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!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


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

Wifey Wednesday: 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!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


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


Wifey Wednesday: I Have No Libido!

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. 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.

"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.

So 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. And if you take steps to make it your goal and make sure it does, 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, 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.

Go to bed REALLY EARLY.

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.

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”?

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.

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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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?

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: 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?

Christian Marriage Advice

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

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Wifey Wednesday: Getting Over Thinking Sex is "All for him"

Getting Over Thinking of Sex as a Gift for Him--and seeing that it benefits me, too!

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a marriage post and link-up party! I’ll write a post about marriage, and then you all can link up one of your own below! Today I want to ask: When you have sex with your husband, do you feel like you’re doing him a favor? Has sex become something that’s “for him”? Something that you do because you should, to get brownie points, rather than something that you want to do?

Many women feel that way. And not just that; they also feel proud of themselves when they do “give him sex”. He should be grateful!

Thinking that sex is a gift you give to him is an understandable attitude, but also a dangerous one. And we’ve got to fight it!

I’ve seen a number of comments recently on this blog that went something like this:

My husband never really shows me love the way I need it. But he wants sex all the time! But because he doesn’t show me love, I just can’t get into it. So we rarely have sex. And then when we do, he isn’t even grateful.

There’s a problem with that attitude.

Let’s say that what you really want is for your husband to be romantic. You want the flowers. You want him to read you poetry. You want him to bring you home chocolates. And let’s say that one day he does all those things. He hires a baby-sitter so he can take you out to dinner. While there, he whips out a book of love sonnets and reads you from Shakespeare. When you get home, he feeds you chocolate truffles, and then he doesn’t even expect anything in return! How wonderful of him.

But the next day you overhear him talking to a friend and he says, “yes, I did it. I finally did everything she wanted. I had to grit my teeth the entire time and pretend to be happy, but I did it, and now she can’t complain. I figure I’ve probably bought myself two or three months before she gets grumpy again and expects something.”

You’d be pretty ticked, wouldn’t you? It would be like it wasn’t real.

What you wanted was for him to WANT to do those romantic things; if he did them because he felt like he had to, then it’s cheating.

Yet how many of us do the same thing to our husbands? Perhaps you don’t think that’s a fair comparison, because you can’t help the way you feel. Sex isn’t really fun, and you can’t just “force” yourself to get turned on.

Yet so much of sex is attitude for women.

When our heads are in the game (as in thinking positively about sex), our bodies usually follow. When our heads aren’t in the game, it isn’t very much fun. If you’re resentful of your husband, or you’re having sex just “to get him off of my back”, then it’s unlikely to be a fun experience for you. But it’s also not going to be very fun for him, because he’s going to know that you’re not really into it. And he’s going to feel placated, not wanted. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Besides, we are really being hypocritical here. We’re expecting men to do something that we aren’t willing to do. We want men to show us affection and love whether or not we give them sex.

We expect men to be loving and not demanding, and yet we ourselves can’t do the same thing for them.

They simply want us to make love (which in their eyes is showing love) without expecting a whole lot in return. And if we’re treating sex like it’s a reward, then we’re withholding love from them. And that is extremely hurtful.

I believe that the root of many marriage problems later on is a disconnect when it comes to making love. Making love is not something optional that we add to our marriages when things are good. It is something that we should be doing consistently, regularly, throughout our marriages, because it is part of what keeps our marriages good. And it is so very important for our husbands.

If you’re married to a guy who doesn’t want sex, I know that is so humiliating and discouraging. But if he’s the one who wants it more, I want to encourage you to think of sex not as something that you do for him, but as something that you do for both of you. It will bring you closer together. It helps him feel closer to you, but it also helps you feel more positively about him. It helps you to sleep better. It helps you feel more invigorated about life. It keeps you happier.

It may seem difficult to get to the point where you see sex as something beneficial for you, and not just for him. But honestly ask yourself this question, “do I treat sex like I’m doing him a favor?” And if the answer is yes, then examine your heart and start praying that God will help you to see things differently–that this is something that you do for both of you, because it helps you, too!

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And remember–my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, takes you through so many issues so that by the end you really do see sex as something exciting that you want to embrace, too! If that seems farfetched, I encourage you to read it anyway, because I do think this can give so many people a new lease on their marriages.

Christian Marriage Advice

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When Your Spouse Isn’t Interested in Sex: Communicating Your Needs

When Your Husband Doesn't Want to Have Sex: how to talk to him about it.
Last month, in my 29 Days to Great Sex series, I was talking about how to make sex great: how to want it, how to be enthusiastic, how to make it fun. But then the emails started to arrive: what do I do if my husband doesn’t want to have sex? What do I do if my wife won’t read this series with me? What do I do when my spouse just doesn’t think sex is important? We’ve been looking for the last two days at some reasons that men may not want sex.

Today I want to offer my thoughts on what you can do–whether you’re a husband or a wife–and you’re married to someone who just isn’t interested in sex. On Monday a woman left this comment on my blog, and it pretty much sums up what many of the spouses who email me are feeling:

My husband has low testosterone and it is a huge struggle for us, even though he is being treated for it. The biggest thing is that he just doesn’t really see sex as an issue at all; it’s as if he wants a complete marriage, but if there was no sex, he’d be fine with that. :(

I am a Christian and love my God. However, at this time, I am struggling with being very angry with God because I am a “good girl,” raised in a Christian home and although I dated a lot before marriage (and fooled around), I saved myself for marriage and for my husband. Now I feel like I’ve been cheated or robbed. I know life’s not fair, and that there are worse things people are dealing with, but for me, I feel lonely, rejected, and bitter. He is a fabulous man, father, and husband, but it breaks my heart that he doesn’t see any need for sex in marriage. He’s not into porn, addicted to anything, etc….just apathetic towards sex. :( In a way, it’s worse, because there’s no “addiction” to stop, no “sin” to confess, nothing that can be “fixed.” Even with his testosterone levels raised to where they should be, he doesn’t really care about sex at all.

He still makes love to me because he knows it’s something I need, but I wish it was something HE actually needed, too.

She’s a little more fortunate, because at least her husband does acknowledge his wife’s need for sex and tries to meet it. Many people who wrote me don’t even have that. Their spouses have basically checked out. Tomorrow we’ll look at what to do when your spouse has decided to withhold sex, almost permanently.

But today let’s deal with this problem: how do you help a spouse who does not have a drive for sex or an understanding that sex is important understand what your needs are? How do you talk to a spouse who doesn’t seem to want to have sex at all? Here are some thoughts:

1. Get Your Heart Right

Don’t enter a conversation angry or bitter. If your spouse has wronged you, go to God with that anger and ask Him to help you forgive. You need to have a conversation where you pursue what is best for you as a couple. Having a conversation where you’re trying to get him or her to acknowledge how much they’ve hurt you won’t necessarily help your relationship. There is a time to bring this up, once things are looking better, but if the desire is to move your relationship towards greater intimacy, that is what you should be focusing on, not vengeance. God calls us to love our spouses wholeheartedly, even if they don’t meet our needs.

2. Focus on Intimacy, not Sexual Release

Your spouse has an issue with sex. Chances are they find it a somewhat distasteful–if not very distasteful–obligation. It could be because they have really negative attitudes about sex; or it could simply be because they’re tired, they’re sick of having things on their to-do list, and they don’t want to have to do something energetic that they have to “get in the mood” for.

If you talk about your sexual needs, chances are this is what your spouse will hear:

“I have sexual needs because I have never really developed self-control the way you have. I am a slave to my body, unlike you, who is able to focus on the important things in life. And now, because of my desire and lack of self-control, I want you, who are already busy, to get energetic and to pretend that you actually want sex so that I can get some release.”

Not exactly a very attractive proposition, is it? Obviously that’s not what you mean, but even if you simply said something like this:

I desire you. I find you so attractive. You excite me. I want us to experience this together. I want to feel loved.

Your spouse will hear the first bit, especially if this has become a big area of conflict in your relationship.

So what should you do instead? Focus on the real issue–the one that both of you share. You want more intimacy, and sex is a doorway into intimacy. I would say something like this:

I really believe that God created us to long for each other and to be able to experience major depths of love and intimacy. I believe that God wants us to feel passionate about each other, close to each other, and truly intimate, so that we know that we’re not walking through life alone. I want us to feel so madly in love, and I want you to feel how much I love you. I want us to feel like we’re totally one, and I believe that the way that God made us to express that is through sex.

I know sex can be difficult for you, and I know you’re tired a lot of the time. I know you feel like you don’t have a lot of desire. But I’m worried that our lack of intimacy is actually partly the cause of some of that exhaustion. If we could really feel passion and really feel as if we were truly connected, perhaps much of the angst that we have both been feeling lately would evaporate.

I think God wants you to live such a big life. God wants you to enjoy everything that He created you for, and I think that we’re robbing each other of the gift of passion that God put in us. Do you think that we could try to rediscover passion together? I know it’s not easy, because you feel like you don’t have a sex drive. But it’s not just about sex; it’s about feeling so close to each other. That’s what I really want. Can we talk about how we can feel that intimacy, that passion, that closeness? And how we can make it easier for you to feel it? Because that’s what I think our marriage needs.

In other words, you’re focusing on intimacy and love, and not on release. The conversation doesn’t become about sex, or what you do in bed, or how often is enough. It focuses on how we can feel love for each other and how we can really experience passion.

Don’t argue about sexual release. Don’t argue about sexual needs. Don’t bring up 1 Corinthians 7:5, about how your spouse’s body belongs to you. That will not likely help the situation (even if it is true). Instead, bring up your desire for intimacy–an intimacy that will empower you both, energize you both, and equip you both to deal with the world together. When a couple is really experiencing that, they can take on the world.

Then the discussion can turn more to overcoming roadblocks for sex, like I’m just too tired, or I don’t really enjoy it, and you can start looking at how you can address these things to make intimacy easier. If your spouse is nervous about it, you can talk about it in a loving way, saying something like,

“I understand you’re tired, but I want so much more for you. God created you to live a big life, and I think He put me here to help you do that. Can we talk about how we can break through some of these issues?”

The point is to make the topic of the discussion that you love your spouse and you don’t want them to miss out on intimacy–it isn’t only about your sexual needs. It’s about your needs as a couple.

Now, some people are bound to chime in and say that I’m being too easy on the spouse. If they’re not meeting needs, they’re sinning and they need to be told to shape up. In an ideal world we could just say to someone, “you’re doing wrong”, and they would cease. But I have very rarely seen that happen in real life. What I am proposing is to talk about it in a way that is more likely to get your spouse to understand your heart, and more likely to get your spouse involved in seeking a solution. And to me, that is more important than telling your spouse that he or she is wrong and you are right. If you’re not at the point where you can do that, and if you’re still too angry, then I’d suggest you work on your anger before you bring any of this up with your spouse.

3. Focus on Intimacy in Other Ways

Intimacy should be the main focus of your conversation with your spouse, because as your spouse recognizes a deeper need for intimacy, he or she will likely recognize more of a need for sex.

But intimacy is deeper than just sex, and if you work on building intimacy in other areas of your life, you may very well also fuel your spouse’s desire for sex.

So work on your friendship. Spend time together. Develop hobbies together. Take an interest in what your spouse is doing. If your wife is overburdened with the house or with kids, start helping her more so she can relax. If your husband is overburdened with work, do what you can to help him. Help each other calm down, de-stress, and spend time together.

And then work on your spiritual intimacy. Our spiritual health is very related to our sexual health. When we feel close to God, we’ll simultaneously feel more like reaching out to our spouses. When I had dinner a while ago with Bill and Pam Farrel, of Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti fame, they told me that the couples with the best sex lives tend to be those in ministry. As you serve God and worship God more, you tend to reach out for your spouse more.

I have found that in my own life, too. When my husband and I read Psalms before we go to bed, or pray together before we go to bed, I’m always more ready to jump him! So work on developing spiritual disciplines together. Go to church together. Read the Bible together. If you’re uncomfortable praying out loud, get a book of prayers and read those (that really is allowed). In many ways, sex is a picture of our longing for God; our longing to be deeply connected and deeply known. As we open ourselves up to spiritual passion, we’re more likely to feel other kinds of passion.

Pursue intimacy in all areas of your life: physical, relational, and spiritual. And then talk to your spouse about how God wants you to live lives of passion and intimacy. That is His desire. If we as a couple aren’t experiencing that, we’re missing out on something beautiful. So do we want to live small lives, or big lives? And what can we do to work towards that big life?

Good Girl's Guide to Great SexWill framing the conversation like this work? No, not necessarily. You can never change another person; you can only change yourself. However, I do believe that this is the best option you have.

Great Sex Challenge: Pursue Intimacy. Pray and get rid of anger or bitterness in your heart towards your spouse. Pursue friendship and spiritual intimacy, with no strings attached. Then talk to your spouse about your desire for deeper intimacy, and about God’s plan for passion and intimacy. Ask what you can do as a couple to pursue that.

My new book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, is now shipping from Amazon! And they still have it at 30% off! In the book, I deal with how to boost your libido (if you’re a woman), how to pursue intimacy as a couple, and how to deal with a man who doesn’t want sex.


Being Selfless in Marriage Doesn’t Make You a Doormat!

Be Nice to Your Husband: It doesn't make you a doormat. It gives you a great marriage! (This post caused a LOT of controversy...)

Being nice to your husband does not make you a doormat.

And, along the same lines, let me say something which really shouldn’t be controversial: Making love with your husband, when you don’t particularly want to initially, is not the same as rape. 

I can’t believe that some people think it is, but I’ve had a ton of people react just that way to my post about “just say yes“. This is so abhorringly cruel to real rape victims I don’t even know where to start. To make love and decide to jump in, even when you’re tired, is not the same as being forced to have sex. Are people really that stupid? Any rape survivor can tell you that the two are not even close. And equating them is diminishing the very real terror and pain that rape victims experience.

Yet as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve had a ton of visitors from sites lately that have been mocking the Christian view of marriage, and that’s one of the primary lines of attack: I’m telling women it’s okay if their husbands rape them. Give. Me. A. Break. Now, I know where they’re coming from, since I’ve done a Masters in Sociology with an emphasis on Women’s Studies, too. I’ve read all that feminist literature that calls all sex rape, and while it totally messed up my sex life in the early part of my marriage, I’ve thankfully been able to leave it behind and realize how great sex in marriage is.

So let’s take a look at this more closely, and see what it actually means to say, “I’m only ever going to make love to my husband if I myself am completely and totally in the mood at that time“. If you’ve decided that your feelings matter more than being nice to your husband, then you are:

1. Opting for Parallel, Separate Lives instead of Intimate Lives

Here’s what you’re saying:

I don’t care if my husband wants sex. I don’t, so he will have to suffer.

In other words, your feelings trump his. Your needs trump his. He has no right to expect anything from you, and no hold on you. You are completely your own.

Is that really what you want? Because if you’re saying that he has no right to expect anything of you, then you also have no right to expect anything of him. What if he doesn’t particularly want to talk? What if he doesn’t want to help with the kids? What if he doesn’t want to combine incomes or share with the expenses?

It is not empowering to say, “we each have to do what is best for us” when you are in a relationship. The beauty about marriage is that you have each promised to care for each other. You have promised to love each other. You have promised to walk through life together, where you are totally joined.

You can’t do that if you are simultaneously saying, “what he wants doesn’t matter to me.” What you’re also saying, then, is that if there are problems in the marriage, it is his fault, because I don’t have to change or do anything he wants me to do, because if I were to do so I wouldn’t be being true to myself. So you want him to change, but you shouldn’t have to change. What kind of a marriage is that?

'knock out!' photo (c) 2010, andi.vs.zf - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

2. Misunderstanding our Different Sex Drives

When I say that we should make love as often as possible, even if we don’t particularly feel like it, I’m not saying that this means that women will always have awful sex. Quite the opposite.

I think many women misunderstand our own sex drives. They’re really quite different from a man’s. A man desires sex first, and feels the urgency for it, and then he’s ready to go. And once he’s ready, he really can’t be distracted from it.

A woman, on the other hand, rarely feels a “build up” or a need for sex. We don’t work the same way. And we are very easily distracted, because for us, our sex drives are primarily in our heads. When we put our minds to it, we can get turned on. When we’re not into it, we can’t.

So that means that if we decide to jump in, and if we put our minds to it, we can certainly get turned on, even if we weren’t initially. And, in fact, that’s what Rosemary Basson from the University of British Columbia found when she looked at female sexual response. We usually aren’t aroused until we start making love.

If you’re waiting to be aroused before you jump in with your husband, thinking that this is somehow “being true to yourself”, then, you’re really not understanding your body, and you’re denying yourself a lot of chances to have great sex–and denying your husband that, too.

3. Letting Feelings Rule Your Life

Sometimes I cook dinner when I don’t feel like it. I’d rather read blogs, but I do it anyway. When my girls were little, I read to them every single night before they went to bed, even if I was tired, because it was important to me. I didn’t always want to, but I did it. I rarely want to exercise, but I do it. I want to eat chocolate, but I don’t eat it all the time, because I know it’s not good for me.

That’s because I am not ruled by my feelings. Instead, I try to live my life based on what I know is best for me and for those around me in the long run, not what I feel like doing now. If I only ever did what I felt like doing, I would never get anything done, because I’m essentially a lazy person.

Why do we think that it is somehow morally superior to live our lives according to our feelings? All you’re doing is concentrating on being selfish, rather than doing what is right. Quite often following what we feel will lead us down the wrong path.

Besides, feelings often follow actions. When you choose to do something, to commit to something, to embrace something, your feelings follow. Feelings should not be the engine that moves the train; they should be the cars that come along after the decision is made.

Thinking to yourself, “I don’t feel like making love very often, so I shouldn’t have to” will not get you a better marriage. It will not make you happier. It will not make you a better person. It will simply make you a lonelier person. Who wants that?

4. Condemning Yourself to Stilted Personal Growth

But I do want to focus on one aspect of this whole argument where I think the feminists do have some merit. For many women, especially those who have been sexually abused in the past, to think that someone else has a claim on your body is very threatening. What do you mean I should make love just because he wants to? That’s like saying that my body isn’t mine, and that leaves me very vulnerable.

Yes, it does. And I truly understand that fear. I’ve felt it. And I absolutely do not think that people should jump in indiscriminantly and all the time when they’re feeling that kind of fear, because that can actually make someone more emotionally scarred. The pain needs to be dealt with. I also absolutely do not feel that women should do anything their husbands want, or should do anything that cheapens them, or should have to consent to sex a lot if it really hurts them. I am not saying that.

But here’s the issue: You may have genuine emotional scars when it comes to the idea that your husband’s need and desire for sex should have an impact on you. Yet those scars do not have to rule your life. Many of us have scars that hold us back in all kinds of areas of our lives. Maybe you’re so timid you’ve never been able to stand up to your mom. Maybe you’re so scared of people that you verge on agoraphobic, and huddle in your house. These are genuine fears. But do you want to get over them and live a big life, or do you want those fears to rule your life?

If you say that “I must have full control over my body, and my husband must never demand or want anything I can’t give or else I’ll feel intimidated”, then your marriage is going to be stuck. You won’t be able to achieve that real intimacy that would be so healing for both of you.

That doesn’t mean that healing scars is a simple process. But the beauty of marriage is that you have that commitment so that you can be free to invest some time in talking to a pastor or a counselor and praying through these issues. So share with your husband your desire to have a great sex life, and then get some healing. You don’t have to live a stilted life.

Being responsive to your husband’s desire for sex is not the same as letting him rape you. That’s just so ridiculous. And the people who equate the two have no clue what a truly intimate marriage is, where we both give to each other and love each other and care about each other. I hope that’s clear. And for the rest of us who do want intimate marriages, I’d just point you back to my original point: if you don’t have a good reason for saying no tonight, why not say yes? You’ll sleep better, your relationship will improve, and you’ll be happier. So jump in!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


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

Wifey Wednesday: Why Sex Matters to Your Husband

Why Sex Matters to Your Husband
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’s Wifey Wednesday is a guest post from Christine Hiester, talking about why sex matters to her husband.

“Men are simple beings.”

So says my husband. When I ask him what I can do to meet his needs, how I can better serve him, how I can improve as a wife, he simply chuckles and reminds me:

“I am simple. Keep me fed and give me lots of sex. And make it fun.”

Of course, he’s oversimplifying things a bit. He needs more than that, and we both know it.

But as far as needs go, physical intimacy is so important to him that if that need is not met the whole of him is affected; and if it is met, that fulfillment trickles down to all other parts of his life.

I really think I have it easy in this marriage, to be honest. I mean, I am nowhere near simple. My husband has to deal with my moods, my insecurities, my lack of housekeeping prowess, my occasional emotional neediness, and all I have to do is be a willing and joyful participant in the bedroom and cook some good meals?

I asked my husband the other day to tell me why sex matters so much. I wanted him to help me understand the reasons behind this all-encompassing need of his, and be able to help other women in my life who may have struggles in this area. We have friends and relatives whose marriages have had rocky times due to intimacy issues and pornography. I wanted to know what advice he would have me give the wives.

“Are their husbands satisfied in the bedroom?” was his reply. “We men are bombarded at every corner: ads at an online news site, billboards, teens wearing skimpy clothing at church, TV commercials, magazine racks at the grocery store. We can’t help but be visual; it’s the way we are made. We want to be faithful and pure, but it is so hard in this environment. When you, as my wife, make sure that I am satisfied, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. That’s what you can tell those women.”

That seems like a lot of pressure, but there is truth undergirding his response. Even more than just that answer, however, is the deeper issue of being accepted as a man with a high sex drive, and the subsequent affect on his emotional well-being. There is nothing wrong with our husbands wanting sex, and varied sex at that, often. Let me repeat that:

There is nothing wrong with our husbands wanting a lot of sex.

It is our own faulty thinking about God’s gift of sexual intimacy that is the hindrance.

Men find emotional fulfillment in physical intimacy.

Our rejection of them in the bedroom feels to them as their emotional rejection would feel to us. If you came to your husband in need of a listening ear, and an available shoulder when you were feeling down, and he said to you, “Not tonight, honey. I’m not in the mood to listen to you,” it would be devastating. Perhaps that is what happens on a regular basis for you. I’ve been there in my marriage.

We went through a period in our marriage when I agreed to be intimate when I felt emotionally full, only when my needs were met. I often begged off because I was feeling down, or we had had a fight, or he annoyed me in some way. It wasn’t a conscious decision to use sex as a reward to grant or withhold, but that’s what it felt like to my husband. He felt rejected, and thus wasn’t as open to me emotionally. The vicious cycle continued. I rejected him physically, he rejected me emotionally. I was miserable. He was miserable. The prayer of my heart was for God to change him. But God instead, in His wisdom, changed me.

When I, in obedience, made the choice, in recognition of this need in my husband, to be joyfully willing and available sexually whenever he requested it (and also initiating on a regular basis), the change in him was amazing.

Over time he was more emotionally available to me, more able to cherish me, more sensitive to my needs.

It was a transformative choice on my part, and improved our marriage dramatically.

God blessed us, because I made the holy choice.

God is the one behind this need in our husbands, just as He is behind our sensitivities and emotional richness as women. There is a grand plan in marriage, and sex is an enormous part of that plan.

When your husband desires you, desire him back. Make a choice to accept, and not reject. It is deeply important to him. Simple? Maybe. They are simple beings, after all. Or so says my husband.

So what are you waiting for?

Christine is a joyfully-available wife, and homeschooling mom of four. She has a passion for seeing marriages thrive, and blogs about that, among other things, at Fruit in Season.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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.