I'm Attracted to Someone Else

Q:  I feel an attraction to a friend of my spouse. What should I do? Do I tell the person? Do I tell my spouse?

A: Guard your heart and run for the nearest exit. Literally.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

We often hear about this happening in close friendships or small groups—and Christian small groups are no exception. You’ve got connection, you’ve got relationship, you’ve got some history. But when you find yourself looking forward to seeing that person or you’re getting dressed up special for that person, then put up your red flags and realize the danger. You had better stop in your tracks and deal with the situation before it gets beyond your control. Take a rational look down the road and realize that acting on your attraction will destroy several friendships and families. It’s just not worth it. 

Don’t go to the person you’re attracted to, don’t go to the other person’s spouse. Go to God first, and then to your spouse if needed. Don’t talk to anyone else.  

Consider carefully what’s going on. Ask God to show you why you feel this way. People are attracted for different reasons. Maybe your mate is not meeting a need in your life, say, for spiritual intimacy, and this person talks to you about spiritual things. Or perhaps this person has some of the characteristics you wish your spouse had.

The Bible says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23). How do you guard it? You guard it by protecting it, by staying in a tight relationship with the Lord Jesus. Take that attraction you feel and confess it to him; he already knows about it anyway.

Then, you have to decide what to do. You may need to talk to your spouse about what you sense you need from him or her (and what is attracting you to that other person). You may need to confess to your spouse if the only way to deal with the situation is to break fellowship with that person (your spouse will need to know why). You may be able to deal with it personally through praying, guarding your heart, and acting wisely when that person is around.

Four Guardrails Against Sexual Temptation

1. A strong relationship with God. A vital, growing relationship with God is your strongest guardrail. He knows how you are wired emotionally and sexually. The closer you stay to him, the greater will be your access to his wisdom and counsel for resisting sexual temptation.

2. A cautious relationship with people of the opposite sex. We’re not suggesting that you cut off all contact with the opposite sex. We’re talking about being cautious and alert to temptation and maintaining a margin of physical and emotional distance that will help you resist those temptations.

3. An open relationship with other Christians. You need a small group of trusted friends to encourage you to remain pure, to edify you when you are struggling, and to help restore you if you step over the line in some way.

4. A fulfilling relationship with your spouse. When you are emotionally or sexually thirsty, quench your thirst with your own spouse. When you are fully satisfied in your relationship with your spouse, neither of you will need to look elsewhere for gratification

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!

Money Issues Before the Marriage

Q:  I want to get married but my fiancé(e) and I have very different attitudes about money. Is it possible to work these out?

A: Money is a HUGE issue in many marriages—and disagreements over money lead to many divorces. Listen to Harmony’s story:

“I just put off our wedding because I didn’t think we were ready. My concern is money issues. My fiancé has some debt and he’s not being the most responsible when it comes to paying it off. Our pastor told us that it would be best for us to work on that before we got married. My bigger concern is that I’m having a hard time trusting him when it comes to money and when it comes to decisions that he’s making. I feel like I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed for him and I’m almost to the point that I don’t know what to pray anymore. I’m kind of exhausted in that area. And . . . it really, really scares me.”

Marriage is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in this lifetime. It is not what college you’ll go to. It is not what car you’ll drive. It’s not whether to buy a house or rent an apartment. And it’s certainly not what your college major is. The two biggest decisions you’ll ever make is choosing Jesus as your Lord and then choosing your spouse.

We believe your eternity is secured when you put all of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. But this side of eternity, your relationship with Christ is going to be very much impacted by whom you choose as your mate. Trust issues are very large, because when it comes to money, it has to do with integrity. You need to clear the air on money issues before you commit to another person for life. Are you being honest with each other? Is there full disclosure of debts? Are you in agreement on how to use the money you earn? A good way to do this is to take the time to work out a simple budget for how you will spend the money you earn each month. It also helps to determine what you can afford when it comes to renting an apartment, eating out, etc.

There are two issues in this situation Harmony described above. On the one hand, it is the money. If you are stepping into marriage where your spouse already has a tremendous amount of debt that creates insecurity for you, then that’s a major issue. Yet the second issue is even more important: What is your future spouse’s attitude toward money? Are you both desiring to be good stewards of what God gives you—being honest, sharing it, being generous with it, being responsible with it? If you’re finding red flags in this area, then you need to be very concerned. You might want to step back for awhile and talk things through. Get advice. Be willing to look far into the future instead of what your heart is telling you today. A broken engagement is far easier than a broken marriage.

Stop the Fight Before it Starts

Do you sometimes feel the frustration simmering below the surface? Can you sense there might be an argument brewing? Let us encourage you: You can sideline a conflict before it even starts! Here’s how: 

Photo by  freestocks.org  from  Pexels

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Say what you mean. Don’t say, “I hate football” if what you really mean is, “I wish we could spend some quality time together on Saturday afternoons, but the game always takes precedence.” Before you speak, think carefully about what really upsets you.

Don’t use generalizations—or words like “always” and “never.” Avoid statements like “You never take out the garbage like you’re supposed to” or “You are always talking to your mother on the phone.” They are usually exaggerations, and they are certainly not helpful.

Use “I” messages. “I sometimes feel ignored and lonely” goes down a lot easier than, “You never pay any attention to me.”

Avoid statements that assign blame. “I” statements encourage discussion; “you” statements shut it down. Start your sentences with “I feel . . .” or “I think . . .” rather than “You are . . .” or “You should . . .”

Focus on your thoughts and feelings rather than harp on your spouse’s failures. Invariably generalizations will lead to a defensive response from your spouse because he or she will feel the need to set the record straight.

Be willing to say, “I’m sorry.” Admitting you were wrong is very important, but you also need to express your sorrow over the hurt your wrong behavior caused: “I was wrong, and I’m so sorry that I hurt you.” By expressing your sorrow, you demonstrate empathy for your hurting spouse.

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!

My Spouse Never Listens!

Q: My spouse never listens to me. How can I get him/her to really hear what I’m saying?

Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels

Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels

A: Our red flags go up when we hear the word never. It’s probably isn’t completely true that your spouse never listens to a thing you say. A statement like this usually means that the speaker has some buried resentment and something else is going on. Chances are that your spouse does listen to you, but he or she may not be giving you the feedback that you need. You may be a communicator who needs words, but he or she communicates by action or body language.

Have you thought that perhaps your words are scaring off your spouse? What are you saying that he or she is seemingly not hearing? Are you yelling, nagging, whining, complaining, hurting? Perhaps your spouse is hearing, but just doesn’t know what to say back—or realizes that nothing he or she would say will really make any difference because you won’t listen. (So now you’re not listening either!)

You will be better heard when your words are better communicated, when you speak with warmth, love, and honor. Examine what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Consider new ways to communicate the same information. Explain (in that same tone and with those carefully chosen words) that you need a response of some kind so that you know you’ve been heard. When you do this, you’ll probably discover that your spouse’s hearing is just fine!

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!

A Wife's Top Sex Needs

Women long to have a solid relationship with their husbands, but the sex part—at least the way they feel that their husbands view it—keeps getting in the way.

When we surveyed more than seven hundred women, we discovered they do want sexual intimacy. They want a great sexual relationship with their husbands. As we looked at the wives’ top three sex needs, we realized the needs are closely interwoven: affirmation, connection, and nonsexual touch.

Husbands, if you want your wife to desire you sexually and initiate and enjoy sex with you, it’s important to understand that a mutually satisfying sexual relationship doesn’t just happen. The good news is that if you understand one of these sex needs, you will more than likely grasp the others too. It takes work—but the benefits are worth it.

Affirmation

Affirmation is essential to a successful sexual relationship. It is so important that 65 percent of the women we surveyed rated it as their number one sex need.

So what exactly is affirmation? Simply put, affirming your wife means building her self-esteem. It’s giving her genuine compliments, actively listening to what she says, giving her the opportunity to slow down from her busy pace of life, saying complimentary things about her in front of other people, and encouraging her when she’s discouraged. Affirmation is pointing out what she does right, overlooking her failures, and reminding her how much you appreciate what she does.

Affirmation is especially important during sex. Women need to hear how beautiful they are and how much they satisfy their husbands. The truth is, a majority of women struggle with body image. It doesn’t matter how old or how fit they are, they are always comparing themselves to other women or to themselves at their best form—which may have been when they were in high school

Connection

More than 59 percent of the women ranked connection as a top sex need. One key to a wife’s sexual excitement, responsiveness, and ability to initiate sex is a strong connection to her heart. These women feel that their sex lives are satisfying when both partners receive first an emotional and/or spiritual connection and then a physical connection. In other words, when a husband emotionally connects to his wife, he prepares her for sexual intimacy.

Women need physical closeness, but for them it doesn’t start there. They first need emotional closeness They need to experience an emotional connection with their husbands every day.

Nonsexual Touch

There is something most women need and desire: physical touch that does not lead to sex. They need to feel secure that every physical expression their husbands make isn’t with the expectation of moving toward intercourse. In our survey, more than 59 percent of the women ranked nonsexual touch as a top sex need.

Guys, you may be thinking, Is there such a thing as nonsexual touch? Isn’t most touch between a husband and wife supposed to lead to sex? The answers are: yes, and no. Simply put, nonsexual touch, or affection, is intimacy in and of itself. It’s not the means to an end. In many situations it is the end

First, let’s differentiate between nonsexual touch and foreplay touch. Nonsexual touch is loving affection. It may have the tone of sexual arousal “around” it, but the goal of nonsexual touch is not intercourse. Foreplay touch, on the other hand, leads to sexual intimacy for a couple. The problem is, to a man, touch is touch is touch. It all feels the same. But that’s not the case for his wife. When you touch her without any expectation that you will end up between the sheets, she will feel much more secure with you and much more open to sexual activity later on.

For a woman, great sex happens in the context of being held, laughing together, feeling accepted, and sharing feelings. Emotional intimacy is intensely fulfilling for a woman. Although it does not replace her need for sex, her emotional need is as intense as her husband’s physical need. When her husband fulfills her emotional need and sustains it through affirming her, hanging out together, and being affectionate, she feels replenished and safe, making it much easier for her to be open to sharing herself physically with her husband.

*For more revealing insights about what your spouse’s most intimate sex needs are - and how to meet them - check out The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women in our online bookstore!