Make the Bed

“I’m tired of making up a bed that doesn’t get slept in, if you know what I mean,” he said.

Sexual problems manifest in a myriad of shapes, sizes and excuses.  We’ll get to these soon, but allow me to share some hope that these can be overcome.   Communication, compassion and consideration offer our best solutions to these problems.

In Coupling, the low desire partner always controls the frequency and quality of the sexual contact and intimacy in the relationship.  Now mind you, intimacy is not limited to physical contact.  Intimacy, in Coupling, covers many aspects of the relationship.

The intimacy of conversation eludes many couples.  Vulnerability in the sharing of feelings may be one of the foundational elements of healthy coupling.  We may even talk about couch time and the easy casualness of watching a movie together.

Intimacy may look different for each couple or from the perspective of each partner.  The challenge rises as we try to negotiate these differences.

Differences in desire for sexual contact can cause conflict just like arguing over the finances can.  We would probably do well to see the conflict as just another problem to be solved.

Lots of us are cleaning out our flowerbeds as we enjoy the Spring weather. I remembered the opening quote as I cleaned out my Zen garden.  That’s what folks have done for years in the South, we just called it sweeping the yard.  But we’re more sophisticated than that, so as I ‘cleaned out my Zen garden’ I thought about the work it takes to keep that other bed flowering.

Usually an imbalance exists between couples.  From their respective sides of the bed they say “you want it too much” and “you don’t want it enough” and they both feel they are right.  Talk about creative tension.  Maybe you thought I would say sexual tension, but I mean creative tension in every sense of the word.

These differences offer such a rich playing field for relational development.  We have the challenge to creatively engage the tension.  The question is will we.

Problems with desire can sound like “I don’t want it” or “I gotta have it.”   These problems may originate from fears of being controlled or abandoned.  They may come from depression or just poor management of stress.  Low desire may be simply a problem of low testosterone or the changes of menopause.

Whatever the problem, we have a framework to examine ourselves.  Such a powerful problem requires self-reflection.  Minimizing or blaming never helps.  Instead, I can begin by thinking, “how do I create the problem?”

I would suggest we think in terms of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.  I need to wonder which one of these tangles or sabotages my desires.  How am I the author of my own frustrations?

Learn this and then communicate, be considerate and compassionate.

The creative tension of sexual frustration pries the lid off of my excuses.  If I can face my weaknesses, we have the chance to enjoy a beautiful bed of flowers.

I Love you, if


What if when we said “I love you” we really meant it?  I know people say the phrase all of the time.  But I’m afraid that what we mean is, “ I love you, if.”

            I believe in love, and I believe it is love that will be the critical factor in your Coupling, but we have to continually struggle with what we mean by that little, three word phrase.  


Remembering your vows

Reflecting on vows of love in the new year




Maybe when your anniversary rolls around you remember and celebrate the day. You may go out for dinner, flowers or chocolates may be included. Cards and jewelry are always nice.

How often do you think of your vows? New Year’s Day may be a great day to reflect on your wedding vows when you find a quiet moment together. You also may do this just by yourself as you gratefully consider the blessings in your life.

Weddings have many beautiful moments — the bride walking down the aisle, the kiss at the end. Maybe you can remember a favorite moment of that day for you and your spouse.

Somewhere in the middle, there comes a moment where the two exchange vows. That is fancy language for promising each other that no matter what happens, we are in it together and we are hanging in here together.

I guess it is easy to forget the vows in the hard times. In the hard times, we can get selfish and go into survival mode. We defend ourselves instead of defending the relationship.

Fidelity always gets referenced in vows. Maybe you answered “yes” to the question, “And do you promise to forsake all others and be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?” Faithfulness to the other is pretty much the opposite of being selfish about your own needs.

Maybe in your vows the pairing of opposites was used. “In sickness or in health, for richer for poorer” … what does that stuff mean?

Let’s get real about the vows. Maybe we should promise things such as:

• “I will tolerate you when you are tired and irritable.”

• “I will appreciate and repay in full when you have to deal with my family.”

• “I will go along with your harebrained schemes and will be there when they fail.”

• “I will always try to see things from your perspective.”

Here is a common question used in wedding vows: “Do you promise to love, cherish, honor and protect her through all the changing scenes of life?”

We can break down some of those promises you made. We’ve talked before about love primarily being a verb. Love is what Olympians feel as they spend every moment eating and breathing the sport and the goal they have before them.

Think of cherish as that feeling you have when you hold a happy 1-year-old child, when you mirror and dote on their beauty and innocence. Can you dote on your loved one’s beauty and awesomeness? That would be cherishing.

When I think of honor, honoring God and country come to mind. Honor means we bring our best behavior, our best selves, to bear on the work at hand. One serves a sovereign with honor and is proud to do it. The king or queen of your castle will appreciate your deference and devotion.

Protecting means “I’ve got your back.” It means your loved one comes before anyone else. It may mean defending your spouse’s opinion or position in public but also doing the same in the home.

Through service or honoring their sovereignty, we protect their personhood, their right to be exactly and whoever they want to be. Wouldn’t you want that? You have it to give.

You can give all of these things to your loved one: love, cherish, honor and protection. Reflect on cultivating those qualities and have a happy new year.

Lincoln versus Black Friday

I participated in the new Christmas tradition of Black Friday shopping over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  My children and I had fun waiting outside in the cold, whispering to each other about the deals we would find, and anticipating the unlocking of the doors to a big box department store.

We had arrived two hours early.  The line grew to a great length and we smiled at our own diligence and prowess.  And then we saw them.  Like vultures riding updrafts, shadows skulked at the edges of the light.  It seemed that some had done this before and told us to watch out, the skulkers would forgo the line, wait until the doors would open and then rush in.

I was incredulous and angry.  It’s Christmas shopping time, we’re having fun, a time of joy and people are cheating.  I had a ‘run in’ with one of ‘them’ trying to get through the opening of the official shopping season.  Literally.  She screamed at me, “get your hands off me!”  I was stunned, I hadn’t touched her except the rubbin’ that went on as my 240 and her 300 raced through the door.

Anyway, I continued on and got the packages as planned, but the whole experienced was soured by the brazen display of selfishness.  Our whole society stands on the strength of our social conventions and our willingness to work together.  This was very disheartening.  I saw the underbelly of our tolerance, the crashing confluence of gratitude and greed.

But the holiday carried on.  We went to the theater and saw Twilight.  Then on Sunday afternoon we walked into the dark of the opening weekend showing of Lincoln.

Its a wonderful study of a great president.  Daniel Day Lewis brings the And what is evident is Lincoln’s belief in truth and right.  He did not bend or yield to self serving bigotry or self righteous fascism. He was a true believer and delivered each of us from a backbreaking yoke.

Abraham Lincoln faced mind numbing opposition and obstacles.  One son had died, his wife was lost in grief, the other son had enlisted.  Seemingly, every politician in Wachington City opposed him.  Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were dying brutal deaths on the field of battle, victims of his command.  And yet he persevered with determination, vision and clarity.  Wow.  I think I can still be cheerful even when selfish people bump me out of their way as they shop for Christmas gifts.

A final poignant note, Lincoln instituted our national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, in the middle of our horrific family fight.  Give thanks, believe in peace and goodness, love, even when others are actively breaking in line.  And serve, even when they don’t understand.

National WWII Museum

It is very moving to spend any time in a Museum that calls to mind the horrors of war and sacrifice of devoted Americans.  I started the day with an hour long movie entitled, “Beyond All Boundaries.”  The title brings to mind and the movie describes how far all had to go to push back against the despotism and egomania of an earlier time.  From the little towns that gave their best young men to the Manhattan Project Physicist, one sees the price of freedom.

George Washington’s Sacred Fire

How about this for a beach read?  Somehow it caught my attention at B & N and I’ve had it on a shelf for a few months.  Yeah, I’ve read a David Baldacci and a CJ Box this week but this one is worth sharing.

Peter A. Lillback’s book, George Washington’s Sacred Fire is an apology in defense of the founding father’s evangelical christianity.  Recent historians in service of their biases have revised the founding father’s faith and painted him as a Deist.  A Deist would believer that God created the world like making a clock.  He just wound it up and sits back and lets it tick.  Lillback presents a thorough study through multiple sources that all describe Washington as a pious christian in the Anglican church.

Why is this important? Because as life seem to have first germinated in the brine of saltwater, the spirit of liberty found in the american democratic dream was born in the hearts of christians living out their own sense of religious liberty and freedom.  Evidence of this is found in the first act of the first Continental Congress.  They decided they would open in prayer.  Future president, John Adams tells of this in a letter to his wife “..When the congress first met, Mr Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer.  It was opposed by Mr. Jay, of New York, and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptist, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship.  Mr Samuel Adams arose and said he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country.” p. 378


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