For the sake of clarity, I have to begin this article by stating that I am by no means an expert on marriage, having only been married for one month. I will say that, despite the amount of time I have been married, I have fully given myself to marriage and I do not question Holy Spirit’s ability to give knowledge when we give ourselves. This, of course, does not mean that I am qualified to give advice so I will not give advice. This is simply me sharing what Holy Spirit has been revealing to me about myself, my wife, and our marriage— I am certain that as the years add up He will reveal much more— and what He has given me a passion to write about.
I have been doing a lot of research lately, in the Word and online, regarding the role of a husband. One thing that I have seen almost continuously while doing this research is instability. I’m not talking about instability in the manner that people cannot decide what they believe, rather than so many people believe so many different things. Some are passionate about one argument, others are passionate about their side of the argument, and both make good points to support their arguments. In the end, though, they are just that… arguments. As the Church, we should be the authority on what marriage is, yet whether through laziness or fear we have allowed the world to define marriage.
I’m not ignorant enough to say that believers have not tried to address these issues but we certainly haven’t made much leeway, if any at all, in the fight to keep the marriage bed pure. There are those who have great points, full of truth and clarity but, for the most part, people do not want to hear it. That or they choose not to. Of course, we know from the Word that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves, arrogant and that they will hire teachers that will teach them what they want to hear as opposed to the truth, but does this excuse us from seeking out avenues by which we can share the truth?
Please understand that I am not condemning the church or saying that we’re doing a terrible job! I am saying that it is sad that the world is so much better at sharing its own lies that even some Christians believe things or lack understanding in things that are important to have an understanding of!
Why are we afraid to talk about sex in the church? Why do we treat it as though it is something to be kept hush-hush, or sulk away when it is brought up? It seems, from what I have seen over the years, that we are afraid to talk about the single most unifying thing that two human beings can do together as a husband and wife. That neglect of being open with the truth of sex and marriage is, I believe, why we are in the condition that we are in regarding this particular issue.
Our children aren’t being taught the truth about sex and when we do discuss it with them we act as though it is something to be dreaded, ashamed of, or God forbid as though it is sinning. Granted it is unholy to have sex out of wedlock, but we don’t even teach wedlock properly for the most part. No wonder there are so many who lack understanding on this subject, we are not equipping them to have any understanding of it, rather we are training them to fear it.
Let’s go over a few things concerning marriage, sex, and self-pleasure and not be uncomfortable with it.
THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF MARITAL SEX
- To become one flesh (Genesis 2:4)
- To participate in the ongoing work of God’s creation through procreation— having children (Genesis 1:28)
- To serve as an image/example/symbol of the union between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32)
Marriage was never meant to be something that we use to please ourselves alone but to be a beacon of the unity that we are free to experience in Christ Jesus. It is the method by which we become united with our spouse more deeply than with anyone else, take part in our Father’s creation, and provide an example of the bond we have with the Father to a world who desperately needs Him.
There are love and liberty in marriage, a union that God has entrusted solely to a husband and wife and given them the prerogative of defining the particulars of the marriage and sexual intimacy. No one, not one person, has the right nor the authority to tell a husband and wife how to behave in their marriage bed, provided it does not violate scripture! As long as the husband and wife keep the marriage bed holy, free from sexual immorality, they are free to connect with one another in any way that they see fit. Again, for the sake of clarity, so long as it does not violate scripture!!
There is no room for selfishness in the marriage bed, and experiencing true happiness in the sexual intimacy of the marriage requires selflessness! This is not a free ticket to selfish desire! Being selfless does not provide the husband with an excuse to use his wife for his own pleasure, and vice-versa, rather it opens the pair up to two powerful truths; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves,” (Philippians 2:3) “it is better to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35) and “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Of course, there is so much more to marriage than these three scriptures but it is as good a place to start as any and probably better than some! If anything these three scriptures, though there are many more that do the same, give us an example of something important… To remove ourselves from the equation, as a husband, and treat our wives with a greater preference than we treat ourselves is to die to ourselves the same way that Christ died for the Church. To remove yourself from the equation, as a wife, and submit to your husband in his care for you is the very way that we should submit to Christ; trusting His care for us more greatly than we trust even our own understanding.
Each spouse is obligated to treat the needs, feelings, desires, and preferences of the other as though it is of higher priority than their own. We are one being, one creation, one body, one soul and one spirit; living in unity in one heart, one accord, one understanding, one faith, one Lord, one God.
A marriage that lacks mutual understanding, mutual consent, and mutual freedom in sexual intimacy is a marriage that is in trouble of becoming the victim of self instead of experiencing freedom in unity.
MARRIAGE IS NOT LIMITED TO SEX
Sex feels great and God certainly gave it to us as a method of being unified as well as experiencing pleasure with one another as husband and wife but there is much more to marriage than physical pleasure; there’s much more to sex than physical pleasure for that matter, but we will discuss that later. That being said, if we limit our understanding of marriage to sexual intimacy alone then we limit the unity that we experience with our spouse to something that makes us feel good.
The Hebrew language offers no word for “spirituality” in the way that we often see it used in the Greek (New Testament), rather in Jewish culture it was widely understood that all of life is spiritual. Though there are words for “spirit” in the Hebrew, such as ruaḥ and n’shamah which refer to the life breathed by God into humankind as well as a couple of others whose roots come from words that indicate breathing excitedly, breathing heavily, or “to pant.”
My point in saying that is that in the culture in which the bible came from, all aspects of life were seen as being spiritual; everything from work to speech, and yes even sex. We are born again in the Spirit so all aspects of our lives are of the spirit, sex and cleaning the house are both equally important in the context of our spiritual lives! Our bodies and our emotions are connected! To say that “sex and emotions don’t have to mix” is not accurate, nor is it the design of God! Sex and emotions absolutely much mix, sex and every other aspect of our lives (as a married couple) mix!
Sex is not limited to the bedroom and the bedroom is not limited to sex. It is equally important to give myself to my wife emotionally as it is to do so physically!
Sex is a very important part of marriage, there can be no argument against that, but it is not the only aspect of marriage that we are to be given to. My wife also has emotional, mental, and physical needs that need to be met outside of the bedroom. Sometimes she needs to be held, heard, understood, and made aware that she is a priority!
It is our responsibility, as husbands, to provide an environment that promotes emotional security— a place where she feels loved, cared for, valued, and free to express herself— a place where our wives feel safe. It is the responsibility of the woman, as a wife and a child of God, to submit in that environment and train herself (body and mind) to live in positive emotion and thought. As men, husbands, and children of God, we are responsible for ensuring that our wives have an environment where it is easy to do that and to encourage them in that growth!
A healthy understanding of emotional and mental needs, coupled with righteous humility and well-developed boundaries allows room for safe growth in marriage. Those things and experiences cannot be limited to sex alone, nor should they be removed from sexual intimacy! It is just as important to keep these things present during sexual intimacy as it is to continue in them apart from sexual intimacy.
SEX IS NOT LIMITED TO THE BEDROOM
In the same way that marriage is not limited to sex alone, sex is not limited to the bedroom. Let’s be careful with that statement, what you do as a husband and wife is not my concern so long as it does not violate scripture, but what I mean here is that there is much more to sex than what takes place in the bedroom! Like we discussed a moment ago, concerning emotional and mental security being important, sex does not begin when the lights and clothes go off.
Women are very different than men when it comes to this particular subject and, though it may awkward to discuss, it is a topic that we need to be freely and honestly talking about! In order to do that we need to understand that God is not angry at nudity, He does not despise our sexual passion, and sexual desire is not bad! We don’t have to be afraid of it being a topic of discussion and it doesn’t have to be awkward or uncomfortable!
In fact, lack of communication regarding the subject can be harmful to a marriage! The simple truth is that women tend to be much more in tune with their emotions than men, and in the same respect, women tend to be much more connected to their emotions in sexual intimacy than men do!
When we neglect to consider that emotions are an important part of our wives’ sexual desire and pleasure we have a tendency to only focus on what feels good for us and neglect them completely. We have just as much responsibility, as men and husbands, to provide emotional fulfillment for our wives as they do to submit to us. Neither of our bodies belongs to us anyway, so if my body belongs to my wife and her body belongs to me then why would I neglect her body which is mine?
I hope I’m not losing you here! My point is that sex is designed by God to be a powerful bonding force between a husband and a wife— to connect them in body, soul, and spirit— but that bonding is not limited to sexual intercourse alone!
A poor, limited, or unpleasing sex life can lead to several things in a male: poor attitudes, impatience, emotional instability, lack of desire, and a misunderstanding of the design of marriage and it is for this reason that a lot of men turn to someone else to find that fulfillment. That isn’t, however, an excuse for adultery though most use it as such. The same way that we, as men, have needs that need to be met our wives do as well.
There is an abundance of differences between men and women, one of those being that a woman is much more likely to experience satisfaction and fulfillment before the deed whereas men are so after the deed. Taking the time to satisfy her before sex is important, this helps her with orgasms and such, but it is equally important that we provide emotional satisfaction before the deed even starts as well! Yes, I’m talking about doing things for our wife outside of the bedroom!
At the risk of sounding cliché, I am talking about opening jars, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, making the bed, watching that unbearable romcom that you can predict the ending to, and making dinner! I’m also talking about being vulnerable, being honest and transparent about feelings! I know that sounds unpleasing to most men, but these things are just as integral to our wives’ sex drives as doing the deed is; if not more so in some cases!
For us to treat sex as something that begins and ends with the removing of our clothes and a little sweat, is to rob our wives of a connection that is both important and certainly not limited to that deed alone! For both genders, sex increases the release of the chemical oxytocin (the feel-good chemical) coupled with endorphins (our body’s natural pain relievers) but for women, the release of this chemical actually begins before sex and increases their emotional connection.
As cliché as it may seem to do those things, these simple things help to release certain chemicals in her brain and they are actually a very important part of emotionally preparing our wives for the deed that follows later!
Though the same cannot be said for men— our emotional connection with our spouse comes after the release of those chemicals which happens after the deed is done— we cannot neglect the understanding that for our wives there is more to sex than physical pleasure alone; much, much more!
Having a healthy understanding of what sex is, where it takes place, how it is not limited to physical intercourse and its design is important! When we trust in ideas, opinions, cultural traditions and fads above the Word we cannot build a healthy understanding of sexual intimacy or its design! Likewise, it is also important to understand the differences between men and women regarding sexual intimacy!
As men, we are naturally inclined to have a heightened sex drive but women tend to need to develop theirs; either through communication (talking about sex), experience (having sexual intercourse with their husband), and emotional stimulation (feeling safe, cared for, and valued).
Without an understanding of these differences, it can become easy for men to compare their sex drive to their wife’s lower sex drive or lack thereof and this allows room for seeds of disdain to gestate. Either the man becomes filled with self-abasement, that is humiliation or degradation, as though he is not good enough to please his wife and begins to withdraw from her— asking himself questions like “why am I so gross?” and “why do I need something that she seems to disdain?” or “am I just full of lust?”— or he begins to despise his wife, feeling as though she is not fulfilling his needs.
This is an immature and, in some ways, a selfish outlook on the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. We are just as obligated to understand what makes our wife tick as we are to nurture her! When there is a lack of understanding of how women work, however, it is easy for the husband to only focus on what makes him tick and torture his wife rather than nurture her.
I absolutely refuse to believe the all too common notion that men will never understand women because they are too complex. That is foolishness! Our Father instructs us to be of “one heart, one mind, and one accord” (Philippians 2:2) and affirms to us that we are a part of “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6) If we are to be of one heart, mind, and accord and are of one spirit, faith, and baptism under one Lord and one Father of all, then how can there possibly be any lack of understanding of one another?!
That statement makes no sense and it is things like that which have caused a divide between men and women! We, as men, are obligated to gain an understanding of our wives and wives are obligated to gain an understanding of their husbands; and more deeply than with anyone else! But, I digress… back to the point…
Sex is designed by God, like I said earlier, to be a powerful force for connection between a husband and wife the same as it is an example of our relationship with Christ! When we allow the world’s view of sex and marriage to imprint on our own it becomes a dangerous tool of the enemy to cause division in one of the holiest institutions that we have in this world!
Let’s look at some of the ideas and opinions that the world has regarding sex, versus some of the biblical ideals of sex:
Ball and Chain Symbol of Unity and Freedom
The end of freedom Powerful force of connection
Sex while “single” is erotic and exciting Sex is holy and reserved for spouses
Sex in marriage is boring and rare Marital sex is exciting and fulfilling
It can be easy to confuse worldly “facts” with biblical truths, and equally as detrimental to do so! It can be easy to become confused and think that marital sex is boring and rare because it doesn’t always feel good, or because all you do is argue, but when we allow ideas like that to have precedence in our minds concerning sex and marriage then we are setting ourselves up for failure in that area!
It is a “fact” that it won’t always feel good, but it is truth that sex is not limited to feelings and allowing feelings to dictate how good sex is can be deadly to a marriage! Don’t give up! Do it when it doesn’t feel good, do it when you don’t feel like you desire it, do it when you don’t feel good; you’ll feel better after anyway, remember it releases those natural pain relievers that we call endorphins! Have sex, even when it isn’t great! Learn new things and try new things together, within the parameters of what is scripturally acceptable! Make it a priority to experience sexual intimacy with one another in ways that connect you in body, soul, and spirit! Don’t allow worldly, personal, or selfish opinions to have a place in your marriage!
HEALTHY HOME LIFE, HEALTHY SEX LIFE
A healthy sex life produces a healthy home life, and a healthy home life produces a healthy sex life! Our conversation, attitude, and approach have a profound effect on our spouse and our sexual intimacy! If we cannot communicate successfully regarding everyday things, how can we communicate properly regarding sexual intimacy? Likewise, if we treat one another poorly outside of the marriage bed, how will we treat one another in the marriage bed? I’d wager to say that if the everyday things, conversation, attention, and general interaction are not tended to properly then we will experience a poor sex life. It also goes to say that we have a poor sex life then our home life suffers as well.
These two things are not separate “lives,” or separate aspects of life, but are contingent upon one another! For example, it is foolish to yell at your spouse and treat them poorly then act surprised when they don’t desire sexual intimacy with you; it is also foolish to neglect your spouse in sexual intimacy and deny them their needs, then wonder why your home life is suffering. We need to stop separating the two! In fact, the Word tells us in several places, like in Mark 10:9, that “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Why do only read this in regard to a husband and wife, and not also in regard to the things that pertain to a husband and wife? The home life is as much a part of our sex life as the sex life is to the home life, and separating the two is only going to cause trouble because God designed them to be one and the same!
Remember earlier in this post when we talked about according to Jewish understanding, biblical tradition, all aspects of our lives are spiritual? Why then would we separate one part of the spirituality of our lives (home life) from the other parts of the spirit in our lives (sex life, emotional “life,” etc)?
If our communication, spouse to spouse, is not healthy then other areas of our lives together will suffer; not to mention that we fall into the danger zone of being selfish when we neglect the needs, feelings, desires, and preferences of our spouse! This is not only harmful to our marriage but to our relationship with the Father as well! If we cannot develop a firm grasp on the importance of proper and gentle communication with another human being (our spouse), how can we develop any sort of grasp of proper and gentle communication with our heavenly Father?
If we refuse to show proper attention and care for the communication in our marriage— preferring our own opinions, needs, feelings, desires, and preferences over those of our spouse— then we also disobey the instruction of our Father to “love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31) and to “consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are love and liberty in marriage but there is no room for selfishness!
It is vital that we do not disconnect our sexual intimacy from the other aspects of our lives, obviously within reason. Sex doesn’t belong in your office and is not a topic of discussion or gossip between you and your friends, which can lead to either intentionally or unintentionally belittling your spouse but, at home, every other part of our lives is connected to it.
The climax of marriage is experienced when we lay down our rights and take up our cross!
HEALTHY CONVERSATION, HEALTHY CONFRONTATION
Conversation and confrontation are profoundly effectual to the joy and fulfillment we experience in sexual intimacy, thus it is important that we practice healthy conversation and healthy confrontation! I recently, a couple of months ago now, graduated from an Internship Program in which I was blessed to be able to take part in a Leadership Development course; in which we learned about things like emotional intelligence, crucial conversations, active listening, and much more. As I was doing research and studying the Word on the things I am writing about in this post I came across an article by Kris Vallotton, regarding healthy confrontation, that reminded me greatly of some of the things that I had learned during the course of Leadership Development. I believe that Kris correct in the things that he wrote about in the article and that what we were taught in Leadership development was correct, and both are profoundly important to how we conduct ourselves toward our spouse!
It can be easy to overlook the importance of how we communicate and the degree to which we do, but it is honestly imperative that we develop a healthy conduct (thoughts, speech, and actions) with our spouse! Not only are poor communication and selfish ambition harmful to the stability of our home, but are so to the sexual intimacy in marriage as well!
This is not limited to normal, everyday conversation alone, but also to correction when one spouse does something that they should not. Things like yelling at your spouse, accusing them of things, judging their motives or intent, venting in frustration, or punishing them for an action are very harmful to their emotional stability; that produces an unhealthy environment in which one spouse does not feel safe to express themselves to the other and serves to hinder emotional and physical attraction!
Yet Galatians 6:1 tells us that “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” By the example that we are given in the Word, whether we are having a standard conversation or correcting our spouse, our conversation should be full of grace! Our words, reactions, and intentions should be easy for them to hear and accept and not harmful to them!
It can be said all day, but you cannot express enough the importance of healthy conversation and healthy confrontation! It is essential to a healthy marriage!
We should discuss problems as soon as possible, without allowing time for anger or bitterness to gestate! Of course, there is nothing wrong with first taking the time to cool down, but we should refrain from excluding our spouse for a significant amount of time out of anger; rather take time to pray and calm down, then approach them when you are able to discuss it respectfully and honorably without letting anger become the source of your reaction!
We should describe in detail what we are feeling, not leaving them to guess what they did to make us feel a certain way. We have to be careful not to judge the intent behind their words and leave them feeling like they can’t say anything without you becoming an emotional wreck. Providing them with clarity is also important because they cannot repent for something they don’t understand that they have done, and they cannot know that they have done something wrong if you do not clearly explain to them what was done and why it made you feel the way that it did!
We should be honest about our own issues, struggles, thoughts, and sins! Listening beyond words is important, and assuming that they are the only one with issues is dangerous! Most people don’t understand how to articulate their own struggles, so being honest about ourselves and asking questions are crucial to understanding what the root of the issue is; whether it is something we have done, or not. Learning to look beyond words to understand the issue can greatly help us to understand what is at the core of the issue and to resolve it.
We should always give the other the benefit of the doubt, no matter how they have behaved! We are all children of God and are created in His image, regardless of the problem at hand. It is important that we show respect and honor at all times and that we let them know that we believe in them despite what they have done, and vice-versa! Belittling and condemning our spouse for something that they have done produces fear in them and causes them to feel as though they are being punished! This is not the design of graceful communication and there is no place for selfish and opinionated perceptions in a healthy confrontation.
We should be a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem! Taking a step back and evaluating ourselves is vital in a healthy confrontation. We need to ask ourselves if our own weakness is causing us to overemphasize their strength, or if our own perception is causing us to point out their weakness! We are told to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) not to cause burdens for one another!
We should refrain from bringing people who aren’t a part of the issue or the solution into the mix! Aside from certain instances, it isn’t the business of anyone except for those who are involved! Turning a personal issue into public gossip is harmful to the emotional liberty and confidence of our spouse!
We should be quick to repent if we are a part of the problem! Pride doesn’t solve anything, but “humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12) Humility always leads to repentance and being willing to admit that we are wrong often inspires them to step back and evaluate themselves as well. That being said, a conversation is no place for weaponry, harsh or condemning words without regard for our own wrongdoing can lead to distrust between spouses! Each spouse should verbally forgive the other if they have done something wrong! Forgiveness restores the standard and allows us to safely express ourselves without the fear of being punished for our mistakes! It is important that each spouse treats the other as though they had not sinned at all after they repent!
We should be willing to seek the help of a third, unbiased party if we come to an impasse! Seeking help from someone such as a Pastor, counselor, or spiritual elder that both spouses trust and who isn’t connected to the issue can help to provide an insightful perspective and unique insight for solutions to the problem! This is the “certain instance” that I referred to a couple of paragraphs ago, in which it is okay to discuss the issue with someone outside of the situation. That being said, however, this solution is not the first step. Try to resolve it first through forgiveness, repentance, prayer, and communication and if that does not work then seek out a third party who might be able to help.
We should not, for any reason, withdraw ourselves from our spouse after a conflict!!! This is a dangerous and sadly common approach to issues in marriages today, and is why many marriages fail! Withdrawing from your spouse by not speaking to them, denying them sexual intimacy, disregarding their emotional needs, etc. is a form of punishment and causes division in the marriage! It creates an environment where one spouse is afraid to be transparent with the other, to have certain feelings or ideas, or to express themselves in certain ways due to the fear of being punished. An example of this would be one spouse “sleeping in the doghouse” after an argument and is a foolish and harmful method of response to an issue! Instead, we should make it a priority to remain close to our spouse as they heal, which creates an environment where they feel safe to express themselves because they know they aren’t alone and that they won’t be punished!
SEX IS HOLY
Talking about sex is healthy, in a marriage, not wrong! Communication between spouses regarding their sexual intimacy can serve to greatly improve the act for both spouses! Discussing sexual intimacy with your spouse is nothing to be ashamed of, rather it should be done much more often! It is God’s design and keeping it as a healthy topic of discussion can also increase the sex drive of each spouse, the woman especially, as well as increasing each spouse’s understanding of the other!
Our outlook is greatly affected by our understanding, and having a poor understanding of your spouse and of sexual intimacy can hinder the joy and fulfillment that we feel in our marriage. Sexual arousal, sexual desire, sex drive, and being a sexual being are all good things! How we manage these things is important!
Having a negative outlook on sex— sexual arousal is bad, sexual desire is bad, having a sex drive is borderline being lustful, and focusing on being a sexual being can lead to adultery or any variation of these— is a tool of the enemy that can cause shame in ourselves and disconnection between us and our spouse, and can keep us from knowing and experiencing the love of God, the freedom, and the power that are present in the unity of a husband and a wife!
I love what Ephesians 5:22-33 has to say on the matter of marriage, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
This set of scriptures gives us a wonderful example of the will of God in marriage and sexual intimacy! It urges spouses to understand their roles and responsibilities, encourages them to honor one another, exhorts them to treat one another more highly than themselves, and reveals the truth of unity and the purpose of marriage!
A husband and wife are one flesh, just as we are one with Christ! The husband gives of himself to his wife the way that Christ gave to the church, and wife submits to the husband the same as the church submits to Christ; it is truly a beautiful symbol of the relationship we have with our Savior!
It is important that we understand that sexual intimacy is not something to be shunned or ashamed of, that we learn to understand the purpose of sexual intimacy as well as the complexity of it, that we take the time and apply ourselves to understanding that sexual intimacy consists of much more than what goes on in the bedroom, and that we grow in the understanding that sexual intimacy affects and is affected by many other aspects of our home life than just what goes on in the bedroom!
Sexual intimacy is an expression of the oneness of our Father, between a husband and wife, more deeply than we could hope to express in any other way!
Beloved, I thank you for taking the time to read this! I know that it was an almost absurdly long article and I apologize for that, but it was important to me to keep these things together and not separate them. I do pray that it blesses you in some way, and thank you again for your patience and determination in reading it! Love and blessings each of you!