Making it Home: When Sex Isn’t Easy and Playful

Welcome guest author Emily Wierenga, as she shares an excerpt about how sex sometimes hurts from her new memoir, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose.

Making it Home

Some nights, we can’t.

We have one set of bed sheets, and they’re tattered for the washing. In the winter it’s a feather tick we sleep under, feathers plucked by the Hutterites who live down the road from us.

I cry because I can’t let Trent in again.

It hurts too much, and it’s our wedding night all over again—two sons later.

“Shhh—it’s okay, Em, we’ll try again,” he says. But I know it’s not just my body that won’t let him in.

We sleep beneath the feathers, and some nights, Trent kicks it off because he’s too hot. He’s always naked, me, wrapped in flannels and “You should really try sleeping without clothes,” Trent says, holding me. “You’d be so much warmer.”

“I doubt that,” I say with a laugh. “I know why you want me to sleep naked… ”

He kisses my neck. “You know, sometimes, Em, I just want to hold you.”

I nod. I know. Because he is the man who waited six months just to kiss me.

Who waited twenty three years to have sex with someone—and that someone was me, on our wedding night.

But I was sewn tight that night, and the champagne didn’t loose anything. Trent waiting in the bed in the cottage, his black suit and white shirt flung on the floor and him leaning on one arm, waiting for me. The July heat whispering through a window, and the beach just steps from the cottage. The stars like the diamonds on my dress, clustered together and I thought about running.

“Are you coming, Em?” Trent said, and I let that dress fall, clutching the sheets to my flat chest and he pulled me close but I was an aged envelope that had glued shut. And I cried. Him saying, “Shhh, it’s okay, we have our whole lives to figure this out.”

We were the couple who, when we were dating, hadn’t been able to stop kissing until three in the morning, his hands under my shirt but now, after the vows beneath the trellis and my dad’s tender prayer and the rose petals falling, now that we were married, I was like a caged bird. Him trying to open the lock but I wanted that cage. I knew every corner, every rung, and I’d put myself in there when I was sixteen.

Trent’s fallen asleep against my shoulder, his quiet snores in my ear, his long arms around my waist.

I’m reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, my bedside table littered with ear plugs and sleeping pills. And some nights, still, even after two babies and ten years of becoming one beneath the sheets, my body still runs to that cage.

I’m that bird, learning how to fly.

Sheila says: I so appreciate Emily being so honest in her book about her struggles. If you’ve struggling with vaginismus (when sex hurts because you’re too tight), I do have some information in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. You can also find some information on vaginismus here.

When Sex Hurts

This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to ATLAS GIRL), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.

What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions. Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.

Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.

Emily T. WierengaMaking It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose_medium_image_attachmentEmily Wierenga is a blogger and the author of several books, including her touching memoirs Atlas Girl about her struggle with anorexia and figuring out where she fits in this world, and Making It Home. She’s an artist, a writer, a mother, and a lover with a passion for Africa. You can find her at http://emilywierenga.com.

20 Even-You-Can-Do-It Ideas To Initiate Sex Tonight

Can you be a Hot Mama?

Today I’m part of Kathi Lipp’s amazing 5 Books in 5 Days Marriage Event! She’s featuring a different author everyday, and you can win all 5 books! Read to the bottom to find out how to enter. And today, Erin MacPherson, Kathi’s coauthor in her new book Hot Mama, joins us in return for Wifey Wednesday. You’ll love this:

20 Ideas to Initiate Sex Tonight-that even YOU can do! #marriage

My old German grandmother used to tell me that I was never going to catch any fish just lying by the pond under a shade tree looking pretty. I had to actually pull out a line, hook on some bait and fish.

Okay, she didn’t say that.

But I think she would have had she had the opportunity to see me when I first got married. I loved being a newlywed—really I did. But I was a little bit…shall we call it… lazy. And I figured that if I sat on the couch with all of my feminine charms, my husband would just want me.

And he did. For a while.

But then things got busy. Job, mortgage, puppy, baby, another baby, another mortgage, another puppy, another baby…and, well, you get the picture. Finding time (and energy and desire) for sex became downright impossible.

And sex became less frequent.

My feminine charms started to feel less-than-charming.

My husband and I had what I now (somewhat) lovingly refer to as “that talk in 2012.” The gist of it was this: He did love me. He did find me hot and charming and desirable and all that jazz. But he was getting a bit tired of reaching out and getting things started while I sat on the couch and batted my eyelashes.

I was…shocked.

Good girls aren’t supposed to ask for sex, are they?

Enter Sheila Wray Gregiore. I confess: The only reason I picked up her book is because I felt like she was going to take my side. I mean, the word “good girl” was right there in the title, so obviously she was going to tell me that I was right, my husband was wrong and that I could just keep on doing things my old and comfortable way.

But she didn’t.

She told me that it’s okay for girls—even good girls—to like sex.

And she also told me that it’s important—even necessary—for us good girls to initiate sex from time-to-time. Not only to tell our husbands that we want them just as much as they want us (which is important) but also because it empowers us to be the women and the wives that God called us to be.

I clearly had some learning to do.

And God clearly has a sense of humor, because right as I started learning (and okay, trying), I got a contract to write my own sex book. (Yes, me, the quintessential “good girl” writing a sex book. Imagine that.) And so I really had to up my game. To change my ways. And to show my husband that he is worth getting off the couch for. Every single time.

I’m still not done learning yet, but I have amended my ways somewhat. And I do manage to my share of initiating from time-to-time.

And you can too.

Here are twenty ways that you can pull it off (literally) tonight.

Hot Mama: 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage1. Walk up to him and kiss him on the lips. Like it counts. Then lean back, look into his eyes, raise your eyebrows and kiss him again. Works. Every. Time.
2. Grab his butt when he walks by.
3. Send him text messages throughout the day, telling him exactly what you are going to do when he gets home.
4. Take off your clothes, walk into whatever room he is in. 1-2-done.
5. Buy new lingerie. Leave the receipt on the counter with a note that says “this is already on.”
6. Say, “I’m going to bed. Want to come?” Simple, but effective.
7. Wake him up with a big, sloppy kiss.
8. Leave a Post-It note on his steering wheel.
9. Wear your hottest panties under your clothes. Slide down your jeans to let him catch a glimpse.
10. Let him tuck the kids in. Wait for him in bed with nothing on.
11. Write it on his calendar in red. (Just make sure it’s not a shared work calendar. That could be embarrassing.)
12. Just do it. Literally, just grab his hand, pull him into the bedroom and do it.
13. Come up with a code word that means sex. Use that word as often as possible throughout the day.
14. Flash him. (Just make sure to pull down your shades first.)
15. Buy new (red, satin) sheets. Ask him to give them a try.
16. Let him walk into the kitchen and find you cooking a la Garth Brooks—with nothing but an apron.
17. Offer to give him a massage.
18. Play a little game of strip Uno. Instead of having to draw four, make him take off four items of clothing.
19. Turn on a favorite song. Ask him to dance right there in your living room.
20. Next time he’s in the shower, hop in with him.

There you go, ladies! Have some fun!

Erin MacPherson and Kathi Lipp are authors of Hot Mama, an awesome book to show you how you can have a hot sex life–even if you’re a mom with mashed bananas on your sweatshirt.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsAnd now–head on over to read my post on Kathi’s blog on why sex is for you, too–and then comment at the end for a chance to win all 5 marriage books!

Are you a marriage blogger? Don’t forget to link up a marriage post in today’s Wifey Wednesday! Just add the URL to the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these awesome posts, too.



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.

On Sexual Double Lives, Josh Duggar, and Peace

Josh Duggar and Finding Peace

News broke Wednesday that Josh Duggar had been using the Ashley Madison adultery site to cheat on his wife. Yesterday Josh confessed, taking full responsibility and apologizing.

I found myself so happy reading it. Sad at what that family is going through, yes. But happy because he is taking ownership, and that means that now, in the midst of this mess, even though it doesn’t look like it–that family is closer to peace and redemption and healing than they have been in years.

The mess is so much better than the picture of perfection, because the mess is honest.

On Fridays I usually do a weekly roundup, and I have a lot to talk about this week–my new book was released; I’ve got some hilarious videos of my daughters post-wisdom teeth surgery; and more. But this is important, and needs to be addressed.

How Does a Sexual Double Life Start?

Josh Duggar has been leading a sexual double life. He admitted to being addicted to porn; he admitted to infidelity; and we know that he admitted to molesting his sisters.

I wrote a while back that I believed that the Duggar parents had not handled that molestation well. I had a lot of pushback–“But they’re such a good family, and everyone was healed!”

In many families, though, especially those brought up with extremely conservative sexuality, true healing is swept under the rug in favour of looking like we have it all together. And that’s what I was afraid was going on.

Picture a 14-year-old in a hyper-conservative family. He’s experiencing sexual feelings. He doesn’t know what to do with them. He can’t talk to his parents. And he starts acting out.

He’s punished–but no one deals with the sexual feelings that started this. He’s told those feelings are “only for marriage”. And so he sees sexual feelings as sinful, because people haven’t helped him sort out the good from the bad.

But those sexual feelings are affected in another way: young people are told “sex when you’re married is beautiful,” but they’re also told that kissing is bad and hand holding is bad. And so touch, affection, exploration of any kind is seen as the enemy. This does not magically change once one is married. Passion–that feeling of being “out of control”–has been the enemy for so long that sex in marriage is seen as something which must be clinical to be sacred.

I am not saying that everyone who grows up like this experiences this–not at all!

But many do. Sexual passion is scary, and when we try to bury it, we can easily warp godly sexuality. Godly sexuality is not “controlled”.

But these young people get married, thinking that marriage will control the “lust”–those strong sexual feelings. But it doesn’t, because in their minds, sex in marriage must be entirely about love and never about want.

Where does the want go? It gets buried.

  • In some marriages, a spouse becomes a control freak about everything, not just sex, because these feelings are so powerful they must be kept under wraps. That means working hard to silence your inner adventure-seeker, and it ends up silencing your true self.
  • In other marriages, a spouse splits into two: one half is pure and chaste and unadventurous in the bedroom; the other half is looking at the most outrageous pornography or searching out something daring online.

Denying sexual feelings is very common. I get letters from young people who grew up in families like that, and now they’re married and they are LOST.

There is far too much emphasis in some schools of Christian thought on trying to control someone’s sexuality, as if it is a threat.

To give an example, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an adult deciding, “I am going to save my first kiss until marriage, and I am not going to have any physical contact until I am engaged.” God will ask different things of different people. To walk in obedience to what God is telling you is wonderful.

There is, however, a LOT wrong with a parent telling an adult child “this is what you are going to do.” That is a parent controlling an adult child’s sexuality, and it is wrong. It treats sexuality as an enemy, and it treats the adult child as a child.

We aren’t to control our sexuality; we’re to channel it. To channel it is to acknowledge it, to feel it, to name it, but then, at the same time, to say, “this isn’t for me to explore right now. So God, help me take all of this energy and put it somewhere else, to good use.

Being a PeaceKEEPER Rather Than a PeaceMAKER

And now I want to get to the heart of my message.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentThought #6 in my new book that launched this week, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, is asking us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers.

What’s the difference? A peacekeeper’s job is to keep the warring factions on their own side of the line. It’s to keep hostilities under wraps–simmering, but not erupting. A peacekeeper doesn’t deal with the root issues; a peacekeeper only deals with the expression of those issues, the fighting. A peacekeeper doesn’t solve anything.

A peacemaker, on the other hand, tries to bring the two sides together so that instead of being on opposing sides of the line, they can join each other on the same side. Instead of shaking fists they embrace. They become as one.

And Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Being a Peacemaker, not a Peacekeeper

I believe the Christian church spends far too much time keeping peace, and not enough time making it.

Peacemaking Parents & Children’s Sexuality

Josh Duggar, and so many of my readers’ husbands, led a double life. He had two halves of himself that were at war with each other. I believe that Josh was likely heartbroken, mortified, and horribly ashamed not just when the news broke but for years. He likely hated himself and what he was doing. But he couldn’t stop.

We don’t want that for our kids.

As parents, we can be peacemakers hopefully by preventing the sexual splitting. We can call out what is holy and help our children name, admit, and deal with what is not. When a child cannot talk about struggles, a parent is being a peacekeeper.  A peacekeeping parent says:

  • Good girls don’t touch themselves there.
  • God doesn’t want you thinking about sex. That’s only for marriage.
  • If you love God, He’ll take away your temptations and struggles. Just lean on Him more.
  • We don’t do that sort of thing in our family.

A peacemaker has open conversations.

Peacemaking and Sexuality in Marriage

But now let’s turn to what so many of you are facing: what do you do when  you’re married to a Josh (and even overnight, I had three more comments on older posts from people in just that situation. “I just found porn on my husband’s computer…”)

Dear, dear heartbroken woman: how I wish I could give you a hug.

But please listen to me. Please hear me today.

If your husband has admitted to cheating, to using porn, to texting with someone: you are closer to healing right now than you were two weeks ago when you thought everything was fine.

You are closer to God right now, in this mess, than you were when everything looked perfect.

God is in the mess, because Jesus is in the peacemaking business.

So many of the comments I get are like this: “I discovered this by accident. Do I confront my husband or do I let it go?”

Luke 8:17 says:

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Does that sound like a God who prefers things to look perfect, while sin festers underneath? Or does that sound like a God who is fully prepared to deal with the mess, because mess is better than dishonesty?

When your life blows up, don’t fall back on these typical “peacekeeping” reactions:

We just need to get past this and forgive.

You cannot forgive until you shine a light on the hurts and understand the gravity of what you have suffered. A rush to tell someone to forgive, or to take them through a forgiveness process, doesn’t do the hard but necessary work of the Spirit. And indeed, this was my main criticism of the original Duggar scandal; they made the girls forgive and they forgave Josh too early. The focus was on the forgiveness, and not on naming the hurt.

Let’s keep this just between us. Other people don’t need to know.

True repentance is humble. It does not worry about reputation; it worries about whether or not one is right with Jesus. True repentance asks for accountability. One does not have to confess to EVERYONE, but one does have to confess to a few people–and also give the wounded spouse someone to talk to.

Let’s just get back to normal.

You can’t go backwards. But even more importantly: you don’t want to go backwards. As comfortable as it felt, it was built on sand. Your “normal” won’t be your normal again. But that doesn’t mean that your normal won’t be something better. Let Jesus in to the healing process. You may find life messier. It will be more honest, which may initially cause more conflict. But in the end you will find that you are finally at peace, because you don’t have to hide those scary thoughts or suspicions.

And so, dear readers, I am glad Josh is in his mess.

I am sorry that Anna is. But they are now finally on the road to real peace. And for all of you who are walking in similar stories–peace is there, in the person of Jesus who so wants to redeem the two halves of your husband, and the two halves of your marriage, and make them one again. He can do it, if you both allow true honesty and true humility. That’s how we make peace. And you are never, ever alone as you seek it.

Wifey Wednesday: When “Just Do It!” Is Bad Advice

Just Have Sex won't cure all marriage problems--and isn't always good advice

Y’all know that I believe having lots of sex in marriage is a great thing.

(It just felt right to begin that sentence with y’all, even to this Canadian. :) )

But that doesn’t mean that having sex is always the right thing to do. And it certainly doesn’t mean that having sex will fix all marriage problems.

I’m so excited that in just six days my new book, 9 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage, will start to appear on shelves! Yay! And for the last week or so we’ve been talking about what some of those thoughts are.

We talked about:

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentThought #5: I’m not in competition with my husband! Submission isn’t about who gets to make all the decisions; it’s about servanthood. And sometimes the best way to serve your husband is to say, “no”!

Thought #3: My Husband Can’t Make Happy. Ultimately our happiness is our hands.

And today I want to talk about Thought #8: Making Love is not the same thing as Having Sex.

Here’s part of what I wrote in the book, talking about the advice that the church seems to be giving to “just have sex!”:

Book series have been written about the battles that men face with sexual temptation, and wives are told that they can help men defeat these temptations by having sex more often. Some pastors challenge couples to have sex every day (in some cases for a week, and in some cases, for a month) to reap the benefits in their marriage. (my 31 Days to Great Sex book isn’t sex-every-day-for-a-month; it’s let’s start talking, let’s start exploring, let’s start being more affectionate and being more open–and THEN let’s rock each other’s world!)

I have sympathy with this “just do it” approach. On a spiritual level, every time you make love, you reaffirm your relationship and you feel more committed. And from a practical standpoint, libido in women is largely a use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon. When we make love more frequently, our bodies tend to respond more easily, and we’ll find that our libidos increase. When women make love less frequently, our bodies often shut down and our desire for sex diminishes.

Also, remember my story of “sex flowers”? My husband felt close to me after sex, and so he brought me flowers. That’s how God designed us. When we experience sexual release, we release the bonding hormone oxytocin, which helps us feel closer to each other. When we’re having sex with relative frequency, we tend to feel more positively toward each other, and we tend to find it easier to let go of small issues in the marriage.

These are all good things, yet simply having more sex will not make everything automatically better. Our religious “just do it” pat answer seems too much like a mirror image of our culture’s attitude toward sex: both ignore the fact that sex is more than genitalia. It isn’t a cure-all for every-thing, and too often it’s portrayed as such. That cheapens sex too.

Making love—experiencing genuine intimacy through sex—is truly beautiful. But too many couples haven’t experienced that because they’ve bought into this “sex is only about genitalia,” sometimes without even realizing it.

This “just do it” approach too often reinforces the idea that sex is mostly for men, anyway–and “obligation sex” is never sexy for women. Talking about the benefits of sex is a far healthier approach!

But the real issue, I think, is that we’ve forgotten that God created sex to unite us in three ways: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. If we stress only the physical side of sex, we can actually harm the other two aspects of intimacy. And sometimes we can do great damage to the hearts of those involved.

I’m not saying that quickies are bad or that sex can never just be to “have fun”! Not at all. But when other factors are involved that are affecting our intimacy, using sex cheaply can drive us apart.

Here are three examples of when “just do it!” is the wrong approach:

1. Just Having Sex won’t cure sin–and can even reinforce it

If a husband (or a wife) is using pornography; if a husband is sexting other women (believe me, I get lots of emails about it); if a spouse wants to pursue something really deviant (like involving a third party or something), then having sex isn’t going to cure any of those things.

I’ve had so many commenters (mostly men) on this blog saying that if their wives would just have sex with them they wouldn’t use porn. And yes, having frequent sex can diminish the temptation for these things to a certain extent. But it won’t cure all temptation, and if the addiction gets to a certain point it won’t help the temptation at all. It will just reinforce it.

Here’s what I mean: porn trains the brain so that what is arousing is an image, rather than a person.

If a single guy has been using porn for years and then marries, the problem is that he’s trained his body to respond to porn, not to his wife. And it really doesn’t matter what his wife does, the pull to porn will still be there because the problem is not his wife. The problem is in his brain. It is possible to retrain your brain, but he has to get real about the problem, pray, and find someone to hold him accountable. (and he should be willing to use Covenant Eyes or something to give him accountability online. If he’s not, he doesn’t really want to get better).

Now, in some marriages, the porn problem only STARTS after sexual refusal, and in those cases, then, yes, having more sex may reduce the temptation. But if the porn use predates the marriage (which, for most new couples today, it usually does), then the situation is completely different.

Here’s another problem: If a guy (or a woman) uses porn to get aroused, and then wants sex, he’s using his spouse as an object. There’s nothing about real intimacy there. (The same would go for shows like Game of Thrones, by the way). And if he wants to act out something he’s seen, then again, sex is not about intimacy. If a woman gives in and allows her husband to treat her this way, she will be part of the train-your-brain-to-respond-to-porn chemical reaction that’s going on, because she’s reinforcing the fantasy and the use of porn to get aroused before sexual release.

If there’s major sin in the marriage, then the sin needs to be dealt with BEFORE you bring sex back. This doesn’t mean you never have sex until he’s cured of the porn; I can’t give blanket statements like that because I do think every relationship is different. But he must be trying to give up the porn; have an accountability partner; and working towards real intimacy. Yes, he will slip up occasionally, and be his ally when he does. But if he won’t get rid of the porn, having sex won’t help.

And the more women are told they should “Just have sex”, the more they will feel used, like objects. And that reinforces a very negative view of sex for her, and wrecks the ability for sex to be something that brings her closer to her husband, too.

Treat her well--don't just use her body. Make her feel great, too!

2. Just Having Sex Can’t Rebuild Trust

Let’s leave the porn for a minute; here’s another scenario: one of  you has had an affair, and you’re trying to rebuild your marriage.

In this case, “just have sex” can hurt your recovery.

Why?

Because having sex does reinforce an intimacy, and it does make you feel closer. That, in turn, can mask a problem.

This works to our advantage in healthy marriages; the more we have sex, the less little things that he does bother her, and vice versa.

But it can be harmful when trust is being rebuilt, because it can allow us to ignore big issues or to paper over things that really do need to be addressed. If something needs to be healed in your marriage, heal it, don’t rush the process by jumping into bed.

Again, this doesn’t apply to every problem. After all, make up sex is a real thing, and often making love helps us resolve conflict! But if it’s something huge, it shouldn’t be rushed, and that’s where counsellors should likely be involved.

3. When Sex Itself Hurts, Just Having Sex Can Damage Your Heart

I’ve written before about how when we first married I suffered from vaginismus, a condition where sex is extremely painful because you’re just too tight. (I share the whole story in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex).

I was so devastated and upset, because I knew how important sex was to my husband, and I didn’t want to feel like a failure. So instead of saying, “let’s just take things really slowly and figure out what’s going on”, I just bowled through despite the pain.

That was the wrong thing to do. It reinforced in my brain that sex was awful. It made me feel used (even though I was the one that told my husband we should). It made me start to get mad at God (why would He make something that hurt me so much be so necessary for Keith to feel loved?)

And I healed from the ordeal physically much quicker than I did emotionally.

Since then God’s given me the opportunity to speak into so many women’s lives who have been going through this, and they all share the same emotional scars: “why is something that hurts me so much so necessary in our marriage?”

In retrospect, both Keith and I know that if we had taken time to explore sexually without intercourse, and then worked on my issues, it would have been a healthier course of action.

But what if that’s not your problem? What if you suffer from chronic pain, or have other reasons that sex hurts?

We have to find ways to be sexual that are mutual–even when intercourse is painful. If we reinforce intercourse above all else, then we can kill the sexual confidence and libido of the person with pain, and we can really harm that spouse’s heart. I’ve got other posts on what to do when intercourse isn’t possible.

I’m not trying to tell people that they can get out of having sex.

Indeed, I have a series on what “do not deprive“, in 1 Corinthians 7, means.

But I do believe that we should be encouraging couples to make love, not just have sex. We need to be encouraging an intimacy that builds up, not one that tears down. We need to be encouraging two people feeling like one, not one person feeling used. We need to be teaching mutuality, not selfishness.

If you’re in a marriage where you wonder if you fit one of these categories, I really encourage you to seek out a third party and get some help. Don’t walk through this alone, and don’t arbitrarily say, “we don’t have to have sex because I read it on a blog!” I’m saying–get some help. Seek some wise counsel. Pray.

And let’s see the beauty in making love again, rather than the starkness that just having sex can bring to a marriage. By stressing the physical over all else, we deny the beauty of what God created.

Great sex is wonderful. Most of this blog is dedicated to helping you all have great sex! But you can’t have great sex without intimacy, and sometimes you’ve got to deal with that first.

Maybe you aren’t dealing with any of these big problems, but you still don’t necessarily feel that intimacy when you have sex. You can’t quite figure out what “making love” means. Then 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage can help you see how the way you see sex can be holding you back–and open the door to a wonderful and abundant new marriage!

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentNine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage will start shipping August 18–but you can pre-order it now! And everyone who preorders, or who orders it on August 18, will be able to get a whole bunch of free downloadable goodies during all my parties I’m planning for August 18! Just keep watching this blog, or stay in touch through my newsletter so you don’t miss your chance to get your goodies, and come to a bunch of fun parties on the day!

And if you’re in North America, Amazon has the pre-order price at 52% off! It’s only $7.42. So get it today!

Button Order the Book

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Link up a marriage post in today’s Wifey Wednesday link up party! But be sure to link back here so other people can see these great marriage posts.



Wifey Wednesday: The Lovemaking Full Meal Deal

Please welcome guest posters, Dr. Dan and Linda Wilson, the authors of Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravant Intimacy in Marriage–a book I was happy to read before it was published and endorse. Today they are sharing a new way of looking at making intimacy special with your spouse!

Lovemaking - The Full Meal Deal

Did you know that your sense of taste changes over the years? Sexual desires and appetites have seasons as well. How hungry are you?

Appetizers

“At our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” ~ Song of Solomon 7:13

Early in marriage many couples are ravenous for sex. It’s like a three course meal that begins with a large plate of savory, mouth-watering appetizers. You are famished and ready to devour everything you can get your hands on. In the initial phase of active sexuality, large volumes of energetic lovemaking just might be more appealing than a tiny taste of extreme ecstasy.

We like to refer to this honeymoon phase of sex as the appeteasers. When really hungry, eating an occasional small morsel can be almost maddening. We are hungry! Bring out a huge platter of appeteasers, and let’s snack on them all day and into the night.

The first honeymoon months of sexual encounter are passionate, producing memories that the newlyweds will remember for a lifetime. But let’s be honest. High-level, almost starving desire combined with immaturity and inexperience often produces some awkward, even hilarious intimate experiences. Being desperately hungry can sometimes result in disappointing outcomes.

For instance, it might not take long to discover that one (often, but not always the man) will have a heftier appetite, a higher sex drive than the other. Inequality of libido is nearly universal—so common that it is considered to be normal. What initially seems to be a frustrating challenge is actually a wonderful opportunity. Learning to adjust to each other’s needs for higher or lower frequency is one way of expressing agape, selfless love. Paul’s instruction to “Submit one to another” (Ephesians 5:21) is wise council for lovers of any age. Remember, submission is a two-way street.

Dramatic shifts in libido can occur during this appetizer phase of marriage. For instance, the two of you might be getting really good at sex when the color bar on the pregnancy test strip changes. Oh my! Does a positive pregnancy test require a nine-month fast from sex? No! It might be time to expand your palate, but the appetizers are still quite yummy.

Entrees

“Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” ~ Song of Solomon 4:16

After delighting in many scrumptious appetizers during the early years, our middle years of marriage are a great time to focus on enjoying the entrees. We get to experiment with some new spices. Who wants meatloaf every Monday when the gourmet menu is available?

The children are older. Our work schedules become more predictable. In these sexually savory middle years we find more time and energy for romance. Are you taste-testing some delectable dishes that arouse your senses in wonderful ways? In fact, do not be surprised when asked if you are on your honeymoon after being married for twenty-two years.

By adapting to changing appetites through the years, you demonstrate love, faithfulness, and sensitivity to one another. Trust and security invite both of you to eat, enjoy, and be satisfyingly filled. This season of life can offer many evenings of fine dining. But why limit this pleasure to evenings? Afternoon snacks are delightful. Breakfast in bed is a refreshing way to start the day. Variety really does add spice to life.

The middle years are a great time to experiment with new cuisines as you share a delicious date night dinner. Take time to enhance your dining experience by lighting a romance candle and dressing the table with beautiful flowers. Try a new perfume. Wear a pretty negligee while listening to love songs on the play list.
There is now time to savor each bite as you encounter new exotic cuisines.

Sex might take a little longer than in the newlywed years, but it is oh so delicious. And, your palate has become more refined. You have figured out which herb goes best with which food, and have discovered that more is not necessarily better. It is still great fun to experiment with different flavors. But we know what we like and thoroughly enjoy every exquisite bite.

Desserts

“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend.” ~ Song of Solomon 5:16

And who does not want dessert? As you honeymoon into the later decades of marriage, you get to enjoy the sweetest of treats. This mature phase of life is an opportunity for you and your mate to share the intense richness of love that is ripened on the vine of life together.

As you advance in age, health issues may appear that block sweet methods of lovemaking from the past. Joints are stiffer, backs seem weaker, and energy is often lower than before. Yet the need to be emotionally and physically touched in intimate ways remains. The desire to be loved and to love is a constant that never fades.

At the wedding feast in Cana, the party had been going on for days when Jesus changed water into wine. The master of the wedding banquet said that the choicest wine had been reserved until the final course of the feast (John 2). Isn’t that like God to save the best until last?

The Spirit refines skills in lovemaking throughout the years. Happily married people in their later decades are often the most satisfied lovers. Laughingly we say that there will need to be a lock on our door if we move into a nursing home for the elderly. Delectable dessert will still be on the menu.

One bite of divine dark chocolate is more satisfying than a bag of inferior candies. As you adapt to physical changes and health challenges, your sexual sense of taste might change once again, becoming even more refined.

Full Meal Deal

Appetizers, entrees, and desserts are yummy treats that fill your life with delight.  Throughout your married life you will want it all—the full meal deal. Each course demonstrates your love sexually to your mate. Both giving and receiving pleasure is delectable. Every anniversary is to be celebrated—possibly over a nice, long dinner as you fondly remember favorite meals from the past, and dream of delicious dishes you want to try. Wouldn’t this be a great day to devour some French silk pie?

 

Dan Linda WilsonLovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in MarriageDr. Dan and Linda Wilson are marriage missionaries. They delight in traveling around the world blessing marriages and sharing about Jesus. Dan and Linda are cofounders of Supernatural Marriage & Missions, and have written several books including Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage. You can follow them at www.supernaturalmarriage.org and www.facebook.com/supernaturalmarriage.

 

 

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great 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.

When Sex Seems Like a Chore

Don't Let Sex Become a Chore. Why we need to prioritize it more!

A few weeks ago a young wife caused quite a stir when she wrote an article called “The Night I Gave My Husband a Free Pass.” I won’t link to it because I think quite a few of you would find the site itself and the language objectionable, but let me summarize.

Basically, they have a great marriage. They’re good friends, they parent well together, they do stuff together. But she has no libido, and making love when she doesn’t feel like it is degrading and gross, she says. And she doesn’t understand why sex has to be a part of marriage. It all seems so silly. Why give up a perfectly good relationship just because the sex isn’t there? So her solution is this: he can have an affair or use a prostitute, it’s honestly okay with her. In fact, she’d appreciate it because then he’d stop bothering her and they could go on with their real lives together!

A number of you have sent that article to me and asked me to comment, but I haven’t really had time what with wedding preparation (9 Days and Counting!). But I’ve had some men send me some material that I think is really useful for women who start getting into that frame of mind.

I’m sure the vast majority of us have never thought, “just go use a prostitute.” But we may start to see sex as a chore. Here’s Matt Jacobson talking about why thinking of sex as a chore is NEVER a good idea–and what we can do instead.

And here’s a thoughtful response to that article written by one of my male readers, Jack Lopez, who sent it along to me. I thought you all may appreciate it:

He writes to the author,


Wow! Thank you for opening up a discussion about this.

I realize that it probably started as just venting and that there are a lot more dynamics to your marriage than just what is shown in this article, and while it is a testament to how understanding your husband is, it is really sad to hear all of the pain and frustration (on both sides of the fence) going on. I appreciate your honesty, and your husband sounds like a pretty normal guy. For you and your readers, please let me share some insight from 25 years (and counting) of marriage. (And know that none of this is meant to attack you in any way – please read to the end and you will see my heart)

My wife has been through a lot of health issues, including cancer & complications which resulted in having a mastectomy with no reconstruction, a year of chemo causing the loss of all of her hair, and weight gain due to the drugs she was on. So we had plenty of body issues to go around! (She has been cancer free for over 7 years now, which we are very thankful for) We also have a whole herd of mouths to feed and chores to do, active businesses in addition to outreach and counseling. We have had our ups and downs in the sex department, with all of the obligatory fights and start-overs and it continues to be an ongoing challenge. I like most husbands am pretty lousy at communicating in this arena.

That being said we love each other very much and neither of us has ever cheated.

I still am just as attracted to her as the day we met. We both have a strong faith and relationship with God which makes a difference through the hard times.

So, here are seven insights that I hope will help you and your readers:

1) Your husband is a smart guy.

While I have often thought that if prostitution was moral and legal it would make marriage easier for all the reasons you described, that’s not the way we were designed. It’s abusive to women involved in the industry, soul crushing to all involved and would be toxic to your relationship and kids. (just imagine trying to explain to your kids why daddy got arrested for soliciting a prostitute, or when his sugar baby shows up on your doorstep telling you that you should divorce him because you can’t make him happy like she does). So like your husband says, it’s not sex he wants, it’s sex with you, the woman he loves and would lay down his life for. It is a spiritual connection between two people that have committed their lives to each other, and there is no other place he can get that.

Everything else is just a counterfeit.

Even if it is not “cheating” to you, it would be “cheating” to him, which would come with the shame, guilt, confusion, etc… that goes along with it.

2) You are too busy.

No woman is going to feel in the mood after being sleep deprived from taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and working. So make some changes! You said your husband would not mind if you hired a cleaning service, or ate take out a few nights a week. Do it! Get some help, hire a sitter, take some “me” time, go to the spa, have lunch with a friend. See, your husband understands what is important. He can hire someone to clean, cook and babysit, but you are the only person that can make him feel loved, appreciated and connected to. (For you ladies, try telling your husband that you need to hire someone to help around the house so you can focus on having more sex with him and see how fast he finds room in the budget for it.)

Ten years from now your kids aren’t going to care if you personally did not scrub the kitchen floor, they will care if they had a father that was angry and depressed most of the time.

3) Sex is not just physical.

Sex makes your husband feel loved, cared for, and connected to you. He draws self esteem and happiness from the fact that you desire him, and that he can still “ring your bell”. When he sees you spend countless hours on the house, the kids, your job, he knows that those things are very important to you by the fact you give your precious time and energy to them. When you can’t make 30-45 minutes a week to meet his physical needs, or make it seem like an undesirable chore, you tell him that his real place on your list is somewhere below vacuuming and changing dirty diapers.

No matter how many times you say you love him, your actions say differently. Now a note here: if you have lost respect for your husband because of something he is or has done, then you need to address and resolve it. If you do not love and respect your husband, your kids will not either, which will open them up to a whole slew of issues.

4) You are making it more difficult / stressful than it needs to be.

Stop being so hard on yourself. Husbands are actually pretty easy to keep happy. To make his wife happy, your husband has to be a breadwinner, a mentor, example and loving father to your kids, plan for the future, maintain the mechanics of the house and vehicles, have good ears to attentively listen to your hopes, dreams, be understanding of your moods and struggles, a shoulder to cry on and to be a wall of protection between your family and an ever increasingly crazy world.

The effort to make your husband happy involves ten minutes of physical activity that ends with you occasionally having screaming orgasms. (I’ve often said to my wife after she has a particularly strong climax, “Why would you not want to do that every day?”)

Not that every single time it has to be “mind blowing”. We know that sometimes you are not in the mood, and do it anyways and we appreciate it. There is “maintenance sex” and then there is “roll around in the bed hot and heavy sex” and lots in between, but it is all good to us. Don’t get hung up on your performance, just enjoy it.

5) It is about quantity as much as quality.

Men need sex on a regular basis. Women like it to happen organically, but when you are married with kids, that is darn near impossible. You don’t “spontaneously” take your kids to soccer practice, or wait until you are in the mood to take them to school or feed them. My wife made a chart once to show examples how my anger and resentment were not at all a turn on, but being thoughtful and kind first and helping out around the house, and then doing romantic things moved her closer to the place where she felt loved and connected and desired intimacy.

I found it to be helpful, but it also struck me that for men, it works 180 degrees opposite. When we have just been intimate, we feel loved, connected, we want to help out around the house, buy you flowers, and show kindness. After it’s been a couple of days, we feel less connected, especially if we have been rejected in between. By the time a week has gone by we feel unappreciated, confused and frustrated. Two weeks and we feel taken for granted, resentful and angry. Longer and we are distant, despondent and depressed. (even if we hide it)

So stop the cycle! Schedule a date night every week or two (which does not have to include sex), but also schedule time for intimacy. Don’t underestimate the power of a good “quickie”!

6) It is the best thing for your kids.

Your husband is more important than your kids. He is the one you made a covenant with. Your kids are going to grow up and leave you and start families of their own. He is going to be with you for the rest of your life. The greatest gift you can give your children is a father that is respected, loved, happy and connected to the family. And you are the one with the power to make it so.

7) Fix it now.

Let me paint two scenarios. In scenario #1, you take some part of my advice and choose to show him that love through physical affection. (which isn’t just sex: holding hands, hugging and “real” kisses are just as important) Your husband is stress free and happy, involved with the kids, prizes you above all else, and the two of you live a long and fulfilling life.

In scenario #2, you continue for the next 3 to 5 years saying “sex just isn’t important right now I will get to it later” which says to your husband, “you are just not important to me right now, I will get to you later”. He becomes resentful, angry and depressed. He tries to hide it, but becomes more distant.

You have sex every once in a while, but it is mechanical and unfulfilling. Eventually he just gives up. Your kids grow up with a father that is physically or emotionally absent. He finds reasons to work late and hobbies that isolate him from the family. Maybe one day he takes you up on your “free pass”, but by then he sees that “free pass” as a one way ticket out of a relationship that he does not get anything out of.

Or maybe he sticks around and becomes bitter and emasculated, you never say a kind word to each other, you start sleeping in separate rooms, he becomes addicted to porn (not because he thinks other women are prettier than you, but because he is captivated by the fact that some women appear to still desire and enjoy sex). If he doesn’t leave or die early from stress/depression, then by the time the kids are out of the house and you finally have “time for sex”, you hate each other and are so far apart that without divine intervention you either get divorced “now that the kids are gone” or spend the rest of your life making each other miserable because it is all you know how to do.

I am hoping that you opt for scenario #1. If you do, as the saying goes: Just do it. There will be ups and downs, life will happen in between and everything will be ok, because you will have a happy husband by your side, to help, protect, provide and take on the world with you.

Jack is starting to get his views known on the web at his website, Insightful Guy Musings. He’s an ordained minister who once bought Vladimir Putin a drink. And he says he played a small part in the financial collapse of 2007.


I appreciate his thoughts, but I’d love to know: what do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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: The ONE Tip That Will Make Sex Feel Great!

Here it is. Are you ready for it? The ONE tip that will make sex feel great.

The One Tip that will make Sex Feel Great. #marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage. I introduce a post, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts below (please, marriage only!).

And today I thought I’d share something quick that can make a huge difference in your marriage.

Here we go.

Do you know why sex doesn’t always feel very good for women?

It’s because sex is primarily in our heads. What we’re THINKING about determines how we’re FEELING.

And that means that to feel good during sex, we have to be thinking positively about it. We have to be able to concentrate so we don’t get distracted.

A few years ago when giving my Girl Talk I explained it like this:

(I’m bringing Girl Talk all over the eastern seaboard next year. If your church may want to host me, just ask for an information packet.)

Here’s the problem. We women are multi-taskers. And our bodies don’t kick in unless our brains do first. So, if you’re counting ceiling tiles or planning a grocery list in your head, sex isn’t going to feel good. If you are lying there waiting for him to do exactly the right thing to send you over the edge, you aren’t going to feel good. Because there is nothing he CAN do if your brain isn’t engaged in the process.

So the real question isn’t what super move to do in bed. The real question is how can you get your blasted brain to stop making that grocery list? How can you stop thinking, “I really should be asleep by now. I’m going to be so tired tomorrow.” Or how can you stop thinking, “this is kinda boring. Nothing’s really happening for me right now.”

Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to tell your brain what to think about.

It’s that easy.

When you’re making love, simply ask yourself these two questions:

What feels good right now?

and

Where do I want to be touched right now?

Just those two questions.

Because when you ask those two questions, you start paying attention to your body. You get your brain out of the grocery list and onto more interesting parts of your anatomy. And once you do that, you may just notice that something DOES feel good. And then you can let yourself be carried away by that feeling. You can increase that feeling by directing more of his attention there. You can change position so that it feels even better.

But you keep THINKING about it.

Look, we all see these movies where the wife is doing paperwork or cleaning and he sneaks up behind her and starts feeling her and she’s carried away in raptures. But most of us know that in real life if he were to do that we wouldn’t be carried away. We’d be annoyed because our heads aren’t in the game. Our heads are in the paperwork or the cleaning and so no matter what he does it won’t feel good. We can’t concentrate on sex when we’re doing something else. Multitasking just doesn’t work for us in the sexual realm.

I think, though, that many of us feel that he SHOULD be such a good lover that we can just daydream and think about stuff in bed and somehow whatever he does will feel so good that we’re carried away anyway.

It doesn’t work like that. We have to be active participants–and that means actively thinking about it. We may want to be carried away, but we can only be carried away if we let ourselves think about it.

So try that: just ask yourself, “what feels good right now? What do I want him to touch?” And keep asking that. And you may just notice that it IS feeling good!

31 Days to Great Sex“Getting Your Head in the Game” is one of the challenges in my book, 31 Days to Great Sex. And there’s lots more in there to help you prepare for sex and then KEEP your head in the game, so it’s easier to feel good! Check it out today.

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon–that you can’t feel good unless you’re concentrating? Do you find it easy to concentrate–or hard? Let me know in the comments!

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage posts

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your marriage post (please, only marriage, no cooking) in the linky below. And then be sure to link back here so other people can read these great 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.

5 Quick Marriage Reader Questions

Reader Question: 7 quick questionsOn Mondays I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it–although this summer my schedule might be a little off what with my daughter’s wedding in less than two weeks and my book release of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage on August 18 (such an exciting summer!). But I have quite the backlog of questions right now, and often questions come in that I actually have answered before. So I thought I’d post some of them today, and then point you to other posts where I’ve dealt with them.

So here we go:

1. What is your opinion on bikinis?

A reader writes:

So many women in my church say it’s fine because everyone’s doing it. I’ve always felt torn on the issue. My husband thinks it’s alright to wear one. I do my best to be modest and to not draw attention to the sexual areas of my body so I don’t cause men to lust. Today modesty seems to be a very big issue. You have people suggesting it’s the guy’s fault for lusting if you ran around naked. Others would say if you ran around in a burlap sack and a guy was lusting it would still be your fault. I struggle to find the happy medium. When am I being modest enough? When is it no longer my fault for making someone lust? Is it ever my fault?

So many women have been harmed by being told, “it is your fault if a man lusts after you”–as if our bodies are somehow bad.

I’ve written about the modesty movement and the harm it can do. And I’ve written on how modest should not mean dowdy.

The specific question on bikinis is a hard one and one that I think is largely cultural. If you are at a beach where 95% of the females are in bikinis, then I’m not sure that wearing a tankini or a bikini that covers more than usual is really a bad thing. I don’t know that we can make a blanket judgment about certain items of clothing.

Personally, I don’t wear bikinis, but I’ve always worn tankinis (let’s face it: going to the bathroom in a two-piece when you’re on the beach all day is way easier than a one-piece). And tankinis can also be more modest since they can cover more of your bottom.

My rule of thumb tends to be this: when you’re in a group of people,  make sure that you are definitely on the modest end, without being frumpy.

Also, with the 50s styles coming back, many bikinis are actually more modest. Modcloth has a number of 50s inspired swimsuits for both plus sizes and regular sizes, and they aren’t your typical bikini, like this one:
Poolside Pretty Swimsuit Top in Chevron

So I have a hard time saying today that bikinis are always wrong. And I also believe that you CAN’T blame a woman who is trying to dress appropriately if a man lusts after her. That’s so wrong–and it’s the foundation of the relationship between the sexes in ISLAM, not in Christianity.

2. What Do You Do When Sex is Painful?

I get quite a few of these questions, and I understand. I went through it, too, as I talk about in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. But the questions still make me so sad for these women. Here’s one:

I was a virgin when I was married at 20, and we’ve been married for almost 6 years. I have a toddler and a little baby. I love my husband so much, but I am deeply struggling with our sex life. Before having our son we suffered with a miscarriage, and then struggled to get pregnant for almost a year and a half. Sex during our struggle with infertility really tainted the act for me. It wasn’t about a union or strengthening our marriage, it was like a business meeting. Then we continued to struggle with sex during the pregnancy due to nausea and fatigue. And then I had an extremely traumatic delivery. We nearly lost my son and I needed forceps to get him out. This caused my my vagina to tear all the way through. Now my baby is 6 months old, and sex is still painful. It makes me shake and cry and feel sick to my stomach.

It is so hard to get myself in the mood to want to do something I know will physically hurt me. My marriage is struggling. My husband and I are currently more like roommates than a couple. I feel incredibly guilty because I know I’m the one withholding sex. My husband loves me and respects me and is so wonderful, but I know I am hurting him. After struggling for half of my married life with sex, I feel like I’m stuck in terrible cycles and I can’t seem to break myself out of them.

And here’s another woman who finds sex so painful:

Sheila, I would love for you to write a post about when the act of sex itself is painful. Those of us who suffer from vaginismus experience EXCRUCIATING pain during intercourse, or are even unable to penetrate at all. For the first 4 months of our marriage my husband and I weren’t even able to have sex, not because of the pain but because he literally could NOT get in.

I used dilators and now we can finally “get in”, but it’s still extremely painful and difficult, not romantic or spontaneous at all.

Then last night my husband told me that he doesn’t really like sex as much as he thought he would before we were married. After spending 3 months painfully forcing silicon dilators into my body so that I could fulfill my husband’s sexual needs, having him say he doesn’t like it that much broke my heart. He said it’s not that he doesn’t find me sexy, he just feels like sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It makes me feel inadequate and unappealing. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but everyone always says that all men are sex maniacs, so if my husband doesn’t care for sex it must be because I’m not good at it. You’re always telling us wives to have sex with our husbands to make them happy, but what about when they don’t even want it? Is it just a stereotype that men love sex? What is wrong with my husband (or me) that makes him not care for it?

To both of these women: I am so, so sorry that you’re going through this. This is heartbreaking to both you women and your husbands, and there’s definitely a lot of grieving going on.

I have written about pain during intercourse, and if you’re suffering from vaginismus, as the last letter writer is, I encourage you to read this post about vaginismus–or when sex hurts.

For the first letter writer, I’d encourage you to keep seeing your doctor and talk to him or her about what you’re feeling. I have a friend whose tear never healed properly and it developed into a much larger problem. So I think you need someone to keep an eye on you and make sure it is healing. Having pain for a prolonged period of time is not normal, and it may be that you have to take a break from intercourse for a few months to entirely heal–which is better than aggravating something and have it develop into something worse.

Now, what about your relationships with your husbands?

I think the reason that the second letter writer’s husband isn’t enjoying sex is because it’s really only about the body. She can’t throw herself into something which hurts (for obvious reasons), and so it feels empty. I truly believe that once you deal with the pain issue the whole way you both see sex will change.

Good Girls Guide My SiteFor now, can you all focus on sexual play instead of just intercourse? Often when people feel pain they try to turn off their sexuality entirely, and don’t do even what they can. Play a lot, and then do some of the things in the post on vaginismus to start dealing with the pain. But don’t stop playing, or the whole thing becomes far too serious–and that’s no fun at all. I also talk about this a lot more in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, so check that out for more thoughts.

3. My Husband Acts Like He’s Single

Here’s a sad one:

We have four little children, and we both feel strongly about protecting them. We don’t allow just anybody to babysit our kids. However, it seems this leads to my always being stuck at home with them while my husband hangs out with a group of young single friends. I feel as though he’s spending his money and his time like a single person, while I’m at home being the mommy. When he is at home, he texts the single girls. Everything is extremely aboveboard and beyond reproach… but it still hurts. I know guys need some time to themselves. So, am I being selfish? Should I talk to him about how much this hurts me… or will I drive him away by making him feel that I’m trying to monopolize his life? I’ve jokingly complained about his close friendship with one of the other women, but guys don’t get hints…

I see several issues here, the first one being that the two don’t seem to communicate. He is doing something that hurts her, she’s hinting, but they’re not talking. And they have four kids already!

People, if, in your marriage, you’re keeping back how you’re feeling, you will never develop an intimate marriage!

I think many of us hold back too much. This is a theme in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, but you simply have to talk.

Here’s a post I wrote on just asking for help. Just ask. There is no way around it. He can’t read your mind.

And what about the fact that he’s texting other women? Not acceptable. I’ve written about that, too.

But there’s a bigger thing going on here. They’ve decided they can’t get baby-sitters, so the husband goes out at night. What about just sitting down and planning time for you to do things as a couple? And then planning time when you can go out on your own? It’s not healthy for a guy to be going out alone all the time while the wife stays home. Don’t let this dynamic start! Just talk about it early. Sit down and say, “what would you like to do as a family? What would you like to do as a couple?” And then if he needs an occasional night with the guys, and you’d like a night with the girls, that’s fine, too. But talk about it!

It sounds like the bigger issue is that they never spend any time together. Talk about what hobbies you can develop as a couple.

And get a baby-sitter. Swap with friends if you have to. But find a baby-sitter!

4. My Husband Doesn’t Turn Me On Anymore

Before having children and nursing each for a year, I could look at my husband, be turned on, and count down the minutes till we were in bed. Now, my husband is still the same sexy-hottie (I am not making that up…he is seriously model material, but his character alone is quality enough to make any lady’s hear skip a beat), I am not so much the sexy lady he married, but he is still for some reason drawn to me as though I was. Talk about a lucky lady!! Why am I not turned on by him?? I dread the sex. I don’t know if its my brain/hormones, if I’m depressed, or what?! Is there anything I can cognitively try to get myself excited about his hotness again?

First–totally normal. Those butterflies and severe attraction that we feel tend to wear off within 18-24 months, researchers find. It doesn’t matter what your husband looks like–the feelings tend to fade.

Then, if you’ve got little kids, your hormones could definitely be all wonky. Totally normal again.

31 Days to Great SexSo how do you get yourself turned on again? You have to be deliberate about getting your head in the game early in the day. And here’s a post on how to think of your husband as sexy again!

I’d also recommend working through 31 Days to Great Sex. It helps you talk about this stuff again, flirt, think about sex more, and learn to play again. Sometimes just getting out of that rut is all you need.

5. Just Plain Major Mess

Most of the letters I get, though, aren’t about a specific problem–they’re a whole series of problems in a relationship that add up to something quite serious. Here’s a typical letter:

I’ve read your posts about husbands not wanting sex. It’s a battle in my marriage. He had a problem with porn earlier in our relationship but as far as I know he has stopped and to be honest we have less sex now than when he was looking at porn. It could be stress, he was recently retrenched and is only getting back onto his feet now. However I’m the main breadwinner and as much as I try not let him feel like less of a man, when I’m stressed I think I sometimes do. If it’s medical we currently cannot afford to get it checked.

My main problem is that he will usually have sex if I initiate (although sometimes he will reject me). I’ve  just gotten to the point where I feel so unwanted I don’t want him. I feel if he would rather play Xbox or whatever it is, then I just don’t want him to touch me. The last time I initiated he literally picked up his phone to read a message so I stopped. It completely killed the mood.

If he does initiate its in the middle of the night, he’ll wake me… I work 2 jobs and I’m studying, so sometimes I just can’t wake up. Or I wonder what he’s been dreaming, if it’s even me he wants.

I’ve prayed so hard. I’m trying so hard. I feel so alone as its not an easy topic to discuss with people.

What can I do?

That’s such a tough situation! So let me give you a bunch of different links and thoughts.

First, here’s a post on what to do when you have major marriage problems. What do you tackle first?

Second, what about video games? I’ve written before about how to handle it when your husband plays video games too much. But what if the video game habit becomes more than just a habit? Here’s a follow-up, and here’s what to do when it really needs to be confronted.

But in this letter I see some major sexual red flags. First, it isn’t unusual for a guy to have a low sex drive if he plays video games constantly. Any addiction can steal sexual energy.

But there’s something more going on, and it’s this: sex has become divorced from relationship.

It’s become impersonal. And that’s a major red flag. He never initiates; when she does he’s often distracted; but then he does want sex frequently in the middle of the night, when she isn’t engaged. That’s quite typical of people who were addicted to porn, too, because sex has become entirely impersonal for them.

Your marriage may not have exactly these problems, but if sex really is impersonal, then I’d direct you to this post on sexual red flags in marriage. You need to start over and talk about what real intimacy is and how to achieve it. And that may have to be done with a counselor or a pastor, because he’s missing something important.

I’m sorry–I wish there were some magic piece of advice I could give you, but there isn’t.

Some problems are big, but they can only be tackled with real prayer and with TRUE communication. We have to start talking. Too many couples have stopped, and it scares me.

So I hope those posts help some of you! I know many of you have sent questions in, and I will try to get to them after my busy summer. In the meantime, I do have a post most of the Frequently Asked Questions and links to lots of my posts. And it may help you now:

Tons of Links to Articles Addressing Common Marriage Questions

Have a great week, everybody! I’ve got some great posts scheduled for the next little while as I’m checking out on vacation and prep for my daughter’s wedding. I know you’ll enjoy them.

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5 Ways to Defeat Insecurity in the Bedroom

How to Feel More Confident in the BedroomYou want a great sex life–but what do you if you’re still really shy being naked, or trying anything rather adventurous?

Many of us get into a “safe” rut in bed. We make love in one position which lets us feel intimate, but doesn’t allow for much exploring. Our hands don’t wander. The lights aren’t on. We just do the deed and we’re done!

But what if you want more? What if you want to experience real freedom with your husband, and feel even more intimate? Well, you’ve got to get over some of the roadblocks that can make you insecure! So let’s look at five common reasons that many of us would rather keep his face up near our face, and stop his hands from going too far:

1. What About Fat Rolls?

You secretly hate your body, and you’re pretty sure he must feel the same way. When you bend over you seem to have three stomachs. You have cellulite everywhere–even places that aren’t supposed to have cellulite. How could he possibly want to explore THAT when you’d rather not even look in the mirror?

Over and over again men tell me in surveys that the sexiest thing about a woman is not her body; it’s her confidence! A woman who jumps in is incredibly exciting. On the other hand, if you dive under the covers and try to keep things short and simple, he’s going to think you’re not really into it, even if you are. And that’s not sexy.

You need to realize the power that you do have–because when we see how powerful we really are in bed, our confidence can return! If you understand how wild you can really drive your husband, then maybe your fat rolls won’t seem so significant.

Solution: Play the timer game. Set it for 10 minutes and just explore his body without letting him move. See the effect you can have on him! If you’re really ambitious, reverse roles and see how excited he can get just exploring you.

2. What About the Smell?

Here’s another reason we often don’t like to encourage our guys to “explore” much–we’re actually self-conscious about what we smell like “down there.” I mean, let’s face it–we can’t honestly tell by ourselves. And what if you’ve just had your period, and you’re still spotting a little? Or what if you really DO smell?

It is a little bit different–a guy’s genitals are right there, on the outside. They’re easily cleaned. But us? Nope. It’s all kind of wet and potentially messy.

So here’s the thing–if this is a problem for you and is wrecking your confidence because you’re just not sure, and you’re worried that he’s just humoring you but doesn’t really like exploring “down there”–then do something! I was asked by BlogHer to take a look at Stay Fresh Gel from Monistat® Complete Care™. Monistat® now offers products beyond yeast infection treatment with the Complete Care™ line. Here’s what it DOESN’T do: it doesn’t mask odor by using a fragrance. In fact, it’s fragrance-free and paraben-free! It doesn’t try to mask anything at all–it helps eliminate odor by restoring feminine freshness and balance. See, the vagina is actually a self-cleaning thing (or at least the inside is; the outside still needs lots of attention!). But sometimes we throw off that balance with things we eat, exercise, sex, or even soaps we use. This helps to restore the proper pH and get you back to normal. And for the one in three women who really do have feminine odor, this helps keep you fresh for up to 3 days with one application.

Solution: Don’t try to use chemical cleaning douches (please please please! That’s so bad for you); actually restore balance. Here’s a coupon for you to use to try it!

3. What About all that Hair?

Here’s another thing that makes us insecure: pubic hair. Why would he want to explore if there’s so much in the way? And the one place we want him to find the most is often hidden underneath quite a bit.

Certainly you can do a full wax, but I’m not a fan for three reasons: First, when hair starts to grow back it can be really itchy. Second, when you wax the hair often has a harder time growing back through the skin and you can end up with ingrown hairs. Not fun. And third, the whole Brazilian wax thing has become popular largely because porn has made it “normal”. That scares me–it’s like it’s trying to get women to look like pre-pubescent girls.

Solution: I like Shannon Ethridge’s tip in The Passion Principles: Simply stand above the toilet with some scissors and clip the hair short. No itch, no fuss, and no mess.

4. What If I Don’t Know What To Do?

You like the thought of exploring more and not just sticking to one routine when you make love, but what if you’re honestly at a loss about what to do? How do you initiate something new? And what in the world do you really want to do?

Sometimes the easiest way to explore more is to think of it as play–not something that needs to be sustained through the whole time (you can honestly get back to your tried and true position), but maybe you start a different way each time.

Solution: Have each of you write down 5 ways that you’d like to make love or 5 things you’d like to do before the “main event.” Put them in a bag. Then each time you make love, pull out a suggestion and start that way! You can always finish another way, after all. But this way there’s no pressure on you to suggest something. You’re just doing what the paper says.

5. What If He Doesn’t Make Me Feel Good?

You’d love to explore, but every time he touches you your head immediately goes to creating a shopping list, because quite frankly it doesn’t feel that good.

We aren’t born knowing how to please the opposite sex. And everybody likes different things! So you have to teach him. I don’t mean correct him or criticize him; but you do have to show him what you like.

Solution: Play the Teacher! One night for 15 minutes you just get to teach and correct him all you like. Even boss him around! Then the next night reverse roles. You may just learn a lot about each other!

Ladies, so many of us lack confidence.

We’re worried about what he’ll think about our bodies. We’re worried we’re secretly gross. We’re worried we’re not that exciting. Stop worrying and just do something about it! Confidence is sexy, and so if you need something to boost your confidence, try one (or all!) of these suggestions.

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Wifey Wednesday: My Virgin Wedding Night

This week we’re doing a mini-series on preparing for the wedding night–and the honeymoon! Our culture talks like being a virgin on your wedding night can be so awkward–and even so shaming. Today Mercy McCulloch Hasselbad joins us to tell her story about her wedding night (as a virgin)–and how they got comfortable with one another.

My readers run the gamut from very conservative households to very laid back ones. And sometimes most of the information seems to apply more to the laid back ones. So today I thought I’d share this great personal story from another point of view–showing that no matter what type of household you grow up in, sex can be a beautiful experience of discovery for you.

Here’s Mercy:

My Virgin Wedding NightMy husband and I never even kissed before our wedding day. We had been very careful, and we were really shy about sex and our bodies. So, when we got married, getting comfortable with each other was HUGE. We didn’t even sleep the first few weeks, because it was so strange having somebody else in our bed. But, even with all the awkwardness, it’s a time I look back to very lovingly. It was such an amazing time. If I could travel back and help my about-to-be-married or just-married self, here’s what I would say.

Relax on Your Wedding Night!

As you go into your wedding, communication is so important. Because of all the craziness around our wedding (we were moving to Asia 3 days after our wedding), we agreed that sex might not happen for awhile, and that was okay. We would figure it out eventually. Make sure you know what your spouse is expecting or dreaming about! You won’t always be on the same page, and it’s a lot of stress if you’re expecting to have to perform for the first time after wedding craziness, and your husband is, too, but neither of you really wants to try.

Our wedding night, we didn’t sleep at all. But not because we were all over each other. It was just so weird having someone, especially someone I loved so much, in the bed with me. We were trying to sleep, because we were flying out to a short honeymoon in Disneyland the morning after. But we were both so wound up we didn’t sleep, even though we were so tired.

Encouragement–It’s Okay to Go Slow!

Eventually, we both resigned to the fact we weren’t going to sleep, drank some water, and I offered to let him see me in my underwear for the first time. He told me how amazingly beautiful he thought I was. That expression was vital. It gave me the confidence to show him more of me.

Be encouraging and affirming towards your new spouse. Usually, this comes naturally, because it’s so exciting and new to be married. But it’s so important that I couldn’t leave it out. Being vulnerable with another person is scary! But if the other person applauds and adores your every step, it becomes really easy to give them everything.

Pay Attention!

Along with communication, it’s so important to pay attention and be encouraging to your new spouse. My husband had always dreamed of helping his new wife out of her wedding dress. But it was something he had never communicated, and I was so nervous and self-conscious that I made him turn away while I changed into my PJs. Later, he told me this dream, and I felt really bad. Awkward things will happen and you will hurt each other, but when you’re married, those just become something to smile about. But pay attention and communicate!! That’s the only way you help each other have the wedding and honeymoon of their dreams.

Reveling in All of the “Firsts” on your Honeymoon

We went to Disneyland for our honeymoon. It was so sweet and fun. But neither of us were sleeping very well. It’s just weird sleeping in the same bed with someone if you’ve never done it before. But don’t stress about it! It will become so natural that you can’t sleep without your spouse!

The first time we were naked with each other, it was with all the lights off. I asked if he wanted to jump in the shower with me. We didn’t touch each other. Just the thought of each other there, even without seeing it, was very intense and exciting and enough.

Slowly, we got more comfortable with each other. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world. We went through hundreds of “first times” together, and it was just us to share them. We were completely vulnerable and special to each other. It was a slow revealing of things and thoughts and desires that we’d never touched before. It was intense and exciting and like Christmas every day.

Dispelling Hollywood’s Version of Sex

As with a lot of things Hollywood portrays, their perfect, rehearsed, smooth version of sex isn’t realistic, especially the first few dozen times. You can hurt each other, you won’t always complete it, and it will feel really weird the first few times. This is the perfect time to work on communication and forgiveness, though. Talk to each other. Figure out what’s going on, tell each other what feels good and if something hurts.

I was really awkward the first few times, because it did hurt at first. I would describe how it felt and hurt and that didn’t help my husband, ha ha. We waited a week or two before even trying it, though. We didn’t do it right away.

But it gets better, especially when you learn from each other and figure out what turns each other on. And eventually, you have better-than-Hollywood sex, and it’s super awesome almost every time. But, especially at first, take it easy. Don’t expect amazing things or for your new spouse to read your mind. Pay attention to each other. Learn from each other. Don’t be selfish, but also don’t be afraid to let your spouse know what’s turning you on.

I read a blog awhile ago where a woman bemoaned the fact that she had waited until her wedding night to have sex. She said she felt so guilty and it was so awkward. And, in one way, she was right. It is awkward, at first.

But I wouldn’t trade those awkward firsts for being the best sex goddess in the world. Those awkward firsts are something that only me and my husband share. Those accomplishments and learning together were like the infancy of our physical relationship. We are almost 2 years married now, and we laugh tenderly when we talk about our first time trying to have sex and the awkward things we said and tried to do.

So, if you’re getting married soon or just got married and are wondering what is going on, just relax. Communicate. Pay attention. Forgive. Marriage is a learning process, and sex is a part of that. It’s okay to be awkward. It’s okay to fall on your face. It’s your husband, somebody you’ll be with forever. One day, you’ll look back on the awkward times and smile, and a part of you will wish you could re-live it.

ONGL1568Mercy McCulloch Hasselblad is an author and artist originally from Idaho. She has a deep love for the beauty of God’s nature and light, for sharing the peace of God, and for her husband. She and Matt currently live as missionaries overseas. She just finished a children’s book, The Artist and the Clay, about how God created each of us for a purpose. She blogs over at mercymhass.wordpress.com.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of your marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts.

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