Monthly Archives: May 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Masculine?

Man in suit

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I recently posted on Man Up & Take Me! Alpha Male or Beta Hubby? and a conversation flared in the comments section about whether the term “alpha male” was appropriate for Christian husbands and whether masculinity includes taking charge in some way. After all, wasn’t Jesus the ultimate man and he was humble, meek, and sacrificial as he gave his life for us on the cross?

Without getting much into my use of the term “alpha male” — which I intended in the more colloquial usage than the scientific definition — the post made me think more about what we wives want our men to be. We want them to be masculine, right? But what traits are masculine traits?

I’m hardly the only one asking these questions. Bestselling books like Iron John: A Book about Men by Robert Bly, Wild at Heart by John Eldridge, and the recent The Book of Man by Bill Bennett indicate that people are reevaluating what a “real man” should look like. Stu and Lisa Gray of Stupendous Marriage mentioned another book, Point Man by Steve Farrar, in their podcast just last week. I also recently discovered a blog called The Art of Manliness, which covers topics as wide as writing love letters to your wife, waxing your car, and understanding retirement accounts; its motto is “reviving the lost art of manliness.” But what is manliness, or masculinity, anyway?

Dictionary.com defines masculine as “having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength and boldness” and manly as “having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength or bravery.” Surely, though, strength, boldness, and bravery are not merely male qualities. I can think of numerous women who possess them — women who are not manly in the least.

So what is this elusive set of traits? What does it mean to be masculine?

Jesus is indeed the ultimate example.

Sculpture of David

By jimmyweee (Jerusalem Uploaded by russavia) via Wikimedia Commons

For this post, however, I want to look at the person about whom the Bible says: “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do'” (Acts 17:22). Don’t we want our husbands to be men after God’s heart?

So what was David like? Here’s what I see from the life of David.

He was a protector. David was raised to be a shepherd, protecting his father’s flock. He watched over the sheep and, if they were taken by a lion or bear, he rescued the sheep from its mouth. In the same way, David protected Saul’s life twice when he had the opportunity to take it, but he waited instead on God’s timing and protected the king God had put on Israel’s throne.

He was a warrior. David fought the giant Goliath; he delivered the foreskins of 100 Philistines to secure marriage to Saul’s daughter Michal; he forced the Philistines out of Israel; he defeated Moabites, the Edomites, the Ammonites and the Arameans. About him, the Israelite women sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

He was a lover. David had eight wives and pursued each of them. He liked women and how they looked. That’s how he ended up committing a huge sin with Bathsheba. Yet, it wasn’t his desire for a woman but the wrong context that was condemned.

He was a leader. Before becoming king, David was given command of 1,000 men and led troops in their campaigns. When King Saul pursued David, four hundred men gathered around David and “he became their leader.” He garnered the loyalty of his men such that three of them risked their lives merely to bring David water when he thirsted.

He was an artist. David played the harp and was so good that he worked in the king’s palace playing for him. He wrote over 70 psalms and collected more. His prayers and songs express heartfelt emotions and honesty before God that have touched generation after generation. David danced before the Lord with freedom and passion.

He was a friend. The story of Jonathan and David is one of an incredibly close bond between friends. Later, the Bible tells of another friend, Hushai the Arkite, who infiltrated Absalom’s camp on David’s behalf and warned David to save him from an attack.

He was a provider. David spread his kingdom and attained wealth that he shared with family, friends, and citizens throughout his reign. But one of my favorite stories of David is how he sought out Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, and gave him a seat the king’s table to provide for him. After Absalom defiled David’s concubines, David kept them in the palace and provided for them without sexual relations; he didn’t have to do that, but he did.

Certainly, these characteristics can be found in women as well, but I think that the way David made them a priority and how he carried them out demonstrates something about true masculinity. Make no mistake, however: David wept; David grieved; David showed his emotions. At no time did he lose his manliness by wearing his heart on his sleeve.

I think David’s life can teach us a lot about manliness. The one time he is rebuked harshly in the Bible for his actions is when he became selfish and allowed his manly desires to get out of control. The prophet Nathan then brings him to task for taking what was not his to have. In that moment, David was not a protector, a provider, a friend, a leader… When he sinned with Bathsheba, he was a man, but not a manly man. And he humbled himself and was contrite before God for using his masculinity for self-gain.

All of these roles I see in the life of David (and in Ephesians 5) suggest a balance. Indeed, those things that typically make a man (higher levels of testosterone, greater body strength, competitiveness, etc.) are all traits that can be focused into being a man after God’s own heart or being twisted by Satan to become heartless.

Leadership can be twisted to become subjugation.
Strength can be twisted to become violence.
Protection can be twisted to become control.
Sexual love can be twisted to become forbidden lust.
Even self-sacrifice can even be twisted to become someone’s lapdog or doormat– not God’s intention at all.

So what is masculine? I can’t exactly define it. I know it when I see it. I see it in the life of David, Jesus, and — thank you, Lord — my husband.

I know when my husband is being a leader — in a man’s way, not in my way; a provider — in a man’s way, not in my way; a lover — in a man’s way . . . you get the point.

Also, he kills the bugs. I do not (not, not) like cockroaches, but he doesn’t bat an eye as he slays those exoskeletal dragon-like creatures for me. I don’t know if that’s technically masculine, but I like it. It makes me want to say, “Oh yeah, that’s my man!”

Your turn. I’m opening this up for you to tell me what you think masculinity is or looks like. I consider this an ongoing conversation, so let’s see what you all come up with. What makes a male a man? A godly man? A godly husband?

Sources: Jewish Virtual Library, Devotions for Growing Christians, Bible Gateway

Beyond the Single Orgasm

Q&A

On Mondays, I have been answering questions I received from my Q&A with J at HHH post. If you have another one to pose, head over there and leave a comment. I will eventually get around to all of the inquiries.

Today’s questions are to-the-point and were asked by anonymous commenters.

1. The multiple orgasm myth – busted? true? Tips?

2. Any tips on how to arrive at orgasm at the same time?

Since both questions deal with orgasm, I’ll answer them in one post.

Now some of you wives may be asking yourself, “Multiple orgasm? Simultaneous orgasm? Good gracious, I’ll settle for ONE Big O!” If you have difficulty reaching climax, then I suggest you pop right over to my post on If Only I Could O.

I also recommend posts from To Love, Honor and Vacuum (Sheila Gregoire) – The Pleasure Center, Intimacy in Marriage (Julie Sibert) – Your Orgasm is Your Responsibility, Mostly, and Generous Husband (Paul Byerly) – Orgasmic Massage. There are other great resources, but I recall these in particular.

If you currently have orgasms and want to increase the intensity even more, multiples and simultaneous orgasm certainly do that. In particular, having multiple orgasms is enjoyable and delights your husband, while achieving climax together can be a breathtaking, intimate moment for the two of you. But the question is HOW?

Lest you think such a thing is impossible, I have heard several orgasm statistics for which I cannot find a legitimate source. For instance, presumably the world record for the most number of orgasms in an hour is 134. This “stat” makes me wonder several things: How was this measured? Why would any woman want to do this? Was she still alive at the end? The longest orgasm is purported to be 22 hours. Again, Who? Why? What is wrong with people? And there is a couple who wrote a book suggesting that you can have a one-hour orgasmReally? Is this necessary? Is it even wise? Who has the time?

Yet getting back to the real world where 2-4 orgasms per sexual experience are quite enough, thank you very much, and achieving a sexual high together would be a nice thing to do sometimes…here are some tips.

MULTIPLE ORGASMS

First of all, it isn’t a myth. Quite a few women experience multiple orgasms in a single sexual encounter.

The easiest orgasm to achieve is purely clitoral — meaning that your husband stimulates your clitoris to the point of intense pleasure and eventually that tension releases as a physical wave of spasms and a mental holy-shivers-that-feels-good recognition. You know you have had an orgasm when you feel your vagina squeeze and release and your eyes roll to the back of your head and fall onto your pillow. (You can pick them up and return them to your sockets later.) As you can see, I’m rather happy with God giving woman a clitoris, as it has no purpose whatsoever but to provide pleasure for the wife during sex. What a generous God we have!

But wives can also have a vaginal orgasm, which typically occurs with penetration. How can I describe that one? It feels less frenetic and deeper and may last longer. Some experts believe that the key factor for a vaginal orgasm is contact with the G-spot; I’m not sure that’s a must. The clitoris is still involved in this orgasm, however, because it receives indirect pressure through thrusting.

Given that not all orgasms are the same, not all multiple orgasms feel the same either. You may have more than one clitoral, a clitoral and a vaginal, more than one vaginal, or whatever. And they will feel different. In fact, clitoral orgasms range as well in their intensity, contractions, feeling of sparks or waves, etc. Which is awesome, ladies! We wives can experience a variety of orgasmic experiences; meanwhile, husbands report that their climaxes are fabulous but pretty straightforward.

As to HOW TO, here are my tips:

Slow, fast, climax, slow, fast, climax, etc. This is particularly true with clitoral orgasms. You can make it a loop. Typically, wives wants husbands to go slow for a while and then quicken the pace and increase the pressure. Once a wife has reached the pinnacle of pleasure and achieved orgasm, hubby needs to back down on the pace and pressure. He doesn’t need to start over, but since the wife has fallen down the hump in excitement level, she needs to be built up again to reach climax.

Think of it like a roller coaster. The ride inches slowly up to that first peak and then you go careening down the hill with a huge grin and a scream, and then the next hill comes. You have to get up that hill again, and you lose a little speed doing so. But then when you go down that second hill, you’re screaming again (Yippee! This is fun). It’s slow, fast, slow, fast — or, if you prefer, up, down, up, down.

Roller coaster

See? Doesn’t that look fun?! By Mazku at fi.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clitoral stimulation, then vaginal. Even though a wife can have more than one vaginal orgasm, the clitoral is easier for most women to get to. So I suggest focusing on getting there first, and then having the husband enter. To get that second (or ninth, whatever your goal) orgasm, you can do a few things:

  • Play with sexual positioning. I’m not talking about some contortionist act — just tilt your hips, raise your legs, try woman-on-top, use the edge of the bed get into an angle that arouses you more or provides deeper penetration, etc.
  • Have him stimulate other areas of your body. If your breasts are erogenous zones or having him kiss your neck makes you go crazy, add that extra attention to see if that gets you over the brink.
  • Continue to stimulate the clitoris while hubby is inside. He can do this with his fingers or, if you are comfortable, you can do it yourself. In fact, most husbands are highly aroused to watch their wives touch themselves. However, you and hubby may wish for him to take charge of this as well. Whatever works for you.

You could also go for a succession of clitoral orgasms and wait on the intercourse longer. Make that decision together to see what you want to do.

If at first you don’t succeed… Seriously, don’t sweat this. Sex can be very enjoyable for a woman without an orgasm (a brownie). Sex with an orgasm is even better (dollop of ice cream). Sex with multiple orgasms is unnecessary, but rather nice (chocolate sauce). Believe me, if you don’t have Hershey’s syrup in your cabinet and offer me a brownie and ice cream, I’m still eating and enjoying every bite. You can enjoy it too.

Brownie w/ice cream & chocolate sauce

I know, I know. What’s with me and brownies?

If you don’t get wave after wave of awesome orgasm on your first (or fifth) try, keep making love! Try something a little different. Communicate. Experiment. Have fun with it. Ultimately, the best way to know what turns you on the most is not for me to draw a diagram or write an instruction manual, but for you and your husband to explore one another’s bodies and sexual responses.

SIMULTANEOUS ORGASM

Timing. It’s ALL about mastering the timing. If you can each reach climax, then you simply have to figure out who needs to hold off until the other spouse gets there. One spouse must come very close and then have patience while the other spouse gets very close, and then knock yourselves out. The ideal simultaneous orgasm is with penetration. It may be easier for some women to have a clitoral orgasm beforehand and then have their husband enter and bring them to climax again. Unlike the guys, we gals can handle a twofer and the first orgasm may in fact help get a wife to a sexual plateau where it isn’t that hard to shoot her up again into orgasmic pleasure.

Indeed, once you both get very close, one of you having an orgasm will likely help the other get there. That’s because the spasms of a wife’s orgasm provide pressure on her husband’s penis to bring about ejaculation; while the husband’s ejaculation will likely cause him to thrust deeper, thus contacting sensitive spots inside a woman that may respond with orgasm.

Luck. You can do some planning with this, but it’s my opinion that there is a bit of luck with simultaneous orgasm. Getting the two of you to climax together is a bit like trying to get two runners to cross the finish line at the exact same moment. You can do your best to match another’s stride, but breaking that finish line tape together would be difficult to achieve consistently. So take it when it happens, but as a friend of mine said, “This isn’t synchronized swimming.”

Synchronized swimmers

Marital intimacy is NOT synchronized swimming! By Pierre-Yves Beaudouin via Wikimedia Commons

Experience. Couples are better able to climax together when they are older and have been together longer. This is because is it relatively difficult for a young man to postpone climax while an older man can often control his climax better. Additionally, over time married, sexually active couples learn to gauge one another’s physical responses and adjust accordingly. At this point in my marriage, no one has to say, “I’m almost there,” because the other spouse can tell; we’ve just been there enough to know. Thus, simultaneous orgasm is actually easier to achieve with age and time together. That doesn’t mean the young-ins can’t get it, but it does mean that if you haven’t experienced it yet, you may in the future.

HAVE FUN TRYING

I think most women can achieve multiple and simultaneous orgasms at some point in their marriage. However, from a biblical perspective, my experience, and talking with other wives who have had multiples and simultaneous orgasm, the most enjoyable sex comes not from meeting such goals but from having physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy in the bedroom. Seeking these goals in turn helps you reach the physical ones. Feeling comfortable and confident sexually with your husband, being able to explore and communicate with one another during sex, and each having the attitude of pleasuring the other will go a long way toward experiencing multiples and simultaneous orgasm.

So learn about your body, take these tips, and apply them. But focus on one another. Take your time. Make these goals something fun to go for, but not the be-all-end-all. Remember that if it was about just multiple orgasms, you could get that with your hand or a toy. Ultimately, sex is about connecting with your spouse.

Cell Phones During Sex?

Woman dialing on cell phone

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I admit to being puzzled at times by various research findings regarding sexuality in America, but this one has me downright flummoxed. A survey by Meredith Parent Network (who publishes Parents and American Baby magazines) of 1,014 moms between the ages of 18 and 35 shows that 12% of them use their phone during sex.

The report was unclear what exactly they are doing with their phones in the middle of intercourse. Are they texting? Tweeting? Playing Angry Birds? I can’t imagine pulling out my cell phone to check it while in the throes of marital passion. In fact, I’m rather good at ignoring any attempts to contact me by phone when the heat in my bedroom starts to rise. You people can wait! I am the middle of something important.

But in an effort to be more forward-thinking and open to the digital age, I would like to suggest actual uses for your cell phone during sex. Surely there’s a way to incorporate all of that fabulous technology into your love life, right? So here’s my list of Top 10 Things to Do with Your Cell Phone During Sex:

10. Text the guy who never asked you out in high school, “Getting it on with hubby now — 6th time this week. You should’ve courted me when you had the chance!”

9. Play your ringtone over and over for mood music.

8. Download a Sexual Positions app and then show the screen to your spouse several times with comments like, “No, not like that! See how this stick figure has his leg over there. Like that!”

7. Use the stopwatch function on your smart phone to see how long you both can last. Later, calculate how much fat you burned by inputting the minutes in your calorie counter app.

6. Set the ringer to vibrate when you find out that your normal toy is out of batteries … again. Surely it will do in a pinch.

5. Update your Facebook status to read At Bedroom with Adam G. Hubby. See how many likes you get.

4. Use the camera on your phone to snap a photo of your face mid-orgasm. You know you’ve always wondered what you really look like in that moment.

3. Surreptitiously call your husband’s phone and see how many times it rings before he finally stops and reaches over to the night table to answer.

2. Tweet the highlights: “Hubby getting undressed. Love the heart-decorated boxers. #boxersrule” “He’s trying a new move tonight. I think I like it. #sextonight” “Yelled SHOW ME THE HONEY in the middle of orgasm. #lovemyhubby”

1. Call your pastor and thank him personally for his recent sermon series on the Song of Solomon.

Obviously, I’m having fun with this. For a serious moment here, I cannot imagine what anyone is doing with a phone in hand in the middle of marital intimacy. If someone wishes to enlighten me, go right ahead.

However, anything that distracts you from your marital lovemaking may keep you from fully enjoying the experience at best and could be seen as an insult to your spouse. Your Words with Friends turn can wait a few minutes longer while you take some time to unplug from the world and plug into your spouse. (I swear that was an unintentional pun, but I’m chuckling anyway.)

What do you think? Had you seen this study?

“I only have eyes for you.”

lyrics by Al Dubin

Man Up & Take Me! Alpha Male or Beta Hubby?

Q&AI’m back at it again — answering readers’ questions from my Q&A with J at HHH post. Today’s topic is about the approach that a husband takes toward his wife as he pursues, or doesn’t pursue, his wife sexually.

Here’s the question from an anonymous commenter:

I’d love a post on the fact that an overly “beta” husband is a real libido killer in most wives (or at least this one!!!). Our society, and especially the church, seems to groom men to be so sensitive and attentive and egalitarian in their approach with us. Don’t get me wrong–I love all the kitchen help and back rubs and love I get from my honey. But I want to feel like he is stronger than I am, that I can have a bad day and be bossy and he will stop me, he will push back when I go too far, he will be tough enough to stand up to me without backing down.

I don’t know if this makes sense, but I guess I’m asking if I’m crazy for wishing my husband didn’t cater so much to me? That he would aggressively tease me during the day, and that night say, “Take your clothes off, because I am not sleeping till we have made love…and I want you to Xxxx…” rather than try to be snuggly and pet on me and hint around and be all hesitant. Am I weird? I’m so grateful I’m not married to a brick who doesn’t care what I feel, but I’m so eager and willing to follow, if he would just be more…manly?? about it.

And don’t get me wrong. We have a great marriage and lots of sex, prob 4-5 times a week. He leads in lots of areas, and I just can’t understand why he gets so hesitant when I haven’t turned him down for sex in years and enjoy it a lot.

Am I unwittingly doing or saying something to cause this?

This was a particularly interesting topic since my husband recently read some study showing that a majority of women fantasize about being “taken” sexually. (I cannot find the source he originally saw or I would cite it here.)

Then there is the current reading trend toward sexy and erotic romances which often include a more aggressive (if not outright dominant) male love interest. I won’t go into that topic here (it’s been well-covered by several fellow marriage bloggers). However, while I do not believe that women are attracted to being dominated in some of the ways these books describe, I wonder if such stories tap into many women’s deeper desire for men to take the lead in the relationship.

Indeed, I found plenty of research and reports indicating that a top sexual fantasy for females is to be sexually ravished. Let’s be incredibly clear here: This is NOT talking about rape. Emotionally healthy women do not fantasize about being forced to have sex. However, wives often enjoy the notion that their husbands are stronger and more assertive in personality than they are and then experiencing that intensity in the bedroom.

It’s true of much of the animal kingdom and the human species: The alpha male is appealing.

As an aside, I feel for men out there. You guys get mixed messages all day long. You are supposed to be strong but not aggressive, leading but not dominating, romantic but not sappy, sexual but not sex-crazy. You’re supposed to know what we feel before we say it and say what you feel even when you don’t know. Now you’re supposed to ravage your wife, but not pressure her for sex? Good gracious! How’s a hubby to walk the tightrope here?

Gone with the Wind kiss

Rhett & Scarlett from Gone with the Wind

That said, I pretty much agree with the commenter above. Beta husbands are not all that attractive. Scarlett O’Hara might have thought she wanted Ashley Wilkes, but she — and every gal in the theater — knew that Rhett Butler was the catch in Gone with the Wind.

So how do we wives bring out the Rhett in our men? Every man has a tiger in him somewhere. We want to bring out that roar without bringing out the teeth.

I consulted with a man on this post. My husband said, “She should tell him to take her.” Wow, Honey. How profound. Admittedly, my husband believes that women can best communicate with men at all times by using as few words as possible, getting to the point, and, if possible, drawing a diagram. His advice is a good start, though. So we’ll begin there.

Talk to your husband about what you like. If you haven’t shared what you like in the bedroom, approaching the topic may be as awkward as that first foray onto the junior high gym dance floor with the guy you had a huge crush on way back then. But you didn’t die from that, did you? You can survive this too.

Don’t talk about what you want while in the bedroom or even close to the time of the act. Find a different place, a different time, and make sure it’s private and relaxed for the both of you. Then throw out there what you love about your husband’s lovemaking. Don’t describe it in a Marilyn Monroe tone that gets his engine revving and checks his brain out. Instead, be conversational. For instance: “The other day when you kissed my neck for a while, I loved that” or “I was thinking about how crazy my body gets when you watch me undress” or whatever. Let him respond. Maybe you can both share things you already like.

Stroke his manhood by honestly expressing what you enjoy about the way he makes you feel in your relationship and in the bedroom.

Share your fantasies. Then suggest what you might want to try. “Sometimes I wish you would be more assertive — you know, like telling me what you want or turning me in the direction you desire.” Think about how you want to say this part. Don’t describe the person you want your husband to be; give him an action to try. Since we gals are confusing at times with what we want, husbands can be hesitant to “be more assertive” without knowing what you mean by that. What if he doesn’t do it right? He’ll feel worse than before! But if he knows that you want to try X, Y and Z, he knows what “assertive” (and not aggressive) looks like to you.

Be clear about this for yourself too. In the question, the commenter did this with the wish that hubby would say, Take your clothes off, because I am not sleeping till we have made love…and I want you to Xxxx…” I don’t know what “Xxxx” is, but I bet she does. Define what you want as specifically as possible. Yes, you’re looking for an attitude, but you can likely come up with specific actions that express that — like your husband shutting up your whining session with a well-planted kiss or interrupting your get-ready-for-bed routine and undressing you himself. Figure out what would make you feel like he’s taking the lead and being the man and then tell him.

Set up a plan. Try to come up with a time you’ll give it a shot. It can be a specific time like “Let’s try that tonight after the kids go to bed, lover” or more general “I want to be with you in this way sometime next week.” However, I recommend a deadline of sorts here. You don’t want this conversation to fizzle and two weeks later, he’s lost that boldness from your words and feels awkward again. If you want him to take the lead, you could say, “Sometime in this next week, honey, I want you to initiate and try this. Whenever you choose, I promise that I will go along.”

Encourage his manliness. When your husband does engage in manly, sexy behaviors, reward him with positive words or expressions of pleasure, touch and physical stimulation, and/or returning the favor with sexual or merely kind gestures. What do I mean by all of that? Examples:

When he exerts decision-making: Let him know you appreciate his wisdom and courage. Follow him where he leads. Give him your trust and respect. You can help him feel like a man by treating him like the man you know he can be.

When he makes a move on you: Don’t push him away. If you can’t engage at that moment, tell him what the obstacle is (“I have to get this casserole done and take it over to the sick neighbor,” etc.) and suggest another time in the near future. Accept the offer. Then explain that his initiation turned you on.

During lovemaking: Express your enjoyment! Whether this is gasping, moaning, or yelling, “Superman!” right in the middle, make a guy feel awesome. I am NOT saying to fake orgasm. Do not fake orgasm. But express genuine pleasure. If he does something particularly nice, tell him. “Ooh, I like when you do that” doesn’t take much effort to say but goes a long way toward making a hubby feel like he’s potent in the bedroom.

Post-coitus: “You made my body shiver all over.” “You are an amazing lover.” “I am going to be thinking about that all weekend long.” What guy wouldn’t want to hear that? Or go into the bathroom and prepare a warm, wet washcloth for him to clean up afterward. Get him a drink from the kitchen. Yes, I know you’re not his maid; these are merely small acts of service that express love and appreciation.

A few more creative ideas: When he’s not around, slap on your sappiest smile, snap a photo, and then text or email it to him with a message like, “This is what my face does every time I think about last night.” Tuck a pair of your panties into his briefcase or glove compartment (you’d better know he’ll be the only one around when it’s discovered, though) and add a note like, “Guess what I’m not wearing.” Write a note on his bathroom mirror with a permanent marker (it comes off with alcohol) saying something like, “You’re my bedroom hero!” or “I’m Team Hubby.”

Don’t criticize him. I feel the need to remind the ladies out there that the worst thing to do to a guy is get him naked and then insult him. Would you want that? So telling your man he isn’t man enough for you in the bedroom isn’t going to help your marital intimacy! It’s going to make him far less likely to feel that necessary emotional security so that he can assert his manliness with you in the bedroom and expect to be accepted for who he is.

Thus, avoid telling your husband:

  • What you haven’t liked in the past. He hears: You were doing it wrong.
  • What you saw or heard or read about someone else doing. He hears: You’re not as good as he is.
  • That you aren’t satisfied. He hears: You aren’t good enough.
  • That you won’t be happy unless he “mans up.” He hears: You better get it right or else.

Who could perform under that pressure?

You have to find some way to maintain an encouraging, supportive, safe atmosphere so that you both feel free to express yourselves and come to a mutually satisfying experience.

Why this all might work. You may recognize two psychology things happening here. One, the Sandwich Technique. This is where you ask for something different or an improvement by sandwiching the request (meat) between positive comments (bread). It’s Bread (love what you’re doing), then Meat (wish we could try X), then Bread again (let’s give it a go/you were awesome).

Two, Behavioral Modification. I’m not treating your hubby like Pavlov’s dog, but trying a new behavior and having a good experience tends to reinforce the behavior and increase the likelihood that it will be repeated. Over time, your perspective of the situation changes such that if you exercise enough and get tight abs, eventually you enjoy exercising (or so I’ve heard). In this case, if hubby has a good experience with taking charge in the bedroom, he becomes more likely to take charge in the bedroom in the future and then feels like a take-charge kind of guy. It becomes a reinforcement loop.

A note for hubbies. Despite my ongoing attempts to understand your breed, I don’t know what it’s like to be a man. Not fully. However, when I read a recent post from the blog The Art of Manliness, my initial thought was, “How can I get every man to read this article?” Here it is: Want to Feel Like a Man? Then Act Like One. If you want to be the Alpha Male in the bedroom, act like one. Be sure you understand the biblical definition of a “real man,” of course. Do not treat your wife like your doormat or your sex toy. That’s not real manhood. Paul Byerly over at The Generous Husband does a good job as well of giving tips for what a godly husband looks like. There are other sources for biblical advice as well.

“Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.”

Song of Songs 1:4

Note: In the first rendition of this post, I used the word “forceful” a few times. As I stewed over the post, I decided that word “forceful” does not best convey my meaning. So I have replaced it with “assertive,” which I think better describes the approach wives often desire from their husbands. My apologies if I communicated a message I did not intend. Blessings!

Must Your Bedroom Be a Love Den?

Have you heard that your bedroom should be reserved for sex and sleeping? Have you heard that the TV should get the boot out of the bedroom? Have you heard that you should spruce up your bedroom to make it a romantic atmosphere? I have. I bet you have too.

But I only partially agree.

Sure, I would love to get down with the hubby in a room like this:

Bedroom in Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi villa

By Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Or this:

Jaipur Hotel. Sheesh Mahal Suite.

By Richard Moross from London (Samode Haveli Uploaded by Ekabhishek) via Wikimedia Commons

Or even this:

Pillow Talk bedroom

Anyone remember it from Pillow Talk?

And I am wholly in favor of doing whatever you can to make the bedroom inviting and removing distractions — such as clutter — that can keep a willing wife’s mind from focusing on the pleasure at hand.

However, I wonder at times if we put too much emphasis on our surroundings. My husband and I have had marvelous sex in beautiful, pristine hotel rooms and on an air mattress on the floor of the in-laws’ house. We’ve enjoyed times with candles and classical music in the background and with the bluish light and booming sound of the television in the background. And after hearing some of the places you spouses have had sex in my Where To Have Sex, Part 1 and Part 2 posts, maybe comfort isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Must you have a nice bedroom set with a mountain range of pillows and a hanging chandelier? If that’s your thing, go for it. It can’t hurt to set the mood! But plenty of couples around the world are doing just fine on a mat on the floor of their hut.

You shouldn’t expect that a little change in scenery will automatically lift your sagging sex life to one of fabulous intimacy. That said, it can help to set the stage. So here are some things to consider when deciding what your bedroom should have to be conducive to lovemaking.

What media sources are a hindrance for you as a couple? As to having a TV in the bedroom, I lost that battle in marriage. As it turns out, we have a very nice TV that faces the bed. It can be enjoyable to snuggle up and watch a movie together. Sometimes we even finish the movie. Sometimes we don’t. For us, a television, a laptop, a tablet, etc. are not a problem for our intimacy if we cozy up together while on the media source. But I can’t talk or text on the cell phone there, and my husband should probably stay away from playing longer games. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Each couple needs to ask how it’s going and set some boundaries.

What atmosphere do you prefer? Does lighting matter for you? Do smells affect your level of arousal? Do you desire a calm, neat bedroom? Or can you toss the laundry off the bed and get to it? I hope that you can sometimes do the last one there, whether or not you desire it — because otherwise, some couples would never have sex. Know and aim for what you like, avoid what you simply can’t abide, and be willing to settle in between if needed.

How much time, effort, and money can you expend? Like I said, if I could have a professionally decorated and regularly cleaned (by someone else) bedroom, I’d be all over that. Most of us, however, aren’t hiring an interior decorator and buying our dream furniture and decor. We have to ask what we can do with what we have. I personally put more effort into what I wear to bed than what my bed wears, but my linens do match. You can decide for yourself what your schedule and budget permit.

What does your spouse care about? If you don’t care about your surroundings, but your spouse does, it’s worth it to pay attention. Why not do a little something extra and make your bedroom an inviting place?

Who else is part of this equation? Do you live in your parents’ or in-laws’ house? Well, you can’t exactly turn their guest room into Sex Central. Is your space limited such that the infant’s crib is in your room? Until you can change that, you may have to put up with changing table and rocking chair in your bedroom — not exactly the wink-wink you want from your environment. You may have other considerations for the time-being. As soon as you can, create the right environment for frequent and rollickin’ good times, but you may have to wait on your dream room.

For some practical tips on making your bedroom a great place for intimacy, check out In the Bedroom from Erin of Mystery32 blog. She has some fabulous suggestions.