When Sex Seems Like a Chore

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

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

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

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

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

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

He writes to the author,

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Your husband is a smart guy.

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

Everything else is just a counterfeit.

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

2) You are too busy.

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

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

3) Sex is not just physical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) It is about quantity as much as quality.

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

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

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

6) It is the best thing for your kids.

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

7) Fix it now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!

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

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!

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

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

Do you have a marriage post you’d like to share with us? Just enter the URL below! And remember to link up to Wifey Wednesday so your readers can read other marriage advice here, 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.

Reader Question of the Week: What Should This Frustrated Husband Do?

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/On weekend I like to post a reader question and then let you all take a stab at it. Usually I post a question from a woman; last week we talked about menopause and sex, and there’s some great resources in the comments! But today I’m going to feature a frustrated husband.

I’ve received several emails from men saying almost the same thing, so I’m going to combine two into one to disguise any identifying features, and post this for you. What would you say to the frustrated husbands men who ask things like this? I get more email like this than any other kind:

My wife is always (a) too tired, (b) not interested, (c) grumpy, or (d) wants to watch TV, do sudoku puzzles, lay in bed with the kids, etc. I swear, sex in our house is like a space shuttle launch! The windows for liftoff are extremely rare, and there is always a reason to postpone.

Honestly, I doubt my wife would even read your blog. When I’ve tried to get her to read stuff like that, or books in the past, she just snaps back that she “can find stuff on the internet that agrees says [she] is right.” She also says her friends make love with their husbands once a month or less, and those guys never complain–very helpful influence, those ladies. (I wish she could hang out with you instead.) I have no idea what to do to make my wife understand how lonely I am. I believe Ephesians 5 that I am to love her, and I try my best to be selfless, but if I am affectionate in any way she pulls away.

Most people would think from the outside that we have a good marriage. We’re really involved with the kids; we’re really involved at church; I have a good job. But sex is almost non-existent.

I just wish my wife cared, if not for me, at least for our kids and what we’re teaching them about marriage.

Answer in the comments! And if you want to send me a question, the easiest way is through my Facebook Page! You can send direct messages through there. Or you can click the contact button above.

For the frustrated guys asking this question, I have some resources that can help you.

31 Days to Great Sex1. If your wife is open to talking about it, consider getting my book 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s not 31 days of sex tricks–though there are challenges in there that help you become a little more adventurous in the bedroom. The first week focuses on how you think about sex, and getting rid of negative thoughts and baggage. It focuses on how to laugh and talk again, so that you’re less stressed and tense around each other. It focuses on how to build more intimacy in general. So it’s a complete look at every aspect of intimacy that goes into a great sex life–including affection–and she may appreciate that approach.

Check out the book here!

2. If you want to start the conversation with your wife about how important sex is to you, but you need to tread carefully, here’s a post I wrote for you to show her explaining how you feel. She may not be open to reading blogs in general, but if you tell her this is important, and you want to talk about it, that’s a good one to send her to.

Read: Why Your Husband Wants You To Read This Marriage Blog

3. If your wife has a negative view of sex in general, I’ve also written a book called The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, which helps women think differently about sex and see the benefits that it has–and get excited about it! It’s a low-pressure book, written by someone who sounds like a “funny big sister” (as World Magazine said). So it won’t come across as harsh.

Read more about the book here.

So those are my thoughts! Now, readers, please add your own in the comments!

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

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

Find out more here.

When 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.

29 Days to Great Sex Day 13: Getting Your Head in the Game

Getting Your Head in the Game: Preparing for Intimacy

It’s our 29 Days to Great Sex event, leading up to the release of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (update: now available!), and I want to recap what we’ve done so far and let you in on what’s ahead this week.

We’ve looked at how to reframe how think about sex, how to reframe how we think about our bodies and about pleasure, and even how to think of our husbands differently. We’re looked at how to get in the right frame of mind during the day by flirting, and playing, and preparing for the evening.

This week we’re going to look at what to do when the evening finally arrives. Today we’ve going to look at how to get your head in the game, and then we’ll turn to foreplay, orgasm, and more!

Let me start with some basics that many men and women don’t understand about female libido, and it goes like this: if our heads are not in the game, our bodies won’t follow. If we are distracted by anything, then it’s difficult to get aroused. This is the exact opposite of men, whose bodies often react to visual stimuli even if they ARE distracted and don’t want to be thinking about sex. Most men react almost automatically;  women need to decide to react.

I’ve often heard it said that men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers, insinuating that men can heat up and be done quickly, while women take more time. But I think that analogy is false because it implies that women will, eventually, heat up. The truth is there is no guarantee. A guy can do exactly the same thing to his wife that yesterday had her in raptures, and today he can tell she’s lying there thinking, “will you just get it over with because I want to get to sleep.” While women certainly can heat up, men can’t do it completely for us. We control the switch. We’re the ones who need to decide to participate, and that’s not always easy.

Consider this scenario, that I shared with Paul Byerley, The Generous Husband, in a recent guest post:

You walk into your bedroom to find your husband giving you that “Y’wanna?” look. You smile, and undress while he looks on appreciatively. You climb into bed and start kissing. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, you push him away and say:

“Do you think Michelle should drop piano? She just isn’t enjoying it and it’s costing us $20 a week in lessons, and a whole Tuesday night. We could take that money and go to a movie as a family and spend quality time together instead!”

What just happened? Did you decide you really didn’t want to have sex? Chances are your husband was pretty ticked, because he thought the evening was going in a certain direction, and now you’ve erected a big “Detour” sign.

'2010 Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show' photo (c) 2010, Chase N. - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I used to think that when I launched into a big monologue right in the middle of foreplay that subconsciously I was trying to push my husband away. But over the years I’ve realized that the opposite is the case. I can’t really get into making love if I have a lot of unprocessed thoughts in my head, because they end up bouncing around in there, like a huge pinball game. And my body doesn’t suddenly spring into action the way my husband’s does. I have to get myself in the mood, anticipate what we’re doing, and concentrate if it’s going to feel good. Like most women, sex for me is mostly in my head.

And if there’s too much other stuff rolling around in my head, my body won’t be able to get in the game. Part of getting ready for the big event, then, is to empty my head of all the stuff that’s rattling around in there. When I can get it out, I can let other stuff in.

There’s another element to this urge to talk, too. As we’ve talked about before, men make love to feel loved, while women need to feel loved to make love. In other words, for men, making love is a way of checking in on the relationship, and making sure that everything is good. When we make love, they feel as if we accept them and want to be with them.

For women, though, we need to feel that acceptance first, and part of that is feeling as if our men understand our hearts. That’s why conversation is so key to a woman’s libido. She needs to feel as if she’s understood, but she also needs to feel as if all the details in her head that are bouncing around about her to-do list tomorrow, and her worries about the kids, are out in the open so that she isn’t distracted.

So if you want sex to be great, TALK. Talk earlier in the evening so that she feels loved, and also so that she has a chance to process all the things that are in her head. And women, if you have a lot of “logistic” type worries–like how am I going to manage my time and get everything done?–discuss these with your husband, too, because he may be able to figure out some things you can say no to, or some other strategy of dealing with everything. Get an agenda planner and actually write them all down so she can be done with them!

And guys, if you’re reading this, understand that your wife’s urge to talk is not a rejection of you or a rejection of sex; it’s her way of getting her mind in gear and emptied out of all her concerns so that she can actually concentrate and enjoy sex.

Great Sex Challenge 13: Talk to each other about developing new habits of talking earlier in the evening and checking in with each other about your day. Can you go for a walk after dinner? Can you curl up on the couch for 15 minutes? Even keep a day planner near the bed so that together you can go over her schedule and fit errands in it so that she’s not worried. It takes 21 days for a habit to become ingrained, but start this one today: find regular, scheduled time just to TALK.

This may not sound sexy, but before we can move on to how to really enjoy sex, she absolutely must be able to get her head in the game, and that means dealing with the day’s stresses. So make this a habit; it will benefit both of you!

31 Days to Great Sex
New! This 29 Days to Great Sex series has been turned into an ebook, the 31 Days to Great Sex (only $4.99!)

It's expanded, it's written for couples (not just women), and it's easy to use! 31 Days to boost your emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and physical intimacy. You'll talk, flirt, and explore! Ignite your marriage here.

29 Days to Great Sex:

Day 1: The Act of Marriage
Day 2: Starting Fresh
Day 3: Loving the Skin You’re In
Day 4: Pucker Up!
Day 5: Reawaken Desire
Day 6: Why Your Hubby Wants You!
Day 7: Moving in the Right Direction
Day 8: 14 Ways to Play as a Couple
Day 9: Prepare for Sex throughout the Day
Day 10:16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband
Day 11: How to Find Your Hubby Attractive
Day 12: If you’re Having a Hard Time with these Challenges

Day 14: When You Don’t Want to Make Love
Day 15: What is Foreplay?
Day 16: How to Orgasm
Day 17: The Pleasure Center
Day 18: Foreplay Can Be for Him, Too!
Day 19: How to Come Alive Again
Day 20: Deciding on Boundaries
Day 21: 5 Ways to Spice Things Up
Day 22: How Often is Enough?
Day 23: Quickies Are Great!
Day 24: Initiate, Baby!
Day 25: Sex When You Have Kids
Day 26: Rebuilding Your Sex Life
Day 27: Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy when You Make Love
Day 28: Overcoming Selfishness
Day 29: A Contest & a Party!

Remember to hit the Share buttons to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! (or any other buttons below :). Let’s spread the word about the series, and help other marriages thrive!

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.

Why Your Husband Wants You to Read this Marriage Blog

A blog post for wives: what your husband wants you to understand about sex

This blog is primarily for women–married, Christian women, to be exact, although honestly anyone is welcome!

It’s about advice for marriage from a Christian perspective, and I deal with everything quite openly–including sex.

Most people who read here are women, and my hope and prayer is that we can become a real community where people can come when they have questions to real marriage problems we all face, but no good place to get answers in “real” life. Often we just don’t have people to talk to about some of our most intimate problems, and that’s one thing the internet is great for!

However, I know I also have some readers who aren’t women. Many husbands read this blog, and often make comments on some of my posts,

“I wish my wife would read this, but I don’t know how to ask her without getting her mad.”

Today, I want to write a post that these men can show their wives. And so I want to talk to you wives who are having a hard time when it comes to sex.

I’ve written a lot online to help couples who are struggling with mismatched libidos have fun again! I’ve got the huge 29 Days to Great Sex event, where we looked at all kinds of different aspects to sex–from getting over difficulties to learning how to enjoy it more to just plain learning to laugh together. And I wrote The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex to help women understand that sex is so much more than physical–it’s emotional and spiritual as well (and those emotional aspects often make the physical even better!).

And I guess I write so much about this because sex the area that is the most contentious, and often the most difficult, in marriage, because men and women approach it so differently. And many, many men are frustrated that their sex lives aren’t better, but it just doesn’t seem to be a priority to their wives. So guys, this is the post you can show your wife. Bookmark it, and email it to her, or ask her to read it and then you can talk about it later. I’m now going to talk to your wives and explain why you want her here.

Ready? Okay, here goes.

If you're tired of your husband being frustrated--maybe you need to read this!

Ladies, thank you for reading this far.

I know you likely have your back up. Why does your husband want you to read something called “To Love, Honor and Vacuum“? And what’s all this stuff about sex? Are we just going to get into that fight again?

Let me try to answer those questions by telling you a little bit about who I am and where I’m coming from, which I really think will put you at ease. This blog is called To Love, Honor and Vacuum because my first book was called “To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother“. Many women get married thinking they’re signing up for a beautiful relationship, and five years in it feels more like a job. You run around taking care of everything else, and your whole life is one big to do list and one big obligation. What went wrong?

And so I started writing about how women can work on their relationships so they find joy again, and work on organizing their lives so it’s not so chaotic.

That’s what I started to focus on. I know what it is to feel as if you spend your whole life caring for everyone else, and no one seems to be caring for you (even if it’s simply because your hubby wants to, but he’s too busy).

But the more I wrote, the more I found my niche really writing about marriage. It’s not that I don’t write about parenting anymore; it’s just that marriage is where my heart is, because if the marriage relationship goes right, then the parenting will be so much easier. And the more I wrote about marriage, the more I started focusing on sex, until before you knew it, I became the “go to girl” for all things sex. And my new book was born out of that.

That doesn’t mean that sex has come easily for me.

It hasn’t. In fact, in the first few years of my marriage I spent most of my time crying about it. “Why does this have to be so hard, God?” I would ask. I think I now have the answer. It’s because God was preparing me for this. And when I say that I understand what it is to wish sex didn’t exist, I mean it. When I say that I know what it is to wonder if it will ever feel good, I’m telling the truth. When I say that I know what it is to be so sick and tired of fighting over it, I know that, too.

But I also know the other side. I know how amazing it is when sex works well. I know what it is to really experience love when you make love. I know that it does feel stupendous. But it took a lot of work, a lot of humility, and a lot of refocusing of my priorities to get there. And now I can honestly say that I love my marriage!

If your husband has sent you here, it does not mean he thinks there is something wrong with you. It does not mean he is mad at you. It does not mean he blames you for any problems in your marriage.

It means simply that he wants your marriage to thrive.

He wants it to be all that it can be. He doesn’t want to settle for mediocre; he wants it to be intimate, stupendous, exhilirating, safe, and uniting. He wants it to be joyous, and full of laughter, and full of real communion. And he thinks you really want that, too, but he’s worried that right now you’re not experiencing that together. And he wants to get past that–together.

He doesn’t expect you to do all the work. He just wants to find a starting point where you can begin the journey together and just talk openly about some of these things. He’s hurting because he feels like both of you are missing out on all that marriage is supposed to be, and he doesn’t want to settle for that.

I have lived in a mediocre marriage, and I have lived in a stupendous, intimate marriage, and I can tell you that the latter is way better.

It is worth the effort. Maybe you’re upset because you thought you had a great marriage, and your husband obviously doesn’t. That’s okay. That just means that you still have room to grow–we all do. And if there are some areas where your spouse wants you to grow as a couple, don’t take that as a criticism of you. Take that for what it is: an indication that he loves you. He cherishes the marriage. He cherishes it so much that he doesn’t want to settle for anything less than the best.

Look, I do have a wonderful marriage, but in two weeks my husband and I will be speaking at a FamilyLife marriage conference in Niagara Falls, Canada, and I know we will come home with some new tools and new thoughts about how to make our marriage better–because we always do. No marriage has ever “arrived”. No marriage is ever perfect. If your husband wants to work on something with you, that only means that he is committing himself even more fully to your marriage. That’s a good thing; not a bad thing! And if you can read what I have to say with an open mind and heart, I think you’ll find that you can get excited about what’s in store for your marriage, too!

And so I want to give you a challenge:

31 Days to Great SexI really encourage you to try the 31 Days to Great Sex with your husband.

Don’t worry: It’s not 31 Days OF Great Sex. It’s 31 Days TO Great Sex. It’s 31 days of challenges that help you talk more, learn to flirt again, be more affectionate–and yes, even some steamy stuff. But it’s all about getting you to connect emotionally before you connect physically. And then getting you to feel truly intimate, too.

Isn’t that what we all really want?

Check out 31 Days to Great Sex

If that’s too big a stretch, then I encourage you to sign up for my marriage newsletter. When you do, you’ll start getting weekly emails about how to build your friendship, your spiritual intimacy, your sex life–and even how to handle libido and hormones.

Tons of Links to Articles Addressing Common Marriage QuestionsNow seriously, ladies–no pressure. If this is too much, I understand. But your husband really wants to be close to you. Please don’t give up.

You can also see links to my most popular and informative posts here, with answers to all your marriage questions–from porn use to making sex feel great to building your friendship.

Welcome to the blog. I do hope you’ll come back.

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.