Forget What You Look Like While Making Love

I no longer care what I look like when my husband and I make love.

Let me clarify. I do care about being clean, shaving my legs, wearing something sexy, etc. But I used to be so self-conscious about the expressions my face made or how my body might appear to him in certain sexual positions. I wanted to look beautiful throughout — just like how lovers look so attractive throughout the sex scenes in movies.

I confess to even sucking in my tummy or lying at an angle that made my breasts look more perky or posing in what I considered sensual ways. You know what happened? I just made it harder for myself to get fully involved in the experience. I was taking a part of my brain and focusing it on my looks rather than the sensations I was feeling, or his gaze-worthy body, or the intimacy we were enjoying.

How about you? Are you too aware of what you look like while making love? Are you self-conscious about your body and your facial expressions? Do you feel uptight in some way as you try to control how you come across to your beloved husband?

Blog post title + illustration of woman making satisfied expression

I suspect he’d rather you stop all that worrying and get far more into enjoying the experience. Just keep a few things in mind:

He’s in love with you, not your glamour shot.

Look, it’s great to spruce up for your husband and present yourself in a way that makes him feel special and you feel confident. But at the end of the day, your husband knows what you look like. You’re not going to fool him by sucking in every time he walks into a room, or he’s going to start wondering why you always look constipated.

If he’s interested in or responsive to making love, then your husband knows he’s getting the whole you — not the you from your 1990s glamour shot. And honestly, he’s no glamour shot himself. We are real people with real bodies, and our desire for sexual intimacy in marriage goes beyond what you look like in any particular moment. It’s about the life you have together and nurturing an even deeper connection.

Enthusiasm trumps appearance.

Husbands often tell me that they want their wives to express themselves fully in the marriage bed, untethered and with enthusiasm. What makes you look good to your husband is the expression on your face showing that you’re enjoying what’s happening and the shifts in your body that might make some parts less objectively pretty but show that you’re “into it.” He wants you to let go.

And I almost hate mentioning this, but I believe a big part of the appeal of porn for men is just that these women seem so eager and excited about sex. I am NOT saying you should be your husband’s porn star (jeez, I hate that saying), but it’s informative about what men intrinsically desire. What God intended is surely not for any man to use porn to satisfy these longings, but rather for a covenant husband and wife to be enthusiastic in their marriage bed. Just read how the wife in Song of Songs speaks: “Take me away with you — let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers” (1:4). She’s in a hurry to get busy, because sexual intimacy is part of her intense love for her husband.

Sex is funny.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Sex is a funny activity. It’s funny-peculiar and sometimes funny-ha-ha. Of all the ways God could have gotten this procreation thing done, we have to get naked, get into positions you don’t really use for other activities, and then make movements that are really quite amusing if you think about it. Personally, I think this shows that God is in favor of joy and fun for His creation, and we should embrace the humorous part of sexual intimacy in marriage.

Once you accept that as part of the whole deal, it frees you up to be more playful and vulnerable in the bedroom. Suddenly, when you grunt like a wild animal in the middle of sex, you’re not embarrassed, but rather tickled by how much you were getting into it. (Likewise if it’s him doing the camel grunt.) You don’t mind the funny facial expressions, because that’s part of the whimsy of lovemaking. Hey, even if you fart right in the middle, you two might just laugh rather than freak out (yes, it’s possible).

If you learn to lean into the experience, not stressing about your appearance, then you and your husband will enjoy lovemaking even more. And I’d bet you’ll look really good to him, all excited about having sex together.

But if this all sounds like a tall order for you — forgetting what you look like while making love — my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, has more tips on preparing for a night of vulnerable lovemaking and letting go in the moment.

Does God Care about Your Sexual Heartbreak?

In the worst years of my marriage, I cried myself to sleep. Not once or twice, but too many times. Sometimes the conflict was so bad that we’d be in the same bed, turned in different directions, not touching in any way, and both feeling lonely, even though our mate was inches away.

Some of you know what I’m talking about.

My prayer life then was fairly active, because I desperately wanted something from God: I wanted Him to fix my marriage. But in the back of my mind, I had this question: Does God really care about my heartbreak?

Because if He cared, why wasn’t He repairing all of our broken places? Like, yesterday?

blog post title + illustration of broken heart

But when I read stories in the Bible of devoted believers, they often spend time “in the pit” where things are tough and faith is tested. I’m not sure we Christians really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God’s deliverance.

Do we really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God's deliverance? Click To Tweet

Now that I’m on the other side, I can tell you three things for certain:

1. God cares about you and your marriage. He is attuned to your heartache, but He also has a point of view that you and I don’t have. He can see not only today, but tomorrow and the future. God’s willing to let us stew longer than we’re comfortable with, because He has an eternal perspective.

The Lord will allow us to endure emotional pain if it motivates spiritual growth.

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” ( Psalm 34:18).

2. God is answering, but maybe not how and when you want.

I wanted God to fix my marriage, which — to me — mainly meant fixing my husband. Perhaps you can see how this approach would go awry. But it took me years to understand that God was patiently answering my prayer, by pushing me harder and harder to look in the mirror. It was when I realized how unloving I’d been to my husband that I began to put godly principles into practice in my marriage. And that changed everything: my attitude, my behavior, and my husband’s response.

What if God is trying to speak to you, trying to nudge you in the right direction, but you aren’t truly listening? What if you don’t hear His answer because it’s not how and when you expected? What if the answer means you have to change?

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10).

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:4).

3. You’ll eventually be glad you remained faithful.

Of course, the problem with that statement is the word eventually. Are we talking next year, when our marriage begins an uphill climb to intimacy in the marriage bed and beyond? Or are we talking on our death-bed, feeling good about being faithful to the end but never really enjoying what God meant us to have? I really want to say that it will be next year or, better yet, next week. Especially since I fervently believe that living according to God’s plan produces positive results not just in the afterlife, but immediately in our lives right here.

But I’d be lying if I guaranteed something. I don’t know when it will happen, and you can only control your part of the equation. But I believe God’s promises that we will be rewarded for faithfulness.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

He’s listening, He cares, He’s answering, and He’s preparing a reward for righteousness.

In the midst of tearful days, that may be hard to believe. But continue to pray for your sexual intimacy, and then listen for His voice. Take baby steps in the right direction, putting into practice what you have learned through prayer and study.

Intimacy Revealed CoverTo help you focus on this task, pick up my book Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which walks you through Bible study, questions to ask yourself, and prayer time to start making the changes you and your marriage bed need.

(Apology: I changed the cover on the ebook, and it messed up the paperback version. So that’s currently not on sale. It will be up next week—promise!—just as soon as my graphic designer gets back from her weekend with hubby and sends me the correct file. 🙂 )

Q&A with J: “What about an Adult Nursing Relationship?”

Sometimes I get questions and I wonder if I should answer them, because then I’ll be introducing people who don’t know about a certain practice to that practice, and is that a good idea, and will someone read the question and answer and shudder… Anyway, since I’ve been asked this 3-4 times, I thought it was time to answer the question on my blog. Here’s a recent query in this regard:

Something I have recently been reading about & simply unsure how to process is the subject of ANR (adult nursing relationship) in essence breastfeeding your husband. First obvious thought was “WHAAAT?!?” But I know I really enjoy breast stimulation as foreplay, like REALLY enjoy it. I have breastfed our children & while doing so my husband & I just kind of considered breasts off limits in a sexual sense. I’m currently pregnant [again] & the thought of no more stimulation from my husband after baby starts nursing is really….sad. But am I weird to even consider wanting that type of relationship? I am in no way sexually aroused by infant nursing, that’s a completely different category! & to be honest I still think that a true ANR relationship is strange. Nursing your husband multiple times a day for at least 10 minutes? Ain’t nobody got time for that! anyway, sorry for the strange email.

As I said, you’re not the first person who has asked.

Blog post title + silhouette of man and woman embracing

Let’s first cover what an adult nursing relationship (ANR) is not. It’s not your husband simply using his mouth on your breasts because it’s pleasurable to both of you. That’s foreplay and/or sexual affection. If he likes kissing, licking, or sucking your breasts, and you enjoy it as well, go for it — whenever you both want. (Well, I mean within reason: Don’t horrify your neighbors by doing it on the front porch.)

ANR, also known as erotic lactation, is the exchange of breast milk between two adult sexual partners. So basically, the wife produces breast milk, and the husband drinks it right from the breast.

Sometimes ANR is established while a woman is breastfeeding, and the husband tries her milk, and they both enjoy the experience so they continue. Other times, many times, a wife must induce lactation — through massage, nipple stimulation, sucking (with his mouth or a breast pump), and perhaps even drugs that help the process along. Breast milk works on supply and demand, so for lactation to continue, regular feeding must take place.

Some of you are asking: Why would anyone want to do this? Here are a few of the reasons commonly given:

  • Breastfeeding can be an erotic experience for some women particularly sensitive to the nipple stimulation. Some moms might feel bad about these feelings when they’re nursing a baby, but with their husband they get to lean into those feelings.
  • Oxytocin is produced while nursing. In mothers and infants, this body chemical helps establish bonding. Some participants feel ANR does the same thing for their marriage.
  • We associate breastfeeding with caretaking — the women takes care of the one being nursed, and the one being nursed feels taken care of. That dynamic is appealing to some couples.

The next question might be: Is ANR wrong? Well, there’s no biblical command against it, and indeed the Bible talks positively about a husband enjoying his wife’s breasts (Proverbs 5:19). So the next step is to see if ANR lines up with biblical principles.

And this is where I think of the scripture that says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23). Thus, is this practice beneficial and constructive?

I have some concerns. First off, when I said that we associate breastfeeding with caretaking, that’s true — but we associate it with mothers caretaking infants. Which is why some readers have cringed as they’ve read this post, because it just seems so … infantile. Like didn’t we outgrow that?

I’m not saying that’s what’s happening in all cases, but I’d be asking questions about why a couple wants to engage in this practice. Is it an attempt to make up for something missing from childhood? Is there something about feeling childlike or motherly with your mate that appeals to you? If that’s part of the draw, then rather than establishing an adult nursing relationship right away, deal with the underlying issues.

Second, it is not easy to keep lactating for years. If you don’t regularly nurse or express your milk, you could experience engorgement, a rather uncomfortable feeling; blockage of milk ducts, which require releasing; and even an infection that requires medical intervention. Moreover, the supply could go away, and then you have to start over with inducing lactation. It’s a lot to ask of a woman.

Third, some women lose erotic feelings while nursing. Plenty of women report a decrease in libido and sensation while breastfeeding, so an ANR relationship might be counterproductive to the main event — sexual intercourse. I’d be concerned if regular suckling took the place of foreplay and sex.

Fourth, it’s pretty one-sided. Yes, I know that she might enjoy the experience as much as he. But she is doing all the actual work of producing milk, keeping it going, dealing with engorgement or blockage or infection, and perhaps leakage. Yes, he has to suck, but ask nearly any guy if he feels like it’s work to suck a breast and he will say, “Nice work if you can get it!”

Finally, I believe in sex. By that, I mean that we don’t have anything from God talking directly about ANRs, but we do know that He created sex that involves breast play (Song of Songs 7:7-8), releases Oxytocin with physical touch and climax, and involves taking care of each other‘s needs and longings. I’m just not sure the primary benefits of ANR can’t be achieved by going with what we already know God designed.

That said, I won’t say that ANR is wrong. I don’t think it is. But it is a somewhat strange practice and quite an undertaking, so I wouldn’t advise anyone stepping into this lifestyle lightly. Ask why it appeals to you, whether you could find other ways to meet your physical touch and bonding needs, and then make your choice on whether you want to pursue this.

Don’t Have Time to Read about Sex? Then Listen.

I recently posted something on my Facebook page about the Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast, and one commenter responded: “Wait you have a podcast? I didn’t realize!!”

At first, I thought: Really? You didn’t know? Because this is the header on my Facebook page:

Facebook Banner with photo of my book and podcast logo: "Check out the Book and the Podcast"

Then I thought about how often I scan stuff or don’t recall what I’ve seen. Not to mention that I’ve heard about a gazillion times that people need to see something repeatedly to remember it. I admitted that my fairly new podcast could have easily gotten lost among the noise of life.

So I wanted to make it easy for y’all, in case you haven’t listened yet. Below are links to all the episodes we’ve done. And by we, I mean this group of ladies:

Sex Chat for Christian Wives Facebook Banner: showing J, Bonny Burns of OysterBed7, Gaye Christmus of Calm.Healthy.Sexy, and Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife

It’s not my podcast. It’s a podcast in which four marriage and sex bloggers — me, Bonny Burns of OysterBed7, Gaye Christmus of Calm.Healthy.Sexy., and Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife — sit around a virtual kitchen table and discuss various topics. You’ll see the span of stuff we’ve covered so far below.

  1. Episode 1: Getting in the Mood – We launch our podcast with a conversation about getting your mind and body ready for sexual intimacy
  2. Episode 2: Sex Positions – Going beyond the missionary position, we talk about how and why to try new positions
  3. Episode 3: 50 Shades of Here-We-Go-Again – With the release of the second movie in the Fifty Shades series, we talk about this phenomenon and what wives should know
  4. Episode 4: Stress & Sex – Stress impacts our ability to engage in sex in marriage, so we discuss realistic ways of dealing with this obstacle
  5. Episode 5: Sex Scheduling – We talk about putting sex on your calendar, whether and how you should do it, and what benefits it might have
  6. Episode 6: Women’s Sexual Response – Discussing how our sexual response really works and what many people misunderstand about female arousal
  7. Episode 7: Exercise and Sex – Talking about why exercising is important for your sex life, not to mention your health and wellbeing
  8. Episode 8: Sex Toys – Covering what benefits, drawbacks, and concerns are involved with the use of sex toys
  9. Episode 9: Listener Questions –  Chris, Bonny, and Gaye answer questions about honoring feelings, multiple orgasms, and erectile dysfunction
  10. Episode 10: Tending Your Garden – We talk about taking care of your “garden,” aka your lady parts; hygiene, grooming, and decorating
  11. Episode 11: Introducing the Podcast Team – Digging deeper into who we are and why we do what we do
  12. Episode 12: Guy Talk – The Importance of Sex – Chris interviews men from the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association core team, and we comment afterward about their male perspective
  13. Episode 13: Mismatched Sex Drives – We chat about the challenge of differences in sex drives and how to handle the mismatch

And tomorrow, look for a new episode with more Guy Talk.

I’m planning to add a fourth day to my blog every other week, in which I share the new episode so that you won’t miss it! But the best way to make sure you are plugged into our (fabulous) podcast is to subscribe to new posts through our RSS feed, and/or find us on your favorite podcast provider. We’re on iTunesiHeart, Stitcher, and more. I personally listen to podcasts on the Pocket Casts app, and I had no trouble finding Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

Now and then, we encounter some audio issues, because (1) we’re recording the episode via Skype phone call and (2) we are not audio engineers. But we have purchased better equipment, continue working on our editing skills, and try to provide the best episodes we can. Regardless, we believe our content is absolutely worth your time.

We’d love for you to listen, leave a review on iTunes or other podcast provider sites, and share our podcast with others. We want to spread the message about God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage and address the challenges we wives face in embracing that gift fully.

Also, as someone recently said to us, “it sounds like y’all have fun.” We really do. We enjoy one another, our conversations, and the experience of inviting other wives to slide their own chair up to the virtual kitchen table and listen in.

Screenshot of Skype phone call, with all four of us smiling

Having fun on the podcast!

How to Pray for Sexual Intimacy in Your Marriage

I’m out this week at church camp, where I volunteer one week every summer and teach a writing class as well as Bible content to kids. With my time limited and the internet spotty at my location, I’m re-running a few favorite posts this week. Enjoy!

Blog post title + woman praying (just hands and torso showing)

Yeah, I totally get it. It feels so awkward the first time you pray about your sex life. Perhaps you prayed before marriage about avoiding sexual sin and maintaining purity.

But you’re legit now. God created sex for you — a wife in a committed, godly marriage. So once you’re married, it’s time to shift your prayers to inviting God to bless your sexual intimacy.

So how do you pray for sexual intimacy? Consider addressing the following areas:

Healthy body image. You should feel good about the body that God gave you and the delight that it can bring your husband. If you feel shame about your appearance or unveiling yourself before your mate, ask God to help. Pray something like: “Lord, help me to see myself as You see me. Help me to also see the beauty that my husband sees in me. Guide me to be confident and open in sharing my body with the mate You’ve given me.”

Healing from the past. Many wives bring sexual baggage into the marriage. Perhaps at one time you were molested or promiscuous or taught that sex was a bad thing. Whatever your past hurts, bring them to your Lord and ask for healing: “Father, release me from the faulty ways I’ve viewed sex in the past. Give me strength and peace to trust Your plan for healthy sexuality in my marriage. Help me to replace that painful perspective from my past with Your truth.”

Pleasure. A common struggle for wives is learning to truly enjoy and surrender to the experience and sensations of sex. God made you to be a sexual being in the context of marriage. He doesn’t want you to merely endure sex with your husband, but to discover your mate in an intimate way, to enjoy the physical sensations, to fully embrace the experience. Pray something like: “Lord, help me to surrender whatever mental and emotional obstacles are in the way of my experiencing sexual pleasure. Help me to relax and rest in the security of Your plan and in my husband’s arms. Awaken my senses so that I can delight in the ways that my husband touches me and the way this body you gave me responds. Help me also to give my husband pleasure.”

Communication with husband. If you have problems in this area of your marriage, you may need to communicate with your husband — explain how you feel, what you desire, and discuss how to achieve your mutual goals and God’s design for marital intimacy. But for some wives, talking to your husband about sex can feel even more awkward than talking to God. What will he think? How will he react? Take that concern to God in prayer: “Holy Father, give me the courage and the words of wisdom to approach my husband and discuss our marital intimacy. Give him an open ear and an open heart. Help us to pursue being of one accord in our sex life together.”

Easy peasy, right? Well, maybe not at first. But give it a shot. God is ready and willing to hear whatever you want to talk to him about … including sex.

Post first run September 13, 2013 on Unveiled Wife.