Wifey Wednesday: Keeping Sex Alive When You Face ED (Erectile Dysfunction)

 

Sex Life and ED in Marriage: How to keep your sex life alive

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below. Today we’re concluding a 3-part series on sexual dysfunction in marriage, and today we’re going to wrap it up by talking about ED in marriage–and how to keep your sex life alive.

We talked on Monday about the different causes of ED (erectile dysfunction), and how to deal with them. And yesterday we tackled premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation. We looked at how porn was often, though not always, the underlying cause of ED and other problems.

But what about when porn isn’t the problem? What about when it is a physical issue, and it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight?

Here’s an email I received from one woman, for instance:

ED has been an ongoing health issue for my husband for years. It happened gradually, but now we never have sex. Of course that has left a huge void in our marriage. But we’ve been together 29 years, so it’s not a deal breaker either. He’s seen a doctor who found an enlarged prostate, and he takes meds for that. The other stuff to enhance erections are not covered by our insurance, and we can’t afford the out of pocket expenses. He’s also very sensitive to some meds and does not like the long string of side effects that can happen from those.

So how has that affected our relationship? “There is other intimacy you can have,” you say? Well, when a man loses his ability to perform sex, he also gradually loses his other intimacy practices. i.e., playful touch, hugging, flirting — basically anything that might lead to sex. It’s disappointing to us both — we talk about it rarely — it’s hurtful. I get resentful sometimes that he won’t knock down the doors of every medical institution to “get it fixed,” like I imagine he should want to. But the truth is, that even with couples who still have a healthy sex life, it takes work, and sometimes planning to make that time happen. It’s easier to skip because you are too tired or whatever so you get content not having sex. Same thing for us, only it’s because it’s too hurtful to try and disappoint. I feel like we’ve settled.

Am I happy with the sexless part? Not at all. Do I Iove my husband? Dearly!

I still have hope that one day God will restore this part of our marriage. But I’ve accepted that He might not as well.

What do you do when ED, or other sexual dysfunction, is a physical problem, but you don’t want the sexual side of your relationship to end? You do want to feel intimate. You do want to feel pleasure. You want to be able to laugh again without this BIG THING between you–this feeling like you’re distant, and you’re settling, and things will never be totally good again.

I want to give just a few thoughts today, and hope that others who have gone through something similar will chime in, too. I’m not going to talk about how to cure ED today, since I talked about that on Monday. I want to just talk about how to revive your sex life even if things still aren’t working like clockwork.

Acknowledge that He is Grieving about His ED

If your husband can no longer have intercourse, chances are he’s really grieving. A huge part of his life–what many would say is the most important part–seems gone. Let him air these feelings without having to fix them. Now is not the time to say, “but we can still do X…” Just let him vent. And hold him. And tell him, “I will always love you, and we will get through this, and we will find our way.”

But let him grieve.

You Need to Be Able to Communicate About the Sexual Dysfunction and what it Means

That being said, you can’t stay in the grieving process. You have to move on, and you have to find your way through towards a new kind of intimacy.

Now, you aren’t going to be able to do anything if you can’t first talk about the issue. So the question isn’t really “how can we save our sex life if he has ED”, but rather, “how can we keep talking about our sex life if he has ED, and not ignore the elephant in the room?”

Here’s some general guidelines for keeping these lines of communication open. And these suggestions build on each other–as in do #1 before #3.

1. Laugh everyday. Do things together OUTSIDE the bedroom and work on your friendship.

2. Find other hobbies to do together so that you still feel like a unit.

3. When you talk about wanting a sex life, stress that you want intimacy, not intercourse. Stress that you do not think he is a failure or that you want him to be different; the issue is simply that you don’t want to lose what you still can have. Your life is simply different, but your relationship can still grow.

For more ideas you can see my post here about how to talk to your husband if he has no libido, since the issues are actually quite similar.

See Sex as More Than Intercourse

Sex is about being intimate together. It’s about becoming one flesh. It’s about sharing something with one person that you don’t share with anybody else. It’s about becoming open and vulnerable together.

And you can do all of those things without intercourse.

Obviously intercourse is the culmination of this, and when health problems aren’t a factor, I would never recommend giving up intercourse. But if intercourse just doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop being sexual beings.

Sex can be about being naked together; sex can be about doing full body massages with massage oil, switching places. Sex can be about taking baths together and talking about your dreams for the future. Sex can be about deep kisses.

Talk to him about how you still want these things in your life. Our letter writer wrote that when ED hits, it’s not just sex that she loses. It’s kissing and touching and affection, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Let him know that you still want to touch him. Again, acknowledge his grief, and tell him you’re grieving, too. But you’ve lost intercourse. You’re not willing to lose everything else, too.

Do What You Can Despite the ED

Some men have intermittent ED, where it works sometimes and it doesn’t work others. Or perhaps he suffers from premature ejaculation where he doesn’t like to have to sex often because he’s afraid he won’t perform well. Agree that you will do what you can–meaning you’ll have intercourse when it works, and when it doesn’t, that’s okay. But it’s not a PASS/FAIL system. Don’t think of each sexual encounter being about orgasm; think about it being about pleasure. See how much pleasure you can give each other, whether or not you come to orgasm.

In fact, start talking about it that way. Instead of, “can we make love tonight?”, or “can we have sex tonight?”, let’s say, “can we feel good together tonight?”

If he honestly can never reach an orgasm, he may be reluctant to do anything sexual. But you can ask him to help you feel good anyway, and see if you can help him feel pleasure when he can. And remember–you can still massage and kiss and feel close. If an encounter doesn’t go the way you had hoped it would, don’t get upset, just go with the flow. It’s really okay. Yes, you’re missing something you once enjoyed, but you still have your husband. You can be sexual without intercourse. Be grateful for what you do have, and think positive things, instead of casting a negative pall over the marriage.

Schedule Your Sexual Times

The default when sexual dysfunction like ED hits your marriage is to cut way back on sex. He doesn’t even want to try. And then when you initiate, he may turn you down. You feel rejected, and he feels like a failure, and you don’t want to keep bringing up those feelings, so you stop initiating. Yet every night, there’s that unspoken question, “should we try anything?” Even if nothing is said, it’s there, between you. And you feel it every time you roll over and turn your back to him as you go to sleep.

One way around this that works well for some couples is to schedule sex. It isn’t necessarily the time that you have intercourse; it’s the time that you spend together naked, massaging, feeling whatever pleasure you can, kissing, and just dreaming and talking together in bed.

I firmly suggest, as forcefully as I can, that shortly after the diagnosis of some sort of sexual dysfunction (with a physical cause), that you agree that at least once a week you will have a “sexual night”. Make it regular, like every Tuesday or every Saturday, and don’t change it except in extreme circumstances. That way you both know what to expect, you don’t feel rejected and nervous and on edge all the other nights of the week (because you do know what’s coming), and he can start anticipating things so that he can also get in the right frame of mind.

Now, this isn’t going to work if you can’t talk about things, which is why it’s so important to work first on communicating. I realize that many people will say, “my husband just won’t do this”, because he feels so much like a failure he’d rather shut down completely than be reminded of what he’s missing. But that’s not a good solution, and couples would be better off if they saw this. So I’d keep at it–keep praying, keep talking to your husband, keep laughing, and keep communicating, stressing intimacy and pleasure, not intercourse. Don’t give up. See a counselor if you have to. But intimacy is still possible, and is so important in your marriage. Don’t write it off just because sex doesn’t work like it once did.

I’d love to know: how is this working in your marriage? How have you find talking to your husband about this? Have you found ways around it? Let me know in the comments!

Christian Marriage Advice

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Wifey Wednesday: Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

Supporting Your Adventure Loving Husband

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! And today Renee Tougas is joining us to share her story about her adventure loving husband.

I met my husband twenty years ago. We met at a Christian campus organization camping trip. That should have been my first clue.

I always knew my husband liked the outdoors and physical activity. When I met him he biked, hiked, kayaked, rock climbed, and lifted weights. A lot of young men are into those things. They like the physical challenge, the “muscle building”, and the adventure.

It wasn’t Damien’s sense of adventure that attracted me to him or even his muscles though. It was his steady nature. I am a reactive personality type. I am expressive in both my highs, and my lows. My husband is the near opposite of me and I fell in love with his easy going nature.

I was nineteen years old. I had no idea what I was getting into.

SONY DSCI was looking for a steady sort because though I was young I knew what I wanted in life. My dream was to be a wife and a mom. I wanted to stay home with my babies. I wanted home to be my first career and after that, well, I’d figure it out when the time came.

I was looking for a man. Call me old fashioned but I wanted someone who could provide and protect. I was frugal, and still am. I didn’t want much in the way of worldly goods but I wanted a solid, steady family life.

God gave me my husband to make those dreams come true. And to stretch me beyond those dreams in ways I could not have imagined.

As much as my husband was the steady I was seeking, he is also a visionary adventurer; not content to stay put or accept status quo. He questions and he quests. I knew a bit of this when we married, I have those tendencies myself. But I like to do my questioning from a place of relative comfort and security.

God knew what I needed. Someone to stretch me beyond the comfort and security of my carefully constructed world.

I connect with a lot of women through my blog FIMBY. I’m not a marriage expert but after seventeen years together I am happily married and still head-over-heals in-love. I guess that counts for something.

A blog reader, who was about to get married, asked me if I had any words of wisdom to share.

My advice went something like this: “Your life, your marriage, your spouse will probably surprise you in some way. Hold onto each other for dear life and be ready to change and grow.”

My own major growth spurt came a few years into our marriage. The early years of our marriage were very much about establishing home and family. Making a home in the various apartments we rented, making babies and taking care of them, learning how to be a good manager of our finances and my time. We bought a home, started homeschooling and I tended our backyard garden. I was living my dream.

And then my husband wanted to live his dream.

He has many dreams actually. He’s a dreamer. A steady provider yes, but a dreamer too. And there were things he wanted to do besides build a home and family. He wanted some adventure.

kids-campfireThus began the most significant growth curve of our married life – saying yes to my husband’s dreams. Saying yes to adventure. Saying yes to a lot of personal and marital growth that was at times physically painful and uncomfortable (like the first time backpacking!).

Something funny happened.

This comfort-loving, routine-seeking homemaker became an adventurer herself. I fell in love with the things my husband wanted to do. Hiking, backpacking, cross-country running, and backcountry skiing. I started to welcome more spontaneity into my life, and let loose the grip I had on how things must be.

I learned a few things along the way that may help you support an adventure-loving husband also.

Be his best friend.

My husband wants to be with me. He choose me. He’s rather go hiking, skiing or any other activity with me than anyone else. What a gift.

We choose each other when we made our vows. We choose to throw our lots in together, come you-know-what or high water. And trust me, I’ve experienced some “high water” moments in our adventures. But the fact remains my husband would still rather do these things with emotionally expressive me over anyone else.

We have made a conscious choice not to go separate ways in our hobbies and pursuits, instead investing time in together activities so our we get to spend as much time with each other as possible.

backpacking-autumn-leavesJust say yes. Not everyone is married to a dreaming, adventure loving husband. You might be the adventurer in your marriage, or adventurous in areas that your husband is not.

I think what our spouses want from us, regardless of which one leads the adventures, is that we say “yes”. Can we say yes every single time? Probably not. My husband has so many ideas. Too many ideas. We can’t do all the ideas, someone has to help sift through and think through them all. My “down-to-earth” managerial skills come in handy there.

But I need to say yes more than I say no.

Saying yes to our adventurous and visionary husbands communicates “I believe in you”.

It communicates respect. My husband thrives, he is fulfilled and driven to provide for our family, when he feels I respect and believe in him.

This summer I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with my best friend and the three children our love brought into existence. We are embarking on an adventure that was just a dream one time for my questing husband but because I said Yes, is now a reality.

Are you married to a visionary adventurer?

Maybe your husband is an outdoors adventurer. And he would love nothing more than to spend days in the wilderness with you, hiking and camping.

Or maybe your husband is an adventurer of a different sort. An entrepreneur or perhaps involved in ministry, blazing a trail into territory that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for you.

Regardless of which kind of adventurer he is, I bet he wants, more than anything, to have you join him. To be his adventurer-in-arms. To have you say “yes”, just like you did those years ago when he proposed.

If your family loves adventures of the outdoor kind and would love inspiration, ideas, and encouragement for how to make more of that happen in your life, follow our adventure this summer by subscribing to our video series Beyond our Boundaries: A Family Adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Never heard of the Appalachian Trail? You can read all about it and details of our family adventure here.

How do you support your adventure-loving husband? Let me know in the comments!

Renee TougasRenee Tougas is a hiker and homemaker; a mother and wife; a writer and photographer. Fresh and honest, Renee’s blog FIMBY is the story of interest-led learning, creative and adventurous family living.



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Why It’s Okay to Think About Sex

Thinking about Sex: Hey, married women, maybe we should do this more!

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! And today best-selling author Shannon Ethridge is joining us with an excerpt from her new book, The Passion Principles, where she shares about how thinking about sex is perfectly okay:

In the summer of 1999 we took our young children for an afternoon outing to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. As we entered an area called the “Texas Petting Zoo,” Erin and Matthew were thrilled over the thought that they’d actually be getting hands-on experience with the animals. Our first stop was the Longhorn cattle pen, where several dozen parents and children waited their turn to pet the new baby calf, which just happened to be tucked up underneath his mama’s udders for an afternoon snack.

My three-year old son watched this scene in amazement, then boldly inquired of me in his loudest outdoor voice, “Mama, did you do that to me when you was a cow?”

Every adult within earshot giggled, and I had to join them. It was an honest question, so I gave an honest answer and replied, “Matthew, I actually did feel like a cow when I was doing that to you!” The giggling turned to guffaws of laughter, and thus a precious memory was made that afternoon.

Not only did Matthew learn how baby calves and baby boys were fed by their mothers, he also learned how many baby animals are made. It seemed like every cage we encountered was filled with animals in heat. The giraffes were necking, the gazelles were horny, the camels were humping. It was like someone spiked the hay with some powerful aphrodisiac. And of course, there was always an inquiring child in the crowd wanting to know, “What are those two animals doing?”

Although humans are certainly on a much higher intellectual and spiritual plane than animals, our basic physical instincts are really not very different. We have four main activities that we naturally gravitate toward over and over—eating, drinking, sleeping, and sexually connecting with our mates. It’s simply how God wired us, and it’s a beautiful thing if you consider the big-picture purposes He had in mind.

Why did God wire us for hunger and thirst? So we wouldn’t starve to death or get dehydrated and make ourselves sick. So our bodies could thrive and manufacture the energy we need to function when we respond to these natural instincts with healthy food and water.

Why did God wire us for sleep? So our bodies and brains could rest and get reenergized for another day of living for His glory. So we could go about our days feeling refreshed, at least until our batteries needed to be recharged once again.

Why did God wire us for sex? Just to name a few reasons:

• to bring beautiful babies into the world,
• so our bodies and brains could experience intense physical pleasure,
• to release stress and tension,
• to medicate emotional pain,
• so our hearts and spirits would feel intimately connected and passionately bonded to another human being,
• so we would feel passionately loved, and have a powerful way of communicating to another that he or she is deeply loved as well.

Most of us can accept our hunger, our thirst, and our need for sleep as perfectly natural, but the fact that we’re sexual creatures can be hard to accept, at least not without a certain degree of guilt. But do we ever feel guilty for experiencing true hunger several times a day? Or genuine thirst? Do we ever feel sinful for growing sleepy every eighteen hours or so? Of course not. It’s how our bodies function, and, like those zoo animals, we don’t waste much time analyzing it at all. We just feed those needs in order to satisfy ourselves.

So why do we waste time and energy analyzing, justifying, fretting, or feeling guilty over our sexual needs and desires? Seems silly, doesn’t it?

I believe the reason we worry about our sexuality is because we have somehow bought the lie that sex is dirty, shameful, base, animalistic, and hedonistic rather than natural, instinctual, spiritual, sublime, and holy. As a result, some of us have lost our ability to accept, embrace, or celebrate that facet of our humanity. Instead, we may shudder with shock and embarrassment to seriously consider how often our brains entertain sexual thoughts. In fact, many of us wish we could just flip a switch and never think of sex at all. Some have actually mastered a variety of techniques that allow them to do just that—to ignore and neglect their natural, God-given sexuality altogether. While I’m certainly not trying to shame anyone, I think the fact that we’ve grown so adept at absolutely starving our natural sexual desires is, indeed, a crying shame.

But what if we learned to accept the fact that God has created us as sexual human beings, and a natural, healthy sex drive comes part and parcel with that blueprint? That sexual thoughts are as natural as a hunger pain? Or a dry mouth? Or sleepy eyes? What if we could grow as comfortable with and ecstatic over a delightful afternoon tryst in our marriage bed as we are with, say, a plate full of our favorite holiday foods, a cup hot cocoa or apple cider, and an afternoon nap to ease the calorie-induced coma? Yes, it is possible to enjoy sex as freely as we indulge in satisfying these other natural cravings!

We must grasp the fact that God placed these human desires in us for a reason—for many divine reasons, actually. If we had no internal compass pointing us toward food, couldn’t we starve to death? If we had no recurring thoughts of drinking liquids, we’d dehydrate within forty-eight hours! No natural gravitational pull toward a pillow means we’d become physically exhausted to the point of delirium within a few short days. Although individuals can live without sex for long periods of time, or even a lifetime if they so choose, let’s think in terms of the bigger picture.

What if humans in general didn’t have any sort of sexual appetite at all? What would happen? Not only would we become painfully disconnected and isolated from one another, but the human race would eventually die off within a century or so! Heaven forbid!

God gave us natural, healthy appetites for everything that our minds, bodies, and souls need. These appetites guarantee our optimum survival. As such, these appetites are certainly a blessing, not a burden. So let’s embrace, cherish, and celebrate them fully!

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for healthy sexual appetites, and for godly ways to satisfy them! May husbands and wives both find great pleasure in one another, and may our marriage relationships bring you great glory as we learn to love each other fully and unreservedly!


Shannon EthridgeShannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master’s degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of 21 books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman’s Battle series. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs and mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her BLAST Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers). Her most recent book is The Passion Principles. Find more information on Shannon here.

Christian Marriage Advice
Now 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!



Is Screen Time Robbing Your Marriage?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Today please welcome Arlene Pellicane, author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, as she shares great insight into how we choose to spend our time as a couple (and as a family).

is screen time robbing your marriageA few months ago, I was speaking at a youth event about keeping your family relationships alive in a screen-driven world.

A father came up to me afterwards, not to talk about his teens and their love of technology, but his wife’s.

His wife is a ministry leader at church and social media has really allowed her to expand her reach to encourage wives, no matter where they live, at whatever time of day.  It all started very innocently.  A text, a tweet, a Facebook message.  But as she began to engage more with women through social media, she discovered she was really meeting a need in the lives of many friends.

The only problem was her love for social media was leaving her husband out in the cold.

This man talked about how his wife was constantly on her phone.  If they were in the car together, she was texting.  When they were sitting face to face at a dinner date, what was she doing?  Yes, you guessed it…she was using her phone.  It was driving him crazy!  Her husband tried to tell her that she needs to put down the phone and engage with him, but so far, nothing has changed.  And he doesn’t want to nag because otherwise, he says, she’s a perfect wife.

Technology, while bringing this wife closer to many of her friends, is driving a wedge between her and her once-happy husband.

It really could happen to any one of us, couldn’t it?  The phone makes us carry around the “urgent” inside our pocket while the “important” sits across from us at the dinner table waiting for when you have a spare moment.

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing smart about a phone that alienates you from the ones you love most.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It’s not the phone that’s the problem.  It’s the way we use our phones which can get us into trouble.  And we don’t only have phones that compete with quality time with our spouses; there’s television, Pinterest, DVRs, and much more.

So here’s the question for you to consider today:  Would your marriage relationship improve if you and your spouse unplugged from your devices more often?

According to a Nielsen report, the average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television, plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.  Think of all that time that could be spent in more meaningful ways.  You could pick up a new hobby with your mate, go out to dinner, walk in the park, or snuggle up on the couch together with some great books.

My family doesn’t get cable but that doesn’t mean we’re not tempted to succumb to screen time during all our waking hours.  My husband James and I realized that after we put our three kids to bed in the evening, we would retreat to our computers and answer emails, browse headlines, check Facebook, and watch YouTube videos.  One night James said, “I’m on the computer all day, why am I wasting time at night on this thing?”  So we decide to try something new.  When the kids went to bed, we would power off our devices.

Turning off the computer earlier in the evening has been rejuvenating.

Not only is it a much better way to get a good night sleep, it gives space for my relationship with James.  We can talk, snuggle, read together, pray, or kiss…and all of these options are better than updating my Facebook status!

So the next time you are aimlessly flipping through channels, clicking through websites, or texting like a wild woman, stop yourself and ask:

What could be a better use of my time right now?

Does this activity help or harm my relationship with my husband?

Would anybody really care if I missed this program or didn’t engage in social media right now? 

When you turn off your electronic devices more often, you’ll turn on better things like red hot monogamy (as my friend author Pam Farrel calls it), quality time, and a stronger connection with the one who matters most – your husband.

Let’s make sure our husbands know they are more important than texts, tweets, pins and posts.  Not just with our words, but with our daily actions.

So it’s okay ladies…I give you permission to be unreachable and turn your phone…off.

More Screen Time Equals Less Marital Satisfaction

Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpg31 Days to Becoming a Happy WifeArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.  She and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children.  You can learn more about her ministry at www.ArlenePellicane.com

 

 

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Wifey Wednesday: Sexual Options Besides Intercourse

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Today please welcome Julie Sibert from Intimacy in Marriage, who is sharing about creative options for alternatives to sex, when necessary because intercourse isn’t possible or desired.

Being a writer and speaker about sex in marriage, I’m obviously a big fan of the one-flesh aspect of intercourse.

God clearly designed a husband’s body and a wife’s body to unite together in the intimate experience of intercourse.  Though it’s not always easy to first figure out the coordination and rhythm needed to make love, nearly all married couples master it within a relatively short period of time.

But what about when intercourse is not an option, either because of medical reasons or other limiting factors?  (The most obvious one for a woman would be the latter stages of pregnancy when sex may be uncomfortable or for the 6-8 weeks after childbirth.  There also may be other medical conditions or injuries for a husband or wife that are not completely debilitating, but still make actual intercourse difficult, so that alternatives to intercourse are necessary).

And even when those limiting factors aren’t present, is there value in a husband and wife enjoying sexual pleasure together that doesn’t always include intercourse?  Yes! There are alternatives to sex that you can still enjoy.

Alternatives to Sex: 3 Ways to Enjoy Sexual Pleasure in Marriage Beyond Intercourse

When you learn to embrace and nurture sexual arousal that is not limited to intercourse alone, the positive effects on your marriage can be profound – endearing you to each other in a way that you never would have considered otherwise.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about completely replacing intercourse.  Not at all. I’m merely saying that a husband and wife’s ability to bring each other sexual delight is a powerful privilege that simply can’t be narrowed to intercourse only.

Here are 3 suggestions for alternatives to sex:

1. Use your hands.

Touch is amazing. Sadly, I think too many couples downplay or short-circuit the extent they can use their hands to bless and affirm their spouse.

Too often, sex becomes overly focused on the penis and vagina, and the couple overlooks other areas of the body that are quite responsive to touch.

When you are naked with your spouse, don’t be in a hurry to get to intercourse.  (In fact, consider taking your time getting naked, possibly undressing each other sensually).

When you start caressing with your hands and fingertips, consider all parts of the body.

Some areas where sexual arousal can be enhanced through touch include the hair, scalp, face, neck, ears, arms, under the arm, sides of the chest, inner thigh, around the knees, back of knee, navel and virtually anywhere on your spouse’s backside.

As a wife, it may be extremely arousing (for you and him) when your husband lightly caresses your breasts and nipples. And for a man, he may find it incredibly exciting to have you caress his inner thighs and testicles.

Use a mix of light and firm touches, with smooth transitions.  Don’t overthink it. You will do just fine if you just consider yourself on a sweet tender mission to explore every part of your spouse’s body.

Respond accordingly to how they react.

When your spouse is caressing you, give feedback.  Offer specific praises or suggestions like, “I really love it when you use your fingernails on my scalp” or “That is so amazing when you lightly touch my inner thigh.”

And don’t be afraid to use your hands (and possibly a lubricant) to bring your spouse to climax.  If you spend enough time caressing each other’s body, you’ll find your desire to have an orgasm will increase.  Why not allow your spouse to use their hands to get you there?

Remember, you are in the exclusivity of your marriage bed, so consider it your private sexual playground to arouse each other.

2. Use your mouth.

I’m sure at first glance at this tip, you think I’m just referring to oral sex.  Certainly, oral pleasure can be such a gratifying way to give and receive sexual love, but using your mouth in other ways to arouse your spouse is enjoyable to explore.

The mouth is full of numerous sensory receptors, so it’s no surprise that when you and your spouse spend more time kissing passionately, your sexual interest and arousal is bound to increase.

And don’t hesitate to use your lips and tongue on your spouse’s entire body.

3. Use your words.

How often are you sexually playful and sexually affirming in the way you speak to your spouse?

There is power in words.  Are you using yours to delightfully intensify the sexual arousal between the two of you?

Discretely, yet intentionally, initiate conversations that are sexual in nature with your spouse.  (These can be particularly powerful if done when your spouse is least expecting it).  Whispering sweetly – and even erotically – in your spouse’s ear will likely stir their curiosity and desire in an all-consuming sort of way, creating intense anticipation.

If handled well, these conversations definitely will lead to two people in bed. And all their clothing on the floor. How delightful is that?!

With the use of your hands, mouth and words, you can heighten the sexual pleasure in your marriage, making sex about more than just intercourse.

Do you see what a difference that could make in the intimate connection you and your spouse share?

Julie Sibertpursuit of passionJulie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage and is the co-author of Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage.  You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer dog.

 

Now, do you have any advice for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!



Wifey Wednesday: Are You Modelling a Good Marriage for Your Kids?

Are You Modeling a Good Marriage for Your Kids?

It’s Wednesday, when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can comment or link up a marriage post of your own in the linky below! Today I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Are you modeling a good marriage for your kids?

We’ve been talking this week about raising kids to make good decisions. On Monday we talked about how to help kids understand it’s better to wait to date, and yesterday my 16-year-old shared her thoughts on why she’s not dating in high school. Tomorrow my 19-year-old will chime in, answering “why do teenagers rebel?” (and what we can do to make that less likely).

But all of this really comes down to the relationships that you model with your kids. It’s great to teach them things, but it’s so much better to show them. When you model a great marriage, they will want to have what you have. They’re far less likely to look for shortcuts.

Now modeling a great marriage means that you have to actually have a good marriage! You can’t just fake it. But remember that a good marriage is not a perfect marriage. It’s okay if kids see that you’re still working some things through, as long as they also see that you’re doing it in a healthy way. And what is it that you want kids to see?

In a Good Marriage, Spouses are Affectionate Towards Each Other

Kids need to know you actually like each other! It’s so important for them to see you physically touch. It helps them understand more about sexuality, and it helps them feel secure, that your marriage is okay. The majority of women who write to me who have sexual issues in their marriage will say something like, “In our house sex was never talked about and I never saw my mom or dad touch or kiss each other.” It was something that was so distant that it felt like it was wrong.

Affection is a wonderful thing. Now some of us are huggers and some of us aren’t. Some of us can easily give our husband a quick kiss in front of people and some of us would be mortified. Obviously we all have different comfort levels. But I do think it’s very important, even if you’re not a touchy person, to let your kids see you hold hands. Let them see you caress his shoulder or put your hand on his leg when he’s driving. Let them see you put your head on his shoulder if you’re sitting on the couch together. Even let them see you kiss! It helps them feel really secure, but perhaps more importantly, it helps them see that marriage is fun! If the only people they ever see being affectionate are those who aren’t married, what are they going to learn? Marriage is where love goes to die. 

In a Good Marriage, Spouses Fight, but Resolve Conflict

Keith and I have had our share of fights in front of the kids. We’ve snapped at each other. I’ve retreated into silence or short answers at times. I’m not proud of those moments, but they happen. And we’ve always tried to make sure that if they see us mad, they also see us apologizing and working it out.

Often when parents are mad they say nothing because they don’t want the kids to know. But kids sense the tension and they sense the silence, even if you haven’t said anything to them. And when kids know there’s trouble, but they don’t know what that trouble is, they often assume it’s worse than it is.

I’m not advocating yelling in front of the kids, or calling names, or airing all your dirty laundry. But if something happens right then and there, and you start snapping, kids see it. That’s not wonderful. But what is wonderful is if they can also see you resolve it.

Everybody has tension; if you can show them how to get around that tension, how to apologize, and how to forgive and move on you will have taught them something really important indeed.

Bonus points if you can also let them see you praying together, especially about problems. If you get angry and apologize, and then you take each other hands and say a quick prayer of repentance and blessing on the other person, that speaks volumes. I know not everyone who reads this blog is a Christian, but I can’t stress the importance enough of modeling a strong spiritual life and faith to your kids.

Spouses in a Good Marriage Value Each Other’s Opinions

Kids need to see that marriage is a partnership where you respect each other, and where you honour each other by checking in before you make a decision. If your child asks for something like a cell phone, you listen to their reasons and talk to them about it, and then say, “let me check with Daddy and we’ll talk to you together.”

If you’re trying to make up your mind about whether to switch jobs or whether to sign the kids up for sports, they need to see that you consult your husband and that you make that decision together.

And likewise, before he does something big, they should see him talk to you.

We know a couple who genuinely love each other, but where the mom is often exasperated because the dad does things on a whim. He arrives home one day and announces, “I bought a cottage.” And soon it was, “I bought a boat.” Now, they had the money, so this didn’t endanger their financial position, but that was a big decision for him to make that affected the whole family. And she was not pleased.

Talk to each other about big decisions. Even dream together! And the best way to do that is just to check in with each other everyday. Have one time of day when you always talk–maybe you sit on the couch for 15 minutes before dinner to catch up. Maybe you have a cup of tea after dinner and catch up. Maybe you take a walk after dinner together. Do it regularly, and let the kids see it. And if you are talking like this and sharing what’s on your mind, it’s far less likely that one of you will make a major decision without consulting the spouse!

Dreaming together

Spouses in a Good Marriage Praise Each Other

When I empty the dishwasher I get on the phone. I don’t like doing just one thing, so that’s often my time to phone my best friend, or my mom, and talk.

But here’s the thing about being on the phone: kids hear you. Even when you’re not talking to them. So when your kids hear you talk about your husband, what do they hear you say? Do you complain, or do you build him up? Yes, we all need times to talk to a trusted mentor about problems, but those should be the exceptions, and they should be private conversations. In general, let your children hear you saying good things about their dad and honouring him.

And let them hear you praise him, too! When we eat dinner together, Keith always says, “That was an amazing dinner, Sheila.” My daughter rolls her eyes, because he’s so predictable, but he means it, and she hears it. I make it a point of praising my husband in front of our kids, too. Let your kids hear you say nice things about each other!

In a Good Marriage, Spouses Share One Whole Life, not Two Separate Lives

Do your kids see you do things together? Or do they see you sitting on separate screens at night and living separate lives? Many couples live as roommates, not as lovers, or even best friends. Find things to do together! Let your kids see that you know how to keep love alive and that you genuinely have interests you enjoy. When they see that marriage is something that is fun, where you have a constant companion, it makes marriage look very attractive.

Sex is Part of a Good Marriage!

The most mortifying thing many parents can imagine is the teenagers catching you having sex.

But honestly, that’s not really that bad. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but secretly your kids want to know that you still have fun and you still want to be with each other–though they’d rather not hear any specifics.

I think we err too much on the side of “we can never do anything whatsoever at all if there’s a chance they’ll know what we’re doing”, and not enough on the side of, “it’s our house, and if they don’t want to hear it, they can go to their rooms and shut the door.” It’s a great comfort to kids to know that their parents still have fun, even if they don’t want to picture it. I know it’s awkward when kids are teens, but you can still nurture a good sex life with teens in the house!

If you’re affectionate; if you praise each other; if you resolve conflict; if you have fun with each other, what will you be teaching your kids? You’ll be showing them, marriage is fun! Marriage is worth it. Marriage is work, but it’s wonderful having someone who loves you.

So don’t worry too much about keeping absolutely everything private. Let them see you living out your marriage, because one day, you want them to start living out a good marriage of their own, too.

Gross Parents

I can think of a ton of other things that go into setting the example of a good marriage–showing a united front; complimenting each other; praying together; worshiping together. But I didn’t want the list to become too long! So talk to your husband about these points, and ask: are we modeling a good marriage to the kids? Or are we trying to keep too many things behind closed doors? Now pick ONE aspect that you really want to be deliberate about modeling to your children. And then do it together!

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up a marriage post in the linky below! Each week I try to feature two Wifey Wednesday contributions on my Facebook Page. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like yours if I didn’t feature it; I try to feature posts that fit in well with what I’ve been talking about lately. And I try to feature different bloggers! So keep linking up, and maybe I’ll send you a ton of traffic this week!

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.




Wifey Wednesday: When You’re Trying to Get Pregnant

Dealing with Infertility in Your MarriageIt’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own posts below. Today I want to talk about trying to get pregnant: how to make it more likely, and how to keep the sexual side of your relationship fresh when there’s all this pressure to conceive.

My husband and I never really had trouble getting pregnant. We were in our early to mid twenties, which likely helped, and we tried for a total of 5 months, and conceived 4 times. I miscarried my first baby, then had Rebecca, then we were blessed with Christopher for just 29 days, and then we had Katie.

But even though it was relatively easy for us to get pregnant I was still stressed by it. I wanted a baby so badly. And so I went from someone who wasn’t all that interested in sex (I thought sex was way overrated in my first few years of marriage, which I explain in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex) to someone who wanted to make love all the time because we desperately needed a baby.

It ticked my husband off a little bit, I think, because he was feeling used. Yes, he wanted a baby, too, but there were just all kinds of emotions running high. Do you really want me? Or do you just want the baby? Are you being honest when we’re making love, or are you pretending to be excited so that I won’t feel badly? And so on, and so on.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be if you add months of not conceiving to the mix. If you are walking through that, I am so, so sorry. I know I would have been a wreck, and I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this. I won’t say that I pretend to understand, though I do know what it is like to lose a child. But that desperation must be really difficult–combined with the feeling that sex isn’t even intimate anymore. It’s just a means to an end

So I’d like to give you a few things to think about during this period in your marriage that will hopefully help you move forward.

1. Understand the Fertility Cycle

Just because you don’t conceive in the first few months does not mean that you are infertile. I have plenty of friends who took several years to conceive–but then went on to have multiple kids. Sometimes it does just take longer than others.

At the same time, understanding your fertile times can help you get pregnant. On Monday we were talking about how NOT to get pregnant, but getting pregnant just means doing the opposite. You still figure out when you ovulate, but instead of abstaining, you have sex!

A few key things to remember:

  • Pregnancy is most likely to happen when sex PRECEDES ovulation by 18-48 hours. It’s not that you WON’T get pregnant if you have sex right when you ovulate; it’s just that you’re more likely to if you have sex right before. Then the sperm are in exactly the right place when the egg shows up. So tracking yourself for several months so that you know the telltale signs of when you’re about to ovulate, and the approximate date of ovulation, is so important.
  • Having sex a whole bunch of times in one day doesn’t necessarily increase the chances of pregnancy. Why? Because the more you have sex, the more sperm the guy has to produce, and generally the fewer sperm he releases each time. So once a day honestly should do it. Some studies have even shown that if you make love TOO often you reduce the chance of pregnancy. So don’t try going five times in a day; pay more attention to timing and pick the right day instead.
  • If you want to understand all of this better, the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility is highly recommended by my blog readers!

2. If You Have Fertility Problems, The Stork can Help

The Stork Fertility AidIf you’ve been doing this for 6-8 months and nothing really is happening, you may want to try something to make pregnancy more likely. Most doctors, though, don’t start any kind of hormone treatments or IVF treatments unless  you’ve been trying for at least a year. And IVF, of course, runs the risk of multiple pregnancies and has a higher risk of birth defects.

There’s a new product out called The Stork which is natural, involves no drugs, and doesn’t need a physician (except to write you the prescription). They approached me and asked if I’d write about it, and in looking into it I thought it seemed to be an excellent option. They’ve jumped through all the regulatory hoops in the U.S. and Canada, so it’s totally legitimate. What I really like is that it doesn’t mess with your hormones, it doesn’t cost that much, and it looks like you can have success on your own, at home.

The Stork Conception System is indicated for assisted insemination in instances where low sperm count, sperm immobility (like they don’t swim very far or very fast), or hostile vaginal environment has been diagnosed. The system (cervical cap in a condom-like silicone sheath) is used to collect semen into a cervical cap, and then deliver the cap to the outside of the cervix as an aid to conception. It is to be used at home following physician instructions. You can see a full video for how to use The Stork kit here.

And it’s not gross or anything; it uses a tampon-like applicator and tampon-like removal kit. You can find more information and order it at The Stork store website (although you will need a physician’s prescription).

3. Keep Laughing Together

Look, this is a tense time in your relationship. You are worried about conceiving. You do wonder if you’ll ever have the family that you yearn for. And sex certainly does become stressful. Then we have the tendency to blame each other–or ourselves–if we don’t get pregnant.

So make sure that you carve our time just to laugh together. Find a new hobby you can do together. Once a night do something silly–like play Jenga or watch a stupid movie. Go out and get ice cream. Do the things that you used to do! Don’t make your whole marriage about getting pregnant, because you are more than that.

4. Give Yourself a Break in the Sex Department

If you are just “going through the motions” right now, that’s okay. It really is. In every marriage there will be ups and downs and there will be more stressful periods than others. If you’re going through a stressful period and sex has lost its spark, don’t beat yourself up over that. Just realize that it is just for a time!

If you want to try to give back that spark, there are a few things you can do. On the days when you aren’t fertile anyway, use a condom. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but then you know that you’re not having sex to try to get pregnant–you’re truly just making love to be with each other.

I know some websites will say give yourself a month or two where you’re not trying just to get back in the groove as a couple, but I know that I myself would never have listened to that advice if I were desperate to get pregnant. Maybe that’s not realistic for you, either. But saying, “I know this is for a time, and I know we’ll have a great time soon!” is honestly okay.

Another thing to try: Do other things sexually. Keep kissing. Keep touching each other. Don’t make it all about “the deed”, and that shows “I still want to be with you!” Maybe even spend some time bringing each other to climax in other ways so that you help each other relax, and you show each other: I still want to have fun with you.

5. Remember that God is in Control

I said this on Monday, too, in relation to coming to terms with getting pregnant if you don’t want to. But it’s even more true here. Walking through this is tough, but you are walking through it together. Lean on each other, but most of all lean on God.

Kate Battistelli, mom to the singer Francesca, wrote a great post a few weeks ago on how she had to yell and deal with God when her desires for a large family weren’t met. Here she is on “When Everything Falls Apart“. I think you’ll like it!

This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and Stork, but the opinions are entirely my own.

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up a marriage post in the URL below! I’ll choose two to highlight on my Facebook Page, likely ones that relate to what I’ve been talking about lately.

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.



 

Wifey Wednesday: 5 Ways to Let Him Know You Enjoy Sex

Christian Marriage Advice
It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage!  Today guest poster J of Hot, Holy and Humorous shares 5 great tips on communicating intimately about our enjoyment in the bedroom. J’s book, The Sex Savvy Wife, is part of my Valentine’s Day Bundle! (4 ebooks, $10)

5 Ways to Let Him Know You Enjoy SexOne of the aspects I adore about the Song of Solomon, the one biblical book devoted to marital intimacy, is how the wife communicates her own enjoyment of sex with her husband. Yes, she makes love to meet his needs and desires, but she also finds pleasure in the experience. And then, she goes a step further and shares with her husband her appreciation of their sexual intimacy.

“How handsome you are, my beloved!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.”
Song of Solomon 1:16

How can we wives lovingly communicate our enjoyment of marital lovemaking?

Here are five ways to let him know you enjoy the sex.

1. Say yes.

One sure way to let your husband know you don’t desire and enjoy sex is to say “no” often. Of course, the opposite is true: Say “yes” often, and he’ll get the message that you see sex as a priority for your marriage. But don’t merely be available; get engaged. Say “yes!” to the whole experience.

Show up to the marriage bed as a fully participating lover. If you give your physical intimacy more attention and focus, you’ll likely find yourself enjoying sex more and more.

2. Move your body.

Lean into the lovemaking. When you have sex with your husband, touch and caress him. Kiss his lips and his body. Rub against him with your body. Tilt your hips toward him. Move in rhythm with his thrusting.

Your movement will likely increase your own arousal. Moreover, when you “get into it,” you convey to your husband that you’re fully involved in what’s happening with your bodies. It’s like the difference between a man dancing and dragging his partner across the floor, and the both of you fully enjoying the “mattress mambo.”

3. Make some noise.

No matter how focused your husband is on other things, he can probably hear you throughout the sexual encounter. So let your voice convey when you are feeling pleasure.

Noise can be anything from low moaning to heavy breathing to unbridled screaming—whatever fits the moment, your comfort zone, and the distance from your bedroom to the children’s bedroom. But don’t worry so much about sounding weird or being overheard. Let loose a little and make some bedroom noise.

4. Initiate.

Show him you like sex by outright asking for it! Most husbands revel in that moment when a wife overtly suggests sex. Your initiation can take the form of sexy flirting, setting a romantic scene and donning special lingerie, requesting sex at a particular time and place, or simply straddling your husband in bed and saying, “Let’s do it!”

But make it a priority to initiate, at least now and then. Express to your husband that sex is so wonderful you’re eager to make love again.

5. Just tell him you like it—but not subtly.

We wives are often brought up to use courtesy and subtlety as ways to communicate in a ladylike fashion. That’s all well and good, ladies, but most men don’t read social cues and body language as well as we do. They don’t take hints. So simply say it—as candidly as you can. It can be as straightforward as “You’re an amazing lover,” as meaningful as “I adore feeling like one flesh when we make love,” or as playful as “Honey, you put the wow in bow-chicka-bow-wow!” But get the point across to your husband that sex is important and satisfying.

Those are small ways to let your husband know that you enjoy making love.

But if you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t currently enjoy sex all that much,” try these five tips anyway. Oftentimes, they will likely increase your enjoyment of sexual intimacy in your marriage. And considering picking up a copy of Sheila’s excellent book, 31 Days to Great Sex, or my own, Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives, for more tips.

HHH-LogoSexSavvyEbook-cover-lower-dpi

J. Parker is the author of Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives and writes the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog, where she uses a biblical perspective and a blunt sense of humor to foster Christian sexuality in marriage.

 

Remember, you can get The Sex Savvy Wife AND 31 Days to Great Sex in the Valentine’s Day bundle for just $10–along with The Deck of Dares and the Rekindling Romance Toolkit. But only until Friday!

Sexy Valentines Day Bundle Small

Don’t forget to Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!



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.

Wifey Wednesday: Keeping Your Marriage Strong (After Kids)

Christian Marriage Advice
It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage!  Today guest poster Lindsey Bell shares with us about how to keep your marriage fresh once kids come.

How to Keep Your Marriage Strong After KidsMy husband and I had been married for five years when we had our first child. Those first five years, by and large, went well. Of course, we fought from time to time, but we also had a lot of fun together.

I thought our marriage was solid.

That all changed when we brought a baby home.

I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, the stress of trying (unsuccessfully) to breastfeed, the role changes, or something else, but our marriage took a huge hit that first year we were a family of three.

To be honest, we are still rebuilding. We are working—day by day—to make our marriage solid again.

This time, though, we are doing it with kids, so it’s been a bit more challenging. It requires more intentionality and creativity.

Keeping your marriage strong after kids is certainly not easy, but here are some tips that help.

1. Go on dates regularly.

I know many marriage experts claim you should date your spouse at least once a week. (And honestly, if you’re able to do that, it certainly couldn’t hurt.)

But some of us can’t afford to go out or pay for childcare that often.

If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do what you can. Can you go on a date every other week? Or once a month? What about having an at-home date after the kids go to bed once a week?

You might have to be creative more now than you used to, but the payoff is worth it.

2. Study your spouse.

Learn his or her love language (touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or quality time). Then do your best to speak this language. Take some personality tests to better understand each other.

Figure out those things that energize his or her soul, and then do your best to meet these needs.

3. Go away together.

There is nothing like a romantic trip for two to bring a little bit of spice back into a marriage.

Find someone you trust to watch your children and take an overnight trip (or even a week long vacation!)

My husband and I take trips together (kid-free) at least once a year. Sometimes we are only able to be away for one night, and that’s okay. One night away can strengthen your marriage in incredibly ways. 

4. Take care of yourself.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, failing to eat right, and never doing anything for yourself, you’re bound to snap at your spouse.

Take care of yourself just as you take care of your child.

If you wouldn’t let your child skip a meal, then you don’t skip one either.

If you make him get plenty of sleep, make yourself rest too.

A rested and healthy man or woman is a much more pleasant person to be around.

5. Choose your spouse every day.

It’s so easy to get selfish in a marriage. To think about the things you need from your spouse and the things he or she is not doing for you.

It’s a whole lot harder to put your spouse’s needs first. To think instead about what you can do for him and how you can meet his needs.

For me, it’s a choice I have to make every single day. I have to choose to be selfless.

6. Appreciate the things your spouse does for you.

Once you’ve been married for a few years, you tend to stop appreciating some of little things your spouse does for you. Whereas before you would shower him with praise for filling your car with gasoline, now you don’t even notice. Or worse, you expect it and then become angry when he forgets.

Take a few moments each day and thank your spouse for the things he or she has done for you.

Did he go to work? Thank him for it.

Did he pick up the kids from school? Thank him for it.

Did she make dinner? Thank her for it.

Did she bring home a pizza? Be appreciative.

Start making an effort to notice the kind actions of your spouse.

7. Put your spouse above your kids.

As a stay-at-home mom, my kids are my world. Outside of writing and church activities, there are very few things I do that don’t have something to do with my kids. (And honestly, even my writing is about them a lot!)

But my husband should know—and so should my kids—that he is my priority. After God, he is the number one man in my life. My two boys come after him.

It’s not because I love my kids any less. In fact, it’s because I love them so much that I put my marriage first.

There is no better gift a parent can give their child than the gift of a solid marriage.

So let’s talk: How do you keep your marriage strong? Leave a comment to be entered to win a giftcard from Lindsey for her blog tour contest!  And Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!

This post is part of a Lindsey’s blog tour for Searching for Sanity, her new parenting devotional. You can read other posts in this tour by going to her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com.

17648166-18785009-thumbnailAbout Lindsey Bell:

Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a new parenting devotional. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. Find her at her blog, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

 

About Searching for Sanity:

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.



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.


Wifey Wednesday: My Husband Needs to Change!

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to talk about a really common feeling women have: Why is it always me who needs to fix the marriage, when my husband needs to change! If he’s the one who needs to change, why is it always me who needs to do the work?

I totally understand the sentiment. One woman wrote it this way after reading my post “Does Everything Really Come Down to Sex?”:

I am not sure why but this post makes me feel a little angry inside. I guess women should sex their husbands regularly so that their husbands will be productive members of the household…It just seems so ridiculous to me. I wake up at 5, feed the baby, make the kids lunches, take the kids to school and daycare, go to work, come home, make dinner, clean up dinner and prepare for the next day. I literally don’t stop until I get into bed (usually around midnight.) I do all of these things because it is what I have to do. If I don’t my husband won’t. How am I supposed to make sure he is pleased when he doesn’t do anything to help or please me. Do I like sex? Yes, but when am I ever energetic enough to do it? Hardly ever. “Sex is your way of saying to him, “I’m committed to you, I love you, I want you, I value you.” If he knows that and feels it, it’s so much easier to then bring up the really big issues that are bothering you.” Wait, so me taking care of our children, feeding our family, keeping our home, none of these things say that I love and value him? I bristle against the notion that in order for our husbands to want to please, help, show us love that we first have to somehow convenience them with sex. I can certainly say that I would feel a whole lot more receptive to sex (and would have more energy instead of falling into bed at night) if he ever washed bottles, or did the dishes after dinner, or washed the laundry every now and then. I get it, somebody has to give first, but WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE ME?

I really do understand the frustration. She’s absolutely exhausted, she does too much, he does very little, and then she says, “why do I have to be the one to fix the marriage?”

I know many of you reading this blog feel like it’s your husband who needs to change, not you, so I want to give a few thoughts:

My Husband Needs to Change! So why do all the books and blogs talk about me changing? Some thoughts.

1. You Can Only Take Responsibility for What’s in Your Control

Why am I always telling women how to change their behavior and attitudes? Because those behaviors and attitudes are in your control. Your husband’s behaviors and attitudes aren’t.

You may want your husband to change, and you may think he should pick up some slack, and you may think that he should be nicer, but the truth is you have absolutely no control over that. You really don’t.

So we have to look at strategies that YOU can do to make your marriage better. Sitting back and fuming and growing resentful because he isn’t doing anything isn’t going to help. You may feel morally superior, because he obviously has so much he needs to change, but that’s not going to get you a good marriage.

Serenity Prayer Plaque from Dayspring

2. I’m Writing this Blog to Women!

Here’s something else people often don’t understand. This blog is primarily for women. I do have quite a few male readers and I do appreciate them, but I’m writing to women. My books are written to women. So for me to write a big post on how husbands should change doesn’t help. It may make all of us women feel better, but it isn’t going to do a thing to help your marriage, because YOU’RE reading this, not your husband.

Now, a while ago I did go on a rant and wrote a post directed at men: Here’s What I Wish I Could Say to Men about Sex. I felt so much better getting that out! But it was still primarily women who read it.

I know there are areas where men need to change. If you wanted me to go on a rant about it, believe me, I could fill major blog posts, like this:

For pity’s sake, stop playing video games all the time and pay attention to your kids! Don’t expect your wife to make love if you never help with the kids and she’s exhausted. Get off of your butt and clean the house a bit. If your wife leaves you with the kids, you’re not “helping her”. They’re your kids, too! That means they’re your responsibility, too!

Etc. etc. etc.

But again, what good would those posts do, other than make us all feel better and superior? If I’m writing to women, I don’t want to get you all riled up about how your husband needs to change. I want to actually offer practical help, and that means addressing what’s in our control.

3. Chances Are He’s Hurting, Too

Here’s the big one that most of us just don’t get. If you’re unhappy with your life, chances are he is, too. He’s not experiencing that intimacy he needs if you’re unhappy. He may look like it’s all peachy keen, but chances are he’s upset about something, too. And if you can go and think about what he’s missing, and reach out and meet his needs, often you start a domino effect that has great benefits for your marriage.

I know it’s hard to reach out when you’re lonely and frustrated, but if you do that, you really can change the dynamic in your marriage. Things won’t change if you sit there and do nothing. But if you decide to find things to be grateful for, start encouraging him even when you don’t feel like it, and step out when it comes to sex, you may just find that his attitude towards you changes, too.

Sure, it would be nice if it did that on its own. Sure, he should be loving you regardless. But if he’s not, are you going to sit there and just be angry about it? Or are you going to do something about it?

4. If Your Husband Needs to Change, You Likely Need to Set Boundaries

When I’m talking about changing the way that you relate to your husband so that you fix your marriage problems, that doesn’t only mean encouraging him, making love to him, or praising him. These are important things, yes. But sometimes we need to change by simply drawing boundaries and doing less.

Emotionally Healthy WomanIt’s like what Geri Scazzero said in her book The Emotionally Healthy Woman. Sometimes in order to find real peace we have to quit. And many of us are overfunctioning in our marriages, and the more we overfunction, the more he underfunctions.

She tells her own saga of getting to the point where she needed to quit. Her husband was a busy inner-city pastor, and Geri felt like the proper Christian woman poured herself out for her kids, and her husband, and never asked anything of anybody. So she always said yes whenever someone from church needed her. She ran programs. She said yes to having people for dinner. She had no time to herself, no time to be creative, and no time to recharge.

Eventually she couldn’t take it and she told her husband she was quitting going to their church. That put in motion a whole series of steps that finally helped their family come to healthy balance. And much of that was letting go of the things that she was doing so that others would rightly do them. In Boundaries in Marriage Henry Cloud and John Townsend talk about a similar dynamic. They say that God designed this world so that “you reap what you sow”. When you sow something bad, you get something bad. The problem in many marriages, though, is that the person sowing the bad stuff isn’t reaping it. So dad is grumpy and mean to his wife and kids, and the wife and kids walk on eggshells around him so as not to set him off. They’re reaping what he is sowing.

The key, then, is to allow the person who is reaping something to also sow it.

How does this relate? Sometimes, if your husband needs to change, he can’t until you start putting up some boundaries. Look at this woman’s letter for a minute. She’s probably exaggerating a little, but it seems as if she gets about 6 hours of sleep, which isn’t enough. She’s completely haggard. That’s simply too much. It’s unsustainable. Sure, you can keep doing it, but you’ll lose yourself and you’ll burn out, and what kind of mom, let alone wife, will you be?

Perhaps the best thing she could do to change, then, is to start saying “no”. Sit her husband down and say,

“I can’t keep working at a full-time job unless you also start to do some of the childcare responsibilities, like taking them to daycare or making half the meals or doing some of the housework. If that’s not possible for you, then what I’d suggest is that we find ways to reduce our costs so that I can work part-time, because I can’t keep doing this.”

Maybe it means moving back to an apartment, or whatever. I don’t know. But she can start saying, “no”.

When I say that a woman needs to change, then, I’m not always saying that she needs to bend over backwards to meet all of his needs. Here’s what I’m saying:

She should bend over backwards to meet his legitimate needs, and she should examine herself to make sure she’s not trying to meet needs that aren’t hers to meet.

I think quite often we’re meeting the wrong needs. We’re spending tons of energy and time on things that don’t build relationships (getting kids in tons of extracurricular activities, working full-time, volunteering at church, creating a perfect home), and in the process we’re making ourselves exhausted. We’re also spending tons of energy doing things for people that they could and should do for themselves (doing all the housework, making kids’ lunches, etc. etc.) The more we do this, the less energy and time we’ll have to meet our husbands’ legitimate needs for affirmation, encouragement, intimacy, and even sex.

If you’re absolutely exhausted and you’re upset that your husband isn’t equally exhausted, it can look like he’s getting a free ride.

The answer, though, isn’t always for your husband to change. Sometimes it’s for you to start saying no. Saying no to all the things you do. Saying no to overfunctioning at home. Saying no to outside activities. And then you’ll be able to say yes to the things that actually do build marriages!

I hope that makes sense! I know sometimes reading blogs it can seem like the only way to fix a marriage is for the woman to change. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m simply saying: take control of what is in your control. Examine yourself first. Do what you can. Change the dynamic. And then see what happens!

Now, do you have any advice for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post to today’s Wifey Wednesday, and get some traffic back to your blog!

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