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.


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?


“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.


“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.


“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!

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Sex or Marriage Red Flag?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That brings us to this one:

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

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

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

I speak more about masturbation in marriage here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One reader wrote in with this story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



How to Track Your Hormones–and Your Libido!

Tracking Your Hormones and Your Libido--apps and printables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s my Tracking Your Hormones plan:

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

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

Here’s how to use it:

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

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

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

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

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

Download your libido tracker here.

A Comparison of PinkPad and iPeriod Apps

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

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

I was looking for an app that would let me:

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

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

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

Tracking your Hormones and Tracking Your Libido with PinkPad

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

PinkPad Period Tracker

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


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

PinkPad Calendar

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

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


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

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

PinkPad Calendar

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

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


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

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

Tracking Your Libido and Tracking Your Hormones with iPeriod

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


Here’s a Graph Comparing iPeriod and PinkPad:

Comparison of iPeriod and PinkPad to chart love life

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

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

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: on Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Menopause, and Hormones!

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

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

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

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

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

How Arousal Works Physiologically

Arousal = Hormones + Blood Flow

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

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

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

So what does that mean for pregnancy?

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

What about breastfeeding?

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

And menopause?

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

Our Most Important Sex Drive is Our Brain

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

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

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

Daily Habits to Help Make Arousal More Likely


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


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

Baths with Bath Oil

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


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


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

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

Eat Well

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

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

Use Some Lubrication!

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

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

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

KY Yours and Mine Personal Lubricant

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

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

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

Consider Hormone Replacement and Supplements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage posts

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

How to Track Your Hormones (and your libido!)

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

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

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

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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.

Top 10 Effects of a Sexual Drought

I recently read an amazing post on Julie Sibert’s blog Intimacy in Marriage about the effects of a sexual drought on your marriage, and I asked if I could reprint it here. So today, for Top 10 Tuesday, we have a sober warning from Julie:

Lack of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage and Its EffectsWell.

Some marriages go decades without sex, so the question of “can” doesn’t really get at the heart of the matter.

A better question is, “What happens when a marriage goes a long time without sex… for no justifiable reason?”

I always have to add that disclaimer in there, because there are some marriages plagued by chronic illnesses and injuries that make any kind of sexual intimacy impossible.

But most marriages?  Yeah, in most marriages, sex IS an option.

My guess is if you are reading this right now, sex IS an option in your marriage — yet it never or rarely occurs.

What does happen when a marriage goes a long time — maybe even years or decades — without sex?

Here are 10 things I think can happen (in no particular order).

Ongoing lack of sexual intimacy in a marriage…

1.  Stirs resentment.

Sex is never just about sex.  It’s about soul mingling, which is a vital aspect of marriage that is found in no other human relationship.  When I wrote the post “I like him better after we have sex,” I meant it.

Consistent and mutually-enjoyable sexual intimacy in a marriage equips us to extend grace, to be kinder toward one another, to do life together.

So it’s no wonder, that when you take sex out, resentment is eager to arrive on the scene.

2.  Fosters distance.

I think we intuitively recognize when there is distance between us and our spouse.  Distance is different than resentment, but still equally damaging.

Sex is a vivid reminder in a marriage that we are “in this together.”  It’s not surprising that when couples report going long stretches without making love, they feel “distant” from one another.

And that distance begins to chip away at all the things that give marriage richness and strength — vulnerability, friendship, shared joys, common ground.

3.  Reduces your marriage to roommate status.

Sure, the two of you pay the bills and run the house. You share the chores. You raise the kids.  You mow the lawn. You decorate the Christmas tree.  And you run the carpool.

BUT… without physical and emotional intimacy… all of that roommatish stuff barely qualifies as a high and holy definition of marriage.

I would be a wealthy woman if I had a dollar every time I heard someone express to me that their marriage exists, but it never thrives — in large part because of the lack of sex.

Roommate status in a marriage sucks.  It just does.

4.  Dishonors God.

God designed marriage and sex — and He designed them to go together.

He implores husbands and wives to make love often. He places a fundamental command on sex being exclusive to marriage.  He created women and men both to be able to experience orgasm.

Sex is God’s deal — His arena — in a very big way.

So, suffice to say, when we marry, we are saying “yes” to sex being part of that covenant.  We are saying “yes” to God.   Take sex out of the covenant? How can we think that doesn’t dishonor Him?

5.  Makes it easier to rationalize infidelity.

If we tried to count the number of Christian men and women who want to step out on their sexually unavailable spouse, we would be counting for awhile.

And that’s just counting the ones who want to, but don’t.

Let’s not even start counting the ones who actually do give into that temptation.

I’ve never been a fan of the phrase “affair proof” your marriage, because a spouse could go above and beyond their responsibility in the marriage, including being sexually available — and their spouse could still choose to cheat.

But I do think there are ways we can guard our marriages. Making love is one of those ways.  When sex is non-existent, the spouse who hungers for it may be more tempted to loosen the reins on their marriage vows.

To not see some cause and effect in that whole scenario is careless.

Yes, adultery is a sin and there is no way to rationalize it.

But listen to the raw feelings of refused spouses, and it’s not too hard to see how they convince themselves that sexual indiscretion doesn’t matter at this point.

6.  Sets a horrible example for kids.

Don’t kid yourself on this one (no pun intended).  Your kids are learning about marriage from watching you.   You may say, “Well, they don’t know anything about our sexual intimacy.”

You’re right that they aren’t privy to the details of what happens behind your closed bedroom door, but I guarantee you this.   If nothing is happening behind that bedroom door, the collateral damage from that spills out into the rest of your life — you know, the life where your kids are present and paying attention.

See points 1, 2 and 3 for further insight.

7.  Invites the enemy into your home and bedroom.

Satan is all about division, and he doesn’t really care how he goes about doing it.  He is crafty and clever and will work with what we hand him.

When you willingly decide to take sex out of the marriage, the enemy is delighted.  Why?   Because he knows that anything designed by God — in this case, sex — is powerful. And holy. And worthy.

When a married couple stops having sex, Satan has gained a huge foothold.  Division is so much easier when unity is no longer mutually valued.

8.  Increases reliance upon masturbation as the only form of sexual fulfillment.

I don’t think masturbation in marriage is always a bad thing, and I’ve blogged about that here and here.

BUT…  if it is happening often and only because someone’s spouse has arbitrarily removed sex from the marriage, then the negative impact starts to add up quickly.

When a husband and wife could be having sex, but aren’t — and one or both of them resort to masturbation — are we really that surprised?

If anything, it just confirms the power of sexual desire.

Even more heartbreaking is when the refusing spouse gives “permission” or “encouragement” to their spouse to “just take care of things themselves.”

How can we possibly think that’s God vision (or even your vision) for sex in a marriage?

9.  Makes pornography look more enticing.

No, I am not justifying any sin, including the sin of pornography.

But we are a naive people if we believe for one moment that pornography doesn’t look more alluring to some people who are consistently sexually rejected within their marriage.

I know that pornography addiction is complex.  I also know that I hear from many people who struggle greatly with pornography and are trying to stop looking at it.  To feel as if there is no other option but pornography only compounds the problem.

Many couples, usually through the assistance of counselors and ministries, have overcome the betrayal of pornography. Without a doubt, a husband and wife eventually resuming healthy and active sexual intimacy is a part of that healing.

Again.  A lot of this goes back to, “What are we doing to guard our marriage and our hearts?”

10. Damages your ability to serve in the body of Christ.

If you are gung ho about serving in countless ways at your church — yet you know you are blatantly refusing your spouse sexually — then your Christian witness is hampered.  I have no doubt about that.

There’s nothing wrong with using your talents and heart to serve the Lord outside your home, but if you are doing it at the expense of priorities in your home and inyour marriage, then I encourage you to step back.

Take a good hard look. Be humble. And admit that this may be a blind spot for you.

The Lord is willing to meet you in that place of struggle — and in all the others I’ve listed to this point.

How long can a marriage go without sex?

Well. Like I already said…  I don’t think that question really gets at the heart of the matter.

Do you?

For more reading on this, check out one of my favorite posts: Extraordinary Sex in Your Ordinary Life.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

Julie SibertJulie 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 who kind of wants to chew up the kitchen floor.


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: Rebuilding Your Sex Life After Years of Refusing Sex

Husband saying no to sex: when you finally want to say YES, and now he's saying NOMost of you who read this blog regularly are here because you want to make your marriage better.

Some of you may be in a great stage of marriage and just want to make sure it stays that way, but if you look at the search terms by which people end up on this blog, it’s often because you readers are lonely and frustrated.

You’ve been struggling to feel connected, or perhaps sex isn’t going well. You feel distant, and you don’t want to be like that anymore.

And so you try to change things–which means, of course, changing yourself and how you react to your spouse (since you can’t change anyone except yourself).

But what do you do if you were the one who was holding back in the marriage, and now you ARE changing, but your husband doesn’t trust you?

I had a letter from a low libido wife recently which said this:

My husband finds our lack of sex particularly hurtful. When this comes up, I often rush to read a book or post about sex, to try and fix the issue, but this would only ever work “for next time”. A sincere “sorry, (insert attempt at explanation), I’ll try harder from now on” just doesn’t cut it – my husband is hurt and I can’t fix it. What do I do to show him I’m serious?

This scenario applies to many different marriage scenarios–you’ve been distant and you’ve been hurting each other, and now you want to change the dynamic. But your husband isn’t buying it quite yet. What do you do?

Please note: I’m not talking in this blog post to women whose husbands have ALWAYS had low libidos. If that’s the case, this series on why your husband doesn’t want to make love is likely more applicable. But if your husband used to have a high libido, and now he’s turning you down–read on.

Live out the change–Initiate sex

Keep living out the change. If the problem is that you’ve had a low libido and you’ve been refusing sex, then initiate sex. Buy some lingerie. Talk to him about it.

Here’s a scenario I see quite frequently: she is a low libido spouse and so she refuses him. He spends several months, or years, asking, or even begging for sex until he gets so discouraged that he just turns his libido off. He decides that he really doesn’t want anything to do with her sexually.

So he stops asking.

Eventually she realizes that he’s no longer pursuing her, and she starts to panic. She does a 180 and realizes she doesn’t actually want a sexless marriage. So her libido comes back and she starts pursuing him–but by now he’s turned himself off. He doesn’t want to be hurt, and he almost likes the fact that he can hurt her back.

And he doesn’t want to go through all the hassle again of being vulnerable to someone when that just hurt him. So he’d rather stay that way.

So what do you do? You keep at it. You have an open conversation with him where you admit all of your faults–without blaming him. Even if his behaviour was part of what gave you a low libido, you own what you did. In the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, you take the log out of your own eye (you deal with your own issues first) (Matthew 7:3-5).

How to Initiate Sex with Your Husband--witout feeling awkwardYou tell him that you realize what you did to him, and you’re sincerely sorry. And now you’d like to rebuild your sex life. And keep initiating. If you’re not sure how to initiate sex, I’ve got a great post with 10 tips right here!

You can even ask if he’d be willing to schedule sex, so that you can show that you’re serious. You can pick 2 or 3 nights a week where you’d like to make love, and pencil it in. And you can tell him that you promise you’ll only cancel on him once a month at the most–unless you’re genuinely ill with a fever or something.

He still may not be appreciative. He still may withdraw. Or, when you do make love, you may find it supremely unsatisfying because he’s only interested in pleasing himself (he may seem almost angry), and so you don’t get much pleasure from it.

Give him time to be angry and to see that you’re serious. It takes a lot for a guy to break down a wall that he’s built, especially if he’s built it out of self-preservation.

Don’t withdraw or sulk if he now refuses sex

What if you’re hurt? What if you feel lonelier than you’ve ever felt in your life because he’s rejecting you (or being selfish in bed)? How can you deal with these feelings?

My suggestion: don’t withdraw from him and don’t sulk. Say to him, “I’m feeling really lonely and discouraged right now, but I want you to know that whatever you do, I’m not going to give up on this. I want our marriage strong and I want to have a great sex life, and I’m going to hang in there even if you don’t feel loving towards me right now.”

Acknowledge how you feel, but don’t withdraw. And remember: this process may take months–or even years. Changing the dynamic in marriage doesn’t always happen immediately.

Go to God for your emotional needs if you feel rejected sexually and emotionally

And in those lonely days, draw as close to God as you can. Pray blessing over your husband, very specifically, in every area of his life. The more you pray about these specific things, the more your mind gets turned to what God is doing in his life, instead of what your husband is doing to hurt you.

Go to battle for your marriage, and your husband, by praying blessing over him, and by praying for your marriage. And spend some time everyday just in prayer and in reading Scripture, listening to worship CDs, or anything that gets your eyes on God. Keep your eyes there and you’ll find that you’re better able to withstand rejection from your husband.

Push through the tension and LOVE him–with or without sex

It will feel tense when he’s testing you. You will be tempted to lash out. Don’t. Learn to love him despite his actions. And don’t just initiate sex–initiate other things that make him feel loved. Study his love language and live it out. Make your husband your special project where you can think and pray about how to make his life better. Maybe it’s helping him organize a work project, or organize the garage, or complete an application for a job or internship he’s been wanting. Maybe it’s encouraging him to pursue a dream. I don’t know–but become a student of your husband and find practical ways to support him even outside the bedroom.

If you haven’t been connecting sexually for a long time, chances are he has not felt connected to you hardly at all for that whole length of time. It will take some serious effort for him to allow himself to trust you and become vulnerable with you again–and that vulnerability is necessary for real intimacy.

Don’t rush the process of reconciling sexually

Let him go through the needed emotional steps. And you need to go through it too–to understand what he felt, to figure out how to love him, to figure out how to go to God with your issues.

So pray for strength and grace for yourself, and remember: When your heart’s desire is to act like Christ and love someone unconditionally, God gives you that strength when you seek it. That is a wonderful desire and a wonderful prayer. But it can’t be a manipulative one–see what I’m doing? Now I’m being amazing to him, so he really should change!

No, you’re amazing to him because it’s the right thing to do.

And usually, the more we do that, the more we change the dynamic and the relationship does change. But even if it doesn’t right away, and even if change takes time, you are still doing the right thing. And as you do that, you’ll feel closer to God and Jesus will become more real to you. Cling to that in this time. Marvel at it. And you may just find that you aren’t as lonely as  you thought you’d be.

WifeyWednesday175Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave a comment, or link up the URL of your own Wifey Wednesday blog post in the linky below!

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