My first post on this blog was April 2, which makes today the three-month anniversary of The Forgiven Wife. When I began, I decided I would take three months to find my voice and see how things go with this whole blog adventure. At three months, I would evaluate how things were going and decide how to move forward (or close up shop, if that looked like the best option).
Rather than write about my marriage today, I’d like to indulge myself a little by writing about the blog itself.
The Birth of a Blog
I’d been working on marriage and intimacy in my life for 2 ½ years. I’d spent a lot of time thinking, analyzing, exploring, and wondering during that time. The more I became intentional about our sex life and saw improvement there, the more I noticed the ways our marriage improved overall. It was a revelation of understanding God’s design for sex in marriage.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I am good at sharing my heart with others. Writing has always been a natural way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. A couple folks I’d been talking to online about marriage issues suggested that I consider mentoring young wives. Somehow, that didn’t seem like the right fit for me, but the suggestion stayed in my head nonetheless.
For several years, I’ve known that my calling in life is to serve women as they face challenges and transitions in life that I have faced. I’ve done this throughout my life in several different ways. I knew that if I were to add some kind of marriage ministry, it would be for the purpose of supporting women as they try to break out of patterns of restricting sex.
This was all rather vague in my mind at first, but in one of the most powerful prayer experiences of my life, it became clear to me that I needed to write to a specific woman (“Jane”), woman to woman, Christian sister to Christian sister. I did that with great dedication and focus for a few days. And then I knew that I no longer had to write just to her; I needed to write to all the other “Janes”: never lose sight of the one woman, struggling, sad in her marriage, unsure what the problem is but suspecting it has something to do with their sex life and how she restricts sex. Never lose sight of the one woman. And I never do.
And a ministry was born.
I pray over each post. I ask for God’s guidance. I ask Him to help me remember that this is not about me, that my life is just a bridge to invite my sisters one step closer to Him and one step closer to their husbands. I usually pray throughout writing. I’ve written some things that I think are funny or clever that have been deleted. They just don’t help accomplish God’s purpose.
With every post, before I click on the button to post, I pray again that the words touch one woman. Just one. To my amazement, they do. I’ve received emails that touch my heart and humble me. I am grateful that God has made a way to use the mess I made of my marriage to feed a sister’s spirit in some way. I’ve received emails that have made me laugh and that have made me cry (sometimes both at the same time). I’ve heard from women facing struggles I can’t begin to imagine. Keep moving, sisters. Slow progress is still progress. Each small step is further along the journey than you were before.
Why Did/Do I Write So Much?
I’ve been asked why I was so prolific at first. I wrote around 60 posts during my first month at this blog. There was a part of me that thought I should space out the posting instead of posting two or three pieces a day as I was doing. I knew I needed to do it the way I did, even though it made no logical sense.
I had a lot to dump out of my head, for one thing. About eight months ago, I begin posting about some of my experiences on discussion forums. I got some positive feedback there, which provoked even more thinking and wondering. Once I started the blog, I felt a need to think and write almost constantly. More important, I knew that I needed to produce a lot of text early on to give myself a chance to find my voice and my feet on this blog before anyone actually started reading it. Although I knew the mission and audience of the ministry, I needed to settle into a rhythm of thinking, writing, and sharing that would work in the blog. This could only happen through frequency and quantity, so that’s what I did.
It did occur to me that I could have just saved up the posts I was writing, pacing them out to one a day or just a few a week. I didn’t know if anyone would ever actually read the blog, so there were times I wondered if it even mattered what I did. But all it takes is one person with a lot of followers to find a blog and share it to pull a lot of readers in. Just in case that happened, I wanted to be sure I had enough posts that readers would have a good sense of what to expect from the blog. I wanted to be ready, just in case anyone ever actually showed up.
I honestly didn’t think many people would ever actually see what I write. I have the URL attached to my profile on the forums at The Marriage Bed. I figured that a few people might find it that way. I used my blog profile to comment on some posts on what I thought of as “real” marriage blogs. Every morning, part of my waking-up ritual (waking up is a loooong process for me) is that once my husband heads into the shower, I fire up my phone and check several things—Facebook, email, overnight news. Once I started the blog, I added checking the blog stats just for fun. I was really excited. One day, I actually had 52 views of my blog. Wow! And another day, I had sixteen different visitors. Honestly, I considered it a good day if I had more than twenty views. That was enough to encourage me and keep me going.
And then Lori Byerly found me somehow. On the morning of April 15, I went through my little phone ritual. It wasn’t even six in the morning yet, but my eyes bugged out of my head. I already had over thirty views. In six hours! One of the fun things about WordPress stats is that it shows what page people were on when they click on a link that goes to your blog. So I looked at that, and there it was: Lori had posted a link to one of my posts on The Generous Wife. On that day, I had nearly 1600 views and nearly 300 visitors. I was shaking throughout the day. Oh, no. People are actually reading this. What if I say something wrong? What if I mess up someone’s life? What if …..? I had to get over myself. I had one of those Field of Dreams moments where I heard the words if you write it, they will read. The stats settled down after a bit, but I am always thrilled to see that people are reading. I’m always somewhat stunned. And I’m really glad I had some posts up so people could decide if there was anything that resonated with them.
My posting pace now is still somewhat erratic. I expect that it always will be. I have in my mind what kinds of posts I want to be doing each week, but in general, I let my heart and prayers guide me. In my head, I have a structure. Well, sort of. Each week, I intend to do at least one post in each of three areas: a glimpse into my past process to be able to demonstrate the results of early growth, a current struggle so I can share my current growth and give a glimpse into the actual process of growing, and a how-to. Unfortunately, I think I’ve explained how to do all the sex things I know how to do already. I have no other sex knowledge. (Well, I do, but some things I think are best NOT to share.) I always have ideas of what I’d like to write about down the road, but mostly I let my heart speak here as it is happening. For now, that seems to work for me.
What About the Guys?
With a mission of supporting women as they try to break out of patterns of restricting sex, I figured most of my readers would be, well, women. I was shocked when I began getting comments and emails from men as well as women.
Some men have written me to thank me for changes their wives have begun to make that they attribute to something they read on my blog. Other men tell me they appreciate the insight into how women think. Others just tell me they’re desperate for true intimacy in their marriages and my story of transformation gives them the first hope they’ve had in a while.
A little non-scientific survey I did recently showed that more than half my readers are men. ( I learned quite a bit else from that survey, which I’ll be writing about at some point.) I’ve been trying to think through this a bit. The ministry’s audience is women, but the blog’s audience includes men. I don’t yet know what to do with that. I know that sometimes the way to minister to a woman is through her husband; if something he reads here helps a man be a better husband and understand his wife, then the mission is accomplished. I’ve been thinking of occasionally having a “for husbands” post t