Marriage Works Best When ...

... you give yourself 100% to your partner! It's really the only way. If your first concern is what you are going to get from someone, it's just the wrong thing to build a relationship on. Now, yes what you get from a relationship matters, but I believe that it's more important to think about what you are going to give! And what you should give is ALL OF YOURSELF!

There are all sorts of marriages; unhappy ones, dysfunctional ones, miserable ones, nutty ones, crazy ones, sad ones, but the one you and I want to be in is a happy one! It's not even about 'How many years you've been together' it's about being happy and fulfilled with each passing year. I want to be glad I am married, and glad I am married to who I am married to, don't you?

The opposite of what I am saying here is: Selfishness! And "selfishness" will destroy your relationship quicker than you can say, "help!"And it's easy for all of us to go there. It takes me a nanosecond! But no one likes a selfish-butt-head! But often we are that guy or that girl

Let me close with this thought: If your marriage is struggling even a little then I want you, starting today, to begin giving yourself 100% to your partner. Serve them, love them, give to them, be kind and generous in every way possible. Do it for 30 days and see what happens. The first 10 days they are going to think you have started using Crack, but after the 10 days when there is no signs of drug use they will respond.


I love the song All of Me by John Legend says it all! 

All of Me 
by John Legend

[Bridge:] 
Give me all of you 
Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts 
Risking it all, though it's hard 

[Chorus:] 
'Cause all of me Loves all of you 
Love your curves and all your edges 
All your perfect imperfections 
Give your all to me I'll give my all to you 
You're my end and my beginning 
Even when I lose I'm winning 
'Cause I give you all of me 
And you give me all of you I give you all of me 
And you give me all of you, oh

Love is Whack-A-Doodle

I was talking to a friend the other day about Love, Marriage, Friendship and Dating, and she said, “Love is whack-a-doodle!” After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard I got to thinking how that’s really a profound way to express the complications of love. Love really is whack-a-doodle sometimes!

Have you been in-love with someone who didn't love you back? Have you had a marriage you thought would last forever end in divorce? Have you been in search of love and it just continues to allude you? Have you ever had your heart broken?

I am sure you answered yes to at least one of the questions above! I know I did! I think “Love is whack-a-doodle” means, it doesn't always make sense. It’s confusing at times. It’s weird. It’s difficult. It is painful. It’s not easy. It’s pure joy. It’s heartache. It’s a choice, but not always an easy choice. Sometimes it’s a feeling, but not always. It’s whack-a-doodle!

I think there is one scripture that isn't used for marriage all that much, but should be because I have found it to be a huge asset to having a healthy happy relationship and it is found in Colossians 3:13 “Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” 

 Now I must get this out there because like anything you can take scripture to an unhealthy extreme and get goofy! There is a lid to “making allowance for each other’s faults” this does not mean you allow someone to abuse you, walk all over you, treat you horribly, live a life of blatant sin with no recourse, etc. There is a time you must say, “Enough is enough, I must walk away!” But, in my counseling practice I typically see couples making very little allowance for each other’s faults! It’s like they expect perfection, at least from their mate, but want lots of grace in return. I think we all do this on some level. But I think it’s more than just making allowance for faults, but being willing to work to get through the faults to the healthy happier other side. “Making allowance” doesn't mean you are just shrugging an offense off, or ignoring an offense, but rather being willing to work through an offense. Make sense?

Life is about learning and growing with each passing moment. If you are in a relationship make sure to always work on “making allowance” which to me means to work on working through the faults.

Hanky Panky Challenge - Day 1

Today officially kicks off the 10th Annual Hanky Panky Challenge! And this year I will be giving a "Hanky Panky" idea every day to help you have the best Hanky Panky ever!

IDEA #1:

Take time to sit down and hand write your partner a love note! Not just, "I love you" but really pour your heart out! Tell her/him how you feel down deep. Reflect on the day you met, or the moment you fell in love. Or reminiscence about the first date, or first trip together, etc. Go ahead, get after it!

Happy Hanky Panky!

10th Anniversary Hanky Panky Challenge

The Hanky Panky Challenge is for those who are in a committed relationship to help them create, daily, moments of intimacy. What I refer to as “Hanky Panky” every day for the entire month of February (28 Days). Now, I looked up the definition of “hanky panky” and it was not the definition I was hoping for … so I thought I should give you my definition of "hanky panky".

WHAT IS THE HANKY PANKY CHALLENGE?

Here is what I have learned over the years of issuing this "Hanky Panky Challenge" to couples. For the guys it means one thing, and for the girls it’s another, so let this blog be your guide to what it is supposed to mean to both.

I am encouraging those in a committed relationship to take the month of February and focus on their relationship by creating moments of intentional intimacy “hanky panky” with each other every day, a total of 28 days. Let’s be honest, it's a challenge in itself just taking the time to connect every day! Hanky Panky is really about making your relationship a priority, not an afterthought. So whether you connect purely for physical intimacy (intercourse - hopefully no diagrams are needed here) which most dudes are probably hoping for, OR lots of other relationship building activities, such as, but not limited to:

1.     Kissing.
2.     Touching.
3.     Tickling.
4.     Massages.
5.     Foot rubs.
6.     Bubble baths together.
7.     Listening to Kenny-G or Usher, etc. (whichever you prefer!)
8.     Washing each other’s hair.
9.     Comb each other’s hair. (If you like that!)
10. Pillow talk.
11. Praying together.
12. Read romantic book.
13. Watch Dr. Phil – sorry, just kidding!
14. Watching a romantic movie. (not Texas Chainsaw, ESPN, or Sports Center!)
15. Cooking dinner together. (Tip: Dude, wash the dishes!)
16. Long talks.
17. Long walks.
18. Write a meaningful note to one another and read out loud.
19. Write a song and sing to each other.
20. Share a bottle of *Wine while talking (Do this naked, and don’t touch for an hour, so fun!)(*Tea, Coffee or whatever is good to you!)
21. Go on a romantic date. (Do what you did to capture her heart, and do those things again to keep her heart)

Side Note: Many times this is what I see missing in people's relationship; everything that I have mentioned above is forgotten or even completely absent after a year or so of being together (I find this especially true in marriages.) Simply, we take each other for granted, we are too busy (or we feel we are too busy) to make real time for building and working on our relationship. Yet when I talk to couples about their schedule I see that there are many opportunities in their “busy schedule” for intimacy, but it’s filled up with TV, Sports, Hobbies, Kids stuff, friends, facebook, and just a lot of busy-stuff.

Another side note that goes along with the 1st Side Note: I have had couple after couple confess to me that they have not taken a vacation in years, if ever. That is just wrong. There is no excuse for that! The typical excuse I hear is, “we don’t have the money.” And while I can appreciate and even sympathize with that sentiment, its total crap. Really! Of course they say this while sipping their $5 Pumpkin-spice Latte! Here is why I know it’s crap; we aren’t big income earners and yet we go on vacation every year since we married 20 years ago. When we first married we were poor (poor in the sense of having little or no money at the end of each month – our combined monthly income as $1,500 a month!) And we still made it a priority to take a week-long vacation. It was and is a commitment we make every year, and it’s nonnegotiable.

The second excuse I hear, “we have small kids … they don’t travel well, etc!” This one really makes me laugh, because that tells me who rules the roost in their home – the kids! We were told when we had our first child, “Don’t let your kids run your life, you run their life! They will adapt to your-alls life.” That was and is great wisdom. Our kids have been going to the beach since birth, they love it, and they love the family time too. We are making memories with our kids and each other. I can promise you this; you will not get to the end of your life and wish, “man I wish we wouldn’t have taken those family vacations! We should have just spent that money on Pumpkin-spice lattes!”  

So there it is, the Hanky Panky Challenge ... a Challenge that will lead to a better relationship! I hope you take the challenge and commit to making your relationship a priority for the entire month of February. Comment here on this post or on my facebook.com/timmygibson or facebook.com/mercychurchkc follow on twitter @TimmyKC... oh yea, by the way ... I promise at the end of the 28 days your relationship will be better!


Happy Hanky Panky!

Pervert? Or Just a Guy? (4 of 4)


SUM IT ALL UP

I've said a lot of stuff in these last 4 blogs, and I haven’t covered ever individual case as it relates to “sexual” issues. But I have attempted to give a general overview to help both men and women. So I’d like to share a few more things that I hope helps you, especially those of you in a relationship. 

If you ever have a question you would like me to give my thoughts on, please email me at tj [AT] mercychurchKC [DOT] com.

And BTW, my ultimate goal here is to help couples have wonderful relationships, my perspective is just my perspective. And I believe it starts with being honest. Honest about even the dark places in our lives. 

I don’t make a single cent off my blog, (though if I am honest I’d like to figure out a legit way to make money blogging!) so obviously I am not blogging for money, at least not yet. Ha ha! So, when I share my only motive or at least my main motive is to help people, and if my ramblings on Life Religion & Relationships can help even one person, I’ll keep posting.

A FEW MORE THINGS ABOUT SEXUAL ISSUES

1       FOR HER: Don’t be afraid!  Just because he may struggle with sexual issues doesn't mean he will fall prey to those struggles. Just because someone is capable of doing evil doesn't mean he will do evil. Make sense? I know I have wrestled with some of these issues all my life, yet I have never darkened the door of a strip club, I've never even been to a Hooters restaurant, and I have never cheated on my spouse of 20 years. The key is that your husband/ boyfriend is wrestling against the thoughts he may have from time to time.

The Bible is clear that we are in a fight, and it’s not a fight against other humans, but a spiritual battle. So fight the fight of faith, be strong!

It’s like knowing that it is possible that you or your child could be hurt or worse, but if you walk around always fearful of what could happen, you miss out on living a fulfilling happy life here and now.  

2      Secrets are no good. If your spouse is a safe place, great TALK AWAY! If not, then find someone you can talk to. Keeping stuff secret will eventually get you, every time! It’s just a matter of time. Don’t cover it up! Even if it’s just occasionally looking at porn, talk about it with someone. You may be thinking, “Well it ain't hurting anybody, I rarely look at it, so it’s all fine.Man, please trust me when I say, don’t have secrets because they will get ya even when you are careful.

3      FOR HIM: Make sure you can honestly say, “I don’t want to have an affair, or look at porn, etc.” If you ever find yourself actually wanting to have an affair or wanting to look at porn, please go talk to a counselor, or a really wise trusted friend. Talk through what is going on in your life that may be causing you to want to do those things.

4      Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t be the kind of person who convinces themselves that it’s all okay. I would say this happens when you are not in healthy community. Meaning you don’t open up and share with anyone else who could say, “Seriously dude, that’s jacked up!” And because you don’t have anyone in your life you end up convincing yourself that it’s all okay, when it is clearly not okay.

 )     If you are married: I highly encourage having a real open and honest conversation about sex. I mean you might even need to set some ground rules, like – 1) No matter what you say I will not freak out! 2) No matter what you say I will not get mad! 3) No matter what you say I will not withdraw! 4) No matter what you say I will not get defensive! 5) Say what is really on your heart and mind! Like really! Because if he/she can’t say what is really really on their heart and mind, then it’s not the truth! And it’s the TRUTH that sets you free!

I have to give an example here to help you understand what I am saying here: I was in a session one time and the couple was having serious sexual issues. They were not having sex but once a month, and secondly it was boring and predictable. So she wanted to talk about spicing it up, like introducing oral (they had never done any of that stuff (raised super-conservative Christian)) as well as maybe some toys. He freaked out. (I swear I am not making this up!) He felt she was just way too freaky and that all the stuff she wanted to do was just evil and worldly. He even said in our session, “it’s like she wants to be some kind of porn star or something.” (Didn't find this out til 2 years later, but he was a closet porn addict.) It’s weird how he could somehow justify watching porn for sexual gratification, but yet he didn't want anything ‘freaky’ in his marriage bed. It was all backwards!

I believe that if you can create a totally fulfilling sex life in the marriage bed, then you will be less likely to even want to look at porn. The struggle may always be there, but the desire and the hunger is so diminished because you are so full. Make sense?


Back to "if you are married" every couple should sit down a few times a year and talk about the relationship! Ask questions like: How am I doing? Do you feel loved by me? Do you feel neglected? Do you feel I care about you? Do I listen well? Am I available to you? How am I performing in the bedroom? What could I do better? What needs to change? Etc. Etc. 

Only courageous humble people would even be willing to have this conversation! Those who wouldn't ask the one they love, “How can I better love you?” are just flat scared, and probably have a feeling they aren't doing a good job so they don’t want to ask. But step past the fear and go for it!

I wish you relational happiness! I really do! 

Pervert? Or Just a Guy? (3 of 4)

FREQUENCY OF SEX

I can’t even count how many sessions I have had with couples who are having the problem of agreeing on the “frequency” of sexual intimacy. And believe it or not, it’s not always the guy who is feeling deprived! Many times it’s the women! (I can hear guys sighing and thinking, I wish that was my problem! Ha ha!) I digress!

Okay, so I have a simple answer here; sex should be as frequent as it needs to be to meet the needs of either and/or both people. Make sense? Let me explain further, if he wants it once a day and she wants it once a week … you will need to discuss a compromise of say, 4 times a week. Basically neither person should ever feel deprived! Ever! You should be there for each other sexually! And really, why wouldn't you want to be … unless there is some other issue or problem with the relationship? He/she should never be left hungry. Not ever! (Obviously, there are some rare exceptions, i.e. if she/he is unable to perform, some medical condition, etc. BUT, and I do mean BUT, just because the typical sexual organ is unavailable there are other options that can be used to bring sexual fulfillment, i.e. the hand, tongue, (cough, cough) you have an imagination and can figure the other ones out.) Loving couples should work with each other on this to make it a win win! In a great relationship that should be the heart and attitude we have towards our partner, right?! I want to do whatever I can, whenever I can to fulfill you and give you want and need, as long as it is within my power to do so!

I have heard stories of guys whose wife could not have vaginal sex, so she shut everything off! She wouldn't even touch him with her hand. And that is un-loving, uncaring and just unacceptable. That would be like a guy having a sore throat which made it hard to talk to his wife, so he not only didn't talk, but wouldn't listen, or touch her or even be in the same room with her. Sounds pretty dumb huh? I think so. Again, please don’t be mad at me here, I am not being insensitive to real physical limitations or problems!

Of course all this stuff I just talked about stems from a healthy fun fulfilling relationship. If you have an ogre for a husband and he just wants to wham bam thank you ma’am, well that is ridiculous too! And a little side note here … a RULE to live by guys – always PLEASE her first! Always! I believe you should never have sexual relations without her being pleased too! 

MASTURBATION

FOR THE SINGLE PERSON
As a Christian growing up I was always told I should never touch myself! My parents never said this to me, but it was over communicated in church youth group services. I heard my fair share of sermons on the Dangers of Masturbation. And the funny thing was that everyone was doing it (doesn't make it right, just sayin) even those who preached against it! Including me. I remember when I first became a youth pastor and I preached the famous DON’T MASTURBATE sermon, and afterwards a male junior high student said, “Pastor Timmy, it’s difficult … I don’t know what to do … what did you do when you were a teenager?” Ha ha ha ha ha! I was caught! And I just blurted out, “I did what I just preached you shouldn't do.” It’s true, masturbation saved me when I started dating and allowed me to keep my virginity way longer than I would have had I not done it I am convinced (again, this doesn't make it right, just sayin…) I was a senior in high school just about to graduate when I lost my virginity. And most my buddies had lost it way way before that! And if I wouldn't have been drinking that night, or any other night, I would have made it to college a virgin! And maybe even to my wedding day. And that would've been really cool!

If you can masturbate without lust in your heart I think it’s fine. I would add that it’s better to do it before a date than to have sex.

I am sure there are some people who are reading this who are 100% against masturbation. And others who are totally for it. There you go, a diverse world. Basically Jesus didn't say anything specifically about “M” but he did say to not have lust in your heart.  So, if you can do it without lust in your heart than I feel you are okay to do it.

FOR THE MARRIED PERSON
Masturbation is fine, just make sure you are thinking of (or picturing) your partner when you do it. Again, this is a great way to relieve sexual tension when apart from your partner. Skype is a cool deal too ... that's what I've heard anyway. 


More next week!

Pervert? Or Just a Guy? (2 of 4)

I know there are other nasty kinds of porn out there that are just completely disgusting and the people who produce it and even those who watch it should be put in prison (or at least punched in the throat, and maybe a kick to the groin,) i.e. child porn, animal porn, any abusive porn, rape porn, incest porn, gang bang porn, any porn that is degrading to women, etc. If your man is into any of that crap I would say, “Yes, he is a pervert and needs help!”

 “My man likes to be kinky, is that okay?”

I am not sure just what your definition of “kinky” is? I think it means different things to different people, but most guys, and girls too, are not happy with having sex in the missionary position only. (This is referring to the sexual position of man on top) Some people would think that “oral sex” is kinky. Some people feel that anything not under the covers, in the dark to be “kinky.” So this is a tough question! I think that “Kinky” can be good (long pause) as long as it is between you and your spouse only! And no one is being forced to do anything they don’t want to do. I believe anything that is forced on someone who is unwilling is completely wrong! And anyone who finds pleasure in that has issues that need counseling!  I also think there should be no other people involved. I know that this is most every guy’s dream (a threesome (2 girls, 1 guy) and though I understand this desire, I feel that it is not good. I have counseled many couples over the years who have experimented with this kind of stuff and it only brought pain and confusion into their relationship. And many of those same couples ended up getting divorced.

I do not find anything wrong with sex toys, if you and your partner agree to it! Obviously I think that you should explore a variety of sexual positions. Oral sex is good. Dressing up is fun. I think couples should have fun in the bedroom, or kitchen, or living room, or wherever. Keep it interesting, keep it fun, keep it fulfilling, but keep it sweet. Nothing wrong with passionate, even rough sex, again, as long as no one is getting intentionally hurt. You do not ever want your sexual relationship with your partner to become stale, boring or predictable.

I have received many questions from people who are in to S&M. Here is what Wikipedia says: 

Sadomasochism is the giving and/or receiving of pleasure—often sexual—from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain orhumiliation. A subset of BDSM, practitioners of sadomasochism usually seek out sexual gratification from these acts, but often seek out other forms of pleasure as well. While the terms sadist and masochist specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist), or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist), many practitioners of sadomasochism describe themselves as at least somewhat of a switch, or someone who can receive pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain.

I’m sorry; I just feel this is off. A little slap on the tosh is one thing, but really … inflicting pain?! Humiliating someone?! Receiving pain?! Obviously a person who is in to this is going to say, “Timmy it’s not your thing, and that is why you don’t agree with it!” And that can’t be further from the truth! Cause if Jesus said, “Timmy it is my will for you to have 12 wives!” I would be genuinely thrilled to fulfill the will of God for my life! Believe me, there are things that “I would be in to” if I felt that they were good, honorable and pleasing to God and others!


Tomorrow's Teaser: "How often should I be having sex?" and the big "M" question:"Is it okay to Masturbate?" 

Pervert? Or Just a Guy? (1 of 4)

I get emails all the time from concerned wives asking if their husbands are “perverts” because of such-n-such. And I take each email very seriously, because, as I guy, I understand my gender all too well! I can sympathize with what goes on in a guy’s mind and body. But, as a guy, I also know the justifications we use for our “guyish thoughts” and how we hide behind “being a guy” too often and we say or even think, “It’s okay because all guys think this way.”

Question at hand, “Is my husband (boyfriend) a pervert or just a guy...?”

Well, that’s a somewhat complicated question, but I will give it my best shot! Okay, so if your man wants to look at porn (see other women naked) he is just a normal guy! All guys, heterosexual guys anyway, love the female body and desire to see it naked. Now, simply wanting to see porn and actually looking at porn are two different things. Not only are there many degrees to porn, and frankly I am not well versed on all the kinds of porn available, but I know that there is what’s referred to as “soft” porn, and then there is “hardcore” porn. I know that some “soft” porn is almost like instructional type videos created to help teach couples how to have a better sexual experience. Although I have never watched a single porn video with my wife, I have heard couples say that it was helpful in the beginning. I am not saying that I promote that, I am just saying.

I have been vocal about this in many of my relationship blog posts through the years and my opinion remains the same. I do not think watching porn as a couple is a good idea; obviously it’s not a good idea when alone so I am unsure how it could be a good idea when together. I think robbing a bank by yourself is wrong, and still wrong even when someone agrees to do it with you. I am just big on monogamy (a relationship being between two people only,) even though I myself struggle with wanting to see porn just like most guys do. I just don’t see how anyone, maybe it’s just me, could watch another person have sex and it not create some disillusionment, disappointment, lust, jealousy or some weird expectation or some other not-so-helpful emotion. Again, I just don’t find there to be anything beneficial to porn in a monogamous relationship.

All that said ladies, do not freak out if you find out that your man has looked at porn! Seriously, this does not make him a pervert! He is not necessarily a bad guy. You only make it worse to make him feel like a sick pervert.  And you definitely do him no favors to withhold sex from him because of it. That’s actually the stupidest thing you could ever do! If that is your “punishment” for him when he disappoints you, I would stop that immediately. That is just counter-intuitive and very harmful to the relationship, you are not punishing only him, but you are hurting your relationship in the process. He is a guy, and just like he can’t understand the emotional things you wrestle with, you cannot fully understand the sexual things that he wrestles with, and honestly he doesn't even fully understand it. 

I am a guy who loves Jesus very much, I love my wife of 20 years, and I have often prayed this prayer, “God, can you take this insatiable sexual desire from me?” and like he told the Apostle Paul, He says to me, “Timmy my grace is sufficient for you.” I would encourage you to be sympathetic and supportive in helping your man with his sexual struggle rather than condemning him or judging him for something you just can’t fully understand.


Side note: Him looking at porn has nothing to do with you. I know, that doesn't make sense, but it’s just a fact. I've had women tell me, “I feel like he has had an affair on me.” And I understand that, but him looking at porn is about him, not you. You can be beautiful, you can be keeping him busy in the bedroom, and yet he still wants to look at porn. It’s not about you! I promise, trust me on this. Again, doesn't make it okay, or any less hurtful, but it’s just not about you. I am not trying to be trite here either, I know it's hurtful, but I am just saying, your not the reason he wants to look, it's because of being male, among other things that should be discussed in a safe environment. Be that safe place for him, he will love you all the more for it.

*This blog post is a result of countless emails and hours and hours of counseling couples over the last 15 years. Many couples wrestle with sexual issues and in the Christian community especially it's a hush hush thing, and that's not good. We should be talking about this! I do not claim to have all the answers. I only know what I know and feel what I feel. I share from my gut and from my personal experiences as well as my counseling experiences. I truly hope to help couples have a better relationship by sharing!