Monthly Archives: December 2014

Views on Sex from a Recently Married Virgin

Actually, it might be more accurate for the title of this post to be Views on Sex from a Recently Virgin Married. Because Lauren Hanna, who wrote Let’s Talk about Sex, Shall We?, has returned to share her transition from single-and-engaged virgin to happily-married wife. Here’s her update, along with a few comments from me.

Blog title + bride & groom

My husband and I were both virgins when we got married in November of this year. Not only were we virgins, we were 28- and 25-year-old virgins with both of our primary love languages being physical touch. We were excited to have sex. I mean . . . who wouldn’t be?! We had heard all of these wonderful things about it, and although we had no clue whatsoever what it would really be like, we were darn eager to try.

After withholding ourselves for so long, certain expectations inevitably grew — some were right on, others were better, some weren’t met at all . . . and it was all good.

1. Sex Is Simple

The first expectation that was blown out of the water was that sex is some mysterious, complicated thing. It’s not. It’s simple. Ha! Both my husband and I were absolutely amazed at how simple it really is, but at the same time it is so profound. I don’t quite know what we were expecting exactly with that one, but I love that God didn’t make it hard. Sure it can be a bit awkward sometimes, and we’re still learning the ropes (it’s barely been a month of doing this), but at its essence sex is simple.

J: It is simple for most couples to get the hang of it. Those who struggle should check with their doctor and/or a counselor to see what might be getting in the way of successful intercourse.

2. Sex Is Unifying

The other thing that really amazed us is how it really does unify you. Although sex is simple, it is profound. Something about making love puts you in complete unity with each other. It’s being vulnerable and intimate and passionate all at the same time. Honestly, I think that’s one of my favorite things about it. I totally get why the Bible tells us to wait until marriage, not that there isn’t redemption and amazingness if you didn’t wait. However, I can’t imagine being that vulnerable with someone and then having them break your heart. That would be awful! I found myself gaining even more compassion for those that have been through that, because in its context sex is absolutely beautiful, strengthening, and powerful.

J: Yes, it is awful to have your heart broken by someone you gave your whole body to. Unfortunately, I know that feeling. Which is why many of us who were sexually active prior to marriage strongly encourage singles to wait: wait for the real thing. Redemption is always available, but I pray that as many as possible can avoid the bad memories and the scars. Then once in marriage, unify away!

3. Just Relax

One expectation that was right on was me tensing up the first time. Both of us were pretty nervous and excited, and well, it’s true . . . be relaxed. I had heard that could happen, and sure enough it did. But then I remembered all the advice I had been given of “just relax,” and the moment that I did that there was no pain. Hallelujah! I was then able to focus on enjoying my husband and starting this new part of our relationship.

J: I love Lauren’s testimony on this — that you really can practice relaxing and learn to enjoy what’s happening with your body and your intimacy.

4. Goodbye, Body Issues

Before entering marriage, I was a tad critical on my body. Somehow along the way (blame it on whatever magazine, doll, TV show, etc. you want), I managed to immediately start looking at my flaws when I looked at myself. I was pretty nervous that my husband would see them all too. I just wanted to be perfect for him, you know? After being married for this month, I don’t really do that anymore. I have never been complimented on my body more in my entire life! He really does think I’m beautiful . . . even the parts that I deemed to be flaws. I’m starting to see myself in a different light now. I don’t see flaws now, I just see parts of my body that make me . . . me — they give me character.

J: Some of us are still critical about our bodies, but it can be so reassuring to have one’s husband delight in your beauty. When my husband’s gaze grazes over me with pleasure in his eyes, I do feel more like God’s handiwork. And we wives need to believe it when our husbands say we’re beautiful.

5. It Can Be Pretty Funny

We’re just learning right now. Still discovering ourselves and each other. Since we have no prior experience, things can sometimes be awkward and/or comical. We’ve laughed . . . a lot. If something doesn’t work according to plan, no biggie; we just try again and have a good laugh in the process. Actually, to be honest I think it’s pretty cool that we can feel comfortable enough to be able to laugh.

J: Yep. For instance, I’ve written here, here, and here with humor about the marital bedroom.

6. Orgasms Are Awesome

I’d heard about them, but good heavens they are glorious! Seriously.

J: Glorious. That about encapsulates it. If you’re still struggling with the Big O, check out this post or this one.

7. Intimacy

I love how making love is so intimate. I get to know things about him that no one else will ever discover, and vice versa. That’s pretty exciting to me — to give all of yourself over to someone else. It’s a gift. We get to express our love for each other, every single time in ways that are exclusively for us. I think it’s pretty special actually, and our relationship has gotten so much better because of it. I really do love that.

J; Such a beautiful, intimate experience when it expresses and fosters covenant love in marriage! Lauren gets an “Amen” from me.

All in all we’ve had a really good experience so far. It’s definitely been a lot of growing and learning, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m really thankful that over the years I had heard so many stories and gotten a lot of advice from blogs like this and from women I know and trust. I think it’s helped me out a lot during this transition. I probably would have felt way more nervous and overwhelmed had I not had that. I’m excited to see what happens from here!

Thanks so much to Lauren Hanna for sharing her story with us! I pray for many more years of marital bliss for her and her husband.

Lauren HannaLauren Hanna is a 25-year-old composer based out of LA. She loves God with all her heart and loves seeing people become who He made them to be.

Top Marriage Book Picks for Christmas

For a looooong time, I’ve been wanting to put together a list of recommended reads. Unfortunately, I have the memory of a fruit fly, so some books I read years ago, I couldn’t have told you what was in them for anything. And I don’t feel comfortable recommending a resource I can’t even remember.

So I finally revisited some of those books, read several newer ones, and started a list of recommendations that would make good gifts for your marriage. If you’re looking to get a book for your spouse or for you both for Christmas, here are some suggestions. (And yes, these links are affiliates, but you can find these titles in many bookstores.)

Stacks of marriage books (from my library)

For Couples on Marriage Generally

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. “Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other.”

Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. “Learn when to say yes and when to say no–to your spouse and to others–to make the most of your marriage Only when a husband and wife know and respect each other’s needs, choices, and freedom can they give themselves freely and lovingly to one another.”

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson EggerichsLove & Respect cover. “A wife has one driving need—to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy. A husband has one driving need—to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy. When either of these needs isn’t met, things get crazy. Love and Respect reveals why spouses react negatively to each other, and how they can deal with such conflict quickly, easily, and biblically.”

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver. “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the result of Dr. John Gottman’s many years of closely observing thousands of marriages. This kind of longitudinal research has never been done before. Based on his findings, he has culled seven principles essential to the success of any marriage.”

For Couples on Sexual Intimacy

31 Days to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire. “This series takes you step by step in the process of building a fun and intimate sex life. It doesn’t only focus on the mechanics of sex–though there certainly are posts that will help you in that department. It also focuses on building friendship, experiencing real intimacy, and learning to have fun again, just the way God intended.”

Kiss Me Like You Mean It! Solomon’s Crazy In Love How-To Manual by  Dr. David Clarke. “You can reclaim that mad-for-you, crazy-in-love feeling, and this time it will be deeper and more intimate than ever before. Your guide? King Solomon, the Bible’s greatest lover, who has a few secrets up his ancient sleeve about how a husband and wife can experience unending passion–and have a blast doing it.”

Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage by Jeffrey Murphy and Julie SibertPursuit of Passion Cover #2. “This book comprehensively looks at the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of your sexual intimacy, tackles some of the toughest questions that couples face and includes discussion questions that will foster deeper communication for you as a couple. This book also includes an extensive list of marriage-building resources. Get ready to take your intimacy to a whole new level!”

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Dr. Kevin Leman. “This frank and practical book is a perfect resource for married and engaged couples. Dr. Leman addresses a wide spectrum of people, from those with no sexual experiences to those with past sexual problems or even abuse. Using frank descriptions, this book has a warm and friendly tone that will help couples overcome awkwardness in discussing an issue important to all married couples.”

For Wives

For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn. “The man in your life carries important feelings so deep inside he barely knows they’re there, much less how to talk about them. Yet your man genuinely wants you to ‘get’ him—to understand his inner life, to know his fears and needs, to hear what he wishes he could tell you.”

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) by Sheila Wray GregoireThe Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex book cover. “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex will give the newly engaged and new brides—and some veteran wives—a Christian place to turn to answer their most intimate, and embarrassing, questions. In a conversational style, with lots of humorous anecdotes, the book will show that sex isn’t just physical: it’s also an emotional and spiritual experience. And we’ll learn why commitment in a Christian marriage is the perfect recipe for a sex life which is out of this world!”

Is That All He Thinks About? How to Enjoy Great Sex with Your Husband by Marla Taviano. “For many married women, their sex life is a source of frustration instead of the pleasure they expected. Author Marla Taviano believes most women need an attitude adjustment before they and their husbands will experience a fulfilling sex life.”

Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage by J. Parker. “What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?  Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.”

Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. “Do you want to be a hottie in the bedroom without sacrificing holiness? How can you make the most of God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage? Wrongful thinking and behaviors regarding sex permeate our culture. Christians need to reclaim sexuality and enjoy it in the way God intended. God does not shy away from the subject of sex. The Bible shows a better way in every area—including the marital bedroom. In Hot, Holy, and Humorous, author J. Parker gives candid advice for wives from a foundation of faith with a splash of humor. This book can boost your sex savvy and improve your marital intimacy. And guess what? With God’s perfect design, you and your spouse can enjoy the most amazing sex!” Updated 11/16.

For Husbands

Crazy Good Sex: Putting to Bed the Myths Men Have about Sex by Dr. Les ParrottCrazy Good Sex. “In this practical guidebook filled with straight talk about the issues that concern men, psychologist Dr. Les Parrott reveals the truth about six areas that can undermine a man’s confidence, damage his marriage, and leave him struggling unnecessarily with temptation.”

For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn. “Finally, you can understand her! If you’re like most men, you’ve burned up lots of energy trying to figure out what a woman wants, what makes her tick, how to make her happy. The good news: success is simpler than you ever thought.”

By the way…

From time to time, I get asked about books for Christians on sexual positions. I need to write that book! Actually, I have seen a few books in bookstores with tasteful illustrations, but you have to be very careful in this realm. I’m still looking for the right book in this arena, so if you have a recommendation, let me know. The only one I’ve given to others is a fun little gift book called The Cookie Sutra by Edward Jaye, which is not specifically Christian and includes gingerbread people illustrations (along with recipes!).

Cookie Sutra

Okay, those are some of my top picks for you and your marriage!

Now which one(s) of these do you recommend? And what other marriage books would add to my list?

* * * * *

What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book

10 Sexy, Manly Items for Your Hubby’s Christmas Stocking

This holiday season, something odd happened: My 10 Sexy Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband post from last year seemed to go viral on Pinterest. I take away two lessons from that: (1) Plenty of wives want to get their husbands something intimate for Christmas; and (2) We like getting more ideas!

So here we go. Once again I combed the stores, the Internet, and my ever-fertile-and-sometimes-crazy imagination and came up with this list of sexy, manly stuff for hubbies for Christmas.

Red christmas boot with gifts on background wooden wall

Ride Lube. Forget all those personal lubricants with words like silk and sensual and passion in the name. Your man doesn’t need all that frou-frou fluff. Just give him Ride Dude Lube, made by Sliquid (one of my favorite brands, by the way). From ingredients to packaging, this lubricant is designed for the manly man in your life. As the advertisement says, “Formulated with the highest quality ingredients, and branded with imagery any cowboy will want to get behind, Ride Dude Lube is here to help you Saddle Up!” Yee-haw.

Bacon Lube. Of course, if flavored lubricant is your man’s thing, don’t get your hubby something fruit-flavored. He doesn’t want to taste strawberry or tutti-frutti; not when he could instead taste bacon. While sex and pork don’t really go together in my mind, far be it from me to deprive married couples of this unique experience. If bacon is your thing, go for it. And if you’re saying to yourself when pigs fly, remember this is about when pigs fry. (An apology to the vegetarians for that, but I promise no pigs were harmed in the making of that joke or the lube.)

bacon-lube

Buck Naked Underwear. It’s just fun to say, isn’t it? “Buck naked”? (Or maybe that’s just the Texan in me coming out.) But this underwear for men is moisture-wicking and boasts: “No pinch, no stink, no sweat. Feels like you aren’t wearing any underwear at all.” Well, then… There are even ones called “Date Night Boxers.” Whatever that means.

Buck Naked Underwear

Body Groomer. Come on! Be honest: Some husbands out there “manscape.” Maybe it’s because he got a callback on his audition for the next Planet of the Apes film simply based on his looks, or because he — or you — like a cleaner area to work with when you’re intimately engaged. But if your hubby’s going to do any trimming down there, he shouldn’t just grab his regular old razor. As a man, he knows how important it is to have the right tool for the job! For example, this Braun cruZer body groomer is safe for all body areas and can be used wet or dry.

Man Candle. Candlelight is romantic, sensual, intimacy-welcoming. And being a woman, I’m aware of the variety of candle brands and scents out there, with everything from vanilla to chocolate chip cookies to fresh cut roses. But do men really want their bedroom smelling like a kitchen or a floral garden? Thankfully, Candle Delirium has you covered with its Men Candles and fragrances like Leather & Tobacco, Havana, and Firewood & Whiskey.

Sexy Dice Game. Your man likes a good game, right? How about a sexy dice game? There are several versions, but the general idea is you take turns rolling the dice and what turns up is some combination that creates interesting foreplay. You can find these games online and from Christian sex retailers, or you could even make your own. If you’re looking for a ready-made version, Pure Romance carries one set called Spicy Dice.

Bath Salt. You won’t catch your manly man eyeballing the bath products section at your local grocery store. But although men aren’t known for taking bubble baths, many of them do enjoy a good soak — especially with a wife willing to get in that tub with him. Now, suddenly, bath time is a whole lot funner! So what bath product would your guy like? How about a product like ManSalt, a bath salt product for “relieving aching muscles, improving skin quality and [leaving] an irresistible masculine scent”?

ManSalt

Sexy Picture of You, His Gorgeous Wife. I’m not a big fan of taking extremely revealing pictures of yourself for your spouse. Perhaps I’ve simply heard too many horror stories of good-intentions-gone-wrong when someone else discovers the photographic evidence. But a suggestive photo can be a lovely thing — reminding your husband that you are uniquely there for his eyes and his touch and hinting at the real, three-dimensional thing you get to enjoy in your marriage. So perhaps your husband would love a snapshot photo of you with a come-hither look. Think of options that suggest sex more than show it, such a photo of yourself in his dress shirt with buttons open enough to let him know you’ll unbutton more when you’re together, or you lying naked in bed with the sheets draped across your private areas but enough skin peeking through to be an invitation. And if you want to be extra careful, use a Polaroid camera that leaves no recording of the shots taken.

unmade bed

Superhero Socks. What? You don’t think socks are sexy? They are if you pin a note to them telling your husband he‘s your superhero, and when you remind him that people reach orgasm more easily when their feet are warm. No, really; there was a study about it. You can find superhero socks just about anywhere, but here’s one idea.

Marriage App for Your Phones. Did you know there are several great apps for your phone, designed to make your marriage and intimacy better? I. Had. No. Idea. But when I saw some of the offerings, I was intrigued! And when you can get technology involved in marriage improvement, you’re more likely to bring your man along in the mission. There’s a great run-down of options from Singing through the Rain blog HERE. Also, I was especially fascinated to find that even The Gottman Institute offers apps, including Sex Questions to Ask WomenSex Questions to Ask Men, and Love Talk for Guys (with 93 suggestions of what to say during intimacy). So gift him an app, let him download it, and then peruse together.


Gottman apps

Your turn! What ideas do you have for husband stocking stuffers?

(Just so you know, none of these are affiliate or sponsored products.)

What Does Your Wife Want for Christmas?

In answer to my own question, “What does your wife want for Christmas?” . . . I don’t know. But I can offer a few ideas of what wives often enjoy getting.

Husband and Wife holding Christmas gift

This post is for the hubbies, but I sincerely hope wives will give their own suggestions in the comments!

James Avery necklace

James Avery necklace

1. Jewelry. Yes, it’s a cliché, but there’s also some truth to it. Even I like getting jewelry from my husband, and I’m not a big jewelry person (no pierced ears, the same two rings on my hands all the time, etc.). The challenge is finding something personal and that matches your wife’s style.

Is she a fan of big costume jewelry? Small meaningful charms? Colored stones? Gold, or sterling silver? Peek into her jewelry box. Watch what she wears. Consider her personality, interests, hobbies. Then seek out the right piece for her.

2. Personal care service/items. Whether it’s a day at the spa, a gift certificate for a massage or salon service, or a makeover, many wives enjoy getting personal care that makes them feel more beautiful. I know I feel more confident about myself and my body after leaving a massage or a pedicure. That personal attention and focus on one’s best features can remind you of your personal beauty — beauty you are then more willing to share with your husband.

If she doesn’t like going somewhere for that attention, how about bubble bath or crystals? A home pedicure set? Fancy skin care products? Find something that reminds her how beautiful you already think she is.

3. Night or weekend getaway. Schedule a hotel for a night or a resort stay for a weekend, or even a camp-out if that’s your style. (But know your wife, because I’d throw things at my husband if he tried to take this princess camping for a gift.) Line up any child and pet care needed. Create the gift certificate with your plan’s details and tuck it under the tree.

Now, be aware! This is supposed to be a romantic and relaxing weekend. So if your sweetheart is at her wit’s end caring for five young children, and you think getting a hotel means sex right away, that might feel more like a gift for you than her. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have sex! I’m simply saying that the best gift you could give an overworked, exhausted mom might be a full night’s sleep at the hotel . . . followed by breakfast in bed and, now that you’re both rested, attentive sexual intimacy.

4. Marriage book. Many wives love the idea of improving their marriage, making their relationship even better. So wrap up a marriage book and gift it to her. Or find one you can read together and put both of your names on it.

Ones on sexual intimacy I recommend include The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire, The Pursuit of Passion by Jeffrey Murphy and Julie Sibert, Sheet Music by Kevin Leman, and yeah, my own books: Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives and Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage. But guys, you know I shoot straight with you: If you hand your sex-reluctant wife a Christian sex book with an attitude of “gimme more sex,” that will not be seen as a gift. If you choose to give her an intimacy resource, you might want to wrap up 1, 2, or even 3 books for yourself on marriage, romance, and meeting her emotional needs that you promise to read in the new year . . . and then do it.

Ginger Rogers in a fancy nightgown from Top Hat (1935)

Ginger Rogers in a fancy nightgown from Top Hat (1935)

5. Sleepwear. Notice that I did not say “lingerie.” Even though I’m a fan of lingerie and have even given husbands tips on this kind of shopping for their wives, consider getting your wife sleepwear or lounge wear that makes her feel truly pampered. Think luxury more than revealing.

Pay attention to the feel of the fabric, choosing something soft or silky or snuggly that will make her feel like a million bucks. Personally, I adore the swank nightgowns and peignoir sets of the 1930s and 1940s films I’ve watched. But by paying attention to what your wife likes, you can probably find something in that realm but more luxurious — whether it’s satin pajamas or a silky cotton nightgown. Splurge on something she can wear while sleeping or lounging and feel fabulous in.

Now it’s other wives’ turn! What would you love to get for Christmas from your husband?

* * * * *

What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Purchase:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Print book

What Should You Share about Your Sex Life with Friends?

Two women chatting, talk bubbleLast Thursday, I talked about the importance of having friends who support your marriage and sexual intimacy, along with tips for finding such friends.

I received some respectful push-back from husbands concerned about wives sharing information about their sexual intimacy with others. Wouldn’t that make a hubby uncomfortable to have his sex life discussed with other women?

That seemed a reasonable line of inquiry to me. What am I talking about when I say wives should chat about their marriage and sexual intimacy? What sex topics are okay in friendship circles? What should you share about your sex life with friends?

Keep the truly private stuff private. In these days of people posting their most intimate information on social media sites, revealing their bodies at the click of a camera, and song lyrics and books and TV shows and movies giving details on any and every sexual act imaginable…well, it can seem like sharing what happens in your marriage bed with a close friend is no big deal. But it is.

Details about specific sexual acts, the unfolding of a particular scene between you and your husband, and descriptions of his private body parts should get “bleeped out” of conversations with others. You don’t need to get all that specific with a friend to discuss issues such as your difficulty achieving arousal, low or high sex drive, finding time to make love, dealing with the interruptions of children, etc.

Your marriage bed is a private, intimate place. Even with all I talk about sex here, I honestly believe people do not know what my marital intimacy looks like. Nor do my closest friends. They can’t picture it in detail, because the specifics of what happens in my bedroom remain between my husband and me. So keep the truly private stuff private.

Treat his body with modesty. True story: A friend of mine once gave me a pretty good idea of her husband’s penis size. My next interaction with this man was a little uncomfortable for me, because her words popped into my head unbidden. Of course, he had no idea his wife had shared that information. My point? I soooo did not need to know that.

Nor do any of your friends need, or want, to hear what his private parts look like. If he shows some body part only to you, keep it to yourself. You can’t un-say those things. If you must describe something specific about him to deal with a physical issue, talk to a doctor.

Remember that the Bible prescribes treating our bodies with proper care and modesty. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul compares the church to the body. Although the point of that passage is the unity of the church, he states as a given that we treat our private parts with more modesty (“…and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. v. 23b-24a, RSV). You owe it to your husband to protect his modesty by sharing only what you need to share, not chit-chatting about his body parts. Give him the same care you’d want given to you.

Focus on your own challenges. Have you ever listened to a husband-bashing rant session? What tends to happen is all the focus is on him. “He never listens. He makes a mess. He drives me crazy. He is a selfish pig. Blah, blah, blah . . . him, him, him.” If you treat every problem in your marriage like it’s his fault, you’re engaging in rants with friends, not conversation meant to encourage godly counsel.

Focus on yourself and what you can do to improve sexual intimacy in your marriage. It can be tempting to rant about how “he wants sex all the time” and “what is his problem?” and “doesn’t he understand I can’t get turned on at the drop of a hat?” and so on and so on. However, if you and your friends want the best for your marriage, you need to give enough information about your husband to illuminate the issue so you can figure out what you can do next. After all, you’re the only person you can control here.

When I speak with one of my friends, the focus is on my struggle with the issue. Yes, it could be that my husband is messing up, but then the question would still be What do I do with that? I’m not discussing the topic to rant and feel better about myself, but to figure out what to do with the issue and thus improve my marriage.

Remember it’s heart, mind, and body. Yes, I’ve benefited from hearing specific tips about things you can do in the marital bedroom, and I wrote a book (Sex Savvy) that includes detailed tips on improving sex in marriage. It can be wonderful to have a friend suggest a body-focused tip or technique to include in your marriage bed, such as a position you haven’t tried or a personal lubricant you haven’t used.

But sex is more than physical, and where many of us wives struggle is the heart and the mind. Thus, a majority of my conversations with women about sex have been about how to approach the marriage bed with the right attitude. Many wives are trying to figure out what’s okay and what’s not, how to make sex feel good when they grew up thinking it was bad, why their libido isn’t as strong as they — or perhaps their husbands — want it to be, how to understand their husbands’ sex drive, and the like.

I suspect those are the conversations with friends many of us wives need to have. We need the counsel and encouragement of other godly women who can enlighten, inform, encourage, and exhort us to follow God’s design for marriage.

So talk about sex with godly friends, but remember to be respectful of your husband. A test I’ve given myself is: How would my husband feel about this if he heard a recording of the whole conversation after all was said and done? For instance, say I struggled with an issue and chatted with my best friend about it and she helped me figure out a better approach and I worked on that for a while and then the conversation was eventually played back to my husband, would he be okay with my sharing? Or would he object?

Actually, my own husband knows about these friends and my discussions. I often share things we’ve said, and he trusts me to handle the issue with discretion and respect (and humor — because he knows me). I pray that you and your husband have the kind of relationship in which you can seek godly counsel from others and know these issues will be handled with kindness and care.