Navigating a Life Changing Event

Recently, and fairly suddenly, Alan and I chose to embrace some changes in our life that are having a big impact on us. Alan was laid off his job late last year and was pursuing another job. If that wasn’t enough our church’s leadership team fell apart and urgently needed help to fill in the blanks. Never ever did we contemplate Alan volunteering for the board of directors of a large church, but that’s what he did after we prayed, sought counsel, and agreed together that the Lord was leading him there.

Photo by Andy Stafiniak

Photo by Andy Stafiniak

Within a week he was attending several meetings a week. Evenings, mornings, long meetings, emergency meetings. Lots of phone calls, email and text communications. It was a very different schedule, sort of like when we prepared for our daughter’s wedding. Those last few months were non-stop and we never felt caught up.

We have always been extremely protective of our time alone for dates and intimacy and it took a few weeks to notice that this new schedule was taking a toll. We also felt the effect on our exercise goals that fell to a lower priority. We were tending to eat fast food on the fly. The long hours, less exercise, and poor food choices meant less energy for intimate time and getting everyday chores done.

Though this has been a big change for us, I know that some couples live in this state of busyness constantly and it doesn’t ease up for them. So temporary or constant, how can we navigate these times and keep our marriages fresh and passionate?

There are the obvious things:

  • Is there anything you can let go of?
  • Decide together if you should add something new.
  • Intentionally shut the phones off for time to connect.
  • Stop things that just waste time- TV, web surfing, gaming.

And schedule intimate time if you have to but be open to unconventional or spontaneous times. When a meeting cancels, don’t waste the opportunity! On the other hand, let go and be content if your time together gets postponed once in a while.

Most important are your attitudes. It’s easy to blame and resent your spouse when they change the plans. But that attitude will only hurt you both if you hold on to it. Don’t ever doubt your spouse’s commitment and love. Making assumptions about their intentions never helps. When your feelings get hurt or your hopes dashed, talk about how you feel

Photo by John Nyberg

Photo by John Nyberg

and work together to get the time you need.

And finally, don’t forget to plan for and go on that get-away time where you can relax and enjoy each other without any interruptions!

Lions and Bees and Otters and Bears, Oh My!

We all remember Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz repeating over and over “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” So it was sure funny when I ran across a book by Dr. Sandra R. Scantling titled Extraordinary Sex Now: A Couple’s Guide to Intimacy in which she cleverly refers to our marital relationship in terms of Lions and Bees and Otters and Bears.

Oh, my!

Since my last blog covered being “in the mood,” I thought I’d stay in the mood with a few comments about Dr. Scantling’s book. While the title may suggest a racy exposition on the subject of sex, I found her book was quite insightful in detailing relational styles and how they affect our intimate interactions. It is more a primer on how to understand one another than on how to do one another.

Now about Lions, Bees, Otters, and Bears…  Here’s a very brief summary:

  • Lions –  Energizers – communicative, controlling, critical, assertive, energetic, demanding, risk takers
  • Bees – Workers – practical, analytical, organized, perfectionist, precise, orderly, hardworking, planners
  • Otters – Players – playful, dreamers, artistic, impulsive, disorganized, fun-loving, rebellious
  • Bears – Stabilizers – cooperative, agreeable, conflict avoiders, thoughtful, stubborn, generous, nurturing

Do you see yourself and your spouse in the list? Many of us are a combination, such as a Bee/Bear or a Lion/Otter.

You can see that certain temperaments will have a challenge functioning on a day to day basis with a non-complementary temperament. Sure, a Bee can get along with a Bee because they are so well organized. And two Bears will have a wonderful time because they’ll never disagree; they’ll just go along and be happy Bears.

But what about two Lions? Who gets to make the decisions? Who gets to lead? And consider two Otters. They want to have fun, no matter what. But what happens when one wants to hike and the other wants to visit with friends all day? Who decides? Yes, the Bees already have an answer: Take the friends on the hike!!  Those clever Bees!

You get the idea. Maybe we can get along with a spouse that is similar to us. But generally speaking, we tend to marry the opposite of who we are. A Lion will marry a Bee or an Otter and the sparks will fly.

Dr. Scantling’s book breaks down these complicated interactions and gives detailed suggestions on how to cope with divergent personalities. If we can learn how to get along better outside the bedroom, it will be easier inside the bedroom.

This speaks to the primary themes of Common Sense Marriage:

Personal Growth and Selfless Serving.

When we work at growing by seeking to better understand ourselves and our spouse, we can apply that understanding and become a more empathetic partner. We actually serve each other when we increase understanding. And we grow closer and desire to share that closeness in an open and intimate way.

So, who are you? Lion, Bee, Otter or Bear? Would you love to find out? Stay tuned and we’ll go exploring together.

I’m Just Not in the Mood!

Have you ever heard your spouse say, “I’m just not in the mood?” Have you have ever said that to your spouse? No, I don’t want to have sex tonight because…. And we fill in the blank with a busy day, kids drove me crazy, washing machine broke and water was everywhere, too many things going on at work, or I’m mad at you. The list is endless. There will always be “things” that get in the way of us sharing an intimate time.

So let me confess; it’s easier to blog about how to handle your money than how to have a better sex life. But since our blog is Common Sense Marriage, I guess it’s only common sense to talk about sex occasionally.

The question is should we let our mood determine our actions?

There are legitimate times when we are affected by circumstances that prohibit us from being intimate with our spouse. There may have been a death in the family, a physical condition or sickness, or a truly stressful job circumstance.

Apart from exceptional circumstances, we need to be in a position that we don’t use the MOOD card. We should be selfless lovers, willing to put aside our lack of interest, and think in terms of serving our spouse. You may ask “But can I get interested in sex when I just don’t feel like it?”

Photo by Unknown

If we had to wait until we “felt like it,” just think how many things in life would not get done. So what do you do when you don’t’ “feel” like you want to do the dishes, or the wash, or go to work in the morning? I bet you do it most of the time out of a sense of duty or some other practical motivation.

In relation to being open to having sex with our spouse, it may be as simple as acting first and the desire and feelings will follow. I’m simply saying that doing intimate things will likely get you in the mood. Clear your schedule and make time for being together. Clear your mind of all the “to do” lists and tasks and reset your mind on the joy of sharing time with your spouse. Prepare your heart to be open to give and receive love. Be proactive. Act on those things that will set the stage for a wonderful time together.

And if God intended sex to be a joyful experience to be shared frequently between husbands and wives then we should not let our mood get in the way of us experiencing more of that joy together.

Think about it! You might even get in the mood!