Last week, our church started a new series about love. The first sermon in the series was called "Love is Sexy". Jon and I were so amazed by this sermon, we felt like it was speaking to our hearts and I wanted to share. One of our guest pastors, Ted, started by talking about the first phase in your marriage that is full of fire, infatuation, burning desire, and passion. Many people call this the "honeymoon phase" and as a newlywed, it is my biggest pet peeve when "seasoned" spouses tell me "oh just wait until that wears off." You know nothing about my marriage! That is beside the point though.
Most people recognize that the foundation of any relationship, whether it be a friendship or marriage, is communication. And that is what scripture tells us will help build a successful marriage. Ted discussed the Abilene Paradox which I had learned about a couple years ago in a college psychology class. Long story short, we all experience this paradox and quite often as that. Have you ever done something to "go with the flow" or "keep up with the Jones"? That is the Abilene Paradox. It is aligning the choices in your life based on what would make others happy and not yourself happy. It is a breakdown of communication. We've all been a victim and as Ted said, "it wreaks havoc on marriages".
So what was the rest of the hour about?
It was about the 4 'sacred cows' or 'elephants in the room' that married couples tend to not communicate about. They are having fun, the sex is great, they are each getting along with their in-laws...why mess anything up? So want to know what the elephants are?
Finances, Calling, Sex, Jesus
Ted discussed how scripture shows us how to communicate about these 4 unmentionable topics and dared us to open up the dialogue on these topics to help our marriages thrive. I thought I would discuss each of the topics and what I took away from this sermon. Like I've said before, these are my opinions and nothing more.
Finances- I think its this one of the leading reasons for divorce right? Debt, secret credit cards, over spending, etc. Luckily Jon and I are great at saving and we love watching our nest egg grow. But this wasn't always the case. Jon and I combined our finances after we got engaged and his student loans became mine. Well not mine, ours. I was blessed to have my parents pay for my entire college career. Jon was not so lucky. He paid for his 5 year private school education on his own. As selfish as it sounds but this was a hard concept for me to grasp onto when we combined money. Jon is very smart with his money and ended up paying off almost 75% of his student loans within 4 years of graduation. But we still had a chunk left. I don't know why this was so hard for me to accept! I hate thinking of how selfish I was then because with Jon, came that baggage. That $120k spent on an education will provide for our family, and that is what helped me through it. What if Jon hadn't gone to Baylor? Maybe he wouldn't have such a strong faith? Maybe he wouldn't have gotten such a great job? Maybe he wouldn't have been as happy. Jon and I put off buying a house right away and decided to pay off his student loans. The day after we got back from our honeymoon, we wrote our last check to Sallie Mae and we are done! Are we less happy because we are renting a house? Heck no. Money can be the root of all evil and I am so glad I didn't get sucked into that. I can see how finances take a toll on marriages. People use money to buy happiness. They use it to cover up demons they are fostering in their relationship. I know that I could live in a dump of a house, give up date nights and vacations, and clip coupons and still be happy. I will not let money get in between me and my husband.
Calling- I think most people confuse their calling with their job. Couples talk about work all the time but it is rare to sit down with your spouse and ask them 'are you living your calling?'. I've known since I was young that I was meant to be a mother. That is all I've wanted. So no I am not living my calling yet but Jon brought up a good point. He said "yes girlie you are living your calling, you are blogging". Jon is the one who came up with the idea for me to start a blog and finally encouraged me to do so a couple months later. I would have never done it if it wasn't for him being my biggest fan. I can't believe I didn't realize that before! Jon will one day support my calling when he gives me beautiful children and today he supports my calling to blog. He has also encouraged me to write more about our spirituality because even if it's just one person, I could be restoring someone's faith through blogging. God created Eve to help Adam (and Adam to help Eve too!). This doesn't mean that the woman has to wait on the man hand and foot. It means that together, the woman and the man help each other achieve their calling, their purpose and existence. One of the most important things Ted discussed was the fear of 'if my partner goes after their calling, we might struggle financially'. Are you a sounding board for your partner? An encourager? A cheerleader? Your partner is the one person who is most qualified to help you become who God intended you to be.
Sex- the most awkward 'elephant in the room'. Men and women are not sure how to talk about sex. Isn't it always true that a woman will bitch to her friends about her sex life but never raise a word of it to her husband? Being dissatisfied with the physical aspect of your relationship leads to loneliness, distance and worst of all, fantasy. How come it is easier for a person to have a sexual fantasy or even step out on their marriage rather than talking to their spouse? Sexuality was a gift from God and he meant for us to thrive in it, not to create a barrier in our marriage. Something that really stuck out to me was when Ted said "The heart has to be as naked as the body". Do not withhold your heart in sexuality. Communicate with your partner. Our dare for the week was to ask our partner this question..
How can I serve you in bed?
(any of you wish you went to my church? hehe)
Jesus- Is your faith alive these days? Are you growing your love for God? Our pastor encouraged us to ask our partner those questions and ask what you can do to help your partner. He also talked about the spiritual inequality in many marriages. One partner is on fire for God and one, not as much. Yes they may have everything else under the sun in common but if a couple is moving in separate directions spiritually, it causes friction. I am so blessed to be married to such a devoted, Christian man. A man who strives to be more Christ-like and encourages me in every step of my faith. God doesn't want you to have someone to walk with you spiritually. He wants you to have someone to run with you spiritually.
This is such a great book!
This service not only opened up my eyes and heart to so many things but it was a call for me to be more honest in communication.
"Devotion is what weathers storms, overcomes obstacles and gives you the fuel to walk together through the highs and lows of marriage. Devotion is built on honesty around these 4 topics: finances, calling, sex, spirituality."
"No matter where you are in your marriage, you can always go back. If there is an ounce of willingness in the two of you, you can go back with God's help. "
If you are wondering, Jon and I attend Gateway Community Church in NW Austin, TX. Here is the link to their website where you can find podcasts, videos and lots more cool information!