What Are You Thinking During Sex?

I am a recovering perfectionist. I hate getting things wrong, but I’ve learned through the years quite a bit about my fallibility and my need for humility. Thus, it should be no surprise that I might have messed up with Monday’s post, Q&A with J: “He’s Going Into His ‘Spank Bank.’ “

The querying wife explained that her husband closed his eyes during sex and was “going into his spank bank” for past porn images to maintain his erection. My answer addressed him doing just that. When there was another possibility: that he was closing his eyes for reasons that had nothing to do with past porn use.

Honestly, my automatic acceptance of the wife’s explanation was influenced by how damaging ongoing pornography use can be to an individual and a marriage. But I might have had this situation wrong, and it’s unfair to draw firm conclusions without more information.

Indeed, I often encourage spouses to give their mate the benefit of the doubt and extend grace wherever possible. It’s a bad idea to assume what your spouse is thinking, feeling, wanting — even if you believe you know them so well after umpteen years of marriage. We just can’t know everything going on in between each other’s ears.

The comments to Monday’s post revealed that we could be thinking all kinds of things during sex. Which brings me to my question: What are you thinking during sex? Does it even matter?

I think it does.

What Are You Thinking During Sex?

What wife wants her husband thinking about some other woman, even if she’s orgasming off the charts? What husband wants his wife picturing her latest book boyfriend while he’s pleasuring her? Or even from a non-third-party perspective . . . What wife wants her husband solely thinking about his own climax and not her pleasure? What husband wants his wife mentally sorting through her to-do list rather than paying attention to their intimate time together?

Of course, the entirety of our sex lives together is not comprised of I’m all about you thinking. Stray thoughts zoom in, and some overstay their welcome. It could take a while to shut down all of the mental activity of the day to focus on what’s happening with your bodies. You could be going and blowing with some fabulous foreplay, and suddenly you remember that your son’s science project is due tomorrow and do you still have poster-board in the house? You might be midway through a rockin’ good time, and all of a sudden your leg cramps and your only thought is Ooowww! Real life intrudes into our minds. Constantly.

But we can train our minds to focus in the right direction. That’s a biblical principle, you know. (See Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8). What is the “right direction” in the marriage bed?

It’s a little easier to define the wrong direction. Because I think we have a pretty wide range of acceptable thoughts when making love with our mate. You might be thinking about any of these:

Practical concerns

  • How your body looks and feels
  • How his/her body looks and feels
  • What you want to do or don’t want to do
  • Whether you’ll reach orgasm and how to get there

Fantasy-type thoughts

  • Picturing yourselves in an exotic locale
  • Remembering the first time he/she touched you this way
  • Considering all the possible activities and positions you can try
  • Imagining what actions or words can stimulate your lover even more

Pleasure-focused matters

  • How attracted you are to your spouse
  • What’s turning you on at the moment
  • How the physical sensations feel to your body
  • The effect your body and actions have on your mate’s pleasure
  • What you can do to increase your pleasure and his/hers

Deeper meaning feelings

  • How grateful you are for this unique connection to your spouse
  • The depth of your love for him/her
  • God’s approval of this unity of your lovemaking
  • How amazing it feels to be “one flesh” with your beloved
  • Why sex binds you so closely together

Sometimes we think about small stuff, sometimes big stuff; sometimes solely about our beloved, and other times our own pleasure. Our minds can go all kinds of places that keep us committed to healthy, godly sexuality.

But while you know what you are thinking during sex, you don’t know what your spouse is thinking. Unless he/she tells you.

Of course, you can ask. Just like with any other moment in your marriage, isn’t it a valid question to say, “What’s going through your mind right now?” They might share or might not, but it’s an innocent enough question in the right context and with the right attitude. I’ve asked during sex, and the answers my husband has given are always interesting. I’m happy to share what I’m thinking too.

You can volunteer what you’re thinking to your spouse. Tell them how turned on you are, how good something feels, or how meaningful this experience is to you. Or hey, inform your spouse that something doesn’t feel all that good and you’d like to try something different. Communication can be key in creating a mutually satisfying sexual experience.

If your spouse honestly has difficulty concentrating — because their work day was horrible and they’re still stressed, or whatever — maybe it’s good to know that and help them get their head back in the game. For myself, even if the answer was “I’m struggling with old images popping in my head, although I really want to be here only for you because you are the one I love,” I’d be okay knowing because then I could walk alongside my husband and help him find ways to be wholly and thoroughly in the moment. I believe that his battle is our battle.

Must you share what’s going through your minds? Of course not. My hubby and I usually don’t — although I pretty much assume it’s good stuff — because we’re kind of busy doing other things. (Also, sometimes I can’t entirely form words, but I’m pretty sure he knows what I’m thinking in those particular moments.)

Sometimes, when we do share, it’s not sex-focused. It’s some stray thought out of nowhere, and these days that usually makes us laugh. “What? You had a thought about the Republican debate?” *laugh* “Well, I’ll get your mind off that right now.” And then, we do! Because we know we’re ultimately focused on one another and this precious time together.

What do you think about during sex? Is it different from what your spouse might expect? Do you struggle focusing on what’s happening in your marriage bed? What has helped you get your “head in the game”?

40 thoughts on “What Are You Thinking During Sex?

  1. a. nony

    Oh gosh, this is good. I was just talking to my husband yesterday about intrusive negative thoughts during sex. So, so tough to deal with, and something we both have to work on and support each other through.

    Reply
    1. Nyasha

      Thoughts can’t be rid of but can be replaced. I struggle with intrusive bad thoughts and I learnt from a sermon by Jimmy Evans that you need to replace thoughts. So when my mind wanders during sex I quickly rush to a passage of Scripture that I have been reading through for biblical meditation. Don’t pick a long one, even a short one that you can easily repeat to renew your mind will do just fine

      Reply
      1. Samantha

        I feel like that helps me stay in the moment and stay connected to both my husband and God. He is the center of our marriage, after all.

        Reply
          1. Eliza

            So, I have a bit more time for an extended reply! I struggle with dissociating during sex – history of porn & ‘chick flicks’ & ‘chick lit’ are I think the main reason for this. Plus, before I became a Christian, I didn’t see any issue with these fantasies…even while having sex with my husband! It got so bad that I *couldn’t* orgasm without thinking about one of my many fantasies.
            Thankfully, I found my way to God last year and have since discovered that 1, this dissociation during sex is a barrier to marital intimacy (which was something I struggled with, just never connected it to these fantasies – duh!) and 2, I need to change my behaviour to get out of it!

            So, I no longer look at porn, I no longer read romance type novels, and I no longer watch romantic comedy movies! Instead, I have been reading my bible, and Christian ‘self help’ style books, and watching more ‘action’ type movies (definitely a plus for hubby!), and, when we are making love, and I find my thoughts drifting to fantasies, I instead thank God for my husband, the ability to make love and concentrate on what feels good right NOW.

            It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there!

          2. J Post author

            Yes, all true! It is a process, and you’ve taken great steps in the right direction. I really believe the in-the-moment, with-your-husband experience exceeds anything else in the long run. Blessings!

          3. Jim Christian

            You know it’s a spiritual act when you reach the point of, “Oh, God!”. Ha! Blessed if you have it, no? He knew how to program us, how to drive us to fruitful ends. He made it so beautiful, we just have to do it. He allows us this so we will be fruitful, be being the bearers of children. Then, I believe, in part because He intended us to stay together for life, He allows us this blessing far beyond our fruitful time of life. Celebrate! Sometimes, I think this is the best time of our lives! We are to enjoy our wives, fellas! Enjoy your hubbies, Ladies! We only pass this way once, and never again..

    1. Adrianne

      Not weird at all! I totally do this. God designed us to experience pleasure during sex. In fact I believe that having sex with my husband, becoming “one flesh” can be an act of worship. It may seem strange to some to describe sex as worship but when we honor God with our marriage and connect on a more intimate level physically, emotionally, and spiritually I feel we can draw closer to Christ and experience Him more intimately.

      Reply
    2. Eric

      Samantha wrote,
      Is it weird to thank God for the sex, pleasure, and unity with your husband…during sex?

      This has been answered by J and others, but there’s a spiritual principle here in the Bible that’s often overlooked. To quote Paul in Ephesians 5:30-32 . . . “We are members of his body. For this reason a man will . . . be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” In other words, the physical act of sexual intercourse is meant by our Creator to model the spiritual union/communion between Jesus and His people on earth. Note also that these words were quoted by Jesus in Matthew 19:4, where He quotes Moses from Genesis 2:24, a passage that harks back to the dawn of creation, before Adam & Eve and everyone since mucked things up by sin.

      Too often we (because of bad teaching or sin before marriage, or both) believe that since sex is physical, and often used for selfish purposes, that it’s therefore “carnal.” This false notion comes from the Greek gnosticism of Plato, and it was introduced into Christianity by Augustine, c. 400 AD, and it’s still taught by many as if it’s found in the Bible.

      Consider that Jesus wants us to be spiritually naked before Him. That is, He wishes to delve into the very innermost reaches of our souls and cleanse them from sin so that we can enjoy full communion with Him–“That I may know him,” Paul writes in Philippians 3:10; and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.”

      And thus it should be when in bed with our spouses: totally naked, dying to self in an act in which we freely give to our husband or wife, and in the process get intense pleasure (orgasm) from this act of giving. And may I say we need to THINK about the pleasure we are giving and receiving, too!

      And to husbands, keep in mind that though you represent Jesus in this ideal picture, and the wife represents the church, we are human, and called to give her everything, as well. So the physical act of two humans represents the divine interaction between God and redeemed humans. Enjoy it as an act of worship, therefore. Pull out the stops and hold nothing back.

      Reply
  2. J

    I can have some pretty random thoughts even in the heat of the moment, and for a while I would just blurt them out. “Did you buy milk today? I think I forgot to pay the power bill. Did I tell you what our neighbor said to me last week?” I think at first, it bothered my husband. “Seriously?! You’re thinking about THAT right now?” But over the last few years of our marriage, it’s sort of become something we laugh about. (And I’ve gotten a bit better at keeping my mouth shut and redirecting my thoughts.) I will say…it seems like those times that my mind roams a lot, it’s usually a sign that we haven’t connected outside of the bedroom enough. But sometimes it’s just a girl thing. 🙂

    Reply
    1. libl

      I think Sheila (to love honor and vacuum) wrote about this before. I remember reading about how the wife’s mind would roll 100 mph on every thought but sex during sex. She and the husband decided a 1/2 hour verbal unload was necessary before she was ready for sex.

      And you a right. It is likely a sign of communication lack in the relationship, or in the individual. Either schedule a conversation date with hubby or he could suggest an outing with the gals.

      For me, sometimes neither is possible and my pent up thoughts start to fester and turn ugly. The little reminder to dab cream on a pimple turns into I am so ugly. The question about a sex act turns into he is so unloving and selfish in bed. The what’s for dinner question turns into why am I the only one who thinks of these things and slaves over a hot stove.

      Journaling helps, or even just texting or messaging a trusted friend. Prayer, too. Anything to get the thought out of my cortex.

      Reply
      1. Jim Christian

        The joke in male venues is always, “Go make me a sandwich, woman!”. Well, Lynn, I hope he makes a sandwich for you too! Ha! You women seem to LIKE when we charm you with treats from the kitchen. For woman-charming, cooking was the best thing I ever learned to demonstrate a domestic streak, a good thing for any man to draw in a good woman. Those types were always my favorite. She likes your cooking? Put a ring on her hand, you’re half way there! Forgive me, I’m half-a-Greek, just the good half, we’re very domestic.

        Ha!

        Reply
  3. Jim Christian

    I so completely lose myself in my woman’s hair, her body, what we’re doing (no graphics necessary), we travel to a completely “other place” together. I know that sound whacky, but there is no notion of other people, images or places, just ourselves. We have uncanny timing with one another and are so attuned from when we decide to “get together” to everything that happens during and after that it is now all very easy–for us. But we definitely built what we have together over time. One of you fair ladies mentioned how easy it is for those in the chick flicks. However, name one of those that were a marriage and a sex life that went up and down and up and down over a period of time after the original period of “high hornies” when everything is new? That’s what most married couples have and of course, in time, you reach a comfort and synchronicity with one another that is just right. Hang in there Ladies and Gents, those with and without overt problems. Love over time is a grand adventure and when you turn it into a quest to each please the other, you’ll have reached what our God designed.

    Reply
  4. Reese We

    LOL – This is great! I am just like you, there are those moments that I’m thinking about whose homework is due by when, or what I should have said to… and then I catch my self and think, “What am I doing? Get back in the game!” It’s a woman gift, to multi task, even during sex! Meanwhile he’s all focused as can be while he is in his “sex box.”
    But really, when I catch myself drifting, what do I think about? Besides how it feels, how we’re doing, and what I’m doing? There is one thing that helps, um… turn me on. I don’t know why, but I like to think of the view from a 3rd persons perspective. I wish I could see what it looks like, but we have no mirrors nearby. I like watching the shadows if there’s a single candle light. It’s erotic!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I think that’s just fine. I’ve wondered about it myself. I usually talk myself out of that idea, because I’d probably home in on less attractive aspects of that moment, but I can certainly appreciate that thought.

      Reply
  5. Mike

    I get transported to heaven with my wife!! My heart races, my breathing increases, my thoughts focuses on what she is doing in my arms as I caress her all over. I think of no one or anything else. It is amazing!!

    Reply
  6. AnonymousThisTime

    It’s encouraging to hear some positive comments from men that indicate they love and think of their wives. I have always figured my husband is thinking of another woman, someone much prettier or sexier than me – ESPECIALLY when he keeps his eyes closed.

    Sadly, I usually just feel kinda sad and wonder “who is he pretending I am this time?” The few times I have asked, he assures me he is only thinking of me, and of us. But I don’t want to be naive.

    I also wonder what it would be like to really be the woman that he desires, and that he is being with physically and mentally. It must be a wonderful feeling to be desired by the man that you love.

    I’m working on dealing with these thoughts, but it’s hard.

    Reply
    1. e2

      AnonThisTime

      I sense that you and I are a lot alike. I’m a guy, but share many of your insecurities. After years of marriage, I feel as if I know my wife pretty well, and I can tell when she’s just saying something to spare my feelings or to say the right thing. Sad thing, however, is that I find myself naturally drawn to believing the worst. When she says, “I love you,” my first unspoken thought is, “Then why don’t you kiss me or touch me?” She knows how much I want it.

      In short, I tend to believe the worst of my wife, and I’ve learned that that is my ugliest attribute. I’m certain that my insecurity that I cling to is one very strong reason my wife has difficulty desiring me sexually.

      But, Paul tells me that love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. In other words, if I truly love my wife, I will make a conscious choice to believe her, and to hope for the best. And, here’s the hard part. My love will make that choice even when all the evidence combines with my insecurities to make me believe otherwise.

      My most painful lesson is that I’ve learned that my emotional pain isn’t because my wife doesn’t love me, but because I don’t love her. I don’t love her enough to trust her, to believe her, to hope for her. It’s more loving to embrace naivete in the name of trust and hope than to steel myself against pain by refusing to trust and hope.

      Reply
    2. alchemist

      As to being afraid of being “naïve”, consider this quote:

      There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. ” – C.S Lewis, the Four Loves.

      Reply
  7. Austin

    My wife has worked hard to keep her head in the game and has found that it helps a lot for her to orgasm.

    From a guy’s perspective, I sometimes have to let my mind go elsewhere (a tv show I saw that day, a new song I’m learning to play, etc) in order to last for her. When I can let go, I’m immediately refocused on the moment.

    As to the original question, usually when I close my eyes its to just really focus on the sensations at the time.

    Reply
  8. Sarah

    I write. Having a writer of Christian love stories as your wife could be very hard, but my hero is always based in my husband. Last time he asked me, I told him the scene I was working on in my head and asked what his dialogue should be. He stopped, laughed, and handed me a notebook. I wrote while he loved me. He told me it was excellent because I was so relaxed and happy. My writing turned out excellent too.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      We should chat! I write teen fiction as well as this blog (yes, I know these are very different). I have many fiction writer friends, including inspirational romance writers. I completely get what you’re saying. I always tell my husband that book heroes pale in comparison to our real-life love story. 🙂

      Reply
  9. M

    As a newlywed (I consider myself thus especially in the sex department because even though we’ve been married 3 years, we had two children already in that time and I was pregnant or nursing a tiny infant for so much of that time, I feel like only recently have I actually been learning a lot about how sex works for US. I spent a lot of time reading your blog the first year or so of our marriage but I got pregnant within three months of our wedding, had our son, and then got pregnant again four months later. Pregnancy is TOUGH for someone who doesn’t know much about their body and sex anyway!! It’s a completely different ball game now. When I was pregnant it was like playing a game blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. That may be sexy in the bedroom but it’s not great if you’re playing baseball. I struggled to make it feel good and enjoyable as much as I emotionally wanted to have sex. I found it took a lot of concentration on my body and yet not too much or I would try too hard, and the vulnerability and intimacy of the experience with my husband seemed so challenging. I would be distracted by the intensity of emotion and excitement in my husband’s face and I have gotten in a habit of mostly keeping my eyes closed. I fight sometimes now to stay in the moment and not think about a million other things but it is hard still for me to keep my eyes open and look at him. I am not sure if this is normal and as we continue to grow in our relationship I will be more comfortable with looking/watching or is this something I should be practicing more of? I’m not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone or if it just sounds weird…

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I had a lot harder time concentrating when I had little kids in my house. It took longer for me to unwind and prepare for sexual intimacy. I think that’s pretty normal. Sometimes I would close my eyes to shut out thoughts and focus on my sensations, rather than looking at him. I don’t think that’s a problem either. But you have to figure out what works for you. Give yourself a break and take some time to try different ways to relax and ease into that moment of pleasure.

      Reply
    2. m

      Hello! Your comment struck a chord with me because i am quite newly married myself (3 years). I remember at the beginning of our marriage, I too would be scared to look my husband in the eyes during sex because of all the passion and excitement and overwhelming love that I saw there. But I wanted to wish you courage because as we grew in marriage and learned more and more about lovemaking, that fear went away. I think in my case it was due to the fact that I am not a naturally confident person, and I often felt shy during sex. And then I would look at my husband and see his pure pleasure and it made me feel inadequate to fulfill that. But as I grew in confidence and learned to keep looking and enjoying what was going on, the fear left me. So no, don’t feel wierd! Just talk about it if you need and don’t be scared to keep looking! You are his joy and pleasure and that is why he is viewing you with excitement and passion.

      Reply
  10. IntimacySeeker

    I wonder how our thoughts during sex correspond with bringing our hearts and souls to the experience. It is as simple as NOT thinking about the long lists of tasks that lie ahead? Does it mean not thinking about anything and just experiencing sexual pleasure? Does it mean associating sexual pleasure with positive emotions about our spouse? Does it mean sharing our frightening, traumatic, dark thoughts and feelings with our spouse? Does it generally mean something different for men than for women?

    Reply
  11. Eric

    I’m replying to Samantha (March 17), Jim Christian (March 19) and Adrianne (March 19). In particular, I strongly agree with Adrianne that sex “can be an act of worship.” In fact, it seems to me that all-stops-out, rambunctious naked lovemaking is intended by our Creator to bring glory to Him, as in worship we praise Him for the blessing of sex.
    But I digress. What do I think about during sex? My wife and I are in our 70’s, and I’ve never ceased to marvel at the beauty of her body, clothed or nude. At this stage in life, during sex I’m thinking of the great gift of naked love she’s unashamedly offering me, though she struggles with arthritic pains, a knee that hurts constantly. Neither of us can experience the erotic contortions (sometimes outdoors at night) we enjoyed half a century ago, and I must prop up my penis with ED medications. Yet I’m thinking of how much joy she’s willingly giving me in permitting me to use her body, expecting nothing in return. I certainly do try to give her a satisfying orgasm, and I often succeed. But the blessing of having her in my arms is too deep for words.
    Paul wrote that we are to “present [o]ur (physical) bodies to God as a living sacrifice” which is a form of “spiritual worship” (Romans. 12:1). Notice this—the physical is used for an act of “worship,” if you please. Thus it should be with married couples as they make love with bared bodies. This is not a selfish, orgiastic exercise, as the ungodly practice; nor a carnal sin, as the legalists, though Christians, fear. Paul further identifies “one flesh” married sex—citing Moses—as a holy reflection of Jesus’ spiritual relationship with His holy bride, the church.
    By contrast, Jerome (c. 400 AD) considered the woman’s body, rather than a holy, blessed delight to her and her husband (as C. S. Lewis observed), but rather to be filthy moral trap for men. Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, gutted the Song of Solomon of its godly erotic imagery. Sadly, he found there only a crudely contorted allegory of Christ and the church, and 1600 years later the gnostic notions of Augustine are still much alive. But in the 1960s, the Hippie movement declared the “sexual revolution.” Christian thinkers in alarm began digging positive sexuality from the Song of Solomon, and we are now blessed to have many excellent books on the subject, beginning with Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman (1973), and recently Sheila Gregoire and J. Post’s several titles about positive sexuality.
    Thinking out loud can be dangerous (heh, heh). I sometimes tell my wife that her backside looks like a teen’s (it does!). She then wonders where my eyes have been.

    Reply
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  13. Brandon

    I have prayed for several days on wether to respond to this or not. This is a response to both the “Spank Bank” post and this topic. My wife and I have been married for 21 years. In the first several years of our marriage our marriage bed was a struggle for us. Due to guilt from sex before marriage and PE my wife often refused because she had been let down so much. I turned to porn and masturbation as a means of release and also out of spite. After opening up to my wife and our Lord, both have given me Grace and forgiveness. My wife and I have WORKED at our relationship and marriage bed and now share a wonderful fulfilling marriage bed. One thing I can assure wives out there is that not all men that have a porn past go there during love making! When my dear wife and I are enjoying each other my thoughts never go to those women, acts, or scenes. Even during those times of hurt and porn use in the past, I didn’t want those women… I wanted my wife but for many reasons, she was not available so I turned to sin. We were both so hurt during those times I had no grasp of the fact I was CHEATING on my wife. God can work miracles through all situations. Never give up on your marriage, your spouse or yourself. It’s a lot of hard work but the blessings far outweigh the effort.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thank you so much for speaking up. I believe this is often the case with men drawn by the pull of porn — they don’t understand the damage they’re doing and they’d enjoy far more being intimate with their wives. Thank God you’ve had victory. May He continue to bless your marriage!

      Reply

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