When Sex Seems Like a Chore

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

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

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

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

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

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

He writes to the author,

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Your husband is a smart guy.

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

Everything else is just a counterfeit.

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

2) You are too busy.

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

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

3) Sex is not just physical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) It is about quantity as much as quality.

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

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

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

6) It is the best thing for your kids.

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

7) Fix it now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For the Guys: When Your Wife Hates Sex

My Wife Hates Sex: What To Do

Usually I write this blog for women, but I do have a fair number of men who read it, and I get emails all the time from men saying, “my wife hasn’t had sex with me in months. She hates sex, just doesn’t think it’s important, and I don’t know what to do.”

One man writes:

What once (far too long ago) was vibrant, ecstatic, passionate and FREQUENT has become flat, robotic duty-oriented and only frequent enough to miss the definition of sexless. (yes, she actually brought that up in an argument once. She “makes sure” we have sex at least 10-times-a-year so I can’t say it’s a sexless marriage). This has been a downward spiral since we became pregnant with our middle daughter nearly 10 years ago. She had complications with that pregnancy, and I was afraid to hurt her, so we went for 10 months without sex. Steadily, over time, the variety of positions diminished as well. Now about the only “acceptable” position is with her on top.

Over the last year, or so, we’ve fought less and talked more about this and frequency is improving (on average about two or two-and-a-half weeks between encounters.) But it is still a major wedge between us. I fully accept responsibility for allowing our sex life to dissipate. I allowed myself to become bitter and selfish because my needs weren’t being met; deeply un-Jesus of me. I am working to die to myself and my needs, sacrificing myself for my wife in an effort to more fully live out the command of Eph. 5:25, but I struggle SO DEEPLY with feelings of resentment, anger and hunger for my wife.

She is in a very stressful season of life right now, and inasmuch as I know that frequent MEANINGFUL sex could help de-stress her, right now it’s just one more stressor on her to-do list. A messy, unpleasant chore.

And so I thought I’d write a post for the guys on what to do when your wife hates sex.

Figure Out Why Your Wife Doesn’t Like Sex

All of us–yes, even women!–were born with a sex drive. We were created to want to make love and to experience intimacy that way. Unfortunately, that often gets short circuited, and many women “turn off”. It’s important to figure out why. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Sexual abuse in the past
  • Feeling ashamed of sex and sexuality because of how she was raised or because of sexual experiences before marriage
  • Simple exhaustion and busy-ness
  • Physical problems (ie. sex hurts due to vaginismus, or they have low testosterone)
  • Emotional problems (problems with vulnerability, letting go, trust, always has to be in control)
  • Relationship issues (feeling distant from you)

Scenario 1: Relationship Issues

It’s really important to first examine yourself and make sure that relationship issues are not the cause. But, if they are–let’s say that you used porn in the past and really hurt her that way, or you’ve both been fighting a lot–the good news is that this is likely the easiest one to get over, because it’s largely in your control. You can talk to her honestly, tell her you love her, show her in word and deed that you care about her, help around the house, tell her she’s beautiful, and make every effort to acknowledge that you recognize the problem and that you take it seriously and that you will address it.

This may take a while for her to feel close to you again, but if you persist, it will likely get better.

For most marriages where this happens, though, I think #3–simple exhaustion and busy-ness–is the main culprit. It’s not a relationship issue, it’s not a psychological issue, she just never seems interested. She’s totally shut down. So let’s turn to that for a moment.

Scenario 2: Your Wife Hates Sex but There’s No Obvious Reason

Other than exhaustion, it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason. Your wife has time for everything but you, and you’re feeling really neglected and really sad and rather desperate.

I think this is the most common reason, and I want to try to explain what your wife is likely feeling.

Have you ever gone grocery shopping after you’ve had a big meal? It’s actually not that easy to do. You pick up something off of the shelf, and then quite often you put it back because  you can’t imagine ever eating it.

When you’re full, it’s very hard to imagine feeling hungry. When you’re full, it’s hard to imagine even wanting to eat a particular thing. Foods that would normally tempt you–say, chocolate cheesecake–just don’t seem that alluring.

Many women walk through life with that kind of feeling about sex. But how can they, if they’re not “full”, so to speak? It’s as if their libidos don’t exist. When women don’t make love for a long time, their libidos often go into hibernation, because for women libido is a use it or lose it phenomenon. And when her libido is in hibernation, she can’t even picture wanting to make love. It doesn’t even compute. She can’t imagine your body feeling that way.

So there you are, desperate for sex, and your wife acts like it doesn’t even exist and it’s rather distasteful. In this particular letter writer’s case, this could very well be a factor. They were having frequent sex; then they went ten months without it and she never regained her sex drive.

So what do you do? You simply have to talk to her. Don’t give her a guilt trip, like “you’re my wife and you aren’t supposed to deprive me” because guilt sex is totally unsexy. You want her to feel sexy again; you don’t want to give her another reason to hate sex!

Instead, talk about intimacy. You want to feel close. You want to experience that with her. You feel as if you guys are missing out on such a great part of life, and you want to try. Tell her about the use it or lose it thing, and ask if you could even try to schedule sex, twice a week, for a month and see what that does. But again, talk to her about intimacy and having fun and joy and experiencing something together, do not talk to her about what she owes you, or about how frustrated you are. The more you talk about how frustrated you are, the more you sound like some lesser being who can’t control himself. I know that’s harsh, but when a woman has no libido, someone with a libido can seem pathetic, like they can’t control themselves. That’s why keeping the conversation focused on intimacy is better.

Share with her this post on why you want her to start the sexual journey with you

Scenario 3: Physical, Psychological, or Emotional Issues She Needs Help For

Many women who hate sex do so for good reason. Maybe they were abused. Maybe they grew up in an environment where they had no control over anything, and they refuse to lose control now. Maybe they were shamed as children. In this letter writer’s case, I wonder if control issues also play a part. She had a difficult pregnancy (very scary for a woman), and now the only position she wants is the one where she is in control. She may have a few control/trust issues that she needs to work out.

These are deep seated issues that affect sex so much for women, because sex is an intensely personal thing for us. We’re literally letting someone else into our bodies. And our sexual response is far more in our heads than yours is. Yes, there are certain parts of our bodies that feel really good when stimulated, but they only feel good if our heads are in the game. If we don’t want to do it, we won’t feel good. We’re brain-centred  rather than genitalia-centred.

If she has these issues, then, they need to be dealt with before she’ll ever be able to enjoy sex fully. She needs to get some outside help, and ideally that would involve talking to a counselor who is trained in this sort of thing.

The problem is that because she doesn’t want sex, she’s likely perfectly able to keep going through life just as she is. It’s you that’s suffering, even though she’s the one who is hurt. That means that she doesn’t feel any urgent need to get help. Talking to her again and showing her that she does need to address it is crucial.

But perhaps when you talk to her about it she gets defensive and breaks down in tears right away and starts talking about how awful she is, and then you have to reassure her and you never get anywhere. That’s a very common scenario, too.

In that case, I’d take this tack with her:

“Honey, I’m not going to divorce you. Stop saying that. That’s a copout. You’re trying to push me away so that you don’t have to deal with your issues. I am not leaving. I am not going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stand back and see you punishing yourself like this. For whatever reason, you are determined to live a small life and lose out on some of the huge blessings that God wants to give you. What kind of husband would I be if I let you do that? I’m responsible before God for you. He will hold me accountable for how I treated you. And when you push me away, or say that you just can’t work on this, that it’s too hard on you, I understand, but it’s not good enough. What you’re really saying is, “God created me for an abundant life, but He didn’t really mean it. He meant it for everyone but me. He made me broken.” And He didn’t.

What this really comes down to, honey, is an issue of faith, not an issue of sex. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe that God wants the best for you? Because if He does, then He wants to bless our marriage. And He wants us to feel really intimate. And He wants us to feel like we’re truly connected. You’re walling yourself off because you’re afraid to be vulnerable. And when you do that, you can’t grow. So you’re copping out on God, too.”

I know that may sound harsh for you to say to her, but it’s the truth.

And then try this,

“Honey, for the next two months, I don’t want to talk about sex or concentrate on sex. What I want to do is really work on our spiritual intimacy. As your husband, I want to pray over you every night, and ask God to bless you. I want to read Scripture with you every night, even if it’s just a chapter. And I want to pray together with you for our kids.

And in those two months, I’d like to pay for you to see a counselor. I’ll go too if you want, but I’d really like you to find someone to talk to so that we can get to the root of this. I don’t want to see you living your life small. I want you to live a life full of passion in every way, and I think God wants that for you, too”

Now counselors cost quite a bit–often $100 an hour. But let’s say that your wife needs 12-15 sessions. That’s $1500. Is that a lot? Yep. But as an investment in your marriage? It’s priceless. If you can afford it, please do, and tell her that she shouldn’t feel badly about the money.

And if it’s not a counselor she needs, perhaps it’s just a doctor to check her testosterone levels, or an ob/gyn or Christian sex therapist to help her through vaginismus (pain during sex) issues. Whoever she should go to, do your research and have it all figured out.

As for how  you act during those two months, pray a lot. Eventually work up to just holding each other, naked, without having sex. Let her start to feel close to you and accepted by you and intimate. And don’t give up! Keep telling her that no matter how hard she pushes you away, you’re going to fight for her.

Scenario 4: She Won’t Get Outside Help

You’ve talked to her. You’ve prayed over her. And she absolutely refuses to get help.

At this point it’s likely time to involve a third party. She is hurting herself. God created us for passion, and she is unable to feel it. As her husband, you are responsible for her, and you do need to help her find that healing.

So insist that you talk to a counselor or pastor together. Insist that she get help. If she won’t, talk to a pastor or counselor yourself and ask the best way to handle this. Talk to a few select men that you can trust to pray with you and figure out a strategy. But leaving it alone is not a good idea, because God wants healing for her. He wants love and intimacy for you. And He wants your kids to witness a vibrant marriage.

Good Girls Guide My SiteWhere to Go Now

A few more thoughts. If your wife has never seen sex as a positive thing, she may benefit from reading The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. It explains how sex is far more than physical, and shows how it can actually be a beautiful, intimate thing. Many women have written me saying that they always felt sex was somehow dirty, but after reading it, they understand it so much better now. That may help her.

31 Days to Great SexAnd if you are ready to start again, the 31 Days to Great Sex challenge can help you ease into things. You don’t have to have sex for 31 days straight; many of the challenges aren’t sex, but are learning how to flirt again, how to be affectionate again, how to talk about sex. And you can stretch it out for more than 31 days. I do talk about libido differences and how to deal with them, and how to see sex in a positive framework. So it can be a fun one to work through.

I want to say to you guys dealing with this, I understand how hard it is. I’m sorry you’re walking through this. You are not alone. God does want more for your marriage. And I pray that something I said can help you find it.

Deciding to Think Differently About Sex

New Attitude Towards Sex

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! Now, often when I say “marriage” I mean “sex”, since I’m one of the few Christian blogs that talks a lot about sex. And today I want to talk about how to decide to think more positively about sex.

A little while ago I received this mail from a reader:

I first came upon your blog under a year ago. Around the time my second baby was born. We were struggling. Just the normal stuff, me breastfeeding, exhausted, we had a toddler and a baby, our sex life was suffering, it was really straining on us. Never really in danger but not very happy and very resentful of each other. Then I started reading you articles on sex and marriage and you even posted a special one after I emailed you about sex and mothering young babies.

You put into perspective for me the importance of sex and the beautiful biblical portrait of sex. I honestly never thought about it that way! You really changed my mind on the issue. While I still wasn’t having fun (hormones…) I decided to try and really make an effort for my husband and our marriage. I decided to try and invest time, think about sex, exercise and change my body, sleep during the day so I could be awake past 8pm, etc… He noticed, and knew I was reading your articles (he really wants us to be real life friends!) and his attitudes towards me also started to change. I am no longer breastfeeding, still exhausted but my body is starting to follow my mind and we are starting to enjoy each other again! I know that if I didn’t decide to change my mind about sex (thanks to you) by the time my body decided it was ready again I probably would have given up on the idea that sex can be good for me too. I don’t know what shape we would be in today…

Emails like that just make my day! Woo hoo!

And I want to point out something really important that she hit on:

She made a decision to think differently about sex, and her body followed.

Ladies, we can’t wait for our bodies to suddenly kick in. For most of us it just doesn’t work that way. If you are waiting to suddenly feel “in the mood”, you could be waiting a really long time. When we’re tired, when we have little kids, when we’re approaching menopause–our bodies don’t say, “hey, let’s get it on, baby.” They say, “Hey, let’s get some sleep.”

And that can lead to a very lonely marriage.

One of the things that I say so often on this blog is that for women, our sex drives are almost entirely in our heads. When we decide, “tonight, I’m going to have fun!”, our bodies start to follow. When we don’t, nothing happens.

Let me get really graphic for a moment.

You can lie there during sex and make a shopping list. You can lie there while you’re making love and feel basically nothing at all. Most women can–not all, and maybe not when you’re ovulating and you’re feeling a little more “sexy”, but intercourse itself does not necessarily arouse us.

If, on the other hand, you decide to stop thinking about the shopping list and start thinking about what’s going on, and start paying attention to your body, and ask yourself, “what’s feeling good? What wants to be touched?”, suddenly your body can switch “on”.

But it all depends on how you decide to think about it.

Your attitude towards sex matters. Seriously, I dare you to try this: the next time you’re having sex and your mind wanders and you think, “how much longer is this going to take?”, stop. Instead, start saying positive messages to yourself, like “I like this. This is fun. What’s feeling good right now? What do I want to do?” And see if you can kick yourself into second or third gear!

Too many of us are being too passive with sex, thinking that if we’re not in the mood and nothing is feeling that great that it must mean that we don’t want it or that sex is awful. But if we can simply think differently about it, for most of us, our bodies will kick in. But you need to take the initiative. You need to tell yourself positive things. You need to decide!

Good Girls Guide My SiteIf that’s difficult, my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex can help you think differently about sex, and it has all kinds of practical suggestions for how to change your attitude towards sex and how to get excited about it again. I encourage you to read it!

Now, let me know, have you ever found that a mind-shift can make a difference in your sex life? I’d love to hear about it (and you can comment anonymously if you’d like).

Christian Marriage Advice

I think I’d like to start the Wifey Wednesday link up party again. I was getting a little uncomfortable because some things that I didn’t always agree with were being linked up, and I didn’t want to have to start policing it. But looking back in the archives, I did love seeing the link up parties! So we’ll try it again, but please recognize that just because a post is here does not mean that I endorse it!

So if you have a marriage post that you’d like to share, just leave the URL in the Linky below!

Embrace Your Marriage Virtual Retreat: Embrace Grace!

Embrace Your Marriage Virtual Marriage Retreat

It’s a new school year, and a time of new beginnings! For the last few Septembers I’ve joined in a “virtual marriage retreat” with a bunch of other great marriage bloggers to encourage us all to intentionally build our marriages. Every Monday in September six bloggers will all be posting on the same thing–with our own twist to it! You can read our posts, and then click through the links at the bottom to read everyone else’s.

Today’s theme is Embracing Grace, and I was thinking about my own unique take on that. I don’t want all of us to write the same thing, of course!

Now I write a ton about the importance of sex, but does that have to do with grace? And the more I thought about it, the more I realized it did. I know others will be writing on forgiveness, and so here are some different thoughts on how we can make grace tangible in our marriages–by realizing the importance of sex as a vehicle to show love.

What is grace?

The definition is “unmerited favour”–showing someone favour not because they deserve it but because you want to. Jesus, of course, was the perfect example of grace, forgiving us not because of what we did but because of the price He already paid. And He asks us to show grace to others, too.

Let me suggest that one of the best ways to demonstrate grace is through the act of making love.

The importance of sex: How giving freely can change everything! #marriage

Let’s dissect this: what about the word “unmerited”?

How many times do we diminish the importance of sex by saying “I’ll only have sex if he deserves it”?

We may not use those words, but picture this: you’re lying in bed and you’re tired. He’s tired, too, but you know that a lot of your exhaustion is because you were running around all day with HIS kids, and he did little to help. And you shouldn’t HAVE to have sex when you’re tired!

Or perhaps it’s not exhaustion as much as it is feeling distant. You haven’t had time to talk in a while because you’re both so busy with work, and he doesn’t seem to miss you as much as you miss him, and it hurts. Or perhaps he’s been working late a lot lately and your life has become entirely the kids, and he doesn’t seem to be bridging the gap. Why should you reach out to him when you feel hurt?

I understand. I really do.

But here’s the thing:

Men make love to feel loved, whereas women need to feel loved to make love.

When we feel distant, we tend to withdraw. To our husbands, that seems as if we don’t love them, because to them, the way to bridge the gap isn’t to talk, or spend time together, or be affectionate. Those are all nice, and men do enjoy them, but their primary way to experience love is through sex. When we start holding back, he feels unloved. And if he feels unloved, it’s hard for him to reach out to us.

Here’s where the “favour” part matches up with the importance of sex in your marriage.

When you make love to him, he experiences that as “favour”. It turns the whole relationship upside down for him. No longer does he feel distant; he now feels connected.

Sex is like your secret weapon–it’s just so powerful to turn your relationship around. When he makes love to you, he feels loved, and his body releases oxytocin, the “bonding hormone”, which makes him feel closer to you and more positive towards you. That’s why the day after sex he often laughs so much with you! So if what you dream of is a marriage where you feel one and where you have fun and feel like you can communicate, it can start with sex.

Over this month in our Embrace Your Marriage retreat we’re going to look at the different aspects of marriage where we can grow. But let me suggest to you that if you start making love more, right off the bat, you’ll likely have an easier time feeling loved, forgiving, reaching out, and growing your friendship. He feels positively towards you, you feel closer to him, you laugh more–and everything gets easier. So instead of thinking of sex as the LAST thing you fix, recognize the importance of sex and make it one of the FIRST.

The message of grace is showing unmerited favour. You don’t have to wait for him to deserve it, or to do everything right, or for YOU to get it all together. You can jump start that process.

Good Girls Guide My SiteNow, hold on a second! What if sex doesn’t feel pleasurable for you? What if it creeps you out because of past abuse? What if you’ve lost your libido? What if you’d LOVE to have more sex, but HE doesn’t want to? I know that many of us struggle with prioritizing sex because of all kinds of issues, and I don’t want you to live like that or settle for less than what God designed marriage to be.

In my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex I address all of these issues–and more–at length, so that you really can enjoy a great sexual relationship with your husband. Check it out!


Recently I ran a post by a woman who said that she had stopped having sex in her marriage because of kids, and work, and exhaustion–and then she realized how distant they were. When she started making love again, everything changed.

If you struggle with sex for various reasons, get the book! But if it’s just that you’ve fallen into a rut, think tonight about how you can give your husband UNMERITED FAVOUR. Give him something he will interpret as a gift, whether or not he’s reached out to you lately.

Here’s today’s Embrace Grace Challenge (that all of us bloggers are encouraging you to do!): Before you can extend grace to others, you should start with the preparation of a pure and tender heart. Pray asking God for wisdom and guidance in this area. Think of how God’s grace has impacted your life, and acknowledge the areas where you have been forgiven

All the participating bloggers have their own unique take on grace in marriage, so please visit them to get some other ideas of how to make grace relevant in your marriage!

Darlene: The Time Warp Wife
Lisa: Club 31 Women
Jennifer: Unveiled Wife
Courtney: Women Living Well
Ashleigh: Ashleigh Slater

A note to my regular readers: I know usually on Monday I post reader questions. I’m going to try to scatter them throughout the week in September, and then in October we’ll get back to Mondays again!

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.

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 (sex really hurt!). 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: I Have No Libido!

Ever say to yourself, “I have no libido”? You’re not alone! Let’s spend today’s post looking at how to boost your sex drive.

It’s Wednesday, the day that we talk marriage! I post on the topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below.

"I have no libido". Help if you never seem to want to say yes!One of the most frequent questions I get is:

I really WANT to want sex, but the truth is I just don’t. It’s not something I naturally think about, and it’s always something that I tack on at the end of the day. I have no libido. It’s as simple as that. And I don’t know what to do about it!

Of course this may be a testosterone issue, and if you really feel like something is just WRONG (as in different from the way you used to feel), then it’s good to get a doctor to check your levels.

But it is quite common to go through LONG periods where you feel like you have no libido, and your levels AREN’T out of whack. I’ve gone through periods of months, or even years, like that, and then I’ll have some periods of the exact opposite. So much about a woman’s libido depends on our kids, and our energy levels, and our stress, and our relationships. We’re very complex beings. And because, for women, sex is almost entirely in our heads (as in our heads have to be in the game or our bodies won’t follow), if we’re stressed, our bodies often sit dormant.

So what would I do? In no particular order, here are some thoughts on how to boost a low libido:

Have no Libido? Make sex great FOR YOU.

You may not have much of a libido that makes you want sex, but that doesn’t mean that sex can’t feel good. And if you decide, “tonight, I want to feel GREAT”, you’re more likely to. When your brain is engaged, your body tends to follow.

Good Girls Guide My SiteSo that means making sure that you actually DO feel great. Of course it’s easier to reach orgasm if you actually are “in the mood” frequently, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen if you’re not. Certainly orgasm can be difficult, but if you take steps to make orgasm happen, you’re more likely to find that libido again. If sex has just never felt good, my book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex goes over all kinds of ways to make it feel stupendous–and to understand how things work.

Remember that making sure it feels good for you DOESN’T mean that you have to be craving sex before you start. In fact, most women don’t. According to research, for men, desire PRECEDES making love. For women, desire comes after you start making love. So it’s not like you need to be panting first.

But, if, when you start kissing him, you’re thinking in your head, “tonight I’m going to feel GOOD”, then you can jumpstart your body.

The problem is that making sex great for you requires that you’re more ACTIVE–that you’re telling him what you want in bed, and that you’re actually trying to get it. That’s hard if you’re not really “in the mood”. But think of it like exercise: you don’t really want to do it, but you’re looking forward to the reward afterwards, so you put your all into it.

If you can put your all into it, you’ll get the reward. If you let your feelings stop you from putting your all into it, you won’t.

I’m not trying to minimize how hard it is; just saying that if you decide “I actually want to feel GOOD tonight”, it really does make it more appealing.

Concentrate on the good stuff about making love.

So how do you tell yourself “I’m going to feel good tonight”? Think about the benefits of making love. You’ll sleep better. It does feel good. Keep imagining that throughout the day–how well you’ll sleep, how good you’ll feel. Actually pick deliberate times of the day to picture the rewards. Not to try to feel sexy–you may honestly not be able to do that. But to picture the rewards.


The combination of low libido and exhaustion is a recipe for disaster. The only thing that helps is not being tired. So turn in right when the kids do, if you have to, and make love FIRST. Then curl up and watch a movie together, or get on your iPads and check Twitter, or whatever else you may normally do. But try to get sex in earlier in the night.

Make sex really RELAXING.

You need to relax during sex. Ask him to massage you a lot (massage candles work great for that). Turn it into a sensual experience so that you can enjoy the whole package. That way it’s not so much a SEXUAL thing as it is a SENSUAL thing. And that often makes the sexual easier. (but again, that only works if you’re not exhausted). Talk to him about how you want sex to be drawn out experience, and you’re more likely to feel good if he gives you a massage first. Be open about it, and then, as he’s touching you, pay attention to your body. Tune in, and ask yourself, “what would my body like now”? Then actually tell him what you want in bed!

I can’t emphasize enough how important a step this is. When we start to see sex as totally a sexual thing, and we’re not sexually aroused, it can be a chore. But when the whole evening is about spending time together, and relaxing, and feeling close, we can start to desire it even if we’re not particularly in the mood. So explain to your husband how important it is that you have that “transition time” or massage and touching each other. It helps prep your body, but it also preps your mind.

Get jelly.

Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, 16 oz.Really. Astroglide works best. (And some women swear by coconut oil!). But if you’re well lubricated, arousal is much easier. In fact, you’ll get more aroused if you start out lubricated than if you don’t. So if this is a real struggle for you, get some help.

I hope that helps! I honestly do know how hard it is. But if we turn off the voice that says, “I have no libido”, and turn on the voice that says, “I am going to have fun tonight, absolutely,” your body will often follow. But you have to set your mind to it and anticipate the rewards, even if you don’t feel sexy and even if you still wonder if your sex drive works. And that positive attitude can often jumpstart a low libido.

Now, what advice do you have for us? Leave the URL of one of your marriage posts in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so other people can see these great marriage resources. Just grab the code at the right.

Christian Marriage Advice

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

Wifey Wednesday: Why It’s so Hard to Say Yes to Sex

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I’ll introduce a topic, and then you all can comment or link up your own marriage post below.

Why is it hard to say yes to sex?On my Facebook Page (have you joined yet?) I asked this question:

Why is it so hard sometimes to say yes to sex?

  • he hasn’t paid attention to any part of my day up to that moment.
  • When the house is turned upside down!
  • When a sexual comment is the only conversation I’ve heard from hubby all day…we’ve been married 30 years.
  • When we’ve had an argument and then he thinks he can roll over and we’ll kiss and make up. Yeah right!!!! Or when I’m so tired I can’t see straight
  • .…when the only conversation for the day is a proposition
  • you don’t come to bed until after mid night because you once again fell asleep watching television.
  • When I can’t get my brain to slow down and relax.
  • …when he ignored and/or criticized me all day
  • I’ve been in mommy mode for 12 hours.
  • you refuse to shower for a long length of time.
  • when he wont kiss me and ask me how i am doing or say good morning
  • When I have had to discipline kids allllll day long!!! Sometimes it is difficult switching roles!!!
  • When I feel unattractive and over weight. Regardless of how beautiful my husband tells me I am.
  • When I had small babies with me all day, I felt like someone was ALWAYS touching me. I needed hands-off time.
  • …he has fallen asleep on the couch and stayed there and it happens a couple nights in a row, and then suddenly comes to bed several nights later…

And then there were a few versions of this one:

  • I know it doesn’t last too long….lol

(I’m going to deal with this one in an awesome blog series in September: How to Make Love so it Curls Your Toes! So wait for it. It’s going to be fun).

Whew! That’s a lot of women struggling in this area.

So ladies, we all know we have these issues. We know these problems abound. But we also know that sex keeps a marriage close. It helps you to sleep better. And it helps you to feel more positively towards your spouse.

How, then, do we get over this hurdle and actually make love?

Some quick thoughts for you today:

1. Go to bed at a decent hour regularly

Seriously. The biggest hurdle? Exhaustion. I totally understand. But when we’re always running on 6 1/2 hours of sleep, or we don’t head to bed until we’re ready to drop, we’re hardly going to want to make love.

So go to bed at the same time. Turn off those screens and turn in! And here’s a way to think about it: You need 8 hours of sleep. You also need AT LEAST half an hour in bed first, talking and praying and making love. So you should be going to bed AT LEAST 8 1/2 hours before the alarm is going to go off (or the kids are going to arrive in the bedroom).

Do that consistently, and you’ll likely find exhaustion isn’t as much of a factor.

I know it’s hard when children are really little, but that’s when setting firm schedules and helping them learn to sleep through the night can be so important.

2. Take some time for yourself during the day

Find an hour, just for yourself, sometime during the day so that you don’t need those late hours at night. A friend of mine, who is a foster mom, joined a gym where they offer free day care. Now she can exercise, or just relax in the pool, for an hour every so often while her foster kids are taken care of. She needs that break.

Another friend of mine who works full time takes her lunch hour all to herself. She doesn’t hang out with co-workers. She just goes for a walk and eats while walking, or she reads a novel. She escapes to a food court where people won’t bug her and she just catches a few moments when no one is asking her to do anything.

Get that time earlier in the day and you’ll be more rejuvenated later in the day! And don’t expect that time to magically appear. You have to plan it! Sign up for my parenting newsletter (just look on the right hand sidebar) and you’ll get some free household organization charts to help you schedule this time in. Or get a gorgeous daytime agenda planner to keep you motivated and on track.

3. Find time to talk to your hubby

One of the biggest impediments was a version of, “he’s only interested in me for one thing”. He doesn’t help around the house. He doesn’t speak nicely to me. He spends the evening as a couch potato and then he wants sex.

That can be very demoralizing. But I’ve also found that, in general, the more we make love, the more he actually WANTS to spend time together. It becomes a circle that feeds itself. You make love, he feels more affectionate and generous. He acts more affectionate and generous, you make love. Etc. etc.

So start the ball rolling! But if that’s still difficult because you just haven’t connected, plan time earlier in the evening to do that connection. Go for a walk after dinner. Ask if he’ll help you with the dishes routine after dinner so that you can talk while doing the dishes. Talk about what chores you can assign to each other so you feel as if he has contributed that evening. Maybe he can always be the one to give the kids their baths, for instance. We tend to clean the house when we see what needs doing. Men don’t work the same way. So if you ask him for a specific task, he’s more likely to do it.

If you talk more earlier in the day, and if he does a chore or two, you can get over some of that reluctance. And then see how adding sex to the equation in your marriage can actually improve many of these difficulties that make you distant in the first place!

4. Anticipate

Finally, the reason that we find it hard to say yes is that for women, sex is primarily in our brains. If our brains aren’t engaged, it’s hard for our bodies to feel aroused. So feeling distant, feeling exhausted, or feeling taken for granted all become major impediments because they impact our thought processes.

But remember: it also works the other way. If sex is primarily in our brains, then if we DECIDE to have a positive attitude about it, and we DECIDE to anticipate it, our bodies will likely follow. We are not slaves to our thoughts; we can change them–and these new thoughts can change your marriage. Think earlier in the day: I am going to feel AMAZING tonight. We are going to have AWESOME sex and it’s going to help me sleep so well! I’m going to be able to RELAX tonight an all the worries of the day are going to float away. I’m going to have so much FUN! We’re going to really connect tonight!

Start thinking about the benefits of sex, and thinking about what’s coming, and you just may find that it’s easier to say yes after all!

Now tell me in the comments: which strategy will make the biggest difference in your marriage?

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Wifey Wednesday: Understanding the Higher Drive Spouse: Bread or Tomatoes?

Understanding the Spouse with the Higher Sex Drive--it's like the difference between bread and tomatoes in sandwiches...It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can comment or link up your own post below.

Today’s Wifey Wednesday is a Guest Post is from The Mrs. over at Spice and Love, who writes from the perspective of a higher-sex-drive wife. I thought some of  you may appreciate her perspective on understanding the spouse with the higher sex drive!

A few nights ago my husband I were lying in bed falling asleep when he suddenly said, “You know, sex in marriage, for me, is like tomatoes on sandwiches.”

My mouth literally fell open there in the dark.

See, here is the thing. I consider myself a sort of amateur foodie. I like to eat it, I like to make it, I like to read about it, I like to savor it. I will almost always go the extra step in making my food go from just okay to amazing. My husband enjoys good food too, but not enough to go out of his way to make something amazing. Like tomatoes, for instance. He really, really enjoys them on his sandwich. But not enough to do the work of getting them out of the fridge and slicing them to put on his sandwich. If they are sitting there sliced he will always get them. Or if I am making a sandwich and ask him if he wants tomatoes, he will always say yes. But if there are no tomatoes on his sandwich, he is okay. He can still enjoy it.

As I lay in bed I felt like a huge lightbulb had gone off.

I finally understood exactly how he approaches our marriage bed. I began to laugh.

“Babe”, I said, “Sex for me is like the bread. Without the bread, it’s not a sandwich.”

Photo Credit: http://runka.com

I am pretty sure his mouth fell open then.

Because here is the deal. I think he thought that sex was like tomatoes to me, too. I like them enough to always want them on my sandwich, and I will always do the work to get them and slice them. I don’t understand how he can eat a sandwich without them if they are available. But the truth is that sex to me is NOT like a tomato.

Because a sandwich without a tomato is still a sandwich. But marriage without sex? Not marriage.

It was such a helpful conversation. I realized that he does enjoy sex when it is offered and available, but feels like our marriage can still be acceptable without it (not completely without it, but just not as often as me). He realized that sex for me, as the spouse with the higher sex drive, is crucial to our marriage – as in, if we aren’t having it often, I struggle to feel married.

Being a “spicy wife” in a culture that screams out I am abnormal is so challenging. And it’s challenging for my husband too. But, thank God, we are learning after almost seven years of marriage how to finally start communicating about it. So what about you? How do you see sex?

Praying today that God gives you and yours the perfect way to communicate, so you can see through each other’s eyes.

Annabel has been married to the love of her life since 2006. She blogs about love, marriage and sex from the perspective of a higher-drive wife at http://spiceandlove.wordpress.com. Annabel loves all warm drinks, well-written books, and being a foodie. 

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Wifey Wednesday: Magic Mike, Marriage, and Women’s Libido

Why Magic Mike Can Hurt Your Marriage
It’s Wednesday, when we talk marriage! I write a post, and then you all can link up one of your marriage posts to the linky below! Today we’re going to talk about what turns women on–or at least, how a woman’s libido works as opposed to how a man’s libido works.

And to do that, I’d like to talk about the movie Magic Mike. A ton of readers have been emailing me and writing on my Facebook Page asking my opinion on watching it, so I thought I had better chime in!

Magic Mike is about a bunch of male strippers who are being trained to give women exactly what they want. It’s based roughly on Channing Tatum’s  real life, I guess, and it’s just a raunchy “fun” movie (that’s how it’s being described). Women apparently are all ready to flock to see it.

So what do I think?

Let’s go backwards just for a moment and look at how our culture ended up here.

For the last hundred years or so there’s been a concerted effort to get rid of morality–and God.

People wanted to be free to do what they wanted without being burdened by having to do what’s right, or having God tell them what to do. They didn’t want guilt. They wanted humanism.

But what stood in their way? The family. Marriage. Marriage and the family are profoundly moral institutions. They rely on things like commitment, and love, and selflessness. And having children within marriage also relies on chastity outside of marriage. None of that was seen as a good thing. That was all holding us back–holding women back, because marriage and family hurt our career aspirations, and holding all of us back because we couldn’t focus on happiness, but we had to focus on duty.

So it was necessary to get rid of marriage. And our society has almost done that. Divorce is rampant. Cohabitation is commonplace, almost the default today. And single parenthood is normal.

But there’s one stubborn thing that is preventing the wholesale rejection of marriage, and that’s women’s need to see sex as something more than physical.

As we’ve talked about before, and as I go into length about in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, for women, sex is largely relational. When a woman takes her shirt off at the end of the day, her husband immediately starts thinking sexy thoughts. When a man takes his shirt off, a woman tends to think, “Is he going to put that in the laundry hamper?” We don’t tend to think, to the same extent, “Oh, come get me, hubba hubba.” It’s not that we NEVER want to be taken; it’s just that what turns women on has far more to do with feeling safe, and feeling cherished, and feeling loved, than it does purely visual stimuli.

That’s a problem for our culture, because a woman who wants a stable, committed, long-term relationship to have great sex isn’t going to be happy with our hooking up society. So we have to ignore this side of women, and promote instead the idea that women’s sex drives are the same as men’s are–that what turns women on is the same thing that turns men on. So we create shows like Sex and the City which show women on the prowl. We write magazines like Cosmo which are dedicated to women having sex with as many men as possible, and portraying that as glamorous. And now we have this movie.

(By the way, none of this is to say that men DON’T need committed relationships. They absolutely do. Their need for love and relationship is just as great, but it manifests itself in different ways. For us, the way you see it most is in our sex drives. That’s what’s going on here.)

Now, if women were truly aroused primarily by anonymous sex or by visual stimuli, then Playgirl, back in the 1970s, would have been as popular as Playboy. But it never was, and eventually it was mostly bought by gay men. If women were as aroused by visual stimuli as men, then male strip clubs would be just as common as female strip clubs. But they’re not, because we fundamentally don’t work the same way. Seeing a guy strip is not what turns a woman on to the same extent as feeling pursued and cherished.

That does not mean, though, that women can’t be pushed towards more anonymous sex–that what turns women on can change. That’s what Magic Mike is about!

And that’s exactly what’s happening, which is why movies like Magic Mike are being made and are resonating with people. The more our culture portrays women as being turned on by the same thing men are, the more we start to internalize that message. I hear 13-year-old girls all the time commenting on how “hot” some guy is, or noticing his “6-pack abs”. I do not remember ANY of that from when I was 13. We talked about guys being “cute”, but never “hot”. We were thinking more that his hair was cute, not that he had great abs. Our culture is starting to affect us.

So now 30% of porn users are female. We’re being drawn to this stuff, because the arousal centres in our brains are starting to get activated by things that didn’t used to activate them before. And thus we’re literally rewiring our brains (porn has this same effect on men, by the way).

Why is this movie hitting a nerve with women? Because its message is “celebrate your sexuality! Have fun!” And most of us do want to be sexual beings. We do want to just have sex with abandon. We want passion. At our hearts, we yearn for it within a marriage relationship, but that yearning is still there. And this movie promises to tap into that.

Interestingly, the whole Magic Mike “male stripper” phenomenon tends to be something that women do WITH FRIENDS. It’s social for us, it’s not solitary like it often is for men. The movie wouldn’t work if women were going in there predominantly on their own; it works because they’re in a group. It’s seen as something fun we’re doing to validate our own sexuality.

That’s the whole background. Here’s my take away: this sort of thing, many moons ago, would have seemed bizarre to most women. Now it is seen as mainstream. That’s because our culture has subtly but relentlessly been feeding us this message that “women need to throw off the shackles! You’re sexual beings! So go out and claim it!”

But we were not created to be sexual beings in isolation, hopping from one man to the next, becoming aroused simply by the idea of having sexual power.

Our sexual power is most unleashed in marriage (which is why married women have a far easier time achieving orgasm when they make love).

So please, steer clear of this movie. It may look fun, but it honestly is doing damage to women’s sex drives. I am not a man. I do not want to think like a man, or become aroused like a man. I love the fact that what is sexy to me is love and relationship. Besides, how would you feel if your husband went to a movie about female strippers? You’d be incensed. Somehow we think this is different because at heart we know that women don’t work the same way. So if we see a movie like this, it’s to make us excited about sex! It’s to make us feel more in tune with our desires! And that has benefits for our husbands, right? No. Not any more than 50 Shades of Grey does. It’s going to change you from the way you were made to be. It’s going to make sex LESS about your husband and MORE about only the physical. That’s not good.

There is nothing wrong with being aroused by the male form–most women are to a lesser or greater extent. But fundamentally God created women so that what turns women on is being chased and cherished. That’s our half of the equation of how marriage mirrors God’s relationship with the church. And that’s what marriage is for. The more we dabble in things like this, the more we create problems for ourselves responding sexually within marriage, and the more we turn sex into something that is purely physical, and not emotionally or spiritually intimate.

That’s my take. What do you think?

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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.