I wish I had just lovely and positive feelings for my 3 adopted kids’ biological mom. For their sake, I really wish that I did. And this post may get deleted some day when they’re old enough to read and understand my blog. Because even though I really don’t want to lie to my kids, I have to, above all else, protect their hearts.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I’ve read a few other adoptive mom blog posts that are so sweet thinking about their child’s biological mother on Mother’s Day. And I didn’t even think of my kids’ biological mom yesterday. I really didn’t. I think if the circumstances had been different, if she had loved them sacrificially or even tried to at all, then maybe I would feel different. And I’m NOT trying to come across as judgy. Her life has been hard. She wasn’t given much of a chance. And I do feel sorry for her at times. But ultimately, she didn’t protect them. She didn’t guard them. She didn’t mother them.
And so part of me carries the bitterness that I know my kids will feel at some point as they get older. They won’t hear this bitterness from me because I tell them what they need to hear, not the truth. I tell them all of the good that they need to hear about her. I lie to my kids for her. I cover for her, and I don’t like having to do that.
Because here’s the deal… I’m their mom. And I will do whatever I have to do to make them feel secure and loved and valued. I’ll do what she wouldn’t or couldn’t do.
She is missing out on so much. She gave birth to amazing, beautiful kids. And I can’t help wonder if they even crossed her mind yesterday. I hope they did. I hope she longs for them. I hope she has sweet memories of her pregnancies and births. I hope someday she will meet them and weep at how much she’s missed them and longed to see them again. Because that is the picture that I’ll be painting of her to my children.
They deserve to hope for that. But in the meantime, I’ll just try to be who she couldn’t, all the while telling them what they need to hear. But I’m not doing it for her, I’m doing it for them.
Because I’m their mom.
Okay, so let’s have the talk. You know, the sex talk. The one that makes us all uncomfortable…? Yeah, let’s do that. Specifically, let’s talk about sex in a marriage relationship. This topic so huge and multifaceted, that it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one blog post. There are who knows how many books, articles, Bible passages, songs, etc…written about the subject. And there is a list of books with Amazon links at the bottom of this post if you want to check that out.
The area I want to focus most on are barriers to a healthy sex life. I want to say first that while my husband and I do have a pretty healthy sex life, we are not experts by any means. I’ve read a few books. He’s read parts of a few books. Much of what we have learned over the years is through trail and error…lots of error.
I think the majority of us who are married would agree that men think about sex and want to have sex much more than women. But why is that? Is it because men are sex addicts? Is it because men are “pervs?” Is it because women are frigid? Is it because women are too modest? Those might be some reasons for some people. Those are certainly some stereotypes that we think of sometimes. But really, it’s just how we are made. It’s just how we are wired. Both men and women have to move outside of their own selfishness to be able to be the sexual partner that the other needs. To be able to maintain a sex life that is satisfying to my husband, I have to put myself aside sometimes. And to maintain a sex life that is satisfying for me, my husband also has to set his own needs aside. It’s how it is meant to be.
Think about it. If I only got my way, we’d have sex like once or twice a month. Seriously. That would keep me sexually satisfied. Would it keep me emotionally satisfied and connected to my husband on a deep level? No, but it would keep me sexually satisfied. I’m tired. Stuff is required of me all day. People are needing me all day. Once the kids are in bed, I honestly just don’t want to be needed. I often want to be left alone. That’s the truth.
And if my husband got his way, we’d have sex every day…sometimes more than once. Being tired, mad, hungry, sick… none of those things are deterrents. He can be consumed with work worries and still want to have sex. And let me be clear…he’s not out of the ordinary. He’s not a weirdo. Not at all. He’s just a regular, normal man.
So somehow we have to come to a common ground that we can both live with. And not just live with, but thrive in. We have to come to a place where, given our different needs, we are both satisfied and feel loved and valued. And many people think that this just magically happens when you get married. It does not! It takes intentional work and practice.
So I’ve asked for some friends to give me their input and I think the number 1 barrier to a healthy sex life in marriage is…
1. SELFISHNESS!! Selfishness selfishness selfishness!!!
Most, if not all, of the other barriers can really be resolved if we would just put our spouse first. Before our friends, before our job, before our insecurities, before our kids, before our desires, before our other obligations. Before my own self. I have to love him more than myself.
These next barriers I’ve listed aren’t in any real particular order. Some of these things are more of a problem for us than other things. And these are certainly not all of them. Not by a long shot. These are just the ones that have come up most in the conversations that I’ve had had with people.
Ugh…bless them, but they just come along and throw a monkey wrench in everything! And they don’t mean to. It’s not their fault. But they mess up our bodies. They take away our privacy. They drain us of energy. They cause us a great deal of worry. They leave their stuff everywhere! We have four kids. We get it. But in order for my kids to not destroy our sex life and our marriage, I have to put my husband first. “Put my husband before my kids?!” you say?? YES! The best thing you can do for your kids is to love the heck out of their daddy! Love their daddy like crazy. I think women struggle with this more than men. Now, I obviously can’t put his needs in front of the kids’ needs all the time. But here are some practical things that we’ve done and are doing that demonstrate that our relationship has priority.
- Early bedtime for the kids! And honestly, it’s not early enough. The three little kids are in bed by 8:00 and Jack is in bed by 9:00. We rarely let them stay up later than that. After 9:00 it is mommy and daddy time and they are not allowed to intrude on that. Period.
- Our bedroom is off limits to the kids! You may say…”What?? But we love to snuggle with our kids in our bed! We have family time in our bed!” Nope…not us. That is my room and Phillip’s room. The kids do not come into our bedroom unless they are invited. We have solid white bedding…on purpose! If I want to snuggle with my kids, I’ll do it somewhere else. That room is mine and Phillip’s space. It is our haven. Which reminds me, it’s really messy right now and I need to clean it. That may seem harsh to some of you, but it is a boundary that we’ve made to keep our marriage and our sex life a priority.
- We have regular date nights. This was much easier when we just had two kids. We had weekly date nights back then. Since having four kids, we have to be more intentional about it. We have to hire sitters, ask for help from family, steal away time when we can. It’s so important. Carve out time, away from your children, to exist with your spouse.
- PDA (public displays of affection) in front of the kids! I’m not talking about gross stuff, but if I want to kiss their daddy in my kitchen with them in there, then I will. If they don’t like it, they can leave the room. For real.
Apparently people without kids, still have a hard time finding the time to actually be together without distraction. They work too much, travel too much, play golf too much, get together with friends too much, clean house too much, etc…etc…etc… We haven’t lived without kids in almost 11 years so I can’t even remember what that’s like anymore. But here are just a few practical things we try to do to make time for each other.
- Housework done by 9:00 or not done that night. If dishes and laundry aren’t done by the time Jack is in bed, it can wait until the next day. Are we always good about this? No, but we try.
- My photo editing done by 9:00. It’s a goal that I can’t always reach. I need to be more intentional (There’s that word intentional again.) about reaching this goal.
- We say No to stuff. Can you teach this class? No. Can you babysit my kids? No. Can you do this job at church every week? No. Can you help me move? No. Can you take photos of my dogs for free?? Heck NO! Phillip is a teacher so he’s not required to work 60-70 hour weeks. He’s not required to do shift work. If he were expected to do such things, he’d have more that he would have to say no to. We say yes to what we can, but we also say no a lot. Some would say that we’re being selfish, but putting our marriage first and creating margin in our life to be together is not selfish. And it’s flat out dangerous not to.
How often do you and your spouse actually talk about sex? And I’m not talking about husbands complaining about how it’s not often enough or wives talking about how they don’t want to. I’m talking about really asking hard questions and listening and conversing. How often do you and your spouse do that? Do you text or talk during the day about what’s going to happen once the kids go to bed? What about during sex itself? Do you talk to each other about what is working and what isn’t? That is difficult stuff to talk about. We’ve been married almost 13 years and some of that stuff is still difficult to communicate. I sent my husband a list of questions to answer. He knew he’d be quoted and he graciously answered them anyway. These might be some good conversation starters to have with your spouse.
- How do you feel when I don’t make sex a priority?
A – It makes me feel like I have done something wrong, or that you are unhappy with me about something.
- Does having a good sex life positively affect other areas of your life? If so, how?
A – The quality of our sex life is kind of like a barometer for our relationship in general. If our sex life isn’t good, I don’t feel connected to you and that makes everything else seem out of order. When I’m happy with our sex life, I feel more confident and secure everywhere else. My job becomes more tolerable, it’s easier to deal with the kids, and I’m just in a better mood.
- What mistakes have you made in regard to promoting intimacy?
A – I tend to bottle things up. If I’m frustrated or irritated about something, I avoid it or just keep in inside rather than provoke a confrontation. I know that doesn’t solve anything and it just leads to an explosion when it finally comes out.
- Do you have a difficult time expressing your expectations to me regarding our sex life?
A – For some reason, I feel embarrassed about wanting to have sex all the time. Sometimes I’m afraid that you’re going to look at me like I’m nuts and say “Seriously? Again? We had sex yesterday!” I don’t expect to have sex every day, but it’s on my mind a lot.
- What do you believe I need in order to want to have sex?
A – I think you need to be prepared mentally, emotionally, whatever. If you’re distracted or upset about something (not even related to me) I know it’s not going to happen.
Do you know how important sex is to your husband? On his every day life?? Have you ever asked him? Did you know that you can make him feel more successful at work if he’s sexually satisfied at home? It’s a great and scary responsibility, but it’s also a beautiful opportunity to fill your husband with what he needs to live a productive life outside of the home. I love what he said about everything else being out of order. I have the great privilege of giving him order in his crazy life. What an honor to be able to do that for him! It’s not just sex. It’s not. It’s so much more than that.
5. Our sexual past, our sexual pain, our sexual failures
Oh, this is big and there are books written specifically for each of these. This can cause so much damage for years and years. And that’s why God’s design for marriage is so much better than man’s design. But even if we have failed at God’s design, or if we’ve been failed, there is redemption and healing. I’m sure good help is hard to find, but please seek it out. Your marriage is worth the effort.
- Some CDC research has estimated that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Do you see those numbers?? That means that there’s a good chance that one of the partners in a marriage relationship has been abused sexually at some point in their life.
- From what I’ve read online, approximately 45-55% of women and approximately 50-60% of men have an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. I think it’s probably higher. And regarding lust and pornography…pretty much 100% of men have struggled with this at some point in their marriage. I’m certainly no expert on this and haven’t really studied on it. There are some recommended resources at the bottom of this post that can provide much more insight and help in this area.
6. Body image
This is especially an issue with women. Women have a hard time believing in our own beauty. And when we don’t think that our bodies are beautiful, we don’t want to get naked. Plain and simple. And we sure don’t want anybody gazing upon our nakedness in all of its glory. We just don’t. We clam up. We get embarrassed. We want to run away. But men are visual. They want to see, touch, smell, and taste. They just do. And they want to be seen, touched, smelled, and tasted. Sorry if this is too graphic, but it’s the truth. And so here is where we have to let our selfishness go. You don’t want him to look at you? Let him anyway. Men, you want to see her naked all the time? Sorry… you can’t. Use some restraint. We see our own flaws that our spouse doesn’t see. Men, tell your wife how beautiful she is. Women, choose to believe him.
Below is a list of books worth buying/borrowing/checking out/stealing…okay, don’t really steal. I have not personally read most of these, but I’m going to try to start reading through them all, one by one because they are all recommended by people I trust. I’m sure it’ll take me years. But our marriage is worth the time investment and so is yours so look into these books! Also, Family Life puts on a marriage conference that’s really good.
- Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman
- Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll
- Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus.
- Sex Begin in the Kitchen by Dr. Kevin Leman
- Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with your Spouse
- Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn.
- Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoker
- Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge
- The Book of Romance by Tommy Nelson
Specifically for healing and hope after infidelity:
I struggle with anger. Just anger and irritation over stupid stuff. It’s mostly just with my kids and electronic devices. I’m not proud of it. I’ve got mounds of patience for other things, but for some reason when it comes to my kids and electronic devices, I am a hot head. I’m trying really really hard to overcome it, but it is a daily struggle.
So here is a thrown together list of some things I do that help me to get over my anger. Maybe you’ll find some of them useful, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’re cool as a cucumber and never lose your temper. I commend you!!
- Listen to James Brown and The Beatles. I can’t be mad while listening to James Brown and The Beatles. And I can be fuming mad and listen to Drive My Car and by the time the song is over, I’m fine.
- Walk away. Go outside. Take a breather. Count to ten or 100. Just. Take. A. Break.
- Write what I’m mad about. That’s why I write about Mikey so much. He drives me crazy. I love him, but he sets me on edge…a lot. But as I type out whatever he did that made me angry, it usually becomes funny. Seeing it in print takes the edge off.
- Surround myself with happy stuff…happy colors, happy pajama pants, happy sunglasses, happy pillows, happy coffee mugs… I can only be so mad wearing rainbow striped pajama pants and drinking out of a mustache cup.
- Smell Phillip. I know…gross, but burying my face in his neck or chest is like a drug to me. He instantly calms me. But you can’t bury your face in Phillip so step off.
- Clean or organize. If I’m really really mad, I clean. Yesterday I ferociously cleaned our master bathroom shower.
- Call or text a friend and tell her what I’m mad about. Hearing my feelings put into words usually makes me realize it’s not that big of a deal. And having a friend who will validate you, but not let you stay stuck is such a gift. I have many great friends I can call, text, or email any time and I know I won’t be judged.
- Chocolate. I know it’s not “vegan” but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
- Pray. I don’t do this nearly often enough, but I should put it on the list anyway. But to be honest, praying doesn’t usually occur to me when I’m really mad.
I’m sure there are more things, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. Have any other ideas for me?? Just don’t tell them to me when I’m mad.
Okay, so here are some of the things that have been happening in our world lately. And I know there aren’t any pictures of Jackson, but I promise he’s still cute and still awesome.
At the beginning of May, Mikey had a festival and program at his school and I tied his bandana wrong. He was the only kid among all of the kindergarteners whose mom tied his bandana like an ascot. Oops.
I caught them all with no shirts on outside. They are rarely wearing shirts and pants at the same time. And they are never all four completely dressed unless we’re going somewhere.
Mikey has a loose tooth on the bottom. It really needs to come out, but we’re not messing with it. We learned our lesson about that with child #1. Mikey FREAKS out when he bleeds even a drop so I’m sure this whole loosing teeth thing is going to be exciting.
Katie got glasses!!!
Brittany turned FIVE!!! Birthday party to follow. It was delayed due to Katie having pinkeye. Fun times.
And just this week, like yesterday and today in fact, the three little kids got a room makeover. We were thinking about moving, but we decided to stay for now and make this house work. Jack needs his own room so we bunked the three little kids. They love the new room!
And with that, I bid you all goodnight.
I’ve read blog posts about the lives of stay-at-home moms. I may have even written one or two myself. I don’t remember. But anyway, most of them describe a life so difficult and impossible and filled to the brim that it just makes you exhausted even reading it. And I’m sure for the most part, they are true. Perhaps slightly exaggerated truth, but still truth.
But SAH moms…can you even imagine if you had to go TO a job, like an additional job, Monday through Friday?? Like a typical work week? Can you imagine doing that and still having to do your other mom stuff? Because I really can’t.
And so this is meant as a shout out to all of the many moms who work outside the house! You are amazing! I have no idea how you do it. Seriously, no idea. And I think that there may be some of you who think quietly or not so quietly, “What do stay-at-home moms do all day?!” Well, I’m going to confess to you what I do from 8:00-3:00…now that my two oldest are in school all day. I can’t speak for other stay-at-home moms. I can only speak for myself.
I get very tempted by my bed. Because it’s here and I have to walk past it so many times. And I take naps. Not every day, but like 3 out of 5. It’s true. I also take like 30-45 minutes baths while my kids play or watch t.v. Again, not every day, but most. I read. I watch t.v. while I fold laundry. And sometimes I fold it slower on purpose. I blog when I should be cleaning the kids’ rooms. Like right now. This is me avoiding work. And I don’t do all the cute little SAH mom things like go to the library or play groups or make crafts or whatever. I seriously just don’t. I complain on facebook about the things I should be doing rather than just doing them. It’s true.
Now, I do work hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like it’s pure leisure all day. But I’m just honestly saying publicly that there is empty space in my day. Empty space where I am not productive. In theory, my house should be clean because I have time to do it, but I just don’t want to. And it is hard having kids home all day, but my reality and the reality of many of my friends, is that our kids aren’t home all day, every day. It’s true, ladies. You know it’s true.
So working moms, if you’ve ever felt judgement or insensitivity from myself or any other stay-at-home moms, I’m sorry. Seriously. Not that it’s like a competition for who has the more difficult task, but I honestly have no idea how you do it. Just being a mom, regardless of whatever else we have to do, is a very busy job. We all probably rock in our own right. But to the ones who have themselves and their kids fed and dressed and out the door by 8:00, go to a job all day that they may or may not love, and then pick up kids, get dinner ready, help with homework, baths, etc., etc. etc…. YOU are superheros.
And don’t ever let some stay-at-home mom, who probably stayed in her pajamas until 11:00, tell you any different.
I saw a yard sign this morning that said, “My church is changing my life.” I honestly don’t even remember which church is changing this person’s life because I got stuck on the statement. And I’m sure some of you reading probably go to this church. So you can either choose to get offended and defensive or actually think about what I’m saying. Either way is perfectly fine with me.
My church is changing My life. It wasn’t bold on the sign, but it might as well have been. How about The Church is changing my life? Or Jesus is changing my life? Or maybe even My church is changing lives? I still don’t like that one, but it’s better than the original. Or how about The Church is changing lives? But that’s not specific enough to one certain church.
Because the point of the sign is to get people in the door, right? Get them there and then their lives can be changed. And while I think this particular sign is a blatant and tangible disregard for The Great Commission, I have to say that I think most church attenders, members, and staff feel the same way. This church was just bold enough not to hide it or disguise it as something else.
Church, we have to do more than just get them, whoever they are, to come to our church building. If that’s all we care about, we are totally missing the point. And if we only want to sing praises to our church, denomination, preacher, building, or programs instead of to Jesus Christ, for our changed lives, then we are making The Church our church. We are taking The Body away from whom it belongs to and making it our own.
And if you say our church doesn’t do that, then you’ve just proven my point. And while some church cultures may be more outward focused than others, there is still the underlying thought that they have to come to us to for life change. And I’m just as guilty of it as the man or woman who put that sign in their yard. If we’re honest, really really painfully honest, I think most of us can see that most churches exist for the attenders who go there, not the community that surrounds it. But The Church, the body of believers, are called to be so much more than people who occupy a building.
He’s so funny and sharp witted. He is creative. He’s beautiful to look at. He loves to cuddle.
But he’s also angry…a lot. He spends much of his time angry. Angry because someone said something “wrong.” Angry because someone touched something they “shouldn’t have.” Angry because someone is singing a song he doesn’t like. Angry because he doesn’t like what we’re eating. Angry because he doesn’t like where we’re going. Angry because he thinks someone is making fun of him and they’re not…or maybe they are. Angry. Angry. Angry.
He’s almost always angry, near anger, just over being angry, or we are wary of the impending anger. I watch him. I look for signs that it’s coming. I try to ward it off. I try to keep the peace. But the peace doesn’t keep. Never for very long.
And since he’s angry a lot and since I tend to match his moods, I’m angry a lot. When he gets angry, I typically get angrier. When he gets loud, I get louder. When he loses his mind, I lose mine even more. I match his crazy. And honestly, it works. It works in that it keeps him from escalating to a point that we can’t handle. It keeps his “spells” in the realm of 3-10 minutes or so. And if you’re the parent of a child who has anger or behavior issues, then you know 3-10 minutes isn’t really that bad. But it re-occurs ALL DAY LONG.
But what if, instead of matching his anger for anger…what if his anger was matched with gentleness, kindness, self control? What if I parent him the way God parents me? With a quiet calm. Unwavering. Unreactive to my selfishness and immaturity. With undeserved patience. What if being met with these things rather than anger actually helps him control his anger?
And yes, perhaps this is a no brainer, but when you’re either in the storm or the eye of it almost all the time, it’s really hard to see a solution. And we’ve been in some form of storm with him most of his life. My post yesterday opened my eyes to this even though I didn’t intend for it to open my eyes to anything.
So I’ll let y’all know how it goes. I’ll let you know if I can do it.