3 Things to Consider When Dating a Divorced Christian

3 Things to Consider When Dating a Divorced Christian

Video Courtesy of TEDx Talks


I seriously dated a brother in Christ last year who happened to be a divorcée. Before then, I never thought much about divorce–let alone remarriage. Frankly, I didn’t know what either of these meant from a faith-based perspective.

I honestly didn’t think it mattered.

Yet, as I began to pray, study God’s word and talk with Christian peers who have experienced divorce and remarriage, I came to realize that my courtship could not move toward matrimony.

Don’t get me wrong. Being divorced isn’t an automatic deal-breaker for me. But I do believe there are important spiritual and practical matters to consider when dating Christians who have been previously married.

KNOW WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT DIVORCE

God tells us in no uncertain terms that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). God’s perfect will is that divorce never occurs because husband and wife are ONE flesh in His eyes (Matthew 19:3-6). It is His intention that marriage be for life and that no man separate what He has joined together. Ultimately, the law of marriage is a bond that should only be broken by death (1 Corinthians 7:39; Romans 7:2).

CONSIDER THE STATISTICS

Statistics show that remarriages have a higher fail rate. While 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, the number rises to 67 percent for second marriages (and 73 percent for third marriages). These increases are due to remarriages entered into on the rebound, spousal comparisons, children, and individuals not being fully healed from their previous unions.

These stats don’t mean a remarriage can’t succeed. But you must know what you’re up against so that you can watch for the stumbling blocks; then proceed with wisdom, caution, and lots of prayer.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO

Marriage is a blessing, but as my friend Trish admits, “It’s hard.” This is especially the case with remarriages involving young children, she says. In fact, she finds the experience of her second marriage to be more challenging than her first. “No matter how bad a [first] marriage is–yes, even with adultery–when children are involved, it is best to forgive and reconcile [with your first spouse] than to remarry and try to blend a family in a new marriage,” Trish says when thinking of her own situation.

My friend Kathy, on the other hand, shares that her second marriage has been restorative. “My first marriage was a nightmare,” she recalls. Kathy’s first husband was unfaithful, abusive and manipulative. She was extremely reluctant to remarry after him.

When she met the man who would become her second husband, she thoroughly examined his character and was eventually won over by his faith in Christ and kind spirit.“He took to my children like they were his own, and my family loved him,” she says. “I fought remarriage until they wore me out.”

And after he proposed? “The ring stayed in the box for six months until God told me to stop acting silly.”

Yes, Christians should date with the intention to marry. Nevertheless, marriage isn’t possible if your intended belongs to another in God’s eyes. As we date those who have been previously married, ask questions to learn where they stand with Christ and in their previous marriages. Then, seek the Lord to determine if you would be permitted and willing to stand with them in holy matrimony—until death.

Can you love authentically if you were raised to be toxic?

Can you love authentically if you were raised to be toxic?

Video Courtesy of The Beat by Allen Parr


It’s not easy to be hated by the person who is supposed to love you most, and unfortunately, being toxic has become normalized in our culture.

Many see misdirected aggravation, gaslighting, physical abuse, and more as “love tactics.” When a child only knows pain as a source of love, then they too love in that way and any other form of healthy love seems abnormal.

However, the question is, can a person ever love authentically if they were raised to be toxic?

The assumption is no. When someone is exposed to consistent, toxic stress, they are vulnerable to mental and physical illness that can sometimes develop into a genetic trait, according to Hey Sigmund; therefore this behavior is biologically passed on through generations.

However, despite the science behind the effects of toxic love, there is always hope for a better life.

Fighting for Love

“I just felt like I wasn’t loved by my mom, says Monique, a woman in her 40s who was often told she wasn’t good enough. “I felt growing up in my mom’s house I wasn’t allowed to be me, an individual.”

To suit her mother’s perfect image of a family, Monique, was to participate in certain activities without any consideration of her talents or desires. While at the same time, her brother was given free reign to participate in activities of his choice throughout their childhood.

And to make matters worse, Monique’s father suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and would often abuse her. She recalls him touching her to satisfy his physical desires and severely beating her when she reported it to her incredulous mother.

Fortunately, Monique found refuge in her grandmother’s home, where she found the kind of love her mother envied. Monique remembers her mother punishing and verbally abusing her as a result of the love she received from her grandmother.

Like many girls, Monique found herself looking for love in empty relationships during her teen years that lead to a forced, terminated pregnancy and physical and emotional abuse similar to the treatment she received from her own father.

Eventually, Monique met a gentle and caring man named Laz. However, Laz’s compassion and gentleness were unfamiliar to her, which ultimately lead to Monique returning to one of her previous, toxic relationships.

She went on to marry a former flame named Xavier and stayed in her abusive marriage for eight years.

Towards the end of my [3rd] pregnancy, I found out he was cheating and when I confronted him, he hit me,” says Monique who recalls her toxic relationship that mirrored her childhood. “He asked, ‘Who are you to question me?’…It felt like because of the way I grew up, if I wasn’t getting hit, then it wasn’t love,”

After her divorce, Monique fought against her toxic past. She made the decision to rise above her father’s mental illness, her mother’s jealousy and apathy, and their collective effort to make her their emotional punching bag for their marriage troubles.

Although the struggle did not end after her marriage when it came to love, her children, and health, she remains hopeful enough to fight for the love she deserves. She charges her will to carry on to God, because without Him, she would have taken the final blow to end her suffering.

Turning Off the Gaslight

Bella was born to a Catholic family that rejected her mother for having a baby with a man that she later learned was married. The rejection caused her mother to make multiple attempts to prove her worth to the family by making Bella seem exceptional, but in private her mother was spiteful and unloving as the list of accomplishments grew.

“[My mother] did everything for me to prove herself, but not for the love of me,” Bella explains. “She worked hard to put me through private school and extracurricular activities, but at home I was repeatedly told I was nothing; sometimes she even called me a waste of a human being. To this day, she has never told me she loves me.”

Whenever something would go wrong in Bella’s life, she would automatically blame herself as a result of her relationship with her mother. Even when her husband and father of their two children committed adultery, she took the blame.

As time went on, Bella lost the love of her life, her job, and believed that she would never be loved which drove her into a suicidal state .

Until one day, Bella decided that she had enough and began to fight for her life, beauty, and self-love through therapy. “Once I figured out that I wasn’t this awful, unlovable monster that I was made to believe as a reality by someone who was unloved, it turned my world upside down in a great way,” Bella says. “It never would have happened without me doing the work in therapy.”

As a result of her treatment, Bella was led to a love that she has been enveloped in for the last four years. Even though the pain of rejection transcended through two generations, love won in the end.

“In the middle of all of this, I met a man who just rained love on me,” Bella joyfully exclaims.

Is there hope after a toxic upbringing?

“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of [your abuser], which I also hate” (Revelations 2:6, NIV).

In the beginning of this article, the question was, can a person love authentically if they were raised to be toxic? The answer is yes, but you must fight for it.

It is easy to nurse the scars of someone that you love, because love is to be unconditional, right? But what good is unconditional love when a person’s pain has replaced the spirit that you desperately want to love?

That is spiritual warfare and it is best to back away and allow God to handle it if they are unwilling to get help. It is important to recognize the signs of someone who has been abused and trying to regain power, which can include verbally sharing memories of their toxic loved ones.

Fortunately, Bella and Monique worked past those painful memories found a way to defeat them so that the tradition of toxicity ended with them and a reign of love could begin.

A 4-step maintenance plan to help keep your relationship going strong

A 4-step maintenance plan to help keep your relationship going strong

 

Early on, relationships are easy. Everything is new and exciting. You go on dates, take trips, spend time together and intentionally cultivate experiences that allow your relationship to grow.

Then, somewhere along the way, life happens.

One study on married couples in their 30s and 40s found that their marital quality declined over the course of a year, in terms of love, passion, satisfaction, intimacy and commitment. Too often, people shrug their shoulders and convince themselves this is just how it goes. Switching to relationship autopilot feels justifiable when you’re short on time, low on energy and must focus on other priorities like careers and kids.

This is when doubt can creep in and tempt you to hit the reset button.

But maybe you’re being too hard on a perfectly good relationship. Every couple experiences ups and downs, and even the very best relationships take effort.

Rather than getting out, it’s time to get to work. Whether your relationship is already stuck in a rut, or you’re trying to avoid ending up in one, most people need to focus more on what happens between “I do” and “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” As a relationship scientist, I suggest the following four psychology research-based strategies to kickoff your relationship maintenance plan.

1. Use boredom as a pivot point

No one raises their hand and says, “Sign me up for a boring relationship.” But boredom serves a purpose. Like your phone indicating your battery is low, boredom is an early warning system that your relationship needs a recharge.

At different times, all relationships experience boredom. Psychology researcher Cheryl Harasymchuk and colleagues have explored how people react. For example, to turn things around when you’re bored, do you fall back on things that are familiar and make you feel self-assured, like taking a walk around the neighborhood? Or do you choose growth-enhancing activities – like going for a hike on a new trail in an unfamiliar park – to mix things up?

It turns out that study participants preferred growth-enhancing activities when they were bored, and when given a chance to plan a date, they incorporated more novelty into those outings. Rather than resigning yourself to boredom’s inevitability – “This is just how relationships are” – use boredom as a call to action.

2. Keep dating

Rather than wait for boredom to strike, couples would be wise to be more proactive. It’s a simple as continuing to date. Early in relationships, couples prioritize these one-on-one outings, but eventually begin to coast, just when the relationship could use an extra boost.

To recapture that early relationship magic, research shows that couples should engage in new, challenging and interesting activities. Rather than sitting at staring at your phones, couples should break their routine and try something different. It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant, or even a new dish at a favorite place.

Not only does branching out counteract boredom, but trying new things helps you grow as a person. All of this spills over into the relationship, increasing levels of passion, satisfaction and commitment.

In one study, researchers asked married couples either to play games like Jenga, Monopoly, Scrabble and UNO, or take an art class together. All couples increased their levels of oxytocin – the so-called “cuddle hormone” which helps partners bond. But the art class couples had larger oxytocin increases and touched each other more, perhaps because the activity was newer and further outside their comfort zone. That novelty may encourage them to rely on each other for assurance.

3. Movie nights

Not looking to dig out your oil paints? Here’s a lower key option: Grab a spot on the couch and have a couples movie night. Over the course of a month, researchers asked some couples to watch and discuss a romantic comedy such as “When Harry Met Sally,” while others did an intense relationship workshop. Fast forward three years, and the movie watchers were less likely to have broken up.

It probably isn’t just taking in any film, but rather that watching a romantic story gives couples a less threatening way to discuss relationship issues. It may also help them see their relationship differently. That’s important, because research from psychologist Eli Finkel and others shows that viewing your own relationship through completely neutral eyes helps couples hold off declines in marital quality.

4. Finding the bright spots

Activities are great, but you also need to do daily maintenance.

There’s an old adage in psychology research that “bad is stronger than good.” For relationships, that often means focusing on what’s wrong, while overlooking what’s right. Talk about self-defeating.

Of course, you can just as easily find the ways your relationship is thriving. Be more intentional about noticing your relationship’s bright spots. Not only will you appreciate your partner more, but you can use what’s going well to help improve less bright areas.

Focus on what’s actually going well.
AllGo/Unsplash, CC BY

Too often, people wait for something to break before trying to fix it. Adopting a maintenance mentality can more proactively help your relationship.

One new study tested a way to help couples in already healthy relationships. The researchers’ intervention had couples complete research-based positive psychology activities over four weeks such as:

  • Write the story of their relationship, focusing on the positives, then share with their partner
  • Write a letter of gratitude to their partner
  • Identify their partner’s strengths and their strengths as a couple
  • Create a list of positive moments or activities partners want to share with each other. Pick one, and plan a time to do it
  • Create a desired happiness chart and discuss what small relationship tweaks can help make it a reality.

At the end of the month, compared to couples on the study’s waitlist, participants reported more positive emotions, better relationship functioning and improved communication. Another month later, their average relationship functioning remained better than that of the comparison group.

Few people enjoy cleaning, doing laundry or mowing the lawn. Yet, if you neglect those tasks, life quickly falls into disrepair. Your relationship is just the same. Rather than thinking about replacements when your relationship shows signs of wear, invest the time and energy into a little maintenance. Using any or all of these easy-to-implement strategies should not only help a relationship survive, but hopefully even thrive.

[ You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter. ]The Conversation

Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., Professor of Psychology, Monmouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

5 powerful secrets to finding Mr. or Mrs. Right as a Young, Christian Single

5 powerful secrets to finding Mr. or Mrs. Right as a Young, Christian Single

Video Courtesy of THE BEAT by Allen Parr


Let’s face it. Being single and Christian is hard. It’s even harder to find that person you want to spend the rest of your life with. There are so many factors to consider: age, personality, looks, and spirituality. It can all become a blur. How do you even figure out if someone is a match for you? What does God have to say about it? Here are five powerful secrets to finding Mr. or Mrs. right as a young Christian single.

Serve

The first thing to consider is whether you and the other person are serving the Lord. One of the first things I discovered about my wife was that we were both passionate about serving God and looked for ways to bless others.

In fact, I met my wife preparing for a short-term mission trip. The funny thing is it wasn’t love at first sight for either of us. We continued to serve together at different times and in different places for about four years.

One day I looked up and I realized we were spending a lot of time together and I had stars in my eyes.

Be Yourself

You can’t find the right person for you if you are putting on a mask in public. The person you attract will be drawn to the mask and not the real you.

So don’t be afraid to share your real opinions about things. Put your likes and dislikes on full display.

Yes, some people will be repelled but the right people will be drawn to you. Now, don’t get me wrong.

You don’t want a clone of yourself who thinks and believes the same way you do. You want someone who will be attracted to your authentic self.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I grew up in a small storefront church in Los Angeles. Most of my family still attends this church.

My heart will always be there, but staying within this circle made my choices for a mate slim.

Once I got out and started becoming involved in leading a Bible study on campus, and eventually going overseas on short-term mission trips, the dating pool started to widen.

I started meeting different people and more people who were going in the same direction I was going. That all started with me stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Decide That You are Dating to Marry

This should be a no-brainer for Christians but oftentimes we just date people because we don’t want to be alone.

Other times it’s just hormones taking over. If you didn’t know, Christians don’t date just to date. We date to marry.

I can remember hearing a sermon about marriage and being a single Christian man. The pastor said that if we’re not going to a hostile mission field or secluding ourselves in the Amazon jungle to find a cure for cancer we need to plan to get married.

That basically put me on blast and I started actively seeking to find the wife God had for me.

Be willing to let go

The last secret is this: Be willing to let go. Sometimes the person you are dating is not the right person.

Still many people go on dating someone when they know that they don’t want to be with this person for the rest of their life.

There are more red flags than a Chinese political rally yet the person still holds out hope that maybe they will change. Most of the time they will not.

It’s best to stop holding on to hope that this person will change their ways or their basic personality traits. When you do that your perspective on the situation changes.

You begin to compromise. You want the relationship to work so badly that you will do anything to make it happen.

Eventually, either you both move on after wasting time or you end up marrying them and committing to a person who is not for you.

Trust God. Be willing to let go.

 

How’s Your Relationship with Yourself?

How’s Your Relationship with Yourself?

Video Courtesy of Dr. Minnie Claiborne, Ph.D. LHD


A column by Dr. Minnie Claiborn, Ph.D., a licensed counselor, life coach and author. 


There are seven basic areas wherein all human challenges lie. One of these is our relationship with self. We form many of our opinions of ourselves based on what others around us say to us and about us, or how we interpret what they say and do.

In some respects, we do come into the world with a “blank slate” and we write on it based on how we are treated. Some of us encounter rejection, abuse, abandonment, and many other hurtful experiences from our primary families or caregivers when we are young. From these experiences, which may be accompanied by ugly words, we often form unhealthy opinions of ourselves.

I had a young woman client once who in her mind and experience did not fit the societal standard of beauty. When she told me that she had been raped, she asked with incredulity, “Why would anyone rape me?” Her opinion of herself was so low, she felt so unattractive, that she was amazed that even a rapist would want her.

On the other hand, I observed a young lady whose body shape and physical features also did not meet the society standard of beauty, yet she exuded self-confidence. I discovered that she was a daddy’s girl, had a loving, doting mother and had married a man who also adored her.

Many young men who were not affirmed by their fathers suffer from a sense of insecurity, fear, rejection, lack of self-identity and a lack of belonging. Other people contributed to our being broken, but God can heal us (Luke 4:18). We can’t go back and change what was said or done to us or about us, but with new information and truth, we can change how if affects us.

Truth trumps facts. Divine truth (truth from God’s perspective) is greater than the facts of our experiences and thoughts. If you were not told that you are beautiful, or handsome or valuable by anyone else, know that God made you and He thinks you’re all of that (Psalm 139).

How do you change a wrong or bad opinion of yourself? Put God’s Word in your mouth and speak it to yourself out loud. A good place to start is by saying, “God loves me.” The entire Bible bears witness to that truth. I have witnessed the power of Scripture-based affirmations. An affirmation simply means that you affirm and agree with what is being said. Here is an affirmation that you can use every day that will help you to begin to have a winning relationship with yourself. You might know it in your head, but you need to SAY it over and over so that your subconscious will receive truth and your conscious thoughts and behaviors will begin to change. God told young Joshua to meditate on His word day and night and he (Joshua) would have prosperity and good success (Joshua 1:8). I suggest that you say this out loud at least five times per day until you know in your soul that it is true.

AFFIRMATION: God loves me. God accepts me. I love and accept myself. I invite God to change the things that do not please Him and things that are detrimental to me.

READ: Psalm 139, Joshua 1:8, John 3:16


 

10 Reasons I’m Glad I was a Virgin When I Married

10 Reasons I’m Glad I was a Virgin When I Married

Video Courtesy of Alicia Renee Greer


When should you start having sex? I was reading through a question posed by a 16-year-old young lady. Here is what she asked this online community of relative strangers, “My friend is wondering what other people think. She is 16 and so am I. I think that it’s fine around the age of 16 if you use protection. She thinks that it’s fine whenever.”

She titled her post “What age should you start having sex?

I have a 16-year-old daughter myself and imagined that these people were responding to my daughter. That was pretty disturbing to me from the young lady who says she started at 13 and has loved it ever since to another 16-year-old who confirmed that yes 16 is indeed the perfect age.

While there were a few cautionary responses to this young lady, I began to wonder to myself what would I tell this young lady myself. In fact, I personalized it more. What would I tell both my 16-year-old daughter and my 22-year-old son?

Rather than giving them a specific age or situation (e.g., “when you find the right person”), I would tell them why I remained a virgin until I got married. Yes, despite biological urges, social pressures, and even some “close calls” on my wedding night at the age of 22 I had my first sexual experience. I’m proud of that.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I mentioned some “close calls.” I wasn’t an angel. Honestly, there were some heavy petting episodes that I am not particularly proud of. But, there was something in my mind that would not allow me to “go all the way” to consummate the deal. Based on my religious convictions, I just didn’t think I could live with myself if I just let go.

Why did I wait? Some might call it fear. Others might say avoiding shame or guilt. I’m sure all of these are true at some level. But, looking back, I really do think God was protecting me in some ways. I didn’t want God or my family to be disappointed in me. I didn’t want to give away something that I could never undo. That is about as sophisticated as my thinking was during those years.

Now with many more years of experiences and knowledge, I can better articulate (even making a Top 10 list) why I am so glad that I was a virgin when I married. And, most of these same reasons explain why I have stayed and expect to remain faithful to my wife alone.

This article isn’t intended to call out or guilt anyone who chose to be sexual before marriage. Whether you are glad you did or regret it, it is done. You aren’t defined by it either way.

But, I do hope this is a salute and source of encouragement to others like me who choose to wait. I also pray that it will encourage those like my children and others like the 16-year-old posing the question when to start having sex to think carefully.

Top 10 Reasons I’m Glad that I was a Virgin When I Married

Reason #10: I can write this blog post

Well, its true. I could never write this blog post if I wasn’t a virgin when I married. But, there is a bigger point about the ability
to be a living example of what is possible even when culture runs counter to it.

I want to be able to deliver my message without any sense of hypocrisy. I want to be a model for like-minded others. Sometimes, people just need to know what’s possible. How many times have you seen someone achieve some milestone and said to yourself “If they can do it, I can do it.”

If you desire to save your full physical, emotional, and psychological expression to share in a covenantal relationship then my message to you is that it can be done. If you’re a teen with high school pressures, I remember those days of feeling left out and lonely. If you’re a single adult, I remember the awkwardness of some dating relationships during my college years.

I’m proud to represent and give voice to my value of premarital abstinence.

Reason #9: I know exactly how many kids I’ve fathered

There has been much attention, especially in urban centers, about the issue of fatherlessness. There are far too many socioeconomic variables impacting this highly publicized area for me to address here.

Suffice it to say that every man involved in creating a child is responsible for being a father to that child. Being a father is more than some vain conquest or bragging rights. Fatherhood is a lifetime commitment to sacrifice and develop your young. If you are not consistently engaged, you’re not a father. You’re a sperm donor.

The reality, however, is that many men don’t even know kids that they have fathered. Granted, there are clearly situations where this is intentionally withheld from him. But, there are far too many situations where either the mom isn’t sure of paternity herself because of being involved with multiple partners or the man has literally or figuratively disappeared without a trace.

Personally, I know that I have fathered two children. I have and will continue to sacrifice for my kids. They and their mother know my lifetime commitment to them.

Reason #8: Never worry about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Given that neither I nor my wife had any sexual partners outside of our marriage, I have literally never in my life worried for one second about contracting a sexually-transmitted disease.

While some suggest that “safe sex” is the answer, most objective people acknowledge that the only safe sex is no sex if you are thinking of STDs and pregnancy. I just think in my own marriage of those times when we were using condoms in our own family planning efforts. We had so many mishaps even in our carefully “controlled” setting. When these mishaps occur, think of the psychological angst and physical exposure you feel until a test validates that everything is fine.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports nearly 1.5 million cases of chlamydia, nearly 335,000 cases of gonorrhea, and more than 15,000 cases of syphilis (each representing an increase over 2011 figures). And, this isn’t even dealing with chronic diseases like HIV. You can access the report here. And, as you might guess the CDC confirms that the greatest increase in these diseases is among young people ages 15-24—with young women facing the greatest long-term health risk.

I am so grateful that I never have to carry this psychological burden.

Reason #7: I have never coerced or encouraged a woman to have sex for which she wasn’t ready

Physical intimacy is done best among mature people. But, so often it isn’t—resulting in many (especially women) with regrets about giving themselves sexually when they really weren’t ready to do so.

I suspect I would have felt guilty for a long time if I ever fostered such regret.

Reason #6: Proof that it can be done

Nobody can tell me that it can’t be done. I’ve spoken with quite a few males over the years trying to convince me that it is not realistic to expect a guy to remain celibate for so many years.

That’s bull. I’ve done it. And, so can you.

And, if you’re a parent wondering if it is realistic to have this expectation for your child. Yes, have the expectation. And, voice that expectation to them. They can do it with the right encouragement. But, if they choose not to, you have done your part to offer guidance. But, be sure to continue your efforts to engage and guide them even if they don’t make the choices that you prefer.

Reason #5: Sense of pride in being obedient to my religious convictions

Much of my thinking about premarital sex is rooted in my Christian faith tradition. These convictions have been instilled in me since I was a young boy. Granted, I wasn’t given any tools or systematic education to help me live out these convictions. But, clearly, I believed that God desired me to wait until I was married to have sex.

Now, I realize that there are many Christians who choose sexuality outside of the marital context. And, that is between you and God.

But, I also know many Christians who carry around a sense of guilt that their behavior is not aligned with their convictions. They feel like hypocrites. Many of them decide to leave the faith to avoid the cognitive dissonance that they experience. Others just live with a residual sense of guilt.

At least in this area, I feel a sense of pride that there is an alignment between my faith and my behavior. I talk boldly because I don’t worry about any hypocrisy. There is no guilt or proverbial “skeletons in my closet” that I worry about.

Reason #4: Give the gift of celibacy to my wife

Though I can’t say I was mature enough to appreciate this when I got married, in retrospect, I am grateful I could give this gift of celibacy to my wife—especially because she was a virgin herself.

Though possibly less than in the past, there continues to be a double standard for men and women. Men are not typically stigmatized by their sexual conquests while promiscuous women are often cast in a negative light.

It means a lot to me that my wife was a virgin when we married. She saved herself as a gift to the man she would marry. And, I am honored that I could give the same thing back to her.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that your marriage is any less special if you came into the relationship with sexual experience. For you, the key is to give the gift of monogamy to one another. That too is something to be quite proud about.

Reason #3: Debunk the notion that guys only want “one thing”

Men have a reputation (often justifiably so) that when we are in a relationship that we ultimately only have one thing on our mind. All of the flowers, the candy, the dinners, and the engaging conversation are ultimately about coaxing the young lady to the bedroom.

Given that I did not pursue sexual intercourse in any of my dating relationships, I am proof that not all guys are only interested in sex. I wanted companionship. I wanted to have fun together. I wanted intellectual stimulation. I wanted closeness. But, I expected sex to only happen after matrimony.

Yes, there are some guys who are focused on sexual conquest or self-centeredness to getting their own biological urges satisfied. But, there are many guys like I was with a much broader view.

By the way, this is a big issue even after you get married. We husbands have to avoid the trap of coming across as only wanting sex from our wives. We need to give spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy to have a thriving marriage.

Reason #2: My wife is my only frame of reference

I have had sex with one woman in my life. And, I enjoy it.

Because I’ve never had any better or worse partner, I have no point of comparison. There are no memories of prior enjoyable experiences that might leave me disappointed in any aspect of our physical intimacy.

Sure, we have our sexual miscues as does every long-term relationship. And, yes, I’m sure even after more than 25 years that we still have plenty to learn about maximizing our physical intimacy.

But, I am so grateful that I can never compare my current experience with anything I’ve ever experienced before.

Reason #1: I can encourage my kids to do as I did

And, my number one reason that I’m glad that I waited is what I want to express to my kids.

I will never have to say “do as I say, not as I do”. My wife and I have had conversations with them over the years about our expectation that they commit themselves to waiting until marriage to have sex. We can speak with authority.

Of course, I have no idea if they will heed our advice and prayer. But, they will always know in spite of what the culture presents to them that their parents did it. In this area as in many others, we want to model our values and our faith to our children and future generations of the Arnold family.

As I said at the outset, my intent is not to judge anyone else’s sexual behavior. It is simply to reflect on my own gratitude and model for those with like values.

I’d love to hear your thoughts for and against what I’ve suggested here.