Honest Marriage Episode 9 // On Flirtation

Dating & Marriage, Podcast Episodes

In honor of the NEW book launched by Phylicia and her friend, Lisa Jacobson, this week Josh and Phy talk about FLIRTATION! Is it wrong? What happens when we’re told it’s wrong and then get married? How did Phylicia’s 30 day experiment on Josh turn into a book??

In this behind the scenes episode during the launch week of The Flirtation Experiment Josh and Phy discuss how Josh felt when Phy did her experiment and what inspired her to do it in the first place. We talk about:

  • Phy’s history in purity culture and how it shaped her view of pursuit and flirting
  • How the little steps she took changed Josh’s perspective and changed her own confidence
  • The inspiration for co-authoring the book with Lisa, who has 28 years of marriage experience!

Listen in iTunes or Spotify or on the blog below!

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Phylicia: Welcome to Verity. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. This podcast will help you embrace the history and depth of the Christian faith. Ask questions, seek answers, and devote yourself to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to settle for watered-down Christian teaching. And if you’re ready to go deeper, God is just as ready to take you there. This is Verity, where every woman is a theologian.

Welcome back to Verity Podcast, friends. I’m Phylicia Masonheimer and my husband, Josh is with me- 

Josh: Hey, guys.

Phylicia: -for this series on Marriage. So, if you’re just hopping in for this episode, welcome. We are two-thirds of the way done with The Marriage series, and we have had so much fun talking through biblical marriage as it looks in our personal experience. This is more of a descriptive series than prescriptive, but we’ve already heard back from so many people that it’s been encouraging to feel like they aren’t alone, and what they’ve struggled with and what they’re experiencing in their marriage. Today, we’re talking about flirtation. And before we get into that, I want to apologize for my voice. I have picked up a cold from our children because you know, kids always have to share when they have a sickness.

Josh: True meaning of what comes around goes around.

Phylicia: [laughs] So, I apologize in advance for my voice. But flirtation, okay. So, this whole series really was born because of the book that I recently co-authored with my friend Lisa Jacobson of Club31Women called The Flirtation Experiment. This book was about a real experiment that I did on Josh without his knowledge. Several years ago, two years ago now, I think and through that experiment, I just saw such changes in my marriage that I told Lisa about it, and it eventually inspired this short, very practical hands-on book that we have coming out December 7th. And because that is this week, the week this episode comes out, we are doing a whole episode on flirtation, and Josh’s kind of behind-the-scenes experience with The Flirtation Experiment when we did it. So, thanks for being here. [crosstalk] 

Josh: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Phylicia: You did not know I was doing The Flirtation Experiment, right? 

Josh: No. I started to catch on that something was up by like the last day.

Phylicia: The last 30 days in? [laughs] 

Josh: But I wasn’t aware I was being experimented on explicitly.

Phylicia: Well, although, I will say I wasn’t necessarily experimenting on you as much as experimenting in our relationship if were to be fair.

Josh: Hmm. What sort of distinction is that?

Phylicia: Well, I don’t want to sound like I was secretly, I don’t know, giving you an injection in your sleep or something to change you.

Josh: No love pill.

Phylicia: [laughs] No love pill. I was doing these really practical little steps and changes that I could control, instead of getting bitter over you not thinking of things. That’s a really raw way to say, that’s what I was doing. But what inspired it was actually, I think it was Christmas, yeah, a couple of years ago, I was watching a Hallmark movie, and I was thinking about Josh’s rolling his eyes right now.

Josh: Dangerous.

Phylicia: [laughs] What’s dangerous is being a city girl going back to a country town at Christmas time. It’s dangerous for your fiancé. That’s what I will say about Hallmark.

Josh: Yeah, good thing you didn’t have any suitors flying about in the area- 

Phylicia: [laughs]

Josh: -around this Christmas.

Phylicia: Valid. So, I’m watching this Hallmark movie and I just was thinking, we watch these that are goofy and ridiculous, but any romantic movie or book, a lot of women watch these, read these, and a lot of these women, I read a statistic that said 40% or more of romance novel readers are in a romantic relationship. I thought, “Well, that’s odd, because why would you read about other people’s relationships if you’re entirely satisfied in your own relationship?” Then, I thought, “Well, is there a way that you could take these plotlines, these things that are attractive to us in these books and in these movies and we could actually integrate them into our marriages, into my marriage?” 

Josh: Sounds a bit corny to me. 

Phylicia: It sounds corny. I know. It’s very strange thing to be inspired by a Hallmark movie. And does it make it a questionable scientific experiment? Yes, I will give you that. But I made a list. First, I did a bunch of research, secular and biblical research on what kind of makes attraction happen and what makes kind of the psychology of sexuality, and attraction, and flirtation? I read secular relationship bloggers, and how they talked about cultivating relationships and dating, and what kind of gets a guy’s interest when you are a single woman? And I thought, “Okay, what if I implemented these things in marriage?” I’m already married. What would it do to my relationship if I were to suddenly act the way I might act as a single person who’s interested in Josh? What would I do? So, it was kind of a mental shift for me and I was also just interested to see what the results were. So, I made a list of 30 things, and I did those 30 things over 30 days, and I wrote down how I felt as I did them and what Josh’s response was. So, as you have already said, it took you–

Josh: Yeah. It took a little bit to catch on.

Phylicia: Yeah, and they were pretty random experiments. They weren’t like very overdone, I would say. They’re very muted little ones for a while. So, like telling you a joke, or pranking you, or doing a silly dance or something, or making eye contact across the kitchen, or showing physical affection in a non-sexual way, were all things that I did. When I did that, if you can think back, how did you feel when you started to notice there was something different?

Josh: Well, I’m always kind of like a deer in headlights when you do like goofy things. 

Phylicia: [giggles] And why is that? [laughs] 

Josh: Just because you don’t typically do goofy things. I’m just like, “How am I supposed to respond to this?” [laughs] I appreciate the effort, but part of me is just like– it’s like, what most people do when they hear a dad joke, it’s just like, “Ha-ha, okay.”


Phylicia: Now, you know how we all feel when we are with you. [laughs] 

Josh: Exactly. Every joke, I tell.

Phylicia: But yeah, so, it’s out of the ordinary but like–

Josh: But yeah. So, I do remember like you gave me a cup of tea, you asked me if I wanted a cup of tea, I’m was like, “Oh, sure,” and you brought me a cup with a bunch of letter T’s inside of it, and then, yeah, just like little efforts to kiss me more or rub me on the shoulder. So, there were some things more subtle than others but there was just like, I didn’t notice a subtle reciprocation as well, where my mood toward her was just less, I guess, less opposing and more like synchronizing with her in just like our moods and our relationship.

Phylicia: Right. And if you haven’t listened to previous episodes of this podcast, I would encourage you to do so to get more context of what we’ve been through in our marriage and why we might be more opposed than the average couple [laughs] given the stress we’ve been through and the struggles that we’ve been through. But yes, I agree with you. There was like this synchronization is a good word between us because I think trust was built that we were both good willed toward each other. I think we tend to fall into a pattern of distrusting the other person being good weld and getting very defensive towards each other. 

So, I knew, I couldn’t change Josh or control him. I knew I could only do what I could do, and so that’s what the experiment was for. It was for me more than for him. It was more of a mindset shift for me to learn how to make a habit out of showing affection. What I don’t naturally think of that of intentionally pursuing really, if you will, flirting with him as if I were a single woman trying to get his attention, how would I act or what things might I do to show my interest in him as a human, as a guy, and have those things stopped since I got married?

Josh: It’s like the concept of praying for your enemies. Not that we’re enemies, but-

Phylicia: Right.

Josh: -when you pray for somebody, you’re asking for something good to happen to them or you should be at least. Like the softening of their heart or God to work in their life. So, when you’re saying a prayer for somebody in a healthy way, it reprograms a healthy mindset. The same thing works with a gratitude journal, which you used to do, where if you have a criticizing nature, then just writing down a daily journal of what you’re grateful for just creates a mindset shift like you were talking about that. It just reprograms your mind to be more positive and gracious toward others. 

Phylicia: And that’s what you’re saying this experiment kind of did? 

Josh: Yeah, like you were saying, it was more for yourself than it was for me in that regard.

Phylicia: Right. And then, the surprise is that it actually did change Josh and affect Josh in some really positive ways. I didn’t go into it expecting that. I did it more as a challenge for myself. So, for anyone who is interested in reading the book, that’s something I would encourage going in is to recognize that it’s for healthy marriages, generally healthy marriages, and it’s for people, for wives who are more concerned with their own habits than with changing their husband. It’s not a husband changing experiment. It’s an experiment to encourage pursue and to encourage confidence in who you are as a wife. 

I do think that I have Song of Songs open on my lap right now in the Bible, and I do think that there has been due to purity culture just a really negative view of, I would say, wifely confidence or wifely pursuit, sexiness in wife, all of that. It’s been very downplayed or it’s just not talked about at all. I think, Song of Songs really presents that well. I am not going to read any of the more graphic passages which Josh before we were recording made sure to read aloud and thought were just so funny. But in Song of Songs 1, the husband and the wife, I believe they’re engaged at this point are speaking back and forth right next to each other where the husband says, “How beautiful you are, my darling? How very beautiful your eyes are doves?” Then the wife responds, “How handsome you are, my love? How delightful?” 

Throughout the book, we see that back and forth between the man and the woman and their admiration for each other both physically and personally, and we see the wife or woman expressing interest, even sexual interest in her husband, pursuing her husband in ways that I think perhaps some of evangelical Christian culture would cringe and be a little bit astonished at. But we see that this is something that scripture upholds and encourages, and in 1 Corinthians 7, it’s speaking about sexuality. But even outside of sexuality, I think, we can say that it applies where Paul’s talking about how husbands and wives should not deny each other without agreement. I think that just shows that attraction, and sexual drive can and should be valued in both the husband and the wife. So, flirtation coming out of that is an expression of interest in the other person and just trying to– I would say genuinely trying to get their attention in a way that expresses your interest in them like has mystery to it.

Josh: Or, is it’s also an affirmation where you’re reassuring the person that like you do value them, you do find them attractive, and that you think they are worth pursuing.

Phylicia: Yeah, I love that. So, let’s give a few examples before we wrap this episode up because obviously, you can read the book. It’s available, anywhere books are sold, but if we want to have some practicals, we’ve already given a few things that I did. But I’ll give one example and then Josh, if you think of anything and want to share as well. I’m the one who did the experiment. So, I’m the one that has to share. 

One of the things I did was, I tried to affirm Josh verbally, but I also did several variations of affirming him. One of the things I did was, every time I had a negative thought about something Josh did like humans who are married do, I replaced it with a positive one. So, if I thought, “Oh, Josh left his clothes by the hamper again, I would replace that with,” but you know what? He’s a really attentive dad and I would do that throughout the day. Then, at the end of the day, I’d collected all of those things that were positive about Josh, I typed them up into a note, and I texted them to him and said, “Just wanted you to know that these things are really meaningful that you are and that you’ve done.” So, that was one of the experiments I did. 

But I did other variations of just like texting him random things throughout the day saying like, “I admire this about you or just telling it to him, to his face,” and he’s not a words of affirmation person. At least, I don’t know, it’s not super high on your list.

Josh: No. Not as high as other things.

Phylicia: But it still was something that was meaningful to him. Can you think of anything else I did? 

Josh: I think, maybe, whether we have done it or not, it’s helpful to look at each other’s love languages. Maybe, even have him take the five love languages test and use that to speak his language. Because if you’re speaking a different language, then he’s not going to necessarily understand your love. So, if you just find how he feels love the most, you can easily find ways to express that as well as like, what does he actually value? Like, is he always punctual and stuff, does he value people’s time, is he big into taking care of the children, what are his huge values in his life, and then join him in that, and show him that you respect those things, and you respect him for being good at those things? So, you can use that as a template for ideas to express your love for him by coming alongside and sharing that with him.

Phylicia: Yeah, I love that. And love languages are tricky because we often show love the way that we want to receive it. So, if you’re acts of service, you might clean the whole house, and then be super upset that your spouse doesn’t appreciate it. When in reality, they don’t recognize that as love because their love language isn’t acts of service. So, you can still clean the house and I do think we should learn to appreciate how other people show love. But we also can learn to show love the way they do best receive it. 

I would just encourage if you’ve struggled with flirtation or if you have any kind of purity culture baggage from flirtation and feel like it’s a bad thing, and it’s wrong to flirt with your spouse or you feel guilty or you don’t know how, I would just encourage grabbing the book, a lot of what we’ve done is very simple, the chapters are super short, they take like five to seven minutes to read aloud, which means they probably take the same amount to read on your own. It’s just truly meant to be a peek inside my marriage of almost eight years, and then Lisa’s of almost 28 years. Two different personalities, two different marriages, and how the experiment affected our relationships. So, we really just hope it’s an encouragement to those of you who read.

Josh: Yeah, and you can see how it affected each of you differently and each of Matt and myself. And it’s something that you don’t even have to complete in 30 days.

Phylicia: Yes, that’s important. You definitely don’t have to do it in 30 days and we are actually doing a January book club leading up to Valentine’s Day with the book, and it will be over 30 days or four weeks. But we’re not going to force everybody to do it at a super intense pace. We’re probably going to do five days a week. And that will start mid-January leading up to February 14th. So, those of you who do have the book in hand for January, we are so excited to offer that and hope that you will join us. Lisa and myself will be leading that with weekly Zoom calls to talk about it in January. 

So, thank you guys for listening and for joining us in this series, and also, of course for supporting us and grabbing the book. We just are so blessed by you and we hope that it’s an encouragement in your relationships. The Flirtation Experiment can be grabbed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian book, or your local indie bookstore can be requested there as well, and thank you again. We will see you next week. 

Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Verity. You can connect with fellow listeners by following me on Instagram @phyliciamasonheimer or on our Facebook page by the same name. Also, visit phyliciamasonheimer.com for links to each episode and the show notes.

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