Marriage and Family Life

Cooking together

21 Things to Do Together As a Married Couple

When you were dating, you probably had no difficulty coming up with interesting things to do with your sweetheart. Now that you’ve been married for a few, or many, years, the newness has worn off and you probably spend more time thinking about work, budgets, kids, schedules, and just getting through the day.
It’s important to spice things up from time to time. Here are some things to consider doing together that can give you an opportunity to learn, stretch yourselves, and have fun:

Your Marriage Under Lockdown

If things are wonderful between you and your spouse, lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic may seem great; you’ve got…

How I Decided to Marry a Divorced Man

Remarriage after divorce is one of those topics that can make otherwise “good” Christians become prickly, self-righteous, or downright vindictive.…

How I Learned to Love Well

While learning to love well is a life-long process, loving well was something I was privileged to deeply experience with…

Relationship Habits

Like locking the door behind you when you enter your home or brushing your teeth before going to bed, relationship…

How Your Mood Affects Your Spouse

The honeymoon is over. You’ve settled into the routine of life. Small irritations and disappointments seem all too common. Life,…
Spouse is Negative

When Your Spouse is Negative

Keeping a positive outlook on life brings many benefits – both to your own experience and to your marriage. But…
creating a new marriage

Creating a New Marriage

Every marriage experiences mess-ups. It’s easy to get caught up in shame, blame, and misery. But taking the necessary steps…
Is Your Marriage an Idol?

Is Your Marriage an Idol?

God gave marriage to humankind as a good gift. But just like food, rest, pleasure, money, authority, or any other…
Keys to Lasting Love

Three Keys to Lasting Love

Valentine’s Day is coming up next week. If you’re a wife, you may be thinking, “I hope he remembers!” If…
She Needs You to Lead

She Needs You to Lead

This one is for husbands. (I know; you’ll probably keep reading even if you’re not a husband.) Let me share…
He needs you to need him

He Needs You to Need Him

This one is for wives only. (I know; you may read this even if you’re not a wife.) But here’s…
my spouse is cheating

Help! My Spouse is Cheating!

Among the possible sources of pain a spouse’s betrayal ranks as one of the worst. The person you expected to…

What To Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

The stereotype of a man pressuring his wife for sex does not apply to every relationship: there are many women who experience just the opposite. Even when a woman is not the sexual aggressor, it wounds a woman’s heart when her husband does not demonstrate sexual attraction to her.
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, or looking outside the marriage for satisfaction, here are five questions to consider if your husband appears to shrink from having sex with you.

Husband frustrated that wife doesn't want sex

What To Do When Your Wife Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

I’ve heard from husbands of my patients, blog readers, radio listeners, and others about how frustrated and even angry a man can become when repeatedly rejected sexually.
Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, or looking outside your marriage for satisfaction, here are five questions to consider, and some practical things you may do, that have a good chance of improving the sexual connection in your marriage.

Is sex a need?

Is Sex a Need?

Oh my, we’re getting touchy! Perhaps even asking that question feels like sandpaper in the most sensitive parts of you.…
Conversation

What is Your Communication Style?

Relationships can’t survive without communication. In marriage—the closest relationship on earth, communication breakdowns are both common and destructive. When asked,…
submission in Christian marriage

Submission in Christian Marriage

Hear the words “submission” and “marriage” in the same sentence and you may feel something visceral rise up in your…
Couple praying

How to Pray With Your Spouse

Praying together with your spouse can be one of the most intimate, healing, and meaningful aspects of your relationship. You…
When is it Abuse?

When Is It Abuse?

God designed marriage to be a transformative, healing, growth-producing, fulfilling relationship full of intimacy and love. In our sinful messed-up…
Marriage is hard! Couple reading Scripture together.

Why Marriage Is So Hard

Sometime after the preacher pronounces you man and wife the unwelcome truth hits you; marriage is hard! That realization may…

What is a Submissive Wife?

She is obviously struggling. As a young wife and mother she wants to do things God’s way. She wrote to…
Woman alone

For the Christian in a Bad Marriage

There’s plenty of marriage advice out there: pre-marital counseling, marriage seminars, sermons and books proclaiming the magic of a marriage…

Live Healthy, Live Whole!

It’s here! Your Prescription for Healthy Living, Loving Relationships, and Joyful Spirituality Have you ever tried to have a meaningful…
Couple happy together

Sex Without Pain

Is sex without pain possible? Sex shouldn’t hurt! But too often it does. As a gynecologist I have talked with…
Senior Couple in Love

Enjoying Sex After Menopause

Some men complain their wives lose interest in intimacy around the time of menopause. Some women complain they can’t enjoy…

How to Study Your Spouse

One of the two best pieces of advice I heard prior to getting married was this: Study Your Spouse! I…

7 Ways Your Wife Needs You

Both husbands and wives need each other. As a husband, when you first fell in love you probably felt like…

What Is A Christian Marriage?

What makes a marriage Christian? Is every good marriage a Christian marriage? Is every Christian marriage a good marriage? Ask…
Frustrated husband whose wife doesn't want sex

What Does The Bible Say To A Man Whose Wife Doesn’t Want Sex

You can struggle greatly when your wife does not or cannot respond to you sexually. It’s a little ironic: here I am a woman, talking to men about sex. That’s because I’ve been asked about this specific question more than once, and this post is my answer. You may be struggling with this in your marriage and have told no one. I hope this helps you in some way.

Happy couple

5 Ways To Keep Your Husband Stuck To You Like Glue

“Nothing you can say, Can tear me away, From my guy. Nothing you could do, ‘Cause I’m stuck like glue, To my guy.”
Thank you, Smokey Robinson! Even though it’s been 50 years, you expressed what many women would love to be able to say today.
It’s one thing to be stuck to him. But it’s another thing entirely when he’s stuck to you more like a Post-it note instead of glue. Something, or more likely someone, comes along that feels a little stickier, and he sticks there instead.

Couple Together

The One Thing That Will Make You IRRESISTIBLE To Your Wife

You don’t want to look outside the marriage for satisfaction, but sometimes you’re not sure how much longer you can put up with things the way they are.
But you won her heart once. Wouldn’t you like to do it again? Wouldn’t you like to be her Knight in Shining Armor? Wouldn’t you like for her to look at you the way she did when you first said, “I DO?”
Sure, you want her. You want the physical connection of sex. You want to feel like a man. But you also want more than that. You want her to want you!

24 Things Your Spouse May Be Feeling When They Seem Upset With You

Your husband is giving you the silent treatment. You immediately think he’s angry with you, and you want to call him on it. You feel yourself getting angry in return. “Why won’t you talk to me?”
Your wife is irritable and distracted, and hasn’t taken care of what you asked her to do today. You’re frustrated, and want to lash out at her. “Why can’t you take care of something so simple?”

Couple talking

How To Talk To Your Spouse About Sex

Sex can become one of the most contentious and painful aspects of a marriage. Or it can be one of the most affirming and bonding parts of your relationship. One of the best way to move sex from something you avoid to something you anticipate is through talking about it.

Do’s and Don’ts For When Your Spouse Is Depressed

God’s plan for marriage is that husband and wife be a support to each other in good times and in bad. When your spouse is struggling with depression you will likely need to draw on the full range of physical, emotional, and spiritual coping strategies in order to do so.
A few things to do and not to do that will help you remain sane, strong, and supportive:

Unhappy wife

What To Do When Your Husband Wants Sex and You Don’t

I’m going to assume for a moment that you have a genuinely good man for a husband, not perfect, but one who truly wants to be good to you. You recognize that sex together as husband and wife is important to him, and you’d like to handle it better. Here are some things you can do.

Young woman

10 Mistakes To Avoid In Looking For A Husband

Looking for a husband? So was I.
And then I gave up. And it’s probably the best thing I ever did.
I’d like to look at it from the other side. Sadly, if you are looking for Mr Right there are a number of married women who would be glad to give him to you! Learning from mistakes others have made may save you a lot of heartache. (And in a moment, I’ll also share two things you SHOULD do.)

Where Are YOU Looking For Love?

If you’re a single person, you’ve certainly been asked the question, How’s your love life?
As for the single life, I know what that’s like. During much of my single years I was decidedly unhappy about being single, and felt terribly lonely. But I did learn a lot. And I’d like to share two of those things with you.

God Has NO Perfect Soul-Mate For You

Don’t go looking for a perfect soul-mate. News flash: there aren’t any! And if there were a perfect soul-mate out there somewhere, you wouldn’t be eligible to develop a relationship with them. Because YOU are not perfect!
So let’s get rid of the idea that there is one perfect soul-mate out there for you, and you will only be happy when you find that person. That idea will make you sorely unhappy!

Woman crying

2 Questions to Help You Decide If Your Marriage Is Too Destructive To Save

If you’re wrestling with a painful or destructive marriage, you know all too well the frustration, tears, and loneliness involved. You know the feelings of powerlessness, shame, sadness, disappointment, or guilt. You may have prayed, cried, and done all you know, and are only left with weariness and hopelessness.
There are two things I know for sure:

Relationship

The Second Thing to Learn In Marriage

EVERY couple will face conflict. The question is not IF you will face conflict, but rather HOW you manage conflicts when they arise. Handling conflict in marriage is a learned skill: no one knows how to do it automatically, but anyone can get better at it.
Don’t be surprised when you and your spouse see things differently: after all, if you were both the same, one of you would be unnecessary! What’s important is what you do then.
Here are five important steps to learn:

The First Thing to Learn In Marriage

Each person comes to marriage with different expectations of what life will be like.
Your expectations of marriage ARE different than your spouse’s. Even if you communicate well before getting married, the realities of life together WILL challenge those expectations.
And you WILL be disappointed.

5 Ways To Be A Woman Nobody Can Live With

I know two women quite well who nobody can live with – at least and stay sane. You probably know one or more also. I just hope you aren’t trying to live with one!
If you want to be someone nobody can live with, here’s how:

10 Things I Learned in 5 Years of Marriage

My husband Al and I recently celebrated our five-year anniversary. It’s been a wonderful five years, and I would say “I do” all over again knowing what I know now. God has blessed us with a very happy relationship.
But that doesn’t mean these past five years have been trouble-free. And it’s some of those challenges that have led to the closeness we increasingly share.
Here are some things I have learned during these five years, some of them expected and some unexpected:

When to NOT Discuss Things With Your Spouse

You are supposed to communicate together as husband and wife. And that’s a good thing. But there is a difference between communicating and dumping.
However, some women (and a few men) use the principle of communication to unload on their spouse. That may place a burden on your spouse that is not their place to carry.
Communication lets your spouse see and touch the difficult things in your heart. Dumping tries to force your spouse to carry what is yours to own.

5 Pieces of Smart Marriage Advice

The institution of marriage goes back to the Garden of Eden. But sadly the state of many marriages today is anything but Eden-like! For those who are married, there is probably no other area of life that has a bigger impact on your well-being than the state of your marriage.
There are many bits of advice for those wanting a better, healthier, happier marriage. Here are five I believe to be especially important:

Why You Are Afraid of Intimacy

Buried somewhere in your soul beneath the bravado, the anger, the pasty smile, or the hopelessness, there’s a desire to be known. Truly known, intimately, for who you really are.
God created us for relationship. Close, personal, intimate relationship. When that is lacking you feel incomplete, undone, like something is missing.

6 Things That Wear You Out That You Can Stop Doing

If you spend your time and energy trying to do something you can’t do, you’ll only experience frustration, fatigue, and failure. How much better to understand where you can make a difference, and where your efforts are useless. Then you can spend your valuable time and energy in the right place.
Here are six things you might as well stop doing. All your time and effort will just be wasted:

25 Small Things That Make A Difference

Small changes in direction may make a huge difference in your destination. You know that. But it’s easy to fall into a routine and end up some place you would rather not be.
So many areas in life follow this principle. Here are some things where very small actions may make a huge difference down the road:

7 Things Healthy Sexuality Is For Married Couples

Several studies indicate that on average married people have sex more often, enjoy more varied sex, and are more satisfied with their sex lives than single people. And those with a single sexual partner in the past year report the most happiness in general.
For any marriage to work, both husband and wife must be more focused on meeting each other’s needs than getting their own needs met. It takes a lot of forgiveness, flexibility, and unconditional love to make a marriage last.
Nowhere are these characteristics more important than in a couple’s sexual relationship. Here’s how healthy sexuality looks for a married couple when it’s working well:

Disappointed

When You Are Disappointed in Your Marriage

You expect certain things of your spouse. But sometimes you want more. You believe your spouse loves you, but it’s not enough. You crave something you’re not getting. You want adventure, intimacy, emotional connection, time, trust, help around the house, more money, children, support, more sex – something more.
The only way to keep “wanting more” from coming between you and your spouse is to address the problem head on. If you feel you want more than you are getting from your spouse, here are the steps you can take:

5 Ways Being Single Helped Me Be Happily Married

I had given up on marriage. It just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I didn’t want to be married: I had hoped and prayed for years. By the time I was in my early forties I had come to terms with the fact that I would always be single.
Then God brought a wonderful man into my life. During my single years I learned a lot. It was that kind of growing up that has allowed me to be so happily married now.

Getting Your Spouse To Change

Marriage is risky! Expecting or demanding change from your spouse is likely to result in profound disappointment. Getting your spouse to change is very much like God’s work to change you and me.

When Arms Are Empty: Infertility

There’s something intimate and beautiful about new parents holding their newborn baby in their arms. But sadly, many couples do not have an opportunity to experience that joy, and do not have a baby to hold in their arms.
As a Reproductive Endocrinologist I’ve seen couples struggle with these issues, and have seen the stress it puts on their relationship. Helping couples experience that miracle is a privilege I enjoy. And my hope and prayer is that you can experience that miracle when you so desire.

birth control pills

Should I Use Birth Control? A Christian Doctor’s Answer

When I think of contraception, a number of images come to mind. Talking about contraception is often an emotionally charged issue. The debate really has nothing to do with birth control. The debate has to do with sex.
If you’ve read this far, you want to know how I deal with these issues, and what I tell patients. As a Christian, as a gynecologist, as a minister, what’s the RIGHT thing to do?

5 Steps to a Fair Fight in Marriage

Two very different people get married and plan to “do life together” for the rest of their lives. Is it any wonder there are differences, even conflicts?
The more important thing is what you do when those differences arise. Fighting fair is a skill married couples need to practice, and one that some find difficult to learn.
In a fair fight, there are a few things to keep in mind:

What A Difference A Father Makes

We just passed Father’s Day. Many of you celebrated the memory or presence of a father who passed on a godly heritage, important values, and a readiness to take life on. Others of you were not celebrating: your earthly father was either absent, uninvolved, or abusive. One thing we all agree on – a father makes a difference!

Do’s and Don’ts for Husbands on Making God First

I don’t presume to understand all the ways God works in your male hearts.
But I do know some of the things women feel when men use spirituality to crush them, ignore them, control them, or put them down. Your wife is a treasure from God. If you want your own prayers to be answered, treat her with the same loving care with which Christ loved – and loves – the church.
A few do’s and don’ts to put things in perspective:

Do’s and Don’ts for Wives on Making God First

A young wife asked me, “How can I respect and love my husband while making God first? Isn’t my husband supposed to be Number 1 to me? But then does that mean I’m not honoring God? I’m confused.”
God never intended this to be confusing. He intended the Christian life to bring husband and wife closer together, not drive them apart. A few do’s and don’ts that may help:

When Broken Vows Break the Heart

Forsaking all others, keep yourself only for him (or her).” You said that, or something similar, in your marriage vows, didn’t…

Interruptions ARE Your Job

Look for the interruptions: they are your job security!
If you work with people in any capacity, expect to be interrupted. The only people who are not interrupted are hermits and prison inmates. You and I should be thankful for interruptions.
But think of these situations where interruptions are the whole reason your “job” exists:

3 Reasons for Marriage

Being happy has very little to do with the reason God created marriage. Marriage can be very unhappy, and still…
Wedding rings

Preparing for Marriage Success

Ask a thirty-something single person, and you may well hear moans and groans about the lack of any suitable marriage partners anywhere on the horizon. But then ask the person who has experienced domestic violence, a heart-breaking divorce, or a chronically unhappy marriage full of conflict. They will tell you you’re much better off alone.
Before Al and I got married I heard two wise pieces of advice that can make a difference for anyone who is getting married:

You Know Your True Priorities When …

With all the talk about priorities, how do you know what yours truly are? It’s good to decide what you want your priorities to be. But the only way you know your true priorities is when they are tested.
My priorities have been tested this week. My husband became ill while I was out of town, and was hospitalized.

How I Got My Husband to Change

I got my husband to change. When we first met Al was a smoker, and had been for 45 years. He was seriously overweight, and had been much of his life. He ate – and loved – the typical unhea
lthy American diet.
Today things are completely different. He hasn’t smoked since we got married: that was a huge accomplishment, and made a big difference in his health right away.
How did I get him to change?

Couple talking

7 Conversation Starters with your Spouse

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Yes, that’s the secret of a great relationship. Although good communication between husband and wife is so important, it may not seem easy to do.
“But I have nothing to say. What do we talk about?”
That’s why you’re reading this! If things tend to be somewhat silent between you, here are some suggestions for conversation.

Marriage in a Pressure Cooker

Marriage is under assault. And most of the “enemies” your marriage faces are very close to home. It’s possible to be so concerned with assaults from “out there” that we overlook the very real things that can weaken our marriage from the inside.

Business man

5 Reasons I’m Proud of My Husband

When the person who knows you best also thinks highly of you, it fills your heart like little else can.
If you are not used to praising your spouse, it may seem difficult to find honest reasons to praise him or her. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!
I do my best to remind my husband how proud I truly am of him. Here’s what I tell him:

Couple in love

The Impact of Sex Outside the Bedroom

We get into trouble so easily over sex. For many it is the ultimate slippery slope.
The misuse of sex is a common denominator in a whole host of problems. Sex touches something very deep within us. There is probably no other area that so strongly impacts our sense of identity and value as sexuality does.

People talking

5 Thoughts Before You Speak Harshly

Words can hurt! It takes real emotional and spiritual maturity to pause before speaking, and to consistently use our words for good and not for ill.
Thoughts affect words. The thoughts you think when your spouse frustrates you can dramatically affect what comes out of your mouth. Here are some questions to think about in that moment before speaking harshly.

What God Will NOT Do For You

There are a few things God will not do for you. We human beings sometimes presume on God’s grace and think that will excuse our bad behavior.
So don’t be angry with God when you experience some “natural consequences.” Do seek God for His grace in changing your character.

Space between you

The Space Between You and Your Spouse

When your relationship began you probably felt you couldn’t get close enough.
Then life happens. Things change. Something comes between you and your spouse. You start to wonder what ever drew you together in the first place. How did this happen?
Al (my husband) and I have made a commitment to keep the ground between us clean.

The Intimacy of Vulnerability

There are few things that bring two people closer together than vulnerability. Being physically, emotionally, or spiritually vulnerable with someone is a powerful force welding two hearts together.
Where two people of good will are in a relationship together, being vulnerable is one of the most intimate things they can do.
What does vulnerability look like in a relationship? Here are some ideas:

Intimacy is about YOU TWO, Not Performance

By the time they come to see me most couples are frustrated, disappointed, anxious, and tired. And tired of always having to perform in the bedroom.
And of course that’s not what sex is about. Or at least shouldn’t be about.

7 Things to Do Intentionally Every Day

Do you remember learning the classic laws of thermodynamics, perhaps in seventh grade science class? The basic idea goes something like this: any system will seek equilibrium where the least amount of energy is expended.
Doing something on purpose makes the difference. So, for myself, here are some things I must do intentionally:

Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

First a disclaimer: I’m not sure there are ANY five steps that guarantee happiness in any area of life, let alone something as long-term and complicated as marriage. But I DO know that there are some things that can make or break the union of two people.
Four years ago today (as I write this) I married Al Tanksley, and I’m more in love now than on the day I said, “I do!”
Here are a few things I believe have made a critical difference in our marriage,

Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

You can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them.
But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Where you come from affects you.

Married – and Lonely

My heart has been breaking. I’m sure it’s nothing new, but I’m hearing it a lot lately. Middle-aged and older women who are married – and desperately lonely.
As a gynecologist I’ve heard these sad comments from women I’ve seen just in the past couple weeks.
Don’t let that happen to you! Here are a few suggestions:

Doctor, Doctor: Ignoring the Symptoms

I could probably use her real name: she’s been dead over 20 years. I met her one night in the emergency room during my residency training. She had been bleeding for months, and finally became so weak that she allowed her family to bring her to the hospital. She hadn’t seen a doctor in years.
Periodically it’s a good idea to do a mental check of the different areas of your life, and see if there are symptoms you might be ignoring. Symptoms that need to be dealt with before they get worse, and before the problem becomes deadly.

Step-Parenting for Adults

Parenting is forever. Sure, the details change through the years. And for the most part the load gets lighter. But children are always on your heart. You will ALWAYS be a mom or a dad.
And the same goes for step-parenting. Some of those realities have become especially clear to me recently. I married late in life – I was 48. My husband had two adult sons with families of their own. I became a step-mother under perhaps the easiest of possible circumstances. And yet there was still a very real process of adjustment in becoming a family.

Five Daily Choices in your Relationship

Let’s be honest – sometimes we just don’t feel like it. We don’t feel like being kind, or loving, or healthy, or spiritual, or much of anything else. Sometimes it feels easier to just snap! Or pout. Or go away somewhere.
Yes, there are times we all feel like binging on self-pity, or anger, or negativity.
But even though we may feel like acting badly, we have a choice. And that is never truer than in our closest relationships. In spite of our anxiety, fatigue, and legitimate needs, we can CHOOSE to act in ways that foster a healthy, strong marriage, rather than tearing the relationship apart. And choosing to act in these ways most of the time really DOES increase the likelihood our needs will be met.

Olympic Rings

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Your Gold-Medal Run

The 2012 Olympic Games in London have just come to an end. For these two weeks every two years I spend more time watching sports on TV than probably the entire two years between them.
Names like Michael Phelps, Usian Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Oscar Pistorius, and others are now household words around the world. There’s something about the Olympic Games that draws us in.

Don’t Run: Do SOMETHING!

Men love to fix things. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing! It’s the way…

Are We There Yet?

Ever say that when you were a kid? You were on a road trip, and your sense of time was…

Can I Trust You?

We want to be trusted. We want people to think well of us, and believe the best about us. We…

Men, Women, and Healthcare

Men and women are different in many ways. Some may argue that the only difference is plumbing, but both you…
Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Love, romance, and Valentine’s Day.  Perhaps you are like many others, making the sellers of heart-shaped baloons, teddy bears, flowers, cards,…

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