Marriage Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Imperfect Homemaker

Category Archives for Marriage

Love & Respect Equates Theory with Scripture

Does Love & Respect weight the author's theory equally with scripture? Let's take a closer look:

In chapter one, the author lays out “The Secret Hidden in Ephesians 5:33” (p. 14). 

He says:

“Paul is clearly saying that wives need love and husbands need respect…As I will show throughout this book, the Love and Respect Connection is the key to any problem in a marriage. This is not just a nice little theory to which I added a few Bible verses.” (p. 15)


First, the author says that this Love and Respect Connection is the key to any problem in a marriage and is not just a theory to which he added Bible verses. He states in the introduction that this message on Love and Respect was God’s revelation to him and that these “essential truths…will never change — not any more than God Changes.” He tells the readers definitively that “The Love and Respect connection is clearly within Scripture” (p. 16). Pastors and counselors recommend the book as Biblical, and the description of the book states that it teaches husbands and wives (by means of the Love and Respect Connection) how to deal with conflict “Biblically.”


The result of understanding the Love and Respect Connection as “not just a nice little theory”, but as the clear revelation of God means that it is absolute truth and should not be questioned. It means it will have “everything to do with the kind of marriage you will have” (p. 15).

But if you take a closer look at his language, and also dig around in the endnotes, it becomes evident that Eggerich’s “Love & Respect Connection” is indeed only a theory and not an essential truth that will never change.


He refers to “my theory” twice on page 16, and another time on page 19. He says on page 17 that it is his experience as a counselor which confirms the truth to him that the wife primarily needs to feel love and the husband primarily needs to feel respect. Nowhere else in the book does he use any other scripture to back up the idea of the Love and Respect Connection. It is based only on his theory and his experience. Hidden in the endnotes in the back of the book is his admission that the Love & Respect Connection is his theory of Ephesians 5:33 and not actually the theology of it (p. 319).


This blurring of the lines between theology and theory does two things. First, it leads the reader to believe that what they are reading is unchangeable Biblical truth and must be followed unquestioningly.

Second, it increases the appetite of the reader to excitedly devour the contents of the book. Although it is presented as unchanging truth, it is simultaneously presented as a revolutionary secret. “This is the key that I have been missing;” “You connected all the dots for me;” and “You’re onto something huge here;” are all quotes that are used on the back of the book and as advertising material on retailer websites. 


If something is unchanging, Biblical truth then it is not a secret, revolutionary idea. But if it is only a theory, then it is wrong to claim that it is unchanging, Biblical truth.


Let me be clear. Ephesians 5:33 as it stands is unchanging, Biblical truth. 


But Eggerich’s “discovery” (p. 4) of “The Love and Respect Connection” is only his theory of how Ephesians 5:33 should be applied and not the unchanging revelation of God which he leads the reader to believe in the introduction.


The Love And Respect Connection, in a nutshell, is that love is a woman’s deepest need and respect is a man’s deepest need, and that when each partner meets this deepest need of their spouse, marital conflict will cease.


This one-size-fits-all formula is the theory which I am challenging. Although I have no objection whatsoever to an author presenting their theory, I do have a problem with someone writing an entire book that leads people to believe their theory is the unchanging word of God. The Ephesian husbands were commanded to love their wives and the Ephesian wives were commanded to respect their husbands, and that is all that one can unequivocally state from Ephesians 5:33. Nowhere does it say that this is because a man's deepest need is respect and a woman's is love, and nowhere in Love & Respect does the author attempt to prove this concept from any other portion of Scripture either. That is because it is only a theory, and not something on which every couple can hang their hat.


Theories can help people — when they know that they are theories and may or may not work for them.


But theories can also hurt people when they believe they are absolute truth and must be followed.


How many tender-hearted people with very complex issues within their marriage have endured years of unnecessary conflict because they chose to be obedient to what they were led to believe was God's unchanging truth and the key to any marriage problem?


All the posts about Love & Respect will be housed here.



Can Christian Marriage Books Harm Women? A Review of The Great Sex Rescue

Can Christian marriage books actually harm women? (Spoiler alert, the answer is yes.)



Sheila Gregoire, who blogs at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has written for years about the topic of sex in marriage, and over the years as she walked with women through their struggles in this area, she noticed that no matter how much healthy content she put out there, people still had the same questions and problems.


As she asked more questions of people and dug deeper, she learned that most people who were experiencing significant obstacles to physical intimacy with their spouse held deeply entrenched beliefs about sex that they had obtained from Christian marriage books. Some of the beliefs were good, but some were not. Some were subtly harmful, and some were more overt.



Here are some of the harmful ideas the women Sheila talked to had gotten from Christian marriage books:


-A wife cannot ever say no to her husband when he wants sex.

-Wives need to have frequent sex to prevent their husbands from pornography or affairs.

-Women whose husbands are addicted to pornography or have committed adultery are partially to blame.

-Wives whose bodies are not attractive as they used to be (even from life’s normal changes and not from lack of care) should work harder to be “hot” so their husbands won’t be tempted to lust after women with better looking bodies.

-Women’s pleasure during sex is not important; only the man’s.

-Husbands are entitled to having sex whenever and however they want with no say-so from the wife.


The effects that these ideas have on women are devastating.


Feeling obligated to have sex or feeling afraid that she is responsible for keeping her husband from sin makes a woman feel resentful, fearful, or used. In many cases those beliefs are the underlying source of sexual pain.

No one should experience physical or emotional pain from sex with their spouse. Sex should not leave a wife feeling resentful or fearful or used or even frustrated. Sex should be about experiencing deeper intimacy and oneness with one’s spouse.



As Sheila continued to ask more questions of the women who were reading her blog, she had her attention drawn to the fact that a best selling marriage book, Love & Respect, was the most frequently mentioned Christian marriage book that had done significant harm to women.

 (Side note: As someone who works with Christian women escaping domestic abuse, I can tell you that if you ask around among these women, you will learn that Love & Respect was their abuser’s playground. An abusive man uses the term “respect” as a weapon to control his wife. Any time she refuses his unreasonable demands he claims that he does not feel respected by her and that is why he acts unloving to her. He holds basic kindness hostage, knowing she will strive to meet every demand in order to feel loved. And when she still does not receive love from her husband, she believes it is her fault because she still failed to make him feel respected. Instead of realizing that this form of coercive control is abuse, she believes from the book that she can help him be more loving to her by doing whatever it is that he says makes him feel respected. She does not realize that there will be no end to his demands. No husband should be making demands, large or small, of his wife, and to do so by manipulating her desire to be a godly wife is ungodly on his part. There is nothing in the Love & Respect book that explains to a woman that this dynamic is abusive. Any offhanded disclaimer that a woman experiencing abuse should seek help is of no value because virtually all abuse victims do not even realize what they are experiencing is abuse. This is especially true if the abuse is perpetuated without physical violence but instead by using a godly wife’s tender heart against her by making her feel that she is to blame because she somehow failed as a wife.) Update: After more questions, I've started working my way through writing an entire series that explains the problems with Love & Respect very thoroughly. You can read the series on Love & Respect here.

So horrific was the abuse being perpetuated in the name of this book that Sheila tried to reach out to Focus on the Family (whose logo appears on the book and who promotes the book heavily) to make them aware of the hundreds of women who had told their stories of having Love & Respect weaponized against them by abusive husbands. She thought they would be horrified that so many women were being abused with this book’s ideas as one of the primary weapons. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be concerned. In fact, they at first ignored her altogether, and then ultimately stated that Sheila’s efforts to raise awareness about the problem was a “concerted campaign against the book” and that she was at fault for having misread and misjudged the book.


But here’s the thing. Perhaps enabling abusive men to use the book to control their wives was not the intention of this book. But that can’t erase the fact that hundreds of abusive men ARE using the book as an excuse to control their wives.

If someone misunderstands your words in a way that hurts them, wouldn’t you want to re-frame what you said in a way that undoes the harm? If having your words misunderstood in a way that harms women is regularly occurring why would you actively promote the words that are harming people? Why wouldn’t you seek to ascertain what is causing the misunderstanding and then re-word what you want to say in a way that cannot be misunderstood and cannot hurt people?  (Here is a link to an open letter Sheila wrote to Focus on the Family about Love & Respect.) 



If you are in a good marriage with a loving husband, perhaps your mind is having a hard time grasping exactly what I mean by “harm.” I understand. I have been there too. I have seen women who speak about their pain and thought, “Phsst. She just needs to grow up and quit getting her feelings hurt so easily.” Abuse and the emotional pain that women experience at the hands of a controlling, selfish husband is only a vague, nondescript idea in the mind of someone who has never experienced it.

It is only when you sit and listen to their stories – their descriptions of living in a world where they have no human value and are nothing other than an object to be played with – that you can begin to grasp how “not okay” we should be with what is happening to them.

I wish I could invite you to hear the stories I hear. Stories from women in churches just like yours. Stories where everything looks nice on the outside, but at home behind closed doors wives are made to stay up all night scrubbing the grout on the tile with a toothbrush while largely pregnant. Stories where their husbands will not give them money for groceries until they fulfill his repulsive sexual fantasies. They are told they are lazy and stupid when dinner is on the table five minutes later than their husband said it had to be. And then they clean it all up after he throws it on the floor. They listen to his words as he screams that he wouldn't have done that if she hadn't been so lazy. When they go to their pastor's wife, they timidly try to tell her that things are not going so well at home, but they don't realize they should tell her they're being abused. After all, they've read Love & Respect at the ladies Bible study, and want to be a godly wife, so they think that their husband won't do that anymore if he feels more respected. They will just work harder to get dinner on the table faster next time. Meanwhile, the pastor's wife, believing there are only some hiccups or communication gaps, gives her a different book to read which reinforces more of the wrong concepts she believes. “Maybe if I give him more sex he won't feel so grouchy.”

I cannot invite you to listen to these women's stories because they are theirs to share when and how they want. However, I can share the collection of public comments that Sheila compiled from her blog posts about Love & Respect. Comments where women told of how Love & Respect affected them. I invite you to browse the document and just listen to some of the snapshots of these women's lives. Don't listen to object, (“but that's not at all what I got out of that part of the book!”); don't listen to dismiss (“she used a curse word in her comment; her story is invalid!”); just listen. Listen to love your neighbor and to feel what she has felt. Your analysis can come later after you have taken the time to just listen. Please be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19.)

You'll see stories like this:

“I can attest firsthand that following this theology with my abusive husband almost left me dead by his
hand. When we first dated/married, I would stand up to him when he was in one of his rages, and when
our marriage was fractured I turned to biblical advise to learn how to “fix” what was obviously my issue
if he was constantly so unhappy. When I lost my fight, so to speak, he turned even more dangerous, trying to provoke me into a fight. I left the day he genuinely tried to choke me to death, and I refused to stand up to him. I now know I did everything I could to save our marriage, but following this bad advice to be even more submissive almost cost me my life.”

Here is a link to the complete data compilation of comments Sheila received about Love & Respect.


Although the question as to whether or not Christian marriage books can be harmful has already been answered, perhaps the bigger question is, “Should we be okay with things as they are when our Christian marriage resources are being weaponized against women? If we liked a book and found it helpful should we dismiss the voices of those who were hurt by that same book?”



The disheartening realization that a bestselling Christian marriage book was actively harming women while still being intentionally promoted by a large Christian organization caused Sheila to wonder what other Christian marriage books might be contributing to the same problem.

She decided it was time for her to dig deeper into the beliefs that were hindering couples from experiencing true intimacy and re-frame those beliefs in a healthier way. 


The first step was to collect data on exactly what ideas Christian women were taking away when they read these books. Together with her daughter and her friend Joanna, an epidemiologist trained in statistics, she launched “The Bare Marriage Project,” which is the largest, most scientifically sound research project into Christian women’s experience that has been done to date. This project surveyed over 20,000 women asking about their sex lives, their marriages, their beliefs about sex after marriage, their upbringing, and more. The data collected from this survey gave Sheila and her colleagues the insight they needed to identify what wrong ideas women were believing about sex in marriage.


The next step was to create a rubric and use it to evaluate books on marriage and sex based on twelve teachings about female sexuality. Books could score between 0 and 48 points, with 0 being the most harmful and 48 being the most helpful when it came to what a book taught about sex in marriage. The scoring rubric evaluated what each book taught about: lust and infidelity (e.g. whether a wife holds any responsibility for her husband’s sexual sin,) women’s sexual pleasure (e.g. does it emphasize that sex is meant to be mutually pleasurable or is a man’s need for release all that is mentioned,) and mutuality (e.g. does it emphasize the husband's responsibility to work toward intimacy or are all the expectations placed upon the wife.) (Unfortunately, Love & Respect scored a zero.)


The final step was to write a book detailing what wrong ideas about sex in marriage women were believing, which books had the most likelihood of perpetuating those beliefs, and then rescuing and re-framing those beliefs in a healthier way. The goal was not to have the last word, but to open up the conversation and encourage husbands, wives, and church leaders to entertain different perspectives beyond those that circulate in the best selling Christian books.


The result of this effort is called The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended.

The Great Sex Rescue Christian Marriage book


It is obvious that this project is of grave importance to Sheila because she cares so much about people, and she is not okay with Christian marriage books helping some people if they are also going to harm others. I fully stand behind her in that. 



I mentioned the problem of husbands using the premise of Love & Respect to control their wives, but I'd like to share some additional kinds of harm that have been done by popular Christian marriage books. I will let the data speak for itself, in the form of quotes from The Great Sex Rescue:


-“Women who get married believing they need to have sex with their husbands to help prevent their porn use are 19% more likely to experience significant sexual pain unrelated to childbirth.”


-“What often makes this even worse for Christian women is that we feel like God condones our pain because we’re told the Bible says we can’t say no.”


-“To our amazement, and our great dismay, far too many Christian books include incidents of marital rape or other forms of sexual assault and then dismiss these incidents as unimportant.”

-“We are left with the strange situation in which the people who most strongly relate to the examples given in Christian marriage books are often the ones acting the least like Christ.”

-“We suspect that the teaching that sex is something men are owed by their wives is being used as a weapon by abusive husbands.” (As a domestic abuse advocate, I don’t just suspect this, I know it! It’s pretty much standard practice for abusers to use this concept as a weapon.)


-“When asked how they felt after sex, used was the word 16% of women in our follow-up survey chose.”


-“When the books, magazines, blogs, radio programs, and conferences in your Christian circle are all telling you that every time you say no to sex, you are being selfish due to the depth of his need, you may start feeling guilty about having any needs at all.”


-“Our concern is that many Christian books, in their efforts to free couples of sexual sin, reinforce pornography’s view of sex by encouraging men to use their wives’ bodies without consideration for their hearts.”


-“Of the thirteen Christian bestsellers we analyzed on our rubric, only three books asked all the following of husbands:

  • stay faithful (without offering caveats)
  • make sex pleasurable for her
  • do not insist or expect sex of any kind when your wife is physically or emotionally unwell
  • seek consent from your wife”


“However, these same books that couldn’t ask the bare minimum of men asked, on average, over five of the following of women (and five books asked all of them):

  • Have intercourse as frequently as the husband would like.
  • Have intercourse even if he is watching porn or has a lust problem.
  • Understand that without intercourse, her husband is more likely to have an affair, and if he does, it will be partly her fault.
  • Help him reach climax in some way even when she is on her period, recovering from postpartum and not sleeping, or during any other problem she may face, since her problems are not reasons to refuse sex.
  • Prevent weight gain to stay attractive.
  • Let her husband feel that he is a good lover (without necessarily any caveat that he should actually be a good lover.)
  • Initiate intercourse and be enthusiastic.”


“Instead of saying ‘no man should be satisfied unless his wife is also regularly satisfied,' too many books have said, ‘men feel more satisfied if their wives are satisfied, so wives — make sure you’re satisfied,' without any charge to him to care for her needs.”


Below are some additional comments I have seen made by other women that were unrelated to The Great Sex Rescue which confirm the far-reaching negative effects of these wrong ideas:


-“I actually followed this [advice to have sex regularly to keep him from affairs] to a T  in my first (very Christian) marriage. Not only did he take advantage of this but he cheated on me. Multiple times.”


-“Women were taught to prioritize meeting that “need” no matter what they were feeling emotionally or what else was going on in their marriage.”


-“What an overwhelming message to Christian women and wives: you are disposable and valuable only for what physical pleasure you bring to your husband. No wonder so many women are unhappy in their marriages and struggling to be a good spouse and still trust God.”



-Anyone who finds sex within marriage to be a source of guilt or shame

-Anyone who has found themselves in physical or emotional pain after sex.

-Anyone who fears that having sex too infrequently will drive their husband to pornography or adultery.

-Anyone who enjoys intimacy with their spouse, but also hates the days they feel obligated.




I am truly happy for you and thankful you are in a marriage where both spouses seek to love God and each other well. However, even if you are not personally experiencing any struggles with sexual intimacy in your marriage,  I still strongly recommend reading The Great Sex Rescue

First of all, it will empower you to recognize teachings that have the potential to harm others. When you have a husband who loves you as Christ loved the church, you will read marriage books through that lens and you will speak to other Christian women from that perspective. But women whose husbands are not loving them well will read the exact same books and see them in a way that places all the responsibility for their husband’s sin on them.
Knowing what harmful ideas other women are getting and which books they are getting them from will give you the ability to steer your friends and those you mentor away from anything that has the potential to damage them or damage their marriage. There is no need to recommend books that have the risk of causing harm when there are healthier alternatives available.


Second, when you start to examine unhealthy beliefs about marriage and sex, you may realize that some of what you believe yourself has also been harmful in subtle ways. I’m not saying that I hope you dredge up some imaginary marriage problem that you never knew you had, but it’s possible you may find yourself untangling ideas that are not quite right. I’ve discovered over the years that the more I read perspectives that are outside of my own, the more I grow as a person.


And that is really the heart that I see behind this book – to help you think about marriage and sex from a bigger perspective. You don’t need to agree with every single word written in the book – in fact, you probably won’t – but you should listen and learn and grow. You can do a world of good for others when you listen to their experiences. You can protect other women when you realize what angle they might be seeing a certain aspect of marriage from and why the explanation of it from popular books is not what they need to hear.


Together, we can work towards stopping the harm that Christian marriage books have done to women, and we can encourage them with better messages that can help them untangle the lies they have believed about God's wonderful gift of intimacy with their spouse.


You can pick up your copy of The Great Sex Rescue here.

The Day My Baby Went Missing From Her Crib


I sat up and groggily rubbed my eyes, then reached for my phone to check the time. Wow!  I'd slept really late!

And yet, I wasn't all that surprised.  My kids are all great sleepers, and considering the fact that we'd all been a little under the weather, I had gone to bed the night before assuming we would all sleep in.

I sat propped up in the bed trying to get myself completely awake, and after a couple minutes I heard the kids beginning to stir.  I knew they'd all be up soon.

The first sleepy-eyed child came tiptoeing into my room soon after, and I was looking forward to a couple minutes of snuggling before we began the day.

But he seemed timid about climbing into the bed.  “What's the matter?”  I asked.

“Is the baby sleeping your bed?” he questioned in reply.

“No…” I answered, somewhat puzzled.

“Well, where is she?  She's not in her crib.” He had a confused look on his face.

“Of course she is.  She was in our bed, but Daddy moved her to her crib when he left for work.”

“No!” he shook his head emphatically.  “It's just her blanket in there.”

“Well she must be under it,” I answered, knowing there had to be some logical explanation as to where she was.

“There's no way!  It's just wadded up small in the corner of the crib!”

Confused, I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, pulled on my bathrobe, and made my way to the girls' room.


EMPTY.  Her crib was most definitely empty.


Still half-asleep, I was trying to make some sense of where she could be.

She doesn't know how to climb out.

The “k” word briefly crossed my mind, but that didn't really make any sense.  There's absolutely zero possibility that family or friends would take her, and it didn't seem likely that a random stranger would break into the house, pick up my baby out of her crib, and then LOCK THE DOOR back when they left (yes, I had checked by this time to see if anything looked fishy about the door.)





I went around and checked in the beds of all the kids who were still sleeping.

I checked every nook and cranny of the house.

I checked the beds again.

I checked the nooks and crannies again.


While I was checking, I knew that the only reasonable explanation was that my husband had taken her to work.  But taking your toddler to work isn't exactly standard procedure, and he certainly hadn't said anything to me about it.


Once I had determined that she was nowhere in the house, I picked up the phone and dialed my husband's number.


I knew that this phone call would either satisfy my curiosity as to why he had taken the baby to work or else it would usher in sheer terror for our family.

As I was dialing, I heard one of the kids holler from the kitchen, “Dad took the Suburban to work!  And the diaper bag is gone!”

It seemed my little detectives were coming to the same conclusion I was.


I knew as soon as I heard the “Hey” on the other end that he was expecting me to call.

“Did……you…take the baby to work??” I asked inquisitively, knowing by now that the answer was yes, but still incredibly confused as to why.

“Yeah.  Did you get some sleep?” he nonchalantly replied.

“Well…yes…but…why did you take the baby to work?”

“I knew you hadn't slept well all week.  I really didn't think she was going to get back to sleep and I wanted you to be able to get some more sleep.”


It was all true.  I hadn't slept well all week thanks to a lovely head cold and neither had the baby.  We'd both been awakened early that morning as my husband was getting ready for work.  I brought her into my bed hoping I could snuggle her back to sleep, but she was very restless.


Once my husband was ready for work, he picked her up and took her back to bed.  “You're not going to get any sleep this way,” he told me.


Only he apparently wasn't putting her in bed; he was taking her to work with him.


“Why didn't you tell me?” I asked over the phone.

“Because I didn't want you worrying about whether she was okay or whether I was able to get my work done with her here.  I knew you'd sleep better if you didn't have anything on your mind.  And I knew you'd know where she was when you woke up.  So anyway, now I'll bring her back home.”


So now as she rests comfortably back in her bed, and I sit here reflecting on the events of this morning, I ask myself what point I'm trying to make by telling this story.


And I guess it's this:


I was able to stay calm and assume that my husband probably had her at work even though I couldn't think of a good reason why at the time.
And he was able to make a decision like that, knowing that my reaction would be pretty much exactly what it was.


Because we trust one another.  And we trust one another because we know each other well.  And we know each other well because we work hard at it!


  • Clear communication.
  • Spending one on one time together regularly.
  • Learning and making note of what makes the other person tick – what do they like, what do they dislike, what stresses them out, what helps them relax, etc.

These are all things we have to do to make sure we know each other well.





Daddy combing my hair



In conclusion, I have two things to be thankful for this weekend.

  1. That my little girl was safe and sound with her daddy.
  2. That her daddy loves both of us fiercely and works hard to show us that he does!



5 Reasons to Take a Marriage Retreat (And Where to Take It!)

“I'm just so tired!”

“I can't even think with all the kid-noise and clutter!”

“We haven't had a date in months!  We don't talk about anything other than what's on the to-do list!”

If you're feeling burnt out and disconnected from your spouse due to the busyness of life and the exhaustion of kids, it's time to take a marriage retreat!

There are 5 great reasons to take a marriage retreat that I can think of, though I'm sure there are more.


1. Time to pray together.

Hopefully you're already praying together with your spouse, at least before you go to bed at night.  But I know from experience that when you're both completely exhausted, it can be hard to think coherently to spend a lot of time in prayer.  Usually by the time the kids are asleep and the lights are turned out, one or both of you is already halfway asleep!

When you get away on a marriage retreat, you'll have plenty of time to spend time in prayer together without waiting until you're both half asleep at night.

What a blessing to come before the Lord together and lay the burdens of your family at his feet!


My husband and I were recently blessed to spend several nights away at the Appleview River Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.  Let me tell you, if you need some quiet time away, you should consider booking a few nights there.

A private condo was just the thing we needed to reconnect with each other and have some quality time to spend with the Lord as a couple.


It was all the more special to be there, knowing that the owners were outspoken Christians.  All of their material – brochures, email confirmations, guest information in the cabin, even their text message letting us know our unit was ready for check-in – took every opportunity to tell of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and of their desire to use their property for his glory.




2.  Time to sleep.

When all the responsibilities at home are weighing you down, it's good to get away and just REST.  You don't need to go, go, go during your time away.  Take advantage of a nice place to stay and just hang out and sleep as long as you need to!  Getting some good rest will do wonders for a marriage.  Not only will it help refresh your spirit and give you a more pleasant outlook on life, it will give you a little more energy for physical intimacy with your spouse too.

I thought the bed at Appleview River Resort was super comfortable!  My husband didn't like it quite as much as I did, but he still slept comfortably.  It was either a memory foam mattress or else it had a memory foam topper.  Either way, I slept long and hard all 3 nights we stayed there!




Of course, maybe I was sleeping so well because I got to soak in this amazing tub every night!  It was so deep, and the water was so hot…oh I'm longing to go back just thinking about it.  My dream house has a tub like this!

3. Time to just be together.

It's nice to be able to just be with your spouse and enjoy them for who they are, with no expectations getting in your way.  No thoughts of household responsibilities can crowd in and ruin your time together.  Getting away lets you just be best friends with your spouse while leaving the cares of life behind for a while!

When we went to Sevierville, we spent time taking walks together, hiking, eating together, and shopping at a leisurely pace.

We didn't have to go far to enjoy a quiet stroll together.  Our condo at Appleview River Resort overlooked a lovely river walk, and we could go right outside and enjoy it any time we wanted to!



We also enjoyed quiet meals out on the balcony.


One day we went to Foxfire Mountain adventure park and took a hike through the property.  It was a beautiful hike, just difficult enough to be good exercise, but not so difficult that it was miserable.  We walked across America's longest swinging bridge and hiked up to a refreshing waterfall.  You can see a video of our day there below:



We also went out to breakfast a couple times!  We NEVER get to do that!  (It's kind of hard to get babysitters in the morning, you know?)

One morning we ate at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  It was right by our condo, and 2 complimentary meals came with the our room.  This is such a nice place to eat.  It's such a cozy environment, and the food is good too.  Applewood is definitely on our “must take a return visit” list!


Another morning we ate at Flapjacks Pancake Cabin.  My husband is still talking about the food he ate there two weeks later.  “Any time we are back in that area, we are eating there.  No if's, and's, or but's about it.  That is the best breakfast I have ever had.”  I'll have to agree with him that it was quite good.  I was super excited that they serve gluten free pancakes too!  The helpings were generous enough too that we had enough left over for breakfast the next day.  I highly recommend it!



We spent one evening walking around the Tanger Outlets, holding hands, browsing the stores.  It was nice to shop just for the sake of shopping and not have to worry about keeping track of kids or taking them potty.

There was a lot of evidence throughout the city of Sevierville of the respect they show for our veterans.  I thought that was really great.


My husband needed a new pair of work shoes.  He found a fantastic deal on some at the outlets.


4. Time to Plan

No matter your circumstances, you and your spouse no doubt have things you hope to accomplish, things that need to be done around the house, parenting and family goals you'd like to meet, etc.  The biggest obstacle we've found to meeting those goals is just finding the time to sit down an plan out how to get from point A to point B.

If you have family projects that are needing to happen or if you just want to re-evaluate how you're doing on your marriage or parenting, you need to take a marriage retreat and spend some time talking and planning together!

Here we are at our condo, getting a nice dinner prepared so we could have a planning session over dinner.




5. Time to have fun!


When is the last time you did something fun together?  When you go on a marriage retreat, you'll have all the time you need just to laugh and have fun!  There is something about having fun that is good for both the soul and the body!  (“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”)  Plan some good old fashioned fun into your marriage retreat and it will benefit you both!

We went out to Ripley's Old MacDonald's Farm mini golf one evening and had a blast trying to beat each other!  (I won't say who won, but it wasn't me. 🙂 )  We laughed when I knocked the ball completely off of the course we were on.  We laughed at how seriously my husband took his shots, measuring the exact trajectory and speed he would need.  He cheered for me when I followed his suggestions and got a hole in one.  It was just plain fun.


One day we drove around looking for the cabin we had stayed in on our honeymoon, which was near Sevierville.  We had no clue which road it was on, but we had a vague idea, so we went hunting for it.  We never did find it, but we had a ton of fun getting lost in the mountains together, and we ended up being rewarded with a beautiful view!



If you're feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and disconnected from your spouse, I encourage you to make the effort to get away and spend some time with your spouse praying, resting, playing, planning, and spending quality time together.

As you can see from the getaway we took, Sevierville, Tennessee is a fantastic place to do that.  It offers the quiet you need to recharge right along with plenty of options for having fun together.  I hope you'll consider investing in a trip for the health of your marriage!


Many thanks to the city of Sevierville as well as the places mentioned in this post for providing complimentary lodging and meals to facilitate this article!








How to Plan a Couples Getaway in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and spend some time together kid-free.  It was so restful, and we enjoyed having the opportunity to talk and get to know one another as best friends again rather than just a parenting team.

Gatlinburg is such a great location for anyone living in the southeast when you need an easily accessible place for a quick getaway, so I thought I would share all about our trip to give you some ideas for spending your time there!


How to plan a couples getaway in Gatlinburg, Tennessee


Where to stay

We were blessed by the kind folks at Gatlinburg Falls Resort, who were willing to partner with us by providing a place to stay so that I could tell you all about it!  We actually stayed there last year with our kids and had a positive experience, so I'm glad we were able to go back again!

Would you like to take a tour of our cabin?  Take a peek inside in the video below!

Customer service

We arrived in Gatlinburg well before check-in time, so I called the office to see if there was any possibility of checking in early.  The girl at the front desk was super nice and helpful.  She put our cabin in as priority to be cleaned so that it would be one of the first ones done.  Their policy says that check-in time begins at 4 pm, and that each cabin may not actually be ready right away since they have so many cabins to prepare for guests.  Ours was one of the first ones done and we were able to get in right at 4:00.  I felt like we were rushing them because my husband had a migraine and I was hoping he could go lie down.  While we sat around in the office, the clerk contacted the crew several times to see if they were done yet.

As soon as we got into the cabin, we got a knock at the door from a maintenance man.  Evidently we had rushed them too much and there were a couple more jobs that needed to be taken care of.  The hot tub needed to be checked, the beds did not have their comforters on them yet, and a broken towel bar needed to be re-hung in the bathroom.  He was very apologetic and did his best to work without disturbing us.



Everything in the cabin was very clean.  I get grossed out easily, so it was nice to be able to enjoy my stay without feeling like I couldn't touch anything.



We had everything we needed for an enjoyable stay – TV's, internet, washer and dryer, dishwasher, jetted showers, game room, porch with rocking chairs, and of course, no relaxing getaway could possibly be complete without a hot tub!



I've checked out the prices on the website for Gatlinburg Falls Resort several times, and I think they are quite reasonable.  If you follow them on social media, you'll find that they often have last-minute 50% off specials, which is a fabulous deal!  Follow them here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter



What to do

We spent a good portion of our time just hanging out at the cabin, relaxing in the hot tub, cooking nice meals together, and catching up on about 5 years worth of sleep. 🙂


I was excited to find out that the Elkmont fireflies would still be in season while we were there.  There is an area about 7 miles from our cabin where there are thousands of fireflies.  They all light up at the same time and then they all go dark at the same time.  It is a spectacular show and Elkmont is only one of 2 places in the world where this happens, from what I understand.  We hiked a good ways up the Little River Trail right before dark and then just sat in the woods until dark.  Once it got dark the show began, and it was fantastic!  We tried to video, but with our unprofessional equipment, the video did not turn out.  However, here is a professional video of the experience.  Since we went a week after the predicted “peak season”, there were only a few people out on the trail, but the show was still good!


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you like to get out in nature and enjoy a hike or just drive through the beautiful scenery, you're only minutes away from doing so when you stay at Gatlinburg Falls Resort.  Here is a directory of hikes rated by how easy or hard they are.  (I had to stick to the easy ones! 🙂 )


Downtown Gatlinburg

We took our kids last year, and it was nothing short of stressful!  There were so many people, and it was hard to keep track of all the kids in the crowd.  Going as a couple was so much more fun!  We leisurely browsed all the gift shops and just enjoyed each other's company.  This year, instead of spending money on parking, we took the Gatlinburg Trolley.  We parked for free at city hall, which was just down the hill from our cabin.  Then we rode the Trolley into downtown for the whopping cost of 50 cents each.  (Parking downtown is around $8 – $10, so we saved ourselves a heap of money, plus we got the pleasant experience of riding the trolley.)


Hillbilly Golf

If you like to play miniature golf, go to Hillbilly Golf!  We've always looked at it when we have gone to Gatlinburg, but this trip was the first time we have gone. We will be back!  Not only was it a unique experience playing mini golf on the side of a mountain, the course itself was challenging, which always makes it more fun!  The owners were super friendly too!

There we are in the middle seat:

They pull you up the mountain in this little car and then you play golf on the side of the mountain!



Cades Cove

No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without heading over to Cades Cove.  Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that you drive around.  You're almost guaranteed to see wildlife along the way.  Stop at the little pavilion right before you enter the loop road and pay a dollar for the little map/guide thingy.  There are houses and churches spread throughout the cove, and knowing the history of them makes the drive more interesting.  You can also get out and walk around the buildings, and there are some short hikes you can take as well.

Wild horses at Cades Cove


Deer at Cades Cove



Can you spot the bear?


If you're not into driving around bumper to bumper with dozens of other cars, and long for a bit of peace and quiet, you can pull off Rich Mountain Road about a third of the way through the cove.  Be sure that's what you want to do since it's a one way road and you won't be able to re-enter the cove.  Instead you'll travel a windy 12 mile gravel road up to the top of the mountain and wind back down again where you come out in Townsend, TN.  There's not much of a view other than the forest and the switchbacks below you as you make your way up the mountain.  But you'll have the pleasure of being alone, and you'll get to enjoy two beautiful overlooks.

There's a church in the valley by the wildwood…


Sunset over Cades Cove



What to eat

The benefit of staying in a cabin is that you have a kitchen.  By eating most of our meals at the cabin, we save a lot of money on food. We can eat a lot healthier than we would if we were eating out too, which makes us feel better, which means our getaway is more enjoyable!  Plus, my husband and I enjoy cooking nice meals together when we are by ourselves.  There's something relaxing about cooking when you don't have a bunch of people to clean up after!  But of course, it's fun to eat out once in a while too.  Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of healthy options in Gatlinburg when it comes to restaurants.  Here's where we ate:


Whole Earth Grocery

This was a little health food store tucked away up on a side street in Gatlinburg.  They have a cafe inside that serves healthy lunch options.  I had a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad.  They serve salads and sandwiches there with potato salad, pasta salad, or organic blue corn chips as the side.  You can grab a bottle of kombucha out of the fridge for a drink if that's your thing. 🙂


Good Eats

I did not care for the atmosphere inside of this restaurant.  It seemed like the bar was the main focus, which we didn't even realize until after we ate and went inside to pay.  They had tables outside, and we enjoyed people-watching while we ate. 🙂  The food was amazing!  My husband had a reuben sandwich, and I had a burger.  It was huge!



The first words my husband said when he took a bite of his sandwich were, “Oh wow.”  Since he's not easily impressed, I'd say he enjoyed his sandwich as much as I enjoyed my burger. (Or maybe he was saying “Oh wow” at the sight of me trying to stuff that whole burger into my mouth! 🙂 )


Other things to do

You can certainly find much more to do in Gatlinburg than we did.  You can visit the Ripley's Aquarium, go up in the space needle, or ride the skylift to Ober Gatlinburg.  You can visit the arts and crafts district.  You can go ziplining or horseback riding or whitewater rafting.

Whatever types of things you enjoy, they are probably there.  For us, we were more than satisfied with hanging out at the cabin, spending time in the woods, and getting a small dose of the gift shops.


If you are in need of a relaxing time away with your spouse, I highly recommend slipping away to Gatlinburg for a few days!  

Don't forget to follow Gatlinburg Falls Resort on social media so you can take advantage of one of their specials!


What I’m Learning About Being a Wife from a Vine

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Psalm 128:3


Our pastor mentioned that verse in a message last year, which prompted me to study the idea of children being like olive plants.  Boy, did I learn a LOT!  I came up with 12 Lessons About Child Training from an Olive Tree and it has been one of my most popular posts. I love going back and reviewing these things every so often.


Fast forward to about a week ago, and I read over that verse again in my daily devotions.

I thought, “Hmm…since there were so many lessons to be learned from the idea of children being like olive trees, I wonder if there are lessons to be learned about the wife being like a fruitful vine?”

I couldn't resist digging into that further, and here's what I found:

what im learning about being a wife

First, I needed to know if there was a specific type of vine the verse was talking about.  I looked up the Hebrew word for vine in that verse and found out that it basically means…vine.

So then I looked up the Hebrew word for fruitful and it basically means…to bear fruit.


Okay, so that left me with basically any type of vine that bears fruit.  Take your pick – grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe…it doesn't really matter.

Then I began researching every other instance in the Bible where that same Hebrew word for vine was used, and that's where it got interesting.

I noticed right away that over and over, God was talking to Israel about the fact that when they turned away from God part of their judgment would be for their vines to be destroyed.

I also noticed that when God spoke of his blessing on Israel, he would mention how that their vines would be fruitful.  In fact, in the very verse of which I am talking, God is telling Israel that part of his blessing on them would be for their wives to be as fruitful vines and their children like olive plants.

The verse is speaking of prosperity and blessing upon the children of Israel when they followed the Lord and obeyed his commands.


Lesson #1 from the fruitful vine – Am I a blessing to my husband?  When he thinks of me, does it make him thankful for how God has prospered him by giving me to him?  Am I flourishing physically, spiritually, and emotionally so that I am a joy to be around? Or am I dried up and withered?  Yes, my husband has some God-given responsibilities to keep his “vine” well-watered so that it can easily flourish, but how am I responding?  Does my husband see caring for me as a duty or a delight?


The concept of “fruitful” also carries with it the idea of bearing children.  God has stated over and over that children are a blessing and a reward. In the verse we are studying, He clearly states that a fruitful wife and the little “olive plants” are part of the blessing he would pour out when his people obediently followed Him.


Lesson #2 from the fruitful vine – Children are a blessing; not something to be avoided!  When God states that children are a blessing and a reward, why are so many married couples doing all they can to prevent their blessings from coming?!  I am not an advocate of the so-called “quiverfull” movement, where many families hold to the idea that they are supposed to have as many babies as the wife's body will carry. If a couple feels that the wife is physically worn out, I don't think God intends for her to be a haggard, run-down woman, forcing her body to continue producing “blessing” after “blessing”.  God gave us the knowledge of how babies are made and I believe couples should use that knowledge responsibly, with the understanding and willingness for God to override our personal plans according to his will.
But at the same time, couples do not need to fear the idea of large families.  I'll say it again; children are a blessing; not something to be avoided!


Finally – and this goes right along with lesson #2 – in the Bible, vines had a lot to do with lovemaking!  Read Song of Solomon, and you'll find that they made love among the vines.  You'll also find multiple references to body parts being like the fruit of the vine.
Lesson #3 from the fruitful vine – A fruitful wife is a wife who satisfies her husband's physical desires.  Read Song of Solomon to get an idea of the demeanor we wives should display in the bedroom!  We need to be doing as much as we can to take care of our bodies and keep them beautiful for our husbands.  We need to delight him and allow him to delight us.

Are you a fruitful vine?  When your husband thinks of you does he say, “Wow, God sure has prospered me!”?


How being a wife is like being a vine | Biblical Marriage Advice from @mbream