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Want Your Marriage To Go the Distance? You'll Need More Than "Artificial Intimacy"
Here’s a little secret I learned a few years into marriage: I didn’t know if I really loved Mike until I felt no feelings of love toward him. The sense of “feeling love” had to fade away for me to be able to learn how to really love my husband. My friend, and this week's guest blogger, Gary Thomas gets this. If you're wondering if authentic intimacy can be kindled — or rekindled — in your marriage, read on. I also encourage you to pick up a copy of the newly revised "A Lifelong Love."*   Why do couples who are convinced they have found “the one” end up divorcing each other just a few years (or sometimes a couple decades) into their marriage? There was a time when they couldn’t imagine being apart for five hours; now they can’t bear the thought of being together for five minutes. What happened? In many cases, the relationship existed only on what I call “artificial intimacy.” True intimacy — that sense of “oneness” that we all seek — has to be pursued and built rather than simply discovered and felt. Artificial intimacy is sustained by the common events of life, but usually comes to a huge crash as soon as the couple enters the empty nest years if true intimacy hasn’t replaced it. In the Beginning Artificial intimacy begins with the onset of infatuation, a “grab your brains with a vengeance” neurochemical reaction that makes us virtually blind to our partner’s faults but is notoriously short lived, with a shelf life of about 12 to 18 months. In addition to infatuation, early relationship “compatibility” is also enhanced artificially via sexual chemistry. When infatuation and sexual chemistry are strong, compatibility or incompatibility barely even register. You both feel crazy about each other, you can barely keep your hands to yourself — how could you not be compatible? You don’t even really have to do anything to sustain your desire for each other; just being alive makes you feel compatible. And so, on this basis and often on this basis alone, the couple decides to get married. When Spring Turns to Summer When a couple begins to move toward marriage and set a date for the wedding, even though the initial artificial intimacy may be on the decline, planning the ceremony gives them something in common and keeps them going. They plan it, talk about it, and divide up tasks to make it happen. This is “intimacy” of a sort, but it’s a superficial intimacy; the intimacy of co-workers, not life-mates. Once the couple gets back from the honeymoon, they will start setting up a house, move into a new apartment or neighborhood, and try to join two lives. That also joins them in a common task and gives them something to talk about.  What color should we paint the bedroom? Do you think we’ll be here long enough to bother with planting trees outside? Where’s our new favorite hangout? As life moves on, just when things could get boring again, the couple is likely to start raising kids. That’s a big thing to have in common and requires a lot of communication. You go to childbirth classes, you build a nursery, you raise the kids, and then you have to communicate to get the kids to the right places. You share your kids’ failures and successes. Eventually those kids repay you for your faithful service by growing up and leaving the two of you alone together. That’s when you find out how much intimacy you really have. At the start of the relationship it was just infatuation and sexual chemistry. Then it was the joint task of planning a ceremony. Then, setting up a home. After that, raising kids. In days past these life events could take marriages to the doorstep of death and eternity, but modern couples can blow through these stages of life in two and a half decades, often leaving another 30 years or more of marriage to follow. That’s a long time to be lonely and to live with a familiar looking stranger.  If you haven’t consciously built true intimacy, the relationship is going to collapse right at this point. Some couples have to wake up to the reality that they’ve been living relationally on shared tasks, not shared intimacy. They haven’t prayed together. They haven’t shared their dreams. They haven’t carried each other’s burdens and then built that all-important empathy for each other. They’re teammates, not spouses, and now that the season is over, what’s to hold them together? When couples get divorced and start over with someone else, the second relationship initially feels more fulfilling than the first because, once again, it’s existing on artificial intimacy. Infatuation and sexual chemistry retake their place on center stage. Two people once again begin the relationship building of sharing past histories, planning a ceremony, and setting up a new life together… But the same dynamics will bring this affection to an end as well if the couple doesn’t consciously build true intimacy. Making a Marriage One of the main messages of my writing and speaking career on marriage has been this: a good marriage isn’t something you find, it’s something you make. And you have to keep on making it. Just as importantly (and herein lies the hope), you can also begin “re-making” it at any stage. If you wake up to the sobering reality that you’ve existed on artificial compatibility, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to build true intimacy. True intimacy can be pursued at any stage of marriage. It would be much better for everyone involved if, instead of seeking a divorce and building yet another relationship on artificial intimacy, the couple chooses to begin building true intimacy with God as the center of the relationship. I can tell you this: the level of maturity it will take to rebuild a stale marriage instead of killing it and moving on can lead to some of the most transformative growth of your life. It will require hope, courage, patience, honesty, understanding, and perseverance — all key virtues for a Christ-like life. How do you start building or rebuilding that intimacy? Well, that’s what "A Lifelong Love: Discovering How Intimacy with God Breathes Passion into Your Marriage" is all about.* To keep this blog post under 1000 words, all I can offer is this shocking (to some) diagnosis: if your marriage is frustrating or underwhelming, it’s possible that you haven’t even really experienced what true marital intimacy is all about. Doesn’t it make sense to first seek that out, instead of just starting over with someone else? If you'd like to begin rebuilding intimacy in your marriage, we have some resources to help you get started: Java #357: Emotional Safety: What It Is and Why You Need It "Your Spouse Doesn't Complete You" (Juli's blog) Date Nights In (a four-week video series to help you talk, fight, and pray with your spouse about sex) "When You're Attracted to Someone Who's Not Your Spouse" (Juli's blog) "Can You Spiritually Outgrow Your Marriage?" (Juli's blog)   *This is an affiliate link. AI may earn referral fees from qualifying purchases. This article was originally posted on 11/21/2016 at garythomas.com. Used with permission. Photo by Canva
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Can Shame Ever Be a Good Thing?
 “Shame on you!” If you grew up in my generation, this is a sentence you probably heard as a child. You were told that you should be ashamed of the way you treated your sister, for stealing that candy bar, or for talking back. These are also words that I’ve probably never spoken to my own children. Why? Because I’d feel shame for simply telling my children they should be ashamed. The very word shame has come to mean a crippling sense of condemnation. Unlike guilt, shame hits the core of our identity. It’s about far more than what we’ve done wrong and speaks into what our failures say about us.  Yet I wonder, is there a healthy place for shame?  One way to understand the difference between guilt and shame is this: guilt is feeling badly about what we’ve done and shame is feeling badly about who we are. We are guilty when we do something wrong. We feel clouded in shame because of what our guilt reflects about us. Most people would agree with the importance of feeling guilty for something you’ve done wrong. How about feeling shame?  Is not shame an appropriate response to the vile actions of people like Jeffrey Epstein, Ravi Zacharias, and Larry Nassar? If those who abuse their power to harm others are not ashamed of their actions, something is seriously wrong. If shame is the right response in such blatantly horrible situations, where do we draw the line? What sins are “bad enough” to merit appropriate shame?  The Gospel doesn’t simply say that we’ve done something wrong, it says that our very nature is sinful and rebellious. We have a sickness that goes beyond the things that we’ve done. We need salvation because of who we are. The apostle Paul wrote, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” Paul didn’t say, “Of whom I was the worst” but “of whom I am the worst.”   Yes, the Bible says that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He does not condemn us, but there is still a healthy realization that we are seriously flawed people in need of a Savior. The Bible actually uses several different Greek and Hebrew words that carry the meaning of shame. We are told many times of things we are not to be ashamed of (like the gospel of Jesus Christ), and we also are assured that God removes our shame. But there are also Scriptures that indicate a healthy shame stirs our need for our Savior. I was struck this morning by this passage in Jeremiah 8, as God described the leaders of His people:  How can you say, ‘We are wise because we have the word of the Lord,’ when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies? These wise teachers will fall into their own trap of foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the Lord...They offer superficial treatments for my people’s moral wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all -- they don’t even know how to blush! While shame can be debilitating, so can its absence. In our war on shame, we may neglect the possibility that shame is necessary for our spiritual and relational health. There are many Christian teachers who strive to abolish the concept of shame by erasing truths about sin, hell, and judgement. Would God say in response: Your leaders are twisting my words by writing lies? Offering superficial treatments for your mortal wounds?  I have done, thought, and said many things of which I felt rightly ashamed. Bringing back the memories of these past failures causes a sting in my heart, but I’m not paralyzed by them — because I know who I am in Christ Jesus. Yet I have also experienced shame that has felt like the enemy’s stranglehold on me. There are times when shame has caused me to run to the grace of Jesus and other times when shame makes me feel as if God would never open His arms to me. As I think through both the constructive and destructive roles that shame plays in my life, I see three critical distinctions that determine the difference between them.  Healthy shame tells the truth. I have felt shame for my sin, and I have felt shame for things that were out of my control. Some people might also call this the difference between “true guilt” and “false guilt.” Feeling ashamed for cheating on your husband is very different from feeling ashamed that your father is an alcoholic. One reflects the truth that you’ve done something sinful; the other assumes guilt for someone else’s behaviors.  Healthy shame is a warning light that we have broken fellowship with God. We have a mortal wound of sin that requires drastic intervention. The apostle Paul criticized the early church for not recognizing things that should have caused shame and repentance (see I Corinthians 5). To neglect healthy shame is a dangerous trap because it gives us the false impression that we are at peace with God. Without healthy shame, we never confess and turn from the sinful patterns that separate us from fellowship with God.  Often the shame people feel related to sexuality is rooted in things that have been done to them. Unhealthy shame speaks lies like: “You are forever ruined and dirty” or “You deserved the abuse you experienced.” Some women feel shame for having sexual desires or for the way their body looks or responds. This shame is from the enemy because it is rooted in lies. However, there is a healthy, biblical awareness of our desperate sinfulness that is meant to drive us to our Savior. How do you know the difference? When you experience shame, ask the question: Does my shame tell the truth? Is there something you genuinely need to confess before the Lord? If so, bring it before Him. But if you feel shame about something for which you do not bear guilt, the enemy is lying to you.  Healthy shame provides a pathway to reconciliation. When my mother once said, “Shame on you!” the sting I felt as a young girl made me sad and heartsick over the break in my relationship with her. I was eager to do whatever was necessary to confess and repair my wrong. I hated the feeling of disappointment and separation that my failure created. Although no parents are perfect, my mom was wise to quickly show me the pathway to reconciliation: Ask your sister’s forgiveness. Say you’re sorry. Offer to do her dishes tonight as a gesture of kindness. Pay for the candy you stole.  Shame is crippling when there is no way out of it. When it seems to forever mark us as bad, dirty, selfish, cruel. David expresses this experience in Psalm 32. My body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. But God made a pathway for him: Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. This is the difference between walking in shame and walking in the truth and light of Jesus Christ. The incredible truth is that Jesus took on Himself every label of shame. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, God provided His people a way to be reconciled to Him through the sacrificial system. By following certain rituals (that eventually pointed to Jesus), they could be blameless again. We can become so familiar with the cross that we forget the power of the words, “It is finished!”  God has made a way, through Jesus Christ, for us to be reconciled to Himself. When we trust in Jesus, nothing can separate us from the love of God. While we once wore the labels of our sin and failure, we now wear new labels: forgiven and redeemed! Even so, we disappoint God and do things that rightfully cause us to feel shame. We have grieved the Father and trampled on the gift of His Son by continuing to sin. But God makes a clear way back to fellowship with Him. I John 1:8-10 says that if we are honest with God about our sin, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness! Do you believe this? In Revelation, we see that Satan is constantly accusing us before the Father. But God is our advocate, not because we are good and worthy, but because we have fully trusted in the One who is good and worthy. If shame still hangs over your head even after you have confessed to God, again the enemy is lying. That shame has no place in your life.  Healthy shame reminds me of my identity. Every parent has experienced the sting of being disappointed with something a child has done.  But even in our humanity, disappointed parents don’t forget or forsake their children. The very nature of being a mom or dad gives us a shared identity with our children that can endure the greatest of trials. Angry? Yes. Grieved? Yes. In despair? Yes. Feeling like giving up? Yes. But, “You are no longer my child”? Never.  Jesus once said, “If you being sinful parents give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your heavenly Father who is perfect?” If we, being sinful parents, love our children through even great failures and disappointments, how much more so will our heavenly Father embrace us? This is what Paul refers to when He wrote, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Unhealthy shame makes me doubt the truth of my identity. Maybe I’m still His child but more like the “black sheep” waiting on the doorstep while the rest of the kids enjoy family dinner. In contrast, healthy shame reminds me of my identity as God’s beloved daughter.  I grieve when I don’t honor Him. I never want to disappoint my Father! My grief is proof that I belong to Him. I remember how pleased He is with a struggling, frail heart that simply runs to Him crying, “Daddy, help me!” Healthy shame is often a reminder to me that God’s Spirit lives within me, reproving me, encouraging me, counseling me toward righteousness. As it says in Hebrews 12, I receive this discipline as proof of my Father’s tender care and love, shepherding me toward His righteousness, not as His rejection.  If you are living a life of rebellion and immorality and you feel no shame, that should literally scare the hell out of you. It is our awareness of our sin and rebellion that causes us to run for our lives to the foot of the cross, asking Jesus to receive us and cleanse us.  I’ve learned a unique and very helpful way to deal with the enemy’s strategy to taunt me with shame. “Juli, you have no right to run a ministry on sexuality. Let me remind you of the ways that you have failed the Lord.” Instead of arguing with the devil, I agree with him, conceding the truth of what my enemy has spoken. “You’re right. I am not worthy of serving God in this role. But that is why I love Jesus so much! He uses the broken things of the world to confound the wise. He calls me worthy because He is worthy.” To the extent that we try to ignore our shame or talk ourselves out of it, we walk around with a low-grade fever of bondage. You can never get rid of shame by shunning it or convincing yourself not to wear the label. Instead, look it in the face with Christ Jesus standing at your side. Remember that He is your righteousness.    Would you like to learn more about the difference between appropriate and unhealthy shame? Here are a few resources for you: Shame Doesn't Have the Final Word How do I get past my shame? (Video 1) How do I get past my shame? (Video 2) Learning To Be a Promise-Breaker Why We Don't Experience Victory   Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash  
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3 cosas que aprendí (y desearía no haberlo hecho) de la pornografía
Cuando estaba en quinto grado, mi amiga abrió mi laptop y me introdujo al mundo de la pornografía. En ese tiempo, yo no sabía que era la pornografía, pero lo que sí supe fue que era algo nuevo y emocionante. Pasarían años antes de que volviera a descubrir la pornografía. En la universidad, después de haber sido violada en una cita (esta fue la mi primera vez que tuve una relación sexual), me surgieron muchas preguntas acerca del sexo. Y mi curiosidad me llevó a mi fiel amigo Google.  A medida que empecé a escribir mis preguntas sobre sexo, sentía cada vez más intriga. “Con que esto es el sexo.” De verdad llegué a creerlo…  La pornografía se convirtió en mi educación sexual. Me enseñó que el sexo nunca es problemático, que las mujeres tienen que verse de cierta forma para ser amadas, y que la manipulación está bien. Pero, ni el sexo que experimenté en la violación, ni el sexo que estaba viendo en la pantalla, representaban bien el propósito ni el diseño de Dios para el sexo. Si los cristianos no logran crear un espacio seguro para que los adultos jóvenes hagan preguntas acerca del sexo, lo más probable es que acudan a la pornografía en internet. Según un estudio reciente, 25 porciento de los adultos entre 18-24 años en los Estados Unidos dice que la pornografía es su fuente más útil acerca de cómo tener sexo.1 Seguramente este es un porcentaje subestimado debido a la vergüenza que está asociada con el uso de pornografía. Cuando los jóvenes acuden a la pornografía para responder sus preguntas sobre educación sexual, ya sean solteros o estén casados, empiezan a creer que el sexo que experimentan en la vida real va a ser como el que ven en la pornografía. En la encuesta, la pornografía fue la fuente de educación sexual más identificada. Tuvo un puntaje más alto que la familia, otra persona importante, o que cualquier otro medio. El estudio, llevado a cabo por un grupo no cristiano, llegó a conclusiones impactantes. Ellos explican, “Las malas noticias son que existe un malentendido entre los adultos jóvenes acerca del porqué existe la pornografía. La mayoría de la pornografía gratis existe como forma de entretenimiento y para generarle dinero a los creadores. No existe para enseñarte lo que debes hacer cuando tengas sexo.” ¡Incluso el mundo secular entiende que la pornografía no debería ser nuestra fuente de educación! Aquí comparto tres cosas que desearía no haber aprendido de la pornografía: La pornografía me enseñó que el sexo es egocéntrico. En la pornografía, el enfoque está en cómo obtener el mayor nivel de placer personal. Ya sea a través de la masturbación o al alcanzar un orgasmo rápidamente, el enfoque nunca está en servir a la otra persona. En el diseño de Dios para la sexualidad, el sexo es mutuo (y mucho mejor) cuando te enfocas en satisfacer a tu cónyuge.  En 1 Corintios 7:3-4, Pablo habla acerca de entregarle tu cuerpo a tu cónyuge en el lecho matrimonial. Él dijo, “El esposo debe satisfacer las necesidades sexuales de su esposa, y la esposa debe satisfacer las necesidades sexuales de su marido. 4 La esposa le da la autoridad sobre su cuerpo a su marido, y el esposo le da la autoridad sobre su cuerpo a su esposa.” Esto no quiere decir que tienes que entregarle tu cuerpo a tu cónyuge cuando él quiera, sino que nuestros cuerpos son regalos que nos damos el uno al otro en el matrimonio. (Para aprender más acerca de esta idea, lee ¿Tienes derecho al (buen) sexo en el matrimonio?) Amar y servir a tu cónyuge (por encima de tus propios deseos) en la cama es una forma en la que puedes demostrar tu pacto matrimonial a través de la intimidad sexual. La pornografía me enseñó que el sexo siempre sería increíble. El sexo que se muestra en una pantalla no es nada como el sexo en la vida real. Tristemente, cuando los adultos jóvenes ven pornografía como su educación sexual, van a sentirse defraudados cuando el sexo como casados no siempre lleve a orgasmos explosivos. El sexo real requiere comunicación con tu pareja a medida que ambos aprenden cómo satisfacerse el uno al otro y se le da tiempo a la excitación.  Ver pornografía entrena tu cuerpo para que al final no pueda responder al tacto de tu cónyuge y puede llegar a ser dañino a la hora de disfrutar el sexo en el matrimonio.   La pornografía me enseñó que es normal que el sexo se sienta/sea abusivo. Covenant Eyes, un software que funciona como un filtro en línea, reporta que 88% de las escenas en películas pornográficas contienen agresión física, y 49% de las escenas contienen agresión verbal. Cuando los adultos jóvenes ven abuso en la pornografía, son más propensos a pensar que la agresión es algo normal y luego en la vida real imitan lo que vieron. Algunas veces las parejas dicen que ven pornografía juntos para aprender cómo hacer las cosas “más interesantes.” De hecho, la pornografía y erótica hacen totalmente lo contrario. Puede que hagan las cosas “mas interesantes” al comienzo, pero eventualmente corroen y debilitan la confianza y la comunicación necesaria para la intimidad sexual y una vida sexual amorosa. (¿Quieres aprender acerca de algunas formas de hacer tu vida amorosa más interesante?) Los hombres y mujeres que producen pornografía también son impactados de forma negativa. Los actores a menudo no están sobrios y han consumido alcohol o drogas y de hecho algunos de ellos son víctimas de explotación sexual.  Covenant Eyes reporta que 79% de quienes actúan han consumido marihuana, y 50% han consumido éxtasis. Es normal que las mujeres estén drogadas o borrachas al actuar, y que sufran de desórdenes alimenticios. Hablemos al respecto Como cristianos, debemos dejar de permitir que la vergüenza sea un impedimento para buscar ayuda. Necesitamos crear espacios seguros para hombres y mujeres, solteros o casados, en los que puedan hacer preguntas acerca del sexo. Debemos ser un lugar en donde (especialmente) las mujeres puedan confesar el hecho de luchas con la pornografía, y en donde puedan encontrar ayuda, sanidad, y ánimo. Para poder ayudarle a los hombres y mujeres a reclamar y volver a apropiarse de su sexualidad, necesitamos empezar a hablar acerca del diseño principal de Dios. La pornografía es una terrible maestra, pero la Palabra de Dios tiene respuestas para todas las preguntas —incluso aquellas acerca de tu vida sexual. Y su Palabra trae libertad, sanidad y propósito para nuestra sexualidad.     1 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-020-01877-7 Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash
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What Kind of Lover Are You?
  As women, we typically view sex as a way of expressing the love and intimacy we feel in our hearts. It’s definitely a challenge to be sexually intimate when those feelings of love are absent. For the first decade of our marriage, it irritated me when my husband wanted sex when we had barely spoken. From his perspective, sex was the way we could connect and feel close. So, we were at a stalemate… I needed to feel love to have sex and he needed to have sex to feel love.  The truth is that both of our perspectives were flawed. God designed sex to be more than either of us had understood. Sexual intimacy isn’t just a means of expressing love, nor is it primarily a way to feel close. Sex is the laboratory in which love is tested, revealed and refined.  Imagine that you and your husband live in sexual utopia. You always want to have sex at exactly the same time and the same way that your husband wants it. Every initiation is met with an eager response. There is never any conflict about foreplay, being too tired, giving each other pleasure or trying something new in bed because your desires are always exactly the same. How fantastic would that be? It would be almost like the sex portrayed in movies—what a great love life! God certainly could have made sex that way. He could have created man and woman to be exactly the same sexually. But He didn’t. In fact, He intentionally made us vastly different.  Remember that even before sin entered the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had primary sexual differences in the way God created them. God declared His creation of man and woman “very good” and this very good included your sexual differences. It is hard to fathom, but the differences between you and your husband are what can create the very deepest intimacy. Here's the deal: God's design for sex is NOT just for immediate exquisite pleasure (although He is all for that). God has a much more beautiful gift of intimacy for you and your husband to open than what the world says sex is all about. Here's the catch: It requires a different kind of love.  No area of marriage has tested my love more than sex. It’s so tangible and demands so much of me! At times, I’d much rather make my husband’s favorite cookies or listen to him talk about work. To give my body, well, it just seems to be asking too much.  After all, it is my body, isn’t it?  Sexual intimacy in marriage asks every husband and wife the question: What kind of lover are you? A generous lover or a selfish lover? You see, it’s easy to enjoy sex when you both want the same thing. But God has made us so different that sexual intimacy inevitably leads to an impasse: her needs v. his needs. One wants sex more than the other. One likes to try new things, the other likes to keep it predictable.  Sex is designed to be more than an expression of love between a husband and wife. It is also the refining fire of love. It tests and teaches a willing man and woman to reach beyond their natural desires and learn what generous love really is. The world knows only of a love that feels good. We are born with the natural response to “love” those who meet our physical and emotional needs. This kind of natural love is essentially self-love. It really says, “I love the way you make me feel.” If your husband had the same sex drive as you, if he liked to kiss and be touched all over the same way you do, frankly, loving him wouldn't cost you much. You already know how to love your husband with natural, selfish love. It's easy to please him when he's pleasing you. But do you know the secret of loving him on a “bad husband day?" Do you know how to respond to him sexually when it's the very last thing on earth you feel like doing?  Or how to be patient when he’s not meeting your sexual needs? THIS is the kind of love that God wants to develop in you and your husband. An important disclaimer: Please understand that working toward intimacy in some marriages and during some seasons  of marriage is not always about pursuing sex together. If you are in a season of healing or addressing significant barriers in your relationship, pursuing true intimacy may look like having the courage to go through counseling or confronting destructive patterns in your relationship. God can use even these challenges (sometimes, especially these challenges) to teach you about selfish and unselfish love.  For some women reading this, your response may be, “Why do I always have to be the one giving? Why can’t he be generous? Why does it always seem to fall on my shoulders to invest in our marriage?” This is a fair question. Much of the onus of improving marriages has historically been placed on women. Men can be passive, lazy, and selfish in their unwillingness to grow as husbands. Men also need to be challenged to love sexually beyond what is easy for them. Without a doubt, the healthiest marriages are those in which both husband and wife show generous love, in and out of the bedroom. But the truth is, you can only work on you.  In many (not all) marriages, when one person switches from a selfish perspective to becoming a generous lover, the entire dynamic of the relationship begins to change.  When a husband and wife see the beauty of love tested and refined by sexual differences, their love making truly becomes about making love. God really cares about how we love – not just in the neighborhood, but also in the bedroom. His desire is that we move from selfish love to generous love.    Want to learn more? You may also like, What's the Purpose of Your Sexuality, Really?; a two-part series on Why Does Sex Matter in Marriage?; and this Q&A video of Juli answering the question, "I want sex more than my spouse. What can I do?"