Author Archives: J

10 Questions to Ask about Your (Mature) Sex Life

Have you ever seen an article or book on questions for newlyweds? I’ve seen many great ideas on discussion topics for newly married couples to get to know one another better, to align their dreams and plans, and to prepare for potential pitfalls in the future.

Someone recently challenged Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband to write ten questions for “oldlyweds.” He did so here, and then challenged other members of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association (CMBA) to do the same.

I got to thinking about questions specifically for your sexual intimacy. With over 20 years of marriage under my belt, I can tell you that sex is not the same now as it was when we were first married. No, it didn’t die. It’s even better in quality. But it is different, and we spouses might want to ask ourselves a few questions as we age about our marriage bed.

While not a oldlywed — more like a middlywed– here are ten questions I suggest discussing with your spouse about your mature sex life and why I think you should ask them.

Title + blue and pink speech bubbles

1. How has our sexual intimacy changed since our early days of marriage?

Identify where you’ve improved or where you’ve fallen off. And guess what? Your impression may not be the same as your spouse. Find out what they believe and how they feel about the changes.

2. What do I do that really turns you on?

Ask that when you’re newlyweds, and you might just hear, “Everything.” But have hundreds or thousands of lovemaking experiences, and you have quite a variety of actions and sensations and knowledge about what gets you really revving. Maybe your spouse knows exactly what it is, but maybe he doesn’t. In fact, you could ask this like a Newlywed Game question and each write down what you think turns on your spouse most and what turns you on most, then swap answers. You might be surprised.

3. What do I do in that you wish I’d change?

I have a friend who’s been married for a few years, and her husband honestly believes grabbing her boob is a legitimate way to get her aroused. How could he not know that ain’t the ticket to Paradise City?! Yet we get into our habits and loving spouses overlook what annoys them, and then decades in how do they convincingly tell us that go-to move needs to go to the trash heap? Or you may be missing ways that speak intimate love to your spouse. So ask this question, accept what your spouse says, and make a change.

You may be missing ways that speak intimate love to your spouse. Click To Tweet

4. What do you most enjoy about my body?

Your body is older, so things are shifting, wrinkling, sagging. But while objectively you might have looked your best at age 30, your body is still amazing and appealing to your spouse. So share what you each adore about the body you get to see, touch, and pleasure. We ladies especially might appreciate the reassurance.

5. Is there anything we haven’t done in the bedroom that you’d like to try?

I’ve written before about whether you should share your sexual fantasy and whether you have to go along with your spouse’s sexual fantasy. But most of the time, when you ask this question, it isn’t as big a deal as you might think. Several years into sexual intimacy, you should find yourselves more comfortable expressing a few outside-the-box ideas and more attuned to what your spouse would be willing to do.

6. What’s your best memory of us having sex?

Just as I wrote that question, I immediately started thinking how I’d answer. A few particularly memorable lovemaking sessions came to mind, and I bet you have your own. Why not reminisce together about the times that made you feel extra good and extra special?

7. What do you most like to do after we have sex?

Intimacy fostered by sex shouldn’t evaporate right after you’ve finished. Talk about your favorite ways to bask in the afterglow. Then make those happen more often.

8. What’s the funniest moment we’ve had during sex?

At this point in your marriage, you’ve realized things happen in bed that you need to have a sense of humor about, so give yourselves a bit of comic relief. Being able to laugh with each other strengthens your bond, and a sense of playfulness in the bedroom can deepen your enjoyment.

9. How do you expect our sexual intimacy to change in the next five, ten, or twenty years?

The apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). What’s past has happened, but you can press on toward holiness and happiness in your future, even in the marriage bed. Take stock together of what that might look like and what challenges you might face.

You can press on toward holiness and happiness in your future, even in the marriage bed. Click To Tweet

10. What do you most cherish about being one flesh?

But this question is your opportunity to express what sex really means to you. How does sex express and reflect you two being one flesh?

Ask some questions, and remember to really listen to your spouse’s answers. Don’t judge or defend, but discuss. Make your marriage a safe place to express what you feel and believe. That’s another kind of intimacy, and worth cultivating.

Shout out to my husband, who provided questions 7 and 10! Spock’s a smart cookie. 😉

What other discussion questions about sex do you suggest for a mature couple?

Other CMBA bloggers who responded to the challenge:

The Forgiven Wife: 10 Questions (for a Husband Who Doesn’t Like Questions)

The Generous Wife: 10 Questions for AnyTime-Weds

When You Don’t Know What to Pray for Your Marriage

On Saturdays, I’m encouraging us all to pray more for our marriages and marriage beds. But yesterday, I was in a chat window with Chris of The Forgiven Wife and said: Will you write my post on prayer for tomorrow morning? I got nothing.

Yep, as much as I have to say and love to write, there are still times when I stare at the blank page and what comes out is a big fat zero. Thankfully, Chris is a smart and encouraging friend who wrote back: No, I won’t write it. But that’s exactly what you can write about: how to pray when you got nothing.

Well, there is this scripture: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). So I guess groaning is an option. 😉

But as I chatted more with this friend, we discussed one of the best approaches for when we don’t know how to pray: Just pray the Scripture.

Title with woman praying, sunrise in background

For instance, you can open up the Psalms, find a relevant chapter, and simply make the words your own as you pray to God. But I also want to show you how this is easily done with marriage and intimacy verses.

Let’s take verses from the “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

How do you make that into a personal prayer to God? Here’s one example:

Oh Lord, please help my love to be patient and kind. God, I know that love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. But I struggle with these things. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Yet, I have done all of those in my marriage. Please forgive me and help me to love more perfectly. Never let me delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. Help me to welcome honesty and truth in my marriage. Guide me to always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere in my marriage. Give us a love that never fails — a love that resembles Your love for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You can leave some of the language as is, change other wording around to apply directly to you, and insert your own thoughts as you go.

What about a scripture that applies directly to your sexual intimacy? Let’s look at the oft-cited 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

And here’s my rendering of a prayer with that passage:

Dear Father, I pray that my husband will fulfill his marital duty to me, and I will fulfill mine to my husband. Help me to embrace that I do not have authority over my own body and to yield my body to my husband. In the same way, remind my husband that he does not have authority over his own body but should yield it to me. And help us to be responsible and loving with that authority You’ve given each of us. May we never deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that we may devote ourselves to prayer. Then bring us together again and keep us from Satan’s temptation. Strengthen our self-control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

These aren’t the only ways to pray the Scripture — just my examples. I used this approach somewhat in A Prayer for Your Sexual Intimacy and A Prayer about Sexual Temptation. For other scripture ideas, here are some that work for marriage:

Ephesians 5:21-33

Proverbs 5:15-19

Philippians 2:3-8

Psalm 128

If you have other scripture suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Also check out my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed, which includes 52 prayers for the sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Intimacy Revealed Book CoverWhat does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Ebook:
Amazon / Kindle | Barnes & Noble / Nook |
Kobo Books | Scribd | iBooks

Print:
Amazon

Q&A with J: Is It Possible to Have a Great Marriage (and Sex) Long Term?

When I read this question, I immediately knew I had to cover it. Because while the wife describes her specific situation, this is an all-too-common problem.

So my husband and I have only been married about 1 1/2 years. Lately when I’ve been visiting with other married women from church/Sunday school, they complain constantly about their husbands. If I try to say something nice about my husband, it’s met with “you’re newlyweds…just wait.” Its usually followed by an eye roll and a “husband’s just don’t understand” topped off with “I wish he would do”and ” I have no libido.” I know the honeymoon wears off eventually. But I guess I need encouragement that you can still love each other, have sex, and enjoy one another ten years down the road. I don’t want to dread my future marriage, but that’s what I’ve started doing and it’s started to affect the way I treat hubby. I want to start now to invest in the future so we CAN have a good marriage later. I guess I feel like maybe it’s not possible. Thoughts?

Isn’t that so sad? Didn’t your heart just sink at the thought of this young wife standing among Christian women who could be mentors, as Titus 2:3-5 prescribes, and instead they’re bashing their husbands and dismissing this wife’s desire to stay in Christ-like love with her husband.

Title with silhouette of embracing couple and sunset in background

Let me say emphatically to you, reader, Yes! You “can still love each other, have sex, and enjoy one another ten years down the road.” And 20 years down the road. And 30, and 40, and…

Is marriage without challenges? Of course not. You’re a sinner, and he’s a sinner, and you just merged your lives — with that equation, something will go wrong at some point. But it is more than possible to have a holy, healthy, and happy marriage. And wouldn’t you think the Church would be the one place where this would be announced from the rooftops?

It is more than possible to have a holy, healthy, and happy marriage. Click To Tweet

After all, Christ himself, when asked about the stiff requirements of salvation, responded, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26). Shouldn’t we be saying, “With God, a beautiful, intimate marriage is absolutely possible”?

Look, my own marriage hasn’t always been happy, but we’re definitely happy now and we’ve passed that 20-year mark. And I could name many couples who are also happy, committed, and, quite frankly, having sex like bunnies. No, I don’t know all the details, but I have conversations with enough wives and hear from enough spouses through this blog to guarantee that plenty of marriages are not just surviving, but thriving. Even those who’ve been married for decades.

Statistics support this as well. In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, The Good News about Marriage, she explains how the “half of marriage end in divorce” claim is complete bunk, based entirely on projections that turned out to be wrong. About two-thirds of couples stay together, and among those, statistics show that spouses are largely happy. The University of Chicago NORC posts annual findings on Trends in Psychological Well-Being, and in the latest year reported, 2014, spouses who reported being either “very happy” or “pretty happy” comprised a whopping 96.5%.

Now research also shows that marital satisfaction dips after you have children. That isn’t true for everyone, of course. But I’d feel remiss if I didn’t warn you that bringing a child into your home — if that’s something you and your husband plan to do — can temporarily affect your happiness. It’s not that you don’t adore your children and feel happy to have them in your life; it’s just that there’s stress, exhaustion, differences in parenting styles, etc. that go along with having children. However, if you know where the treacherous waters are, you might well be able to avoid them by being intentional in supporting one another.

As for sex, Sheila Gregoire reported in her excellent book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, that wives had their best sexual intimacy long after they were newlyweds. Not to discount what you’re enjoying right now (enjoy it, sweetheart!), but a decade or two into your marriage, you’ll know each other’s bodies even more and have a history of sexual intimacy that makes you feel even more connected. Quantity of sexual interaction often decreases, but quality increases.

So with all this good news, why are women in church standing around bashing their husbands and shushing the one wife trying to be positive?

I’ve been in that circle with those women. Not your particular women, but wives like that. Here’s how they typically work: One wife says something disparaging about her husband, and another wife is quick to jump in and agree. Now the tone has been set. Women, being relational in nature, want to connect with the people in our midst, so others join in with their own complaints — wanting to show I understand, we’re connected, we’re all in this together. Soon enough, it’s become a husband bashing session, and the way to gain acceptance and approval is to share your own can you believe my husband?! story.

Let me give you some practical suggestions in those moments. Look at the circle and find the woman who isn’t joining in. She might be an ally. When sex became the topic of conversation and I was often the lone voice of sex positivity, I realized someone else in the circle wasn’t talking. If I got that woman alone, I’d often find out that she agreed with me, but she just didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. So it turned out that I wasn’t alone. Sometimes that woman was even two women or three women or more. Cultivate those friendships and see if you can set a new tone together.

Seek other women who are marriage and sex positive. They’re in your church, because they’re in every church. Oftentimes, they are indeed the quiet ones, because the negative tone has been set by more vocal members. But turn special attention toward older women who’ve been married 25, 40, 50 years. I once sat down at church next to a wife who’d just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary and simply asked, “What’s the secret to fifty years?” Because here was this woman who had golden wisdom, and I wanted it. She wasn’t negative; rather, she was honest, godly, and helpful (she answered, “forgiveness”). Look for those ladies.

Keep speaking positively about your husband. If you maintain your positive attitude and share what’s so great about marriage, eventually they might stop brushing you off and start wondering what you’re doing right. You never know who you might influence with hopefulness and holiness. As Paul so aptly said in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Your marriage may be young, but you can still set a good example.

Your marriage may be young, but you can still set a good example. Click To Tweet

Finally, you’ve noticed a difference in how you’re feeling about your marriage and treating your husband. If these conversations continue to injure your marriage, walk away. Your marriage takes priority. The apostle Paul also said, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character‘” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Wives who continue to bash their husbands and encourage others to do the same seem to me to qualify as “bad company.” Since they are believers, try to alter the tone first, but at some point, you need to do what you must for your marriage.

Also, check out my post on Finding Friends to Support Your Marital Intimacy.

Hopefully you can turn the tide. I’m certainly on your side! I’m a happily married wife, and I know you can be one as well for many, many years to come.

When “I Feel…” Statements Don’t Work

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard the suggestion that instead of accusing your spouse of doing something you don’t like, you should re-frame your statement as: When ____ happens, I feel ______.

It’s a bedrock of communication advice, and it was overtly taught in my graduate counseling program. You’ll find this recommendation in marriage and relationship books galore and touted by therapists and psychologists. While I believe this can be great advice in some circumstances, I’ve come to believe it’s not the magic phrase that some seem to imply.

Title with couple on couching facing away from each other

Because I know what’s happening in some of your marriages: You’re frustrated with the sexual intimacy, and so you sit down with your spouse and heed this advice and explain your feelings about the situation. You’re calm, collected, and careful to use those words: When ____ happens, I feel ______. Like When we don’t have sex for two weeks, I feel personally rejected, or When you only touch me when you want sex, I feel used.

After all, if your spouse truly understood your deep feelings on the issue, you suspect they’d see things from a different perspective. After all, they love you, so surely they don’t want you to feel so bad all the time.

Yet it can backfire. And I want to be sensitive to that, and certainly not advise you to do something that could make the sexual intimacy situation in your marriage even more tense.

Here are times when those I feel statements won’t work, and what to try instead:

1. One-uppance. You’ve heard of comeuppance, but I’m calling this one-uppance because it’s the tendency of your spouse to want to one up you on whatever feeling you’re having. So you say: “When ____ happens, I feel ______.” And they answer, “Yeah, well, I feel _____.”

If you’re feeling rejected, they’re feeling exploited. If you’re feeling put upon, they’re feeling ignored. If you’re feeling mistreated, they’re feeling like divorce is imminent if things keep going the way they have. You can barely risk sharing a feeling, because you’ll immediately hear how their emotional pain tops yours.

What can you do? As hard as it is, maybe you can listen to and validate their concerns. Maybe you can say something like, “It sounds like we both have some issues here. I’d really like us to work them out.” Maybe once they feel heard, they can hear you better. Even if their issue is 10% of the problem, and yours is 90% of what’s really happening, remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. (See Matthew 7:12.) Take their concerns seriously, let them know you care, and then ask for them to listen to your issues as well.

2. Pooh-poohed. You share the trigger scenario and how it makes you feel, and your feeling gets pooh-poohed — belittled, discounted, brushed off. Your spouse argues that you shouldn’t feel that way. That your feeling is wrong or silly or a figment of your imagination.

Oftentimes it’s a lack of empathy, being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes — or body parts, as the case may be. Since they would not feel that way under similar circumstances, they flat-out don’t understand why you do. So the answer, in their mind, is for you to just stop feeling that way. For instance, if you feel unloved because you haven’t had sex in three weeks, you should just turn off that feeling because it doesn’t relate at all to what they understand.

What can you do? Explain how your feelings work. For instance, in a recent conversation with my hubby, he said (for the 10,725th time), “Stop worrying about that.” I finally looked at him and said, “I have no idea what that looks like.” Then I explained that, while that was an achievable goal for his male brain, I couldn’t just flip a switch like that. Once I let him know that his way was fine but it didn’t work for me and why, he was able to feel compassion and show patience with my situation. Just work toward building empathy by letting your hubby know how things work in your world, without dissing his world.

By the way, I believe some husbands pooh-pooh their wives’ feelings like this, not because they don’t care, but because it makes them supremely uncomfortable to see you hurting. In an effort to make the emotional pain end quickly, they suggest that you stop feeling that way. I just want you to understand that sometimes, it really does come from a place of love.

3. Seeing an Iceberg. Icebergs are peculiar things: 87% of their mass is underwater, so that you only see about one-eighth of what really exists. And that’s how some spouses treat let’s talk moments. You decide to share your “When ____ happens, I feel ______” statement, and what you get back is a reaction to the 87% of things you didn’t say. Whether or not they’re true.

Here’s an example: You say, “When you don’t make any effort for me to have an orgasm, I feel disappointed and like my sexual satisfaction doesn’t matter.” And he responds, “So sex is disappointing to you, and you’re not satisfied. Clearly, I’m not enough for you. You’d obviously rather be with someone else!” Say what?! Yet, some of you have experienced a similar conversation, and I say with true Southern honesty: Bless. Your. Heart.

What can you do? Stay calm, and let them know that those are not the issues at hand. You can also reassure them that their fears are unfounded (e.g., “You are the only one I want, but I want our sexual intimacy to thrive”). Then go back to the issue at hand. Too often we want to put our whole marriage on trial, when cases are one fact by fact, witness by witness. Let them know that you just want to deal with this one issue. If he wants to deal with other issues later, you’re open to discussing them at another time … and then follow-up.

4. DNA. You can’t argue with DNA, right? Which is why it’s such a handy argument to pull out when your spouse expresses a feeling that might require you to change. You begin with, “When ____ happens, I feel ______,” and your spouse responds that what you’re wanting isn’t the person they are. They were made differently, and you should just accept who they are.

If they have a nonexistent sex drive, that’s just the way God made them. If they have a ravenous need for sexual variety, it’s in their DNA. If they are uncomfortable with certain acts, that have no biblical commands or principles against them, it’s just who they are. Your feelings might not be good, but how is your spouse supposed to do something different to make you feel better when they’re dealing with hard-wired DNA.

What can you do? First, you can appeal to your own DNA, because why should only one of you get to claim that “that’s just how I am.” Although, frankly, that might end up in more argument. Perhaps you can get your spouse to recognize some other way in which they have changed for the better. Or even how you‘ve changed for the better? “Remember when I used to get angry about you leaving your coffee cups all over the house. But then I made a conscious effort to be patient and more loving. I’m still me, but a better me. What if sex is that way too? What if we could change a little bit toward each other and be more loving and connected?” If we can recognize the ways in which we have indeed changed in our lives, through decision and commitment, maybe we can take a baby step or two in the right direction.

Of course, my suggestions are also not guarantees. But I know that some of you have ended up in conversations like the ones I’ve described. And since I want to be as honest as possible about how to make headway in your marriage, I thought it would be useful to address this topic.

If you’re having conversations that end up like these, rethink your approach. Decide ahead of time how you’ll deal with your spouse’s protests, defensiveness, or frustration. And don’t give up! As inventor Thomas Edison famously said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”aybe ol’ Thomas had read Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Source: United States Coast Guard – How Much of an Iceberg is Underwater

Praying for the Right Words

There’s been a theme in my head this week: Using the right words.

Not only was it the topic of my Thursday post (Q&A with J: “What Should We Call Persistent Porn Use?”), it’s also been on my mind because of a disagreement I had with husband (yes, we have those, just like you do) and because of hours of conversations with customer service representatives about a mobile phone issue. It’s easy to become careless with our words and say something we shouldn’t or to choose words that trigger the reactions in others that we didn’t intend.

Doesn’t this happen to many couples when they try to talk about sex in marriage? We get careless and rattle off something we shouldn’t, or we settle on a word that means something different to our husband than it means to us. And then we’re trapped in a Word War, both of us sparring with language in ways that don’t bring resolution or unity.

How can you make sure your words convey what you mean? What can you say that will get your spouse to understand what you want them to know about sexual intimacy for you? What words will open up the doors of communication and promote well-being in your marriage bed?

What words will open up the doors of communication and promote well-being in your marriage bed? Click To Tweet

title with woman praying

The Bible has a whole lot to say about our words. It’s really pretty amazing how concerned God is with how we use language. Or maybe not, since He’s the one who spoke the world into existence (“Let there be light…“). Perhaps He knows best how words hold power. Here’s just a sampling of what the Bible says about our words:

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Given how important our words can be, do we pray about them? Before we verbally react to our spouse’s rejection or requests in the sexual arena, or before we even say not now or ask for something different in the bedroom, do we ask God to guide our words?

When God tasked Moses to lead His people to freedom, the first step was talking to Pharaoh. Moses prayed about it: “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’” (Exodus 3:13). The rest of the chapter is God answering that prayer with specific guidance to Moses on what to say.

Speaking to your spouse likely isn’t as worrisome as speaking to a murderous Egyptian king, but we should definitely take great care in how we speak to our beloved! In Song of Songs 2:14, the husband says, “Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet.” I’ll be the first to admit that my voice hasn’t always been sweet in my marriage. At times, I might have resembled Pharaoh more than Moses in how I spoke.

James 3:2 says, “ We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” Preach it, James! We need God’s guidance to keep our words loving, effective, and Christ-like.

We need God's guidance to keep our words loving, effective, and Christ-like. Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean that our words will never be strong or insistent. If your spouse is in the midst of sin, you need to speak up with loving firmness. But those are times when you need God’s guidance for what to say even more.

How about we pray for our words? Pray that we use the right words that can get through to our spouse? Pray that we listen to our spouses in how they hear us and adjust our speech accordingly? Pray that we guard our lips, avoid empty words, and build our spouse up?

Let’s pray for the right words.