Archive for intimacy

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- A Simple but Radical Prayer

Posted in Acceptance, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, companionship, Conflict, Encouragement, Faith, God' Love, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Listening, Ocean of Love, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Prayer, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2013 by hmclaughlin

heart in hand
Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love Languages hit the bull’s eye, but I think we need to go deeper. I specifically remember the time and place when I discovered how we truly learn to love each other.

After being married about 15 years to my first husband, I hit the brick wall thinking that nothing was ever going to change. My husband was never going to love me the way I needed to be loved. I needed the kind of “action love” where I knew my words were being heard and that I was accepted for who I was; junk and all. I wondered if there would ever be a life beyond Monday night football and the next basketball event. I thought: If he would just do all those things that I need, then I would be happy and our marriage would be perfect.

It was 1982 when God nudged me in my spirit and these words came to me: In order for you to feel loved, why not find out how Dick needs to be loved.

I remember that moment in time because that is when I started praying this prayer, “Lord, show me how Dick needs to be loved, and show me how to love him.” I thought it was kind of a strange prayer and I wondered what would happen. For the next 12 years I prayed this prayer faithfully. Over time, albeit slowly, this is what transpired:

1. The most important thing this prayer taught me was to STOP trying to change my husband so that he would meet all MY needs.
2. I started observing what my husband needed. For instance, he needed to watch football and play basketball. Those were things he loved and I finally relented and stopped nagging him.
3. Miraculous things began to happen. Over time as I stopped trying to “get him to do things” he took more notice of my needs.
4. I re-learned how to love him in a deeper level…not for what he could bring into our relationship but to ACCEPT him for who God made him to be.

When my husband died 12 years later, I can tell you from the depth of my heart that this simple but radical prayer taught me how to love in a way I never thought was possible.

I have discovered that loving people is not easy. I need God’s love to fill me and cover me so that I feel like I am in the middle of an ocean of God’s love. Over time the people around me will feel the splash of this love on them and they won’t be able to help themselves but love us back. Over time that is what this radical prayer will do. The bible puts it this way: “The fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16).

If you want to put joy, vibrancy and intimacy back into your marriage, I dare you to start praying this radical prayer. Persist, don’t give up. Wait for the results. They will come.

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UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known”

Posted in 5 things, Assumptions, Commitment, Communication, companionship, Conflict, Expectations, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Kindness, Listening, love, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Patience, power of words, Understanding each other, wedding day, weddings with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by hmclaughlin

man and woman
This summer I took the time to watch some reality T.V. about lavish weddings and wedding dresses. I saw snippets of Say YES to the Dress, Four Weddings, and Bridezillas. Some comments that made my jaw drop were:
“Ever since I was a little girls I dreamed about having this….You can’t deprive me of this.”
“It’s my day and you WILL wear this bridesmaid dress.”
“I had to fire my first wedding planner because she wasn’t getting daddy to approve all my wishes.”
“Daddy you’re breaking my heart because you know how much I want this. This is supposed to be MY perfect day.”

To me it all sounded like these brides were preparing for the biggest, most fun and extravagant event of their lives. How many of us took the time to play the movie forward as to what this marriage would look like in the next 10-15 years.

After my first wedding was over, the dress put away in a plastic bag, the confetti swept away and the wedding album put into a drawer; I wish I would have known:
1. That after the wedding day comes the marriage. It follows with a vow to love and cherish until death parts us. It doesn’t mean a life time of getting up in the morning and feeling warm, fuzzy and completely fulfilled and loved.
2. That all my wounds came with me into my marriage. Saying “I do” do not erase my insecurity and fears. It was not my husband’s job to heal me.
3. That each of us has different strengths and weaknesses. We had to learn to work them out so that they benefited our marriage. For example: If one person is terrible at handling the finances, then get the other one to do it. If neither of you are good at fixing things around the house; don’t point fingers and blame, call a handi-man.
4. That my husband could not fulfill all my expectations. This was the hardest one for me to learn. Because after all if someone really loves you shouldn’t they fulfill all our needs? I ASSUMED my husband would be able to fix everything around the house, listen to my endless stories, be empathetic with my tears and go Christmas shopping with me. What a shock that this did not happen.
5 That the butterflies and fuzzy feelings we felt during our dating period and first months into our marriage was not love. It was a pleasurable chemical release in our brains that occurred when we found out that we liked each other. I did not know that loving each other takes hard work! I found out the hard way that only God’s love has enough power to sustain us through the times when we actually don’t even like each other, when we have been hurt and when all of our expectations fall down the drain.

Looking back it seems strange to me that I knew so little about the struggles that we will encounter in our marriages. One day we wake up and look at each other and wonder what we were thinking when we married this particular person. Our world is filled with marriage books, manuals and online information, but none of this written material will fully prepare us for the day to day process of learning to live with another imperfect human being. But years later, and after 2 marriages, I realize with all my heart that God puts us together, with all our junk and differences, to sandpaper us into the most beautiful creations on planet earth. My friends don’t lose heart, ask God to help you “love the other person the way they need to be loved.” You’ll be surprised what God will reveal to you.

I love beautiful wedding dresses and over-the-top weddings. What girl doesn’t? But we need to know that….then comes the marriage.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – The Digital Invasion

Posted in Balancing life, Communication, companionship, Control, digital obsessions, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, i-phone, Intimacy, intimacy destroyer, Making Wise Choices, pornography, technology, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , on July 19, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Digital Invasion cover

Dr  Sylvia Hart Frejd 1 pic
My friend, Dr. Sylvia Frejd has written a book that hits the heartbeat of everyone that carries around a smart phone, i-phone, i-pad or is involved in any digital technology. I consider this well researched book a “must read” for every family because it shows us how our digital obsessions are affecting our relationships. Here is what Sylvia has to say about how our digital world can affect our marriages.

1. How can technology drive a wedge in a marriage?
Our digital technology is a barrier and an intimacy destroyer. It connects us with those far away but disconnects us with those sitting in the same room. We are having a lot of connections but not conversations. To have true intimacy in our marriage we need to have face-to-face, heart conversations. The best advice I can give to a couple is to leave their technology out of the bedroom.

2. What can a wife do when she discovers her husband is addicted to pornography?
When a woman discovers that her husband is addicted to pornography she may feel shock, denial, anger, rage, depression, self-loathing, and isolation.
Here are 3 steps a wife can take if she discovers her husband is addicted to pornography.
1.) Listen objectively to your husband before reacting out of anger or disappointment. Is his story consistent with what you know?
2.) Is your husband’s heart attitude towards his sin one of repentance or excuses and justification? If not pray that he will come to a place of true Godly sorrow.
3.) Discuss installing Covenant Eyes with your husband and having him enlist an accountability partner. Encourage him to seek counseling for his pornography addiction.

3. What are some tell tale signs that reveal when we are headed to digital addiction?
Today in our digital age it’s not a matter of “if” you are addicted but how bad do you have it. Some signs you may be headed toward a digital addiction are:
– Staying online longer than intended.
– Lying about your digital use.
– Anxious when you can’t be online.
– More time spent in your virtual life than your real life.

4. What is the best way to battle a digital addiction?
Ask your spouse what they think of your digital use. They know your digital habits probably better then anyone else. I encourage you to take a digital fast together once a week or once a month. Fasting will reveal what you are most addicted to. Start praying today together as a couple about becoming better stewards of your digital technology. Don’t waste your real life on a virtual life.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Loneliness”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, loneliness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, power of words, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by hmclaughlin

j0440974
Nature abhors a vacuum. An emotional or spiritual vacuum is “destruction just waiting to happen.”In a marriage relationship, a vacuum is an alarming red flag. It defines a gnawing loneliness of the worst kind. Being attached to someone through the process of vows and signatures on paper, and then feeling emotionally alone and vacant, is worse than having been alone on the first place. It says in the first book of the bible in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.” You and I were created for intimate relationship and when we feel disconnected we have a vacuum inside of us bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Here is why it is so dangerous to walk around with a vacuum in our souls. When there is a vacuum in nature, it will do whatever it can to fill it immediately. In a flood, the water will directly fall into those empty places and fill them. In a fire, when the flames find a vacuum they will explode with a vengeance. When you and I are hungry, we need food. In a marriage, a vacuum will fill itself with an affair, drinking excessively, over-eating, and drugs, shopping sprees, gambling or anything else that will bring pleasure in the moment to dull the pain. Even the strongest personality can cave into the most unusual temptations when loneliness creeps in. That empty space must be filled.

In this crazy, busy world that we live in today with all its demands and distractions we must be aware of the toxic enemy of loneliness. Just because we are running 18 hours a day and sitting together in one room with our i-pads and other technology doesn’t mean our souls are being fulfilled. Check the pulse of our marriage today. Ask your spouse, “Honey, am I being the companion you need?”
Men can function in an isolated stage much better than women. Women need relationship. Period! If a woman feels alone in a marriage, she is ripe for danger.

You and I were not meant to function in isolation and sometimes there are deliberate steps we need to take to re-connect with our spouse.
1. Ask yourself, are you spending enough time together?
2. Even in that time spent together, is it engaging and fulfilling…or are you just present without giving anything of yourself?
3. Is it time to cut out some outside activities so that your inside (house, marriage, children) activities have more value and intimacy?
4. Do you need to change jobs so that you can spend more time at home?
5. Don’t ignore the loneliness symptoms; they are a sign of danger.

Loneliness is a silent and subtle enemy that will creep into your marriage and you probably won’t know its existence until it is too late. Do whatever it takes to fill those empty places. If you don’t do this for each other…something or someone else will.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “IF YOU HAD ONE WISH”

Posted in Anticipation, Beauty through Boldness, Commitment, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Prayer, Resentment, Uncategorized, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Girl Dressed as a Fairy for a Birthday Party
If I had one wish that would get answered with the snap of a finger, it would be “to help restore marriages so that everyone can enjoy the pleasure and intimacy in the way God designed marriages to be.” It breaks my heart to see spouses angry, unhappy, resentful and turning to the searing pain of divorce.

If you had one wish for YOUR marriage to make it the way you envisioned it to be, what would that be? But let’s take it one step further, because marriages need more than a wish and a swish of a magical wand. A wish can sometimes look like this: Wishing you spouse would stop leaving socks on the floor, start putting down the toilet seat, stop playing so much golf, stop working so much, start helping with the children at bath time. Wishing something supernaturally would fall from the sky to change the dynamics and picture.

Let’s change that “wishing” to an “expectation.”
They look the same but there is a difference. “Expectations” put action (legs) to the word “wish”. We EXPECT something to happen or change. We no longer TOLERATE the status quo and we work towards helping to make that change. We open our hearts to embrace the change that needs to happen and we will assist, co-operate, make plans and partner with our spouses to bring about the needed change. Here are some examples:
1. My friend Larry’s wife had an aneurysm and he wrote about it on my previous blog. He did not just “wish” his wife Janet to heal and recover; he expected it to happen. He made a commitment to his wife to live up to his marriage vows. Every day he prays and asks God for help, he expects his friends and neighbors to jump in and help when necessary, and he actually puts words to his requests so that he knows this will happen.
2. In my first marriage I always wished that my husband would know when I was tired and needed help in the kitchen. I wished he would take his eyes off the Monday night football TV screen and rush into the kitchen or laundry room to help me. It never happened. I was no longer satisfied with the present status quo and realized my “wishing” was getting me nowhere. I then used words to express my “expectations” that I needed help and clearly explained what that help looked like. It perpetuated the desired change.
3. In my present marriage I expect my husband to help me with my income tax, advise me on my car repairs, speak to me kindly and to take out the garbage each Monday. I don’t just “wish” for this to happen, I have put words to those expectations and we have a mutual understanding that this will transpire. It does.

Because of my husband’s and my mutual desire to have a loving, strong and intimate marriage, we don’t silently wish for something to happen, we use words to express our expectations and then EXPECT them to happen. When they don’t happen, we talk about it.

Turning a wish into an expectation can turn resentment into appreciation and love. But we can’t successfully do this on our own, we need God’s help to guide us through this process. The Bible puts it this way: “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

We pray to God with clear words of expectation for Him to help us in our marriage. Marriage can be hard and we need a supernatural power to guide us through the complicated maze of turning wishes into fulfilling expectations. This is much bigger than ourselves; God created marriage to be good and He is the One who can help make this happen.
What is one wish…no expectation…that you have for your marriage? Ask God help you and then expect it to happen.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – The Brilliance and Power of Seeds

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Pain Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, power of words, Prayer, Respect, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Girl Holding Plant

 

Every time I open my mouth I plant a seed.  There are days I wish this was not true, but there is no escape from this spiritual law. Surely those subtle, sarcastic remarks when I am standing in a tedious, long line-up can’t have much power. After all, I will probably never again encounter the people who heard them. But I have come to realize that you and I hold an astonishing power that can be absolutely brilliant or beastly.  It’s the words that come out of our mouths.

My son-in-law Tim runs a huge farming operation in Southern Alberta. I love to drive by his fields and see the yellow canola, the rich beans, barley or the thirty other seeds he may have planted that year.  Whatever seeds he plants…that is what will grow and be produced. When he plants flax he does not get peas. When he plants canola he does not get barley. There is no getting around this.

Imagine the influence and brilliance of the words I speak in my home to my children or my husband.  I have the staggering power to bring hope, joy and peace into my home simply by opening my mouth. But unfortunately that same concept works with my ugly words. When I blame and accuse; blame and accusations will come back on me. When I criticize; criticism will come back on me. This may occur in the next hour, day, month or year. We may think we got away with our ugly words-but we do not.

None of us can get around this spiritual law no matter how hard we try. The bible says it this way: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 5:7, 8 NIV).

Life is too short to play around with this kind of dynamite. I am serious about planting great seeds in 2013. I choose to have my words give life whenever I open my mouth.  The bible puts it this way: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG).

How will I do that?

1.         Be fully aware that every time I open my mouth I have the power to evoke  life or death.

2.         Stay immersed in God’s word (the Bible) so that the Spirit of God can have full access to every part of me…every day.

3.         Our minds can only have one thought at a time. I must STOP and pray and ask God to      help me control the ugly words before they escape my mouth. By the time my prayer is     finished, God will have helped me to overcome that momentary feeling.

4.         God has given me this space of time in the history to do something significant with my    life. I don’t want to miss this glorious moment.  

My dear friends, in our homes are the most important people in our lives. We literally have the brilliant power to make them feel respected, valuable and cherished. Or, we can destroy their spirits by crushing them with our words. The choice is always ours.

 

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“What My 2 Husbands Taught Me” (Part 2)

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, messes, Overcoming Struggles, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by hmclaughlin

 We don’t “fall in and out of love.”  Love is not just a feeling, because our feelings are very fickle and play tricks on our minds. We have a tendency to think that when we lose that glow of pleasure and excitement in our marriage, that we have “fallen out of love.” Not so. We may, temporarily, have fallen out of “like” for each other, but the love is still there. God places that love within us and it needs to nurtured. In the same way that we fertilize our flowers, water them and prune them, in the same way we need to nurture the love in our marriage relationship.

When we fight FOR the values, intimacy and love in our marriages, and do no fight WITH each other, we will begin to experience a deeper level of that strange word called “love”.

Here are 6 more things that my two husbands have taught me about nurturing a deeper love in my marriages.

1.         RESPECT: Our husbands need our respect, respect, respect. They need this more than sex, words or gifts. The biggest issue here is that many women feel their husbands don’t deserve their respect. Obviously it must have been there when you met and dated, or you might not have gotten married. Go back to that original place in your relationship where you had that respect and deliberately find ways to nurture it. This may mean some gut level honesty with your spouse about why you have lost respect for them and something needs to change. For further information about respect, please read my other blogs in the archives, one of them being: UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Cutting down the Male Species”

2.         ASK… for help. Most men cannot read our expressions, body language or minds. Perhaps we assume that “if they really loved us they would know when we feel overwhelmed, tired or unhappy”. But most men don’t have that gut level, inner intuition that you and I have. We need to clearly identify our needs and desires with words that they can grasp.

3.         KINDNESS…is the greatest gift we can give each other. Small acts of kindness cover a multitude of mistakes and oversights. I have learned that “stopping and showing kindness” literally changes the course of conversations, obstacles…life.

4.         LAUGH.  Laughter is like medicine that can cover awkwardness, mistakes and even mends a broken heart. Seek out opportunities to stop and laugh. Sometimes that means going to a funny movie or talking about a hilarious situation that happened in the past. Just last night I sent my husband a funny U-tube and we watched it together and laughed hilariously.

5.         EAT MY WORDS. That means, to chew on my thoughts, play them backwards and forward then eat the bad ones before they escape my mouth.

6.         FORGIVE. Forgive very quickly. Building up resentment not only poisons my soul, but builds barriers. The number one reason for marriage break-ups is “resentment.” Forgiveness is never a last resort, but must always be a first response. We must remember that forgiveness is very hard because it is not a natural transaction. Forgiveness is a supernatural transaction between you, your spouse and God’s Holy Spirit.

The bible tells us very clearly that when we obey His commands, “our joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV). In order to have a thriving, intimate loving marriage relationship we must obey God’s command. The bible puts it this way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13, 14 NIV).

I know from personal experience that if we are willing, with God’s help, to “fight for our marriage”, beyond our present struggles we will experience our greatest power, freedom and joy. What is one area you will work on today?