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Sarah PeacheyBringing intimacy and faith to the forefront of marriage

by Sarah Peachey

The Love Dare: Days 15- 21

            After my husband and I were engaged in 2008, we went to our church to ask the pastor if he would agree to marry us. Little did we know that we were required to participate in marriage counseling, paired with a more experienced mentor couple from the church. We were paired with fellow church members, Wanda and John, who were an amazing example of a solid marriage. For about three months, we met with them each week, doing a sort of Bible study combined with discussion.

            Here is a list of this week’s Dares:
            • Day 15 — Love is honorable: “Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine.”

            • Day 16 — Love intercedes: “Begin praying today for your spouse’s heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse’s life and in your marriage.”

            • Day 17 — Love promotes intimacy: “Determine to guard your mate’s secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them.”

            • Day 18 — Love seeks to understand: “Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you . . . Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about.”

            • Day 19 — Love is impossible: “Look back over the dares from previous days. Were there some that seemed impossible to you?”

            • Day 20 — Love is Jesus Christ: “Dare to talk to God at His Word. Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. Dare to pray.”

            • Day 21 — Love is satisfied in God: “Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible.”

            This week was a tougher week to write about. When I began “The Love Dare” journey, I stated I would try to keep the Dares as secular as possible. As you can see, this week is more difficult, but I think I can find a way to apply it to everyone. For anywhere you see the term “faith” insert whatever suits you — spirituality, a specific religion or just a general sense of morality.

            This week’s “Love Dare” brought me back to those weeks with Wanda and John. The week centered on two important aspects of marriage — intimacy and faith — much of which we discussed during our counseling sessions.

            Our first meeting with Wanda and John involved a nice dinner as an icebreaker. We didn’t know them very well, but were lovedarepreparing to share some very intimate details of our relationship with total strangers. When I say intimate details, I don’t mean sexual details. Rather, I mean things people don’t often discuss openly. We all have our own “secrets” we choose to keep to ourselves or only reveal once we feel like we can open up to our friends or mates.

            Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable at first. Before we could begin the whole counseling session, we had to start with a Scantron sheet. Yes, it was just like taking the SAT’s, but there were no wrong answers. We viewed a list of 156 statements and answered agree, disagree or undecided. The point was to answer honestly. The answers would be processed and scored. If we responded differently, we had to discuss them.

            The statements ranged from very mild to extremely intimate. Things I didn’t really discuss with people outside of my (now) husband. Here are just a few:

            • Question 2: “I want a strong sexual relationship in marriage.” There isn’t anything wrong with the statement, but it isn’t really one I want to discuss with anyone but my husband (Ditto on the question about family planning).

            • Question 25: “I am concerned that my future spouse spends money foolishly.” People rarely like to speak openly about finances, whether good or bad.

            • Question 120: “I consider a personal faith in God an important ingredient in our marriage.” Again, nothing wrong with the question, but people don’t normally discuss these things openly. At least not in my experience.

            Along with discussing some of our differing responses each week, we also had a Bible study to help establish a guide for our marriage (one part was even used during our marriage ceremony). Over time, we became comfortable enough to discuss our varying answers not only with each other, but also in front of Wanda and John. They often shared some of the problems they experienced within their own marriage. It helped us come together and allowed us to open up about the intimate details without fear of judgment. Almost five years later, we still keep in touch and meet up with them when we visit our family.

            heart-milspouse-wordsOur experience with Wanda and John taught me some important lessons. In marriage, we’re forced to grow together intimately and often times within our own faiths or morality. We grow to trust our spouses with our secrets, our hearts and even our sanity. Our homes should be that place of safety and security, where we can let loose. We communicate with our spouses about our successes and our failures, which can often leave us feeling vulnerable. When that trust is established, both people in the relationship will feel more at ease, knowing they’re accepted.

            Sometimes things get bad in a marriage and it can happen for multiple reasons. What’s important is finding a way to work it out. Faith can help guide you, change you and heal you. When things get bad, it’s important to know where to look for help. If you follow a faith, you can seek out religious leaders to help counsel you. If you aren’t of a faith, there are plenty of marriage counselors out there that use a secular method to heal the relationship. Either way, allow your faith or morality to guide you through your marriage. Pray together, worship together, focus on each other and be together. It will direct you toward healing and help keep the entire relationship strong and lasting.

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            Sarah Peachey is a 20-something journalist from the northeast, living in the Southwest near Fort Huachuca, AZ with her husband, two furbabies and infant daughter. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an installation newspaper, winning three state awards for her work, and now freelances for military spouse support sites. She is an active blogger on MilitaryOneClick and her blog, “Stetsons, Spurs and Stilettos.” She enjoys spending her days on the shooting range or at home with a good book. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast and artist.

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To read all of Sarah’s Love Dare blogs, please click here.

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