Real Love, Real Sex

I know couples are supposed to work at having a good relationship, but that gets really old. Whenever I try to do something positive, it backfires and we get into an argument. As a Christian, I don't believe I should get divorced, but sometimes I think, This is it for the rest of my life?

Wow. I'm sorry your marriage seems like an albatross. That certainly isn't God's design for couples. Although you haven't listed any specific hot-buttons, I see some overall issues when reading between the lines.

You talk about the work it takes to have a good marriage. I applaud you for realizing being married isn't a ticket to letting your relationship simply "take its course." Of course marriage takes work—any good relationship does. But the problem is that we've somehow bought into the myth that marriage is all work.

If that's where you are, no wonder you're exhausted! It's time for you and your husband to lighten up and play. Make it a priority to have fun with each other. Just hang out together. No agenda. No talking about The Relationship. Think about what drew you to him when you were dating. Try to go back to that. And if he's not interested, go covert on him. Shower him with encouragement. Flirt. Find out what he enjoys doing and do it with him. The chances are great that you'll begin to see him lighten up too and be willing to have fun with you.

You said when you try to do something positive, it backfires. Maybe your husband isn't reacting to the positive thing you're doing, but to your expectations about that thing. If he doesn't respond the way you'd like, how do you react? Snarky comments? Sulking? Withholding sex? Try lowering your expectations and then try those positive actions again.

Remember it takes two to argue. Since you can't glue his mouth shut, you have one option: Harness your own tongue—and eyes and body language. According to psychotherapist and author of the upcoming book Trading Fathers, Karen Rabbitt suggests, "After you calm down, think and pray about what he might have been feeling. Then check it out with him. Start with: 'From your point of view, what happened yesterday? How did we get into that argument?' And listen carefully to his response."

Things won't change overnight. Your relationship isn't like a microwave dinner—it can't instantly be fixed. So don't fall for thinking, See? I tried to (fill in the blank) and he didn't change. There's no hope.

If there's one thing I know about our Savior, it's that he's the God of hope. With him, there's always the possibility for positive change. Focus on making your attitudes and actions as encouraging as possible, and let God handle your husband.

Lovemaking in the Dark

My husband wants us to make love with the lights on. But I'm overweight and not comfortable with him seeing my body. What should I do?

Been there, girlfriend! I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to make love with my stomach sucked in—and that was in the dark!

What you're feeling is normal. A lot of women experience those same anxiety-inducing moments. With all the photo-shopped models and media-defined expectations of how our bodies should look, it makes sense that we're skittish about exposing ourselves to our husbands.

But here's the thing to keep in mind: Your husband already knows your body. So it's not as if he's going to look at you naked and run screaming from the bedroom, or tell you he's changed his mind and would you please turn out the lights.

So how do you keep the lights and your own comfort? Louis and Melissa McBurney, authors of Real Questions, Real Answers About Sex, offer these suggestions.

First, "accept your body's fantastic beauty. You are woman, a captivating package of sexual mystery, the crowning glory of God's creation, and the private personal prize of your mate." Step in front of a mirror and take a long look at yourself. Don't scrunch your nose. Instead, see how beautifully made you are, "each part purposefully designed for your pleasure and his."

Second, understand that your husband was created to be visually stimulated. "Yes, he'll be aroused by your touch and sound and fragrance, but not nearly as intensely as by seeing your body. That's the way God designed him."

Take his request as a huge compliment. He's chosen you. He wants to see and enjoy you. So go for it!

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Ginger E. Kolbaba

Ginger Kolbaba is the author of Desperate Pastors' Wives and The Old Fashioned Way. Connect with her on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.

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