Tag Archives: married sex

A Great Sex Life Requires Effort

I’ve been reading up lately on sex research, so you’ll probably see more of that on my blog. I’m in favor of well-conducted research about sexuality, because good science will confirm God’s design. He’s the one who created this universe, so if something’s true it should show up in the facts, even though faith is an important component of putting it all into practice.

One caveat: Not all scientific research is well-done. Sometimes researchers go in with a set of expectations and use a confirmation bias with the results. That said, we can learn a lot from well-performed studies. And today, I want to highlight one that goes right along with biblical principles.

Blog post title + couple helping each other up a mountain

As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Toronto set up a study to uncover the secret to a happy sex life in long-term relationships. Of course we all want that secret, right?

They wanted to see if it made a difference whether couples viewed satisfaction as the result of “sexual destiny” or “sexual growth.” One researcher defined these terms as follows:

“People who believe in sexual destiny are using their sex life as a barometer for how well their relationship is doing, and they believe problems in the bedroom equal problems in the relationship as a whole.”

“Whereas people who believe in sexual growth not only believe they can work on their sexual problems, but they are not letting it affect their relationship satisfaction.”

I bet you can already guess which one I think is going to win this tortoise-hare race. And you probably won’t be surprised by the results either.

Basically, the sexual satisfaction for both sexual destiny and sexual growth couples is high in the first two to three years, with no real difference. It’s that honeymoon phase we all talk about, when you can’t imagine wanting to do anything more than hang out in your beloved’s arms and stare into his soulful eyes.

And then you day, you wake up and realize that your spouse is a truly flawed and rather irritating human being. And you just signed up to have this person as your roommate for life.

Okay, I exaggerate. But the shine does tend to wear off a bit for most. It’s just what happens as our lives get complicated. Seasons bring new challenges, our bodies change, our expectations alter, old baggage comes for visit and wants to stay, busyness takes hold, and much more.

So now what? Is your sex life likely to taper off, or even take a nose dive?

Apparently, it depends.

Based on the 1900 participants in the study, researchers concluded that those who had a sexual destiny perspective showed less satisfaction and ability to work through problems in their relationship. Those who expected sexual intimacy to require ongoing growth fared much better.

This all makes sense because if you think something will be easy and then it’s not, you’re far more likely to think it wasn’t meant to be. Whereas believing that something will require effort means that you aren’t caught by surprise when challenges arise; rather, you were primed to expect them and be willing to work through them.

Sexual destiny believers sound like those who promote the idea of sexual compatibility. Many claim you need to sleep with someone before deciding to get married because it would be terrible if you discovered post-nuptials that you’re sexually incompatible. But we’re not static people all through life, not even in the bedroom. Rather, what singles should do is (1) adopt a sexual growth philosophy, and (2) marry someone else with a sexual growth philosophy. Then you’re both willing to put forth whatever effort you need to have satisfying sexual intimacy for the long haul.

And if you’re already married? It’s not too late! These researchers influenced participants’ beliefs by sharing information that either supported the sexual destiny or sexual growth perspective and then studied the results. Since we now know that sexual growth is the way to go, you can adopt self-talk that promotes that view.

You now know that if sex isn’t easy or satisfying or exciting right now, it doesn’t have to be that way a year from now, a month from now, or maybe even tomorrow. It certainly doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. You and your spouse can grow!

Take to heart just this sampling of messages from the Bible about the rewards of exerting effort in the right direction:

“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward” (Proverbs 12:14).

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

“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).

If things aren’t peachy keen at the moment, don’t give up! Don’t accept the status quo. And don’t doubt the love you have for each other. Rather, convince yourself and communicate with your spouse about the effort you need to exert to achieve a happy sex life, one that satisfies both of you and honors your Heavenly Father.

Choose sexual growth.

Source: Science Daily — Study reveals secret to a happy sex life

Sex Tonight? What Does Your Magic 8-Ball Say?

Magic 8-BallWhen I was growing up, there was a toy that many of us played with called a Magic 8-Ball. Manufactured by Mattel, it looked like a pool table 8-ball but had an icosahedral (20-sided) die inside. When you asked a question and then shook the ball, one side of the die would show up through a window to give you an answer.

I never had one myself, but I played with others’ magic 8-balls. It was fun to ask random questions and then see such answers as: “Without a doubt”; “Cannot predict now”; and “Don’t count on it.” It was all a game, of course.

But I was thinking about how we often have a set of ready answers when it comes to having sex in marriage. It’s like we have our own internal magic 8-balls and whenever our husband asks, “Do you want to have sex?” we shake up the ball and spit out one of the preprinted replies.

The original possibilities for the magic 8-balls included 10 positive responses, five wishy-washy, and five ain’t-happening:

● It is certain
● It is decidedly so
● Without a doubt
● Yes definitely
● You may rely on it
● As I see it, yes
● Most likely
● Outlook good
● Yes
● Signs point to yes
● Reply hazy try again
● Ask again later
● Better not tell you now
● Cannot predict now
● Concentrate and ask again
● Don’t count on it
● My reply is no
● My sources say no
● Outlook not so good
● Very doubtful

Those aren’t terrible odds. If your hubby approached you to make love, it might be a nice deal if half the time he got a positive response, one-quarter of the time he got what amounts to “you can talk me into it,” and only one-quarter of the time was a no. Of course, it would be even better if the nos were fewer and the yeses or maybes higher, but for some marriages and some seasons in marriage, a 75% success rate of experiencing sexual intimacy when a higher-drive spouse initiates is a decent result.

But you know what? I bet a lot of us wives have an internal magic 8-ball stacked with negative responses. Maybe half of the time, your set-point is no. Or maybe it’s just a whole lot of maybes — with your willingness contingent on all of your to-dos getting done and the stars aligning just so.

And yes, I know, it could be you with the higher desire and your husband whose magic 8-ball could use a substantial adjustment.

Refusal of sexual intimacy isn’t a game to the one who’s asking. If the higher-drive spouse wants to make love, it’s usually not about physical release or recreational enjoyment. As I’ve often said, if it was just about the orgasm, they could get that done without you. Rather, the desire to make love, and the rejection felt when the nos pile up, run much deeper.

Maybe like me, you toyed with a magic 8-ball when you were young. You asked questions like, “Will we have a pop quiz tomorrow?” “Am I smarter than my sister?” or “Am I getting the gift I want for Christmas?” The results you got were interesting or even funny, but they didn’t really matter. However, perhaps you also asked relational questions like “Will I get invited to prom?” or “Does the guy I have a crush on like me?” Remember how you felt when the negative answer kept coming up over and over? Even though we knew it was a toy — just a silly way to pass the time — we longed for a positive answer and felt a sense of disappointment when it didn’t happen.

Now imagine that’s real. Your husband approaches you for sex, you shake up your magic 8-ball, and a negative answer spits out time and time again. What kind of disappointment does he feel?

I recently shared one of my archived posts, Be His “Sure Thing”, on social media and received several positive comments and shares. Because I think this is one of those game-changing ideas in marriage, that saying yes to sexual intimacy should be the response that our spouse most hears. As I said in that post:

There is a deep warmth that comes from knowing that your spouse is your “sure thing” — the one who will talk with you when you need conversation, who will embrace you when you need to be held, who will make love when you need to feel that one-flesh physical connection.

In marriage, we’re supposed to be there for our spouses in all those ways that make us feel loved. Your way might involve more affection or conversation, but his way might focus on mutual sexual pleasure. Or vice versa. And that’s a completely legitimate way to express love in marriage. It’s God-made and Heaven-endorsed.

I’m not saying you can never say no. I think that’s a legitimate answer when circumstances force sexual intimacy to take a temporary backseat to other needs in your lives. (Although I highly recommend rain check sex.) But how’s your internal magic 8-ball? How many of your possible answers are positive? Do you need to rewrite a few?

Cultivating Romance and Awesome Sex in Marriage

I’m back from France! It was a lovely trip, although I missed my husband terribly (twelve days away from each other) and I returned with a nasty cold. Looking at my draft posts for what to put up today, I realized I’d never properly shared a couple of interviews I got to do with the Awesome Marriage podcast.

Dr. Kim Kimberling, host of Awesome Marriage, is a professional Christian counselor with oodles of experience helping relationships thrive, not to mention his own happy 40-year marriage! He interviewed me for one podcast, and his producer, Christina Dodson, interviewed me for a second podcast — a bit of girl talk, so we could go a little deeper into the subject.

I really enjoyed both of these conversations, and the content is well-worth your time. Here’s a clip from one of episodes:

Now I encourage you to tune into one or both of these podcasts. Just click on the image below to go to their web page where you can listen. Or find the episode on iTunes or other podcast providers.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO FIND THE EPISODE

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO FIND THE EPISODE

And remember that the best place to go for what I have to say about sex in marriage by God’s design is my book, Hot, Holy & Humorous. Check it out here!

Q&A with J: What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom?

Today’s question is from a wife who’s been married for a while, and they’re encountering an ongoing problem. Despite making sex a regular part of their marriage, they’re still struggling:

Please address the topic of a passive withdrawn husband. Mine never initiates, asks, nor jumps in to ravish, nor does he do foreplay, nor sexual talk, nor sounds.  Our sex live has been unsatisfying for us both. He believes God has told him that His will is for married couples to have sex everyday. We have tried this for a while. He liked it, but I still never felt connected.

We both understand that often a women’s body will warm up sexually after her mind. That the couple starts foreplay, and then in a while, she will get turned on. Only thing, with him being so so passive, and not doing anything, nothing much happens. He often is too limp to proceed, or even though I’m not ready, I let him penetrate just so he can quickly climax and go to sleep. I have been very clear, that I am interested to make love, but I need him to make a direct move, pass…..not be like a 90 year old man shuffling down the hall with his walker.

Q&A with J- What If Hubby Is Passive in the Bedroom- with illustrated couple in bed

Let me start with this tidbit: We’ve got this idea that 99.9% of men are ready, eager, and assertively pursuing sex in their marriages. It’s been conveyed directly, indirectly, and through both secular and religious messages. But it’s just not true.

Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband.

Sometimes the passive, lower-drive, or even disinterested mate is the husband. Click To Tweet

It could be that something’s amiss, or it could be his biological makeup or personality. But I just want wives reading this, and those dealing with something similar, to understand that perhaps 15-25% of marriages have a higher-drive wife who longs for more frequent and intense sexual intimacy.

And now, the question when one spouse isn’t interested or active in the marriage bed is why. Why is this person not grabbing hold of this gift of sex in their marriage? It’s quite possible something has gone awry, so here are some possibilities for your husband:

  • Low testosterone
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Shame about sex, based on poor teaching or past experiences
  • Porn use (past or present), which interferes with the brain’s arousal mechanisms
  • Depression/anxiety disorder
  • Relationship conflict or discontent
  • Prior inability to perform, affecting his confidence
  • High stress, and the resulting body chemicals that block arousal

The only way to know what’s going on, and thus how to proceed, is to communicate about your sex life. All too often, though, what we do is start that conversation with a complaint about our own dissatisfaction with sex. Instead, I challenge you to open yourself up more, create a safe atmosphere for him to share, and dig deeper by asking questions and really listening.

If his body simply isn’t cooperating with libido or responsiveness … well, that’s a very different issue to deal with than if he’s secretly watching porn. Dealing with depression calls for a different answer than relationship stress. Once you find out what’s going on, you can better address the challenges.

All that said, it’s possible nothing’s particularly wrong. If your husband is passive in other areas of life, he might be passive in the bedroom too. I’ve talked to wives whose husbands were shy in flirting, asking them out, popping the question, and so on … and then, not surprisingly, those men are shy in the marriage bed. They are timid by personality, and expecting him to suddenly unleash an assertive lover is likely unrealistic.

But you can help him be more assertive in lovemaking in the moment.

Communicate what you like. Speak up for what you want. Or move his hand where you want it. Show him what you like and then encourage him with sounds and compliments for what feels good to you. Make your marriage bed a place of freedom to express what you desire.

Ask what he wants. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Besides, if you outright ask what he would like to try or do, you might discover something that arouses him more than what’s been going on. This attitude also demonstrates that you are interested in satisfying him sexually, which itself can be a turn-on.

Be the assertive one. Nothing says you can’t take charge and be the assertive one. Pull him closer toward you. Get on top and get things going. My book, Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, also has ideas on what to do with your hands, your legs, and your hips to be more active in lovemaking.

Have intercourse less often. Did anyone ever think I’d write those words on my blog? I sure didn’t! But you’ve been married for a long time (info from the email, but not the question above), which means you’re bound to be older, and you’re still trying to have sex everyday. Some couples can do that, but if he’s struggling to get or maintain an erection, he may need a longer refractory period. You can certainly engage in other forms of sexual intimacy—like he could pleasure you—but maybe go two to three days in between intercourse.

Pursue other forms of intimacy. Finally, you might need to attend to other areas of intimacy in your marriage. Believe me, I’m all in favor of consistent, spicy sexual intimacy and believe sex is an important ingredient in a healthy marriage. That said, your husband believes it’s important to have sex every single day, but are you pursuing other intimacy-building activities with that regularity? Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy.

Sex itself is not the be-all end-all for your marriage, but rather one component of intimacy. Click To Tweet

You might need to invest more in times away from the bedroom to really feel that heat and excitement in the bedroom.

Pray for change. I say this all the time, but that’s because it’s such a good idea. And it’s not because I think you’ll pray to God that your husband will suddenly become assertive and voila! he’s a tiger the next time you tumble into bed. You know what really happens when you pray openly and humbly about marital issues? You change. And if you let God change you, He’ll bring you a better perspective, resources to help you, and patience as you work on the issues. In turn, that might well cause your husband to make changes too.

Given your own issues with arousal, I also think you could both learn more about how to get things going and what feels good. Thankfully, I wrote a whole book about that! Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design is essentially a how-to manual for wives with ideas for getting your body cooperating, revving, and stimulated in the marriage bed. What I haven’t covered here, you can find there.

Q&A with J: How Do I Get My Husband to Do What Turns Me On?

I often talk about telling or showing your husband what you enjoy in bed, so that he can arouse and satisfy you. But sometimes, that doesn’t work. Today’s question gets at that issue.

How do I get my husband to be more attentive to my sexual wishes? I have placed his hands where I want him to touch me but he just pushes my hands away. I have told him to kiss my breasts but it worked only one time. I would like my husband to French kiss me, kiss my neck, and touch other areas of my body during sex. How do I tell him, so that he understands, that it’s a turn-on?

Q&A with J How Do I Get My Husband to Do What Turns Me On + light switch

My initial reaction was: C’mon, dude. What’s up with you? Give your woman a great time in bed! But then I snapped out of that and remembered the person who has to convince him is his wife. But if you had that same reaction, just know that I did too. 😉

So what can the wife do? She’s tried subtly moving his hands and verbally requesting what would feel good, but not only does he not listen, “he just pushes my hands away.”

Talk outside the bedroom.

In the midst of sexual initiation or activity, neither of you is likely thinking as clearly and calmly as you would at an alternate location and time. Remove some of the pressure and bring up the subject when you can have a real conversation.

Here’s the post I suggest reading for specifics on how to have that conversation: How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse. Quickly though, I’ll give these tips:

  • Choose a neutral location. That could be your dining table or on a walk in your neighborhood; whatever works.
  • Make sure it’s an opportune time to talk. So not at the end of a long, hard day or when he’s trying to watch the game.
  • Be willing to talk shoulder-to-shoulder. Generally speaking, women prefer face-to-face communication, but men prefer speaking about difficult topics without eye contact.
  • Ask questions. Avoid the temptation to spill everything about how you feel and instead ask about what’s going on with him. Like what was he thinking when he moved your hands? Or when you request something in particular?
  • Explain what you’d like your sexual intimacy to look like. Avoid rehashing the issues of the past and take a future focus. Talk about what you’d like for your sexual intimacy to become (e.g., mutually satisfying).

Explain how your body works.

Most men start out believing that our sexual response is like theirs (and that’s what experts erroneously said for too long). Women tend to need more time to get aroused. They also get aroused being touched all over, not just the sexual parts. I’ve shared this before, but since men are perhaps less likely to read a blog post like this, maybe he’d watch a funny video.

Return the favor.

If you want him to listen to what turns you on, be willing to ask what turns him on. Set the example. Demonstrate with your approach, your questions, and your conversation that you believe sexual intimacy should arouse and satisfy you both.

Listen carefully for suggestions you could implement. (If he suggests you’re not sure about, see what I have to say about that here.) If he tells you something you’re not doing but could do, follow through.

You could even come back later and check with him on how he liked it. That positively reinforces listening to one another, and he might see through experience that it’s a good idea to share longings with one another and then meet your spouse’s desires too.

Reinforce positive changes.

Speaking of reinforcement, if he does something you wanted, let him know how great that was! Even if his execution wasn’t perfect, reward steps in the direction with gratitude and encouragement. For heaven’s sake, tell him he’s your personal superhero if that gets the point across! I’m not saying to lie, just recognize progress.

You like being affirmed when you do something good, right? Do the same for him.

Take action in the moment.

What if it all fails? What if he refuses to cooperate with the conversation or dismisses your desires? What if he keeps doing his thing and even pushing you away when you suggest something different?

Hey, I’ve been writing about sex in marriage long enough to know some spouses just don’t respond to reasonable efforts to nurture mutual satisfaction. Expend every avenue before you go here — like initiate the conversation in different ways and different times — but at some point, you can’t keep rewarding behavior that is selfish and, frankly, rude.

That’s when you need to take action in the moment. He pushes your hand away? Stop what you’re doing, get his attention, and speak up: “I really want to make love to you, but I need you to respond to what I’m telling you about making this good for me too.” Even move his hand back where you want it, more than once, until he gets the message. If you stop in the middle of what’s really turning him on to let him know you need to be aroused too, he’ll be frustrated…but he’ll also learn he can’t keep going without considering his wife’s pleasure.

I’m not advocating being rude about it, but rather firm. Make it clear your pleasure matters too.

Let’s hope he gets the message well before that. Most husbands I hear from really do want to arouse and satisfy their wives. They might just get wrapped up in the moment with what feels good to them or don’t really understand how women’s pleasure works. I’m praying you can teach him. Because the best lovers are the ones who respond to their spouse’s deepest longings and pursue their pleasure.

The best lovers respond to their spouse's deepest longings and pursue their pleasure. Click To Tweet