29 Days to Great Sex Day 24: Initiate, Baby!

WhyYouveGottoInitiateIf you’ve been joining me for this 29 Days to Great Sex series, leading up to the release of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (available NOW!), you’ll know that I firmly believe that sex begins in the brain: when you have the right attitude, your body will tend to follow (as long as you understand how to make it feel good!). If you don’t have the right attitude, sex will seem like a chore.

And I’ve also been saying that sex is a beautiful way to feel close to each other (more on that later in this series).

If you haven’t been following the 29 Days to Great Sex, don’t worry! You’re welcome anyway. Read on, and then you can always go back and catch up on posts that you’ve missed.

Today I want to continue our discussion of how to make sex something that unites you, rather than something that drives a wedge between you. And so let’s talk about an issue that I’ve touched on a number of times in this series:

What really matters in a marriage is not so much the frequency of sex (though that is important) as the enthusiasm and the passion.

So much of a man’s self-esteem especially is tied into whether or not his wife desires him sexually. It’s not just that she’ll acquiesce to have sex with him; it’s that she actually wants to. And, in fact, if a woman decides to placate her husband and “lie there and think of England”, so to speak, he’ll experience that as rejection, even though she’s “letting him”. And for many men, that actually leads to erectile dysfunction. They have a difficult time “completing the deed” if they feel like she isn’t really there for it.

Now, women who are married to men who don’t have very high sex drives have problems in this area, too, though it often manifests itself in slightly different ways. But the message to take home is this: your spouse needs to feel like you actually desire and want sex, and not just that you are willing to go through the motions.

In fact, many women (and I’m going to talk about women here, because the opposite isn’t quite true since men can’t do the deed if they’re not interested) complain that when they start “letting” him make love more frequently, he gets even more demanding. So they just give up. They think, “I’ll never satisfy him, so why bother?” But the problem is that you haven’t met his basic need, which is to feel desired. In fact, if you just lie there and don’t really participate, you’ve reinforced the idea that you don’t enjoy sex and really don’t want to do it. That’s going to cause him to desperately want to make sure that you do desire him, and so he will actually become more urgent about wanting sex. His most basic need, you see, is not to actually have sex. It’s to feel as if he’s wanted.

At this point some women are just about ready to give up. So it’s not enough that I have sex? You ask. I actually have to want it? How can I force myself to want it?

Allow me to give you an idea: Initiate it. Really. You be the one to give him a big kiss and say, “let’s go upstairs.” Take him by the hand after you watch a movie together and lead him to the bedroom. You start the whole process, rather than waiting to see if he’s “going to want to tonight”. What’s in it for you, you ask? Here are just a few benefits:

1. If you initiate, you control more what you do

We talked earlier about how important angle and foreplay is to women. If you initiate, you can take more care that you get the right position and the attention you need.

Also, if you’re uncomfortable about certain things (or even uncomfortable about certain parts of your body), then you can steer things in a more comfortable direction for you.

2. If you initiate, you throw yourself into it more

You’re automatically more active, and that often means that your body will follow more readily because your mind is more engaged.

3. You create a goodwill circle

When you initiate, you show your spouse that you really love do desire him. That makes him feel better about you and about the relationship, and is going to make both of you feel closer to each other

In a marriage, if one person is doing all the initiating, you have a problem. That person, whether male or female, will feel as if the other spouse doesn’t really desire that kind of intimacy, and that’s a very lonely feeling.

If you know you’re likely going to make love anyway tonight, why not make the extra effort–and it really takes so little effort–to be the one to suggest it, or to try to seduce your spouse? When it’s a two-way street, you each feel desired, you each feel loved, and you each feel close to one another. When one is always doing the asking, it’s a little humiliating. You feel as if your spouse doesn’t really love you or value being close to you. You feel as if you’re constantly begging. And eventually, what some survey respondents told me, is that they stop asking, and sex comes to a standstill.

If you have sexual issues where you just feel badly about sex, then tackle them! Don’t put up with them, because that is not God’s will for you. God wants you to feel pleasure, and He wants you to feel deep intimacy with your spouse. Start cultivating a positive attitude about sex. Tell yourself the truth, and don’t believe the lies.

And then take a deep breath, take your spouse’s hand, and say, “let’s do it!” That one little change can make such a tremendous difference in your marriage.

Great Sex Challenge 24: Initiate! If you’re working through this series together, as a couple, have an honest talk about who tends to initiate, and talk about how that makes each of you feel. Then commit, together, to both trying to make the other feel desired and loved. And here’s a fun game: talk through some great ideas on “how would you best like me to initiate sex? What would be fun for you?” See how many you can each come up with! If you’re working through this alone, and you’re the one who doesn’t initiate very often, then go for it tonight! Go up to him and say, “Hey, baby, I want you NOW!” And see what response you get!

Tomorrow: Sex with Kids in the House

Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, which has a chapter on initiation–how to get yourself in the mood when you don’t feel like it, and the benefits of jumping in, for 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.

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 13: Getting Your Head in the Game
Day 14: What if You’re Not “In the Mood”?
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 25: Sex When You Have Children
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!

Please spread the word about this series by sharing on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr below! Thank you!

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 joined in late but I read all the previous entries and now todays. WOW I love what your doing. We have 7 kids so I’m excited to see tomorrows. My husband is a trucker and only home a couple of days a week but I’m excited to start following your advice when he is here. Thank you so much.

  2. Kim. Burgsma says:

    Get out a deck of cards and initiate with a game of strip poker. After 29 years of marriage my husband loves it and it ends uP being as hilarious as it is sexual.

  3. Hmm, all the talk of “going upstairs”… As someone who lives in a one-story house I feel very discriminated against. 😉

    Seriously, great stuff. I pray that one day my sweet bride will be open to seeking it out and reading it for herself, then applying what you say. And again, thanks for your prayers. For now, I have decided to stop pushing (which would include sending her things to read) and will simply attempt to grow organically while trying to be safe, trustworthy and emotionally connected. I do pray that we’re healthy enough one day to be able to read things like this together without it causing a fight.

    • WOW! That is so awesome David. I pray that your wife WILL get there and be able to enjoy your intimacy together. I know that I struggle in this area too, but I am working on it and hopeful that I too can read something like this with my husband (I am VERY shy and get embarrassed easily) one day. He’s so amazing, he deserves to be LOVED.

    • 10 plus years later for me and my wife and I have not sent her anything to read besides basic information, like “here is a nice place for us to visit while we are on vacation” once or twice a year and she is still not interested in improving herself any more then just maintaining the status quo. She does now initiate, now that I have stopped, but frequency (about once a month) has not increased. I do not really feel that passion has increased that much either. I sometimes get the feeling that she is just doing it to keep some sort of normalcy in our lives.

  4. So excited about your upcoming book, Sheila! Thanks for providing practical and accurate advice for making sex satisfying. I will promote your book and blog on the CWIVES website. Your readers who want to learn to initiate sex more often with their husbands may want to sign up for the CWIVES Dare of the Month. It’s free and will help them initiate a creative and fun sexual encounter with that wonderful man they married.
    Jennifer Degler
    Jennifer Degler recently posted…Orgasm FAQs Part One: Why Can’t I Have an Orgasm?My Profile

    • Hi Jennifer! Great to see you here. Did I ever tell you that I quoted you in the book? I was recording part of the audio book this morning and actually read your name, so it was funny to come over here and see your comment!

  5. This has been a fantastic series, Sheila! We’re in a bit of a different situation, in that I have a chronic debilitating illness which has turned every aspect of our lives upside down. It makes it tricky for my husband to initiate, because more often than not, I’m not physically able to partake. So the solution we have found that works well for us is that I initiate nearly every time, and make sure that I do so as often as I can when I’m feeling well….and he has agreed to always agree if I initiate (that part didn’t take very much arm-twisting!). That way he doesn’t feel rejected when I’m not able to say “yes”, and I don’t feel guilty about having to say “no”. It took us a while to find this groove, though, and I’m sure each couple would have to come to their own compromises )

  6. Let me just say, thank you for this! I appreciate your balanced approach in this post. And your email yesterday! :)

  7. I’ve been sick so much this past month that it had been a while since my husband and I were intimate; I’m still recovering but reading your series encouraged me to at least talk to my husband to reassure him that I have thought about being with him and even laid out lingerie in the morning with plans to seduce him, only to get too sick later in the day to follow through. He really appreciated knowing this, so thank you for reminding me to be open in my communication with him about sex!

    • Oh, that’s brutal, Megan! I’m sure your husband at least appreciates knowing your heart is in the right place, even if your stomach isn’t. Take care!

      • Sheila,

        I am not in any way referring to the previous poster when I mention this, but her post made me remember what seems to be a recurring situation with my wife.

        My wife will sometimes seem to initiate things with me, flirt, etc at a time where we can absolutely not have sex. Like one of us walking out the door to work and we have a mtg so we can not stick around. She may even say something along the lines of us spending some adult time together later on or that she will take care of me later tonight. So I spend the day anticipating and fantasizing about being with my wife. Then evening comes, bed time and she is too tired or does not feel well or one of a variety of other issues. Not only do I feel rejected but I just spent a whole day getting my self worked up, literally, and then nothing.

        This had started to happen so frequently I finally told her to please stop making suggestions / offers to me if she was not going to actually follow through as it was all just hurtful, even more so then her just never saying anything in the first place. Which is sad but I feel that I needed to protect myself from basically being teased, at best, to being lied to, at worst.

  8. I have to say I have been the only one intiating sex. When we both get going we both really enjoy it but if I don’t initiate it doesn’t happen. I an confused by this because i thought guys always wanted it more?

    • Usually guys do, but diabetes is definitely a big libido killer! Has your husband ever talked to his doctor about it, because my impression was that even people on insulin could potentially be helped by testosterone, but that’s really a question for his doctor.

  9. OffTheCuff says:

    You did a pretty good job expaining how men view sex. Not that I’ve experienced it, personally… but duty sex is probably the most corrosive force that can be exerted on a marriage. A straight up “no” is much better.

    By duty sex, I mean this attitude: “Oh, FINE! We can do it, but I’m not going to like it” and to mentally shut down. Duty sex is not reactive desire, which means you still want to please your spouse and are *open* to having your mind changed.

    Remember, a marriage is made for sex. It’s the one emotional need that cannot be sought out elsewhere. It’s one thing to deny your spouse dinner, because they can still go out to eat. Deny your spouse sex, and they are stuck. Without sex, you are just roommates.

    • Yes, libido really is a use it or lose it phenomenon, especially for women (though for men as well). And you’re right that women can mentally shut down. So much of our sex drive is in our head, and women need to be able to find a way to “switch it on”. That’s hard if you’ve been abused in the past, but as someone on another thread said, “why punish yourself and your husband for something someone else did to you?”

    • Wow OfftheCuff, that is very well put, thank you for sharing that thought.

      “Remember, a marriage is made for sex. It’s the one emotional need that cannot be sought out elsewhere. It’s one thing to deny your spouse dinner, because they can still go out to eat. Deny your spouse sex, and they are stuck. Without sex, you are just roommates.”

      Sheila, do you consider it abuse when a woman was promiscuous before she was married. Where she made the choice to have sex with multiple guys? But then later claims that she feels guilty and feels bad for what she did? I just want to be sure I understand you, because sometimes I read some of your writing and I get that feeling that you consider that she was abused when it was really her own poor choices that led to the feelings of guilt and remorse.

      • ROI, I think those are two different issues. There’s guilt and shame over being abused (which is absolutely natural), and then there’s guilt and shame over what you did (which is still natural, but which has a different cause). The solution to both, though, is the same, which is to go to God for forgiveness and then ask Him to give you His mind on intimacy and sex in marriage and to teach you how to see it as a beautiful thing. And that can be a difficult process, it’s certainly not impossible (and, in fact, if you really trust God, it’s very possible).

        I understand that you’re in a really tough position with your wife, and it looks like it stems back to what you both did before marriage. You both had sex first, and now she feels guilty and she associates sex with something shameful and just physical, because that’s what it was. It sounds like you both need to learn how to experience real intimacy in sex. And that probably takes both of you apologizing to each other for taking sex out of the marriage context, and then both of you committing to work on intimacy.

        Now, I know that sounds pretty much impossible because from your story it doesn’t sound like she’s very interested in it (and I’ve had so many emails from men in exactly your situation, and next week I’ll be putting up one of those emails as a question of the week, so stay tuned!). But I did write a post a while back especially for men to share with their wives, that introduces the whole 29 Days to Great Sex concept. I don’t know if it would help, but perhaps if you shared it with her you could start trying to rebuild.

        I am sorry you’re going through this, and I wish there were an easy answer, but there’s not. I’d just encourage you to keep loving her, and to not give up, because I’ve heard of amazing changes in marriage even after 20 years. But also know that God doesn’t ask you to do something that He doesn’t also give you the strength to do. So love your wife, show her the post, ask for forgiveness for your part in the past, and then commit to her to try to rebuild intimacy, and see if she can agree with you!

  10. I very rarely initiate, because I find that #1 totally isn’t true for hubby and I. If I initiate anything he expects me to be ready for intercourse right away. He doesn’t get me initiating anything without already being completely ready.

    • Beth, I think that’s a common thing, because some guys just don’t understand how important foreplay is. Have you read the posts on foreplay? Maybe encourage him to read them with you!

  11. im glad i found your blog. i now know im a very normal highly sexed wife. great blog.

  12. SEMUDDU HENRY says:

    Its very good work your doing to make marriage a better place to live and enjoy. I am not married and I also don’t have any girlfriend but I enjoy your articles and I hope they might save my marriage one time in the future thanks so much.

  13. the thing about being abused and having sex before marriage and feeling guilty now you are married you said the answer to both is to ask God for forgiveness I don’t think you meant the person that was abused has to ask for forgiveness because they didn’t do anything wrong just felt I needed to say something incase an abused person was reading this.

  14. When I initiate, none of those things you listed happen. Usually it would have been a while since we last had sex (about a week or so), so I say, “(Husband), it has been a while since we had sex, so we should probably do it.” Then I take off my clothes, lay on the bed and wait for it to be over. He acts like it’s not good enough, but whatever, at least I initiated it. And I point this out to him. I don’t understand how me saying, “we should have sex” and doing this “duty sex” is not good enough. At least he can’t complain that it has been “months” or “years” since he last got any. I try to make sure we do it at least once a week. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who initiates sex any more, and I only do it for him. He’s the one who needs sex, and really, needs it more than once a week, but I’m not going to do all the initiation (ugh, I guess I should though), and since I know he needs it more than once a week (he told me), I don’t understand why he doesn’t initiate more often. I’ve made a point to never say no (except that time of month or when I’m truly sick, which only happens one day a year), so I’m actually surprised we’re not doing it every night (I’m thankful for the sleep, but then I feel bad that he’s not taking advantage of the fact that I don’t say no). So, in my experience, initiating doesn’t help me get in the mood or feel the need to be in control.

    Oh, side note, I’ve read every day’s challenge in your series today, and while you give some great advice and ideas, I’m feeling even more discouraged. I wish there was a magic pill that made me actually want sex :-(

    • I know how you feel! I am trying so so hard but it’s just not working. I feel like I have been lied to. Its hard not to give up.

  15. Maybe you’ve covered this topic before, but I have an issue. My husband and I both initiate equally. The problem is the time of day. For example, every morning my husband wakes up EARLY, with vigor, and wants to have sex. That’s great, but I am a night owl, a very light sleeper, and am super, super tired at 5:30 am (we have 3 kids that I wake up with if they wake at night). I feel like punching him in the face and putting a pillow over my head. It sounds childish, but I only get a good deep sleep between 6 and 7 am. I’m awake by 7 and starting my day. He can’t wait though, he is already at work by then. At night time, when he gets home (he works long hours, home between 6-10pm), thats when I initiate and when I’m at my most alert and excited. He is dead tired and drags his feet to bed and falls asleep instantly. But, since we totally love each other, we’ve made this craziness work. We aren’t upset over it, but rather realize things need to change. Any suggestions?

  16. I just came across this. I had a back injury, which really made my husband and I sex life poor. Any advice for having intimacy with an injury?

  17. please let me know what blog talked about a husband supposedly raping his wife. My wife accused me of this and I wept and apologized in frpon t of my Pastor. For a man who hasn’t seen his wife naked or had sex with her but rarely, it would have been a mistake where you thought she was okay with it. I guess her total lack of enthusiasm most of the time fooled me into believing it was okay. Lord help me.

    • Jim, I’m sorry but I don’t know what blog post you mean. I don’t remember writing about that. I’m so sorry that you have such pain in your marriage. It sounds like you both are carrying such a lot. Is there a counselor who is trained in these things that you can talk to? Sometimes pastors just aren’t equipped enough to help in these areas.

  18. Hi there,
    My husband doesn’t have the desire to make love to me.All he knows about sex is through Internet (mainly porn).In 3 years of our married life I never had a feeling of oneness with him.And being a lady I always desire for sex he never initiate. Days,weeks goes by and he doesn’t touch me,But he will masturbate that really troubles me.I feel incompetent,lonely empty,worthless.I feel as if i am very high demanding.Some times in night when he rejects me I pray to GOD that the desire of sex just goes away so that I don’t feel that pain and humiliation.
    I don’t know what to do please HELP…. GUIDE…

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  1. […] 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 […]

  2. […] into it. A man knows that for a woman to enjoy it she has to DECIDE to enjoy it. She has to want to make love. If she wants to make love and enjoys it, then, she’s told him, “I want to be with you. […]

  3. […] 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 Children Day 26: Rebuilding Your Sex Life Day 27: Experiencing Spiritual […]

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