3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage

lessons-for-marriageThey say everyone gets a honeymoon period at the start of your marriage, but whoever brandished that idea: I want a refund.

Marriage is hard work right out of the gate. Our sentimental ideas about romance get tossed out very, very quickly — and I want you to be ready. Everyone told me what to expect, but no matter how much you prepare, it’s still a jump into the deep end. The more you know about what’s coming, the more quickly you can stand on your two feet.

I know that marriage isn’t for everyone (contrary to our culture, singleness is not an illness), but whether you’re not in the dating scene or you’ve been married for years, here are three things I learned instantly in the first week of marriage. These lessons could be valuable and necessary for our entire journey.

1) Marriage pulls down the hologram and brings about the gritty reality of your spouse (and yourself too).

My wife and I dated for six years before we were married, and in those six years, I had never heard her pass gas once. I would constantly tell her that it was okay, but my wife was dead-set on maintaining an air of elegance. No pun intended.

About four days into the marriage, on a wonderful crisp morning in Florida, I asked my wife, “Are you boiling eggs?

She said, “No. I’m not boiling eggs.”

Are the sprinklers on outside?

No. The sprinklers are not on.”

But then what’s that sme—

And it hit me. Pun intended.

(By the way, I have my wife’s permission to share this story. I’m proud to say that she now regularly passes gas around me with the most exuberant freedom.)

In dating, we’re often on our best behavior. It’s like a job interview, where both sides show off their impressive benefits and credentials. In marriage, you see the rough, raw edges of the entire person. Marriage creates perhaps the closest proximity you will ever have with another human being. You’ll see every insecurity and neurotic tendency. There will be friction.

This is more than just about keeping up a pretty image. It’s also a way of learning how to love an entire person and not just the parts that you like.

In Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, he discusses how we each have fault lines in our hearts, like the cracks of a great bridge. These fault lines get exposed when we collide with another person, so that we spill anger or jealousy or anxiety. A married couple, because they’re so close in space, will inevitably drive a truck through each other’s hearts: which exposes all the fault lines. Deep-seated flaws will shake out of us like shaking a tree in the autumn. It’s in this exposure that we can choose to face our flaws, so that they would be re-shaped by the love we share. The sooner, the better.

You’ll also see every dream, hope, talent, passion, and ambition in your spouse. You’ll see what lights them up and gets them excited. This means that marriage is often about showing grace for your spouse’s worst and promoting their very best. Love sees a greatness in someone who cannot see it in themselves. (Tweet This!) And if marriage is one of the most intimate unions in the universe, then it has the power to encourage a person beyond their self-imposed limits. Though this can happen in many types of relationships, marriage offers a profound intensity to spiritual growth. Finally, we can switch off our holograms of who pretend to be, and actually become the people we were meant to be.

2) Marriage means your stuff isn’t your stuff anymore.

In our first week, we didn’t fly off to the honeymoon, which was another two weeks away. We spent time unpacking, opening wedding gifts, frolicking in our new home, and merging our lives together. About five days in, I wanted to meet up a friend to hang out, one of the groomsmen in the wedding.

I neglected to tell this to my wife. This is one of those very obvious things that I should’ve knew from the get-go, but in my defense, I’m an idiot.

Marriage is about Two-As-One, as We instead of Me. My time was no longer my own. It was our time. Our things. Our bank account. Our bed. Again, this sounds obvious, but I’ve spoken with so many singles and unmarried couples who were dismayed at the idea of splitting a life in half. No one is quite prepared to completely surrender unilateral decisions. We quickly learn why Apostle Paul compared our relationship with God to the marriage union — because we are entrusting our will with another.

The wonderful advantage is that rather than “splitting in half,” it actually feels more like a merging of strength. Our individual abilities can make up for each other’s weaknesses. Our knowledge and our view on life is suddenly augmented with an entirely new angle. By the end of the week, I was figuring out what she would want and why, which helped my tiny brain to open to new avenues I had never considered.

While both dating and engagement can offer the benefit of unified minds, the promise of marriage solidifies an active undercurrent of cooperation. There’s now a lifelong goal: for the health of the couple, and not what works for “me,” but for We. What works for you as an individual might be good, but what works for the couple turns out to be great. It’s not half plus half, nor is it one plus one; instead, the grace and synergy of marriage equate to an exponential growth of each other’s hearts.

3) Marriage means there’s nowhere to run except towards each other.

Our first argument in the first week was different from any argument we’d ever had.

When we were dating, our conflicts were always able to be delayed. A few days of separation could cool us off. The problems might come back, but a little bit of distance smoothed things over. We could just bury it and move on.

Now we have no such apparatus.

No buffer, no denial, no escape.

We could either go to bed angry or we could wrestle our exposed demons all the way to resolution.

For those who are more likely to avoid confrontation, this proves extremely troubling. If you’re like me and you absolutely need to resolve things on the spot, it can still prove difficult, because you’ll end up defending yourself in the most tone-deaf ways possible. It’s all rather very embarrassing when we realize how bad we are at the Rules of Engagement.

We had to figure out a system. We had to know what words we would never, ever use. If we were going to fight, we would have to fight fair, with no low blows and no dragging up the past against each other. None of this is a perfect process. The initial start of a conflict will never be smooth; our first reactions are always emotional because it feels like your own value is at stake.

It’s in these moments that my wife and I had to learn to seek an end-point to our arguments. The beginning would always be rough, but with enough humility and self-awareness, we could run toward intimacy instead of toward an exit. (Tweet This!) This kind of spousal love is not only a means to an end, but the end itself.

We’ve discovered that when confrontation has a direction, it’s always an opportunity to grow.

And if a guy like me can learn these things, then I guarantee you: we all can.

The post 3 Lessons I Learned Instantly In My First Week of Marriage appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Here’s Why Men And Women Don’t See Eye To Eye

eye-to-eyeAs men and women our goal is to make our relationships with each other (especially marriages) as enriching as possible.

But a common challenge we all face in making that happen is a mutual lack of understanding about how each other views and processes the world around us.

This is why you probably have heard the saying, “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus.”

The way men and women see the world impacts everything they do. (Tweet This!)

It impacts their communication.
It impacts how they deal with conflict.
It impacts how they handle stress and temptation.

Your relationships are incredibly valuable so it’s critical you understand each other. (Tweet This!)

Watch this video from a recent talk I gave with my friend, co-author of the book Through A Man’s Eyes, and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn.

In this video we specifically talk about how men process their world visually and the unique temptations they face at the hands of a hyper-sexualized culture.

Please STOP and invest 40 minutes in your relationship by watching this video.

You’ll be encouraged AND pick up some very subtle yet brilliant insight.

 

The post Here’s Why Men And Women Don’t See Eye To Eye appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

Why A Mistake In This Technology Age Can Cost You Everything

mistake-1In the war between the world and sex, sex is the undisputed champ. (Tweet This!) And sex seems to be winning, especially when it comes to some of the head-scratching laws our country has designed around it.

I’ve seen a few headlines lately that really have me wondering what is going on when it comes to sex, adults, kids, and technology. We have to do something about our laws to protect our kids.

You may have heard the news recently that Jared Fogle, the now-former spokesman for Subway, is being investigated (allegedly) for child pornography. But before all that, he allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old girl and then attempted to pimp her out on Craigslist. But here’s what’s crazy to me—an old guy like Jared having sex with a 16-year-old is perfectly legal in Indiana. It’s the money and the Craigslist part that’s adding to his legal troubles, not the sex-with-a-child part.

Or what about this story, about famous and wealthy rapper Tyga, a 25-year-old, buying a Ferrari for his (presumed) girlfriend Kylie Jenner for her 18th birthday. Now, set aside the acceptability of buying a car that costs several hundred grand; why is no one pointing out that Tyga was, up until a few days ago, dating a child? (Tweet This!)

One more story that really brought this home to us here at X3church. We recently received an email from a concerned parent. This parent has a 20-year-old son who used a supposed 18-and-over chat room on Kik to talk with two young women; after a series of back-and-forth conversations over a few day, he asked for images. They sent 29 photographs and videos, and only then did he discover they were 15 and 16 years old. He is now facing life in prison on 29 counts of possession of child pornography.

The more our society progresses, the more it sometimes stays the same. Young people are still going to attract the sexual attention of others, and sometimes that attention will be unwanted or even illegal, but our laws are wacked out and are not reliable. (Tweet This!)

So how can we as parents keep our kids safe?

For starters, we have to understand the law. Depending on what state you live in, “sexting” is just as much of an offense as actual child pornography. Whether you think that makes sense or not (and I don’t), it’s possible that’s the law where you live. That means that, if your 17-year-old sends a sexually explicit photograph of themselves to their boyfriend or girlfriend, then they’ve participated in the transmission child pornography and could be doing time.

Your kids are growing up in a different world than the one you did. That’s just the fact of the matter. It’s up to you to educate yourself and to understand that the laws are all over the place, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Teach your kids that nothing they do online can ever truly be deleted, and that they can’t always trust their peers with sensitive images or videos. (For more information on parenting your kids through today’s technology, check out our sister site iParent.TV.)

Beyond that, you just can’t police people’s actions and expect change; it requires a change at the heart level. Though our society’s laws about child porn need to catch up to technology, no law is going to change anyone’s heart. Jared and Tyga won’t be litigated into normalcy. Only God can do that.


touchy-subjects-workshop-resourceFor more information and practical advice on raising your children in a tech saturated world, check out the Touchy Subjects video workshop for parents. Practical teaching. Sound advice. Straight talk from two dads who’s been there.

Learn How To Talk To Your Kids About Touchy Subjects

 

 

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3 Things to Do When Your Wife Dresses Too Sexy

wife-dresses-too-sexyAbout six months ago, I was hanging out with a couple that I happen to really like a lot. As we were talking about different ways to protect a marital union, the conversation turned to wardrobe.

They were sitting on the couch across from me, and the wife had on some super-short shorts. Think Jessica Simpson in the horrific remake of Dukes of Hazard pair of denim cut-offs. Nah…shorter than even that, actually. When I asked the husband if he would be cool with male company coming over and seeing his wife dressed that way, he said, “Yes,” and then took it a step further and said “If they end up feeling some kind of way, that’s their lust problem, not ours.”

What was even more interesting is that the wife said “Is what I’m wearing too sexy? I’ve had a few people talk to me about that lately.”

 Too sexy. It’s kind of a hard call to determine what that actually is. Muslims and Orthodox Jews would say that a whole lot of us are looking crazy out here in a simple pair of jeans and a graphic tee. But if you were to ask me what I think it is, it’s when a wife is dressed in such a way to where her husband feels as if what is reserved especially for him (I Corinthians 7:3) is something all of us get a sneak peek at. And it’s also the attitude that the wife carries in her clothing as well.

So, if you’re a husband reading this and you personally feel like your wife dresses too sexy and in a way that, while it may not make you jealous and insecure (that may be your hang-up), doesn’t send the message that she’s already committed to someone, then here are three productive, effective, and non-offensive or caveman-like things that you can do:

1) Have a sensitive conversation with her.

I just had a conversation over the weekend with a male friend of mine who admits that he has a tendency (which I prefer to see as a “bad habit”) of holding things in until he snaps. By then, he just comes off as a jerk (a nice version of the word I’m really thinking), and it only causes me to go onto the defensive.

If you’re uncomfortable with how your wife dresses, first think about if you married her with that wardrobe. If you did, what’s your issue now? That’s certainly something worth pondering on your own before bringing it up.

Secondly, don’t come at her like a parent. No healthy and sane wife wants to sleep with her father (Tweet This!) (George Michael’s song “Father Figure” always creeped me out). You don’t have the right to tell her what she can or cannot wear. But as her husband, you do have God’s permission to bring up how you feel, to state your reasons behind it and to work towards a happy medium. A compromise (I Peter 3:7). Oh, and you might want to throw some “I feel…” statements in. You know like “I feel like my feelings aren’t being taken into consideration with some of the things that you wear.” We tend to resonate with that type of phrasing as opposed to “When are you gonna stop wearing that hoochie crap?” (See the difference?)

 2) Take her shopping.

If you’re a woman checking this out, raise your hand if the thought of going shopping for a new outfit repulses you. No one? Okay, so that’s the confirmation that I need to make this point.

Something that is helpful, romantic, and even a little sexy is when a husband decides to go clothing-rather-than-grocery shopping with his wife. This doesn’t mean you walk around hemming and hawing or dictating what she should or should not purchase; it means that one day, you decide to spontaneously say “You want to get a new dress today? Let’s go!” By participating in the shopping process, she’ll not only feel more connected to you, but also to your opinions.

3) Affirm her. Often.

From the beginning of time, we see that affirmations within a marriage are extremely important. And necessary. After all, what is it that Adam said? “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23), right? He was letting the Woman know that she was a part of him.

Look, some women dress super-sexy simply because they like to. But there are others who do it because it gets them a certain amount of attention that they so desperately crave. The more you tell your wife how beautiful she is, how much you love her body and also how smart, funny, and special she is to you, you might be surprised by how the clothing—and attitude—starts to shift a bit. Why? Because she knows that her husband is her biggest fan. This means that there’s no need to draw in any other kind of audience.


Check out Craig Gross and Shaunti Feldhahn’s new book Through A Man’s Eyes for a more in depth discussion on this topic and to learn more about the visual nature of men . Get the book HERE and learn more about the workshop HERE.

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Husbands, It’s Okay To Be Attracted To Images Of Other Women

its-ok-to-be-attracted-to-images-of-womenWithin days of releasing For Women Only, based on my research study of the inner lives of men, my husband Jeff told me it was all his male buddies wanted to talk about. Not because their wives could finally understand them… but because they could finally understand themselves.

The most popular topic of discussion? The “Visual” chapter, where I explained that even the most honorable, happily-married men are confronted every day in this culture by dozens of attractive, sexualized images of other women that they don’t want to have rattling around in their brains. They have to spend time and effort tearing down those images and taking those thoughts captive. And it can be exhausting.

The reaction from some of Jeff’s friends? Immense, explosive relief.

I was really confused, but Jeff explained:

Guys don’t generally sit around and talk about this kind of internal stuff the way women do, so how would they know that other guys are the same as they are? It’s not like you sit around at Starbucks going, “You got images?” “Yep, I got images.”

So some guys have been feeling shame for years because they thought that the temptation itself meant that they were failing and sinful. (Tweet This!) It is a relief for a man to know that just having an image pop into his head doesn’t mean he’s a failure. For him to know that “Yeah, I don’t like that it confronts me, but what matters is what I do next.”

In the years since that conversation, my research has continued and I’ve heard Jeff’s point of view from many other men I’ve interviewed. Now, just to be clear: I’m talking here about men being attracted by an image, not being attracted to another woman as a person — as in, that female colleague at the office. Further, what I’m discussing here only applies to men who are generally making the right choices and are trying as best they can to keep their thought lives pure.

But there are way too many of these honorable men – truly good guys – who have been feeling shame (or made to feel shame) because they instinctively want to look at the hot woman at the grocery store who is falling out of her top. They feel a gut-level desire to savor the sight of the lithe twenty-something at the gym who is showing off all of her assets. The type of man I’m talking about will generally try to wrench his head away… but deep down inside, there’s a part of him that would rather look.

Guys, is that you?
Ladies, does this describe your husband?

It’s important to say this: it is normal to be attracted to an attractive image. (Tweet This!) There is literally nothing wrong with that part of it. In fact, a man’s brain is so hard-wired for visual processing that it is almost impossible for a man to not find that image appealing. I would argue, in fact, that his brain is functioning in precisely the way God designed.

However.

It is even more important to emphasize this: being attracted to an image and doing something about it – such as a lingering look or thought about that other woman — are two very, very different things. In the Bible, God clearly says that a man must not allow himself to take that lingering look. He must not allow his thoughts to go in a lustful direction. Those go beyond “attraction” and into “action.” And the actions of lust, in God’s economy, equal a heart of adultery. (Tweet This!)

Yes, it is normal to want to look – but the only time a man can indulge that desire is when he is with his wife.

There’s no way to know this for sure, but I think God designed the male brain to be attracted to an attractive image on purpose – and that that purpose was to bond a man to his wife. Remember, Adam’s first words when he saw Eve were essentially, “Hubba, hubba.” I’ve been investigating this topic for years as Craig Gross and I have been writing our new, more in-depth book on this topic, Through A Man’s Eyes, and neuroscientists have found that the visual male brain wiring has a direct tie to a man’s emotional connection to his wife.

Guys, your visual temptations are not abnormal. (Tweet This!) They are challenging, and you all have told me that you wish you didn’t have them. But you need to know that they exist for most men in this culture.

The key, of course, is what you do about it.

As a woman who understands this topic, I want to thank those of you who are making those right choices every difficult day. You are trying as best you can to live pure, in an impure culture. There is no way to express how much that means to me as a woman, and – most importantly — to the woman in your life.

And to the men who perhaps haven’t been making the rigorous choice to keep your thoughts for your wife: can I challenge you?

Please. Step up to the high calling that God has for you.
Make the godly choices.

If you need help to do so, get it. Rigorously reserve those thoughts and actions, for your wife (or future wife). Because when you are home with your wife, the attraction and the action are, finally, allowed to be one and the same.


For more information on Craig Gross and Shaunti Feldhahn’s latest book and workshop watch this video.

Shaunti Feldhahn is a groundbreaking social researcher, popular speaker and the best-selling author of many books, including For Women Only and For Men Only. In her latest book, Through A Man’s Eyes, Shaunti has teamed up with Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch.com, to open women’s eyes to the visual nature of men and what it means for a husband, boyfriend or son. See menarevisual.com or shaunti.com for more.

The post Husbands, It’s Okay To Be Attracted To Images Of Other Women appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

3 Crucial Facts You Really Need To Know About A Man’s Brain

3-facts-mans-brainThe funniest movie moment I’ve seen this summer comes at the very end of Inside Out, as the main preteen girl character talks to a preteen boy at a hockey rink. We’ve been seeing inside her head the whole movie, but instantly the camera zooms out of her brain and into his…. where his mental control room is suddenly in chaos. The warning lights flash “GIRL! GIRL! GIRL!” and everything in his mind seizes up or turns somersaults.

My 12-year-old son saw that and said, “Actually… that’s pretty much what it feels like.”

If you are a girl or woman who didn’t know that you have the ability to create an electrical storm in the male brain, join the club. A few years ago, I was shocked as I first started learning some of this stuff! But since it’s actually really important, I investigated, for my newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes, to find out what goes on in the male brain when a man or boy sees certain things.

So here are three key facts we females usually don’t know about the male brain wiring – but really need to!

Fact #1: The male brain is physically different

I would say “Their brains are wired weird,” but that would get me in trouble. What I mean is this: men don’t just think differently than women, the structure of their brains is physically different. Not only that, the male brain has a completely different chemical-hormonal mix in many ways. And that structure and that chemical makeup are focused around processing life visually.

By contrast, the female brain is focused around processing life verbally and emotionally.

In other words, at the most simplistic level, a guy sees life while a woman feels and talks about life. (Tweet This!) Whether he is a 12-year-old boy or an 82-year-old man, it is impossible for a male to not be visually oriented – just as it is impossible for a woman not to experience emotions about certain things.

Fact #2: The sight of the female body triggers an involuntary sexual reaction.

Yes, I know it’s a huge shocker that men think about sex a lot. Check. But that’s not exactly what I mean.

Certain sights are automatically, biologically, sexual in nature to the male brain – which means those sights deliver a dose of pleasure regardless of whether the guy wants them to. For example, even a five-year-old boy, who has no idea what sex is, will have an instantaneous and gut-level feeling of pleasure when he sees the college-age babysitter whose clothes (or lack thereof) draw overt attention to a great figure. Even a fifty-year-old husband who loves and honors his wife, can have an involuntary, instantaneous spike of pleasure in his brain when the image of the provocative lingerie model flashes across the television screen before he can look away.

I’m sure that some of you – like me – are a bit surprised or disturbed at the notion of an involuntary pleasurable reaction. That is because our brain is wired completely differently. Thus, most women have never experienced any kind of involuntary, gut-level, sexually-pleasurable reaction to visual images. So we have no idea that men do. Every day.

There is, however, a brain parallel we can understand. Let’s say you haven’t eaten all day and you walk into a dinner party to find a mouthwatering buffet across the room. In that split-second, a center in the back of your brain called the nucleus accumbens lights up and triggers an instinctive reaction: I want to consume that. Zero thought involved. It’s an automatic response.

Well, the same thing happens to a guy when he sees a woman dressed in a way that calls overt attention to her knockout figure. His nucleus accumbens lights up, triggering an automatic sense of pleasure and desire. He doesn’t desire the person, exactly, but that image. (Tweet This!) And it’s critical to remember that his brain did that involuntarily.

He is then very tempted to actually look at that sexy image – to “consume” it, so to speak — because doing so would continue that dose of pleasure in his brain.

Fact #3: After the biological reaction comes the mental choice

So then the $10 million question is: what happens next in that visual brain of his?

In the next split-second after the nucleus accumbens lights up involuntarily, the cortical (thinking) centers kick in at the front of the brain. This is where the thought process, will, and decision-making occur. Suddenly, the man has a decision to make: to actually savor the sight of that attractive woman in the clingy outfit… or to look away and honor God and (if he’s married) his wife in his thought life? Remember, the first reaction (temptation/desire) was automatic, biological, and involuntary; the next step will be a choice.

How your husband, boyfriend, or son might actually handle that choice, and what you can do about it, is a topic for another day (and one we cover thoroughly in Through a Man’s Eyes).

For now, let’s venture to agree on the fact that although this visual wiring might seem foreign – and even, for some of us, alarming! – it appears that God created men’s and women’s brains to work in these ways. And if so, that means He created men to be visual and intends that to be a good thing, not a bad one!

Yes, this wiring can certainly pose challenges for modern men as they are confronted with sights in public that they were only supposed to see in private. As many wives have sadly seen firsthand, some men have become trapped in bad choices that become unhealthy for them and very hurtful for the relationship. (Although thankfully, many wives have also seen that understanding this temptation can be a vital step in moving their man toward healing.)

But this wiring can also be a wonderful thing. After all, remember: when a man looks at his bride, he can fully enjoy that nucleus accumbens lighting up! And then both of them can then enjoy everything that comes with it!


For more information on Shaunti’s latest book and workshop watch this video.

Shaunti Feldhahn is a groundbreaking social researcher, popular speaker and the best-selling author of many books, including For Women Only and For Men Only. In her latest book, Through A Man’s Eyes, Shaunti has teamed up with Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch.com, to open women’s eyes to the visual nature of men and what it means for a husband, boyfriend or son. See menarevisual.com or shaunti.com for more.

The post 3 Crucial Facts You Really Need To Know About A Man’s Brain appeared first on XXXchurch.com.

An Open Letter To Pornography

open-letter-to-pornographyNote: We received this letter from a woman named Jennifer. We thought this was great and wanted to share it with all of you. Hopefully this will help those of you who are either struggling with a porn addiction or married to a person who is. 

Dear Pornography,

I never personally knew you – it was my husband who introduced us

First in a Fitness magazine, then in the rejection of my touch

I always smelled your stench

My own hands released the buttons of my wedding gown

An occasion meant for the fingers of my groom

That hotel pillow was not fluffed enough to carry the weight of my tears

With skewed intimacy as your weapon, you robbed us of connection (Tweet This!)

My husband a perfect victim

An involuntary organ donor, you extracted his heart

Before raping the beauty of our sex, you claim it was consensual

Yet your memories often tainted the sacred of our sheets

Much like the photos that polluted the memory of his phone

His eyelids had been branded

Visions of you are what he saw – your silhouette between us

Two souls God designed to be one, more detached than ever before

You were number three

The woman on the side yet you lived inside our home

Call it a silent affair

A quiet addiction whose dealer is mobile – his crack house inside your pocket

Pornography

Your business is booming

40 million Americans devoted to you

You yield more revenue than the NBA, MLB, and NFL combined

Yet we don’t attribute it to sex slavery – we say, “It’s only done online”

So 50% of marriages are breaking while 50 Shades of Grey is breaking box office records

While little boys are taught that your affects are natural, recreational

You are not Xbox

You get them while they’re young

I worry for my future son

Defenseless consumers whose innocence you breach

Unlocking doors of their minds too narrow to be opened

My husband was one of them

He met you at 12 he’s now 1 of 200,000

Young men who are led by older brothers and peers

On expeditions of images through pornhub and smartphones

An encourager of secrets, you often hide in the dark

A monster under beds only your snarl goes unheard

Pornography

You’ve taught me I’m not beautiful unless I am porn

That you are a war and men are your casualty

Naked women on screens now gunshots to my ears

I am your veteran

I thought prayer would act as antidote to his illness

But the fine print never told him that your side effects are lethal (Tweet This!)

Silent killer of relationships

Your fingerprints were found on the body bag of our marriage

Pornography

I always knew I smelled your stench

It still lingers through the hallways of my heart

Sincerely
Jennifer


X3_Groups-Small.pngIf you are the spouse of a man struggling with pornography there is help for you too. His journey is yours also. Join an X3group JUST FOR SPOUSES and connect with other women just like you. Right NOW you can join any group and get your first 30 days for HALF OFF with Discount Code X3HALF.

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Are Women Really Any Less Visual Than Men?

magic-mike-aThree summers ago, a low-budget movie, overseen by an Oscar-winning director known for being “artsy” and nontraditional in his approach, and featuring unproven star-on-the-rise Channing Tatum and then-punchline Matthew McConaughey, debuted to surprising success. A nominal rags-to-riches story that explored the “seedy” side of the world of male stripping (based in part on Tatum’s own pre-fame experiences as an exotic dancer), Magic Mike roared out of the gate with a $39.1 million opening weekend, on its way to a domestic gross of $113.7 million.

That’s a terrific return on investment for a film that only cost 7 million bucks to make.

So what caused this film to be such a success?

According to Box Office Mojo’s analytic write-up of the film’s opening weekend, it was women:

The aspirational plot, which can be a bit of a downer, was largely ignored in favor of glimpses at stripping scenes involving an assortment of outrageous outfits. Instead of portraying the dark, seedy side of the movie’s world, the ads focused on the fun and excitement (not to mention plenty of abs). Late in the game, as the movie was building steam, Warner Bros. ramped up the ‘event movie’ signals to try and get large groups of women to ditch their boyfriends and head to the movies. As expected, the men didn’t really come along: the audience was 73 percent women, and 57 percent under the age of 35.

73%! That means, roughly, that 3 of every 4 tickets sold during that magical weekend were sold to women. The film did so well, in fact, that Warner Brothers is released a sequel this summer, Magic Mike XXL.

My friend Shaunti Feldhahn and I recently wrote a book called Through a Man’s Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men. It’s about how men process the world visually (Tweet This!), meaning we tend to stop and stare, especially when beautiful women are around. It doesn’t excuse that behavior, but it helps explain why we do what we do.

But then we started thinking about the phenomenon of Magic Mike and its sequel, and we asked ourselves the question: Did we write the wrong book? Aren’t women visual, too? (Tweet This!)

After all: they’re the ones who bought tickets to stare at Channing Tatum’s abs up on that screen.

Sure, a lot of women turned Magic Mike into a verified surprise hit. And that was news.

And that’s why we know we’re on the right track with our book.

Magic Mike (and, presumably, its sequel) is a film that became newsworthy because it served up eye candy for women. (Tweet This!) That was a big deal.

You know what isn’t a big deal? A movie that serves up eye candy for men.

That’s the default. Throw a dart at the “now playing” section of Fandango and you’ll probably find a film that shows off some woman’s curves, cleavage, or more. It isn’t surprising, it isn’t mind-blowing, and it sure isn’t news.


For more on Craig and Shaunti’s new book Through A Man’s Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men visit www.menarevisual.com.

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3 Ways To Love Someone With A Porn Problem

3-ways-to-love-porn-problemIn this colossal issue of porn addiction in our world, those of us who claim the mantel of “Christ Follower” live in a unique place. We are a people called to love, forgive, and even heal the broken and addicted and ashamed. It is the way we were intended to live by our loving Creator – it is our purpose. Our sacred writings are even filled with teaching that indicates that if the world experiences us as hateful, then nothing we do or say matters at all. It’s all resounding gongs and busted guitar strings.

Yet this issue is just as bad, if not worse, inside the church as outside of it, and most of the world seems to experience a great deal of judgment emanating from our direction in regards to any and all issues of sexuality. It’s clear that we are missing something. (Tweet This!) So let’s get helpful—here are three simple steps any person can take toward actually and authentically loving someone who is struggling with a porn problem.

1) Understand that you can win the argument, or you can win their heart – but not both.

One of the above—the argument (whatever form that takes) or the person’s heart—must be tossed into the fire. If you are unable to release your argument in your attempt to win someone’s heart, then no matter what language you use, they will only hear judgment and condemnation, though you are claiming all the while to love them. Open your hands, take a deep breath, and release any responsibility you think you have to make that person change. (Tweet This!)

2) Understand that you’re the same.

All of us Christians have been taught that sin, in all its forms, is a part of this human experience. We know that being addicted to control, work, or shopping is no better or worse than porn addiction, but we often feel, deep within our bodies, that porn addiction is a violation of a darker sort. But is it? Or is it really just a medication for a different wound? Our addictions—and how they manifest—say a lot about the various wounds we carry. Your obsession with perfection or work or control or sports is performing the same function your spouse’s or friend’s or pastor’s porn addiction is; it’s just serving a different wound. Coming to a place of love and understanding of these people is to have your eyes open to your own unconscious pain and how you are medicating it.

3) Understand that forgiveness is not a thing you do but a place where you arrive.

It’s okay to be angry. Allow that anger to have its say. And after you’ve raged and cried and moved it through you and have come to the other side of it, then steps 1 and 2 will begin to settle down inside of you. Forgiveness will start to wash over you. Your eyes will open and you will be able to see them clearly, just as we are seen by Christ: as human beings who, in their moral failings, are given the opportunity to find the truest essence of the Divine—unconditional and relentless love.

Trusting the porn addict is a topic for another day, but just know that we can find that, too, and even before that person is completely free. It has more to do with what we seek inside ourselves than it does with someone arriving at a moral standard that we perceive as “good enough.” Blessings on this sacred journey to all who seek to find out what love really is and to let it transform them.


X3_Groups-Small.pngIf you are the spouse of a man struggling with pornography there is help for you too. His journey is yours also. Join an X3group JUST FOR SPOUSES and connect with other women just like you. Right NOW you can join any group and get your first 30 days for just $1.

Sign Up Now!

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5 Reasons Your Husband May Be Lying To You

5-reasons-lying-to-youOver the years I’ve come to recognize a few things that are pretty consistent when it comes to those who struggle with porn addiction (specifically men, for the purposes of this post). Things that I know not only from helping those who are addicted, but also from what I saw and did myself when I was addicted.

One of those things is this: pornography addiction makes men liars. (Tweet This!)

Now, please do not take this as a statement of condemnation. Remember, I’m talking from personal experience here.

But it is true. Pornography addiction has the ability to turn honest men into some of the worst liars. By its very nature, porn addiction needs secrecy and shame to breathe and thrive.

Unfortunately, the ones who get lied to the most are usually the ones closest to us: our families.

More specifically, our wives.

When couples come to us after uncovering porn use, the pollution of hurt and distrust can be thicker than the smog levels on a hot day in Los Angeles.

There are so many questions, but one of the biggest is: Why did he lie to me?

There are many reasons. I want to give you five.

And please realize that these aren’t “excuses,” nor do they make the lying okay; they’re just legitimate reasons that might help you deal with the pain.

Reason #1: Fear of looking weak.
Fact: Most men don’t like looking weak. We don’t. And we especially don’t want to look weak in front of our wives.

However, there is a common misconception out there that people who struggle with porn have some sort of inherent moral weakness. That basically there is a flaw in their character or DNA that keeps them from abstaining, because “if they weren’t weak, they would just NOT LOOK like the rest of us.”

However, this belief is a lie in and of itself and men who struggle with porn need to realize that. Yes, we are weak – but so is everyone else. Men who use porn aren’t suffering from some sort of special weakness.

Reason #2: Fear of loss.
Hey, this is a legitimate concern. Men (especially Christian men) realize that when they come clean, they are taking a big risk. A risk that their “betrayal” may cost them everything they love.

But men, if this is you, realize it’s always better for your porn use to be “brought” not “caught.” Getting caught with your hands in the perverbial cookie jar is far more devastating to your spouse than finding out through humble and sincere repentance.

Reason #3: Fear of hurting or disappointing those we love.
This reason is unique because it is in many ways selflessly motivated. I’ve been there. Husbands don’t want to hurt their wives (unless they are just awful husbands, but that’s a whole different topic). They also don’t want to disappoint their wives and, let’s be honest, admitting porn use is hurtful and disappointing.

Men, while your motivation is altruistic (but ultimately self-serving), realize that your lies are even more painful and disappointing. Be honest and give your wife what she deserves.

Reason #4: Fear of looking like the “creepy” guy.
Again, another myth: that only creepy guys look at porn. Men don’t want to be “that guy,” especially in front of their spouse.

However guys, this is your opportunity to shed light on the truth. Regular guys look at porn. (Tweet This!) You don’t have to be a creep to do it. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Reason #5: Fear of getting our butt kicked.
This reason is by far the most regrettable. Unfortunately there are many men out there who lie because they just aren’t ready to stop. They don’t want to get their butt kicked and be forced to deal with their issues.

Guys, if this is you, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said already. You need to want freedom to find freedom. (Tweet This!) If you want porn, then most likely you will keep lying about it to your wife. And when your wife finds out, don’t be surprised when she decides it’s time to leave.

There are plenty of other reasons men lie about their addiction, but I believe these five are the most common.

Spouses, hopefully this gives you some insight.
Hopefully this will help with your healing in some way.

And guys, I know you have your reasons.
I know the idea of telling your spouse the truth is scary as crap.

But I assure you it’s the best way.

Because at the end of the day, dishonesty sucks. And being on the other end of that dishonesty sucks even more. Even if you have your reasons.


X3_Groups-Small.pngIf you are the spouse of a man struggling with pornography there is help for you too. His journey is yours also. Join an X3group JUST FOR SPOUSES and connect with other women just like you. Right now you can join any group and get your first 30 days for just $1.

Sign Up Now!

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