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Ask A Married Woman: What Were “Future-Husband Requirements” That Turned Out To Be Wrong?

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Editor’s Note: This month we’ve been answering our readers’ questions to married women. Some of our topics have included: When sex is physically painful, initiating with guys, going from virgin to sexy, what to ask a guy before marriage, and being single and feeling left out. Looking for a whole post on how to identify a good man/good match? Here’s one of our most-loved posts of all time: What To Look For In A Man.– Lauren

Lindsay Satterfield: Two weeks before I got married, my fiancé decided to quit his professional music career. Before then, I thought having job security was huge. I learned it’s more important to trust he’s committed and has a solid work ethic. I was still just in love with him while he worked at Starbucks to contribute financially until he figured out what he wanted to do!

Shelly DeVore: I thought I HAD to marry someone older than me, because I found guys my age extremely immature. But my husband is 1.5 years younger and such a wonderful, loving, thoughtful, mature mate.

Lauren Dubinsky: I thought he had to be boring and serious. No but really, I saw the male race divided clearly into “men” and “boys.” Boys were fun, attractive, relatable, carefree, and interesting. Men had 9-5 jobs, a stable life, everything together, spent every friday night the same way, and just the IDEA of dating “a man” bored me to death. Then, I met the right man. And realized that every guy has a good chunk of “boy” in him, and always will. When the man is the right one, the fun will be there – and he won’t be boring.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

Carley Lollie: I thought I wanted a highly intellectual, philosophical man, someone who enjoys thinking for the pure enjoyment of thinking. My husband is not like that at all, but his practical, no-nonsense perspective on the world actually complements me very well.

Valerie Bryant: There is only one requirement that truly matters: a man who wants to run hard and fast towards God, with you right beside him. Everything else you imagine that he’s supposed to be — his appearance, his family background, his career, his age — let those fall to the wayside, or you might miss out on someone just because they don’t complete what you think you require. The man I thought I needed, the one I could have checked off all the boxes for? He pales in comparison to the one I got when I stopped narrowing my focus.

Rachel Vander Ley: Oh so many! My husband does not sing me to sleep while he plays his guitar, and you know, I’m still perfectly content to sleep next to him every night. If you make a list (which I did at a Bible study), you’ll know which ones are deal-breakers and which ones are just nice to have on there. Keep that in mind and little things won’t become big things.

Caitlyn Stiffler: Prior to being a Christian, I thought you had to “test drive” before committing. I also pictured myself with a man with a college degree and a white picket fence, and I ended up marrying a tour manager who is gone 6 months out of the year and with 4 other male roommates living in half a duplex.

Sarah Bessey: Things like vocation turned out to be unimportant. We have both changed careers – and even callings. You learn to separate yourself and your marriage from what you “do.” Almost everything in our lives has changed and shifted, friends have come and gone, jobs have changed, we’ve had babies, now we’re raising them, and so on. Those things – the “stuff” of life isn’t as important as you may think. What is important is allowing each other to change, and to change together, in step.


Ask A Married [Man] – What’s The Point of Waiting Til Marriage For Sex If You’ve Already Had It?

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Editor’s Note: We’re starting to get to the end of our month on questions from our readers – but we still have soooo many questions to answer, so expect us to pick this back up later in the year! Today, our answer isn’t from a married woman, but a married man. Jed Brewer answered “Are Men Scared of Strong & Confident Women?” for us earlier, and I highly recommend that you follow him on Tumblr. – Lauren

QUESTION: What is the point of waiting to have sex with my boyfriend until we get married, if I’ve already had sex before? I know it’s the right thing, but I’ve already messed things up, so does it really matter?

JED BREWER: I totally appreciate your question. And it makes sense. And I’m glad you asked.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

When God says to save sex for marriage, it’s not because he has a bizarre fixation on people being virgins on their wedding night. No, he says it because sex forges an emotional bond between the two people involved. Sex forges that bond because that’s what it’s designed to do. When that bond is forged between two people who have made a commitment to be with each other, no matter what (which is what a marriage is), then everything works great. The emotional bond matches the relational bond. But when that bond is forged between two people who aren’t quite sure and they’ll see how it goes, well, people get hurt.

Whenever God says, “don’t”, what he’s saying is “don’t hurt yourself.”

People can drone on about the idea of casual sex all they want, but as you and I both know, it doesn’t work. At it’s best, casual sex is hype – the thing you keep telling yourself will be amazing, and keeps being really not that. And at its worst, it really, really breaks our hearts.

God doesn’t want to see you get your heart broken. That’s why. Your heart is really important to him. He wants you to guard it carefully (Proverbs 4:23).

And, let’s keep it real for a second: there isn’t an orgasm worthy of heartache. The fact that you’ve had sex in the past and got hurt doesn’t make it a good idea to do again today, any more than the fact that I’ve had one broken toe implies that I wouldn’t be bothered by a second. Sex is not a separate category of sin where once you’ve done it, all bets are off.

I deal with drug dealers as a part of my day job, and no one is trying to tell them that since they’ve sold crack before, it doesn’t matter if they do it again.

But I’d like to add one more thing for you to look at. And that is this: if you want a really amazing, Godly relationship, then don’t waste your time worrying about how wrong it can be and still work. Start asking how right and good and amazing it can be. There will come a day (when you’re married) when God will say, “It’s time for sexy time to commence and never cease!” Between now and then, while there are some things God is saying “no” to, there’s a host of things he’s saying “yes” to – like encouraging each other, building each other up, serving Jesus together – and I’d encourage you to take a hold of those things with both hands.

Note from Lauren: I had the same question when I started dating my now-husband. We’d both slept with others in the past, and to me, that “I’m gonna get struck by lightening for sinning!” feeling had been lost long ago. But the thing about having sex or not having sex is that it’s not simply about being terrified you’re going to do something wrong. It’s about starting over, brand new, and as new creations in Christ, with a heartfelt desire to try to love God and love this guy as best as you possibly can. And for me, that meant obeying God and respecting my husbands commitment to not have sex before marriage – even if I didn’t understand it fully. In a sense, I felt like a silly child deciding to hold onto a “rule” when I didn’t quite understand the point.
 
As the months passed in our dating relationship, I started learning things about myself and him that I NEVER would have learned, had we been sleeping together. I paid closer attention to my emotions, and learned the difference between simply being attracted to a man I’m in love with, and when I was just wanting to use sex as a coping mechanism. I learned in a new way how to love selflessly. I had peace of mind that my desire to marry him wasn’t just “because of our emotional bond from sex.” We both learned how to sort out some of our fears/guilt/shame from past mistakes with sex, without being submersed in more of it. And our wedding was SO EXCITING. Because yes, even if you’ve messed up in the past, this is still new with HIM. The guy you’re marrying, who loves you more than all the ex’s ever could. Also, (this is something they don’t tell you about marriage), there will be times that one person wants sex and the other doesn’t! Building a relationship before marriage that isn’t grounded in sex will make “holding marriage together” without sex so much easier. It’s so important to know that your relationship is secure enough for the seasons without sex. So yes. It’s worth it, and I’d go through the struggle of waiting all over again. – Lauren


Ask A Married Woman: Have You Ever Cheated On Your Husband? Have You Wanted To?

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Editor’s Note: This month we have been answering questions from our readers that they would ask a married woman, if they could. I am ever grateful for the wisdom that has been shared this month. Dozens of our readers have asked, “Have you ever cheated? Have you ever been attracted to another man? What about emotional infidelity? Is monogamy possible?” There is no proper way to answer these questions without a story. Lindsey Hartz has given us the gift of her words, and her life. Lindsey, thank you for your open heart, and the brutal honesty of your story. – Lauren

“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

I stand up to meet him, ready with my friendly façade. Hand to hand we touch, a handshake, a formal introduction. Our eyes lock, and I am immediately unsettled…a violent reaction crashing through me, a hint of darkness, and devastation.

I blink, unsure of what just happened. I want to snatch my hand away, furiously wipe his touch away, turn and run away. Dancing around the edges of my unexplainable fear is the awareness of etiquette, of maintaining my composure.

We casually chat, the talk of strangers in a business world. He asks me to lunch, and my unease grows even as I accept. I don’t know, then, that the Holy Spirit is frantically beating at the doors of my hardened heart…warning me, trying to steer me away, before it is too late.

Photo by Branden Harvey

The next day, we walk to lunch. His gaze slides over me, up and down, settles. He glances back up and catches my eye, says, “I like your shirt.” I blush furiously, mumble thank you, try to change the subject, knowing it’s not my shirt he’s focused on.

The lunch drags on, and he seems to grow aware of my awkwardness, my discomfort. He says something funny, the mood grows lighter. I start to wonder if it is just me, misinterpreting his actions, his words, his glance.

The weeks pass by, and we fall into an easy relationship. He is funny, charming, charismatic, as we talk about work, family, God, church.

The mention of God fills me with wonder and hope, and makes me dismiss my initial feeling about him. I have been lonely, empty, scared for so long. The devastating fallout of painful abuse in my childhood and the crumbling pieces of my marriage have been crashing down for years. I follow the rules; I am a good girl, but I also define myself as a victim. Seeing the world through the eyes of despair. And I think that maybe, this thing called God, can help. And maybe, this man who appears so full of God, can help.

* * *

One day, we talk more about my childhood, the effect it has had on my marriage, my husband. He asks, “Are you together?” I look at him, my naivety wrapping itself around me. Then I realize what he means, and that feeling from the first day we met rushes back in. Only this time, I ignore it, and I shake my head no, too embarrassed to say out loud how empty my marriage has become, how I have failed my husband emotionally, physically.

I needed a friend.

And in my desperate need, I made him my savior.

This pattern in our relationship goes on for months. The ebb and flow of casual friendship interspersed tragically with more moments like these. Inappropriate connections and conversations, me willingly hanging on to and encouraging the slivers of attention and acceptance dangled in front of me. The small doses of hope meted out whenever he sent me Bible verses or talked about God.

By the time it finally happens, we are both already lost. We have continually compromised, steadily given in to the monsters inside. We have gazed into the abyss of our hearts and justified our need, our selfish desire for far too long, flirting with disaster. All the while Satan has waited, crouching, laughing for the final surrender.

In this moment, I am no longer following the rules, being a good girl, being a victim.

I willingly become a whore.

Stolen moments pass and days full of agony and shame drift by. I know I am drowning in a foul pit of destruction, know I am bending and swaying to Satan’s siren call.

And the most devastating knowledge of all? The foretold rottenness ingrained in the very nature of my soul? It is uncovered, raw, exposed:

I don’t care.

* * *

Then we are caught. And life implodes with fury and hurt. Consequences for the affair come swiftly, and they come hard. I feel my identity being ripped away; the separation violent and bloody. When I made my choice, I threw away the beauty of being a wife, a mother, a friend.

Trying to put that skin back on in the aftermath feels uncomfortable, like I am trying to wear clothing meant for someone else, someone more worthy, someone more pure.

But there is also love, has always been love, between my husband and I. The only tenuous thread we have to hang on to in the middle of the storm raging between us. My first real glimpse of God occurs the morning after, when my husband says,

“I love you, I always have. I will never leave you, and I am sorry I did not protect you from this.”

A new bond between us is made in an instant, a feeling of awe and the gentle sigh of hope that he (and He) could still love me, after what I’ve done. God is already moving, rushing in to take back what has been lost.

* * *

My inability to forgive myself creates an aching rawness in my soul. I go through the motions of attending counseling and recovery, try to use God as a band-aid over my gaping wounds instead of as the Healer, wrestle with God and what He is asking of me.

I do not want to believe His love for me.

I do not want to let go of the control I think I have.

I do not want to let go of my crushing unbelief.

Our church and community continues to surround us, fills our lives with grace and stories of a merciful and loving God who abhors what has happened, who weeps with us, who is waiting for us.

And one day, the veil lifts, and grace rushes in. Only then, as I accept Christ as my Savior, do I finally feel the weight of my sin, cry out in agony, laugh with joy, beg forgiveness. Only then, do I forgive myself.

* * *

Since then, this journey towards God has been full of steps forward and back. Even so, I can so clearly see the devastation of my life without Christ, and have found such precious hope and beautiful peace in the promise of my new life with Christ. It certainly has not been easy; this process of learning how to receive grace and learning to accept that
I am forgiven,
I am loved,
I am free.

My husband and I are on this journey together, our goal united. We live and breathe everyday to glorify God through our new life and love, our marriage, our painful past. Simply so that others may know Him and love Him too.

And now that you have read our story, I leave you with a question and a challenge.

Whatever you are doing, whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you…

Are you willing to stop, willing to take a deep breath full of mercy and power and love, and allow your story to become His story?

He’s waiting for you, and He loves you right now, as you are. Even in the midst of your own abyss.

That’s what grace is.

That’s who God is.

All you have to do is cry out, and believe.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. -Psalm 40: 1-3


Ask A Married Woman: When You’ve Had Sex And He Hasn’t – Marrying A Virgin.

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Editor’s Note: This month, we are answering our readers’ questions to married women. Today, one woman in our community has been willing to share her experience in marrying a man who was a virgin, while she was not. If this is you, and you are struggling in your relationship, I urge you to pursue counseling. I know it’s expensive, but I can tell you that I would give up one meal a day to be able to afford a weekly counseling session with the man I’m spending the rest of my life with. It’s worth it. – Lauren

QUESTION: For the women who had prior sexual experience and married a man who had none, how did you handle being in a position of “power”* in regards to your husband? Did his lack of know-how affect in any way your pleasure, or how you felt about the experience?

Editor: It worries me that we reference past sexual experience as “power”, implying that a lack of sexual experience removes someone from a position of power in the relationship. While I hope that the woman asking this question is not struggling with a sense of having power over her significant other, we are going to continue to address the second part of her question. If you, the reader, do feel there is a element of power that comes from sexual experience, I encourage you to discuss this openly with your partner and with another woman in your life that you respect. The media’s portrayal of sex is often tinged or even soaked in elements of power, control, objectification – and none of these are healthy, accurate elements of sex within an equal marriage. The marriage bed is one of mutual submission, love, and equality – despite all past history.

ANSWER [anon]: When I started dating my husband, I had recently gotten out of a relationship where we were having sex. I have always been a believer, but at that point in my life I wasn’t actively following Jesus. I met my husband about 2 weeks after I had broken up with my boyfriend, and after “talking” with my now-husband for about a week he told me that he was a virgin. A 21-year-old virgin! Not only that, but he wasn’t interested in having sex before marriage.

When the day finally came that we said ‘I do,’ all I was thinking about is how nervous I was that sex was going to be bad. (Though honestly, I had never had “good” sex before with someone because it was never for love). My wedding night was more than I could have ever hoped for.

I didn’t end up having an orgasm during sex, but I had married someone who loved me, and I thought it would get better with time. Even without having an orgasm, it was still an amazing experience – finally being with someone who valued me. Not just for my body and what I could do for them, but for who I was outside of that.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

I went on for months without telling him that I was having issues. Since I didn’t think I was really upset or holding it against him, I figured I would just deal with it myself and pray about it. I knew that having “good sex” wasn’t just going to come naturally to either of us, but for awhile, I thought that if we just kept trying, it would “just get better.” But how can you expect someone to change what they’re doing during sex when they have no idea that it isn’t working for you? My mistake was in not telling him how I felt – and this applies to everyone – regardless of their experiences before marriage, or lack thereof.

Honestly, his lack of experience in the bedroom ended up being more of a positive than anything else. It made him more willing to learn and try different things to help me. And, I think it made him feel less insulted when things weren’t going quite the way he planned. Experience isn’t what makes sex good. It’s experience with that person, because we’re all different. For example, just because someone you slept with previously likes something, it absolutely doesn’t mean you’ll be “good at sex” for the person you marry. Pleasure comes in the trust and safety of the relationship, the emotional connection, and with learning their body. Yes, over time!

The two main things I think need to be highlighted here are COMMUNICATION and HUMILITY. After marriage, you can’t be ashamed of sex or your body. There is no room for faking it and hiding how you’re feeling. Once I was honest with him about what was going on, he was nothing but loving and understanding with me. We talked through it (I cried), we kept trying different things (I got frustrated a lot and cried), but overall he always made sure that even if it wasn’t during intercourse that I had an orgasm, that I was having a good time.

Sex gets better with communication being involved. Through communication comes the knowledge of your body and his. You gotta tell him what feels good. I know that society has made it seem awkward or out of place for women, but it is necessary to get to know each other’s bodies and to ask questions. After all, you plan on spending the rest of your life together.

The best times I’ve had in the bedroom have included some laughter when things don’t go as planned. We can laugh together because we are comfortable with each other! You don’t need to be experienced to have a healthy sex life once you’re married. You need a person who values you, desires you, and makes you feel safe. Especially in the bedroom. So much so that they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sex the best experience for you too.

Even if the sex isn’t “mind-blowing,” amazing, pornographic sex on your wedding night, that doesn’t mean it’s bad sex. And it doesn’t mean it will be exactly the same forever, either.

We’re so thankful for being able to share this story! But we do realize that no two women (and therefore no two couples) are exactly alike. If you want to share a bit of your story, or express things you’ve had to overcome in this relationship dynamic, PLEASE comment. This is where the discussion, friendships and community happens.


Ask A Married Woman: What Assumptions About Sex Were You Wrong About?

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women. Last week we talked about physically painful sex, initiating with guys, going from virgin to sexy, and what questions you should ask before you get married. To view all the posts, go here! – Lauren

Valerie Bryant: The media and Cosmo magazine taught me that men are horny beasts who cannot be tamed, and so I assumed my new husband would want (even need) sex constantly (daily, or even hourly) to be properly satisfied. Turns out men are human beings just like us women. Sometimes they’re tired, hungry, or don’t feel well or have something on their mind or actually just want to watch the game, and the mood isn’t going to be striking left and right at all hours of the day and night. Even more comforting: that’s okay.

Katy Hill: I’ll just say this: it’s awesome, but not like it seems in the movies. I recommend talking to a woman a few years older than you, who’s married, who you feel comfortable talking about this to and ask them to tell you what they wish they knew beforehand. I did and got real, honest answers and it helped me set the right expectations. There are already too many expectations when it comes to sex, no need to let TV and movies complicate it even more.

Alyssa Agee: I thought sex had to take a long time. I know, that may sound silly but I always pictured it being very time-consuming and that felt like a lot of pressure to me. In truth, sometimes foreplay is overrated and there can be so much joy and satisfaction in a quick romp.

Carley Lollie: I thought all men wanted was sex all day every day – but sometimes I want it when he doesn’t initiate. I thought lingerie would turn him on more than normal clothes, but for us that’s not always the case. I thought it would instantly be easy but it takes time to find things that make either person happy.

Tamara Lunardo: When we were newly married, I held the painful, wrong assumption that if your husband doesn’t try to have sex with you all the time, he must not be interested in you. And I think that was part of a larger wrong assumption that men are all naturally confident about sex. Good, totally honest communication finally cleared all of that up!

Sarah Bessey: I didn’t realize there are seasons to sexuality. There will be seasons of crazy, wonderful sex, and there will be seasons when it’s not as important or primary, or one of you needs more or less etc., and then it all cycles back around again. And it gets better and better and better, the more fearless and comfortable and fun you become. Also, I completely underestimated the importance of laughter and adventure.

Sarah Asay: Ok, so in the movies and on TV, it’s always super hot in the beginning with everyone knowing exactly what to do, then it fizzles and after a short time it’s time to find someone new. Well, it turns out (prepare for a shocker!) TV is wrong. So wrong. We’ve totally been lied to with this lie that sex in marriage is boring, dull and that sex with strangers is awesome and perfect. For 25 years, I totally bought into this lie as well. I <3 sex with my husband. Even after almost 6 years.

Lindsay Satterfield: I thought adapting from virginity to sex with my husband would be easy because I was married and that’s what sex was intended for. It was definitely awkward to be naked in front of him for a while!

Caitlyn Stiffler: I always thought that you have to have sex with a guy to keep him, until I met my husband. We struggled with it for the first few months, but after I admitted what was going on, he was so understanding and willing to help me be comfortable in any way he could. I never thought I’d be able to be honest about how I was feeling in regards to the bedroom.

Lauren Dubinsky: I thought sex would be the “best” part of the marriage. Turns out having a best friend who loves you all the time is the best part of marriage. Like Valerie, I also thought guys want sex 24/7. I also wasn’t expecting my thoughts/emotions to be part of sex to the extent they are. I [unfortunately] had sex before marriage, so there was always a lot of stress or anxiety or thoughts I kept to myself regarding it. It’s crazy being able to talk to my husband about my thoughts, without having to be embarrassed.

From Our Facebook Fans:

Do you have your own to share? Please do! If you’re a reader, you are part of our community, and we want to hear from you too! Leave your de-bunked assumptions about sex in the comments below!


Ask A Married Woman: What Should I Ask Him Before We Get Married?

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women. So far we’ve talked about physically painful sex, initiating with guys, going from virgin to sexy, and being single and feeling left out. Looking for a whole post on how to identify a good man/good match? Here’s one of our most-loved posts of all time: What To Look For In A Man. – Lauren

QUESTION:What are the hard questions I should ask of a man BEFORE I get married? – Asked by a 30-year-old woman in a dating relationship

Prudy: 1. Does he watch porn? This is probably the hardest. I was crushed when I asked, but I needed to know, and it helps me to keep him accountable now. Have a conversation about it; don’t simply leave it at yes or no. 2. Does he want children? Most women probably think this is a given, but ask — he may, and you don’t or vice-versa. This decision has been known to break marriages. 3. What are his goals for life? Our plans and our goals change, but if he wants to move to New Guinea long term for missions and the thought of living in a hut makes your skin crawl, you want to know this ahead of time. BUT I want to emphasize with my 2 & 3 questions PRAY about each of your responses. Living in a hut may make your skin crawl now, but seven years down the road, you may not be able to imagine life apart from your little hut.

Katy Hill: I would say timeline for kids and realize that his answer most likely will not change, so be sure you’re on the same page. Also, know how he receives love best. (Like “love languages.”) Chances are he receives it in a different way than you do, and finding out the best way to show him love will make things so much better.

Photo by Niki Zimmerman

Alyssa Agee: I’m not sure this is a question per se, but something you should definitely know before getting married is how this man responds to your dreams. Will he encourage you, sacrifice for you, and want to be a part of the future you dream of? Does he enable you to pursue them or make pursuing them more difficult? Will there be give and take as you map out your hopes and aspirations? Would he be willing to alter his own expectations of the future to compliment yours?

Lauren Dubinsky: Ask if he watches porn. This is something you really need to have talked out before you get married. Ask if he will be willing to go to counseling. You’ll need/want this in your marriage, and you don’t want to be stuck with a man who won’t go. Figure out whose opinion in his life matters most. (Translated: Figure out where he’ll set boundaries with his parents or siblings, best friends, etc. Make sure your future husband is mature enough to know that he is responsible for the decisions you will BOTH be making in your marriage, together. And that your opinion comes above anyone else’s.)

Lindsay Satterfield: 1. Find out about his debt. Student loans and a car payment are different than maxed out Guitar Center and Best Buy credit cards. His debt becomes yours. If he has debt from a rough stage in life, that’s one thing — just make sure you know his current spending habits and how he views money. 2. Observe how he treats and talks to his mother. He likely will treat you the same. It’s a reflection of how he views women (with a few exceptions, of course).

Carley Lollie: One of the best topics my husband and I discussed pre-marriage was how we both dealt with conflict: do you need time to cool off before addressing it? How long will you let it go?

Rhiannon: 1. Ask your future husband if he is willing to put God FIRST in your marriage. 2. Find out if he is willing to be a leader in your marriage. This doesn’t mean you won’t have an opinion or a say. You just want to know that he can take responsibility in a relationship.

Caitlyn Stiffler: If he has any struggles/sin areas that you would be uncomfortable with (the most common one being lust). The three biggest issues during the first years of marriage are sex, money and lifestyle differences. You definitely want to be sure that you are on the same page with those! Be honest with yourself in regards to settling and whether or not he has any “habits” that you may not be willing to live with for the rest of your life. Those will be magnified when you’re spending that much time with someone.

From Our Twitter Followers:


Ask A Married Woman: When Sex Physically Hurts

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women. So far we’ve talked about whether or not you should let a guy know you’re interested in him, and how, as a married woman, you’ve gone from virgin to sexy and seductive. Today’s question is answered by Rachel Vander Ley. I want to note to all you single women out there, please do not let this article cause you one ounce of worry. I know that had I read it pre-sex, I would have freaked out. Physical pain is not something to be expected for the majority, but it does exist for some women, so we do want to discuss it! Don’t let your mind sit and worry on this bridge unless you come to it one day. You can find Rachel on Twitter at @rachieannie. – Lauren

QUESTION: I recently got married in January and I am definitely loving married life. But we have had a lot of trouble with sex. It hurts me all the time and I am just struggling to understand why something that I thought was supposed to be a beautiful gift from God is something that is so painful for me. I end up in tears every time. I am getting discouraged which also make it harder to want to have sex. And because it hurts me so much, my husband doesn’t like doing it anymore either. He hates seeing me cry. I was just wondering if you would have any insight on why something that was meant to be a great gift would be so painful for so long? It makes me feel like I did something wrong. I am struggling with this emotionally and physically.

RACHEL: I walked down the aisle 2 ½ years ago as a 25 year old woman with a healthy libido. I found my husband to be incredibly attractive and was excited to finally have that person in my life to meet all of my physical needs (because, let’s be honest, as a 25 year old missionary, I had physical needs).

Then we got to our honeymoon, and while things were good, they weren’t great. I noticed that it hurt. And yes, I had done my reading, so I knew this was a possibility. Then I talked to a married friend who said that after she went through a menstrual cycle, things evened out for her. So, I waited for that auspicious moment. And it came and went. And still the pain.

In fact, I have dealt with pain in physical intimacy for a majority of the time we have been married. Things were just starting to get ironed out and it got to the point where I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t hurt. And I got pregnant for the first time! Then, as sex began to become less painful for a second time, and I got pregnant for the second time. (Yes, that’s 2 pregnancies in 2 ½ yrs. So things are “working.”) 

So, dear heart, when I say I understand what you’re going through, know that I have a glimpse.

Photo by Sarah Sodini

On a practical, physical side, there are some tactics that have worked for me including hot baths, Advil, the liberal use of lubricant, and Tucks Medicated Pads (technically they are for hemorrhoids, but post-partum women swear by them. You can find them in the pain relief aisle at most stores). Also, I’ve found that I cannot sustain the same position for very long, so we experiment quite a bit in that area. Unfortunately, what works one time is not guaranteed to work the next, so it is definitely a journey.

Make sure you consult your gynecologist. During a routine postpartum exam, I mentioned some of these issues to my doctor, and he found some physical explanations for what was going on. It helped me to know where my body was coming from. Don’t be afraid to go, to be honest with how you’re feeling, and to be specific. Doctors are there to help.

However, it isn’t necessarily the physical impact that hurts the worst. This situation carries a big emotional wallop that can trample you like a herd of elephants.

As someone who grew up in conservative Christian circles, I have found myself questioning why God is punishing me this way. Was it because we went too far before we got married? Because we enjoyed making out a little more than watching the movie? Is this something we have to deal with forever? But, I have to remind myself that our God is not a God of punishment. He is a God of grace. And forgiveness. And love.

Do I think you have some terrible sin in your past that is causing this current pain? No, I do not. Is there an easy fix, an easy prayer, or an easy cliché that can be applied to this situation? Well, if you find one, PLEASE let me know!

In the meantime, you and your husband are left to deal with the here and now. And it is hard.

The biggest asset to your situation is open and honest communication between the two of you. There are times where my husband is in the mood, and all I can think of is the possibility of facing hours of pain afterwards. Instead of just brushing him off without giving him a reason, I try to tell him why I am not currently in the mood to reciprocate. I will be the first to admit that I am not stellar in this area, but it is something I am trying to work on. It is simply not fair to him to keep him in the dark.

Or, we’re in the midst of some good old fashioned fun, and something has to change. It can be really hard to be open and honest at that time, because obviously it is a vulnerable time for both of us. A part of me just wants to suck it up and satisfy him at that moment. But, that’s not fair to either of us.
So, no matter how hard it gets, or how awkward, or how much you ugly cry, you have to just talk. And talk. And try different techniques. And maybe step back from the situation for the night, and come back to it another time.

Sex is beautiful. And messy. And fun. And it can feel really, really awesome. And for some of us, it can really, really hurt.

I wish I could sit here and promise you that in X amount of months, or after X amount of times, the pain will disappear and the two of you will tumble into an amazing sex life that just won’t quit.

I wish I could tell you that this pain will disappear and one day you will look back and barely remember it.

But I can’t.

I wish I could be sitting with you in person, sipping a cup of coffee and hugging you while you spill it all out.

But I can’t.

So, this is all I have for you. Some tips, some encouragement. It’s hard. So very hard. Marriage (and sex) does not always look like the movies or read like the books. Your story is yours alone, pain and all. I don’t know how it will end, but know that I am rooting for you and your husband.

And if you would like to talk about this more in detail, PLEASE feel free to contact me via Twitter (@rachieannie) or ask for my email. I can be as open as you need me to be in a setting that is slightly more private.

NOTE: In case you missed it at the top: I want to note to all you single women out there, please do not let this article cause you one ounce of worry. I know that had I read it pre-sex, I would have freaked out. Physical pain is not something to be expected for the majority, but it does for some women, so we do want to discuss it! Don’t let your mind sit and worry on this bridge unless you happen come to it one day.


Ask A Married Woman: How Did You Go From Virgin To Sexy & Seductive?

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IMPORTANT Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women! We realize that sex is an enormous topic and absolutely cannot be addressed in whole in a single place. Please give us grace and the benefit of the doubt as we seek to share the wisdom and experience of multiple married women in our community on the topic, and do not take it as rules, formulas, or “right vs wrong” that Good Women Project is trying to give you for your personal sex life. We never want to instruct you, assume too much about your personal life, or compromise your personal beliefs. We realize and respect that some of our readers’ views and preferences may differ, and our CHIEF reason for opening dialogue on the topic is to rid our lives of shame, fear, and guilt from the places it does not belong. We also ask you to ask questions in our comments to the authors to clarify instead of being quick to anger or condemnation. The topic is easily misunderstood, and it must be an open conversation. Thank you. – Lauren

QUESTION: How did you go from virgin to sexy and seductive towards your husband if that side has been switched off your entire life?! – asked by a 22-year-old single woman

Renee Fisher: I was the girl who dreamed of the day I could finally have sex. I hated reading books by “Christian” men that said women don’t desire sex. I am proud to say that I was a virgin when I got married. That’s 29 long years of crazy sexy ideas for seducing my future husband. Tip #1 – Don’t take it personal. Every time you have sex, it’s different — and there will be times when you or your partner won’t finish or doesn’t want to have sex at that very moment. Don’t let that freak you out. Tip #2 – Buy lingerie and lots of it. Tip #3 – Sexy is good. Sexy is good. Sexy is good. Growing up as a Christian taught me one thing about sex: it’s bad. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to just get married and be expected to flip the switch from bad to good. Even though I was super eager to try — and have only been married for 9 months — it takes practice. Tip #4 – What may be seductive to you may not be seductive to your partner. THIS IS OKAY. Find out what that is and teach it to each other. :)

Valerie Bryant: Trial and error plus a sense of humor. Trust your husband to support you in all your efforts at sexiness, and don’t be afraid to try something that sounds wacky or terrifying — it just might be the very thing that makes you feel amazing and vixenish! Some things may not work at all, but don’t forget to laugh about it together — there is very little that is sexier than a genuine, shared smile between lovers.

Elora Nicole: My husband and I didn’t have sex until we were married, and we were both each other’s firsts. I can’t stress this enough: have fun. Know your own limits. Communicate beforehand so your husband knows what you will or won’t do, and you know what he will or won’t do. Also, embrace your feminine side. A little make up, some perfume, and lotion makes me feel sexy.

Lauren Dubinsky: I wasn’t a virgin when I got married, but “having sex before marriage” doesn’t inherently give you confidence in the bedroom. Regardless of when it is that you first have sex, no one, male or female, is 100% confident immediately. So be encouraged that if you’ve waited for marriage, you’re getting more confident in the presence of a man who loves you no matter what. “Sexiness” is an aspect of my nature, and it hinges upon MANY things. Trust, safety, comfort, emotional connection, and the absence of shame/fear/guilt/incorrect expectations. That means that our ability to be sexy or seductive relies primarily on our relationship with the guy, and our perception of ourself — NOT on our experience or “skill.” A lot of it comes naturally, but if you have hangups or issues (like 95% of people I know), counseling is definitely the first step. Don’t ignore your struggle. Don’t keep it to yourself. I don’t know how any married couples make it without counseling, honestly, and it’s been a massive help to me in letting go of insecurities, crazy things in my head, and fear —which in turn is giving me permission to be sexxyyy.

Prudy: Ask him what he finds sexy; it may be a lacy little number or it may be one of his button down work shirts. Leave notes hidden for him or sext him [texting dirty things]! And create a playlist of “in-the-mood music” just for YOU.

Katy Hill: For me, it just took time to get comfortable with that switch. I waited for myself, not for what anyone else expected of me. I didn’t come from a super conservative household, but it was still tough to realize it was okay to be sexy and seductive toward my husband. Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes longer than you expected!

Alyssa Agee: Your sexy and seductive side should NOT be “turned off” until the moment you say “I do!” Do things on your own time to feel sexy for yourself. And once you’re married? Take a deep breath and let go of your inhibitions. Turn the lights on. Laugh a lot. Ditch the lingerie if it makes you feel uncomfortable and glory in your own skin. That’s sexy.

Lindsay Satterfield: No one I know has gotten married and instantly became a sex kitten.

Shelly DeVore: It really wasn’t that difficult for me once I realized that it is a GOOD desire. In a strange way, it’s kinda like getting a drivers license; something you’ve wanted to do for a long time and now all the sudden it’s not only ok, but right and good. SO MUCH FREEDOM. I didn’t find that I had to “work” at it, and I was a virgin when we got married.

Carley Lollie: For me, it came really naturally since we were both learning each other at the same time. Sex gets better with time (and you’ve got a lot of it now!). It’s an adventure, and it’s what you were designed as a woman to be. Just being open to the idea of sex is the biggest step.

Sarah Bessey: Well, I didn’t start off too virginal, so it wasn’t a problem. I was a sexually active teenager, and although that brings its own baggage, I was very comfortable with my own sexuality and needs. I don’t think that it’s too healthy to live “switched off.”

Second Note: Below, we’ve brought in Cherry from Married Spice to give more detail and some important perspective! She’s the sweetest Christian woman who gives tons of sex advice to married women dealing with issues in the bedroom. We wanted to share her very raw and honest thoughts at risk of starting a comment-war! Again, don’t take this as right and wrong, but simply something to add into the discussion. Have fun, and read with an open mind. Feel free to ask her questions in the comments, or send her an email at marriedspice[at]hotmail.com

Cherry: I wasn’t a virgin, but I will say as advice to the virgin bride goes: get to know yourself, your body, before the wedding.  You really need to explore your sexuality. You are a sexual being. God made us to experience this in a very real way!  Buy lingerie EARLY, and then (gulp) you need to touch yourself… in a sexual way.* Try to NOT be on the pill, if you can. Your hormones are your best friend here.  If you ovulate, you will feel sexier. Use that to your advantage. Nothing wrong with your new husband using condoms for awhile.  Get to know your body while you can have orgasm and enjoy it.  Feeling sexy is a state of mind. For us girls it is HUGE. Think about sex, think about your beautiful body and how it was made for pleasure. Half the battle to sexiness is won in the mind!

I realize there is a dividing line here for some Christian women, but the issue still remains that many Christian women are NOT in touch with their sexuality. Therefore, they’ve never had an orgasm, do not think sex is ”necessary” after kids, and do it just to please their husbands.  Some do it to be obedient to God, but since they have NEVER gotten to know their body personally, they have missed out on pleasure. And yes, physical pleasure is something that God created for both men and women.

Look at how males grow up. They get to know their penis from infancy. Diaper comes off, and BAM, they are grabbing it and playing with it. It is external, so obviously  they’ll grab it, but it also feels good to them. They are intimate with their sex organ from the get go while girls have no idea what their vulva is.  Let alone a clitoris.  But this has been and still is the biggest disservice we are doing to our little girls.  They grow up, never looking, never playing with, never considering this as the fun zone.  It’s usually, the ”no no zone.” And we wonder why women have such fickle, un-interested sexual appetites for their spouses. If they grow up thinking it’s dirty, this becomes such a mental battle after the wedding night.

*Earlier, when I mentioned touching yourself sexually? Everyone has differing opinions on this, but it’s important to note that shame has no place in your life, regardless of what you have or have not done. Once you are engaged, and “if” up to this point (because of beliefs or whatnot) you haven’t touched yourself to get to know what feels good, NOW IS THE TIME!

The funny thing is, EVERY woman’s man has given in to self-pleasure. YES, EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Whether they used porn is a whole other matter.  What matters here is the fact that, all by themselves, their man HAS masturbated. Not just once, but a lot.  And he knows his body, he knows what feels good… because he’s had lots of practice.  What he isn’t going to know is how to please you. And how can you expect another person to know your body better than you know yourself? So, as an engaged woman, this is an important time to get to know the wonderful body God gave you, and to explore, look in a mirror, find your spots, and think about your guy. This way, on her wedding night (after more likely) you can show him and he can show you what feels good.

If you are worried about your thought-life in all of this, think about your husband and the pleasure you can bring to him.  The rest of your thought life is between you and God.  If you believe you are the center of your soon-to-be husband’s desire, then feeling sexy is cake, and your focus will be on the right place.  The confidence comes when we get to know our bodies for what God created them to be.

How do you learn your body without it resulting in an addiction to pleasure? It’s a bridge to cross as needed. (If you deal with addiction, I HIGHLY recommend licensed counseling, no matter what it costs you.) As an example, I love chocolate.  I can eat it with pleasure without gorging myself. Some people cannot.  Should I tell people that if they eat chocolate, they better eat it slowly and only one or two pieces, so that they don’t over do it and become addicted?  Not necessarily. This is why it’s important for you to know that your body is ultimately your responsibility, and to pay close attention to your heart.

Anything God created can be abused and turn sinful. So, to caution too much about self-pleasuring then causes one to hesitate and think of it as evil, bringing us back to square one. So again, it’s between you and God if you are concerned with your behavior being pleasing to Him. Don’t be afraid to start looking for a woman you respect and trust to discuss this with personally.


Ask A Married Woman: Should You Let A Guy Know You’re Into Him?

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women! Yesterday we talked about being single and feeling left out of “The Married Club” and on Monday we’ll be talking about how to be “sexy and seductive” when you’re a virgin or haven’t been sexually active for awhile before getting married. Today, one of our readers wants to know if she can let a guy know she likes him. – Lauren

QUESTION: How forward or obvious should you be if you are interested in a guy? Like should you let him know you are interested? Or just wait until he says/does something?

Valerie Bryant: The best way I know how to answer this is with a bolded, underlined, italicized, yes. Yes, you should let him know you’re interested! You know how anxious you are at the thought of letting him know you have feelings for him? Guys feel the exact same way. If we all just sat around not saying anything due to that fear and anxiety, there would be a whole lot of unrequited love in this world. Be bold; don’t rely on your actions or your flirting, which can always be misinterpreted or just plain overlooked. Simply tell him, “Hey, I love being around you, and I’m interested in dating you.” Armed with that information, let him pursue you from there.

Rhiannon Field: I was pretty obvious about my feelings with my husband (I actually kissed him first!), and it worked for us. Think about how difficult it is to put yourself out there. If you want a guy to ask you out, make yourself available (make your feelings a bit obvious). If you’ve made your feelings known and he still isn’t acting on them? I say go for it. If he says no, I promise you’ll be proud of yourself for being brave. No one ever gained anything valuable without ever taking a risk!

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

Prudy: I think I made the first move on my now husband. If you’re interested in a guy ask him to coffee — something simple and not a huge event. If it’s just he and you, he’s probably gonna get the idea.

Katy Hill: Just be honest. Looking back now, I wasted too much time wondering, “Does he like me or not?” Take some time to get to know them and, when you’re ready, have a conversation. It’s better to hear the honest truth and know either way than to constantly wonder. Plus, guys aren’t always in tune to how girls feel about them. We can think we’re being super obvious, and they’ll have no clue. Not saying they’re dumb; they just don’t think about things the way we do. Also, make sure you are confident in who you are first before you try to start something with a guy. It may sound cliche, but it’s the absolute truth!

Lindsay Satterfield: Take initiative and tell him — then let him decide whether or not he’s going to pursue you. You definitely want to be with a guy who is going to actively pursue you throughout your marriage, not just until he puts a ring on it.

Carley Lollie: Be yourself — as much as possible, do what you would naturally do. If this means telling him you’re interested, go for it. Honesty is the first rule of any good relationship.

Sarah Bessey: Take the first step, let him know you’re interested, absolutely. Be brave! But you shouldn’t have to talk anyone into loving you. So if it isn’t met, or if you are finding yourself convincing yourself – or him – that this is worthwhile, I’d start to move my heart onward. When you know, you know, and he will know, too. And then it’s amazing.

Lauren Dubinsky: I always feigned severe disinterest in guys I liked, because I thought that was “pursuing” or “initiating,” which is often a big no-no in conservative or religious circles. Consequently, I felt like I had zero control over myself when men were around. I said things I didn’t mean, acted ways I didn’t feel, and ended up believing I had no say in who I ended up with. It was just the guy that ended up being the most persistent. It finally clicked that healthy relationships are 50/50, and that means letting a guy know what I think and how I feel, especially if I’m crushing on him! About a year and a half ago, I gathered up every ounce of courage, disobeyed “the rules,” and told my now-husband I liked him and wanted to know where the relationship was going. Turned out he’d been crushing on me for months and just assumed I’d never go for him. RIDICULOUS. Lesson? Go for what you want.

To read more on this subject, you may want to check out “How do I act available without being too forward?”


Ask A Married Woman: I’m Single And I Feel Left Out Of “The Club”

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women! Tomorrow you’ll hear from just about everyone on the panel on whether or not you should initiate with the guy you’re interested in. Today, Rhiannon Field answers the question asked below. Rhiannon blogs here and tweets at @mrsrhifield. – Lauren

Question from one of our readers: Once you married, did you find it difficult to relate to your non-married friends? As a single person who has seen many of her friends get married, I often feel like my relationship status prevents me from being part of “the club”, like married women are a part of an exclusive group and no longer know what to do with me. Is it paranoia, or is there really a wall between single and married individuals?

* * *

Rhiannon: My heart really goes out to you, girl. I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all felt like we’re not a part of the “club” at some point or another. Whether it be the Friends With Boyfriends Club, Friends With Perfect Skin Club, the Married Friends Club, or what have you. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt like we’re missing out on something, and perhaps even cried a little over it (or as in my case, spent many nights sobbing over feeling left out).

I’ll be honest with you, right now that I’m married without kids, at times it feels like I’m not a part of the Friends With Kids Club. It can be a bit disappointing and at times even hurtful, even though I don’t feel like it is the right time to begin having children. That being said, those friends of mine that are mothers, have been dear friends to me and continue to make an effort to be my friend, despite my current lack of children. Yes, it may be harder for them to make time to hang out than it is for me, but they are still my friends and they continue to value my friendship. I’m sure there are things they feel like they can share more with their other mom friends, but we still connect in a lot of different ways and through different aspects of life.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

The same is true for my unmarried friends. My oldest and best friend is single, and I never want to lose her friendship. She has walked me through some of the lowest points in my life, and she stood by me on the greatest day of my life–my wedding. She knows more about me than other human being on this Earth, besides my husband, and I truly value her friendship.

She may not know a whole lot about having a housework schedule, or the stresses of making dinner for a man who doesn’t consider vegetables to be real food, or keeping intimacy alive in marriage, but she is there for me in any way that she can be. Even if it is just being an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. She’s there to make me laugh, and to wipe away tears. And I will always be there to listen to the cries of her heart, support her any way I can, and share anything I’ve learned with her. I cherish and admire so much about her, despite her relationship status. In fact, that isn’t even something I regularly think about when I’m with her.

Dear friend, I’m tempted to tell you flat out that your friends haven’t put up a wall just because you don’t share your relationship status. I can’t though, because perhaps they have. Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying your friends are mean people. I’m assuming that if they’re your friends, they are people you love and trust and who love and trust you, in return. Believe me when I say that people who genuinely care for you, probably aren’t deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel left out. They may not even realize you’re feeling a little left out, or that you have suspicions that they don’t consider you one of them.

If they’re newlyweds they may be struggling with the major transition that is marriage. They may have a lot of questions and feel lost or like they’re doing something wrong at times. Or they may be reveling in the immense joy of marriage and all that comes with it. If this is the case, it is no wonder that they would turn to other women in the same situation for support or just to connect with other women sharing their experience. Feeling lost leaves most of us searching for others who have already walked through this struggle, to tell us it’s going to be ok in the end. As hard as it may be (and I can relate, I tend to take just about everything personally), you can’t take it personally.

It doesn’t mean they value you any less as a friend. It means we are all human and we are relational creatures. We all look for other people who are in similar situations and share similar circumstances to confide in and spend time with. Remember though, the older you get the harder it is to make–and keep–friends. Fight to keep them. Continue to let them know that you value their friendship and you don’t want to lose them as friends.

Being the amazing woman that I don’t doubt you are, I’m sure there are myriad qualities your friends value in you! Just because you aren’t married NEVER means you aren’t valuable. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Being married doesn’t suddenly mean your life is perfect and you have all the answers (trust me on this one!). You still have so much to offer and still have the opportunity to be an amazing friend, with so much to offer to others, even when it may not feel that way.

In the end, the best thing you can do if you continue to feel like a wall has been put up between you and your married friends is this: Talk to them. Be honest. Don’t blame or accuse. Express how you have felt as a result of their actions. And most of all, keep an open heart. We all need friends around us.


Ask A Married Woman: Did Getting Married Compromise What You Could Do With Your Life?

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Editor’s Note: This month we are answering questions from you readers directed to married women (!!!). Today’s question is by an 18-20 single girl, and she asks: “Did you ever wrestle with the feeling that you could do more for God as a single woman even though you knew you had the desire in your heart to be married and have a family? How do you feel about that now that you’re married?” Elora Nicole has answered this question below! – Lauren

ELORA: Our second year of marriage, I read a book popular among young, single Christian women. It was part of a small group curriculum, and I was asked to be the “married woman” in the group of teenage girls.

By the third week of the study, I’d thrown the book across the room no less than five times.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

There’s this pervading lie in some Christian circles that you need to do all your ministering, all your mission trips, all your education before you get married because once you’re married, your primary service will be to your husband.

And while I agree with part of this statement, I do not agree with all.

It wasn’t until I married my husband that I became fully aware of just how much I am capable of as a woman.

I enrolled in graduate school after I got married. I wrote my novel after I got married.

And a huge reason for both of these accomplishments is the belief my husband has in my dreams.

We push each other. I made him enroll in culinary school. He constantly asks me if I’m writing. I won’t let him pack his guitar into the closet. He plays songs he knows I won’t be able to stop from singing.

Also? Since marrying him, my sense of adventure has skyrocketed.

Our first year of marriage, we spent Christmas vacation in Biloxi, Mississippi at a hippie commune in order to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. We spent days tearing down walls and clearing houses of mildewed and moldy belongings so residents could start over. At night, we slept on the concrete floor with strangers and showered in a make-shift shed out in the parking lot. If you looked up, you could see the stars while washing your hair.

Our third year of marriage, we traveled to San Diego for Invisible Children’s Africa is Not a Country conference. That summer, because of friends who felt like family, we packed our bags and traveled to North Carolina for a youth camp focused on social justice. At night, we’d gather with our friends, the atmosphere electric with hope, and talk about community and what it looks like to change the world. We didn’t really have money for either of these trips, but we went anyway, and it made all the difference. Why?

Our fourth year of marriage, we heard about this thing Invisible Children was doing called The Rescue. Because we knew what it looked like to take risks and breathe life into each other, Russ quit his job and flew to Boston where he drove the Rescue Riders to Harrisburg and then to Richmond and finally, to Chicago. They called themselves the Beast Coast Rescue Riders and I watched on the live feed as my husband sent me pictures of senators and dance parties and Gavin Degraw and cupcakes from Oprah’s best friend, Gail. They ended their trip in song and dance, all in the name of love, and landed on the big O’s set – stealing ten minutes out of Hugh Jackman’s interview. And even though I wasn’t with him because of my responsibilities at work, I was with him because we never leave the other person behind. And two days after he got home, we packed up all our belongings and moved to Austin – the biggest step of faith we’d taken together so far. We didn’t know anyone and we had no idea what we were doing outside of Russ’ classes at Le Cordon Bleu, but we knew it was right and true because it was an adventure and made us feel alive.

And it was right and true because a year later, after some of the deepest heartbreak we experienced, we boarded a plane to Africa with a few other adults we didn’t really know and twelve high school students we loved as our own.

And then one of the boys who was supposed to be on that trip became our son when he asked me to be his mom, and he wore a shirt that said brother in Amharic when we decided to adopt from Ethiopia, and he fist pumped and did a little pop and lock when we told him we switched to domestic adoption from Houston.

“I don’t care where you adopt from moms,” he told me, “I just want a little brother or sister to harrass.”

I smiled when he said this, and felt my mom-heart burst a little at the seams, and wondered at this strange path my life had taken since marrying Russ.

On July 2 we’ll be married for seven years.

Seven years of risk taking and faith steps. Seven years of learning what it means to breathe life into the other. Seven years of last minute trips, publishing deals, second degrees, and incredible adventure.

What I do know is I wouldn’t trade our story for the world, and I know with every fiber of my being that believing you cut yourself in half when you get married is sinking your teeth into one of the biggest lies out there.

If you feel God telling you to do something now as a single woman, do it. But don’t think it’s because once you get married the adventure will cease.

Take it from me. If you let it, the adventure will be waiting for you when you walk down the aisle.