Married Couples: Have You Had the Sex Talk Lately?

hop-design-dDo5fbDH5Ss-unsplash

What did you “feel” when you read Married Couples: Have You Had the Sex Talk Lately? Just the whisper of the 3-letter word SEX has the power to evoke fear and apprehension, ignite passion, nibble away at self-esteem, bring memories alive, and create fantasies—basically elicit a strong emotional and perhaps physical response. The long-running rumor mill claimed that men thought about sex every 7 seconds. Untrue, but studies do show that the average man thinks about sex 19 times a day—more often than food and sleep. Women, on the other hand, think of sex 10 times per day.  Statistics show that sex undoubtedly is an integral part of our human thoughts and lives.

When it comes to sex, there’s no one size that fits all. But if no one’s talking about sex, no one knows what fits. — Sandra Dillon

Sex: The Hot Topic

Why are we consumed with thoughts of sex, and why is it such a hot topic conjuring both pleasure and conflict? Without a doubt, we are sexual beings, and sex is one of life’s greatest physical pleasures. When God created marriage, he also created sex for pleasure, bonding, and procreation. He created sex to be enjoyable; otherwise, the human race would be in jeopardy of extinction.

Sex is one of God’s most beautiful gifts to married couples to connect and celebrate their relationship as two become one.

As a Christian Marriage Coach, I’ve seen what God makes for good within the marriage bed, Satan twists, perverts, and destroys. Some married couples have difficulty just talking about sex, even those who rate their sex life as satisfactory. When sex involves secrets or avoids difficult conversations, there’s trouble in Eden.

Based on my years spent coaching premarital and married couples on my couch, I will share some perspectives on sex that will hopefully help you understand the magnitude of the sexual dysfunction that plagues today’s relationships and offer encouragement for a more fulfilling sex life—the sex life that God meant all of us to have within marriage.

Pornography: The Sex-pectations Marriage Killer

Pornography and the media’s shaping of sexual culture have undermined sex lives, destroyed marriages, and stolen more self-esteem as often as a malignant cancer kills. History has shown a propensity to dismiss women’s sexual needs, objectify them, and exploit them through social media, advertising, and sex-trafficking. Even if a wife hasn’t personally experienced sexual abuse, she may be feel the effects of pornography weighing upon her sex life based on her husband’s relationship with it.

Although the fastest growing segment of porno addiction involves women, men still typically wrestle more with pornography based on being more visually stimulated by images than women. Pornography bombards men with messages that keep him completely ignorant on the differences in how men and women typically experience sexual pleasure.

Pornography paints this glorious picture of women enjoying sex as much as the man with thrust upon thrust. Rarely would a woman agree that this picture reflects her version of a satisfying sexual encounter. Women are more emotionally stimulated and respond to their husbands when he initiates behaviors that please her. Perhaps she needs a half-hour of intimate conversation or help cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner before heading to bedroom.

Men need direct physical touching, where women need non-sexual touching throughout the day and usually some soft touches during sex. Pornography would have you believe that normal is several minutes of pumping and a woman orgasms in delight. False. Most women do not orgasm through penile penetration. Most women climax through external stimulation of their clitoris. Men typically need to achieve orgasm for them to be satisfied; whereas, women don’t necessarily need a climax to feel the same. Without this knowledge, pornography—as teacher—paints a distorted picture of normalcy for the marriage bed.

Anger, Trust Wounds, and Stress – The Emotional Sex Killers

Sex acts like a thermometer in the marriage by measuring its temperature. Anger and hurt dramatically cool the mutual desire for sex. Unresolved anger toward a spouse is a dangerous sex killer, because it doesn’t allow the expression of love. Although men can typically have sex with their wife when angry, they typically do so as a way to create connection. Most women link sex and love so intimately that they cannot separate the two.  When a woman doesn’t feel love from her husband, she typically turns away or shuts down.

Pornography also creates trust wounds and escalates self-doubts. A wife may say, “If my husband really loved and desired me, he wouldn’t need to look at pornography.” Her pain is real, yet she may not realize that pornography is not her fault. Each spouse bears the responsibility of his or her own choices. What might have started out as innocent fun can turn into a monster that devours all marriage trust.

Unfortunately, the deep abyss of pornography eventually forces people to extremes in order to achieve the same high.  Just as drug addicts need more of the same or more powerful drugs, sex addicts need more perverse images such as naked child and sex. The brutal downside of pornography is the eventual inability to be stimulated and achieve orgasm with a real person.

Stress from the over-scheduled life is a more socially acceptable addiction that saps bedroom energy. Marriage sex usually moves to the back burner to make room for work, errands, cleaning, kids’ extracurricular activities, shopping, birthday celebrations, poker night, and book club to name just a few. One should not put off to tomorrow what one should be doing today—having sex with his or her spouse. We should re-schedule these stressors and prioritize sex.

Why should we make sex a priority? Because sexual intimacy is the glue that keeps a couple connected. Nothing has the potential to make us as happy or as miserable as the condition of our marriage. Don’t let one more family activity or work event interfere with your sex. A happy marriage is certainly not the sole outcome of happy sex and vise versa, but one cannot ignore one without it influencing the other.

What Does It Take to Have a Great Sex Life?

The definition and frequency of great sex are a reflection of the mutual appetites of husband and wife. Unless Satan has polluted the marriage bed or twisted the thoughts of a spouse in some way, most couples would say they have satisfying sex lives. Even physically disabled couples find a way to connect on their own terms. One important ingredient for great sex is open communication about needs and desires—asking for what you want—in a positive way. We each should know the pleasure points of our bodies, and it’s the spouse’s responsibility to communicate to his or her partner what feels good.

Women tend to be more reserved in asking for what they want in the bedroom. The truth is that most men want to deeply please their wives. When wives don’t speak up, husbands try their best to do what they think will, which leads to mixed results. Please wives—don’t ever fake an orgasm. When you fake an orgasm you tell your husband that what he did was good, and you’ll get more of the same.

kaitlyn-baker-uMSS5_jNc98-unsplashAnd while you’re talking about sex, have fun. Some spouses only feel comfortable with the missionary style, because they believe anything else is dirty. Have you read the book of Song of Solomon? If not, I suggest you read it once, if not twice. Unless its Biblically forbidden, what goes on between two consenting spouses is fair game. Act out fun fantasies, oral sex, different positions, and throw in some sex toys if interested. Bring energy into the marital bed.

Age can bring its challenges. Men may have difficulty getting an erection and lower production of estrogen as a woman enters menopause reduces her vaginal elasticity and lubrication. Penile sex can become painful for a women. Don’t shut down the marital sex because of these physical limitations. Find a work around. Get creative in ways that keep you physically connected and mutually satisfied. Your attitude, sexual sensitivity, and understanding in the bedroom will speak volumes to your partner.

Wrapping Up the Sex Talk

Unresolved sexual and financial disagreements can lead one spouse to file for divorce, and yet these are two topics on which most couples have difficulty communicating and resolving conflict. I encourage you to initiate a heart-felt conversation with your spouse about your sex life.

You may think your sex life is terrific and you know all this stuff.  If so, consider yourself fortunate and still ask, “How are we doing in the bedroom? Is there anything I could be doing more or less of?” It never hurts to take the temperature of your sex life every once in a while.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves and to have thriving relationships. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Will You Give Dogs and Cats a Second Chance at a Better Life?

Shine Ministry Spotlight: Jim Wells County Pets Alive with Bekah Chiarello


Spotlight gives ministries the opportunity to share their passion to connect with others who may want to contribute or partner with their mission.


52732968_2081889601880918_7423748845403635712_n

Are you one to root for the underdog? Does your heart hurt when you see helpless animals suffering through no fault of their own? Do you feel overwhelmed with emotion over cases of animal neglect and abuse? Are you parallelized in taking the first step, because the issue is so big you don’t know where to start? You can now choose to have a part in creating a story that helps not only an underdog but also the volunteers who dedicate themselves 24/7 to help those animals.

47495907_1967948259941720_430845083042971648_nMargaret Mead made famous the saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Read Bekah’s story in bringing alive her non-profit to help those who have no voice. Perhaps you’ll write yourself into the story and provide much needed resources to continue the work of making a difference by helping one dog or cat.

Who is Jim Wells County Pets Alive?

Jim Wells County Pets Alive (JWCPA) is a small non-profit in Sandia, Texas, which is about an hour and a half drive west of Corpus Christi. They are giving a second chance at life to unwanted dogs and cats. With a small network of volunteers who help with in-home fostering, animal transport, networking, and social media sharing, JWCPA has an ambitious mission to change the rescue landscape in this rural area. Bekah, the non-profit’s founder, has a dream to (1) develop a robust spay/neuter program, (2) ensure successful long-term adoption for shelter pets, (3) educate government locals and residents of county animal ordinances, and (4) launch an owner-pet retention program.

53071315_2083236798412865_2642409235077398528_n

How Did Jim Wells County Pets Alive Get Started?

Bekah, currently a local animal control officer, has always had a heart for animals. Referring to herself as more a cat person, she fondly remembers when Lizzy would wait for her to get off the bus, so they could walk home together after school. In high school, Bekah worked in a vet clinic where she learned how to treat dogs and cats under a veterinarian’s care. She eventually graduated college with a B.S in biology, but quickly determined that her call was to help the animals versus studying them. She also volunteered on weekends at local shelters, transporting over 400 animals to Corpus for low-cost spay/neuter and helping with hoarder houses. Eventually, she purchased a 2.5-acre property that gave her more room to foster between 5 to 10 dogs at any given time, using a spare bedroom to segregate the sick or too young.

50310963_2023025301100682_21312014269808640_n.jpg

As a rural animal control officer, she now helps local law enforcement uphold protection ordinances that most residents and even some government entities are not aware of. Her partner stays home to work directly with the rescue and support the daily needs of their fosters and own pets. After dedicating 20 to 40 hours per week to rescue efforts, in 2017, Bekah created a 501(c)3 with the hope that people would be led to donate to her mission.

Where is Jim Wells County Pets Alive Going?

Bekah’s vision for the non-profit is to empower the local people to be part of real solutions. She wants to turn lack luster animal control into activism in the shelter environment.  What might that look like?  Jim Wells has started a research project to bring the intel that quantifies the magnitude of this problem, so people and non-profit grant monies can help solve the problem.

Did you know that in big cities, about 10% of the adopted animals are not spayed/neutered, but in rural areas, where shelters don’t have financial support, 95% of dogs and cats are adopted out unspayed? What happens next? Most female animals are returned to the shelter just days before they are to give birth, because owners don’t want to deal with a litter. There is also a lack of basic vaccinations and medical care. Families routinely return pets to the shelter, because they can’t afford medical treatment when these adopted animals get sick.

IMG_20171208_080355Unlike major cities that have policies and funding to spay and neuter pets before adoption, the rural shelters barely have space to kennel stray or surrendered animals. If funds for spaying and basic medical care were available, the rural shelters could change the landscape for local pets. Basic animal education and behavioral training are a few solutions that can answer the call as well as animal networking across the country to place dogs and cats into forever homes.

Dixie’s Story

Dixie was born in late January 2019 with three brothers. The mother was hit by a car, and the four siblings were kept in a 10 ft. by 5 ft. outdoor kennel. Emaciated and full of worms, Bekah would routinely visit the property and beg the owner to give up the puppies, so she could rehome them. He released the brothers but kept the female for his daughter. Bekah continued to return to check on Dixie. Once Bekah found the cage flooded, and Dixie was only able to lay down in standing water. Finally, the man relented and released Dixie to Bekah. Melissa, a foster volunteer, nursed Dixie back to health. Bekah connected with New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue, who was willingly to transport Dixie to Colorado and find her a forever home.

57964050_2152639284805949_6067580997199724544_nDixie was to have a one-night Houston hotel stay at the Dillon home before catching transport to Colorado. We fell in love with this quirky girl who eats anything including grass, bark, pinecones, pine needles, and twigs. We attribute her behavior to being forced to forage for food. Dixie has a second chance at a new and better life, because of Bekah and the Jim Wells County Pets Alive team.

thumbnail_IMG_1780

 

You Can Help Be Part of the Solution

The innocent victims are the dogs and cats who need your help. Would you be able to contribute something to Bekah and her nonprofit to help change the lives of these furbabies? Your money goes directly to help the animals with spay/neuter, medical care and supplies, and transportation costs for their welfare of the animals. Any amount helps, even $5. There are several ways you can give and make a difference:

You can also LIKE their Facebook page and spread the word. Your LIKE may connect someone who will be moved and want to be part of writing a new chapter in this story.

IMG_20190806_101103If you have questions, Bekah would love to hear from you. She is a woman on a mission to change the world one dog and one cat at a time. You can reach Bekah at jimwellscountypetsalive@yahoo.com or 361.673.3909.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon who has a heart for ministry and servant leadership and can be found in the mission field coaching on relationships and marriage strengthening, drilling water wells, installing filtration systems, and teaching hygiene. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Dominating Wives: How to Change the Power Struggle

ben-white-YS3Q5vroxtg-unsplashAs a premarital and marriage coach, I often hear boyfriends and husbands say, “She’s wants to control everything in our relationship,” “If I don’t do it her way or when, she gets mad at me and just does it,” and “I’ve given up trying. I let her tell me what to do and avoid the fight.” As a man, boyfriend, or husband, do any of these statements ring true in your relationship or have you distanced yourself from relationships to avoid the drama?

If you said yes to either of the above two questions, you have a fair amount of male company. Unfortunately, there’s a power struggle going on in a large percentage of the marriage relationships and neither spouse is happy, leaving a trail of resentment that leads husbands to feel dominated by their wives and for wives to feel like they are raising an adult child.

“When husbands fail to lead, wives will step in, and husbands will then feel dominated. It’s an unhappy cycle that needs an intervention.” – Sandra Dillon

You might wonder “what’s going on” and “how did we get here” when just a few months or years ago the two of you got along so well. In today’s culture, family dynamics and structure have played a role in suppressing male leadership by not allowing boys to test and grow their leadership skills during the normal stages of child development. Leadership is a critical competency a boy must master in order to lead his wife and family. It’s not uncommon for poor leaders to emerge from intact families with helicopter parents who couldn’t tolerate their children to fail. Boys never learned leadership by suffering and working through failure to achieve success.

“If marriages and families are to thrive, husbands have to step up their leadership and women have to let go of their fear of family failure.” – Sandra Dillon

Divorce and its resulting family structure have also had an influence on the adult power struggle. Many boys and girls grow up in homes where mom is the head of household and primary parent—essentially the leader of the family. Children tend to carry into adulthood the family structure and dynamics they were raised under.

Of the couples I’ve seen who struggle with power issues, none have had an intentional conversion about family leadership. Questions I often ask couples to answer include:

  • What behaviors and attitudes does a husband demonstrate who is leading his wife and family well? And for a father who is leading his children well?
  • What behaviors and attitudes does a woman demonstrate who is being a Godly wife? And for a Godly mother who is raising her children?

If you don’t believe in God, take out the reference to God and replace it with “best in class”.  Spouses should answer these questions from their perspective and then share with their partner. Discuss where you have similarities and differences. It’s important to agree on common ground.

Aligning on family leadership expectations is the first step in diffusing the power struggle in a marriage. The second step is to practice the behaviors you identified as common ground. A marriage coach can help couples through this process.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves and to have thriving relationships. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

Bring FOCCUS to Your Conversations and Enrich Your Marriage

wu-jianxiong-4TET084JWaA-unsplash

Shine Crossings Ministry now offers another powerful tool to help dating and engaged couples prepare for marriage and for married couples to enrich their marital commitment. Although many couples are led by their feelings of love to walk down the aisle, a sustainable life-giving marriage requires preparation, which typically starts with key meaningful conversations. If premarital coaching was not part of your wedding preparation, it’s never to late to have those important conversations, even after having said, “I do.” The health of your marriage and of your family and its legacy depends on your relationship choices.

FOCCUS: Pre-Marital

The FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study) Pre-Marriage Inventory requires non-married couples to independently take a relationship enrichment inventory. Afterwards, a trained facilitator will lead a couple through their report in a safe space over 2 to 5 sessions—making room for deeper conversations and increased understanding. Questions cover lifestyle expectations, friends and interests, personality match, communication, problem-solving, spirituality, personal preferences, sexuality, parenting, financial, readiness issues, and commitment.

The couple report summarizes agreement levels in important relationship areas. Even if couples don’t agree, identifying those areas of disagreement or uncertainty eliminates surprises and provides an opportunity to talk through those issues. There are also questions for specific circumstances such as interfaith, re-marriage, co-habitation, and couples with more than one set of biological children. These areas can become hot topics and should be discussed before marriage.

drew-hays-7tGqLzHcjZ8-unsplash

REFOCCUS: Marriage

Married couples looking for ways to invest in their marriage can take the REFOCCUS Marriage Enrichment Inventory. With spouses being pulled in many directions, especially those with dependent children, their conversations trend toward transactional topics such as “who’s got that” and away from the more enriching and connecting. A certified FOCCUS trainer can guide a couple to have those conversations that grow communication and marriage connection. Core sections include marriage as a process, intimacy, compatibility, communication, and commitment. There are even special sections for ministry marriages and empty-nesters. REFOCCUS is ideal for key life moments or transitions when a marriage relationship may need to be redefined such as birth of a child, major illness, job change, moving, retirement, and empty-nester.

Ready to Start?

You can learn more about the program by visiting FOCCUS. If you have questions or are already excited to pre-invest in your marriage or strengthen it, reach out for a conversation at 281.793.3741 or coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com. Shine Crossings Ministry is ready to get you on your way. After collecting some contact information, you’ll be sent a link to take the online survey. Once your report is ready, we’ll schedule your first session.

If you think investing in your marriage is a step you want to take, but not sure whether the FOCCUS approach is the best way, Shine Crossings has other premarital and marriage strengthening programs to choose from such as Prepare & Enrich, Save Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS), and Marriage on the Rock. We can also develop a customized program based on your unique couple needs.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

How to Strengthen Your Marriage When Your Spouse is Incarcerated

DSC00765I struggled with a title that would do justice in describing my experience volunteering as a relationship coach at a marriage seminar for 30+ couples in Lockhart’s Women’s Prison. What words could I share that would capture your attention to read and embrace the incredible impact that Greg and Melissa Alvis have every month on the couples who spend a full day in prison with the intent of strengthening their marriage.

Statistics show that the likelihood of a couple divorcing increases by 32% per year for every year that one spouse is incarcerated. With an average divorce rate already nearing 50%, you can safely assume that most marriages never survive through a spouse’s incarceration. Prison truly tests the strengthen of a marriage, and Greg and Melissa are slowing down that divorce rate to keep families not only surviving but thriving.

DSC00881

The Ministry

Greg and Melissa travel the state of Texas with their self-created marriage strengthening seminar–knocking on prison doors and selflessly offering their personal testimony, program, and time. Spouses are invited to spend a Saturday with their incarcerated partner as the Alvis team and volunteers lead the couples through powerful material delivered in the form of lectures, exercises, and small group discussions. Oh, and the seminar ends with the couples renewing their vows! Wow, you can’t help but shed a few tears of joy.

DSC00786Greg and Melissa relate to these couples, because they are the heroes and authors of their own marriage story. The defied the marriages statistics. Greg was incarcerated for over 20 years, entering prison at the age of 26. Without a doubt, they struggled to keep their marriage alive, but their marriage survived 22 years of incarceration. They now have a powerful marriage testimony to share with other couples, who can travel their own path but end up in the same position as Greg and Melissa. Under the ministry of Ephesians 521, they taken their powerful learnings on the road, and the feedback is both emotionally moving and priceless.

The Ministry Impact

I could share my thoughts, impressions, and the words shared with husband, Darin, and me, but I’ll let the couples own words, in the form of direct quotes from the evaluation forms, sing praises for the program and its impact on their lives.

What was your favorite part of the day?

  • Spending time with my husband, incorporating God, being given healthy tools to meet our needs moving forward, and the volunteers’ perspective. Learning to love my partner the way he needs.
  • Tools on how to make my marriage better while incarcerated, because I was in fear of losing my husband.
  • I enjoyed the small groups, because we were able to learn more about each other’s needs.
  • Besides seeing my wife for a full day, receiving the training we both know will help us and the encouraging stories.
  • Renewing our wedding vows. I think it is exactly what we needed.
  • The renewal of our vows, because it was what we needed to move forward in our lives.
  • Looking into my husband’s eyes and holding his hands as we re-affirmed our love and commitment for one another.
  • Group discussions. I loved watching and listening to my husband talk about his opinions and feelings about our relationship, and it opened up our communication.
  • Spending time with my wife made us realize how important family is to stay together.
  • Enjoying my husband and renewing our vows and learning more about our needs and where we stand.
  • Eating lunch with my wife.
  • The gathering in small groups and finding out about others’ experiences.
  • The renewing of vows. I believe I have a new beginning in my life and my marriage.
  • Identifying personality types and traits. It seems helpful for day-to-day living.
  • Holding and touching my wife.
  • Spending the day bonding with my husband. We needed to have the physical touch.

DSC00792

What is one thing you can take from the day that will help you move forward?

  • All that we have been through has made us stronger. Now we get to go from this with a stronger relationship and faith in one another…
  • I am not alone, and I have tools!
  • We’re not alone in our struggles.
  • Knowing how we still feel about each other in our relationship and what we have to look forward to.
  • Knowing we are not alone, and it’s only going to get better.
  • That my husband was committed to our marriage so much so that he put everything on hold in his life to be here with me, for us, for an entire day.
  • Listening to his feelings and working on his relational needs.
  • The book Growing Together as One. Learning about it and taking this advice home and practicing it towards our life.
  • Not lose faith in my spouse and enjoy life and the love we have for each other.
  • The actual real stories they spoke encouraged us.
  • To keep believing and staying together through it all–iron sharpens iron.
  • Knowing that I can move forward in faith and work with my husband and have a new relationship.
  • What my wife requires to feel loved.
  • Five love languages—learning to love him the way he needs.
  • Our commitment.
  • Recommitting and learning my husband’s feelings and our future is growing stronger.

DSC00838

Importance of Marriage Support in Prison

Supporting any marriage is important, because so many relationships are at stake. If the marriage is strong, the family is strong. If the family is strong, the children are strong. If the children are strong, there is a greater chance the children will continue the legacy of a strong family. Keeping families together in a healthy marriage helps with mental health, financial security, and general well-being.

DSC00864AAs a marriage coach (www.shinecrossingsministry.com), I have a passion for strengthening marriages. As an executive volunteer with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (www.pep.org), I have a mind to invest in felons who will eventually be released and need a hand up. As a marriage volunteer (www.ephesians521.org), I have a heart to help prison inmates take what is surely a first big step in investing in their marriages.

The Future

If I had to boil it down to its core, what Greg and Melissa bring to prison for the incarcerated and their spouses is hope–hope that their marriage can not only survive but thrive. They are the walking testimony of this fact. Go back and re-read the messages from the couples. They primarily speak of hope for a better future in their marriages.

DSC00876A

There aren’t many ministries that have this magnitude of impact in just one day. If you are as moved as I am on what Greg and Melissa are doing in the local mission field, I encourage you to visit their website (www.ephesians521.org) and make a donation of any amount. They are funding these seminars, primarily from their own resources and could use your encouragement in both word and donations.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

The 5 Respect Languages that Make Men Feel Loved

respect

Inspired by the books The Five Love Languages and Love & Respect, my marriage and relationship coaching have revealed what I call The Five Respect Languages that Make Men Feel Loved. Our culture talks endlessly about love but doesn’t talk enough about the love languages that speak specifically to boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. These five languages all reflect concepts of RESPECT. Respect is such a big word that if you ask five different men what it means, you will likely get five different definitions. However, I would guess that each description would refer to one of my five respect languages. What are they?

Let Him Lead

In today’s culture, many women are leading their families and letting their husbands take a backseat. In some cases, this role reversal stems from family modeling during childhood, where mothers made most of the decisions. In other cases, wives grab the leadership reins, because they don’t trust their husbands to lead well. Men want to lead their wives and families. Depending on their personality, some will fight for the leadership position while others will disengage. Husbands feel loved when their spouse shows their faith by entrusting them with the leadership role.

Support His Decisions

Every husband knows that his wife isn’t going to agree with every decision he makes. But if he honors her by seeking her counsel before making a decision that’s in the best interest of the family, he wants her support. The goal is not agreement but consensus. When a wife supports her husband’s decision in words and actions and is an active team member to make his decision come alive, a husband feels his wife’s love.

Appreciate Him

A husband likely makes personal sacrifices of time and money to provide for his wife and children and secure their comfort and security. He may choose to work two shifts to pay for college, take a job to make enough money so his wife can stay home, or secure a second job to pay for his kids’ sports fees. Giving words of affirmation, gifts, or serving him in ways that make his life easier lets him know that his wife recognizes and appreciates his efforts. Appreciation is a key metric in showing a man respect for what he does for his family.

Praise His Accomplishments

Men are designed to be hunters and conquerors. They set their sights on a goal, develop a plan, and then act. When a wife recognizes her husband’s accomplishments with her words to him and speaks positively of him to her family and friends, he feels appreciated. Good job! Well done! Men like to be acknowledged for what they achieve whether at the office or in the home. Praise makes him feel valued and that he’s doing the right things.

Have His Back

Stand by him. Every man wants to know when the times get tough, and it’s only a matter of time before tough times come, that his partner won’t leave. Husbands want a teammate, cheerleader, and someone who will be by his side. When the world is against him, he wants a wife whom he can count on, and one who is praying for him.

Next Steps

In my practice, I find women prefer to be loved and men want to be respected. It’s as simple as that. If we truly love one another, we will love people in the language that speaks to them. If you’re a wife, ask yourself how well you are loving your husband with the respect languages. Then ask your husband what he thinks. See where the conversation goes!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

He Needs Respect and She Needs Love

love

Love and respect are like the head and tail of a coin—conjoined yet with their backs to each other. In some ways, they are viewed as opposites, yet they are the glue that keeps a marriage together and strong. Which side do you gravitate toward: love or respect? Let me guess. If you’re a man, you want respect, and if you’re a woman, you said love. Am I right?

What’s the Difference Between Love and Respect?

When I coach couples and enter the discussion on marriage needs, in the top five for men, and usually in the number one position, is RESPECT. For a woman that number one position typically involves an expression of LOVE such as caring, affection, and intimacy. As I always tell couples, Respect and Love are big words—meaning if you ask 10 people to define love and respect you will get 10 different answers.

When I ask a wife, “What does love look like in action from your husband?” I get answers such as (1) share your feelings, fears, and joys with me and ask about mine, (2) listen to me without trying to fix my problem, (3) spiritually lead our family by going to church and setting an example for our children, and (4) create a marriage environment where I feel safe.  When I ask a husband, “What does respect look like in action from your wife?” I get answers such as (1) support me in my work and ability to make money for our family, (2) don’t turn away from me sexually, and (3) share your opinions and thoughts with me but support my decisions.

These answers are quite different. You likely never hear a woman complain she’s not getting the those things the husband wants and vise versa.

Are Men’s Needs Getting a Backseat to Women’s?

On the micro-level, I don’t see that men or women are disadvantaged, but on the macro-level, women’s needs are getting more attention than men’s. Why do I say that? Our world talks about love, love, and more love, especially, if you’re a Christ follower. We quote Scripture about love such as “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and go so far as to advocate that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). The Bible is full of stories about love, and we are encouraged to love unconditionally.

On the other hand, our world doesn’t give the same emphasis to respect.  When was the last time you hear someone say, “We should respect unconditionally?” You probably can’t recall a time, because we don’t usually say those two words together. In fact, it’s more common to hear what Rodney Dangerfield made famous, “How come I don’t get no respect?”

The Balance of Love and Respect

Happy and connected couples operate in a continuous cycle of love and respect. A husband gives his wife love, and in return a wife gives her husband respect. When the foundation of the marriage is built on love and respect, both are getting their most important need met. Dysfunctional marriages are those where the wife says, “I can’t respect him until he loves me,” and a husband says, “I can’t love her until she respects me.”  Both need to stop behaving as children and grow up.

Wedding vows usually include some version of the classic togetherness “until death do us part” after committing to weather the storms of “in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer.”  If I was in charge of writing wedding vows, I’d add “to respect him unconditionally even when he hasn’t earned it and to love her unconditionally even when she doesn’t deserve it.” Do you think anyone would dare include it?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

 

Will You Use Your Influence to Transform a Life?

2019-04-02 Sandi 1Everyone has an opinion on the U.S. prison system, thoughts on how it should be run, and whether felons can be rehabilitated? I know, because I’ve had enough conversations over the past 6 years on this topic. Most people’s opinions aren’t changed through conversation but through personal experience. So, I’ve invited quite a few people to spend a day in prison with me, and as is usually the case, my friends and colleagues walk away with a different world view.

Where Can You Volunteer?

PEP is transforming lives. Although originally focused on incarcerated men in the Houston and Dallas areas, they started a women’s program inside the Lockhart Correctional Facility (southeast Austin). The program teaches not only business skills so they can start their own businesses after release, but they also spend time learning and practicing servant leadership.

I feel fortunate to have been invited to the women’s unit between graduating classes to lead half-day workshops, helping these women do deep personal dives into their character, beliefs, and behaviors. They learn about core values, worldviews, personal boundaries, visioning, goal-setting, and communication.

Consider this your invitation to join me in prison to shake hands and give the PEP students encouragement and feedback on their business plans that are under construction.

They Will Thank You

When was the last time you received a hand-written thank you card—not an email? While the speed and ease of technology has driven our appreciate to email and text, the art of hand-writing a note of appreciation hasn’t gone out of style—at least by those enrolled in PEP.

“I am so glad there is people like you in this world…people who still believe in us and still believe we have a future and something to offer…”

Thank you card 7

“There are few moments in this life that we can bookmark as life changing…but it is people like you who care and who selflessly give of your time to encourage others and to see lives changed.”

Thank you card 9

Let these penned words resonate with you in terms of the difference you too can make in the lives of these temporarily incarcerated men and women. With your help, they can become upstanding men and women of their communities. You too can inspire someone through your words and actions.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

 

 

Support Rescuers’ Suffering from Compassion Fatigue

Dedicated to my 18-year old rescue, Mr. Butters, whom I lovingly helped over the rainbow bridge today

IMG_5053

Compassion fatigue? I first learned of the term while reading the book Toxicity Charity which defined it as the emotional distress that results from the constant demands of caring for others. Some sources claim it as the feeling of apathy when continuous charitable giving doesn’t meet expectations. Regardless of which definition you lean towards, the rescuer’s energy and mindset are exhausted. While doing good, the caregiver gets emotionally and/or physically hurt or burnt out.

Who’s to Blame?

Some believe rescuers are at fault, because they should have personal boundaries and stop when they get too tired. Those in the rescue field feel they have no choice; their big hearts care too much. Who will step up, if they don’t? The problem of unwanted dogs and cats is bigger than any one or group of people can manage. If you’re a family member or friend watching a loved one playing on the field with compassion fatigue, what can you possibly do?

 

Those in rescue need to wrestle with compassion fatigue and figure out what they can and cannot do. As fans from the stands, we can’t play the game for them. This isn’t our sport, and we likely don’t know the rules. We can, however, support from the sidelines. We can be the water-boy in football or the ball retriever in tennis. We don’t play the game, but we can be there to help.

What Does Help Look Like?

What does help look like for someone suffering from compassion fatigue? I would encourage you to offer your services to lift some of their burden. Can you give them a gift card for a personal service or a meal? Many of these caregivers are using their own funds while also giving their time.

My daughter has been involved in animal rescue for several years. It all began when she browsed the local SPCA and Human Society shelters looking for a dog in need of a forever home. After adopting 2 dogs and 1 cat, she then took in her first heeler mix as a foster. Volunteering has become a full-time job, and she works with several non-profit rescues to:

  1. Serve as a board member
  2. Search and pull dogs from shelters
  3. Arrange dog transport from other states to Colorado
  4. Foster several dogs
  5. Arrange fostering families
  6. Transport dogs to foster families and for vet care
  7. Administer vet care
  8. Process adoption paperwork

She is well connected in the rescue community and routinely get requests for help when people find abused dogs. Alex gets paid nothing for her time and routinely uses her own money to help the animals. My daughter is one of my heroes for her selfless giving and ability to organize through this complicated ministry. And yes, she suffers from compassion fatigue! She’s commented that working in rescue is both the most rewarding and depressing job she could imagine. Alex exemplifies a true servant leader who selflessly gives of herself to bring dogs and families together in need of each other.

I’m grateful for servants like my daughter, who’ve made it possible for me to have 17 rescue cats [Frisky, Missy, Midnight, Butterball, Tigger, Popcorn, Slurpy, Tigger, Rascal, Fiddler, Little Girl, Toby, Tigger 2, Mr. Butters, Felix, Zipper, and Zoey] and 2 rescue dogs [Crystal and Duffy] over the last 40 years. Without rescues, I wouldn’t have had the companionship, love, and laughs of these furry friends.

P1000174

Thank you to all the caregivers serving in the world. If our paths cross, I hope I can find a way to ease your burden. If you’d like to learn more about the epidemic of rescue fatigue, read this article: The Fatal Epidemic of Animal Care Workers That No One Is Talking About


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

 

Defend Your Marriage: Give It a Mission

gabby-orcutt-kPtrg4Z6jZ0-unsplash

Couples sometimes ask, “What are the two or three things we need to pay attention to in order to have a successful marriage?” Although relationship success can only be defined by the couple, my typical response to hundreds of people who’ve sat on my couch: “You need to actively live out your written marriage mission and intentionally strive to meet your spouse’s primary marital needs.” Everything else within the marriage can be managed.

Marriage mission and fulfilled marital needs work together synergistically to prevent couples from uttering the words, “I want a divorce,” and instead asking, “What do we need to do to get our relationship back on track?” Divorce in not an option, because husband and wife already know the purpose of their marriage and are intentionally trying to support their spouse’s needs. I believe we’d see a sharp decline in divorce rates, if more couples were required to submit their marriage mission statement when they applied for a marriage license.

What does a Marriage Mission Do?

The concept of a marriage mission is completely foreign to most couples, unless of course, they’ve sat on my big, comfy couch. You’ve probably heard of a mission statement for companies but never for a marriage. A mission statement is just a purpose statement. God made each of us for a purpose, and when two people are joined in matrimony, their marriage also has a purpose within God’s Kingdom.

By God’s design, the marriage relationship is the most important earthly relationship. All other relationships spring forth from the marriage: family, community, and world. When you choose to marry, without a doubt, you will have trials and tribulations. By Satan’s thinking, if he can take down the marriage, he can take down the family. Your marriage is the target for the Devil’s attack, and your best defense is a solid definition and understanding of your marriage mission.

Couples without a Mission Statement

Without a formal mission statement, many couples become distracted and husband and wife start to live parallel lives. It’s not uncommon for wives to focus on the home, raising the children, while the husband goes out to make the money. Although the couple’s intentions are honorable, soon both can slowly start to feel like strangers, unfamiliar with each other’s worlds.

The compass that helps a husband and wife take their marriage through the storm is a mission, and the glue that keeps them connected is the knowledge that each is meeting the other’s marital needs. When connected, spouses easily turn toward each other for support as opposed to away. When one is weak, the other is strong; they are united. Without a mission, it’s easy to fold and give up when the going gets tough.

How Do You Create a Mission Statement?

Creating a mission statement first starts with understanding why God created you and what you’re called to do. You can then explore together how God can use your marriage.  A few questions husband and wife can ask:

  1. What has God called me to do?
  2. What overlaps with my spouse’s purpose?
  3. Where can our strengths be multiplied together?
  4. What are we both good at? How can we put that to use?
  5. How can our strengths and weakness be combined so we have an arsenal of talents?
  6. What core values do we share? How are we different?
  7. What are we passionate about together?
  8. What do I see that is broken in the world and needs to be fixed?
  9. When I pray, I hear God telling or showing me his heart for fill in the blank?
  10. When I worship, I hear the Holy Spirit telling or showing me fill in the blank?

Your mission statement should consider all areas of your life together, because Satan will seek to enter your marriage through the weakest.

  1. Your health
  2. Your family and close friends and church community
  3. You career
  4. Your finances
  5. Your physical setting & lifestyle
  6. Your spiritual relationship with God
  7. Your ministry

These areas are finely inter-connected. Your career can impact your finances, and your health can impact your career. Define together how you will both enhance and protect your marriage. No one is immune from struggle, but how we respond makes all the difference. How well are you prepared for invasion and what weapons have your brought to battle. Anticipate the enemy, have a plan, and build your marriage as a fortress.

Have fun with your mission statement! When you complete it, I’d love to hear from you. Send me your marriage mission statement to coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com, so I can celebrate with you. If you need help in creating your marriage mission statement, let’s have a conversation. Reach out to 281.793.3741.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in premarital/marriage, finances, ministry, and leadership. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. If you’d like to explore relationship or marriage coaching, you can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com