Monthly Archives: May 2017

Using a Blindfold during Sex

Blog post title + woman lying on bed with blindfold onVisit any online marital aid retailer, and you’ll see that blindfolds are one of the items available for purchase. Why are they popular?

Let’s talk a little about using a blindfold during sex.

Why use a blindfold? When you block one of your five senses, you tend to become more aware of the others. Since we usually rely on visuals during sexual intimacy, it can be an interesting experience to wear a blindfold and see what else you notice instead.

You might find that you hear more or smell better, but the most appealing sense is probably touch. Since you can’t see it coming, your husband’s touch could be an arousing surprise when it settles on your skin. Also, not being able to track his touch with your eyes, you might simply lay back and attend to the sensation itself.

I recognize that some use a blindfold in sex as part of sexual domination. Sexual domination is not a practice I encourage. I don’t buy into heavy power plays in the marriage bed, but you can see my thoughts on that issue here.

Yet most couples who use a blindfold during sex are simply wanting a different experience, and blocking your sight can result in different awareness in the marriage bed.

What can you use for a blindfold? Like I said, online Christian marital aid stores stock them. Some people simply use home items like a necktie or bandanna. You can also purchase a sleep mask from the personal care section of your grocery or discount store.

What you want to make sure is that the blindfold is comfortable on your head, so that your attention isn’t drawn to tightness, bulkiness, slippage, etc. Also find material that feels good on your skin and eyes. Blindfolds stocked by marital aid stores do an especially good job with this, but you can find other options as well.

Be sure the mask will cover your sight entirely. It could end up being more distracting if a sliver of light or images peeks through a gap between the blindfold and your body. You want your eyes totally covered.

What should you do once the blindfold is on? It’s really about what the sighted spouse should do. Because it’s the one not wearing the blindfold who can take extra steps to make sure this is an enjoyable experience.

Slow down the touching. I doubt you want to be unexpectedly grabbed and groped; rather, you want to be stroked and savored. Taking it a little slower will let the blindfolded spouse focus fully on the sensations.

Communicate clearly. You can’t see each other, so you have to use words or moving the other’s body parts to coordinate. You may need to be a little patient with getting into position or your partner responding to your requests.

Introduce new sensations. Grab a feather, an ice cube, a small massage roller, a satin scarf, or anything else with an intriguing texture and have the sighted spouse stroke the blindfolded spouse with the object. Again, go slow to get the full effect.

Let hands explore. Have the sighted spouse lie back whiled the blindfolded spouse explores with his (or her) hands. Take time to get to know your mate’s curves and angles and sensitive places, all with the sense of touch. It might help you “see” each other’s bodies in a different way.

How does a blindfold add to marital intimacy? So far, I’ve talked about the pleasure involved with using a blindfold during sex. But while I believe pleasure is a marvelous part of sex (thank you, God!), the highest goal in the marriage bed is intimacy. What, then, can be gained in the intimacy department by using a blindfold?

Two things, I believe: One, the sighted spouse has the opportunity to bless their mate. If your husband is the one wearing the blindfold, you can focus your attention on his pleasure, basking in how his body responds to your touch and finding unanticipated ways to arouse him even more. Many husbands also enjoy flipping that around and giving their wives focused pleasure.

Two, the blindfolded spouse must demonstrate trust. Sex is vulnerable, no matter what. But if you can’t see what’s happening, you feel even more at the mercy of your mate. You don’t know what’s coming, so you can’t object or prepare for it. But it’s a beautiful thing to trust your husband so thoroughly that you know he will treat your body with respect and care. And to know that he trusts you.

You might try using a blindfold during sex and see what you think. If you don’t like it, you can always take it off. But you might discover some interesting, intimate sensations.

How to Pray for Your Husband

When I typed that title, I really wanted to write the definitive article on how to pray for your husband. I could even do a step-by-step guide, like WikiHow does.

If you haven’t been to WikiHow, it’s a website that boasts it can explain “how to do anything.” With detailed descriptions and pictures, the site provides clear directions on all kinds of things, including how to shave your legs, make homemade candles, and even avoid or escape a bull. Though by the time you decide to look up that last lesson, it’s probably too late.

Then I wondered: What if WikiHow already has the definitive article on how to pray for your husband? I didn’t see that one, but I did find How to Pray Effectively (Christianity) and How to Pray as a Christian. Maybe they’re just waiting on my brilliant article on How to Pray for Your Husband.

Blog post title + woman praying with sunlight beaming on her

Except I don’t think there is a simple step-by-step. How you need to pray for your husband really depends on who he is and where you are in your marriage and in life.

The non-believing husband likely needs prayer focused on God reaching out to him and also asking God for help with how you can be a living testimony in your marriage. While the deeply religious husband may need prayer for his spiritual leadership in the church and for his evangelism efforts.

The low-drive husband may need prayer for the courage to address sexual infrequency in your marriage and for you to know how to communicate lovingly about that topic. While the high-drive husband may need prayer to better understand your physiological challenges and for you to be more open to his advances.

I could go on with other issues husbands face in life or marriage — porn habits, anger, personal insecurity, etc. — but how to pray for your husband is about the unique husband you have.

So what can you do?

Observe. Too often we assume what’s going on with our spouse, or misinterpret based on our own biases. Become a better observer of what’s really going on. Where does your husband spend much of his time? Who is important in his life? Where does he seem confident, and where does he seem to fumble? Look for clues about what really matters to him and where he needs intercessory prayer.

Listen. What topics does your husband bring up? What worries does he share with you? What dreams or desires has he expressed? When does he shut conversation down? Lots of us wives are better talkers than listeners, but if we’ll listen better, we’ll learn more about our man and how to pray for him.

Reflect. Consider deeply what you truly want for your husband. Go deeper than “I want him to listen to me,” “I want him to help with the housework,” and such, let’s face it, selfish issues. Rather, ask what kind of man your husband would be if he was living up to his God-given potential. What would that look like — in his work, in his parenting, in his marriage, in your sex life? Reflect on what God wants for your husband, and then make that your prayer.

Ask. Why not ask him how he wants you to pray for him? Wouldn’t you respond well to that question? It shows that your spouse is thinking about you, wants to bring your concerns before God, and cares about your well-being. And if your husband answers with specifics, you’ll know exactly what matters to him and can bring that before God.

Invite. You can also invite your husband to pray with you. Then you can hear his concerns as he expresses them to God and add your own support. You can also pray in front of him for things that you desire for him to have, letting him hear your heart for how you want God involved in your marriage and your husband’s life.

Release. What if you sat before God and simply released your husband to Him? What if you came before God with no certainty about what to pray for your husband, but simply meditated on God’s goodness and provision? I suspect that’s what some of us wives need to do from time to time.

Despite the fact that you can read these in order, in nice succinct paragraphs, this is not a step-by-step guide. Rather, these are ideas about how you can figure out how to pray for your husband. You know your husband better than I do, and God knows Him even better than that. I trust that you two, or three, can figure it out.

What other suggestions do y’all have for praying for your husband? Or, for the men reading, praying for your wife?

Q&A with J: “I Want to Find a Wife Who Can Fulfill My Sexual Needs”

Today’s question is from a young, single man who is wondering about the sexual intimacy he’ll one day have in marriage. His query is filled with issues I want to address, so let’s get started.

I struggle with guilt about wanting regular sex in my future marriage. My sex drive is unfortunately very high to the point where I crave intimacy on a daily basis. I am hoping that if I get married one day, that I will end up married to a wonderful Christian lady who has a higher sex drive like mine and would want it on a daily basis, or at least something close to that like 1-4 days a week (ideally everyday, I REALLY want it everyday). I know there are women out there who would want it on a daily basis, but they seem to be unfortunately very rare as men generally crave sex more than women. I could ask God for someone who would want sex on a daily basis, and I often do, but I kind of feel like why should I expect to get that lucky, considering that most guys don’t? I really want someone who can adequately fulfill my needs. I don’t want to spend a vast majority of my marriage masturbating, I want to be having sex with her. I already masturbate everyday just to get my arousal out, but I still want sex with a real woman and feel that it would be much more fulfilling. Again, when and if I’m married, I want to end up having sex with my wife more often than I masturbate, but I’m afraid that cannot happen. Sometimes I get in really bad moods at the thought of not getting enough sex in my future marriage. I feel that maybe it is due to a porn addiction that I have been (unsuccessfully) trying to quit on and off for two years. I was hoping that marital sex could help me to stop looking at porn. I could use help in that area too. I need help. I’m desperate. Any counsel you could give, regarding what I have written here, would be greatly appreciated. I just ask that you be gentle and understanding about it. Thank you for your time and God bless!

Blog post title + with smiling couple in bed (illustration)

I will certainly aim for “gentle and understanding,” which I try to do on most Q&A days, but sometimes I “tell it like it is.” And as I read your question, I couldn’t help but think that you’ve been sold some malarkey. Believe me, you’re not the only one. But I’d like to correct a few beliefs here, which should give you more hope.

“I struggle with guilt about wanting regular sex in my future marriage.” Of course you should want regular sex in your future marriage. It’s sad to me that there are Christians who feel guilty about having what God wants them to experience in marriage; yet I know it happens.

Unfortunately, sex is sometimes mentioned in the Church, if it’s spoken of at all, only when it involves remaining abstinent outside of marriage and not sexually sinning (like adultery or porn). We leave the impression that sex itself is a problem, rather than Satan’s attempts to twist sex into something God didn’t intend it to be.

Let me be clear: God wants you to have regular sex in your marriage.

Let me be clear: God wants you to have regular sex in your marriage. Click To Tweet

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NLT)

And He made sure that there’s an entire book in the Bible devoted to marital, sexual love. It’s called Song of Solomon. God is sex-positive! So please don’t feel guilty for wanting to experience the gift He desires you and your wife to someday have. Of course, what He wants right now is that wait for marriage.

I know there are women out there who would want it on a daily basis, but they seem to be unfortunately very rare as men generally crave sex more than women.” Actually, high-drive wives are more common than you think. I don’t know exactly what the numbers are (though I’m researching), but I’ve heard estimates that in 15% to 30% of marriages it’s the wife who has the higher libido. Given my email inbox and comments on this blog, I tend to believe that’s about right. And that doesn’t account for marriages in which the husband has the greater sex drive, but the wife is highly responsive.

I’m not saying that couples don’t have sexual frequency conflicts; plenty do. However, we’re primed by our culture to believe that husbands always want sex and women rarely do. And it’s just not true. So let’s replace the phrase “very rare” with the reality that a majority of husbands desire more frequent sexual intimacy than their wives, but a fair percentage of wives desire more sex and many other wives are certainly willing.

“I really want someone who can adequately fulfill my needs.” Are you equally concerned about meeting her needs? What’s good for the gander is good for the goose, eh? Marriages thrive when you are both concerned about meeting each other’s perceived needs — whether that’s sex, affection, respect, conversation, emotional security, etc. If you want to find Mrs. Right, your focus should be on becoming Mr. Right.

If you want to find Mrs. Right, your focus should be on becoming Mr. Right. Click To Tweet

Also, it’s really hard right now not to view your sex drive as physical tension that demands release. But if you say to your wife, “I want you to meet my sexual needs,” you’re honestly treating her like a means to an end. As I say all the time, your spouse is not your sex toy. She isn’t there to just satisfy your sexual craving. What God wants instead is for you both to pursue intimacy through sexual connection. When you’re both focused on meeting one another’s needs and becoming closer through the exchange of pleasure, that‘s when the sex gets really good.

I already masturbate everyday just to get my arousal out…” I hear ya, but you’re probably making things worse. I don’t believe masturbation is inherently wrong, but it’s unwise to stoke your sexual desire day after day with self-satisfaction. For one thing, the average refractory period for men (time they can easily go between orgasms) is about 72 hours. But if you’re ejaculating daily, your body adapts to anticipating daily release. So you’re basically making your body even more sex-needy.

Also, masturbation involves a feedback loop that you cannot get in marital lovemaking. You are both pleasuring yourself and feeling the pleasure, so you can quickly make adjustments that bring you to climax quickly. Some frequent masturbators then find that having sex with a woman is frustrating, because it takes longer to reach orgasm. Men who masturbate with porn can find that they actually cannot orgasm with intercourse, because their body has been so primed to the hand job.

You really should decrease your self-satisfaction, so you can keep your body’s sexual energy aimed at the ultimate goal — beautiful lovemaking with your someday wife. I have talked about options for when you cannot have sex with Sexual Release Without Sinfulness and What To Do with Sexual Desire Before Marriage.

“I feel that maybe it is due to a porn addiction that I have been (unsuccessfully) trying to quit on and off for two years.” That surely contributes. And to be fair, why should a woman enter marriage with a man who cannot beat this habit? Look, my heart is filled with compassion for men who struggle with this terrible temptation. It’s everywhere, and Satan knows exactly how to target men. (He’s got other ways of targeting us women too.) I’m thrilled you want to quit porn. Thank God you see that it’s both a sin and a terrible habit that can affect your marriage. That’s a terrific first step!

But I wonder what “trying to quit” means to you. Have you taken concrete steps? Installed porn-blocking software? Told a mentor or your pastor about your struggle? Found an accountability partner? Visited the XXXChurch or Fight the New Drug websites for resources on how to successfully quit? Many men have tried to quit on their own and haven’t. Those who succeed set goals, enlist help, and follow through. Believe me, God is on your side on this one — 100%.

“I was hoping that marital sex could help me to stop looking at porn.” While it may help, plenty of married men having regular sex still look at porn. Being happily married is indeed one factor that helps men stay away from porn. According to the General Social Survey of 2000, conducted by the University of Chicago, happily married men were 61% less likely to look at porn. However, in a 2014 survey by The Barna Group, 55% of married men reported watching porn at least once a month, compared to 70% of single men. (See Covenant Eyes Porn Data.) You need to make the decision ahead of time to quit porn. Because while being married can help, it’s no guarantee.

And as gently as I can say this: If a woman contacted me and said she was thinking about marrying a man who’d had a porn addiction for two years and couldn’t seem to quit, I’d tell her to hold off. Neither of you needs that baggage in your marriage. Because porn really can hurt your sex life. But take heart: You can gain victory. Others have done it, and you can too.

What I really want you to walk away with is an understanding that:

  • God wants you to experience amazing lovemaking in your marriage. Sex was His idea, and He knows its best context is marriage. But it is His generous gift to you and your future wife.
  • Great sex awaits you. And it’s not about sexually compatible sex drives, but rather both of you understanding that it sex is a priority and it is worth the effort in your marriage.
  • The best way to make sure you attract a godly, sexy wife is to work on yourself. So focus on sex as a future intimacy-builder and a way to give something beautiful to your wife, not just to meet your needs. And take specific steps to rid your life of porn, so that it won’t damage your future marriage.

What other tips do my readers have? What would you tell singles desiring to have wonderful sexual intimacy in their future marriage?

Book Review: Healing from Infidelity by Michele Weiner-Davis

Blog post title + book coverMichele Weiner-Davis is a licensed social worker, marriage and family therapist, and well-known relationship expert. Many of my readers might recognize her name from her book The Sex-Starved Marriage. Her most recent book is Healing from Infidelity: The Divorce Busting® Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair, and she was lovely enough to provide me a copy to read and review.

The focus of Healing from Infidelity is obviously to help couples put their marriage back together after one of you has had an affair. While I believe that adultery is a valid reason for ending a marriage (see Matthew 5:32), an affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Rather, Jesus also said:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Once the marriage vow is made, you should make every effort to keep this covenant relationship. God compared His own people in the Old Testament to an adulteress, and yet He restored their covenant time and time again. (See Hosea 3:1, Jeremiah 3:11-15, Ezekiel 16:10-17, 59:63.) Sometimes a marriage cannot make it—and certainly abusive or sin-filled marriages are not in God’s will—but sometimes what looks hopeless can be saved.

Weiner-Davis does not come from Christian perspective, but she is an advocate for marriage and her book gives specifics on how to move from the brokenness of marital infidelity to the health of a happy marriage.

...move from the brokenness of marital infidelity to the health of a happy marriage. Click To Tweet

Her chapters alternate between addressing the betrayed spouse and the unfaithful spouse, recognizing what each needs and should do at various stages of reconciliation. Having worked directly with couples to put their marriages back together, she speaks from experience and includes lots of practical advice.

It all begins with believing that you can revive what appears to be lifeless—your flailing marriage. “In all the years I’ve been helping couples heal from infidelity,” Weiner-Davis says, “I can tell you that there’s only one time when I start to worry about the fate of their marriage. It’s when one or both of the partners start to become hopeless.”

From my viewpoint, Christian spouses should have a leg-up on putting a struggling marriage back together. We believe that “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27) and that we have “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20, NLT).

But I also understand that couples walking through the fallout of infidelity need concrete help getting out of the pit and back into trust and intimacy. As Michele states, “…this is a great opportunity to fix what has been broken, either before, during or after the affair. In fact…it really is possible for you to have an even better relationship than ever before.”

And I’ve seen it: Couples who went from the heartbreak of adultery into the happiness of marital intimacy. It can be done.

I recommend Michele’s book for those who are in the midst of that pain and wondering how they can ever get themselves back. While there are a few places where I disagree (for instance, her tips on remaining with an unfaithful, unrepentant spouse contradict the Christian position), overall this is an excellent resource.

Weiner-Davis shows real compassion for the betrayed spouse, as well as giving lots of great tips on becoming an emotionally healthy person regardless of outcome. Since I firmly believe that healthy and happy marriages are made with two healthy and happy individuals, this is a win-win for the spouse and the marriage. She also lets the unfaithful spouse know what they need to do to re-establish broken trust and care for their betrayed spouse’s heart.

Moreover, each spouse gets a good sense of where the other is coming from and how to view their spouse without greater resentment and anger than is reasonable. (And yes, some is quite reasonable when you’ve been cheated on. But dwelling only in anger won’t heal your marriage.)

She includes a whole chapter on how to address sexual intimacy in marriage after the affair. When should you get back into the bedroom? How can you rebuild trust? What role should sex play in getting your marriage back on track?

Michele shoots straight about what’s required to make it all work, while still highlighting why you should have great hope that your effort will pay off. I love her balance of positive confidence and realistic candor.

You don’t have to throw in the towel. With resources like Healing from Infidelity AND leaning on God to help you through, you can go far beyond restoring your relationship into building an even better marriage.

Do You Need to Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Marriage?

In Christian circles, this phrase has become very popular: prayer warrior. I’m not sure who first used this phrase, but it’s a reference to the spiritual warfare Christians are fighting. Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

The apostle Paul describes us as being in a battle against Satan for the salvation of our souls and the glory of our God. His final encouragement is for us to pray at all times. Thus, I presume, the notion of the prayer warrior, all strapped up in her spiritual armor and doing battle on her knees.

But I gotta say — I don’t feel like a prayer warrior. More like a foot soldier.

In fact, I think all the encouragement to be a prayer warrior has sometimes served to discourage me. I’m 100% sure that was not the intent, but rather a genuine desire to see God’s people devote themselves more to prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Yet, “prayer warrior” has always felt a bit daunting to me. I think it’s because:

1. When you decide to stay praying more, it feels like a really high bar to go from not-doing-so-well to being on the front lines of spiritual battle. As if you’re the William Wallace of fearless, persistent prayer.

Let's Pray! with Movie Still from Braveheart

Can’t I just start out as one of those guys a few rows back? Like I’m totally in the battle but not quite ready to lead the charge.

2. It can come across that other people are better Christians and have better marriages because they find praying easier. And I don’t think that’s true. We should all grow in the spiritual disciplines commanded in Scripture, but I suspect we have our favorites — habits less difficult for us to form.

For instance, I’m totally fine with researching biblical passages, their context, Greek meanings of words, etc.; it’s a somewhat natural way for me to relate to God by studying His Word. But somehow, prayer is more of a challenge.

3. Sometimes there’s an underlying message that if God’s not answering your prayer, if you’re still struggling in your marriage or marriage bed, it’s because you’re not warrior-like enough about it. That if only you’d fight harder through prayer, things would work out.

It agree that we may need to pray more frequently and earnestly to break through, but God could also be answering our specific requests with “you first,” or “not yet,” or even “fuhgettaboutit.” Moreover, are we really the powerful ones in prayer that make things happen based on how well we do it?

The more I learn about prayer, the more I think that God just wants us to show up. Maybe it’s less important to reach prayer warrior status (whatever that means) and more important that you don’t go AWOL. We have to keep talking to God, keep listening for His voice, and keep believing He will intervene in our marriage and marriage bed in His perfect way and perfect timing.

But God can’t do anything through prayer if you don’t ever show up.

Now if you consider yourself a prayer warrior and that’s working well for you, great. But I’ve been working through this series on prayer with the idea that there are a lot of people like me, for whom a thriving prayer life has been a challenge at times. To myself and to them, I want to say: You don’t have to be a prayer warrior — just step out on the battlefield.

You don't have to be a prayer warrior -- just step out on the battlefield. Click To Tweet

God’s really good at fighting battles with and for us if we’ll just show up.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).

And I believe God wants to fight for your marriage — to save your marriage if it’s in trouble, to protect your marriage if it’s being attacked by the enemy, to help it thrive if it’s been ho-hum. He wants to be on that battlefield with us — whether you’re a prayer warrior or a foot soldier.

Just step out and join Him in the fight.