The Emptiness of Sexual Encounters


Society glamorizes sex.

Chris and Sabina's Wedding Cake
Polish Apple Cake

Why is this? Because it feels good? Because it’s entertaining? We assume that any remote attraction between a man and woman should result in a sexual encounter. Why is that? What are we really seeking?

Companies spend billions of dollars each year to promote an activity devoid of any value except a pleasurable experience. Some people feel bungee jumping is a titillating affair, but we don’t see ads telling us that if we wear the right clothes or perfume or even deodorant we will attract a bungee jumping adventure!

So why sex?

Recently, I was chatting with someone about dating online. Since she and I both met our guys on the internet, we had that common connection. The topic of older people looking for love online came up. She wanted to know if I had heard of a particular older woman who wanted sex so she used internet dating to find men.  Traveling all over, this woman encountered these online suitors and had a lot of sex. Apparently, she wrote a book about it.

My initial thought when I heard about this was “and then what?”

Was she satisfied? Left wanting more? What was the point? More sex? Don’t think for a moment that I don’t understand the enticement of the physical experience and outcome of the sexual act.  I’m fully aware! But sex without intimacy, love, and the commitment of two souls is like eating a scrumptious dessert; it may taste good at the time, but it will only last the night.

My husband and I have been reading the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldrege. I’ve mentioned it before and can’t recommend it enough.  The past couple of weeks we’ve been digesting “The Chapter on Sex” (that’s the title).  The following is from p.178:

Marriage is the sanctuary God created for sex, and only there, in the refuge of covenantal love, will you find sex at its best. For a lifetime. The coming together of two bodies in the sensual fireworks of sex is meant to be a consummating act, the climactic event of two hearts and souls that have already been coming together outside the bedroom and can’t wait to complete the intimacy as deeply as they possibly can.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Truly, it doesn’t. Brendan and I experienced our hearts and souls melding together through our long distance relationship long before we met in person. And we’ve found that our choice to wait for our wedding night to complete the intimacy was one of the best we’ve ever made!

Unfortunately, the general public has bought the line (hook and sinker included) that sex is meant for one night stands or a couple of months of physical pleasure, but that type of encounter is a hollow counterfeit. It may feel good, even great in the moment, but believe me when I say that it’s settling for second best.

The Bible puts it like this:

I have seen something horrible: they commit adultery and live a lie.  Jeremiah 23:14

Adultery is simply any sexual encounter outside the “sanctuary of marriage.” Having sex like that, simply for the sake of a good feeling or entertainment, is living an empty lie. God made sex and made it great (read Song of Songs in the Bible for proof), so the “something horrible” isn’t sex. What’s horrible is the way we get ripped off when we settle for something less than the best God has.

Using the internet to find the love of your life—good idea. Using the internet to find sex—a poor second.

Have you ever taken part in anything you thought was great until you experienced the real thing?

Is Online Dating Gaining Popularity?


It happened again.

This time I was getting a pedicure and chatting with the lovely woman who attempted to produce something beautiful from my calloused, beach-combing feet. The conversation naturally turned to how we each met our husbands.

Her question prompted my response, “On an internet dating site,” and I grinned, waiting for the usual astonishment.

No way! You’re the third person that I’ve heard of.

I find I’m hearing that more often now. My husband and I know two other married couples who met on Christian Café. Online dating is quickly losing its stigma. Many folks are tired of the bar hopping want-to-go-to-my-place scene. They want more than one night; they long for something real, deeper and permanent.

According to 2012 statistics, internet dating is gaining popularity and producing lasting results.

Did you know that:

  • In 2007, 20 million people tried online dating; in 2012 40 million have jumped onboard
  • 10% of 54 million singles use an online dating service
  • Of online daters, 52.4% are male; 47.6% are female
  • 20% of current committed relationships started online
  • The average length of courtship leading to marriage for online daters is 18.5 months
  • 17% of couples who married met on a dating site
  • According to eHarmony, their site is responsible for 5% of all US marriages

Is it the best option?

While opportunities for meeting the person of your dreams through work, school, and social activities may present themselves to the majority of society, many people find the internet dating situation a beneficial one. Learning a little about someone from a profile or being matched to a compatible suitor offers a dating advantage that supersedes a bar scene or the constant conscious effort to pay attention to every potential single who may be in the next aisle at the grocery store.

Yes, liars and potential dangers do exist online.

But I’ve seen or met some fairly sketchy characters on a college campus, in a restaurant and even at church. There are no guarantees that you won’t meet unscrupulous people on an internet dating site—just as you might anywhere. It’s certainly not the only option; it’s only one of many. But I’m awfully glad I tried it.

Do you know someone who has met online? What’s their story?
 

Statistics provided by www.statisticbrain.com and www.eharmony.com

5 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage


God and internet dating brought us together…

But staying together and living out the happily-ever-after requires a purposeful choice to nurture our marriage. The past three and a half years have afforded us with ample opportunity to grow in and through our marriage. Some of the ways we have learned to enhance our marriage are:

  1. Pray together. This is something we have recently started doing on a daily basis and it has drawn us together, alleviated conflicts and created such a sweet intimacy. Each morning we start the day asking God to direct our day and at night before we go to sleep, we pray for each other.
  2. Take time to be with each other. Besides taking time to pray, we find that having a weekly date night keeps our relationship fresh and alive. Couples need time to simply be with each other enjoying each other’s company, talking, laughing and being friends. This is not a time to talk about the kids, but a time to connect and remember why we wanted to be married in the first place. Brendan and I still send Skype messages to each other throughout the day whether he’s away at the office or downstairs working. It reminds us of our dating via Skype and keeps us connected. We also set aside an hour each week to read and discuss a book on marriage. We recently attended The Marriage Course and are currently reading Love and War.
  3. Have fun. We have found that the best way to reignite the spark in our marriage is to have a good time together. This may be on a date night playing pool, or enjoying a game of Sudoku together or even having a good tickle fight. Laughing together  releases tension and resets our attitude toward life and toward each other. The Bible says that laughter is good medicine. We’ve found it to be the best.
  4. Think the best about each other. Often it’s easy to assume our spouse is thinking or meaning something by their words that they aren’t which leads to misunderstandings and disagreements. We are learning to assume the best rather than the worst. If in doubt, ask kindly. Most often what we felt hurt or offended by was a whispered lie to our heart from the enemy of our soul.
  5. Make love well and often. When God created us, he created male and female in his image and said man and wife should cleave to each other. That physical union wasn’t only to pro-create or bring pleasure (although aren’t we glad it does?); it was intended as a melding of two spirits, souls and bodies into one. To intimately share ourselves with our spouse in the way God designed is actually an act of worship and a renewed pledge to our spouse. In addition, it slams the devil (who seeks to divide and destroy us) in the face with a “take that!”

Brendan and I still have much to learn about each other and about marriage, but every day we are more in love and grateful for this incredible life together. The more regularly we apply these tools to our relationship, the more we grow as individuals and as a couple. We’re thankful God brought us together through an online dating site from two continents apart, but we are even more appreciative of the methods he’s given us to keep our marriage alive and exciting. Give it a try! Your marriage is worth it.

What are some ways you enhance your marriage? Have you read any good marriage books lately? What type of fun do you enjoy together?

 

“Dear Jane”


This week I’ve asked my friend and fellow blogger, Carol Lloyd, to share her online dating experience. Carol and I shared the pleasure of side by side internet dating and meeting our husbands within three months of each other. You can get a taste of Carol’s fun and interesting life at Time for Coffee. Her husband, Brian, also offers his perspective on life at brianzgate.

Let’s face it, online dating has a stigma.

I was rather leery of the whole concept myself. Laura, got me into it. Now, she’s asked me to guest blog for her. I wonder what’s next? 🙂

My story is different, just as Laura and I are different; but experiencing it together we had a blast! Here’s a bit about how my tale went. Before you read, you need to know I’m a practical person. If a romantic bone exists in my body, it’s a small one.

Nothing to write home about.

I’d been perusing online profiles for a total of ten months, and was well into a second dating site. Almost a year was enough; I was done. It had been fun while it lasted, as they say. And it really had been fun in aspects I hadn’t imagined. Many evenings we sat in hysterics at what some of the guys would write! I think Laura already mentioned an email I received—portraying me as a goldfish and him as the piranha! I ask you, would you be attracted to this guy and want further communication? Or, there was Laura’s international missile salesman, about whom I asked if he did that door to door?!

Really? Is this the extent of the fish in the sea I get to choose from?

My inbox received many a “net email” as I referred to them. These emails held no specific reference to my profile (if it had even been read!) Rather they referred to me as an angel sent from heaven or some such drivel. The absurdity made it quite apparent that these emails had been sent to any number of women to see who might respond. You know, trying to maximize one’s return on investment, like casting a net. I never responded.

Finally, I dated someone, but within a few weeks, I got an email addressed to me referring to a phone conversation the night before. He commented on how wonderful it was. Problem was, we hadn’t talked the night before! When I pointed that out and asked if there was anything he wanted to tell me, I never heard from him again. I was fine with that, but what a coward!

Doesn’t this experience sound great, exciting and rewarding?

Don’t you want to abandon this blog post and sign up at some dating site, any dating site—immediately? You can see why, after ten months, I was done.

But another friend convinced me to sign up for three more months. It was during the second month I found a real gem! This did not usher in a steady stream of starry, magical nights and blissful encounters. In fact, after six weeks of sporadic electronic communication, I was sent a “Dear Jane” letter. Some gem! Oh, it was a cordial one—nothing to do with me, but he felt God was leading him to move to another area in Washington. At the time, I lived in California. The communication was nice while it lasted. Did I want to start over? Hmmm…not really…

Continued in Part 2 next week.
 
Care to share your online dating experience? What stigma do you think online dating has? Do you know anyone who has dated online?

Someone’s Out There


I stumbled upon a blog this past week that intrigued me.

The author, a gentleman whose name I can’t remember and blog I can’t find now, spoke of how fed up he was with online dating. He had much to say about the industry and what an unbelievable scam it was becoming. He had given it a try for a couple of years without meeting the woman of his dreams and decided there must be a better way. I certainly experienced some of the same feelings at times during my stint with internet dating!

This man went on to explain how he went to France and decided to write a book about his love experiences. Right before he left, someone he had once had a couple of dates with contacted him and they reconnected when he returned from his trip. He used the profile idea from his online dating experience to create his own profile and sent it on ahead to the woman. A deeper connection was his goal. Within a short while they hit it off and eventually married.

Seemed like an interesting idea to me.

Reading his blog made me realize how many different love stories there are, and how unique each one is. I never would have imagined meeting my husband online, but God used that vehicle to create a wonderful love story for my husband and me. The man I’ve mentioned (still trying to find his site again) gave up internet dating and found the love of his life in another way. Some people meet at school, or in malls or at a bar. Others know someone who sets them up with someone they know, and still others find their true love at a party or wedding. Regardless of the setting, the bottom line is the miracle and greatness of finding that one person who fits with us perfectly and adds a depth and dimension to our life that wasn’t there before.

I’ve read horror stories of online daters, but I also known of miracle stories (like mine) that came through an internet dating site. I’ve known people who met in junior high school (like my parents and Clayton and Ellen Kershaw – LA Dodgers pitcher, authors), and others who found their spouse later in life (my two best friends). No matter what, when or how, the most important thing is the end result. People weren’t meant to be alone. We long for relationship. Even if we’re happily single, we count on our friends to be there for us and call on us. Meeting our true love can happen anywhere and through a variety of avenues.

Honestly, at first, I felt a little defensive toward someone who insisted online dating was a terrible thing; but in the end, his result was the same as mine–we met our soul mates. Isn’t that what matters most?

Care to share your story? How did you meet your soul mate? Are you still searching? Do you have an experience with online dating?

 

 

Yearning for Physical Touch


I’m delighted to offer another excerpt of Brendan’s this week. For those of you enjoying his perspective on our story…

It seems that the online dating experience reverses the process of any other type of situation in which two people get together.

Ordinarily a couple might see each other across a room (visual stimulation) and say hello while shaking hands. They might exchange a very light embrace, and perhaps dance, if the meeting is at such a venue. Then phone calls follow (voice attraction and deepening relationship), and finally some sort of writing such as email, texts and possibly, although rare these days, letters (a deeper communication after deciding how to accurately express thoughts).

But we had done it the opposite way.

Deep affection for each other was the result, and caused us to yearn for physical touch. It was time for Laura to come to Australia for a couple of weeks.

I felt a bit awkward about how to handle the visit. What if she got here and one of us didn’t like the other up close? It could be the longest, most uncomfortable three weeks of our lives. The thought occurred to me that despite our interaction over the last few months, Laura might be anxious about meeting me. After all I could be a serial killer or an assassin. I had already told her I was an international spy wanted by the CIA, Interpol, The Kremlin, MI5 and Neighborhood Watch, notorious and wanted for parking in disabled car spaces all over the world.

She merely laughed.

My solution, given me by God, was to also invite Laura’s youngest daughter, Ashley. Laura accepted and was delighted with the prospect of having her beloved daughter travel with her to meet me and my kids, be moral support and, dare I say it, chaperone us. That would make it less awkward at least for Laura, but God was looking out for Ashley as well. As the youngest of Laura’s four children, she found our situation rather trying for her to embrace given that her mother was interested in someone that could cause Mom to leave home. The well received solution created a good situation for Laura and Ashley.

Plans for travel to Australia began.

Safe or Scary?


Is online dating the wave of the future?

I recently met a woman who politely, yet with scrutiny questioned my decision to employ internet dating sites to meet a husband. This was after I told her about my husband and I meeting online.

Her comments went something like, “Isn’t that a pretty daring thing to do? I mean, I’ve heard such horror stories about singles meeting really creepy people on those sites.”

“Well, it’s true there are some crazy people out there,” I acquiesced, “but both my best friend and I met our husbands–amazing, quality men–online. We also have other friends who met on the same site. So obviously, not all of it’s bad.”

“What site did you use?” she asked. I chuckled internally thinking it usually doesn’t take long before someone’s curiosity overrides their previous ‘sensibility’ about internet dating.

“We met on christiancafe.com, but I also tried eHarmony. Some of the guys were not okay, but my friend and I helped each other screen them. Really, it was fine,” I assured her.

Don’t be crazy!

It’s true I’ve come across numerous sites (like internetdatingstories.com) that depict the horrors of psycho encounters with online daters, but quite honestly, most of them surprise me with their foolish pursuance of predators. What do people think when they communicate with someone? Is society so quick to jump into a relationship (or bed) that people don’t take the time to find out more about each other before running ahead to the next step?

My friends and I never considered meeting a guy unless we had developed a substantial connection through multiple email messages, first through the site and then possibly through our private email, and after a few phone conversations.

Surprisingly, only a few stories I’ve read seemed to describe legitimate complaints of being taken in by seemingly honest individuals who somehow manage to live as Jekyll and Hyde.

All of that to say that with social networking drawing us closer together from farther away, online dating is here to stay and growing in popularity (see unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/?s=online+dating+statistics for some interesting statistics). So is is safe or scary?

Using wisdom, discretion and accountability will keep it safe. When in doubt about someone, let it go; the best person out there for you is one you feel good about from the start. I posted some safety tips in an earlier blog titled Meeting Face to Face.

Meeting online can lead to great relationships and even marriage. Read through my previous online dater posts for more of our story or check out testimonials on christiancafe.com for other encouraging tales of wedded bliss.

Be safe and online dating shouldn’t be scary.

 

Love, War and Sex


My husband and I celebrated our third year anniversary this week. We were fortunate to take off for a few days on an adventure of zip lining through the forest near our home (Mt. Hermon Redwood Canopy Tours), then on to Half Moon Bay where we enjoyed good food, window shopping, long conversations, watching airplanes land and a lot of laughing! We also took a book to read together.

I wrote a bit about this book in a post a couple of months ago titled Relationships. The book, Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge is the most helpful guideline we’ve discovered for our marriage. We’re reading through it a second time. That’s how good it is!

One of the challenges of dating online from two different continents was the sporadic, cyber life we inhabited. Writing emails and long Skype chats gave us the benefit of knowing so many details about each other; our emotional roots went deep. But we missed out on daily dating life which could have enlightened us about our dysfunctional ways of relating. Love and War is helping us understand our messed up perspectives, and what to do about them.

Like many couples, we’ve harbored messed up perspectives regarding sex. Negative childhood experiences, societal messages and lack of understanding this awesome God ordained ecstasy all contributed to our twisted perceptions. John and Stasi Eldredge offer some intriguing and fabulous insights about sex, why we end up with warped ideas and what to do about it. We’re learning a lot.

So at one point during our anniversary get away (sorry, no specific details here!), we discussed our intimacy while lying in each other’s arms. Part of the discourse went something like this:

“Honey, I’m thinking that sex can be analogous to two things,” I mused.

“What’s that, darling?”

“Well, I think it can be like a wedding feast. You know, like Chris and Sabina’s wedding (Chris is our son in Poland who just got married in November); hours of eating, dancing, drinking and toasting, fun and spending great time in relational celebration. Making love should be a celebration of intimacy, relationship and good things.”

“I think you’re right. What’s the other analogy?” Brendan asked. He loves analogies.

“Sex can also be like fast food. Quick, without substance or much thought and no intimacy. I mean they both satisfy a need; get the job done, but isn’t a feast better than a Big Mac?”

“Yeah,” he paused to kiss me. “It is.”

We shared another kiss and felt the promise of feasting stir our hunger.

“Brendan?” I murmured.

“Yes, darling?”

“You know I’m going to have to blog about this, right?”

“I reckoned you would,” he chuckled.

The weekend feast surpassed our expectations. Thank you John and Stasi.

 

 

 

 

New Wine


The last post showcased the first poem Brendan wrote for me.  In honor of National Poetry Month, I share a poem I wrote for Brendan:

New Wine

His world is grey and rain pours down

His breath is gone, in pain he drowns

No sense, no comprehension found

Where did she go, and why, why now?

 

Hearts scream at God’s untimely plan

Death in spring, no place to stand

When life bursts forth with beauty grand

We say goodbye with empty hands

 

Young hearts and old will carry on

In numbness, grief, all hope, but gone

This tragic loss, paused life not done

These soldiers drag their bodies home

 

Memories flood the halls and rooms

Kids tucked in and bright full moons

Tears and laughter mingle soon

Dirge and melody played in tune

 

Then comes the time to say farewell

To hold the past, but lose the hell

Hearts cry less, and memories swell

No longer on the loss they dwell

 

Into his world a light has dawned

An unexpected gift from God

With ray of hope and life, a bond

Is formed in hearts and souls abroad

 

It makes no sense, and yet it brings

New life and once again, they sing

Where burdened hearts despaired, the King

Brought love and life, not former things

 

But now the challenge comes at last

To say goodbye, put down the past

Embrace new life and hold it fast

Trust Him who leads in all that’s passed

 

Old skins will never new wine hold

Without they burst with sorrow old

And lose the love and joy foretold

To forge ahead; be brave, be bold

 

What lies behind, now lies ahead

But with another heart instead

And greater joy surpasses dead

When love’s embraced, and past lives shed

The Reality of Two Continents


If you read my confessions of an amateur writer, you will see why I am behind this time in my posts…ahhh the perils of penning! But I leave you with another small excerpt from The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters…

This may be a good point to impart some information regarding the time zone difference between the USA, namely California where I live, and the east coast of Australia where Brendan is from.

He was seventeen to eighteen hours ahead depending on daylight savings which they do not observe on the Gold Coast of Australia. So, just to give you an idea of what our world was like for nearly a year; Brendan would get up at 5 a.m. so that I could say good morning to him when it was 12 p.m. the day before, my time. That would be the first I would “see” or talk to him each day. Then he would get ready for his day and get the kids off to school. (Later, after we were certain about our relationship, I would often speak to the kids as well, sending them off to school with my love.)

Usually, after the kids were safely on the bus, Brendan would come back and talk to me again around 8 a.m. his time; 3 p.m. my time, if I didn’t have to be out the door to go tutor someone after school(my other job). Then when his work day was ending, before he had to pick up the kids, he would call again – 2 or 3 p.m. his time (10 p.m. mine) to say good night to me.

We’d be chatting away when suddenly one of us would exclaim, “Oh my gosh, it’s four o’clock – time to pick up the kids from the bus!” Then off he would go to get the kids, and I would go to bed. Many times I would “wait up” so we could finish our conversation, or so I could see the kids. It became a strange, surreal world we lived in being in two time zones, living in two different days, in two different countries. It was a wonderful world as well, and the only way we knew to “date” online from such a distance.