Monthly Archives: January 2014

Does He Just Want Sex for Valentine’s Day?

Valentines BedIt’s two weeks away, but already couples are considering, planning, or even sweating what they will do for each other on St. Valentine’s Day. February 14 has been designated as the ultimate day of romance and love, and many married couples celebrate it each year.

When asked what husbands want for Valentine’s, the standard answer is — let’s face it — sex.

Which strikes many wives as odd. Isn’t Valentine’s about romance? Where’s the romance in spreading out on the sheets and going at it? Couldn’t you do that another day and instead devote yourselves to deep affection and sweet gestures of love?

So here’s my answer to the question: Does he just want sex for Valentine’s Day?

The Yes Men. For a certain number of husbands, the answer is an emphatic YES. Whether you understand it or not, that husband feels closest to you when you make love. It rekindles and refreshes his love for you. When you bare your body to him, he’s ensured that you trust him with your fragile form. When you engage in lovemaking, he’s reminded that he alone has this special relationship with you, that this relationship is unique and beautiful. When you are aroused and pleasured by him, he feels potent and confident in his ability to care for you and give you happiness. When you have intercourse, he is filled with a sense of unity and intimacy. When you are both sated, his body responds with feel-good chemicals and warm-fuzzy feelings that equate to the emotion of love.

Yep, when you have sex, he feels loved. It’s really that simple. So if your husband asks for sex for Valentine’s Day, he’s not saying, “Give me physical release,” he really is asking for something deeper, something that communicates love to him. Give it to him. Sure, ask for whatever romance you desire, but give him the gift that’s meaningful to him. Have sex on Valentine’s Day.

The Romantics. However, there are plenty of husbands who revel in romance. They enjoy buying their wife flowers, writing love notes, planning thoughtful dates, slow dancing in the living room, and declaring their love with serenades or poetic words. Sex isn’t enough for them. If sex is on their wish list, they want it wrapped up in pretty romantic paper and a bow. Indeed, Valentine’s Day may be just the day to step it up and create a memorable lovemaking experience.

If that’s your guy, then set the scene! Bring on the romance! Have that candlelight dinner, at home or in a restaurant. Make an intimacy mix CD or plan for a night of music and/or dancing. Take time to prepare the bedroom with candles or rose petals, or make a hotel reservation. Purchase lingerie he’ll enjoy seeing you in . . . and then removing. Consider bringing something special to bed that night — perhaps a flavored lubricant or an intimacy board game. Go the extra mile to make the whole night romantic, including your time together in bed.

The Humbugs. I admit it. I’m a bit of a holiday humbug myself. I admitted last year that I’m not that into Valentine’s Day, and this year I laughed aloud when I read the title of a post by Mission Husband: Why Valentines Day Makes Me Want to Barf (it actually has some great marriage-building stuff in there). My not-so-romantic husband was wise to marry a gal like me, for whom Valentine’s Day can generally be covered with a single greeting card.

Maybe you’re married to a guy who doesn’t care about this holiday. Or even to a guy who doesn’t care about sex as much as you do. When asked if he wants sex for Valentine’s Day, you get a shrug like it doesn’t really matter one way or the other. So what should you do for him? Some of that depends on the depth of the issue — like if your marriage just isn’t where it should be and needs work in that department or he really is disinterested in sex generally and that’s an ongoing issue in your marriage. Those should be dealt with outside the subject of holidays.

But the best gifts are tailored to the recipient. So if it’s not a huge deal for him, don’t make a huge deal out of it for him. Yes, you should ask for what you desire, but also show him love in a way that he’ll understand. Even better, do something that doesn’t necessarily seem geared to the holiday but still warms your heart to know that you made an extra effort. Cook his favorite meal. Offer to watch his television show or take an after-dinner walk or play a video game with him. Give him tickets to an upcoming sporting event or a concert he’d like to attend. Do something for him, sure. But don’t expect fireworks if your guy isn’t the fireworks type.

If you can have sex that night, do so. But if it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourselves up. Valentine’s Day is a holiday for many, but you can make other days special too. Indeed, work toward having the kind of marriage in which special encounters between you two are frequent, natural, and not reserved for holidays.

Does he just want sex for Valentine’s Day?

Maybe, maybe not. Like so much else in marriage advice, you have to consider the mate you married. And then, the loving thing to do is to give him the gift that means love to him.

How does your husband approach Valentine’s Day? Does he expect sex and/or romance? Or does he try to ignore the day generally?

And for yourself, ladies, check out this FABULOUS deal for Valentine’s Day. Four books on marital intimacy, regularly priced at $21.96, are now on sale as a book bundle for $10.00! Included is my book, Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives. Buy now! This deal is only good until Valentine’s Day.Sexy Valentine's Day Bundle

Entering Marriage with Sexual Baggage

My last post on What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night? received a very interesting comment. Here’s part of it:

“… I think the title needs to be changed. It should be, ‘What Should a Christian Virgin Groom Know about His Wedding Night?’ For many, this experience has already taken place with the one they are going to marry. And, for many this experience has taken place with someone they are not going to marry.”

I did indeed write that post with a virgin groom in mind, actually in response to a request for such information. But the commenter brings out a great point: Most spouses do not enter marriage as virgins. Even many lifelong Christians were sexually active before the I-Do’s — with their own spouse or with others in their past.

Luggage

(photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art)

So what do those of us with sexual baggage need to know as we enter marriage?

First, come clean. Explain your sexual history to your spouse. Your spouse should know what they’re getting into so that they can help you through it. If you’ve had multiple sexual partners, own up to any residual consequences and offer to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. If your fiancé has questions, answer them directly, not withholding what they need to hear (“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Proverbs 24:26).

You don’t need to share every detail. An overall accounting is reasonable, but providing specifics can cause your mate unnecessary hurt. Your beloved doesn’t need to have heart-rending images planted in his/her head that won’t go away. They need to know enough to be able to walk beside you as you forge a new life together, one with healthy sexual intimacy.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9

Seek healing. Address and resolve lingering pain and misconceptions. Don’t simply expect the wedding vows to erase the wounds of the past.

If sex has been a negatively charged experience, you need to intentionally change your view to appreciate sex as a gift from God to marriage. If you’ve developed harmful patterns of behavior, you need to intentionally replace those with new approaches. If you have memories of past sexual experiences, you need to intentionally move past them so you can build a fresh, better intimacy with your beloved.

Your sexual past has impacted your current thinking. Understand your history and deal with the brokenness before it unintentionally becomes a wedge in your marital intimacy. Decide whether you need to talk with a friend, a mentor, a pastor, or a counselor. Find books, websites, or blogs which address your circumstances. Attend classes, conferences, or support groups as needed. Seek the healing you need to enter your marriage with a godly understanding of sex and a fresh start for your sexual intimacy.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Focus on your spouse. Whatever happened before, however someone else behaved or hurt you or enjoyed something, this is a new moment. You have both the challenge and the opportunity to create a beautiful, sexually intimate life with your spouse. Focus on this person you married, figuring out on what they like.

Sure, a few things translate to your new situation — like Tab A still fits into Slot B — but your spouse is a unique person with their own experiences, desires, and preferences. Your spouse may have a lower or higher drive than prior partners. Your spouse may like to be touched in different places and with different intensity. Your spouse may be less or more willing to do certain sexual activities. Your spouse may have sexual baggage of their own. Learn how to navigate sexual intimacy with the person you married.

If people hurt you sexually in your past, remember that they are not your spouse. Yes, you may find sexual moments that trigger bad memories, but immediately return your mind to your spouse and the encounter at hand. Focus your energy on this one person — the mate you chose and have a lifetime with. Over time, you two can build a sexual relationship that is unique to the two of you and satisfying for both.

“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10

Take time. Allow yourselves time to move past your sexual baggage and build healthy sexual intimacy instead. If your sexual past rears its ugly head, whether in your first year of marriage or down the road, take a deep breath and handle it. Don’t assume that your sexual baggage will weigh you down forever. You can break free and create something beautiful.

Remember that you are in this for the long haul, a lifetime of love. You have time to let go of the past and build a better future. Each step in the right direction leads you to the destination you desire — satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage. Celebrate the small successes and work through the gaps. Invite God in and let Him edge you forward to where He wants you to be.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

I definitely entered my own marriage with sexual baggage. Sure, I wish I’d been a virgin when I married, but my story didn’t end after those chapters. God had more to write. I sought God’s forgiveness, forgave myself, and forged a beautiful, God-honoring sexual relationship with my husband. It can be done.

Our God is a God of second chances. Take Him at His word that He can restore and renew your life, even in the area of sexual intimacy.

I welcome you to share your own story of brokenness to healing below; it may inspire others.

Or share where you are struggling with sexual baggage from your past, in hopes that I or others will have wise advice to heal your marriage.

What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night?

Several weeks ago, Eric and Heather Viets of Preengaged guest posted about how much singles should know about sex before their wedding night, and I followed up with what I wish I’d known before my own wedding night. My post was geared toward the bride, but one male reader suggested I give pointers for the groom.

To make sure I communicate well to the men out there, I’m going to give my advice in sports-speak. Don’t worry, dude. If you’re not a sports guy, you’ll still get it. But if you’re into sports, or have seen so much as a little league game, perhaps the analogies will help.

Football field: Team Honeymoon

(photo: Microsoft Word Clip Art)

Choose your team. You can cross this one off. As soon as you got down on one knee (you did do that, didn’t you?), and asked her to marry you, you’d made your first, middle, and last draft pick. That woman you’re ready to say “I do” to is The One — the lady you’ve chosen to walk beside in this journey of life. And she’ll look fabulous in the uniform (wedding dress and later…well, you know).

Planning the plays. Closer to the wedding, discuss your expectations and plan for the wedding night — also known as the kickoff for your marriage. There’s not one single way to execute an opening play.

Here’s an example. When I was in college, I had a close friend who was a true romantic. This guy oozed poetry and sensitivity, while still being entirely masculine. (Yes, girls crushed all over him.) He once said, “On my wedding night, I’m not going to worry about consummating. I just want to hold her close to me all night long.” To which I replied, “What?!!! This poor girl’s been waiting 20-something years for sex, and you’re going to make her wait another night?”

Perhaps this is a flip-flop of the gender stereotypes, but it illustrates well that expectations for the wedding night matter. A little before the wedding, talk about your marriage day schedule, figuring out when you’ll likely arrive at your hotel room and what you want to do when you’re finally alone. Some couples sleep for a while after an exhausting day, so they have fresh energy for their first sexual encounter. Some couples want time to dine, talk, and cuddle before moving on to more. Some couples want the clothing to start flying as soon as they hit the hotel room threshold.

Also be willing to do what she needs to feel comfortable with your first experience. You may be busting at the seams to get goin’, but start out right by considering your wife’s needs ahead of your own (Philippians 2:1-3). You’ve waited this long; you can hold on a bit longer to help your bride feel ready.

Coaching. Every team has a coach. Your ultimate coach is the One who gave you this sexual gift to begin with — aka God. So let His Word coach you about your attitude toward your wife and your marital intimacy. Take a look at the scriptures specifically about marriage (see Genesis 2; Ephesians 5; 1 Corinthians 7; and Song of Solomon), but also any scripture about how we should treat our brother or sister in Christ (like Philippians 2:5, Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 13:7; John 13, 34).  I’ve even written about the Gospel’s effect on the marital bedroom.

In addition, God has several assistants on His team — for instance, sexual intimacy authors like me and married mentors at your church and medical experts to address specific issues. Be willing to consult accordingly.

Specific plays. So you want to know what to actually do when you get there, right? As I said, there’s no step 1, step 2, step 3 manual, and couples vary in what they like and what provides them the most mutual pleasure. But here are a few general tips:

Take it slow. I addressed this more specifically in One Sex Tip I Give to Husbands Over and Over, but basically, most guys heat up more quickly than most women. Take that into account. You don’t need to get to the bedroom and hit a homer right off the bat. More baseball games are won by going from base to base to base until you cross home plate. Same with sex. Be willing to take your time and enjoy each step of the sexual encounter.

Know her body. When you play on a team, you have to know something about your fellow teammates — their strengths, their weaknesses, how you best work together. Likewise, know something about the female body and your wife’s body in particular. Familiarize yourself with female anatomy (see Her Plumbing from The Marriage Bed). Then on your wedding night, explore your wife’s body and figure out where and how your wife likes to be touched and aroused. Knowing her better means you’ll be able to work in tandem better, scoring big for the team.

Make small adjustments. Many times in sports, a play would have been successful if the ball had gone just a little to the right or the defensive player had been just a few feet to the left. When starting out your sex life, remember this concept. You don’t have to try everything in the first week. Just explore by stages. Shift your sexual position a little this way, apply a bit less or a bit more pressure, make small adjustments that increase her pleasure…and thus yours. Your repertoire will slowly expand.

Make sure you both score. If one team member has a horrible game, it affects the whole team. So pay attention to her pleasure, as well as your own. I’m not talking specifically about orgasm (many wives don’t achieve this at first), but help her “score” with pleasure. Attend to her enjoyment, and do what you can to make this a positive experience for her. If she does orgasm, great, but if she doesn’t, having a positive, pleasurable experience will likely help her reach that peak in the future.

Remember she’s her own player. Let your wife know that your marriage bed will be a secure place for her to figure out her sexuality. Not enjoying it right off the bat, or struggling with positions, or having difficulty climaxing, are not uncommon for newlywed wives. Don’t take it personally; she’s still figuring things out too. Assure her that you’ve got a lifetime to build a beautiful sex life together and that you’re committed to helping you both enjoy the physical sensations and deep intimacy that come with healthy sexuality in marriage.

Let her know what the game means to you. Finally, communicate lovingly about your desire and sexual satisfaction. Don’t get penalized for “excessive celebration.” You know the kind: When the winning player acts like he did it alone and he’s the best thing since Superman. If you really want to be her hero, remind your wife that sex means so much because it physically expresses and nurtures your deep intimate love for her.

I’d love to hear from the married couples out there: What tips would you give a groom on his wedding night? Husbands, especially: What do you wish you’d known on your wedding night?

Intimacy Books I’m Reading in 2014 (and Sex Savvy News)

I enjoy New Year’s and resolutions. They provide the perfect setting for me to evaluate where I’ve been, where I want to go, and how to get there. I like feeling that, even if I blew it before, this year lies before me untried and waiting for me to achieve some worthy goal. It reminds me of the fresh start we have as Christians when we invariably mess up but, through God’s grace, get back on track and keep moving in the right direction.

One of my resolutions is to read more sexual intimacy books. I’ve read quite a few in the past, but I haven’t tackled as many as I’d like. Thankfully, there are now many Christian books tackling the subject of sexuality in marriage. So far, here’s my reading list for 2014 (books already in my possession, just waiting for me to read), with the book’s description for each.

(Clarification–thanks to a commenter: I’m not endorsing these books. I never endorse anything I haven’t read. These are merely books on my to-be-read list. If I believe they’re worthwhile, I’ll share my review in the future.)

Sexually Confident Wife book coverThe Sexually Confident Wife by Shannon Ethridge. Maximize the sexual and emotional potential in your marriage! With down-to-earth wisdom based on the experiences of the thousands of women she’s counseled, Shannon Ethridge–author of the million-plus-selling Every Woman’s Battle series–shows women how to create the healthy, exhilarating sex lives they (and their husbands) desire.

I also hope to get to another book recently released by intimacy author and speaker Shannon Ethridge, The Passion Principles.

Sex God book coverSex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob BellSex God is an enlightening exploration of sexuality and spirituality. With profound beauty and insight, Bell addresses the truism that we can’t talk about ourselves as sexual beings without asking who made us that way. For progressive Christians and readers who enjoy the writings of Donald Miller, N.T. Wrighter, Brian McLaren and Timothy Keller, Rob Bell is a pioneer among those seeking a new kind of Christian teaching.

This book has been recommended to me several times, but I’ve somehow managed to keep it sitting on my ereader for about a year. I will remedy that soon.

Kosher Sutra book coverThe Kosher Sutra: Eight Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life by Shmuley Boteach. (Not written by a Christian, but a Jewish rabbi.) Shmuley Boteach delivers a much-needed guide to reigniting desire in our relationships while at the same time creating renewed energy in every aspect of our lives. Boteach’s Eight Secrets are the key to reawakening our dormant desires and releasing ourselves from the complacency that has taken hold of far too many of us.

I actually started this one last year, read a couple of chapters, and got sidetracked. His perspective is interesting, however, so I want to finish.

Kiss Me book coverKiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon’s Crazy in Love How-To Manual by David Clarke. How can married couples overcome the obstacles that derailed their desire and return to being “crazy in love”? Blending humor and practical advice, Clarke offers answers from the Song of Solomon. Learn to troubleshoot problems, put each other first, employ praise, have fun, flirt, and rediscover the lost art of a great kiss!

I bought this book on a whim one day, just because I loved the cover, the description, the aim of the book. We’ll see how it goes!

Crazy Good Sex book coverCrazy Good Sex: Putting to Bed the Myths Men Have about Sex by Dr. Les Parrott. In this practical guidebook filled with straight talk, psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Les Parrott shares six secrets that can enhance a couple’s sexual intimacy. Parrott offers crucial facts and practical insights to help men and their wives experience the best sex they’ve ever had.

The Parrotts have long written about Christian marriage and intimacy, and this book in particular caught my eye. Written for men, I suspect it will give me some good insight.

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I’d like to add a couple more books to my list. So I’d love to hear your suggestions for the best Christian sexual intimacy books you’ve read.

Also, if you wives are looking for one to put on your reading list, Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives is now available both as an ebook and in print.

Book cover for Sex Savvy

Ebook:

Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Smashwords — several formats available

Print book:

Amazon

 

Pursue Passion in Your Marriage: Interview with Julie Sibert

Julie SibertAsk me who my favorite fellow intimacy bloggers are, and it’s easy to answer with Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage high on my list. Julie writes her blog to encourage Christian women toward healthy sexuality in their marriages. But now her wisdom also graces the pages of a new book, The Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage, co-authored with Jeff Murphy.

After reading and enjoying it, I got to interview Julie Sibert about the book and her views on marital sex.

The Pursuit of Passion covers a lot of ground – from a theological viewpoint to practical tips to sexual Q&A. Why do you believe couples need this information? What’s fresh about your approach?

Think how many people come into marriage with skewed views about sex, either because of what they’ve been taught or because of their past sexual experiences. I am passionate about peeling back those layers and replacing weak theology and skewed views with a healthier attitude about sex.

As far as what’s fresh, we are comprehensive and conversational at the same time. This is a book that is easy to dig into. Both my co-author and I have seen and heard the heartache from countless couples who struggle with sex, so we set out to write a book that gives couples hope. I believe this book can change marriages for the better.

Early in the book, you show concern with the way the church has historically addressed sex. Where has Christianity been wrong in our handling of this topic? What do you wish churches would do instead?

We as a body of believers have put an extraordinary amount of focus on telling teenagers and singles about the sin of sex outside of marriage. “Don’t have sex” is a generalized message we’ve pounded into young people. I understand why we share this message, but I think we need equal airtime for talking authentically about why sex in marriage is so amazing and how to make it amazing.

It’s no wonder that so many Christians struggle sexually in their marriages – the church hasn’t done a good job of helping them genuinely address those struggles, as well as actually see sex in a positive light. I know married women who still can’t get past seeing sex as a sin – even in their own marriage bed.

Those of us who are married need not be afraid of speaking more openly and positively about sex. This isn’t about revealing our own intimate details. It’s about offering a view of intimacy that is better aligned with God’s truth and heart. Sex was His idea. We need to embrace it and present it as the gift it is.

As you mention in the book, the other extreme is how the world addresses sexuality. What messages are widely sent and largely accepted in the secular world that have harmed our marriages?

Honestly, it’s not until married Christians start to really enjoy sex in their marriages that we collectively as a body will be able to better discern the emptiness of sexual promiscuity. Obviously, we live in a “friends with benefits” culture. But how do we expect that culture to stop settling for false intimacy if we as married couples are not savoring authentic intimacy in our own relationships? I’ve long believed that one of the best hopes for a lost world is married couples having soul-drenching sex. Sounds crazy, I know, but I believe it.

You point out a few times the amazing inclusion of a clitoris in the woman’s body. Why do wives need to hear this message, that their Creator gave them this special body part?

Climaxing really is such an indescribably good experience. Sadly, I think many wives are afraid of pleasure or see it as wrong or sinful. This is so ironic, isn’t it? God created the clitoris in a woman, and I have hard time believing He did it just as an afterthought. I think the reason many women view sex as a chore is because they have downplayed the value of their own orgasm. Truth be told, sex without orgasm is a bit of a chore! A better approach is that a husband and a wife both learn what it will take for them each to experience sexual pleasure – and that they see it as a tender privilege to bring that kind of pleasure to the person they love.

How does the health of a couple’s sex life reflect the health of their marriage? Why is sex so important?

I think sex is one of the most accurate gauges for predicting the climate of the rest of the marriage. If a couple is intentional about nurturing their sexual intimacy – they both initiate, enjoy sex, and are selfless lovers – then they generally are better equipped to navigate and savor the rest of their marriage. There is something about that kind of deep intimacy that endears a husband and wife to each other. Plus, by taking care of their marriage, they demonstrate to their children that marriage is full of boundless strength and possibility.

You and your co-author seem to strike a good balance on what’s permissible in the marriage bed. Do you think this question of what’s okay and not okay has become more prevalent? Why?

I certainly think it’s a question that’s more prevalent among Christians. And that’s a good thing. A couple does need to dig into God’s Word and seek the Holy Spirit and together discern what is right for them sexually. I will say this, though… I think God gives a married couple much more freedom than they realize within the exclusivity of their marriage bed. I think God wants a couple to not be afraid of being uninhibited with their spouse and thoroughly embracing passion and pleasure.

You’ve always been transparent and authentic about your own story of a failed marriage and a thriving second marriage. What message for wives does your own experience convey?

Sex matters. My first husband and I had many struggles, particularly with frequency. I remember thinking, “We’ll figure this out someday.” Well, “someday” never comes on its own. Some people try to claim that sex is not a necessity in marriage, but reality and good old common sense tells us otherwise. Countless marriages struggle with sex. There’s a reason God tells husbands and wives to not withhold their bodies from each other. And in Proverbs we see that powerful verse about a husband delighting in his wife (5:18-19). I like being transparent about my own story, because I think my story inspires people to grasp the importance of sex.

And because I’m me, what’s a funny story about your own sex life? (You know, something you can actually share publicly.) How has sex been humorous in your own marriage? What makes you two laugh?

Oh my goodness! We do laugh! We laugh that as we age, there are just some positions that are more comical than arousing (we’ve tried quite a few for sure, but hey, I’m just not as flexible as I was when I was 20!)

Also, because we are so comfortable talking about sex, we enjoy being playful with plenty of appropriate sexual banter. Just the other night, we celebrated New Year’s Day with our friends, and our children were there as well. I mentioned that someone texted me on New Year’s Eve at midnight to wish me a Happy New Year. My husband sulked and said, “I didn’t get anything at midnight.” To this, I laughed and smiled and said, “Well… you got something at midnight.” Our 15-year-old heard it and wryly said, “You know, I’m right here?!!” Eye roll included for free. Too funny!

Thanks, Julie!

Julie Sibert is authentic and godly in her approach to Christian sexuality, and I encourage you to check out her new book.

Pursuit of Passion book cover

Click to learn more!