Good news, bad news. First, the bad news is that I veered from my regular programming by not posting yesterday (Thursday). The great news is that this post is worth the wait because Sheila Wray Gregoire joins me today!
Sheila is a speaker and author on the subjects of marriage and sexuality. Her books and blog are terrific resources for creating and maintaining a godly sexual relationship in your marriage. Her most recent release is 31 Days to Great Sex with “readings and challenges [that] will help married couples rebuild intimacy, rediscover fun, and achieve great fireworks.”
J: Thanks for joining me and the Hot, Holy & Humorous readers today, Sheila.
You have chosen to be bold and speak up for fabulous sex in marriage, which has been an inspiration to me. Yeah, yeah, I know your face is out there, and all I’ve shown so far is my toes . . . But why do you think Christians are often reluctant to talk about great sex?
Sheila: Probably because it’s kinda gross.
Okay, sex itself isn’t gross, but the way our culture portrays sex it sure is! And I think Christians want to run far away from anything that looks gross. We don’t want to seem like we’re condoning anything. And in so doing we often go too far to the other extreme.
There’s also the practical aspect — how can you talk about sex from the pulpit if there are kids in the pews? Or single people? So pastors don’t tend to preach on it, and then that makes it seem like it’s the one subject that we’re not supposed to talk about. So people don’t know how to handle it.
I also think the whole way we raise kids is wrong. We keep telling them, “wait until you’re married! Wait until you’re married! Don’t even think about it!” But that makes it sound like you can’t really live until you get married, and until then you’re just in limbo. A better message is, “love God wholeheartedly now.” If you fall in love with God, and devote your life completely to Him, you WILL wait until you’re married anyway. But you won’t do it out of shame or fear, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out if you’re in your twenties and you haven’t found a spouse yet.
We try so hard to keep kids pure that we give the message, “this isn’t something good kids think about.” And then how do they make the switch when they get married? Besides that, if good kids don’t think about it, and then you get curious and start asking questions, where do you turn? Secular places, because the church doesn’t talk about it. So people start thinking that the church has nothing to do with sex.
I got a comment on my blog recently on a post I wrote a while ago about initiating sex with your husband. It wasn’t even a racy post! It was just, every now and then, YOU be the one to start kissing or to call him to the bedroom. And she said, “I’m a Christian. Why would I want to act like a loose woman?” It made me really sad. Christians should be the ones having even MORE fun because we know that sex is about more than just the physical; it’s about a deep spiritual intimacy as well.
J: The secular world tends to prescribe more adventurous sex and more orgasms as keys to satisfaction. What are we really missing in our married sex lives?
Sheila: Intimacy! I think God created sex to unite us in three ways: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. All three are present in sex. Physically we get the fireworks; emotionally we have fun and we laugh together; and spiritually we feel that total connection, like we’re one flesh.
But when you take sex out of a marriage relationship, all you have left is the physical. The relationship and commitment aren’t there. So what do you do? You try to make the physical more and more intense, and you get into weirder and weirder things, because that’s all there is. But they know they’re missing something, because it’s not the ultimate high.
What they’re missing is intimacy. When you feel totally one with someone, the PHYSICAL is so much better. They feed each other. And that’s what people miss.
This, though, is what even Christians don’t get: that kind of intimacy isn’t automatic. I was speaking at a marriage conference recently and I said that if you want to feel even more intimate when you make love, just do a few simple things: look in his eyes, and use his name. And one woman came up to me afterwards and said, “I can’t do that. That would be a turn off.”
It would be a turn off to use her husband’s name! To some that may sound weird, but I’ve heard that story again and again. You see, we live in a pornographic culture, and many Christians pick up on that, whether they use porn or not. We come to believe that sex is primarily about the body, too. We start to think of “sexy” as being what my body is doing, not what my heart is feeling. And indeed, if the heart gets in the way, the body stops feeling great. Sexy is what is anonymous. That may not be what we think intellectually, but that’s how our body responds.
So feeling that intimacy during sex for many is a learned practice. I know it was for me, although for slightly different reasons. Sex didn’t feel great when I was first married, and so I had a hard time seeing it as something that was uniting us. It felt more like something dividing us, because he wanted it and I didn’t. It was a chore.
When it started to feel better, and I started to understand about intimacy, there was no comparison. So it is a learned thing, and I hope that I can guide couples through a process to discover what true spiritual intimacy in the bedroom feels like.
J: What makes 31 Days to Great Sex a particularly useful resource for wives?
Sheila: When people hear “31 Days to Great Sex” they often think of the cover of Cosmo magazine — 15 new sex tricks, or 12 things to do to drive him wild. But that’s not what this book is about — although there are some days that will help you drive him wild (and help him drive you wild!). The emphasis isn’t on sex tricks as much as it is learning how to communicate about sex, how to think about sex differently, and how to renew your relationship and have more fun.
What I keep hearing from people, again and again, is that the biggest benefit is that they set aside a time everyday to talk about things. The readings are short — maybe 1-3 pages a night — and then there’s a challenge. But to commit to working through this means that couples are committing to spending time together away from a screen. And they’ll start to have some conversations that perhaps they’ve been putting off. And, yes, they’ll learn to laugh together and have more fun, too!
But I think for so many of us we’re busy, and we fit sex in if we have the time. Since most of us don’t have much time, this attitude makes sex rather rare. This helps us to prioritize it, and make it a habit — a good habit — in our marriages again. The last week is dedicated to helping you find ways to keep the momentum going after the 31 days, and I hope that’s one of the most useful parts of it.
J: Can someone safely buy this book to a friend or family member for Christmas? Would it be a good gift book?
Sheila: I think it would be a great book for your spouse! And I’ve even got downloadable coupons you can put in your spouse’s stocking. There are links in the book for that. I think buying it for a newlywed couple you know well would be fine; buying it for your married kids? That depends on your relationship!
Note from J: I would totally buy this book for a close friend. She’d thank me later. (Her husband might send me flowers.)
J: And because you know I love humor here, what part of the experience of writing 31 Days to Great Sex got you and the hubby laughing? (I know there’s something because Spock and I get in stitches around here at times over stuff I read and write.)
Sheila: We had such fun coming up with different ways to play as a couple. When I did this post as a blog series we even had to stage a photo, and that was a riot. I bought some of that string in a can and I sprayed it all over him while my daughter snapped the picture. But it ended up all over our bookshelves, too! So that was funny. And then we were reminiscing about a water fight and food fight we had had in our dating days, and that made me remember a great scene from The Family Man, which I linked to in the book. Recreating that was fun, too!
But the most fun part was coming up with 8 ways to spice up your marriage. I wouldn’t say it got us LAUGHING, but it certainly got us feeling frisky. In fact, we started working through the 31 days together but we kinda stalled on that one day, and we keep coming back to it. So there’s some really FUN stuff in there, too!
J: Thanks so much, Sheila! I’m really excited about this book!
The book is only $4.99 — less than I spent on my coffee shop order yesterday, less than a movie, less than 1½ gallons of gasoline, less than a good pair of panties. Hey, it could be the best $5 you ever spent on your marriage! Buy it as a stocking stuffer for your spouse. (Throw in a pair of those “good” panties for some extra fun.)
And leave a comment about why intimacy is important to enter to win one of two giveaway copies of 31 Days to Great Sex. But don’t be afraid to buy it now; if you win, and you’ve already bought it, Sheila will send you a copy of her paperback The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, a more expensive book.
The links to Sheila’s book here are affiliate links, so yes, I’d appreciate you buying through my site — which will help your marriage a lot and help defer my blogging expenses too. 🙂