Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Letter to My Newlywed Self: Age 25

A few weeks ago, I read with delight two posts from The Romantic Vineyard: Wife Debi’s A Letter to My Newlywed Self: Age 19 and Husband Tom’s Letter to His Newlywed Self: Age 24. They invited others to take a stab at writing such a letter to their former self. Here I go:

Bride & Groom - legs only

What now?

Dear Young J,

Forget the wedding. That’s like the first five minutes of an epic-length movie. So what if everything didn’t go exactly like your dreams? You managed to pull off something far more important than the right reception food or an album of pretty wedding photos: You married a good man. 

Trust me, this guy will not cheat on you. He will hang in there when the going gets tough. He will care about you, even when he thinks you’ve gone a little crazy. He will try to be the best father he can be. He will be faithful to God. He doesn’t now and will never put all of his shoes back in the closet. But he’s a good man. So pat yourself on the back for a good choice, and let’s move on to other stuff you should know.

Honor your families. No matter how weird your own family seems, his family seems to have immigrated here through the Men In Black alien visitor program. But your families’ personalities and interests are just different, not better or worse than one another. Rather than wasting time wondering what is wrong with his family, get to know them. See them as God sees them — as children of the Most High King. Don’t worry so much about protecting your heart; let God do that for you. Instead, reach out and act with love.

As for your own family, your parents’ marriage will dissolve in your first year of marriage. It will feel like they couldn’t pick a worse time, right as you’re trying to get your sea legs for this marital voyage. But honestly, is there any good time for one’s parents to divorce? Honor your parents through this difficult time, but be sure you nurture your own marriage. And cut your guy a break when he doesn’t know what to do with a blubbering wife: Don’t expect him to read your mind; just ask him to hold you.

Be who you are. You are not and never will be a domestic diva. Do not compare yourself to other wives or some unrealistic ideal. Believe me, I’m saving you years of worry and that wrinkle that formed in between your brows by telling you to LET GO.

Sure, you want to be a terrific wife and mom, but domesticity is not the key. Your husband will be happier in the long run having a happy, functioning wife than one who always feels bad about herself because she isn’t up to snuff in the domestic world. Make an additional effort when you feel like it, but feel good pursuing interests and activities that play into the strengths that God gave you.

Get involved in your church family. Attending church and being involved in church are different. Get outside of what this church can offer you and your husband, and start thinking about where you and your husband can serve. 

Indeed, God will refresh you as you serve others. And you’ll see sides of your husband you wouldn’t see otherwise, increasing your love and awe at his dedication, leadership, and eloquence. (His public prayers are beautiful.)

Don’t let kids derail you. Your children are going to throw a wrench into the wheels of your marriage. Remember that week of drum major camp when you woke up on day 2 and thought, “I can’t move because every bone, muscle, and nerve in my body hurts”? Yeah, that was an amusement park ride compared to night #53 of colicky baby.

You’ll lose sleep. You’ll lose patience. You’ll lose the time to shower for more than one minute. You’ll lose your sex drive. You’ll lose connection to your husband. You’ll lose yourself.

Unless . . . you take my advice and tackle some of this stuff. When you’re feeling moody and overwhelmed, research postpartum depression and don’t quit talking to your doctor until you feel better. Read fewer parenting books, and talk to grandmothers, the ones with hindsight on what practices worked and what really matters.

Set aside time to be a couple as well as parents. Talk with your husband — not about what’s wrong, but about your shared lives, your hopes and dreams, your love. This early childhood is just one season of the long marriage you plan to have. Focus on your marriage and let God carry you through the difficult days.

And know that motherhood will end up being one of the best blessings in your life.

Accept God’s forgiveness. I know it hangs over you — that past sexual history. If you could go back and change anything in your life, that would be it. Yeah, well, you can’t. But God’s going to use your experiences in a big way in the future. First, however, humble yourself before Him and accept His forgiveness.

And stop thinking that your sex drive is a leftover from your “slutty” days; it’s a God-given desire that you abused in the past but now you are using according to His plan. He wants you to take pleasure in this gift. The past is simply that: past. You’ve got your whole marriage ahead of you, with a good man who loves you and wants to be intimate with you. You’ve finally arrived where God always wanted you to be — in His design for sexual intimacy, a covenant marriage.

Grace and peace (and chocolate),

Older J

What would you write to your newlywed self? What lessons have you learned over the course of marriage?

Where Have I Been?!!

It’s neither Monday, nor Thursday — the days I usually post. But while I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for the last of the kinks to work out before switching my blog to a new self-hosted site, I haven’t been posting here. (I’m trying not to create more work for my website designer who is frantically putting on the final polish.)

promise I’ll be back in full swing as soon as everything is up on the new site.

In the meantime, however, let me fill you in on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing!

6 Questions to Ask about Your Marital Intimacy: I’m guest posting today on the fabulous Sheila Gregoire’s blog, To Love, Honor & Vacuum, with questions to ask about how your married sex life is going. Be sure to click over there and see how you would answer.

31 Days to a Better Marriage: For the month of October, Jolene Engle of Alabaster Jar is hosting a 31-day blogging marathon with many lovely women contributing tips on improving your marriage. My post is already turned in, and I’ll let you know here when it goes live. In the meantime, click over to Jolene’s post and check out who will be participating. Unfortunately, I am the only contributor listed there with a blog logo instead of a photo. I probably should have offered this picture instead:

Yep, that’s me!

Ebook on the way: I’ve got an ebook in the works, featuring sexual intimacy tips for your marriage, from a Christian perspective. There are plenty of secular sources for how-tos, but they are often littered with values that don’t represent God’s design for marriage. So I’m throwing my own book into the ring. Look for a fall release! (And plan your Christmas list accordingly. *wink*)

Praying for health: The other thing that has complicated the last couple of weeks is an illness that started as a small cold and grew to a torrent of coughing and hacking and bruising my lungs. I’m almost over it, but you know how illness can throw a wrench into the wheel of your plans. I’m reworking my calendar and getting back in the groove, but I’d love for the last of this coughing to cease. So I’m praying for full health…soon.

Blessings to all of you for a lovely week! And feel free to share what you’ve been doing lately. I love to hear from readers!

Do You Pray for Your Sexual Intimacy?

What I week I’ve had! I’m simply going to start there. Between illness and moving my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted website, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. Don’t even ask about how clean my house is!

I’m diligently working to get the new site up-and-running by the weekend, so I’m pausing my Using Your Body for Marital Intimacy posts. Instead, check out the guest post I recently wrote for Unveiled Wife, where I’m a monthly contributor.

Blessings!

How to Pray for Sexual Intimacy in Your Marriage

Yeah, I totally get it. It feels so awkward the first time you pray about your sex life. Perhaps you prayed before marriage about avoiding sexual sin and maintaining purity.

But you’re legit now. God created sex for you — a wife in a committed, godly marriage. So once you’re married, it’s time to shift your prayers to inviting God to bless your sexual intimacy.

So how do you pray for sexual intimacy? Consider addressing the following areas:

Read More.

Using Your Body in Marital Intimacy: What to Do with Your Mouth

Welcome to week three of my series on Using Your Body in Marital Intimacy. So far, I’ve looked at the importance of getting your mind on board and what to do with your hands.

lipstick print

Photo Credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Today, let’s talk about your mouth. Once again, I started with the Bible and looked up all the passages I could find that included the words mouthlips, tongue, and kiss. (Yes, I have a very interesting search history.) Then I did some other research, some of its hands-on (because that’s just how dedicated I am to helping you). Following are tips for how to use your mouth in marital lovemaking.

Speak lovingly. We might as well start here, since the vast majority of the passages with mouthlips, or tongue relate to what we say. The Bible emphasizes again and again the importance of measuring our words and using them responsibly. Now I can’t be the only one who learned this verse while watching VeggieTales’s Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Thanks, Larry Boy!) And that’s a great summary scripture: Words matter.

The lovers in Song of Songs totally got this. Just read a few chapters and see how the spouses speak of and to each other to get examples. The words you speak during lovemaking can tear down or make your husband feel desired, loved, and adept as a lover. Consider how your mouth can be used to speak words that build up your hubby and your marital intimacy. Then speak ’em!

Pucker up. The first full sentence in the Song of Songs is: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth — for your love is more delightful than wine.” That’s a perfect way to start your sexual encounter, using that mouth for some delicious kissing.

Of course, you can join lips to lips, mouth to mouth, and tongue to tongue, but you can kiss just about anywhere on his body. Now of course, I am not planning to ever kiss my husband’s armpit, but I’d say that 98% of your man’s body would love to feel the touch of your lips. And some places may respond particularly well to the soft, wet touch of a kiss. Try a few of these:

  • His eyelids. Yep, eyelids. They’re surprisingly sensitive, and kissing his eyelids means he must close his eyes which can heighten the sense of touch.
  • His ears. Kiss those lobes, up the curve of his ear, and behind his ear. Some guys go a little crazy with such kisses.
  • His neck and collarbone. Nuzzle right in there under his chin and get busy. Move your lips up, down, and all around . . . and work your way down to his collarbone, which is also sensitive for most men.
  • His nipples. You’re not the only one with sensitive nipples. Maybe his aren’t quite so much, but they might still enjoy your mouth hanging out there a bit.
  • His stomach. Tease your kisses all over his tummy, giving some extra attention around his navel.
  • His thighs. Maybe it’s the proximity to where he’d really like your mouth to be, but your hubby’s thighs are likely an erogenous zone. Especially the inner thigh. Move your mouth around in gentle kisses and see if he likes it. (If I were a betting woman, I’d put down a fiver that he will.)
  • His butt. Yes, ladies, I’m talking butt. It’s the flipside of his Happytown, and it wouldn’t mind your mouth going up and down its hills.
  • His penis. Indeed, the mayor of Happyville would love a visit from your lips. Shaft, head, frenulum — wherever you’re willing to lay your lips. Also, his testicles are sensitive to your touch, whether by hands or mouth. But be extra gentle there!
  • His hands. You didn’t expect me to go from the penis to something so seemingly ho-hum as his hands. But our hands are very sensitive, and you can turn him on by kissing his hands, especially the inside of his palm.

For more about kissing, check out my posts on that fabulous activity: In Celebration of the KissThe Punctuation of a Kiss, and A Little Instruction for the Kiss.

Lick it up. So sue me for quoting KISS (not the pucker-up, the rock band). But honestly, your tongue is a lovely tool for arousal. You can lick any of the places mentioned above.

Be gentle with your tongue in most of these spots. You can use the tip of your tongue to tease and titillate. Think how you might lick an envelope. To give a more intense experience, flatten out your tongue and go at your husband like he’s a dripping ice cream scoop. Go slow to draw out the sensation. Of course, you can also flick your tongue, moving the tip up-and-down or side-to-side.

Nibble. One of the Google definitions for nibble is to “gently bite at (a part of the body), esp. amorously or nervously.” Let’s go with amorously.

I didn’t look up teeth in the Bible, but they’re in your mouth and they’re awfully handy for a providing a stronger touch and a little tug on your husband’s flesh. How hard you bite is up to him. Pay attention to his reaction. Some husbands would welcome a little chomp-down on the shoulder or a strong tug on the earlobe. Other hubbies are more sensitive and would rather you focus on the word gently in that definition of nibble.

But wait, don’t bite his manly stuff down there! You do want them to survive another day, right?

Suck, the good way. When my husband annoys me and I want to jokingly let him know, my typical statement is “You suck . . . and not in the good way.” Which gets both of us laughing (and perhaps a little turned-on) and defuses any tension that might have been there. But I’m hitting at something true — sucking is a nice piece of your mouth’s lovemaking repertoire.

Now don’t go all “vacuum” on him; you’re not Hoover. But put your mouth on him and pull your mouth together in a nice, long, gentle suck. Most of those places — now listed way up there — are fair game, but a few other spots are suck-worthy. When you kiss together, you can suck on his lips a little. You can also take each of his fingers and pull them into your mouth for a little sucking. And for a big reaction, suck on his top part of his penis, paying special attention with your tongue to the stretch of flesh that connects the shaft with the head on the lower side (the frenulum).

Once your mouth has given pleasure to your husband, let’s hope his response is like that of the lover in Song of Songs:

Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue. – 4:11

Use these tips to do something you haven’t done yet or to revisit something you haven’t done in a while. Just think about the wonder of God’s gift of your mouth in providing pleasure to your spouse. There are so many ways you can use it.

What other ideas do you have? How is the mouth is a tool for arousal in your marital lovemaking?

Other romantic verses about the mouth: Song of Songs 4:3, 5:13, 5:16, 7:9, 8:11.

Has the Mainstream Embraced BDSM? Should You?

Have you noticed that BDSM is going mainstream? Or maybe “gone” is the appropriate word.

In case you don’t know what BDSM is, it’s an acronym that stands for:

B = Bondage
D = Domination/Discipline
S = Submission/Sadism
M = Masochism

Such practices have existed for centuries, but in most societies they have been considered fringe sexual activities. Or at least the hard core versions of them. (I admit a huge difference between tying your wife to the bedpost with a necktie and, say, “erotic asphyxiation” where one cuts off oxygen supply to achieve a more intense experience.)

But BDSM is all the rage now: in best-selling fiction, song lyrics (“Blurred Lines,” anyone?), sex toy sales, and water-cooler discussions. Not to mention bedrooms.

BDSM is no longer a fringe practice among many. It’s something they are contemplating, experimenting, or routinely including in their bedroom. Perhaps they’ve been inspired by something they’ve read, seen, or heard.

So what is appealing about some of the hard core practices that we’re hearing about?  What would make a person who’d normally denounce anything that smacks of mistreatment out in the real world fully embrace pain in the bedroom? Why is something that’s not okay (e.g., a man hitting a woman) in a hallway suddenly okay and even desirable when it’s placed in a sexual context? And why has this idea taken hold like wildfire?

Here’s one theory: Couples are bored in the bedroom.

God’s gift of sexual intimacy is intended for married couples to express and nurture deep intimacy that goes beyond the physical. When a couple lacks commitment, oneness, and a sense of the spiritual aspect, what’s left? The physical.

And when you play with simply the physical, ratcheting up your experience means getting more and more physical. Finding ways to stimulate your physiology and gain more sensation and pleasure from the experience.

Many BDSM practices trigger heightened awareness of physical sensations, stimulate a flow of adrenaline and endorphins, and may result in a more intense encounter. Of course, the negative consequences can be mild to severe. Regardless, is that encounter bringing about the intimacy that God designed for us? Or is it satisfying the flesh without considering the spirit?

Well, you can probably tell where I come down on this subject.

Look, I’m all for spicing up your sex life. I’ve had numerous posts, and will continue to write, about ways to add zing! to your marital bedroom. I’m also completely on board for sex feeling gooooood . . . physically. Sex is indeed a physical act. However, sex also expresses and nurtures something beyond the physical. It’s far more than kink.

So are any BDSM practices okay?

Looking through a glossary of BDSM terms, honestly there isn’t much that aligns with God’s definition of love: kind, does not dishonor others, not self-seeking, always protects, etc. (See 1 Corinthians 13). There is no indication in scripture that real pain is intended to be part of the sexual relationship between husband and wife.

Of course, couples must decide for themselves what they will and will not do in their marital bedroom. It’s up to you to keep your conscience clear before God and man (see Acts 24:16). But be careful about getting swept up in the cultural tide that is moving BDSM to the mainstream. If you’re interested in trying something out, hold it up against what God’s Word says.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Sex with your mate is noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. God designed it to be. But not all possible sexual practices in the bedroom meet that standard. And ever-so-few BDSM practices meet that standard. Still, you’ll have to decide where to draw the line.

As to wanting to ramp up the sexy in your bedroom, don’t settle for boredom! Your married sex life should not be ho-hum, blah, meh, or zzzzzzz. It’s supposed to be fun! Explore sexuality with your mate through prolonged touch, flirtation, foreplay, oral sex (for her and/or for him), different positions, changing up location, game-playing, and investing in the intimacy you experience in other areas of marriage. And I’ll keep making suggestions here on Hot, Holy & Humorous for how to heat things up in the bedroom (thus the “Hot” in my blog name).

Also see Galatians 5:19-23 for another look at how to evaluate what practices honor God.