Can I Take Sexy Photos of Myself for My Husband?

xxxchurch - Can I Take Sexy Photos of Myself for My Husband-You’re wondering if taking those risky photos for your husband is okay during his recovery from porn or if it will trigger him to use again. I get it. It sounds innocent enough.

I mean, it is photos of yourself for your spouse.

Technically speaking, you are staying in the lines of what should be accepted into a marital sex life. But, there are some reasons it may be a no go.

Here are a few of thoughts to ponder through before doing a boudoir shoot or something else of that nature:

1. What are YOUR motives in having these photos done?

I know that may seem like the answer is simple, but it’s not. When I was in the midst of my husband’s addiction to pornography, I thought that maybe having sexy photos done of myself would curb his appetite for other forms of pornography. It did none of that.

In fact, he continued to look at porn AND my pictures to find his pleasurable result. I just contributed to him looking at pictures and masturbating to them. When it comes down to it, he said that it felt like I was giving him PERMISSION to continue in the addiction.

Another motive that I had, but just didn’t realize, was so I could feel “as good as” the women in the porn he liked. Pretty twisted, right? Think about it: when our husband’s look at pornography, it makes us feel less than. We feel like we don’t measure up somehow. This is not the truth in any way, shape or form. Our husband’s pornography addiction truly has NOTHING to do with us.

Yet, we still feel unworthy at first. So, in my entangled web of thoughts, I figured that I could prove to him and myself that I do measure up through giving him what I thought he needed. That idea backfired and only left me feeling used.

346x396-recover-inline2You may have not even thought about what the photos could do to you and YOUR recovery. Taking the photos, and then seeing the pleasure that your husband would undoubtedly get from them, could cause some triggers of your own. I know that it set off all the internal triggers of not feeling good enough, having no worth, being a sex object, being a less than wife and reliving all of my husband’s actions.

If those motives sound familiar, you probably should not be taking boudoir photos. Don’t go backward in your recovery. Go forward.

2. Pornography addiction is just that: ADDICTION. With any addiction, there is a cycle.

According to Rob Weiss, LCSW on January 20, 2015, in Sex Addiction Expert Blogs, pornography, and sex addiction cycles look like this: Triggers – Fantasy – Ritualization – Behavior- Numbing – Despair-Triggers.

This means that there are triggers which begin a behavior that leads to the end pleasurable result that leads to despair which starts the cycle all over again. If your hubby is struggling or has struggled with pornography this cycle is true for him. Addictive behavior has triggers. Some of those triggers could simply be “sexy” photos.

While the photos would be of you, the photos could still cause the addictive behavior cycle because they could very well be a trigger. If you are anything like me, the last thing you want to do is possibly trigger your husband to use again. Be an advocate for HIS recovery, not a stumbling block.

3. Lastly, when having Boudoir photos done, it possesses the questions of who is taking them, how are they being stored and where (if you are) are you getting prints?

If anyone other than your husband is taking the photos, you are allowing someone to see you in a way that is reserved for only your husband. In this day and age of technology, if you are storing the photos on any device, that leaves the door open to your photos accidentally making it onto the internet. If you are having the photos printed, who is printing them?

If you are printing them anywhere outside of your home, you are again allowing other people to see you in a way that only your husband should. If you are printing them at home and storing the physical photos at home, what actions are you taking to ensure your children (or anyone that is not your husband) will not get a hold of them?

All of the actual steps to have the photos need to be thought through thoroughly.

Bottom line here: While there may be some gray areas, if you are looking to spice things up in the bedroom, try to always do it in the flesh together.

Buy some nice lingerie and wear it in person for your husband. Start having conversations about your sex life with each other. Open up the door to honesty and deep conversation.

Instead of spicing it up through actively condoning masturbation, start creating some real intimacy. Real intimacy will make your marriage better! Build up a deeper, genuine relationship. Taking pictures can never compare to the REAL thing.

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A Challenge to Husbands

husbands-challengeI am going to be honest with you.

If you know me, I think you can expect that from me in everything I write.

If you are without a wife or significant other, you can skip this post and read something else.

This blog post is just for the married men or those in committed relationships.

Your journey is not a solo journey.

Since you have a life-partner, she is also dealing with the downsides of your struggle whether she knows it or not. If you have spent any money on your credit card pursuing your addiction, there is a huge chance you had to fill her in on your secret. Maybe she caught you before you sought help, or maybe she is the one who found the My Pilgrimage experience for you.

Either way, she is need of some help, and she might not even know it.

I have sat down with numerous couples who are dealing with sexual betrayal because of porn, affairs or things of that nature.  Every woman I have spoken with tells me what her husband needs or should be doing. They don’t want to talk about what they need to be doing.

I understand some of the pushback.

Let’s say you are 400 pounds and your wife weighs 100 pounds. I tell your wife she needs to go to a weight loss camp she is going to tell me I am crazy. She doesn’t have a food addiction or a weight problem, but you do. In that case, she is right but when it deals with sexual betrayal she has been affected in ways that she doesn’t even know, and this is having adverse effects on her and in your relationship, and it won’t just get better once you get through your journey.

 We created Recover.org because we saw this need for over ten years and let me tell you, this program is amazing. 

It is well thought out and designed around the very topics that need to be dealt with but rarely are. Recover is presented by women who have been through it and shared their experiences and healing to offer hope to women just like them.  Think of what the My Pilgrimage program is for you. 

She needs a support system that guides her towards recovery also. You can’t be this for her.

We have this program priced at $499 with three months of small groups, and we include an abundance of helpful resources as a bonus.

Here is the deal.

I want men to lead in their marriage and their families.

I want men to lead when it comes to the hard stuff.

I want men to take responsibility and see what they have done to their spouse or committed partner.

I want men to purchase Recover for their wives. Don’t send them a link. Don’t say “Hey you should check this out.” Buy it for them PERIOD.

 Don’t wait till next week to do this.

Do it today or at least by tomorrow and I will personally give you $300 off.

Watch this video:

Guess what?! We lose money selling it for $199 with three months of small groups. I don’t care at this point. I am getting upset at the number of men who are not owning this and doing anything for their wives. Many women have written in, and they don’t understand why they should have to pay for this. They shouldn’t have to … you should.

This offer is good for today and tomorrow until 8 PM Eastern, and you won’t see it again.  Don’t email me after the deadline because you stalled or didn’t open my email.  This is good today, and tomorrow only (8 PM Eastern).

Simply head to www.recover.org and use the code “CRAIGVIDEO” at checkout when you select the one-time pay button.

I think a lot of you know we have recover.org/retreat as well in San Diego. Some of you need to send your wives here to get the recovery they desperately need. I have three spots left and have a partial scholarship available if needed just email me at craig@xxxchurch.com this week. 

Purchase Recover Now for $199

 

 

 

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8 Reasons My Husband Won’t have Sex with Me

8-reasons-wifeWhen I wrote a blog post called “8 Reasons My Wife Won’t Have Sex With Me” I got a lot of great feedback from it and it was viewed over 300,000 times on the first day alone. But one question I kept hearing afterward was: “Could you write one for women and explain to me why my husband won’t have sex with me?

Sure. Sounds easy.

Right?

I asked a few friends for answers, and most of us just scratched our heads. Men who don’t want to have sex? Overwhelmingly, we heard this was the case and women wanted answers.

Now, I don’t speak from experience on this one. I am always up for sex, so I looked for thoughts on this topic from some friends, including Dave Wilson, Adam Palmer, Shaunti Feldhahn, Dave Willis and Jon Kitna.

Just like my first post, this is not a definitive list by any means; I’m putting it out there to hopefully encourage you talk about this stuff with your spouse. If you can be honest and open with your spouse about your sex life, you can often get to the bottom of this without even reading this blog. If you don’t know how to talk to each other, enlist a counselor to help you learn how to communicate.

Before I hit the list, let me offer a couple of statistics:

A recent survey of couples discovered that those who said they were fulfilled sexually had sex on average 2.5 times a week. So that’s something to think about (especially how you can get that 0.5 every week).

According to a 2003 Newsweek study, between 15% and 20% of couples are living in a sexless marriage, defined as making love no more than 10 times a year. While sex is not the be-all, end-all to a marriage, it is definitely one of the best ways to maintain intimacy.

Okay, now let’s look at the list of 8 reasons your husband won’t have sex with you:

1. No  Man Wants To Have Sex With His Mom. This is all about respect.   No man wants to have sex with a wife who is constantly mothering him. If you are always on him, critiquing and complaining about what he does or doesn’t do, then he’d probably rather have sex with himself because he knows you aren’t satisfied with his performance in the bedroom, either. There’s a lot more where that came from.

2. He Doesn’t Feel Wanted. Men want to be wanted. In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book For Women Only, 66% of men said it is very important that they feel wanted by their spouse. Getting sex wasn’t enough by itself—just like wives want to be wanted, husbands also want to be wanted.  Your desire for him is a huge foundation that helps him have confidence in his daily life. I also talked about this in the last post a bit, the games couples play with sex about who initiated last time and all that. If there have been times before in your marriage where you have turned him down, then he just might not have the guts to initiate sex out of fear of rejection. I mentioned this last week and said that this was his issue and he needs to lead, but hopefully this helps you understand why he is not wanting sex and it could be he doesn’t want to get rejected again.

3. He’s Dealing With Medical Issues or Depression. It’s very possible your husband has some kind of medical issue or depression that he just doesn’t want to deal with. We men… we tend to be pretty terrible about acknowledging our weaknesses, even when they’re affecting us and making us lose our appetite for sex. As some of you know, I was sick for months this past year. One of the medicines I decided to take (out of the several that were prescribed) knocked me out at nighttime and left me barely able to wake up in the morning. I noticed that if I took this pill before bed, I had no desire for sex and couldn’t even get it up. Yeah. My wife actually laughed when this happend and then I grabbed the bottle from the bathroom and showed her that was a side effect of the medicine. That was the last day on that medicine. Anyway, there are several different issues your husband could be dealing with medically that effect his sex life and drive. It might be time for a trip to the doctor.

4. Flannel Pajamas Suck. Let’s just be honest: guys are visual and if you aren’t putting any effort into what you look like and making the bedroom an incredible place to be, then he might not be turned on. Life happens—aging, pregnancy, illness, weight gain—you’re not going to look the way you did when you two first met. Fortunately, the deeper we love someone, the less importance we place on the exterior and the more we focus on the interior. That said: It doesn’t hurt to put in a little extra effort to look nice for your hubby. Sometimes even a small change can make a big impact, like resisting the urge to put on ratty sweats as soon as you get home, wearing a cute outfit instead of frumpy jeans for a night out, or actually putting on some of the “sexy” lingerie you’ve bought. My friend Shaunti and I are writing a book called Visual, talking about the visual nature of men, and she mentions men’s “visual rolodex” (or to update it: “visual hard drive”) in her book For Women Only. Wives should be the default image on their husband’s visual hard drive, so make a commitment to take care of yourself as best as you can—maybe you’ll inspire your husband and the two of you can work together to get a healthier lifestyle—both physically and emotionally—and make yourselves visually exciting for each other.

(71.3% of men in the U.S are obese or overweight compared to 68% of women. So, guys you got to work on this even more then your wives)

It will pay off big-time when you’re naked in bed with the lights on.

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-105. You Pay More Attention To Facebook than to Him. Maybe this is just me, but it seems like most men I know are done with Facebook. If it isn’t Facebook, it will be something else next week but come on, already. The comments, the posts the likes, the shares… put the damn thing down for a bit and connect with the person in your bed. Words with Friends, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and all these other things have crept into our bedrooms and become a distraction. Now, guys are not immune to this problem – in my house it’s ESPN and my “girlfriend” (my wife’s nickname for my laptop), so make an agreement that, after the kids go to bed, you put everything away and try and connect with each other.

6. He’s Getting It Somewhere Else. Studies show that most (not all) guys need sex every three days or less. If you aren’t having sex anywhere close to this frequency, then I would have to wonder where else he is getting it—either through an affair or through porn. Don’t go hiring someone from the television show Cheaters just yet, but do have a frank discussion with him about the possibility. Most guys or gals will lie when confronted as well, so these are not just easy conversations to ask once and just accept it and move on. Dive into this and get to a place of honesty—and don’t be afraid to enlist a trusted counselor for help if you need it. (And if it’s porn, we can help. Here are some resources you can check out to point him to that help.

7. His Walls Are Up. In the same way that wives can put up walls, so can husbands. While men tend to be fairly good at compartmentalizing their needs, it’s still possible for an issue to build up to the point where it creates a wall. It can be a major issue in your relationship or just in your personal life that affects the two of you relationally, spiritually, or physically. It could be your own depression or physical health, or a change in character that has him wondering what’s going on. Whatever it is, look for signals to talk about it, then run toward that conflict and deal with it. It may be hard, but it’s worth it. Talk. Listen. Then listen some more. Own up to anything you might need to take responsibility for, and remember you’re in this together.

8. He’s English and Prefers Gardening to Sex

I hope this helps. I really hate to see married folks not having sex—even terrible sex is better than no sex. And if your sex is terrible, that just means you get to practice more!

Get to work.

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Friday Rant: Sex Is Not a Chore

sex-not-chore-blog[Note: On Fridays we sometimes post new rants from one of our writers, edited only for typos and spelling. This new series is not for those easily offended or for those who only like to play nice. So read this before you start posting your comments.]

First, let me start by saying this post does not apply to anyone in an abusive relationship. If you are in one, please get the help you need in order to better your situation. This post is for the average, run of the mill marriage.

Second, I am a married woman that struggled with this issue. The more I learn my old way of thinking about sex is incorrect, the more I realize that sex is intended to intimately and wonderfully connect a husband and wife in a way nothing else can. (Aside from God of course!) I want you and your husband to experience the full, loving, gracious, joy-filled marriage that God intended.

Now, let’s talk about sex.

Ladies, this one is for you. Listen closely, sex is NOT a CHORE! Stop treating it that way.

So many times we have seen a married couple portrayed as the husband wanting sex and the wife continually acting annoyed because of it. Picture it, the husband and wife are laying down in bed and the husband tries to initiate sex with the wife. The wife turns to him, rolls her eyes and say “You’re kidding, right?”. That is not healthy. That is not funny. That is not marriage. STOP doing that.

Women, sex is for you too! Sex is not just for the men in our lives. Sex is supposed to be enjoyed by both male and female together. I’m pretty sure that is how God intended it from the beginning. Stop making excuses and start trying to get this right.

The most common excuse that I hear women say is they are tired. We are all tired. Get over it. Trust me on this one. I am a mother of three children under the age of eight. I AM TIRED. This is not an excuse. If you are too tired to be intimate with your husband, something else in your life needs to change. Ditch the T.V. show before bed, put the kids to bed earlier, find a way.

Here’s the truth, your marriage NEEDS to be the priority.

Listen, your children are wonderful. Your job is fantastic. Your hobbies are great and I love T.V. too. I get it. I am there sometimes too. So this is going to be hard to hear: your children, your job, your hobbies and especially television are not your first priority. Some of those are big ones, but not your first one.

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10If you’re a Christian, God is the first priority. Do you know what’s after God? Your husband is. Nothing else.

Chances are that your husband loves you. Even though it may not be what you want at the time, chances are that he shows that love through wanting to be with you physically. With that said, every time that you reject being with him, you are rejecting his love for you. You are rejecting his connection to you. You are crushing his self-esteem. You are rejecting him. When this happens one too many times, your marriage starts crumbling. You grow apart. And once it’s just you and your husband and you’re both retired after the kids leave, guess what, you have no real marriage.

This can all be avoided if you allow yourself to enjoy sex with your husband! I know, I know that many of you are thinking “He doesn’t help enough”, “He doesn’t say the right things”, “He isn’t emotionally available like I want him to be”. I get it. Here’s the thing though, YOU cannot change your husband. You can pray for your husband. However, YOU can only change YOU. Start by changing the way you think about sex. Start by allowing your husband to please you.

I used to be there. I used to reject my husband a lot. I have seen the difference in our marriage, friendship and life now that I have a better perspective on sex. I realized that my husband wants to connect with me and when I am receptive to him when it comes to sex, he is more available to connect emotionally. And let’s not forget that the sex is just flat out great!

Women, when you have sex with your husband and truly enjoy it, not treating it like a check on your list, you want to have more sex. Guess what happens after that? Sex gets better, your relationship with your husband gets better, your marriage gets better and then, before you know, your life gets better.

So stop asking how many times a man NEEDS to have sex. Stop treating sex like one more chore on your checklist. Start thinking about your husband. Start making your husband the priority. Start thinking about sex like an opportunity to make your marriage amazing! You will see miracles happen.

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2 Ways to Improve Your Marriage

xxxchurch - 2 Ways to Improve Your Marriage (1)I thought marriage would come easily.

I pictured a handsome man sweeping in to pick me up and make me whole. I guess I have Disney to blame for that – LOL! Obviously, that fairy tale was exactly that – a fairy tale. Marriage can be difficult, and there are times when I have struggled to even like my spouse.

I want to have a better marriage. Here are two things I have learned that have helped and can improve your marriage:

1. Only God can complete you.

The idea of someone coming in, sweeping you off your feet and completing your life is absurd. But, that is exactly what I thought was going to happen when I got married. I put my identity in my marriage and my spouse. Any time our marriage didn’t go the way I thought it should – or any time my spouse disappointed me – I personally felt like a failure.

In other words, I was totally co-dependent. That way of thinking is so wrong.

When I thought of my husband as the means to my happiness, anything he did “wrong” upset the crap out of me because he wasn’t fulfilling his “purpose.”

When I found out about his porn addiction, my world shattered.

I had to come to the realization that he was not my identity. Through treatment, accountability and community, I had to learn that he is not the means to my complete happiness. If I hadn’t, there would have been no way for me to heal from that pain.

So, if my husband isn’t who I am, where is my identity?

God.

I had to put my identity in God. I had to realize that I am a child of God. Loved and wanted. That was the answer I had been searching for all along – even before my husband and I got married. It took his addiction to open my eyes and come to terms with the truth: My identity and path to complete happiness is Christ. No one person could ever fill that void, nor should they ever have that much pressure on them to do so!

Only God can truly bring you to that place of wholeness. Only God can give you all you long for. Once I placed my identity in God, I was free. And guess what? So was my husband. We were able to enjoy one another knowing that it was going to be alright – even when we mess up – because we are not responsible for completing one another’s identity.

2. Marriage = Service

A happy and healthy marriage does NOT come easy. It is hard. My husband and I were recently discussing the fact that we are so very different… in almost every aspect of life.

Honestly, at first, we were angry that God made us almost-exact opposites. “Why in the heck would God make us this way knowing how hard it would be in marriage?” It baffled my brain! Doesn’t God love us and want us to be able to enjoy our marriage? It just seemed unnecessary.

But then, my oh-so-wise husband had a brilliant thought. What if God made us drastically different so that we would HAVE to learn to love like he does?

x3-fighting-for-my-marriage-facebook-10In other words: Agape.

Agape is a Greek word for love. One definition is: “Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”

WOW! It boils down to selflessness and service.

We have to learn to serve to have a great marriage.

We must lovingly serve one another to the point of dying to our own selfishness. Now that, my friend, is a hard concept. Serving each other out of love… even when we don’t really like each other.

That is God’s love. That is what makes us closer to God. That is what makes our marriages stronger and that’s what will improve your marriage.

It never ceases to amaze me how much we miss when we don’t do things God’s way. Did we have a “happy” marriage before surrendering totally to God? I guess, but let me tell you, it was NOTHING compared to what we have now. Miracle after miracle.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard. I have to remind myself daily to let go of my selfishness, as does my husband. But on days when we get right with God, we get life right and those are the best days!

As I look back, I now see that it was never my husband who was supposed to be my knight in shining armor – it was ALWAYS JESUS.

I thank God that He has my identity.

I thank God that He made men and women so differently.

I thank God that through the mess and craziness of marriage, we learn how to serve like He did and, ultimately, love like He loves.

 

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A Conversation About Fifty Shades Darker

Last week I wrote a blog post about my experience watching 50 Shades Darker with my wife Jeanette and what I learned from the movie. You can read that post here.

Well since then I’ve received a ton of emails and comments on social about my decision to watch the movie and write that post. Some good, some not so good. Many people have said they can’t believe why I would go see the movie at all. Why would I take Jeanette? And so on.

That being said, Jeanette and I had a really great conversation about the movie afterward … and of course I recorded it.

So I want to share that conversation with you. I think you will find it helpful and it also explains some of the reasoning why I went to see the movie with my wife in the first place.

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What I Learned from 50 Shades Darker

Website

I went to see 50 Shades Darker with Jeanette last night in Hollywood.

Two years ago I wrote this blog post.

I was even asked to do a sermon at Daybreak Church about the movie for their AT THE MOVIES SERIES. You can watch that HERE.

We went to the 10pm show and the first thing that stood out to me was the theater was filled with 90% women. I am not talking women with their husbands or boyfriends. I am talking women out with their girlfriends like they were about to watch Magic Mike or Bridesmaids.

Odd.

The person in front of me buying a ticket was a woman, maybe 30 years old by herself at 10pm on a Thursday night.

I had this mindset that the movie was going to attract a bunch of dudes, but I realized that women read the books and women are the ones pouring in to see the movies. That part scares me a bit.

Just a bit.

Back to my story…

The previews rolled. Three of them:

Beauty and The Beast
Baywatch
Girls Trip

Disney’s new Beauty and The Beast before Fifty Shades of Grey? Seems odd.

Not if you just read what I wrote about who is watching these Shades of Grey movies. Girls Trip looks to be one of the raunchiest previews I have seen in a long time.

Now to the movie.

The movie starts out with Christian Grey trying to get Anastasia Steele back. They come to terms with a deal:

No Rules
No Punishment
No Secrets

Throughout the movie, I wrote down one-liners that stood out to me either from Christian or Anastasia. It was dark in the theater, so don’t get mad at me if I didn’t get the quote exactly how it was said, but I am pretty dang close on most of these:

(A) It’s all wrong, all of it is wrong.

(A) It’s not a relationship. It’s ownership.

(A) Don’t crowd me; I need space.

(A) Take me to the red room.

(A) It means the world to me when you open up to me.

(A) Thank you for telling me.

(A) You forbidding it is not us talking about it.

(C) I don’t like strangers gawking at you.

(C) I get off on pushing women who look like my mom.

(C) My arrival into the world isn’t something I feel like celebrating.
In this second movie, you still have a very broken, confused Christian Grey who wants what he lost in the first movie.

Anastasia knows she should not go back to him but can’t refuse. The old saying, “Men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love,” sums up this movie. Anastasia’s refusal for crazy dark sex in the first movie is flipped around in this movie several times when she pushes Christian to even darker sex.

The movie is really slow.

There are some other story lines, but for the most part, you see two very dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional relationship that ends with a proposal, engagement ring, and a YES.

You may think that is great and you are cheering them on…right?

Well, maybe the ladies in front of me were. But for Jeanette and I who have been married now almost 19 years and watched so many of our friend’s divorce, we couldn’t cheer this couple.

What did I learn from 50 Shades Darker?

Here are five things:

1. Sex doesn’t solve problems.

In this movie, Anastasia asks a lot of questions and gets very few answers from Christian about his past, his secrets, and his emotions.

He avoids and dodges a lot of point blank questions from Anastasia. Instead of conversation and communication between the two, you see they avoid them and jump in bed together.

WRONG.

Never happens like this in real life.

Those men who are married for 19 years (or any amount of time for that matter) can relate to what I am saying.

If you and your wife are in a fight and it’s not even a big one, wouldn’t it be great just to have sex and then make up the next day?

Sex isn’t a band-aid and in this movie you only see them having sex instead of communicating. Anastasia engages in crazier sex than she is typically comfortable with in hopes that Christian will open up more, but he never does.

Don’t think that passion and sex can be enough to withstand a broken relationship. It is temporary and that band-aid is going to be ripped off because sex is not going to solve your problems; often it is going to create more of them.

2. One-sided relationships won’t work.

Do you have that friend that always needs something from you?
Do you have that friend that always talks to you, but never listens to what you say?
Do you have that person that you alway have to pay for?
Do you date that person who could care less about your kids, but you’ve invested in their kids?

There has to be give-and-take. If it is not 50/50, it has to be pretty close for a good relationship to work.

This relationship with Anastasia and Christian is tough to watch because it is one-sided.

The quote I mentioned above from Anastasia sums this up. “It means the world to me when you open up to me.”

Christian thinks he is comprising and trying to give into her requests by taking away some of his rules and allowing her to get closer to him. Ultimately he doesn’t know how to open up and communicate and show any emotions and that is why this doesn’t work.

If your spouse or the person you are dating is not willing to comprise, give in, let their guard down, meet you half way, do something you enjoy–you are in trouble, just like Christian and Anastasia.

3. Relationships require hard work.

Christian works hard at winning Anastasia back in this movie, but I wish he would work hard on diving into his past, his issues, and his pain.

I tell couples that are thinking about marriage that marriage is hard work. No one talked to me about that when I was growing up and dating. I don’t like even how this movie ends with the two of them getting engaged, one might leave the theater happy for them, but I didn’t.

Neither one of them are willing to do the hard work that marriage is going to take.

Instead, they settle for band-aids on all their wounds. As a result, their many scars will never heal and their relationship won’t make it.

Your relationship won’t work if you both are not willing to do the hard work that marriage requires.

4. People need other people.

My friend put it on a T-shirt. And I wrote a whole book about it.

The friends and family of the couple in this film just celebrate these two broken people becoming one broken mess.

No one speaks up.
No one says, “I OBJECT.”

I recently had a guy steal from me with Facebook ads. His agency was a total joke and I was in trouble and didn’t know what to do. So I contacted a top agency recommend by Facebook themselves. The CEO was willing to get on the phone with me and offer up advice at $3.00 a minute.

I was impressed actually with the way that phone call was set up and organized. Super legit. At the rate of $180 bucks an hour.

Cheaper than a lawyer, I thought to myself that I should do this.

You know how many hours I spend talking to people who ultimately won’t listen to anything I say? A lot. In fact, in 2017, I said I was done investing so many hours trying to help others that don’t want help.

It is just a fact-most people don’t have anyone to call when they are in a bind or when they are in a messed up relationship that they don’t know how to get out of.

Not one person in this film helps Christian or Anastasia realize they are not right for each other, that they should not be in a relationship right now, that they should work on their issues.

That’s sad, but that is real life for many of you.

You not only don’t have people in your life you feel comfortable asking those questions to; you don’t want to hear what they have to say anyway.

It’s amazing what happens when you pay $3 a minute for advice. You listen. At least I did.

I thought maybe more people would listen to me when they call me in the middle of the night because their marriage is on the rocks and I point them towards the direction I feel they should go.

But, they don’t do it.

Ultimately, whether you pay $3 bucks a minute or you get it for free. You need other people in your life.

If you are dating and thinking about marriage, you need to ask your friends and family (and kids if you have them) what they think of the other person, what they think of you two together, what their concerns are and then LISTEN and TAKE ACTION.

People need other people in good times and bad times.

5. You can’t fix people.

People need other people, but that doesn’t mean people can get you to change or someone can fix you.

Anastasia honestly believes she can get Christian to change. It was hard for me to watch because one of the things she does over and over in the movie is give into the things she was once against.

So, to get Christian to change, she pushes him for darker and darker sex knowing that in the end, it is not a good thing for him.

You and I can’t fix people.

Marriage won’t solve your problems.

If you are fighting and not seeing eye to eye dating, you are not going to get married and just have those problem solved. Instead, they will be compounded.

It’s an ego thing to think you can fix someone because you can’t. If you are healthy and believe that by dating an unhealthy person they will become healthy, you are WRONG.

They will most likely drag you down instead.

Chances are you both are dysfunctional like Christian and Anastasia and instead of tying the knot, these two should be separate and both work on themselves before getting into a relationship.

My friend told me he shouldn’t be in a relationship and needed to work on some things. I agreed. He’s still in a relationship because that is more fun than doing those other things that require deeper work.

My friend asked me to marry him and his girlfriend. I said I would do it, but a few weeks later I sat down with him and said while I would do the wedding, I didn’t think he should marry her.

That was super tough.

I wondered, do I lose a friend over this if I say don’t marry her and I won’t do the wedding?

Do I just suck it up and marry them because that is the Christian thing to do so this couple can have sex?

You think I am exaggerating?

You know how many dumb things I have heard from people who told me their pastor found out they were living together or having sex and then just said, “Let me just marry you right now so you can stop living in sin.”

DUMB.

Marriage, like I said about sex on my first point, doesn’t solve your problems.

My buddy was divorced not long after the wedding I performed.

It was sad to watch, but I feel like so many Christian kids (especially) have been brainwashed to believe that marriage is the answer. That marriage will “fix anything.”

Date for a long time.
Ask hard questions.
Look for red flags.

Ask anyone and everyone you know what they think of him or her and you together. Don’t get caught up in the “I need to get married just so I can have sex” stuff.

Take your time and realize that the red flags you see while you are dating will still be there when you are married and you can’t fix the other person.

I don’t know how the trilogy ends. I can only imagine there is a wedding in movie three, continued dysfunction, and then probably kids at some point thrown into this ugly mess.

Anastasia deserves better and so do the girls in the theater watching this movie last night with all their girlfriends. So do you.

Don’t settle.
Hold true to your standards and beliefs.
Don’t compromise for a man.
Don’t say yes to him when he doesn’t respond to your needs.

And lastly, stop having sex today outside marriage.

Yea, its easier said than done, but it’s the truth.

There is a time and place for it and outside of that complicates things and brings in many other things that you shouldn’t worry about until you have that commitment in marriage.

In the movie, Christian asks Anastasia why she waited to have sex. She said, “I was waiting for something exceptional.” Instead, she ended up with Christian Grey.

Set the bar high.
Exceptional is a good place to start.
Don’t end up with a Christian Grey.

Wrapping this up because it is now 2:00am. Fifty Shades Darker isn’t a movie or a book just about sex (sure there is a lot of sex in the movie).

I don’t recommend the movie.
I do NOT recommend the movie just because of the sex.
It wasn’t a good movie, period.

As you can see from what I just wrote for the past two hours, I didn’t talk about whips, spanking, beads, dungeons, or anything like that.

Nope.

The thing that stood out to me all revolved around two people in a relationship who can’t communicate with one another, so instead they just have sex. In the end that won’t work for them and it won’t work for you either.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

stay-goThis question in the title of this blog is a tough one. I think every marriage is different, and the ways each one of us are able to handle these types of large questions – especially when our marriages have deteriorated to the point where we’re asking them in the first place – depends on our relationship, our makeup, and just who we are in general.

I have seen couples who got through affairs and I have seen couples who haven’t. My friend Rick Reynolds runs AffairRecovery.com, a great organization that’s helping with this issue. He spells out the 6 different types of affairs here.

A lot of times there are underlying issues that lead to the affair (for example, we often discover that addiction is present for a lot of people who cheat). Whether you stay or go is going to be up to you and no one else (Tweet This).

No matter who we are, we’re going to make mistakes; the tendency to do that is only going to increase when you’re dealing with the aftermath of an affair. In this terrific article, Leslie Harde of Affair Recovery has spelled out twenty common mistakes that a hurt spouse can make:

  1. Believing that, once your spouse agrees to end the affair or the behavior, it is truly ended.
  2. Demanding that your spouse pledge 100% commitment to the marriage right at the moment of disclosure.
  3. Bludgeoning your spouse with guilt, thinking that this will be helpful.
  4. Drawing too much security from changed phone numbers and email addresses.
  5. Believing that you can keep your mate safe and away from temptation.
  6. Trying to compete with the affair partner, pornography, or other behavior.
  7. Trashing the affair partner.
  8. Trying to convince your spouse that nobody will ever love him/her as much as you do.
  9. Using your children or grandchildren as pawns.
  10. Beating up the unfaithful mate with guilt, shame, or the opinions of others to keep them from leaving.
  11. Making threats.
  12. Trying to drive the affair partner off by personal confrontation.
  13. Contacting the affair partner and then believing them.
  14. Believing there is a simple formula or a set course to fix the problem.
  15. Believing that the threat of exposure will be enough to convince your mate to quit the behavior.
  16. Trying to get all the unfaithful spouse’s friends on your side.
  17. Trying to “woo” your spouse back and expecting instant gratitude and immediate results.
  18. Believing that you, the faithful spouse, are “blameless” and the only one who has things to forgive.
  19. Believing that your unfaithful mate will find you more appealing if you get attention from others.
  20. Believing that if you, the faithful spouse, should or can do the same thing

You should really check out that whole article, and if your marriage – or the marriage of someone you know or love – is being affected by infidelity, be sure to check out Recover.org.

For those of you who are not dealing with affair: thank God. We have a great workshop for married couples that can help strengthen your relationship and draw the two of you even closer together. It’s called Fighting for My Marriage. You can learn more about that workshop at FightingforMyMarriage.com.

At XXXchurch, we believe strong marriages are a cornerstone for individual freedom, so please check out these great resources and do the work you need to do to keep your marriage going strong.

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I’m Turning 41 and Here’s How I Want to Celebrate

birthdayI turned 40 years old last year, right before Christmas. That means I will turn 41 this year, right after Christmas. Just kidding. It’s always a few days before Christmas. I kind of like being 40. Not sure what 41 will bring, but this year seemed to fly by.

We launched My Pilgrimage in 2016, and I realized most of you might not know what went into this launch and how we did it. My Pilgrimage is not just a book, guidebook, and video course; it also involves online Pilgrimage small groups.

We wanted to slowly roll it out and interact with people as they were going through the material and be able to make adjustments along the way. So, we broke out our email list, in no particular order, and slowly offered it to a few people each month.

Then in September, we did a public release where it became available to people on our website, regardless if they were on our mailing list or not.

We learned a lot and as we look at 2017, we are going to launch Recover in a similar fashion.

One of the things that we did during our public launch of My Pilgrimage was on opening day of the release, we offered Recover for free for anyone who bought. A lot of people took advantage of this and we mentioned a few things during that release.

1. We said My Pilgrimage would not be available again publicly until 2017.

2. We said when we launched Recover, we would do the same thing on opening day, but offer My Pilgrimage for free.

We don’t think we will have a public release of Recover until later next year, so I have something for you!

We can call it “Craig’s Birthday Day Special.”

Starting December 20th for 24 hours – Recover will be available for purchase.

We have small groups starting in the new year and are so excited about this. If you purchase Recover on December 20th, we will give your spouse or loved one My Pilgrimage for free! This is the only way to get My Pilgrimage and the very first chance to get Recover.

I promise, I won’t blow up your email for the next 10 days … but here is what I will do:

If you are on our email list …

Tomorrow – I’ll send you an email explaining all about Recover.

Monday – I’ll send you an email explaining what My Pilgrimage is and includes.

Tuesday – I will email you to let you know when the 24-hour window starts.

Wednesday – I will email you a notice that the registration has closed.

Until then, Merry (early) Christmas and here is to 41!

PS. If you want to make sure you get these emails just complete the form below.

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4 Things to Look for to Determine If You Can Trust Your Sex-Addicted Spouse

trust“How will I know when I will be able to trust him again?”

It is one of the spouse’s most commonly-asked questions during a couples’ first counseling session after discovering sexual addiction!

It’s a great question, because at the core of the couples’ issues is the broken bond of trust. Sex-addicted partners:

– Violate their commitment to be honest and faithful.

– Drive a wedge in the relationship that feels like the size of the Grand Canyon. 

– Create a sense of hopelessness that leaves the other feeling numb and confused.

Ask any sexually-betrayed partner and they will tell you that while the infidelity itself is like a punch in the gut, worse still are dishonesty and lying. While they hate the betrayal, they detest the lack of integrity displayed in attempting to cover the tracks. At some point, the focus on rebuilding trust is as critical as helping the sex-addicted partner manage the addiction itself.

How can a betrayed partner regain a sense of comfort and confidence that their sex-addicted spouse is safe? Let’s examine four key factors to look for in determining your spouse’s trustworthiness.

1. Commitment to his recovery

This is the one number key – not only for learning to manage a sexual addiction, but also to begin the process of rebuilding a tattered relationship. A sex addict must show dedication to the game plan created to assist him in breaking the bondage of secrecy and betrayal. Some partners dive in and go beyond what is asked of them in recovery. Some barely scratch the surface in doing the work required. When this is the case, it is extremely disheartening to the wounded spouse.

 If your spouse is following a treatment regimen and sharing his progress with you, then have hope for better days ahead.

2. He doesn’t shut you down when you vent.

One of the first things I will tell a husband who has abused sex is that his wife has a barrel of rocks… and she will be throwing them his way for the next twelve to twenty-four months. The ability for a woman to properly grieve the betrayal of the relationship is critical in order for there to be a chance for her to move forward in it.

Some men struggle when their grieving wives are throwing rocks. They become defensive and attempt to shut down the conversation. This is a serious mistake. When a woman is not given an opportunity to grieve, she will continue to sit on those emotions and learn how to express them in other ways, like passive aggression.

You can start to sense your spouse is getting better when they stand firm and allow you to vent about your pain and anger. This demonstrates an understanding of the extent of your anguish, and a commitment to helping you get to a better emotional place.   

346x396-recover-inline23. He starts to develop and engage in healthy communities.

Clinical studies have demonstrated time and time again that engaging in healthy community is a critical key to recovering from a sex addiction. It is also the biggest pushback we receive from our sex-addicted clients. Intense shame and embarrassment would make it easier to get them to agree to walk a tightrope over the Grand Canyon than attend a recovery group meeting.

As the wounded spouse, if you see your husband is attending a support group, working with a sponsor, and engaging in a men’s group, you should feel confident that he is learning how to step outside of his negative comfort zone. Establishing authentic relationships with others will help him maintain accountability, which is a major win for you and your relationship.

4. He demonstrates the ability to emotionally attach with you.

A man struggling with a sexual addiction is confused about intimacy. Somewhere along the line, he confused emotional intimacy for physical intimacy. He has an easier time connecting physically, and his emphasis is on sexual relations.

When you find your spouse able to identify and express emotion, or showing signs of openness and vulnerability, you know he is on the right track of recovery. A sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder, and the course of treatment is designed to broaden the addict’s view of healthy intimacy to include an emotional connection.

An addict who is committed to recovery, supports his wife’s grieving, engages in healthy community and begins to identify and express deeper emotions is an individual who is on the right path for recovery. That is something you can put your trust in.   

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