What Romance Writers Teach Me About Sex

I live a weird life. Ask me about my profession, and I’ll answer that I’m a writer. But what I write gets a little more complicated — because I write about Christian sex in marriage and teen fiction.

A few years ago, I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA) — the largest writing organization in the United States — because of its excellent educational programs and community support for fiction writers. I don’t label myself a romance writer, but there is some romance in my teen books. Anyway, I spend a great deal more time with romance writers than I ever expected. It’s been interesting and enlightening.

Some romance writers share my values, many don’t. Yet romance writers have taught me a few things about how sex is viewed by women. Remember that the romance genre is a billion-dollar industry and responsible for 13% of all adult book sales. Like it or not, these authors are turning out something that appeals to women readers.

What Romance Writers Teach Me About Sex

Women are sexual beings. I knew this at my core, but my growing-up church culture made it sound like guys were the sexual ones and we women were an afterthought when it came to sexual pleasure. I also hear from many wives who struggle with a lack of sexual desire so it can become easy to dismiss how God intended us to be sexual beings.

Let me assure you most women want sexual pleasure, even it comes through the pages of a romance novel. What appeals to these women, however, is not the sexual intercourse itself so much as the awakening of their senses and the drawn-out excitement of sexual touch and arousal. I do believe God made women as sexually inclined as men — simply in a different way.

Romance and foreplay matter. In many romance novels, sex doesn’t happen until late in the book. Instead, the story focuses on the undeniable attraction between hero and heroine, the wooing and courtship, the kissing and foreplay.

Some have suggested husbands should read a few romance novels to get a sense of what their wives want. I’ll save you guys the time and summarize: Just because you caught your wife doesn't mean you stop pursuing her. Click To Tweet This may seem like a paradox, but romance and foreplay matter to your wife. That’s the stuff that makes her feel cherished and desired and aroused and, quite honestly, ready. So pay attention to it, and maybe even check out the sex advice I constantly give husbands.

Almost-kissing is almost as hot as kissing. You don’t even have to open the books to get this one. Just scan a bookstore shelf of romance novels and count how many book covers have couples kissing versus couples almost kissing. I guarantee you the almost-kissing covers will win the wager.

This principle can be applied to marriage in how you interact throughout the day. You can heighten sexual desire through suggestive talk, flirtation, light touches, lingering close in one another’s arms, teasing kisses, running your hands along the hems of the other’s clothing, taking your time to undress slowly and deliberately.

Sex isn’t simply about sex; rather, God created sex to be an entire experience for our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls in marriage. I’m in favor of the quickie at times, but don’t rush it all the time — savor the experience.

Orgasms are awesome. Actually, romance writers didn’t teach me this. I had my own well of wisdom to draw from on that one. But it is fascinating how sexual climax is always, always, always included in romance novel sex.

Don’t ignore this important aspect of sexual intimacy. Most husbands climax pretty readily, but wives can be a little less certain in the climax department. Merely because it’s a little more challenging doesn’t mean a gal doesn’t want to go for it. Because yeah, orgasms rock! (Thank you, generous God, for that.)

Put a little effort into figuring out how the sexual experience can lead to a satisfying pop of pleasure for the wife. If you’re struggling in that area, check out Orgasm: If Only I Could O or But I Still Can’t Orgasm! What Next?. For most wives orgasm doesn’t need to happen every time, but it’s a wonderful experience when it does.

One last thought: I believe quite a few romance writers who pen amazing love and sex scenes for their novels are not having great sex in their real lives. Which tells me that we long for the full experience that God intended — the experience that’s far better and more satisfying in a God-blessed marriage than in any romance novel.

I know for myself that, even as a writer, I simply cannot put into words the beauty and meaning involved in sexual intimacy with my husband. I pray each reader here will experience that in their own marriage.

Winner: We had over 100 entries from last Saturday’s announced giveaway, so I was feeling extra generous and picked two names! The randomly chosen winners are Samantha and Jason. I’ll be sending them an ebook of their choice.

Giveaway: This week’s giveaway is my own romantic fiction ebook, Behind Closed Doors: Five Marriage Stories. Don’t worry: No steamy, blush-worthy scenes, even though the topic is marriage and sexuality. However, these five short stories are intended to address real life while reflecting God’s design for sexual intimacy.

To enter, simply share any of my blog posts on Twitter and include my Twitter username, @HotHolyHumorous. I’ll automatically add you to the drawing, which closes next Thursday, August 13, 10:00 p.m.

For some different thoughts on this topic, check out Common Myths of Romance Novels.

3 thoughts on “What Romance Writers Teach Me About Sex

  1. e2

    “Just because you caught your wife doesn’t mean you stop pursuing her.”

    As a man, I wonder if there’s a different way of saying this that doesn’t make it all sound so discouraging, as if our romantic efforts are a striving after the wind. I get that love is a verb, and that loving my wife means, well, showing her daily that I love her. That makes sense. Indeed, the reason I pursued her was so that I could catch a person I could love on over and over. That’s what love does. Love without daily expression isn’t love. But, when I’m told to never stop pursuing my wife, I get a jolt in my romantic soul. In that phrase, I hear a whole host of other messages.

    a. I hear that, no matter how hard I try, I will never truly catch her.
    b. I hear that her love for me is not only responsive, but entirely conditional and that I must earn her loving response.
    c. I hear that our marriage has a “what have you done for me lately” quality.
    d. I hear that it’s good for a woman to play hard to get, in order to get us guys to pursue harder, thereby turning romance into a game.
    e. I hear that my wife has no romantic or sexual memory. In an earlier post, you wrote of women who have no interest in sex until they are aroused. That’s my wife. Not only is she not interested in sex until she’s aroused, she has little interest in doing anything that will get her aroused. It’s as if she has no memory that the last time we made love, she thoroughly enjoyed herself (and she did).

    As a man, I need to know that my efforts will produce some fruit. However, with this phrase, I see me as an Adam Sandler in “50 First Dates.” Nothing I did yesterday has any lasting effect. I must start all over tomorrow, as if today never existed. My guess is that most women liked that movie, and liked the idea of being pursued every day as if it were the first day of the relationship. I get that. But, to me, it becomes an almost Sisyphian doom of pushing the boulder up the hill every day only to get up the next morning and do it all over again with no hope of ever seeing any lasting response.

    I wonder if I’m alone in how I react to this phrase or if I’m just nitpicking words.

    1. J Post author

      I get what you’re saying. Thanks for sharing that.

      You know, it’s hard on this end to say something pithy yet meaningful that applies across marriages. (Another reason why I tend to turn to Scripture a lot, because God’s way better at that!)

      I think my statement is generally true, but of course a wife shouldn’t play hard to get. I’ve even written about how wives should be their husband’s “sure thing”. I focused on the hubbies here, in terms of him pursuing, but honestly, she should be super-easy to catch in marriage. It shouldn’t take anywhere near the effort it did in dating. For instance, in my marriage, what took weeks, several dates, and a lot of hemming and hawing (for that first kiss) now takes my husband walking through the door and striding up to where I am. Bam! Kiss. (And a far better kiss now than when we first started. 🙂 )

      Honestly, I suggest if that wording doesn’t work for you, find another. Something like, “Just because I caught my wife once doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue to catch her, again and again.” Does that work? Got a better version for your situation?

      1. e2

        Thank you for the clarification. As I think about it, I’m sure I am nitpicking words. To me the word “pursue” implies that I’m trying to convince someone to love me who currently does not. Of course I want my wife to feel loved as much as I can. I just won’t call it “pursuing” because I know she already loves me.

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