Intentional Sex?

For many people this definition isn’t exactly what they would consider passionate or romantic. Yet, we believe there is a certain appeal to intentional sex. Here are three quick reasons why it might be beneficial to be more intentional about sex in your marriage.

1. You just may find yourself having more sex.

One of the biggest libido zappers and road blocks to a satisfying sex life is being overwhelmed, tired and stressed out. Plopping into bed with only the thought of sleep is pretty common. Perhaps sex is on the mind of one spouse but the other is just too tired and wants a rain check….regularly. Being intentional about sex (read: not legalistic) can benefit the overworked and over tired couple.

If you intend to connect with your spouse in the evening you can choose to think about it all day. You can practice mindfulness in how you use your energy, choosing to save some for the bedroom. Intending to have sex at the end of the day can be a good incentive and can be considered a reward.

2. You may find yourself more present during sex.

Preparing your mind and schedule for sex can serve to help clear your mind in order to help you be more present during sex. You’ve already thought through the pressing daily activities, you’ve made it through your day and you know what to expect tonight. If you find it helpful, spend time in conversation with your spouse to release the remnant stray thoughts but if you’ve spent your day thinking about and preparing for sex, chances are there are less mental worries pressuring your mind.

3. Having sex more regularly with a greater sense of presence can produce a positive sexual cycle.

You’ve intentionally made time for sex. You’ve cleared your mind and schedule to connect. You’ve made an effort to be more aware and present during sex. Chances are, if you’ve done these things sex was more fulfilling and satisfying. The more fulfilling and satisfying sex is the more you may want it. Keeping the positive cycle going because of intention, sounds like a good idea.

“…if we’re not intentional about pursuing God’s best for our marriages, and grasping the tremendous role intimacy plays in that relationship, what was intended to be deeply enjoyed – a passionate, life giving love affair…alight with laughter, fiercely protected, and drenched in freedom – becomes a stuffy, awkward thing to be endured.” ~ Joy McMillan

Word Culture in Marriage

The words hung in the air. The kind of words that you regret as soon as they leave your mouth.

“Why? Why? Why did I just say that?”

Next to me sat the person who received the cut from the careless utterances, my husband.  I (Megan) know the great power of words yet I still mess up, I still get it wrong.  I know the sting of causing my husband, whom I love, pain.  Everyone who is married can relate.  Words have a way of getting away from us and those same words have an incredible power to affect our spouse deeply.

Assuming that you are as much a work in progress as I am, I wanted to share a few ideas about how to consider the power of the words we use in our marriages.

1. Become aware of the word culture in your marriage.

How much time do you spend speaking encouraging words to or about your spouse? So many times there are things we find endearing and enjoyable about our spouse but do we take time to share those things with our life partner? Never take for granted that your spouse “knows how you feel.” Give them assurances about how much you love them. There is a time and a place to talk to your spouse about changes that may be necessary, but building up your spouse on a regular basis will make those difficult conversations easier. Don’t underestimate the importance of complimenting and reminding your spouse of specific things you love, admire and enjoy about them.

What about the way you speak of relationships outside your marriage? Awareness is just one step towards understanding the word culture in your marriage. It is possible that you and your spouse speak well of each other yet maintain a negative attitude and speech pattern about other people in your life. While there is a time for “venting” and being vulnerable about frustrations and difficulties we face in life, trying to maintain a positive attitude about others will increase the positive affect in your own marriage.

2. Increase positivity in the speech patterns you uncover.

If you uncovered a pattern of speaking negatively about your spouse or others on a regular basis come up with concrete ways to change the bad habit. When you catch yourself becoming negative, complaining or being overly critical about your spouse or someone else, take a time out. What other factors are adding to the negativity? Are you tired, stressed out, feeling rejected or overwhelmed? These factors impact the way you speak and are often the root cause of what comes hurtling out of your mouth. The more in touch you become with why you are saying things the better able you are to make changes in your speech patterns.

3. Accept imperfect progress.(because after all, it is progress!)

Don’t be surprised by the internal resistance to changing speech patterns. Learning to be encouraging, affirming and positive with the words we speak is no easy task. There will be setbacks and missteps. Remembering that imperfect progress is better than no progress is important. When mistakes are made, taking responsibility and making mental notes to work on it benefit and build unity in marriage.

Learning to accept and offer grace continually is the backbone of a great marriage. Words become the vehicle through which grace can navigate into the unreached areas of our lives. Speak life into your marriage and keep working on it even when setbacks come your way.

 How about you? What are ways you have found that help you keep positive speech patterns in your marriage?



In 2014 Justin and I (Megan) hit the pause button quite a bit in our life. We paused from writing here, paused from involvement in extra groups and activities, paused from pressuring ourselves to be something or do something we didn’t believe would help us heal, grow or rejuvenate our soul. You see, 2014 was a year of incredible loss, grief and sorrow for us. With the loss of four family members and increasingly strained relationships, we knew the things we experienced were and had changed us but we needed time to catch up and respond to those changes.

I attended a conference which featured Geri Scazzero author of The Emotionally Healthy Woman. The great thing about attending a conference is the off chance that you are able to connect with or speak to the speaker. Geri was available to listen to my story for a few minutes and encouraged that silence would be an important part of moving forward. This just confirmed that indeed, hitting the pause button and taking extended times in reflective thought, prayer and silence was necessary for me.

Hitting the Pause button is not looked upon favorably in our culture. We are pressured to do more, be more, become more. Pausing seems counter intuitive to actually accomplishing anything. Taking a look at the most common new years resolutions would seem to prove that we are obsessed with doing more, setting lofty and often unattainable goals. While the underlining goals may well be positive and healthy, the pressure we add to our lives as a result is anything but.

I would like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the healthiest thing you could do this year would be to pause more. Pause from the pressure to become more or do more. Pause from the expectations that you put on yourself and others. Pause from the insatiable need to figure it all out. There is no doubt that marriage takes work and effort. There are things, little things you can do each day to strengthen your marriage. However, great growth occurs when you regularly take time to pause. Pausing gives you time to reflect on what is working and what needs to be fine tuned. Pausing can provide just enough quiet and calm for you to hear your own thoughts. Consider how pausing on a regular basis could impact your life and your marriage.

Divorce: What It Is

Question: If you had just 2-3 minutes to offer advice to a couple seeking divorce, what would you say?

Michael: “If I had a choice, I would say do not get divorced. I would have done anything to save my marriage. She was unwilling to. It was by far the hardest thing I ever went though.”

Robert: “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE find a good counselor that wants to save your marriage. (There are bad ones who basically lead you thru the steps of divorce.)

There is no such thing as “IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES.”

Mark: “The consequences are long lasting, and in some cases irreversible.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking “not in my case” or “my situation is different”.  Many relationships beyond the marriage will be either damaged, permanently altered, or lost altogether.  Divorce is a destructive force!

Understand that marriage is not about your happiness, but is about loving another person through sacrifice and service to them.  Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.  Breaking a contact has legal implications, but breaking a covenant has life-long spiritual implications.”


A few weeks ago we wrote a brief introduction to this series we wanted to write on the subject of divorce. While the subject of Divorce can be a sensitive one, we believe it’s worth addressing, as the subject is often glossed over by society as a whole.  Be honest – when is the last time you read anything or heard a message at a church that was fully focused on the subject of divorce?  Yeah, we don’t hear about it often either. But with an average of 2.3 million couples getting married annually, and 1.2 million getting divorced¹, how can we remain silent?

Throughout the series there are three aspects of divorce we would like to focus on. They include:

  1. Divorce: What It Is
  2. Divorce: What It Isn’t
  3. Divorce: What It Does

As you can tell from the opening comments, we’ve reached out to a number of friends who have experienced divorce and asked them some questions. Many were gracious and took an opportunity to respond. We won’t share their actual names throughout the series, but some of the comments you’ll read in each part of this series come directly from those who have experienced divorce, and it’s our hope that you, and others are able to learn from their experience. With that said, let’s take a short opportunity to understand this subject of divorce.


Divorce: What It Is

In his book, “The Meaning of Marriage”, Timothy Keller writes a great chapter on the marriage covenant. He notes that throughout the Old Testament we read about two different kinds of covenants. There are horizontal covenants made between two individuals, and there are vertical covenants made between an individual and God.

The marriage covenant, is perhaps the most unique of all, because it incorporates both the horizontal and the vertical aspects of the covenant. Two people make a binding agreement with one another, and they do so before God. Obviously, this is of far greater significance than two people signing a contract with one another.

Think of it this way. Today we live in a world of contracts. Buy a house, sign a contract. Buy a car, sign a contract. Get insurance, sign a contract. Cell phones…sign a contract. With every other major purchase or agreement requiring the signing of a contract, it’s no wonder Marriage is often treated as a contractual agreement between two parties. If something goes wrong, just pay the early termination fee and move on to another carrier, right?

Wrong. Marriage isn’t a simple contract. It’s a covenant. And a covenant is to be seen as a binding promise.

Here’s a picture of what a covenant between two people looked like in the ancient near-east. Two people would make a binding promise with one another, and to affirm their agreement they would slaughter an animal, lock arms, and walk between the pieces. There was blood all over their feet and clothes. Essentially this was their way of saying, “You will hold up to your end of this agreement, or may you become like this animal.”

Sounds graphic, right? It was. Very graphic. But here’s the thing, exchanging rings isn’t any less significant of a covenant today. It’s just as meaningful. Just as powerful. And just as messy. Two people are making a binding agreement. A horizontal covenant to their spouse, and a vertical covenant to God. It’s serious stuff.

A very basic understanding of divorce, then, would be this:

What is Divorce? – A husband and/or wife breaking a binding promise with their spouse and God.

Some may be reading this and thinking to themselves, “That’s right! Divorce can never be an option! I mean, God hates divorce no matter what, right? It’s right in the Bible!”

Well, yes it’s in there. God’s hates divorce. It was never his intention.

But divorce is permissible in some circumstances.

Take a quick opportunity to read some additional responses we received from others who have experienced divorce.

Question:If you could pin it down to just one thing, what ultimately led to your divorce?

Chris: “Her habitual, repeated, unrepentant abuse of our covenant vows and our relationship.  She treated me not as someone to love, honor and cherish, but as someone to use, abuse, dishonor, and inflict with deep wounds.”

Rebekah: “Abuse. I lived for 20 years with an abusive spouse who never repented, never asked for forgiveness and constantly blamed me for all that was wrong with our marriage.”

Outside of these responses, we’ve known others who have experienced physical abuse, emotional abuse, multiple affairs and even polygamy. While we’ve never recommended divorce to those experiencing such awful circumstances, the Bible does make it clear that divorce is permissible in such circumstances. In these situations, it is the abuser who has broken the marriage covenant. They are the one who has already declared divorce. The abusee will certainly need counseling (as many will blame them for the divorce.) But in these drastic circumstances, their divorce is permissible. God, indeed hates divorce. But He does not at all hate those who have been the recipients of abuse, nor does He expect them to continually live in it.


We realize this post is fairly short for such a big topic. Truth is, it’s not a topic we study in depth as much as some others have. That said, we wanted to close out this first post by sharing some additional thoughts from some friends who have experienced divorce.. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, please read these words and learn from their experiences. Professional counseling can do wonders for a seemingly broken marriage. And if you think divorce is an easy way out…well, we’ll cover that in our next post.

Question: Did you attempt to get marital counseling?

Michael: “Yes, we did go to counseling in the beginning, but she was not completely honest with the counselor or me about everything that was going on. Once all of the truth came out, I suggested it again with nothing coming of it.”

Mark: Yes, after the first time my wife confessed an affair. I found it very helpful. But…she had made up her mind long before our counseling.

Rebekah: “Yes. I begged for years for him to go with me to see someone so we could try to save the marriage.  My ex agreed one time in 20 years to see a counselor.”

Chris: “Yes, we sought marriage counseling…multiple times with multiple counselors across multiple years.  The counseling was beneficial in that it helped me learn a lot about myself and helped me learn to communicate and listen better.  It also seemed, for a time, to help the marriage relationship.  However, ultimately, she used the tools learned in counseling to hone her skills of manipulation and deceit.  Ultimately, counseling can only help to the degree that BOTH partners WANT help.”

If you or someone you know is considering divorce but is not a recipient of abuse, take an opportunity to re-read the statements at the beginning of this post, and we urge you to seek counsel and reconciliation for your marriage. If you believe you are experiencing abuse, seek professional counsel at your earliest convenience.


 Footnote: (1) Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot –


Boundaries: Unity

Yesterday we took an opportunity to write about boundaries, and how implementing boundaries can actually help your marriage-friendship grow. Today we’d like to continue the focus on boundaries, but instead of writing about your friendship with your spouse, we’re going to focus on your relationship with God. And instead of focusing on what boundaries YOU think you may need to implement in order to grow your marriage-friendship, today we want to focus on you giving your SPOUSE permission to recommend boundaries to you in order to keep your relationship with God going strong.

We refer to this as the “Unity” aspect of marriage. Unity is living in such harmony with your spouse that they can help you become the person God made you to be. Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast.

What it means is that you give your spouse full permission to lovingly call you out. You give them permission to speak the truth in love. You give them permission to help you become the person that deep-down-inside you want to become, though you may cringe when you consider what you need to do to get there. Sound familiar?

Regarding the topic of boundaries, it means you give you spouse permission to recommend boundaries that will keep your relationship with God strong.  It also means that you have an opportunity to do the same with them.

Before reading on, take five minutes to do a little bit of self-reflection. Write down 2-3 boundaries that you believe your spouse would recommend for you to implement that would improve your relationship with God.  And yes, just limit it to 2-3.


Welcome back. Now, before running to your spouse to ask their input, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Be Sincere:

First, kindly ask your spouse for their input. Remember, the goal of this exercise is for them to help you become the person God made you to be. In other words, the goal is to give your spouse permission to help you become the best possible version of yourself.  Be sincere in your request, and listen to what they have to say without getting too defensive.

Chances are, your spouse may have some thoughts.  Maybe a lot of them!  Listen carefully to what they have to say and then take time to discuss what boundaries you may need to put in place to best follow-through. Some of their suggestions may require a simple daily lifestyle change. Others may be a bit more dramatic. But if you both agree the changes are worth it, begin to take the steps necessary to grow.

Be Specific:

You probably don’t want to give your spouse permission to list 7-8 things you can do. Instead, keep it to two, maybe three. But be very specific in what you’re looking for.  For example, you may want to ask, “What is the one thing you think I can to improve my relationship with God, and what boundary (or boundaries) do you think I need to put in place to get there?”  He or She may want to take a few days to think it over, but the more specific you are in your request, the more specific they’ll be in their response, and the more specific steps you can take.

Be Serious:

Finally, after listening to the sincere advice of your spouse, be serious about taking steps towards growth. If you take this exercise seriously, your spouse will be much more open to listening to you make recommendations for them as well. And your marriage will continue moving forward as it should.


Feel free to leave or comment of answer the following question in the comments below:

1. What benefits would your marriage experience if you both gave one other permission to recommend boundaries to help you in your relationship with God and others?

Boundaries: Friendship

This weekend Megan and I had an opportunity to do something extraordinary. It wasn’t planned out weeks in advance. It wasn’t even planned out days or hours in advance.  It was 100% spontaneous (and just so you know, we are NOT spontaneous people.) And it was one of the best weekends of our marriage.

Where we went and what we did is relatively unimportant. (Though if you really must know, we took a weekend out of town with our girls, enjoying parks, disc golf, and even swimming in a lake.) What is important, is that we’ve both placed certain boundaries in our lives in order to keep our friendship going strong.


It’s the one word everybody knows and understands, but few apply it well.  Having boundaries in your life means you have clear lines in place that you won’t cross. Stay within those boundaries and you’ll likely enjoy a healthier, happier life. But if you cross those lines too many times, you’ll likely feel as if you’re doing a lot yet accomplishing nothing. Keep going and some of your friendships may take a hit. Further still, your friendship with your spouse becomes non-existent.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s just to much to do. You’re thinking you’ll let others down. You’re thinking you’ll miss a deadline. You’re thinking…

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But here are a few things you may want to consider as well.

All of Life Is Ministry:

With all of the challenges Megan and I have experienced over the past year, this is something we’ve come to understand so clearly. Did you know that swimming in a lake, or hiking on a trail, or playing a board game with your spouse (and kids) is no less Godly than attending every church service every weekend? Did you know that it’s OK to say, “no” to some really good ministry opportunities in order to do something even better with your family?  Did you know that spending true quality time with your family can even be considered ‘ministry’?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in full-time ministry and Megan volunteers a tremendous amount of time and energy. But we’ve learned that we don’t have to be there for every service, every meeting, every…everything. We can say, “no” to some things and remain 100% confident that we’re accomplishing all that God has for us to accomplish.

Emotional Health is Important:

This past year we’ve taken an opportunity to read a great book called, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. If you’re ever feeling a bit overwhelmed, read this book immediately. It’s fantastic.

I know that men don’t like to talk about ’emotions’, but there’s tremendous benefit in both men and women understanding their emotional health and making decisions to keep their emotional health at the highest possible level.  Why? Well, because when you’re not feeling well on an emotional level then it doesn’t matter how much you’re doing, because the people you’re doing it for aren’t getting your best. If you truly want others to always get your very best, keep appropriate boundaries in place and hold firm to them. Remember, saying, “no” to some things means that others can get more of your very best. And you’ll feel better about what you’re able to accomplish.

Friendship First:

Your friendship with your spouse is far more important than any other friendship you may have. It’s more important than any meeting or deadline. It’s more important than coaching your son’s soccer team or driving your daughter to her dance recital. Your friendship with your spouse is the rock on which the rest of your marriage is built.  If you hold firm on boundaries to keep your marriage-friendship strong, everybody will get your very best in everything else you do.


Feel free to answer at least one of these questions in the comments below:

1. What are some things you have a really hard time saying, “no” to?

    Would saying, “no” bring you more joy?

2. What are 2-3 things you do to keep your marriage-friendship strong at all times?

The Mid-Summer Marriage Amusement Ride

Awwww summer. Swimming pools. Mountains. Oceans. Hiking. Walking. Cycling. Roller Coasters. Driving. Here one day…there the next. And if the day allows it, you may even be able to relax a little. (Yeah, right!)

Yes, summer is a busy time of year. In fact, the past 4-5 summers for me have been busier than the other nine months of the year.  With all this busy-ness going on, how can a couple regularly focus on their friendship?  And why start now?  Why not begin in September, once the Summer officially ends?

Well, there are a number of reasons for a couple to focus on their friendship. We’ve already outlined some reasons on how to focus on Friendship all year long (this includes the summer months as well.)

But now that we’ve reached the 1/2 point of the summer, we thought it may be a good idea to have a fun Mid-Summer Checkup.  Here are a few suggestions that we hope will provide some Mid-Summer Amusement in your marriage.

Create a Summer Bucket List:

starsMaybe you haven’t gone hiking yet, or you’ve only had an opportunity to do it with the kids in tow, not on a friendly date.  Or maybe you’d like to stay up late stargazing one night.  Whatever it is, take a brief opportunity to write down three things you would each like to do before the end of the summer.  That’s SIX Bucket List ideas for the two of you.  Then be sure to put dates on the calendar as to when you can schedule them in.

Read a Marriage Book Together:

If you’re planning a week-long trip to the mountains, beach, or some other kind of travel plans, take an opportunity to read a Marriage book and discuss it. It doesn’t have to be a real brain-burner, and there are some options out there even hubby wouldn’t mind reading.

Begin Fun Conversations:

Take a few opportunities to answer some of the following questions. By simply answering one or two a day one day a week will help you both remember why you’re already best friends.

  1. The most fun I’ve ever had together was when we…
  2. The last time I laughed so hard that I cried was when…
  3. The one thing I love most about the time we spend together is…
  4. The one couple that has influenced us the most is…
  5. If I could travel with you anywhere in the world I’d go…
  6. If I could get you to join me in something outrageous (i.e. skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.) I’d ask you to…
  7. What I enjoyed most about our wedding day was…
  8. What I enjoyed most about our wedding night was…
  9. If I could do one thing to bring a smile to your face this week, what could I do?
  10. If we could have sex someplace other than the bedroom this summer, it would be…

Remember, you and your spouse have lots of time this summer to create purposeful opportunities to enjoy life together. Play together. Learn together. Love together.


Feel free to answer at least one of these questions in the comments below:

  1. The most fun my spouse and I have had this summer is when we…
  2. The one thing I’m most looking forward to doing with him/her before the end of this summer is…
  3. Our friendship is important to us because…