To the girl who feels guilty for sleeping with someone.

Preface: I am writing this because during my years as an unmarried woman having sex, I felt that everything written, spoken, or preached to me was solely to persuade me to stop having sex. I desperately wished someone would have abandoned the topic in order to speak to me where I was at, without their desperate attempts to end sex in my life. Even when most had good motives, I needed someone to write a letter to me, Lauren, and not to The Not-A-Virgin-Anymore. This evening, I rallied my past and my present, and wrote the words I craved for years and years.

Hello, lovely.

Before we begin, would you get a little piece of paper? Please?

Write out your full name.

You are this particular woman. You cannot escape it. Do you know this?

You will never be another. You cannot escape it. Do you know this?

Tomorrow, the day after, and all the days: You are this woman.

And thank goodness, because you are the only person who deserves to make the most of everything you have experienced this far. 

And thank goodness, because you have within you a capacity for Love that you would not believe even if you were told.*

* * *

I want to say that I see you. I am you. I was you, a long time ago. I will be you. We are.

Love sees you. Love knows you. Love adores you.

Goodness, hate, closeness, abandonment, purity, brokenness, wholeness, confusion, clarity, trying so hard, and given up. He looks at you and sees nothing but the infant girl that was born into this magnificent world, this middle ground, this holding place. This universe in which we only see in part.

You are three years old. You are five. You are seven. You are standing in the grass, in the backyard, by the impatiens, by the trees. You laugh at the wind, you smile for a camera, because It Is. Because You Are. You know nothing, except how to Be.

Joy, infinite, as it was created to be. Innocence, eternal. Embedded permanently into every cell of your being as your shoulders caved and your back broke as you wept that you needed Something, Someone – and Love promised to be there. Innocence, eternal.

Do you know that this is what you are? Do you know that this is who you are? Do you know that you are white as snow, pure as gold, spotless as your baby teeth in the family videos splashed across your mother’s TV that you will never again sit in front of because she no longer sees you the way that Love does?

Do you know that condemnation, loneliness, hatred, failure, and Innocence Lost are only lies you have thrust upon yourself**, and words that Friends and Church and Family have pelted at the sky in a way that has fractured your heart as they have rained upon you and everyone around you?

Do you know that you are still Joy, infinite; Innocence, eternal; The Name Of Your Heart, written upon His hand?

These are things I forgot. These are things that broke over me in the shower, in my bed, in his bed, in our bed, on my walks, in my mirror, in my pages, in their pews, in my home, in my breathing and numbness and depression and even in my laughter, my happiness, my beauty.

These are things that I put aside as I sang that Love is here and Love still remains, that He is my Father and I am His daughter. These are things that I left at the church door, and clothed myself with again as soon as I left How Great Thou Art. These are things that I remembered and remembered well but only so long as I did not, could not face that which we have named That One Thing.

And so I fall into a thousand pieces alone, and with you, Girl who feels guilty and confused and angry at the hypocrisy and the expectation and the Great Ache.

And so I remember the nights I felt it was wrong, the mornings I felt it was nothing at all; always backwards for me and never anyone else. But grief, it comes with the night, and joy, it comes in the morning. Maybe this is a great truth that the Lover has given us in all things, not just his own.

* * *

I write to you, past-present-and-future Self, and to you, girl-I-do-not-know-by-name-but-can-see-from-here: I write to you because I wish that someone had written to me. 

I wish that someone had just stop, stop, STOPPED for one moment and seen me as a person with a heart, a mind, with intelligence, with thoughts and feelings and with damned good reasons – and not as the statistical young white Evangelical female who was raised right and fell out of virginity, left to sit silent in her bracket until she picked up the Purity Ring once again and joined the ranks of Did It Wrong But Am Back To Right Again.

I wish that someone had let up on me for just once, because I know all of these things they tell me. I fear everything they scare me with. I think about all the revelations-that-keep-you-from-sexual immorality before you preach them to me. I know what you believe, what I believe, but I am Woman and so help me God I am not A Belief.

Maybe we chose It because We Are Now and we are scared that later may never come. Maybe we chose It because we knew the risks and we rolled the dice in favor of passion, love, comfort, and warmth. Maybe we chose It because we were terrified of the dark nights and even darker mornings. Maybe we chose It because They told us not to. Maybe we chose It because It knocked on our door and embraced us and promised to never let us go and It arrived in feelings and waves, and not in conscious decisions like we always thought It would. Maybe we chose It because It was and is everything we want, and do you know, it will be okay even then – even then when we are in that place? Maybe we chose It because we felt there was no better option. Maybe we did not choose It at all; some of us do not have the luxury of choice in a world where Men can thrust our decisions upon us as they pin our hands behind the arch of our back and repeat the words we’d heard from another man so very long ago.

Maybe we still do not know, and now we see the ghosted image of who we were, reflected back at us as we sit in ice cream parlor window seats and write in hopes of finally understanding.

Maybe the mothers and fathers and preachers and friends and everyone around us want to love us, protect us, but their words sound like things much more dangerous than the hand on your leg and the kiss on your chest. Darling, I know. I know.

* * *

I write the words I wish had appeared long ago, on a piece of paper on my kitchen table:

You are still you. I swear to you, you are.

Your future has not been ruined.

Your value remains.

Opportunity has not been lost.

These things sink deeper than your skin, yes, but God has sealed your heart in His Name and the great mystery is that we are made Untouchable by Grace.

You are not damaged.

Your wholeness comes not in Right-ness but in Love given to you by your Maker, and learning how to see yourself as He does.

You are capable of making any decision you wish to make today, or tomorrow.

It is okay if you cannot make the change you wish you could today.

It is okay to not be strong.

It is okay that you are confused.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ***, and this more than includes That One Thing.

You will give birth to a resiliency that shines brighter than the sun.

The heart is a muscle and it operates like one; these things strengthen you. You have not given your heart away and lost your ability to take it back. Women have survived and risen up despite brutality, gang rape, famines, the Holocaust, assault, torture, barrenness, and divorce: You will not be destroyed or permanently handicapped by a severed romance or loss of virginity.

You will marry a man that turns your past into a shadow, and your old self into a whisper that sings praises of redemption. Your bad decisions, your good-decisions-gone-wrong, your I’m-not-sure decisions will all swell into a wave of Peace as you realize that the man who truly Loves you has just taken an oath before God to see you as a new creation and he rejoices in the strength you have derived from Every Day You Have Ever Lived.

You are still you. Put it on a post-it and stare it down daily.

Forgiveness and understanding do not come only after you gather the healing and courage and strength to leave; they arrived and attached themselves to you the day you first asked them to. And they will stay with you every waking moment. You will find more strength in that fact alone than you ever will find within yourself.

God has not forsaken you and refused to return until you forsake That One Thing.**** It is in the deepest moments of questioning that you will hear Him, again and again, and get to know Him more than any other time in your life. Do not miss out on them simply because you think He has nothing to say until you can Heal Yourself or Change Your Ways. It is in our weakness that his strength is perfected.

* * *

And so, here is everything I wish had been said to me. Here we are. With our decisions to sleep with him, or to not sleep with him. With our desires to change, or our desires to stay the same.

For me, I wanted both.

But I only had the strength for him. For them. The one who asked nothing from me or of me, and who gave love and comfort and pleasure and rest. The one who held me when I cried and kept my body alive when I could not do it myself. The one who did not ask me to change, to become someone I was not, nor to face my weakness.

I understand. I believe that for some of us, this is necessary to our story. Sometimes it feels as though others chose the things that have become our story, and that is okay. Weakness, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental – it is something to be taken seriously, and speaks of our Great Need for one another.

I will tell you that one day, in a moment of extreme pain, I heard a whisper that flamed into a burning sensation in my chest. I heard it say, “I require nothing but weakness. We are still here, and we are still here together. I have written your name on the palm of my hand and I have called you in the darkness so that you would know it was I.”

I gave my weakness a chance. I gave his strength a chance. I fell, and fell often, as we all do. It was new for me, and I found a new Love.

I pray for you, as I do for myself, that we would continue to learn how to allow ourselves to be weak in order that we may find a Love that transcends everything we do know and everything we don’t.

But remember: no matter your weakness, or your strength, you are alive. And you are Joy, infinite; Innocence, eternal.

Do not leave their sides. They have not left yours.

* Look and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5
** I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12
*** Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:12
**** Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5

– Comments addressing or attempting to derive my position on “is sex a sin or not” will be moderated. Thank you for understanding. – 

the hardest, greatest lesson i’ve learned in marriage.


the hardest, greatest thing i have learned since getting married is that my husband is first a person, second a man. 

i grew up hearing that men and women are so different. opposites. things about venus, mars, and spaghetti. 

* * *

men need sex. women need emotional intimacy. 

men need respect. women need love. 

men watch sports. women go shopping. 

* * *

over the weekend i read yet another christian list of “ten ways to show love by respecting your husband!”

be kind. don’t interrupt him when he’s speaking. show interest in sex. join him in activities. etc.

and as i read this list, i thought, i want every single one of these things from my husband.

even in our own childish answers, we give away what we will not admit:

love is a universal language, and humanity is one species, not two.

love is an individual language, and humanity is billions of hearts, not two.

* * *

nearly every difference, struggle, or misunderstanding between my husband and i has hinged not upon the fact that ‘he is a man’ and ‘i am a woman,’ but that we are not the same person. 

nearly every failed expectation i have found in my marriage was created by the idea that my husband, a person, would be a very specific type of person because he was a man.

and that me, the wife, would be able to solve the problem in a very specific manner, as a woman.

* * *

when we read books about marriage and relationships, particularly in the christian circles, we tend to study the opposite gender – as if to discover and prepare everything about a person before we meet them.

the God of the universe has not created more than nine million species of animals, only to create two types of people.

he has not created more than three hundred and fifteen thousand species of plants, only to create “a man” and “a woman.”

he has created, instead, billions of wildly unique individuals.

billions of wildly unique individuals with souls and spirits so deep and complex that he says only he will ever know each of us fully.

how, i ask you, could we ever know them by a book about men, a sermon about our differences, our parents’ advice about women, a conference, a blog.

how, i ask you, could we ever know them by anyone other than they themselves.

* * *

every relationship i entered into has been shallow, broken, and distanced.

i entered them as a woman, and not as lauren.

i held relationships with ‘men,’ and not with the living, breathing souls that God created in his image.

in the past, i have sought to understand ‘men’ instead of the person right in front of me.

and i have expected myself to be ‘woman,’ ignoring my very own heartbeat.

i missed out on living life with another real person, because i thought i simply needed to learn how to live successfully with ‘a man.’

* * *

a man who defines love by sex, respect, or authority shown is an emotionally stunted man.

a woman who defines love by gifts, flowers, or acknowledged beauty is an emotionally stunted woman.

love is so full, so deep, so wide. and we must give it to the person that we have married, not to the gender.

love is so full, so deep, so whole.  and we must give and receive all of it, every piece, every part, every side, as our true selves allow.

* * *

my soul has cried out through the sudden pain of isolation and condemnation on sunday mornings when jokes are made from the pulpit about “men just needing ____ from a woman”  as it clashes badly with our marriage.

i have looked around at the empty faces of the women around me, knowing that their hearts are crying out to hear that they are okay if they don’t fit every gender role, every gender expectation. that their husbands are okay if they don’t fit every gender role, every gender expectation.

i have seen us be so damaged by the church falling for a secular ploy that men and woman are so opposite, so different, so unlike one another.

we have fallen for it so fully that the church is now commonly known as the original source for gender roles, and we march forward, responsibly protecting one of the most life-limiting, God-contradicting lies ever bought by mankind.

we walk through the doors on sunday morning, our spirit craving a place to rest in the individual that we are. yet, so often, we arrive only to be tweaked and trained and pushed and expected back into ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

* * *

the hardest, most painful, greatest, most incredible thing i have learned in a year of marriage may be one of the greatest lessons i ever learn in my lifetime.

that we are people first.

gender second.

and that gender exists in order to create a spectacular, infinite, unconstrained life.

not to destroy it.


Top 10 Saddest/Craziest/Understandable Things I’ve Seen Christians Believe About Relationships

Before I start this post, can I just say HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS PICTURE I took last weekend? KK thanks. Also, we just discovered the flower district in downtown LA (that’s where the flowers are from + where that awesome old store is) and I will be trying to convince Max to go with me every single weekend for the rest of my life, probably. Alright. Carry on.

OHANDALSO: If something in this post offends you, my deepest apologies. Unless maybe you needed to be offended, then let me assure you that I was offended first. Because I used to believe a good number of these things myself. Actually, almost all of them. Eesh.

1. Your future spouse will not be attractive. You know, I used to believe this, and I’ve tried for the last 12 1/2 minutes to figure out why. I’m thinking it’s because the first cute guys we all had crushes on were “bad” for us, so we adopted the dessert/vegetable complex. If it’s healthy for you, it won’t taste good. (No pun intended.) Unfortunately fortunately, wait – yes, unfortunately, men are not food items, and you absolutely 100% will be attracted to him. Keep in mind that attraction is multi-faceted* and emotional investment does a LOT for the oo-la-la factor – BUT – if you’re engaged and you realize that you’ve never felt physical attraction to your guy, you need to take a step back. (*Attraction is not a check “yes or no” on if this person is “hot.” It’s something more special. And sometimes it ebbs and flows, so don’t freak out when its a little Less than it is More at times.)  

2. Your husband will always want more sex than you, because Men Need Sex. Always. This horse has been beaten to death on my corner of the Internet, but I have to say it YET AGAIN because I still KEEP HEARING that pastors are teaching sermons on “Why Men Need Sex” and I STILL KEEP GETTING EMAILS from women who are crying themselves to sleep [like I used to] because they thought something was wrong with them [like I used to/am still working at this] because their husband wasn’t a raging sexaholic [like we’ve been brainwashed to believe] and for them to desire sex and their husband to be too tired or stressed out means ITSMYFAULTIMNOTPRETTYANYMORE. It pains me to say this, but sex is not a need. For anyone. It’s a desire, and it can be a really really really strong one, but it’s not a legimate need as in If You Don’t Eat Food You Will Die. (However, if you ever see a news article titled Man Drops Dead From Not Having Sex, please alert me immediately.) There’s also a good number of women who are borderline terrified of marriage because they’re convinced it’s going to be like a Christian version of 50 Shades of Grey where they’re just forced against their will to do all kinds of nonsense while wearing an apron. Which brings me to…….

3. Having sex when you’re not remotely interested (or on your period) is part of submitting. Okay. A man having sex with you when you’ve vocalized that you don’t want to is rape. Yes, this is extreme. But in the same way that “marital submission” obviously does not make rape “okay,” it also does not make “just sucking it up and going along with it even though its physically or emotionally painful because your entire spirit is not able to participate in sex right now” okay. I hope by the grace of God you marry a man who loves you, and I guarantee you that if a man loves you and you communicate your feelings, he will not force or guilt you into having sex when you really do not want to. And, he will also listen when you say so. If you feel like you can’t tell your husband how you’re feeling, sign yourself up for counseling ASAP. And if your husband is guilting you into sex, then get counseling ASAP. This isn’t good, and it sure as heck isn’t Biblical. Take care of your heart. <3

4. I’m 19 and I’ll never find The One. I joke about this, but I remember being 19 and feeling like I’d already lived ages and ages, and when 25 year old women told me that “the next 6 years will go so fast!!” I wanted to punch them in the face. I won’t lie to you. Six years will not go by “so fast.” But they will go, and they will be AWESOME, with or without The One. So get some ice cream, dance around in your underwear, and commit to loving your life. Marriage comes when the time is right, and we are literally commanded to not worry about tomorrow.

5. Past mistakes will ruin your marriage, and your husband won’t want to marry a girl who isn’t a virgin. First things first. If you ever meet a man who says “Oh I won’t marry a girl unless she’s a virgin,” run for the hillllllsss are alliiiiiive with the souuund of conntroollll problemmmmms. Spare yourself from a lifetime with a man who hasn’t yet grasped God’s grace or the reality of brokenness within his – and your – heart. This whole, big, great and beautiful life is about learning how many mistakes we’ve all made, and choosing to love one another through it. It’s love that covers a multitude of sins, and it’s the greatest gift we’ve got. Try every single day to learn to give and receive it in more and more ways. Note: Sexual purity isn’t solely defined by virginity. Every single one of us has some sort of past. It is impossible to marry a “sinless man” and no good man expects to find a “sinless woman.” A man who judges you for your sexual history has yet to remove the plank from his own eye, or is living in denial or fear. You have been forgiven by Jesus already. Find a man who forgives like Him.

6. Counseling is for people with worse problems than you. Counseling is for people who have gone through hard things, and who don’t have all the answers. Which is me, and my husband, and every person I know. For me, going to counseling with my husband for the first 6 months of our marriage has been one of the best decisions of my life. I will never forget Day One when I realized that this man next to me on the sofa, spilling his heart, was just as messed up as I was – and we were BOTH trying as hard as we could to make this work. All those things that annoyed me, that hurt me, that I wondered about? None of those were “intentionally against me.” He was just….trying. And imperfect. Just like me. Counseling is invaluable in understanding this. [PS. I know counseling is ‘expensive,’ but prioritize counseling up there with food/rent, start praying for a counselor every day, and ask around until you’ve annoyed even the people greeting at church.]

7. You “give up your life” for marriage. We all know at least one horrifically miserable person who changed into someone else’s Perfect Spouse, instead of marrying someone who loved everything about them. Maybe this was one of your parents. Don’t let this screw with your head. Your life will always be yours, and a good man will understand and love that. Sure, your life will change, and you’ll have someone to share it with now – but it will always be yours. IT’S FREAKING AWESOME. EVEN IF ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU SHARE. Again, if you’re in love with a guy who wants you to “give up your life for him,” he’s got it all wrong. Send him away. POOF. Poofity-poof.

8. It’s a sin to be attracted to someone.  This, from what I can tell, comes from our unfortunate misunderstanding that physical attraction/attractiveness = lust, and since lust = sin, attraction = sin. Lust, believe it or not, is actually the attempt to appropriate to oneself something that does not belong to you. Read that again. It’s trying to make something yours, when it isn’t yours. Or acting like it’s yours, when it isn’t. Simply put, wishful stealing. God warns against lust to let you know, “Oh hay. I see what you’re thinking. And your thoughts matter to me just as much as your actions, because your heart is actually more important than your body.” Recognizing that someone is attractive, and also BEING ATTRACTED [desiring sex, etc] is not sin. It’s things like adultery, cheating, and fantasizing/getting off to people who are not Your Amazing Committed Lover that are highly not-recommended. Both by the Bible, and me personally, based on lots of experience.

9. You’ll meet The One when you don’t want him anymore. Thanks to this gem, 95% of single women at your church are silently punishing themselves for not yet figuring out how to obliterate their desire to get married or have a boyfriend. And simultaneously blaming themselves for keeping a good man away (with their thoughts? their energies? vibes? Karma? God’s punishment/reward system? I’ve never understood the mechanics of this part.). Look, if you really want to be a mom or wife one day, don’t kill off your natural healthy desires just because you can’t fulfill it right now. You wouldn’t try to convince yourself that hunger is a sin just because dinner isn’t served for another hour and a half, would you? No. You recognize it as good and healthy, and you wait patiently before the Lord. Or the cook.

10. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever initiate with a guy, ever. Yeah, you know, because The First Interaction Formula is a fool-proof way of getting a guy who’s going to be responsible and servant-like in your relationship. I’m sure the wasted guy at the bar who has NO PROBLEM asking you out for a date will be a winner, and the shy boy at church will be the cause for your future divorce. Waiting for men to initiate is rule based on a good principle – but do.not.miss.the.principle because you’re too hung up on the rule.  Good guys have been burned in the past, just like we have. And it doesn’t make them inherently shitty husbands, nor is it reason for you to emasculate them for not asking you out the very first time they see you. HAVE LOVE. AND GRACE. Just say OHH HAYY I LIKE YOU A LOT AND THINK YOU’RE PRETTY AWESOME. Or something. You’re not disobeying Christian Guidelines For Being a Woman, you’re being the real you.

* * *

It’s worth noting that Christians are not the only ones who believe some or all of these things to be true – many are common secular beliefs as well. The title was chosen as a reflection of the common beliefs I often see being discussed/asked about by young women in a Christian environment online..

Ask A Married Woman: My One-Liner Bites, Round 2.

NOTE: Yesterday I answered 5 questions in one liners HERE. Next month’s topic on is “Ask A Married Woman.” We’ll only be able to answer about 30 of the submitted 200-ish (and in a serious manner, mind you) – so in the meantime, I’m answering some of the rest in quick soundbites. Take a deep sip from your coffee mug and let’s get to my second rare appearance of Snark.

Question 1: Is it better to marry a man with a similar personality or a different personality? A guy and I who have the same Myers-Briggs personality type are close friends – how would our same personality type affect dating? How would dating affect our friendship?

Answer: Chilllllll outttt. Everything affects everything. No one knows the “hows” until they get there. But seriously. Did you secretly con him into taking that personality test in order to scan him for compatibility? If he went with it, you guys will probably be great together.

* * *

Question 2: Were you ever in a situation prior to marriage where someone provided Godly wisdom/advice in telling you that a particular man isn’t the one God has chosen for you but in your heart you believe that he is? This same person also advised earlier that God gave another man to you as your husband but things did not turn out as they had said that “God said”. If it didn’t work out the first time, although it was said to be from God, would you believe it the second time that the one you’re with isn’t the one? There has been prayer upon prayer, scripture upon scripture and blog upon blog concerning this along with much confusion and doubt to the point where I’m not sure what Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart.

Answer: Dang, your friend really wants to tell you how to live your life! God doesn’t arrange marriages and have the betrothal note delivered via a third wheel. Or a Bible verse. Choose what you love and what loves you back. Trust yo’self. (Free Happy Meal Tip/Toy: Hit pause on killing yourself to see if God’s talking about this guy, and see if this guy is talking about God.)

* * *

Question 3: Would you stay with a cheating husband even with the threat of all the STD’s around, even though he put you at risk of all those diseases? – Engaged girl, 24+

Answer: Future bacterial families probably shouldn’t be what you’re worried most about in the engagement period. If you’re trying to find a good excuse to leave him, you had it at “cheating.” Doctors can prescribe an antibiotic, but they can’t fix a lifetime of devastation left in the wake of chronic infidelity.

* * *

Question 4: How can you tell if a guy is interested or if you’re just reading into things?

Answer: My personal recommendation is asking the guy himself, not a woman on the Internet. Men are interactive humans and not books that need to be read.

* * *

Question 5: Do you ever get jealous?

Answer: Naaaah. No one ever told you marriage makes you p*E*r*F*e*C*t?!? With its little marriage-y wand. POOF. Poofy-poof

* * *

Question 6: God gave us sex for babies and bonding. I want both, just not right now. We got married 3 weeks ago, and are still struggling to figure out the bonding part of sex. We have no money for a baby and most importantly are at significant risk of having a long distance marriage for 1-2 years (military). I am so split. I want babies but know that we are not ready – in so many ways. I want to have sex freely with my husband and figure this intimacy stuff out. Being on the birth control pill makes me feel like I am shutting the door on God. I want to just trust in God and let nature take it’s course, but I’m also realistic about the very real set of life circumstances in front of us for the next couple of years. Is using birth control going to jinx us? So glad this is anonymous!

Answer: Well I do know your parents are Catholic, ’cause I can smell the second-hand guilt all the way from my desk. Not to speak for God or anything, but He isn’t waiting for your womanly obedience in pumping out a kid every 9 months. You have the freedom to create your family. There’s no Heavenly Baby Plan that you’re able to ruin. Your life > Your uterus. Condoms are pretty good for sex without babies. Oh, and don’t take the crazy pills. They do nothing for your bonding experience.

To read the first 5 one-liners, click here. To see more of my awesome pet store pictures on Instagram (I can’t have pets in my apartment so the pet store is my second home), you can follow me at @laurennicolelove! Until next time, I’ll be looking for a friend to tell me God said to marry Mark Ruffalo, and Seeking The Lord about His Plans For My Uterus. Sans-jealousy, of course.


Ask A Married Woman: My One-Liner Bites.

DISCLAIMER: Next month’s topic on is “Ask A Married Woman.” We’ve received nearly 200 questions from mostly single women, and unfortunately, only about 25 or 30 of these questions will be answered due to the time constraint. However, they’ll be answered in detail by some wildly gracious and experienced married women in a serious manner. In the meantime, I’m going to be taking some of the questions submitted, and answering them in one-liners. Take a deep sip from your coffee mug and let’s get to my rare appearance of Snark.

Question 1: The church I use to attend taught the young ladies that we shouldn’t “want” to get married and “desiring” marriage was wrong… Even sinful. Our man would be found doing ministry at our same church and serving side by side with them. They would become husband material only if approved by the pastor, otherwise they were not good enough. What would you say to this and breaking free of this mentality? What does it mean to be a spiritual leader and what SHOULD we expect from a man? How do we not set our standards too high, without having none at all?

Answer: Leave the church immediately and sign yourself up for therapy.

* * *

Question 2: How do you deal with being single before you get married?

Answer As in, “how do you deal with your disease” before you find “the cure?”

* * *

Question 3: What are your thoughts on waiting to have children the first year (or three) to bond with your new husband?

Answer: If you want kids right now, you should have them. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t. Stop letting your mother judge you.

* * *

Question 4: Was it easy for you to give up your life to get married?

Answer: If you have to give up your life, you are either doing it wrong, or you don’t know what your life is defined by.

* * *

Question 5: How forward or obvious should you be if you are interested in a guy? Should you let him know you’re interested? Or just wait until he says/does something?”

Answer: If you wait until everything in your life comes to you, you won’t have it. Be confident and go after the guy you like. Even though some people would like you to think this, being a woman doesn’t disqualify you from vocalizing what you want. .

5 Myths About Marriage: Debunked.

LAST GIVEAWAY WINNERS: Winners of the book, We Can’t Go Home Again are: @MeganDutill and Julie from San Diego. Winners of the 2 sets of prints are: @randikayanthony and @laadycakes!

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{+} The Perfect Wife Is Betty Draper. I knew this was false before I got married. I’ve known for awhile now that I am not Betty Draper, nor am I my mother – and no one expects me to be. AND YET, I’ve had to spend so much time dealing with the guilt that slaps me upside the face every time my husband cooks, does the dishes, or washes our towels for me. See that? “For me.” He does it for us. And he’s part of us. There’s no invisible list of Globally Applicable Wife Responsibilities, except for what my husband has personally asked me (and sweetly) to be responsible for. It’s taking a lot of expectation/responsible-for-everything complex undoing to see marriage as, “for us” instead of “for me” or “for him.”

{+}All My Problems Go Away. Very unfortunately, zero of my problems have gone away. Well, one did. I can now complain to a real human being instead of my pillow. It’s (not) funny how we view marriage as what simultaneously makes our life perfect and what ends our life altogether. Life just keeps on going. And I keep having days where I don’t know what I’m doing with it. But thank goodness for that, I think.

{+} Husbands Tell Women What To Do. I half believed this myth in the, “I won’t have to freak out about things anymore” kind of way because, “husbands just have ANSWERS, you know?” I also half believed it in the, “I’ve witnessed zillions of crappy marriages where women are just given instructions and since they have to submit, that’s how it all goes down” kind of way.  Both ways are totally incorrect, it turns out. My husband neither has all the answers, nor does he ever give me instructions or force me to “submit” (to what I don’t know).Except the time I really wanted to buy eyeshadow and he asked me to not buy it till next week so I had to wait. So yeah. Good men don’t tell women what to do. (And good women don’t tell men what to do. Personal reminder.)

{+} Girls Miraculously Transform Into “A WIFE.” I don’t put down my Lauren name-tag and pick up my Wife name-tag. In fact, the more I’ve tried to “be a good wife” instead of being a good version of myself, the more problems we’ve run into. Being a “good wife” projects poor expectations of a relationship status and a relationship role, but being a loving Lauren to a man I’m crazy about? Oh yes. I can do that. ALSO. “Being a wife” takes up a pretty small part of my day, and that’s not a euphemism. Most of my day is still filled with being the exact same person I was as a single person, and I’m still the only person that is 100% responsible for my present and future.

{+} Men Are Sex Addicts. Nah, sex addicts are sex addicts. Men are not sex addicts. They have feelings, thank the LORD, and it turns out I’m the one who wants to pass out after sex and he’s ready to start Day 2 in the same 24 hour period. (I find this hilarious. Just one more thing that Hollywood has gotten all wrong in their gender stereotyping.) Oh, fun fact: 30-40% of married women have higher sex drives than their man – for a season, or permanently. Sorry to keep beating a dead horse (there I go again) but I’m on a personal mission to kill this idea that men are the only creatures who desire or enjoy sex. I just want to hear massive deep sighs of relief from all the girls feeling shame regarding their sex drives, and from all my beloved girlfriends out there who can’t figure out WHAT is wrong with them when they want sex and their husbands aren’t living up to their 24/7 sex machine cultural reputation.

Anyway, now that I think about it, the majority of what the world told me about marriage is…wrong.

My husband doesn’t suck, we aren’t bored with each other yet, I don’t cringe when he grabs my butt in the kitchen, I don’t do all the cooking and cleaning, we both still have a life, I don’t feel trapped, I still have rights to my set of car keys, men haven’t stopped hitting on me in the grocery store, there are still bills to pay for which I am partially responsible, and I still am sort of flailing through my life figuring out what I’m doing.

But, all of this is kind of really nice, because I’m reminded that my relationship with Max is mine. It’s ours. And that makes it so special. It’s not the world’s. It’s not anybody else’s. It’s finally a place where I can close my door and put up my hands and say, YES!  I get to be ME with someone else who loves ME! for the first time ever.

PS. Do any other married women out there not feel married (cue angelic orchestral choir and release the doves) and more feel like….rooming with a hot guy/best friend? In the good way, I mean. Not in the bored with my roommate way.

PPS. What myths have you been de-bunking about marriage, if you’re married? And what do you believe about marriage that you think sounds depressing or terrible, if you’re single?.

5 Top Reasons I Love Men.

I wanted to title this post, “5 Top Reasons I Need My Husband” – but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. These are the 3 highly sensitive camps I would have offended in but seven words:

1. The “rah rah women” crowd
2. The “yeah we get it, you’re married now please stop talking about it” crowd
3. The “I thought you said we were complete without a man” crowd

I would just like to admit right here that I am both highly sensitive and also actively participate in all three crowds.

I do realize that I’ve been writing about marriage lately in the same way that babies hijack a woman’s life and cause all her friends to only speak with her when they’re prepared to handle a conversation about “the poops! They were so small and dry.” (This is an actual line from Sunday’s conversation, and those words actually came out of the husband’s mouth. In reference, I might add, to SOMEONE ELSE’S baby. Not even his.)

This all kind of really sucks for me because I’m now stuck between rock and a hard place. I can either talk about how awesome marriage is, and make single people feel bad. OR, I can talk about how terrible marriage is, and make single people feel better. All I can really do is say,“rest assured, marriage is both awesome and terrible. Just like your single life.”

I also wasn’t prepared to be in this place, because my marriage was highly unexpected. (Yes. So very unexpected. I had fully embraced the barely-married-by-30 plan.)

Anyway, a lot of people seem to get very confused whenever I post pro-men things, because it seems to imply that I’m being anti-women. Like I’m betraying my own kind by cheering for the enemy. But holy crap! How did men get to be the enemy!

I know when. When he left your mother. When he left you. When Hollywood started building every single movie, show and poster off of “women are so capable and men just can’t even pour their own milk into a bowl of cereal so har har har let’s all laugh at him trying to feed himself without a woman to hold the spoon!”

This makes me super sad. And really angry. And kinda depressed. So, I’m going to write 5 Top Reasons I Love/Need Men/My Husband. Because I think men are awesome, and the better they are, the better we are, and the faster we can get onto having a great life together and stop beating the shit out of one another with the “who’s the asshole/who’s the crazy bitch!” game.

1. My husband keeps me grounded. No, he’s not emotionally dead inside. In fact, he’s the one who reminds me to process my own emotions. He’s also a witness to my daily life, and gives me a second objective perspective to what’s really going on. And he reminds me that hisemotions are just as important as mine – because we’re two very real, very human beings. Sharing life. Give them the benefit of the doubt and you’ll realize men are pretty great at having a solid grip on reality, and having emotional responses to it.

2. My husband is extremely helpful. It turns out my husband is fully capable of cooking all his own meals. I remember growing up as a child thinking that men sincerely were missing a special combination of cells that enabled them put together edible food. Max makes awesome breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. He’s just as equipped as I am in the kitchen, if not more. And he does the dishes. And cleans the house. And the car. And is really great at it.

3. My husband is not clothing-challenged. On top of having a fantastic sense of style, he helps ME shop. He appreciates an awesome article of clothing that I get excited about (and no I’m not just talking about lingerie, silly, I’m talking about boots and jackets and things) and it’s SO GREAT. I don’t have to get him dressed, I don’t have to help him match his pants to his shoes, and he isn’t “sloppy just cause he’s a man.” It bums me out that we beat the “girls go shopping while the men watch football!” stereotype to death and back. Sure, girl time and man time is priceless and needed – but men like to shop too, and we like to hang out with you on Sunday afternoons. I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that my husband is a genuine friend of mine.

4. My husband understands. I’m so tired of seeing a group of women laughing about something and a retarded-looking male in the background. Sure, my husband might not supernaturally “get” every single thought that skips through my brain, but good lord, I don’t telepathically “get” every thought he has either. I’m so used to explaining myself and signing off with, “but I get that you don’t understand,” and having him remind me that he does understand. Men have real feelings and have been through legitimate life experiences. Men have a past. And when any human being loves you a lot and spends the majority of their life with you, they really do begin to understand you – regardless of their gender.

5. My husband prioritizes my life. This is a weird thing to say, but I’m going with it. I’ve learned in 6 short months that men aren’t the ones that have to be dragged around by women who have prioritized their relationships above everything else, and are desperately trying to “get the men on board.” Men aren’t “just” concerned with their hobbies. Men seriously love us. It’s my husband that initiated marriage counseling, my husband who helped me set healthy boundaries with people in my life, and my husband who reminds me what my potential is and then helps me achieve it.

There we have it. Take my husband out of this blog post, and I just want to say that men are fully capable of being grounded, emotionally present, helpful, fun, understanding, caring, responsible and are good at being in relationships.And really, they’re needed.

(I also will be publishing a Part Two for this. Because I have at least 5 more reasons.)


10 Things I’ve Learned About Sex In 6 Months Of Marriage

I decided this morning that I needed to blog about being married, since I still haven’t talked about it much. And since getting married six months ago, I’m hearing a LOT from you sweet married women who are having a crisis in your sex life.

It’s really bumming me out that the majority of us have no Christian married women to go to when they need to ask “am I alone in this? Am I crazy? How do I deal with ______ in the bedroom?” We need to stop waiting for the church to “take care of sex” for us, and we need to start talking about it amongst ourselves. WE are the church. If you are married, initiate an open conversation about sex with a married friend this week.

It’s also really bumming me out that it seems hardly any couples having serious issues in the bedroom are getting marriage counseling. My husband and I started marriage counseling on a weekly basis 4 months into our marriage – and literally every aspect of our life (including our sex life) has improved 23481230 times in only 7 or 8 sessions. Marriage counseling is not for people who are abnormally screwed up, or as a last resort attempt to stop a divorce. Counseling is like taking your vitamins, or working out. Do it before you get sick. Please.

I understand that most of us “just marrieds” are broke, or pretty close to it. We still don’t have a sofa, and we don’t pay for cable (or have a tv), and we don’t go see movies – but I’m indescribably grateful for a husband who views our relationship as more valuable than a sofa and a coffee table.

If you can’t afford counseling, seek it out anyway. It isn’t unreasonable to find a great marital therapist, and go to your church saying: “We really need marriage counseling because of _______ and we can only afford __% of it for the next month. Can you help us?” This is what church and community is for. And even if your church can’t help, ask God – and act on faith. God loves when we prioritize our marriages. (Sidenote: By “getting counseling” you don’t need to commit to attend every single week for the rest of your life. Go for a month, and then re-assess.)

Moving forward. These are ten things I’ve learned about sex in 6 months of being married:

1 – It isn’t what you’re doing or not doing – it’s about how you and your spouse feel.

2 – Sex drives aren’t identical. Up to 40% of the time, women have higher sex drives. If you want sex more than your husband, there’s nothing wrong with you – and if your husband wants sex more often than you do, there’s still nothing wrong with you. Be slow to jump to the conclusion that there’s “something wrong” when sex drives don’t match up. There’s nothing wrong with us when we don’t get hungry at the same time or don’t naturally wake up or fall asleep at the same time, so why should sex be viewed any differently?

3 – Expectations are a bitch. I’m pretty sure it was Christine Hassler who coined the phrase “Expectation Hangover,” but it’s a real thing, y’all. Some of us expect sex to be perfect, to be terrible, to want sex all the time, to want it less than we do, etc. Let go of your expectations. Every human being is different, so every marriage is different. Pressure kills creativity, love, and fun – and you cannot have great sex without creativity, love, or fun. I’ve been noticing that our expectations not aligning with reality that are causing more pain and heartbreak in our marriages than our “problems” actually are.

4 – The first year isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, I was told from a very early age that the first year of marriage is pure bliss. This is hilarious, but also responsible for a lot of my crying. Have you ever had a “perfect” year of life? I didn’t think so. But hey, our imperfect years are the years we grow the most – and growing together with someone doesn’t kill love – it strengthens it.

5 – Love is better than sex. I will admit that I’ve had sex on a pedestal my whole life. Maybe it comes from a conservative upbringing where sex is taboo, maybe from living in society that literally worships sex, or maybe both – I don’t know. I also had sex before marriage, and sex seemed like the best part of my relationships, so it made sense to me to chase it with everything I had. But after 6 months with my husband, I’ve realized that our relationship – the affection, the best-friend-forever, the support, the encouragement, the always-comfortable-around-you – is infinitely more valuable to me than sex is. I never experienced this kind of love from any of my boyfriends, so sex > relationship. But now, the love I receive and give with Max far surpasses even the most awesome sex we have – which ironically makes sex even better. Hah.

6 – The way it is now isn’t the way it’s always going to be. Sex seems to hold more weight than most other things in our lives. If something goes wrong in the bedroom, it’s so easy to feel like the world is ending – and that it will be like this forever. In this moment, ask yourself what you know of God. God is faithful to change, faithful to give hope, faithful to heal, and faithful to move us forward. Take a deep breath and choose to believe that whatever issue you’re having with sex, God is totally capable of fixing it – and that it WILL change. Don’t let yourself get sucked into panic and despair.

7 – Marriage counseling is more important than eating vegetables. I could write a book on why marriage counseling is so necessary, but please just take this one bulletpoint and run with it.

8 – Your daily life affects your sex life. Often we have “regular life” and then “sex!” They affect each other, and sometimes we forget. The other day I got a super achy, lonely feeling in my chest and my default thought was, “maybe it’s because we haven’t had sex in the last 48 hours.” And then I started freaking out about sex. (Just being totally honest, you guys.) I checked myself, and realized I was just straight up feeling lonely as a result of not having any alone time to spend with Jesus. Sure, sometimes sex is what’s on your mind and you want it and want it now – but if there are sad/negative feelings involved, you might just identify that sex has been a coping mechanism. Pay attention to how you feel.

9 – Don’t compare your sex life to anyone else’s. Everyone has a different sex life, depending on the two people within a relationship – and depending on what’s going on their life. Don’t ever judge another couple or the health of your own marriage because someone is having more or less sex. And don’t freak out because you’re having more or less sex than someone else. Use YOUR feelings to judge the health of your relationship, not someone else’s.

10 – The bedroom is the last place in the world you should be trying to “impress” your spouse. I’ve been hearing that some of you men want to prove how awesome you are by getting her off multiple times, and from you women that you feel like you need to be dressing like a porn star to get your husband’s attention or fulfilling all his fantasies. No. 🙁 Sex is for giving, not for proving. For enjoying, not for working. For accepting, not for being insecure. TELL your spouse that they are enough, that they are sexy, that they are hot, that you love them no matter what. Man or woman, we all need to hear it.

11 – Never keep things to yourself. If you’re upset, hurt, scared, afraid, or worried about something regarding sex – don’t keep it from your spouse. I have been all of these things (and so has my husband) and simply getting the courage to tell one another what we are thinking and feeling has “fixed” a lot of our fears. Feeling ashamed, guilty or hurt and not communicating it to your spouse is never the way to go. Let your significant other love you.

Whoops, that’s eleven.

The end!
And hey husband? I love you so much it’s stupid. I love that we act like 5th graders sometimes, and I love that you take care of me too. I love that you always tell me I’m beautiful. That you’ve known from day one that you cared more about who I am, and who we could be together, than about having sex with me. I love that you’ve handled our budget, and that you’ve prioritized our relationship over everything else. I love that you care about how I feel, always. That you’ve never made me feel bad for my awesome emotional rollercoaster rides. I love that you recognize when we’re low on quality time, and that you take me on adventures to fix it. Oh, and that you’re super hot.
You are my favorite, still.


Modesty, Lust, And Emotional Rape.

The slow thud of pounding bass through my bedroom walls shook me half-awake. I kept my face in my pillow and wondered why it was necessary for music this loud to be played in our family’s home at 7am on Saturday mornings. I pulled my comforter back over my head, and drifted off to sleep for all of two minutes before the fire alarm went off.

Breakfast was ready. And that fire alarm dug it’s nails into my soul.

15 years old. I stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing my eyes and brushing hair out of my face.

“Back upstairs, Lauren.” My mom stood at the stove, waving her spatula at me.


“UPSTAIRS. You know you can’t wear that around your brothers.”

I shook myself fully awake and glanced down to figure out what she was talking about. Sweatpants and a cami. I guess you could tell my breasts were developing. A little late, I might add.

“Mom, I just woke up.”

“You can’t wear things like that around your dad and your brothers. It isn’t appropriate. You’re distracting them. Shame on you.”

A sickness crept up in my stomach and I felt it in my skin. I pushed memories out of my mind.

Memories like the week after I turned 13, and I shyly put my balled up, polka dotted underwear in my mother’s hand because I was too embarrassed to speak the words, “I started my period.” She wanted to show Dad, and I was paralyzed. I stood in an aching stillness, cold feet on the kitchen tile floor, while my little girl mind shifted and groaned and made way for a developing normal that felt like being forced to stand naked in front of a man. Memories like my dad reading my diary against my will. Memories like finding naked women on the computer. Memories like hiding. Pretending. Keeping quiet. Shaking. Hush all these things.

Three years later and the boy I loved broke up with me. I thought it was for a girl that would do more with him.

Six months after that, I kissed a boy. I told him he was my second kiss, thinking that it would be something special to him – and I never saw him again. I found out a week later he’d kissed me on dare from his friends. They had seen my picture, I was super hot, and they didn’t think he could “get me.”

Harassed on the street by a man who wanted me to model nude for him. “I had to.” I was too beautiful, I owed it to him.

Being banned from an organization because I wore a shirt too clingy and was making the boys stumble.

A man I viewed as a father figure coming on to me, shattering one of the only safe places I had left.

A co-worker trying to tape me when I didn’t know it.

A first date who got violent when I refused to sleep with him after he bought me dinner.

A lifetime of awkward visits to the pool in one piece swimsuits and shorts so that I wouldn’t be responsible for causing men to sin when they looked at me.

A close friend’s father asking me, begging me, pressuring me, cornering me to watch a movie with him in bed.

Debilitating self-consciousness for years because I was constantly made fun of for how “homeschooler” I dressed.

Men who have put their hands in places I wasn’t strong enough to protect.

Four times my life has ended, and I’ve created a new one out of nothing on the opposite side of the country. And in every life, they find me. These men who take and do not give. These women who shame me into believing it is my fault. The church’s endless list of standards that declares my body is at the core of what is wrong with society. These people who wrap their own sins in guilt and shame and lunge them at my heart, commanding me to carry their weight for them. Hiding. Pretending. Keeping quiet. Hush these things.

All my stories? The ones I brace my spirit to share, and the ones I don’t have enough courage yet to tell? My stories are no different than the average woman. Every woman I know has experienced these things. Every girl I’ve spoken to is wearing thin from the men in her life who have taken and not given. And all these women march forward in brokenness with a church who blames our injured hearts on our own precious bodies. To inflict pain and then blame the injured for the violence does permanent damage to a heart.

For 24 years my suffocating modesty doctrine has kept me from wearing outfits that I love, has dictated the way I dress, and has now brought me to the morning where I stand in front of my closet as a married woman, realizing that I have nothing sexy to wear for night out with my husband.

24 years of hiding so that I won’t be blamed for men fantasizing about me has brought me to my husband wrapping his arms around me, telling me how beautiful and sexy he thinks I am, and that he hates seeing me hide in my clothes because I’m too afraid to wear what makes me feel beautiful.


For the last month, I’ve been suffering a daily barrage of comments and emails criticizing the way I dress. Questioning my character and my salvation. Challenging that I can’t have the influence on women that I want to have when I’m wearing an oversized v-neck shirt on a date with my new husband. Rebuking me for causing men to stumble. Telling me that all the good I am doing is being canceled out by the fact that I have a great pair of legs. That I’m selling myself short by being attractive.

Last night, I received this comment on my blog: “Maybe when you talk about pornography, you could refrain from wearing such low-cut shirts.”

The sickness crept back again. I crumbled. And I sat on my bedroom floor in the dark and cried. The ache was back.

The emptiness in my chest. The pain of having it all taken. The shame of being blamed. The desperate desire for someone to stand up and shout, “IT’S NOT HER FAULT.”

And He did. You know, He whispered, “It’s not your fault.” He whispered, “I made you for this. I made you for Me. I made you for him.” He told me I was beautiful. He told me I have nothing to hide. He told me He knows. That He will never take from me. That he knows every man that tried to take. He told me that it was never my fault.

And then my husband came and wrapped his arms around me and whispered all. the. same. things. in my ear.

My Jesus has proclaimed that he has given me life so that I can have life to the full.

My God says He looks at my heart and that He loves me sacrificially, and Paul begs of us to be perfect in this way that our Father is PERFECT. (Matthew 5:48, I Samuel 16:7, John 15:13, & Matthew 23:13-28)

Have you missed this? Have you missed what the God of the Universe has deemed as PERFECT?

Perfect is sacrificial love, not shifting blame for a selfishness that ravages through the souls of men, urging them to take take take.

Perfect is knowing we are all sons and daughters, made in the image of God, redeemed and restored and spotless before Him.

Perfect is looking at one another’s hearts, and knowing that the outward appearance shows NOTHING of their character, their value, their salvation.

Perfect is living in the freedom that Christ died for. Not under a higher, more impossible list of standards that is so impossibly human it could not have come from our Lover. (Isaiah 28:10)

Dear men: If you believe my neckline is causing to stumble, you have bought into the lie that women are the problem, NOT YOUR LUST.

Dear women: If you believe you are responsible for your fellow man’s sins, you have bought into the lie that YOU are the problem, NOT SIN.

Dear men and women: Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

When you believe that your struggle is against a man or woman’s body instead of against the spirit of death, you have lost and will continue to lose.

I rebuke the spirit of lust, of rape, of prostitution, of religion, of addiction, and of immorality that continues to try to shackle the body my Maker designed and gave to me with it’s guilt.

I declare freedom, life, joy, purity, beauty and love over my body and my spirit.

Oh, by the way. If you are still following me by this summer, you will most likely see a photo of me at the beach in a bikini at some point.

And I will not be apologizing for it.

– – – – – – – – – – – –
Comments have been disabled for this post out of protection for my heart. <3


Video Series: "My boyfriend is watching porn?!" #2

Second video in the series is up! You can share this link: or you can view the video below.

The first video is here:

Recommended reading for this segment is Chapters 1, 2 & 3 in “Living With Your Husband’s Secret Wars” by Marsha Means. You can purchase it online, used, for about $5 including S&H at If you are committed to staying in this relationship with your boyfriend, I ask you to invest in purchasing the book as well as Sex & The Soul Of A Woman by Paula Rinehart, Pure Eyes by Gross & Luff, and Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend.

“My BF Is Watching Porn?!” #2 from Lauren Dubinsky on Vimeo.

In this video, Lauren talks about:
#1 – Validating your hurt, grief, betrayal
#2 – Different types of natural responses – unhealthy vs healthy
#3 – Evaluating your personal emotional health
#4 – Identifying the lies you believe (IE. “this is my fault”)
#5 – Co-dependency tendencies & healthy detachment
#6 – Finding community & a confidant
#7 – Coming to terms that you cannot change or save him
#8 – Evaluating the relationship as a whole

You can grab the full outline of the video in PDF here..