moments like this one did not come from imagining how wonderful our marriage could be, but from running to the God who sees me, who loves me, and who has promised to be with me.  The bigger battle of your marriage is not learning to trust your husband, but choosing to trust your Lord.   What do you think?  Remember that example you thought about last time, when you used your go-to strategy to overpower your husband? How do you think you could have handled the situation by using your power to “build up rather than tear down”? Look at the list of the five practical steps you can take to use your power to build intimacy. How can you implement at least two of these steps in real-life scenarios in your marriage this week? Read Psalm 46, 62:5–10, 118:8–9, 146: and Matthew 6:25–34. What does each of these passages say about trusting God when you can’t trust men? Read Hebrews 11:1-12:3 and Romans 8:5-17. How is submission exercising faith in God — trusting what you can’t see? Why is this so important to your walk with the Lord?   Here are a few way you can engage with us and learn more about embracing your power as a woman: Read the first two posts in this series? Start here. Join an online book study and go through "Finding the Hero in Your Husband" with a group of like-minded women this winter.   This excerpt is from Dr. Juli Slattery’s book, "Finding the Hero in Your Husband, Revisited.” Reprinted with permission from Health Communications, Inc. *This is an affiliate link. AI may earn referral fees from qualifying purchases. Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash