Monthly Archives: April 2015

How Sex Can Be Awesome

How cool is this?! I got to chat with Jolene Engle of Christian Wife University, who is also the host of the upcoming Wisdom for Wives online conference. This is a fabulous event in May, with eleven wives speaking on various facets in marriage. As you might guess, my session is on improving sexual intimacy in marriage.

To listen to Jolene’s interview with me, just click on the play button below. And then be sure to click the link to check out the conference. Sign up now and get the early bird discount!

Graphic with Jolene Engle & Me

CLICK ON THE BANNER BELOW TO LEARN MORE & SIGN UP!

Wisdom for Wives Conference banner

Your conference ticket includes:

  • 14 conference sessions with quality speakers, bloggers, and authors
  • Conference notebook, with session notes and more
  • Access to our private Facebook group community to discuss each session’s topic, ask questions, glean from one another, connect with other like-minded wives AND interact with the speakers
  • PLUS, additional resources including Sex in Marriage, a collection of five entirely new devotionals from me (in the same format as Intimacy Revealed, but fresh material)

Early bird discount until May 5. Be wise and sign up today!

A Romance Book You Can Read

Romance novels regularly get pummeled. Sometimes with good reason.

I’ve written about the myths of romance novels, aware they often convey wrong messages about love and sexuality. Plus, I feel bad for husbands who are trying, but the standard women seem to want, based on romance novels, is unrealistic and impossible. (We ladies know how unrealistic and impossible feels based on visual images, so you can understand my compassion. It sucks being compared to a fictitious fantasy.)

And then there’s the “cheese factor.” As in some romance novels — including some Christian fiction — are just cheesy. I don’t even know how to say this better. These are stories in which the characters don’t seem at all like ourselves or any real people we know. Sure, that could be fun for an escape, but I don’t read many of those novels. I know some of you don’t either.

Still, I believe in the importance of story. God’s Word is filled with stories teaching principles to live by, and Jesus taught many of his lessons in parables.

Bestselling author Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So I decided to leap in with both feet and write the kind of stories I’d like to read about love, marriage, and sexual intimacy.

Final Book Cover - smallerBehind Closed Doors is a collection of inspirational short stories addressing marriage and sexual intimacy. Following are previews of the five stories:

“The Rose Club.” Wendy and her two best friends are still mourning the death of Aunt Rose, as they sort through her treasured belongings and their childhood memories. When a discovery in the Aunt Rose’s bedroom sheds light on an unexpected side of their straight-laced “aunt,” the revelation unleashes confessions among lifelong friends.

“After the Baby.” Jack knows the exact number of days since he and his wife made love. With a newborn baby and an overwhelmed mommy in the house, how much longer must he wait? More importantly, how can they reconnect not simply as parents, but also as married lovers?

“Shotgun.” Tina and Josh are newlyweds, thanks to a surprise! teen pregnancy. But when a pregnancy complication knocks Tina onto her back for bed rest, it’s even more grown-up problems and less, or rather no, sex. Are the doctor’s orders for abstinence in their marriage a case of divine payback?

“The House the Densons Built.” Candace is a wife, homemaker, and mother of two, devoted to her family—until the arrival of a mysterious package shatters everything she believed about her marriage. How could her husband destroy their trust? Now they must confront the truth and decide if their marriage can be saved.

“Suite Nothings.” Nadine has dreamed of her wedding since childhood, determined to transform herself from tongue-tied klutz to fairytale princess for at least one day. After finding Mr. Right and setting the date, she realizes her preparations don’t include anything post-nuptials. Add another tab to the notebook! What can she do to make their wedding night unforgettable?

What can you expect with my romance book, Behind Closed Doors?

No sex on the page. Thus, the title Behind Closed Doors — since I believe what happens between a specific couple in their marriage bed is a private matter. So while many romance books include steamy sex scenes, they are not in my book.

References to sex. That said, there is definitely sexual desire, tension, and hints at intimacy between married couples. Nothing is written in an effort to titillate, but rather to be authentic about marriage and intimacy.

Real characters. Of course these are fictitious people, and I didn’t base them specifically on anyone I know. However, I tried to give them real skin, so to speak. I wanted these characters to feel authentic and experience real problems, real emotions, and real hope.

Specific scenarios. These are stories about these particular people, so don’t read too much into the specifics of their situation. For instance, the couple who marry young following a teen pregnancy does not mean I condone premarital sex, teen pregnancy, or marrying that young — but I know it happens and I used that specific setup to tell a story.

Universal themes. Although these stories and characters are specific, there are definitely takeaways. Themes of godly sexual intimacy, grace and generosity in marriage, and redemptive hope run through all of them. I believe stories can teach us something about life and ourselves, and I hope Behind Closed Doors achieves that goal.

I also hope a series of short stories revolving around biblical love, marriage, and intimacy will appeal to people who wouldn’t normally pick up a book about biblical sexuality. Maybe this is the kind of thing you could share with someone who won’t read a “self-help book,” but who does enjoy a good romance.

Behind Closed Doors is available through ebook, and it’s available with several vendors:

Amazon / Kindle | Barnes & Noble / Nook | Kobo Books | Scribd | iBooks

Many blessings to your marriage and what goes on behind your closed doors!

3 Things Higher-Drive Spouses Long For

You might think the three things higher-drive spouses long for are sex, sex, and sex. But while I’m certain higher-drive husbands and wives would like greater frequency of sexual intimacy in marriage, I truly believe they want more. So here are three other, very important things higher-drive spouses long for.

couple sitting on bed, facing away from each other + blog post title

1. Recognition that their sex drive isn’t bad. When you want physical intimacy a lot, and your spouse doesn’t, you can get the feeling your sex drive is a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling you have that you want sex more than you want to want it. And other times, it’s expressed by your mate with statements like, “Stop being so selfish,” or questions like, “Why do you want sex all the time?” — usually accompanied by a haughty tone and a sneer.

Rather than embracing your libido, you start to feel less-than, in your eyes and/or your spouse’s. And that’s a horrible thing to feel about something that should be considered a gift from God.

What does the higher-drive spouse want? Recognition from their spouse that this sex drive isn’t bad. It’s not inherently selfish or evil or disgusting. A strong desire to make love with your covenant mate is a beautiful thing.

2. Understanding that sex isn’t just about sex. Sure, I know some people who are completely into the physical side of sex and don’t understand the deeper implications. But I hear from many, many more higher-drive spouses who want sex not simply for physical satisfaction, but because it makes them feel connected, loved, and intimate with their spouse. If it was only about physical release — being candid here — the higher-drive spouse could take care of things on their own.

Instead, that husband or wife seeking more sex doesn’t see their mate as a mere tool for achieving a goal. No way! For them, it isn’t just about sex — it’s about so much more. Even if words fail them and they seem to default to talking about the sex itself, if you could dig deep and tease out what’s really happening, sex is powerfully meaningful.

They want the physical pleasure, but they want the whole package — physical, recreational, emotional, spiritual. And more than anything, the higher drive spouse wants to feel the love of their mate.

3. Commitment to try. The mismatch in drives can be frustrating, but what really hurts is a mate unwilling to even try. It pains the heart of someone longing to show love in the bedroom to be rebuffed and refused constantly, with no hope in sight of anything ever changing. What would help a lot is a simple commitment to try — try to talk about it, try to see another point of view, try to get in the mood, try to change things up a little now and then, try enjoying yourself in bed.

Most higher-drive spouses don’t expect an immediate turnaround in their less-willing mate. While it would be great to come home one day and find their lover with bedroom eyes, little on their body, and rip-raring to go, that’s not their expectation or intent. Rather, they long for the lower-drive spouse to love them enough to try to understand and meet their needs — just as you should each be doing in other areas of marriage. The higher-drive spouse isn’t looking for a quick change, but rather a long-term commitment to invest in sexual intimacy.

If you’re the higher-drive spouse, do you long for these things? And what else? If you’re the lower-drive spouse, in what way do you struggle with the desires or expectations of your higher-drive mate?

If At First You Don’t Succeed… Ask for Sex Again

Physical intimacy hasn’t been happening in my marriage as often as we’d like. It’s been harder to connect lately, with my husband and me each having full work schedules (which don’t coincide), certain family obligations, and recent ailments and sleep disturbances. I’d love to say that we’re always rocking the marriage bed over here in my house, but in recent weeks there’s been more lulling than rocking happening under our sheets.

So when yet another attempt failed last week, I was really discouraged. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We’d planned to make love. But life happened, and it didn’t. Still, I was left missing that intimacy with my husband and feeling like our days were stacked against us.

Honestly, I complained to a friend. Not complaining about my husband, of course, but simply sharing my frustration with our lack of sexual intimacy. As a wonderful support to my marriage, she had an encouraging word for me. Once again, I remembered that, as much as we place a priority on sex in our marriage, it’s just more difficult to make happen with great frequency in some seasons.

But if at first you don’t succeed . . . Yep, try, try again!

Couple in bed with blog post title

That’s such a simple phrase that gets batted around all the time (at least in my culture). But there is great truth to it. The Bible says it this way: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

And I believe this is one of the main reasons why I can confidently state that my marriage has good, healthy, satisfying, godly sexual intimacy. Not because we’re always “gettin’ it done” in the bedroom, but because we understand the importance of sex in our marriage and we don’t give up on each other or ourselves.

So the next night, we tried again. I think it took three tries to be able to clear the calendars, the room, the minds, and the Sandman to make some sweet love!

Which is somewhat annoying, but in our bone-dry years, we likely would have given up. And this is what I see in many marriages that are either struggling or simply not experiencing quality sexual intimacy. We get frustrated because things aren’t happening like they should, for whatever reason, and we give up. It’s just too hard, or you’re too exhausted, or you’re too busy, or you’re too likely you’ll be rejected yet again.

Look, I don’t know what will happen if you try, try again. It may not turn out. But I guarantee what will happen if you don’t try: No sex.

So today I’m suggesting that you make sexual intimacy a priority, that you persevere in pursuing the best for your marriage bed, that you take the setbacks in stride but keep moving in the right direction. We’re not sprinting in our marriages. This is a marathon! As much as that analogy pains those of us who can’t stand to run, it’s true.

If you don’t make love tonight, the world will not end. But if you don’t make love tonight and the next night and the next and the next and on and on and on, what will happen to your marriage? To your intimacy? To your heart?

So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Dust off the disappointing moment and, when opportunity presents itself, ask for sex again. Or as 1 Corinthians 13 better says:

Love perseveres on decorative background

Why I Cringe at Comparing Sexual Intimacy to Gardening

Here we are in the season of Spring, and my landscaping bed looks like this:

IMG_1029 IMG_1031

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t judge.

Oh, who am I kidding? Go ahead and judge. That’s terrible, pitiful, inexcusable. You should all send my neighbors sympathy cards for having to share the street with this flower-bed slacker.

Interestingly enough, marriage and sexual intimacy are often compared to sowing seeds, reaping harvests, tending gardens, blossoms and blooms. These are great analogies, and part of me delights in such scriptures as:

“Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16).

“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love” (Song of Songs 5:1).

“My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies” (Song of Songs 6:2).

“They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest” (Psalm 107:37).

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

But another part of me cringes at these plant seeds/sow stuff metaphors. I can’t relate. I finally gave up last year and just let the weeds grow. You see, I’m a horrible gardener and have managed to kill everything from spring flowers to a cactus. If I sow a seed and tend the plant, its chances are not good.

Still, I’m planning to plant this spring, to tear out the weeds I’ve allowed to spread too fast and too far, and to encourage my garden to thrive. How can I make that happen? What will be different this time? Well, let’s analogize some more with gardening metaphors and sexual intimacy in marriage.

Being realistic about where I am and what I can do. I’d love to suddenly have a lush garden so beautiful it could land on the cover of Southern Living magazine. But right now, I have flower beds full of weeds and a browner-than-brown thumb. Instead of getting upset that I can’t garden like an Home & Garden Network show host, I need to pull out my weeds, prepare the soil, and plant something simple — something I can actually do. I need to pick plants that are easier to grow and see small successes. When I’ve mastered that, I can move on to bigger and better things.

Likewise, some of you look at your sexual intimacy and think you’re so far from where you want to be, what’s the point? You feel like simply letting the weeds take over. But you don’t have to give up. You merely have to be realistic about where you are and figure out something simple you can do to improve your marriage. Are you having sex once a month, and you want it four times a week? Add another time or two a month, for now. Do you wish your spouse was far more adventurous? Suggest something slightly outside the comfort zone, rather than demanding something you know won’t happen. Have you felt a lack of emotional depth in your sexual intimacy? Go for something simple like making a point to look each other in the eyes as you make love. Start small, and begin to sow seeds down the path you want to travel.

Consulting others who’ve had success. We have a neighbor who puts us to shame. You all have that person, right? (Maybe you are that person.) My neighbor is often out in her front yard digging in dirt, watering roots, pruning plants, and making her landscaping look gorgeous. Which, of course, makes my pitiful weed-infested yard that much more embarrassing. However, I realized something recently: Why was I jealous of her garden-tending abilities? Why didn’t I just see her as an amazing resource? Yes, this woman clearly knows what she’s doing, when I don’t have a clue. So I’m seeking out her advice, and she’s sweetly offered to help. I’m also consulting a couple of other garden-savvy individuals and nursery employees. Why not talk to people who have the wisdom I need?

When your marriage is struggling, and your sexual intimacy is flailing, where can you turn for help? You should, of course, begin with God’s Word. Our Lord has revealed Himself and His design for marriage within its pages. But He can also work through others who can advise you with the wisdom they received. Find mentors and resources that can help you work through your difficulties. I’m honored that you are here, visiting my blog, for tips on how to improve your marital intimacy. And yes, I can’t garden worth a flip, but I have learned a thing or two about sex that I’m more than willing to share. There are other resources as well, and some of you need to seek help from a pastor or counselor. Just don’t expect to go it alone, and be willing to ask for help if you need it.

Letting the Creator take over as much as possible. I have two things in my yard that grow beautifully no matter what I do — a bird of paradise plant and a loquat tree. I attribute their success to two things: pruning and God. All we do with each of these is cut down the bird of paradise now and then and collect the ripe fruit off the loquat tree. The rest is sun and rain God brings to the area where I live and where these plants can thrive. Thus, when I look for new things to plant, I’ll be looking at what else works well where we live — which plants can bloom in the soil we have, with the rain we get, in the sun and shade available. I’ll sow and reap, but God will bring the harvest.

Let God into your marriage and into your bedroom. Let His sun shine, His rain fall, His harvest come. When we ignore His provision in creating sexual intimacy for marriage, when we lock Him out of the bedroom, we keep ourselves from enjoying the harvest He can bring to our marriage bed. Pray about the sex in your marriage. Study what His Word says about it. Thank Him for the marital intimacy you enjoy. Let the Creator take over as much as possible, offering even your sexual intimacy for His glory.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).