We hear all the time about the red flags and the reasons to break a relationship off – instead, here are 10 signs you’ve found marriage material.
Source: NBC Universal
The search for a life partner can be an all consuming venture. Trying to find someone you want to marry is one thing, then you have to also find someone who wants to marry you. Relationships press every button on every issue in our lives – upbringing, identity, sense of worth, how we feel about our own hopes and dreams. You can feel like you’ll never find anyone, you can feel like you only find bad ones, you can feel like nobody is ever good enough for you, and you can even feel that terrifying feeling that you’ve missed your soulmate.
And there’s no shortage on material on red flags out there. It almost feels like there is no person who could ever be truly good enough to pass the impossible standards of the common criteria. I’ve read multiple red flag articles and left feeling that they can almost disqualify everyone we know.
As time goes on, relationships get harder, and your heart becomes more unsure, is it ever okay to cheat on someone?
If you’ve clicked on this, you’ve done so for one of three main reasons:
You’re a friend of my wife or I and are concerned Matt is about to do something stupid
You’re in a long term relationship and you’ve started contemplating other options
You’ve been affected by the fallout of someone cheating on someone else
Rest assured, number 1 is absolutely not the case. I even gave my wife a heads up that I was going to write this one so there wasn’t any alarm.
But you know, this is actually a real concern and a real pressure for a whole lot of people in the worlds of love and sex.
When I used to have Foxtel, there used to be entire blocks of TV programming dedicated to 3 or 4 different types of shows all about paternity and faithfulness checks. We’ve all seen the GIFs from the Maury Povich show where young men would get absolutely lit and burst out in the best prepared breakdance they knew how when the DNA test would come back and they would hear that “you are NOT the father!”. Usually the lady (but sometimes the roles are reversed on these types of shows, dunno why, probably stereotypes of infidelity) would be blaming this dude for the whole show about his women on the side and his various side hustles. Then when the truth came out that she was actually the cheater, it would be on for young and old.
Now this sort of stuff is fairly entertaining for a large variety of people, but when you’re the one worried about infidelity, whether someone else’s or your own, it takes on a whole different context.
People do cheat in shorter term relationships, but I think the real damage and the real concern is around cheating in long term relationships. A University of Chicago study which asks about affairs every year for the last 30 or so years has turned in that about 10% of people have cheated. That’s a lot of people.
So, is this ever justified? Is it ever okay to cheat on someone? While the answer should be obvious, I think it would be more pertinent to look at some of the reasons why people do what they do.
Look at all those options
As I’ve written about before in When Nobody is Good Enough For You, I think one of the most difficult struggles in modern relationships is the amount of choice, or at least perceived choice, that is out there. On the topic of cheaters and adulterous affairs, one of the most infamous events in recent history occurred when “life is short, have an affair” website Ashley Madison was hit by a data breach. This threw multiple relationships and individuals into mass panic as they scrambled to try to cover up their activities via the website that were now exposed for all to see.
I’m not so sure if Ashley Madison could even be considered the main site that people would use for hooking up outside of their committed relationships. That may even just go to the social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I mean, look at all those options out there, or at least perceived options. When people aren’t happy in their current relationship, all they have to do is scroll through their feed and see those seemingly available men and women that may accommodate them in ways their current partner isn’t.
Options are the greatest enemy of commitment. This is true in every area of our lives, but especially in our relationships with a partner. Whilst many are now turning to the idea of open relationships, ie. cheating with permission, the cheating options even in these types of relationships are still capable of eroding the initial commitment of the circle of people.
Failing to resolve the conflict points
When we were doing our pre-marriage counselling before we got engaged, the goal was to identify areas of our relationship that we seemed to have strong disagreement on, or hadn’t yet talked about. During the sessions, you would then talk about any differences or oversights and make sure you were on the same page about an issue, or had discussed how you were going to handle disagreements around it. I’d recommend such a course to anyone thinking of tying the knot, or even after you have if you haven’t done something like that before.
I think everyone would be familiar with a variety of different conflict management and resolution styles in the corporate world, but often we’re not well equipped to handle conflict with rings on. Our society terms irreconcilable differences as the breaking point of relationships, where what has occurred is refused to be dealt with by one or both parties. It only takes one person in the relationship to decide they no longer want to try for the relationship to break down, or even for a secret (or public) affair to become a viable course of action.
All the more reason for us to get good at resolving conflict. If we don’t learn to resolve it, it will take us out. Fortunately, there are heaps of great resources out there for how to fight fair and to resolve those issues that seem to keep us apart.
The unspoken destroyers
I was looking at some of the statistics for reasons citing it being okay to cheat on someone, or at least for the thought being present. What was very interesting about an Australian study was that men and women equally responded with the same reasons in relatively the same percentages, with both genders citing emotional disconnection as by far the number one reason for an affair. Our stereotypes would probably try to tell us that men would be doing it for the physical pleasure, but it just goes to show that there is a level playing field in the human heart. We really do desire the same things.
But we don’t often say what those things are.
What are you struggling with in your relationship that no one knows about? It could be someone’s sexual addiction, a fight that just has no end, a mental illness that derails or dominates every conversation. It could be that thing that you just will never ask your partner for, whether it be physical or emotional. It could be that you have a dream that you’ve never fully expressed and you now harbour resentment towards your partner for their inability to make it happen.
People aren’t mind readers. We are grown men and women. We have to learn to get good at saying things out loud.
And especially with the person we’re connected to. I’ve watched time and time again where someone will just up and leave or suddenly announce they’re dating someone else because of something they’ve never told their partner. I heard an amazingly accurate quote from a marriage seminar that turns out to come from Stephen Covey in The Speed of Trust – “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviours”. We blame our partner for what we do see against what they don’t see.
We may be feeling like cheating is justified based on how we’re feeling inside, but we don’t make the same allowances for why the other person in our relationship may have acted a certain way. Something I’ve heard and read from counsellors and psychologists is that if you write down on paper what has happened as if it were a story book, it can really help see what’s real and what hasn’t been spoken yet.
A first century Jewish rabbi threw a spanner in the works when he began to talk about infidelity and it being okay to cheat on someone. He said that adultery was pretty commonly accepted as being wrong and destructive, but took it one step further and said that anyone who lusts after someone else has already committed adultery in their heart. He later would say that “porneia” is the destroyer of relationships.
You’ve probably seen the word pornography – this is the word it comes from. Porneia is a powerful word that isn’t just someone looking at pornography or explicity having an affair, but it’s actually marital unfaithfulness.
This highlights the real challenge of long term relationships, in that it is any unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant that is problematic.
We have our standard in our heads that cheating means abandoning our partners or having multiple women on the side or having that Ashley Madison account or hitting up all the hotties on Snap. And while those are forms of cheating, these definitions show us that cheating is a heart attitude before it ever translates into those bigger actions.
In my relationship, am I being faithful? Am I being the best husband I can be? Am I attentive to the needs and concerns of my wife? Or do I let myself wander, disregard what’s close to her heart, make it all about me?
That is the true moment when you and I are unfaithful. That is the great equalizer for all of us in loving relationships, that we are to be faithful in the big and the small.
So, is it ever okay to cheat on someone? I haven’t explicitly said it yet, but of course the answer is no. But you already knew that. That’s why I thought it would be more worthwhile to look at those factors behind cheating, and the higher standard that’s been put to us that faithfulness is a position and attitude of the heart before it is a laborious or blown out series of affairs and infidelity.
And hey, if you’re struggling with any of these things, you need to involve someone. Your partner for one. If you can’t work it out, maybe it’s time to involve a professional or a trusted mentor. Deal with it before it deals with you.
How about you? Do you think it’s ever okay to cheat on someone? How would you address these sorts of challenges in life long love?
Everyone wants a great sex life, but not everyone would describe their sex life as great. Here are 9 obstacles to sexual utopia.
Mature written content warning, reader discretion advised.
Sex is a massive part of a person’s life. Whether it’s the sex they have or the sex they don’t, so many of our decisions and much of our life satisfaction is centered around how we’re feeling in this department. You don’t have to look very far to see how pervasive sexual issues and identity are in our world today, especially given the current political climate, the renewed discussions around gender and identity, and the state of the entertainment industry.
It makes up one of the most powerful and influential mechanisms we have for relating to one another. It makes us feel good, it relieves stress, can increase connection between two people, it can help you lose weight, it can allow you to communicate and reveal your deepest feelings, and it is the foundation on which all of society is built – no sex, no human race. You are most likely the product of a sexual encounter, or at the very least a sexual release.
For all the good things about sex, there sure are a lot of obstacles to sexual utopia. We all dream of relationships where the sex is amazing, fulfilling, sufficiently frequent, and only ever a source of joy. The truth is that it’s an area many people are frustrated, confused, confined and isolated about.
I’ve always had a keen interest in the topic, and being a married man, even moreso than ever. But I think that’s true of all of us. No matter what stage of life we’re at – young and old, single and not, contemplating the state and health of our relationships and personal wellbeing – sex is something we are readily open to look at and seek out. I mean, just look at how massive the sex industry is, how intricately “sex sells” is still ingrained in current marketing methodology, or even how quickly you clicked on this link.
I’m no expert, and I have much more to learn, but my current travels have led me to some fascinating and helpful material on the topic that I thought was worth sharing and discussing. I think if anyone were to become a true expert on the topic, they wouldn’t be for long since sexual experience changes as much as two lives do, minute to minute, week to week, decade to decade. So, how do you have that great sex life? Here are 9 obstacles to sexual utopia.
#1: Medical Issues
I would be remiss to write a blog about the obstacles to sexual utopia without first acknowledging just how many medical issues out there impact your sex life. There are multiple conditions which can make sex painful, such as vaginismus in women or phimosis in men. There are multiple drugs that impact libido or sexual performance, such as antidepressents. Periods of illness and mental health difficulties can also influence your ability to have a good time in the bedroom.
Hats off to our GPs out there who are so well versed in helping people deal with issues such as these. I think if you’ve been having any difficulties whatsoever, or even just for a general checkup or questions, your doctor is a good first point of call. I know 10 minutes with a doctor greatly helped me personally.
#2: An obsession with singleness
It’s amazing that our society is so sexualised, while at the same time, having such a preference for singleness. More than ever, concepts such as monogamy are old fashioned and old hat, with so many diverse new forms of sexual expression and experimentation around. You can even be asexual now!
The problem is that it’s very hard to be sexually fulfilled in the right ways without a partner, and yet so many people push the search and openness for a partner far out of their own reach. Career, busyness, and temporary relationships take up the place of something substantial and truly sexually fulfilling. And so, the sexual component of one’s life is often addressed in emotionless, mechanical, and empty ways. A recent peer-reviewed study showed that pornography use is more accurately represented at at least 60% of all people, meaning that a majority of people are trying to feel loved by a screen that could never love them back. In Japan, some experts believe the birth rate is declining due to the increase in use of sex robots over real partners.
The Gottman Institute produces some fantastic material and I would recommend their work to anyone who’s looking to make their marriage relationship better than it already is. I’ve particularly enjoyed their CardDecks phone app which has some really good single line ideas for a whole variety of aspects of your relationship.
They also have a lot of material on sex and have many success stories to back up their content. Dr John Gottman says that great sex can be summed up by doing two things: staying friends (love is friendship on fire after all), and making it a priority. “They don’t leave sex as the last item on a long to-do list of things they need to do”, he words it.
It’s the same as anything in life – if you make it a priority, you’ll get to it, and you don’t make it a priority, you either won’t do it, or you’ll do it with the scraps of energy you have left from your life.
#4: A lack of a definition of “normal”
How often does the average couple have sex? This is a question that has multiple answers. Dr Kevin Leman, author of Sheet Music, says that couples should at least try for two to three times a week. In Wanting Sex Again, sex therapist Laurie Watson cites that their industry thinks about once per week is typical (although not necessarily recommended by her). Others have differing definitions but a common enough defiition of a sexless marriage could be defined as two times a month or less.
So, the jury is kind of out on that one.
Next question, and more relevant to you and your life – how many times should you have sex? Twice a week? More often? Less often? Okay, and is that intercourse, or getting handsy, or just spooning naked for a while?
And what makes your sexual encounter successful? When the man gets off? Or the woman? What if neither does? Or both do?
And how long does that take? If a guy has premature or the rarer delayed ejaculation, it could be two to sixty minutes before he’s calling for recovery time. And what if she never gets there, or gets there first?
The point is, normal and success do not really have a common definition. The only common definition of sexual utopia you’re going to be happy with is the one that you and your partner settle on. And that’s going to change over time, but more on that later.
In the early chapters of Laurie Watson’s book, she points out that half the problem is that only sex therapists like her truly get an accurate sense of what normal may look like, or what the trends may be. In the average relationship, you’re only going off the “sense” you get from other people, or what the media portrays as passionate, hot and heavy, successful sexual encounters and frequency. And so, you may be feeling pressure or naive ignorant self-righteousness based on a feeling that you’re just vibing from out there somehow.
Gotta be careful where you get your view of normal from, because it may suppress or depress one or both of you.
#5: Commitment issues
I think it’s amazing that our “progressive” society has such a negative view of marriage nowadays. We say, “oh there’s commitment there”, “there’s love there”, and there likely is.
But the same people and the same world will spend inordinate amounts of money on fitness trackers and wear them proudly to convey their commitment to their health. They’ll spend thousands on looking after the appearance of their cars to demonstrate their level of commitment to their vehicle and image. There are so many flaming hoops and legal commitments you need to make before a bank will even consider you for a home loan to buy a house.
And yet we’ll get all weird about the idea of committing to someone for life before getting in the bedroom, even though sex is meant to be one of the highest levels of expression a person can make. You wouldn’t get the most out of a home that you didn’t fully commit to. Likewise, I’m a firm believer you’re not going to get the most out of your sex life until you do like Beyonce wants you to do cause if you liked it then you shouldda put a ring on it.
And commitment isn’t a one-off affair. It’s a daily decision. Are you committed every day, or just in convenient times when you want something from your spouse?
#6: Being unready for seasonal changes
Dr Kevin Leman and a number of other sexologists across various podcasts and resources highlight that a lot of sexual frustration can be resolved by simply being ready for the changes that are going to happen over the course of your sexual relationship.
Bodies change. The amount of sexual stimulation required changes. Vaginas stretch and penises need a lot more work to stay strong. The appearance of your partner will change over time as weight is added or lost, wrinkles form up, and life takes its toll, for better or worse.
More than the physical, your partner will change emotionally. She might not have wanted sex as much before, but her drive may increase and you’ll need to factor that in. He might start to want it less. The acrobatics may not be helping your partner feel so loved anymore and they just want to be close. Or further away.
Sexual utopia is definitely a moving target, and I think all of us need to be ready for it. What’s okay today might not be so okay tomorrow. Are you ready for when that happens?
#7: The Ghost of Christmas Past
In the same way Scrooge was haunted by memories of the past, so too our past sexual encounters or even non-sexual encounters may linger around while the two of you are in the bedroom.
It’s hard to be with your husband or wife when your ex is still in your head. Or the lack of support you’ve felt from your friends or family. Or the rejection you felt in that other relationship. Or what she said about the way you look. Or what he did about the way you felt.
I listened to a great podcast listing out all the ghosts that can float in during a sexual encounter, or may even be preventing one. And they said it well that we have a choice what to do when that happens – will we tolerate the ghosts, or will we deal with them before they ruin our sex lives? Only you have the answer.
#8: The pressure to perform and be accepted
Does she want me?
Does he love me?
Am I worthwhile?
Three of the biggest questions in the bedroom. You both want answers, and you’re both under a lot of pressure to find the answers, as well as to convey the answer to your partner with your body.
Whether it causes performance anxiety for men or a lack of libido for women, or vice versa, the challenge of sex is to answer the deepest questions of the heart in amidst all the other voices in life that have had things to say about those areas of your life.
One sex therapist said the trouble with these is that they can cause a snowballing effect in the relationship. As such, they need to be addressed as soon as they appear. You might need to swallow the pride and seek some help on a few of these issues, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.
#9: A spirit of withholding
Sexual rejection can have a profound impact on a person’s wellbeing, especially in a marriage relationship. It can make someone feel like their partner doesn’t want them or value them. You’re telling your partner that their needs aren’t important to you.
Remove the word “sex” from that previous paragraph, and you’ll have exactly what the marriage bed represents in physical form, which is an outworking of the attitudes you may hold towards your partner – negligence for the needs and desires of the one you say you love.
Scripture advises marrieds not to withhold (or deprive their partner) sexual relations, even for the most spiritual reason you can find. It’s not so someone can domineer and take whatever they want (and it shouldn’t be), it’s so that your attitude towards your partner isn’t doing the least you can do, but being generous with your life with the one you love.
And hey, I don’t blame some people. So many men especially but all sorts of people really complain about their partner withholding sex from them, but they in turn withhold love, safety, a listening ear, a coffee in the morning, a sense of value, the protection of their heart from their partner. And then they complain their partner has difficulty giving their body and being compliant when you haven’t considered his or her needs at all.
The power struggle that destroys so many sexual relationships is “what’s the least I can do for you?”. Instead, I love the attitude of the Shulamite woman and King Solomon in the Song of Songs. She says that she’s a garden that’s specially prepared for her husband, and wants the wind to blow through the garden and invite her lover in. She’s not talking what the minimal effort she can exert is, she’s open whenever he needs or wants it, enticing him to take and receive what he needs. He is generous with his words, his time, his body, and all he is. He’s not domineering or crass or demanding of his own rights (he knocks but doesn’t barge down the door), but is completely open to her. He even helps her see herself in a new light and gives her the confidence to stand up for her own sense of value.
I wonder if your husband or wife can say that you’ve done that for them.
You have what your partner needs. Whether it be sex, love, time, emotional support, whatever. The question is, do you have a withholding attitude towards your partner? Are you depriving them of what they need because of some reason that you think is more important? Your husband or wife needs sex to hear that they are valued by you. Your spouse needs your best support. They need your heart. They need your love. They need to see you regularly. They need you to not be behind a closed door all the time. Generously, not begrudgingly, not hesitantly, not “okay I guess if it’s really that bad let’s get it over with”.
You can’t control the generosity of your partner, but you can control your own. And it’s a heart attitude. What can I do for you? How can I serve you? With my body? How about my time? What do you need from me emotionally? The bedroom is just playing out what two hearts are really trying to find.
And then you find it. Sexual utopia. He is loved, and so is she, and they both know it oh so well.
This is obviously a very involved and layered topic. There are so many different opinions and other factors involved. Pornography use can help you get aroused but to someone who isn’t your spouse, so you’ve invited someone else to the bed at the expense of your partner. Sexual abuse can cause flashbacks and severely limit your comfort in the bedroom. Libido can go up and down like a yo-yo if you’re not giving it some proper consideration. Doing it by yourself at a time you could be doing it with your partner robs you of a shared experience.
I think finding sexual utopia is close to the heart of many of us, and hopefully you’ve found something in here that resonates that’s made you think, whether you agree or disagree.
How about you. What are some obstacles to sexual utopia you’ve found in your life or in your journey?
Alyssa Milano asked, and thousands upon thousands responded. At the centre of a hashtag and a Hollywood scandal, we see underlined a problem that endures today: the issue of how men should treat women.
Mature written content warning.
For the past week and a bit, I had been thinking it’s time I wrote another article looking at men’s attitudes towards women in modern society. Then enters this week, with the litany of allegations towards Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and a growing awareness of how truly apathetic people have been towards his actions over the years, whereby acts of harrassment and assault have been brushed over. Discontent with the overall response and what seems to be a prevailing culture of chauvinism, celebrity Alyssa Milano put out a simple campaign idea asking women to simply retweet or repost “Me too” if they have also been victims of assault or harassment.
While we speak of the power of unity, we can be incredibly guilty of creating a divide between men and women, enforcing a gender ghetto within the Christian faith.
Before I start, I would like to confess my absolute love for the Christian church. As a believer who has been involved in church life for a number of decades, I sincerely hold it with such high esteem. Most nights of the week, you’ll find me helping out at or spending time with people I know from church. Not only have I seen my own life dramatically changed there, but I have seen the lives of hundreds if not thousands first hand transformed and integrated by the power of believers doing life together.
And I’ve already even used the old Christian cliche expression of “doing life together”. Continue reading
This is definitely one of the biggest complaints that people have for the opposite sex, for coworkers, for so called friends and for those gone by. Why are people so immature?
I think it’s always interesting to consider how there are two sides to every story. If you know two people who are having a disagreement or a falling out, chances are, like me, you end up hearing the complaints on both sides of the fence. He says that he wishes she would just grow up and stop playing so many emotional games. She says that she wishes he would stop being so immature and starting taking responsibility like a man. He’s annoyed that he can’t demonstrate any sort of consistency in his behaviour. She’s annoyed that her friend seems to still act like she’s 5 years old.
You ever been there? Probably. That’s probably how you ended up here. The truth is, we’ve all been in this place before. Continue reading
The love advice that used to work so well doesn’t fully apply in a new world. Here are 7 dating pressures that didn’t exist 30 years ago.
This past Sunday night I went out with one of my favourite couples. They’re great leaders and mentors to probably hundreds of people (no exaggeration), and I’m fortunate to call them friends. Something I’ve really enjoyed in the last 10 or so years is branching out in my friendships beyond my age group. Being in my 20s, it’s very rewarding for me to not just stick to people in my own set of life experiences, but those who are further ahead. And this couple in particular is winning in so many areas of life that they truly are two amazing people to learn from in a whole lot of areas. Continue reading
It seems like more and more, the voices of women are crying out for a solution – what can be said about men and rape culture?
WARNING: Mature written content and trigger warning
You’ve probably seen recently the horrendous actions of the former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. His recent actions and the incredibly lenient 6 month sentence given to him by a judge have been the subject of enormous public uproar. He has officially been banned for life by USA Swimming, and public outcry is demanding greater justice with both his actions, and also the ruling of the judge. I believe the only appropriate word you could call it is a “travesty”. Continue reading
When people say “I don’t need a man / I don’t need a woman”, are they saying what they really mean?
Well, ladies and gents, it’s that time again. Time to look at another one of those often used statements that we all know and love, and have a look at what we really mean when we say it. Today’s statement:
“I don’t need a man / I don’t need a woman”
Brought to you today by our modern society, our emphasis on independence… and maybe some other factors affecting us in life. Continue reading
You asked, I answered. From the Lego Hair on my head to why I talk about relationships so much, here are the honest answers to your questions. Here is where Matt answers anything.
So a while ago I put it out to my readers to ask me whatever they wanted. Last week, I had a number of people come up to me and ask, “Hey Matt, you haven’t answered my question yet”. Looking at it, it’s actually been months since I originally put the challenge out there, so… sorry it took so long.
This one is for you.
These questions come from readers all around the world. Those who know me in person, and those who don’t. Hopefully this is a chance for you to get to know me better, and just to have some fun. Any topic was up for grabs. Here we go!
Time for one of those questions which spawns the age old debate – can women pursue men, or should men pursue women?
It seems whenever the conversation of relationships come up, there are always a few divisive questions that arise. I’ve written about a bunch of them before, and they’ll probably appear to the side or at the bottom of this article as related topics. But certainly one of those heat and decision/indecision generating questions is the question of pursuit. Namely, who should pursue who? Should a man pursue a woman out of some eternal calling, or are women allowed to register interest with men? For men, they want to see if there’s any room for a woman to go first, or whether or not they should feel like a wimp because someone just asked them out. And for women, it’s a question that drives the relational decisions of whether or not a male should be classified as a man or as a coward… or it’s a source of frustration when they start to like someone.
So… what’s the answer? It sounds kinda silly to some people, but to others the answer to this question can feel like life or death, freedom or torture, waiting or acting. Continue reading