Monthly Archives: January 2018

How to Make Your Valentine Gift Meaningful

blog post title + illustration of envelope with hearts come out

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the first line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities was actually about couples and Valentine’s Day: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Yep, St. Valentine’s Day is less than a month away — the holiday that some spouses anticipate with excitement, and others dread with exasperation.

Regardless of how you approach it, I suspect you come with your own set of expectations. Maybe they are high expectations that cannot possibly be fulfilled, and maybe they are low expectations that your frustration turns into a self-fulfilled prophecy. But most of us fall somewhere in between.

I’ve written about Valentine’s Day so many times that I wondered what I could possibly say to make this holiday better for married couples. But when I asked members of my Facebook community what I should cover, a lot of answers boiled down to wanting something really meaningful.

So how can you give a meaningful gift to your spouse? What will make this the Valentine’s Day s/he will always remember?

1. Plan.

You might have wondered why I’m writing this post nearly a month before Valentine’s Day. But you may need time to brainstorm ideas, line up a babysitter (and perhaps a back-up babysitter), make a reservation, and/or purchase or make any necessary supplies.

Almost every gift I can think of that a friend happily told me about her husband getting her involved planning on his part. For example, a getaway weekend he had to book ahead of time, bidding on eBay for a treasured item from her childhood, breakfast in bed made by hubby and the children, the love letter he wrote.

As Benjamin Franklin purportedly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Instead, plan ahead.

2. Prioritize.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I don’t care if this holiday means absolutely nothing to you or you think it’s supremely stupid — if it’s important to your spouse, you need to make something happen. Because that’s love, people. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

That also means that you must prioritize your time. Clear your calendar to make time with your spouse. You can’t fully connect with your spouse if you can’t disconnect from the other stuff pulling you apart.

You can't fully connect with your spouse if you can't disconnect from the other stuff pulling you apart. Click To Tweet

If you can’t celebrate on Valentine’s Day, pick another day around the same time. But figure out when you can carve out time to be together and then make that happen.

3. Pursue.

One reader commented that she wanted “almost like a ‘take me back to our honeymoon days’ kind of post. I feel so overwhelmed with responsibility in life I sometimes forget the exciting and fun side of things.” I know she’s not alone.

Remember when you were falling in love? When you first held hands or felt that flicker of this could be the one? Remember how excited you were just to be together?

Scientifically speaking, those fluttery feelings involved some brain chemicals that aren’t at the same levels now after being so familiar with one another. But the beauty of our brains is that we can renew those feelings by introducing special moments and pairing them with our spouse. Essentially, you need the attitude that you’re still pursuing your spouse.

Romantic pursuit can be passionate or playful. It can make you burst out in laughter, weep with deep emotion, or simply savor the moments. It can be grand gestures or cozy comfort. It’s whatever romance means to you and your beloved.

But regardless of what form it takes, pursuing your spouse doesn’t simply mark off the box of “I’m married to you” or “I thought of you.” It wholeheartedly communicates “I love you, I want you, and I’d do it all over again.” You’ll know it’s more meaningful when your gift conveys that message.

4. Personalize.

If my husband paid attention to all the statements that women love getting flowers, he’d miss the mark. It’s not that I don’t like getting flowers — which is nice — but it’s not all that meaningful to me. Other gifts have meant far more to me, like when my husband saw me admire a piece of art in a store and it showed up as my gift at the next holiday. He paid attention to what I really like.

Likewise, you have to personalize your gift to your spouse. I’ve given a lot of gift ideas in the past, but you have to look at such lists with knowledge of the person you’re married to:

13 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts from Your Grocery Store
7 Sexy Valentine’s Gifts You Can Make
“Go Big” Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spouse
8 Cool Valentine’s Gifts for Your Hot Hubby
8 Sweet Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spicy Wife

Think about previous gifts or experiences your spouse has had. When did you see your spouse light up? What fond memory have they recounted many times over? What interests, talents, and dreams does your spouse have? How can your gift honor the person they are?

Those are my four tips for giving a meaningful gift: Plan, Prioritize, Pursue, and Personalize.

I can’t leave without mentioning that sex should be very meaningful in your marriage. And right now both of my books, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage and Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, have sales right now on the ebook. Only $2.99! This is a great time to get one or both and get ideas for improving the sex in your marriage, and making sure your Valentine’s Day is meaningfully intimate as well.

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High 5 Favorite Blog Posts of 2017

It’s time for my High Five, which is what I’m calling my Saturday posts in which I share five things I want my readers to know about—whether resources, Hot, Holy & Humorous happenings, or quick takeaways for your marriage bed.

One of my favorite fellow sex bloggers, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage, recently asked about a favorite blog post from last year. Oh my goodness! Seeing as I had 145 posts in 2017, it’s a really tall order to pick one.

But perusing my content, I fairly quickly came up with five favorite blog posts from last year.

blog post title + illustration of computer screen with male/female symbols insideIn case you missed them, or want to go back and re-read, here are those posts and why they make my favorites list:

 1. Q&A with J: “What Should We Call Persistent Porn Use?”

Title with text over black hole graphic background

There’s been a bit of an argument over whether watching a lot of porn should be called an addiction or a habit. In this post, I tackle that question with my own thoughts, research on the issue, and other bloggers’ posts that are worth reading on the subject.

I wanted to include this in my favorites list because I think we should question our terminology sometimes to make sure we are speaking in ways that actually help people overcome sinful behavior and challenges to their marriage bed. I’m willing to be challenged and consider how to talk more effectively as well.

2. Do Our Yoga Pants Make Men Sin?

Title with 5 pairs of yoga pants

At the risk of setting off another round of comments, I’m still adding this one to the list. Because it shows the ongoing debate about who is responsible in the modesty/lust conundrum.

I deal with this issue a lot as a Christian sex blogger, because it’s often on people’s minds. But as a middle-aged woman, I can also tell you we gals receive hundreds of admonitions to dress modestly over the years. And by golly, some ladies are just exhausted from it all—as if our yoga pants will cause “the downfall of otherwise good Christian husbands.”

3. How Did You and Your Spouse Meet? Here’s My Story.

Blog post title + picture of J and her husband in the park

This was just fun to write about my meet-to-marry story and share photos of me and “Spock” through the years. I have always felt like God had a firm hand in our coming together, and maybe you’ll agree after you read our tale.

Also fun was reading your stories in the comments!

4. A Letter to the Low Drive Husband

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I have a lot of high-drive wives reading my blog, and I’m so glad you ladies are here! Because while you represent somewhere from 15% to 30% of marriages, your type of marriage is underrepresented in Christian books and teaching about sexual intimacy. I want you to feel at home here on my blog, free to be who God made you to be and—at the same time—to struggle for something better in your marriage bed.

Even more underrepresented than high-drive wives, though, are low-drive husbands. I honestly do not know of a single blog or ministry reaching out to these men. That’s why I believe this post is so important, and it’s one that higher-drive wives might want to share with their low-libido husband.

5. On “Pigs,” Good Men, and the Difference

Blog post title + four pigs mucking about in a muddy spot within a field

Ask me what I’ve been really passionate about this past year, and one topic that will come up is the #MeToo movement. Why? Because I know from the stories that wives share with me that sexual misconduct against women can damage how they view men and sex in their marriage. Thus, in my pursuit of sex in marriage by God’s design, I’m highly motivated for our society to see a substantially decrease in sexual abuse and harassment.

This particular post felt like the culmination of my thoughts, because when I went looking for biblical answers, the simple and straightforward words of Jesus illuminated the subject so clearly. As usual, our Lord has the answers.

And that’s it! My five favorites of 2017. Do you have a favorite I didn’t mention? If so, I’d love to know which post reached out to you this past year.

And remember…

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Q&A with J: “He Won’t Touch My Clitoris”

I’m getting control of my email inbox, slowly but surely. (I’d lost control in 2017.) But this means that I’m re-reading old messages, so some questions I’ll be answering on Thursdays were posed to me months before. However, I considered this one worth addressing, because I suspect it happens in other marriages too. Here’s the reader’s question:

What does a wife do when her husband is afraid or uncomfortable touching her clitoris? I used to feel so resentful and bitter he wouldn’t but I have had more peace about this issue as of late and the last time my husband and I had intercourse, I ended up taking care of myself but he had already gotten up and was in the bathroom and don’t think he noticed me or cared that I took care of my own needs at the end. I don’t know why touching my body below the waist makes him so uncomfortable. I have tried talking to him and he said it’s the way it feels and he seems rather OCD about body fluids… We were making some progress where he felt more comfortable with a glove on even though that felt a bit “clinical’ like I was at the dr or something but I didn’t care that he had a glove on if that was the only way he would touch me but it still felt a bit awkward…. I know I can’t change his feelings about touching me, but I’d sure like him to help me experience orgasm with him. I would like to feel more “mutual” pleasure in our marriage as I know God created it to be a mutually satisfying experience. 

Blog post title + illustrated hand with pointer finger extended, touching heartLet me start with this sentence: “I have tried talking to him and he said it’s the way it feels and he seems rather OCD about body fluids…” Yeah, that might well be it.

I hear from spouses now and then who wonder why sex has to be so, well, messy. I mean, usually it’s a bad sign when something is leaking or oozing out of your body, so it’s a strange twist for some minds to embrace that fluids coming out are a good thing in the case of sexual intimacy.

Then there’s the texture of the fluids themselves. For instance, semen has been described as having the consistency of a beaten egg. Really? Who wants to handle or swallow a raw, beaten egg? Maybe we should come up with a different analogy…

Now take a person with cleanliness issues, and you’ve got a real challenge. And I understand how difficult it can be to try to convince someone with OCD traits that everything will be okay if they’ll just do the thing they feel they must avoid. I don’t have that Help! Sex Is Messy issue, but all the presidents on my currency must face the same way in my wallet, and telling me the world won’t crater if a five-dollar-bill is upside down doesn’t stop me from turning it the “right way.”

Thus, telling your husband that his aversion isn’t logical or to just get over it isn’t likely to work. So what can you do? Here are some suggestions. (And a big thank you to those in my Facebook community who chimed in with their thoughts.)

1. Talk about your concerns and desires.

I know you’ve tried talking to him. But keep the conversation lines open. Let him know that you’ll support him, even if he says something that wouldn’t seem logical to others. Be a safe place for him to express his concerns, and be willing to share your desires as well and why addressing this issue is important to you. You might find some helpful tips in this post: How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.

2. Study female lubrication.

If something seems dirty, we might assume it is. But we’re not always right about which substances in nature are harmful or harmless. So what is all that lubrication made of? You can find a bit of a breakdown here on the LiveStrong website. But after reading so much about female fluids that my eyes were starting to cross, it comes down to this: very little sweat or oils are involved in the lubrication that happens with sexual arousal. Instead it’s mostly a mucus — which doesn’t mean ick, mucus! but rather a slippery substance that moistens and protects — secreted through the vaginal walls and Bartholin’s glands. That mucus contains some starch, chemicals that make the substance slick, healthy bacteria, a bit of acid that kills off bacteria that could harm the vagina, and — believe it or not — alcohol.

Point being that the fluid is harmless, unless there is an infection of some kind — which you would probably sense based on feel, smell, consistency, etc. Otherwise, it’s not can hurt anything whatsoever to touch it, it’s actually very useful in making sex comfortable and enjoying for both of you, and it even has its own bacteria-fighting properties.

3. Get clean together.

Since one of the concerns might be cleanliness of the area, take a shower or bath together. Let your husband be in charge of washing you down there; that way he’ll know the area has been thoroughly cleaned. I recommend using cleanser pH-balanced for that area, like the Sliquid Balanced Series (link goes to Christian marital aid store, Marriage Spice).

4. Wear a glove or finger cot.

You mentioned this, and it’s certainly an option for your husband to wear a glove. To make it a comfortable experience, try a thin latex glove and make sure it’s powder-less. Another option is a finger cot, which is basically a latex covering just for a finger. You can find gloves and finger cots at a medical supply store or your local grocery or discount store.

If you go this route, find a personal lubricant that can help make the glove slick as well so that it feels good to you. A silicone lubricant might be a good choice for this particular kind of manual play. You can also try different kinds of gloves made from various fabrics or substances to see if a particular texture feels better to you than another.

5. Use systematic desensitization.

When dealing with high anxiety or fear, psychologists often prescribe systematic desensitization. You can find many resources on how to apply this procedure, but it’s gradually exposing yourself to the anxiety-inducing stimuli and introducing a relaxation response at each stage.

In this case, hubby’s a little freaked out about touching your clitoris (or, really, the whole vulva). Essentially, the steps above could be part of a systematic sensitization program, where he talks about his worries, then gets used to the idea of your female anatomy, then touches you with a washcloth, then moves to sexually stimulating you with a finger cot…

Perhaps the next step is touching your vulva through your panties, feeling some of the wetness on the fabric but not making direct contact. You could also insert steps among the ones I mentioned here: like having him watching you stimulate yourself to climax so that he can clearly see what happens and become more comfortable with the fluids there, or him stimulating your clitoris with a vibrator (see Q&A with J: “Is It Okay to Use Sex Toys?”).

Regardless, the key is him intentionally relaxing at each step, reassuring himself that this act is beautiful and holy and good for your marriage. Indeed, God’s perfect design makes this natural lubrication the perfect substance for sensitivity, slipperiness, and protection. You can encourage him with your words as well.

What if he never gets to the point of touching your bare vulva? It’s likely he can make real progress, especially if he is personally motivated, but there are no guarantees. If he just cannot get there all the way, then you can ask how he feels about you touching yourself while he stimulates you in other ways. You can stroke that knobby bit of flesh while he kisses the rests of your body or gives full attention to your breasts, or while you two are engaged in intercourse. That way the self-touching still adds to mutual intimacy.

Any other ideas from readers on how to address this particular scenario?

5 Things You Should Know about Oral Sex

Ah, oral sex … the first posts I wrote about it were oh-so-popular. I mean, really — a Christian wife talking about “blow jobs”? Yet, it’s been a while since I revisited this topic.

Now if you want my best tips on giving and receiving oral sex, check out my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, in which I have a whole chapter just talking about this particular form of sexual intimacy.

Hot, Holy, and Humorous book cover

But today, I thought I’d cover five things you should know about oral sex — especially for those who have been reluctant to try it (or try it again, as the case may be).

Blog post title with the number 5 as a graphic

1. The Bible doesn’t prohibit oral sex, and may even mention it.

For those who think, Oral sex isn’t okay with God!, ask yourself why you think that. Actually, there’s no prohibition against oral sex in the Bible. Indeed, some scholars believe that the lovers mention oral sex poetically in Song of Songs with these verses:

Wife to husband: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste” (2:3).

Husband to wife: “Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (4:16).

If you don’t buy that those refer to oral sex, how about this passage?

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love (5:1).

A better translation of that last line is “be drunk with love!” (ESV). And that last line is either a group of friends or God Himself speaking, with the message regardless that you can indulge in sexual delights with your spouse. Oral sex is an indulgence, but it’s not prohibited and perhaps here even encouraged.

2. Oral sex isn’t all or nothing.

One of the biggest objections I hear from wives in particular is that they don’t want to put the whole sausage, to speak, in their mouths. Or they don’t want to swallow. Or they don’t want to have his semen in their mouth. To which I say, then don’t. Oral sex is simply stimulating your spouse’s genitals with your mouth, lips or tongue. That’s it — no other requirement necessary. For example, you can lick his shaft, and that’s oral sex. Believe me, a lot of husbands would welcome that. (See What Does He Mean by “Oral Sex”? (It May Not Be What You Think).)

On the other side, husbands reading this, it still counts if she doesn’t swallow. (Yeah, don’t write me your sob story about how life is meaningless because your wife’s gag reflex prevents her from drinking your semen. I’m not buying it.) Oral sex doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can enjoy what works for you both, and over time some other options might open up.

3. Oral sex is mostly hygienic.

Yes, I put mostly, because it’s possible to transmit bacteria or a virus from mouth-to-genital and vice versa. Both your mouths and genitalia should be free of any lesions, sores, or wounds. Most of the warnings about lack of hygiene with oral sex presumes multiple sex and unknown status of sexually transmitted infections. In marriage, however, we have the benefit of a single partner and, hopefully, open communication about our health status.

But as long as neither of you is experiencing an infection in your mouth or on your genitals, oral sex is basically just a mouth on skin. Albeit very sensitive skin. In which case, the only caveat is to wash up! Male semen and female lubrication won’t damage you, and — for those who are worried — urine is extremely unlikely to leak out at that time.

4. The best way to improve the taste down there is healthy living.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives logo + episode titleI mentioned this in the latest episode of our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast, but when recently asked about how to improve the taste of sexual fluids, I did a lot of research. While you can find various tips and “tricks” online to presumably help, the real answer for addressing the taste and smell of semen or female lubrication is healthy living habits:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Hydrate with plenty of water
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Stick to a healthy diet

Yep, that’s it. Just take care of the body God gave you in the manner you should, and one benefit is that oral sex will taste better. How’s that for a reward?

5. Oral sex is one of the best ways for her to reach climax.

For a woman to reach climax, she must have sufficient stimulation of the clitoris. Somewhere from a third to a half of women don’t, and in some cases can’t, experience orgasm through intercourse alone.

So let’s engage in little anatomy lesson. The clitoris is a wishbone-shaped organ, with the merged tip appearing as the clitoral head.

3d printed female sex organ clitoris for human anatomy lessons

The unseen part of the clitoris (the wishbone “legs”) run down the length of the vulva on either side of the vagina and can be indirectly stimulated with hands or mouth and during intercourse. But the head sticks out near the front of the vaginal lips as a knob of flesh and can be directly stimulated. Like with a tongue. Yes, a hand will work too, but the mouth also has the benefit of providing moisture at the same time. So it’s really one of the best ways for a wife to get to that elusive Big O.

Look, you don’t have to have oral sex in your marriage. But many marriages have found a benefit in including this practice in their sexual repertoire. It might be worth discussing with your spouse to see what they like, what they don’t like, and what oral activities you can mutually agree to try.

 

Sources: Kontula, Osmo, and Anneli Miettinen. “Determinants of female sexual orgasms.” Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology. 2016. Accessed January 07, 2018; Herbenick, D., T. J. Fu, J. Arter, S. A. Sanders, and B. Dodge. “Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94.” Journal of sex & marital therapy. Accessed January 07, 2018. 

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High Five Resources for the New Year

In Monday’s post, I explained that I’m not choosing a theme this year to write about on Saturdays, as I have done before. Instead, I’m going to use those Saturdays to provide five resources and/or tips to encourage you in your marriage and sexual intimacy. Because I like word play, I’m calling this my High Five for the week!

Since we often start January with resolutions or goals or hopes for what we can accomplish in the new year, today I’m sharing five resources to help you improve sex in your marriage in 2018.

blog post title + caricature of me high-fiving the air

1. Listen to Our Latest Podcast Episode.

My three podcast partners and I chat about the importance of health for yourself and for improving sexual intimacy in your marriage. We go beyond exercise into other areas that impact your health and lovemaking.

Or I could just call this The Episode in Which a Bedroom Pole Is Mentioned. (See, that’s click bait, right?)

Sex Chat for Christian Wives logo + episode title

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2. Get Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage Now!

The ebook is currently priced at $2.99 through Amazon or Barnes & NobleIntimacy Revealed provides 52 devotions, one for each week — or whatever you pace you want — focused on applying God’s Word to your view of sexuality and the marriage bed. I provide thoughts on each passage, as well as questions you can answer and a prayer.

While I wrote the book for wives, I’ve had couples say they went through the devotions together and found it very helpful in opening up conversations about sex in their marriage.

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3. Join my Facebook community!

A few months ago, I launched a closed group on Facebook where spouses can interact about my posts and general marriage questions. It’s been really nice to see people post questions and get insight from others. And I hear that it’s nice for people to be able to comment on my posts without their parents or siblings or kid’s preschool teacher seeing what they say about sex.

You can request to join the group HERE. I do moderate incoming members, and due to the interactive approach of the page, I’m only approving married, or engaged, people. By the way, it’s not always easy to know that someone is married, and I suggest some of y’all take a look at your Facebook profile with that in mind. Could a visitor or old friend easily see that you are currently married?

Group description image

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4. Sign Up for My Newsletter.

Confession: I was really spotty sending out my monthly newsletter last year. But I’m getting back on track. The newsletter shares my favorite posts of the prior month and must-reads from other blogs, some marriage humor, and a scripture for the month, as well as keeping you updated on the ministry.

You can sign up HERE.

5. Boost Your Libido This Year.

This last resource isn’t mine; it’s put together by Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum. But some wives really do struggle with a lower libido, and I really like this online video course she launched last year. She addresses several different factors that come into play and gives you practical tips to increase your sexual response and desire.

This is an affiliate link, but I don’t ever promote something on my blog that I don’t believe in. And I believe Boost Your Libido is an excellent resource that can help you have a better year in the libido department.

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That concludes this week’s High Five. I’ll be back next Saturday with more resources and/or tips for your marriage bed!

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