Are Negative Emotions Sinful?

The non-communicating spouse is not always the husband. I remember the husband who said to me, “My wife keeps everything inside.  She simply shuts down, especially when she is hurt or angry.” Later in the counseling office, his wife said, “I wish I didn’t get angry, and depressed. I hate myself when I feel that way.”

I discovered that this wife had been taught as a child that Christians don’t get angry or depressed. When I told her that Jesus experienced both anger and depression she was shocked. Negative emotions are not sinful. The fastest way to process these feelings is to talk about them. When we talk about them, they tend to go away. When we hold them inside, they tend to stay.

Don’t Repeat Childhood Mistakes

Patterns learned in childhood are often hard to break when we become adults. One wife shared with me that her husband had gone silent after she told him that she wanted to go to the beach with some of the ladies who worked with her. We later learned that this was a pattern he had developed as a child. When he went silent, his parents would become concerned and usually give in to his desires.

Now, he was using the same technique to control his wife’s behavior. In my book, Desperate Marriages, I talk about the necessity of discovering these childhood patterns and changing them. It’s not easy. It requires loving confrontation, but the results are well worth the effort. Repeating the mistakes of childhood is not the road to a growing marriage.

Don't Repeat Childhood Mistakes

Patterns learned in childhood are often hard to break when we become adults. One wife shared with me that her husband had gone silent after she told him that she wanted to go to the beach with some of the ladies who worked with her. We later learned that this was a pattern he had developed as a child. When he went silent, his parents would become concerned and usually give in to his desires.

Now, he was using the same technique to control his wife’s behavior. In my book, Desperate Marriages, I talk about the necessity of discovering these childhood patterns and changing them. It’s not easy. It requires loving confrontation, but the results are well worth the effort. Repeating the mistakes of childhood is not the road to a growing marriage.

Why the Silent Treatment?

If you have ever received the ‘silent treatment’ from your spouse, how did you respond? Did you remain silent also? Or, did you lash out in anger and demand that your spouse talk to you? Neither of these extremes is likely to make things better. The answer lies in understanding why your spouse has gone silent.

Sometimes it is an effort to control your behavior. You are doing something that they don’t like and they are trying to make you miserable. On the other hand it may be that they have difficulty sharing negative feelings of hurt or disappointment. If you discover and address the reason behind the behavior, you are likely to have more success in re-establishing conversation.

Making Love Better

Perhaps you have noticed that men and women are extremely different. No where is that difference more pronounced than in our sexuality. Men are attracted by sight; women by touch and kind words. Men focus on intercourse; women on foreplay. Men think that sex will heal the hurts; women want the hurts healed before they can respond sexually.

With all these differences, what is the secret to mutual sexual fulfillment in marriage? In one word—love. Making sex an act of love—that is God’s plan. Our attitude should be, “How can I pleasure you?” We are not to force anything on our spouse. When we force our spouse out of selfish desires, we have ceased to love. Love is tender and kind; never demanding.

Three Purposes of Marriage

What is the purpose of sex in marriage? What was God’s design? I want to suggest three reasons clearly revealed in Scripture.

First, and most obvious is procreation or reproduction. It was God’s design to provide a safe haven in which to rear children.

A second purpose is companionship. Sex is designed to be a bonding experience. The biblical term is: The two become ‘one flesh’. It is deep deep companionship. I believe that is why it is reserved for marriage. It is our unique expression that we are ‘one’.

A third purpose for sex in marriage is for pleasure. If you doubt this, read The Song of Solomon in the Bible. God’s design was mutual sexual pleasure.

Go Ahead. . . Tell Your Spouse What You Like

In a society that is saturated with sex, why do so many couples struggle in this area of  marriage? One of the reasons is that we fail to communicate. Your wife will never know your feelings, needs, and desires if you do not express them. Your husband will never know what pleases you if you do not communicate. I have never known a couple who gained sexual oneness without open communication about sexual matters.

Make a list of suggestions that would make this part of the marriage better for you. Share the list with your spouse. If you would like to read a list made by other husbands and wives see my book: The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  Communication is the road to finding mutual sexual fulfillment in marriage.

How to Leave Sexual Baggage Behind

One of the realities in contemporary society is that many couples come to marriage with previous sexual experience, either with each other, or with other partners. The commonly held idea is that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. All of the research indicates otherwise. In fact, the divorce rate is twice as high among those who have been sexually active before marriage.

The Christian answer is the confession of wrongdoing and genuinely forgiving each other for past failures. The scars of the past may remain, but the scars serve as a reminder of the grace and love of God. When God forgives us, He no longer holds it against us. We in turn, forgive each other.

The Truth About Sex

Some Christians have a negative attitude toward sex. It may have come from a distorted sex education, an unfortunate sexual experience as a child, or sexual involvement as a teenager that brought disappointment and guilt. The origin is relatively unimportant. The important thing is to understand that we choose our attitudes.

The first step in overcoming a negative attitude is exposure to the truth. The truth about sex is that within marriage it is God ordained and designed to bring mutual pleasure. As in all of life we are called to live by the truth. We admit our negative attitudes and feelings, but we don’t serve them. With the help of God we live according to His revealed truth.

Check the Foundation Before You Get Married

Would you like some guidelines for helping you decide whom you marry?

The Scriptures say that when we get married, the husband and wife become ‘one’.  The word speaks of deep intimacy.  If we’re going to have that kind of marriage, then we need a strong foundation on which to build.  That foundation consists of the things you hold in common. Here are a few questions to consider before you marry:

  1. Spiritual Unity: Are you marching to the beat of the same drummer?  If not, in marriage you will be ‘out of step’ with your spouse spiritually.
  2. Intellectual Compatibility: Can you carry on conversations about intellectual matters without arguing?
  3. Values: Do you value the same things?
  4. Socially Compatible: Are you on the same page socially?

Check the foundation before you marry.