Depression, Libido and You

I am a young wife and mother who struggles with Dysthymia – or chronic low grade depression.  I’m currently taking Zoloft, which strongly inhibits my ability to orgasm and causes low libido.  I was raised in a Christian household, waited until I was married to have sex, and now that I am free to enjoy sex, my medication makes it near impossible.  Have any of you ever dealt with something like this?  Is there something I could use that would help me combat the effects of the medicine?

Please keep in mind that I am not a physician, but I am going to talk on my own personal experience on this subject.  I am also referencing information on mayoclinic.com to help with this article as well.

Depression is real.  I would not have believed 5 years ago that I would be taking antidepressant medication, but here I am.   It all started in me with tiredness all the time.  I could sleep for extremely long periods of time during the day if I had the time.  At night, I never feel like 8 hours is enough sleep.  I always wake up still exhausted.  I get home, and my kids want my time and attention…. I just don’t care to do it.  My husband sends me texts during the day making me feel loved and desired . I know I should feel something back, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t…it’s nothing he’s done or not done, but like I said earlier, I feel like I have lost my sense of feeling…  I start trying to cut back on caffeine…that is so hard on me.  This Southern Belle loves her sweet tea, and lots of it, so when I am at home, I make decaf sweet tea to meet my need for tea.   I boosted my vitamin C, my B complex vitamins, my calcium (well, I am premenopausal, so I need more calcium anyway) and I increased my iron, too.   I have been anemic in the past.  Still, no remedy for it, so I visited with my doctor about the tiredness.   She tells me that I sound depressed.  No, no, no, I can’t be depressed.  But you know what…. I am.   I am at a point in my life where some days I could care less about what is going on.   If I could stay in bed in my PJ’s all day, I would, but I MAKE myself get up for the sake of my family.   I MAKE myself not take naps sometimes so my kids won’t think that their mom is narcoleptic.  (Yes, they have used that word…)  I feel panicky at times, and I have never felt that way before.   The news…gosh, I just don’t listen to it or read it or watch it on tv….it depresses me and makes me anxious.   I read emails for people the wrong way and I get highly apprehensive and irritable and anxious.  Conflict … ha ha…it sends me off the edge.  I hate conflict.  My doctor knows all about the libido problems I have, so to help with the depression, she prescribes me Wellbutrin.

There are different classifications of antidepressants.   There are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s)tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors.

SSRI’s are medications like Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac.   These medications are designed to allow the neurotransmitter serotonin to be utilized more effectively.  Serotonin is used to help metabolize stress hormones.  If you click on the link for the SSRI’s, you can read more information about the medications and side effects.  Tricyclic antidepressants are medications like Adapin,  Sinequin, & Norpramin.  They were originally used to combat depression but have been replaced in recent times with SSRI’s.   Other antidepressants have fewer side effects than the tricyclic drugs.  TCA’s inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine by brain cells.  You can find out more about TCA’s by clicking the link.  Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (Nardil, Parnate, Marplan, Emsam) relieve depression by preventing the enzyme monoamine oxidase from metabolizing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine , serotonin and dopamine  in the brain.  You can learn more about MOIA’s by clicking the link.  Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (Bupropion/Wellbutrin) increase the levels of both norepinephrine and dopamine by inhibiting their reabsorption (reuptake) into cells.  It’s thought that these increased levels help enhance neurotransmission — the sending of nerve impulses — and thereby improve and elevate mood.  More info on NDRI’s are at the link provided.

The side effects of these different types of drugs are somewhat overwhelming.   In the case of the reader above’s question, what can she do to combat the effects of the medication?   The best thing I can do is recommend that you take your problems with your symptoms back to your doctor and ask what your options are.  Can your dosage be changed?   Would Wellbutrin (or another type of antidepressant) work as well as Zoloft for you?  Can I occasionally take a “one day” holiday from my medication?   Is there another medication or herb I can take safely with my antidepressant that will help boost my libido?    The only person who can truly help is your physician.  Make an appointment to talk to him/her about it.

Now there are some alternatives to antidepressant drugs.   Ask your doctor if it is safe to take you off your antidepressant and try St. John’s Wort (an herb) to see if that would help you.  Do your research on herbs and make sure the ones you buy are good quality herbal supplements, not just the cheapest one at the counter.   I ask questions at our local Whole Foods markets about herbs and get their herbal specialists to point out ones that would be best for me to use.

I also found a few articles of interest for you from Mayo Clinic:

Depression in Women

Selecting the Right Antidepressant

Tips to Cope with Side Effects

I want to add one more thing to this.  My husband has been so very supportive of me in all of this. I was reminded tonight of the song he and I danced to at our wedding reception “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  Through all we’ve been through in our 15 years of marriage, he is still here, he still will be here no matter what.  He’s my biggest hero and my staunchest supporter.  Don’t count your spouse out to help and encourage you if hard times.  Remember your vows said in for better or worse, sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer until death do us part.   Your husband will be there for you, too.

I hope this helps.  Please feel free to post your experiences with antidepressants and libido.  Anything that you have done to overcome the side effects of your antidepressants will help other women out there with the same problems.    As for me, I think it is time to get my Wellbutrin evaluated.  It was working for me for awhile, but lately I have been more stressed at work and with things happening in life in general, so it may be time to up my dose if my doctor deems it necessary.  I will keep you posted!

Fetishes

We have mentioned fetishes before in several of our articles here on CN.  I wanted to set the record straight and make clear what my definition of a fetish is.  Let me start off by copying what the online dictionary says a fetish is:

fet·ish
Psychology . any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

  • Something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
  • An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.

All three of the above go together, but the middle part is the biggie for me.  A fetish is something that you need for sexual gratification.  In other words, you cannot become aroused unless you have that object.  I’ll give you a couple of examples.

I know there are couples that enjoy spanking during sex.  I’ll even admit to liking an occasional swat to the backside myself.  This can be a totally normal part of a healthy relationship.  There are some women, however, who cannot become aroused unless they are spanked (sometimes repeatedly).  The usual kissing and fondling and touching does nothing for them unless they are spanked.  The spanking is what finally pushes them over that edge of being turned on.  She may even swat herself during masturbation.  This is when spanking is an unhealthy fetish.  The wife needs the spanking to become aroused for her husband.

There are some husbands who really like stilettos.  Finding your wife sexy when she dresses up for you in her high heels is one thing, but insisting that she wear them during every sexual encounter is “an abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.” If the husband is unable to get an erection without seeing his wife in stilettos, then that is unhealthy.  If he can get an erection but is unable to maintain one unless the stilettos come out, again that is unhealthy.  These scenarios would be considered fetishes to me.

Remember that the definition above said “object or nongenital part of the body.”  So ladies, rest assured that your husband’s fixation on your boobs or rear is a normal and natural response to the way God made you!  He’s supposed to find them very much a turn on!  And again, liking things like stockings, red nail polish, light bondage, or occasional spanking is fine.  It’s when you come to rely on those specific things for your arousal and gratification that it can become a problem.

Our emotions and life

Powerful emotional times really trigger increased sexual desire in me.  Do you ever notice this, too?   DH and I haven’t really had much alone time together at all in the last month.  Well, we haven’t had much time together period with situations in life, but we both have noticed that when we are apart, we really desire each other more.  What’s that old saying about “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”   I don’t think about anything but work when I am at work, but I have noticed lately that I can tell that I desire him so much more when I am at work.    Kissing him is so much more passionate, and so different for the better now.  I can be sitting here on the computer, writing an article or reading my Facebook account, and all of the sudden…there it is.  That stirring that tells me that I NEED him now.   Oh, I’ve just got to tell him!  Too bad he’s over an hour away… 😦

Like I said, my DH and I are going through some highly stressful family situations with our parents right now.    Two big whammos all happening at the same time.    We’ve both been highly emotional, we’ve both been highly stressed, but at the same time, we’ve made some life changing realizations.   We really need each other more than we realized.   It’s made us realize that we don’t always treat each other right.  It’s made is realize that we need to have more grace with each other.   It’ s made us realize that when one of us is weak, the other is strong.  It’s made me realize that he depends on ME to be his rock.  AND it’s made us realize that sex is an awesome stress reliever!   I cannot believe how much more I want him right now.  How much I need him sexually and how sexually fulfilling releasing stress can be.

We have a new marriage right now.   It’s amazing and incredible and we just can’t believe how much happier we are, too, at the same time.   We now have unlimited texting, so it is nice to be able to send  him a love note, an encouragement, or a “I’ll see you naked in the backyard tonight!” It gives him something to look forward to.  It give me something to look forward to.   It’s a wonderful feeling to know our 15th wedding anniversary is right around the corner, and our marriage is stronger than ever.

We’re turning a new corner in our marriage, and we feel like God is truly blessing us in this season of our lives amidst the turmoil that seems all around us.  Thank you, Lord, for always being there…especially  when we need you most…

Unhealthy Expectations

“I did a search for christian dominatrix. My husband is not a christian and expects so much of me and I am willing, but  I don’t know how to go to the extreams that he wants. He is into humiliation and pain which I see you guys don’t condone, but I don’t know how to fulfill his desires for that. He is really into porn and has had girlfriends all over the US. He has also paid dom’s to tell him what to do. I got involved once and it was ok, but I hated having a 3rd party involved in our sex life. I am not creative to txt him msgs to do and when I try to do it at home he blows me off. He wants me to dominate him, but won’t let me. I am a very very very sexual person. We have had sex once or twice if I was lucky since beginning of Feb. I try to dress up I try to do so much. He is very physical like smacking and grabbing my butt chest etc. outside the bedroom, but he never never initiates sex and when I do I am expected to do all the work. I have begged him to tie me up and tease me, but no cigar. I tried to text him today like your article said that I was enjoying myself and I would show him what I was up to later and he just said. OK and didn’t care. I feel hopeless that I will never have the sex life I want with him. I am so frustrated.”

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We decided to consult a professional on this email and so here is the response from Lauren Jordan, Certified Sex Therapist:

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I can hear how hurt and frustrated you are.  I would urge you to insist to your husband that you start sex therapy as a couple immediately.  From what you are saying, your relationship sounds very one-sided – with you putting all the effort into it, while he stays in a position of denying your desires, and demanding things from you.  This is not healthy, and it will take the help of a skilled therapist to help you two move out of this very negative and destructive pattern.  I can also imagine that he may not agree to go to therapy – but I don’t see how this can get better without both of you working hard to resolve these differences.

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Lauren Jordan, LCSW, CST
Free Libido Quiz

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Q&A: Sexual Difficulties After Childbirth

“About 2 years ago I delivered a gigantic baby for my little frame. In the course of delivery I had to have an episiotomy and I tore all the way through to my anus. This has caused lots of problems ever since. I’ve had trouble with my bowel movements but it has also affected my sex life with my husband. I used to enjoy anal play a lot. Now, that was obviously put on hold for a long time while I was healing. I expected to recover fully after a few months, but pain and bleeding still plague me. This was a particularly fun spice to our sex life, but can now be a source of frustration. I was wondering if you had any advice that may bring back the enjoyment we once shared.”

I can totally relate to the traumatic birth.  My first child was so large that I received a 4th degree tear almost to my anus as well.  Not fun.  I, too, struggled with how to get back to our normal sex life after giving birth.  It wasn’t easy and it did take a long time.  In fact, it wasn’t until after our second child was born that things ever got back to some kind of normal for me.  I understand your frustration.

Give it time.  I remember hearing other women say that they were all healed up by their six week postpartum check up, and doing just fine.  Naturally, I expected it to be the same way for me.  So you can imagine how I felt, when, a year after giving birth, I was still experiencing pain with penetration during sex, and couldn’t even think about anal (like you, anal play/sex was always a fun spice for us).  As time went on, things improved.  I was able to finally have intercourse without that initial pain, and we were able to bring back anal play/sex for the most part.  It just took much longer than I had thought it would take.

Just because other women heal quickly doesn’t mean that your body will respond in the same way.  You may need more time than you think.  Try not to frustrate yourselves by continually trying to have anal sex each time you are intimate.  My advice is to stop trying (for now).  Yes, it used to be something that you looked forward to, but your circumstances have changed.  It may just be that you need more time for your body to heal.

You also need to prepare yourself for the possibility that your body will not be able to incorporate anal sex anymore.  Things change, and sometimes we just have to accept it and move on.  Your season for that may be over, and if you find that to be the case, then I encourage you to look for something else to spice up your bedroom.  Don’t let it frustrate and discourage you.  You and your husband can use this as an opportunity to do some exploration and see what other things you two can find to spice things up!  There are so many other options that you two can investigate together, and you may find that process exhilarating!

Q&A: Painful Intercourse

My husband and I have been married for 5years and have two boys ages 4 and 1. We have never had a great sex life in the sense of intercourse. We have made do with oral sex for the majority of our marriage. Reason being, sex is painful for me. Still, after 5 years. We’ve tried everything I can think of and still nothing helps. We’ve tried more foreplay, more lubrication, less lubrication, more frequency(sex every day), less frequency (every other day…every week etc…), I’ve asked a dr. and they showed me a muscle I could try to relax, but still that hasn’t helped. I still hurt when we have sex, I have never once enjoyed sex, not in the slightest, it is painful the whole time and I don’t know what else to try.

I should mention that both of my sons were c-sections because my dr. told me my pelvis was too small to deliver them. So I have not had a vaginal birth, which after I got pregnant with my 1st I was hoping that would help my problem with how tight I am.

What else can we do?? I don’t know what the problem is, I’ve tried relaxing, we’ve tried different positions, it’s just so tight and it stings with almost every lubrication we’ve tried, and it feels dry no matter how much lubrication we use.

We invited Lauren Jorden to respond to this question and her response is below.

What you are describing is called Dyspareunia – which means, painful intercourse.  You may also have some involuntary muscle spasms, which can in some cases make intercourse impossible.  When intercourse is impossible, we call that Vaginismus.  There is treatment for this very frustrating problem.  Usually a combination of sex therapy – where you would talk with someone specifically trained to look at any thoughts, feelings or anything traumatic in your past, which could be contributing to the problem.  The other part of treatment would be to work with a Physical Therapist who is specifically trained in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.  In Dallas, the Dallas Center for Women’s Sexual Wellness is a wonderful resource for women who need the Physical Therapy.  It is important to address both the mind and the body part of the problem for the best recovery.  So there is hope!  Unfortunately, some ob/gyns are not familiar with this problem at all, and do not know how to help their patients in this area.

If you don’t live in Dallas, you could still call the Dallas Center to ask for a referral in your area.  Their number is 214-818-5300. Good luck.

Lauren Jordan, LCSW
Certified Sex Therapist

Q&A: Husband Deployed

“Im a US Marine, currently deployed to Iraq and my question is what can I do for my wife to keep intimacy alive in the relationship. She sends me pictures and videos and things of that nature, but im curious as if you might have any ideas to what I can do for her.”

Being away from your spouse for an extended period of time can be difficult.  I applaud your wife for sending you pics and videos!  I know you are limited in what you can do for her, but a couple of things did cross my mind as I sat and thought about this email.  Let me give a few suggestions, and then if our readers have any more ideas I’m sure they’ll leave them in the comment section.

Write her a love letter. Not the normal “this is what is going on here and I hope things are going well for you there” type of letter.  A REAL LOVE LETTER.  The kind of letter that teenagers write to each other in high school instead of doing their algebra.  Pour out your heart in the letter and tell her exactly how much she means to you.  Be descriptive about your feelings and go into detail about why you feel that way.  Tell her how beautiful she is and describe some of the things that you most admire about her.  Tell her how you can’t wait to be with her again, and, if you know that she’d like to hear it, then tell her exactly what you want to do to/with her once you are back home in her arms.  Women love to read mushy emotional letters that are written from the heart.  You can’t go wrong here.

Write her some poetry. Again, this is something that can touch a woman’s soul.  Knowing that you spent hours, if not days, trying to come up with just the right words for your poem will mean the world to her.

Videotape yourself singing her a song. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the world’s best singer.  Think back to the song played at your wedding, or your favorite song while you were dating.  Just think of some song that you know will touch her and bring back special memories for her.  Cut on your video camera (borrow one from a friend if you need to) or use your webcam to video yourself singing it to her.  If you play guitar (or other instrument) and have one there, then that’s even better!  You may even be able to recruit your buddies to be back up singers for you!  Another suggestion is to write her an original song and sing that to her.  Believe me when I say that she will be listening to the words and watching your body language and taking a trip down memory lane (and possibly shedding some tears) and will not even notice that you are off tune! 🙂

Make an erotic video for her. Of course I had to throw this one in!  This is only if you have the privacy to do so.  If your wife is a visual woman, then she may appreciate you putting on a show for her… rub yourself on camera and talk to her while you are doing it.  Tell her how you wish she were there and what you’d love to do with her if she were.  Describe how you would make love to her and use language that you know she likes to hear.  Just remember to be very careful and not leave video files such as this on a shared computer.

These are the things off the top of my head.  Hopefully you’ll get some other ideas and suggestions from the women who read and contribute on our site.  Thank you for your service to our country and God bless you and your wife!

Cutting the Apron Strings (part 2)

This is a continuation of the Cutting the Apron Strings (part one).   In this article,  I will start with the parents.  Do you want to be a great inlaw?  You are in some good and bad company.  In the history of the Bible, there are some great and not so great inlaws.   How about Saul?  How would you rate him as a father in law?  I feel bad for his daughter, Michel.    She is given to David in marriage in hopes that David will be killed while trying to meet her dowry.   When this doesn’t happen, he constantly puts his daughter in the position of “you either side with Daddy or you side with your husband”.    I am sure in the beginning of my marriage, my own dad may have been that way.   Even though he always told me that his job was to raise me to give me away, he still  lost his little girl.    Let’s look at some good inlaws now.  How about Naomi?   When Ruth’s husband died, she was ready to give up her relationship with her daughter in law.  She must have been a darn good one if Ruth wanted to stay with her!   Or how about Jethro?  What kind of father in law was he to Moses?

Parents, if you want to be able to have a good relationship with your child who is marrying and his/her spouse, you’ve got to let them leave.   It is something that I haven’t experienced from the parent angle yet, but as the child who’s parent is hanging on, it doesn’t make things easy at all.   Parents, you’ve got to cut the counseling strings.   If your daughter or son comes to you, spilling their guts out to you, don’t say a word.   Dr. Young suggests these things… back up…shut up… pray a lot… listen and encourage.   Don’t take sides.    In this way, you can be a parent to both your child AND your DIL/SIN (son in law…not sin!  LOL)   Cut the economic strings…you can give economic help, but leave no strings attached to it.   “Since I paid for your marriage, I expect you to take care of me in my old age”or “since I helped pay for all this baby stuff, I need to be the first grandparent called to babysit”…um, no.   You can make an arrangement that it be paid back, but do not put stipulations on it.   Let your kids leave you.  Let them spread their wings and fly.  I know you’ve BTDT, but you’ve got to let them learn how to do it on their own.   It will build a very strong marriage for your children.  It will help them learn to let their own children leave someday when it comes time for them.

Alright, if you are on the “child” side of the coin, here’s my advice for you.  To have a successful marriage, you need to also leave the following things…

1. leave your parents:  Sometimes we need to create boundaries with our parents. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? We need to let them know that we love them, and we are grateful for the love, support and training that they have given us, but once we marry, we have created a new family that needs to be able to spread its wings and fly. This does not dishonor your parents by any means…it can actually honor them by not placing them in the situation where they have to take sides.   And depending on the parent, they might take yours or they might take your SPOUSES!  This can be hard on a young couple in their 20’s, but it can be just as hard for those marrying later in life as well. It is wonderful when you can be bailed out by your family, but the longer you take to learn to bail yourself out, the harder it is on your marriage.

2. leave people/former relationships: your mate is #1.   You can’t keep your weekly pool matches with your drinking buddies.  My own shopping sprees with my mom and sister…I really needed to leave them behind.  Anything that takes a lot of your time, it takes away from your spouse.   Now I’m not saying that a once a month GNO is bad, sometimes we need it, but it needs to be that…once a month.   We should be dating our spouse more than our friends.   Leave your past relationships behind.   There is no reason to compare your spouse to someone from the past…or someone you wish you had married instead…your grass can be just as green as what’s on the other side of the fence if you properly water and care for it.   Leave those emotional attachments in the past.

3. leave problems behind:  when you carry baggage around with you, it affects communication, sex life, etc.   1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” If there is something to confess about, confess it to God, confess to your spouse, and don’t forget to forgive yourself!

4. leave places, too:   don’t compare to past places.  The good old days are in the past.  You are in the present.  There are good times to come, too with your spouse.

I hope that I have learned enough about God’s plan for marriage that when my two children get married someday, that I can help them leave our home and create their own bond with their spouses without any interference from me. Our job is to raise God fearing children and prepare them to fly out of our nest to build their own.

I would like for you to share your experiences below and any advice you may have for our readers who are engaged or newly married…lessons you have learned from your own experience. But remember this from the Gospel of Matthew “ “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matt 19:4-6) Do not let anything separate you from (1) God and (2) your spouse….including attachments to your “old home”.

Q&A: Getting Over the Sexual Past of Your Spouse

A few weeks ago we discussed Letting Go of Your Past and now I wanted to take some time to talk about the issues associated with having stayed sexually pure while your spouse may not have done the same. We have had many people write in regarding this issue and the circumstances have really run the gamut. Some married just a few years. Some married for decades. It has been mostly sad to me how someone can hold something like this against their spouse for so long. There are some sins in Christian circles that just seem to be “deal breakers” when in comes to grace and mercy, and in particular sexual sins really fall into this category. I don’t know why, but within marriage it is even sadder when I read things in the Christian Nympho email inbox such as:

My wife had several sexual partners before we got together.  She is my only sexual partner.  It’s always been very difficult for me to deal with her sexual past.  I believe it’s because I dont really understand it!  I never had any trouble abstaining from sex, even when I was faced many times with the oppertunity.  She was raised in a christian family, and knew it was sinful, etc., but she still led a very promiscuous life before me.

And:

About six months after we started dating and after we had slept together, she told me she was not a virgin. I was crushed with a tidal wave of grief.

Both of these are from men, but women have written us and struggle with the same thing. There are two common threads in these emails which are important to recognize if you are struggling with this same thing. First of all, although the husband or wife is lamenting that their spouse did not stay pure for them, many times they also compromised their purity with them before they were married and had had some form of premarital sex. If you can relate to this aspect, please extend grace and refrain from attempting to hold your spouse to a higher standard than what you have held yourself to. Ask your husband or wife for forgiveness for not honoring them and ask the Lord to restore you both.

Secondly, it is very common in emails like this for a husband or wife to want to know the details about their spouse’s past. What they did. How many times. Who with. Somehow they think it will help them get some piece of mind, but it really doesn’t. I am not promoting that a spouse be deceitful and present themselves as something they are not, but I would encourage you, if you are struggling with this, to respect that a person who has confessed to the Lord and been forgiven needs to have their spouse be their biggest voice of freedom rather than continuing to bring up their past.

I can appreciate how painful it is to know that your spouse has had sex with other people, but really when you don’t forgive them you are allowing the enemy to have authority in your marriage and rob you of what God wants to release for you. Your spouse can not change their past and it’s too easy to allow these things to become idols in our hearts. As well, forgiving them allows you to become a safe sexual release for them. If they don’t have to worry about what you think about their sexuality, they can be free to enjoy the marriage bed you share.

I know this can be a difficult road, but it’s important for the health of your marriage. If you have encountered this and have some insight to share from your experience, please feel free to participate in the discussion.

Cutting the Apron Strings (part 1)

God never intended for man to be alone.   When he created all the animals, he had Adam name them all.  While naming them all, Adam realized that all the animals had a partner.  He kept looking and looking, but no suitable partner for him could be found.   When God saw how lonely Adam was he created Eve.   He placed Adam in a deep sleep and from his side, he took a rib and fashioned a woman.   Adam named her Eve.  I was pondering this while listening to a radio program one day.  Do you realize that Eve didn’t come from Adam’s head, to be head over him….she didn’t come from his feet, so that she would be trampled by him, but she came from his side…in which she is always under his arm, and equal partner.  I find that totally romantic!

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. “ (Genesis 2:24)  I didn’t remember this, but do you realize that God used this verse 5 times in the Bible?  Pretty incredible.   God really meant what he said.  But you see,  Adam and Eve had it easy. No wedding to plan, no parents to argue over where the wedding will be, or what will the reception menu be, or who do you invite/not invite…. No ex-boyfriends to compare to.  No other women to gawk at…No in-laws!  They were a couple that was perfectly made for each other. Match made in heaven. The Bible makes no claim of a wedding because God created the perfect partner (helpmate) for Adam in the Garden of Eden. Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if it were that way for everyone? As a newlywed couple almost 15 years ago, my husband had a pretty easy time “leaving” his family and uniting with me. He had been pretty independent mostly growing up. His parents were divorced, and he had to do a lot for himself. For me, on the other hand, it was very hard to let go of my family. I was the biggest Daddy’s girl in the world. My Dad did everything with me. He was not only my Dad, he was the shoulder I cried on. He was my coach in softball every season I played. He was my biggest cheerleader in when I played in band or on the basketball squad. He took me to the Varsity boy’s basketball home games to see my latest “crush” in HS, knowing I was watching my latest crush and not the game. He did everything possible for me. My Mom always took great care of our household. We had the best tasting, most nutritious meals every night. She was always home when we got home from school. If I woke up with bad monthly cramps, she was the one up at 2am with me, making me hot tea to comfort me. I had a very close family. We did anything for anyone and didn’t think twice about it, so even though they threw the rice at us and decorated our getaway car with balloons and misspelled words on the car, there were still “apron strings” that were firmly left in my former home that still had an attachment to me. We had a very hard first few years in our marriage. It took me awhile to see that my family was my husband and my young son now. I had to learn how to put them first before my family of origin. I literally needed to learn how to forsake the dependence I had on my parents. I now had to put the best interest of my family (me, dh and ds) forefront in my life. That was the hardest lesson I had to learn. I struggled between the commitment I had to my husband and honoring my parents. In a way, I have to say living 250 miles away from my parents made it somewhat easier. There was no way to “run home to Mama” anytime the least little thing went wrong.

I was listening to a radio program recently by Dr. Ed Young from Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX.   His radio show aired their “Thou Shalt Cut the Apron Strings” program about the same time I started writing this article!  It was an incredible miracle of God to hear about this exact thing I was writing on!    There are 3 operative words in the verse I quoted above from Genesis…leave, cleave and flesh.   We all know what leave means…it means GO!  Cleave, Dr. Young said, is comparable to super glue.   You are supposed to stick to your man and nothing should tear you apart.   Flesh…ah, in this part of the verse, we need to use divine math.   1+1=1!  One flesh unity, one agenda unity, one family unit…you get the point.

I was reading also recently that there are 3 checks to see if you have completely left your old family and united with your spouse. The first one is emotional. Have you left your parents emotional control or are you still looking to them for support and approval? I had been so used to my old life. Going out shopping with my mom and sister whenever we got together… any time we visited, we did that and left my hubby at my parents house with the baby. Can you tell the kind of view he had of my parents the first couple of years of our marriage?   He didn’t like to visit because no one visited with him!  There were also many times I felt like calling my mom and dad and crying “Mr. Nutmeg hurt my feelings by doing this…”, but there was always something keeping me from doing that…I realize now it was God. Your parents will always have empathy for you, and there is no sense in souring their relationship with your spouse by telling them every little thing that is going wrong. That Mama and Papa Bear mentality will always be there for their little Baby bear. Quit telling your parents every little thing your DH does.   That is for you to work out with your spouse.   Your parents have already done their time in supporting and protecting you. It is now time to hand that role over to your spouse completely.

The second one is your financial areas. Starting out as a newlywed couple can be very hard. If you are used to depending on your parents for help with everything, it can be very hard not to “run to Daddy” when the going gets tough. We both started out with debts to our names…college loans, credit card bills, a car note…you name it.   We got pregnant within the first 5 months of our marriage, so now we had to buy baby things…cribs, clothes, car seats, strollers…not to mention diapers, formula…. and our jobs were seasonal. We only really worked while school was in session. We could still work during the summer, but we always had a huge cut in income. There were times that we ran to his “Mommy” or “Daddy” to help us pay rent or an electric bill. Over the years, we have become much better at putting our money aside for the summer to cover our big expenses.  Don’t run to Daddy for the down payment on your first home…save your money for the down payment.   It means more to you if you had to work hard to get your home with your own money than if you borrow it from family.  There is a string that they will always have attached to you.   Sometimes in those first few years of marriage you have to live pretty meagerly, but it really makes it worthwhile in the long run to see your hard work pay off.

The last area is in decision making. As a couple, it is so important that you make your own decisions. It is great to be able to bounce it off a “voice of experience” like your parents, but be sure that the final decision is yours, meaning you and your spouse. For example, when DH and I met, I considered myself a Catholic. The first Christmas while we were dating, I took him to a Midnight Mass….in which this Baptist raised boy felt SO out of place. He didn’t know anything about the liturgy that was going on…. For me, the Baptist church was very radical from what I grew up knowing. We mutually decided to get married in my Mom’s Lutheran church. It felt like a “happy medium” to both of us (and we loved her pastor!) But after the wedding was over, then the task set in to find a church to raise our children in…. we looked at more Lutheran churches where we lived and never really found a home. DH took me to a nondenominational Bible Church, and we immediately found a home that we felt really comfortable with. My parents….to say they were mortified was probably an understatement. My dad (remember? My biggest cheerleader growing up?) labeled me a “Bible thumper”. I cannot tell you how much that hurt. We stayed at that church for 10 years. I was already a believer for about 4 years, and I struggled with baptism. My parents baptized me when I was a baby. For them that was good enough, and I didn’t need to be baptized again. When I decided to follow the Biblical model of baptism, I was really hurt that my parents didn’t come. It was their way of disagreeing with my decision, but it didn’t change my decision. I think that was one of the first steps I took, realizing that I needed to do what was best for me and my family. I still respect and remain in a good relationship with my parents, but I can tell you, it is different than when I was single and at home with them. Now my home is in the Nutmeg household.

Please be sure to tune in for Part 2 of this article in which we’ll talk about the responsibility of parents who have a child who is marrying, and the children who are getting married.

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