Tag Archives: sex in marriage

The Biggest Challenge to My Sex Life (That I Never Told You About)

I’ve been writing about sex in marriage for over seven years, with over 800 posts and three books. I also have a podcast with three other Christian sex bloggers and two Facebook communities. But in all that time, I’ve never told my readers the biggest ongoing challenge to my sex life. What is it?

Blog post title + heart-shaped labyrinth

My husband is a Type 1 diabetic. Has been for 38 years.

For those who don’t know the particulars of Type 1 diabetes, this means his body produces no insulin. Insulin is what breaks food down into sugar energy for the body’s use, so without his own supply, he must regulate the level of sugar in his bloodstream by managing the timing and levels of carbohydrates (sugars), injected insulin, and physical exercise.

How does this affect our sex life?

Too much sugar in the bloodstream, and one’s body and sex drive become lethargic. Too little sugar in the bloodstream, and one becomes anxious and sleepy. Neither condition supports a good, strenuous round of sexercise.

When faced with these circumstances, we have to put off sex until he can re-balance his blood sugar. The postponement could be only a few minutes, later in the day, or the next day. We miss out on spontaneity and frequency as we address his diabetes together.

So when someone writes me about their spouse having a chronic condition that impairs their sexual intimacy, I don’t just have sympathy for their situation — I have empathy.

No, I have never been through a spouse having cancer, or healing from a severe injury, or experiencing any number of other health issues that create obstacles to physical intimacy. But I know what it’s like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition.

I know what it's like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition. Click To Tweet

I know how it feels to wish you didn’t have to deal with that challenge. I know what it is to long that your sexual intimacy could be free of the condition’s constraints.

What advice can I offer, based on our experience? Every situation is different, but here’s how we have handled it so that we still enjoy healthy and satisfying sexual intimacy in our marriage.

1. Maintain health as much as possible.

My husband is a champ about managing his diabetes as much as possible, including diet choices that conform to his condition and regular exercise. I also make sure to help him when and wherever I can.

If you’re the spouse with a chronic condition, there are likely symptoms or consequences you cannot control, but also positive steps you can take to pursue health as much as possible. For the sake of yourself and your marriage, manage what you can. For women, I encourage to follow Calm.Healthy.Sexy., a blog from fellow podcaster Gaye Christmus which provides a lot of practical tips and positive encouragement for taking care of the body God gave you.

If you’re the supporting spouse, ask how you can help. Do you need to eat differently yourself or keep better choices in your pantry and fridge? Would it help to exercise with your spouse or support them in getting physical therapy or a gym membership? Does your spouse need help with ongoing treatments or medications? Please remember you’re married to an adult, but be a positive influence.

2. Adjust your expectations.

Am I disappointed sometimes when we have to forgo lovemaking? Yeah, I am. Maybe we don’t have the sex life we might if diabetes wasn’t the ever-present elephant in the room. But that’s okay — our sexual intimacy is still really awesome.

What expectations do you need to adjust? Is it how many times you’ll make love each week? Is it what counts as a sexual encounter? Is it dropping expectations that a climax will happen every time? Is it adjusting to the length of time it will take to get there?

Take into account the challenges you face with the chronic condition, and then ask what a great sex life will look like with that factor involved. It’s still a great sex life, and there is deep intimacy in taking care of one another as you make decisions together about your health and marriage bed.

3. Encourage one another.

Chronic diseases and conditions invade every aspect of your life and can be awfully discouraging. Which is one reason, among many, we should encourage one another.

And this should extend all the way to how the condition affects our marriage bed. If you’re the chronic condition spouse, encourage your beloved that you still find them attractive and desirable. Make sure they understand that when you struggle or cannot engage, “it’s not you” but the chronic condition getting in the way.

If you’re the supporting spouse, let them know you understand their challenges and you’re willing to coordinate with them for intimacy. Make sure you don’t transfer your discouragement onto your spouse, but rather be a voice of optimism and understanding.

4. Strike while the iron’s hot.

When my husband feels great and wants to have sex, I make an effort to be available. Those aren’t the only times we engage, but when all the train cars line up, so to speak, we want to jump on that engine quickly, before something could send it off track.

For you, this could mean engaging at different times of day, encouraging the chronic condition spouse to initiate when they feel good, helping the supporting spouse find ways to flip their ready-for-sex switch more easily. Perhaps even figure out what tried-and-true warm-up gets you both going, and be willing to use that agenda when opportunity arrives.

This isn’t just “take what you can get.” But rather, make the most of these moments. When they come, be grateful and enjoy your sexual intimacy as thoroughly as possible.

Our sex life would be easier if diabetes wasn’t a factor. But is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is.

Still, it takes intention, grace, and perseverance. Though, really, those are traits every marriage bed should have anyway.

Is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is. Click To Tweet

5 Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Spouse

It’s Saturday, which is the day I give y’all a high-five — that is, a high-five list of practical tips or resources to nurture your marriage bed. And today, I want you to get lucky.

So let’s talk about five ways to initiate sex.

Blog post title + illustration of man and woman kissing and hearts above them

1. Plan a special date.

I don’t know what “special” means to your spouse, but you do (or should). If what turns your honey on is romance, line up the babysitter, plan a romantic dinner out, and return home to a bedroom you’ve set up with candles, rose petals, music, and anything else needed for a night of lovemaking.

If you want to go bigger, book a hotel room. If you have kids, also take care of who’ll be watching the children overnight, so your spouse can relax and know that’s handled. Ask your honey to “dress up” (again, whatever that means to you), and take them out for an evening of dinner, dancing, or a scenic walk. Order room service if you want, and spend the night enjoying one another.

And If you’re on the cheap, make a wonderful meal at home, put on something sexy or lay out something sexy for your spouse to wear, and then snuggle up together for a movie and make-out session. See where it leads.

Just be the one to set things up and show that you long to spend time, in and out of the bedroom, with your spouse.

2. Build anticipation with flirtation.

Send a sexy text telling your beloved what you’re looking forward to. Or share a photo of what you plan to wear that evening (like a string of pearls and a pair of lace undies). Leave a note in your sweetheart’s car or work bag telling them what you want to do later. Whisper in their ear what you’ve got on your mind.

Tease by running your finger along your spouse’s skin at the edge of the fabric they’re wearing or using feather-light touches over the fabric at their erogenous zones. Wives, wear a skirt, nix the underwear, and then tell him you’re going commando. 

Just flirt with your spouse in romantic, affectionate, and sexy ways. Express your longing not only to have sex but to give them sexual pleasure to their heart’s delight.

Whatever sexy flirtation you can come up could help you both anticipate lovemaking.

3. Get an inspiring resource.

Buy something for your marriage bed and then tell your spouse you want to try it out. That can anything from a flavored lube, to a bedroom game, to the Ultimate Intimacy app — which has both conversations and games to play. It can involve getting new lingerie to show off and take off.

Hot, Holy, and Humorous 3D CoverOr hey, I hear there’s this fabulous book with all kinds of ideas you can try: Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. Bookmark a page or chapter to read together and then experiment to your heart’s delight.

A new item for your marriage bed could be just the inspiration needed to get things revving.

4. Grab the goods.

I probably shouldn’t use the word “grab,” since I don’t want you to injure important jewels by being too rough. However, there’s really no doubting what you have in mind when you just reach over and cup his package. Likewise, some wives enjoy having sudden attention given to their erogenous zones, especially breasts.

Now this doesn’t work for all spouses, because some don’t enjoy being “grabbed” out of nowhere. This can especially be an issue for someone has experienced sexual harassment or assault or a young mom who has had kids hands on her body all day long.

But if you both enjoy it, then touching the goodies could give your spouse that clear signal — it’s go time.

5. Just ask.

This may seem like the least sexy option, but it could be the most effective. The straightforward approach might be just what you need, saying something like: “I love and desire you so much. Could we make love tonight?” It could even be as simple as a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, “Do you wanna?” And if you get turned down, ask when would be a better time and then follow through.

A tip for those with lower-drive spouses: Don’t ask, “Are you in the mood?” because the answer is probably no, even if they would enjoy a session of lovemaking. Instead, ask if they’re willing to have sex and how you can help them get in the mood.

“Just ask” may not sound romantic enough, but it worked for the poetic wife in Song of Songs : “Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages” (7:11). Spoiler alert: He said yes.

Pick your pleasure among these five tips or check out my other post on 40 Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Husband, and get things going in your marriage bed!

Q&A with J: Engaging Your Mind in Lovemaking

A while ago, I talked about having over 300 emails in my inbox. Through various efforts, I’m now down to 69 messages. (And yes, I do see the humor in that.)

Slowly but surely, I’m trying to get to the remaining questions either directly or through posts. And today’s question is from (gasp!) May 2017. But it’s such a good one, I wanted to cover it today. Here’s what the reader asks:

I have a question about “engaging your mind.” I’ve read from various Christian intimacy bloggers that many women need to engage their minds in order to be aroused. I feel like this is true for me, but I’m uncertain how to do it in the holiest way. I often feel guilty if I visualize anything because it usually involves other people (not specific people just general other people), or other situations, think anything that doesn’t necessarily involve being happily married. I know it’s a flesh desire, and I have learned, whether I meant to or not, that the arousal from that thinking is very fleeting and doesn’t help me feel close to my husband. So I don’t allow it, but then I feel like I can’t let loose. So what does it mean to engage your mind without turning to something sinful?

Blog post title + silhouette of woman with colored lines swirling through her head

I periodically talk about all the myths that romance novels perpetuate, and I’m no fan whatsoever of erotica, but there are some things the romance genre gets right. And here’s one: Not once have I ever read a love scene where the woman was mentally going through her to-do list, fantasizing about some random guy she saw in a movie or a magazine, or thinking yeah, that feels okay, but I’d rather be watching Netflix.

Oh no — if you’re going to write a romantic, passionate, or even sexy scene, your main character is going to be into it. Seriously into it. Sure, she might think about how she wishes she hadn’t worn the granny panties tonight, but most of her thoughts are about what she’s seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and touching. She’s sinking deeply into her senses, as well as her emotions about the man with whom she’s making love.

Much as I hate to grab any wisdom from the pages of a bodice-ripper, I think they’re onto something here.

But wait a minute… God was way ahead of the romance section of your bookstore! Thousands of years ago, He made sure we have examples of what it means to engage in your mind in lovemaking with your spouse. Together let’s visit a book I’ve mentioned quite a bit on my blog (and in my books): Song of Songs, a poetic exchange between husband and wife, lover to lover.

God was way ahead of the romance section of your bookstore! Click To Tweet

It begins like this:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

What’s her mind doing here? She’s thinking about the sensations and taste of her husband’s kiss and his oh-so-appealing scent. Also, how much she loves him, and even how his stellar reputation is alluring. She imagines getting whisked away by this particular man to make mad, passionate love!

Whew. Wipe off your brow, y’all — that was sexy.

Now as much as I’d like to go through the remaining 7¾ chapters, breaking down all the amazing takeaways, that would be an insanely long blog post. Instead, I encourage you to go read it for yourself. And notice where and how these lovers engage their minds.

Focus on your five senses.

Instead of fantasizing about someone or something that’s not in the bed with you, how about paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of lovemaking. There’s a bounty of all that going on, and you can train yourself to tune in to it.

While making love, ask yourself what your senses are experiencing, and revel in those sensations. This practice is really what people now call “mindfulness,” where you increase your awareness of what’s right around you and learn to attend to it more fully.

Here’s an example from the husband in Song of Songs attending to the senses:

Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon” (4:1).

Open your eyes.

It’s harder to think about someone or something else when you’re looking your spouse in the eye. Or really, anywhere on their body. Oftentimes, we find it uncomfortable to keep our eyes open, because there’s vulnerability in that — especially given that our facial expressions during sex can be rather curious, shall we say.

But looking into one another’s eyes, taking in the sight of our beloved, and even watching intently where and how your bodies connect can also be beautifully intimate. And it can help your focus remain right there, on the wonderful husband with whom you are making love.

Here’s one example of how the Song of Songs wife gazed at her husband:

His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.
His arms are rods of gold set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli.
His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars (5:12-16).

Use your voice.

It’s also hard not to concentrate on what’s happening right here and right now if you have to describe it. So speak up and talk about what you’re seeing, what you’re sensing, what you desire. Express the depth of your feelings for your husband through everything from “I love you” to “You rock my world, baby!”

All of that can keep your mind preoccupied on coming up with relevant thoughts and translating that into words. Besides, verbal expression can also increase the arousal factor in your marriage bed.

Consider this was something the husband in Song of Songs requested:

My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (2:14).

Keep on trying.

One reason we fail when we try to engage our minds is we give up too soon. Distractions invade, and we push away the first one or two, but then others come and it feels hopeless. How can we ever stop getting sidetracked? And especially if those rabbit trails lead to greater arousal?

But retraining your mind isn’t a one-day workout program. You’re in a marathon, girlfriend. When that first stray thought comes in the middle of lovemaking, push it aside. Then push aside the next one, and the next, and the next…and so on. Replace each with the kind of engagement discussed in previous points — for instance, shifting your thoughts from that one general guy to gazing into your husband’s eyes. Do this again and again, and you’ll build a new habit. And your pleasure will be even better because it will be all you and all him engaging intimately in the marriage bed.

Remember this verse from Song of Songs:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away (8:6-7).

Your marital love is unyielding. Lean into that — mind, heart, body, and soul.

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Are You a Fan of Your Husband’s Man-Part?

I asked my husband for his permission to tell the following story from our marriage bed:

Neither of us is a big talker during lovemaking. Even so, I’ve been known to lose control of my tongue and blurt out something that may or may not be all that coherent. Anyway, several months ago, we were in the middle of a particularly passionate sexual encounter. As I approached climax, my brain shot a single focused thought to my mouth and it burst out of my mouth: “I love your penis!”

Oh yes, I did.

After we finished that part of our intimacy, my husband and I laughed heartily about what I’d said. I turned pink about my comment, feeling so embarrassed for saying such a thing. But although Spock was amused (if you’re new, Spock is what I call my husband), he was also rather complimented. I’d shown genuine, unfiltered appreciation for his manhood.

Blog post title + image of large foam hand saying "Fan"

Now I haven’t always been at the point in my marriage that I’d say such a thing while in the throes of passion. Perhaps you can’t imagine saying, or even thinking, something like that.

But it’s important to appreciate your husband’s penis — to be its biggest fan.

It's important to appreciate your husband's penis — to be its biggest fan. Click To Tweet

Before you run away and decide your time would be better spent searching Pinterest for yet another amazing cupcake recipe you’ll never actually make, give me a few more minutes to make my case. Because I was also hesitant to adore the soldier at first.

I didn’t go all Fan Girl and blurt out that above statement in year one of our marriage, or even year ten. It took a while for me to fully embrace the astounding creation that is The Penis. Why have I become a fan?

1. Familiarity

I’m well aware of the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But what a lot of hogwash! For anyone who’s ever had a favorite something — favorite blanket, favorite pair of jeans, favorite coffee cup — you know that hanging out with something you like doesn’t diminish how you feel about it. In fact, it makes your experience better.

My favorite pair of jeans doesn’t become my favorite pair of jeans until I’ve worn them several times over, the material has softened up a bit, and they’ve stretched out just right fit to my body. Likewise, hanging out more often with your husband’s penis means that you get used to its shape and size, its movements and responses, its function and beauty.

Take time to look at and touch his penis. Explore the area with your eyes and hands, becoming familiar with this body part that is “yours, mine, and ours.”

2. Physiology

As I learned more about how male anatomy and the penis work, my appreciation for God’s creation deepened. Male anatomy is designed in a rather remarkable way, so that the penis can become erect yet sufficiently flexible, the systems work together to produce sperm and semen, and the muscles and nerves produce both pleasure and ejaculation.

Learning more about how God created his body can have a positive and even awe-inducing effect. It can also help a wife know where and how to touch him, further increasing her appreciation as his man-part happily responds. This is when the classroom physiology becomes in-the-field experience. As anyone who’s taken biology knows, reading the textbook isn’t nearly as fun as experimenting in the lab.

But of course, it helps to have some head knowledge before you go encounter the, well, head up-close. To that end, this TED Talk was illuminating for me on how amazing God’s creation really is.

You can also learn more about penis size here: Penis Size – From a Wife’s Point of View.

3. Pleasure

You know why I like chocolate? Chocolate has been good to me. It’s provided many wonderful moments of pleasure, when my taste buds awakened and savored that rich delight. Likewise, a husband’s penis receives greater admiration when it provides his wife rich pleasure.

Becoming more assertive in saying and showing what you need can help you find greater pleasure in his penis. Use his penis to stroke your body where you like to be touched. Use ample lubrication, adding personal lubricant if you don’t have enough, so that his penis slicks against your skin. Ask for sexual positions that make penetration feel even better to you. Give a shot at finding more sensitive spots with his penis. Add direct clitoral stimulation to intercourse, so that the spasms of a clitoral orgasm still happen around his penis.

When you’ve experienced a lot of pleasure that involves Mr. Happy, you’ll be happy he’s there too. If he’s helped you “win” a lot, you’ll become a big fan.

And a message for the hubbies…

If your wife isn’t immediately your man-part’s biggest fan, please don’t take it personally. I know it’s very personal to you, but I’ve met many women through the years who didn’t know much of anything about male anatomy, excepting what they learned in biology class and pop culture references. And some women have encountered awful men who used the existence of that body part as an excuse for sexual harassment or even assault.

More often, we gals just aren’t all that familiar with the equipment in a way that makes us feel confident. And that takes some time and intentionality.

Help her feel free to explore at a slower pace than you might like, and show her where you like to be touched and how. Explain to her what it means to you for her to appreciate your penis, because it’s something a lot of women don’t fully understand.

And make sure you use your penis to provide her pleasure, not just you. Once you’re married, it really is a case of yours, mine, and ours. (And yes, I would say that to your wife about her body too.) Prioritize her pleasure so that she can appreciate all of you, the way you appreciate all of her.

Honestly, we should each be one another’s biggest body fans. But today, I’ve been focused on the ladies. So let’s do this, gals — let’s show our husbands that we are indeed his man-part’s biggest fan.

Be sure to listen to our recent Sex Chat for Christian Wives episode on male anatomy!

5 Questions to Ask about Your Sexual Intimacy

It’s Saturday, meaning I’m back with another high-five! That is, five somethings that I want to share with you about sexual intimacy in marriage.

Today I want us to ask some questions about our sex lives. These are hardly the only questions you could ask, but they are five important ones that might illuminate where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. Let’s go for it!

Blog post title + sketch of silhouette man and woman kissing

1. What am I afraid of?

No, not the dark or the Big Bad Wolf or the very idea of a swallowing a spider in your sleep. I’m talking about what fears you have about sex.

Most of us have something that causes us to tense, worry, or even avoid some aspect of sex. For many, the fears are based in real experiences, such as sexual abuse or harassment, or even poor teaching about sexuality that made sex seem scary. We might have performance anxiety or body image issues. We might be worried that he’s thinking of porn or she’s unhappy with penis size.

But even though these fears change how we view the marriage bed, we don’t often delve into what they are, why we have these fears, and if they’re real. It might not be as bad as you think. For instance, that swallowing-spiders story? Sleep soundly — it’s an urban legend. Likewise, your fears could either spotlight areas to work on or be worries that you can safely let go of and choose a better reality instead.

2. What does my spouse really think about our sex life?

One of the biggest issues I see in marriages that struggle with sexual intimacy is one spouse thinks they know what the other feels and believes about sex … but they don’t. She thinks he just wants a physical release, but he wants emotional connection through sexual intimacy. He thinks she doesn’t ever want to have sex, but she does want sex if it could be more mutually satisfying….

I could give more examples, but the point is that at least some of your assumptions about your spouse are likely wrong. We tend to look at a situation and think, If I said or behaved like that, it would mean X. But it doesn’t mean X for your spouse, because they’re a different person.

Take a look at all of the messages your spouse has given you about your marriage bed. For instance, if you think he’d rather be with a prettier woman, but he’s asked to see you naked, wants to kiss and touch you, and says positive things about your body, that’s probably the truth about what he thinks. And be willing to ask your spouse, with an open mind and heart, what they think. You might find out something you didn’t know.

3. Would I want to make love with me?

A while back, Kevin A. Thompson, minister and blogger, wrote a post titled “I Wouldn’t Sleep With You Either.” It was addressed to husbands who wanted to have more sex, but there was good reason why the wife wasn’t obliging. If you want to read the post now, I’ll wait while you do that. (Whistles and taps fingers on desk…)

Okay, sometimes the reason your sex life isn’t going well is because the rest of you isn’t all that peachy. Yes, I know that’s a hard thing to hear. But ask yourself this question: If we switched places, and all I saw of my spouse is what he gets from me, would I want to make love with that person? Would that be an appealing prospect?

Sometimes the reason your sex life isn't going well is because the rest of you isn't all that peachy. Click To Tweet

This is why I often tell people who whine and complain about sex to Stop It Already. Even though there are issues that need to be addressed, who wants to bed someone who’s always throwing a conniption fit? By being a prickly person to be around, you could be making things worse. But if you love your spouse like a walking 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (“Love is patient, love is kind, etc.”), that’s really attractive. And then if/when you work out the other issues, you’re rather bed-able.

4. What’s the number one area you need to nurture?

One of the three points above may have hit on an area you need to work on. But oftentimes, the marriage bed has several areas where improvement could be made. Whether you’re in the sexual doldrums or riding high, you can always find something to nurture.

But rather than taking a scatter-shot approach, focus on a single target at a time. What’s the number one area you need to nurture? If you can identify it, then you can tackle that next step and see some progress in your sexual intimacy. Step by step, target by target, you can build greater intimacy in your marriage bed.

Now your number one area might not — or probably won’t — be your spouse’s number one area. And that’s okay. Work on your stuff, and be willing to cooperate with your spouse’s. But know that you don’t have to work everything out all in a day. That’s part of the beauty of God’s design for sex in a covenant marriage — you have a lifetime to learn and improve and experience the intimacy He longs for you to have.

5. What’s the next step I need to take?

This question may sound like a repeat, but it’s not. Knowing what area you need to nurture isn’t the same as identifying the specific action you’ll take. It’s the difference between saying, “I’m going to exercise more,” and “I’m going to take Zumba classes three times a week, starting tomorrow.” And then paying for the classes. Goals are great, but they don’t mean much unless and until you list specific actions you’ll take to reach them.

Goals are great, but they don't mean much unless and until you list specific actions you'll take to reach them. #marriage #Christiansex Click To Tweet

So what action should you take? Well, it depends on your goal. If you want to address physical discomfort during lovemaking, you make an appointment with your doctor or a sexual health specialist. If you’ve experienced a lot of conflict surrounding the topic of sex in your marriage, it could be time to meet with a counselor, together or on your own. If you’re struggling with a porn habit, you install filtering software and/or join a porn recovery group. If you just want to add some spice to your sexual repertoire, you buy my book with a lot of suggestions for that!

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Whatever you decide to focus on, identify the next step to take. And then take it.

Now what questions do you think couples should ask about their sexual intimacy?