29 Days to Great Sex Day 13: Getting Your Head in the Game

Getting Your Head in the Game: Preparing for Intimacy

It’s our 29 Days to Great Sex event, leading up to the release of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (update: now available!), and I want to recap what we’ve done so far and let you in on what’s ahead this week.

We’ve looked at how to reframe how think about sex, how to reframe how we think about our bodies and about pleasure, and even how to think of our husbands differently. We’re looked at how to get in the right frame of mind during the day by flirting, and playing, and preparing for the evening.

This week we’re going to look at what to do when the evening finally arrives. Today we’ve going to look at how to get your head in the game, and then we’ll turn to foreplay, orgasm, and more!

Let me start with some basics that many men and women don’t understand about female libido, and it goes like this: if our heads are not in the game, our bodies won’t follow. If we are distracted by anything, then it’s difficult to get aroused. This is the exact opposite of men, whose bodies often react to visual stimuli even if they ARE distracted and don’t want to be thinking about sex. Most men react almost automatically;  women need to decide to react.

I’ve often heard it said that men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers, insinuating that men can heat up and be done quickly, while women take more time. But I think that analogy is false because it implies that women will, eventually, heat up. The truth is there is no guarantee. A guy can do exactly the same thing to his wife that yesterday had her in raptures, and today he can tell she’s lying there thinking, “will you just get it over with because I want to get to sleep.” While women certainly can heat up, men can’t do it completely for us. We control the switch. We’re the ones who need to decide to participate, and that’s not always easy.

Consider this scenario, that I shared with Paul Byerley, The Generous Husband, in a recent guest post:

You walk into your bedroom to find your husband giving you that “Y’wanna?” look. You smile, and undress while he looks on appreciatively. You climb into bed and start kissing. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, you push him away and say:

“Do you think Michelle should drop piano? She just isn’t enjoying it and it’s costing us $20 a week in lessons, and a whole Tuesday night. We could take that money and go to a movie as a family and spend quality time together instead!”

What just happened? Did you decide you really didn’t want to have sex? Chances are your husband was pretty ticked, because he thought the evening was going in a certain direction, and now you’ve erected a big “Detour” sign.

'2010 Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show' photo (c) 2010, Chase N. - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I used to think that when I launched into a big monologue right in the middle of foreplay that subconsciously I was trying to push my husband away. But over the years I’ve realized that the opposite is the case. I can’t really get into making love if I have a lot of unprocessed thoughts in my head, because they end up bouncing around in there, like a huge pinball game. And my body doesn’t suddenly spring into action the way my husband’s does. I have to get myself in the mood, anticipate what we’re doing, and concentrate if it’s going to feel good. Like most women, sex for me is mostly in my head.

And if there’s too much other stuff rolling around in my head, my body won’t be able to get in the game. Part of getting ready for the big event, then, is to empty my head of all the stuff that’s rattling around in there. When I can get it out, I can let other stuff in.

There’s another element to this urge to talk, too. As we’ve talked about before, men make love to feel loved, while women need to feel loved to make love. In other words, for men, making love is a way of checking in on the relationship, and making sure that everything is good. When we make love, they feel as if we accept them and want to be with them.

For women, though, we need to feel that acceptance first, and part of that is feeling as if our men understand our hearts. That’s why conversation is so key to a woman’s libido. She needs to feel as if she’s understood, but she also needs to feel as if all the details in her head that are bouncing around about her to-do list tomorrow, and her worries about the kids, are out in the open so that she isn’t distracted.

So if you want sex to be great, TALK. Talk earlier in the evening so that she feels loved, and also so that she has a chance to process all the things that are in her head. And women, if you have a lot of “logistic” type worries–like how am I going to manage my time and get everything done?–discuss these with your husband, too, because he may be able to figure out some things you can say no to, or some other strategy of dealing with everything. Get an agenda planner and actually write them all down so she can be done with them!

And guys, if you’re reading this, understand that your wife’s urge to talk is not a rejection of you or a rejection of sex; it’s her way of getting her mind in gear and emptied out of all her concerns so that she can actually concentrate and enjoy sex.

Great Sex Challenge 13: Talk to each other about developing new habits of talking earlier in the evening and checking in with each other about your day. Can you go for a walk after dinner? Can you curl up on the couch for 15 minutes? Even keep a day planner near the bed so that together you can go over her schedule and fit errands in it so that she’s not worried. It takes 21 days for a habit to become ingrained, but start this one today: find regular, scheduled time just to TALK.

This may not sound sexy, but before we can move on to how to really enjoy sex, she absolutely must be able to get her head in the game, and that means dealing with the day’s stresses. So make this a habit; it will benefit both of you!

31 Days to Great Sex
New! This 29 Days to Great Sex series has been turned into an ebook, the 31 Days to Great Sex (only $4.99!)

It's expanded, it's written for couples (not just women), and it's easy to use! 31 Days to boost your emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and physical intimacy. You'll talk, flirt, and explore! Ignite your marriage here.

29 Days to Great Sex:

Day 1: The Act of Marriage
Day 2: Starting Fresh
Day 3: Loving the Skin You’re In
Day 4: Pucker Up!
Day 5: Reawaken Desire
Day 6: Why Your Hubby Wants You!
Day 7: Moving in the Right Direction
Day 8: 14 Ways to Play as a Couple
Day 9: Prepare for Sex throughout the Day
Day 10:16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband
Day 11: How to Find Your Hubby Attractive
Day 12: If you’re Having a Hard Time with these Challenges

Day 14: When You Don’t Want to Make Love
Day 15: What is Foreplay?
Day 16: How to Orgasm
Day 17: The Pleasure Center
Day 18: Foreplay Can Be for Him, Too!
Day 19: How to Come Alive Again
Day 20: Deciding on Boundaries
Day 21: 5 Ways to Spice Things Up
Day 22: How Often is Enough?
Day 23: Quickies Are Great!
Day 24: Initiate, Baby!
Day 25: Sex When You Have Kids
Day 26: Rebuilding Your Sex Life
Day 27: Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy when You Make Love
Day 28: Overcoming Selfishness
Day 29: A Contest & a Party!

Remember to hit the Share buttons to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! (or any other buttons below :). Let’s spread the word about the series, and help other marriages thrive!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!

Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.


  1. I am loving these! So far I have mostly been skipping around and trying to catch up, but when my husband comes back from a conference trip on Wednesday we are going to go through them all.
    We are in a much different place than most people. Two years ago, three weeks after our third child was born, my husband moved out. That began what ended up being a two month separation during which he was involved with another woman. Up until then, my husband and I had only been with each other sexually. We were high school sweethearts who waiting until we were married to have sex. He ended the affair and decided to come back home and try to rebuild our marriage. Needless to say, we have climbed over many hurdles to get to where we are, but I can honestly say that our marriage is better than it ever has been. We have learned so much about ourselves, our marriage, and God through this whole thing, and I am incredibly thankful for it. Our sex life has even been better than it was. I do have to say, though, that this area was one of the biggest hurdles for me. I have had to mourn the fact that now my husband has been with someone other than me sexually, and I think I will be dealing with that in some fashion for the rest of my life. But, with conscience effort to be a godly wife and with almost ceaseless prayer, I have come to truly move past the pain and thoroughly enjoy being with my husband.
    I guess I am proof that marriages can survive and thrive after an affair, even sexually, but it does take work!
    Megan Elzey recently posted…An early ValentineMy Profile

  2. Sheila,
    What a great series – informative, straight to the point, and a lot of fun to read as well! Thanks for bringing a touchier subject out in the open to get fresh air and lots of sunlight. This will be a blessing to many women!
    Ann recently posted…Are You Aging Well? (Or: Botox And The Beast)My Profile

  3. Boy is this right up our alley! I have been working on communication with my husband, not just in the bedroom, but in every aspect of our daily life! Thanks!

  4. At some point, though, the wife has to make the decision to focus on her husband and the sexual activity at hand. Otherwise, the constant talking and planning is just another excuse and is a rejection of her husband. She’s saying, “You’re not important enough for me to spend the mental energy to think about you, even when you’re right here and I am mere inches away or less.”

    • Yes, that’s very true. There is a balance. But I do find for many women that if they have that chance to unwind and share their concerns with their husbands, it’s easier not to get distracted!

  5. Malee Edwards says:

    Unfortunately, Sheila, I have a husband that I have a very hard time talking to! He’s a ‘silent’ person and for the first 5 years or so of our relationship (3 dating, then married) I felt like he was punching me in the face every time I tried to talk to him about my feelings. Not literally though!!! He’s never laid a hand on me. I just mean, it was a painful, almost a physical type blow when I would come to talk to him and he would say these words, literally, word for word; “I don’t care about your feelings. I don’t want to hear about them.” I used to wonder if he even had feelings! Instead of talking with me about things, he would tell me he didn’t want to hear it or he would walk out as I was speaking. Many times he would just turn the tv up all the way until he couldn’t hear me over it. And share his own feelings? He would deny even having feelings! Now, he has changed so much over the years you wouldn’t believe he was ever like that but those years of rejection from him turned me into a different person as well. Instead of sharing my feelings, I keep my mouth shut and listen to what he has to say. Normally, I don’t share anything personal during these conversations. I don’t go to him and start a conversation about my feelings, either. I know this is not right. I know I need to share my feelings with him, both for his sake and my own, but I think we’re lost as to how to get back to the middle ground here. I need to feel like he’s a safe person to share my feelings with and I don’t feel like that. He no longer tells me he doesn’t want to hear it cause he knows it’s important for me to share and for him to listen but he really doesn’t listen well. I’ll say something and he gets upset and then he hijacks the conversation. When that happens, we still end up in the same place. He talks about his feelings, I listen and leave the conversation feeling like I wasn’t heard (which I wasn’t) and that nothing got solved (which it didn’t). That happens most often but then there are other times that I’ll try to talk to him and instead of just listening and accepting what I’m saying, he tries to fix me. I guess my problem is, do you have any suggestions about how we can get back to a middle ground?. A place where we can both sharae feelings and hear one another? Our marriage is pretty good in all other areas. Even with all the communication issues, sex is still really good, too. I’ve been reading these posts from the start but my husband will be joining me in reading them as of today! (he FINALLY replied to me about doing them with me so I sent him day 1 and 2 just this morning!) Anyway. Any suggestions are welcome cause I really need to re-learn how to share again!!! Even if marriage is good, I believe here’s always something we can do to improve, right?

    • Absolutely, Malee! There’s always somewhere we can improve.

      One thing that rarely works, though, when communication has been difficult in the past is to set aside times to talk. It’s just stressful and can often backfire. A better thing to do is to remember that in general men like communicating “side by side” rather than “face to face”. They’d rather talk while they’re DOING something. So can you take walks together? Take up hiking together? Take up fishing? Take up a sport or a hobby? If you’re already doing something and having a fun time, it’s often easier to talk than it is to say “every evening after dinner we’re going to sit across the table and try to share our feelings.” So I’d say work at finding things that you do well together, and then do them, even if it’s just painting a room together or fixing up the house or gardening or anything. That makes talking more natural and less stress-inducing. Hope that helps!

      • Malee Edwards says:

        Thanks, Sheila. My husband has been sick with a cold for a week so we;’ve had a week of “hands off” between the 2 of us. lol. Last night when we went to bed I just wanted to tell him my feelings about it. Not because I want him to do anything to fix it! I was sick the week before he got it so I know exactly how awful he feels and certainly don’t expect him to preform sick just so I can have some fun cause really, that’s not fun at all for either of us in the end! Anyway, I said in a joking tone of voice, ‘I’ve been feeling neglected this week.’ Now, he didn’t get really offended and angry but he did say, ‘I’ve been sick…’ I stopped him before he got too far and said that I just wanted to tell him my feelings and that was all. I didn’t want him to do anthing about it except accept that I was feeling neglected. We didn’t have a fight about it, neither of us got mad or anything, but it wasn’t an easy conversation, if you know what I mean? We went to sleep with no hard feelings between us or anything but it was hard for me to share even the little bit that I did about my feelings and I think it was hard for him to listen without defending himself or telling me why it’s wrong for me to feel like that. However, having shared that little bit without any ‘fixing’ type words from him really helped me to feel better about maybe being able to share more in the future. Plus, he then told me this morning that Focus on the family has been doing a series of radio shows this week that he’s been listening to and, finally after many years, he’s beginning to understand that he really needs to listen to me without trying to fix or talk me out of the feelings that I have. It’s ok for him to not understand my feelings. It’s even ok for him to not agree with my feelings but he needs to keep quiet and listen because, even if my feelings ARE wrong, they’re MINE, and I have a right to feel them. After he told me that this morning, I really feel that there is hope for us to get back to a middle ground. Also, lying in bed at night before we go to sleep seems to be a good “side by side” place for us to talk, strangely enough! Our hobbies are too different to be compatible for this. :) He plays golf and I crochet/knit! However, since we’re both trying to get to sleep at that time of night, any conversations we have there will need to be short! We’ll have to try to find a different activity we can do together for the longer conversations!

        • That’s great, Malee! It sounds like you had a real breakthrough. And isn’t it neat how God was laying the groundwork with your husband by putting that on FOTF just when he needed to hear it? That’s wonderful! I hope that you keep growing together.

  6. I love this idea! As a homeschool mom, I don’t get to talk to adults all day long. In the evenings, I’m always busy getting the kids ready for bed and straightening up, and he’s always busy getting ready for the next day’s work. By the time the kids are asleep, he’s ready to jump to the ‘main event’ and I’m just not. He wonders why I want to read a few emails & blogs beforehand. It’s something I’ve mentioned to him before, I want that friendship time too.
    Heather recently posted…Valentine TreatsMy Profile

  7. Oh my goodness, THIS. I suddenly realized why it makes me so irritated when my husband kisses me to cut me off mid-sentence. I know he thinks it’s sexy and funny and just like all those Hollywood scenes where talky women suddenly go weak and insensible in the intensity of desire – and meanwhile I want to pull away and smack him for not respecting whatever it is I’m saying and my need to say it! It is a total turn-off but I have never been able to articulate to him why! It will be so helpful to be able to communicate this clearly, and to help me control my own reaction now that I understand it.

    Great series. Hubs is out-of-town at the moment but when he gets back we are sitting down and going through this together!

    • Dawn, so glad you “get it”! Maybe he will now, too. I really find that a lot of what is in movies is just plain wrong, but we compare our lives to that and then think there’s something wrong with us, when there’s not!

  8. What do I do when I want sex significantly more often than my husband does? He says in his effort to stay pure before marriage he trained himself to shut off sexual desire most of the time. But now that we’re married he still lives in his old habits and doesn’t seem willing to make new ones. He says when he’s not in the mood it’s really hard for him to be enthusiastic (even though he tells me he loves when I initiate he rarely responds).

  9. I once heard a pastor talk about how he and his wife have a special candle or maybe a Scentsy that one or the other would turn on to signify that they wanted to have sex. Has anyone heard of this or tried it?! If so, boils you please explain how you made it work?

  10. My fiancé and I stumbled across this blog and have been reading and discussing together. Thanks for so much straight forward and practical advice! I struggle with feeling sexy even though my fiancé always tells me, very sincerely, how attractive he finds me, so the early posts about getting comfortable in my own skin have been helpful. My fiancé and I are so excited for our wedding, our first night, and our marriage! We believe discussing these topics while living purely waiting for marriage is teaching us to communicate well before we ever enter into marriage and the intimacy of our sex life together. He is my greatest gift and blessing, and we are getting even more excited to fully give of ourselves to one another!

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  3. […] into it. It’s not unusual; we women are very complex beings. And because, for women, sex is almost entirely in our heads (as in our heads have to be in the game or our bodies won’t follow), if we’re stressed, […]

  4. […] Sometime after dinner, connect by sharing your hearts and concerns. Go for a walk or a hike. Do dishes together. Do some activity during which you can unload some of the burden of today, so that it’s not impeding your ability to enjoy making love later. […]

  5. […] our heads are in the game (as in thinking positively about sex), our bodies usually follow. When our heads aren’t in the game, it isn’t very much fun. […]

  6. […] backs and legs. The benefits? It helps you relax first so that you can get rid of all the pinballs in your head of all the things you’re thinking about from the day. Also, if you massage naked, it’s […]

  7. […] So why not start trying to develop a new habit? Sometime after dinner, connect by sharing your hearts and concerns. Go for a walk or a hike. Do dishes together. Do some activity during which you can unload some of the burden of today, so that it’s not impeding your ability to enjoy making love later. […]

  8. […] 12: If you’re Having a Hard Time with these ChallengesDay 13: Getting Your Head in the GameDay 14: What if You’re Not “In the Mood”?Day 15: What is Foreplay?Day 16: How to OrgasmDay […]

  9. […] you have lots on your mind, it can be hard to concentrate enough to make love. And we women can’t enjoy sex unless our heads are in the game. So talk to your husband throughout the day to get some of these concerns out. Take walks with kids […]

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  11. […] get aroused unless we DECIDE that we’re going to enjoy it. For us it’s largely a mental experience. And that means that we need to make the decision to embrace him–that we’re not just […]

  12. […] now we go for "pinball" walks, and it helps me get my head in the game […]

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