I have one word for my life lately: discombobulated. Lately, I don’t know which way I’m going, what’s next on my schedule, and how I can keep up. I even found myself waking up this week at 1:30 a.m. to meet an article deadline. (I returned to bed by 4:00 a.m., but still…)
Anyway, I didn’t get my blog post written this week. But that’s okay because it gives me an opportunity to extend a last-minute invitation to wives to join a study being run by my close friend and fellow marriage blogger, Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife.
Here’s what she says:
I am leading an online study of the book Passion Pursuit, by Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery.
Passion Pursuit is for Christian wives in generally healthy marriages. If you are in marriage that involves on-going unrepentant sin (such as abuse, porn addiction, or infidelity), you are better off seeking professional or pastoral counseling to address those issues.
If you are a Christian wife who wants to learn God’s truth about sex and pursue sexual passion in marriage, this study is for you!
To read more about it and sign up (now because the deadline is tomorrow), head over to her post HERE.
We’ve had our current mattress for a few years, and it is sooooo comfortable. But we just bought a new one. Why? I’ll let clean comic Zoltan Kaszas explain (by the way, Jessica is his cat):
Yep, we discovered the hard way (or soft way?) that some mattresses perfect for sleeping do not work for sexual intimacy. A wedge pillow can certainly help, but even the pillow starts sinking in at some point.
Thus we were engaged last week in a lot of online research about mattresses, which included both the effectiveness in providing a good night’s sleep as well as the bow-chicka-wow-wow.
But I started thinking about all of y’all: Are you struggling to reach climax because your mattress makes thrusting difficult? Is oral sex challenging to do when your bodies are sinking into the mattress like concrete blocks in water? Do you have to avoid a particular area of the mattress because it’s sagging? Do your springs creak so loud the neighbors are notified every time a little nooky is going on in your house?
Perhaps a new mattress is what your sex life needs.
Yes, we all put this off purchase because (1) we expect mattresses to last for a very long time, and (2) mattresses are expensive.
How long does a mattress last?
Like some of y’all, my twenty-something son is sleeping on a too-old mattress — a hand-me-down mattress we bought before he was born. It should have been tossed years ago. Why?
Because mattresses should be replaced every 10 years, at the most. It might need to be replaced sooner. Indeed, Consumer Reports says it might be time to buy a new mattress if “you’re over age 40 and your mattress is five to seven years old. Remember, your body tolerates less pressure as it ages. As if getting older weren’t tough enough.” Gee, thanks.
Face it: Your mattress is only going to last 5-10 years. So if you’ve had one much longer, you need to consider how your past-its-prime mattress is affecting both your sleep and your sexual intimacy.
What about the cost of a mattress?
Yes, mattresses are not cheap. But think about it: How much time do you spend on your mattress? Actually, we spend about a third of our life sleeping or attempting to sleep. We spend 17 weeks, or 117 days, or 2808 hours having sex. (Some less, some more.) But that’s more time than you spend in your car or your kitchen or even the bathroom. Maybe it’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable in the space where you spend so much of your life.
We also know that quality sleep leads to better interpersonal interactions and to better health overall. Sex also leads to better health, meaning you need a good place to have it routinely. Seriously. It’s science. And your mattress can help on both those counts.
That said, you only have as much money as you have. So it’s a good thing that a lot of mattress companies have dispensed with the storefront and sell online, which cuts costs. These days, you can get a solidly good one for less cost by buying it online or shopping at large discount store (like Sam’s or Costco). But do your homework, because if you go this route, you won’t be able to “test drive” the mattress in store.
What features matter most?
Support and bounce seem to be the key aspects for a sex-friendly mattress. Support simply means the mattress isn’t sinking or sagging. More memory foam on top or softer springs makes for more sinking, but the mattress’s foundation (box springs, base) matters even more in determining how much support it has. Ideally, a mattress should have a center support to deal with our hips or knees push down more during sex (and sleep).
Bounce is how much the mattress pushes back against you. Think about a basketball: If a basketball is filled with air, you can press your thumb into it and it will “bounce” right back into shape. But if the basketball has lost air, pressing your thumb in causes an indentation, and it may not bounce back into shape. Likewise, your mattress should have some of that resistance against your weight to go back into shape. That will help when you’re making love to keep from making an indentation in the bed.
Within those parameters, what mattress you get is a function of your body type and preference. Some want a bed to be soft, and some like it firm. Some have back or hip pain that can be addressed with the choice of mattress. Some people weigh less, and some people weigh more.
And it’s even more fun when you and your spouse are not the same and have to agree on a mattress to share! In which case, you could go with a mattress that allows each of you to set your side to your preference. We are trying that approach: an air mattress with separate remote control settings.
But I’ll leave you with this story. Spock (hubby) and I went into one store to “test drive” the mattresses. We laid down on a display mattress, and he turned so that his back faced me. “Okay,” he said, “now scoot up close, so I can see how it feels with your hips near me.” I scooted up behind him. “Closer.” I nudged closer. “Closer.” At this point, I’m maybe two inches away from him.
I finally said, “Are you wanting me to spoon you here in public, in the middle of a mattress store?” He — oh, he of the Reluctant PDA Society — answered, “How else am I supposed to know how this mattress feels the way we actually fall asleep?” For the sake of all potential onlookers, I remained where I was.
But I did jokingly suggest, “How about next time we get into [sex position], you can thrust a few times, and we’ll see if the mattress is good for sex too? I’m sure that won’t make everyone in the store completely uncomfortable.” [Sarcasm at full throttle!] He laughed.
Summing up: Don’t do that. Please don’t do that. Just research, buy a mattress, and do your sex thing at home. 🙂
Today’s post is for the gentlemen. Listen up, guys: You’d be surprised how often I hear from a wife saying that she’s struggling with kissing or having sex or even finding her husband attractive because he doesn’t smell good.
And you might be one of those husbands who isn’t making his wife’s nose happy. Without realizing it. Please keep reading.
Women have a better sense of smell.
A couple walks into the house, and she scrunches up her nose, grimaces, and asks, “What’s that stench?” He furrows his brow and answers, “I don’t smell anything.” That’s not because she’s making it up or he’s not paying attention. Rather, her sense of smell is biologically superior, so that she can detect odors he cannot.
Research has shown that women have 43% more brain cells in the olfactory bulbs (where sense of smell is detected) than men. More importantly, gals have double the olfactory bulb neurons, which send signals about smells in our brains.
Women also learn smells better. In one study, men and women were exposed to specific smells. With repeated exposure, women increased their sensitivity to smell by 100,000 fold; that is, with only 1/100,000th of the smell, women could still detect the odor. Meanwhile, men showed zero improvement over time.
Why are we superior smellers? I don’t know. Ask the Creator. Or at least a biologist who can explain why women’s better sense of smell or man’s worse sense of smell uniquely position them to perform some role they typically have in society.
But the upshot is that if you didn’t put on deodorant, sheknows. If you didn’t brush your teeth, sheknows. If you didn’t shower, she knows. And it bothers her. Not because she’s trying to nitpick, but because her God-given sense of smell can’t help it.
Sorry, dude, but you smell more than she does. Now that can be a really good thing. Because wives are the ones who say things like, “When he’s away, I go into his closet, sniff his shirts, and savor his scent.” We’re attuned to that unique, masculine scent that belongs to our husband.
But he’s sporting not so much his masculine scent as a lacking-in-hygiene odor, he’s still sending that smell out more than we ladies do. Don’t blame me: it’s biology.
And fragrances — deodorant, aftershave, cologne — don’t balance a lack of grooming. One interesting study showed that while women and men can produce equally stinky sweat, fragrances combined with the sweat masked female underarm odor better than male odor. So use the deodorant, but don’t ignore the shower, the tooth-brushing, etc.
Smells trigger a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls our instincts and visceral emotions. This is why walking into a room that smells like your mama’s roast can elicit an immediate feeling of comfort, as well as hunger. Likewise, scents we connect with our loved ones can trigger emotions. But, again, smells and their related emotions can be positive or negative.
Plenty of research has connected scent with romantic attraction. A few studies have linked a higher testosterone scent as being more appealing to women (though results are not entirely clear). But women do tend to rate as better smelling those men who are genetically dissimilar — perhaps as a way for us to choose a mate who can balance our genes in our offspring.
Though perhaps one of the coolest studies is one in which women were asked to smell their own male partner’s shirt, a stranger’s shirt, and an unworn shirt. When exposed to their own man’s T-shirt (worn after good hygiene and diet, but no fragrance), women reported less stress and showed a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone. Moreover, those stress-relieving effects were highest in women who could identify their man’s scent and were thus aware of having been exposed to their beloved.
Point being: Your natural scent (unimpeded by body odor) can have a calming, and thus appealing, effect on your wife. Again, another reason why she might smell your shirt or your pillowcase when you’re gone.
What does all this mean? Well, you need to shower regularly, probably every day, and you might need to shower again before having sex. You need to use deodorant or antiperspirant, and if you don’t like the commercial products, look for natural alternatives. Keep facial hair clean and groomed. And brush your teeth, because breath matters too.
Ask your wife to give you the smell test and make sure you pass, because she is smelling things you don’t. So while you might think you smell just fine, her extra-sensitive nose might be catching some not-so-attractive odor and she really just wants your special man-scent.
And if you think it’s really annoying that your wife is so attuned to her sense of smell? Consider a study that showed women with a better sense of smell also reported higher sexual satisfaction and increased frequency of orgasms. You have to admit that finding is certainly curious.
Like many of you, my heart has been ripped apart and shredded over the recent stories of child sexual abuse by a subset of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania. While this latest report is so widespread that it sucks one’s breath away and makes righteous anger swell, it’s by no means the only story of church leaders taking advantage of their position to prey upon parishioners for the sake of their twisted sexual desires.
As someone who writes about embracing healthy and holy sexual intimacy, I contemplate how someone repeatedly abused by a church leader in this most vulnerable way can move toward healing. And how does their experience color their view of God?
While God is entirely opposed to such heinous acts, He has chosen through much of history to act through His people. Which is why these stories, of both Catholic and Protestant leaders preying sexually on adults and children, bother me most in the way they were handled by Christians who knew or should have known what was happening.
Did we support the victim? Did we demand accountability? Did we put into place boundaries that made acting on evil impulses more difficult, if not impossible? Did we oust those who would abuse God’s Church and embrace those whom Jesus would embrace?
Y’all, we have to do better.
If we want people to experience all the beauty of sexual intimacy that God intends for them to have and to have a relationship with Christ, they cannot be made pawns of cruel abusers. We must “learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17).
So what should we do as a Church about the sexual predators among us?
1. Identify the perpetrators.
Yes, a number of leaders who abused parishioners have been finger-pointed, but I fear we have a long way to go. We need to know who these abusers are to deal with the problem.
The reason the Pennsylvania grand jury report included so many victims is that the state set up a hotline for people to call and report their abuse. Why can’t Church do the same?
All denominations and individual churches should have a policy about reporting abuse, including a hotline to call or a clickable button on a website that allows someone to send an email to a trusted individual representing the church. The person receiving these reports should have training in sex abuse prevention and response. Of course, reports of child abuse or sexual assault must then be reported to the proper authorities.
But we need to encourage reporting and following up on accusations. We should lead the way in pursuing truth and compassion. We need to make it as easy as possible for victims to identify the perpetrators and thus stop the abuse from happening again.
2. Support the victims.
Jeremiah 22:16 says: “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.” Defending those who need defense is what it means to know God.
Too often, the Church has chosen to believe a leader over a victim, or simply placed leaders in such high regard that it can feel traitorous for a victim or victim’s family to come forward.
No matter how fabulous some preacher is or caring a priest seems to be, we cannot put those people on such a pedestal that evidence to the contrary will not be given consideration. We must keep an open door and an open mind and have resources to support those who have been abused within the Church.
Christian counselors, mentors, and support groups can help victims find healing and do so in a way that helps to preserve their faith. Churches should band together and create counseling centers, peer mentoring (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and support groups led by well-trained leaders. We should keep a list of community and online resources that can also help, including law enforcement and non-profit organizations.
We should mourn with the victim and not push forgiveness of the abuser too quickly, as I’ve seen some churches do. That makes what happened about the abuser, not the abuse. There will be a time for forgiveness, but go read Psalms and see how many times David asks God to crush his oppressor. We must allow sexual abuse victims to have those same feelings — to grieve what happened to them.
3. Pursue justice.
It’s not enough to know the abuse happened or to help the victim(s); we have to hold the abusers accountable and stop the abuse from recurring.
When Simon the Sorcerer tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the apostles, Peter answered, “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:21). Don’t we believe that sexual abuse is bad enough to warrant a similar response?
If someone uses the Lord’s church to prey on people, should they keep their position? Simply be moved to another position and retain their salary? Keep their retirement? Why? Why would we support that?
Can some abusers be helped? Changed? Redeemed? Yes, of course. But I don’t know anyone who experienced a transformation without confession, humility, and repentance. So if the abuser isn’t seeking help, they’re not likely to change — and we don’t owe them a place in ministry, or even our church.
Rather, we owe our congregants a safe place to learn, worship, and fellowship.
4. Embrace prevention practices.
We must open ourselves to the hard truth that the Church has at times allowed abuse to happen, even by such small acts as leaving adults alone with children when they shouldn’t have been.
I don’t know about other states, but Texas requires child workers to undergo Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, and that extends to week-long church camp staff. Thus, I’ve gone through the training for the last 4-5 years. It includes the statistic that more abusers are situational offenders, meaning they will offend if they see an opportunity. Since we cannot always know who might abuse, one goal of prevention is to provide no opportunity.
Churches can therefore enact such policies as:
having two adults present for youth and children activities
installing windows in all classroom and office doors
avoiding imbalance of power (like an adolescent left alone with a preschooler; sad to say, perhaps half of child abuse is committed by an adolescent)
conducting routine background checks of all staff and volunteers
requiring all staff and volunteers to undergo sex abuse prevention training
providing a clear set of steps to pursue if/when abuse is reported
We should be leading the way of best practices for protecting our members, especially children. As Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). We should do nothing that hinders our children from embracing the kingdom of God.
Honestly, the need for ministries like mine would be substantially less if the Church did a better job at handling sexuality in so many ways. But among all the things we struggle with, this is where my heart most breaks — where we have historically gotten things most wrong: We cannot allow the Church to be used by abusers as a gathering place for their victims. We have to fight sexual sin everywhere we find it, but most especially in our sanctuaries.
Next time you feel like God is telling you do something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, realize He sees stuff you don’t see. When I decided to take a month off blogging, I had no idea that my month would end up including family and health issues that would have made keeping up with my blogging schedule impossible.
But even with these additional challenges, I still managed to spend time thinking and praying about the direction of my ministry. And here’s what came from that experience.
Categorizing my content
I’ve written over 800 posts that cover a lot of topics regarding sexual intimacy in marriage, but they’re not sorted into topics in a drop-down menu so that you can easily see what I’ve said on issues like Oral Sex, Sexless Marriage, Higher-Drive Wives, etc. I want to remedy that. In fact, I believe it’s more important for my readers and visitors to find relevant articles I’ve already written than to produce new content. Because many people who come to my blog are looking for answers to specific issues in their marriage bed, and they need to be able to locate those more efficiently.
Blogging once then twice a week
I’ve been blogging three times a week, but I’ll be cutting back to once a week until I can get all those old posts categorized. Once the Great Sort is completed, I will bump it up to blogging twice weekly. Since the Q&A posts take the longest to write, that feature will appear every other week, so that can give each question sufficient attention and care.
Writing more books
Finding time to write outside of the blog has been a struggle. But God’s pushing me to prioritize two projects I’ve had on my plate for a while. Therefore, I’ll be finishing up Pillow Talk, a book that walks couples through communicating about sex, and then tackling my personal passion book for higher-drive wives.
Speaking at events
I had a wonderful experience speaking to women in Brookings, Oregon, and I’m looking forward to keynoting at a marriage conference in Utah in November. But I’d like to do a lot more speaking. I will be pursuing opportunities in the Houston area, MOPS groups in the region, and women’s and marriage events anywhere. I’ll also be extending my Speaker Fee Waived through June 2019. For more information about booking me, click over to my Speaking page.
Sex Chat for Christian Wives is one of my proudest accomplishments. In large part because it’s not mine: This podcast has the synergy of four Christian women committed to helping other wives experience God’s design for sex in their marriages. I’ve been blessed so many times over by my three co-hosts as well as our listeners, and I know it’s making a real difference. Consequently, I felt God telling me very clearly that we need to continue and even look for ways to expand our reach.
One of the coolest things that has happened this past year is the two closed Facebook groups I’ve been managing. A lot of great interaction happens there. I’d like to be spend more time investing in interaction, but moderating has taken more time than I expected. Consequently, I’m putting together a moderator application and training for helpers! If you’re in the group, I’ll be posting information soon on how that will be developing.
What else is coming my way is a bit fuzzy. But I feel confident that these core goals are the ones I need to be working on.
I suspect that I’ll get even more clarity when I attend the Declare Conference for Christian women communicators in October, where I’ll finally get to meet Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife in person. (I’ve already met Bonny Burns of OysterBed7, who is also coming.) I look forward to that time of refocusing and refreshment. I genuinely appreciate the financial assistance readers have provided to make this happen by donating through our GoFundMe account. (Which, yes, you can still donate to, because all of our expenses are not yet covered.)
I’ll be back next week with more content with the goal of helping couples, especially wives, experience God’s design for sex in their marriage — hot, holy, and humorous as always!