Tag Archives: Paul Byerly

Q&A with J: Sex Isn’t Just for Bunnies

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

In my initial post inviting questions from readers (Q&A with J at HHH), I mentioned a few rules. Among them was the following:

No protesters will be allowed the microphone. Yes, that means you in the back there with the big sign that says, “SEX IS FOR BUNNIES ONLY.” I am tired of your Rabbit-Centered Group harassing me day and night. Security will now be escorting you out of the building. Thank you very much.

Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband, entertaining guy that he is, presented this question in the comments:

My bunny is single, but I think she is having inappropriate thoughts about her tennis ball. Any advice?

Blog post title + (tasteful) illustration of two rabbits mating

First, Paul, the secular world is likely to suggest that your bunny do one of two things: (1) find another bunny in short order and set up a rendezvous or (2) take care of business with that tennis ball. In fact, you might see articles in Bunny Babes Magazine such as “Finding Furry Friends with Benefits” or “10 Ways to Make a Buck’s Bunny Ears Curl.” Moreover, the people who brought you and your dog the Hot Doll would probably be happy to design a tennis-ball shaped sex toy for your randy rabbit. But you and your bunny shouldn’t settle for anything less than God’s design for intimacy.

Rabbits mate for reproduction, not to say that they aren’t having a good time. However, God designed your bunny to engage in intimate activity with someone who will be the father of her bunny babies. Don’t let her get talked into some romp in the woods with no possibility of a litter of floppy-eared cuties coming from this act.

That said, the tennis ball isn’t going to do it. It may provide a temporary release of sexual tension, but not the deep satisfying intimacy that a better bunny can have by holding out for the real thing.

The Bible is clear that we should “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). When Joseph found himself tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), he literally ran from her. In Matthew 18:9, Jesus says that “if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” Indeed, that is what you need to do for your bunny.

No! Don’t gouge out her eye. It’s much easier in this case to simply remove the temptation. Get rid of that sultry tennis ball. Whatever is causing her mind to wander into dangerous territory needs to be tossed out the door.

That isn’t the end of it, though. The Apostle Paul gives advice about the unmarried in 1 Corinthians 7:9: “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” It sounds like your bunny is indeed having a hard time controlling her passions. Maybe it’s time to think about getting another bunny? Your doe might need a buck in the house to establish a relationship, get her jollies, and spread their gene pool. Bunnies are particularly good at heeding God’s commandment to “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:22).

Be forewarned, however. You might want to know what to expect if you bring a handsome buck into the home to satisfy your tennis-ball-obsessed bunny doe. The mating ritual involves the male mounting the female and wig-wagging quite a bit. It’s not a loud affair; bunnies are quiet. But you will know the male is done when he suddenly stops and falls over. (I kid you not. I looked it up.)

Sounds a little like some human husbands. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

Unlike human hubbies, however, male bunnies only need a minute or so, and then they can go back at it. When the female bunny is “done,” I don’t know. I think she simply hops away.

I hope my answer helps you and your bunny in the quest for godly intimacy for all species. We could learn a little ourselves from this post, I think.

In short, for all the bunnies and non-bunnies out there:

  • If something is causing you sexual temptation, get some distance from it.
  • Your desire for sex is natural and God-given. It just needs to be in the right context — a committed marriage.
  • If you are married, get busy like a bunny. But try not to fall over when you’re done.

Sources: Successful Rabbit Breeding video on YouTube – be prepared to laugh; Bible Gateway – my go-to place for scripture searches; How Do Rabbits Mate? from ehow – where I learned about the falling phenomenon

Post first run May 3, 2012.

Q&A with J: “He Gets Erections When He Sees Other Women”

Welcome (back) to Q&A with J. Let’s look at today’s reader question:

My husband gets erections when he sees other women. Is this normal? It’s messing with my self esteem in ways I can’t describe.

Q&A with J: "He Gets Erections When He Sees Other Women"

When I first got this question, my instinctive reaction was yeah, that’s normal — certainly for younger guys. But as I thought about it more and more, I wondered how I reached that conclusion. It’s not as if I gazed at previous boyfriends’ or my husband’s groin area when we crossed the paths of other women to check for reactions. Most of the time, whatever my guy was wearing would mask anything but a very strong erection, and I wouldn’t know without being physically close enough to detect what was happening.

Maybe it’s because I’m the mother of two boys, and as they grew up, I realized how quickly and somewhat randomly a boy can get an erection. It can certainly be a sexual thing, but it can also happen for other reasons. Frankly, that whole area is a bit of a mystery in how active it all is.

I don’t have that equipment, so I can’t say for certain. Which is why I turned to a wonderful marriage blogging colleague, Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband (for husbands), The XY Code (for wives), and The Marriage Bed (for couples). I wanted a trusted guy’s perspective on what’s happening with this reader’s husband.

Here’s Paul’s response:

Is it normal? It is certainly common, especially for young men. Starting at puberty, we find ourselves with erections all the time. Often there is some sexual thought or sight, possibly very minor, to blame, but sometimes it just seems to be random and without any cause. These erections are swift to happen and can be very, very slow to go away. Thinking about them makes it worse, and not thinking about them is rather difficult.

With age, a man develops some degree of control over this. Basically, we learn to suppress “inappropriate erections.” Suppress can mean not getting them, or it can mean getting only partly erect — we feel it, but it don’t show. Some men develop this ability very quickly, some take far longer. I’ve had emails from men in their mid 20s who still struggle with this. There are actually web pages devoted to telling men how to dress to hide undesired erections.

The bigger question is what his erections mean. I’d say it means his body works and his mind has not yet become able to suppress the reaction. It does not mean he is sexually unsatisfied, and it does not mean he is tempted to cheat.

[By the way], women do the same thing, but their bodies don’t advertise it. In fact, it can be subtle enough for a woman to ignore, which is pretty common given how uptight many women are about sex. If you fitted this woman with a device that beeped when she got mildly aroused I suspect she would learn things about herself she could not handle.

Good point, Paul. For many women, certain times of the month, thoughts, or sights can cause arousal and lubrication. Thank goodness none of that is on display, or people might draw erroneous conclusions about our sexuality. A woman getting “wet” around some guy doesn’t mean she wants him; it could mean she’s hitting the fertile part of her cycle or a stray thought about her husband entered her mind.

Of course, if a wife knows her man is regularly getting a “hard-on” in the presence of other women, I can imagine how that could mess with self-esteem. It could be interpreted that he was interested, or at least intrigued, by other women. I have great compassion for this wife’s emotional response. Like all of us wives, she wants to be the focus of her beloved’s eyes, mind, and heart.

But here are a few things to consider:

Look at the totality of how he treats you and your marriage. You cannot conclude how he feels about you and other women based on one aspect. If he gets erections now and then around other women, but he doesn’t pursue their attention, keeps his commitment to you, and prioritizes your marriage bed, it’s very likely not what you’re thinking. And he may also be bothered that this is happening.

We cannot read each other’s minds. Yes, we look for clues about what someone’s thinking, but sometimes we’re just wrong. We think his tone is angry when he’s really just stressed, or we think her falling asleep means she’s refusing sex when it’s just been an exhausting day. We tend to personalize things in a relationship: If we’re interacting with someone, and they display certain signals, we think it’s about us — when it might not be at all. The only way to know what your husband’s thinking is for him to tell you what he’ s thinking.

If you need to, have a conversation. Personally, I’m pretty bold about stuff like this, because if I were facing this scenario, I’d simply ask my husband: “Hey, I noticed had a reaction around that woman, and I felt hurt when that happened. Can you tell me what’s going on?” Then he’d answer: “It’s cold in here” or “I don’t know. It was weird. But it wasn’t about her and when it happened, I immediately thought about you and how much I want to . . .” And then he’d whispered suggestions, and I’d forget about it. At least, knowing me and my husband, I expect that’s how this conversation would go. But whatever that would look like in your case, talk about it. And be willing to ask for what you need, whether it’s reassurance or to see him turn away from looking at a woman when that happens. We can calmly ask our husbands for what would help us feel better about our marriage and intimacy.

Work on your own self-confidence. My husband’s opinion of me certainly plays into how I feel about myself and my appearance, but it’s not as important as how I independently view myself and how much I trust God’s view of me. We can more easily approach situations like these from a place of confidence and calm than if we’re doubting ourselves all the time or expecting our husbands to be our self-esteem heroes. Cultivate those feelings that you are a woman of beauty and value. 

I hope something here helps! And thanks again to Paul for generously offering his man-wisdom.

Showering and Bathing Together: Why You Should Try It

My husband have had a dream since the first year of our marriage, a longing for something that we would use and appreciate regularly: We want a double shower.

While our dream shower looks something like this:

Double Shower

How relaxing!

Our real “shower” looks more like this:

Standard bathtub shower

Small, right?

Why do we want a double shower? Because, like many married couples, we enjoy showering together. If you haven’t given it a go in your marriage, I’ve come up with a few reasons you might want to to try showering or bathing together — even if you don’t have a double shower or a jacuzzi bathtub.

Let’s start with some practical ones:

Showering together saves time. Sometimes while getting ready in the morning, we both need to shower right away. So who goes first? Why not just get in there together? Give him the water while you’re doing the non-water stuff like shampooing your hair, and then switch out to rinse off. If you do this together for a while, you’ll even establish a rhythm so there’s no “excuse me” or “my turn” needed. Plus, you both get the hot water before it runs out (assuming that could be an issue at times in your home).

It’s a good space for privacy. We’ve discovered this is one of the best places to have a private conversation. Our kids can’t hear us over the sound of the water, and they’ve learned not to barge in on mom or dad taking a shower or bath. Maybe talking isn’t what you had in mind with sharing a shower, but remember I’m talking practical now: It really is a good space for private communication.

Your mate can help you clean up. Sure, you can buy a bath brush and get that luffa sponge on a stick to reach that spot between your shoulder blades, but it feels way better to have your hubby soap you up in those hard-to-reach places. Or even the easy-to-reach places. Some husbands love to shampoo their wives’ hair, and we ladies know how good that can feel to have your scalp massaged. Given that your hubby may want to touch every part of you he can, he might do an even more thorough job of cleaning you up than you do yourself — if you let him grab the washcloth and give it a go.

Now onto more fun reasons to shower or bathe together:

What a lovely view! I’ll just say it: Naked. Yep, you’re both naked and get to see each others’ bodies. While many husbands love that idea, plenty of us wives are pretty happy about it too. I bet you can think of some pleasant physical features on your husband that are hidden when he’s clothed. But when he’s showering or bathing? That sight is yours to enjoy. Let him enjoy the view of your beautiful body, and savor God’s handiwork in your husband at the same time.

You know you’re clean for lovemaking. Good hygiene on any given day is a reasonable expectation in your marriage. However, if you’re going to have close contact, you may like the idea of cleaning those areas right before making love. In particular, some wives have expressed that they don’t want to touch with their hands or mouths those places on their husband’s body that might hold sweat, body odor, or even germs. Of course, you can get a little OCD on this point, but there’s an easy way to make sure you’re both squeaky clean when you begin: Shower or bathe together. Soap him up and rinse him off in a way that assures you he’s practically sanitized.

It can be fabulous foreplay. With that view and the closeness and the touching, your time in the shower or bath can easily turn into foreplay. Slow down the soaping up and caress each other. Embrace and kiss. Engage in a sexual activity…or two. The water brushing up against your flesh can awaken your skin sensitivity, making you even more receptive to his touch and attention. I have this one particular memory . . . never mind. Just sayin’ it can happen.

Yeah, you can “do it” in there too. Can you have sex in the shower or bath? Sure, you can. As I’ve mentioned before, however, the water will work against your lubrication. So you may want to bring a water-resistant, silicone-based lube if you plan on having intercourse. Also, space may not be your friend. You definitely don’t want to slip and fall, break something, have your kids run in after they hear the crash, and then have to explain your injuries to the ER staff and eventually your in-laws. Consider carefully what position will work best for your particular shower or bath. But if you can make it happen, go for it!

I don’t know when hubby and I will get our dream double shower. I hope it’s in the next house we have. Regardless, we’ll keep showering together, because it’s yet another activity that builds our intimacy.

P.S. We also pray together in there. Really! I talked about it in this interview.

Note: It’s interesting that Paul Byerly at his XY Code blog also recently posted on this topic! This post has been in my queue for a while.

Plastic Surgery: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

A few weeks ago, Paul Byerly of Generous Husband wrote a short series about breast augmentation. He asked the question, Is It Wrong to Augment? and reported the feedback from Women Who Have Augmented.

When I commented on the posts about my own experience, I received a couple of questions from readers there. I wanted to revisit the topic again on my own site and clarify a few thoughts about having plastic surgery.

First inward, then outward. I have a friend who lost 90+ pounds in a year and went from obese to oh-babe! How did she manage that? I think it’s because she got her inner self right first. She stopped looking at herself in the mirror and seeing a fat person. Instead, she saw the beautiful woman inside and decided she was worth something better. Once she believed in herself, willing to see herself as God saw her, she felt empowered to do the hard work of changing her diet and exercise routine so that she realized her goals.

That’s often how body image improves — not by fixing the external parts first, but rather by appreciating the unique way God knitted you together (Psalm 139:13). You are wonderfully made, beauty! If you’re looking for plastic surgery to resolve your inner self-image issues, you’ll likely be disappointed. Satisfaction with who you are must come first from within. It’s from an understanding of who God created you to be.

Woman + quote

Image from Microsoft Word Clip Art

Those poor women who have procedure after procedure after procedure never get this. They’re always looking for another outside fix for what really ails them inside. Get your priorities straight and work on your inner self first. It’s only from a position of inner, emotional health that you can make the right decision on what to do to improve your body for health or appearance.

Some things really are a matter of degree. Some Christians believe that it is wrong to have plastic surgery, that altering your appearance is going against God’s design.

Yet we do plenty of everyday things that involve aesthetic reasons, like bracing our kids’ teeth and wearing make-up and coloring our hair. Plus, we correct appearance that goes awry, like skin grafts after fire damage or breast implants after a mastectomy. Before announcing that all plastic surgery is off-limits, we might want to pause and ask what appearance-altering steps we’ve taken and what makes those okay and not others.

Because honestly, some things are a matter of degree. Eating is perfectly fine, but the Bible certainly warns against gluttony. Jesus attended a wedding with wine, but drunkenness is always spoken against in scripture. A little spice in the bedroom is rather wonderful, but an obsession with more and more kink becomes unhealthy. Likewise, some enhancements of our appearance would seem just fine, while extreme changes can become problematic.

And the question is then: What constitutes “extreme”? Is it numerous procedures? Surgery itself? Any changes to your appearance?

I suspect most people would agree on where the ends of the continuum are, but it’s that middle section of what’s a-okay that we struggle with. And we should. We should struggle to answer that question. Because if we are considering something as invasive as surgery, we need to ask some hard questions of ourselves and ensure that our choices honor God.

But I also suspect that my answer of where to draw the line might be different from the answer of another Christian whom I love and respect. And that’s where our own soul-searching and conscience come to bear.

For you, not someone else. I did not get bigger breasts for my husband. In fact, my husband was originally opposed to me having breast augmentation, because he was concerned about me undergoing surgery of any kind that wasn’t absolutely necessary (that sweet man). We talked about the pros and cons for a while, and he agreed with my conclusion and supported my decision. But I didn’t do it for him. I did it for me.

I’m always taken aback by the number of women who have plastic surgery as a “gift” to their man. And the number of men who request that. Having plastic surgery because you don’t feel like enough for your lover isn’t a great reason. Indeed, it’s likely to make you feel that you don’t measure up generally — that you’re only acceptable if you can “correct” whatever external appearance issues you have. And love looks beyond that.

Of course I wanted my husband to have more to handle in the bedroom, but that wasn’t my ultimate reason. My husband had already chosen me — flat chest and all. Indeed, as Paul Byerly (Generous Husband) mentioned in his first article, one man put it this way: “The two things I require in breasts are 1) nipples, and 2) accessibility.” I suspect that’s a common perspective for husbands. And it’s probably true for our breasts, butts, wrinkles, etc. As long as we wives show up (especially naked), our husbands will likely be reasonably happy. We don’t have to look like magazine models or waste time and money fixing imagined flaws.

When considering plastic surgery, ask why. Is it for your own convenience and confidence or to feel like you measure up to an unrealistic standard for the sake of someone else? At the end of the day, you will be the one having surgery, you will be the one living with the results, you will be the one changed. So make sure it’s what you want.

Obviously, I wanted to have plastic surgery, I made the decision to do so, and I do not regret it. I’ve been open on my website about my own doubts about plastic surgery, my process and reasons for deciding to augment, and my concerns about jumping in too eagerly to solve body image issues. I’d like to hear your perspective on plastic surgery.

When do you believe Christians can and should have plastic surgery? Have you had any procedures? Why did you choose to do it and what was your experience?

So What Should We Aim for in Marriage?

Last week, I took on what I think is a false dichotomy: Whether marriage exists to make you happy or holy. I came up with several biblical purposes of marriage, including holiness, happiness, children, and witness to the world.

Target

Photo from Microsoft Word Clip Art

But if there are several purposes to marriage, what should we be aiming for? (And for those of you who know me to write about sex, don’t worry . . . I’ll get there.)

I gave this a lot of thought this past week, and I came up with all kinds of ideas with theological bases and implications. Frankly, I could write a doctoral thesis on this subject. But theologian Karl Barth was once asked in a college lecture Q&A to summarize his life’s work. He answered simply: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Sometimes it’s about the basics.

Here’s what I know about God’s design for marriage: The Bible never prescribes how to get a mate. There are no instructions to find someone perfectly compatible to you, someone you have amazing chemistry with, someone who gives you the sizzle-wizzles down to your toes. We have biblical examples of marriage that occurred to connect families (Genesis 24:3-4); as a gift for a deed well done (Judges 1:12-13); for romantic love (Genesis 29:18,20); and as a witness of God’s love to the world (Hosea 1:2). Oftentimes, we don’t know why two people married, just that they did.

The Bible instead focuses on how to be a good mate. God seems to be saying that you can develop a good marriage. And it comes down to basics. Galatians 5:14 says: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we all approached our marriages with that command, which Jesus said to be the second most important (Luke 10:27), we’d go a long way to getting everything out of marriage that we should.

Bull's-eye! Illustration from Microsoft Word Clip Art

Bull’s-eye!
Illustration from Microsoft Word Clip Art

The Bible shows us through stories and passages like 1 Corinthians 13 what that love looks like. We have numerous “one another” passages in the New Testament that give us specifics, like forgiving each other (Colossians 3:13) and encouraging one another (Hebrews 3:13). We have Jesus’ example of ultimate love.

It’s simple to understand, but it is hard to do. Because we are selfish and because we often mistakenly define happiness as having a pain-free life. In fact, studies have shown that happiness is not about an absence of hardship, but rather comes from earned success. When we aim to make each other both holy and happy, we become more holy and happy ourselves. With God’s divine help, we earn that marital success.

This aim to love our spouse the way God loves us oozes into every part of our relationship. It breaks my heart to read stories from commenters who say that their spouse is loving in every way but sexual intimacy. Our aim for loving our spouse shouldn’t end at the threshold of the bedroom. God’s Word for us should infuse every part of our lives.

This is why I’ve written posts like Love Is Not Self-Seeking and The Gospel in the Bedroom.

Indeed, the bedroom is a place where you can aim to help your spouse be both holy and happy as well. Plus, this is where other purposes can be fulfilled — like conceiving children, supporting one another, and reflecting Christ’s love for the church.

It’s not a matter of head knowledge. Honestly, I prayed for years for improvements in my faltering marriage. It wasn’t until I started putting into practice the specific commands on how to love that I noticed a real difference in how I saw my husband and how we were getting along. I’m still working on that, of course. In the list of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), my husband and I can both attest that I have not yet mastered gentleness and patience.

But it’s what I aim for . . . to love my husband as closely as I can to the way God loves him.

When I treat him that way, he’s happier, he’s holier, and so am I.

So what do you think? What do you aim at in marriage? Are you being consistent with those aims in the bedroom? Does your holiness and happiness extend to your sexual intimacy?

Related posts: See Generous Husband’s post on Her Happiness Is Her Responsibility and my guest post on One Flesh Marriage, Marriage: Mission Possible.