Think of the 7 Day Challenge as a Cleanse...

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I hope you have jumped on board my 7 Day Marriage Challenge (more about that here) and that you are glowing from head to toe. And if you haven't started yet, it is not too late!

I want to make sure that I give a little clarity about my idea. I am not trying to be salacious or titillating. I really have a heart to encourage you in your marriage.

There are so many forces at work against a marriage--making time for quality time together is difficult. Life is so busy and hectic, work gets in the way, the kids have packed schedules, they never go to bed on time (or they are not sleeping to begin with), you volunteer for everything and you are exhausted by bedtime and (often enough) the last person whom you want to serve is your spouse. You figure that of all the people, they could take care of themselves--everyone else actually needs you. You probably have a headache just thinking about it! I know--It is really hard to want to be romantic by the end of the day. And raise your hand if you have a tween/teenager--you folks know what I am talking about...if you have little kids and you think it is tough to sneak in some private time...ha! Just you wait.

That doesn't mean you are off the hook. Make the effort anyway.

I suggested last week that you just make doing it (yes I said that) a priority for 7 days. In a row. And it is a challenge--because that means is it out of the norm! Any challenge is supposed to shake up your routine, or help you get into a new routine. You can decide how you want this to net out as to which it is. Just put it at the top of your to-do list for this whole week. I mean it.

It is a potent antidote to marriage doldrums.

Think of it as a marriage-toxin cleanse.

You know how those relationship-toxins build up...every short, snappy response leaves a little mark. Sarcasm. That harsh answer. Any little passive-aggressive dig. Ignoring one another. Just feeling irritated. These are all like toxins that build up in a marriage.

There is so much more to a good marriage than just sex, and we will keep exploring those things as we go. But no matter how you look at it, sex helps. It is a meaningful connection point, and it can clear away some of the residue of other issues, which can help open lines of communication. It is a way to clean those toxins which build up over time.

Have you ever heard that kissing is a means of getting two people so close together they can't see anything wrong with one another? That may or may not be true, but it works in this instance. Being close

Actually, our church is talking about this same subject in a series right now, which is really fascinating (I admit I just enjoy looking around and seeing lots of people uncomfortable. Ha!). But it is vital that we reframe the conversation about sex.

Since we are not afraid to tread in deep water here, think of it this way: God designed this for you. It is supposed to be meaningful and wonderful. There is a whole book of poetry in the Bible (it's called Song of Solomon) which was virtually off-limits for young people to read for centuries (some church leaders discouraged it, God did not) because it was considered very graphic and lusty. You can check it out (and giggle because of the descriptions), but the message is clear. The union of the couple depicted in the poetry is celebrated and honored.

Your marriage relationship is inviolable. If you think about the list of The 10 Commandments, adultery is listed as a "don't." It feels obvious, but why? Because your marriage relationship is sacred, and that means the consummation of that relationship is, as well. We do well to realize the importance of intimacy in that. God takes sex seriously. It is a gift He means for you to enjoy in your marriage.

The physical and emotional connection which takes place during intimacy is crucial to building a strong, healthy marriage relationship. The need for these connections cannot be fulfilled by anyone else. Your spouse is the only person who can meet these desires for true intimacy in your marriage. That might seem like a lot of pressure, but we need to be reminded that it is a privilege to have that responsibility. You picked one another to care for that privilege.

There is an elephant in the room in all of this, and it is the need to bear the feeling of vulnerability. Naked is always the euphemism for vulnerability, and we all understand the metaphor. Both nakedness and vulnerability are at play here, and the openness required to voice your requests, or to be up front about your desires can be beyond scary. The fear of rejection is real, so be caring and gentle to one another. Be a student of your spouse's needs, emotional and physical. Keep in mind that temptation outside of your marriage is a very real threat, and your strong communication is the best way to keep it at bay. Sex is meant to draw you closer to your spouse, and develop unity in your relationship. And it can.

Here's the deal--and this is an analogy I completely stole from my pastor's sermon (no joke!) this past Sunday: Sometimes you are in the mood (and have the time) to have a multi-course feast. It is a delicious, filling, wonderful experience and you are sated at the end of the meal. Sometimes you hit the drive-through because you are really hungry and you don't have a lot of time. At the end of that meal, you are also pleasantly full, even though you didn't take on a fancy, lengthy dining experience. You have room in your life for both the 5-star Michelin rated meal and Chik-Fil-A. It all depends on the day.

I hope this has been an encouragement to you do the marriage-toxin cleanse!

If you haven't decided to take the plunge yet, there is still time! Subscribe at the bottom of the page to join in and be entered to win a piece of art from my shop (or we can work together to come up with a custom piece for you).

Keep glowing!

xo, Ann Marie

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