Tag Archives: married sex

Does Sex Wake You Up or Make You Sleepy?

Men have long been accused of falling asleep right after sex. Finish up the good stuff, and he’s rolling over and off to Snooze Land.

But is that really true?Does Sex Wake You Up or Make You Sleepy?It could be. Research is still trying to figure out who falls asleep after sex and why. But some evidence indicates that men might fall asleep quickly because they need a refractory period post-climax; several body chemicals released during orgasm — prolactin, vasopressin, oxytocin, and serotonin — are linked to sleepiness; and the prefrontal cortex, the information-processing and planning part of the brain, reduces in activity after sex. There’s also just the reality that men tend to do more of the “heavy lifting” in sex — all that thrusting, you know — which can wear a guy out.

But some of these factors exist with women too, particularly the body chemicals. In fact, one study showed no difference in how quickly men and women fall asleep post-intercourse.

What brought this topic up to my mind is that I’m almost never sleepy after sex. If anything, I get a burst of energy. I don’t know how many times I’ve lain down for a weekend nap, then my husband shows up and we have sex, and my nap time is just over. No way am I getting back to sleep.

Women don’t have the same refractory period as men, which is quite nice if you’re able to take advantage of that with multiple orgasms, but that may mean that you’re not quite so depleted post-climax. If you don’t climax, that exercise might just wake up your body rather than fatigue you. Also, blood flow increases after orgasm, which might stimulate your body. Finally, in my case and others, a case of the munchies can set in with you feeling hungry afterward.

Whether sex makes you sleepy or more energetic, the issue oftentimes is coordinating this with your mate. Who might not — okay, probably doesn’t — react the same way you do in the afterglow. He might want to talk and cuddle, while you want to raid your secret drawer of dark chocolate or skip the talking and just melt into the mattress. He might fall asleep immediately, making you feel neglected and even abandoned just as soon as the physical release is done.

Rarely are our reactions personal. They’re a function of our bodies experiencing different sensations and chemicals during intercourse and orgasm.

Your best way of dealing with the differences is to talk it out. If having sex right at bedtime gives you a boost of energy you don’t need, ask your hubby if you can make love a little earlier in the day or even in the morning. If he’s falling asleep immediately after and you need more cuddle time, ask for a few minutes of pillow talk before he succumbs. (But then stick to your few minutes, so you both get what you need.) If you’re the one who wants to head to Dream World right after sex, let him know that’s how your body feels and then see what he needs that you can provide before you drift off completely.

One personal example is that my husband has shown up at nap time wanting sex, and, while I usually oblige, I have asked for a rain check if I’m beyond fatigued and desperately need the rest. Then we curl up in each other’s arms and fall asleep, and I wake up later feeling refreshed enough to make good on that promise.

What about you? Does sex make you sleepy or wake you up? And how do you and your spouse differ?

Sources: No Sleepless Nights: Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?; Live Science: Why Do Guys Get Sleepy After Sex?; Shape: Your Brain On an Orgasm

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Q&A with J: He Wishes I Could Orgasm More

Today’s question is from a recently married wife.

Orgasms have always been difficult for me. I’ve probably had a dozen or so in nine months of daily sex. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying sex — far from it! I absolutely love, and get a lot of pleasure from, our intimate times. But while I can get up to, say, an 8 out of 10 on a scale of “Brushing Your Teeth” to “Screaming Orgasm,” it’s pretty rare for me to actually tip over the edge. But I’ve found that one of the surest ways to enjoy sex LESS and be LESS able to get there in the end is to worry about whether or not I’m going to get there in the end. I’m happy most of the time just to relax, have a good time naked with my awesome hot husband, and let things happen (or not) as they will. I’m confident that as we learn to care for each other even better sexually in the coming months and years of our marriage, it’ll get easier for me to have orgasms.

So what’s the issue, then, you may be asking? Well, it’s my sweet, selfless husband, who feels absolutely terrible about the fact that he has 20 orgasms for every one I have. He’s told me he feels selfish, and like it’s unfair. I keep insisting that I’m having an awesome time, that I love having sex with him, and that I need to relax and not spend the first 30 minutes of sex worried about the last 30 seconds. But he still feels anxious and disappointed and, I think, a bit like he’s letting me down or failing me.

What should I do? Should I start… I don’t know, recommending books to him on how to bring a woman to orgasm? Are there such things from a Christian perspective, or that at least aren’t all about impressing your latest partner? Or do I just keep plugging away with the encouragement? I know it’s a bit silly to be writing in for advice because my husband is just too focused on my pleasure (and I can hear the folks in the comments section rolling their eyes now, haha!), but I really don’t know how best to approach it.

Q&A with J: He Wishes I Could Orgasm More

I’m not rolling my eyes, because I can see how this could cause some issues in the marriage. Yes, of course it’s awesome that her husband wants her to experience the mind-shattering climaxes, but not having those every time makes him feel like she’s missing out and then she’s wondering why she can’t orgasm more and it makes sex this chasing-the-golden-ring event. When what they both want and should have is an intimate, exciting experience in the marriage bed.

Now I agree she’s not having enough orgasms for all that daily sex, but I’ll get to that a bit later. First, I want to deal with some other issues brought up.

Is it unfair? She says he feels selfish for having so many more climaxes and thinks it’s unfair. It’s pretty clear he’s not selfish, because he’s concerned about her pleasure. But I agree: It is a little unfair. I know plenty of wives who’ve felt this way when they saw how much easier it can be for many guys to become aroused and to reach the apex of pleasure.

However, even though orgasm can take a long time to figure out or even a long time to reach, we ladies can have multiples. And isn’t that a little unfair to the guys? Rather than comparing apples and oranges here, we should appreciate the benefits and drawbacks to the biology we each have. If she skips orgasms from time to time, but has multiples other times, it can even out. But even if it doesn’t, we’re not keeping score.

Why is he anxious? Beyond his obvious desire to pleasure his wife, why else would he feel anxiety? Look, guys partly judge their sexual performance by how great they make their wives feel. If he has a hard time getting her to orgasm, he might take it personally — like there’s something wrong with his sexual prowess. And I’ll be supremely honest here: Maybe he could improve and help her get there more often.

Now much of the time, not orgasming has more to do with the physiological, emotional, and mental factors she has to deal with to reach climax. However, the popular notion that just by virtue of being a guy, he’ll know exactly how to turn you on is just bunk. Our bodies are complex and varied in how they respond.

It doesn’t help that movies and novels make it seems like women almost always climax during sexual intercourse with their man, yet other methods are far more likely to get her there. Since orgasms are tied to stimulation of the clitoris, direct stimulation from manual play and oral sex are often easier ways for wives to reach the Big O.

You can suggest resources to him, but even better is you two seeking them out together. My book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, is directed at wives but has a lot of tips you can both put into practice. It also has a whole chapter on reaching orgasm, including those multiples I mentioned. I also recommend Lovemaking by Dan and Linda Wilson and Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman.

But let him know you’re willing to explore and discover what feels especially pleasurable to your body. Not like an All Encompassing Mission, but a playful adventure of trying new things and sharpening your skills together. You want to become experts in one another’s unique bodies. And for that, the best sex classroom is your own marital bedroom.

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Why is he disappointed? I’m not sure about this husband, but I hear generally from hubbies that they get an extra kick of excitement when their wives climax. It really turns them on to see their wives turned on. It wouldn’t be a shocker, then, for this husband to long for her to orgasm more often. Why not watch her reach the peak and fly right over with a big smile on her face? It makes the whole sex experience even better for him.

However, climax isn’t the only indicator of how fabulous sex feels to us gals. Sure, I’m all for rock-the-bed-frame orgasms, but what you describe is what I and other wives have also felt: Sometimes we can be happy to “have a good time naked with my awesome hot husband.” There’s a lot to be said for the vulnerability, closeness, and general pleasure of having sex, even if climax doesn’t happen this time around.

How can you get him to understand? That’s a tougher question. I’ve had some success drawing analogies that my husband would understand. Like for the sports lover: “What if you started playing a game, but got rained out before it finished? Would you feel the whole thing was a waste of time, or would you appreciate the time you got to play?” Or for the video gamer: “Do you feel like you have to win every round you play? Or do you sometimes enjoy just playing for the sake of it?” Not sure those are great, but you get the idea. Come up with your own analogy that he might relate to.

Should you keep plugging away? Your actual question was: “Or do I just keep plugging away with the encouragement?” But I’d say yes to both: encouragement and plugging away (if you know what I mean, *wink*). You’re absolutely right that you don’t need the extra pressure of Must Climax This Time. Trying too hard to reach orgasm can prevent a wife from reaching orgasm.

Keep things light with encouragement that you love the experience, that you enjoy orgasms when they happen, and that you believe you can work together to make your peaks more frequent. Keep reminding him that you like the whole shebang, not just the she-goes-bang. But then plug away with the sexual experience! Help him make small adjustments with his hands or mouth or your angles during intercourse. Speak up for what feels good . . . and what feels even better.

Let’s face it: Your current sex-to-orgasm ratio could be improved. And since orgasm feels so incredibly awesome, why not have more of them? Check out the tips on getting there from my book, go slower with arousal and foreplay, and figure out what makes your body sing.

And yes, I think orgasms will get easier as you grow accustomed to one another’s bodies. After all, according to the famous 10,000-hour Rule, we need about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become experts at something. Sure enough, couples report more satisfying sex after a decade or two of being together. Thankfully, you have a lifetime together to get in all that great practice. Enjoy!

Why Some Optimism about Marriage Disturbs Me

Perhaps this is an odd topic for me to tackle. But I promise I’ll get to marital intimacy in a bit.

In the recent past, I’ve been exposed to several optimistic statements about good marriages. While I’m generally optimistic about marriage myself, I’ve always bristled a little when I hear certain insights that should be inspirational, but discourage me instead. Let me share what I mean.

Why Some Optimism about Marriage Disturbs MeWe’ve never had a single fight in our marriage. Now and then, a happily married couple suggests that the key to their buoyant joy is a lack of conflict in their relationship. It sounds marvelous, right? Except that it’s so unrealistic for the average marriage.

If a lack of conflict is necessary for a great marriage, many of us would have waved a white surrender flag and walked away years ago. The truth is that happy couples vary in their level of arguments, and the important issue is that they treat one another fairly and respectfully throughout (see The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work). Moreover, some couples who never fight may merely be stonewalling each other or, as Sheila Gregoire has said, peacekeeping rather than peacemaking.

If you and your spouse come from very different backgrounds and/or arrive with some degree of brokenness, you may have more to work out in your marriage. You may have some conflict. Don’t lose hope if you’re not like that cute old couple at church who swears they’ve never raised their voice a single time. Good for them! But good for you too. You can still have a wonderful marriage.

Marriage isn’t supposed to be work. For me, marriage has included a truckload of work! At times, it’s been grueling, frustrating, and exhausting. But I’d work this marriage twelve times over to have what I have.

Some of that work was harder than it needed to be, because I was working hard not smart. But some couples just have more issues, more rough edges, maybe even more selfishness to tamp down and humility to build up. If marriage currently feels like work, that might be okay. This might well be the season you need to invest some real effort into the relationship to gain the health and happiness you can have.

It is, however, true that a happy, mature marriage won’t feel like nearly so much work. I think it’s a bit like a house. Some marriages start like brand-new homes, with two happy individuals joined in a healthy relationship, but they still need have to take care of that home with regular maintenance or things will go awry. But it’s not back-breaking work, unless something breaks.

Other marriages feel like fixer-uppers, with two floundering individuals who desire a healthy relationship, and they need to put in some extra effort to make their marriage a home. A lot of work is needed from the get-go, but once the home is renovated, only that regular maintenance — which is far less work — is required.

Wherever your marriage is, it is. Put forth the effort, make the investment, do the work, or simply do the regular maintenance. And you can have a great marriage.

Marriage is wonderful when you find your soul mate. Let me be clear: I don’t believe in soul mates, because there is nothing biblical or logical about that concept. In the Bible, marriages came together through various means — including family arrangement, political alliance, and romantic attraction. Yet, God seems to believe that our marriages can be successful if we both attend to his godly principles (you know, like kindness, gentleness, patience, love…).

What disturbs me about this concept of soul mates is that it can lead to believing you may have married the wrong person and then fantasizing about another life — instead of getting down to the business of investing in your own marriage. Assuming your husband is not abusive or adulterous in nature, you can likely make this marriage work and become a blessing.

Stop worrying that this guy isn’t the right one. He’s the guy you fell in love with, chose to marry, and you’re still with. Take today and make it the best you can, then do that with tomorrow, and so on and so on. Maybe he’s not your soul mate, but he is your sole mate, so focus your efforts on making your marriage the best it can be.

Just spice things up in the bedroom and your sexual intimacy will be good. Hey, I’m not opposed to spicing things up. I wrote a whole book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, with lots of ideas on spicing things up. But the idea that this is a one-size-fits-all, easy fix for marriages struggling with sexual intimacy? It just doesn’t take into account how complex we human beings are.

Some marriages are struggling with sexual baggage, others are plagued with porn, certain wives experience pain or an abnormally low sex drive, and plenty of women have poor body image that makes getting naked a real challenge. And none of those issues will be solved with 10 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Sex Kitten!

Real problems call for real solutions. Which is why I try to share as much as I can about what God’s Word says about sex, because the Creator of sex knows more about this gift than anyone else. He‘s got answers. (Which I also share in Hot, Holy, and Humorous.)

But, of course, God’s answers as standard and as varied as the many ways in which Jesus dealt with people. Jesus pointed everyone to His Heavenly Father, but not all traveled the same exact path to get there. Don’t give up hope for your sexual intimacy if a bid to “spice things up” didn’t resolve your issues. Sometimes that’s exactly what your marriage needs, but it’s no cure-all. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole thing. Look at your own situation and reason out what’s going on. This is also why I devote one day a week to answer reader questions, so that you can see how to approach specific situations.

Am I an optimist about marriage? Yes, of course I am! I’ve seen too many redeemed situations to not believe that marriages can become happy and marriage beds a place of great pleasure and intimacy. I just want to provide real answers, rather than platitudes. Be optimistic about what you can achieve, and realistic about how to get there.

Should You Get a Sex Pillow?

Should You Get a Sex PillowIf you don’t know what a “sex pillow” is, it’s basically any pillow designed specifically for sexual positioning. You can find various shapes, but the most common is a wedge.

I hadn’t considered getting a sex pillow until we purchased a memory foam mattress. Let me tell you, for a woman who has struggled with back tightness and pain almost her whole life, this mattress has been a godsend. I used to wake up with headaches, but that hasn’t happened in a very long time. Rather, my body — and my back — feels cocooned in that lovely memory foam, and I sleep like the dead.

However, when you’re making love, having your knees, bum, or whatever sink into the memory foam makes things more challenging. So I finally decided why not give it a shot? and ordered a wedge pillow online.

You can find them from several makers, but if you want to know the one we bought, it’s the Liberator wedge:

(Yes, you can click that image, and it will take you to the page on Amazon.)

So how does it work? This wedge pillow is made of firmer stuff than my mattress or most pillows and is unlikely to lose shape. You can use it on the floor or on your bed or any other surface you desire. Husband or wife can lie, sit, or drape over it to facilitate better access.

For instance, she can lie with her torso on the bed and her hips rising up on the wedge, so that she is better exposed and accessible for oral sex or intercourse. He could also lie in the same way to allow her a more comfortable posture to reach him for oral sex. She can lean over the wedge with her torso inclining downward and the highest point of the wedge on her hips to make “doggy-style” more comfortable. (I still think we need to rename that position.)

So far, we’ve found the wedge to be helpful. Not only did it combat the sinking-mattress issue, it’s been great for our aging joints and muscles. It takes some of the pressure off getting your body how you want it when you have a bit of help from a pillow. And it makes things easier to reach as well.

Now it requires a little trial and effort to figure out how to position your body best on the pillow. We’ve had to stop and say things like, “Hang on, let me get the pillow right.” But once there, things continue just fine. We haven’t used the pillow in all the ways a couple can, but it’s met our purposes.

Who would I recommend a sex pillow for? Honestly, if I were 25 years old again, I wouldn’t buy this pillow. My body was practically a gymnast’s compared to the almost-50-year-old body I’m in now. Things just hurt now that never imagined hurting back then. But it’s a great addition for couples in the middle years and beyond or others who struggle with muscle and joint issues. Not that younger, healthy marrieds can’t give it a shot, but it’s a fairly expensive pillow so you might think about whether that’s where you want to spend your money.

Our pillow came in a microfiber covering, which stood out like a neon light against our regular bedding. Since I didn’t want to advertise to the other people living in our house, “This is a strange pillow — please ask me about it,” I covered it in a regular zippered pillowcase which makes it blend in with everything else. Just know that this particular brand aims for a luxurious look which probably won’t match your decor.

Sex pillows come in other shapes and sizes, some more curved, some larger, some smaller. Hey, you can even buy a sex couch if you’re so inclined. The smaller pillow also made by Liberator (known as the Jazz) probably would have worked fine for us; however, it might be easier to work with a wider wedge. If you decide to take a look, just peruse the offerings and see what you think would address the issues you have in your sexual positioning.

One final note: You might want to stick to Amazon or a Christian marital aid retailer like MarriedDance. The sites for sex pillow manufacturers can be too revealing in their imagery. I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you.

Should you get a sex pillow? It’s up to you. But ours is saving us some discomfort, and I’m happy we bought it.

Some Days You Just Don’t Wanna (Have Sex)

It’s Thursday, and I should be writing a Q&A with J post, answering a reader question. I should be, but today I really don’t wanna.

It’s not that I don’t care about y’all — I definitely do. It’s not that I’ve lost my will to write on the subject of sex in marriage — I definitely have not. It’s not that I’m unable to put up a post — I definitely can (obviously).

But yesterday, the day I’d planned to actually write the post, was a particularly grueling day. Without too many details, a family member of mine unexpectedly ended up in the hospital and I spend my day there juggling medical issues, family dynamics, and a ball of worry. Things had greatly improved by the time I left last night, and I felt certain I’d wake up today ready to delve into a reader’s question.

However, my body and brain are tired, and I don’t know how helpful and insightful I can be today. I’d rather skip a week than toss something out that cheats the question and my readers.

Which brings me back around to my subject of sex in marriage — because yeah, I can still draw parallels to sex with all kinds of things in my environment. I’m not among those who believe that wives should be at the beck-and-call of their husband’s sexual urges. I completely understand the well-meaning behind those who advise women to always be available for sexual intimacy with their husbands. But you know, some days you just don’t wanna. And I get that too.

Some Days You Just Don't Wanna (Have Sex)Certainly, there are times when you cannot engage, due to illness, family obligations, etc. But there can be times when you’re simply not up for it, because you’ve been strung out to exhaustion by other things in your life. And I think that’s fine — if it’s not a pattern.

Ongoing refusal and gate-keeping are not merely unwise, but can rise to the level of sin. After all, we are commanded not to deprive one another and to become one flesh with our husbands. If making love in your marriage is the exception rather than the routine, then you need to take a good, hard look at what’s amiss in your lives. Are you too busy? Struggling with relationship issues? Ignoring physiological obstacles? Just being selfish? Whatever it is, you need to address it.

But in a healthy marriage, you’ve established that sexual intimacy is a given. Your husband knows you find him desirable, sees you prioritize physical intimacy, and understands that if you say not now, you have a good reason. You’ve also experienced for yourself the delight of sexual pleasure, the importance of this physical connection, and the satisfaction that comes from the one-flesh experience. So if you really don’t feel like it this one time, you also figure you have a good reason.

Maybe you can’t pinpoint exactly why, but you know it’s not disinterest or an unwillingness to engage sexually with your husband. You can explain that gently and lovingly to your husband. AND you should probably suggest a make-up session — a rain check on the not now.

You see, not now isn’t the same as no. Not now says this moment isn’t ideal, but you’ve got it high on your priority list for as soon as possible. But no leaves your husband hanging and wondering if and when your libido might come back around.

The hubbies I hear from who are upset about the lack of sexual intimacy in their marriage are almost always those who get rejected regularly and feel up-in-the-air about when the next encounter might happen. Or whether his wife will ever understand why he desires this kind of intimacy so much. The men who get a not now from time to time can deal with that. Especially when they know that they won’t have to wait long before she’s jumping back into his arms, preferably naked.*

I just wanted to let you know, wives, that I believe it’s okay to pass on sex now and again. You’re not there to be his booty call; rather, you are equal partners in creating and maintaining regular and satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage. Make that your priority, your pattern, and your passion.

And you have my rain check on answering a reader question next week.

*Of course, a substantial percent of marriages have higher-drive wives who experience the opposite of this description. If you’re in that category, remember that you’re completely normal and I want your husband to understand these principles about prioritizing sex in your marriage. You have my compassion and my prayers.

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