Married Couples: Have You Had the Sex Talk Lately?

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

 

Sex-cess

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Did the title get your attention? As a marriage coach, sex and money are the two big topics that divide couples in my ministry. They are also the subjects that families rarely talk about. You can’t become knowledgeable, comfortable, and practiced on an issue when you don’t or won’t talk about it? Why do some couples avoid the topic of sex? A sampling of replies to my question: “Why don’t you talk about sex with your spouse?”

  • I’m just not comfortable. Our family never talked about sex.
  • I don’t really have much of a sex drive. If we talk about it, I’m afraid it will hurt my wife’s feelings.
  • I’m not sure. I guess we should talk more about it.
  • My husband is addicted to pornography. I’m angry at him, so why would I want to have sex with him.
  • I don’t want sex. If I avoid talking about it, I’ll feel less pressure to have sex.
  • I’m afraid to tell my husband what I really want because of what he’ll think of me.
  • I’ve faked too many orgasms that I’m afraid to tell my husband the truth. He’ll think I’m a liar, and I don’t want him to feel bad that he didn’t please me. I love my husband though.
  • I was sexually abuse as a child, and it’s too painful to talk about sex.
  • For years, it’s all about him, not me. Why bother?
  • I’m tired of asking, so I’ve just given up.
  • We don’t need to. We have unspoken understandings. For me to get sex, I need to do ….

What would you answer? Differences in individual values, needs, relationship conditioning, and preferences can naturally cause sexual conflict, but if you won’t talk through these differences, nothing will be resolved or managed? If you want to have a fulfilling, aka successful, sex life with your spouse, it starts with you. Becoming sex-cessful in the bedroom is a journey taken at a pace you’re comfortable committing to. You might consider the following steps:

  • Expanding your sexual self-awareness: needs, limitations, boundaries, recognizing underlying influences
  • Getting comfortable talking about sex without pressure to perform
  • Sharing and learning about partner’s needs and wants as well as uncovering the whys and feelings behind both
  • Negotiating, compromising, and developing a sex plan
  • Acting on the plan

You may think that may work for some, but what if my spouse and I have wildly different sexual appetites. That’s where you need to take a hard look at the cause. Is it because of conditioning, taboo stereotypes, performance anxiety, sexual abuse, or just plain skewed hormones? As with most problems, there’s usually more than one contributor. Identifying the main issues will give you a starting point on where to focus. In some cases, you may never fully emotionally or physically enjoy sex, but that doesn’t mean you should withhold sex from your spouse unless he or she is abusive. I know a few couples who have fluctuating and divergent sex drives over the course of their marriages. How do they handle the incompatibility? They give sex gifts?

People routinely give gifts to family and friends whom they love and care about. What better way to love your spouse than to give them the gift of sex? There may be times when you’re both “into it”, and sex is a big theatrical production. Other times, it’s a gift of pleasure. As with any other gift, you don’t expect anything in return. Your spouse will appreciate your gift of sex, even when he or she knows you weren’t in the mood and gave it freely.

Some believe they shouldn’t be pressured into sex when they don’t want to. I agree. I’m not suggesting they do something they don’t want to. I’m suggesting they intentionally give a gift to their life partner.

Note: If you are in sexually abusive marriage or relationship or have untreated sexual trauma in your history, I encourage you to seek help. The effects of sexual trauma are devastating for the individual and their relationships. Seek the healing you need, so you can experience the power of healthy relationships and focus on the purpose God has called you into.


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

Enemies That Can Undermine Your Marriage: Break Free from Jezebel, Leviathan, Ahab, and Legion Spirits

As a Christian marriage coach, my purpose is to educate, equip, empower, and encourage couples who trust me with their personal vulnerabilities and relationships. God has called me to help strengthen marriages, because the health of the marriage directly affects the family and its future generations. The degree of individual brokenness in a spouse has a significant impact on how well I can help a couple.

jvc-breaking outMost couples experience break-through and success as evidenced by my growing collection of thank-you cards and personal testimonies. And then there are those couples who can’t find a way out of their relationship pain. Until I was trained in Restored to Freedom by Nelson Schuman’s School of Ministry, I couldn’t have explained or freed these troubled spouses from the spirits that were gripping one or both from the joy God intended for their marriage. Who are these spirits? Say hello to Jezebel, Leviathan, Ahab, and a host of Legions.

The Spirits

Schuman (2018) describes the grip and manifestation of each spirit on a person. Many spirits own bloodlines until a generation breaks the spirit hold. The spirits are given authority when a child grows up with (1) an absent father, (2) father/step-father who spoke with criticism, was verbally, physically, or sexually abusive, or (3) a mother who was abusive or controlling. These spirits can inhabit either gender and their degree of control depends on several factors.

Is a Spirit Operating in Your Life

It’s hard to admit when you’re not perfect or don’t measure up to a standard you’ve set for yourself. Your only chance of breaking free is to at least be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the following sets of questions.

Do you experience any of the following feelings or behaviors?

  • Need to control or manipulate people/outcomes and to get what you want, because no one will watch out for you and your best interests
  • Do not easily trust; people have to earn your trust
  • Have anxiety and fear
  • Lie to get your way at times
  • Not feel loved by parents

Do you experience any of the following feelings or behaviors?

  • Experience back, neck, and upper shoulder pain
  • Have Scoliosis
  • Suffer from Fibromyalgia
  • Struggle with insomnia
  • Fall asleep when listening or reading the Bible
  • Have difficulty remembering anything that helps from spiritual perspective

Do you experience any of the following feelings or behaviors?

  • Are passive
  • If male, difficulty leading your family and defer to wife
  • Avoid rocking the boat
  • Walk on egg shells
  • Struggle with sexual purity

Do you experience any of the following feelings or behaviors?

  • Dwell on past sins and traumas
  • Struggle with feelings of forgiveness
  • Suffer disease, sickness, fears, and suicidal thoughts

Each of these sets focus on a specific spirit. Afterwards ask your spouse and/or child how they would answer on your behalf. If they are not afraid to answer truthfully, the answers may be different.

Breaking Free

Each of these groups of questions relate to a specific spirit. If you want to learn more you can reference Schuman’s series of books. People have the ability to renounce and free themselves of the spirits through the power of Jesus but only if the prayer is from the heart, not the head.

References

Schuman, N.L. (2018). Restored to Freedom: The Road to Deliverance from the Enemy’s Finest

Schuman, N.L. (2018). Waking the Lion Within: Reclaiming Your Position in Christ

Schuman, N.L. (2018). Restored to Freedom: Deliverance from the Spirits of Jezebel, Leviathan, Ahab, and Legion


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

 

Marriage Coaching: The Best Gift a Parent or Friend Can Give

How would you feel if a friend or family member told you that you’d given them the best gift he or she had ever received? What would you do if someone shared that your gift changed the relationship with his or her spouse for the better or even saved the marriage? You’d probably feel great that you played a hand in changing someone’s life and do it again.

Gift certificate VISTA frontWe’ve all heard the depressing divorce statistics; however, for those who go through premarital or marriage coaching—let me emphasize not counseling—I often receive feedback along the lines “…if I’d only known this sooner this may have saved my marriage,” and “…this is a relationship game changer.” Many parents gift their children with a “big” wedding day, and yet, the most valuable gift they might give is premarital coaching that would last from “I do” until “death do us part.”

Most premarital journeys cost less than $500—the cost of a long weekend get-away. Many people believe they are good at relationships, but the divorce statistics prove otherwise. Many troubled couples, who choose to stay married, don’t have a true marriage, when they create separate lives including sleeping in different bedrooms.

If you know someone who is dating with the potential for marriage, an engaged couple, or a struggling married couple, consider gifting them with a relationship coaching certificate. It may be the best present you give them this year or for years to come.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon, The People’s Coach, is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com

What Does It Take To Successfully Blend a Family?

stepfamily-living-1-508x508When engaged couples are in love, their euphoria can sometimes cloud how accurately they see other family members’ feelings about their upcoming marriage. This especially holds true when a couple is blending kids and ex-spouses from previous relationships. Divorce doesn’t separate families; it only re-arranges them. When a woman marries a man with dependent children, she is now in relationship with not only her husband, but his kids, and his ex-wife. A marriage that blends families presents two critical questions for a couple to answer:

  • Can a husband and wife, who have biological kids from previous relationships, put each other first above those children?
  • Do they have a vision, strategy, and plan to successful blend their families or are they going to just figure it out as they go?

Putting Your Spouse First

A God based marriage puts God first, spouse second, children third, and then other family and friends. When I take Christian couples through premarital coaching, one critical question I ask is whether each can put the other first above biological children.  There’s usually a lengthy pause with one or both saying they aren’t sure. I appreciate their honesty and encourage them to think about, answer, and share that answer with each other.

God designed marriage for husband and wife to become one flesh. Marriage is the foundational relationship that makes the rest of family relationships work and provides a legacy for children when they become adults. The marriage must be the priority relationship, so that the family works and dependent children understand that the world does not revolve around them which is an importance lesion to navigate adult life.

Family Vision

A vision and mission is important for any marriage, and I believe it’s even more important for couples who are blending families. Step-families have unique issues that must be managed which fully biological families don’t have to navigate. Both dependent and adult children wrestle with loyalty issues between biological and step parents. Many younger children feel that their worlds are turned upside down and they have no control over what goes on in their lives. They experience emotional overload which usually results in unexpected behaviors that draws the focus away from the marriage and naturally toward the children.

Couples who take a proactive, intentional, and inclusive approach will be more successful in integrating two families into one blended family. Blending families requires a degree of smarts, finesse, and preparation as well as respecting previously formed relationships. I suggest a couple take the time to create a vision and mission for their marriage and then develop a plan in how to integrate their families.

Next Step

Although 50% of marriages end in divorce, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Seventy percent of second marriages end in divorce with many couples stating irreconcilable differences involving children from previous marriages as the major contributing factor.

If you’re thinking of marriage and want to get a head start on how to successfully blend your families, I suggest you reach out for premarital coaching. We can take a deep dive into how to best blend your new stepfamily.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Marriage Leadership: How Husbands Can Step into Their Leadership Role

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Is there a leadership epidemic going on in American marriages? My heart breaks for the number of wives who are calling me for marriage coaching only a couple of years after saying, “I do.” They now wish they could undo it with “I don’t, at least not anymore.” In what feels like their last hope, they are reaching out for help.

Quite frankly men break out in a cold sweat when they hear, “We need to go to marriage coaching,” because they confuse it with the dreaded word “counseling.” I can’t tell you the number of reluctant men who become avid marriage coaching supporters. Professional athletes have coaches, so why shouldn’t couples have a marriage coach to work toward a best-in-class marriage.

Although it’s never just one thing that causes marriage strive, a major underpinning I see in my practice is the husband who shuns his leadership responsibilities or lacks the self-confidence to lead. Wives are not only frustrated when their husbands don’t lead, they resent having to pick up the slack and take on their husband’s leadership role. How can couples right-side poor marriage leadership?

INITIAL STEPS A COUPLE CAN TAKE TO CHANGE DIRECTION

(1) Initiate an honest conversation about leadership in the home

A wife should share with her husband what she believes her husband is doing well in leading her and the family. She should be specific in calling out measurable behaviors. Then a wife should share how her husband could lead her better. She might suggest initiating daily prayer as a couple, setting financial goals, and living on a budget that will achieve a future vision.

(2) Create a vision and mission for your marriage

Companies have visions and missions, so they know their purpose and the direction the leadership is taking the team. What’s good for business is also good for marriages. A marriage should also have a vision, mission, and a strategic plan that achieves them. Husbands gain leadership points when they initiate conversations with their wives to dream and develop a marriage vision and mission together.

(3) Rely on God’s Word for wisdom and discernment

I haven’t met a wife yet who doesn’t want a husband who relies on God and Biblical principles to lead his family in planning and decision-making. She may not always agree with his decisions, but a wife, more than not, will support her husband’s decisions, when she knows he’s not making decisions for his own selfish pleasures. Words of advice for husbands—take your family to church, join Bible studies, serve others, pray together, and embrace servant leadership principles. Your wife will love you for it!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.