Reader Question: How Do You Reset Your Sex Life?

Every MondayReader Question of the Week I like to post a Reader Question and try to take a stab at answering it. Today a reader is asking, “how do you reset your sex life?”

 I have read The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex and am intrigued by the mention you make of the first four years of your marriage. You mentioned having a lot of pain during sex and that it started your sex life off in a bad way. I had a similar start and now, a year after having a baby, sex is much easier. The trouble is that my husband is so demoralized by our early experiences that we still don’t have sex much, and I’m often rejected. No matter how I plan, prep and try to make it happen, he can be pretty cold. It’s like he’s used to and expects a bad sex life. I’m thankful that you try so hard to put a positive light on intimacy, but it would be nice to hear suggestions on dealing with a cold husband.

That’s a difficult question, isn’t it? It could take other forms, like:

I’m a victim of child sexual abuse, and for the first few years of our marriage I was scared of sex. I’ve received healing now and I want to have a great sex life, but it’s like my husband has shut down.

Or perhaps:

I spent years refusing sex with my husband, but I’ve now realized that was wrong and I want to change. But he doesn’t believe me!

When we start marriage seeing sex as a negative thing, it’s really hard to establish a new dynamic in your relationship where it’s fun, easy, and spontaneous.

I’m going to point you to some resources I have at the bottom of this post, but I’d like to tell you a bit of my story. I don’t do that too often anymore; most of my posts are suggesting advice. But I thought some of you may want to hear more of my story.

How to Reset Your Sex Life

Like the original questioner said, I did have pain during intercourse for the first few years of our marriage. I shared that in my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex; I wasn’t sure if I would or not because it’s something really personal to me, and it really was a very painful part of my life and my marriage. I’m still dealing with some emotional scars from it, as is my husband, although we honestly have emerged really strong together.

Keith and I have been speaking at marriage conferences since 2005, but I never really shared that much about this part of our life, even though we were very open about sex in general. But when it came time to write the book, I really thought it needed to be in there. And so I did write about it, and even shared some rather funny–in retrospect–stories of running screaming from doctor’s offices who thought that all I needed was a mirror and an anatomy lesson to get over my condition!

What I really needed was time, space, and healing–and delivering three children vaginally probably helped quite a bit, too. And so I honestly am totally and completely over that.

But the problem is that because that was such a defining part of our marriage in our early years, it was hard to readjust emotionally and relationally once things were “working”, even when the physical wasn’t a problem. We were in a rut where Keith would want sex and feel guilty; I would feel obligated and feel guilty; and both of us just in general felt a lot of shame.

This questioner is saying that her husband is cold towards her. He very well could be. But I wonder if something else is going on, where he was so ashamed of still wanting sex even when it was painful to her that he eventually just shut down. You see, sometimes it’s easier to shut down than to deal honestly with what’s going on inside your head and your heart. And when we don’t see how we can get legitimate needs met, we often try to build these walls to protect our hearts. And perhaps this man has built a wall, and he’s afraid to see things as having changed because he may get hurt again. And he’s trained himself to think of sex as a negative in their relationship.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, too–it isn’t just if she has a physical condition that makes sex difficult. If she has sexual abuse issues (which we’ll be talking about later this week) or other fears, he can also shut down. It’s his defense mechanism because something that really matters to him seems to be making the marriage worse.

The problem is that even though the husband may shut down his sexuality due to a combination of self-preservation and love for his wife, because he’s shut down sexually it’s now even harder for him to feel or express love, since for most men sex is so intertwined with love. So while he may have shut down sexually to protect them both, out of purely altruistic motives, it often ends up hurting both of you. You’re missing that deep connection–not just sex, but real intimacy. He’s shut off a part of himself, and because of that you’re missing something big.

And if he’s shut off intimacy, then even if you’ve changed, it’s hard for him to compute or adjust to the new reality. He likely has some resentment built up, and he may have transferred a lot of his needs somewhere else. Maybe he gets his self-worth from work, or sports, or something else. Obviously if he’s using porn that’s a big problem, but not all men who shut down use porn at all. I know my husband didn’t. But it’s still hard for them to come to a point where they can have sex without feeling guilty. No matter how much you try to convince them that it honestly is okay, deep inside they feel shame for wanting something that has caused you pain.

I tell you all this to try to help you see it from his point of view. You, albeit unwittingly, without meaning to, pulled the rug out from under him when sex didn’t work for you. And that was likely really devastating to him. Now you need him to forget all that and meet you where you’re at.

That’s hard.

But it’s not impossible. Here are just a few quick thoughts:

1. Acknowledge That Your Husband was Hurt

When sex was hard for me, the focus was mostly on the pain I was enduring–both physical and emotional. Keith’s pain was shoved aside. And that’s really how it needed to be in order for me to get better.

But at this point, if you have emerged on the other side, it’s worth letting him air how he did feel, and reassuring him that he does not need to feel guilty for his sexual feelings. Apologize where you can, and let him know that the fact that he was hurt hurts you, too–even if you don’t see how you could have done anything differently at the time.

2. Be His Friend

I know I say this all the time, no matter what the problem is in marriage, but it is so much easier to communicate about the hard things in our marriage if we’re also communicating about the little things. So work on laughing together and doing things together, and it’s easier to truly reset.

3. Do a Sexual Reset

You need to reset your sex life–so do it! I’ve got a post here that takes you through the steps:

How to Reset Your Sex Life

4. Schedule Sex

When sex is difficult, and fraught with emotion, then it’s easy for each night to feel stressful: are we going to tonight? Is it going to turn into a fight? Will he turn me down? Do I dare mention it?

If you’ve got it scheduled on your calendar–say twice a week, to start with–then it takes a lot of the anxiety out of it. During these periods of adjustment, when you need to find a new normal, I highly recommend scheduling sex, even if it’s only a temporary thing.

5. Be Patient

I want to reassure you today that couples can come through to the other side. If sex has been a major source of stress in your marriage, you really can make it through and redefine sex and become spontaneous and fun! But it doesn’t happen overnight, and you need to be patient.

If you’re the one who has received healing, chances are you have been working at this for months, if not years. You’ve seen the progress. You know what’s occurred. You can feel the difference. But he hasn’t. He doesn’t know what’s going on inside your brain, and it’s quite likely he’s shut himself off so that he doesn’t get his hopes up. He’s afraid to see that it could be better.

Just remember that you are further along in this process than he is, and you need to give him time to catch up. You need to give him time to trust you again–to trust that you do actually enjoy sex. And so give him that time!

6. Be Honest

Okay, here’s the hardest one for me to do–and the one I still struggle with. To Keith, it was so traumatic if I ever made love “just for him”, because it was initially hurting me. He is so afraid of ever doing anything that would hurt me again that if he senses that I’m uncomfortable it’s hard for him to want to keep going.

I needed to learn that when I was having triggers, or things were uncomfortable, I needed to tell him, and we’d stop. If he knew that I would tell him if I didn’t want to, then he knew that if I WASN’T telling him, I really did want to. If he wasn’t sure I’d tell him if I was uncomfortable, he was always, always doubting himself. So if you are getting over sexual abuse, and 80% of the time things work fine, then the 20% that they don’t–tell him. Even if it would disrupt the night. If he knows you’re honest when things aren’t working, it makes it much easier for him to let go when they are. So NEVER fake. That would kill any trust you’ve built up. Be totally honest, and then he’s more inclined to believe that you’re enjoying it when things are working well.

I hope those tips help. I know how hard it is emotionally to walk through something like this, but believe me–healing is possible, and you can both come to a beautiful place in your marriage. I pray that you will!

Now, let me know: have you ever struggled with rebuilding your sex life? What did you do? How did you heal? Let me know in the comments!

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

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

Find out more here.


When Erectile Dysfunction Hits Your Marriage

Reader Question of the WeekEvery Monday I like to tackle a Reader Question, and this week’s is a common one: “my husband has ED” (erectile dysfunction).

One reader writes:

Can you post about men with ED problems. My husband is 52 and I am 53. We have struggled in the area of sexual intimacy for most of our 27 yr marriage. I was always the one with low libido and my husband would react very negatively. I recently had my hormones checked and she gave me testosterone shots and it reversed our issues! He is struggling with ED. He is on blood pressure meds and thyroid pills. We are trying to talk thru the emotional aspects but it is very difficult.

I would say that’s the typical “face” of ED–a middle aged man, with some health problems, who suddenly finds that things aren’t working well. Yet increasingly it’s also younger men who have ED:

We’re in our twenties and we’ve been married for two years. My husband has never really been able to maintain an erection. Either it peters out before we really get started, or else he ejaculates too quickly. So now he’s almost given up trying, and he just plays video games until about 2 every morning. I want us to be intimate but I don’t know how to get around this.

This week I’d like to do a three-part series on erectile dysfunction and marriage, looking today at strategies to deal with impotence (ED), tomorrow at some of the “other” sexual problems we face, like premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation, and then on Wednesday at how to keep a great sex life even when these things start to plague your marriage.

I have to admit from the outset, though, that I feel awfully sorry for men. Let’s face it: lots of times we women make love when “we’re not really in the mood”, and it works fine. We don’t always orgasm, and it doesn’t matter. But for a guy, if things don’t work perfectly, everything is thrown off. No wonder it’s so scary! And when things start to go wrong, there’s often a vicious cycle that starts, where they get so worried that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and then these husbands stop wanting sex altogether.

So let’s look at the three main causes of ED–one cause for ED in young men, and two causes for ED in older men–and then see some DOs and DON’Ts for the different scenarios.

If this isn’t an issue in your marriage, please read on anyway! I have a special word further down for wives who haven’t experienced this yet–because I think the key word is YET, and we need to be prepared!

My Husband has ED: A look at ED in young men, ED in older men, and what to do about itED in Young Men

It used to be that the face of ED was Bob Dole in the Viagra commercial–an older man, who had been fine in his younger years, but now health problems and circulation problems had affected things.

Over the last decade, though, an epidemic of ED in young men has started. Here’s Dr. Oz–pretty much as mainstream as you can get–talking with a panel about how ED is now becoming a young man’s issue. And the reason? Porn.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the top 10 effects of porn, and one of the most common that they’re finding is that it causes sexual dysfunction, from ED to premature ejaculation to delayed ejaculation. It trains the brain to become aroused to an image, and not a person. And then when the image isn’t present, the person doesn’t provide enough stimulus. And so the arousal process doesn’t work.

This can be the case even if your husband is no longer using porn. For instance, I received this email:

My husband and I were both virgins when we got married. I was 22 and he was 23. He told me that he had used porn a lot as a teenager, but stopped when he was 20, and while he was still tempted, he really doesn’t look anymore. He and his best friend meet regularly to keep each other accountable & before we were married he gave me access to his computer and phone. But we had sex on our wedding night (it was really quick), and then once three days later, and now it’s been two months and he says he isn’t interested. Is this normal?

Yes, actually, it is normal–at least it’s normal for guys who have used porn a lot in their formative teenage years. Even if they’re not using porn anymore, often that arousal process is still messed up and needs to be retrained.

Porn is not the only cause of ED in young men–it could be that the two causes that I’ll list in a minute for older men apply better to your husband. But for most men under 40, porn is the root cause. So what do you?

1. Stop the porn

No ifs, ands, or buts. This will not get better if he is still using porn–it will only get worse. Project Know is a community of over 73,000 self-reported internet porn addicts who have made the decision to abstain from porn and masturbation, and they’ve produced some great research on their membership. 37% of these addicts reported experiencing erectile dysfunction, and only 27% reported having no sexual dysfunction at all–meaning that 73% of active porn users do report some sort of sexual dysfunction. The good news? Once you abstain for a few weeks, and your body and brain start to normalize, 60% report an improvement in sexual dysfunction–though they could still have problems, as our letter writer shows.

Nevertheless, it will not get better while the porn-and-masturbation cycle is still occurring.

These posts may prove helpful:

Top 10 Effects of Porn (show them to your husband if he’s skeptical)
4 Things You Must do if Your Husband Uses Porn
Are you a spouse or an enabler? (if your husband refuses to deal with his porn addiction)

2. Start the Recovery Process Focusing on Intimacy

Assuming the porn use is in the past, and your husband realizes that it was a major cause, you can now retrain the brain to become aroused by true intimacy, and not just anonymous images. Here’s a post on sexual recovery from a porn addiction, which includes some exercises on learning how to become vulnerable and truly naked with each other.

31 Days to Great SexI’d also highly recommend my book 31 Days to Great Sex (which is only $4.99 in the ebook version), which can walk you through, step by step, how to build real intimacy. Taken together, the book helps couples understand the difference between real intimacy and just sex, and helps couples move step by step towards achieving that.

Some DONTs for Younger Men with ED

  • Don’t recreate porn in your marriage, thinking this will solve it! The answer isn’t to be “hotter” than porn; it’s to retrain the brain to find real intimacy!
  • Don’t berate him for it. See porn as the enemy, not your husband.
  • Don’t rush things. It takes a while for recovery, and if you cling to each other, and give it time, you’ll come out stronger.

Some DOs in Marriages where Young Men have ED

  • Do work on your friendship with your husband–the more you can laugh together, the more you can take on anything!
  • Do work on creating more spiritual intimacy–like praying together or reading a chapter of the Bible before you go to bed. When you can become spiritually vulnerable with each other, this has a big impact on our intimacy, and often triggers a sexual response because of that intimacy.
  • Do encourage your husband to talk to someone else. You can’t be his accountability partner. You have to be his wife. Let him go to someone else to grill him. Don’t let that person be you.

ED in Older Men

When we think of ED, we do tend to think of older men.

Good Girls Guide My Site1. Dealing with the Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Here’s what I reported in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex:

According the the National Institute of Health, chronic erectile dysfunction affects 4% of men in their 50s, 17% of men in their 60s, and 47% of men over 75. Transient, or temporary, ED affects about 50% of men between 40 and 70. About 70% of chronic ED has physical roots, while the rest has emotional roots.

If your husband experiences ED once, don’t worry about it. It’s likely just temporary and it will pass. If it happens a few times, though, your husband needs to see a doctor. ED is often one of the first signs of circulatory issues, heart issues, and other health concerns. He may not like seeing a doctor, but think of ED as an early warning beacon. Don’t ignore it.

Sometimes ED can be caused by medication. If he’s on a number of medications and he starts experiencing ED, have the doctor or pharmacist take a look at all the drugs in combination and see if they’re all necessary, or if there may be a better combination that he could try.

ED can also be caused by obesity, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol. We may think we can “have a few drinks” to get us in the mood, but actually the opposite is far more common. Living a healthier lifestyle can often overcome many of the causes of ED.

2. Dealing with Emotional Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

A physical root to ED can often morph into an emotional cause for ED. Because a guy’s virility is so tied up in how he performs sexually, when he suddenly isn’t able to, even if it’s for a legitimate physical reason, it can cause him to become so insecure that he’s afraid to try again. Or when he does try, the stress that he’ll fail causes him to fail.

Other men have an emotional root to ED to begin with. It could be sexual issues–perhaps sexual abuse in the past, or dealing with homosexual feelings, or some issues from the family of origin. Or more commonly it could simply be stress. He starts to feel like he’s not man enough at work or in another high pressure situation, and this comes into the bedroom.

If your husband has ED, he’s going to feel sexually nervous. Many men, after a handful of times dealing with ED, swear off sex altogether. I’ve even received letters from women saying that their husbands have moved into another bedroom. Sometimes these same men are then caught masturbating. The men want release, but they’re scared of what may happen to their ego if they attempt intercourse. Or they become almost asexual, deciding that it’s safer psychologically to shut down that part of them.

Some DOs If Your Husband Has ED:

  • Do help your husband through stress he’s feeling–at work, with finances, with family. Help him talk through his feelings by being a sounding board. Do fun things with him.
  • Do treat ED as a minor inconvenience–not the end of the world. Sometimes things don’t work; let’s watch a movie instead, or just kiss for a while.
  • Do work on helping your husband stay healthy. Drink less alcohol, lose some weight, and quit smoking. These can help in the bedroom, too!
  • Do talk to your husband before this happens.

I want to emphasize that last one:

Even if your husband has not experienced ED yet: chances are one day he will. If you talk about it beforehand, it can make it easier. Look: we women are going to go through menopause, and EVERYBODY knows that. It’s talked about and joked about. We’ll get moody, we’ll get hot flashes, and our libidos may disappear–for a time. Because we’re expecting it, it isn’t as big a deal. Maybe we need to talk about ED in the same way! Most men will likely experience at least intermittent ED. If you talk about it now, before it happens, and acknowledge it openly, you can decrease the emotional punch that it may bring. Say that you expect it one day, and when it happens you’ll get through it together and develop strategies once you need to. If it’s something you’ve talked about, then it isn’t coming out of the blue, and it isn’t likely that he’ll be as self-conscious about it.

Some DONTs If Your Husband Has ED:

  • Don’t try to analyze this at the time. Let it go, and then talk about a few days later. Don’t push things in the bedroom, when it just happened.
  • Don’t baby him. Treat it matter-of-factly: this is something most men go through at some point, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. I have confidence in that–and in you.
  • Don’t Make This About You. Helen, from the The Unintimate Marriage, writes about her journey with a husband who has ED. And she has this advice for us: There is one temptation you will have through all of this: to make it about you. I’ve been there. You’re in the middle of a pretty hot and heavy make out session and you realize that it is causing very little reaction in him. All of a sudden you are off track too. You’re thinking, “Oh my goodness! He does think I’m fat!” or “I knew it, he does hate this haircut” top it off with a little, “Has he met someone else that he thinks is prettier than me?” Our insecurity comes on quickly, so I want you to really hear me when I tell you that this is not because of you! Don’t question how he feels about you at the time; treat it matter of factly, and move on to something else. You can talk about the root causes when it isn’t so emotional.

Where We’re Going From Here

Tomorrow we’re going to talk about how to handle two other areas of sexual dysfunction: premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation. On Wednesday, we’ll look at how to keep a sex life alive even if sexual dysfunction means that intercourse itself isn’t always lengthy, possible, or very enjoyable.

 

Reader Question: My Husband Married Me Because I was the “Good Girl”

Reader Question of the Week

Ever feel like “there’s no passion in my marriage”?

Every Monday I like to answer a Reader Question, and today’s is from a woman who said her husband married her because she was “the good girl”–not because he was passionately in love with her. She writes,

I am in my late 20s and have been married for a year and a half. We have been blessed with a beautiful baby who is 4 months old. I am grateful to God for all His blessings, I have married a good man of faith.

In recent weeks, it has become clear that I was chosen to be his wife because I would make a good wife and be the right ‘helper’ in bringing my husband closer to God, but not because he was madly in love with me or because he was deeply attracted to me–ever. My husband says he made a conscious choice not to be driven by sex, but to choose someone for the more lasting values that marriage has to offer.

On some level, I have known this but I assumed it was perpetuated by my low self esteem. Our sex life makes me sad and frustrated; my desire to be physically intimate is much greater and deeper than his, and he doesn’t understand my perspective on marital sex and how important it is to me. Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me. It would be less of an effort to initiate it with me. It would be more frequent, spontaneous.

It breaks my heart because I know for certain that I married someone who doesn’t adore me, doesn’t desire me deeply, but loves me for all the ‘right’ reasons. It hurts so much. We are Catholic and deeply believe in the sacrament of marriage and my question is: how do you come to terms with knowing you, as a wife and mother, were the sensible choice rather than one of passion and love? How do you find your happiness knowing that previous women my husband had sex with before marriage were more attractive to him than I am? How do I find peace as a wife and mother, without feelings of regret, resentment, disgust, anger and deep hurt towards my husband and myself? How do I overcome feeling like a second choice and feeling stuck?

I can feel the hurt in this letter. She had an image of she and her husband both being madly, passionately in love with each other, and she’s missing that. She feels like she’s second best.

So here are some thoughts that hopefully can help her change her perspective!

1. You Need a New Fairytale

Read some Jane Austen. Seriously.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters: Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is all “sense”. She’s logical, she doesn’t let her emotions rule her life, she’s loyal, subdued, and steady. Marianne, on the other hand, is all “sensibility” (English 19th century speak for emotions). She falls hopelessly in love with a man named Willoughby who sweeps her off of her feet. They are both passion to the extreme.

Yet Willoughby turns out not to have very good moral character, and breaks Marianne’s heart.

She gets ill and almost dies (she is rescued by Colonel Brandon), and as she is recuperating, she starts to notice the Colonel, who has always been there, in the background, steady and secure, too. He is kind. He is loving. He is moral. He is upright. And in the end she chooses him.

He is not the Passion of her Life. He is Better.

Too many of us live with this idea that true love is “feelings”–that butterfly feeling when he is near; the way your heart skips a beat when he touches your hand; the undeniable attraction and obsession you feel for him. That is love, right?

Sacred SearchWhat Austen was trying to show in her novel was that basing a marriage on these feelings often leads to disaster. It is far better to look around you and find someone who is WORTHY of your love. Someone who will be steady. That may not create these breathless moments, but it does create a lifetime of peaceful and quiet happiness. And perhaps we should value peaceful and quiet happiness more, and breathless moments less?

Science says that Austen had a point. In Sacred Search, Gary Thomas’ book on how to find a mate, he debunks the whole “I need passion in a husband” myth pretty well using science. It turns out that breathless, heart-skipping-a-beat obsessive feelings last, on average, 18 months. That’s it. No matter how passionate they were, our chemical reactions to each other can’t sustain that in the long term. Eventually all these breathless feelings go by the wayside. And then what is left?

As C.S. Lewis said, “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity; the quieter love enabled them to keep the promise.” (click to tweet)

Quieter Love

2. You are Not Second Choice. You Are First Choice–and That’s Better!

"There's no passion in my marriage!" Redefining what we think love is.Why do we think that because he was passionately physically attracted to other women that you are somehow the second choice? On the contrary, you’re the first! He had that breathlessness. He had that heart skipping a beat. And in the end he looked at it and said, “that’s not what I want.” He knew that these women wouldn’t provide him with a lifetime of steady, secure love. And so he looked for someone who would.

That makes you the first choice!

He knows what’s important, and he found it in you. You have the IMPORTANT qualities, and that means he must value and love you very much.

(If you’re having trouble getting over your husband’s sexual past, though, this may help).

He knew Proverbs 31:30:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

And he made the right choice! You’ve got a keeper, there. A mature, steady man who wants a great wife and to raise a great family. That’s wonderful!

3. Okay, but…What About the Sex?

She has a lot of assumptions in this email, and one of them is about sex. She writes:

Now it is abundantly clear that if he found me more attractive, he would be more driven to have sex with me.

I’m not sure how that’s abundantly clear, and there may be more going on that she’s not telling us. But I can tell you that early in the marriage–and this couple is still early–there are often sexual problems. It does take a while to get used to each other. In my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I share some surveys I did of thousands of women. And what I found was that the best years for sex in marriage were 16-20–once you’ve been married for over a decade, the kids are a little older, and you have a lot of practice and trust.

Now, perhaps sex really is infrequent and this really is a problem. It’s hard to say, because it really entirely depends on what her expectations are. But in about 30% of marriages the woman does have the higher sex drive than the husband.

If you’re feeling really lonely in your marriage because your husband doesn’t seem to want sex, these posts may help:

My Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love (the first in a four part series; links at the end)
My Husband Doesn’t Find me Attractive

Change The Way You See the Marriage

Many of the problems you’re experiencing–feeling unloved, feeling undesired, feeling lonely–may be a matter of perception rather than a matter of reality (or at least a combination of both). If you start appreciating the choice your husband made, and approaching him that way, that could start to change the dynamic.

Right now he may feel your hurt and not know what to do with that, and that could be driving you away. But if you start praising him for things, think how that could change the dynamic!

I love how you are so mature! I love how you provide for me and our baby. I love how you value what’s really important, and how you have goals, and how I can always rely on you. So many women don’t have that; I’m the most blessed woman in the world!

Say it and mean it!

Get on the Same Page About Marriage

You both believe marriage is for life. You both believe that marriage should be based on not just love, but also a deep commitment for the right reasons. You both believe that God wants you together.

That’s a lot of common ground.

If you’re then unhappy with some aspects of the marriage–like sex, for instance–you can go to him and say,

We both believe that God wants our marriage to be wonderful, and to reflect the love that He has for us. I just feel like we’re missing an aspect of that in our sex life. Can we pray together for that, and work on putting the effort into our sex life that God would want us to have? I want us to feel real passion together, and I think God has that for us!

In other words, base your requests on your common ground.

And then really work on your friendship! The more you’re able to laugh together, instead of mourning what you don’t have, you’ll likely find that a much deeper love grows. You won’t be saying, “there’s no passion in my marriage”, but instead, “we have a deep and abiding love.” That’s much better!

Now tell me: Have you ever felt like you were the “sensible choice”, but not the passionate one? Have you ever felt like there was no passion in your marriage? What did you do? Let me know in the comments!

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

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

Find out more here.


Top 10 Tips for Initiating Sex with Your Husband

How to Initiate Sex with Your Husband--without feeling awkward Out of the last five times you’ve made love, how many have you initiated, and how many has your husband initiated?

If you say he’s initiated all 5, that could be a problem!

Now, I know sometimes you just start making love because you’re kissing and snuggling, and it’s not clear WHO initiated. It just happened (all the more reason to go to bed at the same time, so that things can “just happen”!). And sometimes he has a really low sex drive, and so the whole initiation pattern is thrown off. I’ve got a series for women in that situation here.

But quite often we get into this rut where he wants sex more than you do, and so he’s the one who always initiates. And you’re not even sure how to initiate sex, because you’ve never really done it!

When I was researching my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I did surveys and interviewed both men and women. And here’s what one guy said about initiation:

Men don’t want to be placated; they want to be wanted.

Paul Byerly, who writes at the Generous Husband, puts it this way:

For men sex communicates love and acceptance, while a lack of sex communicates the opposite. I realise this is not usually what women are communicating with sex and saying no, but it is what men feel. Even when you convince a man this is not what she means, he will still feel it.

When a man feels a good sexual connection with his wife he starts to want other forms of intimacy. Not tolerate, want. The need was always there, but it is hard to hear over the much louder need for sexual intimacy.

So, ladies, it’s time to step up to the plate! But how do you initiate sex?

Top Ten TuesdayToday, on Top 10 Tuesday, I’d like to share 10 tips on how to initiate sex with your husband

–and help your husband feel like the most blessed man in the world!

1. DO Show Enthusiasm

Initiating sex requires enthusiasm. The following do NOT count as initiating sex:

(Lying in bed, arms crossed. Turning head towards him). We can if you wanna.

(Standing at the bottom of the stairs, heading up to bed). I’m heading to bed. If you come up within the next 10 minutes we may still have time, I guess.

(Lying in bed, looking at the ceiling). So, I shaved my legs today.

(Lying in bed, arms crossed). So…I guess we’re due, eh?

(Sorry, that’s the Canadian coming out in me in the last one).

If you’re going to initiate, the first step is NOT telling him “do you wanna?” The first step is getting in the right frame of mind for sex so that you’re enthusiastic about it, too!

2. DON’T Overthink It

Why don’t we initiate sex? Because often as soon as the thought pops into our heads we talk ourselves out of it.

Do I want to tonight? Well, I don’t know. It is kind of late, and I do need my sleep. And he wasn’t very nice to me tonight. He hardly hugged me when he came home from work. I just feel so distant right now. I can’t make love if we’re distant, can I? Wouldn’t that be deceptive? And what if the kids wake up? And what if….

Turn it off! Seriously. When you get the thought, pounce on it! You’ll be happier later–and you’ll likely sleep better, too!

3. DON’T Be Embarrassed

“Good girls don’t like sex.”

Did you grow up thinking that? If you grew up thinking that only boys wanted sex, and girls just acquiesced, then you may think that it’s your role to sit back and just respond to him. Anything else somehow upsets the apple cart.

But good girls DO want sex! God gave us sex drives, too. And inside marriage sex is supposed to be a wonderful thing for both of you!

Think about it this way: This is the only man on earth who can touch you like that. He’s the only man on earth who really truly knows you. You don’t need to be embarrassed around him.

I know that can be a hard transition to make. But practice little things, like saying to him the morning after you made love, “I had fun last night”, or “you made me feel great!” Practice talking about it afterwards, and it makes it easier to talk about it beforehand!

4. DON’T Beat Around the Bush

If you’re embarrassed about saying, “do you want to make love tonight?”, then you may not give clear signals.

My husband was leaving for a business trip for a week recently, and he was spending the morning before he was picked up sorting papers and paying bills and getting some tasks done around the house. I kept getting up from my computer whenever he got up from his and walking over and seeing if I could get him interested in something, but I never let him know what I was doing.

I thought he was just busy and wasn’t interested. But after following him around like a puppy dog for an hour, he finally turned to me and said, “are you okay?”, and I said, “I just thought we could go upstairs for some fun before you left.” He jumped on board immediately. I had thought he was busy and was rejecting me, but he just really didn’t know what I was getting at.

Men are usually afraid of getting rejected, and if he tends to have the higher sex drive in your marriage, he may have conditioned himself to never think about it, or to try not to assume you’re going somewhere, because he doesn’t want to get his hopes up. Subtlety, then, isn’t a good thing. Be obvious. It’s easier on everyone!

5. DO Use Your Hands

Don’t like talking about sex? You don’t have to. Come up behind him, wrap your arms around him, start nibbling his ear, and let your hands wander.

Or lead him to the bedroom–but not with HIS hand. You can get things going without saying any words, if the words make you shy. Just do it!

6. DO Be Creative

Initiating sex can start earlier in the day. You can text him at work (“You’re in for it tonight!”). You can get dressed in your “pretty” underwear (not your functional underwear), and let him see, and say something like, “so this is what I’ll be wearing all day today….” You can put a note in his lunchbox, like a Skor bar, and say, “Wanna Skor tonight?”

If a thought occurs to you, do it! Chances are it’s a good thought, and most guys won’t laugh at you. They’ll definitely go with it!

7. DO Laugh

It’s okay to smile, and chuckle, and be giggly. It’s okay to act like teenagers. It doesn’t have to be super serious. You can joke around. “Hey, Big Man, do you have anything to help Little Ole Me?” You can flirt with your husband! It really is okay. And the more laughter, the more fun all around.

8. DO Be Eye Candy (It’s Okay!)

Instead of wearing your flannel pyjamas, get into some silk ones. Or put on a matching bra and panty set, and as you get undressed, show him what you’re wearing. Try putting on a teddy!

Or go naked underneath a bathrobe and “flash” him while he’s downstairs. Then walk away, and see if he follows.

9. DO Follow Through

If you’ve been texting him all day, or you whispered in his ear when he walked in the door, then do follow through. It’s hard on a guy to get his engines revving and then stopping with no warning. Obviously if something comes up you may have to forego sex that evening, but if you’ve been hinting, then as much as possible, set the right conditions.

Don’t watch a chick flick if it’s likely to make you so tired that at the end of it you want to collapse into bed. It may seem romantic, but if it will push bedtime back too far, then make love FIRST, before the movie. Don’t get on the computer thinking, “after I’m done this we’ll head upstairs.” If sex is your plan, then make sure it happens early, when you’re still thinking about it, rather than giving other things–the news, the computer, the movies–a chance to distract you and make you change your mind.

10. DO Be Active

Once you’ve caught his attention, and you’re heading to the bedroom, don’t let the initiation end. Be active as you make love. Touch him. Guide his hand. Be the aggressor–at least a little bit. Find a good position yourself. When you’re active, it shows him, “I want to do this.” If you lie there on your back and don’t do much, he may think, “she’s just doing this for me.” Show him you are interested, and you do want this to happen–by making it happen!

Remember our Top 10 Tuesday strategy: Pick 1-3 things and then DO THEM. You don’t need to do all 10. Just find the 1-3 tips on how to initiate sex that resonate the most with you. Small changes now can add up to big changes in the long run. Now go and have a great time with your man!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Brain, Your Marriage, and Your Sex Life

The Effects of Porn--a Must Read!

Pornography is ravaging marriages. In our culture porn is treated as if it’s harmless, but it’s not. Porn will wreck the arousal process in your brain and end up wrecking your sex life in marriage. The effects of porn are devastating.

I receive emails everyday from women who are desperate to fix their marriages, but they don’t know what to do. They married men who never seem to want sex. Or their husbands are never satisfied. Or their husbands call them boring or unattractive. And the root of many of these problems is porn.

Here’s the really devastating part: Because so much of what porn does to you happens chemically in the brain, the porn use doesn’t have to be going on NOW to have these effects. A boy who grew up on porn in his teens, and then managed to stop watching it in his twenties (with occasional relapses) will still suffer from many of these things.

The good news: There is healing! You can rebuild those chemical pathways to arousal. But first we have to understand 10 ways that porn affects the brain, and thus wrecks many couples’ sex lives. And so today, on Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I’d share:

Top Ten TuesdayThe Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Sex Life

And remember–women use porn, too! While some of these apply just to men, many of them apply to both genders.

1. Porn Means You Can’t Get Aroused by “Just” Your Spouse

Do you remember reading about Pavlov and his dog in Psychology? Pavlov would give the dog a nice juicy steak, but right before he did he would ring a bell. He conditioned the dog to associate ringing the bell with getting great food. Eventually Pavlov took the food away, but kept ringing the bell. The dog kept salivating at the bell, even though there was no steak, because the dog associated the bell with the food.

The same thing happens when we see porn. Porn stimulates the arousal centers in the brain. When it’s accompanied by orgasm (sexual release through masturbation), then a chemical reaction happens and hormones are released. In effect, our brains start to associate arousal with an image, an idea, or a video, rather than a person.

When you don’t watch porn and save yourself until marriage, then all of those chemicals and hormones are released for the first time when you’re with your spouse, and it causes you to bond intensely (and sexually) to your spouse. But when you spend a ton of time teaching your brain to associate arousal and release with pornography, your brain can’t associate arousal and release with a person anymore. Either you have to fantasize about the porn, and get those images there, or you have to watch porn first. Often people can “complete the act”, but it’s not intense for them the way porn is. You’ve rewired your brain, and now you’re salivating at the wrong thing.

2. Porn Wrecks Your Libido

It’s only natural, then, that many people who use porn in the past, or who use porn in the present, have virtually no libido when it comes to making love to their spouse. The spouse is not what turns them on, and so the natural drive that we have for sex is transferred somewhere else. I get so many emails from young women in their twenties who say, “my husband and I were both virgins when we married, and I thought he’d want sex all the time. But after our honeymoon sex went to maybe twice a month, and that’s only if I pressure him. He says he just isn’t interested.” With so many men growing up on porn, this is just to be expected.

3. Porn Makes You Sexually Lazy

In porn, everyone is turned on all the time. You don’t have to make any effort to arouse someone; it’s automatic. There is no foreplay in porn. And so if your spouse isn’t aroused  you start to think that it’s somehow their fault. There’s no expectation that we will have to “woo” someone or be affectionate and help jumpstart that arousal process. It’s almost as if we approach sex as two different beings and we’re just using each other, rather than thinking of each other. And thus we never learn how to please the other or become a good lover because we’re always thinking that the other is somehow “frigid”. Sex is about getting my needs met; it isn’t about meeting someone else’s needs or experiencing something wonderful together.

4. Porn Turns “Making Love” into a Foreign Concept

Those arousal centers and pleasure centers in our brain are supposed to associate sex with physical pleasure and a real sense of intimacy. But the intimacy doesn’t happen with porn, and so the pleasure is all that registers. Thus, sex becomes about the body, and not about intimacy. In fact, the idea of being intimate isn’t even sexy anymore; anonymous is what’s sexy. We may call “having sex” “making love”, but in reality they aren’t necessarily the same thing. Someone who has used porn extensively often has a difficult time experiencing any intimacy during sex, because those arousal and pleasure centers zero in only on the body.

God made sex to actually unite us and draw us together; He even gave us a bonding hormone that’s released at orgasm so that we’d feel closer. But if that hormone is released when no one is present, it stops having its effects. Sex no longer bonds you together.

Making love and having sex are not necessarily the same thing.

5. Porn Makes Regular Intercourse Seem Boring

An alcoholic drinks alcohol for the “buzz”. But after a while your body begins to tolerate it. To get the same buzz, you need more alcohol. And so the alcoholic begins to drink harder liquor, or drink larger quantities.

The same thing happens with porn. Because porn teaches us that sex is all about the body, and not about intimacy, then the only way to get a greater “high” or that same buzz is to watch weirder and weirder porn. I think most of us would be horrified if we saw what most porn today really is. It isn’t just pictures of naked women like there used to be in Playboy; most is very violent, extremely degrading, and very ugly.

“Regular” intercourse is actually not depicted that often in porn, and so quite frequently the person who watches porn starts to get a warped view of what sex really is. And often they start to want weirder and weirder things.

Now, I’m not against spicing things up, and I do think lots of things can be fun! But when we’re wanting “more” because we’ve programmed ourselves to think “the weirder the sexier”, there’s a problem.

6. Porn Makes it Hard to Be Tender When You Have Sex

It’s no wonder, then, that people who use porn often  have a hard time being tender when they have sex. Sex tends to be impersonal, rushed, and “forced”. I’m absolutely not saying that all porn users rape their wives, but porn itself is often violent. There’s no foreplay. There’s no waiting to arouse someone. It’s just taking what you want.

Being tender means to be loving. It’s to give and to express affection. Because these things aren’t paired with sex in the porn users brain, tenderness and sex no longer go together.

7. Porn Trains You to Have Immediate Gratification and Have a Difficult Time Lasting Long

With porn, when you’re aroused you reach orgasm very quickly, because porn users tend to masturbate at the same time. Thus, orgasm tends to be very fast. The porn user hasn’t trained his body to draw out sex so that his spouse can get pleasure; his body is programmed to orgasm quickly. Many porn users, then, suffer from premature ejaculation.

Some porn users go to the other extreme when they start suffering from erectile dysfunction. They have a difficult time remaining “hard” enough during sex because the stimulation isn’t enough. In their case, orgasm can take an eternity, if it’s possible at all.

8. Porn Gives You a Warped View of what Attractive Is

Sex is supposed to bond you physically, emotionally and spiritually with your spouse. But if porn has made the chemical pathways in your brain go haywire, then sex becomes only about the body. And porn shows you that only certain body types are attractive. It’s not about the whole person; it’s just a certain type of person.

If a woman gains even ten pounds, then, she’s no longer attractive, and the porn user has an honest to goodness difficult time getting aroused, because he associates only a certain body type with arousal.

9. Porn Makes Sex Seem Like Too Much Work

All of this combines to often make sex with your spouse too much work. You’re not aroused; you find your spouse not attractive; sex is blah; and sex requires you to make an effort for your spouse, while you’re used to immediate gratification.

Thus, many people who use porn retreat into a life of masturbation. Even if the porn use stops, they often find it easier to “relieve” themselves in the shower than to have to work at sex.

10. Porn Causes Selfishness

All of this causes a spiral of selfishness where the person ignores his spouse’s needs and is focused only on getting what he wants, and getting it instantly. Often this manifests itself in other areas of the relationship as well, where the spouse becomes annoyed if they have to wait for something, or if they don’t get what they want. Porn has sold them the message: you deserve pleasure when you want it. You shouldn’t have to work to get what you want. Your needs are paramount.

It’s no wonder that shows up in other areas of your relationship.

People who think that porn is harmless and simply helps people “get in the mood”, or “relieves frustration”, are kidding themselves. The chemical processes in our brains are really complicated, and when you start messing with them, it’s really difficult to develop a healthy sexuality again.

However, it absolutely can be done! Later this year I’ll be working on an ebook about it, but for now, this post may help:

Marriage Recovery after a Pornography Addiction

Dayspring My Chains are Gone

Also, let’s remember: too often we tell teenagers not to use porn because it’s a sin, and they’re not supposed to lust. I think we need to start telling them these ten things. If you want amazing sex when you’re older, don’t use porn now. If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt. Ask teenagers, “who wants amazing sex when you’re married?”, and pretty much everyone will put up their hand. Then tell them: Use porn now, and you’ll make that almost impossible, without a major work of God in your life. Tell them the truth.

Covenant EyesAnd make sure that in your house everyone–girls, boys, women, and men–are protected from temptation. I’m a big supporter of Covenant Eyes. No, we can’t rely on it alone, and yes, we need a work in the heart. But if we need to reduce the temptation so that God has time to work, I think that’s worth doing. Covenant Eyes sends emails to people of your choice to tell you when someone has accessed an inappropriate site. If kids know their parents will get an email if they try to find porn, or if men and women know their accountability partners will get emails, they’ll be less likely to surf inappropriate stuff.

Show Grace

One last word–please show grace to those who have been ravaged by porn. Especially if the associations in the brain happened when they were young, these people often want to change the most, but it seems really helpless. Rather than pointing the finger in blame, join together to fight the problem together!

Porn is serious. It wrecks people’s sex lives, it makes people selfish, and it ultimately wrecks marriages. Let’s spread the word, and fight against it!

UPDATE: I’ve been asked in the comments and on Facebook to provide citations, so I’ve created this infographic with a few. There’s tons more research at Fight the New Drug, and many other sites.

Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Marriage and Sex Life: Click through for tons more information and explanations.

Wifey Wednesday: 9 Tips For Great Sex For HER This New Year

9 Great Sex Tips for Her: Make your marriage rock!

Happy New Year! Today’s a day of new beginnings. The old year has washed away, and the new year is upon us. Let’s start the new year by putting great sex at the top of the list! And here are 9 great sex tips for HER to help you do that!

Maybe last year was tough. You were busy. You were tired. Your libido wasn’t great. You got into a rut. Sex became boring.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, and now’s the time to start fresh! Usually on this blog I give relationship advice, but today I’m going to steer more towards highly practical tips on how to make sex feel great for HER–the wife. We women sometimes have a more difficult time enjoying sex, so I’m going to give some specific tips on how to get those fireworks.

So here goes!

Great Sex Tips for Her #1: Try a New Position

Sometimes we get into a rut and we’re afraid to try something new. But new positions can make things feel more exciting.

I have one particular position I stick with for two main reasons: it tends to feel the best, and it’s really cold in the winter and I don’t like getting out of the covers! But there’s an easy way to deal with that. Get a space heater for your bedroom and turn it on when you’re getting ready to make love. Then the fear of being cold won’t hold you back as much.

And if you have an easier time reaching orgasm in one position (most women do), that’s no reason not to try other positions as foreplay. Moving around during sex, and changing positions, has several benefits: it helps him last longer; it helps increase the excitement factor; it helps you keep your mind on what’s going on (since we women are notorious for our minds drifting during sex).

A new position can honestly feel great! So try it. Get on top. Move your legs around and find a good angle. Or whatever works for you! Make it your goal this New Year’s that AT LEAST every third time you make love you’ll use at least 3 positions. So maybe two times are fun and simple, but the spice the third time up. Go 3 in 3!

Good Girls Guide to Great Sex--AmazonGreat Sex Tips for Her #2: Tilt Your Pelvis

Here’s something I talked at length about in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: for women to reach an orgasm, we have to have our the clitoris stimulated in some way. Normal missionary position sex doesn’t tend to do this. But with one simple trick you can make it so much better. Just tilt your pelvis up (like squeeze your butt muscles, and your pelvis will tilt forward). When you do this, you make the angle better, so that when he’s thrusting he will hit your clitoris. But you also “engage” that little bit of flesh yourself because the tilting actually squeezes the clitoris. Seriously. Just try it right now–tilt your pelvis. Feel the difference?

You can do this in any position and enhance the pleasure, but often you have to actually get the position to work first before you tilt, or he’ll have a hard time entering you.

Great Sex Tips for Her #3: Start with a Massage

Here’s one of course you’ll agree with: start sex with a massage. Keep some massage oil in the bedside table, or a massage candle, and start by massaging each other’s backs and legs. The benefits? It helps you relax first so that you can get rid of all the pinballs in your head of all the things you’re thinking about from the day. Also, if you massage naked, it’s very sensual, and it can get the libido going. It’s just a good transition time, and we’re more likely to get “warmed up” with a massage. It shows he cares, it helps our bodies relax, and it helps us calm down mentally, too.

Great Sex Tips for Her #4: Play Teacher

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you understand each other sexually. What feels good to one person does not necessarily feel good to another. And men tend to like being touched very differently than women do (men like things rougher and more deliberate; women tend to like things lighter). Also, just because something is an erotic zone does not mean that it wants to be touched all the time. For instance, many women don’t like their breasts touched roughly at all, or even handled that much, but when they’re highly aroused all of a sudden it’s exciting. So we’re different, and we like specific things.

Take a session or two where you play teacher. Tell him exactly what to do, like he is a pupil and he has to do everything you say. Pay attention to your body, and ask him to do anything you want. You can even be quite demanding! Then the next time turn the tables and let him be teacher. You just may learn a lot about each other.

It’s good to do this at least once a year, because hormonal changes will often affect what we want. We may think we’ve lost our libido when really our body has just changed and responds to different things now.

Great Sex Tips for Her #5: Think Pressure, not Friction

Men tend to feel aroused by friction–he likes the rubbing back and forth. That can be pleasurable for women, too, but what really tends to help us is pressure–pressure on the clitoris, but also the pressure of feeling “full”.

Instead of thrusting all the way out and all the way in, then, try for part of making love to get him as deep as possible and and thrust only a little bit, so that the pressure is quite intense all the time. To help this, try wrapping your legs around him, or even have him kneel while you lie down to help him go deeper. Other positions, like having you lie on your stomach while he lies on top of you, can help with pressure, too.

Note: for many women this is something which changes after childbirth. Before childbirth, pressure isn’t as great a turnon. After childbirth it is, because we’re a lot looser. So if you haven’t had any babies yet, this may not be as big a one for you.

Great Sex Tips for Her #6: Squeeze

To get that same feeling of pressure, try squeezing him while he’s inside you. That’s not as hard as it sounds. You use your Kegel muscles (the ones on the wall of vagina). They’re the same muscles that are engaged if you stop the flow of urine on the toilet. Do that a few times and you’ll feel what muscles I mean. Then try the same squeezing when you’re making love. This helps with that “pressure” feeling for you, and helps him feel great, too!

Great Sex Tips for Her #7: Use Lubricant

Seriously. It’s not a failure on your part if you need to use lubricant. It often enhances the pleasure right away. You may not need it all the time, but most women fluctuate through the month with their ability to get aroused quickly, and with the amount of lubrication we naturally produce. Some nights may be great, and others may not. Menopause or breastfeeding and pregnancy throw another wrench in the whole thing. Lubricant can help you get a leg up, so to speak, so that sex is arousing right away.

Great Sex Tips for Her #8: More Foreplay–And I’m Talking to You, Women!

Think of foreplay not as something that he does to you, but as something that you BOTH do. If you can become active BEFORE you start making love, you’ll find yourself much more aroused. Rub yourself against him. Climb on top of him and feel him. Take his hand and put it where you want it to go. Circle your hips and help him. If you’re lying there while he touches you, you can start to feel embarrassed, or bored, or nervous. If you’re engaged in the process, it’s more exciting for both of you.

Great Sex Tips for Her #9: No More Erotica or Porn

If you want sex to feel amazing, you need to be aroused by your husband ONLY, and not be fantasizing about something else in your head. The more you watch porn or read erotica, or the more he does, the more sex isn’t about any kind of spiritual intimacy, but it’s just about using each other. That ends up feeling cheap and impersonal.

And the best sex isn’t sex that’s “enhanced” by porn (one of the effects of porn is lower sexual pleasure); it’s sex when you feel very loved. Commitment is the best aphrodisiac. If you want more information about this, check out this ebook by Covenant Eyes about what sex does to your brain.

31 Days to Great SexSo let’s make a New Year’s Resolution for No More Boring Sex this year! Sex is so wonderful: it unites you not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Get rid of anything that robs you of that, and then decide that it’s going to be something fun that you both enjoy this year. It’s time for a new start; take it!

In fact, today’s a great day to launch into my book 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s January 1, and it’s the beginning of the year, so why not ask him if he’ll join you? It’s got exercises that will help you talk about what you want, help you flirt more, and help you connect. And, of course, there are days that help it feel great and spice things up, too. Pick it up today!

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of a marriage blog post you’ve written in the linky below. Here’s something exciting for the new year! I’m going to start highlighting my regular Wifey Wednesday contributors. I’ll start a contributor page, and every month I’ll highlight a new blog. So please link up! It’s a great way to get traffic and more recognition for your blog.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



Reader Question: Is it Okay to Schedule Sex?

Reader Question: My child saw porn!Every week I like to put up a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. Today I’m tackling a question a lot of people have: is it a cop out to schedule sex?

One reader wrote:

My husband and I struggle with having sex frequently. We’ve been married a year and a half, and we have sex less than once a month – for whatever reason. We both have our excuses.

Recently I talked with my husband about scheduling sex. Or at least intimate time. We’ve started with once a week. And I’m already feeling better about it. I get so anxious about the unknown.

I’m a planner. And I have a one-track mind. With a schedule I know what I’m expected to do at a specific time and my anxiety evaporates.

Scheduled sex allows me to get in to the zone days before because I KNOW sexy time is coming. There’s no spontaneity or it sneaking up on me. (Spontaneity and I are NOT friends). If I feel cornered or surprised, I will almost always find a way to say no and reject my husband. I avoid this anxiety, scheduling works for me.

Is this weird? My husband thinks so. But he’s grateful we’ve done something to address my anxiety and he’s getting more sex.

Excellent question! To answer it, let’s look at the pros and cons of scheduling sex, and then I’ll try to sum up.

Scheduling Sex: Is it a good idea?

Pros of Scheduling Sex

You Make Sex a Priority

Let’s face it: often we don’t end up making love because it’s the last thing on our to-do list. IF the dishes are done and IF the kids go to bed at a decent time and IF my emails are all answered and IF I feel 100% and IF I’m not ticked at my husband and IF I don’t have to be up early, then, when I hit the pillow at 11, I may consider having sex.

That’s a lot working against sex!

And if you’re the one who would be eager to jump him, and your husband is the one who always has the excuses, then you probably would like sex to be more of a priority, too.

With the way many of our lives go, sex is the last thing that gets taken care of. It’s only if everything else gets done. And so often it’s put on the back burner, even though sex is so important to helping a marriage stay intimate and fun. I think we forget how much sex benefits us women!

If you schedule it, and say that “every Wednesday and every Saturday we’ll have sex”, or whatever you pick, then you know you’ll be connecting. You know that it will happen. And you know that you’ll feel intimate again. In most marriages sex isn’t frequent enough; here’s one way to overcome that!

You Let Yourself Get Your Head in the Game

For women, so much of our sex drive is in our heads. When our heads are in the game, our bodies often follow. But it’s really hard to get your head in the game if you’re just going about your normal routine with kids or your job or the housework. If, though, you know that tonight you’re going to have some fun, you can think more positively about it. You can flirt with your husband more! You can send secret texts, or even just smile at a Stop sign.

Then, when evening comes around, you don’t have to do the endless “Do I want to tonight?” routine we women often torture ourselves with, like I talk about here:

You know you’re going to tonight, so you don’t have to figure out, “am I in the mood?” It’s a lot less stress!

You Take More Care of Yourself

If you know you’re going to make love tomorrow night, and you get in the habit of making love a few times a week, it becomes more evident that you need to get more sleep! And you’re more likely to start treating your body better, and sleeping more, because you do want to enjoy what’s in store.

Cons of Scheduling Sex with Your Husband

Obligation Sex Isn’t Sexy

One of the reasons we do the “do I want to tonight?” routine is because when we REALLY don’t feel like it, sex can seem like a chore, or an imposition. Now, I’m a firm believer that if we start telling ourselves positive things about sex we can turn that around, but I’m sure most of us know what it’s like to have sex because you feel guilty. And if you agree to scheduling sex, and then the night comes around and you really don’t feel like it, you can end up resenting sex, and your husband, even more.

Scheduling sex, then, really only works if you’re willing to say those positive things to yourself. When you schedule sex, you don’t just commit to HAVING sex; you commit to having a good attitude about it and to throwing yourself into it, like I talked about in that video.

Now I do believe those are important things for every married woman to do. But if you just can’t, and you’re scheduling sex so that “at least he’ll only bug me on Wednesdays and Saturdays and not all the other days, too,” it likely won’t work well for you, and you’re not being fair to your husband or yourself. Your issue is bigger than just how often you have sex, and I’d really recommend working through the 31 Days to Great Sex with him to help you see sex as something positive, and to help him make sex something that you really will enjoy.

Spontaneity Can Suffer

One of the wonderful things about making love with my husband is that sometimes we’re not planning on it. We fall into bed, and we’re both tired, and we just hug for a bit and talk. And in the process something happens, and it’s great to connect that way.

If you start scheduling sex, then you may limit those moments. Especially for men, it’s important to feel as if your spouse wants you, not just wants to placate you. Eliminate those times when you turn to each other JUST BECAUSE, and your spouse can start to feel as if it’s not something you really want to do; it’s just something you feel that you have to do.

Let’s Put It All Together

For many women who find it difficult to get motivated for sex, scheduling sex can be a great idea. And here’s the neat thing: once you start to make love with relative frequency, you start to yearn for it. You start to enjoy it. And then it may become more frequent all on its own! You see the difference it makes in your relationship when you do connect regularly.

If you’re in that camp, and it seems as if my reader is, then go for it! If you’re in a rut, and you don’t know how to get out of it, scheduling sex may be a very good thing to try.

So let me leave you with just a few warnings:

1. Think of the schedule as the minimum, not the maximum

If you decide on Wednesday and Saturday, and you feel a little frisky on a Monday, then do something on the Monday! Don’t “turn off” those feelings because “I don’t have to tonight”. Feel free to explore them, too! Scheduling sex should not eliminate spontaneity; it should just make sure you connect regularly, at a minimum. Don’t limit yourself to the days you’ve set!

2. Decide to Jump In Wholeheartedly

If you decide to go this route, pledge it in your heart, too. Decide that you will put everything into it. Make those nights the best you can. Plan fun things! Flirt. You put effort into other parts of your life; put it in here, too.

If you do those two things, then scheduling sex might give your marriage the jumpstart it needs! But making a schedule can never make up for a lack of enthusiasm, or for the feeling “at least I’m off the hook now”. I know that’s a really sad place to be, and if that’s where you are, I’d just encourage you to take steps not to stand for it. You were created to live an abundant life, and that includes an abundant marriage and an abundant life in the bedroom. If it’s not like that for you, commit to working on your friendship with your husband, and commit to learning how to make sex feel good (31 Days to Great Sex can help with that!).

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever tried to schedule sex? How did it work for you?

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: Can Christians Be Sexually Incompatible?

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! Today I want to talk about whether or not Christians can be sexually incompatible when they marry.

Last summer Rachel Pietka caused quite a stir by writing an article called “Christians Are Not Called to Have Amazing Sex.” In it, she argued that Christians were making far too big a deal out of great sex in marriage. In fact, she said, great sex could not be a requirement for marriage, because since God asks us to wait for marriage to have sex, we have no way of knowing whether or not we’re sexually compatible until after we marry. Thus, if God had wanted us to have great sex, and that this was an actual calling, and a requirement for Christian marriages, He would not have ordered chastity first.

Now, I’m paraphrasing, and you can read the whole article here. I already wrote a long post responding to it, talking about why great sex is important in a marriage and shouldn’t be just “pooh poohed”. But one point that I thought merited more attention was this talk of sexual incompatibility, because we’re starting to hear of it everywhere.

So let’s dive into this.

Can Couples Be Sexually Incompatible? A more helpful way to look at problems in the bedroom--and how to solve them.

Our Sexual Selves Aren’t Static–They’re Relational

Here’s what sexual incompatibility says: he’s one way, and she’s another, and together we don’t match. We’re made different sexually, and we don’t go together.

The problem with that is that it assumes that we are sexual beings in ourselves, separately from another person. We have this “static” sexuality, and he has a “static” sexuality, and when you match them up, they don’t fit.

Yet what if sex was never intended to be “she’s like that, and he’s like that”, but rather, “together, we’re like this?”

I think the “together” model is far closer to the truth. Yes, we are each born with certain sexual drives. Everybody has these. In fact, our sexuality and our spirituality are very closely linked, because with both sexuality and spirituality we have this deep need and deep drive to be intimate and known.

And it’s that “known” word that’s really important. I explain it in a really humorous way in this video, but in a nutshell, it’s that sex is supposed to be a deep knowing between two people. It isn’t that two people come together and use each other to get their sexual needs met; it’s that our sexuality is supposed to be expressed with another person. Our sexuality is, at heart, relational.

People used to understand this, but if you think about it, it makes sense only if you also believe that sex belongs in marriage. As soon as you take sex outside of a committed marriage relationship, as our culture has done, then the only permanent thing in your sex life is YOU. It’s not US, it’s YOU. So in order for YOU to get your sexual needs met, you have to get to know yourself more, and explore yourself more. That’s why so many sex toys are masturbatory in nature! They’re marketed saying that they will help you know yourself, because you have to know yourself before you can have fun with someone else. But actually, your husband can help you to know yourself better. That’s the way we were designed to work.

We’re meant to be sexual in relationship. If we start saying that two people can be sexually incompatible, then we’re buying into our culture’s view that sex is something that is supposed to be experienced with many people, and that you can be most fulfilled by doing the most with as many as possible, and it’s not true.

Being “Sexually Incompatible” is Simply a Marriage Issue that Needs to be Dealt With

In truth, sexual incompatibility simply means that something is not working well in your marriage. And honestly, that’s quite normal. We all have baggage when we get married, and because our sexuality is so close to our spirituality, it’s deeply personal and harder to deal with than a lot of other conflicts. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t deal with it!

It took my husband and I six years to figure out this part of our marriage, because I had trust issues and frankly sex didn’t feel very wonderful. It would have been easy for us to say that we were “sexually incompatible”–that his libido was higher than mine, and that I was too frigid for him. But instead, we treated it like a problem that had to be dealt with, and gradually we grew together and things got better.

That’s how it is in most marriages. When I wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I took surveys of thousands of women, and one thing I found was that the best years sexually in a marriage were years 16-24. They weren’t the early years. It takes a while to get things right. But if we believe in “sexual incompatibility”, then we can say, “there’s no point in trying. We weren’t meant to go together.”

Look, we don’t do that in other areas of our marriage. If he leaves laundry on the floor and it drives you nuts, you don’t say “we’re housework incompatible”. You say, “we need to figure out a way around this so that we’re both happy.” Why not treat sex the same way?

“Sexual Incompatibility” Could be About Libido Differences

Often when we say we’re not compatible sexually it’s because one person wants sex more than the other. We tend to think it’s the guy, but in about one quarter of marriages it’s the woman with the higher libido, and she’s left wondering why her husband doesn’t want her.

Yet what if libido differences are actually a vehicle that God uses to push us towards more holiness? I wrote a 3-part series on this a while back, and you can see the round-up (with the links) here, on what does “Do Not Deprive” mean. I do agree with Pietka that God’s main aim for us to develop holiness, not happiness. And I think libido differences push us towards greater holiness, because in order to have a happy marriage we have to adjust. One of us will more naturally bend towards self-control, and one of us will more naturally bend towards passion. Both are good things. And these libido differences help stretch us, so that the one with more self-control learns more passion, and the one with more passion learns more self-control. That’s a good thing!

“Sexual Incompatibility” Could be About Preferences

Sometimes sexual incompatibility is simply that one person is more adventurous in bed than someone else. I’ve written at length on that, and you can find some of those posts here:

How to Decide Your Sexual Boundaries

How to Spice Things Up

My Husband Wants Something in Bed I Think Is Gross!

My Husband Doesn’t Think I’m Adventurous Enough in Bed

And my ebook 31 Days to Great Sex can also walk you through, step by step, enlarging your boundaries where appropriate, and admitting that some things aren’t appropriate. It helps you communicate and helps you have great fun in your marriage–without violating anyone’s moral code.

Again, this isn’t an incompatibility issue. It’s simply a tool that can help push us towards holiness. We may need to communicate and ask for what we want; we may need to step outside our comfort zone and find real passion; we may need to confront deep-seated fantasies and recognize that these are from harmful sources. Whatever the issue, it’s not your spouse that’s the problem. It’s simply something to work through together by becoming more vulnerable, more humble, and more passionate. And those are all good things, too!

“Sexual Incompatibility” Could Be Simply About a Learning Curve

I’ve had a number of women write to me telling me, “my husband and I just aren’t compatible in bed. He never makes me feel good. It’s just so boring.”

Yet is this really sexual incompatibility–or is it just that they haven’t figured out how to make it feel good yet? Usually it’s the latter, because our bodies were made to feel good together. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Sometimes you may have to try different positions to see what feels best, or try more foreplay, but there is no reason why someone can’t learn to make the other feel good.

The problem is usually that we’re really uncomfortable telling the other person what we want, or we don’t truly understand how the other person’s responses work. Here are some posts that can help:

How to Have an Orgasm

The Pleasure Center (the importance of the clitoris)

How to Make Foreplay Fun for Both of You

Why Foreplay Matters

Or, get all of these posts in a much longer form, with lots more information, in my book the 31 Days to Great Sex, which helps you talk through these issues with less stress.

“Sexual Incompatibility” Could Be About Sin

Most worrisome, sexual incompatibility could be a sin issue. If a husband is heavily involved in pornography, or a wife in erotica, then you can start to want things that are just not right, or you can transfer your sexual energy to something other than your spouse. This is sin.

It’s not incompatibility; it’s sin.

And it needs to be repented of and dealt with. Here’s a post on how to ask others for help.

“Sexual Incompatibility” Could be About Health Issues

The only area where there could be a true incompatibility–a real area where working on something will not make it better–is if there are health issues involved. Perhaps one of you is paralyzed, or has had cancer, or has chronic pain, or even has vaginismus. Some of these things can get better, but others are for life. I’ve written about what to do when intercourse is no longer possible.

But is that incompatibility? Or is this part of the “in sickness and in health” bit of marriage vows? Yes, it’s heartbreaking. And yes, it’s not what either of you signed up for. But sometimes in marriage we don’t get what we are expecting, and in those times, God is always big enough to see you through.

Being “Sexually Incompatible” Can Be Fixed!

In most cases, then, sexual incompatibility isn’t true incompatibility. It’s not permanent; it’s simply something that you need to fix. And fixing it may make you go out of your comfort zone. You have to confront your own baggage. You have to communicate about tough issues. You have to compromise and adjust. But these are all good things, and they’re all a part of marriage.

If you believe the compatibility myth that sex should be easy, and two people should just work together right off the bat, you’re likely to be disappointed. That’s not how we were made.

But it isn’t that we were made to have permanent problems, either. It’s just that as we work through what we want in the bedroom, we tend to have stronger marriages in all ways. We compromise, we talk, we grow. That’s a good thing!

So don’t give up on your marriage just because you feel like you aren’t sexually compatible. Just treat this like any other problem and start to deal with it. You may just find that you both grow together, after all!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave the URL of your post in the linky below! And be sure to share the Wifey Wednesday button on your blog so that other people can come back here and read these great marriage posts, too!

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: Should Christians Have Amazing Sex?

Should Christians Have Amazing Sex in their Marriage?It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can comment or link  up your own marriage post below.

Last week Rachel Pietka took the Christian internet community by storm when she wrote a column in Relevant online magazine called, “Christians are not called to have amazing sex“. She claimed that Christians had bought into the world’s view of the importance of sex too much, and were writing all these books on how to have amazing sex, and in the meantime we’d lost the real purpose of marriage, which is a commitment, whether or not the sex was great.

As the author of a book on how Christians can have “great sex“, I’d like to comment on her article, because I think it’s important, and I also think it’s dangerous.

She’s Right: Christians do not have great sex off the bat if they stayed virgins before they were married

Sometimes we give kids the message “wait, it’s so worth it” a little bit too much. They think that sex will be this amazing thing as soon as they get married, and most likely it won’t be. And she gave the example of a couple who married at twenty, not realizing they would be sexually incompatible. And they ended up divorcing. The reason? Because Christians never talked about the fact that you could be sexually incompatible, and that you shouldn’t get married just to have sex.

Okay, perhaps I should have said she’s MOSTLY right. I completely agree that too often we give people the message, “sex will be great right off the bat if you wait!” That’s one of the reasons I wrote The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex–to show young women that often the honeymoon isn’t the best, but in the end, it makes absolutely no difference. After a decade, whether your honeymoon was great or not, you experience roughly the same levels of sexual satisfaction. Sex is a learning curve, and the best thing to do is just relax and be happy that you can truly be intimate. Don’t worry too much. Things will happen and will get great with time.

My book is meant to help people think of sex as a journey, not as just the honeymoon. And that’s one of the things new brides thank me for the most.

She’s Wrong: People aren’t “sexually incompatible”

She claimed that Christians that talk up amazing sex are buying into the world’s view, but I think she gives far too much credence to the idea of sexual incompatibility. She says that because Christians aren’t to have sex before we’re married, we never know whether we’re compatible or not. Thus, sexual pleasure, or compatibility, is not the main purpose of marriage.

This gives the impression that in a marriage SHE by herself is a static sexual being, and HE by himself is a static sexual being, and the two may not match. Not true. God designed sex to be a relational thing; it’s not two individuals coming together as much as it is a couple experiencing something together.

Personally, I hate the word “incompatible”. I simply say that people have differences in the bedroom, or problems in the bedroom, because that’s the truth. You’re not incompatible; you just have things you need to work out. It’s an entirely different emphasis. Incompatible makes it sound like you will never meet in the middle. Problems are just obstacles that need to be overcome. And that’s the more biblical view. Where in the Bible does it ever say that two people can’t be compatible, in any aspect of their relationship? When people are chasing after God, they will be transformed to look like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). And that makes us compatible on pretty much any level.

Not compatible? Then you’re simply having problems that need to be worked out. They’re not insurmountable; they’re not static. They’re just issues, that’s all. The world talks up “compatibility” as a way to say that we should try each other first. Nothing can be farther from the truth, because it emphasizes the physical aspect of sex over all else, and leads to tons of heartache. Let’s not go down that road.

She’s Wrong: Sex is not only physical

She also gave absolutely no credence to the fact that God made sex to unite us on more than just a physical level. It’s also a spiritual intimacy and an emotional intimacy, not just a physical intimacy.

And because of that, Christians SHOULD have amazing sex, and indeed DO have much better sex than the general public, according to my research and others. Why is that? Because we understand the power of commitment. Because we are also already spiritually intimate. And when you truly are one, sex is something far more powerful. The spiritual intimacy feeds the physical side, and sex can be much more stupendous.

But it’s not just this: God created sex for a reason, and it wasn’t just so that we could have children, and it wasn’t just so that we could enjoy ourselves. It was also so that we could get a glimpse into the deep passion that He has for us. He uses sexual imagery to discuss how He feels about his children. And He put this sexual drive “to know” each other inside of us, so that we would get a taste of true intimacy.

If we deny that, or say that it’s really unimportant, and people should just live with lousy sex, then we’re not just missing out on marriage. We’re missing out on understanding the whole nature of intimacy and passion that God has for us.

I’m not saying that only married people can understand this. Single people can certainly understand intimacy and passion, too. But when we married people have access to the most intimate experience people can have this side of heaven, and then we say “it doesn’t matter”, I think we’re closing ourselves off to intimacy and passion in general, and that can be dangerous.

She’s Wrong: We shouldn’t put up with a marred sinful nature

Ms. Pietka attributes bad sex to our sinful nature, which is true. But she seems to think that this is inevitable, or at least something that is not worth doing very much about. If people find themselves married, with sexual problems, they should realize it’s just part of their sinful nature, and work on other aspects of their marriage.

I find this extremely strange. On the one hand: yes, the problems we have in the bedroom are all caused by our sinful nature. If one spouse wants to make love much more than another, and this causes hurt, it’s sin, because one (or both) are not loving each other as Christ did. If one is being selfish in bed, demanding unreasonable things, or refusing to learn how to pleasure the other, it’s sin. If one is using porn or erotica to get aroused, it’s sin. If one is feeling ashamed of sex, that, too, is sin, though it may not be theirs. Perhaps they grew up in a house where their parents made them feel ashamed of the fact that they were sexual, and now they need healing. Or perhaps they were abused (someone else’s sin) and that, too, has impacted their ability to enjoy sex.

All of our problems stem from either from our own sin (selfishness) or from being sinned against (brokenness). And so we need to go to God for healing and restoration.

And that last part is so important. She seems to be saying we should be content to live with the marred sinful nature. In what other area of our lives do we do this?

Take Christian community, for example. We, as Christians, are notoriously bad at finding unity. But did Jesus say, “you’ll find it really difficult to act as one body, because of the marred sinful nature, and you just need to realize that”? No, he said, “they will know you by your love for one another.” Paul wrote a whole book (1 Corinthians) on how Christians should get along with each other.

Is getting along difficult? You betcha. Does that mean that we should give up and say, “on this side of heaven, we won’t achieve unity”? Nope, God doesn’t give us that escape clause. He wants us to keep working towards unity.

And He wants us to do that in our marriages, too. Will our marriages ever be perfect? No. Will all of us have amazing sex? No. But on this earth, we are to seek Jesus in everything. We are to seek restoration, and renewal, and healing. We are to aim to be more selfless and more understanding. And all of these things apply just as much to sex as anything else. In fact, perhaps they apply more so because our sexual identity is so close to our personal identity. Everything is really intertwined. If we start to deny our sexual being, we tend to cut ourselves off from true passion.

Ms. Pietka said that by emphasizing amazing sex we’re emphasizing the wrong thing. We should be emphasizing a marriage based not on sex but on commitment. I agree that commitment is vitally important. But to deny the importance of sex, or to downplay our responsibility, once we’re married, of making it the best it can be for both of us, is also to distort God’s plan for marriage.

She’s Wrong: She gives people an excuse to say, “you shouldn’t expect more”

Here’s my real concern. Let’s say that you’re a woman with a low sex drive. You find sex a hassle. Your husband is always saying he needs it more, and you’re sick of it. Then you read her article. And now you have an excuse to go to him and say, “see, Christians emphasize sex too much, and you just should just live with it.

That is not biblical. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 7, “do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time….” (I’ve written a three part series on what that verse really means here). There’s a whole book in the Bible (Song of Solomon) celebrating sex.

So what I want to say to Ms. Pietka is that I agree that Christians perhaps sound too glib about how easy it is to have amazing sex. But the simple fact is that we SHOULD have better sex than others because we know the author of sex. We know a level of intimacy that others don’t, and that should already make sex better. And if we still have a ways to go (and don’t we all?), then we should be working towards that, not settling for less. Jesus called us to an abundant life. If something is not abundant, why would you not want more of God–selflessness, passion, intimacy–in that area of your life? Why would you settle for less?

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Christian Marriage Advice

What advice do you have for us today? Link up your own marriage post in the linky below! Just leave the URL of your post, and be sure to link back here so other people can read all these amazing marriage posts.



3 Steps to Amazing Sex If You’re Remarried

Welcome readers from Crosswalk.com! A great place to start to find all my marriage thoughts is at my Marriage FAQ! Feel free to look around a bit.

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage post in the linky at the bottom.

Today’s guest post is from Julie Sibert, a good friend who blogs at Intimacy in Marriage. I asked her to address a topic I felt I couldn’t speak on, since I’m not in that situation: how to get rid of baggage from a previous marriage when it comes to the bedroom.

I didn’t ask her to talk about this because I don’t take divorce seriously; I do, and I do not condone divorce at all, though I do believe that in some marriages you have no choice.

3 Steps to Amazing Sex if You're RemarriedHowever, many of my readers are in second marriages. I see it in the comments and the emails that I receive, and many of them are struggling. I do believe that God gives grace to those who have chosen to now live for Him, even if they did not before. And He also gives grace to those who have remarried after heart breaking divorces that they did not want. So please, don’t turn the comments into “you shouldn’t publish this because you’re permitting divorce”, because I’m not. Read here and here to see that. But marriages are in turmoil, and I want to offer all the practical help I can where people ARE AT NOW.

I remember it all clearly.

The struggle I had with sex in my previous marriage. It’s not that it was my struggle alone. It was our struggle. But we never really handled it that way. In fact, we never really handled it at all.

While sexual struggle wasn’t our only issue, I have no lingering doubt about the role it played in landing us in divorce court.

The hollow words that our relationship was “irretrievably broken” still echoed off the courtroom walls as the judge severed our marital bond. Doing so seemed as routine to him as drinking a cup of coffee. (Probably was, considering about half of all marriages don’t last).

Flash forward a few years and I found myself in love again…about to become a wife. Again.

So what about sex this time around? Would the struggles that plagued my first marriage find footing in my second marriage?

Not if I had anything to say about it (which of course I did). So do you, if you are remarried. If you are wondering if sexual intimacy can indeed look different – better – than it did in your previous marriage, I promise you it can.

Here are three steps to amazing sexual intimacy second time around:

1. Believe you are capable of change.

I know, it sounds like I’m about to ooze sappy “self-help” slogans all over you, doesn’t it? Not so much. I’m just going to speak simple God-ordained truth instead.

The Lord is all about making things new. Try as we may to edge Him out of this area of sex, He’s actually quite interested. He’s just generous that way.

In my first marriage, I was a big part of the problem sexually. Unavailable. Uninterested. Unwilling to understand my own body and my own pleasure. Resistant to even bring the matter up for discussion.

You get the picture. From day one of my first marriage until the day he walked out the door, sex was a painful bewildering journey for us.

Honestly, it would have been easy to slide into that path in my second marriage, because let’s face it – sexual mediocrity was all I knew. But I intentionally decided I wanted and deserved something healthier.

I was capable of change. You are too.

If you glance back on your previous marriage and see any sexual struggles that you created, contributed to or suffered from, decide right now to do the hard work to heal those areas of pain.

Face your own tangled mess. And stop letting it wreak havoc in your heart, head and bed.

2. Embrace that your current spouse is not your previous spouse.

I don’t know your story, but I’m going to err on the side of two optimistic assumptions: You and your spouse love each other, and you want this marriage to be stronger and happier than your last marriage.

When I remarried 10 years ago, I knew what would be crucial for our wellbeing is that I not let my view of my current husband be tarnished by the pain from my last one. They are two different guys.

If you find that the sexual difficulties that tripped you up last time are trying to set up camp this time, get brave. Call those things out and say to your husband, “Sex was a big struggle in my first marriage. I want things to look different for us. I love you. I need our sexual intimacy to be a priority for us.”

My educated guess is that your spouse wants that too. No matter where you are in your re-marriage, you and your husband have the opportunity to create something amazing sexually. Embrace the privilege to learn this man’s body. And allow him the privilege to learn yours.

3. Count the costs. Count the gains.

Want to have fabulous soul-drenching sexual intimacy this time around? Sit down with pen and paper and list all the benefits that would come from that.

Put it down on paper.

Get specific on what nurtured sexual intimacy would do for your marriage, your physical and emotional wellbeing, the stability of your home and family life, and your outlook on life.

I’d bet my last dollar that if you saw it all there on paper, you’d fight harder for it. You’d better appreciate what is at stake. Count the costs and count the gains. You’ll see what you and your husband can create together.

As for me, sex this time around has been better than I even imagined. (And I have a pretty vivid imagination, so that’s saying a lot.)

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in 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 refuses to stay in the fence.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave a comment, or link up the URL of a marriage post to the linky below! And be sure to link back here, too, so that other people can read great marriage advice.

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.