Monthly Archives: July 2012

More on Wife’s Low Sex Drive

Q&ALast Monday, I answered a question from a reader about her low sex drive, providing a checklist for possible causes so that the libido issue can be addressed. Another reader asked a similar question in my Q&A for J at HHH post. Here it is:

My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years. We were great friends for years before, have known each other since we were kids, and have lots of fun together. We did not have sex until we were married (he had before me though). I have always heard about great sex lives, and how much people love it, and how amazing it is, but honestly, I just don’t get it.

I have practically no sex drive to begin with (we have sex maybe a couple times a month, and we are in our 20s)–I know this hurts him. So when we do have sex, it often feels like it’s a chore for me. I have been told many times by other Christians that it is my wifely duty and I have to…I can’t always be turning him down just because I don’t want to. When we do, he is willing to take his time, etc., but I just want to get it over with as soon as possible so I can go to sleep. I rarely enjoy it. Honestly, I only enjoy sex if I have had a few drinks, and I don’t do that often. I don’t want my sex life to be based on alcohol making it better.

I feel like I could go forever without sex and be just fine. I just don’t want it and when we have it, it’s nothing great. I have wondered several times what the big deal is. Add to all this that I just feel AWKWARD and so uncomfortable. My husband likes to play around and grab me, etc., but I hate it. I feel like I am being groped by someone who is just a good friend, not my husband. And when we have sex, I am uncomfortable–it just feels awkward to me. It doesn’t feel intimate and loving–it just feels like sex. Nothing more. And afterwards, I usually feel so strange about it too.

I’m sorry this is so long. We have struggled with this for years. I have told my husband I just have no sex drive (it actually broke up my parent’s marriage bc of my father being that way, so maybe it’s genetic?) but I know he wants more. I always feel guilty or used when it comes to sex, and only satisfied if tipsy. Any help??

Don’t you have compassion for this couple? I do.

Since I posted my two cents about this subject last week, I wanted to come back and offer more resources this week. There are plenty of fellow marriage bloggers who have addressed the issue of a wife’s low sex drive as well. If this is a problem for you in your marriage, check out one or more of the following resources (and this is by no means a comprehensive list):

One Flesh Marriage: Do I Want the Libido Fairy to Visit?

One Flesh Marriage: Sexual Intimacy: Journey from Broken to Beauty

Marriage Gems: Possible Solutions for Low Libido

Do Not Disturb: Sex Drives: Libido Saboteurs

To Love, Honor & Vacuum: Reawaken Your Body

The Marriage Bed: Lack of Desire

Winning at Romance: Where Oh Where Did My Libido Go?

Intimacy for Marriage: 5 Things I Learned from My Failed Marriage

Pearl’s Oyster Bed: Where Did My Sexy Go?

Let me clear that while I believe that 1 Corinthians 7:5 instructs spouses that they have a sexual duty to one another, God doesn’t want you to approach sex in your marriage as a chore. Rather, the Bible talks about godly sexuality in marriage as:

Becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:18, 1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31).

Satisfying (Proverbs 5:19).

Delightful (Song of Songs 1:2, 2:3, 4:10).

Pure (Hebrews 13:4).

If you do not feel these things in your marriage, try to figure out why. I often hear from couples who went from floundering to flourishing sex lives in their marriage. It may take some effort on your part to find out what’s happening or not happening and then address it; however, it is worth the effort to strengthen this area of your marriage.

Finally, I want to suggest talking to your husband about how you feel about sex now and how you want to feel about sex. Attaining quality sexual intimacy in marriage should be a joint endeavor. Most husbands would be happy to do whatever they can to help you awaken your desire.

One last thing: If you are a wife who went from flailing libido to flaming libido, please comment below on how you got there. What was the issue and how did you address it? You might be able to help someone else if they are experiencing a similar problem.

Confessions of a Sex-Happy Wife

Inspiration can come from all kinds of places. This post, however, was completely inspired by Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage. You might want to start there by reading her post on 10 Confessions of a Wife Who Loves Sex.

Now here are my 10 Confessions from this wife who loves sex with her husband. (Thanks, God!)

1. We’re better lovers than we used to be. As we have grown in our relationship and our knowledge of one another’s bodies, and as we have learned to be more giving in the bedroom, we have become better lovers. My hubby knows how to push my happy buttons, and I know what he likes as well.

2. I enjoy initiating. We tend to trade off initiating without any plan to do so. Sometimes he thinks of it more or first, sometimes I do. But it makes the hubby feel like a million bucks to know I genuinely want him both emotionally and physically.

3. I like trying new things. By new, I mean a different position, a new place, a game, different lighting, etc. I have gotten some great ideas from reading blogs in this area and from my own quirky imagination.

4. Sometimes I think about sex during church. C’mon, you know sometimes your mind wanders right in the middle of a long sermon. Perhaps I’ve listened to everything the preacher has said when suddenly I glance over at my husband’s broad shoulders, the curve of his biceps, the sinewy muscles in his hands, and I want those hands on me. All over me. I take a deep breath, make plans for later in the day, and return my focus to the worship service.

5. I love using word play to flirt and set the stage for intimacy. The hubs and I joke quite a lot to suggest being intimate. We’ll refer to each other’s bodies in fun ways and use double entendres with abandon.

6. I feel like throwing a party every time I find another Christian wife who loves sex. There are lots of us, but not many willing to say aloud that they desire and enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. We’re like an underground movement, using code names, practicing secret knocks, and saying things like, “The peacock squawks at midnight.”

7. I struggle with wanting sex sometimes. As much as I love physical intimacy with my husband, I struggle with accepting his advances when he has been absent in other ways or just plain irritating. I have to take my own advice then and talk it out or suggest a better time. Rejection is hurtful and injures our relationship, and I want to grow love, not squash it.

8. I feel better about my body after sex. While it’s hard to get naked when you’re not entirely thrilled about your body, I allow myself to let go with my husband and enjoy our intimacy. In turn, I watch my husband revel in my body–which results in me feeling better about this body. It’s obviously not too bad if he wants it and enjoys it so much.

9. I like that my kids smile and roll their eyes when we touch. While kids may act embarrassed seeing their parents touch and kiss one another, they are secretly happy about it. Children get a sense of security when they see their parents expressing love. We are also role-modeling God’s design for marriage when we plant a sexy smackeroo on one another’s lips right in front of the younguns.

10. I have thought a lot about speaking publicly to other wives about enjoying sex. In fact, I have a presentation outline drafted. I want EVERY Christian wife to enjoy sex with her husband. My heart is that every wife will come to appreciate physical intimacy and experience it the way God intended.

But I don’t think that presenting my talk like this would be very compelling:

Face in paper bag

I tried to find a regular paper bag, but this was all I could come up with!

So I guess I’ll wait for the public speaking gig when I’m ready to reveal the face behind the blog.

Now it’s your turn to share! If you are a wife who enjoys sex, please share why and how you came to love it. Your story may inspire someone who has yet to experience the fullness of God’s gift of sexuality in her marriage.

Thanks, Julie, for the great idea!

Also, I had a guest post for Wifey Wednesday with Sheila Gregoire at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. Check out that post here: What Comes First? Sex or Friendship? Thanks, Sheila.

Added on Friday: Also check out Lori’s addition to this topic with 10 Confessions from a Sex-Positive Wife on The Generous Wife blog.

For Wives: When You Don’t Desire Sex

Q&AI combed my archives thinking that surely I had addressed the topic of low sex drive in wives but couldn’t find a single post on the subject. Today’s question deals with that issue, so here it is:

This may have been discussed in the past (I’ve been subscribing to your blog for about 6 months), but my husband and I waited until we were married to have sex (been married about 3 years) and because we never had sex with each other or anyone else prior to marriage, we came into our marriage not knowing ‘how’ to have good sex or, for me, how to enjoy it. He is all for sex and enjoys it, but I’ve struggled so much the past few years trying to learn how to enjoy sex and desire it. I sort of feel like I could go without it and be fine, which I know is wrong. It’s not that I don’t want it, but I don’t have much of a desire for it either. It seems of more like a chore to me. Which I know is not how it should be, we are in our prime and should be all for it! Is there anyone else out there struggling with this issue?

First, I have to give kudos to this wife! Plenty of wives get into marriage, conclude they don’t enjoy or desire sex much, and simply decide not to engage often. Instead, this wife is trying to learn how to desire and enjoy sexuality for her husband’s sake and for her own. Good for you for continuing to seek what God wants you to have–a marriage that is intimate in many areas, including sexual.

Second, I wish I had more details. If this wife and I were chatting at a coffee shop (in the corner and with low tones, of course), I’d ask questions about what the problem might be. Low drive can emanate from several factors, and it’s of little use to tell my friend to train her senses if she has experienced sexual abuse in her past or her hormones are wildly out of whack. The solution or treatment should address the actual problem.

However, since the question is general, I can run through the checklist–for her and for the rest of the wives out there who may have a low sex drive. How can you turn that libido switch on?

Your physiology is messed up. The first thing to do is to check with your doctor. God designed us to be sexual beings who desire intimate contact with the one we love. While we may differ in our desire for frequency, having no desire at all indicates something else is going on. The first place to check is your body.

Get an appointment with your primary care physician or gynecologist and explain your lack of libido. Don’t have a gynecologist? I give tips on choosing one HERE. Get tested for hormone levels and vitamin deficiencies. Make sure you are not suffering from major depression which can cause a drop in libido. (Ironically, anti-depressants can also cause a drop in libido, but this is case-by-case.) Are you on birth control? The Marriage Bed reported on intriguing research showing a link between oral contraception and lack of desire. Check out this excellent article HERE. Get a check-up and make sure your body will cooperate.

You have negative sexual occurrences in your past. Anything in your past that causes you to consider sex a negative activity can impact how you approach your spouse and marital intimacy now. Were you sexually abused as a child? Were you harassed? Did you blossom early and receive taunting? Were you raped? Were you told that sex was dirty? Did you engage in promiscuous behavior that left you with guilt? Was your first time a disappointment or painful? Have you struggled with pornography?

Imagine this with food: Even if you know logically that your grandmother thoroughly washed and cooked the shrimp, if you got food poisoning the last time you ate shrimp, you are not eager to pop a shellfish into your mouth because the physiological and emotional responses of that prior negative occurrence are imprinted on you. Anything that happened in your past with sexual overtones that left you with that bad taste in your mouth can make you reluctant to take another bite.

What to do? First, deal with your past. Acknowledge what happened and how you were affected. Work through how it hurt you and how you can change the way you view that time. Psychologists often suggest writing a letter to someone involved or even to yourself to air out your full feelings and get perspective (not to be sent). See a quality Christian counselor if you need to. Second, rewrite the script, which is exactly what I said a couple of weeks ago. Essentially, the way to see marital intimacy as a positive thing is to have positive marital intimacy. Make your intimacy so much better than that negative past so that your brain and heart can change direction and see how it really is a blessing from God in this context.

You’re not in touch with your body. To enjoy sex, you need to be able to relax and remain aware of the sensations of your body. If you have difficulty letting go, you may not be sensitive enough to arousal to enjoy the experience. Train your body to notice how your body feels with different touches and textures. Try a set of satin sheets; take bubble baths and notice the way the water feels on your skin; invite your spouse to apply lotion or oil to your body. You can train yourself to focus and be more cognizant of how your body is feeling in various ways. In turn, that will make you more open to arousal during physical intimacy.

You’re not great lovers. I hate to put it that way, but sometimes when a wife tells me she has hated sex for twenty years, I admit to wondering, What’s her husband doing wrong? I’m sure that’s not fair to her husband. And I actually don’t think technique is the end-all, be-all of sexuality. It most definitely is not. However, if your mate doesn’t know how to turn you on, or you don’t know how to help yourself get there, the sex may not feel that good.

Some couples have wonderful relationships, great attitudes, and a desire to connect, but what they need is a little skills-training. Now before you hire a coach to come into your bedroom — God forbid — let me say that all you need to know, you can learn from books, blogs, communication, trial-and-error, and trial-and-success. And more importantly, you can communicate with your mate. Help your hubby know how to touch you in a way that feels good; talk about the places you want to be touched, how you want to be kissed, and how much pressure to apply. Take time to explore each other and how you become aroused.

You have a poor self-image. God has made women beautiful, and consequently we have a desire to be and feel beautiful. Yet, we ladies have way too much pressure to look at certain way. If you dislike your own body, it’s not easy to share that body with your spouse. You don’t want to be naked, you don’t want to be touched, you tense up when your body is exposed. However, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Having heard from many men on this subject, let me assure the wives out there that you are beautiful to your hubby. Even if magazine models seem to put you to shame (and even those beautiful models are airbrushed so they don’t look like that either), you can confidently enter your own bedroom and know that your husband appreciates the way you look. Believe God’s assertion that you are beautiful and believe your husband when he says that he desires you. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage had a wonderful post on this subject at Sheila Gregoire’s site: Love the Skin You’re In.

Your relationship is having difficulties. If your relationship outside the bedroom is in distress, it’s hard to want to make love with your husband. It’s been said that men have sex to feel loved, and women have to feel loved to have sex. Wives want to have a sense of security and value in the marriage to be able to open up in the bedroom. Address relationship issues as they arise in as non-combative a way as possible. Seek counseling if the issues are big or persistent. Wives should not withhold sex, however, unless there are severe issues that call for that extreme measure. Continuing to connect physically can help to weather storms in marriage, and husbands in particular are more motivated to work on the relationship if they are happy with their wife in the bedroom.

Stress is sucking the life out of your libido. Stress comes from many places and shows up in various forms. You may be stressed from work demands, household responsibilities, child care, family issues, bouts of illness, etc. It may manifest as sadness, anger, escapism, sleep deprivation, fatigue, etc. Stress is a mood killer all around.

While I recognize that sex can relieve stress, for women it can be very difficult to shift into enjoyment of sex when stress still has its grip on you. Husbands are usually better able to let everything else go and focus on the moment, although stress can certainly affect their libido as well. Yet wives need to be able to relax and surrender to the physical sensations they are having to become aroused and engaged. If stress is overwhelming your life, you may not realize that it’s taking a toll on your sex life.

What do do about stress? It depends on the kind, but in general here are some tips. Prioritize your life. Say no to things you don’t need to take on. Eat healthy and exercise as a wonderful way to care for yourself and as an outlet for stress. Make sure you have someone to talk to. Don’t dump everything on your spouse. But talk about what’s bugging you to your mate, a best friend, a family member, a counselor, or a mentor so that stress isn’t just building inside you. Meditate. Meditation has been shown to relieve tension. Find a quiet spot for reflection and follow the psalmist’s example, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (119:15, but the whole chapter is full of references to meditation).  Pray. Dump your heart on God. The Bible is full of examples of godly people laying all of their troubles before Him, and Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Without a detailed interview on my virtual therapy couch*, I don’t know what the specific issue is.

Larry the Cucumber on therapy couch

Hopefully, I’ve hit on something here. I also recommend taking a look The Marriage’s Bed article on Lack of Desire, and Gina Parris of Winning at Romance frequently addresses the subject of low sexual desire.

May God lead you to the right answer and a fulfilling life of marital intimacy!

*No, I’m not a therapist by profession. I just love that Silly Song with Larry.

6 Questions to Ask about Your Swimsuit

I recently went to a water park. While I could write about my favorite rides, and why you should always try the thing that scares you the most because you might be surprised, I want to address an entirely different topic today.

Because I got to see a lot of women in swimsuits. And they were not all a pretty sight.

I also recently read an interesting article on Should Christians Wear Bikinis? by Christian speaker Carla Anne. Her conclusion in short is: “I don’t think Christians should wear bikinis.” She gives her reasons and graciously provides links to places where you can find modest swimsuits.

However, as I looked around the park at how women were dressed, I didn’t draw an all-bikinis-are-bad conclusion. There were several issues which determined whether a swimsuit was an appropriate choice for any given woman. Here are 5 ways I suggest you check your own swimsuit:

Women in swimsuits, circa 1920.

Circa 1920. By National Photo Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Does it fit? This was BY FAR the biggest issue I saw. Whether you are wearing a bikini or a one piece, a suit that is either too small or sagging can reveal far too much. The bra-area of a swimsuit should fully cover the breast. The bottoms should contain your buttocks. It’s that simple, people.

Thus, separates are your friend. I saw several women with a top or a bottom that fit, and a coordinating piece that clearly didn’t. It’s quite possible for a woman to wear a size-small top and a size-medium bottom or vice versa. You can find such choices with bikinis, or even better, tankinis.

2. Is it age-appropriate? I’m sorry, ladies, but 13 year olds and 53 year olds should not be in string bikinis. The former are too young, the latter are too old. Frankly, I don’t think anyone should be in a string bikini, but some styles really are more appropriate for certain ages than others.

Ask yourself about the pattern as well. For instance, larger polka-dots look better on younger ages than older, and older women tend to pull off solid colors and smaller patterns more successfully. If it’s a suit you could trade out with your teenage daughter, it’s too young for you.

3. Is your husband comfortable with you wearing it in public? Hopefully, your husband is a good source for such information. Many men will be honest is telling a wife whether an outfit is merely appealing or too revealing. Your swimsuit should favor your figure and be comfortable for swimming, but it should not raise the sexual antenna of other males in the vicinity. You don’t want to tempt another woman’s husband, nor do you want to show off to others what God intended for you to reserve for your husband.

4. Is it functional? Remember that you’re supposed to swim in this thing! If you are tugging at your swimsuit constantly and are worried about what might get exposed by the next wave, you need a different swimsuit. Now this isn’t the only issue, of course, because some guy might argue that a Speedo is functional, but we women don’t want to see a bunch of men in Speedos. (Please, no.) For women’s swimwear, though, it is a reasonable question to ask: Am I comfortable swimming in this attire? Can I sit or lie on a poolside chair without showing something that should stay hidden?

5. Will you look back and wonder what you were thinking? Maybe you don’t know that right now, but project yourself into the future or ask trusted friends: Will I regret wearing this in ten years? Will I be happy with photos taken of me in this swimsuit? One of the best things a college friend ever did for me was to dissuade me from piercing my nose. Now I’m not against those of you who have pierced their noses, but I’m glad that she posed this simple question: How will you feel about that hole in your nose when you’re a grandmother? Hmmm. No piercing for me, thank you. Taking that to the swimsuit issue, how will you feel about having worn that swimsuit when your grandkids are looking through your photo album?

6. Will you be happy to see Jesus if He makes His second appearance just as you are completing a swan dive in that swimsuit? Okay, that’s a loaded question. But I’m wondering whether you’ll jump for joy or grab your cover-up first. If you have any doubts, go shopping.

A quick tip here: Three triangles and some thread do not a swimsuit make.

Lest you ladies think that we are the only ones who should give this modesty swimwear topic a little contemplation, I offer the word “Speedo.” In fact, this is a rather hilarious video I came across about “togs” (swimwear) really being underwear.

Let’s face it: If your swimwear doesn’t cover anything more than your underwear covers, get a more modest suit.

So what are your thoughts? How do you make sure your swimsuit is okay for public viewing? Do you think bikinis are a complete no-no? What issues have you seen with swimwear?

Letting Go & Catching Up

Is this the only ministry I do? No one asked that in my Q&A post, but it’s relevant at the moment. On Mondays, I am answering questions posed by commenters. However, I am involved this week in an activity linked to church volunteerism in another area of ministry.

I had planned to post something entirely different today, but I had technical difficulties (translation: close to losing my religion over the Internet messing up) over the weekend when I had ample time to finish my blog entry. Instead, I am writing this post on Monday in the sliver of time that I have access to technology. It could be mere moments before someone finds me hiding in this back room and requests my help in saving souls or cleaning up vomit. It’s all for the Kingdom, right?

Frankly, I’ve been in a mental tizzy over not getting the post written because I have posted without fail every Monday since I began this blog. How could I skip one? How could I not come here and share something wonderful or interesting with you all? I’ve grown to feel that we are really are sitting around at a coffee shop chatting about godly sexuality, and I didn’t want to miss the camaraderie.

Sky & ocean with Let Go...

Photo Credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

But sometimes you have to let go. I haven’t been able to get to the post I wanted to write. I am not going to have the time to do it right. I will not be forsaking you by pushing it off one week.

And that reminds me of sex. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of you think everything reminds me of sex.)

While God has obviously placed importance on this physical union of two married people as a way of expressing love, increasing intimacy, and representing Christ and the church, it’s the cumulative effect that matters — not one particular night.

Have you ever planned to have a wonderful night of intimacy with your spouse? Maybe even planned a date night with a babysitter or restaurant reservations? Perhaps you bought a new negligee you can wait to show the hubby?

And then your kid comes in saying, “I don’t feel good.” And he’s got a 102 F temperature.

Or maybe your boss calls, and you have to come in for an extra shift.

Or you two have an extra stressful day and evening, and when you finally get into bed, the two of you really do want to sleep more than make love at that particular moment.

For my blog and for those moments, my advice is . . . let go and catch up.

Let go of your expectations for that moment. Don’t sweat it. Your sex life is not about this one particular moment, but the accumulation of intimate moments. Of course, the more sexual intimacy you have, the better you’ll feel about your sex life together. But one moment isn’t make or break. Just like me missing the post I had planned isn’t going to crash this blog.

Catch up when you can. I’ll be back next week with that question-and-answer post (preview: on wife’s low sex drive). You can reschedule your physical intimacy too. Take care of the sick kid, work the shift, get a little sleep, and come back together tomorrow. Reschedule. Make it soon, so you’re not putting off until tomorrow what you could be getting on today. But you can catch up a little when needed.

So that’s it. My wisdom for today. Sometimes we need to let go of something right now and catch up as soon as we can.

Of course, if you can get it done, knock yourselves out! And be sure to come back here on Thursday and then next Monday — the days of the week I post.

Blessings!

J