A Grand Adventure

 

My husband and I started a streak of intentional intimacy over two years ago. We made a promise to ourselves and to each other to purposefully make time everyday to have sex. It took on a life of its own and became a fun experiment for us.

November 27th, 2013 was our start date with our then lofty goal of 365 days of sex….last night we hit night ONE THOUSAND!!!

It has been a grand adventure for sure. Here is to tonight and married intimacy!

Cheers!!

 

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Conditional Weather

 

Sunrise cont'd (clouds sunrise+sunset Summer sky trees ). Photo by coolcloudzz

When do you and your spouse engage in the most intimate contact…sex, yes, but, also flirting with each other, snuggling, intentionally sitting closely, holding hands, etc.?

Does the majority of your intimacy occur on the fair weather days in your relationship and fall by the wayside on stormy or even just cloudy relationship days?

Is the weather (the mood/feelings you experience day to day, moment by moment) of your marriage the cause or downfall of your intimate contact?

More to come in Setting the Foundation PART THREE…

 

Photo courtesy of  www.wunderground.com

Setting the Foundation PART TWO

           

TIME:

Let’s get all the excuses out of the way…

 

There is never enough time.

The time is just not right.

Time is not on my side.

Time’s up.

Life is just a race against time.

I am always caught at a bad time.

It’s only a matter of time before something bad happens.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Time is ticking away. (Great, now that song is swirling around in my head, thanks DC Talk!)

 

What is time but a constant reminder that we are on the losing end of it? Time in our real world lives is almost always viewed as a negative. Whether it is running out or dragging on, time can be a burden. But, in fictional writing, time, while yes, used as a pressure gauge for suspense and action, is also used in ways we take for granted in our real day-to-day lives.

Time is a descriptor, a cue to move on and a metaphor for life. Sneaky little writers always tossing in creative elements that force readers to think😉 .

When in the World are We?

What would a period piece set in the uppity 1800’s or the naked and free 60’s be without time period descriptors? I’ll tell ya…we would have no idea what year the story was being told in. We’d be all over the history of time trying to nail down the era. And all that searching takes a reader away from becoming absorbed in the moment of the book.

What era is your marriage in? Can you describe it? Is it bland and inconclusive or distinguishingly marked? Think beyond the basics and go into the abstract. Go beyond the year 2016 or the month of August and the specific day. Go beyond what is seen by everybody to distinguish what specific relationship era you live in now. Describe this era of your marriage like a writer would describe the 1930’s or the 80’s. Notice the qualifying markers of your relationship’s era.

Nathaniel and I are living in an era of growth, time stamped 2013-present. Our time period of growth is led by desire. Desire to know more about who we are, desire to change negative behaviors, desire to blossom from the junk in our past and consistent desire for each other. We could also say we are in an era of intimacy, but a daily streak of sex for 988 days is less than a whole era, and more a residual yet distinguishing side effect of the hard work and growth our three year plus era has been.

                What is your era? When did it start, why? Pinpoint qualifying markers for this time period.

If we are unable to look at our own lives and name the parts, growth will never occur.

Sink or Move on!

Time is also used as a cue to move on. When a fictional character knows she is about out of time she will either fight till the bitter end or turn around and go another direction. Rarely have I read about a character just lying down mid drama to surrender to the waves. Okay, Titanic, but come on while Rose fought for survival her would be husband let go and fell to the bottom of the ocean. Most main characters will fight or turn away not just lie down and die.

In movies it is always apparent that time is running out and the characters need to fight through or turn and go the other way. A ticking clock, ominous music, and the needs of other characters are but three of the techniques writers use to define time in a story.

                What in real life provides that cue to move on for you?

For me, I rely heavily on God to be my cue as well as my husband and my mom, both opinions I value greatly. When I am set up against a difficult decision of any kind or I am staring down a fork in the road with equally pleasing choices I tend to fall into a vortex of indecision. God designed me this way so I would have no other choice but to fall on Him and follow His lead. When I am banging my head against an unmoving wall forcing it to open to my will I eventually remember to pray and give my insanity to God. In these moments of my indecision I know my time is up and I must go in a new direction. The direction I work diligently on moving toward is that of God’s.

                When you feel pressed against time what do you do? Do you bang your head against a non-moving wall until you break it down or do you turn around and follow a new path, God’s path?

          The Hourglass is Full.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives”. Okay technically a simile not a metaphor, but you get the picture. Time in literature and on T.V. and movies is always figurative and always pointing to something for some reason, often comparing two unlike things in order to get the reader/viewer to ponder over the deeper meaning embedded in the comparison. In the opening of Days of our Lives (which I watched through little girl eyes while my sister tuned in daily in the 80’s), the concept of time running out was part of the show’s premise. There is so little time in each day and so much drama that it is as if time is just slipping away without a way to hold on to it.

In real life we like to spout off our own time based metaphors, using them as the culprit to our thin and superficial lives.

“Time is cruel” is a metaphor. It is not cruel; time has no human like ability to be anything but itself, ticking away endlessly. The cruelness of time is symbolic of how we value time in our lives.

“There is never enough time”, though not a metaphor it is a commonly used phrase. We like to peg time as the bad guy, one who is always on our heels goading up to run faster and faster eventually causing us to pass our own lives.

What if instead of passing the blame of missing our own lives, onto an inanimate object that solely tells us the hour of the day, we take hold of our time together? What would that harnessed time look like? What would it look like in our lives to not be dictated by a clock? How would that freedom translate to your relationship with our spouse? What if instead of succumbing to the pressure of time, tasks to do, or plans to be accomplished by a certain age or date, we let go and hung out with each other in the moment? Could we be fully in the moment?

What if we stopped looking at the hourglass as the slippage of time and looked at it from a different angle?  What if we could pause time midstream, between the past and future, and just be in the moment? What would that look like in your marriage?

Setting the Foundation Part ONE

 

 

When I (Christina) write fiction, I am always compelled to start describing the setting first.

Setting:

Place

Time

Weather Conditions

Social Conditions

Mood or Atmosphere

 

The setting of a story can come across simplistic, shallow and unimportant to a novice reader and can be so to write for a newbie writer. But, seasoned readers and writers alike know how very important setting actually is to the story world where the characters interact.

 

Setting sets the stage, it prepares the reader for what they should expect from the scene. Is the scene ominous and scary? Bright and cheery? Are the inhabitants of the story world friendly, feuding, controlling, forgiving, set in their way or too lax with the societal rules? What about the story world’s economy? Is it bustling or waning? Are the buildings in ruins, brand new, in need of constant repair? What about the general mood of the main characters versus the moods of the secondary, tertiary and background characters? Do all these moods affect each other? Does the state of the buildings or landscape or social climate of this fictional world affect the people?

 

Setting in a made-up story is imperative to the depth of the story; it lays the foundational layer of the world in which the characters live. Setting also lays a foundational layer in our real world relationships.

 

Let’s look closer over the next few posts at how;

 

SETTING= RELATIONSHIP

And how

RELATIONSHIP=SETTING

 

 

PLACE:

Place is just that, a place. It is the geographical location in which the action occurs. Do you and your spouse live in a city, the country, suburbs, cramped apartment, spacious house with a pool, a fixer-upper in dire need of fixing, a rent-controlled walk-up, a tract house that lacks originality or a unique Craftsman built with quaint perfection? Go globally, in which part of the world do you live? Go smaller; what part of town are you inhabiting?

 

 

Does where you are affect who you are? Yes!

 

Think about where you live. What do you like and not like about your house, neighborhood, town? How do those aspects affect your marriage? Are they sources of well-worn arguments, areas of great divide or are they places of bridges and bonds?

 

For years I complained about our crazy backyard in what was supposed to be a temporary-two-year-house. Somewhere around year seven I started to really accept the house we live in for what it was and is, a home and a blessing instead of an irritation. I made peace with the annoyances of the backyard and the home repairs we couldn’t afford to repair and I stopped my complaining. I did not just bottle my frustrations up, I let go of them and in turn I ended up with one less issue to bring up in a fight with Nathaniel I had one less annoyance in my life, one less pain on my heart. Instead of allowing my setting to rule me I accepted it and found the blessing within it.

 

 

Ask yourself;

 

What control does my setting have on me?

Is this control affecting my marriage?

Is it easy or hard to feel intimately connected with my spouse when I feel frustrated with my setting?

 

 

Next post….Time. We all have it though it never seems like enough. Maybe, it isn’t how much time we have but how we use it together.

Learning to Dance

Nathaniel and I signed up to take ballroom lessons. We were excited to venture down this new path for lots of reasons…

My husband was willing to engage in my kind of activity; dance!

I was willing to learn a new style of dance that was very foreign to me.

I was excited to learn how to follow my husband in partner dance.

My husband was excited to learn how to lead me in partner dance.

We were both excited to have a shared activity that focused on something we both found to be challenging.

Nathaniel was going to learn techniques in leading and I was going to learn to succumb and follow…this was the most enticing aspect of all (besides it being dance).  He tends to be more of a follower while I tend to be more of the commander/leader. Sometime last year I made a conscious decision to actively follow my husband, to allow him to take the lead in our marriage and our household; not out of co-dependency nor out of my weakness, but because it is where God wanted me to be.

 

I often feel God’s push to step aside, to step out of the lead so I can allow my husband to slide into the lead. As I hear and feel this push from God I end up feeling more confident making the choice to move out of the way; to follow God’s moving and to follow my husband. Moving out of the leadership role in my marriage has not always gone smoothly, but I keep trying, I keep practicing until it eventually becomes second nature.

 

Ballroom dancing requires the man to lead and the woman to respond to his non-verbal cues while traveling backward in heels…I think that means we are the superior sex! C’mon backward in heels! But, I digress, this is about the guy leading despite the fact that he can see where he is going, or at least he has to make us girls think he can see the path. Perhaps, that was God’s plan all along…he wants us to depend on our husbands even when we think we may know more or think we can see the path for ourselves thank you very much. Maybe, God wants us to be at such a level of beauty and dependence, heels and backward, that we are forced to follow our mate’s lead. Making our role in a marriage not a disadvantage but loaded with purpose…all great leaders need followers or they cease to be leaders, even bad ones have at least one follower. God created wives to follow husbands but not in a subservient, lowly, co-dependent manner. He wants us to follow them with grace and beauty and confidence in ourselves and in our husbands.

 

I knew full well, with my 34 years of dance experience, I would indeed steal the lead from Nathaniel every chance I got, while we took ballroom lessons. I would steal the lead purposefully because I knew I’d catch on to the steps faster than he would and I’d want to fly around the floor like Baby from “Dirty Dancing”. Or I would steal the lead accidentally because my innate musicality would fire up and take over pushing him to the side. These traits are exactly what I was hoping ballroom lessons would allow me work on not doing. I was tired of taking the lead all the time, and I was ready to move my focus from face first to backward and heeled.

When we signed up we met with the owner/instructor at Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy and she gave us a flyer; 4 Helpful Hints for Couples Learning to Dance. I thought the points blended well with dance and marriage.

 

  1. “Let Your Teacher do the Teaching”; My teacher is ultimately God, who enables my body, heart and mind to choose to follow Him, to choose to glean and learn from Him. When I let my teacher teach I can focus on being an absorbent follower instead of the “know- it –all” leader I can fall into being.

 

  1. “It’s Not How Many Steps You know, but How Well You Dance Them”; When I’m focusing on the skill set God gave me in my marriage I can put all my energy into it and perform it well instead of turning my attention to what everyone else has in their marriages that I don’t. The grass always seems greener on the other side and then I realize I am surrounded by grassy knolls standing on a mound of dead grass. When I mind what I have, and cultivate it, my grass becomes just as vibrant as the neighbors’ and I end up not caring about the comparison.

 

  1. “Keep Your Lessons Close Together”; In dance and in marriage continual practice actually does make perfect, or at least pretty darn close, which is more attainable anyway. The more I practice following my husband on the dance floor and in marriage, the easier it all becomes to be partners with each other. Following him doesn’t mean I lay down and give up, nor does it mean I put up a constant resistance. What it allows, is for my husband to take his God given place as the authority figure in his marriage with my ability to challenge him in a loving, growing manner.

 

  1. “Communicate with Your Teacher”; It all starts with and ends with the teacher, who, in a dance class knows best. When we question a dance step or pattern we ask the teacher for clarification. When I take the lead on accident the teacher notices and questions us, “Who’s leading?” she asks with a coy smile knowing the answer but wanting to hear me admit I stole my husband’s leadership again. Teacher-student communication is important in a dance class, but even more so important in the God to child- of- God relationship. When I’m out of communication with my Heavenly Father teacher I know I’ve taken back the lead and I can see the sour fruit of that labor manifest in my marriage.

 

 

 

 

voice

Some days I remember a time long ago, almost forgotten, so gray it feels like a dream. Sometimes I remember a moment, or more, stolen from me. Sometimes I remember I have a VOICE.

I couldn’t scream

So music screams for me

 

Duct tape—

Hard rock

Plastic bag—

Soulful jazz

Hip thrust—

Dance jamz

 

 

Insertion—

Lyrical lyrics winding deep in me

 

 

No one heard

No one hears

Fade to wallpaper

Fade to black

 

No middle ground

Between screams

                                And silence

Only pips and squeaks and breathy moans

 

 

If I lose my voice only to find it again

It’s through the hum and bass and treble and lyric

So fragile a line, so thin to connect it

Caught between him and me, who’s sin, who’s in… begin

 

Sometimes relationships are clouded by past abuses, my relationship with my husband is. Though we have both been through some level of abuse and misdirection we still chose to come together to learn from and grow from that which haunts us. We hope the same for you if you have suffered through any abuses.