“Go Big” Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spouse

Well, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Thus, it’s the season to celebrate our romantic love, consider the depth of our commitment to our spouse . . . and then scratch our heads and wonder what on earth to get this year that communicates how we feel. Would flowers do it? A box of chocolate? A night of passionate sex?

You can access past posts from me with specific gift ideas, as well as taking a look at Christmas stocking stuffer ideas that might work for Valentine’s, but I thought I’d share some of the best “Go Big” gifts I’ve personally heard about: Big-impact ideas people I know have successfully carried out. Maybe the rest of us (especially non-romantic types) can learn a thing or two.

Woman holding large red heart + blog post title

The Getaway Weekend.

“Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages” (Song of Songs 7:11).

Getting away from your daily demands and household stresses can be a lovely gift for your marriage. Having an entire date weekend can provide the opportunity to enjoy one another’s companionship and remind yourselves exactly why you two fell in love. (Hint: It wasn’t because he kills the spiders. The Orkin man does that too.)

Think about whether your spouse is one who likes surprises or wants time to prepare, and plan your weekend accordingly. You could scoop up your spouse, hand them already-packed luggage or give them a short time to pack, and then sweep them off to a surprise destination. Or you could have several possibilities picked out from which he can choose, or gift them with a certificate for a getaway weekend.

Make sure you also consider what kind of weekend you and your spouse would enjoy. You may think staying in a cute cottage inn near quaint shopping venues is marvelous, but if your guy is partial to hunting, fishing, and the Great Outdoors, only one of you will be happy. Plan a weekend that meets your mutual interests, or even leans in favor of your spouse’s desires. In fact, bless them with a generous offer to attend an event you wouldn’t prefer, but you’re willing to do to spend time with your spouse and give them greater joy.

The Vow Renewal.

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song of Songs 8:6).

About 90% of wives I’ve polled said they would do their wedding differently if given a second chance. (Most would do something simpler, less costly, more intimate.) A few couples have done exactly that: Taken a second chance to say their wedding vows through a renewal ceremony. This can be a formal event or a casual experience. In fact, at one marriage retreat I attended, the speaker led all the couples through reciting their marriage vows again.

You can book a location and a minister and invite friends; make it a small ceremony with just you, your beloved, and an officiant; or merely create a romantic setting and repeat your vows in private. If your spouse would rather be part of the planning, provide a gift certificate for the renewal ceremony of her choice.

Also consider this opportunity to promise specific things you’ve learned you should work on, such as “I promise to kiss you every morning and hold you close every night” or “I promise to pray for you daily.” Tailor the vows to your particular marriage and recommit to however-many more years of pursuing marital bliss.

The Childhood Memory.

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matthew 18:3).

One of the things you signed up for when you said “I Do” is hearing your spouse’s stories. Sometimes they even tell the same story from their childhood two, three, or fifty times. Hopefully some of those stories are wistful ones that reach back to a simpler time of childhood when fresh wonder and deep laughter came easily. Now how about a gift that lets your husband (or wife) know you listened and you value their good memories?

I know one husband who gifted a vintage board game his wife used to love playing as a child, and another wife who (rather competitively) bid to get a toy her husband had once owned and regretted giving away. Another couple took a trip to the wife’s childhood home and let her soak in the memories as they toured her old stomping grounds and she related even more detailed recollections.

What happy events does your spouse talk about from childhood? What possessions did they treasure, or what objects or experiences did they long to have? What created a sense of wonder and joy in their youth, and what gift could represent that? Perhaps you can give a childhood memory.

The Love Letter.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

I’m partial to the written word. (Can you tell?) One of the couples I know who experienced a love letter as a gift was this one right here — me and my husband. Spock (logical hubby’s nickname) stepped way outside his comfort zone and wrote me a love poem one year. It remains my favorite gift from him, because of how heartfelt and meaningful it was.

The poetry wasn’t good, so don’t worry about your writing skills. Simply express your heart on the page. (By the way, I cover How to Write a Love Letter more in Sex Savvy.) Or if the page isn’t your thing, make a video love letter, serenade your beloved with a song, or put together a slide show expressing your beautiful memories and/or future dreams. However you wish to deliver your message is fine; simply make the effort to be personal and passionate with the love letter.

The Sensual Body Experience.

“How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights!” (Song of Songs 7:6)

How awesome would it be to come home to a candlelight dinner, or a trail of clothes leading to the bedroom, or rose petals on the bed? How nice would it be for your spouse to delay their own gratification to spend additional time plunging you into a feast of sensations through deep massage or a foamy bubble bath or feeding one another delicious fruits or chocolates? How about an extra-long, head-to-toe lovemaking session that focuses on exploring and arousing one another’s bodies as much as possible? Anyone like these ideas?

I’ve only heard hints from couples I know about this gift of the sensuous body experience, because we really don’t need to be sharing details. But I know some have gone to great lengths to prepare the atmosphere and create a romantic setting for their intimate time together.

What would bless your spouse in this regard? What activities stimulate their five senses and demonstrate your higher-and-deeper love? Remember to make this a gift for both of you. You can create not only a beautiful, intimate experience, but a memory that will bring smiles to both of you for years to come.

These are some of the best “go big” marriage gifts I personally heard about, but there are many more. What ideas do you have for Valentine’s Day or any other gift time in marriage?

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Of course, you can add a marital intimacy book to your gift package! Like this one…

Intimacy Revealed Book Cover

What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book

Confessions of a Higher-Drive Spouse

I’m currently the higher-drive spouse, although we’ve flip-flopped in my marriage. For all I know, next year my husband could be chasing me through the house and suggesting more frequent romps.

But for the time being, we both know that my sex drive is higher than his.

I was thinking about how desiring sex more than your spouse affects your thinking and behavior. And I decided to share a little of what goes on in my head and heart, with the hope that lower-drive spouses out there might “get it” a little better.

So here I go!

Woman peeking out from bed + blog post title

Yes, I think about sex a lot. No, it’s not all I think about. I am fully capable of going minutes and even hours without once considering sex. (Albeit it’s especially hard for me, given what I do here . . . ) I dare say I could go 24 hours without once thinking about the fabulous, marvelous intimacy I have with my husband. But just because I could doesn’t mean I do.

Sex pops into my mind at various times and in various ways. Maybe it’s a memory of the last time we made love. Maybe it’s a stray thought about his body. Maybe it’s simply the vague sense that I want my husband intimately close to me. Most of these thoughts are just that — thoughts. They don’t go anywhere. Except they do provide a steady beat in the background from which the music of sexual intimacy later swells when my husband and I are able to engage in physical intimacy. What you dwell on in your mind is often where you set your heart.

Sometimes I can’t help it — I stare. One of my favorite times of the day is when my husband is dressing — or better yet, undressing. I’m even more attuned than I used to be to his attractiveness. No, it’s not that his body’s so great he’s getting callbacks to star in the next superhero movie; it’s that his body appeals to me in its familiarity, masculinity, and intimacy.

If I’m reading a book in bed, and he comes in and yanks off his shirt, I sometimes find myself peeking over the top of my book’s cover and admiring the view. Even more revealed gets even more admiration. And then I sometimes think, What. Am. I. Doing? Um, yeah, I’m staring. Sorry, I kinda can’t help it.

I want to touch him, like all the time. Affection ranks in the top two of my love languages. That said, I’m even more affectionate when my sex drive is on overdrive. And it might seem like my touches are about getting something started, but sometimes they aren’t. There’s a bit of genuine satisfaction in touching my husband with a long embrace, a soft kiss, or a snuggle on the couch.

From being on the other side of the sex drive fence, I know higher-drive spouses can seem overly touchy and needy. It’s easy to feel that brushing off their touches will halt the advance of their seemingly endless sex drive. But that’s not how I’m experiencing it from this side. Yes, intimate gestures of affection can awaken my desire, but they can also sate it a bit. As if these touches hold me over, so to speak.

Innuendo can strike at any time. Well, not any time. But when you’re really in the mood, a phrase can easily be read as a sexual advance or intimate wordplay. Now imagine you’re in the mood a lot. Yeah, my brain just goes there more often than when I was the lower-drive spouse.

And yes, I think some of my turns and twists of phrases are clever, even hilarious, and should be rewarded — like with sex. (Did you hear that, hubby?!) But logically, I know that even clever innuendo has the potential to become annoying. So it’s better to keep some of my amusing thoughts in my own head and release the ones I think my husband will appreciate.

When he initiates, I internally celebrate. I know some couples have one spouse who always, or almost always, initiates, but my husband and I are pretty balanced. Even so, given where my drive is at the moment, there is a bit of rejoicing that goes on inside me when he takes charge of getting things going. Perhaps it’s because I already know I want him, but having him show how much he wants me puts us on the same page.

It really isn’t enough for your spouse to schlep to the bedroom, drop their underpants, and oblige your urges. What a higher-drive spouse wants is to get their lover up to their own level of arousal and excitement. My goal isn’t merely to satisfy my own sexual desire, but to have my husband sharing that sexual desire for one another. And if he arrives with that “I want you” look in his eyes, I know we’re in sync. And it’s going to be a wonderful night.

So are you the higher-drive spouse? What “confessions” do you have to help spouses understand what’s going through your head and heart?

Sexual Positions for Pregnancy, or “My Belly’s In the Way!”

Missionary Position. Later-term pregnancy. These two do not go together well.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed. In fact, I got a recent request to chat a bit about sexual positions during pregnancy. And since I covered changing up positions on Monday, I thought I’d keep going with the theme.

Pregnant wife with husband in bed + blog post title

The biggest problem in later pregnancy is that your belly has both size and weight hindering you connecting in all the ways you and hubby used to. So if you can move the belly out of the way and still get the good parts attached, you’ve met your goal. Be willing to step outside-the-box a little and try some different positioning.

Spooning, rear entry. You know how you spoon and cuddle at night? (Or at least you used to–before your body felt like a furnace and you started shooing hubby away with the “I’m too hot! I’m too hot!” yell.) Try intercourse while spooning! It’s a very intimate embrace and allows penetration of the vagina from behind. He will likely be the one controlling the pace and depth, but you can certainly speak up or gesture how it’s going for you. Don’t worry that he can’t see your face, because all of you is beautiful to him — especially now that you’re carrying his baby.

Standing, rear entry. Another option is to stand up, spread out, and let hubby penetrate from behind. This will be a lot easier, however, if you have a way to lessen the weight on your body. For instance, lean against a wall, or grab a hold of the back of the couch or your bed rail, or use a chair and hold onto its back. This position can be wonderful in allowing your husband easy access to your breasts (blossoming as they are!) as you make love.

Woman on top. Just climb on top of your husband, and then you can choose the angle, pace, and depth of penetration that feels good to your changing body. You can opt to face forward and be face-to-face, or you can turn it around (aka “reverse cowgirl”) and straddle your husband’s body facing his feet. Figure out which position is more comfortable for you, and take your time to get it right.

Sitting, on his lap. Grab a chair, your couch, or the edge of your bed, and have your husband sit. Then sit on his lap facing forward, away from him. In this position, once again, you are the main one determining angle, speed, etc. But this gets the belly facing away, as well as allowing your feet to bear some of the weight. This position tends to allow for deep penetration, especially if the height of your sitting stance is conducive.

Down low, rear entry. Kneel down on all fours (yes, I know, some call that “doggy-style”), and let him penetrate your vagina from behind. But here’s a trick: Rest part of your body on something to take off some of the weight. For instance, you can lean forward and rest your forearms and head on the bed; you can make love on the couch and hold onto the furniture’s arm; you can rest your body’s torso on strategically placed pillows. Once again, in this position, your husband will likely control the pace.

A few things to add:

  • A lot of these are rear entry, and some wives feel uncomfortable presenting their posterior to their husbands. Look, I get it. Not all of us are in love with our rear ends, and it can feel impersonal to make love without seeing your mate’s face. But husbands tend to be quite excited by our feminine form. Indeed, our curvy shape is sometimes best seen from this angle, and he knows he is making love to you – his wife, mother of his child — even if your face is not visible at the moment. (Indeed, he’d better be able to recognize you from every each and every angle. Just sayin’.)
  • Pillows are your friend. Be willing to use them to prop yourself up into more comfortable positions for sexual intimacy. You may find that even the missionary position is do-able if you can hoist your hips to the right level to tilt your belly out of the way. But invest in a few good pillows and make use of them as needed.
  • Consider other sexual activities. You may have difficulty reaching orgasm in some of these positions, so you might want to add digital manipulation or oral sex to your repertoire. It’s pretty easy to achieve the sexual position of lying down, knees cocked, and letting hubby turn you on until your inner furnace goes kaboom! Then you can switch to intercourse and enjoy the sensations as your beloved reaches his climax.
  • It is safe for most pregnant wives to engage in intercourse in later pregnancy. In fact, some obstetricians encourage it as a way to bring on labor when a pregnant mom is overdue. So unless you have been given some restrictions on your activities, feel free to continue making love. After all, when the baby arrives, your body will need a respite from sex so you might as well get some lovemaking in right now.
  • If you do have pregnancy restrictions, don’t ignore them. This is a personal thing for me, since I had one pregnancy in which I was told midway through to stop all intercourse, get on bed rest, and do everything possible to prevent early arrival of my baby. Thank goodness I complied. But oddly enough, the nurses in the hospital said many wives didn’t comply . . . and many husbands were uncooperative. So I’m just going to say it: Sex is really important in marriage, but it does not trump a human life you’re trying to bring into the world. Believe me, hubby and I have made up for those weeks we lost! And looking at our healthy child, we’re glad we waited.

Got any more great sexual positions for pregnancy? What have you tried that worked well?

Why Try More than One Sexual Position

It’s not hard to find books about sexual positions. Any large bookstore will have several choices. That said, it is hard to find books about sexual positions that are both instructive and tasteful. Which is why I tackled the subject in Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives and included a few illustrations (by my marvelous illustrator, Matt).

While I’ve encouraged trying new sexual positions, I recently realized I didn’t cover something possibly important: Trying more than one position in a single sexual encounter.

Sometimes when we make love with our spouse, we get set on doing a certain thing, and we follow through with that from kickoff to climax. But instead of looking at sexual positions as select one and see it through, you can use two or more positions within your sexual encounter to increase the pleasure and excitement for both of you.

Let’s cover some ground on this idea together.

closeup Portrait of Feet of a couple in bed + blog post title

What Positions

Which positions you try are up to you, but remember that everything from whether you’re lying down, standing, or sitting — to who’s on top or on which side — to the angles of your legs, hips, torso, etc. to which way you’re facing goes into determining the sexual position. For instance, the same basic position can feel different with your legs raised than your legs down. So trying out variations on the main themes (like missionary, woman-on-top, rear entry) can result in a sexual position you haven’t tried . . . and might enjoy.

(And since I almost always get asked — no, I don’t know of a specifically Christian book on sexual positions I’d recommend. And yes, I wish there was one. But as I said, I have information in my book, and there are also some respectful, illustrated books out there as well as a website or two. Plus, there’s the marvelous idea of experimentation.)

Why More Positions

More than one position within an encounter can increase both your pleasure and your intimacy. For instance, making love can feel more intimate face-to-face, eye-to-eye — while rear entry might give you the stronger climax. So why not do both? Face each other for a while and enjoy that connection, then shift into the more physically arousing position.

Secondly, each of you may respond better to one position than another — and it likely won’t be the same position. So perhaps you can make love in the way that helps her reach climax — including the opportunity for him to also manually stimulate her during intercourse, if needed — and then you switch to what works best for him. Then both of you get what turns you on most.

Also, you might try more than one position within an encounter to explore and experiment. What does it feel like when we do X? How about Y? How do and Y compare to Z? Well, you could give it a shot and see what you think. With all the results lined up together right there, it’s pretty easy to sort out what you do and don’t like. This is especially nice to try when you have enough time to sample and savor the experience — when orgasm isn’t on-the-clock, so to speak. (You parents with young’uns know what I’m talking about!)

How More Positions

If you’re making minor adjustments in your positioning, you can likely accomplish that without any fanfare. Just move your legs, hips, whatever, and get the new angle going. But if you’re going to make a big change in sexual positioning midway through, you must have a way to communicate. All your communication need not be verbal, but you have to be able to coordinate what’s happening next.

You can talk out beforehand which positions you’re going to try, and then signal when it’s time to switch to the next one. Or you can talk it through as you make love (e.g., “I want to get on top,” “Can you flip over?”). Alternately, you can use your hands to do the talking — that is, point which direction you want to go, or move your partner’s body to the position you desire. Just have some way of getting on the same page about your physical intimacy.

But . . . 

One last caveat. Learning to include several positions in your sexual intimacy repertoire can enhance the experience, physically and emotionally, for both of you. But all that said, this ain’t the Olympics. You don’t get extra points for doing the triple Axel jump or a reverse somersault dive in the middle of lovemaking. You don’t have to break the bed or your hip joints to enjoy some change-ups in your sexual positioning.

So take it easy on yourself and start by shifting a bit here and there. If you’re more adventurous (and younger than I am), of course you can try those positions that make some people tilt their heads and ask, But how do they…? Yet the point of sex with your mate is not to say you’ve run the gamut of possibilities or won the Most Sexual Positions Tried trophy, it’s intimacy and pleasure. If changing up your sexual positions accomplishes that, go for it. If a position doesn’t enhance your lovemaking, leave it behind.

So have you tried multi-positioning in a single sexual encounter? What suggestions do you have?

How Many Calories Does Sex Burn?

Fitness app on phone - illustrationQuick answer: I don’t know.

But since I’m trying to have a healthier 2015, I downloaded a fitness app to track my food intake and activity. I’m not on some crazy diet, but rather trying to be intentional about my choices and recording those choices keeps me accountable.

As anyone who has done this kind of thing knows, you may start having bargaining moments like: “If I take a 15-minute walk, maybe I can drink the full-sugar soda” or “If I eat a half-portion, I’ll only have to exercise for 30 minutes.” Consequently, I want credit for every minute of exercise I put in — so I can feel okay about popping that Milky Way mini in a moment of weakness.

Last I checked (but I’m willing to check again), sex feels like exercise — what with all the movement, breathlessness, and post-activity exhaustion. Surely, it’s burning calories! Right?

Apparently, there are numerous websites boasting exactly that — that sex burns calories. Some even say it burns a lot of calories. And wouldn’t that be the most awesome thing ever? For me to come here and tell you that in addition to sex being good for your marriage, for your health, for your pleasure — it’s also great for your waistline?

But I try to deal in truth here. And the truth is that sex — for how out-of-breath a girl can get — is woefully low on the calorie-burning scale. If weight loss alone was your goal, you’d do better to get on a treadmill or join a spinning class.

The best sources I’ve found say that sexual encounters burn from 21 calories (New England Journal of Medicine) to 101 calories (average for men, University of Montreal). We ladies didn’t do quite as well in that second study, burning an average calorie count of 69. (And yes, I’m biting my tongue about the coincidence of that number.)

But really — 69? That’s all?!!!

Just in case you’re wondering, that only lets me have two Milky Way minis, at 35 calories each. Even though post-sex, I’m sometimes craving a chocolate fudge sundae. (What’s up with that?!)

Now the studies did say you burn more if your sexual activity is “vigorous.” For instance, intercourse while standing burns more calories. Also, one would assume that whoever is on top is getting the better workout.

But I’m wondering what else I can do to up the calorie count: Do a hoochie-coochie dance pre-passion? Add jumping jacks to our foreplay? Race my husband to the bed (over and over again)?

Still, they are calories burned. And if I consider whether I’d rather burn those 69 calories on my elliptical machine or in my marriage bed, my answer is a no-brainer. According to the Calorie Lab, 69 calories is greater than one burns while walking (51 calories), washing dishes (22), or making the bed (a mere 17). So it makes far more sense to leave that bed unmade, grab your husband, and get busy on it.

Maybe this time you can ask to be on top.

Sources: Prevention.com – How Many Calories Do You Burn During Sex?; LiveScience: Sexercise? Getting Busy Burns Calories, Study Finds; Plos One: Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples; Pacific Standard: The Myth of “Sexercise”

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Intimacy Revealed Book Cover

What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book