Monthly Archives: November 2012

Keep Making Love This Season

I can already tell that my schedule is tightening. I confess that I do not get into the holiday spirit until about December 15. Before then, I’m just too busy throwing up decorations, making holiday to-do lists, shopping for family and friends, and wondering why Black Friday is scooting back every year to the point that it will eventually be Black Labor Day.

Long about the time that A Charlie Brown Christmas comes on television and reminds me what this season is all about, I get the holiday attitude. My Grinchy self becomes a proper bearer of good tidings and Christmas joy.

Charlie Brown Christmas scene

Unto you . . . is born a Savior

Of course, my grumpiness may also be due to the fact that my husband and I tend to have less sex this time of year. The busyness of the season can make it a genuine struggle to carve out time to revel in one another’s bodies and make love with abandon. Instead of cozying up in one another’s arms late at night, we could be fighting crowds at Toys R Us or cybershopping for one more relative before the shipping deadline passes. Instead of setting up for a party of two, we could be attending an office party or church party where the White Elephant gift exchange turns into a wrestling match over a holiday platter. Instead of rocking each other’s world, we’re rocking around the Christmas tree and rolling down the streets with our kids to look at Christmas lights.

Our packed-to-the-minute calendar leaves little to no time for sex.

Unless we make time for sex.

I’ve learned over the years that we tend to accomplish what we put at the top of our list. The items at the bottom get carried over day to day until we finally get a break in the madness to catch up. Sex should not be at the bottom of our holiday to-do list.

Married couples must make a concerted effort this time of year to set aside time to connect emotionally and physically. Continue to carve out a date night each week, even if it now includes a stop at a toy or electronics store to grab one more thing. If the weather is okay, take a short walk together and reconnect. Set time aside for making love.

One of the weirdest things for many couples at first is to schedule sex. But once you do it a few times, you’ll see that it’s a great idea for husbands and wives to make their intimate times a priority. Be sure to keep making love this holiday season!

P.S. I am far behind with responding to comments. My apologies, but I will be making a concerted effort to catch up. That is, after I have sex with my husband.

God’s Handiwork: Woman

Q&AI can’t believe I’m to the last post in this Q&A series! On April 9 of this year, I opened up the floor to readers for questions. I was amazed at how many came my way. If my count is correct, I have answered 30 questions over 7 months. And may I say, you all asked some GREAT questions about marriage and sexuality!

Today’s post ends on a good note with a question/challenge from a regular reader and insightful commenter, Greg:

May I throw in a personal challenge in light of your December 26, 2011 post “The Wonderful Male Body“? In it, you shared candidly that: 

“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.)” 

How about a post that helps YOU and your female readers recognize and appreciate the anatomical beauty that God designed and blessed them with? It seems to me there are many women who need to be encouraged that their feminine beauty lies in their amazing differences from men, not in unrealistic expectations and airbrushed magazine covers.

I held this question to the end, thinking this would be a fun and easy post to finish the series. But coming up with what to say was much harder than I expected. As sexually confident as I feel with my husband, I admit that feeling good about my body is still a struggle.

I’ve already written about body image several times. I’ve talked about the frustration of shopping with Rainy Days and Ugly Days Always Get Me Down, what’s realistic for women in Facts and Figures (hint: Not Barbie), and my secret urge to buy Spanx in Shame, Shapewear and Sexiness. I’ve also given some tips to the guys with Husbands, Help Us Feel & Be Beautiful.

Indeed, how we ladies feel about our bodies definitely affects how willing we are to show and share them with our husbands. And many of us don’t feel that great about our bodies as a whole. In particular, we may not see what’s appealing about our private areas.

Yet, that’s what I read all the time here on my blog. Husbands consistently report finding their wives sexy, even when those bodies have aged, spread, puckered, dimpled, and given in to gravity. In the vast majority of marriages, husbands are attracted to their wives’ bodies. Why?

Let’s start with the physical certainties about how female bodies differ from men’s. Here are some facts about how God made women. (All of these are typical, not individual.)

  • A higher percentage of body fat.
  • More fragile bones.
  • Thinner skin.
  • Larger and broader pelvis. (Hello, curves.)
  • Less body hair.
  • More pain receptors (thus, more sensitive skin).
  • Smaller in size.

Female strength is housed in a more delicate shell. Our bodies are made to be softer, curvier, and more sensitive. These characteristics help us to be nurturing mothers and sexier wives.

I also looked to the biblical expert on a beloved wife’s body, the “Lover” in the Song of Songs. Here’s one passage about his honey:

Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.

Say what?!!

Gazelle fawns grazing

Seriously? Gazelle fawns?
Photo from Wikipedia, by LadyofHats

Wanting to be completely thorough in my research, I turned to my favorite expert: My husband. His response? “Here’s a hint: It has to do with curves.” He also explained that the “heart shape” of a woman is visually appealing. Heart shape? The female pelvis in the front and the female rear both form somewhat of a heart shape that ends in the point between the legs. Talk about your subliminal messages. Here’s where the lovin’ is!

All too often, we wives do as Greg states, comparing ourselves to “unrealistic expectations and airbrushed magazine covers.” We thus have a skewed perspective of what beauty is. If I could, I would make all of us gals put away the current slew of magazines, plastic surgery pamphlets, and diet scam books and take a tour of classic art.

See what has passed for female beauty throughout the ages. There are many tastefully-executed paintings of female nudes that show all kinds of body types. Painters have been fascinated by the female body in all of its permutations — from the thinner form of Venus d’Milo to the fuller shape of Michelangelo’s Eve in the Sistine Chapel and everything in between and beyond. In particular, Pierre Auguste Renoir painted a series on bathers that shows many different body types, all worth capturing on canvas and displayed as beautiful to this day.

Renoir, Bather Seated

Renoir, Bather

Renoir, Bather Admiring Herself in Water

What is beautiful about these women? They are women. They have curves — whether subtle or generous; they are softer; they have breasts that taper to a nipple; they have hips that bow out and then come back in toward the genitals; they are different from men.

Maybe it’s that we wives know it logically, but we don’t feel it in our guts (our aging, sagging guts). We hear our husband say that he is attracted to us, that he wants to get an eyeful of our body, that he adores the in-and-outs of our form. But some nagging part of us doesn’t believe it.

Believe it.

If your husband says that he finds you sexy, he does.

I don’t know exactly why he thinks so, but I believe my husband. I believe that when I get undressed in the evening and catch him looking away from his book and at my body instead, he likes what he sees. God made me beautiful to him.

After God made male and female, he finally pronounced His creation not simply “good” but “very good.” We are beautiful because we have been knit together by the King of Kings (Psalm 139:13), are visually appealing to men (Genesis 6:2), and our bodies can satisfy our husbands (Proverbs 5:19). It is because of the special bond of marital love that our husbands find us even sexier in their sight. The Lover in Song of Songs says of his beloved: “my dove, my perfect one, is unique” (Songs of Songs 6:9).

Better. Thanks, Lover.
Photo from Wikimedia, byWheelPlantUser1

Believe it. You are beautiful.

Some of you by now, however, are hurting. Because your husband isn’t like this. He doesn’t appreciate your body. So what if your husband isn’t fond of your appearance? From my research, hubbies who are completely dissatisfied with their wives’ bodies tend to be:

  • Men who have unrealistic expectations throughout marriage and are dissatisfied with imperfections in many areas;
  • Men whose wives have totally let themselves go to the point of morbid obesity or limited grooming/hygiene; and/or
  • Men who are addicted to porn and have rewired their brains to that erroneous standard.

These all indicate problems that go further than sexuality itself and should be addressed for the health of the individuals and the relationship. Believe that God created you as a beautiful woman, take care of the body God gave you, and seek help for the areas of your marriage that need strengthening.

Now I want to open this up to both wives and husbands. Wives, how do you feel about your body? What has helped you appreciate your beauty? Husbands, how do you feel about your wife’s body? Can you explain why you find the feminine form appealing?

Being Thankful for Sex in Marriage

This is a reprint of a previous Thanksgiving post. It still rings true for me.

"Happy Thanksgiving" & dinner picture

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Those of you outside the United States are not celebrating this day as we Americans are, but expressing one’s gratefulness for the blessings of life is always a good idea.

Today many families will thank God for food, family, friends, jobs, possessions, football games, and more. However, I would be surprised if you have considered thanking God for your sexuality.

Before you worry that I’m planning to carve the turkey, sit down with extended relatives, and have a prayer chain that includes me proclaiming, “Thank you, Lord, for my husband’s sexy body and that amazing thing he did last night,” I was thinking about privately thanking God.

Do you ever pause and thank our Creator for the beautiful gift of physical intimacy in marriage? I mean, besides when you might have squealed “Thank you, God!” after a particularly good orgasm.

Have you ever thanked Him as part of your regular prayer time? Have you expressed your gratefulness for the way He designed man and woman to become husband and wife as one flesh? Have you told God how it amazes you that our bodies fit together in this way, that our brains are designed to connect sexuality with emotional bonding, and that this special form of intimacy is reserved for a single individual in your life?

Maybe things aren’t going well for you sexually right now. Maybe your marital intimacy isn’t everything it should be or could be. Maybe you are carrying hurts from your past or fears for your future. Maybe you don’t feel that you have much to be thankful for when it comes to your sexuality.

If so, you might begin by simply thanking God for making you a sexual being who can one day, with His help, experience the blessings God reserved for the marriage bed. It is my continual desire that you will learn how much God loves you and that everything He has designed for us is for our best.

Sex is God’s idea. It is His blessing to husbands and wives. It is His provision for making children, increasing intimacy, and providing pleasure to married couples whom He loves. Take a brief moment today to thank Him for sex.

I will be praying today for all of you as well — thanking God for your marriages and praying that He works in your daily lives to bring about all of the blessings that He has for you.

Young Kids Can Kill Your Sex Life…If You Let Them

Q&AThere are a few more Monday in which I will be answering readers’ questions from my Q&A with J at HHH post. Comments have been closed there (as promised at the end of October), but I am looking into adding a contact form on my website.

If you have left me a specific question or contact email with a comment, I apologize that I do not have time to answer each of you individually. Please understand that this ministry is added onto all of the other responsibilities I have in my life, and I simply cannot seem to get all the time I wish I could devote to it.

Meanwhile, today’s question is one I bet a lot of wives can relate to:

MotherofaSeaMonkey: Can you please do a post speaking to young married couples (a.k.a. inexperienced) with very young kids (1 or 2 under 2 years; wife possibly also pregnant)? Primary topics being expectations regarding frequency, duration, etc.

I have to add that my particular DH is VERY understanding regarding the current state of our sex life, but every time I read blogs such as yours and Intimacy in Marriage (since these posts seem to be aimed at a crowd with kids who are at least somewhat self-sufficient), I feel guilty. Guilty when I just have to say no; guilty that I’m not able to satisfy his libido, even though that is my responsibility as his wife. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE having sex with him! Just not quite as frequently as he would like.

Do we need to change my perspective and just say yes? Or do we take what you and Julie say and alter it slightly for our circumstances?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about How Often Should You Have Sex? — in which I encouraged married couples to have sex at least once a week. More is better, but this is a reasonable maintenance level. Certainly, there are life circumstances such as illness, being separated by physical distance for work, or family responsibilities that can interfere with that kind of routine. But generally, you should be connecting in several ways — emotionally, spiritually, sexually, etc. — at least once a week.

Parents & child -- feet in bed

Photo from Microsoft Word Clip Art

But what about when you have small kids? Isn’t that one of the biggest challenges?

Indeed, it is. In fact, I’ve written about how that was, without a doubt, the worst period of marital intimacy for me (When My Sex Life Sucked – Part 1 and Part 2). When you have just given birth or have small kids in the house . . . You. Are. Exhausted.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced the kind of exhaustion that I had as a young parent at any other time in my life. All-nighter in college doesn’t compare, working 70-hour weeks doesn’t compare, and even having sex all night long (which I have never actually done, no matter how much I boast otherwise) doesn’t compare.

Add in the daily demands of care-taking and the surges and dips of your hormones, and you’ve got the makings of a starvation-diet sex life. Seriously, you can barely make it to the table for a nibble of nooky.

Just because it’s a challenge, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Your sex life should not be on hold for years while you churn through the first few years of parenting. Your marriage should not be ignored while you raise your children. Your love for each other should not be neglected in favor of love for your children.

“Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). However, you can ruin your marriage if you always put your children first.

Now that I’ve thrown out a whole bunch of negative, let’s turn the corner and check out the positive side: Having a thriving marriage is one of the very best things you can do for your children.

“Thriving” includes a healthy sex life. But here are a few tips for what that looks like to a couple with young kids.

Sex probably won’t be as frequent. It’s a reality that when your children are very young, they need you in a way they won’t later in life. You can’t simply lock the door and tell your 6-month-old to take care of herself. (When they are older, you can say, “Mom and Dad need some time alone. Watch a TV program or read a book for a little bit.”) For a few months or so, expect sex to be less frequent than you might wish, or at least less frequent than one spouse wishes. As long as this period is temporary, it’s not a problem.

Make sex a priority. It’s easy as young moms to feel that the child’s needs are always the highest priority. However, you have a responsibility to be a wife, not just a mother. And you need to be reminded what it is to be a sexy wife, to be your husband’s beautiful lover. You are not merely a milk receptacle or a diaper changer or a baby bouncer. You are the woman to whom your husband entrusted his children, and he likely thinks you’re pretty awesome. Make sex a priority by letting some other things go that aren’t as important. Perhaps you don’t need to scrapbook every baby smile picture or the bathroom can wait a couple more days to be cleaned. Make room in your day and in your head for physical time with your husband.

Schedule sex if you need to. Before kids, many couples are spontaneous with their love-making. Post-children, you may need to get creative about when you can be intimate. It may require hiring a babysitter, taking the kid to Grandma’s and then heading back home, using the little one’s nap time, catching a “nooner” while your child is at preschool, etc. At first, you may cringe at the thought of writing sex on the calendar, but you might find yourself looking forward to these moments in your routine that remind you how much you enjoy one another. Remember that once you show up to the scheduled event, you can spontaneous and creative then.

Figure out how to transition from warm mommy to hot mama. One moment, you are playing patty-cake or rocking your baby, and the next thing you know, your husband is propositioning you. What?!! Most wives can’t shift from one role to the other that quickly. We can’t juggle those two thoughts at once — warm mommy and hot mama. We need time to release the responsibilities of parenthood and ease into feelings of sensuality. Give yourself that time. If your husband wants to make love, and you’re not ready, tell him so. Then go get ready, if you can. Draw a bubble bath and relax for a few minutes. Dress in something slinky, light some candles, turn on soft music to set the mood. Shave . . . because you don’t think you have since last Tuesday. Figure out what works for you to shift from one role to the other, and give yourself time to do so. If you successfully arrive with hubby and hubba-hubba on your mind, your husband likely won’t mind the wait.

(Note to husbands: We HATE when we’ve just had special time with our infant, and you grab our butt and say, “Let’s do it.” Ugh. We can’t switch that fast!)

Take care of your health. One of the reasons many wives with young children don’t feel like making love is because their hormones are more mixed up than a game of 52-card pick-up or they’re too tired they don’t lubricate well anymore. These are health issues as well. If you’re struggling with almost no sex drive, talk to your doctor. There may be something you can do about how you’re feeling. I felt so “off” when my kids were little that I look back and wonder if I wasn’t experiencing a mild form of postpartum depression. You could have vitamin or hormone deficiencies that need treatment or you may need to eat differently. Just know that if you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s hard to feel good about yourself being with your husband. So address your health.

Say yes more often, say no sometimes. Specifically addressing this woman’s question, I suspect that the best thing is to say yes more often by addressing health, getting into the mood, scheduling sex, etc. Sometimes you don’t know you’ll enjoy something until you get into doing it. You might not be thrilled by the idea of sex tonight, and then about ten minutes into it, you’re feeling really, really good. However, I am not among those wives who believe that you must always say yes. If you feel terrible and can’t imagine having sex, it’s okay to say something like, “Honey, could we try again tomorrow?” If you do that, you need to follow through with your rain check. I’ve suggested this before, and husbands seem to generally agree that hearing “no way” hurts, while hearing “later” doesn’t so much — and certainly doesn’t if the wife has a history of being true to her word.

In summary, adjust your expectations, make any dips in sexual frequency a temporary issue, make sex a priority and schedule if necessary, take care of yourself by addressing health and getting yourself in the mood, and say yes more often.

What advice do other experienced moms have to suggest to young mothers out there?

One More & I’ll Go Insane!

The Snake Pit (1948) scene - screaming woman

from The Snake Pit (1948)

That title should read “one more mention of high-drive husbands and I’ll go insane!” A wife recently commented to me about her frustration that, while it’s great that churches and ministries now discuss sexuality, it is painful at times for wives who don’t experience the norm.

The most common scenario described here, and on other blogs, is that of the eager beaver hubby and the sexual sloth wife. To be fair, that is the typical make-up of many marriages: A husband with a higher sex drive than his wife. However, it hardly represents the whole of marriages.

Many wives out there are in marriages where they are either the higher drive spouse or the only drive spouse. What about the marriages where a wife desires physical intimacy, but the husband gives little or none? Do we too easily overlook the hurt these wives experience? Do blogs like mine even do a disservice to such women, making it seem like they are the only ones not being pursued in their marriage?

Certainly, that is never my intention. I have blogged about wives whose husbands are not “putting out.” One of the struggles of any marriage ministry blog is knowing that oftentimes the spouse you need to reach isn’t the one reading the post. I often encourage wives to become willing participants and even initiators of sexual intimacy in their marriage . . . because some of those women are reading my blog.

For those husbands who are denying their wives, I wish I could steer them over to a blog that would make them understand the deep and lasting pain they are causing their wives and the strong likelihood that their marriage will break down at some point. It’s beyond hard to stay in marriage where you don’t feel loved.

However, I am aware that these women feel neglected. Who can they turn to? If they speak up among friends to admit that their husband doesn’t desire them, those friends may dismiss their concerns with stupid comments like, “I wish my husband would stop pursuing me” or even “Lucky you.” There is nothing lucky about being ignored in your marriage.

These women may wonder what is wrong with them. Why doesn’t their husband want to make love with them? Are they unappealing in some way? Do they not measure up? I want to assure you . . . 99% of the time, that isn’t it. Unless you have totally let yourself go to the point of being mistaken for an extra in The Walking Dead, the cause is not your looks or appeal.

These women may wonder what is wrong with their husbands. That’s a more likely scenario. Men who have depression, past sexual abuse, or issues with impotence may not want to make love. If they are struggling with work or relationship stress, this can affect their willingness to have sex. Also, the percentage of couples who struggle with a non-willing husband has gone up with the prevalence of porn. Consistent porn users reconfigure their brains to become aroused by visual cues instead of personal interaction. They almost always masturbate while looking at porn, even several times a day, such that they have nothing left to give their wife and the thought of friction inside a vagina may even strike them undesirable.

But even if the wife knows the cause, she cannot make her spouse address the problem and move toward a healthy sex life. She can pray about the situation, talk to her husband, work on other relationship areas, and pursue resources that help her cope.

Much of the advice given to other wives, however, won’t work. For example, throwing on skimpy lingerie and heels and traipsing into the room with bedroom eyes may be a recipe for disaster with a completely disinterested husband. Having made yourself sexually vulnerable, it can be deeply painful to be rejected.

Indeed, I’m not even sure whether I like the term “higher-drive wife.” It almost implies that these wives are somehow out of sync with the norm — like their libido is higher than it should be.

My message to wives who desire to have lots of sex with their husbands: Good for you. God created us to desire intimacy with our mate, and sex is the physical expression and nurturer of that connection. No matter what anyone says, believe that a high libido is a good thing for a wife to have. For those women who are married to a low-drive husband: Difficult for you. Your husband needs to address why he is unwilling or unexcited about making love. You can help with how you talk about this topic and treat him in general, but ultimately it is his decision whether to engage.

In the meantime, I will be thinking more about how I can reach out to these wives and include them more in the conversation about Christian sexuality. You might also want read some articles from other blogs that have dealt with this topic. Here are just a few:

Spice and Love: Having the Talk

To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When Your Spouse Isn’t Interested in Sex

Intimacy in Marriage: Wives Who Want More Sex and Aren’t Getting It

Are you in this situation? How do you handle having a higher libido than your husband? Do you think the church and ministries have failed wives who struggle with this issue? What could we do better?