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.

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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.

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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.

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3 Reasons Beautiful Couples Cheat

3-reasons-beautiful-cheatSomeone once told me something to think about: “The finest person in the world is somewhere getting on their spouse’s last nerve.”

I mean, think about it. It seems that pretty much every day, we’re hearing about a celebrity break-up or divorce—and a lot of those people are beautiful.

Why? Because looks aren’t everything. So no matter how attractive you are, that’s not enough to get a person, keep a person, or prevent that person from cheating. In fact, as a marriage life coach, I deal with my fair share of couples who love one another and still have experienced infidelity.

The reasons why are not as black-and-white as you might think. Here are three:

1) One or both people feel taken for granted. Although some may want to assume that men cheat more than women, there are actually studies which indicate as much as 50 percent of wives will cheat at some point in their marriage. And whenever I ask either the husband or the wife why they did it, the answers oftentimes lead to the same point: The husband feels like the wife barks demands or complains all of the time about what he’s not doing or should be doing more of rather than acknowledging his actual efforts. The wife doesn’t feel like her man is putting in the same kind of effort to “keep her” as he did to get her. There’s no dating. There are no compliments. There is no good or lasting foreplay.

Bottom line: the “potential cheater” starts to feel taken for granted, which leaves a void they want to fill. If that doesn’t happen inside the home, they start to look elsewhere.

Just because your spouse promised to “love, honor and cherish” you until death (marriage is supposed to be until death; you can read a good piece on that here), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge and appreciate the fact that each day they make a choice to stay with you. No one wants to be taken for granted. (Tweet This!) If you know you’re guilty of doing that, take this as a heads-up that something needs to change. Soon.

2) The sex sucks. I thought about putting this another way, but some folks need to hear it just like that. This is another complaint that I hear from husbands and wives alike. Husbands tend to complain about a lack of consistency and wives tend to complain about the monotony of the experience. When it comes to how often a couple should have sex, it depends on the couple. I’ll say this, though: No matter how long someone’s been married to you, they’ll never like rejection. So, if you’re always brushing your spouse off or acting like something is wrong with them for wanting to have sex with you more than once or twice a month, that could cause them to develop an emotional wall first and a curiosity about cheating second.

At the same time, if sex is always about what you want or how you like it, if there is no romance or fulfilling foreplay…if everything is about “getting to the end” without enjoying the journey, that can cause someone to become bored. Then resentful. And then thinking about things that they’ve probably never thought about before. And when you think long enough, you start to dwell on those thoughts, and when you dwell on something long enough, it’s not too long until you are tempted (really tempted) to act.

3) There is a lost connection. One of my favorite relationship quotes is “People change and forget to tell one another.” That’s how couples can be married for 30-40 years and wake up one day and feel like they no longer know their spouse. If you’re not listening to your spouse, if you’re not paying attention to their love languages, if there is no prayer and devotional time—in short, if you’re not making one another a top priority, there will start to be a disconnect. It’s the ideal breeding ground for an emotional affair and oftentimes that can be far more destructive than a “hit it and quit it” physical affair. Why? Because emotional affairs tend to create really powerful connections.

Yeah, beautiful people can sho ‘nuff have affairs. One of the best things that you can do to avoid one yourself is to be more proactive than reactive in your relationship. Think about the things that I’ve shared, discuss them with your spouse and be open to their feedback.

Any counselor worth their time and money will tell you that rarely is an affair simply about some horny person who can’t control themselves. (Tweet This!) It’s about needs going unmet. And then getting to the point of being desperate enough to find a way to get them met. Sadly, even if it means having an affair.


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3 Ways To Have Animalistic Pleasure With… Your Spouse?

3_Ways_to_Have_Animalistic_Pleasure_with…_Your_Spouse_#1 copyWho is happier: the promiscuous lover, jumping from bed to bed with the frequency of a character from an ABC sitcom, or the monogamous person who only has sex with one partner?

I guess that depends what you mean by “happy.”

Believe it or not, scholars have actually researched “happiness,” specifically comparing the promiscuous to the monogamous. I talked about this a lot in my book Sex Matters.

That’s why this Psychology Today article particularly intrigued me. In this candid (and almost uncomfortable) article, Mark White, Ph.D., offers some honest insight into perceived “happiness.” He begins the article declaring, “it doesn’t take much to see that monogamy and promiscuity can each give a person happiness, albeit likely two different kinds”:

Promiscuity- thrill of the momen
Promiscuity, or “non-monogamy” as he calls it, brings “excitement of variety, the thrill of the unknown, and the pure physical bliss of sex, untethered by any emotional attachment or anxiety.”

Monogamy- longer lasting fulfillment
On the other hand, monogamy provides “a deeper, longer-lasting, and more fulfilling type of happiness that enhances any other aspects of one’s life.”

Which sounds better?

What if you didn’t have to choose?

Dr. White’s conclusion surprised me. In short, he suggested… why not get the best of both worlds and just have promiscuous thrill with your monogamous spouse? His exact words:

Of course, the ideal would be to find the more hedonic, animalistic pleasure with his or her spouse or partner instead of looking for it outside the marriage or relationship, and to a certain extent that can be done. (Psychology Today, 3/12/11)

As a person married to the same woman for close to 25 years, this made me almost stand up and cheer! I love when Biblical truth is revealed from the most unlikely sources.

So let’s look at three ways we can find animalistic pleasure with our spouses:

1) The “ideal” sex is good sex within a marriage. Note, not just sex within marriage, but good sex within marriage. Let’s be honest. Who wants boring sex? Dr. White seems to be endorsing kinky, wild, unrestrained, bed-breaking sex … all within the context of marriage. Even if you don’t agree with his wording, don’t disregard his insight. You can have hot sex in marriage.

Newsflash: It ain’t sin to have really passionate, uninhibited sex with your spouse (Tweet This!), enjoying each other to the fullest! Hot sex doesn’t require sin! Good sex doesn’t flow from porn! Bed-breaking sex doesn’t necessitate multiple partners! God designed you with all the pleasure sensors you need, just the two of you.

2) The more you lust after others, the less likely it becomes that the person lying next to you will meet your needs. Dr. White says it plainly. If the thrill of sex comes to you from that variety of the unknown, then you might be disappointed with the same ol’ thing. That’s an uncomfortable fact to think about, but I think it brings up an interesting observation: people who “look around” will only be as happy as the next big conquest. In other words, their happiness is contingent on happenings to happen. If these happenings don’t happen … no happiness. It’s a sad existence. The grass ain’t greener next door; fertilize your own lawn. (Tweet This!)

3) Monogamous relationships run the risk of becoming boring only when we stop putting effort into them. Dr. White admits the “ideal” would be to have hot sex in marriage. Then why does marital sex get such a bad rap? This stigma doesn’t reveal a design flaw in monogamy; I think it reveals our inherent selfishness and laziness. Satan loves this. He loves it when spouses are no longer creative and romantic, because when married couples stop putting effort into meeting each other’s needs… affairs become appealing. And that’s too bad.

Long story short: look to one another and you’ll discover the most satisfying sex you could ever have is with the person you’re already married to.


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Six Keys to Bed-Breaking Sex

Six Keys to Bed Breaking Sex - blogOne of my proudest moments in marriage was the night when my wife, Ashley, and I broke our bed while making love. Yes, you read that right: we had bed-breaking sex!

Now, the bed was really old and pretty fragile. On top of that, the bed was small and I was overweight at the time, so sheer gravity was working against the antique frame below. Still, we broke the bed during sex, and I think we can all agree, that’s pretty awesome!

I strongly believe more couples should be having “Bed-Breaking Sex.”

When you and your spouse improve your sex life, you’ll simultaneously improve your marriage. (Tweet This!) It’s as simple as that. It takes a lot more than a great sex life to build a great marriage, but it’s nearly impossible to build a great marriage without it!

As I’ve interacted with couples from all over, I’ve discovered that there seems to be an epidemic of unfulfilling sex (or sometimes no sex at all) happening in modern marriages. This tragic neglect or misunderstanding of sexuality has the potential to wreck a marriage. Don’t let that happen!

So how can you get bed-breaking sex? Every couple is different and there is rarely a “one-size-fits-all” approach to anything, but I’m convinced that these six basic principles would instantly improve the sexual fulfillment in most marriages. Give them a try! This is the kind of “homework” you’ll actually enjoy. (Tweet This!)

In addition to these six tips below, you should check out our new video series, “Best Sex Life Now,” on strengthening sex, intimacy and communication in marriage. It’s the most comprehensive resource we’ve ever had a hand in creating, and we believe this resource could revolutionize your sex life and other aspects of your marriage as well.

These first three apply BEFORE sex:

1. Make foreplay an all-day event.
Foreplay shouldn’t start thirty seconds before you plan to have intercourse (I’m talking to my fellow men out there on this one)! Find ways to flirt with each other throughout the day. Send flirtatious and/or thoughtful text messages to let your spouse know they’re on your mind. Those consistent little acts will help set the mood for romance later.

2. Tell your secrets.
One of the biggest barriers to true intimacy in marriage is a lack of trust. Your spouse needs to feel completely safe and secure with you to fully engage in sexual intimacy. Secrecy is an enemy of intimacy, so make sure you’re communicating consistently, openly, and honestly at all times. Your transparency will create trust and that trust will ultimately create better sex (and a better marriage).

3. Serve each other.
You should serve each other throughout the day so that your spouse’s mind can be freed up to enjoy the moment. Husband, this might mean washing the dishes or folding laundry. Wives, this might mean giving your husbands a back rub to help him relax. Find ways to serve each other and you’ll be building a bond of intimacy before you even get to bed.

These next three apply DURING sex:

4. Tell your spouse what you like (and what you don’t like).
Your spouse is not a mind reader. Be open and honest about what feels good and what makes you uncomfortable. Communication is vital to a mutually pleasurable experience.

5. Have fun!
If you’re not having fun while you’re having sex, then you’re doing something wrong! Bring your sense of humor. Be playful. Be adventurous. If it always feels like work, then talk to your spouse about the issues that might be holding you both back.

6. Be mentally monogamous.
Don’t bring outside “fantasy” into your bedroom. Both your body and your mind have to be fully present in the moment, so don’t allow porn or erotic romance novels to put images in your mind that will create fantasies that don’t involve your spouse. True intimacy requires monogamy (both physically and mentally).

 

best-sex-life-nowFor more ways to enhance your sexual intimacy, check out our newest workshop Best Sex Life Now with Craig and Jeanette Gross and Dave and Ashley Willis. This 10 part video series will help you better understand what great sex is really all about and how you can have that in your marriage.

Get the Best Sex Life Now!

 

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Accountability: Burden or Blessing?

Accountability---Burden-or-Blessing-blogI once had a conversation with Craig Gross about the word “accountability,” mainly because he wrote a book with Adam Palmer on the subject a few years ago called Open. It was about the benefits of vulnerability and placing yourself in relationship with people who could speak the truth to you when you needed to hear it the most.

During this conversation, I shared the results of a quick, unscientific poll, where I asked several people, all Christians, what came to mind (and what they felt) as soon as they heard the word “accountability.” Most of the answers were something akin to, “It means you give someone permission to condemn you or tell you when you screw up.

None of the people I asked had much to say that was positive about their experience of the word, and though I realize it was a pretty small sample group, the point they made was a legitimate one. “Accountability” as it has been used (and abused) in the Christian Church seems to be more of a problem word than anything else – but we still insist on using it, especially as it pertains to porn/sex addiction. Why?

Craig’s answer was simple: he said that the word had been “hijacked.”

I agree – the term had been co-opted by some sort of religious element in the church and was usually experienced as some sort of license to condemn. But Craig felt a need to redeem the word – which is a difficult task because of how fast culture shifts. But if we are to redeem that word, we have to start in this space of porn/sex addiction – the place where accountability is needed most.

We all know that the best element of this idea is this: a trusted friend comes to you when they see you struggle. They do this bearing unconditional love, vulnerability, and honesty without judgment. They respect your sovereignty, but also honor the trust you’ve placed in them and their perspective, so they aren’t afraid to bring it. We all know that this type of relationship is a sacred thing, and is usually built over many years of walking in the trenches together. It can’t be manufactured artificially. The great philosopher Martin Buber called this the I-Thou relationship – the type of relationship where a presence exists between two people that is inhabited by what Buber called the “Eternal Thou.” My reading of Buber puts the resurrected Christ in that space. Where grace abounds between two people, we see redemption and new creation.

Buber also talked about the other kind of, and more common, relationship being an I-It relationship. Buber said we “It” each other all the time, meaning the other person is never actually met; they instead become an object merely existing to confirm the assumptions and beliefs you already hold. When we exist in an I-It relationship, we are simply having conversations with ourselves, with a subconscious goal to remain unchanged. This type of relationship is characterized by the presence of condemnation and judgment. It is the type of “accountability” that most people fear. It feels like the opposite of love.

This is why, for accountability to work as an effective tool of transformation, it must be more about releasing someone than holding them to the fire. If a friend asks me for accountability and I receive that as some sort of mandate to drive him to a certain reading of scripture or some sort of moral conception of “purity” at all costs, then I have entered into an I-It relationship with my friend. I’m determined to make my friend an extension of myself and my own need to be in control.

But if I’m willing to sit in the tension of struggle, listen to my friend without judgment, and speak life from a spirit that transcends simple moral check-boxes – it is then that love is allowed to do what love does: illuminate the soul. No one in the world can deny the true experience of love when it is encountered. (Tweet This!) And for accountability to be a blessing and not a burden, it must be undertaken with this type of presence. It is then that the “Eternal Thou” dwells in the space between us.

It is not our jobs to carry each other’s baggage or to shame each other into grunting out some sort of new wave of self-control. It is our job to be present and be the embodiment of the truth that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can separate us from the love of God. (Tweet This!)


If you have struggled with toxic accountability in the past and would like to know more about what life-giving, healthy accountability looks like sign up for a free video preview of our new course Open – What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable.

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The 2 Questions You Need to Ask about your Accountability Group

X3-the-2-question-v2-2My first experience with an accountability group was over 20 years ago in my middle-school youth group. Three of us guys would get together with the youth pastor for a weekly “check-in.” Typically, my end of the conversation would go something like this:

I had a decent week. Maybe I looked down that girl’s shirt a little longer than I should have, but it was really nothing. I’m fine. It’s all good. Let’s go play Nintendo.”

In retrospect, I can see now what we were calling an accountability group was really nothing more than a handful of guys going through a pre-planned script so we could check another item off our spiritual to-do list for the week.

We wanted to get through the boring accountability part as quickly as possible and then move on to what we we’re really there for: MarioKart.

I have a feeling my middle-school experience probably wasn’t that far off from what many of you picture when you hear the term “accountability group.” And if I’m correct in that assumption, then it’s probably safe to say most of you aren’t all that passionate about the thought of being in accountability group at all.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be excited about a group like that either.

But what if that’s not actually what an accountability group is supposed to look like?

What if there’s a deeper, more meaningful, and significantly more beneficial model of accountability available to us?

I believe there is, and it’s found in the teachings of Jesus.

Instead of a mindless routine, your group can become a life-giving time of healing and connection, but in order to experience this type of group, you will need to consider the following questions:

1.  Does my accountability group encourage me to live in the light?

If we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

In my early encounters with accountability, I was never comfortable enough with the other guys to truly be honest about my struggles. I would tell them just enough to sound like I was being open and honest, but in reality I was hiding what went on in the darkest corners of my internal reality.

I had things I’d vowed to never bring into the light, as did the other guys in the group as well.

Sure, we all liked hanging out together, but none of us actually trusted each other enough to bring our junk into the light (Tweet This!) where it could be dealt with. We were all secretly afraid that if the other guys found out what we really did when no one was looking, they would reject us.

What we didn’t realize though, was sin behaves much like a cockroach—it thrives while it’s hiding in the dark. But once you expose it to the light, it runs away. In the same way, if you bring your sin into the light, it will lose its power over you.

2.  Does my accountability group encourage me to confess my sins?

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16).

If “walking in the light” is the practice of exposing the hidden areas of your life to the community and council of trusted friends, “confession” is the practice of refusing to allow those areas to become hidden again.

For example, let’s say you’ve been struggling with pornography for many years. Like many who struggle, you’ve kept it hidden from everyone. Being honest about the scope of your struggle would be bringing it into the light, and the continual act of talking about and praying over your daily struggles would be confession.

x3groups-30 days-$1-select-groupsOne important thing to recognize though, is that confessing your sin is even more beneficial when you do it proactively. (Tweet This!) In other words, you can confess your sin before you commit it. This is one of the key distinguishers between a healthy accountability group and a lifeless one.

Rather than waiting to confess your sin until your next meeting when you “check-in” about the past week, pick up your phone and text a group member while you’re sitting in front of your computer and thinking about clicking on a link. Just a simple text such as I’m thinking about clicking on something I shouldn’t. Check in with me later to make sure I’m okay… will bring that sin into the light and break it’s power over you while it’s still only a temptation.

The other benefit of this proactive confession is when you check in at your next group meeting, you’ll be able to share how walking in the light led to a victory rather than only sharing defeats. Your modeling of biblical accountability will not only help you in your own journey to freedom, but it will encourage the others in the group as well.

I often wonder how things would have been different in my life if I’d found a safe place to experience biblical accountability at a younger age. Perhaps I wouldn’t have spent so many years hiding the shame of my addiction and isolating myself from one of the greatest resources God has given us for healing.

What I do know though, is it’s never too late to start being honest. (Tweet This!) Find an accountability group that offers you the opportunity to bring your sin into the light, confess your struggles, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

Opening up that first time will take a tremendous amount of courage, but let me assure you once you do so, “checking-in” with your true accountability partners will become one of the best parts of your week.


Having trouble finding the type of accountability group Steven talks about? A group where you can be as honest and open as you want to be? Join an X3group today and find out what it’s like to live in the freedom of grace and truth. There are groups for men, women , and spouses meeting daily throughout the week.

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