Wifey Wednesday: Making Sex Fun When You’re Trying to Conceive

Trying to conceive? Here's how to keep sex fun when it becomes stressful.

Can sex still be fun when you’re trying to conceive?

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can chime in in the comments. Today let’s tackle your sex life when you’re trying to have a baby.

One of the biggest problems when you’re trying to conceive is that it takes all the fun out of sex. Sex becomes so stressful–it’s a pass or fail thing, when you’ll either get pregnant or you won’t–again. It’s a job that you have to do at exactly the right time, according to the thermometer, if you want your best chance. It’s the source of all of your hopes, and all of your disappointments, and so it’s so hard to relax.

So how do you keep having fun when sex is stressful? Here are a few thoughts I have–but I’d love to hear yours in the comments, too!

Use a Lot of Lubrication

I was sent a sample of Conceive Plus® fertility lubricant, and it looks really neat! Here’s the issue: regular lubricants actually can hurt your chances of getting pregnant because the environment in the vagina is no longer ideal for sperm. Conceive Plus changes that. It’s an FDA cleared fertility friendly personal lubricant that is formulated to be isotonic (meaning that it’s the same chemical balance as the vagina) which also meets a pH range compatible with human sperm survival and migration.

Conceive Plus Fertility Lubricant

I’m a big believer in lubricants. I think that sex is often just more comfortable when you’re well lubricated. And let’s face it–when you’re tense and you can’t relax, then it makes it hard to produce that lubrication naturally. And we could all use a little help!

They have two different varieties–an internal application that you can insert about 10 minutes prior to starting sex, and a regular lubricant (pictured above) that you just use as you normally would. The internal application ensures that the vagina is totally sperm friendly everywhere! :)

Fertility Lubricants to make pregnancy easier--and sex fun!

So this is cool–it’s a lubricant that’s also very fertility friendly. You can read all about it at Conceive Plus®’s website!

Find where you can buy Conceive Plus, and read user reviews from women just like you.

Have Nights When You Reach Orgasm–Without Sex!

When you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re often so tense. And we all know that women have enough trouble reaching orgasm during intercourse without the added stress of “will I actually get pregnant this time?” The longer you go without conceiving, the more tense it gets!

So here’s a recommendation: on the nights that are really not fertile anyway (such as a few days after your period), be really sexual with your husband without actually having intercourse. Have him stimulate you to orgasm in another way–and you do the same for him. Be as creative as you like! But make sure that you do get that release.

Why am I saying don’t have sex? A couple of reasons. First, for many couples who go months without getting pregnant, sex becomes a job. So let’s mix it up and not actually have intercourse! Second, because of all the tension it can be even harder to reach orgasm. Instead of trying through intercourse, then, try in a way that doesn’t have all that tension associated with it. And just have fun!

Play a Game

If you know sex is going to be awkward and you’re not going to get into it anyway, then try a game, like “beat the clock”. See how fast you can have intercourse–and then even bring you to orgasm afterwards another way. Make it your goal to see how fast you can make him climax.

But please note: this won’t work if you’re in a bad mood. Then it just seems like you’re rushing him! Instead, laugh a lot and just be funny. It makes it a lot easier.

Some of the awkwardness we often feel when we’re trying to conceive is that we have this idea that sex is supposed to be stupendous and intimate and loving, and it doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s just stressful. So we feel guilty about that, and we try to work ourselves up, telling ourselves, “no, this really is intimate”, even when it doesn’t feel that way at all.

You know what? It will be again. Really. And it can be on the nights that you’re not fertile anyway. The only way sex can be intimate is if it’s authentic, and if you’re stressed, you’re stressed! So own it. Realize it’s a chore right now. And throw yourself into it being a chore. Laugh a ton, get through it, and then later, when you’re not so stressed, you can start to explore and be really intimate again.

Pair it with a Reward

If sex is become a chore, then give it a reward! Bring some chocolate truffles upstairs and eat them–before, during and after if you have to. Or tell yourselves, “we’ll try one more time tonight and then we’re going to watch another episode of Blacklist on Netflix” or something. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that it’s gotten awkward and you just want to rush things. And then give yourselves a reward later!

Massage–A Lot!

Speaking of rewards, why not pair sex with a big massage session for both of you? You can even massage after sex, since sometimes before you just want to get to the main event. But help each other to totally relax. Touching each other is a great way to say, “I still love you no matter what. I still want to be with you.” It’s very intimate, even on those days when sex doesn’t feel particularly intimate. And it helps you destress!

Keep Dating and Laughing

Finally, keep spending time together outside the bedroom talking and laughing. It’s really hard for guys when we women get tense about getting pregnant, because it can seem like we really only need them as sperm machines, and then on our infertile days or when sex is over we retreat into ourselves, get sad, and push him away.

Don’t push him away! Keep emotionally close. Start a new hobby together so that you have something new to think about. Volunteer together. Go for walks together. Don’t let this be your whole life.

Remember: God knows you inside and out, and He knows His plans for you for children. But whether or not you have kids, He wants you to have an awesome marriage, and He wants you to serve Him. So throw yourself into service somewhere, like the youth group or a missions group or a soup kitchen. Cling fast to your husband. And know that whatever happens, the two of you will be okay!

Let me know in the comments: How did you stay close when trying to get pregnant? How did you keep sex fun?

If you have just started trying or have been trying for a while, Conceive Plus® fertility lubricant can help increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally! Now available from selected online retailers from just $14.99.

SASMAR Conceive Plus® sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine.

Reader question: Do Stay at Home Moms Have To Do All The Housework?

Reader Question: When do you resume sex after a pornography addiction?When it comes to splitting household chores, does the wife really have to do all the housework if she stays at home?

Every Monday I like to try to answer a Reader Question, and today I’ve got two quite similar ones from two frustrated moms who feel that their husbands expect them to do all of the housework. One writes:

I heard the broadcast on Focus on the Family, and did it ever validate some of the things I’ve been feeling! I am also a homeschool mom, and I really struggle with the line of “his work and her work”. When the wife stays home, whether she homeschools or not, is all the housework her responsibility? I see a lot of discussion about homes where the wife also works, but not about homes where the wives stay home.

Here’s another woman:

I’ve recently became a stay at home mom. My husband was all for the idea of me being home with our boys and I was overjoyed, too, but here is my issue: When I ask my husband to do the tiniest thing (take trash out, Wash the dishes, change a diaper), he makes a statement such as “well you’re a stay at home mom now” or “Do you want to grade papers or do lessons plans for me?”, and doesn’t do the thing I asked of him OR he makes requests that are adding to my Daily tasks–such as feeding the dog both evening and morning, watering plants, or things he used to to. I’m just starting out being home and I don’t want to resent it. But I also don’t want to drown with daily “chores” and “tasks” and not be able to spend the time with our boys like I had intended. Please help me get my husband to understand that I don’t want to do it all on my own.

I get asked these sorts of questions a lot, and I actually wrote a book about exactly this–To Love, Honor and Vacuum. What do you do when you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother? I’ve got all sorts of tips in there about how to divide household chores or at least how to talk about the issues, and so if you’re really struggling like this woman is, I’d really recommend getting the book, which goes into so much more detail than I can in this post.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

But I’m going to share some general principles today which I hope can get people thinking and talking about it.

Story #1: Not Understanding How Much Work Being a Great Mom Is!

I was 28 years old and my husband was a resident at the Hospital for Sick Children in pediatrics. I was at home with a one-year-old and a three-year-old.

I went to a social function with all of the other residents and spouses, and one particular woman often talked to me because she had kids the same age as mine. The difference was that she and her husband were both residents (doctors in training), so they had hired a nanny to care for the kids.

She was venting and complaining to me that day that her nanny didn’t do enough housework. The nanny had dinner made every night, but the floors weren’t mopped and the laundry wasn’t always folded.

And I thought to myself: I’m at home all day and my floors aren’t always mopped and my laundry isn’t always folded either. Why? Because I do stuff with my kids. We go to the park. We go to gymnastics at the Y. We go to the library. And getting all that housework done with two kids underfoot is really hard. If she wanted a nanny who did all that housework, then she wanted a nanny who would ignore the kids.

Story #2: When You Stay at Home, You Home Is Messier

When my kids were about 3 and 5 I was involved in a small group at church with a bunch of other couples with young kids. One night we went over to one couple’s house for dessert. The house was spotless. Flowers everywhere; magazines fanned on the coffee table; toys in lovely wicker baskets in the corner of the living room.

My home NEVER looked like that.

I was despondent on the drive home, and then my husband reminded me: both parents work. They leave the house at 7:15 and drop the kids in day care, and get home at 6:00. The kids are in bed by 7:30. They don’t have time to mess up the house because they’re very rarely there!

And I did feel better.

The moral of the story? The house gets messier when it is lived in constantly, and being with kids is a busy job, in and of itself, if you want to actually spend time with kids, create memories, and teach them things.

Splitting Household Chores: If I'm a stay at home mom, does that mean I have to do everything? A look at how to divide things so you all have fun!

General Principles for Dividing up Household Chores

There’s No Substitute for Talking

Sometimes people write in and I get the feeling that they’re looking for a MAGIC answer–that magic thing they can say that will change everything.

There really isn’t any such thing as magic.

You have to talk about how busy and overwhelmed you feel. You have to talk about what goes into running a house, and decide what is the fairest way to divide that up. I hope I can give you some direction in WHAT to talk about and HOW to talk about it, but you do have to talk.

Here are some possible ways that you can frame that conversation:

Talk About His and Her Work Hours

I’m a firm believer that being a stay at home mom is hard work. But at the same time, if we’re honest, we know that we don’t always take it seriously. I think we could get a lot more done during the day if we did decide to treat stay at home motherhood like a job, with things we wanted to get done.

But when you are a stay at home mom, what adds to the exhaustion is the fact that you are never off duty. So it’s not always WHAT you do–it’s the fact that you never get to breathe on your own.

So let’s talk work week. Let’s say your husband works 50 hours a week. Then you should really work 50 hours a week, too. And what counts as work? Any time you’re doing something that contributes to the family as a whole. If go on Facebook for an hour while the kids nap, that’s not work. But taking them to the library, mopping the floors, fixing dinner–that’s work.

If you had an hour and a half to yourself today during the day, then it really is okay to let him sit on his butt for an hour and a half in the evening while you make dinner and clean up. Don’t resent him for that.

But if you spend the entire evening working, and he really does nothing, then it’s time to have that talk about how long your work days are and what you can do to even it out a bit. Again, don’t measure minutes–you’ll only end up in fights and it will be hurtful. But saying, “I need an hour of downtime at night, away from the kids, while you clean up dinner and give bath time” is perfectly reasonable.

Work Together in Short Bursts

My grandmother had a rule, “When Momma’s working, everybody’s working”, and I adopted that, too. If I was cleaning the kitchen, everybody else had better be cleaning something as well! So we’d set the timer for 15 minutes and see how much we could get done (you can get a LOT done in 15 minutes when all hands are on deck).

If you have a general routine where for 15 minutes after dinner everybody cleans something (you can give everybody a different zone), and then after that you do something fun as a family, that can work well, too. “Come on, guys! Let’s beat the timer and get this all cleaned up, and then we get to play Life!”

Get Super Organized

I am a much better housekeeper today, at 45, then I was at 25. I’ve had more practice at housework. I’ve learned that it’s important to empty the dishwasher first thing every morning or my whole day is thrown off. I’ve learned to fold the laundry as it comes out of the dryer rather than dumping it on the floor (or the bed).

So learn how to be as productive and organized as you can be!

My husband has always worked long hours, and quite frankly, when he was home I didn’t want him cleaning. I wanted to goof off with him and have fun with the kids! So my goal was always to see how much I could get done on my own, during the day, so that he wouldn’t have to do stuff at night–because then I wouldn’t have to do stuff, either!

Sometimes the house got out of control and we’d all have a cleaning day. And we did that 15 minute thing a lot. But my goal was just, “get it done as fast as I can” so that we can have family time at night. When the kids were really little that did mean that Keith had to watch them while I did the big cleaning. But I got better at it, and it didn’t take much time when I knew there was a reward at the other end: spending time together!

So I wouldn’t get too upset about watering the plants and feeding the dog–if you’re still spending time together having fun as a family. But if you aren’t enjoying family time, that’s a different story.

Take Some Time to Yourself

I know some moms who NEVER have themselves in their profile pics on Facebook. Their profile pics are always of their kids, as if the kids are their whole identity. And sometimes moms take no time away from the kids.

Your kids need to see that you have an identity outside of them, and your husband needs to see that you are still your own woman.

If your husband just will not help with anything, and you really are run off your feet, then may I suggest that you take one evening a week and say, “I’m going to take this for myself, and you can put the kids to bed”? Go to a woman’s Bible study. Take a craft evening class at a community college (ours offers quilting, cooking, painting, and more). Or take another course–like computers, investing, pilates. Do something that gets you out of the house for two hours a week. Besides, your husband needs to watch the kids and develop his own relationship with them.

I really don’t believe that there is “his work” or “her work”. But I do believe in two big principles:

  • Both spouses should be contributing to the family at roughly equal amounts;
  • Both spouses should have their own relationship with the kids

And of those two things, #2, in my mind, is the most important. I never cared about doing most of the housework if it meant that when we were together, Keith got to be with the kids. So let’s not count chores, but let’s put in the most effort we can when we are working. And if there’s a big imbalance, then you just have to talk about it.

If you’re a stay at home mom, how did you decide on splitting household chores? Let us know in the comments!

October Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and VacuumI’m home from our speaking/RV trip, my laundry’s done, and tonight my brother-in-law gets married!

It’s going to be a good day.

Every Friday I like to post a Round-Up of what’s going on in my life, what was big this week at the blog, and more.

I actually shared some pics and some info of my life yesterday, in my raw post about why my husband and I have had a rough few years (and why our RV trip was such a blessing!). So today I’m just going to share what was big at the blog, and then launch into my October Marriage Reading Challenge!

Here goes:

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

Growing Apart as a Couple--how to pull together when life pulls you apartWhy Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!#1 NEW Post on the Blog: Why We Grew Apart (I was really vulnerable here!)
#1 on the Blog Overall: Why I Didn’t Rebel (a post my daughter wrote when she was 19)
#1 on Facebook: 50 Best Marriage Quotes
#1 on Pinterest: Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband (bookmark this for later!)

I Know My Emails Have Been Wonky

If you read my blog via email, or you get the weekly roundups, I know that my emails lately have been wonky if you’re reading them on a phone. I’m really trying to get to the bottom of the problem. The weekly ones will be much easier to fix than the daily ones, but I’m working on it! So please be patient, and sorry for all the hassle! I am trying, but it’s hard to figure out all this coding. And I’d really like for you to be able to read them easily again!

If you don’t get my emails, you can! I send out weekly ones with highlights from the blog, all the new stuff, and what’s been big on social media, as well as monthly themed ones for parenting and marriage. Sign up here.

One of the best things about being signed up: When you open your emails, my newsletter provider makes a note of where you’re from. And then if I’m ever speaking within 100 miles of you, you’ll get an email from me letting you know!

Your October Marriage Reading Challenge

Join the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! Each month choose 1 book on the subject to read to boost your relationship! Get a chance to ask authors questions, read author interviews, and discuss the books, too!

Yesterday I was really vulnerable on this blog. I talked about how my husband and I have had a rough couple of years because of our work. We just haven’t been together enough, and that really does drive you apart.

But earlier in our marriage, even though school and work were still busy, that wasn’t what was pushing us apart. It was all of this CRAP that I had brought into marriage from my childhood (and him from his). We had baggage.

And those past hurts can affect our relationships so much. They often keep us stuck. They make us react ineffectively during conflict, because we’re reacting out of past pain, not current pain. They can wreck our sex lives.

October is going to be all about confronting that pain and dealing with it.

This year I’m challenging everyone to read one book a month all year: that’s just 12 books. That’s not that hard. Keep it in your purse and read it while you’re waiting in line at car pool or in line at the bank. Keep it in the bathroom and read 15 minutes whenever you get a chance. In 10 minutes a night you can usually finish a book in a month. You honestly can do it! And what if these books can give you the tools you need to change your marriage for the better?

With every book I read I usually get one real nugget that sticks with me–one thought or idea that changes everything. Imagine what 12 thoughts or ideas could do for your marriage!


So this month I want to challenge you to look your baggage full in the face. Don’t ignore it. Don’t make yourself busy so you don’t have to think about it. Don’t give the excuse, “well, this is just the way I am.”

No! Jesus wants so much more for you.

And Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 (I used this passage as my main passage at the retreat I spoke at last weekend:

Not that I have already attained it, or have already been made perfect, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press to the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

I love how he admits that he ISN’T perfect yet. He ISN’T totally healed. But nevertheless he chooses not to dwell on what lies behind, and instead to rush forward at what God has for his life.

And he’s able to do that because, as we learn in verse 10 of that chapter, he seriously knows Jesus.

If you’ve got stuff keeping you back from having an abundant marriage, I’m encouraging you this month to DO SOMETHING about it.

I’ve chosen three books that look at different aspects of baggage, and that can help you move forward. Choose the one that suits your situation, and run with it!

Here they are:

Lord, Heal My Hurts: A Devotional Study on God's Care and DeliveranceLord, Heal My Hurts by Kay Arthur

I did this in a Bible study over 13 years ago–and it really changed my life.

If you’re dealing with bitterness, rejection, or anger, this book will help you to see who you are in Christ and how to move forward.

Who should choose this book: Anyone who likes Bible studies! Kay Arthur is intense about having you study Scripture and glean for yourself the real messages that are in there. In our Bible study we had women dealing with divorces, suicides, mental illness, and childhood abuse. And we all learned so much!

Kiss Me Again: Restoring Lost Intimacy in MarriageKiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson

Do you struggle with feeling truly intimate with your husband because of past sexual experiences before you were married–whether those experiences were wanted or not?

In this book Barbara Wilson takes us through the effects that sex has on our souls, and how sexual abuse and/or promiscuity can really affect our ability to bond with our spouse now. If sex has always been ho hum at best, and you’ve never really been able to be passionate, it could be because you’ve never dealt with the effects of what happened BEFORE you were married (even if what happened was actually WITH your now-husband).

Who should choose this book: Anyone who is struggling with feeling passion, and is wondering if perhaps their past sex life, or past abuse, is the culprit. A great book for finding real passion again!

Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual AbuseNot Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse by Mary DeMuth

Do NOT let someone who stole your childhood or teenagehood from you have the power to steal your marriage, too!

If you were sexually abused, you need this book. Mary DeMuth has walked the walk, and she shows you how you can get from a shame-filled reality to a joy-filled reality. And her husband chimes in, too, with advice for men on how to help their wives deal with this.

Who should choose this book: Anyone who still feels stuck because of past sexual abuse. Mary DeMuth is compassionate, real and raw in this book–but she also points you to the way you need to go to find freedom finally.

October Reading Challenge Books


How to join us for our October Reading Challenge:

  1. Buy one of the books to read.
  2. Join the Facebook Page so you can track new habits with us.
  3. Leave a comment with any question you’d like to ask about dealing with baggage–and I’ll try to deal with them!
  4. Pin this post, share it on Facebook, or tweet about it so more people can be encouraged to read–and change their marriages for the better!

Will you be part of our reading challenge this month to help us finally move forward in freedom?




Why My Husband and I Had a Rough Few Years

Growing Apart as a Couple--how to pull together when life pulls you apart

How do you stay close if you’re afraid you’re growing apart from your husband?

I’ve been writing a three-part series on porn, and I have more I need to say. But I feel like I’ve been talking ONLY about that all week, and so I’d like to put all of that on hold and come back to it later (I promise). And today I just want to be really vulnerable and share some things with you.

My husband and I have had a rough few years.

It’s not because of anything either of us has done; it’s just because of work schedules and geography. We simply weren’t together very much. And that put a huge strain on us.

We’re coming out of it now, and I’d like to tell you about it–my warnings for other people to avoid, and what made it possible for us to reconnect afterwards.

I’m honestly  just a real person like all of you.

I don’t want you, my readers, ever to think that I’ve got the marriage thing totally figured out. Some seasons we sail right through, and others we really have to work. I shared in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (my newest book) about some of the struggles Keith and I have had over the last few years, and what I had to do to change my own attitude and my own mind.

Sometimes when I meet blog readers I realize that there’s this perception that we have a perfect life. And we really don’t. And I think that this may be an encouragement to you–to know that EVERYBODY goes through rough patches. So let me tell you what happened with us.

Keith got a job in a different city.

For years his job in our hometown was so stressful. He had long hours, personality conflicts, and constant crises. They were chronically short staffed of pediatricians, but needed the call schedule covered. What do you do if there aren’t enough pediatricians? If you’re a caring, nice guy like my husband is, you step up to the plate and you do extra call.

But that takes a toll.

And finally he said, “enough”. He took a job at a bigger teaching hospital an hour away.

It was the perfect job. My husband is such a good teacher, and the job entailed teaching medical students and residents. He won some awards. He was having the time of his life.

The problem is that he had to about eight calls a month. Those calls were infinitely easier than the ones he used to do, because instead of going in to the hospital in the middle of the night, residents now took care of things and only phoned him for orders and advice. But it also meant he had to stay in that city for eight nights a month.

There was a long commute–and he had to be at work at 7:30. That means that we no longer had breakfast together.

He was home much later often, especially when he had periodic meetings.

And at the same time I still had speaking engagements.

We tried to work his call around my speaking, because our daughters were still at home.

So think what that did: he’d be gone eight nights a month. I’d be gone maybe five. Take a few more nights for his meetings. Then we had church commitments (we ran the youth quizzing ministry at church which required four weekends a year where we’d take the kids away to a competition. Four weekends doesn’t sound like much until you realize how few weekends we’d have).

Suddenly we had very little time together.

We didn’t realize it would be this bad (he was only supposed to do five calls a month when he took the job). But that first month he had his full call load, plus he had two weekends for conferences and training courses. I spoke for a weekend. We had maybe seven nights together all month. And I started to get scared.

Of course, when your schedules are bizarre like that, you know what always happens, right? When you finally have a week together, in its entirety–that’s when your period comes. It doesn’t come when he’s on call. It doesn’t come when you’re away traveling. It’s when you’re finally together again. And I was having major issues in that department and getting chronically anemic, and the stress was horrible.

And it just got hard. So hard.

I started getting used to living my life alone.

Keith used to be my confidante–the one I bounced everything off of and the one who helped me through all my decisions. But when he wasn’t home for days at a time, I got used to thinking about things myself. I’d take walks and process my thoughts. I’d call my mom and bounce things off of her. I talked to my girls a lot.

And he’d get home, let’s say three days after whatever crisis had begun, and it would feel like too much work to fill him in on everything. So I’d just share with him the “short version” of the story.

Within a year I felt like he didn’t really understand my heart anymore. When he didn’t even know 90% of the things that were bugging me, then how could we feel like we’re one?

We tried talking more, and sharing our “highs” and “lows” of each day, and that certainly helped. We called each other more when we were in different cities.

But when someone isn’t there in the day to day, you really start to feel like you’re walking through life alone and unsupported, even if that is not anyone’s intention.

And I know that Keith felt the same way, too.

The seasons of distance were draining us.

Finally Keith realized he was just too busy. He had no time for his hobbies, and he had no time to connect with me. And we really wanted to spend more time together and see more of the world. So he made a decision last winter that he would go part-time and we’d buy an RV so that we can spend several weeks at a time driving around for me to speak, and then return home for several weeks so he can work.

He arranged for a part-time job, we bought the RV, and we just got back from our first trip.

Was our trip ever great! We drove a grand total of about 70 hours in just 19 days, which is a lot of driving. We had several 8 or 10 hour days. But those days were great because we got the chance to just chat. It’s been so long since we’ve had that kind of time (after all, we had our daughter’s wedding this summer, too, which took a lot of our time!)

We stopped at places improptu just to explore and take pictures, whenever there was a sign for a waterfalls or a scenic lookout or a hike.

We planned this trip to Presque’ Isle park in Pennsylvania:

How to stay close when you fear you're growing apart

But then we found these waterfalls by accident when driving through Northern Ontario on our way home:


We stopped at a tiny town that had a giant goose statue off of the highway, because all bird watchers have to take a picture under a giant goose statue and then text it to their daughters:


We pulled over at various birding hotspots to see some new species of gulls:


And we stopped at the Terry Fox memorial outside Thunder Bay–close to the very spot where Terry had to abandon his cross-Canada 1981 run to raise money for cancer because the disease had returned.

Taking chances to make memories--staying close instead of growing apart

That meant a lot to Keith especially, since he’s seen far too many patients die of childhood cancers.

None of those moments was really planned. But we had a chance to take them because we were together again.

It was easy to pick up where we left off, because nothing had been seriously wrong in our relationship–no affairs, no secret texting, no porn. But despite that, we were definitely growing apart because we just didn’t have time together.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

What Kept Us Together During this Season of Growing Apart?

We had a great foundation for our marriage

We were best friends before this started, and we had a good sex life. We were always close to each other. So when we started to spend less time together, we knew that the relationship itself was still stable.

Conclusion: when life is relatively easy, cling to each other and seriously grow your friendship! Work even harder! That way when a tough time comes, you’ll weather it much more easily.

We knew for certain that we were staying together forever

There was no point in letting resentment grow because we knew we’d be together forever.

Conclusion: Don’t feed negative thoughts! When you know you’re together forever, then treat each other well to preserve that relationship.

We kept pushing through–it was hard work

I had to teach myself to share things with Keith about my day–even when I didn’t want to. If I had had a big issue that I had worked through, I wouldn’t necessarily want to relive it all again to try to explain it. But I learned that the work was worth it, even if it wasn’t easy.

Conclusion: Sometimes marriage IS nothing but work. When you have to deliberately keep each other in the loop it’s work. We think marriage should be easy, but often it isn’t.

We told ourselves it wasn’t forever–and we made specific plans around that

When we saw what our work schedules were doing to our marriage, we knew that we had to take steps to make sure this was only temporary. And it was.

I know not everyone has that option. Keith and I have been extremely blessed. But there have been periods of our lives that were intense, work wise, and we just had to get through them. Keith’s training, when he was gone 120 hours a week and I had babies; Opening up his practice; and then the last few years. I can’t imagine, though, if any of those stages was permanent.

Conclusion: If you’re in a position where a job is making your marriage super tough, then ask yourself: are there alternatives, even if those alternatives won’t come for a few years?

Keeping Marriage Strong: Be Intentional about not Drifting Apart

Sacrificing some financial security so that you can keep marriage security is often worth it, though I know it’s not always possible. But I really don’t think I could live like we did for the last three years indefinitely.

So that’s where we are! We were growing apart, but we’re growing close again. Sometimes marriage strain comes not because of sin or neglect but just because of LIFE. If you see that happening, double down, work harder, share more–and see if you can make that period of your life shorter.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentThought #9 in Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage is that drifting in marriage is natural; it’s staying together that takes work. I experienced that firsthand while writing this book, and lots of my stories are in there (I think I’m more vulnerable in this book than I even was in my sex book!)

If you’ve been drifting and growing apart–pick it up to stop the drift NOW!

Let me know in the comments: have you had a season of your marriage where you were growing apart? What did you do about it?

Wifey Wednesday: You Can Recover from Your Husband’s Porn Use

Your marriage CAN recover from his porn use--an inspirational true story.

Can a marriage recover from a husband’s porn use?

That’s the question a reader is going to answer for us for today’s Wifey Wednesdsay!

A reader recently sent me this beautiful email about porn, redemption, and hope. I wanted to share it with you today, because I know so many of you struggle with your husband’s porn use. Tomorrow I’m going to write a wrap up post on how to fight the porn, not fight your husband, but for today, I thought a story may help.

Recently my husband sent me a text and told me that he wanted to share some things that he had been keeping from me for our entire marriage.

As you can imagine, I let my lady brain take over and had all kinds of scenarios going through my head. He sent the text at 9AM and I wouldn’t be home until after 6PM! All day I kept thinking “Am I ready for this? Can I handle what he’s going to tell me?” We will be married 15 years this June and we have been together since we were 15! So what could he possibly tell me that I don’t already know?

When I got home that night he was in his chair writing, the kids came up to me and asked if Daddy was ok? He told them not to bother him and asked them to play quietly in their bedrooms. He didn’t even look up at me when I walked in the room, didn’t ask what was for supper, just kept on writing and writing.

After supper he asked the kids to go back to their rooms because he needed to talk to me. We cleaned up after dinner and went to sit down in our chairs. He handed me a note book and asked me to read it, he decided that it was going to be easier to write than say the actual words.

He told me of a day when he was 7 or 8 years old, the day started as many summer days for boys of that age.

He had plans to meet up with friends and tear up the town on his bike. One of his friends suggested that they sneak into an abandoned barn that they always rode by. It was a typical old barn full of rusty tractor parts and tools. But this barn was different–it held a secret that would change the world of all the boys. In the loft of this barn where piles and piles of pornography. This started him on a path that no little boy should have to walk.

Now let me fast forward to year 2 of our marriage.

We are fighting all the time, mostly about sex and how he hates my body and how fat I have gotten. I had gained about 50lbs going through fertility treatment and he was disgusted with my body. In that 6 page letter to me everything that we had fought about and almost divorced over made complete sense to me. I knew that his perception of women was warped because of the things he saw on those pages. I knew that his idea of a sex was skewed. He had no idea how to deal with it so he just got angry and when we did have sex it was just that, there was no love involved.

I prayed for years that God would change me, that I would wake up one day and be the perfect wife for this man that he had clearly chosen for me. I would throw fits and beg my husband to tell me what he wanted from me, but he would never tell me. I know that I sound naïve and the fact is I was, I had no idea that my husband struggled with pornography. He worked nights and I worked days for the first year of our marriage so he was home all day and I never knew what he was up to. I knew that he would spend hours online, he would get angry with me for asking him questions about his online activity. We spent the first 10 years of our marriage hanging on by a thread, not wanting to give up, but not wanting to do anything to make it better.

Then one day about 5 years ago God clearly spoke to me and told me that I needed to stop praying for one of us to change and just start praying for my husband.

I have never really just prayed for him in general, I always wanted him to change or be something different. So I started praying that he would allow God to work in him, to show him who he was and what he was put here to do. So I did just that, I prayed for this man that God picked out just for me, I thanked God for him. I stopped seeing all the things he wasn’t and saw what God saw. I stopped criticizing, pushing buttons just to get a response out of him. I let him know that I loved him and that was all that mattered.

Yes I was still struggling with not having a husband in all ways, but slowly God started working in me about that.

Fast forward to the Monday night he told me his secret.

I read his letter to me, I cried, I understood, my heart broke for the little boy whose innocence was stolen from him.

I got up out of my chair and went to his chair, crawled up on his lap and cried some more. Then I spoke to the little boy, “I’m so sorry” and my big, tough as nails husband cried.

“My heart broke for the little boy whose innocence was stolen from him.”

We held each other and cried.

I wasn’t angry at him for keeping his secret from me, I wasn’t hurt.

Honestly, I think I was relieved to know that all those years of sleepless nights fighting had nothing to do with me.

I know that sounds a bit selfish, but I always felt like it was my fault. I knew that in that moment we were going to be ok and that the enemy who stole his innocence and told him the lie to keep it a secret no longer had any power over us. He could no longer steal the joy that we have found in each other over the last 5 years. He could no longer hold the sin over my husband’s head. There was healing for both of us in the moment that he shared his dark secret with me.

I know no everyone can have the same healing experience as I did, but I wanted to let you know that sometimes, God asks us to do things that will make us uncomfortable, but yet there is so much cleansing that takes place afterwards. I look at my husband today and I see a light in his eyes that I have never seen before, a joy that has never been there.

He looks at me differently now too.

He sees a woman who stood next to him when she didn’t even know what was going on. He sees a woman who loved him through everything and never gave up on him. He told me that I saved him, that God didn’t make a mistake when He told my husband to marry me at 15yrs old.

I don’t know how long it has been since he lasted looked at porn, and I don’t want to know. What I do know is that God has delivered him from this and that I all I care about.

What a great story! I’m so glad she shared it.

I’m not writing it to say, “you should do everything like she did.” I DO think it’s important to get an accountability partner, and I do think setting something like Covenant Eyes up on your computer are important steps.

But I share this partly because healing doesn’t look the same in all cases.

The bigger reason, though, is because of her testimony of compassion for this man.

Tomorrow I’m going to share some other emails, and encourage women to fight the porn, don’t fight their husbands (if their husbands are repentant and take it seriously). But today, listen to her words:

I read his letter to me, I cried, I understood, my heart broke for the little boy whose innocence was stolen from him. I got up out of my chair and went to his chair, crawled up on his lap and cried some more. Then I spoke to the little boy, “I’m so sorry” and my big, tough as nails husband cried.

When husbands use porn, we get disgusted.

And it IS disgusting. We feel shame. We feel humiliation. We feel anger. These emotions are all normal, and likely important to go through if we’re going to honestly deal with our own grief, too.

But I ask you to add one more emotion in there: compassion.

Compassion for a man who was likely led down this path at a very young age. In this guy’s case, he was only 7 or 8 years old. Imagine what pornography does to a 7 or 8 year old child. They don’t even understand about sex yet, but they see these images, and those images get imprinted on their minds. Those images get tied to the sexual arousal process in the brain–and now THAT becomes what is arousing. And they didn’t even really go looking for it; it found them.

For so many young boys (and young girls), porn finds them. It’s very different from an alcohol addiction or a drug addiction. You have to make a deliberate decision to drink alcohol a lot; for many young kids, they see porn and it starts changing the way the brain thinks of sex. And they’re drawn to it. With alcohol, people usually enjoy it for a time, sometimes years, before it takes over and they start feeling shame and can’t stop. With porn the shame starts almost immediately–and yet they can’t stop.

When you talk to guys who have used porn, almost all hate themselves for it.

I have known a teenager from a GREAT Christian family (parents were missionaries; he knew Scripture; he was talented and musically gifted) who committed suicide because he could not break his porn addiction. He didn’t want the porn; but it had him hooked.

I am not saying that guys are powerless against it.

I am only saying that the stories of so many of our husbands start very similarly to this 7 or 8 year old boy.

He wasn’t searching it out. It came for him. And he always, always wanted to stop. He hated himself.

So be his ally in stopping! Tomorrow we’ll look at how to deal with some of the after-effects of porn (the withdrawal of emotional intimacy, which this writer and Robi Smith both mentioned yesterday; the secretiveness; and the sexual rewiring). But for today, I just ask you to feel compassion on these men, who were once little boys who got sucked in.

And, if you’re a parent (whether it’s boys or girls, makes no difference), don’t let this 7 year old’s story become your child’s story! Protect their eyes when they’re too young to understand. Please. Think about their future marriages. Don’t let them grow up with this as their story. Think about getting Covenant Eyes, and as they get older, keep open conversations about porn!)

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have any marriage thoughts to share with us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below! It’s a great way to get more blog traffic. And then be sure to link back here so that other people can see these awesome posts!

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.

Reader question: When Do I Invite My Husband Back into our Bed after His Porn Addiction?

Reader Question: When do you resume sex after a pornography addiction?If your husband has been battling a porn addiction, when do you invite him back into your bed?

Every Monday I like to put up a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. Today I thought we’d do a 3-part series on battling porn in marriage (since that’s the most common problem in the huge backlog of questions I have), starting with this one: how do you re-establish a sexual relationship after pornography?

A reader writes:

My husband has had an addiction to porn for our entire 13 year marriage. He lied, deceived, blamed me, neglected me and I only found out it was porn by accidentally walking in on him one night. That was more than two years ago. Since then he promised many times to seek counseling and support groups but nothing changed. About a month ago I asked him to separate. He refused but he did move out of our bedroom and into my daughter’s room (she’s bunking with her brothers for now). He now sees a counselor weekly but I have not gone with him yet. He asked me last night when he can move back into our room. I don’t know what to tell him. I don’t know what criteria to use or how to know. We haven’t had sex since before my last baby was born and she’s almost 9-months old now. The time we were intimate it was obvious he didn’t want to do it and that he was trying to simulate something he’d seen in porn in order to reach orgasm. It didn’t work. I felt like filth afterwards. How can I answer him when I don’t know what it will take to get comfortable with him back in our bed?

First, I am so, so sorry that you’re going through this. But I’m also so glad that your husband is getting counseling! That’s wonderful.

I know I’m going to get pushback on what I’m going to say today, though, because so many people believe that men only turn to porn because their wives won’t have sex. That may be true in a few cases, but from what I’ve seen and from the people that write to me, that is not usually the case at all. Usually the porn use PRECEDES the marriage, as it does in this case. He was using it during their entire marriage.

And because porn rewires the brain so that what becomes attractive is an image rather than a person, porn often STEALS a guy’s libido within marriage–

As this woman writes, her husband couldn’t even reach climax without fantasizing about porn or doing something that porn had. Just being with his wife was no longer enough.

This is especially true for younger wives who got married after the internet generation started. So, please, no comments about how he wouldn’t need porn if she would just put out! That is simply not the case with the vast majority of marriages, especially young marriages. And even if that is the case in some marriages, it is not those marriages that we are addressing here. We are looking at marriages where guys have used porn the entire time, and who have NEVER actually made love, because sex has become so warped in their brains.

I’d really encourage people to download this free ebook from Covenant Eyes that explains how this process works:

Now back to the question.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good absolute answer. So much depends on your relationship, your ability to communicate, his openness with his struggles, his repentance, and more. So let me just give some general principles for people to think about.

Resuming Sex After a Porn Addiction--you need to rebuild trust first!

Rebuild Trust After a Porn Addiction First

You can’t just jump into having sex right away. (Now, some people may not have stopped having sex; I think that a sexual fast can be a good idea as he “resets” his arousal process, and most counselors and discussion forums for guys coming out of porn have said the same thing. But it isn’t absolute, and so much depends on your relationship).

But let’s say that you did stop sex and confronted him about porn.

In this reader’s case, the husband was reluctant to stop the porn and only did so when drastic actions were taken by the wife. This is quite a different scenario than one in which a husband confesses and takes the initiative to heal.

So there’s extra trust broken here.

Get an accountability partner

A counselor is wonderful, but a counselor is only there for a short time. He needs a guy who can hold him accountable and who can meet with him periodically and ask him honestly how he’s doing.

Be completely open with computers/tablets/devices

You must have complete access to his phone, his devices, and his computer. If he says that he’s stopped using porn, but he won’t let you see his phone, that’s a HUGE red flag. It doesn’t mean that you have to check on him all the time (that’s what an accountability partner is for). But it means that you should be able to pick up his stuff and use it without him freaking.

Use Covenant Eyes or something like it

Install the Covenant Eyes program on your phones and computers and devices. It’s accountability and filtering–meaning that everyone in your household gets their own account, and that allows them to access the internet based on their age/issues. So a 6-year-old sees less than a 13-year-old who sees less than an adult. But if you don’t want to use it for filtering like that, you don’t have to. You can only use the accountability side, where if anyone tries to access a site they shouldn’t, someone of your choice (the accountability partner, preferably) gets sent an email.

This helps you know that when he’s online, he won’t be searching for porn anymore. Or at least it will be a lot harder, and the temptation will be largely limited.

Get Covenant Eyes here.

Go to counseling with him

If he is seeing a counselor–wonderful! But it would be a good idea to do at least a few sessions with him so you reassure yourself about what he’s hearing, and a counselor helps you talk through some of the trust issues. You may also need some counseling yourself to work through your grief.

Rebuild Your Friendship

When I speak, I often say this: when you lose the ability to talk about the little things in marriage, it becomes even harder to talk about the big things.

When you’re friends, you talk and share about your day. You laugh together. You do stuff together.

When you’re battling porn that often goes away (and with many of these couples they never had that because he was so secretive, living a double life, and just wanted to get away from his wife so he could have some time on the computer).

But that friendship provides the goodwill so that you can talk about the big things. Without that goodwill, each big issue seems even bigger. Is this the one that will break our marriage?  Your marriage becomes all about tension.

You need that friendship again so that you can be honest about sex and how you’re going to rebuild it.

So go on walks together everyday. Talk about your day. Start a new hobby together that doesn’t involve a screen! Play some board games as a couple. Do something where you spend time together with low stress.

Talk About How to Rebuild Sex

Here’s the challenge with starting sex again: you can’t resume where you left off. You have to do something totally new, because your sex life in the past, if it was based on porn, was corrupted.

You want to begin to experience real intimacy in the bedroom–something you likely never have. In the past, sex has been only physical, because he hasn’t been mentally present (since he needs the fantasy about porn to get aroused). So we have to rewire his sexual response so that what becomes arousing is YOU, not a fantasy of replaying porn in his head.

That takes time.

I’ve written before about how to restart a sexual relationship after pornography, and how to rewire your brain after pornography. Both are difficult, but they are totally doable! And God absolutely wants to help you have such an abundant life in this area.

But you can’t until you’ve got some honesty.

So talk to him about how we need to rewire his brain so sex is about intimacy, not pornography.

That means that if you’re making love and images enter his head, he should stop, and you guys should start touching and talking again so he can refocus on you. That may mean that sex takes a long time–but if he keeps going if the fantasy is there, he’s feeding the fantasy, and he’s actually working AGAINST healing.

It also means taking a lot of time just touching and learning how arousing it can be to just be naked together as you talk and touch and become vulnerable. It’s not a quick, dirty thing; it’s an intimate thing.

But you have to talk to him about this BEFORE you start having sex again. Don’t expect him to just “get” this. Talk about your expectations and your plans.

31 Days to Great Sex31 Days to Great Sex is a wonderful tool for rebuilding your sex life after pornography. The first few days help you to just talk about your sex life. Then you spend a few days just touching each other and exciting each other that way–which can help him to experience how arousing just touch can be. Then you learn how to flirt and be affectionate again, which is such a key component of a good sex life.

As  you move through the month and try some of the spicier challenges, you also get the opportunity to talk about how porn may have rewired his brain, and what you are going to do about it. So if you have trouble articulating some of these things, 31 Days to Great Sex can help you start these conversations–and it’s a great way to start into sex again carefully! And the ebook format is only $4.99–so you can’t go wrong.

Find out more here.

I Know You’re Hurt–But Sex Can Also Help Healing

One last thought–I don’t know how long the above steps will take. For some people, this will be a quick thing. For other couples it will not.

But here’s what I will say:

once a guy has really repented and is taking steps to change, then don’t take too long to invite him back.

He’s fighting the battle of his life right now.

You can be one of his best weapons in fighting that porn!

And with him feeling like you’re on his side, fighting WITH him, not AGAINST him, it will be so much easier to heal.

I know you’re hurt. And you need to work through that. But don’t prolong that process too long, because you want an intimate marriage. And that’s largely up to you.

Of course this can’t be rushed. It would be foolish to jump back in bed if he’s not serious about healing, or if he’s still secretive about computers. It would be foolish if he doesn’t acknowledge that porn has changed his arousal process and that he needs fantasy to get aroused. But if he does acknowledge this, if he is trying, if he is in recovery–then be his ally!

What do you think? Any advice for this woman? If you’ve ever walked through a marriage with a porn addict, what helped you rebuild your sex life? Let us know in the comments!

When Christians Make It Sound Like Sex is Only “For Him”

God Made Sex to Be Mutual--it's not just for him!Did God make sex primarily for husbands? Are wives supposed to be quasi-sexual slaves?

I’d say, “absolutely not, that’s absurd!” But this week that view crept up again.

When You Hate Your Breasts Being Touched--or something else being touched--and it's hurting your marriageI wrote a post on Monday about what to do if there’s one part of your body that your husband likes sexually that you just can’t stand him touching. Perhaps you have pain, or flashbacks from abuse, or something else that makes it creepy. I talked about finding compromise while working on the root issue. If anything, I thought I’d get some grief from people saying, “If there’s something she doesn’t like, he has to live with it.” And I did get a bit of that.

But the commenters who said, “the husband has authority over her body, so she has no right to deny him that” really surprised me I let a few of those comments through; several men left incredibly disgusting ones, while still claiming to be Christian, and I deleted those ones.

It’s similar to the comments I got in this series of posts about how it’s okay for a woman to say, “I need to wait 6 weeks after childbirth”, or “not during my period.” I had several men saying the waiting six weeks wasn’t justified because it wasn’t “by mutual consent”.

This astounds me. I thought that we were beyond that. But because we obviously aren’t, I want to address this view today. I know that this is a fringe view, and that 95% of you reading this would find it abhorrent. But the underlying philosophy behind it–that women were created primarily to serve men–is still prevalent, and it needs to be debunked.

So let’s jump in.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentMy critique here is from both Thought #5–I’m not in competition with my husband; we’re aiming for oneness instead–and Thought #8–Making love is not the same thing as having sex–from my new book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage.

No passage is as absolutely clear about the mutuality aspect of sex than 1 Corinthians 7.

My commenters used it to say, “she has to do everything he wants, regardless of her feelings,” but a clear reading of the passage shows that this is not what Paul meant.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Look how many times “mutual” is mentioned or implied. Every privilege given to men is also given to women. Sex is about “us”, not him or her.

In fact, it is the WIFE’S sexual concerns that are mentioned first. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife” is the starting point of this passage.

And if the wife has authority over the husband’s body, that means that she can also ask him not to use it in a way that denigrates her.

Nevertheless, some people insist on reading this to mean that women can never say no to anything a husband wants. I even read a post written by a man recently arguing that there is no such thing as marital rape, because of the husband’s authority over the wife’s body.

So what does this idea do–this idea that sex is primarily for him? Let’s look at it together.

It Denigrates Women

If you believe that a wife should give a husband sexually whatever he wants whenever he wants, even if it causes the wife trauma of some sort, then you are saying:

His momentary pleasure is more important than her psychological, sexual, or emotional pain.

Do you know what that reminds me of? Rap music. Have you ever listened to it or read some of the lyrics? Rap music celebrates men using women as they want for their own pleasure, without regard for the woman’s well-being.

We have a serious problem if we are using Scripture to encourage people to view women the way that the rap industry sees women.

It Denigrates Marriage

What I was arguing in the article was this:

Both spouses have legitimate needs. So let’s see how she can find ways to meet his needs as much as she can, while she also maintains some boundaries for her own emotional health and works on her issues.

Let’s have the wife giving to the husband, and the husband giving to the wife, and let’s have them working towards real intimacy and health.

And then the commenters said, “no, she has to give to the husband, period.”

I was arguing for mutuality; they were saying that only she has to give.

One of the basic misunderstandings we have here, I believe, is mistaking the means for the ends.

What is it that Jesus prayed for for his followers? “That they may be one.” (John 17:21). Or what about 1 Corinthians 1:10, that we be “perfectly united in mind and thought”, or 2 Corinthians 3:11, that we be of “one mind”? And when we marry, we become “one flesh”. Oneness is God’s plan for us.

And how do we get there? We serve each other. We submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)–women to their husbands, while husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church.

The goal is oneness; the means are serving, submitting, and loving.

Some people read these “means” as very hierarchical. The woman is to do what the man says. Oneness is no longer the goal; having the husband calling the shots while the wife obeys becomes the goal. And this makes marriage into a hierarchical relationship, rather than an intimate, loving partnership where both support each other.

I deal with this line of thinking quite a bit on this blog, but especially in Thought #5 of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. You can also read more about what submission means and what submission doesn’t mean

It Denigrates Sex

One of the big critiques I make of our culture is that it makes sex into something which is only physical. Sex was supposed to unite us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It is not only a physical experience, and in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex I show how sex is really a spiritual experience, too.

However, if you believe that women should give men what they want sexually, with no regards to themselves, then you make the same mistake the world does. You cheapen sex, making it only physical.

And if you are of the mindset that women were created to serve men (as Debi Pearl argues in Created to Be His Helpmeet, for instance), then it’s easy to make this leap that sexually women were created to serve men, too.

For emotional and spiritual intimacy during sex there has to be mutuality. Sure, sometimes we can have sex just for him–there’s nothing wrong with a quickie, of course! But on the whole, sex should reflect a deeply loving relationship. If sex for you, though, means doing something that you hate, then sex can’t be loving. Sex is only one-way giving. That’s not mutual. That’s servicing someone. And now sex is only physical once again. You’ve wrecked the whole point of sex, which is a deep “knowing” of each other. You can’t get to that level if she’s in pain, if she’s scared, if she’s having flashbacks–and then add to all that, if he doesn’t care.

It Diminishes the Reality of Emotional and Psychological Pain

I sometimes think that these commenters don’t understand that people honestly can experience trauma and pain. People who believe as these commenters do see Christianity as harsh rules: you have to do this or else. Emotional trauma is irrelevant. It’s not important what you feel. What’s important is that you do what God tells you!

But that’s not the picture the Bible gives us. Read the book of Psalms sometime; David was in complete emotional anguish writing most of it. Jeremiah went through bouts of depression; so did Jonah and Elijah. And God never once said, “stop your complaining and just do what I said!” Instead, he gently talked to these prophets and comforted them and showed them who He was and that He cared.

God cares about your emotional and psychological pain.

And He doesn’t want you to go through that pain. He wants to heal it. And healing can’t be done by forcing it. I shared this quotation from the Eldredges on Facebook this week which sums this up perfectly:

Allow room for emotional healing.

Sexual trauma works like this: we are at our most vulnerable sexually, because during sex we completely bare ourselves, physically and emotionally. When there’s trauma, then, it sears us. And if you pressure her to do things that are difficult, you cement in her mind that sex is a negative, horrible experience. If a woman has vaginismus  pain during sex), for instance, and you tell her she has no right to refuse, and she has to “let him” have intercourse several times a week (or everyday), and the whole time she is crying, then she is associating pain, degradation, and fear with sex. Not only is it just physical pain; it’s also a ton of emotional pain as well. That makes healing so that she can enjoy sex and live life abundantly even harder.

Sex is Supposed to Be For Both of You!

Let’s do a thought experiment. Picture a little girl growing up in a family where she’s often dismissed and forgotten. She has an uncle who is drunk a lot who likes to feel up under her shirt. She squirms and tries to get away but she can’t.

When she’s 15, and he’s totally drunk one night, he forces her to perform oral sex on him.

She leaves home shortly thereafter, pulls her life together, and gets married.

Now, when her husband touches her breasts, she’s taken back to that drunken uncle. She feels panicky. She squirms. What she wants, more than anything, is to bolt from the room.

Now picture Jesus standing there.

I don’t like asking the question What Would Jesus Do very often because I think it’s become trite. But sometimes we need to, because we debate theology and interpretation of Scripture so much that we forget about the person of Jesus Christ with whom we actually have a relationship.

So picture that Jesus. Would He say to that panicky woman, “Your husband has authority over your body. You need to repent of withholding, and you need to gladly let him delight in your breasts from now on, whenever your husband wants.”

Or would He say, “I am so heartbroken that someone stole the beauty of sex from you. But I created marriage so that you can understand real intimacy again. Right now, let’s learn to give to each other and love each other as best you can, while you work on healing from this trauma. Because what I want for you, my child, is an abundant life and freedom, and that can come when you run to me.”

Quite frankly, anyone who thinks Jesus would say the first simply does not serve the same Jesus that I do.


Why is He Stressing About THAT? Bearing Each Other’s Burdens

Bearing each other's burdens: Because we all obsess over different things! #marriagetipDoes your husband obsess over things you think are silly? Does he think you worry about nothing?

Maybe it’s time to bear with each other!

And today, on Wifey Wednesday, guest poster Sarah Ball is going to do just that! Sarah writes the awesome blog Virtuous Woman Exposed, and she’s helping me today as I can’t write a post since I’m in an RV driving to Winnipeg!

Here’s Sarah:

What keeps you up at night? Well, besides bad Chinese food, a new season of Nashville, and sounds of your naughty garbage digging puppy dealing with the bad Chinese food. The one thing that keeps me tossing and turning at night are my kids–specifically their hearts.

My husband on the other hand, can saw logs faster than a caffeinated beaver, even after a stressful kid day. What keeps him up at night are our bills, rising gas prices and school fees.

If he shares these stresses with me, my response is usually “it will be fine it’s only money, it will all work out.” I rarely lose sleep over finances.

If I share my “they’re all going to need therapy!” woes with him, he gives me a less than concerned, “they’re fine, this is normal kid stuff.”

Often these sleep-robbing stresses will be our main points of arguments.

I need him to spend more quality time with his boys, and he needs me to stop ‘browsing’ Amazon. It can also be the root of our judgments and criticism towards one another. “Why are you always so hard on your son?” or “Do you seriously need another pair of shoes?”

The point is, sometimes our conflict is really about the burdens we feel and each carry, and our lack of empathy.

Burdens are those worries, and heavy feelings of responsibility that weigh us down. Usually a burden is met with intense anxiety, and a need to control the particular burden. Our greatest burdens are usually what we measure success and failure by. For example, if my children are happy and behaving well, then I feel amazing as a mother. If the bills are paid and there is enough money for brand named Kraft Dinner then my husband is strutting around like a Canadian Curling Club Champion.

Its okay for couples to have separate burdens. Not much would get accomplished as a family if both parents were rocking in the fetal position over a bad report card. However, our separate burdens in marriage can either drive us apart or bring us closer together.

So how do we allow burdens to strengthen our marriage and not divide it?

1. Understand which burdens your spouse carries the most. What do they complain about the most, what affects their self esteem the most? What do they criticize you about the most?

2. Acknowledge to your spouse that you know they carry the weight of this certain burden, and thank them for carrying it.

3. Ask what you can do to relieve the burden for them. God says we are to carry one another’s burdens and this includes our spouses. Take an interest in their burdens, by asking them how it’s going and if there is anything you can do to help alleviate it.

4. Don’t take their burden lightly. In the future, don’t say things like – “It’s not that big of a deal,” because it is to them. Just like your burdens are to you. Try to hear them out.

5. In conflict, try to recognize if it’s their burden that is igniting the fight, or even if it’s your own burden that has you on the attack. Recognizing that it’s the burden talking can help bring some perspective and empathy into the argument. “Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.” ~ Zig Ziglar


6. Pray for one another’s burdens. Pray for your spouse that they will have strength and wisdom over the heavy responsibilities they carry. Also pray that God would show you how to help.

A marriage that shares burdens together is a marriage that deepens and lasts.

Sarah BallSarah Ball is the blogger behind Virtuous Woman Exposed, a columnist, freelance writer and mother of 5 children ages 4-15 and she’s exhausted just writing that. Her passion is to see women set free from shame, fear and bondage. She wants you to know that you can hold your head up high knowing they you are a precious daughter of God.  You can visit her blog at http://www.virtuouswomanexposed.com and you can follow her on FACEBOOK & TWITTER

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have a marriage post to share with us? Just link up the URL of that post in the linky below! And then be sure to link back here so others can read these great posts. It’s a great way to get traffic for your blog!

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.

The Decluttering Fight

 How to Avoid the Decluttering Fight with Your Husband

Can you win the decluttering fight with your husband if you’re married to a packrat?

Today’s guest post is from Sherry Gareis, author of Declutter Now! She’s going to share with us ten questions you can ask while you’re decluttering that can help avoid that big decluttering blow-out.

Declutter Now!: Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your LifeDecluttering, in and of itself, is tough stuff. Finding the time and energy to sort through personal belongings and deciding what to part with can be a taxing process. The challenge multiplies if you’re decluttering with your spouse. Even the most agreeable and workable couples can run into snags. But mix in an unhappy, unhelpful, fearful, or argumentative husband, and the stress level can quickly escalate.

There is a major rule that we, at Declutter Now!, teach and try to live by:

“You cannot declutter for someone else.”

I’m so grateful for this rule because while he won’t admit it, sometimes my husband, Lindon, tries to declutter for me – and I’m NOT having it! This boundary keeps us in line, just as much as it helps the people we coach.

One of our first decluttering tasks was to tackle my desk. More of a ‘collector’ (you understand this ladies, right?) at heart than Lindon, he didn’t see the need for the overwhelming stacks of papers and files I kept. Frankly, there wasn’t a ‘need’ for most of it, but I had to uncover that truth at my own pace. Sometimes ‘stuff’ represents WAY MORE than just ‘stuff’, and this was definitely true for some of the clutter that invaded and took over my desk. I was attached to the security of keeping old records and fearful at the prospect of letting go of these letters, documents, notes, etc.

What IF I needed them someday?

Hmmm….with the bulk of my ‘collection’ ranging from 10 – 20 years old, and largely untouched, I was definitely convicted when attempting to support my argument.

Luckily for Lindon, I was ready, and we made much progress on that first decluttering journey together. I want you to be reassured, though, that I understand the nature of this personal process. Even when critically necessary, it cannot be rushed.

Encouraged and supported? Absolutely!

Rushed? Not a good idea!

So how do spouses successfully declutter when items are community property or areas are common living space?


That’s not a solution!


SURE. But even the most committed prayer warrior isn’t going to clean out a closet just by praying about it.

Give Up?

NEVER. Throwing in the towel isn’t an answer.

You must take steps to ensure that decluttering is both courteous and productive. The secret? Constant communication – before, during, and after you declutter! So here are 10 discussion questions that can help you as you declutter:

3 Discussion questions BEFORE you start to declutter:

  1. What area(s), specifically, do we plan to tackle?
  2. Why are we decluttering? Is it a space we want to repurpose for another use? Are there boxes of memorabilia that need to be sifted through? Are we decluttering to gather items for our next yard sale so we can make a few bucks? Having a clear objective from the get-go will go a long way in aiding decision-making as you begin to work through the process.
  3. What type of items do we intend to toss? Donate? Keep? Sell?  Are we going hardcore or is this a light run-through? Will we each work on just our own stuff or will we sort through everything together?

4 Discussion questions AS you declutter:

  1. Why do you want to keep that particular item? What’s most important about this question is how you say it. If it comes out of your mouth as, “Why in the world would you want to keep that piece of garbage?” you’re going to get nowhere fast! Be sure your tone conveys sincerity.
    For an item of sentimental value – Is there a way we can better honor it rather than just having it packed away? Is there someone else in the family who might appreciate this item more than we do?
    For broken items, discuss whether or not it’s advantageous to splurge on the cost of repairs.
  2. How can we compromise? Perhaps we can each keep something ‘just cuz’, and then we’ll also each decide to get rid of something we know has no value or use. You’d be surprised how many things of ‘no value or use’ get kept for years and years and do nothing but collect dust and take up space. Even the seemingly meaningless can be a source of dissension.
  3. What can we do to motivate each other and reinforce the value of the process? While you work, have fun dreaming about the end result – more space to enjoy, extra money, a feeling of accomplishment, etc. Use words of encouragement to keep each other going along the way and to see the task through to fruition.
  4. How are we going to handle a difference of opinion? Convey a heart of compassion and muster up every ounce of empathy you’ve got. Consider what it would feel like if your spouse wanted to get rid of something very special to you. If at a total impasse, set the item aside and agree on a time limit with which to revisit the conversation. Perhaps enlist the help of a trusted friend. Sometimes a few brainstorming ideas from someone not directly impacted by the decision can do the trick.

3 Discussion questions AFTER you are done decluttering:

  1. How did it go? Not just in terms of actual physical progress, but how do we feel? Peaceful? Free? Accomplished? Did we achieve our goal?
  2. What would we do differently next time? In fact, what is our next decluttering project?
  3. How can we stay decluttered in the future?

Do you see a theme here? Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Open, honest, and compassionate conversation can make the difference between decluttering triumph and abysmal failure.

Overcoming Objections to Decluttering

Perhaps you have misgivings about decluttering with your man. Are there some sensitive areas to address but you’ve been hesitant to broach the subject? Even the closest of couples can encounter ‘touchy subjects’.

If your husband is nervous or resistant to the idea of decluttering, print out this list and use me as the instigator of discussion. Yes, I’m serious! Sometimes it’s easier to get the ball rolling if the prompts and directions are coming from someone outside the camp.

But what if the problem goes deeper than just working together and finding common ground during the process? Perhaps one of you has a severe clutter or hoarding problem? I advise to treat this as seriously as any other destructive, life-debilitating, marriage-destroying issue. Seek help.

The degree of help needed is dependent on the extent of the problem, but consider self-help material, life coaches who specialize in decluttering (Yours Truly!), and counseling.

The Benefits of Decluttering

For most situations, though, decluttering can be fun! Bonding and unification occur at the heart level when you and your spouse work as a team. There’s no greater feeling than when hurdles are overcome and positive results are realized together.

Decluttering, in and of itself, is rewarding enough.  Partnering together, declaring victory over clutter, and feeling the peace and freedom which comes from a job well done is gratifying on its own. But enjoying the benefits as a couple can quickly take decluttering from just a task or to-do on your list to a life-changing, marriage-enriching, incredible experience.

I Hate it When My Husband Touches Me THERE

Reader Question: I hate my breasts being touched! What do you do if one part of your body turns you off--but your husband likes to touch it?“Help! I hate my breasts being touched!”

Every Monday I like to take a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. Here’s one that I think we don’t talk about very much: what do you do if there’s one part of your body that you absolutely HATE being touched during sex? One woman writes:

My husband is obsessed with my breasts and I loathe having them touched 49 times out of 50. If, and it’s a big if, I am super super in the mood I can tolerate them being kissed if it’s brief and there are no hands involved. As soon as they get grabbed/brushed/rubbed/whatever, I at the minimum am set way back on the “in the mood” scale and at worst go absolutely cold and want him to get away from me immediately. For 6 years I’ve been telling him to leave my breasts alone and for 6 years almost daily he has been making grabs at them and more recently telling me I’m withholding.

He’s a wonderful husband, but why can’t I have one thing that I am allowed to say “I’m not comfortable with that”? No reasoning or excuse has made any difference to him in what he feels is his God-given right. Most women ARE turned on by it…but I’m not one of them. On the contrary, it’s a huge turn off. He’s not rough or mean or anything. He’s a wonderful man. I just hate being touched there. (Side note: nursing children felt like a huge amount of self sacrifice for the same reason so it’s not an issue with my husband). He wants me to just get over it. How?! Just tolerate something that I despise just to make him happy? Then what? How can I get in the mood when I want to bolt from the room? I have no issues with being touched elsewhere and he’s always considerate in virtually every other area of our marriage. This one “small” issue has become a big hang up for us and I just don’t know what to do anymore.


The wife who flunks at foreplay

You’re Not Alone! Many Women Don’t Like Being Touched in Certain Places

First I want to say, loudly and clearly: You’re not alone. Many women find parts of their bodies are just off-limits sexually. For some it may be breasts; for others it may be just the nipple; for some it may be him inserting his fingers inside the vagina. (True story: every Girl Talk I give I have a Q&A part where I answer anonymous questions. I once had a woman ask, “I know guys like sticking their fingers “up there”, but it creeps me out. Why does my husband have to make it seem like he’s digging for gold or something?” At the time the question was funny, but I certainly felt for her).

I can’t tell this particular woman what to do because I don’t know enough of the story, but I’d like to give 4 big picture questions to think about, and then some tips for where to go from here.

When You Hate Your Breasts Being Touched--or something else being touched--and it's hurting your marriage

Check Your Past

Sometimes certain body parts (or certain acts, like oral sex, for instance) are really creepy for us because of past abuse, or past things we’ve seen on TV or in movies when we are at certain ages that scarred us. We may also feel deep shame about certain parts of our bodies. When it comes to breasts, for instance, many women with larger breasts were mortified when they were 11 or 12 when the breasts started to grow, and no one else in their class at school had them. So they became a source of ridicule.

And then, as you got older, perhaps guys would fixate on them–even older men. It made you feel dirty. It made you think men were disgusting. It made you feel repulsed.

Today, when your husband that you love touches you there, it throws you back to that time when you were totally repulsed and creeped out.

This is NOT the case for everyone who hates their breasts being touched or who hates another body part being touched, but it can be quite common.

Basically you’ve developed what’s almost a phobia of it. And you CAN get over phobias. More on that in a minute.

Check the Control Issue

Is it that you hate having your breasts touched or that you hate someone else touching your breasts? I’ve had letters from women with both scenarios. One woman, for instance, couldn’t stand it if someone else touched her breasts, but could handle it if she did. Another woman freaked when her husband tried to insert his fingers into her vagina–but she couldn’t do it either.

Check the Timing

Often things that we REALLY don’t like suddenly become pleasurable right before orgasm. So you may think you don’t like your breasts touched (and you legitimately don’t), but when you’re really aroused suddenly you do. Similarly, many women find their nipples too sensitive to touch, but just before orgasm they actually want them sucked or pinched. But they may not know that about themselves until they check! So you may want to just check that out–is it a timing thing? Or is it truly all the time?

Check Your Sensitivity

There’s a difference between being completely grossed out and simply not being turned on. Is it that being touched makes you want to run for cover and scream (like this woman here), or is that when he touches your breasts, for instance, it does nothing for you and you start to make a shopping list in your head instead? Is it that it repulses you, or is it that it’s just not sexual for you?

What To Do When You Hate Your Breasts Being Touched (or something else being touched)

Now let’s move on to some solutions and ideas which may help. Not all of these may apply to you; choose the ones you think you can handle.

Have “His” Nights and “Her” Nights

Have one Saturday (or whenever) that’s his a month, and one that’s yours, and then every other time you make love it’s for both of you. And on “his” nights he can do what he wants to his heart’s content, but on the other nights he doesn’t. If you can get in the mood of saying, “this is for him and it’s a gift I’m giving him just tonight” that can help.

Even if you’re really repulsed, knowing that it’s only one or two nights a month and not all the time can help you mentally deal with it. Also, when you know it’s “his” nights there’s not the same effort to get in the mood yourself. You can totally throw yourself into it for him. And then the repulsion may not be as great (if that’s what you feel) because it’s not supposed to be turning you on. When it is supposed to be sexual, it actually makes the repulsion worse.

Take Control and Put on a Show

If you can’t stand other people touching you there (wherever it may be), then one possible route may be to do it yourself while he watches. Lather up some cream on your hands and rub it on your breasts slowly for foreplay.

If you need to be in control, then take that control. Even hold his hands while he touches you, so you guide his hands so you’re still in control. And the more you do this, the more the phobia may go away–or the more you may realize that that part of your body can be pleasurable, because when you’re in control you’re able to focus on it at your leisure.  There’s not the pressure of wondering, “what in the world is he going to do next?”

Talk to a Psychologist About a Phobia

If it really is to the level that you can’t stand being touched at all, then I’d suggest talking to a psychologist about it–a psychologist who has treated people for phobias (like phobias of spiders, phobias of dirt, etc.) Don’t just talk to one who wants to analyze you; talk to someone who will take you through exercises to get actually deal with this phobia.

Many people don’t find certain body parts pleasurable that most people find pleasurable–some women find nipples a turn off because they’re too sensitive, or can’t stand being manually stimulated on the clitoris for the same reason. But that’s very different from freaking any time someone touches a breast. So if it’s to the point where it’s really impeding your relationships and your sexuality, don’t settle for that! Deal with it. Christ came to set us free, and something is holding you back from what you were designed for. It doesn’t always have to be like that.

Talk to Your Husband

Finally, talk to your husband really openly about this. In this woman’s case it sounds like her husband is completely disregarding her feelings, and I think that some compromise (like the his nights and her nights) is definitely warranted. Say something like,

“I want our sex life to be great, but this is something which is a real stumbling block for me. When you touch me there, it makes me really panicky. So here’s what I’d like to do: I’d like to look at ways that we can slowly help me to feel more comfortable. I’m going to try to figure out the root and try to deal with the phobia. I’m going to give you certain days when you can certainly touch them, and other days when I’ll do a bit of a show. But I also need you to give me space and love. I’m not cutting you off entirely, but I need space to feel comfortable and figure this out. If you can’t give me that space, then I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with this and it will be a constant struggle in our marriage.

Sex is for both of us, and by touching me there all the time you are robbing me of my sexuality. Like I said, I want to give you some times to enjoy my breasts, but for now, as I seek healing, it has to be on my terms. I’d ask you to do this out of love for me and out of respect for our relationship, for the health of it and for the future of our sexual life together.”

Keep those lines of communication open, and talk to him honestly about what you feel now, what you hope to feel in the future, and your plans to get there. If he knows that you’re trying and that you want this too, then hopefully you can work towards feeling more comfortable together!

31 Days to Great SexIf you’re having trouble communicating about sex and what you want and what makes you feel comfortable, my book 31 Days to Great Sex can help! It’s a 31-day challenge that you do with your husband. And don’t worry: you do not have to have sex for 31 days straight! Many of the challenges just help you to talk about it, sometimes for the first time. It’s easy, it’s low key, and you’ll learn how to talk together, dream together, address libido differences, be more affectionate, figure out how to make it feel good for HER, spice things up, and keep the momentum going. The big benefit that many women have said to me is that “we finally were able to talk!” So this will help women in this situation, too!

Look at 31 Days to Great Sex

Have you ever been through this in your marriage? Is something a huge turn-off for you that most people like? Let me know in the comments how you dealt with it! (and you can be anonymous, of course).

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.