Flirtationship: 3 Steps to Keep Flirting in Marriage

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage…” Hebrews 13:4

For a while, this blog has been developing in my heart. I know that the potential of it can create a firestorm of responses of emotion and opinion. If you don’t know me well, my heart is always of compassion driven by the love of Christ. I do not blog out of a place of judgement. I write out of a position that strives to stay humble and teachable before God as I recognize my life AND my marriage are a continual mosaic being formed by the Holy Spirit.

My heart is for healthy marriages and to help encourage practices that help build marriages…

…AND to help identify those practices that are destructive to couples.

Flirting is a topic you don’t hear much about as something detrimental to a marriage. I think part of it is the glamorization of it in most entertainment. It’s just accepted as something men and women “just do.” The sensation of catching the eye of someone else, the flattering feeling of receiving attention from someone, and the thrill of being pursued by someone is what we see amplified. You’re living in a flirtationship; you’re more than just a friend but less than a full-blown relationship. What you think is innocent is really deteriorating the intimacy of your marriage. Flirting should only be reserved for your marriage.

Flirt verb \ˈflərt\ 1. to move erratically  2. a : to behave amorously without serious intent b : to show superficial or casual interest or liking

Notice the words, “to behave amorously.” It means with a sexual or intimate desire without serious intent. Over and over I’ve heard people say,

“It was harmless flirting.”

Now some would say that I may be blowing this out of proportion, but is not flirting generally the first step towards developing romance, as this is what singles usually do to signal interest in others? When I was single, flirting was about catching the eye of someone else. It was taking a chance to make a contact.  The contact was intentionally laced with the potential of a next step (connection, date, relationship, someday marriage). I can’t say I was the best “flirt” as a single. I didn’t have the pickup lines or the smooth conversational styles. (Sometimes I wonder what Anne saw in that awkward 18-year-old.)

But can we just admit that we all know what flirting is and not cover it up with flashy words or excuses? I really don’t think we need to debate it. We could argue about whether it’s intentionally wanting sex or not, but that’s not the point. The point is that we know flirting is about creating intimate connections. And when we are creating intentional intimate connections with people outside of our marriage, we are flirting with marital disaster. It’s why Jesus warned us about our thought-life and they way we look at others that are NOT our spouse in Matthew 5:27-28

But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

Flirting with someone other than your spouse VIOLATES

Honor: It removes the “worth” from your marriage. It takes the priceless attention and affection reserved for your spouse and directs them elsewhere. The sensuality of our hearts should always and completely be directed toward your husband/wife.
Trust: It develops a two-sided heart as you are splitting it between your spouse and whoever you are flirting with. And it is difficult to trust a spouse who has one eye on you and another eye on someone else.  NOTE: Flirting also develops a lack of trust in yourself. The rush you can get from flirting is addictive. Thus this next point…
Desire: It confuses your senses. Why? Because flirting focuses on what is easy about the relationship (attraction) and not the hard work that makes it work. Desire is closely related to…
Vision: It seduces you to think you are missing something in your relationship and/or makes your marital struggles look larger than reality. It seeds a false sense of discontent. Instead of putting more effort into your marriage, it’s easier to focus energy into others who are outside of your relational strife.
Mind: Flirting with others invites them into your thoughts and fantasies. You begin to play “what if” and before you realize it, the passion begins to die down as you slowly disengage from your spouse without even realizing it.
Faithfulness…Why? Flirting doesn’t want to stay stationary. It wants to grow. Again, is flirting not what we did before marriage as to create an inroad into a potential relationships? Can flirting be done without action? Maybe for a season. But what is allowed to grow inward WILL manifest itself on the OUTWARD.

How does a marriage avoid “Flirtationships?” Try these 3 simple steps:

  1. Keep your spouse’s love tank filled. I’ll never give a free pass to anyone starting a “flirtationship.” But a great way to prevent one is to keep the “love take” of your spouse filled. Most “flirtationships” I’ve dealt with (most that ended in an affair) started with one person having a void in their heart. Their spouse didn’t fill it. Again, it’s not an excuse, but an explanation. Don’t give the Devil a place to tempt. Find out what their love language is and DAILY speak it. Think of it like a glass. If you keep it full, there’s no room for anyone else to add anything. Which leads to #2…
  2. Flirt with your spouse. What I love about the scriptures is when it is silent on a subject, it’s saying something. If it is NOT silent on something, it’s screaming something. When it comes to our intimacy and sexuality (which flirting is a part of), we have parameters of keeping all sexuality in our marriage. Within the marriage, the silence of scriptures give us creativity (thus the Song of Solomon). Do ANYTHING you feel you’d like to do to catch the eye of your spouse (as long as it’s safe, legal). Get creative BUT make sure you’re kids are guarded so they don’t get scarred from the “dirty” text you sent your husband. 🙂
  3. Be cautious of admonition. I believe that Christians should be the most encouraging people around. You can give compliment without sexual connotation. You can offer a nice sentiment without anything suggestive. BUT if it’s being received as anything BUT admiration, then back away, dismantle any mistaken expectations, and inform your spouse of the misunderstanding. It will build trust between you two. Of all of the temptations, anything that is of intimate in nature, scripture tells us to flee from them.

As Hebrews 13 says, “give honor” to your marriage.  Hold it in high regards by keeping your attention and affection completely to your spouse. Be creative with it and re-find the joy in the pursuit of flirting with you spouse.

I believe in you. I’m praying for you.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

To listen to our recent marriage series, click on the link.

 

Weekly Marriage Checklist – 8 Things EVERY Marriage Should Be Doing On a Weekly Basis

Today I wanted to get into an incredibly practical marriage blog.

My wife and I are list makers.  Even though we do our lists differently, it gives us both a sense of accomplishment to check them off. I use my phone (Asana).  She’s old school with pencil and paper.  But nevertheless, we want to look over our days and week and feel we got done what needs to get done. 

So today,  wanted to give you a simple checklist to help with some items, I believe, should be on your weekly radar. 

Every week, I believe EVERY couple should have…

  1.  A Weekly overview.
    • Anne and I have a standing appointment every Sunday night where we talk through our week.  It’s a simple touch to keep our communication and expectations on an appropriate level.  We talk through our personal schedules. We talk though family schedules. It’s here were we decide when dates, family connection, and downtime is needed.  It’s amazing how this little AND SIMPLE action can clear up what to expect and keep our communication healthy.
  2. A Worship Point.
    • Being a part of a church community TOGETHER is a huge foundational piece of marriage. Being together to worship, serve, and engage in your church will help build relationships necessary for your personal growth as well as marital growth. On top of that, your involvement in your church community can be a tremendous blessing to others. See yourself as a part of a greater body.  You are necessary to others and others are necessary to you. 
  3. A Date.
    • I think every couple can carve out of your week an hour or two. Do a meal, get some ice-cream, or go for a walk at a park. A date doesn’t have to have much (if any) cost.  Get out of your head that you need to do something extravagant (not that I’m against that) as a “date.” I’m speaking to time for the two of you to have that relational connection you need.  
  4. Alone Time. 
    • From hobbies to leisure time, having time to yourself is necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I love time with Anne and she loves time with me. But it is healthy to have a few moments where there’s a bit of separation. Anne and I don’t watch all the same shows/movies.  We don’t enjoy all the same hobbies.  That doesn’t take away from our marriage.  It adds to it. 
  5. A Place(s) of Generosity. 
    • There is a true joy in being generous as a couple.  When you give out of your time, talents, and treasure, you foster the heart of God (of which you were made in the image of). For almost two decades, Anne and I are faithful givers to our local church. We give to missions and benevolence. But we also look for opportunities to bless those in our community.  Generosity will foster a depth of joy that so many people take for granted. 
  6. An Intimate Moment(s).
    • Sex and intimacy are not the same thing nor is Sex the source of intimacy. It should be seen as an expression of intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy marriages have a consistent sex-life.  What the frequency looks like isn’t up to you the individual. It’s what has been agreed upon by both you and your spouse (prevents one libido from lording over the other). But remember: Intimacy doesn’t always include sex.  It is far deeper. It’s that intimate connection where you selflessly serving your spouse’s love language. Intimacy doesn’t have to fade in your marriage, it just looks different over time.  Find what your spouse’s love language is and look to serve it without strings attached (expectations of reciprocation). When you connect the heart of your spouse, that is intimacy. 
  7. Laughter/Fun. 
    • (This is a bit more than a scheduled event. It’s more of an element that’s needed.) Couples that schedule fun moments are far healthier on EVER level (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual).  Anne and I will watch clips on Youtube in the evenings. Sometimes we’ll send them to each other over Facebook messager.  Maybe you two like games and/or activities.  It could be movies or books.  Find what the other enjoys that fills your marriage with smiles.
  8. Heavy Encouragement.  
    • This should be a daily point instead of a weekly one. My rule I give couples all the time: Don’t let anyone out-encourage you when it comes to your spouse. For too often, people only speak up when they see something wrong.  Why do we build that culture in our marriages? Catch your spouse doing something right. From accomplishments to even just the simple effort to attempt something, find ways to fill your spouse full of encouragement. 

Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There’s probably some other things you can add to it specifically for your marriage. But, in my opinion, these are essentials that I don’t think couples can do without. 

Love Jesus passionately. 
Love your spouse passionately. 
Make both a heavy priority in your life. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Foreplay is always “in play”: 6 Ways to Rethink Everyday Encounters with Your Spouse

Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)

From the get-go of this blog, please note: The goal isn’t to get more sex into your marriage (though I’m not against that whatsoever).  The goal is to develop intimacy.  Sex doesn’t necessarily lead to intimacy.  Intimacy doesn’t always involve sex.

I had heard a teaching years ago about premarital sex.  I was a teenager, I was in church, and words were being used in church that most people would thing shouldn’t be used (probably what shaped my blunt approach).   Then the teaching went the issue of foreplay.  From my limited understanding and zero experience, my ears perked up, and yet, I kept wondering, “should I be hearing this? Is it okay for me to know about this?” I felt dirty for being there.  The uneasy feeling I had wasn’t due to the material being taught.  It was my misunderstanding of how God views sexuality between a husband and wife. He created it for marriage to be indulged in AND enjoyed.  Why don’t we say that more in church? Why isn’t that taught more? I thank God for the parents, youth pastors, leaders, and mentors in my life who had the guts to speak the truth of God’s word into every area, especially sexuality.  It’s given me the freedom and boldness to teach, preach, talk, counsel, and blog on this vital area to marriage.

For the life of me, I cannot remember who was teaching/preaching that day 20+ years ago, but I do remember him redefining the word “foreplay.”  Two of his points where as follows: (paraphrased) 1 – Physical touch grows and 2- Foreplay goes beyond the bed.  I’m gonna do my best to do this justice…

First, the physical affection you entertain and indulge in were designed to bring a growing connection.  It wants to go further.  The term I coined is “progressive connection.”  A kiss, hug, a holding a hand, all done in the proper way, should leave the thought, “I’d like that to happen again.”  Teenagers (in my day) would say, “We took things too far and things just happened.”  Well of course something “happened.” Physical affection, without standards or limitations, was designed to progress forward.  We are designed by God as sexual beings.  There’s nothing dirty about it. In fact, scripture says, you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But like all things God designs and gives, there is a stewardship of it.  (Parent Note: Don’t be ignorant.  Guard what you see your kids doing with their boyfriends/girlfriends.  What they do in public, they’ll take it a step forward in private.)

Secondly, foreplay doesn’t just happen in the bedroom.  Foreplay is the daily courtship of the heart and, therefore, not limited to a bed. It is the accumulation of moments; the buildup of passion.  Call it a “snowball effect.”  That means, if properly handled, it can be fostered over the course of a day/week instead of trying to “jump-start” it in a moment (not that I’m against “heat of the moment” times for marriage…go for it). If we can wrap our minds around that, it would dramatically affect our marital sex life. It’d remove the idea of “intimacy is just for a moment” into the place where intimacy is how we live.  If husbands and wives can see the simple everyday moments are ALL foreplay, our approach to our spouse would forever be changed.  It may add more sex (no promises), but I guarantee it will add more intimacy.

Here are 6 ways to rethink everyday encounters with your spouse:

  1. Greetings and Goodbyes.  Monitor how you leave the home and how you return.  The way you send off your spouse into their day should make them smile instead of relieved you’re gone.  The way you return or what he/she returns to shouldn’t make him/her wish they’d stayed at work a bit longer.
  2. Reconnections. How you keep in contact throughout the day is a huge deal.  Even if you’re not a cheesy romantic and slip notes into the pockets of your spouse, casual texts and phone calls matter.  This is where social media can be a huge gift.  Tweet to your spouse.  Message him/her.  Take a pic of the meal that’s ready. Text something sensual to him/her (hey your married…nothing wrong with that unless a coworker picks up your phone and looks at it.  Be careful).
  3. Fight well. Skirmishes happen.  It’s inevitable with two humans living together in matrimony.  But fight fair and in a healthy way. Don’t go for the selfish win.  Go for marital win.  Fighting from a place of humility doesn’t seem normal.  It’s because it isn’t.  Intimacy flows when pride is laid down. (Here’s the series I did on conflict called “Fight Club“)
  4. Releasing poison. How you handle forgiveness can revolutionize your marriage. I’ve heard it said, “Unforgiveness is the poison you drink that you think will kill someone else.” Withholding forgiveness might be strangely satisfying as if you’re making someone suffer for what they’ve done. But it’s slowly killing you and your marriage.  Watch your attraction increase with the poison of unforgiveness flushed from your system.
  5. Selflessly serve. This does two things. First, it makes you look for your spouse’s love language and, second, fosters humility. Meet your spouse’s needs without the need for reciprocation.  In other words: True serving has no strings attached. You serve regardless of what you get back.  Imagine a marriage where two people are, daily, looking for ways to serve the needs of the other spouse.
  6. Safe touches. A UCLA study showed that human beings need 8-10 meaningful touches a day. Learn to touch with zero expectations.  67% of men have “touch” as a dominant love language.  But, because they haven’t exercised stewardship over their love language, they don’t know how to exhibit physical touch without their wife thinking they’re only doing it for sex. Introduce (or reintroduce) “non-sexual” touch.  It’s touch without sexual expectations.  Hand holding, massages, a (light) slap on the rear, embraces, etc. should be active in regardless of the years of marriage.  There should be adequate and appropriate touches enjoyed.

I love what Hebrews 13:4 says, “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.” I think that part of honoring and guarding “the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” is making sure that we are courting their heart and passion in a way that serves them.  And serving isn’t done by one single act. It’s a lifestyle. We saw in Jesus when it came to his bride, the Church.  He served regardless of what he received. He gave knowing we could never reciprocate that level of giving.  How much more should we strive to build into our day, intentional actions to serve our spouse?  I promise, courting their heart can revive the passion back into your marriage.

Don’t leave foreplay in the bedroom.  It wasn’t meant to live there.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Sex and Fruit: Week 2 of developing a heathy marital stance on intimacy.

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Thanks for feedback in emails and Facebook!  We had a great start with last weeks post regarding breaking the silence that keeps intimacy from growing.  If you missed the post, check it out here: Sex Position: Developing a heathy marital stance on intimacy.

A simple TRUTH to kick-start today’s blog: sex is important. Husbands and wives find joy in it and they get in arguments over it. Some greatly indulge in it or they can’t seem to find any enjoyment in it at all. I could go on and on. Yet, you won’t find a marriage relationship that hasn’t dealt with the issue of sex and intimacy. Stop downplaying it. Sex is a big deal in marriage!

To explain today’s subject, “Sex and Fruit“,  I’ll give a TRUTH

Sex is not the fuel of a good marriage, but the fruit of one. 

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Great sex doesn’t necessarily equal a great marriage. In our sex-crazed society, it really seems the opposite.  There is such a saturation with the subject that it seems that if you have sex perfected in the relationship, the marriage will last forever.  If you watch enough television and/or movies, you think that quantity equals quality (not that I’m against quantity…I felt I needed to say that ).  But, like a fine wine, the quality of sex should be increasing within the marriage as the marriage grows.  The vintage of sex becomes a result of a great long-lasting, time-enduring marriage.

Whether you realize it or not, you always drag more than just your bodies into bed. Under the covers of the marriage bed, there is nakedness. Emotional, mental, spiritual, and sometimes even physical nakedness appears under the sheets. It’s there where you bring your character AND the character of the relationship into the marriage bed.  You bring unresolved arguments, just as much as the romance from a night out.  When I think of some of the deepest talks, the most intimate moments, some of the most meaningful times of prayer that I have had with Anne…they all took place in our bed.  Everything that we are is exposed there.

It’s no surprise why so many people have intimacy issues. They have separated the bed from everything else in life.  Where a spouse assumes it’s a time for embrace, the other hasn’t gotten over hurt and bitterness. Then rejection hits. Now the bed seems the source of bitterness. When the bed shows the fruit of what was brought into it.

God has given us this awesome gift of sex for three reasons:
1 –  Consummate our marriage. It’s a bond between husband and wife
2 – Provide enjoyment.  God built your body for you to enjoy your spouse.
3 – Procreation. That’s a fancy way of saying “having kids.”

When God has set something up to bond spouses and bring them together is going to be tricky to figure out navigate. Because God set it up, it is going to have a target placed upon it by the enemy who comes to steal and destroy marriages. I’ve said for years, God made man in His image.  And God is so complex and deep that His image couldn’t be confined to one sex but needed to two to become one to give the best image of who He is. Because of that sex needs our time and attention.  God’s desire is for it to be a blessings.

For it to be a blessing, you have to watch what you bring into the bed. Foreplay is a word that most people know.  (If you don’t, you may need to ask your spouse what it is.  He/she will help fill you in. Finding out the what and the how may fix some of your issues…crud…I got off subject.) The problem lies when you don’t realize that foreplay exists before foreplay starts.  Foreplay, by my definition, is the activity used to stimulate towards sexual intimacy.   I’ve made reference before to the book, “Sex begins in the Kitchen.”  Without rehashing that, I’ll say that your character and the character of your marriage is the “foreplay that leads to foreplay.” It’s will be very difficult for you to try to stimulate your wife in bed if you haven’t spoken kindly to her all day.  You’re husband may not be very responsive if you have been critical of him earlier.  Your day together feeds into the responsiveness of your spouse. And until you understand that, your intimacy will struggle to be less that what it could be.

If you are using sex as the fuel of your marriage, you are living shallow at best. And when the difficult storms come.  There won’t be any fuel to help the marriage through to the other side.  But when you pour into your character and the character of your marriage, the “quantity” may increase, but I promise the “quality” will.  Raise the vintage of your sexuality by raising your character.

Some tips to help develop healthy “fruit” in marriage: 

1 – Humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
– On a personal level, humble yourself before the Lord.  Ask Him to reveal areas of pride.  Ask Him to reveal selfishness (which is pride but most people don’t see that). Ask Him to help you be humble before your spouse.
– On a marital level, humble yourself before your spouse.  Ask him/her about some of the things that keep him/her from wanting to be intimate.  Be teachable. Be willing to ask for forgiveness.

2 –  The mind of change.  Romans 12:2.
My dad always talks about “stinking thinking.” For too long we have been dealing with sex by the patterns of this world. We need our minds changed to know what God’s will is for our intimacy is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  God made it.  He wants you to enjoy it

3 – Patience is a virtue. Galatians 5:22
Curly, from the 3 Stooges says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Syracuse.” Change takes time.  Vintages take time.  As Christ takes the center of your marriage, the fruit of that will be patience.  Be committed to the vintage.  Be patient.

4 – “What would you like?” Philippians 2:3
This is one of my favorite verses for marriages.  Put your spouse’s needs first.  Whether you lack desire or you have “too much” desire (according to your spouse). Put his/her need first. The beauty of both of you being other-centered in bed is you both are seeking to please each other.

The sexual enjoyment in your marriage is the fruit of what you bring into the bed.  Facilitate that enjoyment by cultivating humility, change, patience, and selflessness.

Thanks for letting me ramble…