Affair Proof Your Marriage

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Seven suggestions for deeper intimacy with your spouse.

Like others of my generation, I can remember clearly the day of President Kennedy's assassination. I can describe the room. The people. The weather. It was like being struck repeatedly with an emotional sledgehammer that pounded the spikes of grief, fear, and confusion into a 14-year-old boy's heart. I'll never forget that day.

Years later another day brought news that pierced my heart. No visible bullet was fired. No assassin at whom to vent my anger. There was only the word that a hero of mine had fallen. His spiritual influence had been tarnished by adultery. I was nauseated when the news came, for I had drunk deeply from the well of his writings, preaching, and life.

I've done a lot of thinking since then.

I've pondered the tragedy to his ministry. I've winced at the shame to him, his family, and the name of Christ. I've asked myself, "How many like him must fall before we who are Christians come out of our sanctified closets and admit that sexual temptation does exist?" I've grappled over the growing number of Christians who've lost their marriages, families, and ministries due to sexual infidelity.

As a result, I have determined that we need to start asking one another some tough questions. Like a man asking another man, "Are you being the leader of your family and taking care of your wife's needs—spiritually? Emotionally? Sexually? Are you being faithful sexually to your wife? Are you being faithful mentally? Are you reading 'stuff' you shouldn't?" And wife to wife, "Are you sending your husband into the world hungry, with his sexual needs unmet? Are you a 'marriage bed magnet' that causes him to daydream at work about you!?"

I've concluded that it's time we stop assuming we are all beyond temptation and start exhorting husbands and wives to pay more attention to taking care of one another's physical needs.

But for some, any open admission about the sexual dimension of life is strictly taboo. I love to quote Dr. Howard Hendricks' powerful statement about sex, "We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create."

If God isn't blushing about what takes place in our bedrooms, then why are we? Why is it that many of us feel so uncomfortable with talking about sex? Why are we so afraid of this God-created portion of our personhood? Is it because we feel so uncomfortable with our sexuality?

Speaking the unspeakable: seven suggestions for better intimacy

Here are seven exhortations to affair-proof your marriage:

1. Make your marriage bed your priority. Exhaustion is the great zapper of passion. Our already-tired-blood is further thinned by feverish paced and packed schedules. The result is we have little time and energy to share, give, or receive. Fatigue does not fuel passion.

Practically, some couples could go their own independent way indefinitely, denying their need of one another. But God gave us sex as a drive to merge, to force us out of our isolation.

Am I suggesting that you should write "sex" down on your calendar? I'll let you decide. But some who read this don't need a tablespoon of Geritol—you just need to say NO to some good things and go to bed early—say about 8:00 p.m. or so.

2. Talk together about what pleases one another. I once spoke to a group of wives whose husbands are in the ministry. During the message I took a few minutes to address the subject of intimacy and how so many men bomb out of the ministry because of sexual sin.

Afterwards, a young wife came up to tell me about a conversation that she had had with her husband. As they were driving home after he had spoken at church one night, she turned to him and asked, "Sweetheart, what do you want me to do that would help you become a great man of God?" There was a moment of contemplative silence, then his reply came, "When I come home from work, meet me at the door with no clothes on!!!"

She was dumbfounded! Was he being silly or serious? She has since concluded that HE WAS VERY SERIOUS!!!

Why not do something tonight that you know would truly please your mate?

3. We need to fan the flames (or flickers) of romance. When our children were at home, Barbara and I had a small table in our bedroom set with dishes for special evenings. (No, our bedroom isn't that big, it was just that crowded!)  We would put the kids to bed with a book or rent a Walt Disney movie as we shared a candlelight dinner, alone. We fanned the flames by re-introducing ourselves and talking.

What setting enables your love for your mate to spark or even ignite? Feed the flames—don't starve them.

4. We need to have fun with one another but not at the expense of the other person. Some are so serious about "the objective" that we've lost the fun of the relationship. Grins, giggles, and laughter ought to drift out of our bedrooms occasionally. (So what if the kids find out—it'll be good for them to know that Mom and Dad have fun in bed!)

The Lord God, who created 40,000 different kinds of butterflies, never intended that our marriage bed become boring! But some are—especially in what they wear to bed! Men really aren't excluded here, but I've had some tell me privately that they'd like to burn some of the burlap sacks their wives sleep in. Sure you may get cold—maybe you'll have to snuggle to stay warm! Snap out of the ruts, there are a lot of classy lingerie stores today—why not have fun shopping together? Christians ought to be their best customers—our God created the sexual dimension of our lives!

5. Add the element of surprise to your marriage bed. Why not take one of your lunch hours at work to add some sizzle and creativity to your marriage bed. Caution: If the sexual area of your marriage has been a struggle, then it might be good to ask permission before cooking up something you think is wonderful, but offensive to your spouse (Romans 15:1-7).

6. Be patient with your mate. Remember, the Christian life is the process of becoming like Christ. This area of married love and commitment demands that we are continually growing and learning about one another (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).

7. Beware of bitterness. Perhaps nothing should be feared more than that of becoming resentful of your mate's sexual drive or apparent lack of sexual appetite. Bitterness quenches the fires of romance. Keep short accounts and ask forgiveness when you fail or if you have become bitter (Ephesians 4:26-27).

We love what Vonette Bright, wife of the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said about sex, "It's just as important to be filled with the Holy Spirit in bed as it is in witnessing to another about Jesus Christ."

Why not pull the plug and turn out the lights early tonight?

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