Monthly Archives: April 2017

Bonjour from France!

Just a shout-out to all of you following and reading the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog! I miss y’all and posting here. But I’m actually on a vacation/business trip. And while I’ve tried to write posts and get them up, the internet in the French countryside is spotty at best. There are short windows of time when the connection is working, but I simply can’t get a whole post — with the research, links, pictures, etc. — done with this service.

I will say that if you can manage to travel, whether it’s all the way to a French Chateau or just up the road to a state park, studies show that it’s for good for couples to experience new activities together. You get the same brain buzz that you had when you were first falling in love. I definitely plan to bring Spock with me next time I travel to Europe (miss you, hubby!).

Why not stoke your marital romance? And if you need more ideas, I encourage you to check out The Romantic Vineyard blog.

Where I’m at now:

Picture of French countryside chateau

Chateau Les Carasses, Languedoc, France

Thinking of and praying for you!

Who Are You Praying to Change in Your Marriage?

Blog post title + woman praying with light shining on herI’ve been aiming this year to pray more and encouraging y’all to do the same. Specifically, I’m hoping we can grow into praying more intentionally, more openly, and more fervently for our marriages and marriage beds.

So then I started thinking about how I prayed so often during the worst years of my marriage. In case you haven’t been following me long, let me explain that my husband and I had some bad years of marriage, during which I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Thankfully, we have moved past those difficult years and are in a season of genuine commitment and happiness that makes every one of those moments worth it.

But the truth is that we really didn’t have to go through all those moments. It took way too long for me to listen to what God wanted to tell me.

Because here’s an example of what my typical prayer looked like during those flailing years:

Dear God, I know that You brought me to my husband and that You believe in marriage. You want us to have a holy, thriving marriage. But we’re in a mess, and I’m so unhappy. I have tried talking to him nicely, then more forcefully, and even pleading with him, but he isn’t listening. Lord, please save my marriage. Help us get back on track. Tell me what I need to say to get through to him. Help him to see what I’m going through and to do what he should be doing to build our marriage. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Sounds good on the surface, right? I start by remembering that God brought us together and that God Himself is the maker of marriage and wants us to thrive. Then I’m open about my struggle and explain where things are for me. I ask for God’s wisdom in talking to my husband and for a change of heart. I even finish with “in Jesus’s name” (see John 14:13-14).

But read between the lines and you’ll see what I’m really asking: God, change him.

Even when I asked for wisdom on what to do, it was really so that I could get my husband to see my side of things. I wasn’t asking for the ability to hear his side or to view him in a better light or even for the desire to meet his needs.

When I look back now, I think: No wonder God didn’t answer that prayer — it was so selfish!

You know when things started changing in my marriage? When I focused on fixing me. When my prayers sounded more like:

  • God, even though I believe he needs to change, start with me. Point out my faults and help me to fix them.
  • Lord, show me how to love my husband with 1 Corinthians 13 love. Guide me into becoming patient, kind, honoring, selfless, and forgiving. 
  • God … just help me.

Many of you have been praying for your marriage, and specifically your sexual intimacy. You have poured out your heart to God and you’ve begged for help. But, given my own experience, I have to ask: Who are you praying to change in your marriage?

If the answer is anyone but myself, then you might need to rethink your approach.

Jesus told this parable in Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Are you “confident of your righteousness” compared to your husband? I certainly was. And frankly, maybe you are far more righteous. To this day, I think I was 70% right about what I was arguing my marriage. But I was a supremely self-righteous wife, which made me a sinner in God’s eyes. One who needed to stop looking at the speck in someone else’s eye and notice the plank in my own! (See Matthew 7:3-5.)

As some have said, “You can be right, or you can be married.” You can’t always be both. And since you gave your vow and have that ring on your finger, I think you already picked married.

Now the question is where do you need to change to make things better in your marriage? To reach harmony in your relationship? To improve not only the sex itself, but the intimacy that sex within marriage should have? How can you make your marriage a safe place for your mate to express their concerns and find support?

Even if they are 80% the problem, how can you stop looking at that 80% and focus on the 20% God really wants you to work on? By the way, you’ll often discover by the end of it all, you’re more than 20% of the problem.

I was a 100% wrong. Not in the relationship necessarily, but I was 100% wrong in believing that he was the one who had to do the changing. When I let my prayers become about God working on me, He started answering. In big ways.

I need to do more of that. Because God’s work in me isn’t finished. I still think I’m right more often than I should, and I’m far from having perfect, Christ-like love for my husband. But God has changed me. Because I asked Him to.

Who are you praying to change in your marriage?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

Q&A with J: What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom?

Today’s question is from a wife who’s been married for a while, and they’re encountering an ongoing problem. Despite making sex a regular part of their marriage, they’re still struggling:

Please address the topic of a passive withdrawn husband. Mine never initiates, asks, nor jumps in to ravish, nor does he do foreplay, nor sexual talk, nor sounds.  Our sex live has been unsatisfying for us both. He believes God has told him that His will is for married couples to have sex everyday. We have tried this for a while. He liked it, but I still never felt connected.

We both understand that often a women’s body will warm up sexually after her mind. That the couple starts foreplay, and then in a while, she will get turned on. Only thing, with him being so so passive, and not doing anything, nothing much happens. He often is too limp to proceed, or even though I’m not ready, I let him penetrate just so he can quickly climax and go to sleep. I have been very clear, that I am interested to make love, but I need him to make a direct move, pass…..not be like a 90 year old man shuffling down the hall with his walker.

Q&A with J- What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom- with illustrated couple in bed

Let me start with this tidbit: We’ve got this idea that 99.9% of men are ready, eager, and assertively pursuing sex in their marriages. It’s been conveyed directly, indirectly, and through both secular and religious messages. But it’s just not true.

Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband.

Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband. Click To Tweet

It could be that something’s amiss, or it could be his biological makeup or personality. But I just want wives reading this, and those dealing with something similar, to understand that perhaps 15-25% of marriages have a higher-drive wife who longs for more frequent and intense sexual intimacy.

And now, the question when one spouse isn’t interested or active in the marriage bed is why. Why is this person not grabbing hold of this gift of sex in their marriage? It’s quite possible something has gone awry, so here are some possibilities for your husband:

  • Low testosterone
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Shame about sex, based on poor teaching or past experiences
  • Porn use (past or present), which interferes with the brain’s arousal mechanisms
  • Depression/anxiety disorder
  • Relationship conflict or discontent
  • Prior inability to perform, affecting his confidence
  • High stress, and the resulting body chemicals that block arousal

The only way to know what’s going on, and thus how to proceed, is to communicate about your sex life. All too often, though, what we do is start that conversation with a complaint about our own dissatisfaction with sex. Instead, I challenge you to open yourself up more, create a safe atmosphere for him to share, and dig deeper by asking questions and really listening.

If his body simply isn’t cooperating with libido or responsiveness … well, that’s a very different issue to deal with than if he’s secretly watching porn. Dealing with depression calls for a different answer than relationship stress. Once you find out what’s going on, you can better address the challenges.

All that said, it’s possible nothing’s particularly wrong. If your husband is passive in other areas of life, he might be passive in the bedroom too. I’ve talked to wives whose husbands were shy in flirting, asking them out, popping the question, and so on … and then, not surprisingly, those men are shy in the marriage bed. They are timid by personality, and expecting him to suddenly unleash an assertive lover is likely unrealistic.

But you can help him be more assertive in lovemaking in the moment.

Communicate what you like. Speak up for what you want. Or move his hand where you want it. Show him what you like and then encourage him with sounds and compliments for what feels good to you. Make your marriage bed a place of freedom to express what you desire.

Ask what he wants. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Besides, if you outright ask what he would like to try or do, you might discover something that arouses him more than what’s been going on. This attitude also demonstrates that you are interested in satisfying him sexually, which itself can be a turn-on.

Be the assertive one. Nothing says you can’t take charge and be the assertive one. Pull him closer toward you. Get on top and get things going. My book, Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, also has ideas on what to do with your hands, your legs, and your hips to be more active in lovemaking.

Have intercourse less often. Did anyone ever think I’d write those words on my blog? I sure didn’t! But you’ve been married for a long time (info from the email, but not the question above), which means you’re bound to be older, and you’re still trying to have sex everyday. Some couples can do that, but if he’s struggling to get or maintain an erection, he may need a longer refractory period. You can certainly engage in other forms of sexual intimacy—like he could pleasure you—but maybe go two to three days in between intercourse.

Pursue other forms of intimacy. Finally, you might need to attend to other areas of intimacy in your marriage. Believe me, I’m all in favor of consistent, spicy sexual intimacy and believe sex is an important ingredient in a healthy marriage. That said, your husband believes it’s important to have sex every single day, but are you pursuing other intimacy-building activities with that regularity? Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy.

Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy. Click To Tweet

You might need to invest more in times away from the bedroom to really feel that heat and excitement in the bedroom.

Pray for change. I say this all the time, but that’s because it’s such a good idea. And it’s not because I think you’ll pray to God that your husband will suddenly become assertive and voila! he’s a tiger the next time you tumble into bed. You know what really happens when you pray openly and humbly about marital issues? You change. And if you let God change you, He’ll bring you a better perspective, resources to help you, and patience as you work on the issues. In turn, that might well cause your husband to make changes too.

Given your own issues with arousal, I also think you could both learn more about how to get things going and what feels good. Thankfully, I wrote a whole book about that! Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design is essentially a how-to manual for wives with ideas for getting your body cooperating, revving, and stimulated in the marriage bed. What I haven’t covered here, you can find there.

Do Our Yoga Pants Make Men Sin?

Let’s talk about modesty. Wait, wait…don’t run away! I know you’ve already read about this subject, probably many times over, and I saw you flinch when I brought it up. But I want to get real about modesty. In fact, I might even rant a little. So read on.

Title with 5 pairs of yoga pants

Modesty is an ongoing issue in our culture. In case you hadn’t noticed, a lot of women out there show off a lot of their bodies. In today’s world, guys don’t have to step too far out of their house to see images or real women with curves, cleavage, “camel feet,” and cutaneous membrane (aka skin). Given how visual many men are, it can be a struggle for many of them to keep their thoughts entirely pure.

I feel for them. And so, I’ve talked to wives about modesty in the past — how we need to choose stylish clothing that covers enough, the care we should take in choosing swimsuits, even my own practice of sometimes asking my husband when I put something on, “Is this okay?” (I learned years ago that he’s a better barometer for whether a miniskirt is short enough to attract male attention I’m not looking for.) We certainly don’t want to contribute to the temptation for men to lust.

I’ve also been frustrated with women who don’t get it. Like how I was once going through a church potluck line and caught a not-so-brief glimpse of the woman in front of me with her thong peeking out of a low-rise miniskirt. Thank goodness my husband or teenage sons weren’t in line behind her! I don’t want my sons or my husband to have such information waved in front of their faces.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 says: “Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God” (HCSB, emphasis added). Women should be modest, for the sake of the men in their midst and to honor God’s will.

Women should be modest, for the sake of the men in their midst and to honor God’s will. Click To Tweet

However … not too long ago, I was reading a post that mentioned modesty and some blessed wife had as part of her comments something like, “But please don’t take my yoga pants. You have no idea how nice it is to be in something comfortable …” (I wish I could find that comment!) I laughed and found myself agreeing. I often wear yoga pants and a T-shirt while working at home and doing laundry. And then, I need to run out to the store. So am I supposed to change from yoga pants, even when my shirt covers almost the whole backside? Seems a bit silly to me.

And yet you can find entire articles castigating women for wearing yoga pants. In another post written to women about modesty, two men in the comments said they’d basically been visually assaulted by women wearing yoga pants in their presence. Really? Is the prevalence of yoga pants the downfall of otherwise good Christian husbands?

Job 31:1 says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” And I fully appreciate men who take this covenant to heart. Many Christian husbands are dedicated to keeping their minds pure and avoiding visual temptation.

But my thinking about modesty and lust is changing. Partly because I see so much blame placed on women for men lusting. I’m not letting us women off the hook for needing to use decency and good sense when we go out in public. However, I don’t see men getting the same flack for how they present themselves in public. If you want to see what I mean, read this humorous post on “When Suits Become a Stumbling Block: A Plea to My Brothers in Christ.” Men in suits are attractive. So are men in uniforms. I mean really, how could any man proclaim to be a holy Christian if he’s also a well-built firefighter in uniform? Don’t you know what you’re doing to us?!

We’ve also preached this modesty message so much to teens that some of them probably think Psalm 119:9 reads: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By ‘bouncing his eyes.'” No, no, no. It says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word.”

What does the Word of God say about modesty?

In addition to the verses referenced above, not a whole lot. Here’s a quick run-down:

The Lord says,
‘The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles
.’”

(Isaiah 3:16; and verses 17-24 explains you how God will punish those women)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes” (1 Peter 3:3).

And that’s it. At least specifically regarding modest apparel. Of course, there are principles of modest and God-honoring behaviors. We also have scriptures that talk about not being a stumbling block to others, about building up our brothers and sisters in Christ, about living with reverence before God. Obviously, if you’re walking around in low-rise shorts with your bum hanging out, that’s not exactly an advertisement for Christianity. (And, by the way, you’re essentially wearing your underwear in public; they might be expensive denim, but you’re in undies. Stop that.)

But you know what else the Bible says? It says to treat people with respect, to look beyond their appearance and see them how God sees them, to purify our minds and our hearts in Christ Jesus.

And I’ve become really bothered by the idea that men are just bouncing their eyes off every woman who shows a little more cleavage than they want to see or who ran up to the grocery store on the fly in her yoga pants to grab much-needed diapers for her infant. Doesn’t that pigeonhole women’s bodies as temptation? As if “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13) is referring to women’s curves or yoga pants. Doesn’t that approach have the potential of objectifying women as well?

Rather, how did Jesus treat women who were immodest in their lives? Jesus let a sinful woman anoint his feet with oil and spoke directly to her to forgive her sins (Luke 7:36-50). He had a direct conversation about faith with the Samaritan woman who’d been married five times and living with a man outside of marriage (John 4:1-26). He refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery and encouraged her to stop sinning (John 8:1-11). Jesus looked past their immodesty and saw the woman His Father saw.

Which makes me think that maybe we’re missing something.

Maybe the problem is only partly what someone’s wearing and more what our hearts are doing. Is the test whether we can look at each other as sex objects or whether we can see the person underneath?

Maybe the problem is only partly what someone’s wearing & more what our hearts are doing. Click To Tweet

This is by no means meant to let women, and men, off the hook for dressing modestly. But you how about we hear a little about how men dress and behave in public? And how about taking responsibility for our own thoughts and hearts?

If you can’t have a conversation with a woman who shows too much cleavage or a guy in your gym who’s muscled and shirtless, you’re going to have a really, really, really hard time in this world. And it’s not entirely the world’s fault.

We have to own our responsibility to not lust. And if it’s hard? Well, being a Christian isn’t supposed to be eating-cupcakes-easy all the time. (What did you think that verse about taking up your cross meant? Matthew 16:24.)

We have to own our responsibility to not lust. Click To Tweet

As for me, you might see in my yoga pants at the grocery store. Not because I’m wanting any guy to get a full-view of my caboose, but because they’re comfortable and I was too lazy to change. However, I will make sure I’m wearing a long T-shirt to cover everything that should be covered. And if I have any doubts about how I might come across, I check with my husband, because he has a better sense of those things at times.

I suspect plenty of other women, good Christian wives even, will be dressed in exercise or lounge attire as well. And we hope you can still have a nice conversation with us. Because that is nothing like the immodesty of the women Jesus dealt with, and He managed to handle it all just fine.

We believe in you guys. We don’t want to tempt you, but we also believe that — with God’s help — you can keep your minds and hearts where they should be.

A Prayer for Our Priorities (Including Sex)

A Prayer for Our Priorities (Including Sex) with woman praying and light from Heaven shining on herOne powerful enemy of regular sexual intimacy in our marriages is time.

Although we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, let’s face it: We’re not all at the same level of busy. For instance, while I am swamped with work at times, I get healthy doses of sleep that I could only imagine when I had a toddler and an infant in the house. I readily admit that you stay-at-home parents of young children are busier than I am. Or at least more exhausted.

But the truth is that like space in our houses, we tend to fill our days. We stuff them full of to-dos and tasks and activities. We add volunteering to our work schedules and children’s extracurriculars to their school days. We say “yes” to events, committees, and social invites.

And then we wonder why we don’t have enough energy to rev ourselves up for a night of sexual intimacy with our spouses.

Well, duh.

And I say this to myself as much as I say it to you.

In C.S. Lewis’s inimitable book, The Screwtape Letters, senior demon instructs the junior tempter: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Satan doesn’t want you to think about those experiences that will strengthen your bond and draw you closer to one another and to God. He wants you to focus on anything that makes you neglect your marriage bed.

Satan wants you to focus on anything that makes you neglect your #marriage bed. Click To Tweet

As someone else famously said, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” (Often attributed to Corrie Ten Boom, but I was unable to confirm.)

By contrast, God wants us to set the right priorities for our marriage. For our Saturday focused on praying more, I offer this prayer for our priorities (including sex):

My glorious Heavenly Father,

Each day you give me is a blessing. Each morning that the sun rises, the Earth turns, and all the intricate parts of Your creation work together, I am reminded that You are on Your throne. You grant me my hours, my weeks, my years, and I am a steward of the time You have provided me.

I know of Your warnings to be productive rather than lazy (Proverbs 10:413:4, 21:25), to be diligent in work. Whatever my hand finds to do, I want to do it with all my might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But sometimes I’ve chosen to put effort into so many activities, even good endeavors, that my marriage—and my marriage bed—have suffered. 

Your Son, my Lord Jesus, reminded us that You commanded, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh,” and then said, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5-6, ESV). Yet my misguided priorities have separated what You joined together when I’ve neglected my relationship with my husband and the intimacy we should have in our bedroom. Please forgive me.

Help me to remember the example of the noble wife of Proverbs 31, who “watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (v. 27). Sometimes I flip even those priorities, intent on not being idle without attending to the affairs of my household. Give me the right perspective to put my family, and specifically my husband, above my desire to stay busy. Enlighten me on where I have been a poor steward of my time, and lead me onto the right path.

Help my husband to positively encourage and support me toward the right priorities. Bless our conversations about household duties, outside obligations, and personal choices so that we can find unity. Show me where I need to let go, and give me peace about not getting everything done. Instead, bring to mind Your principle that “the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). I want to sow bountifully in my marriage and my marriage bed, so that our marriage, our family, and our community will reap the rewards.

And above all, that we will experience Your glory and it will be seen by others in the strength and joy of our marriage.

Today, God, I want to begin this journey of re-prioritizing my time. Give me wisdom for where I need to make changes. Infuse me with a desire to invest in my marriage bed, knowing that this one-flesh experience is part of Your perfect plan (Genesis 2:24Ephesians 5:31-32).

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.