Tag Archives: christian marriage

August Is Romance Awareness Month

Reading that title, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would point this out on August 31. First of all, I didn’t know it was romance awareness month until we were at least halfway through August. Second, I’ve had kind of a crazy month so I didn’t get to this post as early as I intended. And third, does it really matter which day you become aware of the importance of romance if you then act on it in your marriage? The benefits of being romantic will still pay off in September, October, and beyond.August Is Romance Awareness MonthI have a section in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, about being romantic in the marital bedroom, giving specific tips on how to increase the Romance Factor in your sexual intimacy. I love throwing out practical ideas that couples can use right away and get an immediate payoff. That often fuels our desire to invest more in our spouse and our lovemaking.

But when I was recently asked about the romance between me and my husband, I realized something important: Romance is not one-size-fits-all. You have to decide what that looks like in your marriage.

Romance is not one-size-fits-all. You have to decide what that looks like in your marriage. Click To Tweet

If my husband brought me flowers on holidays, I’d wonder what had possessed him. Not merely because it would be uncharacteristic for him, but because getting flowers isn’t a longing of mine. It’s nice, but I’d far rather have other things.

It’s important to find out what makes your beloved feel desired, wooed, cherished. Here are a few ideas:

Undivided Attention.

Do you remember when you were dating, and you basked in one another’s attention? He wanted to be with you, you wanted to be with him, and if a world outside of the two of you existed, you didn’t know it. (Well, unless it was a particular sports season or the like.) You soaked up those moments, likely believing they would last forever. After all, this was true love (or twoo wuv”), and you’d always want to spend every moment you could with him.

And then you got married and life intruded. Or maybe life intruded before the wedding vows. Regardless, that early limerance didn’t last forever. Those feelings of infatuation and adoration can feel like a drug high, and eventually you sobered up. It’s a good thing, of course, that you’re not ignoring everything and everyone around you to be with your mate. While it’s often part of falling in love, it’s not practical for our long lives.

However, we can pendulum swing so far into ho-hum habits that we forget all those feelings. Those romantic feelings that came with clearing your calendar for your him, doing things together, looking your beloved in the eye, eagerly showing affection. If we want romance in our lives, and a long-lasting marriage, we have to make time for undivided attention. We have to remind ourselves and our spouse that the two of us are we. This is one reason I believe sex in marriage is so important. You can’t really engage in other things (at least not physically) while having sex. It’s an activity that requires focus on the two of you, as one flesh.

Thoughtful Gifts.

I first typed Gifts, then changed it to Thoughtful Gifts. Because, as I pointed out, I’m not a flower bouquet girl, so my hubby bringing me flowers wouldn’t thrill me nearly so much as if he brought me some office supplies. (Yeah, many writers get super-excited visiting places like Staples or Office Depot.)

Gifts that make an impression are ones that show you really considered the recipient. You know what she likes, what he enjoys doing, what will thrill the love of your life. And you make an effort to secure and present it.

Now I’ve written a bunch of posts here with sexy gift ideas for your spouse (for example, 8 Sweet Valentine’s Gifts for Your Spicy Wife and 8 Cool Valentine’s Gifts for Your Hot Hubby). You can peruse my blog, but you can also go to great sites like Gifts.com. (Seriously, you can get lost on that site finding all sorts of ideas.) I’m partial to the personalized items. Recently, I received a monogrammed picnic backpack from Gifts.com which combines my desire for undivided attention, my husband’s desire for practicality, and our need for romance. Giving this to my husband would say, Let’s go have some fun together! You know, in a park, or tailgating, or just spreading it out on our bedroom floor.

Happy Couple Picnic Backpack

This says, “Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers.” Song of Songs 7:11

Happy Couple Picnic Backpack - inside

It has a cheese board, y’all! An insulated wine bottle holder and a cheese board! And all that other stuff you see — 30 pieces total. Click on the picture for more info about this particular product.

Anyway, be prepared to take some time, think through what your spouse would enjoy, and then shop for the right gift. That extra thought can make the difference between a what were you thinking?! reaction and you know me so well! kiss. Make your offering sweet or make it sexy, but find a thoughtful gift.

Loving Words.

One of the aha moments I had when reading through the Song of Songs is how much those two lovebirds talk to each other about each other. It’s all ooh, my man is the sexiest and my woman is hotter than Helen of Troy. (That’s a loose translation.) They go on and on with verbal expression of love.

Now ask yourself when you last really told your husband how much you love him, with specifics. When you last complimented your wife’s appearance, skills, heart. Do your words regularly demonstrate romance and passion?

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Given their power, you’d think we’d use them more often to express love to our mate. For many, romantic words have real weight. Telling your spouse what you adore about him, how she makes you feel, what you want to do later in the bedroom…these are all ways to keep the spirit of romance alive and kicking.

If you’re uncomfortable saying the words, write them down! Or text your honey-bunny. Who doesn’t appreciate a good love note? It can be anything from a long love letter (for which I give tips in Hot, Holy, and Humorous), to a post-it note on the bathroom mirror, to ♥XOXOXOXO♥ texted to their phone. Just find some words to stoke the romance in your marriage.

So now you’re aware: You should be romantic in marriage.

Not that you didn’t know that, but we forget sometimes to make the effort. But don’t you think we should commit to show romance to the one we love?

What are your ideas for romance? What counts as romantic to you?

What First Turned Me On about My Husband

I’m going to be seriously honest right now. I’ve had a crazy last week, in which I shifted the family schedule to fall school hours, worked grueling hours to meet a project deadline, and posted nothing here. In September, I have an online course I’m teaching (not about marriage), a local conference I’m chairing, and plans for a terrific giveaway for Hot, Holy, and Humorous (which I will tell you about next time) that requires some additional planning and coordination.

I’m stressed.

On top of that, my husband is stressed, for all of his own reasons. So yesterday, despite our marriage being a happy one overall, we had a bad night. Now believe me when I say that we are so far down the road from where we once were, it’s like we traveled to a different planet. We had an argument, but I’m not the least bit worried about us. We’re in love, committed, and will be fine.

But I’ve been feeling sullen all day, and a little guilty about coming on my blog and saying anything that makes me sound like I know exactly what I’m doing in marriage.

After being absent for too long, though, I wanted to write something.

So I started to think about my husband. Not the negative stuff I was feeling last night or the aftermath hurt stuck in my gut. Rather, I’ve learned enough about marriage to know that was a blip and there are some really great reasons to love the guy I chose.

Memories can be a wonderful thing in this regard. Because I mulled all the way back to the things my husband first did to attract me to him. What flipped that switch to awaken my love for him? What made me eager to hold his hand, to feel his kiss, to say I do and get the other fabulous stuff? Why did I find him so appealing, so engaging, so — I’ll just say it — sexy?What First Turned Me on About My HusbandPracticing optimism about and appreciation for our spouses fuels a better attitude, a hopeful outlook, and a bit of swooning, if we do it right. So I’m going to share my reasons, and I’m hoping you’ll share yours in the comments.

He bought me an ice cube tray.

I bet you never imagined that would be the first thing I’d say. But it’s true! Spock (hubby’s nickname) and I lived in the same apartment complex, and we discussed how the apartments did not provide a sufficient number of ice cube trays. A day or two later, my guy knocked on my door holding two ice cube trays he’d picked up for me at Walmart. And yeah, that little gesture warmed my heart. Because it said: I thought about you when I was nowhere near you. You were on my mind.

To this day, I love finding out that my husband thought about me when he was in other places or with other people. It makes my heart flutter to hear from co-workers that “he talks about you all the time” or to discover he bought my favorite chocolate at the store. The truth is, most married people don’t spend the majority of their day together. And we don’t really know what’s happening in our spouse’s heads, so those little reminders that say, You were on my mind, can keep us feeling connected even when we’re apart.

He listened to me.

I have a history degree, and my primary focus was church history. I recall sitting on his apartment couch when we were first dating and him listening to me talk about the Reformation and Restoration Movements. He leaned in as I spoke, he asked questions that showed he was interested, and he indicated that he was impressed with my knowledge. Want to know what that moment did to my pulse?

Never mind that the subject was John Calvin or Alexander Campbell, the point is he made me feel like he wanted to be with me that moment, and the next moment, and the next. I wasn’t just a pair of lips or a pair of good legs hanging out with him. I could converse with this guy about deep things, and he respected my opinion — he liked me.

These days we often have some of our best lovemaking after a profound discussion on something completely unrelated. We might talk about current events or spiritual issues or personal challenges we each face, and the next thing I know we’re smooching and heading to the bedroom. Guess those thoughtful exchanges are a turn-on.

He touched me, often and easily.

In case you’re familiar with the Five Love Languages theory from Gary Chapman, one of the top two ways I feel loved is physical touch. It’s strange because I’m not touchy-feely with most people. Maybe it’s my introversion that keeps that circle fairly small. However, when Spock and I started dating, he seamlessly found ways to touch me.

He reached for my hand when we walked somewhere or when we rode in the car. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me in church and held a single hymnal for both of us. He put his arm around me when we sat on the couch to watch the World Series (1992, every single game). Something about that constant proximity made me feel protected, cherished, desired. And I desired him back.

I still adore holding his hand, although we also get to do things now like cuddling in bed, sharing a shower, and naked body massages. All that physical touch heightens my senses and arouses my libido. It also reminds me that we share something special, from the little goodbye pecks to the big sexual climaxes.

He made me laugh.

My husband’s humor can be dry. Like drought-in-summer dry. One time we were sitting together at a church group event, and he murmured something in response to what the speaker said. I don’t even remember what it was, but it cracked me up. And others around us didn’t get it. I was the one who understood and appreciated his humor.

Turned out, he was also willing to be silly, which I’m all for in life. Life is serious enough that we don’t need to killjoy our way through it, but find reasons to smile. Spock and I engaged in word play, dorky dance moves, and watching comedy films. I laughed at his jokes, and we laughed with each other.

I still think that makes him sexy. And it makes our marriage bed more enjoyable that we can laugh together. Surveys consistently show that women are drawn to a man with a great sense of humor. We enjoy being around someone who makes us smile — is it really surprising that it’s a turn-on too?

Yep, what first turned me on about my husband is what still turns me on about my husband. And after sharing all that, I’m feeling incredibly blessed to have such a terrific, sexy man for my husband.

Your turn: What first turned you on about your spouse? What still turns you on?

The Freedom to Make Your Marriage Better

Today it’s Independence Day in the United States, a remembrance of the day in 1776 when Americans declared their independence — although a took a few more years to secure it. Liberty is highly prized in our nation overall and referred to as a blessing in the preamble to our Constitution.

But it’s not like we invented freedom. Not by any means.

The Freedom to Make Your Marriage Better

From the moment that God put the first husband and wife, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, He gave them free will. That meant they could choose to follow His instructions or — as happened — stray off that path. One way or another, it was their choice.

Throughout Scripture, there are numerous other references to our free will. For example:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says. Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people’ ” (Ezekiel 3:27).

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Yes, God carries out His sovereign will, but within those parameters, He allows His children a great deal of freedom to choose for themselves.

That means that each and every day, moment by moment, we are faced with choices. We have the God-given freedom to follow His path for our lives or to reject it for our own selfish purposes. We can make mistakes, of course — because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus and God’s grace — but we’re always moving toward His will or away from it. Using our own free will.

Oh, how true this is in marriage!

No, I can’t control my spouse. Our mates have their own free will. However, I can choose how I approach my husband, our marriage, and even the sexual intimacy within. I can select attitudes, behaviors, and reactions that either comport with God’s calling for my life or stray from what He wants for my marriage.

I have the free will to make my marriage better, inasmuch as it depends on me.

I have the free will to make my marriage better, inasmuch as it depends on me. Click To Tweet

Ask anyone who had a bad marriage and ended up with a better one, and I bet they’d tell you things began to improve when they took responsibility for their own actions. Whether that was expressing their desires or explaining their concerns; becoming more vulnerable or setting boundaries; seeking outside help for depression or anxiety or simply learning to be happy.

Rather than waiting for your husband to fix everything on His end, or for God to swoop down like a genie and magically answer all your prayers, start with you. How can you use the freedom God gave you to make different choices today that will benefit your marriage and/or your marriage bed?

You don’t have to go from zero to sixty overnight. Just start moving in the right direction. Step by step, choice by choice, you can walk the path of freedom toward greater marital health. At the very least, your own heart and soul will benefit.

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Why Sex Should Be Hot, Holy, and Humorous

Today I’m having a bit of a celebration.

My new book Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design is now available! You can find it at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and maybe somewhere else I haven’t seen.

For my release, I thought I’d revisit the question of why Hot, Holy, and Humorous.

Why Sex Should Be Hot, Holy, and Humorous

Hot. Maybe I should have started with holy, since that’s really what matters to me most. However, I had a feeling hot was a huge missing piece for many Christians. I was rightly raised to believe that sex in marriage was the way to go and that it was a special experience to make love with your covenant partner. But to me, it sounded like all those people preaching this path had no idea just how steamy and sexy and satisfying sex really was. Too many of them kept the conversations so highbrow or low-volume that we might as well be discussing doilies at a tea party.

Let’s understand this: Sex is supposed to feel really good. Look at the difference between how God created the sex act for most animals and then how He gifted us — the ones made in His image — to experience sex. For animals, it’s primarily an urge, a release, a reproductive necessity. I’m not saying they don’t enjoy the moment, but I’ve never seen a bull grazing on grass and suspected that he was thinking, “Getting lucky tonight…oh yeahhhh.”

Meanwhile, we have the beauty of anticipation, desire, affection, foreplay, lovemaking, afterglow. And we can make love on whatever schedule we want — no mating season required. Plus, we ladies have a clitoris, which has absolutely no reproductive purpose whatsoever. It’s simply there for our stimulation and satisfaction.

God intended sex between husband and wife to be hot. Rev-your-engines hot. Steam-rising hot. Hunka-hunka-burning-love hot. And it’s entirely Christian to experience that gift from God.

Holy. Sex can feel physically good in many different contexts, but the full blessings of sex don’t come outside of the context God designed. God created sex to happen between a covenant husband and wife with all of His commands about love infusing the experience.

Although physically satisfying, sex has a higher purpose. It bonds husband and wife together (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:6), and it represents the relationship between our Lord and His people (Ephesians 5:31-32, Isaiah 54:5). Within marriage, sex should be a holy act of love.

Within marriage, sex should be a holy act of love. Click To Tweet

The biggest change in my own perspective of sex happened when I stopped compartmentalizing sexual intimacy and allowed every Scriptural command and principle to shed light on my marriage bed. Thus, every Bible verse about how to be holy . . . applies to my marital intimacy. If it doesn’t honor God to lie outside the bedroom, it doesn’t honor Him to lie inside the bedroom. If it doesn’t honor God to neglect my husband outside the bedroom, it doesn’t honor Him to neglect my husband inside the bedroom. If it doesn’t honor God to be demanding outside the bedroom, it doesn’t honor Him to be demanding inside the bedroom.

But it’s not just about all the things we shouldn’t do. Rather, we have the promise of something far more beautiful and meaningful and satisfying when we take all of the positive instructions from God into our marriage beds. Sex is holy, but also exciting and intimate, when we are patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, persevering (1 Corinthians 13:4-7); when we’re filled with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23); when we feel that depth of belonging and desire for one another (Song of Songs 7:10).

I genuinely believe God wants to bless our marriage beds! He has some parameters He asks us to follow, and He has wisdom on how to nurture our marriages by following His commands and His example of love. We should embrace the holiness of sexual intimacy in marriage, by God’s design.

Humorous. God is hilarious. I say this with absolutely certainty. If we’re all made in His image, consider how important our sense of humor is to us individually, in our society, and for our happiness. We didn’t get our wit or silliness from nowhere; it came from God. And, if you ask me, He told some humdingers.

Did you hear the one about a camel going through the eye of a needle? (Matthew 19:24). How about this instruction found in Exodus 20:26? “And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness” (NLT). Good point, God. Then there’s one of my favorite Bible stories when the judge Ehud gets an evil, and terribly fat, king alone and stabs him in the belly so far that the hilt of the knife disappears into the fat. After Ehud leaves and the king doesn’t let them back in, his servants don’t enter because they think the king is busy using the toilet. (Judges 3 – Thanks, God. Our Bible class full of elementary boys were truly engaged by this story!)

What does any of this have to do with sex? Well, you have to get naked, get in weird positions, communicate about things that used to crack us all up in junior high, and you have the ongoing possibility of getting interrupting by children or pets, accidentally pulling hair or pinching skin or even falling, and all the strange things that can happen with your body like a poorly timed fart. In the course of your long marriage, you may experience all kinds of sexual situations that are, objectively speaking, funny.

So learn to laugh in the moment. In fact, invite playfulness into your bedroom. Let your marriage bed be a place that is hot and holy, but also humorous. Lighten up and enjoy! Flirt and have fun. Use word play to discuss your lovemaking or one another’s body parts or to recall a private memory.

I don’t know if you currently have all three of these operating in your marriage, none of the three, or maybe just one or two. But I encourage you to think about what’s missing or what you can nurture more. God gifted us to have all three in our marital bedrooms — the hot, the holy, and the humorous.

And that’s why I wrote my book. It contains biblical and practical tips for helping you develop whichever one of these you need. Pick it up and let it bless your marriage!

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Amazon

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Q&A with J: Isn’t the Wedding for Grooms Too?

Today’s question is not so much about sex, but about marriage in general. It’s from a guy coming up on his wedding.

I’ve been looking at how modern society (at least in the U.S.) views the actual wedding, and it has me worried about my own wedding. I constantly hear the saying “It’s the bride’s special day”. Maybe I’m taking this too personal, but when I hear phrases like this, it makes me feel like as the groom that I am more or less an after thought.

When I think about it, it almost seems like aside from “I do”, the groom could be gone from the wedding and it would be almost exactly the same.

There’s no special attention to grooms on this day, at least in comparison to what the bride gets. Nobody watches us walk down the [aisle], nobody really comments on our appearance, etc.

While I understand that this is just one day in my life, I’m worried that if my wedding day goes as normal that it will set some sort of precedent that whenever something comes up for us as a couple that she will ultimately be the one who has the final say. Are these irrational fears/concerns? It just seems like weddings reinforce an attitude of “me, me, me” for the bride, when it should be an “us” for the couple being married.

Q&A with J: Isn't the Wedding for Grooms Too?

I found this interesting, because I think for many women, we feel like it’s the last day we get to choose everything. The wedding can feel like a final blowout for her opinions, a day to be the royal princess, while we expect that the rest of marriage to operate more like a democracy. Likely with the husband having 60% of the vote total.

I’m not saying this is how it is — just how it can feel for many wives.

Honestly, however, while you’re dating and engaged, you’re getting clues all the time about how your future spouse will behave and how your marriage — and sexual intimacy — might go. I recently had a discussion with a friend about people we knew who married despite some red flags and ended up divorced in a few years. Oftentimes they were warned by family and friends as well, but chose to ignore those concerns with the belief that “they don’t know him/her like I do!”

I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a problem in our culture that women do most of the wedding planning. Some guys are not interested and would rather just show up on the day wearing their tux and ready to say “I do.” But you do have an opportunity while preparing for your wedding to make sure this is the right person and to set some expectations for your relationship.

If you want to be involved, get involved. My man didn’t give much of a hoot about the particulars of our wedding, but he was opinionated about our wedding registry. That’s when couples choose what dinnerware, linens, etc. they would like to receive from well-wishes. He spoke up for what he wanted, and I happily included him.

What’s a problem is if you want to be involved and she won’t let you. That could be an omen for future dealings. Like that she’ll later plan the family vacations and ignore your input. Or you’ll want to talk about sex and she’ll cut you off. It’s not whether she does this or you do that in the wedding or the marriage, but whether you can work together to satisfy your different needs.

And by the way, guys, this means if she desperately desires your input, don’t say, “Whatever you want.” Just point to the china pattern you like best and move on.

If she’s a bridezilla now, she’ll likely be a wifezilla at some point. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes a loving person this way:

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.

If your bride-to-be is impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, dishonors others, seeks her own way constantly, gets angry with others, etc. Yeah, that’s a big ol’ red flag. Like waving in your face. It’s fine to have opinions and seek a wedding day you want to enjoy and treasure. But tearing out a path on your way to that destination like a tornado is not acceptable.

On the other hand, men, we ladies feel a lot of pressure for this day to go right. So if she’s not mean, but rather stressed-out, do your best to help her out and reassure her. Remind each other continually that your marriage isn’t about just the wedding day — that it’s only the start of something beautiful you want to savor for many years to come.

You’re watching each other. Having talked to plenty of wives, and gals love to share their wedding stories, I know that we have both cultural and personal expectations for our grooms. Some want their guy very involved, some want their guy to stay completely away from their tabbed wedding planner notebook, and most lie somewhere in between.

You may be watching how she acts during this lead-up to the main event, but she’s watching you too. You both can gather useful information now that will help you figure out how to deal with issues later. Are you able to both speak your mind with courtesy and respect? Do discussions turn into arguments, or do you find ways to negotiate a win-win? How does she handle her family, and how do you handle yours? (Important future in-law insight there!) What positive and negative traits does the wedding pressure bring out in both of you?

Pressure cooker moments in life tell a lot about us. (Just ask Job.) Since your marriage will definitely entail some pressure cooker moments, use this opportunity to learn how to work together effectively. You should both speak up for what you want, but at times demonstrate the marriage-necessary trait of selflessness.

A few final thoughts:

  • I strongly encourage you to seek premarital counseling. A quality counselor or premarriage class will force you to discuss important topics and make sure you’re on the same page or at least in the same book. (And that book should be the Bible.)
  • Consider how all these personality traits you’re seeing might affect your sexual intimacy. Yes, that’s what I write about, so it’s my wheelhouse. I see plenty of couples frustrated with spouses who are selfish in the bedroom, when really that’s kind of how they were about their relationship in general before they married. Not always true, but worth considering.
  • I’ve written about wedding nights before. So if you want to peruse any of that information, here are a few of those posts:

What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night?
What I Wish I’d Known before the Wedding Night
Q&A with J: Will Sex in Marriage Be a Letdown?

And finally, CONGRATULATIONS! Your marriage has an excellent chance of going the distance, especially if you both commit to God and one another. May He bless you richly!