The Challenge Facing Every Woman/Program 4
|By: Steve Arterburn, Shannon Ethridge, Fred Stoeker; ©2007|
|How do the media, novels, music, fashions, Internet chat rooms, and body and beauty obsessions influence young women?|
Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg show, Shannon Etheridge, Fred Stoker, and Steve Arterburn, three bestselling authors, talk about the battle every woman faces to remain sexually pure, not only in their bodies, but also in their emotions and thoughts. Shannon Ethridge was a straight A student, a Christian who went to church every Sunday, and came from a wonderful family. Yet, her thoughts began to change.
Shannon Ethridge: You know, If anyone had asked me when I was 12 if I wanted to be a virgin until marriage, I would have said, of course I do. At 13, I would’ve said, I think so. By 14, I would’ve replied, maybe. And at age 15, my response would have been, I don’t see how that is possible.
Announcer: What causes young women to lower their standards?
Ethridge: What product in our society doesn’t use sex to try and sell their products? And so when women begin to believe that as a female I must be a sexual object, that we start looking at ourselves the same way that the culture portrays us.
Announcer: And what and about women who are married?
Ethridge: Well to often women assume that because I am married and I am having sex with my husband and no one else, then I’m acting with sexual purity. They fail to understand that purity goes a lot deeper than just faithfulness and that you have to be faithful in your mind and in your heart and in your spirit as well.
Announcer: And what can you do when your feelings for your husband or wife are dead?
Fred Stoeker: And then it wasn’t too long after that Brenda came into the kitchen one day, I was sitting there and she sat down and she said, you know I really don’t know how else to say this so I’m going to tell it to you straight out, she said my feelings for you are dead.
Steve Arterburn: Well I just want to say that if you are married to a woman that you say is frigid, well the first thing to do is ask if you are the Ice man, if you’re the one that is putting the chill here.
Stoeker: Well you know I was in despair and I knew it was over and I didn’t know what to do so I turned really to God you know. First I said, look I will do anything. And you know when you tell the Lord that you will do anything he is right on the edge of his seat ready to speak and ready to help.
Announcer: Join us today for the special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We have got a great program for you today. We are talking about how you can have sexual purity in your life whether you are a young man that is single, a young woman that is single, whether you are a married woman that has a husband but you still have got problems, or a married man that is entertaining thoughts that you shouldn’t have in your mind. We have got bestselling authors with us, Stephen Arterburn and Shannon Ethridge and Fred Stoeker. “Every Woman’s Battle” for married women, “Every Man’s Battle.”
- And Shannon, I want to start with you today. The fact is that when you read all the books that you guys have written, over and over again you come to the fact that God has wired men and women differently. And these differences are so outstanding when you realize what they are that you then get to the fact of saying how could we ever get together, okay? Why would we want to? And there is a price that needs to be paid. Let’s start by talking about how we are wired, first of all.
- Ethridge: Well, if we don’t understand how we are wired differently it is going to cause a lot of friction and tension in our relationship. For example, I had just been married a few years, and one night I got undressed and climbed into bed and Greg was just immediately like, “So, do you want to have sex?” And I did not understand that because he had seen this visually stimulating image of a woman disrobing and climbing into bed, he was ready. He was a microwave, but I was a crock pot. That wasn’t even a thought in my mind. So when he said, “Do you want to have sex,” I thought, “Did I marry a pervert? Like, we haven’t even talked about our day, we haven’t prayed together, we haven’t interacted, we haven’t emotionally connected yet,” and that was my foreplay to get me ready. And so you know, he thought he married a frigid woman, “She never wants to have sex, the answer to that question is always no whenever I ask her.” We were not speaking each other’s love language, we were not being sensitive to the fact that we were each wired differently.
- And I think the key thing in marriage is that a), we have to understand one another’s unique sexual needs and our own unique sexual needs; and we have to give one another the grace to be human. We have to give one another the grace to understand that because you are different than me, you might not understand what it is that I need. And it is my job and my opportunity to lovingly teach you how it is that I need to be treated. Not point the finger at you about how you don’t know how to treat women and dadada, and just educate you and vise versa. I wanted my husband to teach me how it is that you think and relate to me as a sexual wife for you. And it takes a lot of work but it starts with giving each other the grace to be human.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, on the other side of the fence, Steve, you have got guys that are hot wired for a 72 hour sexual release, and the fact is, here is this woman that wants to talk.
- Arterburn: Well, I just want to say that if you are married to a woman that you’d say is frigid, well, the first thing to do is ask if you are the ice man, if you are the one that is putting the chill here. I mean, if you don’t know that a woman needs to talk and connect, then you have to be, you may be, proof of evolution! That’s all I can say, just to kind of fit into some of your other programs. I mean, only an idiot would not know by now that a woman needs to feel connection and love for her to really enjoy the sexual experience.
- Now, us guys, we are ready to go at the drop of a hat. But this old book that Kevin Leman wrote, “Sex Begins in the Kitchen,” well, you know, it can begin anywhere other than the bedroom. If you want a woman to meet all of your sexual needs you need to treat her like a vessel of value, something more than a gratification tool. And I believe that when you become connected with her and you start to block out the other things of the world – and I was very late in coming to this awareness. Fred probably found it much, much sooner with Brenda – but there becomes a goal of sex that is a connection goal more than a gratification goal. And it is kind of hard to describe, but gratification almost becomes a secondary benefit to feeling totally connected to someone here in the universe who loves you and accepts you and just cannot get close enough to you.
- And that is what we want to see people do. And you can’t do that if it is always instant sex. Now by the same token, a woman must understand who a man is and be open to instant sex or the quick experience every now and then for variety and things like that to show that she appreciates who he is. But if we can start to, as I say, if we can start to get a masters degree in each other’s wounds and connect with the heart places, and then get a PhD in each other’s wounds and understand the needs that are there, we have a chance for connection and intimacy that very few people will ever achieve, but anybody can.
- Ankerberg: Alright, all of you, I think, have written from the opposite point of view. You have got chill-busters from the women’s point of view and from the man’s point of view. Shannon, start us off. What will bust the chill on relationship as far as what can women do?
- Ethridge: Women need to understand it is often what we do to him that causes him to clam up and not want to emotionally connect with us. And I think the most important thing is when we start disrespecting him. When you start pointing the finger and nagging him and pointing out all of his flaws and just criticizing him and trying to tell him what you think that you deserve in a husband, that just causes him to shrink back. It is going to be just like a turtle that just withdraws into his shell and no amount of coaxing is going to get him out of that shell until you learn to respect him and make him feel like a real man just in who he is.
- Arterburn: We have done the research and documented that no man has ever changed anything based on nagging. So you know, we did the research, there is no use to try it. Don’t try it anymore, that doesn’t work. What a woman has to do is find something respectable about the man and start there. And you know, even if it is that he gets up in the morning and walks out the door and goes to work, start there and say, “Honey, I respect you so much for walking out the door every day.”
- Now, let’s just say he is a jerk and he can only get to work half that, “Honey, I respect you for going to work half the time.” Find the good in this man. What we end up doing is we split off from each other and he makes her all bad, and she makes him all bad, when in reality we are human. We have got good and bad. And we have got to get away from this all-bad label of each other and come and say, “Look, we have got good we have got bad. I have got to focus on the things of values in this person and build those up rather than tear down and chip away.” In reality we have done the research, and when you free a person up to be who they are, you have a greater chance of them changing and evolving into what you really wanted all along than you do by focusing on the negative things that you don’t like about that person.
- Ankerberg: Let’s talk about again, Shannon, the fact of the dangerous thing for women is this whole thing of comparison. Why are they so susceptible to this?
- Ethridge: I think that it goes back to that sense of entitlement. We expect things to be perfect and we expect a guy to treat us perfectly. And no matter what our husbands do it never lives up to our expectation. And one of my biggest expectations in marriage is that my husband would meet all of my emotional needs and that he would just want to talk with me and interact with me all the time; he would be my best friend. And I would notice that when we would go to bed at night, I would just have all of these expectations that he would just tell me all about his day, and ask all about mine, and what are you going to do tomorrow, and blah, blah, blah. And he would always fall asleep or want sex.
- And I would just feel so neglected by that every single night, until I read about a theory in one of my counseling books called the squirrel and the nut theory. And that is that if you want to give a squirrel a nut, the worst thing you can do is to chase it around the yard and grab it by its scrawny neck and try to shove that nut down its chubby cheeks. It is never going to work. The best way to give a squirrel a nut is to put it in your open palm and lay down under a tree and go to sleep. And eventually that squirrel will get curious enough and come and take that nut.
- So I would go to bed at night with no expectation whatsoever that Greg would say anything to me. I would just be like, you know, he has worked all day today; he is exhausted, I am just going to let him go to sleep. And I am going to just kiss him on his forehead and tell him goodnight. And after a few nights of this Greg said, “Well, are you mad at me about something?” And I said, “No, why?” And he said, “Well, I noticed you haven’t been talkative very much.” And I said, “Well, I know how hard you work and I know that at the end of a long day you have got to be zonked. And I just want you to get plenty of rest, because I just really appreciate what a great provider you are.” And he was like, “Well, tell me about your day.”
- It worked! He started fishing for me to converse with him. And then we decided, well, let’s pray about these things that we have talked about that are a concern. And we prayed together. And by the time we said amen, I mean, I just couldn’t wait to give my body to this man. There was just that incredible connection. But it started with backing off, not pursuing him.
- Ankerberg: We are going to take a break, and then we are going to have the fellow squirrels. We are going to talk about the fact is, why is it we don’t want to talk, okay? We will talk about that when we get right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are back. And we are talking about how married men, married women, as well as single men, single women, can live with sexual integrity. And one of the things in terms of the differences, is that men don’t want to talk as much as women. But women need the talk for that emotional relationship. So Steve, how can we do this? What is the problem here?
- Arterburn: Well, we are wired differently. You know, women do have a larger word count need than men do, just to begin with. And I know many times my wife will say to me, “I just need to get my word count in before we do anything else.” And so that is just a nice way to invite me to listen and shut up.
- But it is true; we are wired differently. Us men, we many times have a lot of opportunities to share and talk about things all day long, so by the end of the day we many times have gone through our word count, and so it more difficult for us to do it. Also, if a man feels like he is being evaluated and judged, being criticized or he is walking on eggshells, he doesn’t want to talk because he is afraid that he is going to trip a wire that is going to cause some kind of tirade or criticism. So he kind of holds back.
- A woman needs to make a place safe for a man to share. And she also needs to ask him open ended questions and find things of interest for him to get him in the habit of talking. A lot of times women complain about us men, but they, a woman, has shut the man down. So if that is the dynamic in your marriage, as a woman you need to ask yourself, “Have I shut him down? Am I open? Am I a safe person for him to talk to?” And many times when you become safe, he is more than happy to share with you feelings and connect with you at the level you want to be connected with.
- Ankerberg: [Fred], what did you put in your mind that spurred you to actually talk?
- Stoeker: Well, you know one of the things that you need to do is not only accept that there are these differences, but you need to make active room for these differences in your life. I know that one of the things that I did early on was I noticed that I had the same situation that Greg did. I would go to bed and once I hit the bed, I am either looking for sex or looking for sleep.
- And one of the things I decided I had to do was I had to make a rule for myself that when I went into the bedroom at night I could not lay in the bed first. I had to first sit in what we call our talking chair. And what I would do is I would sit there, because I don’t fall asleep right away there. And so Brenda and I talk. I sit in this kind of a lounge chair thing and she lays on the bed, and we talk. It could be 10 minutes, it could be an hour. I mean we just start talking. And you know it is not my natural thing, I have to admit. My more natural thing is like any other guy, she is getting ready for bed and she is bending over brushing her teeth and she looks pretty good from behind and, you know, I am thinking about sex. But one of the things that I found is that, look, if I have this difference in me that I am more interested in sex than in hugging and talking, I had better find a way to make sure that hugging and talking is going to happen for her sake.
- Now, the next thing I would say is okay, do you think that makes it easier for her then, to offer her body to me when I have made room for her and I am connecting with her emotionally? Oh, you bet! And on the nights when she is too tired and she doesn’t really want to get into it all that much, she can just by focusing on the side of sex that she likes, the touching, the holding and all that, she can sure make things fun for me while she is kind of just staying in the level where she wants to stay. But she wants to make sure that I am getting connection sexually in the same way that I am providing connection emotionally. And as we are making room for both of those things it makes it easier for both of us to give.
- Ankerberg: All three of you I would like you to talk about hope, because people who are out there might be in despair. But you guys are experts from coming from despair into hope. And each one of you wanted to bail out. And your mates, I mean, Fred, yours said you know, all of the feelings were dead. So how do you start if you are in despair to get to hope?
- Stoeker: Well, you know I was in despair, and I knew it was over and I didn’t know what to do, so I turned really to God, you know. First I said, “Look, I will do anything.” And you know, when you tell the Lord that you will do anything He is right on the edge of His seat ready to speak and ready to help. And He, first of all, He spoke through the pastor who talked to me about mutual submission.
- But then He opened my eyes through a couple of situations. I was at a friend’s wedding a few weeks later and I had the opportunity to see how my family treated Brenda when I wasn’t around, because I was in a spot up there practicing for the wedding. They were all down on the other end of the church. My family did not know I was watching. And I saw how they treated Brenda. And for the first time I realized, Brenda has more gifts than I do in relationships. I mean, she saw what they were doing to her and I never saw it. And I saw for the first time that I could be blind and that I could be wrong. And once God had shown that to me through that situation – that I could be blind and I could be wrong – I was open enough then to be able to listen to her more. And our whole communication patterns changed after that. So where the hope lies is giving your heart to God’s truths and allowing Him then to come in and speak to you.
- Ankerberg: Steve, you were talking about the fact that wherever a person is at right now don’t despair, there is hope, continue.
- Arterburn: Well, John, other than your show, one of my favorite shows is What Not to Wear. And it is just an amazing thing to see these people go from being very resistant to change their wardrobe to seeing that they have been dressing pretty crummy and committing fashion suicide. And the guy that is on the show, Clinton, one day he said, “You know, sometimes you don’t know you need help until you get help.” And it is true about the way people dress, and it is true about your marriage, and it is true about who you are.
- And if you would open yourself up to have somebody to come in and take a look at your marriage and the way that you are dealing with things, look at you personally, you might discover that there are a lot of things that need some help. And if you are willing to do that, the sky is the limit on what you can experience.
- I have a little GPS thing in my car and I have ADD, and the most common thing I hear is “recalculating route.” And I know that God takes all of our mistakes and wherever we end up, whatever road, He recalculates that route and pulls it back together and leads us where we need to go. And if you will humble yourself to God, be willing to get some help – you know we have got an “Every Man’s Battle” workshop, Every Heart Restored, we do all these things. Fred and Shannon, they do these seminars – if you will open yourself to get some help and open yourself up to God’s truth, you can have the marriage that you always dreamed you would have or maybe never dreamed that you could. You can have that, it is possible.
- Ankerberg: Shannon, what difference does it make? What are the benefits for those who are Christians? Why is that different than for a non-Christian? What do you have going for you as a Christian that you didn’t have going for you as a non-Christian?
- Ethridge: Well, as a non-Christian the only hope that you have is in another human being. And you, as a broken human being, can’t depend on another broken human being to fix you. But as Christians we serve a God who understands our brokenness, who can sympathize with our weaknesses, who gives us more grace than we could possibly ever need. And for me the hope, when I looked at what my marriage relationship was like at that seven year mark, when I had that seven year itch and I wanted to go looking for love with someone else, and telling my husband, “You just don’t meet my emotional needs.” Well, this week we celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. So it was 10 years ago that I was feeling that way. And when I look at how I feel towards my husband now versus how I felt a decade ago, I am astounded. It feels like I am with a totally different person. But I know that Greg is still the same person he was, it is that I have become a different person. And that truly your hope lies in opening yourself up to God; to have Him reveal the things about you that need to change in order for you to have the lifestyle that you need to have to feel as if you are a woman of character and integrity, so that you can have the relationship that you long to have.
- Ankerberg: You were also sexually abused. Talk about forgiveness.
- Ethridge: You know, I made a long list of the people that I needed to forgive. Every person who sexually abused me, my father for not being aware and protecting me, my mother for not warning me that it could happen. But the biggest person was myself. I had to understand that as a young child it wasn’t my fault. And even as an older woman I was making judgments based on the experiences I had had in the past. I was walking wounded and trying to use sex and love relationships to medicate my emotional pain. And I finally had to get to the place where I gave myself the grace to be human. And just said, it’s forgiven. When Jesus Christ died on the cross He didn’t say, “Forgive them of their sins except the sexual ones. Those are too big, I am not dying for those.” I had to believe with all my heart that the blood that Jesus shed for me is more than sufficient to cover all of my sins and that I can walk in that freedom every day.
- Ankerberg: One last word, Fred?
- Stoeker: Well, you know victory is possible too. You know a lot of times we think, well just how far can this go? Not only in marriage, which now I am 25 years married after being at the point where she wanted to go. In the sexual arena I want to talk to all the young men and the men to understand that I have now gone 18 years without masturbating. Now, that is huge for me. And my son just got married and he just got his first kiss at the altar. He has never masturbated, never looked at porn on the computer. And when you think about who he is, he was the two year old toddler that I was looking at and saying, “Oh, I can never help him.” But because I turned my heart over to the Lord, the Lord taught me how to win so I could teach my son how to win. My whole family tree has changed, and there is no such thing as saying, oh wow this is a temporary thing. This is a permanent victory. God has that kind of power and more importantly that kind of love. He is aching to help you.
- Ankerberg: Folks, I tell you what, I just appreciate all the information that you have given to us and sharing your hearts and who you are and what you have been through. And sharing the fact that there is hope for all the folks that are listening out there.