Monthly Archives: November 2011

Orgasm: If Only I Could O

Orgasm. Have you had one? I recently got a question from a commenter. Here’s what she (Anonymous) said:

“My issue is that I have never had an orgasm. I’m beginning to believe that I can’t. I love sex… I initiate it more often than he does! But I know that it bothers him somewhat (a lot less than in the past!) and it bugs me! I believe it might have something to do with letting go and relaxing.. any tips for me?”

So if I were a sex therapist (which I’m not), I would likely ask questions about sexual history, events that shaped sexual perspective, marital health, techniques, and so on. But maybe it’s just as well to give a general “How to” lesson – which will be broad, but may include helpful tips. So without further ado, here’s my rendition of How to Orgasm.

Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

from When Harry Met Sally

Don’t try to orgasm. Yes, it’s a worthy goal, and I’m in favor of reaching that awe-inducing climax and yelling “Yippee!” at its apex. However, trying to attain an orgasm is like looking for the perfect shoes. You almost never find them when you’re out hunting down what to wear with that outfit you paid too much for. But go out browsing with a girlfriend to enjoy the fun of shopping, and voilá! there they are – the perfect shoes practically winking at you through the display window.

Likewise, orgasms are not what you should aim for. Aim instead for pleasure, pleasure, and more pleasure. When the pleasure becomes particularly intense, orgasm occurs. So your target should be enjoying the sexual act as much as you possibly can.

Learn about your body. There are various ways to do this. Read up on the female body generally. Learn the parts that constitute arousal areas and how they work. The most thorough treatment I’ve read was from Intended for Pleasure by Ed and Gaye Wheat, but there are other sources. One important fact is that the clitoris is where orgasm occurs for women, and this body part appears to have no other purpose than inducing sexual arousal. (Thank you, God.) The Wheats state that “sufficient physical stimulation of the clitoris alone will produce orgasm in nearly all women.” Of course, what constitutes that “sufficient physical stimulation” is what wives, and husbands, need to know.Some experts suggest that you experiment with your own body, discovering where you like to be touched and with what intensity. It will feel different with your own hand versus your husband’s, but this information can be valuable. You can even make this part of a lovemaking session. Most husbands are very aroused by their wives touching themselves, and this can become part of the foreplay for sex. It can help him to see what you like.

You can also have your husband explore your body. I suggest that the wife remove her clothing, but that the husband remain dressed for this session (it can be awfully hard for him to not rush in to penetration if he’s already naked). Dedicate at least fifteen minutes, but even better a half-hour, to him touching you with his hands and lips. It may feel selfish to indulge only one of you, but learning what causes arousal for the wife will benefit the husband in the long run as well.

Slow way down. Men typically do not require as much foreplay as women. In fact, husbands have been compared to microwaves and wives to slow cookers for how long it takes them to heat up. (Thanks to Sheila Gregoire for reminding me of this comparison.) It takes some time for most women to become aroused, fully lubricated, and for the inner vagina lips (labia minora) to swell.

Moreover, women are mental multi-taskers. This can be a problem when it comes to sex. It takes time to wind down and push the to-do list to the back of our minds; to swat away those pesky distractions rushing through our brains; to relax into the arms of our beloved; to feel valued, treasured, and loved in that moment; and to let go and surrender to the sensations our body is experiencing.

And that’s okay. It can be a good thing when a wife slows down the lovemaking experience and ensures that a couple basks in the delights of one another. Give the wife time for pleasure and intensity to build.

Focus on the sensations. The female orgasm is mostly mental. As I said, God created females to be multi-taskers, so it’s easy for us to think about sex and — sex and our shopping list; sex and the lyrics to the song on the radio; sex i the way our breasts sag to the side instead of perking up like we wish they would. But you have to focus on what’s happening to your body to give in to it, to enjoy it, to climax.

Make your pleasure almost like meditation. Train yourself to focus on where your husband is touching, kissing, or fondling you. Think intently about your private areas as your husband is pleasuring them. If stray thoughts come in (and they do), return your mental gaze to your body and the stimulation of your five senses. Most women must practice this level of concentration – getting rid of distracting thoughts and returning focus to the arousal your body is experiencing. It may take time to do it with ease.

Communicate. Tell him what you like. When something feels particularly good, let your spouse know to keep doing it, or have him increase the intensity. When adjustments need to be made, verbally suggest what you want or direct his hands or lips to the area you want aroused.

Can this be awkward? Um, yeah. I have never seen a Hollywood love scene where one actor said to the other, “Oh, not there. Over a little bit. Yeah, right there.” (Actually, I see very few such scenes these days by avoiding R-rated films, but that’s another story.)

I still feel a little weird about speaking up during sex, but my honey doesn’t mind. Two things to remember: (1) he wants to pleasure you, so if something else would do more to rev up your engine, he wants to know; (2) he’ll respond much better to positive feedback than critical reviews of his performance. For example, rather than saying, “That doesn’t feel good,” move his hand and say, “I love it when you touch me there.” Smiles, oohs, aahs, and groans also let a hubby know when he’s hit the jackpot. You could throw in a “You rock my world, baby!” if you feel so moved. That usually goes over well.

Surrender to the moment. Orgasm is a paradox of tension and letting go. When a woman feels extreme sexual arousal, her body tenses. But she must surrender to the pleasurable sensations in order for her body to climax. This is something you might practice too. When you start feeling intense pleasure, concentrate on the body part being aroused and relax it. Do this a few times, and see if your pleasure increases.Give in to the moment when it arrives. Makes noises. Grimace. Scream. Flail about. Whatever floats your boat. I wonder about couples who videotape their lovemaking sessions because I’m pretty sure that orgasms are not pretty. If you watched a woman undergoing an intense orgasm, she might look like a rabid animal. But this is not the time to worry about how you look or what the neighbors might think if they heard you. (Hey, they’re probably thinking “Good for her!”) At that apex of pleasure, let go and revel in your one-fleshness.

My analogy would be riding a roller coaster (which I LOVE to do!). Tension grows as you slowly inch up to that tallest peak. When you reach the top, you must decide: Am I going to grip this safety bar and close my eyes? Or am I going to raise my hands and scream with delight? As you might guess, I always go for #2. It’s so much funner that way. Surrender to the moment.

Well, that’s it. Today’s tips for how to orgasm.

You know what was so great about this reader’s question in particular? She admits to enjoying sex . . . even without an orgasm. “I love sex,” she wrote.

By learning about my body and my interactions with my husband, I have no problem these days achieving orgasm. However, I don’t require climax to enjoy the closeness, arousal, and experience of sex with my husband. Sometimes, I simply don’t hit that Big O, and that’s okay. When I told my husband this, he was a little surprised. Most men figure that climax is a goal of sex; after all, they usually have one. The Generous Husband recently had a great post on this very topic: Okay – but only if I can skip the “O”.Still, orgasms remind me of ordering a peppermint hot chocolate (my go-to drink) at Starbucks. They always ask if I want whipped cream. I want to say, “Duh. The cocoa is great, but if I can get whipped cream, I’m totally there.”

Sex = chocolaty goodness. Orgasm = whipped cream. Definitely a great combo.

Starbucks cocoa

Now readers, what are you tips for achieving an orgasm? Have you struggled in this way? Learned anything along the way? Share your story or your suggestions.

Quick Note: Stu and Lisa Gray have revealed nominees for their 2011 Top Marriage Blogs List. Check out the links and vote at the Stupendous Marriage website.

Are You Thankful for Sex?

Thanksgiving Cornucopia

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Those of you outside the United States are not celebrating this day as we Americans are, but expressing one’s gratefulness for the blessings of life is always a good idea.

Today many families will thank God for food, family, friends, jobs, possessions, football games, and more. However, I would be surprised if you have considered thanking God for your sexuality.

Before you worry that I’m planning to carve the turkey, sit down with extended relatives, and have a prayer chain that includes me proclaiming, “Thank you, Lord, for my husband’s sexy body and that amazing thing he did last night,” I was thinking about privately thanking God.

Do you ever pause and thank our Creator for the beautiful gift of physical intimacy in marriage? I mean, besides when you might have squealed “Thank you, God!” after a particularly good orgasm.

Have you ever thanked Him as part of your regular prayer time? Have you expressed your gratefulness for the way He designed man and woman to become husband and wife as one flesh? Have you told God how it amazes you that our bodies fit together in this way, that our brains are designed to connect sexuality with emotional bonding, and that this special form of intimacy is reserved for a single individual in your life?

Maybe things aren’t going well for you sexually right now. Maybe your marital intimacy isn’t everything it should be or could be. Maybe you are carrying hurts from your past or fears for your future. Maybe you don’t feel that you have much to be thankful for when it comes to your sexuality.

If so, you might begin by simply thanking God for making you a sexual being who can one day, with His help, experience the blessings God reserved for the marriage bed. It is my continual desire that you will learn how much God loves you and that everything He has designed for us is for our best.

Sex is God’s idea. It is His blessing to husbands and wives. It is His provision for making children, increasing intimacy, and providing pleasure to married couples whom He loves. Take a brief moment today to thank Him for sex.

I will be praying today for all of you as well – thanking God for your marriages and praying that He works in your daily lives to bring about all of the blessings that He has for you.

Why Do Women Pose for Porn?

Wired for Intimacy book cover

I recently read a great blog post from “husband,” a user’s guide about How Porn Works discussing a book titled Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by psychologist Williams Struthers. In the blog post, “Huz” begins by stating that “Over 25% of all Internet searches performed every day are for porn-related images, videos or websites.” Yikes!

This blog post, Struthers’s book, and plenty of other resources discuss how men crave intimacy and how pornography is a shortcut to that desire for visual and sexual stimulation. Hearing this from so many sources, I believe that pornography is incredibly tempting to men.

What I haven’t ever understood is why women pose for it.

Why are so many women willing to take off their clothes and expose themselves in sexually titillating ways? After years and years of women fighting for the right to own property, to be educated, to vote, to garner some respect, etc., why would any woman willingly become an object of ogling to be picked up and discarded at will?

I started reading stories of ex-porn stars, looking for clues to why anyone would enter this seedy world and publicly expose their most vulnerable parts. I came upon some patterns:

Abuse. Quite a few women who have posed and participated in sex acts for the camera experienced sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends, or strangers. They received a message early on that they were there to be taken, used, and mistreated sexually.

Unstable family background. Most of the ex-porn stars I read testimonies from had incredibly unstable families. They simply didn’t have anyone to teach them their worth or to protect them from abuse or help them heal if it did occur.

Need for money. Oftentimes, women began with stripping and moved to porn or prostitution. The porn industry, in fact, offered better money, so why not? they figured.

Connections to the industry. Someone they already knew suggested getting involved in porn. A friend or acquaintance took them to a set, introduced them to a filmmaker, or touted the advantages of working in the porn industry.

Attention. Now this one struck me. Many of the ex-porn stars related that – at first – they enjoyed the attention. These women liked the idea of getting male attention and being considered beautiful.

Glamor. Having your name known, signing autographs, and attracting larger attention seems glamorous. Porn actresses feel like Hollywood movie stars at times.

What also became clear from these women’s stories is that the porn industry led to more abuse: Often, they experienced forced sex acts, STDs, and mistreatment. It led to further instability: They were used by others to make money and not cared for or listened to.

They did not end up financially better: The money was often gone quickly, as many porn stars abuse drugs and alcohol to keep going.

Moreover, the attention and glamor are illusions. There is nothing glamorous about acting out sexually for someone else’s benefit and a wad of cash. A prostitute is a prostitute, no matter how good the camera work is.

What disturbs me as much or more than these stories, though, are the many women who are not in a porn industry but willingly take off their clothes for any reason or no reason at all. Plenty of gals post nude or scantily-clad images of themselves for freebie viewing on the Internet. Teen girls send suggestive or nude images of themselves to teen boys. Why are they engaging in this behavior?

I think the Attention category comes into play here. God has designed women such they we want to be beautiful and cherished by men. He has given woman a natural bent toward wanting a man’s eyes to hold her in his gaze.

Satan is so very happy to pervert that.

He perverts women with broken hearts to seek the wrong attention of men willing to pay for and praise sexual stimulation. He perverts men with broken hearts to seek the visual stimulation of women willing to pose for attention. In the end, the attention and stimulation each gets is a twisted, inadequate substitute for what God intends with sexuality.

Some people selling or giving away sexual images are purposefully evil in their intent, and some are broken human beings in need of a different message and healing.

Why do women pose? For the same reasons, I suppose, that we continue in any sinful and self-destructive pattern:

  • We have a hole in our lives and are looking for something to fill it.
  • We don’t know our own worth in God’s eyes.
  • We aren’t willing to let go of our selfish desires and surrender to God’s provision.
  • We allow ourselves to be led astray by others.

I wish I could take some of the women I read about in my research into my arms and describe how beautiful they are as daughters of God. And for those men who look at pornography, I would ask them to think about why women pose and what painful experiences they have endured and continue to endure.

Pornography is not a benign business. Many of these women have already suffered in their lives, and they continue to do so. May God bring healing to those ladies who find their way out.

For another heartfelt post on this topic, see Intimacy in Marriage’s My Love Letter to Pornographers.

Rainy Days and Ugly Days Always Get Me Down

Ugly dog

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I recently had an ugly day. You ladies probably know what I mean.

Most of the time, I feel okay about my appearance. I don’t stop traffic with my beauty, but I also don’t get mistaken for a horror movie villain. I’m in the acceptable range, and I think that God made me reasonably attractive with some pretty features.

But now and then, I have a day where I feel like Cinderella’s stepsisters were Helen of Troy compared to me.

Why did this happen? I went shopping.

Taking ten outfits into the dressing room, I presumed that at least one would flatter my figure. Nope. So on to another store, and the same presumption. Nope. And to another store . . . and another . . . . A couple of hours later, I concluded that I have no figure.

Despite the fact that the scale says I weigh in the a-okay range, I can assure you that it is not distributed the way it once was. It was tempting to lie back on the dressing room floor, do 100 crunches, and try those jeans on one more time. It was tempting to suck in with all of my breath and never exhale again. It was tempting to purchase all of the “shapewear” in the store and wear it all at once to get everything back where it belongs.

I cursed childbirth for the shifting of fat and the elasticity of my skin. I cursed fast food for being so available and convenient at every corner. I cursed Coca-Cola for tasting like ambrosia, that nectar of the gods. I cursed my busy schedule for not allowing me to exercise two hours per day and still have a clean house, tasks completed, and family cared for. I cursed the fashion industry for tissue-thin shirts and low rise pants that highlight the muffin tops of older women. I cursed young women for not having muffin tops.

I felt U-G-L-Y.

So I came home and ate an ice-cream sandwich. (Don’t judge me, or I might eat another.)

That night, when I told my husband how I felt, he dismissed my conclusions. I’m not ugly to him. Not at all. He was rather eager to find my muffin top and feel his way around from there. He said that neither one of us has the taut tummy we used to have. He said that I’m still hot to him . . . as in, smokin’.

I am lucky to have a husband who likes my body just fine. I understand that not all wives have that lovely circumstance.

However, I bet if most of you wives had an experience like I did, where you stood there hand on hip, tears in eyes, and choke in throat declaring how U-G-L-Y you are, your hubbies would stare at you in disbelief. What do you take him for? He wouldn’t marry ugly! He’s got good taste, you know.

In fact, my own husband has such good taste that he asked me to bring him an ice cream sandwich too.

A couple of days later, feeling better about myself, I went shopping again. Score! A great pair of jeans (with a little stretchy fabric) and a nice button-down shirt were waiting for me. I took a couple of turns in front of the dressing room mirror and thought, Not too bad. Not amazing, but not bad.

It turns out that God does a pretty good job with His handiwork. I’m not 20 anymore. I will never bounce dimes on my abdomen again (did I ever?). I could be a little more fit (which I’m working on), but if God and my husband think I’m okay, who am I to argue?

Do you feel bad about your appearance at times? How do you snap out of it? How does your spouse help (or not help) on those Ugly Days that get you down?

Top Marriage Blogs 2011

Growing up, I was one of those kids during fundraisers who barely rapped on the neighbor’s door, hoped they wouldn’t answer, and when they peeked their head out murmured, “Do you want to buy _____? You don’t have to.” I hated selling! To this day, it is difficult for me to promote products or myself.

Top 10 Marriage Blogs 2011 logoSo when I received word that Stu and Lisa Gray of Stupendous Marriage are gathering nominations for their 3rd Annual Top Marriage Blogs List, I wondered how I should handle this. Ignore it? Mention it briefly and move on? Ask for a nomination from readers? Or simply go the route of Shameless Self-Promotion?

Then I decided that I’d rather focus on other great marriage blogs. So here are some terrific blogs I currently follow.

The Generous Wife. Lori Byerly gives daily encouragement for marriages with tips on everything from household organization to date ideas to sexual insights. These are quick reads, and there is a lot wives can apply to their marriages to make them better. Lori also does a round-up of posts from other blogs that have stood out to her, and I click through many of those links and find great material.

The Generous Husband. Paul Byerly speaks to the husbands in his daily posts on being a generous husband. I read them, though, because I get a lot of out of his blog. Both genders can learn from his tips for being kinder, more engaged, and more Christ-like in our marriages.

Intimacy in Marriage. Julie Sibert tackles the tough marital intimacy issues with aplomb. She’s covered everything from talking to your kids about sex to positions to her masturbation posts with me. She also posts straightforward advice on how to have a great sex life with your spouse. I highly recommend her blog and have yet to read a post I didn’t get something from.

Marriage Gems. Lori Lowe aptly titled her blog. She takes a research-based approach to strengthening marriage and keeps readers up-to-date on the latest information and studies. Also, her book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss is coming out in December 2011.

One Flesh Marriage. Brad and Kate Aldrich trade posts. They cover a wide variety of topics and do a great job of breaking down issues and providing step-by-step tips for working on problem areas. Their blog is informative and encouraging.

Preengaged. Eric and Heather Viets both post to their blog. Their topics are aimed at couples not yet engaged, engaged, or early into marriage. Yet a lot of what they say applies to all of us marrieds. They are able to take daily occurrences and draw lessons from them for our relationships, and I admit to being a complete love-sick sucker for their posts on fun marriage proposals.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Sheila Gregoire posts on marriage, family, and sexuality. From what I can tell, her target audience is Christian wives, but her appeal is broader than that. I especially love her Wifey Wednesday posts, which go to the heart of what we married gals need to hear. Also, be sure to look for her new book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, coming out in February 2012.

Winning at Romance. Gina Parris has used her extensive background in sports psychology to advocate for great marital intimacy. She has wonderful tips in particular for women who struggle with low sex drive. Gina also hosted the Sexy Summit Teleseminar Series with some fabulous experts, and you can still get the series by clicking the affiliate link in the right sidebar of this blog.

I could list many more, but these marriage bloggers post regularly on relevant topics and often address sexuality in marriage – which is my focus. By the way, if you want to suggest a marriage blog for the Top 10 List, click HERE to go to Stu and Lisa’s nomination page at Stupendous Marriage.

Now I’d like to hear from you! Which marriage blogs do you love and why? How has reading marriage-focused posts helped your relationship? What do you want to gain from marriage blogs?