Don’t We All Want Love That Lasts?

by | Jan 5, 2018 | Marriage | 26 comments

Love that Lasts: A book review of Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke's book
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“How you view yourself will flow into every relationship you have, especially a romantic one.”

Yep. And that’s why so many of us have trouble finding love that lasts.

Just before Christmas I was sent a copy of Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke’s new book, Love that Lasts. In the book they tell their story, but the book isn’t primarily about them. The book is about big picture lessons about love, marriage, and sex, interwoven with their own testimonies. And it’s wonderful.

So let me introduce you to Alyssa and Jeff.

Alyssa grew up with two loving parents who showered her with love and taught her about God. She always felt accepted.

Jefferson grew up the son of a single mother who had quite the past.

In fact, I’ll let him introduce himself to you:

“I lost my virginity when I was 16. In the back of a car. In the church parking lot. To someone who wasn’t my girlfriend.”

And Alyssa? She didn’t even hold hands until she met the man she would later marry in her twenties.

These were two very different people, with very different backgrounds. And yet they married, trying to find this “oneness” they sought.

But the book is not about how Alyssa was perfect and Jefferson needed to catch up with her. No, it’s that all of us have wounds and things that we struggle with. All of us need to work to get to a healthy, flourishing place. Because, as they sum up the philosophy of their book:

If your romantic relationship is healthy and flourishing, everything else will be too. But if it’s unhealthy and not giving life, it doesn’t matter how everything else is doing.

 

How Do We Get Lasting Love in Marriage? A review of Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke's book

Let’s unpack the baggage of the guy with the past.

When Jefferson was a teen, he looked like he had it all together. He played sports. He did well in school. He was popular. But he felt like his whole life was about protecting his image. And he said something very insightful:

“If you were to ask 16-year-old Jeff if he was in a dark time, I’m sure he’d say no. But that’s because I had nothing to compare it to. I thought being paralyzed by shame and guilt, not knowing what I was created for, and living for others’ approval was normal.”

And so he got used to being superficial, to guarding his heart. When he fell for Alyssa–and he fell hard–he really didn’t know how to do relationships. He didn’t have those mentors or parents or examples in his life.

Even though you may not realize it, having the example of your parents’ loving and healthy marriage has a profound impact on you. Tens of thousands of micro moments and conversations and chances to watch your mom and dad love and serve each other amid their problems and baggage add up to thousands of hours. Showing you what it takes. Showing you what it looks like.

So what happens? Well, you begin a relationship with no road map. You’re used to being shallow in relationships, in never having that DTR conversation (define the relationship). And add in today’s technology with texting instead of talking, and it’s easy to stay back.

Alyssa couldn’t take that. Jeff would text constantly for a few days, and then be silent for weeks. And she ended up breaking off the dating relationship.

In those months Jefferson realized that he needed to do relationships differently.

“Eliminating all risk is an easy way to eliminate all hurt. But eliminating risk is also the sure way to eliminate true love and joy and harden a heart.”

When they finally got back together (and it took a while), he was committed to actually sharing what he was thinking and feeling.

I haven’t seen many relationships end in hurt or confusion because the two people overcommunicated. But I’ve seen dozens that were left in shambles, and affected the people in future relationships, because of undercommunication.”

Yet Alyssa hadn’t approached the dating relationship well, either, because she had her own kind of baggage. Christian baggage.

That’s one thing I loved about the book. Jefferson wasn’t portrayed as the bad boy and Alyssa as the good girl. Instead, the book showed how good girls can have a ton of baggage, too.

In fact, as I was reading their stories I kept flipping the book over to look at the authors and make sure my daughters’ names weren’t there, especially Katie’s. Seriously, Alyssa’s story is Katie’s story (although Alyssa had an eating disorder and Katie never did).

Alyssa says,

“I’ve often heard it said that there are girls boys date, and then there are girls boys marry. Well, growing up, I fell into the ‘girls you marry category’–the non-flirty girls who like to have fun but are the deeper, quieter, more stable types. Which, looking back, was a good thing, but at the time, I thought it sucked. Guys, I just wanted to go on a date. Or get invited to prom.”

I totally understand! I watched both my girls walk through that struggle. They were both gorgeous. They both wanted to be pursued. But neither of them ever dated until they met the men they would eventually marry, when they were both 19. And so the teenage life was lonely.

I kept telling them that the reason that they weren’t with anybody is because they were mature, and they loved God, and likely nothing would click until it was the right person. But that’s cold comfort when you’re lonely.

And Alyssa has so much compassion and great advice for single women in that waiting stage!

But here’s where the Christian baggage comes in. When you’ve been waiting all this time for that relationship, and you’ve been taught your whole life not to date until you’re ready to marry, then when you start dating, it can become very serious, very fast.

“When I finally started dating Jeff, I put so many expectations on him because this was the guy. I didn’t bring up any conflict or share any hurt feelings, because I wanted our relationship to be perfect. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t have it all together…..I had put so many high expectations on Jeff before, ones he couldn’t possibly meet. I wanted the relationship to be perfect, with no conflict. I wanted him to know what I needed, what I was thinking and feeling, without me having to say anything.”

And she had these fairytales in her mind (cough, Katie, cough), about how a guy would do a scavenger hunt to ask her out, or how he would be so romantic.

Things didn’t go as planned, and she broke up with Jeff and broke his heart. And hers. Because breakups don’t only hurt when you’re the one who is tossed aside. They hurt when you let go of something you wanted, too.

Learning to risk in love is never easy

Over the next little while Alyssa started dating someone else, just as Jeff realized he wanted to take the relationship seriously. And so their relationship had these twists and turns until they finally jumped back in.

But jumping in was hard, because Alyssa had been hurt. Did she want to risk again?

Her mentor gave her some wise advice. She wasn’t risking her heart, because her heart was God’s. She had to try. And to do that, she had to realize that her breakups did not equal failure. They were things that God was using in her life.

And God did use that breakup to mature both Alyssa and Jeff.

I understand this part of the story, because Keith and I broke up once, too. And it was hard. So hard. Would our marriage have been better if we hadn’t broken up? Likely initially, because I wouldn’t have had such trust issues. But I’m not sure in the long run that it would have, because God was writing His story in our lives, and He needed us to rely on Him first and foremost.

I love how they show the lessons that God taught them through their rocky dating period and their first few years of marriage.

I think anybody would get so much out of this!

But I want to share just a few more quotes that I think are super important.

The Bethkes on Pornography and Dating:

Jeff is very open about his porn addiction which started at the age of 13, and ended in the middle of college, after he knew Jesus and was confronted with how distorted and warped his sexuality had become. He needed a rewiring. His generation is the porn guinea pig. We don’t know what it will do. But we do know it won’t be good.

“Can I be honest? If you’re dating and the history of porn is still an ongoing struggle in the relationship, please break up. Sadly, I hear over and over again that many women can’t break up with their boyfriends because that’s not what Jesus would do. They say, “What about grace?” But you’re not Jesus. And trying to be Jesus for someone else (in that your’e trying to heal someone else) will crush you–and them….No one stays with someone when they are addicted to cocaine. You break up with them because you love them and they need help.”

Yep. I get asked that a lot–should you marry someone who uses porn? And I firmly believe that the porn habit needs to be in the past, totally dealt with. I wake up every morning on this blog to comments from broken women whose husbands are addicted to porn, and I just want it to stop. We have to take this seriously, and that means that they need to deal with it BEFORE we have a relationship.

But then Jeff makes a comment which I just loved. He says that the objectification of women isn’t just in porn. It happens in Christian circles, too.

When I’m combating porn or trafficking or lust, some of the most common things I hear people say are, Don’t look at that. Don’t you realize that’s someone’s daughter/ That’s someone’s wife? That’s someone’s sister? The problem is, that’s tethering a woman’s identity and worth and value to her relationship to a man.

Amen! Our identity is in Christ. Let’s not promote the porn mentality without realizing it by further objectifying women.

In Love That Lasts, they have so much more to say, about finding your identity and purpose as a couple, figuring out this sex thing, learning to deal with the humdrum of life. Pick up a copy and see for yourself! Their approach is really quite similar to mine when it comes to marriage.

But I can’t cover everything, and I want to end with one quote about sex, since that is so much what we talk about here! I thought this was perfect:

“At its core, sexuality is an expression of the mystery of the Trinity. An opportunity to tell the greatest story ever told: that somehow there is more than one, yet somehow there is one. Our bodies are telling this story.”

 

Quote from Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke on sexuality

Can you relate to any of Jeff and Alyssa’s story? Let me know in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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26 Comments

  1. A

    That sounds like a great book! Yeah I never would have thought that marriage would be so hard. Emotional and sexual baggage is so so hard to overcome…I have been in therapy for childhood abuse and mental issues for 3 years now and healing is still very difficult. My husband and I have not had sex for almost 4 years now, my past abuse surfaced just after we got married and ist been hell ever since. I am so tired of the pain and frustration we face every day and I’m thinking about “just doing it” so this misery can hopefully end. I’m afraid it might trigger my past abuse if I just “let him do it” but on the other hand, it probably couldnt get any worse than it is now…I would be grateful for any advice❤

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      A, I’m so sorry. I would say this: I have found that making love can be one of the most healing things in the world. What’s happened is that you have had someone use you sexually; you have never actually made love, because they aren’t the same thing. And the more we equate them, the more we rob ourselves of one of the best vehicles for healing that we have.

      God wants you to feel free and to feel truly intimate and loved and, yes, vulnerable. And when we’re able to be vulnerable in a safe way, then that translates into the rest of our lives.

      But it begins in the thoughts that you entertain. The more you focus on past abuse, the more everything will be about that. But if you can focus on intimacy and on feeling close, and focus on your husband, then those other things don’t have to take dominion over you.

      I know this is a process, but it’s been three years now. It may very well be tough. But you know what? It may not be, either. I’d encourage you to fill your mind with love for your husband and with positive thoughts about how you want intimacy and you want to truly understand love. Focus on those things. Whatever you focus on expands, so focus on the good and the future, not the bad and the past. Let the past go by the wayside so you can live in the present. And see Jesus here with you, wanting you to experience every good gift and life to the fullest. He doesn’t want you stuck. So don’t give those who hurt you in the past the power to steal your present now.

      Reply
      • A

        Thank you so much for your kind words❤you are right. I will pray about it…its time to reclaim my life.

        Reply
        • karla

          Sheila you have a great post somewhere but I don’t remember the name about healing in this area. Maybe you remember the title? A, It is all about starting slowly. Examples like reading scriptures and praying in the nude together. Taking a bath together or just sleeping nude. Very slow steps to feel safe and loved.

          Reply
    • Julie

      A, I’m no expert, and I suspect my experience wasn’t as devastating as yours but I suggest small steps to start. Maybe even just being physically close and trying one thing that makes you uncomfortable/fearful, and learning to trust your husband. Learning that he is not that abuser and isn’t going to simply use you. Also, a signal/sign can be quite good: a word, or gesture that says “Not that” because it arouses painful memories – something that tells him to change what he’s doing but is also a message to him that it’s not about him. This is a painful process that you are working through together so allow him to lovingly help you. Blocking him out will make it harder. As Sheila said, sex can be healing, but there will also be times when the memories surface – when you least expect it and years into the future when you think you’re over it. That’s why it’s so important you work on this together. And don’t think of “just letting him do it” as that mentally puts him in the same category of the abuser. Rethinking how you think of sex with your husband is also an important step in the healing and that’s where this blog can help. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  2. karla

    I love this book! I am about 3/4 of the way through it. I found out about it by watching Jeff’s YouTube videos. He has some pretty powerful ones.

    I have been married over 30 years and they have given me new ways to look at things in this book!

    Reply
  3. Megan

    Thank you, Sheila, for all your hard work and ministry. I have read and appreciated your blog for years! Whenever I share something I’ve learned from your blog with my husband, he says “I’m so glad you read that blog.” Ha!

    I just want to add that saying “that could be someone’s daughter/sister” (which is normally what I hear – I have never heard “wife” in this context) is meant to be the opposite of objectifying women. It is personifying a woman that you don’t know personally to imagine she is part of your family, someone you know, someone with feelings, a whole person not just a body. I often think about this myself and I am a woman so the daughter/sister context does not have to have anything to do with men. Moms have daughters and girls have sisters. To me it is simply a way of remembering these girls have families, relationships, lives apart from having a beautiful face/body. Just wanted to add another perspective!

    Reply
    • Susanna

      I think you’re right, especially because it is something men often say to each other. I don’t take it so much as, “She is valuable because she is valuable to other men,” but more like, “Hey, you’re a guy with family you love. Think of one of the women you love and value this woman that much.”

      But I think Jeff’s point in the article is interesting too… many ways to look at it.

      Reply
      • Lydia purple

        I believe that this phrase „that could be someone‘s daughter or sister“ can be interpreted in both ways. I think for people who are usually viewing others as people it sounds like a good phrase, because when you hear daughter or sister you assume a person behind it that is part of a family. But when your view is warped by porn or racism or any other form of dehumanizing and objectification than this phrase does not imply that she is a whole person, it just reduces her to that relationship. Also if we assume that a women is somebody’s child, it depends greatly on the view that person has on children in general as to how it is taken. So many see children as evil, manipulative, annoying subhumans. I wouldn‘t want to be thought of as a child in that context. But if by child the person assumes a person who is made in the image of God with his unique quirks and preferences and talents and calling and story than this is a whole different story. We all hear words through our lenses.

        Reply
  4. C

    I apologize I put this under this article but I don’t know where else to put it. I have a question that I’ve been asking myself for a very long time and to which I couldn’t find any answer. And I’ve spoken to some people that I thought could cast some light on my ignorance.

    So, what do you do when you are married, have enough children and still want to enjoy sexuality with your spouse, but without cheating on God by using contraceptive methods? Let’s tell the truth, they are ALL against conceiving children: pills, creams, condoms, calendar method or whatever else there is out there. No matter how you look at the situation, by using these, you cheat! I know people who use at least one of these inside the marriage and consider that God will forgive them for it every time they go to confess their sins.

    It seems like the only attitude to please God is to abstain from sex for good if you don’t want any more children, since nobody knows for sure whether a sexual intercourse with your spouse results in pregnancy. It could, it could be not. But when you cannot afford another child, under any aspect of life (money, housing, time, education, health, maybe others), but you still love your spouse and love them you want, that is not a comfort at all. And, what is more, I believe a sexless marriage is unnatural. What is there to be done?

    If there is any article on the blog that deals with this problem, plese refer me to it. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kay

      I’m just curious why you think all form of birth control are cheating God? I have issues with hormonal birth control, personally, but why is Natural Family Planning also not an option for you? Many women in scripture used their fertility awareness to conceive in a single sexual encounter (Noah’s daughters, Leah, Tamar, etc); if God made our bodies predictable and readable, why could we not use that same information to prevent pregnancy? There are rhythms and seasons in all of God’s creation, including in our bodies, by design. Why? If God intended every act of intercourse to potentially result in pregnancy, would not a woman be fertile at all times? Why such a very narrow window for conception? I believe it is because God intends us to enjoy His beautiful gift of sexuality and intimacy throughout our entire lives, even after our childbearing season has ended.

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        Great answer, Kay! I think I’m going to devote a week to this sometime in the next few months.

        On a totally other note, I was thinking about you yesterday. Did you have your baby yet? I wanted to ask!

        Reply
      • C

        I said they are all against God’s will because even if we say in our prayer ”Thy will be done” once you take precautions of any type for “Thy will” – which we have NO way of knowing: baby or no baby, you do not trust His will.
        If His will is “no baby”, no problem for you, but if it’s “yes baby” and you don’t want another baby, you think “better be safe than sorry”.

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          I find that a bit of an odd opinion, actually, because we seem to make it apply to sex but nothing else. Like, everyday we make millions of decisions because we want to and because we think it’s the right thing to do, all on our own. We head to work. We go on a date night. We take our kids to hockey. We buy a new washing machine.

          Every time we make any decision we’re basically saying, “I’m deciding to do this.” We allow ourselves to make decisions.

          I fail to see how this is different. If we had to stop every one of our decisions in case God wanted us to do something else, we’d be paralyzed!

          Instead, the Christian principle is that The Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and He speaks to us when we keep in harmony with God. So as we’re in harmony with God, we can hear what God wants us to do. We seek Him out. And we listen to Him. And there may be times when we DON’T buy that washing machine, or when we decide to take our kids out of hockey, because of something that God has told us. And likewise, we trust that if we’re supposed to do something different with contraception, God will tell us.

          But otherwise, God wants us to live wisely and to make good decisions. So I fail to see how this is the one area of our life where we’re not allowed to make a decision?

          Reply
          • C

            Bringing a human being into this world suffers no comparison to any of the actions you mentioned. There are actions and actions in our everyday lives. Some of them are simply of different and higher hierarchy than others because they are of totally different level! This is how God made them. Render mundane what is sacred is not God’s standard. I say sacred because when a woman and a man who authentically love each other meet sexually, God is there in His Spirit and co-works together with them in those very moments!

            By using contraceptive methods you want only your design to be met i.e. you don’t want children, when maybe (and you NEVER know) God wants that sexual union to be fruitful.
            The sexual aspect of life is not very much discussed in Orthodoxy because Orthodoxy has seen through her Saint Fathers glimpses of what the Kingdom of God is like. There are indeed no words to describe it, we do not possess vocabulary for that. The organic/ flesh component of sex is not needed there at all. What is left of the union are the other 2 components: the spiritual and the emotional parts, exactly what you said intimacy really means, if I well remember. Without these 2 sex is just animal instinct. Problem is that while on earth, sane people who want to enjoy an accomplished sexual life need all three.

            Moreover, the flesh component has consequences attached to it: pregnancy. This is part of the punishment given by God to Adam. If you use contraception you eliminate something in a triad that God meant and welded to go together; you choose only your will to be done, you let no chance for God to act (pregnancy or no pregnancy), from the start you say “No”.

            God is important! I for one, don’t want to lose Him, I don’t want to make Him grow dim in my life because of “my will be done” when God’s House has some rules and He is wise and knows why those rules are there! You definitely cannot have God at the table and the devil in the attic!
            What’s there to be done then?

            I totally reject the idea of having as many children as God gives you. God also gave you a head to think with! Self-control is what is asked of us especially in our sex life. Not many are, though, willing to exercise it, invoking patriarchal reasons or abusing the woman on the grounds that she has to provide.

            After 4-5 births a woman is depleted of parts of her vital energy, her health is affected (no matter what some may say), she doesn’t die but she is consumed in a way. The myth of having 8-10-20 births and be a radiant heroine mother is only a myth to uphold the propaganda.

            From this p.o.v., I guess yes, the calendar method would probably be the only one God would not frown upon. For those who cannot use it (irregular cycle) there is the condom.

            Sorry for the long post.

          • H.

            I don’t really want to argue, but just to offer another point of view…my mom was taking a form of preventative contraceptive BOTH times she got pregnant. If God means for you to have a child, I don’t believe it matters what you’re taking – He is able;) Personally I have Graves’ Disease, and have had to be cautious, as my disease is fraught with miscarriages and the medications I need to survive this disease can often result in severe birth defects…so that’s been very hard. But I know God is working on me and my husband and preparing us for when my body is well enough to have a child:)
            But…I guess my main point was…God is able to work past anything, so we can’t really put Him in a box by saying He ‘isn’t able’ to work past birth control. 🙂 Anyways, that’s just my two cents – peace to you all and God bless. 🙂

        • alchemist

          I think you’re over spiritualizing this. And also combining issues of contraception, God’s providence and free will all in one.

          Free will: basically it comes down to whether you believe God gave humans free will or not? If he did, then he knows we will act and he allows our actions to have real consequences in the real world. He’s not somehow surprised by independent actions of humans.
          If you read some church fathers some of them say that nothing secular. Everything is sacred. We are instructed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. That means everything we do should be to the Glory of God. Not just making babies/ not making babies. Which means Sheila’s examples apply. But if you want to get right down to it: why go to the doctor/ vaccinate your kids/ wear seatbelts and helmets? If God wants you to die, you will. You might be stopping yourself from dying from a disease/ accident/ head bump when you were actually meant to die right. So does it mean you’re not trusting God’s will if you wear a seatbelt?

          God’s will: Lets start with what’s written down in the Bible.
          – You do know a sexless marriage is AGAINST God’s will. Paul directs the Corinthians to have sex in marriage. So that’s not an option.
          -married sex is celebrated in the Bible
          -He does not have an injunction against birth control in the Bible. (the Onan thing was not about birth control, it was about directly disobeying the Mosaic law in refusing to provide an heir for your brother. Btw, it also shows people knew about birth control in the form of the withdrawal method back in Genesis.) Which means people who want to argue it’s sinful need to provide some pretty compelling arguments against it.

          I don’t know of a single church that has a problem with NFP. NFP is not the calendar method. You track your basal metabolic temperature and your cervical mucus. It’s been shown to be just as effective as the pill *if* you actually do it properly. It also works for women with irregular cycles because you are actually tracking your body to see what it does. Not guessing based of the average time to ovulation. I’m sure Sheila will get into this in Februarie more.

          Reply
    • Vulnerable

      C, this I a a real struggle with so very many sides and facets. How can we know when is enough children? How can we trust ourselves to decide such things? I, too, faced this desire to please God and give Him authority over the size of our family. (We did study through the Natural Family Planning books and courses — great support, by the way. But ended up conceiving on a dry day and messed up their statistics). When I was newly pregnant for the umpteenth time, my husband came home and declared that he felt God was giving him permission to get a vasectomy. I was crushed and thought he didn’t even want me or the baby I was carrying at the time. It was hard. It got very ugly and over the subsequent years almost destroyed our marriage to get to a place where we both decided that it might be God’s will in our family.
      I agree with you that there is not enough discussion in the Christian world about this. There does not seem to be anyone to turn to when you and your spouse are in the midst of these ever so fruitful years and babies keep coming… I will be praying for you. As I do not feel what happened in our marriage is anything one should have to walk through. Maybe God will raise up a ministry to speak life and healing and direction into this area where we all feel so very vulnerable?
      He cares and He is with us through every struggle. And I do not for one moment repent of the precious people He has put in our marriage. But I do acknowledge the struggle.

      Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Hi C!

      Here’s my take on it. If God wanted us to never try to not get pregnant, He would not have given our bodies signs when it was fertile. We really only are fertile a few days a month, and there are signs–the cervical mucous changes, discharge changes, temperature changes. People knew about the cervical fluid even hundreds of years ago, and it allowed women to plan the size of their families.

      I know that some believe that any form of contraception is a sin, but I personally do not. I don’t have any new articles dealing with this (though I do plan to write a series on it soon; my bad for not writing one more recently), but that’s what I would say. Sex is not only for children. We have to be aware that no contraception method is foolproof, and when we have sex, there’s always a possibility of pregnancy that we must be okay with. But there are non-hormonal ways to stop conception (like condoms, for instance) that really do work. And beyond that, if you really aren’t interested in that, you can simply track your cycle and abstain on the fertile days (though those are also the days when your libido will be the highest, so that’s really hard!)

      Reply
  5. C

    Hello and thank you for your replies!
    The fertile/ non-fertile days method is tricky. Especially for women who have an irregular cycle. I am one of them. I also know that not all sexual intercourses result in pregnancy even on fertile days but this we, as humans, do not know.

    I have heard of a family who conceived all their 5 children by using this method – they used it to avoid pregnancy and got the reverse of their wish instead.
    So, I guess it’s only the condom that’s left. And there are risks also here.

    Sheila, I’m very much looking forward to your writing some sane articles about this problem. Everything I’ve read so far is so puritan and unnatural. I am not married yet, but I honestly want to know these things, it’s part of education, it’s beneficial to know.

    I was so enraged some years ago when I asked a friend doctor, who is married, about this issue and the answer I got was that as long as I’m not married I shouldn’t care. What??? I’m a young woman, teacher (I love studying and teaching others), I want to grow, I desire to be married someday, if God wills it, and I do want to know! I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. My hunch was that she herself had no idea either about the matter and thought that by telling me anything might reveal her ignorance or what she does in the bedroom. My approach was far from indiscreetness, which I immediately expressed and end of story.
    That’s why I stuck to books, but as I’ve already said, not much enlightment there either. Even christian ones treat the woman like the baby machine. Don’t want any more, abstinence. The rest is silence.

    This issue bothers a lot of people, married, unmarried, men or women. I see it in the anonymous questions that people ask in the symposia. The replies are:
    a) the answer is simply avoided, not given
    b) too intimate a matter for so many people present (what???)
    c) once people are married and have the nr of children they want, they stop having sex for the rest of their lives.
    It’s like the Spanish Inquisition!

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Oh, yikes, C, really–“once people are married and have the nr of children they want, they stop having sex for the rest of their lives.” I hope that’s not the case!

      I just scheduled in the contraception week for the week after Valentine’s Day, and we’ll be looking at different methods and the pros/cons and concerns.

      Personally, I think too many people make too big a deal out of condoms. They really aren’t that bad. And when you’re young, especially, it can help men last a little longer! 🙂

      But I’ll talk about more then!

      Reply
      • C

        Thank you!
        I look forward to reading your articles on this issue!

        Reply
      • lydia purple

        We use condoms and I actually like it. It took some trial and error to find the kind we like (really can‘t feel them much) and. I like that I don‘t have to deal with the mess.

        We have 4 kids all 2 years apart. The first three we didn‘t prevent anything because all was going well, we wanted more kids and the timing didn‘t matter. Also as long as I nursed I wouldn‘t get any period and not be fertile for about 15 -18 months. After the third I desired a longer break, but wanted another baby. I was just exhausted from the sleepless nights and wanted to get out of the baby-toddler stage. Long story short, I got pregnant and this caused a crisis in me. But God was faithful, he spoke to me in the middle of that crisis. He helped me get through the pregnancy and birth (both were emotionally exhausting and seemed to drag on forever -each week passed so slow, the birth felt like that too, start and stop labor, but God brought me through) now the moment I was pregnant everything inside me changed, I knew I am done having babies after this one. Before I always felt open for more. I started to get rid of everything the baby outgrows, my maternity clothes etc. in my heart i am done having babies. And God knows how I feel. At this point I haven’t slept through the night in 8 years, and I am ok as long as I get reasonable sleep. But I am at the edge, my patience is on very short supple by now and i know that God wants us to raise our kids well, not just somehow muddle through. So I am very careful to take care of my needs and not add extra stress to our lives. Because each of those 4 deserves the best of us, not the worst, but to often I feel I am spent. God is there, he helps me when I am weak, but he also gave us a brain and a body that needs sleep and food and rest.

        Reply
  6. R

    I’m so glad this is a current discussion instead of a post from years ago I just found.
    I really relate to Alyssa and your daughter. “Good Christian Girl” who was never really asked out, got serious fast when I did so myself at 18. Trying to do the right thing but also wanting make the relationship good. Broke up and got back together a couple times bc of the differences I could see, especially when he wasn’t actually a Christian when we first met. And now, 20 years later (from when we first met), I wonder if God’s word really took root during our time apart in college bc he has no interest in God now after 13 yrs of marriage. Then there’s how different our interests are and I often feel we don’t spend enough time together. I just saw a John Piper article and the title alone talked about delighting in God and I realized how that would apply to husbands as well. We’ve come to a place where it’s getting a little easier talking about things that matter to us. It’s certainly brought me to my own knees.

    Reply
  7. Samantha

    I don’t think it’s someone else’s place to say that a person should absolutely stop dating a person because they struggle with porn. People and situations vary. When my husband confessed his struggle with lust and porn while we were engaged I had to get completely silent before I could listen to what God wanted me to do. I wanted to run away and be safe from the pain of betrayal. But when I got silent and prayed, I heard God telling me not to abandon him because God didn’t abandon me when I had my own struggles with lust. I was being called to stay. And I want to be clear that I had never confessed my own sins to another person and at that point I was the only person my husband had ever told. I was the first person he ever allowed himself to be completely vulnerable to. If I had abandoned him at that point, I would have been sending a message that he was unlovable, disgusting, unworthy of forgiveness. All of the things that kept him from opening up to anyone before me.

    In OUR situation, I was being called to stay. I was afraid, yes. I had struggled with insecurity all my life and now I was being thrown into the worst possible situation I could be in. But I listened to God and I trusted that He knew what He was doing when He brought my husband and I together. I trusted that He knew something that I didn’t. And for the first time in my life I began working with God to sort out my own issues and insecurities and formed a real relationship with God and Christ. One that carried me through the hard times.

    Today, my husband is free from lust. Was that road a hard one to travel with him? Absolutely. But I was there with him the day he hit rock bottom. I was there when I saw him fully grasp the gospel, Christ’s love for him and his salvation. And I have been here to see him transform into the man I always knew he could be. If I had a chance to go back to the moment when he first told me knowing I would have to go through the pain again to get to where we are now, I’d choose to stay again.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      And I want to be clear, I think the situation is TOTALLY different when the person who is entrenched in porn doesn’t see it as a problem. I think in that case the only healthy option is to leave the relationship. My husband, fiance at the time, knew his behavior was wrong. He had some very mixed up beliefs about his salvation as well. He didn’t believe he was saved because how could God still forgive him let alone love him after he had failed so many times? I know I’m not Jesus, and I know I never was or will be my husband’s savior. But what ever happened to being the only Jesus a person will ever see? My husband struggled desperately with feeling worthy of love and forgiveness. I chose to show my fiance the love I knew Christ had for me. That message may have taken 4 years to sink in, but I know it helped him on his journey to discover the truth of God and Christ’s love for him. I’m not saying that this is how things go for everyone. I’m not saying that it is right for every person to choose to stay in a relationship where porn is present. What I am saying is that a person in the position of giving advice has to make room for God’s voice too. Because He does speak to us. He does have plans for us. And those plans are different for each person and situation. I am only talking about the plans God had for me and my husband and according to the advice given, I should have high-tailed it out of my relationship and left my fiance (now husband) to believe his greatest fear: that he was in fact unworthy of love and forgiveness. I shudder to think what that message could have done to him. I’m glad I stayed. I was damaged in the process. I’ll carry the scars from those wounds till the day I die. But seeing my husband’s face when he talks about Heaven now (he used to avoid the subject) puts those scars into perspective.

      Reply

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