When Expectations Collide With Reality
About the Guest
Sometimes marriage expectations collide head on with reality. Then what? FamilyLife Senior Creative Director Brian Goins and his wife, Jen, tell couples how to get their expectations in the bedroom down to reality. Brian and Jen encourage couples to first follow God's blueprints for marriage, calendar their companionship, and be aware of a woman's fluctuating interest in sex. Recorded live on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise.
Brian and Jen GoinsBrian and Jen speak for FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways and he serves as VP of Content Development at FamilyLife. Brian wrote Playing Hurt: A Guy's Strategy for a Winning Marriage because he figured other guys might like his sports analogies. Jen has a passion to help parents reclaim the family dinner table. They enjoy their kids, hiking mountains in Montana, and cheering their beloved Tarheels.
Sometimes marriage expectations collide head on with reality. Brian Goins and his wife, Jen, tell couples how to get their expectations in the bedroom down to reality.
When Expectations Collide With Reality
Bob: Have you ever had times when, as husband and wife, you have just missed being together? Do you know what I mean? Brian and Jen Goins remember a time like that when they had to move back in, for a period, with her parents.
Jen: We were sleeping, like, ten feet from where my parents were sleeping. The doors weren’t hung yet; so there were curtains nailed to the wall as doors. Needless to say, not a lot of intimacy was happening. I was like, “What are we going to do?” He goes, “Let’s go camping.” I thought: “That’s a great idea! Let’s go camping!” I was like, “Where do you want to go?” He goes, “In the front yard.”
My mom comes out and she’s like, “What are you doing?!” And Brian said, “Jen and I are going camping tonight.” She said, “Well, why are you going camping in the front yard? Why didn’t you go like—I mean, we live in Montana.” Brian turned around and he said, “Because we have not camped in a really, really long time.” [Laughter]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 23rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Brian and Jen Goins join us today to talk about God’s design for marital camping. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’re going to hear about one of the big three today—one of the big three things that couples talk about when they’re talking about where they are frustrated in their marriage. Couples who say, “We fight about money,” or “We’ve got arguments about the kids,” or “We fight about sex,”—those are the three things that, as much as anything else, couples point to as areas of frustration in their marriage. Today’s message is going to address one of those big three, head on.
Dennis: It’s an honest discussion about—well, the most intimate area of a marriage relationship and one that I think we need a biblical perspective as never before. A lot of people have never heard the Bible opened and spoken of freely about what it says about sexual pleasure and a husband and a wife becoming one. Well, you’re about to hear it today.
Brian and Jen Goins are going to speak. They speak at our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. Brian is on the team, here at FamilyLife. He is the Senior Creative Director. I’m excited about this optional seminar that we give our listeners a chance to tiptoe into and to benefit from, Bob, because all of our guests on the cruise get a chance to go to these optional seminars throughout the entire week on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise. How many optional opportunities are there, in terms of different groups—men’s, women’s, panels?
Bob: Well, in the two days that we spend at sea, onboard the cruise, we’ve got those days loaded up with options for folks to attend.
There are different workshops and seminars going on throughout the day.
This one that you are going to hear today from Brian and Jen Goins was standing room only—I mean, folks were standing around the back of the room. Nobody left because they wanted to hear what Brian and Jen had to say about how we deal with frustrations we sometimes face and the desire we both have to find joy and passion in our marital intimacy.
And let me quickly remind our FamilyLife Today listeners that we are about sold out for next year’s cruise. We’ve got about 75 to 85 percent of our cabins booked; and if you are interested in attending, this is the week to sign up. Not only is it the right week because we are almost sold out, but rates are about to go up on cabins. So call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you want to find out more about the cruise, or go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com; but maybe, wait until after you’ve listened to what Brian and Jen are going to share with us in Part Two of today’s message.
Brian: Jen, why don’t you read about the pleasure that the wife has with her husband’s body?
Jen: This is from Song of Solomon 5:10-16. It says this:
My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is like gold, pure gold; and his locks are like clusters of dates and black as a raven. His eyes are like doves, beside streams of water, bathed in milk, and reposed in their setting. His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, banks of sweet scented herbs; his lips are like lilies, dripping with liquid myrrh. His hands are rods of gold set with beryl; and his abdomen is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of alabaster set on pedestals of pure gold; his appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this, my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
Brian: Eat your heart out. [Laughter]
Alright; on the flip side, ladies, if you’re asking: “Does he cherish me? Am I valuable in his eyes? Am I beautiful?” every man is asking the question: “Am I strong? Am I strong? Am I respected?” For a man, he feels loved by feeling respected.
What are some words that show how she is speaking to that love language even here in this ancient book? Yes; he’s like—what was that?—“pure gold.” Yes; that his head is like pure gold—he’s valuable. Maybe, she’s speaking even to the brain—he just thinks well. What else? He’s “outstanding,” and “among ten thousand”—there probably weren’t even ten thousand men in that day right then; but she’s like: “Man, of all these guys, you’re far better than all these other smuts out there. You’re the best guy that I know.” Yes, his appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. He just stands tall among all the other men.
And incidentally, ladies, if you really want to see him feel respected, brag about your husband in front of other people.
You’ll see his chest just puff up. Whereas, where you’ll see it tear down is when you cut him to the flesh when you’re sarcastic about him in front of others. And that is what sarcasm means—cut to the flesh—to make light of him in front of others. But man, when you brag about him—she’s doing it in front of the daughters of Jerusalem—he is valuable and strong in her eyes. What else? “Carved ivory”: “You’re still strong in my eyes.” Anything else?—“his legs are like pillars.” Man, he’s got some thunder thighs going on right there.
“He is wholly desirable”: “I want you, and I want to be wanted.” And Jen is going to talk a little bit about what that means. When you want your husband, that really is soothing to him, and he feels respected and loved in that way. So, the questions, ladies, that you need to ask your husband is this: “Honey, do you feel respected in my eyes?”
“Do you feel strong in my eyes? And if not, how can I show you that respect?” And guys, don’t just give the answer, “Oh, you’re doing fine.” You need to share your heart when they ask that kind of question.
Husbands, you’re asking the question: “Honey, do you feel beautiful in my eyes? Do you feel cherished in my eyes? Do you feel valued?” Ladies, you’re asking the question: “Do you feel respected in my eyes? Do you feel strong in my eyes?”
Jen: “Do I make you feel strong?”
Brian: “Do I make you feel strong?”—absolutely.
It is clear that God intended sex to be pleasurable for both the husband and the wife; but if these expectations aren’t meeting reality, maybe, it’s because we are operating by a different set of blueprints. If we keep operating by what the expectations of what the world is giving and thinking that we need to perform—that we need to look a certain way/act a certain way—because, in the eyes of our culture, sex is an act. It’s simply an act of love that is better experienced when you have better tips, and better techniques, and buffer bodies—because it’s all about an act and about performance.
What God is saying is:
“No; it’s an expression of love between two people that are in a covenant relationship that value each other, not because of what the world sees in them, but because of what He has put in them.” So, here are some questions about how we can, maybe, try to get these sexpectations back down to reality.
First of all, it’s obviously going by God’s blueprint and valuing each other the way that we feel to be valuable. What are some other things we can do? First of all, do you calendar your companionship? “You mean schedule sex?!” “Yes! Schedule sex.” You get to a place—especially, if you’ve been down the procreation side—where there is no time. I can tell what you value by what you cheer for, what you pay for, and what you sign up for.
So, are you cheering for intimacy? Are you signing up for intimacy? Are you even paying?—that sounds really weird—like going on a date. That costs some money. Going on a cruise—costs some money. You’re here, investing in your intimacy. I can tell what you value by what you cheer for, what you pay for, what you sign up for. And where does intimacy fit in your relationship?
If you have all expectation, and all frustration, but no reality, I would just ask, “What’s on your calendar?”
Now, I wouldn’t put on your calendar: “Sex, 2 o’clock”. You know, code it a little bit better—you know, “Sailing” or something like that. [Laughter] “We’re going sailing at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So, some time; but schedule it. That’s not always easy.
Jen: It’s not. Another thing for a woman—when you put sex on your calendar and you know—and you can use code language. That’s something that successful couples do—is they use code language. Like, ours was “sailing” for a while; but that—for a woman—you can prepare your mind. You can start thinking about it. You can start planning for it, and you can start praying for it. I know that sounds kind of silly; but just say: “Lord, today / I know tonight Brian and I are going to be together. I want it to be a great time for both of us. Would you, Lord, be there and help us and help me?”
If you are a woman who—I know tons of women struggle in this area. Again, as we get older, and we go through different cycles of life, and we have children and stresses on us, it can be a difficult thing; but if we plan it, we can start thinkin about it, and we can start praying about it and preparing for it.
It can make it a much better experience.
Jen: Another thing—I remember the whole planning thing. I had done a bad job of that one time. We were five years into our marriage, and we had had our daughter. She was a couple of years old, and we were actually in between jobs. We really had no place to go. So, we lived—we went and lived with my parents.
My parents were sort of in between homes. So, they were living in the basement of an unfinished home. Brian and I slept in one room, Brantley slept in another room, and my parents slept on mattresses in what was going to be the family basement room downstairs. We were sleeping like ten feet from where my parents were sleeping, and the doors weren’t hung yet. So there were curtains nailed to the wall as doors.
Needless to say, not a lot of intimacy was happening; and it was very frustrating for Brian.
I was like: “Well, it’s just really hard because my parents are like right there, and the doors are curtains. We just can’t do it. We just can’t.” So, I knew that Brian was getting very frustrated. He was like, “We have got to do something about this!” I’m like: “We do. Honey, I’m so sorry. We have not calendared this. We have got to do something about this.” We were really missing each other.
Jen: So, I was like, “What are we going to do?” He goes, “Let’s go camping.” I thought: “That’s a great idea! Let’s go camping!” I was like, “Where do you want to go?” He goes, “In the front yard.” [Laughter] I was like—
Brian: Hey, they owned five acres. They had five acres; right?
Jen: Yes. So, he runs and gets our tent. He sets up this little tent in the front yard of my parents’ house. My mom comes out, and she’s like, “What are you doing?!” And Brian said, “Jen and I are going camping tonight.” She said, “Why are you going camping in the front yard? Why didn’t you go like—
“I mean, we live in Montana.” Brian turned around and said, “Because we have not camped in a really, really long time.” [Laughter] And my mom—I think she got it! [Laughter]
Jen: Calendaring your companionship is a good thing.
Jen: It’s something that needs to be done. Women also—and men, I want you to listen to this phrase / this is true about men and women—“Women ebb and flow—sometimes, it’s ‘Yes’; sometimes, it’s ‘No.’ Men are steady and strong—they are always ready to get it on.”
Now, men, for you, it’s important to hear that, for a woman, it is ebb and flow—sometimes, it’s “Yes”; sometimes, it’s “No.” It’s not that we’re saying “No,” to you most of the time, as a man. Sometimes, our bodies are just going through our different cycles; or just as a woman, we are growing older—or whatever it may be. We ebb and flow.
Women—what you need to learn from this is that—this is such an important part of our man’s life.
It’s a part of how God made him—to be an initiator, to be strong, to be a leader in the relationship, to have that sexual desire for his wife. That’s how God made him. And if we are constantly saying, “No,”—if we are constantly rejecting him / if we’re constantly acting like we’re not interested at all—it does hurt his very heart.
I’ve heard it said by Brian and other men that we’ve talked to that, when a man and woman have sex together, it’s like a medicine for his soul. It’s like a natural antidepressant. It makes him feel respected and loved like nothing else does. It’s a place where he can feel safe when the world is falling apart. It’s a place where you can make him feel safe and loved. So, if we’re always saying, “No,” / if we’re always acting like we’re not interested, it can be a very devastating part of a man’s life.
For both of us to understand that about each other and to realize what it means to our man, then, we can start preparing our minds—
—we can start praying about it. Sometimes, you act your way into a new kind of feeling. Sometimes, you have to start the motions, and your feelings will follow. I have found that to be true about myself—that when I don’t feel like it—when I know it’s the right thing to help my husband, to help our intimacy, to encourage him, and to give that medicine for his soul—then, I start acting my way; and usually, the feelings follow.
Brian: A lot of times, we talk about generalities. I know there are some couples in here, where you’re—as a wife, you’re going: “I wish my husband was interested. I would love for him to be, but he just hasn’t been.” I would ask this question: “What’s fueling your expectations? What’s fueling your expectations?” I could spend a whole session on this because the truth of the matter is a lot of the reasons why we have this going on is because we’re fueling—we’re letting stuff get into our eyes and into our brain that just isn’t reality.
Pornography is a huge problem.
We’re actually doing a documentary on this for adolescents because science is now catching up to God’s truth that there is something about—that when you fuel your brain with that—not only as the world’s first visual drug now that the internet has made it completely accessible to everybody—it’s a drug because it taps into the same neurochemicals as cocaine and heroin do. When you look at it, it programs your brain to think that’s what reality is / that’s what reality should be.
So, I think that’s why Job 31:1 says, “I’ve made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully upon a woman.” God puts that in His Word, not because He is the fun police, but because He knows exactly how you’re most going to experience fun. And it’s not there because the truth of the matter is—what porn does—it takes your expectation meter and puts it way over here. Then, when you finally become intimate with another person, you don’t ever experience that and you get more frustration. So, it becomes a law of diminishing returns. And yet, we go there because we are frustrated, as men.
And it’s not just men; right? It is women—Fifty Shades of Grey / all the stuff that’s out there—
—these shows / these TV things that we let come into our brain—they are fueling these expectations that reality can’t meet. “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy; but I’ve come to give you life, and life more abundantly.” Keep intimacy within the sexual relationship. So, what’s fueling those expectations?
Then, thirdly, do you need help? Do you need help?
Jen: Yes, we feel like this is such an important part of a relationship that—if you’re here today, and you’re listening to this, and you’re really struggling—you’re not alone. Do not think that your struggle is weird or strange. We have spoken around the country, and we have heard a lot of different stories. Your struggle is not weird, and you’re not alone. Because this part of your relationship is so important, please get help.
Obviously, we haven’t even scratched the surface of so many different issues and different things you can do and different things; but you have the strength to do it. I always say to women—and now, since we’re—I usually speak to just women, but since we’re in a mixed group, get some different books or resources that can help you in this situation.
Then, if that’s not working or if you feel like you need to go to another step, meet with someone personally. Maybe, just talk about it with a close Christian friend or mentor.
And finally, if that—if you still have, maybe, some deep issues—I know there are issues of abuse, there are issues of past sexual partners, and all sorts of things. Maybe, it would be worth it for you to talk to a counselor—someone who could really draw out some issues and help you with these things. So, get yourself some help.
We feel like this part of your relationship is something that really needs to be taken care of and fostered. It’s an important thing for both a husband and a wife. So, if that’s you today and today’s the day you feel like: “You know what? I need to get some help,” today could be your first step in talking to someone about that or looking into the resources that can help you.
Brian: Yes. That’s a great proverb that Jen read from. I think you can go and close it with that.
Yes, it’s Proverbs 24, verse 6. Can you put the light on it?
Brian: Yes, I can.
Brian: Hold on. Here we go.
Jen: “…for by wise guidance you can wage your war”—I love that. “…for by wise guidance you can wage your war”—your war against pornography, your war against past abuse, your war against sexual intimacy relationship that’s not where you want it to be. “…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” There can be victory for you in this area, and with an abundance of counselors—with all those resources I mentioned—there can be victory in this area.
Brian: Yes. The last thing—and I’ll just mention it—is not only did God create sex for procreation, for pleasure, but for proclamation of the gospel. In Ephesians 5, it says that the intimacy of oneness is really a physical picture of a spiritual reality—that our oneness mirrors Christ loving the church.
So, when you make love to one person for a lifetime, it is a physical reminder—
—God is watching you. I know that’s kind of freaky. God is watching you, and He is celebrating your sex. He is cheering for your intimacy, and He doesn’t just want it for a three-year life span. He wants you to love your spouse for a lifetime / that intimacy for a lifetime.
Sure, it’s going to change over time / it’s going to alter. Your reality is going to shift and change, and some of you aren’t in the best places right now. That’s okay because here’s the deal—everybody looks good from a distance, but you want to be loved up close. You and I were made to be loved up close.
And when I love my wife / when my wife loves me in the most intimate of moments, it says to each other the gospel: “I see you. I know you, and I want to pursue you. I see you in your weakness. I see you in your age. I see you in your inconsistencies. I see you in your failures. I see you in your sin, and I’m willing to give myself to you.”
We think that we can love someone / be fascinated with that person for 25 or 30 years—
—if we’re expecting that person to love us, it’s unrealistic; but if I change my thinking to start thinking that it’s my joy to be able to love Jen for the rest of our lives and that intimacy is a way that I can pursue her needs and not just my needs, then, I’m learning how to love someone the way that I want to be loved—the way that God loves me.
Tim Keller said this about marriage—he said, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial; to be known and not loved is our greatest fear. And we’ve all felt that rejection—somebody sees me, they know me, they leave me. But to be fully known and loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.”
And when we are fully known, fully seen, and fully pursued consistently over time, it proclaims the gospel over, and over, and over again to each other—that: “I love you as you are, not as I would expect you to be because that’s how God loves us.”
Bob: Well, again today, we’ve been listening to a message from Brian and Jen Goins talking about intimacy in marriage and, really, lifting our sights to the fact that this is much more than just about whether we had a pleasant experience being together as husband and wife.
Dennis: Yes, it’s the developing of a relationship over a long haul.
And Bob, where else can you spend almost six full days getting a biblical perspective of marriage, and God, and your relationship with your spouse, and be better equipped at the end of the time than on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise? I just want to encourage people: “Go to this thing! It really is a slam dunk.” Have you got an anniversary that you need to celebrate early or late? Find a way to make it to this cruise—
—start saving now, if you have to, to make it work and join us. You will not be sorry that you did.
Bob: You left out the free ice cream. I mean, it’s all that biblical teaching and all of that, but you can go get ice cream anytime you want—
Dennis: Still working it off.
Bob: —and pizza anytime you want too.
Dennis: I didn’t get much of that, but I hit the ice cream machine.
Bob: I saw you trolling by. [Laughter]
Dennis: It’s fun. It really is fun. And this year, we made custom flip flops—
Bob: We did.
Dennis: —for everybody.
Dennis: That was fun.
Bob: Still have mine in my closet. I haven’t broken them out.
Dennis: I don’t have them in my closet. I’m going to the beach later on this month.
Bob: I’m going to break them out here in a little bit. I just haven’t gotten them out of the closet yet.
I mentioned earlier that we’re about to run out of cabin space for next year’s cruise, and the prices go up at the end of the week. So, if you are interested in joining us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, now is the time to get in touch with us. If you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY; or you can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com and plan to be with us as we set sail from New Orleans next February for the 2017 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
Well, congratulations are in order today to Jim and Kimmie Jacobs, who live in Cary, North Carolina. The Jacobs are FamilyLife Today listeners, and today is their 26th wedding anniversary. At FamilyLife, we think anniversaries matter. We think your anniversary matters. And as the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™, we wanted to wish the Jacobs a happy anniversary.
We’d love to wish you a happy anniversary. You can get in touch with us and let us know when your anniversary is. We’ll have some tips and ideas for you about how to make this a great anniversary celebration this year. Just go to FamilyLifeToday.com and leave us your anniversary if you’d like to receive those tips.
And then, thanks to those of you who support this ministry and help make all that we do, here at FamilyLife, possible. We’re grateful for your financial support. Let me just say, “Happy anniversary!” in advance for whenever your anniversary is coming up this year:
“Way to go! Hang in there! Keep going. Way to keep your promises. Good job.”
Now, I hope you can join us back tomorrow when Matt Hammitt is going to be here. Up until recently, Matt was the lead singer of the group Sanctus Real. He’ll share why he and his wife Sarah made the decision for him to step away from the group and about how he is stepping up into a new role. We’ll cover all of that tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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