Financially Secure

How long have you been married?

We have been married for an awesome 5 and a half years.

On a scale of 1-10, how important are finances in a marriage? (1 being of little importance, and 10 being extremely important.)

We would say it is a 10. Financial issues can act as a negative catalyst to magnify other issues that can weigh heavily on a relationship. When you are in financial agreement with your partner, it can be a gateway to increased intimacy and strengthen marital bonds.

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What are some common obstacles that hinder couples financially? (In general, and personally.)

Debt and poor credit are usually the biggest obstacles. Setting financial goals can help with getting out of debt. Overspending is another obstacle that impacts a lot of relationships. Having a monthly budget can help control spending behaviors and help with getting bills paid on time. Over time, reducing your debt to income ratio and paying your bills on time will have a positive impact on your credit score.

It is important to remember that having poor credit causes everything to be more expensive. Car payments are higher. Car, Home, and Rental insurance cost more. Getting a mortgage for a home is more costly from higher interest rates. Improving your credit score can save you thousands of dollars a year, that you can be redirected and put to work for you and your household.

Share how you make financial matters a priority?

For many, personal finance is something that is not discussed. It is not talked about between husband and wife. It’s not shared with children. It is not discussed in social circles with family and friends or coworkers. Financial Matters are taboo. We make financial matters a priority by taking the taboo out of talking about money. We have open honest and regular discussions about our money, financial goals, and monthly budget. And whenever possible we socialize behaviors and best practices for managing our personal finances. Everything we do plays a role, directly or indirectly, in us achieving our financial goals. Having financial goals helps make financial matters a priority.

What is your favorite financial resource?

Of course, The Wealth Culture Academy and our flagship e-course Budgeting is BAE. The Wealth Culture Academy is an online resource we created to help grow financial literacy in the African American Community and beyond. Budgeting is BAE is an e-course we designed to help African American women learn how to master their money by budgeting. We wanted to share the things that we have learned during our journey to financial freedom. We have uncovered a lot of nuggets along the way that we wish we learned years ago. We feel obligated to share as much as we can with as many people as we can. Financial success is possible for everyone, as long as they know the behaviors to foster it.

For us, our financial enlightenment began as we read the book, The Richest Man in Babylon. We also follow other personal finance educators like His and Her Money and Tiffany The Budgetnista.

What is the greatest financial advice you ever received?

One of the most impactful pieces of financial advice we have received was to start an emergency savings account. Once we set aside money for emergencies, we found that the emergencies seemed to stop happening. And it wasn’t so much that emergencies didn’t happen to us anymore. We were just more prepared when they occurred. The panic and the need to rush and make a financial decision was removed. And we began to see that often, things that became emergencies because we were unprepared weren’t really emergencies. They were just unexpected situations. We then decided that we needed to give our emergency saving a more defined purpose so it is to only be used in a real emergency. We created a separate savings for unexpected situations. We want our emergency savings to stand alone and be available to cover things like loss of income and the need to cover household expenses for a designated amount of time.

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Share something you wished every couple knew about finances before getting married.

We wish every couple understood the power of bringing their money together as one. Far too often we hear couple share about keeping their money separate. And when they get into the reason for keeping their money separate it usually is more of a trust issue than an actual money issue. And when that is the case. The couple really needs to work to resolve the trust issue. Once that is done, concerns about bringing money together are pretty much all but eliminated. There are some behaviors that all couples should practice so that bringing money together becomes fruitful. Being open and honest about all financial situations with one another is key. You can create a safe place discussion with your partner to ensure the other person is comfortable putting it all out there on the table. The only way to fix things that are broken is to know it is broken. This will also allow both people to know the financial strengths and weaknesses of the other. And bringing money together doesn’t mean you lose the ability to spend money individually. This is one of the biggest fears many couples have about bringing money together. Once the money is placed in the same pot, it can be planfully distributed. Each person can have an “allowance” to cover their personal spending needs. By first bringing all of the money together, the couple can ensure that their financial goals have priority over individual spending.

Do you believe couples should have joint accounts?

YES! Two is always better than one. Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. More importantly, every couple should have financial goals and budget to meet those goals. Having financial goals along with a budget naturally puts in place a money management system or process that evolves over time.    

What advice would you like to give couples concerning the importance of estate planning?

Make it a priority! Every now and then we see someone share gofundme accounts on social media to help cover expenses related to an unexpected death. Estate planning can help prevent the need for that. Also, a lot of wealth is lost to taxes when you are forced to go through probate because there is no legal will to express the sentiments of the deceased party.

We also need to look more at creating trusts. Some benefits of having a trust: You can put conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die; You reduce estate and gift taxes; You can distribute assets to heirs efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate court. A trust also allows you to better protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits.

When you go from one spouse working to both working should the spouse who just started working pick up bills, pay off debt or invest?

This goes back to having financial goals and a budget. Anytime there is a sustained change to income you will need to revisit your financial goals and monthly budget. If paying off debt is already a financial goal, it’s natural for the new income to be directed towards debt repayment. If investing is a priority, then the new income is directed towards investments.


It is also good to have a plan for unexpected money. Every now and then we all get unexpected money. For instance, let’s say you are meeting a friend for lunch and they pick up the tab. You were expecting to pay for the meal but your friend paid. The cost of the meal is unexpected money. You can use the money you would have spent on lunch to go towards emergency savings or an investment. Having a plan allows that money to be put to work.

What does being “Beautifully Bound: Financially Secure” look like to you?

It means that your money looks good on the outside and inside. You never want to be the couple with a nice house who can’t afford to put furniture in it. It means you have a financial plan in place, with a budget acting as a roadmap to help you follow your plan. It means you have savings to cover emergencies and unexpected situations as well as savings to help secure your future. It means you have money directed towards investments to grow your legacy and wealth as well as create security for future generations. It means you are working well financially as a couple. With financial security, you foster a bond that strengthens your love for one another and your marriage.

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Photography by Keynon Jones of K Love Jones Photography
Bound - Sepia
Graced Lettering Co.

Connect with the Myhands on social media.

https://www.thewealthcultureacademy.com

https://facebook.com/thewealthculture

https://instagram.com/budgetingisbae

 

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples stay in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Poplar via our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

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Just Say Yes

Husband: Hey Babe, I had a hard day at work and I was wondering if we could . . .

Wife: I can’t, I have a headache.

Somewhere along the way in history, a headache became the kryptonite that renders women inoperative and deflates husbands faster than a pin pops a balloon. The irony about the infamous headache excuse is that intimacy is the perfect cure. And if a wife is willing to sacrifice she may be surprised to find there is something significant in it for her too. The late Dr. Marvin Gaye called it, “Sexual Healing.” And there is science to back up his research.

Baby, I’m hot just like an oven
I need some lovin’
And baby, I can’t hold it much longer
It’s getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual healing baby, is good for me
Sexual healing is something that’s good for me

Sexual Healing Lyrics by Marvin Gaye / David Ritz / Odell Brown

Have you ever heard of oxytocin? It’s also referred to as the bonding, cuddle, life, or love hormone. It’s a hormone that is excreted when a mother has a baby, it makes her feel connected to her child. Mothers generally don’t look at their babies and see them as alien creatures. (Even though infants often look alien.) Something inside of a mother causes her to look beyond blood, mucus, and her own physical exhaustion and immediately begin taking care of someone else. Oxytocin is the super glue that fosters mother-baby bonding. Everything from uterine contractions during labor to helping expel the placenta following labor is influenced by oxytocin. It helps a mom’s milk to let-down and helps close blood vessels after birth.

Through nipple stimulation, exercise, rhythmic movement, prayers, relaxation, warm baths, feeling grateful, loving words, laughter, and humor, moms and midwives have been able to stimulate the body to produce oxytocin during labor to lessen the pain of delivery. Imagine that? All of the above sound very similar to things that take place during foreplay between couples prior to having sex. Could it be that God designed this bonding hormone to wire men to feel one with and care for their wives in the same way that He designed it for moms to care for and connect with their babies?

Baby, I got sick this mornin’
A sea was stormin’ inside of me
Baby, I think I’m capsizin’
The waves are risin’ and risin’
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it’s such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it’s good for us

Marvin Gaye had a point. Sexual healing helps to relieve the mind and is good for us. Sex is deeply therapeutic both emotionally and physically. It is biblically encouraged and I’m sure many husbands with a headache-prone wife will attest to Mr. Gaye’s noted symptoms of feeling like he was capsizing. The seasickness he described is something the release of oxytocin could thwart. In fact, the only time men release this supernatural super glue is when they climax during the sex. Attention all wives who suffer from frequent “headaches” the fact that the only time your husband releases oxytocin is during sex should be enough to cure you for life if you care about the longevity of your love life.

You can outsource just about every other aspect of being a wife. You can hire someone to clean your home, cook your food, do your husband’s laundry, but the last thing you want is to outsource intimacy. Similar to the way that oxytocin causes a mom to connect with her baby it serves as a bonding agent between a husband and wife. This is not a hormone that you ever want your husband to release with someone else.

Oxytocin evokes feelings of:

  • security
  • contentment
  • love
  • trust
  • empathy

Oxytocin helps to reduce cortisol. People with high levels of cortisol may experience:

  • depression
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • emotional irregularities

Wives, I know it sounds counterintuitive to give yourselves to your husband if you are not feeling well, but could it be that you’re not feeling well because you are withholding good from him that’s really good for you? Is there a lack of security, contentment, love, trust, and empathy in your marriage? You might think that the lack of the aforementioned attributes is the cause of your headaches but maybe it’s the other way around. Of all the things you can get away with not doing for your husband doing “it” should not be one of them.

Do not withhold what is good from those who deserve it;
if it is within your power to give it, do it.
Do not send your neighbor away, saying, “Get back with me tomorrow.
I can give it to you then,”
when what he needs is already in your hand.
Make no plans that could result in injury to your neighbor;
after all, he should be more secure because he lives near you.
Avoid fighting with anyone without good reason,
especially when no one has hurt you; you have nothing to fight about.

Proverbs 3:27-35 The Voice (VOICE)

I implemented the “Just Say Yes” policy years ago when my husband and I were walking through the stress of adoption. We had three biological children and adopted three more. Our younger three were ages one, two, and three. Needless to say, life was hard and my headaches were frequent until my doctor looked at me and said, Mrs. Poplar, “You are a walking heart attack.” I wasn’t breathing properly because I was stuck in fight mode. I was living with the chronic pain of inflammation and the frustration of memory loss. One day while studying scriptures on intimacy I began to see parallels between the structure of a females’ body and the temple. I also noticed that the Bible had much to say about how husbands and wives should give themselves to each other.

Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.

Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV

 

I could share several scriptures with you that pertain to intimacy between husband and wife, (a different blog for a different day) but I selected this Proverb because it points to things that promote the release of God’s super glue that causes you to be stuck together with your spouse-oxytocin. Rejoice with your wife, let her breasts fill you with delight, and be intoxicated in her love. Things that can hinder the release of oxytocin in women during labor are fear, stress, feeling like they are being watched, tension, distrust, discomfort, and anxiety. These are also things that can hinder a woman in the bedroom. Husbands I just wanted to add that in there because if you want your wife to join the “Just Say Yes” tribe then you must be ready to love her as yourself and per Dr. Marvin Gaye’s orders, tell her that she’s great!”

You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate
You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate

My husband is a great patient. And he’s also very patient. Over our 19 years of being married, I’ve faced various medical issues like recovery after surgery and the loss of libido that can happen during breastfeeding, after having a baby, or after taking a prescription medication. Those highs and lows are normal parts of being beautifully bound. If there is a couple that is reading this and you are facing some intimate issues don’t be afraid to do some research (both biblically and medically), read a book, seek counseling, or have a heartfelt conversation with your spouse or your doctor. It would be a tragedy for you to abandon ship on your relationship the moment you hit choppy waters.

Even during seasons in which physical obstacles hinder physical sex, there are still ways to make love. The mysterious thing about marital intimacy is that it is appropriate during milestones, mistakes, mishaps, and mourning. Sex is sacred and God designed this ritual to help helpmates help and heal each other. Many times when I walked through medical issues and was unaware of what was taking place with my body or libido my husband was the one to figure out what was happening. Through research, prayer, and patience we were able to implement noninvasive natural remedies that resulted in a balance in my body and restored beauty in our marriage bed.

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples follow our Solid Marriage Support Facebook page today.

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Gracie Clark of Graced Lettering Co.

Wisdom from a Widow

 

How many years were you married?

29 years, 1 month, 30 days and 12 hours (10,652 days, 12 hours and 0 minutes)

 

What has hindsight highlighted most to you?

Treasure each and every moment, make a conscious effort to make good memories, celebrate the good, forget and forgive the bad (every day).

 

What wisdom would you like to offer wives?

Treasure the gift God has given you. Don’t exaggerate your husband’s shortcomings and mistakes.  Concentrate on what you fell in love with in the first place. Don’t argue and fight over petty things, life is so short.  Don’t waste time!!! Talk through and work out the hard things, everything can be resolved. Communicate (don’t hold grudges and stop speaking).  Give yourself unselfishly physically, no regrets. Let go of inhibitions and enjoy intimacy to the fullest (forget what you think you look like, he loves it all and forget about the dishes that need to be done, that that doesn’t matter when he’s gone).

 

Marriage is a ministry and every joint supplies . . .

What would you say was your marriage supplied to the Body of Christ?

Dave and I made it a goal to show children what a godly marriage and relationship looked like. We always said we wanted them to know by our example what they could have when they grew up in case they didn’t have that example at home.

The other thing our marriage contributed to the Body is an example of teamwork within marriage. Dave and I were a good team. We loved to work together, learn from each other and appreciated each other’s God-given gifts & talents.

We encouraged others to pursue their dreams and aspirations as much as possible.

 

What has been the hardest thing to adjust to?

After the initial shock of being left a widow so suddenly, the hardest thing has been the littlest things.  Missing his touch, his laughter, his arms around me, our conversations about deep things and silly things, singing together in the car. . . Most of all I miss being able to go to my best friend with my deepest pain, joys, complaints, and tears.

 

What is most apparent to you about your spouse now that they’re gone?

What an amazing person he truly was! What a creative genius he was!  How much he was respected, honored and loved. How much he is missed, not only by his family but by friends and kids he taught and mentored.  How much I need him.

 

If you could change anything about the past what would it be?

I’d lay aside my own “needs” and serve him more. I’d give myself to him more. I’d pay attention to every little detail of our life instead of being overwhelmed by what seemed to be the big stuff.

 

What does being “Beautifully Bound” mean to you?

Marriage is the most unique and profoundly rich of relationships.  In no other relationship do you become “one” with another. It is a love covenant that, if nurtured and treasured can last until your very last breath and beyond.  The love I carry for my husband and the love I know he still holds for me in Heaven is a representation of a beautiful bond that the Lord blessed us with on earth.  I look forward to the day of that Great Reunion!

 

What do you feel like you should have done more of?

As much as we did together, if I could go back I would have MORE fun, adventure, and laughter.  I would make time to be intimate more often! Those are the memories I treasure most now!

 

What do you wish you would have done less?  

Worry.  I wish I would have worried less about money, the future, the kids, ministry and the things that never happened. Worry stole precious time from me and our time together.

To find out more about Jackie’s bittersweet beautiful new beginning subscribe to her blog at therenaissancebelle.com

Smith, Dave & Jackie
Photography by Darla Hall
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Graced Lettering Co.

Beautifully Bound: Back Together

We met the Farris’ at a recent marriage conference. We were blessed by their story and believe you will be enlightened by their wisdom. Thank you, Tracy and Sylvia, for sharing your Beautifully Bound journey of reconciliation with our readers.

How long were you married?

20 years this Dec. 21

 

How long were you separated?

Though we were not physically separated, we were spiritually separated somewhere between 3-5 years.

 

What was the catalyst for you coming back together?

The catalyst that caused us to come back together was the understanding that our marriage isn’t merely for us. But it’s a ministry for us and others.

 

What does it mean to be “Beautifully Bound” to you?

To be committed to the marriage. To God, yourself and your spouse. In the harmony, trials, and challenges, victory and celebration all in the beauty of our heavenly Father God.  

 

What is the most powerful advice you have ever received or most powerful question you pondered during your time of separation?

The most powerful advice was that no one else on earth was created for us but us for each other. Many may catch our attention but no one else can handle us but each other.Farris Quote 2 (1)

 

What was the most difficult thing about being apart? The most difficult part is the actual feeling and experience of disconnection one from another. Knowing that what you have or had is no longer there.

 

What is the hardest part about coming back together?

Trust and Forgiveness. It’s one thing to say we trust and forgive but it’s another to live as you trust and to live as if you’ve been forgiven. Another area that was hard was sex. Each person wants to be validated with the assurance that they are the only King or Queen in the marriage.

 

What advice would you offer couples who are currently in the reconciliation process?

To recommit to God as individuals and as a couple. Focus on,

  • communication
  • compromise
  • capability
  • commitment
  • confession ( love for each other).

Take time out for each other and as an individual. Don’t lose your identity in the other person but allow your individual identities to make one whole identity. When people see you they should see God, you and your spouse. Build each other up with support, encouragement, validation, reassurance, and acceptance.

Farris Quote 2

What advice would you offer couples who are contemplating separation?

We would render this question. One simple word and question, “Why”? Many people focus their emotional decision on the circumstances of the effects of rejection and so forth. But how often do we focus on the “why” we felt rejected? People see the ripples in the water but have no idea why there are ripples in the water.

 

What will you do more intentionally now that you are back together?

Set boundaries. Work on being on the same sheet of music. Address the “why” not the ripple. Prayer, forgiveness, laughter, quality time, commitment, and communication. 

For more marital wisdom connect with the Farris’ by joining their Facebook Page Ambassadors Marriage Session “Inspired to Inspire.”

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Bound - Sepia
Graced Lettering

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Everybody is Not Doing It

In the previous blog, you got a glimpse of what it’s like to go from walking in purity to cultivating passion within marriage. Shifting from the mindset of, “Sex is bad, to sex is good” can be a bit of a challenge. Meet Cameron Rice and Faith Manigan, a pre-married couple who share the struggles and strengths of walking in purity. Learn how to set boundaries, resist temptation and deal with those who have negative perceptions of purity.

In a world that says everybody’s doing it, why did you choose not to?

Cam – To honor God and what His Word says. I believe the best way to lead is by example. In order to show people it is possible you have to give them an example to follow. I wanted to be that for people.

What are some boundaries you’ve set to achieve your goal of saving sex for marriage?

Faith- As trivial as some of these things may sound, all of them were absolutely necessary to my success. No communication with the opposite sex after 9pm (nothing good happens after that time lol), modest attire- I have to protect the eye gates of my brothers in Christ, accountability for trips spent together- I needed someone calling me asking me if I’m okay, or if I’m struggling, someone to encourage me and speak life into me.

Is it challenging for you to save sex for marriage?

Cam – I believe challenging is an understatement. As a male I am a physical being and also, the fact that I have been sexually active before makes the temptation worse. I believe 100% when you ask the Holy Spirit to intervene on your temptation and also having a fiance who does a great job of guarding my heart with how she clothes herself and communicates with me.

Do people ever mock, tease, or get jealous of you for walking in purity?

Faith- Unfortunately very often. It’s not the “cool” thing to not kiss your boyfriend/fiancé.

faith Quote

What advice do you have for someone who feels like they messed up and it’s too late for them?

Cam – I believe it is NEVER too late to walk in purity. I had been active for several years and sure it is easy to say there is “no point” but I believe purity is bigger than me. I believe walking in purity is also about the people around you and people closest to you. It is a way of ministry to others and a testament of how important your relationship with Christ is. In order to walk in purity, the best advice I can give someone is to protect your heart and mind which may include leaving friends behind who think purity is stupid or dumb. His Grace is always sufficient enough for any mistake.

Do you think it will be difficult to shift your mindset from “Sex is bad to sex is good.”?

Faith- It’s honestly something I’m walking out right now. Trying to prepare my mind to switch from protecting my body. To understand that my body is soon to be his just as much my own. I keep reminding myself, it’s worship and it’s a privilege!

What is something you would like to say to the person who is feeling pressured to have sex?

Cam – Change your environment. Change your thoughts. I realized early on, one of the main reason for having sex was to impress my “friends.” As a man, sex can turn into a prideful accomplishment, “Yeah I am the man because I am active with several women.” A real man treats one woman with honor, dignity, and respect. The pressure comes from your friends and what they value. Our thoughts are often influenced by our closest friends. So change your circle and get in community with people who are chasing the same goal and value purity just as much as you. You need people to hold you accountable.

Share your favorite book about purity.

Faith- as cliche as it is, The Bible is my favorite book about purity. No better book can tell me who I am and who I’m called to be other than the Bible. Knowing who I am and whose I am encouraged my purity walk. It gave me my standard.

Share your favorite quote about purity.

Cam – If 95% of people are doing it, then it is average. Keep it simple don’t be average.

Cam Quote

Share your favorite couple that has walked in purity. (Famous or Friend)

Faith- Julie and Ben Bundren, they’re getting married April 11, 2019! She was my go-to person for questions, accountability, reassurance that we could walk this out correctly, and so much more. Their example helped and encouraged me!

On November 23, 2018, “Black Friday” Cam, surrounded by family and friends, surprised Faith with a romantic proposal in downtown Huntsville’s Big Spring Park. She said “YES!”

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Photography by Ron Corn

Connect with Cameron Rice and Faith Manigan on Instagram.

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Graced Lettering Co.

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

From Purity to Passion

 

Who or what influenced you to walk in purity?

For both of us, it was our parents, our upbringings, and our faith that kept us pure. For me, Kaitlin, I was heavily influenced by my parents who had walked through teen pregnancy and wanted to protect me from the same struggles they faced. While their story was one of redemption and grace, they still wanted to see me wait on the husband God had for me.

Was it hard to shift your paradigm from purity to passion?

For Caleb, it hasn’t been hard at all. His transition into passion has been seamless. For me, Kaitlin, on the other hand, it has been very difficult to shake off the shame that was always related to sex in my mind. I have had to really walk and talk with the Lord through understanding the gift of intimacy in marriage. Intimacy with my husband shows me how to be more intimate with my God and visa versa. I am learning to see passion as a present instead of a prison.

Kaitlin Quote

What do you feel like were the benefits of saving yourself for marriage?

Caleb – There has been no comparison to previous sexual partners in our marriage, and that has eliminated so much anxiety and stress. We have avoided the shame that often comes with premarital sex and we share the excitement of discovering how to have sex the right way, God’s way.

What advice would you offer couples who are waiting?

Kaitlin – It’s worth it. It really is. Without sharing too much — the moment we lost our virginity, it all made sense. I was so grateful I had waited for the one person who had waited for me. We had nothing to worry about and no previous experience to compare the moment to. There is nothing like sharing that moment of intimacy after you become husband and wife. The wedding vows are great, but God created sex to be the covenant that seals the deal.

What misconceptions do you think people have about couples who save sex for marriage?

Caleb – The major misconception is that people who wait are prudes. It’s not about rules; it’s about a relationship with God and wanting to fully experience what he has for us in marriage.

Caleb Quote

What was your greatest struggle prior to marriage?

It was very hard to express love without being intimate. It’s especially hard once you’re engaged and you are so close to the finish line! We stumbled and fell plenty of times along the way, but we relied on Jesus to give us the strength to abstain.

What is your greatest challenge now that you are married?

Now that we are married, it is evident the enemy does not want us to have sex.

Caleb – Maintaining passion is difficult. Now that we can have sex every day, it’s difficult for us to be on the same page. As a man, I’m almost always ready to have sex, but it’s not as easy for Kaitlin.

Kaitlin – With the hustle and bustle of life, I struggle to make sex a priority. I often still see it as a sin instead of the lifeline our marriage often needs. I get busy and tired and put it off. I am working to be more intentional about initiating sex and physically showing Caleb how much I love him.

On a scale of 1-10 how much of a priority is intimacy to you? 1 being “not that important,” 10 being “extremely important.

Intimacy is a 10 for us. We’ve seen it change our marriage in amazing ways.

What are some tools you gained from walking in purity that you now apply in your marriage?

We both learned how to respect one another — respect each others’ bodies, minds, desires, needs, and souls.

What does being “Beautifully Bound” mean to you?

We are beautifully bound together in a covenant with Jesus, through Jesus, and with each other. What God joined together, no man or enemy can ever separate. And we know that to be true in and out of the bedroom.

 

Connect with Kaitlin Chappell Rogers on her breathtaking blog and be sure to read Caleb’s incredible Letter to Girls Who Are Tired of Waiting. Kaitlin is a speaker, blogger and author of the new ebook Not From God: Taking Back the Narrative of Your Life. Subscribe to her blog, buy her book, and follow her on all social media platforms.

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Kasey Leigh Photography
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Handlettering by Gracie Clark of Graced Lettering Co.

 

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Leave and Cleave “Your New Identity”

A big part of the transition of marriage involves developing a new identity. Not like, I’m going to be Jada and you’re going to be Will. But more like, though I love my family, YOU are now my family. This takes some obvious reframing when it comes to things like how you spend holidays and which traditions you will uphold. But I believe there is an internal reframing that must occur also; like, “Are your parents REALLY my parents? Will your siblings ever feel like MY siblings? Will you be friends with my best friend?”

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Leaving and cleaving can be tricky. Leaving implies us literally leaving our parents, our first source of love. And cleaving instructs us to be joined together “as one” with our spouse, someone we are learning how to love. Being joined with our spouse says, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Leave your peeps, embrace mine, but cling to me so we can be one. I’ll embrace your family as my own and you will embrace mine as yours.” To mesh with one’s family it is important to spend time with the family. But in order to get to know your spouse, it’s important to spend time apart from others so you can acclimate as husband and wife and develop your new identity as a couple. It can almost feel like a mixed message.

Is Genesis 2:24 saying, “Separate (from your family), connect (as a couple) and build your own family? If so, what do familial relationships look like now? What if both Mother in-laws wish to host Christmas dinner and it’s equally important to husband and wife. Do you decline both invitations and celebrate alone or do you explain to both sets of parents that you’ll be alternating holidays? Both those suggestions are a fair compromise, but what is really taking place in your heart while making such decisions? Are you complying to appear like you’re a good sport, while internally resenting everybody, feeling like you’re taking one for the team? As you adjust to this new idea of becoming one with your spouse you may at times feel like you are losing your own identity in the process.

You can either view your circumstance like you are losing your identity or gaining a new one.  I’ve been married for 19 years now and although I have a healthy marriage, I just realized this year that when I chose to leave, I did not choose to cleave. My bank account, zip code, dwelling, and even my last name changed but deep within, there were hidden things that remained the same. One of which was, my Dad was my Dad. Although my Father-in-Law is a man in which I have boundless respect and honor for, he was not my Dad. I have used so many tactics over the last two decades to keep from calling him “Dad,” it’s really quite ridiculous. He’s been affectionately called, “Mr. Poplar, Grandpa, Melvin Poplar Sr. My Father-in-Law.” But not until 3 weeks ago did I refer to him as “Dad.” That might seem trivial to some, but to me it was huge. It was hard, but I did it, and I’m glad I did! (Even though it was in a text message. I felt a significant shift.)

I met my husband when I was 16. My Daddy died 9 years before. A lot takes place in a girl’s life between the ages of 7 and 16, but one thing that didn’t change for me was that I was a Daddy’s girl at heart. I was so young that my “Daddy” was just that, “Daddy.” He died before I ever reached the stage of even referring to him as “Dad.” I’m 40 something and in my mind, my Dad is still my “Daddy.” I think the little girl inside of me was not willing to relinquish the space in my heart that was reserved for my Daddy. Rather than seeing how God gave me another Father figure, the little girl inside of me felt like if I embraced my husband’s Dad, then I would be letting go of my own. Letting go of his legacy, his love, and his life.

It never dawned on me that God gave me a new family and Father so that I could receive love, embrace legacy, and celebrate life. Grief kept me from cleaving to my husband’s family, and grief is what drove me to embrace them as my own. After my Daddy died we stayed in touch with our local relatives, but we had no contact from his family in his State of origin. My Dad was the youngest of my grandfather’s children and I’m the youngest of my siblings. I have now lived in that State for the last 16 years and as we travel throughout Alabama I would often grieve the thought that I could have family in the cities we were in and not even know who they were.

I know this is going to sound all the way crazy, but the movie Black Panther heightened this grief all the more. I identified more with the supervillain, Erik Killmonger, as I felt displaced from my people and jealous of my husband’s rich cultural heritage. His family’s genealogy made me jealous because I could not trace my history past my grandfather. Part of me would take pride in the fact that my children gained this wonderful legacy, but the other part of me felt discouraged and displaced and my heart ached for something deeper.

The day after calling my Father-in-law Dad and deciding my husband’s history was my own and his people were my people, I logged on to Facebook and saw where my first cousin had posted an obituary that her brother found on a genealogy site. The person who had passed was “James Burton Sr.” from Montgomery Alabama. I started combing through the names of his family members, entering them into the Facebook search bar and noticed that I had mutual friends with one of the women that I found. I contacted that friend via text and within hours I was on the phone with my newfound family member. It was surreal. Her father who had just passed away days prior was my grandfather’s nephew. To think all these years had gone by of me fearing that cleaving to my husband’s family would lead to loss and it led to such great gain.

Is there an area in your life in which you know you either need to leave (your family) or cleave (to your spouse)? Your circumstance might be totally different from mine but you are keenly aware that there is something that you’ve been holding back? You could be hindering the oneness God has designed for you and your spouse to experience.

Parents aren’t the only ones you may have to leave. Before marriage, you may have had friends with the opposite sex. Within marriage, it’s important to leave those friendships and foster friendship with your spouse. Your spouse should be your best friend. So in some cases, even BFFs have to renegotiate the terms of their friendship. Friendship is important, but being friends with your spouse needs to take priority. I’m not saying you can’t cultivate friendship with others, I’m just saying you can’t really fully connect with your spouse if your focus is always connecting with others.

You are no longer Single, so why live like a Single person? If you are a couple, then it’s important to leave behind Single mindsets. This isn’t something you have to announce to others, it’s an internal shift that takes place within that will be reflected in your priorities. My prayer for you is that you release what needs to be let go of so you can embrace that which will cause you to cling to your spouse. Your new identity doesn’t have to erase who you were it should enhance who you are becoming. 

 

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What are some areas in which couples generally struggle when it comes to leaving and cleaving?

Have you found yourself in an identity crisis at any point along your marriage journey?

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Oneness

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Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

-Barbara Johnson

Mrs: Thanks for the way you work so hard to make sure our family has everything. I feel like I don’t offer you anything.

Mr: You don’t have to do anything to be my wife, that’s who you are. You’re mine.

 

Ode to the power of pillow talk. Yep. That was an actual exchange between me and my husband this morning. We say syrupy sweet stuff like that often. But there are other days in which our upbringings, opinions, ideas, priorities, problems and temperments try to separate us. With 6 kids, lots of boxes to check and places to be, some of the ways we manage to stay “one” are shared below.

We communicate our needs. If we need more “we” or “me” time we articulate our desires. We express our wants, even if we don’t always get what we want, we still share our expectations with each other. Sharing our dreams is paramount because if we have clear goals we can help one another accomplish those goals. “    

We connect consistently. Intimacy is a priority because it maintains a culture of connection within our marriage. Our language and interactions are impacted by our intimate oneness. It’s hard to treat someone bad who makes you feel good. And it makes very little sense to be at odds with someone who you have the ability to be one with.

We create routines that act as emotional maps that lead us to our desired destination of oneness. If a clean house, affirming words and an early bedtime for your kids is your wife’s idea of foreplay that would be an emotional map that would get her from point A to the place you want to be. Start simmering her early with a sweet text message, maybe reach out midday with a flirty phone call, collaborate easy dinner plans, and clean to her heart’s content. Get those kids down early, and pass out from exhaustion in the process. Only to be awakened by a wife whose heart is overflowing with gratitude who can’t wait to connect.

We add everything to the family calendar. Sports schedules, trash pick up, school activities, social events. . . But the notifications I most look forward to are date nights, anniversary trips and staycation dates. Whether the date night is a date in, the anniversary trip is a trip across town and the staycation is sitting in the jacuzzi together at the YMCA. We make “we” a priority.

Celebrating our love is something we do personally on a daily basis. Publicly when the opportunity presents itself and purposefully by being intentional to make sure that we celebrate one another in a way that is significant to our spouse and speaks their love language. 

 

 

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To Create Your Own Keys to Staying Close answer the questions below.

1.  What is your #1 need, want, or dream for your marriage?

2.  If you had $1 for every time you were “one” in the last 30 days what would be the balance in your bank account? Remember, it pays to connect consistently.

3. Think about a routine that leads to the feeling of lasting love. (Map it out.) Write it down and share what floats your boat with your spouse.

4. Calendar which days are most important to your marriage? Anniversaries, Birthdays, Holidays, etc. Do it now so that you can plan for later.

5. Reflect on a time when you felt celebrated by your spouse. If you aren’t familiar with The 5 Love Languages take the quiz here to begin improving your relationship.

If you have some creative ways in which you cultivate oneness with our spouse please share in the comments below.

 

“So they are no longer two, but one. What God has joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

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Real Love

Our oldest daughter recently had the pleasure of attending the 35th Annual Fun-Set Social and Charity Club Beautillion Ball. She was an escort for a friend who was a beau in the ball. The Beautillion season highlights the success of young African American males.  Beaus attend seminars with a focus on spiritual, social, educational and economic growth. The annual Beautillion Ball is a culmination of educational activities and fun.

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We were honored for her to be invited, but we were even more excited to get to attend with her. My husband is a hardcore helicopter parent, so having a valid reason to be present was right up his alley. We have a great rapport with the young man who invited her and we’ve been friends with his family for over a decade. But she’s his baby girl, and he delighted in being right by her side. The way my husband assisted our daughter with her dress, watched her on the dance floor and pulled out her chair when she would sit reminded me of so many of the reasons I fell in love with him.

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Not only did Trinity look like a princess she was treated like one by both her date and her dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently someone heard me and my husband’s testimony of secondary virginity and thought it wasn’t “real”. They weren’t implying that it was too fanciful. They were insinuating that it wasn’t “real” like, “BIG DEAL, who cares that you had sex before marriage and chose to practice abstinence while you were pregnant.” And all I could think of was, “God cares.”

Sometimes when people say things like, “I’m just being real.” What they really mean is that they are being “real” carnal. If people can’t receive from you because they don’t perceive you as being “real” don’t compromise your values, lower your standards, or remove healthy boundaries because of their opinion. The truth is, they may have a problem with your testimony because it highlights that God is real. It’s their brokenness that keeps them from celebrating how God’s REAL love has made you whole.

 

 

Real Love

 

He treats me like a princess because I’m a daughter of the King.

There’s no need for me to be stressed because I am his Good Thing.

He’s my Knight in Shining Armor the one who makes me brave.

You might wonder how he does it, it’s all because he’s Saved.

When a man is in love with The Lover of his Soul,

His love won’t leave you broken, it will only make you whole.

He can’t see you as royalty if he doesn’t seek the King.

If he does not honor God he won’t know you are a Queen.

Don’t settle for a boy when you can have a Prince.

Set your standards high and do not straddle the fence.

Boundaries keep you safe, they prevent you from a fall.

Your body is a temple protect the palace walls.

Far above rubies, more precious than silver and gold.

Why settle for lust filled fragments when real love can make you whole?

© Toya Poplar 2016

 

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Photography by Tim Gentry

If you want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Keep doing well and stay faithful to God’s Word.

Marriage is our ministry but purity will always be our passion. If you ever need someone to share the message of how powerful purity is, connect with us. We believe that purity empowers you to plan your future without looking back at your past. And we know from experience that it’s never too late to wait.

Keep Christ First

After stating “It’s not good for man to be alone,” God created a wife as a helper for her husband. Marriage is not only for man’s accompaniment. It is also an illustration of Christ and the Church. Christ’s love and sacrifice for His bride is the greatest example of how a husband should love, cherish, and be one with his wife. Figuring out how to live as one can at times be difficult to understand, so it is vitally important to keep Christ first. A marriage built on Christ is formed on a solid foundation that can withstand the storms of life.

When we remain rooted in God’s Word and refuse to let our hearts harden, our marriages not only reap rewards but reflects Christ’s unfailing love. If God is love and love never fails, neither should your marriage. Married Christians should, in fact, be experts in the department of forgiveness and reconciliation. Marriage is a relationship where we gain lots of practice in the area of forgiving which helps us understand God’s heart towards humanity. The thought that you can “so love” someone that you sacrifice your comfort for their care is an enigma. And apart from Christ’s example of the ultimate sacrifice, it makes very little sense.

Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage, poses the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy rather than to make us happy.” Many times we enter into marriage thinking that it is our spouse’s job to make us happy, when in reality, God could be using your spouse to make you holy. Holiness is not always fun, but it will always be right. Happiness is not always holy and may cause us to walk down an erroneous path. Whether our lives are overflowing with happiness or overwhelmed by woes, keeping Christ first is the way to overcome.

 

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To build your marriage on a solid foundation work through the questions below with your spouse.

1.  Read Psalm 1:1-3  & Matthew 7:24-27, what do roots and rocks have in common?

2.  What happens when we confess our faults to our spouse?  Define “avail.

3. Read Proverbs 3:27, are you guilty of withholding good from your spouse?

4. What are some areas in which you can serve your spouse? Make a list in your phone so you can refer to it often.

5. When was the last time you and your spouse studied God’s word? Start with the bonus scriptures above. Ephesians 5:31-33 & I Corinthians 13:4-8. What spoke to your heart?

 

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.