Monthly Archives: December 2011

High Standards, Low Expectations: A Plan for 2012

I have come to believe that a key to happiness is having high standards and low expectations. Let me explain.

A standard is a rule, principle, or requirement. It’s where you set the bar. In marriage, I have chosen to set the bar high. God sets the bar high. That verse, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? God realizes you’ll never get there, but the standard of perfection, sinlessness, unselfish sacrifice, and perfect First-Corinthians-13 love is out there. It’s what we aim for.

Too many couples settle for less than what God desires for them. They have decided that their relationship will never be terrific, that no one will love them fully, that sexuality will be ho-hum, that the goal of life is to just get through and hope that the afterlife makes up for what this one lacked.

Instead, I would challenge you to set a higher standard. In the area I write about — sexuality — aim for exciting, fulfilling, connecting intimacy with your spouse. If you don’t currently have a high desire, believe that there is an answer to increasing it. If you have struggled with your sexual past, believe that healing can come. If pornography has invaded your marriage, believe that it can be shown the door. If your spouse doesn’t find you attractive (or vice versa), believe that you can rekindle that fire. If you haven’t had an orgasm, believe that you will.

Target

© Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons

Is it easy to achieve all of your dreams? Of course not. But if you aim at nothing, you will hit it with remarkable accuracy every time (Zig Ziglar). If you decide that you want something better and you are willing to make an effort, seek answers, get help, and work toward a more fulfilling life, you will likely hit the target on at least some of your goals. If every year you resolved to make your marital sex life better, imagine how good it could get over time!

And now comes part two of my theory — low expectations. To expect something is to regard it as likely to happen. If you write AMAZING SEX LIFE on a target, do not expect to hit a bull’s-eye the first time — or the second time. High standards are great, but if you pair them with high expectations, you will probably be disappointed.

For one thing, a great marriage takes a lot of intentionality and work (for all but a few super-blessed couples). We are flawed human beings with selfishness, personal scars, defensiveness, and misperceptions. We can make amazing progress toward our goals, but we usually get there with baby steps. Still, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (ancient Chinese proverb).

Second, you can only control yourself. You can suggest to your spouse to work on communication, finances, or sexuality in your marriage, but you cannot make your spouse do what you want like a remote-controlled robot. You can pray that their sexual desire will increase, that they will take care of their body, that they will stop watching sports over your shoulder while you copulate. However, there are no guarantees.

In fact, if you lower your expectations of your mate, you become more aware of the small improvements. Sure, you’re not there yet, but you’re moving in the right direction. Standing in long lines for the roller coaster at an amusement park, the waiting is bearable because you can look around and see how far you’ve moved. Maybe you’re not in the front with your hands up and screaming as your coaster car takes that first dive, but you have made progress and know the fulfillment of your wish to ride the roller coaster is coming soon.

By the way, I am not suggesting that you lower your expectations to the point of letting your spouse abuse you in any way. Those aren’t lowered expectations; they are no expectations at all. It is a reasonable expectation to receive humane treatment in your own marriage. I’m talking about not drawing your attention to every flaw in your mate.

So that’s the goal I suggest to couples in pursuing better sexuality in marriage for 2012:

Higher standards – knowing that our Heavenly Father loves His children and wants the best for them; and

Lower expectations – knowing that marriage and life are marathons, not sprints.

What do you think? What are your desires for your marriage — and specifically, your marital intimacy — for 2012?

The Wonderful Male Body

I’ve taken some flack about a post I wrote some time ago (The One-Eyed Snake) about how wives do not typically find male genitalia at first to be, well, pretty. We are perhaps more likely to admire the beauty of a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes than a penis.

I wish to apologize to those who read my post and felt that I was encouraging distaste for the male body. Such was never my intention. In fact, at the end of the post, I encourage women to appreciate their husband’s body — all of it. Yet, I need to take responsibility for what I said since it came across that way to more than one reader.

Indeed, if you were to interview my husband and ask what his wife thinks of his tool set, I’m pretty sure he’d say I’m very interested in seeing, touching, and otherwise handling it. (After drafting this post, I mentioned it to him. His words: “She can’t keep her hands off my tools!” Er…) Isn’t this a paradox? To me, it isn’t. But I want to clarify what I believe about the male body and how I recommend wives view their husbands’ bodies.

Male statue

By Twice25 & Rinina25 via Wikimedia Commons

Men have physically appealing bodies. I stated in my original article that the experiment with Playgirl magazine never took off with women because staring at an unfamiliar guy’s private parts isn’t all that appealing to women. I still think that’s generally true. However, if you’re a Twitter user, you might be aware of the hashtag #mancandy. (NO, don’t go there; I mention it only as an example.) Still, it’s not hard to find pictures, posters, and magazines that feature men with their shirts off, their muscles taut, and their eyes and smiles sporting that “Come hither” look. Anyone else remember the Diet Coke guy commercials? Hello! Women find men attractive.

The male body is quite different from the female body. On average, men are 10-15% larger and 30% stronger. They are taller and have a greater muscle mass to body ratio and more upper body strength. They possess thicker skin (literally) and more body hair. They have stronger bones and larger vocal chords (Adam’s apple). Even the skull shape of a man is different from a woman. The male skeleton also has a narrower pelvic opening, meaning that his hip bones are differently aligned.

All of these variations make the male physique intriguing. Most women enjoy gazing at a attractive man’s body lines, muscles, strong chin with stubbly shadow or full beard, height, and so on. The male body appeals to the female sight — even if God didn’t wire us as visually as men.

Men’s bodies are potent. The features mentioned above and the male role in sexuality mean that husbands’ bodies are potent. The male body’s appeal is to some extent based on its ability to get the job done — whatever that job is. Husbands have traditionally been providers, fighters, protectors, roach and spider killers, and leaders. In the bedroom, they often take the lead (which I believe is good, although turning-the-tables can be a treat as well). Husbands penetrate their wives. God made men potent. Their bodies demonstrate that. And such potency appeals to women.

Synonyms for “potent” are “effective, powerful, forceful.” I have likened my husband’s private anatomy to a power tool. At first, a drill isn’t a particularly exciting sight. But if you build a lot and learn about tools, you can start drooling over the new power drill that has greater potency and utility than any other on the market. Find a car buff and ask him about a particular car, and he might go on and on about all of its fabulous features and practically hyperventilate over the car’s beauty. For a personal example, sometimes I get downright giddy about a font.

In a great sexual relationship, wives appreciate their husband’s potency, and the male genitalia over time becomes more and more attractive because of the wonderful talent is has. It becomes a thing of great beauty.

Men’s bodies should be appreciated. Wives should tell husbands what they love about their bodies. In the same way that women like to hear how beautiful they are, men want to hear that they are desired. God has designed us to find one another attractive and to express that in marriage.

In the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon), the husband is not the only one to describe how beautiful he finds his mate. His wife spills poetic as well. Read for yourself (5:10-16):

My lover is radiant and ruddy, 
outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold; 

his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.

His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels. 

His cheeks are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh. 

His arms are rods of gold
set with chrysolite.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with sapphires.

His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars. 

His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my lover, this my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.

Wow. Wives should express what they find appealing about their husbands — including their genitalia. By itself, it may not be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but in concert with your husband’s body, it is a complete package that can be irresistible. Face it, wives: Your husband is a hunk. Tell him so.

Wives can learn to love all the parts of their husbands’ bodies. The first time I saw a penis, it was — sorry to say, in my opinion — weird. I truly didn’t know what it was going to look like. I had some vague idea about its cylindrical shape, and that’s about it. I still think it’s kind of odd the way God created both male and female genitalia. (For the record, I don’t think the gal parts are especially gorgeous either.)

However, our private parts are unlike anything else. And when you experience a great sex life with your spouse, you come to appreciate all of the parts of your lover’s body. I delight in every single freckle and mole on my husband’s body because they are his, I get to see and touch them, and they remind me of our special intimacy. Likewise, wives can learn to love all the parts of their husbands’ bodies — for their physical attractiveness, their potency, their reminder of our closeness, and their fun.

If a wife hasn’t learned to love everything, perhaps she needs to study her husband’s body. For instance, take a bath or shower together and soap up all of his parts for him. Suggest spending an extended time of lovemaking in touching and kissing all over his body. Grab some lotion or oil and massage all of him, kneading your fingers through each section of his body.

Consider that God has knit your husband together, and he is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14). God doesn’t do bad work. In fact, when He created everything else in creation, He said it was “good.” Only after He created male and female did He call His creation “very good.”

I still don’t want to see the penis of some guy I don’t know. Period. (What was Anthony Weiner thinking?) But my husband’s body is a beautiful gift from God. I hope that every wife can appreciate her husband’s body . . . and tell him so.

“How handsome you are, my lover!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.”

Song of Songs 1:16

Quick Note: I will be taking a break on Thursday, December 29. Back on Monday, January 2. Happy New Year!

3 Practical Tips for a Sexier You

Have you ever noticed that body image is an issue for us gals? If we don’t feel sexy, we don’t want to have sex.

Psalm 139:14But short of spa treatments, a personal trainer, or plastic surgery, what’s a lady to do when she wants to feel better about the beautiful body God gave her? You know, that body with love handles, wrinkles, varicose veins, or whatever.

Here are three things I’ve discovered that make me feel much better about myself — and they are pretty easy to do.

Exercise. I am not talking personal trainer, although if you have the money to spend, go right ahead. I mean being more active. For some, that may involve training to run a marathon; if so, good for you! For normal people like me who believe that long-distance running is only worthwhile when being chased by a persistent grizzly bear, it may mean aerobics, hiking, swimming, lifting weights, etc. If you’re looking for a physical activity that suits you, Buzzle.com has some pretty good lists.

Among 7 Benefits of Physical Activity are improved mood, more energy, better sleep, and spark in your sex life. According to Mayo Clinic, “Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.” Well, okay then.

Exercise also helps control weight and tone muscles, meaning that we ladies will be sporting prettier bodies to show off to the hubby.

Looking good, feeling good, arousing good . . . what’s not to like about those results?

Still, it’s hard to get started if you haven’t been moving much. Yet adding exercise a few times a week for 30 minutes or more isn’t too much ask, especially when you’ll feel sexier in the long run. Try Dustin Riechmann and Tony DiLorenzo’s Fit Marriage if you’re looking for an exercise program you can do with or without your spouse; their plan requires 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Well-fitting clothes. It’s a fact that a lot of you are wearing garments that are either the wrong size or do not flatter your body type. And you are much more beautiful than that! Whatever your personal style, there are clothes to enhance your best features and play down the ones you’re not so crazy about.

Have thunder thighs? Don’t wear skinny jeans. Arm fat? No sleeveless blouses. Muffin top? No tissue-thin stretchy tees. You get my point. Dress Your Body Type and other sites have tips for knowing what will look best on you.

Also get out of the rut of thinking “I’m a size 12.” You may be a size 12 in some brands and a size 16 in others. You want something that fits, no matter what the number or letter on the tag says. You’re the only one who sees that tag anyway. Since t-shirts have gotten smaller (have you noticed that?!), I’ve gone up a full size when buying. I want clothes that fit me, not an American Doll collection.

One more point here. Get a professional to help you determine your bra size. A well-fitting bra can make a big difference in how you feel about those beauties gracing your chest. If you’re especially small or large-breasted, you may need to hunt down places that carry your size and pay more for your bras or watch for sales. Most department and lingerie stores will help you figure out the best size and style to make you look and feel good about your shape.

Posture. Did you ever think this would be on my list? However, posture has a huge impact in how you feel about yourself. Standing and sitting up straight not only relieves tension on your back and shoulders, but aligns your body parts in an attractive way. Look at celebrities when they appear on talk shows. Do they slump in their chairs?

The best way I’ve heard to create good posture is to imagine that you have a string running from your tail bone up through your spine and out the top of your head. Imagine pulling on that string to tighten it. Then take a deep breath and exhale completely. Your torso will stretch up and your shoulders will fall back and down. By the way, your back will not be completely straight with good posture; you have natural curves in your back which need to remain there.

When you have good posture, your tummy is tucked in, your chest is pushed out, and you feel relaxed. You show off the best you and appear more confident . . . and sexy. In fact, I had a male friend in college state that a woman’s sex appeal is most tied to how she carries herself. I think there’s something to that. I certainly know that I do not look my best slouched on the couch with potato chip crumbs littering my tummy pouch.

There you go: My 3 practical tips for a sexier you! Because when you feel better about how you look, you can strut into that bedroom with hubby and say, “You are lucky to have gorgeous me, and you are going to get lucky tonight.”

He can strut later when the two of you are done. (Some guys do seem to swagger, don’t they?)

So what are your tips for feeling better about your body? How do you help yourself feel sexy?

Where Should I Look during Sex?

Eye

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

It’s a simple question, right? Where should I focus my eyes during lovemaking with my spouse?

Okay, guys, stop snickering. You don’t really have this issue of where to look because you are ogling your gal’s body from top to bottom. I think it’s hard-wired into you.

However, as a member of the more complicated female gender, I have wondered at times where I should look during The Act. All too often, I have opted for the eyes-closed version of sexual activity.

Now eyes-closed has its place in the bedroom, of course. Sometimes closing one’s eyes allows a wife to block out external distractions and focus on her body’s sensations – one of the keys, in my opinion, to having an orgasm.

Yet, there is something to be said for taking in the lovemaking with all five senses fully engaged. You can’t really block smell, so that’s already happening. (Sniffing to get a fuller whiff will probably make your spouse worry that you are transforming into a werewolf, so don’t go there.) Touch is an automatic feature of physical intimacy. And unless you have earphones on (why would you?), you can hear what’s happening. Adding a little background music as a soundtrack can be a good idea too. Kissing and licking means you also taste the experience.

But sight? We can choose to engage that sense or not. Here are a few places you might want to try looking. See what you think.

His eyes. This assumes, of course, that you are facing one another. So when you are, take some time to look into your hubby’s eyes. Most of us find one another’s eyes to be engaging and soulful. Eye contact communicates caring and attention. As you look into his eyes, you can also see the expressions on your husband’s face – which will most likely be happy – thus increasing your own pleasure and sense of connection in the moment.

His body lines. Husbands and wives have very different body lines. Women curve in different places. It can be erotic to watch the edge of your husband’s body, even tracing it with your finger, hand, lips, or tongue. Be aware of how your lover’s body is different from yours and how curious and exciting his form is. Appreciate how God created him.

His pleasure areas. I did a post some time ago about how women are not typically as turned on by the sight of male genitalia as men are turned on by female genitalia. I still think that’s true. However, it can be thrilling to watch the changes occur in your spouse as he becomes aroused. It is also a fascinating area of the body in terms of what it does. Take time to admire that.

Your body lines. As your hubby touches you, pay attention to your own form. As he strokes and kisses your arms, legs, stomach, or other parts, you can watch him touching your skin and see how your body is shaped in a way that arouses your husband.

Your pleasure areas. How many of you gals are willing to admit, “I like to watch”? — as in you like to watch your pleasure points as your husband stimulates them. There can be something doubly arousing about feeling and watching your lover touch and excite your private areas.

A mirror. If you have a large mirror available, give it a shot. You might enjoy looking over his shoulder and seeing your bodies melding together. You might peek at your wild and excited expression as you climax. If you really want to go out on a limb, get a magnifying mirror and be really impressed with your husband’s size. (Just kidding. At some point, I couldn’t play it straight anymore. Anyway.) Some couples enjoy viewing a reflection of themselves making love.

So where do you usually look? Have you thought about mixing it up and looking somewhere else? How well do you focus on your body, his body, and your togetherness during sexual activity? Any other suggestions for using sight in the bedroom?