Tag Archives: sexual intimacy in marriage

Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

Our question for today comes from a wife who is currently separated from her husband, fighting for her marriage, and trying to deal with her restless sex drive. Here it is:

Our sex life has been amazing from day one. I have a very high libido and I just enjoy sex and trying new things, etc. However, we are currently separated due to him falling into an international affair. I am fighting hard for my marriage and I’m praying the Lord will grab his heart and turn him from his sin…

My question is this: I’m 31 years old with a high libido and I feel trapped in how to how to honor the Lord with my sexuality right now. How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful? I believe masturbation is okay, especially in my situation, but it has become really hard to climax without having a scenario in my head. I believe erotica can erode a marriage, but are there certain types of erotica that can help people people in my situation?

Blog post title + woman under bed covers with arms raised

First off, I’m praying for your marriage too, and I invite my readers to do the same. Obviously, the best answer is for this marriage to be not only restored but brought to a place of thriving.

Yet whatever happens, you have to deal with this high libido that was awakened in marriage and now has no place to be satisfied. I feel for you. Your sex drive doesn’t just go away when your spouse is gone; it can be a hungry little beast when not properly fed.

You essentially have three ways to deal with a restless sex drive.

1. Release it.

That’s where your question heads to: “How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful?” You say that masturbation is okay, and I’ve laid out my own position on this blog before. A summary of my perspective would be that masturbation that brings you and your spouse closer together is okay and masturbation that draws sexual energy away from your spouse is not okay.

Long physical separation from your spouse could be one of those times when it’s beneficial to “take the edge off” so that you can remain focused on your husband and your intimacy with him and not be tempted by another’s man attention, get cranky with your husband because it’s been way too long, etc. But imagining a scenario in your mind that doesn’t involve your husband takes sexual energy away from him; it’s inherently detrimental to your relationship.

If you’re imagining anything other than your hubby in your mind, you’re in sinful territory. And that’s what erotica encourages you to do. Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NLT). Of course that also applies to a woman looking, or imagining, a man with lust.

Ideally, if you’re masturbating to be able to withstand a long physical separation from your spouse, you’re doing so with their knowledge, support, and even presence (yes, some married couples Skype and simultaneously pleasure themselves). In your case, however, that’s not possible. So you need to be careful about how you engage in this physical release.

Look at your motives, your heart and your mind, and what will best keep your sexual energy on your marriage. Prayerfully ask those questions and listen for God’s answers.

2. Channel it.

You don’t have to use sexual energy sexually. That pent-up feeling can be channeled toward other activities. For instance, physical exercise can help diffuse that tension. It’s another way to be active, experience body chemical highs, and end up with that level of fatigue you sometimes feel at the end of sex.

I’m sure you’re also missing that physical touch that comes with sexual connection. You can refocus your desire for sexual affection to other forms of affection and other relationships. Spend more time with family. Volunteer in your church’s nursery. Head to a convalescent home and hold hands with an old woman, who might also have some wise life advice to share while you’re there.

Check out these and other ideas on what to do with your sexual energy when you’re not attached in this post.

3. Ignore it.

You’re probably thinking, I can’t! It’s impossible to ignore. But hear me out. In psychology, there’s a principle called extinction. In behavioral therapy, we know that linking a stimulus and a consequence causes people to expect the latter when the former shows up. The classic experiment is Pavlov’s dogs who heard a bell before being fed and thereafter drooled for food whenever they heard the bell ring. But if you de-couple that stimulus and consequence (bell → food), eventually the conditioned response (drooling) goes away. That’s extinction.

Right now, your hungry little beast — aka, your sex drive — wants to be fed. But it doesn’t literally need to be fed. You don’t have to have sex for your heart to keep beating. So it’s possible to use a bit of extinction in dealing with your drive.

I don’t believe your libido will completely go away, because our sexuality is an integral, God-given part of our humanity. But if you constantly shove juicy morsels at that beast, it will keep coming and coming, demanding to be fed. If you ignore it, eventually your drive will diminish. Enough to be more manageable.

Lest you think I’m being completely unrealistic, my husband and I did not have sex for about four months when expecting our second child. I was right in that high-libido part of my pregnancy when my doctor announced that health risks precluded intercourse. I did a lot of ignoring my drive, and so did my husband. Over time, it got less demanding. So I believe it can be done.

(By the way, for those who are in a marriage where you should be having sex and one of you has been practicing extinction, this might help to explain why it’s hard to get going again. But you should, for the sake of your marriage.)

Which of the three options should you choose? Each of them — releasing your sex drive, channeling it, ignoring it — could be beneficial depending on the motives, circumstances, and goals. But ask serious questions about what would honor God and your marriage when deciding what to do.

Once again, I’m praying that your marriage will be saved.

Have You Ever Been Injured During Sex?

Once upon a time, I broke my right pinkie toe. When asked by a good friend how it happened, I blushed and told her about how my husband and I were making love. I was turned with my feet by the headboard, and things got heavy and heated. It was so amazing and out-of-control and earthshaking that I flung my foot out, caught the headboard with my toe, and broke the bone.

After I finished my explanation, she gasped and asked, “Really?”

To which I answered, “No. I was walking into our bathroom early one morning, couldn’t see where I was going, and slammed my foot on the door jamb. But doesn’t the first story sound more exciting?”

While I didn’t break my toe mid-sexual encounter, the sexual intimacy in my marriage has included some minor accidents and injuries. Stuff like hair getting accidentally pulled or legs cramping or my latest, which I shared on Facebook this morning:

Facebook post 6-13-16

In response, a few others shared their stories. And I bet y’all have more tales.

Have You Ever Been Injured During Sex?

While I’ve never read a novel or seen a movie with a romantic scene in which someone has an accident or injury during sex, I know it happens. If you’re making love as often as you should in your marriage, and you’ve been married for a while, you’ll likely have a story or two about the time you unintentionally kneed him in the nuts or he elbowed you in a bad place. You might have fallen off the bed, or even broken the bed. Or — like some friends of mine — you accidentally started a fire in your bedroom.

Not everything goes like clockwork every time. And that’s okay. The physical intimacy in your marriage is comprised of all those experiences bundled together, so a few oopses over the years don’t detract at all from the beauty of your one-flesh experience.

In fact, it might add to it. You get these shared memories of “that time when.” Remember when we dove naked onto your parents bed, broke the frame, and had to explain how we destroyed their furniture? Remember when we decided to make love on the kitchen table and ended up smacking our heads on the ceiling fan overhead? Remember when we set the mood by lighting all those candles and also set the pillow on fire?

And if you really do get injured making love, don’t be so embarrassed that you don’t tell the doctor what happened. You might be surprised how often such incidents occur. In fact, there’s a whole documentary series called Sex Sent Me to the ER. I haven’t watched the show (don’t really want to and don’t have cable anyway), but I’ve heard stories about the episodes.

The point is that it happens. Sex is something of a sport, and sports involve some risk. But they also involve scoring, winning, and celebrating. So it’s worth getting in the game.

Of course, remember your limits. For instance, the reason I pulled a muscle isn’t because I was going full-on Cirque de Soleil in my bedroom. Rather, my back is older than it used to be. Between age and turning it the wrong way, I’ve ended up with a slight injury. It will heal.

And avoid those sex acts, typically kinky, that are actually dangerous. Just because someone thought of a sexual act you haven’t done, doesn’t mean you have to do it. In fact, some are a really bad idea. Use your common sense.

But if it happens, it happens. Just like my sports analogy, sit on the sidelines for a bit if you need to and nurse your injury to healing. Then get back on the field (of loooove). After all, to your beloved spouse, you’re the MVP.*

Have you ever had an accident or injury during sex? You’re welcome to share your (not-too-graphic) story below.

*Most Valuable Player

Hot, Holy, and Humorous Book Footer

Get more details about Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design and information on where to buy by clicking HERE.

If the Sex is So Great, Why Aren’t You Satisfied?

Your hubby rings all your bells and makes your girly places sing with delight. If someone shoved a survey at you asking the question “Are you satisfied with the sexual intimacy in your marriage bed?” you’d immediately think the answer has to be yes. After all, wasn’t that last lovemaking session pretty darn good? But your hand would hover over the paper or the keyboard for an extra few seconds, wondering if you’re really as satisfied as you should be.

If the Sex Is So Great, Why Aren't You Satisfied?

It’s entirely possible to have amazing sex and not be satisfied with your sexual intimacy. Maybe you long for more kisses, wish the foreplay would last longer, want more variety in your marriage bed, or your lovemaking just doesn’t feel loving. Maybe your relationship outside the bedroom is struggling, so those great moments of sexual intimacy are only a respite from the real-world situation with your husband.

Truly satisfying sexual intimacy includes several components, and the physical is just one of them. Now I’m all about tending to the physical, because it is important to know how to arouse your beloved and bring them to the peak of pleasure. It’s why I wrote Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design — with godly, practical how-tos for your marital bedroom.

But technique and orgasms aren’t everything. Sexual intimacy as God intended also includes relational, recreational, and spiritual aspects. And if one of those matters to you a great deal and isn’t being met, then the sex might be great, but your satisfaction isn’t all that it could be. What can you do about it?

Relational. If the marriage isn’t going well, it can be hard to feel as much as you want to during lovemaking. Satisfying sex requires vulnerability, and if you are struggling with trust outside the bedroom, it’s hard to trust inside the bedroom. Now I’ve written, “Don’t wait for everything in your relationship to be perfect before you commit to having the marital intimacy God intended for you two to enjoy.” (See Wifey Wednesday: What Comes First? Sex or Friendship?) In my own marriage, sexual intimacy was a glue that kept us together while working on relational stuff. And that’s been the experience of many other couples.

However, you can’t ignore the relationship. To have a long-lasting marriage and satisfying sexual intimacy for the long haul, you have to tackle your problems. That might involve you simply changing your perspective and habits, talking things out with your spouse, or seeking help from marriage mentors, your pastor, or a Christian counselor. I can’t give specific advice on what that looks like without knowing your story, but what I have found is that most wives know when something needs to change and have some ideas for supportive resources. If you don’t know, ask people you trust to point you in the right direction. By the way, the right direction will always include God walking with you on the path.

Recreational. Do you lack a feeling of playfulness and openness in your bedroom? Do you feel uncomfortable with your body and sharing your thoughts and even sense of humor? Your lovemaking isn’t a comedy revue, but I’ve often said that sex can be funny. From squeaky bed frames to getting your wires crossed to child interruptions, there’s plenty of smile-worthy entertainment in a healthy couple’s marital intimacy. But if you feel like it’s a supremely serious activity or that you can’t fully be yourself, you miss out on this recreational component.

Lighten up. Recognize that sex doesn’t always look like a perfectly choreographed romance novel. Recognize that our bodies are absolutely beautiful and sexy, but they can also sag in strange places and produce vaginal farts (queef, if you want to know the slang term). Recognize that God meant sex to be a fun activity, not merely a marital duty. And talk to your husband about these things, asking if you can both relax more and enjoy the moment. You might be surprised to find that he didn’t expect you to be a posed and poised lover at all times; he just wants you to be you.

Spiritual. Some wives struggle because their husbands are either nonbelievers or less committed to God. Deep down, we want to be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14) with our husbands; we want to share our faith and devotion to Christ. Other wives simply don’t feel that sense of the sacred when they enter the bedroom. It’s as if sex operates on a completely different plane from your spiritual life.

But if God says something is good, it’s good. (See Genesis 1:31 and Acts 10:15.)  The marriage bed has His blessing, and He resides there with you. So how can you bring the spiritual into your bedroom? Whether or not your husband engages in this with you, remind yourself that sex in marriage is a gift from your Father, thank God for your sexual intimacy, and pray for your husband and your sexual intimacy.

Tend to the area of your marriage that needs nurturing so that sexual intimacy, and your whole marriage, is a satisfying experience that honors your Heavenly Father.

HHH coverFor practical tips on the physical, as well as wisdom for relational, recreational, and spiritual aspects, be sure to check out Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. Available for pre-order now.

 

3 Barriers to Communicating with Your Spouse about Sex

Many spouses need to have a conversation about sex with their mates. They are not satisfied with the sexual intimacy in their marriage, and they see issues that need addressing, problems that need solving, holes in their heart that need filling.

Whatever the concern, it’s imperative that they start a conversation about sex. But all too often, such discussions devolve into frustration, contention, and stalemate. What’s keep you from making progress?

Couple with barrier between them + blog post title

1. Making yourself heard. You’re hurt by your spouse’s actions regarding marital intimacy, whether it’s insisting on activities you don’t want to do, resisting sex altogether, or whatever. You are sure that if only they understood how you feel, they would adjust their thinking and things would go more smoothly.

So you start the conversation, explain your thoughts and feelings, present information, argue your points, persuade, plead, beg, cry. Whatever it takes, you’re willing to do it, if only your spouse will listen to you.

Guess what? You’re making that conversation all about you and your feelings. Yes, you and your feelings matter! They matter a great deal. But so do your spouse’s.

Instead, try to ask questions and listen. Find out why they are resisting your viewpoint. What is in the way of them engaging more intimately or giving up porn or whatever you’re dealing with? Show real concern for your spouse’s feelings and give them a safe place to talk about what they are facing.

By doing so, you open up more conversation, gain insight you need to combat the problems, and show genuine care for your spouse. You might be surprised by what you discover if you’ll make the goal letting your spouse be heard and responding to them in love.

2. Keeping score. “You never…!” “You always…!”

We married people are excellent at keeping score. Especially if you’re unhappy in a specific area like sex. The rejected spouse knows exactly how many days it’s been since the last sex encounter or how many times she initiated and was shot down in the last week. The put-upon spouse knows how many times she’s been hit up for sex with no prior warning, romance, or affection. We don’t have to intentionally keep score; we have to intentionally stop keeping score.

Starting a conversation with a litany of your spouse’s failures is sure to end badly. Would you want to hear about everything you’re doing wrong? Then why do you think your spouse would respond to that?

Instead, talk about what you want. Instead of dwelling in real and perceived hurts, paint a picture of what your sexual intimacy could be like. Refer back to what it has been in the past, or what you imagine for the future, or — the best option! — the way God designed sexual intimacy in marriage. Speak of terms of the pleasure, connection, and closeness you desire to have as a couple; what your vision of sexual intimacy would mean to you, to your spouse, and to the relationship; and how a change in your sexual intimacy would honor God and keep your marriage strong.

Show how a new approach to sexual intimacy would be a beautiful thing for both of you — an ideal worth pursuing.

3. Blaming your spouse. If only he would… If only she would… Plenty of us believe that if our spouse would change, our problems would resolve.

Frankly, sometimes that’s true. Maybe your sexual problems really are the result of your spouse’s selfishness, sexual history, inability to deal with past abuse, or hormonal issues. Whatever it is, it could very well be that your spouse is a bigger part of the problem than you are.

But so what? You’re married. One flesh and all that. If you view your spouse as the enemy, you’re a divided team, and divided teams don’t win.

If you view your spouse as the enemy, you're a divided team, and divided teams don't win. Click To Tweet

Instead, make it a WE problem. One of the great perks of marriage is having someone on your team to support you and help you through tough times. Be your spouse’s biggest ally! Whatever the issue may be, it’s a we issue now — one you can tackle together. Remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

Don’t let your spouse fall alone. Reach out and help! Be stronger together. “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (v. 12). Together, and with the third cord of God on your side, you can conquer almost anything!

Ask your spouse what you can do to help, and address your sexual intimacy issues as a we thing. “We can build wonderful sexual intimacy, and we can get through this together.”

For more tips on talking to your spouse about sexual problems in your marriage, see How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.

What difficulties have you experienced talking to your spouse about sexual issues? What has worked for you?

If At First You Don’t Succeed… Ask for Sex Again

Physical intimacy hasn’t been happening in my marriage as often as we’d like. It’s been harder to connect lately, with my husband and me each having full work schedules (which don’t coincide), certain family obligations, and recent ailments and sleep disturbances. I’d love to say that we’re always rocking the marriage bed over here in my house, but in recent weeks there’s been more lulling than rocking happening under our sheets.

So when yet another attempt failed last week, I was really discouraged. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We’d planned to make love. But life happened, and it didn’t. Still, I was left missing that intimacy with my husband and feeling like our days were stacked against us.

Honestly, I complained to a friend. Not complaining about my husband, of course, but simply sharing my frustration with our lack of sexual intimacy. As a wonderful support to my marriage, she had an encouraging word for me. Once again, I remembered that, as much as we place a priority on sex in our marriage, it’s just more difficult to make happen with great frequency in some seasons.

But if at first you don’t succeed . . . Yep, try, try again!

Couple in bed with blog post title

That’s such a simple phrase that gets batted around all the time (at least in my culture). But there is great truth to it. The Bible says it this way: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

And I believe this is one of the main reasons why I can confidently state that my marriage has good, healthy, satisfying, godly sexual intimacy. Not because we’re always “gettin’ it done” in the bedroom, but because we understand the importance of sex in our marriage and we don’t give up on each other or ourselves.

So the next night, we tried again. I think it took three tries to be able to clear the calendars, the room, the minds, and the Sandman to make some sweet love!

Which is somewhat annoying, but in our bone-dry years, we likely would have given up. And this is what I see in many marriages that are either struggling or simply not experiencing quality sexual intimacy. We get frustrated because things aren’t happening like they should, for whatever reason, and we give up. It’s just too hard, or you’re too exhausted, or you’re too busy, or you’re too likely you’ll be rejected yet again.

Look, I don’t know what will happen if you try, try again. It may not turn out. But I guarantee what will happen if you don’t try: No sex.

So today I’m suggesting that you make sexual intimacy a priority, that you persevere in pursuing the best for your marriage bed, that you take the setbacks in stride but keep moving in the right direction. We’re not sprinting in our marriages. This is a marathon! As much as that analogy pains those of us who can’t stand to run, it’s true.

If you don’t make love tonight, the world will not end. But if you don’t make love tonight and the next night and the next and the next and on and on and on, what will happen to your marriage? To your intimacy? To your heart?

So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Dust off the disappointing moment and, when opportunity presents itself, ask for sex again. Or as 1 Corinthians 13 better says:

Love perseveres on decorative background