When Being a Mom, or Just Plain Running Your Home, Overwhelms You

So many of us find homemaking–just plain doing life at home–overwhelming.

We spend out lives putting out fires, cleaning up messes, and we wonder if we’re even getting ahead. If life is always chaotic, how do we find time to appreciate what we have?

When I was a little girl, I dreamed about getting married, becoming a mommy, and having my own home.

I wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:

  • a school,
  • a playground,
  • a refuge,
  • a boo-boo “fix it” station,
  • a “you can do it” pep rally, and
  • a safe place for personal expression, sharing and growth.

And then real life happened…

…laundry, diapers, stretch marks, and never-ending meal prep… budgeting, trying to remember to change the furnace filters… holiday stress, and teaching my daughters to read (and master long division)… a husband who works long hours, kids with croup, trying to find time to do my devotions… and a secret dream to run my own little business from home.

Trying to create a schedule that works…trying to buy the right sized garbage bags (hubby just told me the ones I bought are too small)…trying to remember to send birthday cards and gifts.

And that’s why my online friends Erin and Stephanie created the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… because as rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

To help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker – help, inspiration, tips, encouragement, resources at your fingertips…

… the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is just for you.

It is a complete library of carefully selected eBooks, eCourses, audios, online conferences, and printable packs designed to help you turn your house into a home… without all the overwhelm.

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

The first step in putting together this collection was to find the critical homemaking skills that you need to transform your house into a home.

Here they are:

Homemakingcollage

  • Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
  • DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
  • Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
  • Finances… build a budget that works
  • Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
  • Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new
  • Homeschoolinghomeschool with grace and ease
  • Marriage… heat up your marriage
  • Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
  • Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
  • Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
  • Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies
  • Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

… a complete library of 99 eBooks and eCourses to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships.

Homemaking Bundle PrizesAnd when you buy it through me, you get a chance to enter to win a whole bunch of prizes, including Dinner with Me sometime before June 30, 2017 (if you live in Canada or the continental United States, although I’m likely coming to Australia, Kenya, and the United Kingdom before then, too, so if you’re there, I’d probably honour it as well!)

Scroll to the bottom to learn more about these prizes.

Are there too many books in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

Have you ever taken your family out for a buffet dinner… and then been disappointed when you couldn’t eat every single morsel on display?

Of course not!

Sure. There’s that first, breath-taking moment when you see and hear and smell the amazing meal spread before you… and you think, “Where will I even start?”

But that’s the thing… because you do start… with something.

Maybe it’s a tender flaky biscuit, or a piece of delicious roast beef, or maybe you’re like me and start with a piece of pie (mmm, blueberry or apple with whipped cream)?

So relax, enjoy, and start anywhere you like. Come back to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle “buffet” as many times as you like. It’s all here for you.

Here’s why I love ebooks…

An ebook tends to be different from a “regular” book not just because you read it on your computer, tablet, or phone, but also because the information is different.

Ebooks tend to be practical–they give you tips and tricks that you won’t find in a “regular” book because all you need is a bite-sized chunk. It’s like a ton of homemaking hacks all in one!

I’ve been involved in five bundle sales now, and I absolutely love them. I get so excited when each new bundle comes, because I know that I’m going to read something that will change everything.

This Bundle has a book like that for me, in the Organizing section:

DIY-Bookshelves

It’s Paperless Home Organization, and OH MY GOODNESS. I did everything she said and it totally works! I love it, and I’ll be sharing it with you tomorrow.

Here are just a few other life changers I’ve had from past bundles:

  • I finally quit Diet Pepsi for good–and lost about 20 pounds in the process.
  • I figured out how to use essential oils around my home.
  • I started making my own household cleaners. They smell awesome and I’ll never go back!
  • I learned what “The Dirty Dozen” is and “The Clean Fifteen”. If you don’t know–it’s in this bundle, too! (hint: it has to do with which produce you really need to clean well, and which ones are okay)
  • I figured out how awesome coconut oil is
  • I learned how to track my prayer requests better–and track answers to prayer.
  • I figured out how to stop wasting food by using scraps to make AMAZING chicken stock.
  • I finally organized all my crafts!–and my works in progress.

I don’t need to read all of the books–though I do scan them. But I totally have gotten some amazing tips out of each bundle that has made my life simpler, cheaper, and seriously more fun.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle worth it?

In a word… yes!

To be absolutely certain, Erin and Stephanie asked questions, tried techniques and just about drove themselves crazy making sure that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle was the very best homemaking resource anywhere.

They dug through hundreds of websites and connected with dozens of authors and teachers.

And then we all worked together to make these resources the most affordable possible.

And They Were Delighted to Help…

The result? This collection is a fraction of the price of what someone would pay for each resource individually!

For a short time, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… a complete library of:

Bundle Summarized

Here are just the ecourses and audio (cause I have to show you where I am!)

Audio ECourses

…Altogether, 99 carefully selected resources designed to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships… is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book.

Your 30-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason, you decide that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is not for you, then please send an email to customerservice@Ultimate-Bundles.com and we will refund 100% of your investment. No questions asked.

Don’t Forget the Bonuses…

Of course, no Ultimate Homemaking Bundle would be complete without the generous, inspiring gifts donated by companies that understand homemakers like you. Every gift is yours to keep and enjoy.

  • Choose 1 FREE Online Class from Craftsy (Select from 24 of Their Most Popular Classes – Up to $60 Value)
  • 1 FREE Kids Discovery Box from Green Kid Crafts ($19.95 Value)
  • FREE $15 Credit to Hope Ink PLUS 2 FREE 8×10 Art Prints ($71 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day “Good Deal” Subscription to She Plans Dinner ($15 Value)
  • Choose 1 FREE Stylish Spring Scarf from Deborah & Co. ($20 Value)
  • FREE $80 Healthy Moving Class Credit ($80 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day Pro Membership to ListPlanIt ($30 Value)
  • FREE 65 Tyndale Rewards Points to Be Used for a FREE Book or Towards Any Book of Your Choice ($15 Value)

Now It’s Your Turn

I think Laura Ingalls Wilder said it best…

Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is just like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens the whole fabric of civilization.

The proven, simple, and effective skills you need to transform your house into a home are all waiting for you in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

This is your chance to get all the love, support, guidance and inspiration you need to nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker.

But time is running out! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27.

 

motionmailapp.com

After that, the shopping cart closes and the deeply discounted price is gone.

Act now!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Buy it From Me–and Win!

As an author and an affiliate for this bundle, I make a commission off of every sale made from my website. But I want you to benefit, too! So I’m going to be giving away a total of 22 prizes to people who purchase the bundle through me.

The best one is that I’ll take you out to dinner. Seriously. If you live in Canada or the continental United States, then sometime before June 30, 2017, I’ll come within an hour of you and take you out to dinner (you may have to drive up to one hour to meet me, depending upon where you live. But we’ll make it work!).

And then I’ve got a bunch of others, including:
Prize Amazon CardPrize 31 Days

AND more bundles: I’ll give 5 prizes of $10 towards purchasing some audio downloads in my store, and I’ll give 5 prizes of grab bags of 10 homemaking ebooks that AREN’T in this bundle!

Here are all the prizes!

Homemaking Bundle Prizes

When you buy it, you just send me your receipt, and you’ll get sent a link to enter to win.

It’s an awesome bundle!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Best wishes and happy homemaking!

Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Friday Round-Up: Don’t Date Someone You Don’t Like, and More!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and Vacuum

It’s time for my Friday Round-Up, when I show you the posts that have been really popular this week on the blog and social media, and let you in behind the scenes on what’s going on in my life!

This week I’ve been in Arizona, delivering my Girl Talk to 5 different groups–3 MOPS groups and 2 church groups. It’s been so much fun (and the weather has been lovely!).

Sheila Speaking Girl Talk

But one of the problems I’ve been having is that my assistant Tammy and I travel with the same David’s Tea mug. And I keep drinking out of hers!

11034256_10152812283183161_7932268318101954665_n

 

What’s #1 at To Love, Honor and Vacuum This Week?

WhyHubbyWantsBody#1 on the Blog:

Why Your Hubby Wants Your Body

If you always complain, “my husband wants me too much”, here’s insight into why he does–and why it’s a good thing.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Teach your kids to do chores! Click through to learn why.#1 on Facebook:

Teach Your Kids to Do Chores

Ever feel taken for granted? Most women at times feel more like maids than wives and moms. Here are 10 things you may be doing to make it worse.


Legacy-of-Prayer#1 on Pinterest:

A Legacy of Prayer

When I read and reviewed Billy Graham’s book Nearing Home, I had such an appreciation anew about the legacy of prayer we can leave for our kids.


Great-Sex-For-Her (5)#1 on Twitter:

Ever Feel Like Sex is All for the Hubby?

It’s often easier for a guy to enjoy sex than for a woman. So here’s 9 great sex tips for HER to boost your marriage–and your sex life!


Katie has a new video up!

As many of you know, my daughter Katie has quite the YouTube channel. She’s started a new series called Katie: The Relationship Guru Who Has Never Been in a Relationship.

Here’s her latest instalment: Don’t date someone you don’t like! I know she would REALLY appreciate it if you shared this on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Just click through and share it so your teenage friends/single friends can see it! And tell your youth pastor about her:

It’s a FREE Mini-Course on Homemaking

Do you feel overwhelmed at home–like you can’t really stay on top of things?

Here’s a FREE 4-part video course you can watch at your leisure! It’s not too long, but it will answer so many of your questions on little tweaks that you can make to your own homemaking schedule, routine, and priorities so that your house is a source of energy for you–rather than a “sucker” of energy!

 Teach Your Kids To Do Chores!

Speaking of homemaking, I always think it’s easier to keep a house organized if the kids help. So I put this graphic up on Facebook last week on a whim–and it went totally viral! Seen by about 500,000 people.

Teach your kids to do chores! Click through to learn why.

Can you help me keep the momentum going? Share it on Facebook here or Repin it here! Thank you!

Wedding News

So some of you have asked how things are coming with my daughter’s wedding! We’ve got everything booked and the invitations are going out this week. So right now we’re trying to come up with inexpensive ways to decorate the tables at the reception. We’re trying to go with a mason jar idea, with lots of fresh flowers. Thankfully I’m blessed with really “crafty” friends!

Instagram

We had a day off in Arizona so my friend Tammy and I headed to Sedona! Here’s a pic of what we saw:

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Here’s more of me on Instagram. I’m trying to get better at posting!

And that’s what’s up in my life. I’m looking forward to being home this weekend. My husband’s been sick while I’ve been gone (and he’s had his birthday), and my youngest daughter has missed our walks.

But I feel so blessed to be able to travel this beautiful continent sharing the message that God’s given me. Hope I can come to your neck of the woods soon!

 

8 Prayers For Protection Over Your Marriage

Today author Jennifer White shares with us how to pray prayers for protection over our marriages!

8 Prayers for Protection Over Your MarriageI said “I DO” in 1991 with a deep love, a sense of adventure, and joy that I had been chosen. Three years later, I said “I don’t” and “I won’t.” I was so shocked that life could be so hard and hurt so badly only three years into marriage.

Three years after the divorce, I vowed to be Mrs. David White for the rest of my life. We have been married sixteen years. But five years in, I was drowning in the same deep waters that had led me to end my first marriage. Pride and fear were suffocating me. I couldn’t see how this could ever be okay for either of us.

Exposed

“Help me Jesus” was the cry of my heart.

With that simple prayer I drew near to God and in turn, He ran to me with more help than I knew I needed. He gave me Beth Moore Bible studies, Joyce Meyer on a daily basis, and a great counselor. These women taught me how the Bible could affect the intimate details of my life.

I had read about God’s power and Satan’s fury, but I had not expected either of them to jump off of the pages of the Bible and into my life. I made it through three decades of sermons and ministry before “the battle is the Lord’s” became “God will fight your battles if you let Him, Jennifer.” (2 Chronicles 20:15b)

What a revelation! I had been completely unaware of the spiritual battle targeting my mind and my marriage. While it looked like I had a husband vs. wife problem, the real battle was exposed. God united me to Himself and to my husband. His archenemy was offering to divide us.

My life was in Christ, but I was vulnerable. I had not taken God’s Word seriously. My disregard for His way and His truth opened the door to Satan’s plan for my life.

Flaming Darts

…hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Ephesians 6:16 NLT

Involuntary thoughts of hurting myself and other people haunted me for several years. I didn’t act on them but they made me feel crazy. I assumed it was stress related. Eventually, I decided that God could use a divorced preacher’s wife much more than an insane one. Yes, I divorced a pastor. So.very.sad.

Similar thoughts erupted in my second marriage. Thankfully God rescued me with the news that those thoughts were actually the flaming arrows mentioned in Ephesians 6. My counselor recognized the attack.

The enemy used the feeling of being crazy as a strategic strike in my life. But he didn’t stop there. He also whispered discouragement and fear using the sound of my own voice. He nurtured in me a deep fear of confrontation. He also used the sound of a disapproving parent’s voice to encourage me to disapprove of my husband.

Shielded by Faith

The last ten years of my marriage have been the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. Studying the Word of life armed me with knowledge of who God is and what He can do. God had been developing my faith in Him and that has changed everything!

And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
I John 5:4 ESV

When a thought appears in my head, I have to be ready to evaluate it. I question whose character lines up with that thought. Is it God’s or Satan’s? Does God’s Word say that I should think this way? If not, then I need to reject it because it is intended to destroy me.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ESV

Knowing God’s truth has literally freed me from the grip of the enemy of my soul and marriage. It continues to be my best defense.

Every Wife Needs a Sword

“To think God’s thoughts requires much prayer. If you do not pray much, you are not thinking God’s thoughts. If you do not read your Bible much and often and reverently, you are not thinking God’s thoughts….” A.W. Tozer

Years before this breakthrough, counselors who were Christians listened well. They helped me see the problem. But I remained unchanged. I was powerless to fix me and my marriage. They were too.

But Jesus sent His word and healed me (Psalm 107:20). I started walking in victory when I was counseled according to God’s Word.

I had no idea how powerful God’s Word could be. Today I see it as the supernatural antibiotic for the wounded heart and infected mind. That is exactly what it has been and continues to be for me.

Wounded women are frequently bitter, jealous, fearful, resentful, prideful, and/or contentious. These are symptoms of a mind infected by those flaming darts. Pride, fear and resentment monopolized my heart.

I learned to deploy God’s word as a sword against the very strong holds sin had on my mind. I was introduced to praying God’s Word and Germaine Copeland’s Prayers that Avail Much. Here is one of the Scriptural prayers she offers:

In the name of Jesus, I loose my mind from wrong thought patterns. I tear down strongholds that have protected bad perceptions about myself. I submit to You, Father, and resist fear, discouragement, self-pity, and depression. I will not give place to the devil by harboring resentment and holding onto anger. I surround myself with songs and shouts of deliverance from depression, and I will continue to be an overcomer by the word of my testimony and the blood of the Lamb.

I read this prayer and others aloud day and night. I read them in parking lots while I waited for someone. I read them on the treadmill. As I proclaimed God’s truth and promises, I felt stronger mentally and emotionally. I found myself making decisions based on the truth instead of the lies I once believed.

I firmly believe that the Sword of the Spirit slices through the slimy tentacles of sin. Praying according to God’s Word is the antibiotic my soul desperately needs. It also how I resist the devil so he will flee from me (James 4:8).

Are you praying God’s Word over your marriage?

Marriage Armor

There were too many years of heartache in my life before I realized that I needed God and His Word to defend me against the father of lies. What if I had begun praying God’s Word before my first marriage? Our marriage could have been a beautiful reflection of Jesus, our Bridegroom, loving and serving His Bride.

What if every bride armed her marriage with God’s Word?

Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God's Armor After the Wedding DressAs a veteran of one failed marriage and one rescued by the Savior, I am sharing my experience in Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress. It’s packed with Bible teaching and prayer prompts for many of the issues every couple faces.

Prayers for New Brides is designed to help wives show up, surrender and salute the almighty God who is able to defend their marriage. It is a faith building resource to help brides avoid getting destroyed by the flaming arrows. It is for every wife who longs to see God do more in her marriage.

Swing Your Sword

We can’t let the evil one lull us into a false sense of security. We need to arm our marriages with the same discipline a solider employs in preparing for battle.

Here are seven simple prayer prompts to help you arm your marriage today with God’s transforming Word.

1. Generous and merciful God, give me a hunger and thirst for righteousness so that I can live satisfied by You. I don’t want to demand more from my husband than he is supposed to provide. Matthew 5:6

2. Teach me to hear your voice so I can follow You all the days of my life and marriage. John 10:27

3. Wonderful Counselor, make me wise to the enemy’s divisive and destructive schemes. Isaiah 9:6, James 1:5, 2 Corinthians 10:5

4. Fill me with Your wisdom so I can excel as ______’s wife. Ephesians 1:17

5. Grant me a humble heart. Help me relinquish a false sense of control. I want to live a praying life. Matthew 7:7 and Proverbs 16:18

6. Mighty God, strengthen me to stand under Your authority every day in every way. Please forgive me for the ways I have dismissed Your perfect leadership. Ephesians 6:10, 11, 13, 14

7. Jesus, pour Your faith into me so that I can deflect the flaming arrows the enemy sends my way. Use me as a warrior of Your word in our marriage. Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 6:17

8. Father, help me see my husband through Your eyes. I want to honor and cherish Him. I want to focus his value and avoid the temptation to disregard his unique contributions to our marriage.

Did you know to pray these things for yourself when you were a new bride?

Are you aware of the spiritual battle behind the scenes of your marriage?

Today I am offering Chapter 15 of Prayers for New Brides – Seeing Your Spouse through God’s Eyes as a free download. It is one of the most important lesson I’ve learned as David’s wife. Click here to get your copy.

Jennifer White, prayers for protectionJennifer O. White is the author of Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress and Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride. Jennifer is a natural encourager who offers hope from the truths from God’s Word at her blog, Prayerfully Speaking. With every blog post, Jennifer is exalts the one true God who can empower us to do more than we can ask or imagine.

Wifey Wednesday: What My Two Year Old Taught Me About Marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today, while I’m touring Arizona with my Girl Talk, speaking to several MOPS groups and in several churches, I thought I’d run this awesome post by Elizabeth Laing Thompson about what her two-year-old taught her about marriage–and priorities.

What My Two Year Old Taught Me About MarriageMy kids blew past me toward the door, an early-morning tornado of jackets, back packs, and lunch boxes.

“Come on,” called Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, jiggling his keys. “We’re going to be late!”

“Wait! I want kisses!” I said. “That means you! And you! And you!” My three older kids clattered back into the kitchen, planted kisses on my cheeks, and then rushed to follow my husband out to the van.

When the door slammed shut behind them, my two-year-old looked at me in horror. “Mama kiss Dada!” she said.

I blinked at her for a moment, not understanding. I heard the sound of the van pulling out of the driveway.

“Mama kiss Dada!” she insisted, her voice becoming frantic. She tried to pull me toward the door.

Then I realized: She was right. I hadn’t kissed my husband.

I chuckled, trying to justify myself. “You’re right, but Daddy is coming right back, so that’s why I didn’t kiss him.” Even to my own ears, the words fell limp, a lame excuse.

Little Miss stared me down, authoritative even in her bare feet and plaid nightie. I was not off the hook. “Mama kiss Dada.

I felt a blush creeping across my cheeks. “You’re right,” I said. “I should have kissed Daddy. I’m sorry.”

Little Miss seemed to accept this. We went back to our oatmeal.

Ten minutes later, the door banged open again. My husband was home.

Before he’d even rounded the corner, Little Miss rounded on me. “Mama kiss Dada! Mama kiss Dada!”

Laughing, I stood up. “Okay, okay, you’re right! I’ll kiss him!” I walked over to my husband and planted one, two, three firm kisses on his lips. He kissed me back with a baffled half-smile.

I turned back to my daughter, who stood watching us. Weighing me. “There. Are you happy now? Mama loves Dada, see?” When she still seemed unconvinced, I wrapped my arms around him and snuggled into his chest.

She smiled her approval and toddled off to find her toys.

That day, she reminded me of several truths I had forgotten, lessons I’ll carry with me always.

The secret most kids won’t tell you

Our children have a secret, and it’s this: Kids love it when their parents are in love. Older kids and teens may pretend to be embarrassed by our kisses, but secretly, they love it. It makes them feel safe. Happy. Like they are a part of something special.

When my brother was young, he invited a neighborhood friend over. My parents walked in the room and gave each other a little kiss, and the neighbor boy said, “Ew! Your parents kissed! My parents never kiss!” My brother grinned and bragged, “Well, my parents kiss all the time!” My parents’ affection was a source of confidence and security for him—and for all the kids in our family. I want to give my own children that same gift, that same confidence, through my marriage.

Keeping the home fires burning

But let’s be honest: It’s all too easy, once kids come along, to neglect our spouse. To forget about even the simple things that keep us connected and close. We don’t do it on purpose, of course, but once a baby enters our world, our first and best cuddles and snuggles and kisses start going to the baby. When we walk into a room, our eyes slide right past our husband, hungry for another drooly “Mommy-Is-My-Whole-World” smile from our chubby-cheeked cherub.

And at first, our husband doesn’t mind. For a season, he’ll gladly serve as our Baby Gear Sherpa, the carrier of car seats and diaper bags and Pack-n-Plays. For a time, he’s happy to take a back seat while we figure out the whole new-baby thing . . . but before long—sooner than we think—he needs the front seat again. He needs and deserves our deliberate attention, our devoted affection—not just the leftovers. Not just the afterthoughts. Song of Songs 8:6 describes a passionate romance so beautifully: “Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” Every fire needs fuel to keep burning. If it runs out of fuel, even the strongest of blazes will die down to ember and ash. We have to keep stoking the fire of our marriage—nurturing it, coaxing it back to life when it ebbs, feeding it fresh fuel.

I get it: This is easy to write about, and not so easy to do. (Believe me, I know! As a survivor of four new-baby-adjustment periods, I totally get it!) So please don’t read this and feel guilty . . . just stay open to trying some new strategies.

Song of Songs 86 Quote-PinFour simple ways to stoke the marital flame, even with little ones in the house

Here are four simple tricks to help you connect with your spouse, even on busy days with babies and young children underfoot:

Remember simple acts of daily physical affection.

Don’t underestimate the power of hugs and kisses keep you connected and close.

Use timers to set aside “Mommy-and-Daddy” time.

Tell the kids you need a few minutes to talk uninterrupted, and set a timer. The kids can’t come back into the room with you until the timer goes off.

Build sacred Mommy-Daddy time into your schedule at a set time each day, so your children get used to it.

They know, “This fifteen minutes always belongs to Mommy and Daddy, not to me.” You could try early-morning coffee together, before work and school. If mornings are too hectic, try setting aside a time slot right after work, or after dinner. (When your kids get older, let them clean the dinner dishes while Mom and Dad catch up on the day!)

Buy yourself an extra half-hour in the evenings.

How? Put kids to bed early with a book and a flashlight. They’ll think it’s a treat to read in bed—it’s kind of like they’re getting away with something—and you can start some early couch-cuddling before you turn into a pumpkin.

Strategies like this are especially helpful for the time of life when you have small kids in the house. But this isn’t just a new-baby issue. The older my children get, the more I realize that this is an ongoing struggle. Older kids mean a busy life and crazy schedule packed with homework, sports, friends, and activities. We all have to re-learn how to put our marriage first in the preschool years, the elementary years, the preteen years, the teenage years, the empty-nester years. At every stage, it takes a conscious effort to give our marriage the attention it deserves—to give our husbands the attention they deserve.

Last week, my wise two-year-old saw what I didn’t see. My husband comes first, not last. No matter how late we are or how busy life is, everybody deserves a good-morning kiss . . . and every kiss counts.

Click here to sign up to receive Elizabeth Laing Thompson’s monthly LizzyLife newsletter! Each newsletter includes practical and humorous parenting tips on living life and building family God’s way. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a FREE download of seven two-minute “breakfast-table” devotions to do with children.

E ThompsonElizabeth Laing Thompson writes wholesome novels for teens, and books for women about building family God’s way. She is the author of several books, including a Bible-based parenting book for young mothers, The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers. Elizabeth blogs about the perils and joys of laundry slaying, tantrum taming, and giggle collecting on her author site, http://lizzylife.com. Wife to Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome, and mother to four crazy kids, Elizabeth is always tired, but it’s mostly the good kind.

 

WWbutton175Now it’s your turn! Have any marriage thoughts for us today? Link up below by putting the URL of a MARRIAGE post into the linky. And be sure to link back here so other people can read all these great marriage articles! It’s a great way to build traffic for your blog, and I often highlight some posts on Facebook and Twitter, so link up below!

31 Days to Great Sex
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Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

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Top 10 Sex and Marriage Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

Marriage Red Flags: Signs that something is wrong with your marriage--or your sex life

Marriage red flags–all of us have marriage issues, but how do you know if an issue crosses the line into dangerously weird territory?

Top 10 Marriage Red FlagsI receive many emails from women in crisis, and today, on Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I’d share 10 marriage and sex red flags that really shouldn’t be ignored.

Often we don’t realize when something is off, because we’re new at this whole marriage thing, and most of us don’t share personal and intimate details with our friends. So how can you know if something that worries you is actually a red flag for something quite serious?

What is a Sex or Marriage Red Flag?

It means that this is a situation which will not get better by you being nicer, by you being more understanding, by you trying to talk it through with him, or by you being more patient.

This is something which is a serious issue that will likely require a third party, like a trained counselor or a pastor, to help you.

If you ignore it, your marriage will only get worse, and your husband will only fall deeper and deeper into sin or more and more away from God and his family (depending on what the issue is).

In this post, I’m not talking about abuse–though this, too, will not get better on their own and will need a third party. Here’s a post specifically for information on emotionally destructive relationships. I want to talk more about sexual red flags in marriage.

These problems represent an issue that your husband has–not something that you have caused, and so you cannot make it better. You can, however, make it more likely that he will get the help he needs by taking it seriously. And that is the most loving thing you can do.

For information on how to involve a third party, read my post on being a spouse instead of an enabler, or check out the book Boundaries in Marriage.

My heart aches for women in these situations, because they often are so taken back with surprise that their husbands are acting this way, and they truly don’t know what to do. I’m sorry that some of these seem so extreme, but I’ve had multiple emails about each of these types of situations, and I know that there are women dealing with these things. So let’s get it all out in the open today!

Here are 10 Sex and Marriage Red Flags that shouldn’t be ignored:

1. If your husband says he enjoys sex, but he never wants to make love–Red Flag!

Men, in general, have a higher sex drive than women do. That doesn’t mean that if you have a higher sex drive than your husband that there is necessarily something wrong with him.

But if your husband never wants to make love, even though he says he enjoys it, then that is a red flag. Even if his sex drive is lower than yours, he should want to make love at least sometimes. Here’s a more in-depth series on what to do if your husband doesn’t want sex–and when this really is a red flag.

2. If your husband considers lack of sex to be a spiritual virtue–Red Flag!

One wife of a busy, hardworking pastor sent this in:

 About two months ago I was really feeling the abandonment and disconnect from my husband due to the demands of ministry. I was reading your blog and saw a comment where a woman stated that she never lets her and husband go more than two nights in a row without making love. I thought: how genius! Maybe this will help us stay connected even with his crazy schedule. This went on for a few weeks, then all of a sudden he started refusing. He would leave me laying in bed naked and alone. Again, confused and rejected, I voiced my concerns. He said, we’ve had sex more this month than we’ve had our whole marriage. He proceeded to tell me that our marriage is not based on sex but God. And he felt like I was trying to fill a void of rejection by having sex all the time instead of letting God heal me.

This marriage was already distant because this husband (and father!) was spending most of his time and energy away from the family. When the wife tried to bridge the gap with sex, he told her that she should rely on God instead (presumably like he does).

We do need to rely on God, but we also were created for intimacy with our spouses. When someone consistently rejects sex, while also rejecting an emotional relationship with their spouse, they are likely running from intimacy in general. In this man’s case, he may be lacking intimacy with God, too, thinking that activity for God is the equivalent of intimacy with God. It’s not.

He likely needs a counselor or mentor to sit down with him and talk through his priorities–and also a counselor who can walk him through why he’s running from intimacy and believes that self-sufficiency is the highest good. This attitude will make him an ineffective father and husband, but it will also ultimately make him an ineffective pastor.

3. If your husband has never been able to “complete the deed”, especially if he’s young–Red Flag!

I remember one woman who wrote me who married when she and her husband were quite naive and ignorant about how sex worked. She told me that she didn’t think she had ever had sex, and didn’t understand how it even happened.

After more questions, it turned out that her husband had never had an erection.

Young men should have no problem maintaining an erection. If he is unable to with you, then he has either major sexual issues or major psychological issues. Or, alternatively, he may have trained himself through masturbation to only respond to direct stimulation, as in this case:

My son-in-law has been unable to fully complete sexually. After a year and a half of marriage, during which they’ve never managed to “finish”, my daughter came to find out that he does masturbate quite a bit, and had looked at porn a lot. So my daughter has blocked the internet sites that she can and he is very limited to the time he is on the computer. He has been attending an accountability class at a Church that they are attending. He tried going without masturbating for 30 days and he thought things might have seemed better, but didn’t last long.  Oh, I know he was abused as a little boy by his older brother. Inappropriate touching and sodomy that she knows of. He doesn’t want to talk about that.

He asked and asked about seeing a urologist. Basically, my daughter came away thinking because there doesn’t seem to be a problem. He can ejaculate, therefore the urologists says everything is working fine. Could he have masturbated so long that he doesn’t get the same feeling inside her?

Masturbation could definitely be contributing to the problem–but so, likely, is the abuse that he won’t talk about it. Insisting that he go for counseling and get into a recovery group is so important. And you can retrain yourself to be aroused by a person, but it takes a while.

That brings us to this one:

4. If your husband chooses masturbation over intercourse–Red Flag!

I’ve had several women saying that they have been going for months without sex–but then one woman walked in on her husband masturbating in the shower. He says he does it every day, and suggests she does it, too, she they don’t have to be bothered with sex.

Solo masturbation is selfish and steals intimacy. If someone chooses masturbation over sex consistently, they likely have withdrawn in other ways and have stunted their emotional development, because they’re becoming self focused rather than relationship focused.

I speak more about masturbation in marriage here.

5. If your husband withdraws after making love–Red Flag!

Making love should bring you closer together. When you’re making love, you produce the “bonding” hormone oxytocin which helps you feel more affectionate. If, after making love, he becomes angry, distant, or disconnected, that’s likely a signal that he is fighting some sexual or psychological issues that need to be dealt with.

The next three sex red flags are quite common today, and often result from an addiction to pornography:

6. If your husband refuses to share passwords, let you see his phone, or let you on his computer–Red Flag!

A marriage should have complete trust and openness. If he is adamant that his phone and computer are private, that is practically a guarantee that he is doing something he should not do. If you ask him, he may end up attacking you: “don’t you trust me? Are you that insecure?”

I have never known a marriage where a husband or wife refuses access to their phones who isn’t also either texting inappropriately or watching porn. Never.

If he refuses to let you see things, that’s a definite sign there’s something wrong. One more tip: If you do find something on his phone or computer, take a screen shot or a picture with your phone, so that it can’t be denied later. Then insist on talking with a counselor about it.

7. If your husband is not interested in pleasing you, and seems almost disconnected during sex–Red Flag!

If your husband becomes almost a robot in bed, closing his eyes and refusing to talk to you, then he’s disconnecting, perhaps because he can’t become aroused without picturing something else–or someone else–in his head. If he were to talk to you, it would break the fantasy. If sex is impersonal, there’s something wrong.

Note: this may not be a huge sin issue. If a guy grew up masturbating to porn, but doesn’t watch porn anymore, he could simply be having a hard time getting aroused now because he’s trained his sexual response wrong (that’s one of the side effects of porn!). It doesn’t mean he’s watching porn now (though he could be). Talk to him about it and try to work through it together, though an accountability group or counselor may be necessary.

8. If your husband is not interested in intercourse, but only wants other sexual acts–Red Flag!

Porn depicts sexual acts that are more degrading, and thus often more “photograph worthy”, then simply making love. Add that to a porn habit which is self-focused with masturbation, and many men are not interested in actual sex because it requires mutuality. If your husband prefers other sexual acts (or consistently “degrading” things) to intercourse, he likely has a problem with porn.

Note: if your husband simply wants some variation in bed, there’s nothing wrong with that! But if a man only wants oral sex–red flag!

Finally, the last two red flags represent a man with a seriously disturbed sexuality, which really does need a counselor (and unfortunately I’ve had several of these types, too):

9. If your husband has to role play himself or get you to role play to become aroused–Red Flag!

The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts If sex has to be rough, or if he has to pretend to be very young, or that you are very young–or any variation on this sort of thing–that’s a danger sign. Many couples like to role play; but if the role play is necessary to his arousal, then there is something at work that really does need to be dealt with, as Shannon Ethridge talks about in The Fantasy Fallacy.

10. If your husband wears strange clothing in private–Red Flag!

One reader wrote in with this story:

I have a friend who basically walks on eggshells whenever her husband is around, so as not to disrupt his delicate moods. Yet then he expects her to want to have sex more! She does not keep sex from him, she tries her best even though her emotional needs aren’t being met, yet SHE is the one who has to initiate if they do have sex. Any time she tries to talk to him about their marriage, he ends up crying, and so she never really says exactly what she feels because she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Lately he’s done some weird things, such as he got a thong and began wearing it to bed. No explanation, no asking her what she thought about it. She asked him why and he said “I thought you might like it.” She told him it was a big turn-off for her, yet a month later he ordered 3 more on-line.

I can imagine how bewildered this wife is. She’s trying to have a good marriage, to be good to him, to be sexually available–but he’s crying, moody, rejecting her, and now wearing lingerie!

If a man starts wearing odd clothing, especially in bed, this is a sign of a serious psychological issue that needs to be dealt with.

I’m sorry to be so graphic or to talk about such distasteful things today.

I know that this is not what the vast majority of you deal with. But what scares me when I see some of these emails is that the wives don’t seem to realize how serious many of these things are, because it’s their “normal”. So I want to say, loudly and clearly, these things are NOT normal. They ARE red flags. And you really, really do need to get help, for the sake of his own spiritual growth, and that of your relationship.

Good Girls Guide My SiteIf you want to see what normal sex is, and what God created sex to be, my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex explains it all, and it may help you put words to what you instinctively feel is wrong.

My sympathy for any of you who are walking through this.

Please know that God is big enough to get you through–and your husband is never so messed up that God cannot redeem him and redeem your marriage. He may not choose to do so–we all have free will to reject God’s help. But God can do amazing things when we let Him, and I pray that this will be evident in your marriages!

 

 

Reader Question: Sleeping in Separate Rooms When Married

Sleeping in Separate Rooms: why we need to be careful we don't drift!What happens when couples start sleeping in separate rooms? Is it that big a deal?

It’s Monday, the day that I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it.

One reader recently wrote:

Personally at the moment I am not sleeping with my husband as I feel estranged from him due to porn abuse, his alarm waking me up in the morning because he ‘snoozes’ it for an hour and he snores which drives me crazy so I don’t sleep, get tired and irritable and this exacerbates an already fragile situation, so I’ve removed myself to the spare room and far from missing sleeping next to my husband I now don’t want to go back to sharing a bed (if things improve between us) as I love having my own space and a good night’s sleep. Is this wrong?

I used to love sleeping together as I found it a special thing that you only do when you’re married and share that really special space and time together so I feel very conflicted now.

I was shocked a while ago to learn that my in-laws have separate rooms and I was really sad for them but maybe this is normal?

And finally, I was talking to a married friend with 2 young children, her husband sleeps in their spare room as her children often end up sharing the bed with her so she can feed them so they don’t cry and wake her husband up in the night. I also felt really sad about this but I don’t really know why.

Can you offer some wisdom on whether sharing a bed is important or not?!

Okay, let’s try to flesh this out a little bit.

Why is the couple sleeping in separate rooms?

Sometimes you really don’t have a choice. If one spouse snores a ton and keeps the other awake (or causes them not to sleep well), then for health reasons they may need to sleep in separate beds. (Here’s a website with some info on snoring solutions, to see if that may solve the problem). When my husband was on call and would repeatedly be paged at night and have to make phone calls, we sometimes would sleep in separate rooms on those nights so that he didn’t disturb me.

Is it Okay to Sleep in Separate Bedrooms? How to Stay Intimate if You Can't Sleep TogetherI’ve written before on couples sleeping in separate beds when the issue is something like that–along with some thoughts on how to maintain intimacy even if you have to part at night. I think it’s an important one to read!

When you have to sleep in a separate room from your husband

But when it’s not an issue about quality of sleep that can’t be helped, and there’s something else at play, then we really need to look at the underlying reason.

Sleeping in Separate Rooms to run away from intimacy is dangerous

It’s really quite simple: If you’re sleeping in separate rooms because you feel distant,  you will only increase the distance.

This woman is having some marriage problems–her husband has been using porn–and so she feels distant. Add to that the difficulties with alarms and snoring, and she likes being in a separate room better.

Now, the snoring and alarms may legitimately drive you away, but be very careful that if you do sleep in a separate room you do it well–turning in together, snuggling together, reading a bit together before you separate into separate rooms (as I said in my post on separate bedrooms).

But let’s say that the issue isn’t snoring or alarms. It’s really only the porn use. Then is it okay to separate?

I’d say yes if he is unrepentant and unwilling to get help or accountability (but I’d also say that you should take further steps to mend the situation, by talking to a counselor, having an intervention, or drawing very clear boundaries. Just running away won’t help it). You can see more about that in this post on not being an enabler of sin in your marriage.

What if he’s trying to stop the porn, he does have accountability–and you’re still hurt. Then what?

I can understand wanting to sleep in a separate room the night you found out. But be careful of continuing that separation.

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big DifferenceThis month we’re talking about good marriage habits as part of our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge, and I’ve asked you all to read The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. And one of the habits that Shaunti found in her research was this:

When [happy couples] are in a season of being at odds with each other–when they are experiencing friction or hurt feelings–they solve it by spending more time together instead of less… When we have hurt feelings, anger, or discord, the last thing we may want is to be with our spouses. But ultimately, it appears that that is what we need most.

Think about that for a moment. When you’re hurt, your instinct is to retreat–to head to that separate bedroom where you can be alone with your thoughts and pour out your brokenheartedness to God and nurse your hurts. But that’s exactly what your marriage doesn’t need. What helps is if you still act like a team–act like two people who believe, “we will get through this–together.”

Be careful of letting children kick one of you to a different bedroom

Sex After Kids: Don't put your marriage on the backburner once kids come, because now other people are counting on you to make it work!I see this pattern so often in marriage. Both of you are sleep deprived, and you think, “at least he should be able to get some sleep. If he goes to a different room, at least he’ll sleep.”

You think you’re being nice.

And for the first few weeks of a baby’s life that may have its merits.

But to continue it long term is really dangerous. We’ve already talked last week about how hormones when you’re nursing often cause many of us to lose our libidos. Add sleep deprivation, and many of us enter survival mode, just trying to get through. And so we push our husbands away, devote ourselves entirely to the babies, because we figure, “he’ll still be here later. It’s the baby who really needs me.”

What the baby needs is for his or her parents to be rock solid.

Do not neglect your marriage. We think that it’s natural to stay together, so we shouldn’t have to work at it. But that’s wrong! It’s natural to drift apart; staying together takes work. If you don’t put in the work, you and your husband will drift.

You need time alone to be intimate–and that usually means the same bedroom

And I don’t mean just sex when I say intimate. I mean talking quietly while lying in bed. I mean cuddling while you fall asleep. I mean putting your hand on his arm and praying for him before you drift off. I mean having him kiss you goodbye if he leaves in the morning while you’re still asleep (or if you leave).

If you start sleeping in separate beds because of convenience, it’s easy to stay there. And we don’t always realize what we’re missing until months or years have gone by and we’re just not as close anymore.

So as I said, sometimes a separate bedroom is necessary because of physical difficulties sleeping together. But if you do go that route, do it deliberately well. Still cuddle together at night. Still spend time together before you separate. Don’t just drift. That’s dangerous; and our reader instinctively senses this. Stay together. Truly.

What do you think? Have you had to sleep in separate rooms? How did you stay close?

Friday Round-Up: Submission, Hormones, and More!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and VacuumHello everybody!

It’s time for my Friday Round-Up, where I tell you what happened on the blog this week, what’s been trending on social media, and give you a sneak peek into my life behind the scenes.

So here we go!

The #1 Articles on Facebook, Pinterest, and the Blog this Week:

#1 on The Blog:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect LibidoTop 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

I had a lot of fun researching this post–and learned a lot, too! If you missed my chart that went viral this week, check it out!


#1 on Pinterest:

Emotionally Destructive Marriages: 10 Truths about marriages characterized by emotional abuse10 Truths About Emotionally Destructive Marriages

I’m glad this post is gaining traction, because we really need to talk about this more. In some marriages, being nicer won’t help. It will actually make things worse. God needs you to be good, not necessarily nice.

 


#1 on Facebook:

Setting Healthy Boundaris is BiblicalIs Setting Boundaries Biblical?

Yep! The consensus is definitely that it is.

Which is good. Setting a boundary doesn’t mean you’re controlling someone; on the contrary, they still can choose to act however they want. The boundary isn’t set on THEM; it’s set on YOU. You say, “I will do this, but not this.” Or, “I will do so much, but I can’t do more than that.” They can then choose how to act in return. And it is definitely both healthy and biblical.

What’s Up at My House

I told you last week I’ve started memorizing Psalm 34.

Well, I’m not very good at memorizing (which is funny because my kids have over 20 BOOKS of the Bible memorized between them).

So far I’ve gotten 8 verses down. I just find it hard to remember the first word of a verse–if I can get the first word the rest usually follows!

Then my daughter and her fiance were home last weekend. My best friend, her daughter, my mom and my girls made the invitations for the wedding one night.

Sheila Making Invites

And, as some of you know, my daughter Katie has a “third wheeling” meme going on with Rebecca and Connor. She made a new tamer one:

2015EasterKatie3rdWheeling

Best of all, my cousin had her third baby yesterday! Another girl. So excited! I’ll meet the baby at the wedding in the summer (she lives far away).

Why I Didn’t Sleep Last Night

So from April 20-27 the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will be for sale–$1274 worth of ebooks and ecourses for just $29.97. And because I’m featured in it, I got an early glance at it. I’ve been reading through a ton of books so I have ones I can recommend to you.

And I read on last night that I was so excited about I couldn’t sleep! It’s all about how to organize your life online so you don’t need to print out planners, and today I revamped the whole way I plan everything–for my blog, my daughter’s wedding, everything. I actually feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I know I’m organized.

Lots of other great books, too, and I’ll tell you all about them starting April 20!

Did You Catch the Hubbub Around Here this Week?

We had some serious hubbub. Serious.

Be careful how you comment! Sometimes we don't realize how too radical a view of submission can turn people away from ChristOn Monday I wrote a post explaining why I was deleting comments that I believed misrepresented Christ–and after my long explanation, someone went and picked a big debate with a non-Christian, even after I specifically asked them not to bother that blogger because we were giving Jesus a bad name. Oh, bother.

And if that didn’t make you shake your head, then I launched into three fun-filled days on HORMONES! Oh, the horror.

But I had a great time researching hormones and figuring out how they really do affect libido. Check out my chart from Tuesday on libido during your menstrual cycle, and don’t forget to download my free printable on tracking your libido from yesterday!

I’m off to Arizona!

Sunday I fly off to Arizona to speak for a week, giving my signature Girl Talk! I’ll be in Apache Junction Monday night, at a Scottsdale MOPS group on Tuesday and Wednesday, and in Glendale on Friday. The Apache Junction and Glendale events are open to the public; check out the Events tab on the left hand side of my Facebook Page for more info.

From Instagram:

While the kids were home we played some board games, including this fun Awkward Family Photos group game:

2015GameBeccaConnor

 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And think about adding some board games to the mix…

 

 

How to Track Your Hormones–and Your Libido!

Tracking Your Hormones and Your Libido--apps and printables

We’ve been talking this week about hormones and libido–how hormones can wreak havoc with our sexual arousal, and what we can do to be more aware, and to compensate when our hormones aren’t cooperating (like when we’re breastfeeding, pregnant, etc.).

Today I want to cap off our series by talking about tracking your hormones–and thus tracking your libido. And here’s why it matters. See if you can relate to this:

Sarah knows it’s been about a week since she and her husband Brian last made love. “He’s due,” she smiles ruefully to herself. But she doesn’t feel much like it today. In fact, she doesn’t feel much like anything today. Everybody’s been bugging her–she lost her temper when the kids didn’t come to dinner because they were playing a video game; the kitchen was a mess and she couldn’t stand that it was always her job; and she cannot find her favorite necklace.

She tries to put all that behind her as she slowly gets into her flannel pyjamas. Sure, Brian might want her to wear something else, but it’s still cold! And these are comfy.

As they climb into bed he turns towards her and starts playing with her hair. She sighs and decides to start kissing him. He begins touching her, and she feels nothing. Absolutely nothing. She tries to concentrate on what he’s doing but it doesn’t even feel good. Last week she was over the moon, but tonight he’s doing everything wrong.

When they start making love she doesn’t even feel aroused. She thinks to herself, “I hope he gets it over with quickly.” But he’s taking longer because he knows she isn’t in to it. And by the time he finishes they’re both just awkward with each other. “I don’t want you to do that if you’re not into it,” Brian says. “It’s humiliating.”

That makes Sarah fume. Look at all she does for him! He wanted it and she went through all that when she just wanted to go to sleep–and now he’s mad at her? What about him? He can’t even figure out how to make her feel good!

And they both go to sleep in a huff–with Sarah deciding that sex won’t happen for a long time now.

Okay, here’s the situation: a week ago she and Brian had a great time! And now they’re both tense and mad at each other–and Sarah’s been tense all day.

Maybe it’s just hormones! Maybe, like this chart I first showed you on Tuesday, Sarah’s simply in the red zone:

Hormones and Libido: Top 10 Ways Women's Hormones Affect Libido and Arousal throughout the Menstrual Cycle

What would happen if both Sarah and Brian realized that before they started to make love?

What if Sarah could have said, “You know what, hon, it may not happen for me tonight. But I’d love to feel relaxed, and I’d love to help you feel relaxed. Could we start with a massage, and then I’ll show you a really good time?” And he could give her a massage, and then she could take the lead (maybe by getting on top) and make sex go quickly because it’s not about getting her aroused?

Of course, there’s no problem trying to get aroused when you’re in the red zone! Absolutely not. But if you find yourself living out Sarah’s scenario frequently, then maybe your sexual enjoyment really is affected by hormones. And if you could track that, and realize it, you’d likely be far less likely to get upset at each other when things just didn’t work one night.

So here’s my Tracking Your Hormones plan:

Print out this free hormone and Libido tracker from To Love, Honor and VacuumDownload my Hormone and Arousal Printable

I’ve got a fun printable where you can track your cycle along with your mood and your sexual responsiveness.

Here’s how to use it:

Keep track of all of this for at least a month, but even better, for three months to get a real sense of your patterns.

I’ve got it charted for 35 days, but Day 1 is ALWAYS the first day of your period. So if your cycle is 27 days long, you’ll never get to day 35.

Every morning record your mood and your sexual responsiveness for the day before. Make sure you check off if you had any “sex dreams”, because those tend to coincide with the times that your body is in “peak” mode.

After doing this for a time, hopefully you’ll see a pattern. You may know that you’re raring to go on Days 10-14, but Days 15-20 are awful for you.

That’s great to know for planning vacations, getaways, even date nights! And it’s nice to know just for everyday life, too.

Download your libido tracker here.

A Comparison of PinkPad and iPeriod Apps

Many apps also chart your period and other cycle symptoms, and I thought I’d review two today!

Now, in a way I’m comparing apples to oranges because I’ve got the free version of PinkPad and the paid ($1.99) version of iPeriod. But I wanted to take a look at how much better a paid version was, and I wanted to look at two different companies. So I hope you’ll forgive me!

I was looking for an app that would let me:

  • Chart when my period was coming
  • Chart my mood so that it was easily visible on the calendar
  • Chart my libido so that it was easily visible
  • Keep track of when we had sex
  • Keep track of when I had an orgasm
  • Keep track of other symptoms of your cycle
  • Keep track of my weight
  • Keep track of my fertility (not really relevant for me since we’ve had a vasectomy, but I know relevant to many of my readers!)

Here’s what I found. I’ll talk about each app on its own first and then give you a chart so you can see at a glance.

By the way, the info for the week I entered was fictitious. I was just trying to enter as much as I could to see what it looked like on the calendar. So this is all HYPOTHETICAL. (I love you guys, but I only want you to know so much about me. Not TMI).

Tracking your Hormones and Tracking Your Libido with PinkPad

It’s easy with PinkPad to chart your periods. On the main screen you just enter if your flow has started, how heavy it is, or whether you’re just spotting.

PinkPad Period Tracker

And then on the calendar you can see at a glance when your period was and how heavy it was when:

PinkPadPeriod

The app also shows you using dots when your next period is expected–and it sends notifications to warn you when your period is due and when you are ovulating.

PinkPad Calendar

You can also enter your basal body temperature if you want to track fertility, but that’s all you can do.

What about your mood? You can check off how you’re feeling that day:

PinkPadMood

You can’t chart your libido at all, though. The only thing you can do is choose “flirty” under mood and let that mean “I was in the mood” on that day.

You can keep track of when you have sex–you just tick off the “intimate” box on the home page, and it shows up as a heart on the month at a glance calendar. The problem is that if you other things noted for that day, the notification goes on TOP of the heart, so you can’t actually see at a glance when you’ve had sex. For instance, I entered sex for the 31st, the 3rd, and the 7th, but you only see it easily on the 7th, because the 31st and the 3rd have other information as well:

PinkPad Calendar

You can’t keep track of when you reach orgasm at all.

You can also keep track of other symptoms, like headaches and backaches, but the screen is kind of dark (I’ve got headache checked off here but it’s hard to tell):

PinkPadSymptoms

These symptoms don’t show up on the calendar, but you do get a little symbol telling you there’s more info on that particular day.

You can enter your weight as well, but you can’t create a graph from it.

Tracking Your Libido and Tracking Your Hormones with iPeriod

Just like PinkPad, it’s really easy to enter your period:

iPeriodPeriod

On the calendar at a glance, it shows you when your period is expected, too, and it sends you notifications at your choice about ovulation/when you’re due.

iPeriod tracks your fertility really well. You can enter Basal Body Temperature every morning (it jumps by about half a degree when you ovulate), and you can track other signs of ovulation, like cervical mucus.

iPeriodFertility

And you can keep track of all kinds of sex stuff! Like with PinkPad, you can enter when you had sex (just check off Love Connection).

iPeriodLove

And then you can see at a glance how many times you’ve had sex this month (the heart is always there!)

iPeriodCalendar

(So you see here that the 31st, 3rd, and 7th all have hearts).

You can also enter orgasm as a custom field (you get up to four). I chose the green upper left corner one. So if you look at the calendar above, you can see that this theoretical person had an orgasm on the 31st and 7th but not the 3rd.

You can enter your moods (the first one you enter is the emoticon for the day, but you can choose more than one).

iPeriodMoods

You can also enter your weight everyday, and see a graph of your weight:

iPeriodGraph

You can keep track of the days on which you exercise.

You can enter any symptoms–and this is cool, because it lets you rate your libido (unlike PinkPad):

iPeriodSymptoms

I wish you could do a graph of your libido or see it at a glance on the calendar, but you can’t. To cheat you can choose the frisky emoticon when you’re feeling “in the mood” and at least you’ll see the days when you’re really high.

When you click on a particular day on the calendar, you see all the graphics for that day, but also the extra notes.

iPeriodCalendar

Here’s a Graph Comparing iPeriod and PinkPad:

Comparison of iPeriod and PinkPad to chart love life

My conclusion: iPeriod is the better app for tracking your love life and hormones

I’ve been using PinkPad for a long time, and really liked it. But after trying iPeriod, I totally think the $1.99 is worth it, especially because what I really want to track is libido. I love the fact that iPeriod has four user defined settings that show up on the calendar at a glance, and I can think of all kinds of things you could use that for other than just tracking orgasm.

You could even track whether you cheated at an eating plan, or whether you went out to eat at a restaurant, to see how that affected your mood or weight on subsequent days.

So I’d say get iPeriod. It looks like a lot of fun, and it’s what I’ll be using from now on!

Do you use a different period cycle tracker app? How does it relate? Can it track libido? Let us know in the comments!

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

Libido and Hormones when you’re breastfeeding/nursing etc.

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Wifey Wednesday: on Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Menopause, and Hormones!

Keeping Sex Alive when breastfeeding, pregnancy, or menopause plays havoc with your hormones

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to continue our discussion about hormones, looking at women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or going through menopause.

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect LibidoWe started talking yesterday about hormones and libido–and specifically how libido is affected throughout the menstrual cycle.

But what if you’re not having a menstrual cycle–because you’re in menopause, you’re pregnant, or you’re breastfeeding?

So today, let’s look at how to boost libido and make sex seem like an attractive option, even when your body seems to have turned itself off.

How Arousal Works Physiologically

Arousal = Hormones + Blood Flow

Obviously there’s a lot more to it than that (there’s also emotional and spiritual intimacy, mood, etc.), but the physiological keys are hormones and blood flow.

Estrogen helps regulate the female cycle, and causes the uterine wall to thicken (which also causes more arousal). Our ovaries also produce testosterone (which builds arousal), and testosterone helps us produce more estrogen. And then there’s progesterone, whose role isn’t entirely clear in arousal (they’re still debating it).

But in general, when hormone levels are high and when we get increased blood flow to the genitals, we tend to have an easier time getting aroused.

So what does that mean for pregnancy?

For some women, the first trimester actually gets them aroused because there’s so much blood flow going to the breasts and genitals. For most of us, though, the extreme fatigue and nausea cancels all of that out! In the second semester many women start to feel their libidos come back–and they often come back with a vengeance! And then in the third tremester things get difficult again just because you’re so big and you’re not getting much sleep.

What about breastfeeding?

breastfeeding, at least in the initial stages if you are breastfeeding without supplements, chances are you won’t ovulate for several months (and sometimes up to 9 months). During those months you won’t get the boost that comes from testosterone–and you get a boost in the prolactin hormone which tends to decrease sex drive. Plus you’re exhausted from lack of sleep.

And menopause?

During menopause you stop producing very much estrogen and testosterone, which decreases libido. Plus your uterine wall becomes much thinner (less blood flow) which also decreases arousal. And lubrication becomes more difficult.

Our Most Important Sex Drive is Our Brain

All that being said–our most important sex drive is indeed our brain. Studies have shown that some women can even “think” themselves to orgasm–without any physical stimualtion at all. So it certainly is possible to “think” oneself to arousal–it can just be very, very difficult when you feel like everything has gone numb from the waist down.

And I don’t think it’s something you just do, out of the blue. You can’t go from 0 to 60 in 5 minutes. But if you make it a habit to try to get in touch with your body more regularly, then it’s can be easier.

Sex and Hormones: When Pregnancy, Nursing, or Menopause Kill Your Libido (thoughts on what to do to stay intimate!)I’ve got more articles on how to engage the brain and feel sexy even when your hormones are out of whack.

Daily Habits to Help Make Arousal More Likely

Stretch

Feel your body! Seriously. Start a stretching routine that you do in the morning and in the evening. Do it with your children (if you have young ones!). Do yoga with babies. The more you actually FEEL your body, even in a non-sexual way, the more it will be easier to get your body engaged.

Massage

Make massage a huge part of your life. Explain to your husband that you want to start feeling more aroused, but you need that time to just relax and concentrate on your body. Take 15 minutes a night, at least, to talk and to have him rub your body. Need to learn how? Check out the Couples Massage video program here.

Baths with Bath Oil

Take a hot bath every night with bath oil that smells luxurious. Have your husband put the kids in bed or read them a story. Make sure you use a romantic smelling bath oil to activate the senses!

Nap

If you can, grab nap during the day, especially if you have young children. Every few weeks, if need be, hire a baby-sitter so you can have a 3-hour long nap one afternoon.

Snuggle

Spend time just snuggling with your husband in the evening. If you have a young baby that doesn’t sleep much, maybe snuggle while you’re holding the baby–and then watch netflix. But physically connect while you talk, watch a movie, or have some downtime.

Snuggle with your husband--it's a great marriage habit!

Eat Well

Seriously. Stay away from too many breads and refined starches, and eat foods with healthy fats that help the body produce estrogen or that help the body with blood flow to the genitals! Some of the best foods: bananas, avocados, almonds, basil, and honey–seriously, try honey. It helps in the production of estrogen. Just put it in your tea instead of sugar.

If you do all that you’ll be paying more attention to your body, which will make it easier for your brain to engage and help your arousal. And you’ll be feeling more energetic and closer to your husband! But there still be more things you need:

Use Some Lubrication!

Sometimes we all need help from a tube! One of the effects of not menstruating is that there’s little blood flow to the genitals–which means we have a harder time with lubrication. But this is such an easy fix! And if you’re well lubricated to start with, it’s much easier to get aroused. It actually helps jumpstart the whole process.

Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, 16 oz.Coconut Oil

Many of my readers swear by coconut oil. It’s all natural–no chemicals. It is a solid at room temperature (up to about 76 degrees), but then it turns into a liquid above that, so when it is rubbed on body parts it will become “oily”. And it’s edible, too! (enough said).

KY Yours and Mine Personal Lubricant

KY Yours and Mine Sex Lube[HIS & HER] Dual lubricant Packaging : Size 3 Oz.Remember KY Jelly–the kind that felt like Vaseline, and was kind of gross?

This is a new generation of lubricant! And they sent me their “Yours” and “Mine” lube to try. They’re different formulations–warming for her, and cool and tinging for him. And when you put them together–it’s really tingly! And kinda fun.

Seriously, if you’ve felt “nothing” from the waist down for a while, this can help you feel something again!

Consider Hormone Replacement and Supplements

I’m not a doctor, and I do believe that if you take any kind of supplements you really should talk to your doctor about them first. That being said, I’m a big believer in hormone replacement therapy if it’s not contraindicated because of cancer risks or something. But I’ve known so many women who tried different things for years after menopause to no avail before finding the right formula–and suddenly they could sleep and they felt alive again! But for many women it meant trying many different things. So don’t give up, and keep trying!

When you’re pregnant and breastfeeding you should NOT be taking any kind of hormonal replacement or supplement.

GNC Womens ArginMax 90 Capsules Single & Multi Packs (Two Bottles each of 90 Capsules)That being said, if you’re just going through perimenopause or you have low sex drive, ArginMax sent me a bunch of samples of their supplements which look interesting. For women, the supplement includes L-arginine, damiana, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba, which have all been known to enhance sexual enjoyment. The male version contains similar things, with different kinds of ginseng and no damiana. Then they both have other vitamins and minerals, too, making this a complete vitamin health supplement that ALSO helps with sexual enjoyment and arousal.

You can see ArginMax for men here, and ArginMax for women here. I do think these could help, because I have read that all of these ingredients are tied to sexual arousal and enjoyment.

And again–if you do decide to take a supplement, please show it to your doctor!

Ultimately Sex is Difficult when Arousal is Low–But It’s Up to You

Here’s the truth: If you’re running around caring for everyone but yourself, and feeling nothing sexually, and you’re just waiting for your sex drive to return, chances are nothing much will happen.

Your sex drive won’t come back unless you chase it.

Unless you make it a priority to think about sex in a positive way, to FEEL and experience your body, to think positively about your husband, to cuddle, to prioritize the relationship–nothing will happen.

I get so many letters from women saying that “after the baby came, we basically had sex maybe 10 times in the next two years”. (Here’s one woman’s story of what happened when she stopped having sex after the babies).

Too many women decide to let their bodies boss them around, instead of taking the initiative and bossing their bodies around! (click to tweet)

What kind of life do you want? A great, solid marriage where you have fun and feel rejuvenated, or a relationship where you become like roommates?

No, it’s not easy. Yes, you’re exhausted. No, you don’t feel much of anything. Yes, it’s hard to get “in the mood”.

But you can do it–or you can at least make sex enjoyable, even if you don’t always reach orgasm. You can enjoy being close. You can enjoy feeling your body. You can enjoy feeling relaxed.

So what will you choose? It’s a whole lot better to choose to engage sexually than to try to do this:

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage posts

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

How to Track Your Hormones (and your libido!)

Let me know in the comments–how did you bring your sex drive back? Or are you walking through this right now? What do you find helps?

And if you’re a blogger, now it’s your turn to leave the link to the URL of a marriage post in the linky below! But be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts.

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.




Top 10 Things To Know About How Hormones Affect Libido

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

Hormones. Ick. They get blamed for so much–they’re like our own little personal punching bag. And it’s easy to think that all the jokes about hormones and libido are just exaggerations.

But today I thought we’d start a fun 3-day series to look at how hormones really do affect libido, arousal, and everything in between, because I think if we understood that better, we’d have better sex lives.

I know sometimes we’ll be making love and it just won’t be working for me. My mind will wander more than usual; I can’t get aroused; and no matter how hard I try nothing seems to happen. Then other nights it’s super easy! And on those difficult nights I often go through some self-loathing and dangerous introspection: am I too stressed? Too busy? Is something wrong with me? Am I getting too old?

When if I just looked at a calendar it would all make sense!

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect LibidoSo here we go: 10 ways that hormones play havoc with your libido:

1. Hormones can make your libido peak and plummet throughout the month

Here’s how your cycle works: Day 1 will be the first day of your period. Usually around Day 14 you ovulate (release an egg). Then two weeks later, on Day 28, your period starts. Now, most people aren’t regular 28 days, like clockwork, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Progesterone makes your libido lower. And when does your body produce progesterone? During the luteal phase of your cycle, which starts on ovulation day and goes until seven days before your period starts. On the other hand, the seven days before your period your hormones all churn up which cause some of us to feel in the mood again. Then right before ovulation you also get a burst that makes arousal easier.

So, in general, we’re raring to go on days 24-27, and then again from Days 6-14, with major peaks around Days 11-14.

But on Day 20 you’re likely wondering what all the fuss is about.

2. It’s Testosterone that boosts our libido

Just like men, we also produce testosterone, and it’s testosterone that makes us want to jump him!

Testosterone starts rising a few days before your period, and peaks at ovulation day.

3. Right before your period hormones may make you moody–but still “in the mood”!

It’s a misnomer that right before our periods we’re not in the mood at all. Some women (especially those with bad PMS) are like that, but many of us are actually easily aroused–we’re just also sad.

And that’s the kicker.

Estrogen, pregosterone, and testosterone tend to be lower and we get “the blues”. This is the time of your month to pamper yourself with chocolate or a bubble bath to boost those serotonin levels and make us “happier”. But many of us start to be raring to go, even if we’re stomping around the house at the same time.

Here’s how all three of these points work together (with thanks here for the idea–he has lots of tips for husbands on dealing with this):Hormones and Libido: Top 10 Ways Women's Hormones Affect Libido and Arousal throughout the Menstrual Cycle

 

4. Lubrication is often hardest right before your period

Even if you’re one of those women who might be “in the mood” before your period, lubrication is often hardest during these few days. So if you don’t get “wet”, don’t assume that you’re not aroused or not into it. It could just be hormones! Pull out some lubricant and have fun!

5. Orgasm is often hardest right after ovulation

When you make love during the luteal phase (right after ovulation; the red part up above), you may find it hard to achieve orgasm.

So if you and your husband are really working on helping you to reach orgasm during intercourse, and it’s been a struggle, use these days just to have fun and explore with no pressure, or it could just be an added stress!

And if you usually do achieve orgasm, but don’t during these days, don’t think there’s something wrong with you–or your relationship! It’s likely just your cycle.

6. Feeling powerful can overcome some of the hormone blues

During the luteal phase (the red part), it’s harder to get aroused, harder to achieve orgasm, and harder to feel in the mood in general.

Plus you’ve often got anger issues kicking around!

So what do you do? Don’t forego sex altogether–that’s a long time for a guy to wait. Just maybe take those days as the days where you feel powerful! Initiate sex but then play “let me see how fast I can bring him to climax!”, or “let’s hear it for the quickie!”

If you feel powerful and see how much you can turn him on, this can counteract some of those blues and get you ready for the next phase that’s coming!

Of course, with a little more time to relax first and a little more attention paid to how she feels, sex can still be fun during this phase. But if it’s not, trying to make her turned on can just make her angry. Figure out how you usually react in this week, and then decide, “will we tend to keep it slow and pay more attention”, or “will this be the time for me to just be powerful”?

7. Hormones may make you”in the mood” during your period

A lot of women wonder, “is there something wrong with me if I’m hot and bothered during my period”? Nope. It’s just hormones!

About 20% of women still continue sexual activity during their period, while 80% do not. Much depends on the level of flow, cramping, arousal, etc.

Personally, I don’t think any woman should feel as if she has to do anything sexual during those days, because sex should be mutual. But if you’re someone who wants to, and your husband agrees, it’s really between the two of you!

8. The Pill can cause your libido to crater by messing with your hormones

I’m going to write a longer post on this in the not-too-distant future, but many women find that The Pill kills your libido because it gets rid of those “peaks” in arousal and replaces them all with “troughs”. Here’s part of an email a reader recently sent to me:

I’ve been married for 21 years now. From the time we got married I could never experience orgasm and for probably 10 years I often was left feeling frustrated and upset. It made sex really difficult and for many years it became infrequent because it was just upsetting for both of us. It was not for lack of trying to fix the issue or because my husband was particularly inattentive it just didn’t happen. It was really the most awful thing.

When we had children after 8 years of marriage I changed contraceptive from the pill to Implanon which was a new thing on the market and super easy to use… After child #1 I really had absolutely no desire at all for sex. I put it down to having a new baby and being tired etc. I honestly felt that if I never had sex again in my life I really couldn’t have cared less. After about a year we decided to try for child #2 and I had the Implanon removed. It sounds crazy but within a week, I kid you not!!!, I suddenly felt like a depression had lifted off me and I seriously wanted to have sex all the time. I experienced my first orgasm not long after and 10 years down the track have not looked back. I honestly believe that the effect of contraception made all the difference.

I experienced something very similar to this reader. I also was really, really moody on the Pill. I’ll write more about it later, but I wanted you all to be aware that if your libido is low, it may be your contraception method.

9. For some, menopause kills libido

When you hit menopause, for many women libido plummets and almost disappears. I’ve heard some women tell me, “it’s almost as if I lost all feeling from the waist down.”

If you’re going through this, please talk to your doctor. There are hormone replacements available, some very natural, that can help. And if the first thing you try doesn’t work, keep trying something else! We’re all made differently, and this is too important a part of your life to lose.

10. For others, menopause boosts libido

Here’s the good news, though: other women have told me that menopause was the best thing that ever happened to them! We don’t all react the same way, so if you’re in your forties, don’t panic!

One thing that does happen regardless of your arousal, though, is that lubrication because more difficult. That’s okay! Buy some lubricant and have fun!

So there you go–how hormones affect our libido and our arousal levels throughout the month. Tomorrow I’ll be talking more about lubrication, and on Thursday we’ll look at how to keep track of our hormones, so we’re not thrown through a loop when grumpiness (or lack of lubrication) suddenly descends!

More posts in this series:

What about hormones when you’re breastfeeding/pregnant/menopause?

How to Track your Hormones (and your Libido)

I’d love to know: have you noticed your arousal levels changing over the course of the month? Have you ever experienced any of these hormonal issues? Let us know in the comments!

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.