Monday, March 1, 2010

Two Become One: April & Gary


April & Gary attending a friend's wedding.


Note: This is part of a series on Love, Sex, & Relationships from a Christian Perspective. It was inspired by "No Ring, No Ting".



“You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes” Song of Songs 4:9b



April and Gary had pretty much grown up together, attending the same church, belonging to the same youth group. Yet, they weren’t close, just cool. After high school, Gary joined the military and shipped off far from home. April, in the meantime, finished school and left for college in Seattle, eventually earning a degree in nursing. After serving honorably, he was discharged and headed back home, back to his family and the church he grew up in. April headed back home, too, and settled in with her parents, rejoining that same church, where her father is one of the pastors. Years had passed- both had grown older, wiser. Both had dated, but wound up single. And within a few months of meeting back up in 2006, they were married. Actually five months later, in February of 2007.


What always amuses me about their story is how the two of them knew each other for years, yet they didn’t actually “see” the other until that autumn. Now married three years, they continually see each other in new and exciting ways, as children of the King, friends, roommates, partners and lovers. I got a chance to capture April's thoughts on their marriage, having already read some of Gary’s opinions (I even posted some of his stuff here on FAR. You can check it out here and here).


April described their whirlwind courtship with smiles (full disclosure- this interview was conducted via email, but knowing her, there was a smile on her face while answering my probing questions):LOL, well....we were technically preparing for our wedding before I got a formal "Proposal" LOL. We knew on the first date that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.” Let me just interject here by pointing out that there were two “laugh out loud’s” in that opening. There is no way she wrote this with a straight face. Let’s continue. “Gary talked with my parents. And then we went out to dinner with my parents together and talked to them about us planning our wedding pretty quickly. My DAD told me a month earlier, "Why don’t you guys get married next month?" LOL slow down dad! Then 2 months before the wedding, while Gary was up here (he was living in Florida during our dating) for Christmas, he proposed to me Dec. 23rd.”


April’s father, Pastor Bill, is gifted when it comes to “seeing” things, even when others don’t. Five years ago, while I was at a retreat, he described K to me, saying he’d come into my life and bring plenty of blessings and happiness. Being the Pessimistic Paula that I was at the time, I balked. The funny thing is, a few months later I met K, but inexplicably, did not “see” him. It wasn’t until three years later that my blindfold came off- and it’s been blessings and happiness since. Ahem, but enough of my story, back to April’s proposal. “I was sitting in my living room, painting for my aunt's Christmas present. He came in the door and whispered in my ear..."Do you trust me?" Then He blindfolded me and carried me to the car (i had no shoes on). Drove me to Rahway park, gave me his big sneakers to walk in LOL..and lead me to the river in Rahway Park [located in Rahway, New Jersey]...where he'd placed roses everywhere in a quiet area. He took off the blindfold and knelt in front of me. The ring was tied to one of the roses. He knelt, in his sox, in the mud and asked me to marry him. LOL, I'm covered in paint, wearing his sneakers, and so the adventure began, LOL ;)”


April might have gone into that proposal blind, but she didn’t enter their marriage that way. She had long prayed for her future spouse, even before knowing who he was, and received sound advice about the life changing commitment she made in saying “I do.” This doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of learning both had to do, and fast. Soon after the nuptials, April kissed Jersey goodbye, along with the family and friends she had just reunited with, to move to Florida where Gary was working. As Christ as their head, the two set out trying to find a proper balance, learning what it means to be husband and wife.


The core basics… for a Godly balance: The husband needs to be the head of the home and be responsible for the decisions made. This means decisions are made as a team, but the end choice and final say is the husband's… and his responsibility. The wife is his helpmate, and this will be different depending on the needs of the husband. I was blown away when Gary and I started going out. What I thought I would need to bring to the table in a serious "Godly" relationship... wasn't necessarily what Gary needed from me. I thought I needed to be the one who promoted ‘spirituality’... and [so I] encouraged him ‘spiritually’.”


She laughed thinking back, “But that wasn't what Gary needed from me (in general)...so I had to start from scratch with him. Which was great... because now that we're married, I can encourage, empower, and uplift him in any way he needs. The other major core basic is to love each other. If the communication -verbal, emotional, physical- is not reflecting I Corinthians 13, then there is something missing. I think it’s so easy to say you need to be ‘Patient, kind, self controlled, slow to answer....etc’. But to put that into creative application within a fluid relationship is the art of marriage."



April describes communication as “LIFE to the marriage. I find that when I'm in a funk, or have an attitude, it’s because I’m not talking to Gary about something. He's so good at being patient with me as I learn to articulate what I’m feeling.” She laughed again, “I always feel like a boy when it comes to this.” Don’t worry, Girl, if that is a masculine trait, I might have a little Y chromosome in me, too. She continued, “The style of communication will differ. BUT, it is oxygen to the lungs. Gary and I share everything together. Our love aim is to know all about each other's heart and to run this race as one. This kind of openness varies within different personalities in marriages, but in the end, if you are living as a team, learn to express what’s inside. ;) Some need to learn to express less....some to express in love...and some to learn HOW to communicate in general. How can you empower, heal, grow and become a mighty team if the thoughts in your mind and the things on your heart are not known by the other part of your community?”


If you are married, engaged, dating or single, I’m going to ask you to reread what April shared above, because I think, personally, this is where so many marriages go awry. We tend to focus on and talk about money, careers, kids, families, friends, church, sex, money... again, and then shove communication, truly sharing, in a wise manner, our fears, concerns and thoughts under that huge pile which makes up life. But as April pointed out, communication is “LIFE” to the marriage. Don’t allow life to smother the LIFE out of your marriage.


One topic which was discussed by every horny, “Silver Ring Thing” wearing Purity Pusher (and take no offense to that, I was a member of this group, sans ring) I knew throughout Christian school and in church was sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex. Ha! The group of kids I ran with talked about it so much they probably would’ve made Salt-N-Pepa blush. Even the ones who were doing it, talked incessantly about it, and we all foolishly believed sex would be the piece de resistance of our future marriages. Ha ha ha ha ha! Well, for anyone out there who is thinking this way, allow me to correct your thinking. Sex does not make a marriage. Don’t get me wrong, lack of it, abuse of it and having it with a non-spouse CAN break a marriage. But it should never be a foundation for one.


So there was no way I could ask April to discuss marriage without bringing up sex. Admittedly, I felt a little worried, she’d be taken aback, but thankfully, she was ready to share on this topic, too, making sure to run things by Gary (good move). Sex is “extremely important in our marriage. I truly believe God infused sex with a spiritual way of uniting two people beyond words. Yes we always hear it "ties two souls"...but I really think it does just that -without quoting scripture. I'm talking just as a woman and wife. There have been so many times I cannot express what is on my heart, but I've been encouraged, empowered, relaxed, and healed by intimacy with my husband. ;)


“Yes, we all know there are many different kinds of sex, but I think it is such a beautiful power that God has fused into marriage. But, just like any weapon...or power...things can be misused when there is something skewed in the relationship. So, sex in a healthy relationship, molded into a healthy way, is, for me, one of the most powerful, non verbal gifts.” April and Gary waited until their honeymoon to make love for the first time, and is so happy they waited. She believes there is freedom of expression in the marriage bed, but again, stresses communication is key. “I think what is desired within sexual acts will be different with every couple. I believe that as long as one of the partners does not feel uncomfortable, violated, humiliated, hurt...etc... then I believe in the beauty of creativity and exploration.


“So...no, I don’t think there are certain sexual acts that shouldn't be performed within marriage. And within marriage, I'm talking about Sexuality between only the man and his wife. Any kind of sexual immorality as described by God's desires: i.e. more than the husband and wife involved, homosexuality, animals ...etc is a perversion of this freedom. As for pornography, I don’t feel that is wise, healthy, or God-inspired. I think the man and wife should only be turned on by each other. Sexuality should be original between the two souls. If education is the desire, and creative inspiration is needed, there are other ways of attaining ideas and knowledge without porn: books, talking with experienced people...etc. Between the man and woman who are married, there will be seasons of sexual maturity and different desires and needs that can be explored through patience, sensitivity and thorough communication.”


Ok, so let me play Nosey Nancy. What about “toys”? And no, I’m not talking about Monopoly (although there are some games that could be played by rolling a set of die). “I think this kind of falls into the previous question. I think all "things" ;) are good to go if both partners are understanding. Again, if someone is being hurt (in a way they don’t desire), violated, humiliated...etc then take the toys away. Bringing another individual (not the husband or wife) or many people, animals, or porn, are not in the toy... but the porn is something I don’t think is beneficial or pure. Purity belongs in marriage as well. Seeing other people have sex, is not something I think God calls holy or pure. But toys...I don’t see why not if that’s your way of having fun together.” At the end of this sentence, she smiled again. Really. As you can see from the smileys I left in, this is one happy girl. Her middle name is Joy, and she lives up to it.


So is it okay to NOT have sex in marriage? For a partner to abstain? “I would need to ask... why? I think in a fluid love language, nothing should be withheld. Communicate. Talk. Figure out the right words to express what is on your mind and in your heart spinning around. What is the reason for withholding sex? I don’t think this is a healthy strategy in marriage. Overall answer...No, I don’t think it is right. Again, I want to know the situation. Is there a physical pain? Is there a fast going on? What is the heart motivation? Do both parties understand? If it is attitude, control, or just because...then no.


“Marriage is a powerful tool given to us, to live in community with another soul and God. This should always be in a fluid movement forward to strengthen and bring joy to the community of the three. Withholding, or even being ignorant of knowing the needs of the other is a red flag to me. Affection is also something that needs to be discussed. Why withhold affection? Is the partner turned off? Thinking about something the other did wrong? Control? Why withhold anything? Talk. Find the words to express what is on your heart to the other. You are a community...and that requires understanding for actions. Note: Some times this requires the couple to get counseling if this becomes an issue.” I agree with her. If there is something in your past, such as abuse that is preventing you from being comfortable sexually with your spouse, get help. There are countless women who have experienced harassment, molestation and rape. I encourage you seek help and healing so that you can move forward, free of fear and full of love.


Sometimes, though, it’s not the past putting the brakes on intimacy. It’s the present. It’s work, bills, sickness, stress, headaches… sometimes, you just can’t stand him. And I’m purposely using “him” here, because for the majority of problems like this, it’s the woman saying “no” to the man. What’s a wife to do if she’s not in the mood? “I think this is a complex situation. Not something that has a textbook answer. I would ask them the foundation for this feeling. How are they loving their husband? What is their love language to him? What does he need? LOL, if he's a man- I'm speaking to Godly women, so it should be a man- then he will need and naturally desire sex. Has she talked with him about this? Are there cleanliness issues? History of sexual pain/trauma? Discomfort? Physical issues? Lack of a general sexual desire? What is the core issue...and then address that.


Um, no, ladies, definitely not the way to handle problems. Even St. Paul warned against putting on the brakes for too long.



“In the end, I would love to see the woman, not just "serve" her husband sexually...but truly become a fluid gift and powerful beauty for him, through sexually loving him. Is she aware, before he asks, of what he needs/wants? Is she confident to initiate? Being a sexual gift (and not obligation) to her mate is one of the most beautiful and powerful things we have to empower and strengthen him. If this is an area of hesitation, I would need to know her heart. Her thoughts. And so will her husband. There may be medical reasons as well that could be lowering her libido.”

For the singles out there, and those in the dating and engaged phase, I asked her about abstinence. “I think there is a difference between abstinence and PURITY. Abstinence can be chiseled down to technical verbiage. Purity is in the heart, and what is happening between the two souls and God. In the end, if what is happening between the two is something that cannot be talked to God about....then maybe things need to be evaluated.”


And really, no matter what state a person is in relationship wise, if they are serving Christ, I believe a regular self- evaluation or heart check is in order. What God desires from all of us is purity in the heart, and I believe as we seek after that, all of our relationships- marriage included- will be stronger. We will “see” each other as God sees us- as simply ravishing.



If you want to read more by April, check out her blog "Colors of An Old Soul". If you are interested in talking about sex and relationships from the Christian perspective, email me at alishadefreitas@gmail.com.

13 comments:

One Man's Adrenaline said...

hehe..you said "nuptials"

April Joy said...

I think what you are doing 'Lisha is amazing. Thank you for asking me and sharing with the world our conversations. You are an initiator, who has the gift of provocation of thoughts...a trait I LOVE about you! Get'em thinking. Get'em learning. Get'em loving LIFE! So we can all run this race with momentum and excitement!
;) Thank you for having me be a part of your writings!!!

Alisha De Freitas said...

You're so welcome. You guys are so awesome, I truly believe this will be part of your ministry one day. You inspire me to be the best wife possible (really). I look at you & Giddel (even though ur both younger than me, he he) as my big sisters kind of... I look up to you. So thank you for sharing, and by the way, I checked the stat counter, and more people than usual are looking and staying longer to read this. I think so many people want to talk about it, but are shy. So they just read, which is kewl, cuz they'll learn.

xoxoxo

Alan said...

Great article alisha. Although I must and always will claim some credit for their wonderfull union.

I think this subject is a great idea, everyone always feels shy and as if the subject is so taboo to speak of if your a christian. However I have definetly learned a few things and I hope others have as well.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Aww, man Alan, if I had only known... lol. Btw, you can email me too if you have wisdom to share w/ the blogosphere. :-)

Evelyn said...

Thank you Alisha for capturing the essence of a beautiful love story. Your words captivated me even though I knew most of the story. It is refreshing to see young couples who not only talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to letting God guide their steps both in life and in marriage. They are truly and inspiration to us all. They have also been blessed to be surrounded (though far) by friends like you. Now I know who to call when I want to write my love story :)

Alisha De Freitas said...

Thank you so much, Evelyn. You and your husband did an awesome job raising Gary, and that's evidenced by his strong moral character today.

I'd be honored to hear your story, and to share it with the world. We need more positive images of marriage! Be blessed.

Kandi said...

This was awesome, Lili! Thanks to April and yourself for sharing. I loved it! Very informative, forthright, purely honest and insightful. I loved it and I'm going to share it with my FB friends.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Thanks, Kandi! Your story is coming... can't wait!

Don said...

First off, you are an awesome writer and this was a long but very entertaining post. I was mentally and emotionally involved from beginning to end.

I have never married, only involved in a long term relationship, so I wouldn't really be the one to speak upon marriage. Nevertheless, it continues to warm my heart whenever I am able to hear about, or read about, or witness the love of a man and woman whose love and affection transcends over into the spiritual, which we know for a fact is always present.

Even when we fail to acknowledge it.

Then, not only did you write such a beautiful post ... but you included biblical verses which enhances the sentiments of your post.

We are not worthy.

Continued blessings to April and Gary. We knew on the first date that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together I believe her.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Don, you write the most awesome comments! Thank you so much for that. Thanks for the compliments about my writing, but truly April shared her heart, and that's what makes the story. She provided the material- I just wove it together.

Considering your blog's high quality, I take your compliments with the most honor. Thank you.

Cathy said...

This was so beautiful. I loved reading it. I loved your honesty, and I am very thankful for your story (April and Gary), and for your writing (Alisha). This was really great. =]

Alisha De Freitas said...

Thanks :-)

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