Make Date Night a Marriage Adventure

I recently asked Facebook followers to suggest topics for this summer, and one respondent suggested romantic getaways. To be honest, I’d probably get an “A” in sexual intimacy and a “C” in romantic endeavors.

52 Uncommon Dates book coverThankfully, Moody Publishing offered me a review copy of 52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing, and Staying Together. Because a gal like me, and even some of you romantically seasoned folk, could use a resource with fresh ideas for date night — or even date weekend — with your spouse.

Biblically based. I’ve seen date night books before, but what I really liked about this one is how Scripture is interwoven throughout the ideas. There’s a focus scripture at the beginning, questions for relating to one another and to God, and follow-up passages to reinforce biblical understanding and intimate time.

Uncommon ideas. The book boasts that these date are “uncommon,” and indeed they are. For instance, how many of you have bonded over a trip to a cemetery? Or gone apple-picking? Too many of us default to dinner and a movie, or conversing about household tasks and parenting, or — let’s face it — trying to figure out how to skip all that and end up in bed. But a good date night helps you stay connected, grow in intimate knowledge of one another, and keep the spark alive. These uncommon ideas foster exactly that.

Little or lots of planning — your choice. The date ideas are flexible enough to allow you to put a little or a lot of effort into each one. If you’re especially creative or an organized planner, you could really amp up the experience. If you’re more about living on the fly, most of these dates don’t require too much money and effort, and you can simply follow the script and meet with success.

Intentional dating. Intention is key when it comes to continuing to date your spouse. Getting to know one another and enjoying time together shouldn’t end when we say “I do.” Our lives are far more meaningful — and the sex even more intimate — when you’re spending time with someone you know well.

Not every chapter may hook your interest, but with 52 ideas, there’s bound to be some dates you’d like to try and would enjoy. For instance, I’ll share two dates from the book that Spock (my hubby) and I have actually done — one that worked poorly and one that worked well.

Canoeing. Some years ago, Spock and I went to a nearby woodsy resort where you could rent a canoe and head out on the river. We thought that would be fun. However, we did not — as the book wisely suggests — pray or discuss anything beforehand. Instead, we grabbed our life jackets, our paddles, and pushed off into the calm waters.

Now one of us had spent every summer at church camp canoeing and had a reasonable amount of experience in paddling, steering, avoiding or navigating rapids, etc. . . . while the other one thought he was stronger, smarter, and generally better able to command the ship, so to speak. Both of us became frustrated with the other, and by the time we finally pulled back up to the bank, I’m pretty sure I’d had way too many stray thoughts of other ways I could use a canoe paddle.

All that said, it’s a shared memory now. And one we actually laugh about. So was the date a disaster? On one hand, we weren’t exactly falling in love with each other on that river. But on the other hand, we got to know things about one another, we look back with humor at that day, and we could canoe together far more successfully next time. I’d definitely do it again — but following the book’s prescription of better preparation.

Factory tour date. I adore this idea, and it’s been fabulous for us. We’ve toured the Blue Bell Factory in Brenham, Texas. (Don’t know what Blue Bell is? Then you are missing out on some fabulous ice cream!) We’ve toured the Llano winery near Lubbock, Texas. Both were fascinating trips and spurred conversation during and after the date. It was so interesting to see how these products are manufactured, and we learned more about each other based on what intrigued each of us. Of course, we also got to share some wonderful ice cream and a few sips of wine at the end of the tours.

But perhaps the coolest was a private tour. You see, my husband’s work is associated with the space industry (see how well that “Spock” moniker fits!). Due to a project he was working on, we were invited to tour the digs of a space engineering firm and see what they are working on for the future. It was so cool seeing the project in action, feeling the inner pride that my husband was connected to this amazing endeavor, and discussing the experience with him afterward.

Even though we’ve done the tour date before, as soon as I saw it listed in the book, I thought, “Why don’t we do that more often?!” Plus, there were more ideas in the chapter on how to enhance the experience.

You may find inspiration on every page or simply every other chapter, but 52 Uncommon Dates is likely to spur your imagination, motivate your marriage, and lead to some wonderful shared experiences. You’ll build intimacy as you intentionally date your spouse.Book Giveaway

Moody Publishing has allowed me to give away one free copy of 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy E. Southern. If you’re interested, please comment below with your best marriage date ever. It can be something you’ve done, or something you’d like to do.

52 Uncommon Dates book cover

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I was given a free copy of 52 Uncommon Dates in exchange for an honest review of the book. My review is my own. The link provided is an Amazon affiliate link, but the book is available from other retailers as well.

How to Awaken Love

A hearty welcome to the inimitable Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum! Sheila has long been a strong, biblical voice for healthy sexual intimacy in marriage. Today she’s sharing an idea for awakening sexual desire.

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Woman peeking past bedsheet

I’ve been thinking for a while about the verse in Song of Solomon which says, “Do not awaken love until it is ready.”

I think some of us have let our love be awakened too early, or too abruptly, and so it never really woke at all.

Several routes to this disastrous awakening exist. The first is obvious: perhaps you had sex with several guys before you were married, and it was an empty experience. Most teenage girls who sleep around, for instance, don’t experience orgasm, and often don’t really experience much arousal at all. The guys aren’t really into giving the girls pleasure; they’re too young and immature. So your body doesn’t necessarily learn how to become aroused, and sex isn’t that exciting.

The other route is the exact opposite. You did everything right. You waited until you were married to make love, but your husband was so into it that everything happened very fast. And he liked it so much that he wanted to all the time. So it became a chore. You never really “awakened” love.

And I think many women are in this situation. They just don’t see what all the fuss with sex is about. It seems like everyone is lying to them. The whole culture is trying to con women into thinking it’s something great, so that you’ll want to make love all the time, but the truth is it’s not that great at all. It was designed for men, and it’s a big rip off.

Your love was awakened too early, and in the wrong way.

And chances are you’ve become a little bitter about sex. It’s just something else on your to-do list. And then you read on blogs like this one and others that Christian women are supposed to understand how much their husbands need sex, and you’re supposed to put out. Oh, great. That’s really fun now, isn’t it?

And I understand. Believe me, I do. But I also think that there’s a way past this, and I want to share it with you today to offer some hope.

Maybe what you need to do is to awaken love again. Talk to your husband about it, and if he will agree, take a sexual hiatus for two or three weeks, or longer if you have to. During that time you agree not to make love. That way the pressure is off. You’re not working towards some goal anymore. And so instead, take that time to explore. Lie naked together and just touch each other. Let him touch you and figure out what actually feels good. Have baths together.

It may kill him, and so I really don’t recommend that this last very long for his sake. But I think some women need to be reminded that they do, actually, have a sex drive. It’s just buried and never really woke up for a whole variety of reasons. And we need to figure out what feels good, and he needs to figure out what to do to make you feel good. And you can also have fun with his body, too, when you realize that your performance isn’t the point of the evening.

I don’t recommend this for everyone (though it is fun for a night every now and then in almost any marriage), but if you talk with your husband and explain it, I think it can revolutionize many marriages.

Now, do you have any tips on how to “awaken love”? What has worked for you?

For more wonderful tips on sexual love in your marriage, be sure to check out Sheila’s 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s biblical, practical, and effective in helping your marriage experience godly intimacy.

Sheila Wray GregoireSheila Wray Gregoire is a popular speaker, marriage blogger, and the author of seven books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. She loves encouraging women in their relationships, both with God and with their husbands, children, and friends. Her passion is for marriage, and she and her husband Keith speak together at marriage outreaches and at FamilyLife Canada marriage conferences. Sheila believes in authenticity, and gives real solutions to the very real and messy problems women, and couples, can face. You can usually find her in Belleville, Ontario, where she homeschools her two teenage daughters and knits. Preferably simultaneously.

The Power Of Yes & No

Yeses and Nos - with Yes boldedWhat a pleasure to welcome Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife. I have periodically contributed articles to her website, but this is her first visit to Hot, Holy & Humorous. I know she speaks with compassion, transparency, and biblical integrity about marriage and intimacy within. Please take to heart what Jennifer offers today.

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The power of yes and no is expressed in more ways than just saying them verbally. Laced through our actions are postures and gestures that reveal a great deal about where our hearts are in the moment.

If you and your spouse initiate sexual intimacy it becomes quite clear whether the two of you are fully invested into having sex or not.

In the early years of my marriage, my husband and I struggled with sex. I mean we barely came together at all! I experienced intense pain every time we attempted intercourse. This hinderance was devastating and it drastically affected my view on sex. Knowing my husband had physical needs for sex, there were times that he initiated and I would join him because I knew he needed it. I was “saying” yes, but my heart was not in it at all.

The truth is that I didn’t want to be participating at all. My husband, aware of the pain that would overcome my body, would gently encourage me to just be with him, without sex being the goal. My husband desired physical intimacy and was willing to engage in different ways. However, because my expectations were not being met, I became bitter. I didn’t have a desire for sex or anything else that reminded me of the lack in our marriage. Sure I wanted to feel close to my husband, and maybe if we had a satisfying sex life things would have been different. But at this point in our marriage, my heart said no!

What I have realized over time, or rather what God has unveiled to me about the power in my decisions, is that I affect my husband. Being a wife comes with great influence. You see, when I joined in and participated in physical intimacy, my actions spoke louder than words and my husband would know immediately if I was enjoying him or not. All of my gestures were proving to my husband that I did not want sex, thus affecting his ability to feel genuinely satisfied. And surprisingly, later on when I got past the bitterness and reconciled that I too needed sex, in the times that I was wholly “yes” I too became satisfied!

I am sharing this with you so that you can evaluate your heart. Are there times that you struggle to fully say yes to your spouse? Or do you verbally say yes, but your actions reveal the truth? How is the power of your whole yes or no affect your marriage?

Romance Infused with the Gospel

Well, color me happy! One of my favorite marriage bloggers is here today, talking to us about a subject I’d probably get a C- in — at best. Thankfully, Debi Walter of The Romantic Vineyard, is here to talk about romance — romance infused with the Gospel.

Take it, Debi!

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My cousin’s daughter just moved in with us for the summer. I could say she’s my 1st cousin twice removed, but then I’d have to explain what that means. So. I. won’t. ;-)

tea & fruit steepingBut what I do want to share with you is this — she brought with her a tea infuser that holds loose tea and frozen fruit. She was putting the whole thing together last night to place in the refrigerator for a healthy drink in the morning. I was fascinated the next day when I saw how rich the color of the water was after steeping for hours. The fruit had dissolved its juices into the clear water making what I imagine was a very refreshing drink.

It made me think about how the Gospel infuses every aspect of our marriage with a richness that is fascinating and life-giving as well. It makes all the difference in how our marriage looks to others and most importantly how it tastes to us.

Romance is one of the best ways to enjoy the fruit of the Gospel in our marriage. You might not have considered this before, but it’s true. Without the Gospel — which is the finished work of Christ on the Cross that enables us to live our lives in sacrifice for the benefit of others as well as the glory of God — our romance would be for temporary pleasure alone. It would have no lasting value other than the enjoyment it brings in the moment. But when we romance our spouse because of the love Christ has shown us, preferring them in all we do, it produces a fresh aroma that others can’t help but notice.

I would define romance as the outward expression of an inward feeling. It could be shown through love letters written, date nights planned, passionate lovemaking, dinner out or a favorite meal cooked at home. Romance could be a look or a smile, a kiss or a warm embrace. But most importantly when infused with the Gospel, underneath it all is what motivates our acts of romance. It’s not just for the pleasure of our spouse — although that is a valid one. It’s for the glory of God. It’s our way of allowing His love to shine through us as we treat our spouse in a way we treat no one else on the earth.

This kind of romantic love is attractive. It makes others stop and ask if you’re newlyweds, which Tom and I have had people ask us before. We love watching their reaction when they hear we’ve been doing this for decades!  And immediately our gratefulness goes to God, for apart from Him we wouldn’t love each other the way we do. His love infuses everything we do — from our feelings, to our thoughts, to our prayers and to all our relationships, but mostly in how we treat each other.

I realize some reading this post might be in the midst of a very difficult time in your marriage. It may seem that what’s infused in your relationship is bitterness and discontent. I know how hard it can be to endure difficult seasons in your marriage. Tom and I have certainly had our share. But what you need to hear right now while steeping in this cold, dark place, is that God is faithful. He is at work and promises to bring about good to those who truly love Him and are seeking to live according to His purposes.

If you are lacking faith that your marriage will ever change, I encourage you to take your concerns to God. Cry out to Him for help in your time of need. Ask Him to infuse your marriage with the sweet fruit of the Gospel, not the bitter pill of what’s gone before.

We recently shared a daily marriage tip on Facebook that I think is the perfect way to end this post. It says:

My spouse should be the safest place where I can be myself and know I will be loved, accepted and encouraged to be the best I can be. Our past may inform our present, but it shouldn’t define our future.” 

Did you catch that? We can’t ignore our past, even what has already happened in our marriage that we’d like to forget. But with the Gospel Truth at work in our lives, our past shouldn’t define our future. God loves to take impossible situations and make them into something beautiful. 

May The Lord help you discover how to allow His Gospel truth to infuse the way you love and romance your spouse. As you do, be certain others will notice, and your marriage will grow all the stronger day by day, year by year, decade by decade.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV).

About Debi Walter

Debi WalterTom and Debi Walter have been cultivating their romantic vineyard for most of their 35 years of marriage. It has been their conviction from the start. Now they are passionate about helping other couples discover the rich harvest of romance available to them no matter the current season. Through their marriage blog, The Romantic Vineyard established in 2008, they provide regular posts about growing your marriage for God’s glory.

Why I Still Wear Lingerie (though My Hubby Doesn’t Care)

illustrations of lingerieI was in a lingerie store recently purchasing needed undergarments, and the clearance rack caught my attention. Actually, that’s how I prefer to do most of my shopping — with the word CLEARANCE written on a sign nearby and a pile of price stickers on the tag with the top one impressing me enough to say, “Yeah, I’ll pay that much.”

Anyway . . .

I flipped through a bunch of items on the clearance rack that I would never, ever wear; saw a few items that looked pretty but didn’t come in my size; and then lingered on one goooorgeous night-thing — a comfortable, feminine, sexy item I’d love to sleep in or show off to my husband. I hemmed and hawed about it purchasing it, but the price was another 50% off that top sticker on the tag. So I finally took it to the counter, paid out, and left the store with a new nightie.

But here’s the thing: In my many years of marriage, I’ve learned that my husband doesn’t care about lingerie. Really. Doesn’t care.

Now this is atypical. A majority of husbands delight in seeing their wives don pretty, suggestive attire in the bedroom. For those wives, I encourage you to find something you’re willing wear to bed that will also arouse his senses.

But even if your husband is fine with bypassing the nightie and going straight to nude, maybe you should invest in a few pieces of beautiful lingerie for yourself. I do. Why?

Focusing your mind. Much of a woman’s sex drive is in her head. In a single moment, we gals entertain an average of 342 things in our brains (give or take a couple), and shoving out all that extraneous stuff to focus on making love can be a mental battle some days. So how can you shift from being super-mommy, super-worker, super-cook, super-house-manager, etc. and become super-sexy-wife?

Slipping on a item of lingerie can get you in the right frame of mind. You commit to that focus of being physical with your husband. After all, once you put on a lace teddy, you’re probably not thinking about cleaning the toilets anymore. The rest of your to-do’s can wait.

Feeling sexy. A good piece of lingerie will play to your body’s figure and show off your physical assets. It will help you display your best features in an enticing way. Lingerie usually has a different texture and lighter fabric, and that satin or lace or silk can brush the skin underneath in a pleasant way. All that comes together to remind you that you are one sexy lady.

Just try to get that same feeling wearing an over-sized tee and granny panties. Not gonna happen. There’s something about lingerie — lingerie you like — that makes you feel desirable.

Sending clear signals. When you walk into your bedroom wearing provocative lingerie, there’s really no need to say to your husband, “Hey, you wanna?” You’re sending a pretty clear signal — no words necessary.

This approach can make some guys practically giddy — particularly those husbands whose wives rarely initiate. If she shows up looking interested and inviting, it’s like his birthday wish came true. And now he gets to unwrap the present. (Best. Birthday. Ever.)

If you get mixed messages in your marriage with “I was interested, but you looked busy” and “Well, I would have, but I thought you had to get up early” or “I didn’t know if you were kissing me good night or kissing me to initiate something,” then sending a clear signal can be a welcome event. Wearing pretty lingerie and presenting yourself as one hot wife can let hubby know he’s one lucky, lucky man. And he’d better use this opportunity well.

What if he truly doesn’t care? As I’ve said, my husband doesn’t really care about the lingerie. He likes the clear signal of show up naked.

But maybe your husband doesn’t care for another reason. Some wives are dealing with a low-drive husband, and showing up in sexy lingerie doesn’t have an arousing effect on him. In fact, slipping on something sexy and posing in your bedroom’s doorway results in little more than a passing nod from him and in a glob of grief settling in you. So should you stick to the tattered tee and pajama pants?

Clearly, a major mismatch in sexual drives is a bigger issue than whether you wear a slinky chemise to bed. But while you’re working on that, I suggest you still buy some pretty stuff for you. Maybe you’re not going to present yourself the same way to your husband, until you’ve figured out what his obstacles are and dealt with them. However, you may want personal reminders from time to time that you are beautiful and sexy and worthwhile. You may want to feel pretty for yourself, even if that nightie stays on you all night.

So do you wear pretty lingerie? Why or why not?

More on lingerie: How to Shop for Lingerie and Does Sexy Lingerie Promote a Perverted View of Beauty?

Enjoy the blog? Check out the book.

Sex Savvy book coverHow’s your sex savvy? Do you want to be a hottie in the bedroom without sacrificing holiness? Would you like real-life tips on making the most of God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage?

Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives has candid advice for wives on everything from kissing to oral sex to orgasm to sexual positions—all from a Christian perspective. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.