Monthly Archives: June 2016

Q&A with J: Does Going Without Sex Make You Cranky?

Today’s question is a great one. Here’s what the querying wife asks:

We’ve been married 15 years and have very fulfilling sex…I’m just in awe of this beautiful gift God gave us and how through our years of marriage the sex just keeps getting better. My question….I have found that if we go too many days between sexual intimacy I get very moody and cranky. Is this normal? I haven’t checked my calendar to see the relation this is to where I am in my cycle. I’ve just noticed many times that if we get to 5 or 6 days without (due to husband’s travel, time of month or busy schedule) I start to feel irritable. It’s like I can feel my need to be intimate. I just wondered if others ever feel this way.

Q&A with J: Does Going Without Sex Make You Cranky?

Oh, my young Padawan, you have learned much (in awe of this beautiful gift God gave us”). Let me add to your great wisdom by affirming that oh yeah, one can get seriously cranky during a dry spell.

I could tell you so many stories couples have shared with me. I’ll come up with a composite one that goes like this:

We were feeling annoyed, just uptight and even arguing over little things. I felt this edginess and couldn’t figure out what was going on. And then suddenly we looked at each other and said, “Wait, how long has it been since we had sex?” Lo and behold, it had somehow stretched to eight days. We cleared our schedule for an immediate rendezvous, and afterward we felt so much better. Relieved. Happy. Satisfied. Equilibrium had been reachieved.

Why do we get grumpy when we have a dry spell? I think there are several reasons:

Sex relieves stress. We build up stress in numerous ways throughout our days and lives. And sexual intimacy is a proven stress-reliever. Sex lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and produces feel-good chemicals in our bodies. It even boosts your immune system. (See 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex.) If we’re used to sex being one of the ways we ease stress, our bodies will notice when that help is gone.

Sex bonds us together. We experience relational connection with our husbands when we make love. Our bodies even respond through the release of dopamine (a pleasure and reward system) and oxytocin, the same body chemical released when a mother nurses her baby. We feel emotionally and physiologically connected through the act of sexual intimacy. Not surprising, therefore, if it’s been a while, we can feel disconnected. Even at odds with each other.

Sex expresses intimacy. Although there are many alternatives for expressing love to one another, sex is a rather special one. With other people, we can chat, spend time, do activities, hug and peck cheeks, etc. But there’s only one person in the world we should be making love to — our spouse. Because of its unique character, we can miss that special connection when it’s gone. Of course, not every couple feels this way, but those who “have very fulfilling sex” likely will.

Your hormones can also play into this feeling of crankiness. Not only do we ladies deal with what’s commonly called Premenstrual Syndrome, we can experience a spike in sexual interest around the time of ovulation. Feeling more randy than average, it can feel like a real letdown not to act on that increased libido. Hello, grumpiness.

So the bad news is that yes, a lack of sex can make feel grumpy. And the good news is that once you know that, you can adjust: by either having sex, or ignoring it until the feeling goes away. One way or another, it won’t last forever.

And in the meantime, you can do what I do and just recite positive scriptures in my head, reminding myself that my crankiness does not give me license to be frustrating to others. Rather, I just have to pray and work harder to keep my happy in place.

Until I can get with hubby, that is . . .

Are You His Type?

I’m too short for my husband. Our nine-inch different in height means I must stand on tiptoes and he must lean down for us to kiss one another’s lips. When we dance, our bodies don’t quite line up, which I try to compensate for with higher-heels (or higher-heeled cowboy boots). When I ask him to reach stuff on the top shelf, he sometimes looks at me like, “How short are you?” Answer? Not tall. And quite possibly shorter than any of the girls he dated before me.

It would be more convenient if I were a few inches taller. And I think he’d like not bending his neck down so far. But, despite repeated prayers to God when I was a teenager, I stopped growing at some point and that was that.

Am I his type? Not when it comes to height.

Are You His Type?

I’ve heard from wives who believe that their husbands dating women previously with different appearances or noticing other women now who differ greatly from how they look…means hubby doesn’t really like their body or beauty type.

From talking to men, reading their comments and emails, and studying research and information about their “species,” I have some thoughts on that.

He wouldn’t have asked you out, dated you all that time, and married you if he wasn’t attracted to you. By and large, this is truth. A guy might have a brief encounter with a woman he doesn’t find all that physically appealing, but he wouldn’t invest all that time and effort with his eventual wife if he didn’t think she was worth eyeballing, touching, and becoming intimate with. As visual as many men are (and yes, I know not all, and women can be visual too), they are motivated to find a woman who is visually pleasing.

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. What appeals to one person won’t necessarily appeal to another. If your body type is not the typical definition of gorgeous in our (twisted) society, that doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. You, my dear, have your own physical, and even sexual, appeal. What matters most is you believing the truth that God created you as a beautiful woman and that you are beautiful in your husband’s eye.

Your attractiveness is strongly affected by your inner beauty. When men are surveyed on which character is more appealing from the TV series Gilligan’s Island, the sexy bombshell Ginger typically loses to the sweet, bubbly, and personable Mary Ann. Sure, the actress who played Mary Ann was pretty, but if you’d switched those actresses’ roles, I think the Mary Ann character would still win out. Because who she is makes her more attractive. Likewise, I remember a conversation with several girls in college about a guy who wasn’t objectively good-looking, but he was so nice, funny, and engaging that every one of us agreed he was highly attractive. Who you are impacts how you appear to those around you, especially your husband. If you’re a happy wife who fights the frump and makes him feel loved, odds are you’re hot in his heart.

Confidence is appealing. Let me be frank, ladies: Wives who constantly complain about their appearance, demand heaps of reassurance, and argue with their husband’s opinion can wear a guy out. Wives who own their beauty, present themselves with confidence, and yes, ask for reassurance when they need it are more appealing. Of course, you won’t immediately flip a switch and have a shot of confidence wash over you. You must intentionally work toward dealing with your self-consciousness, self-doubt, self-flagellation to become more comfortable with your body and your beauty.

Back to my height-challenged existence…

I used to think that my husband got cheated by not getting the tall woman he, I assumed, wanted. I wished God would grant me a belated wish, a medical miracle, and make me grow a few more inches.

But honestly, I’ve learned that my husband doesn’t see it that way. And I no longer view myself negatively either. For him, it’s just a little bending to kiss the woman he loves, a slight adjustment for us to dance in tandem, and appreciation of a physical characteristic that defines me. Even as my body changes – spreading a bit in the middle – he’s in love with the woman he sees, knows, touches, chose.

And why wouldn’t he feel that way? I feel that about him. My husband is not objectively as physically attractive as he was twenty years ago, but to me, he’s absolutely the best looking guy in every room I enter. He’s my type and I’m his type, because our love for each other means: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7).

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Two Important Aspects of Sexual Intimacy

I cite Song of Songs a lot on this blog. Because it’s the one book in the Bible devoted entirely to the romantic and sexual love between a husband and wife. It’s chock-full of fascinating passages that demonstrate God’s blessings for sexual intimacy in marriage. It also provide excellent examples of how husbands and wives should treat each other when it comes to sex.

Having read this book many times over now, I’ve come to have a few favorite verses. Easily in my top three is this statement from Song of Songs 7:10: I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.”

Marriage Memory Verse 6-25-16As I was pondering this simple verse today, wondering why I loved it so much, I homed in on two words that capture important aspects of sexual intimacy with my husband: belong and desire.

Merriam-Webster’s simply definition of belong is “used to say that someone or something should be in a particular place or situation.” When I’m in my husband’s arms in our marriage bed, I know that’s the particular place and situation where I should be — with him specifically, fitting together just so, sharing our pleasure.

Yes, of course I feel that sense of belonging at other times in our marriage, but this whole-body experience of making love involves a deep sense of belonging. There’s exclusivity, vulnerability, and intimacy in those moments. They bring to mind the sentiment that you are mine and I am yours.

Then there’s the concept of desire. Merriam-Webster’s first two simple definitions of desire are: “to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something)” and “to want to have sex with (someone).” I believe that desire in a healthy marriage bed involves both wanting something and wanting to have sex with someone.

The thing we want is affection, connection, and devotion with our beloved. I want to know my husband at a deeper level than anyone else in the world does or can. And yes, I want to have sex. Because it feels good, because I have a natural drive for that release, and because it’s a bonding experience. I’m 99.9% certain my husband feels all of that about me.

Do you feel these two important aspects in your marriage too? Belonging and desire.

If you don’t, maybe it’s time to nurture those feelings, to invest in sexual intimacy as a priority, to express to your husband what would make you feel desired and connected. And maybe you can start by committing Song of Songs 7:10 to memory. Even recite it as a prayer.

LORD, HELP ME TO BELONG TO MY BELOVED, AND FOR HIM TO BELONG TO ME. AND GIVE US DESIRE FOR ONE ANOTHER. - AMEN

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Q&A with J: Do Women Like Sex?

I had to pare down the reader question today. There was some more background, but I included enough to get to the core of this husband’s question:

My wife and I have been in marriage counseling for almost a year with little progress. There are several issues in our marriage but one of the most disappointing is that we only have sex once or twice a year. Several of those years have gone by without any sexual contact at all. The longest we have gone is over a year and a half. This has gone on for 37.5 years. You are probably wondering why I would allow this situation to go on so long. The only answer that I can give you is that our relationship has been the perfect storm

I want you to know that I am doing and have done everything I can think of or that either therapist suggests to make this marriage work. I love my wife and have no intention of leaving my marriage unless she drives me off.

Ok, so here is my question, my sister-in-law is an RN and she and my wife are good friends. She is upset that I am making waves and has said that since I tolerated this behavior for more than 37 years I should just continue to tolerate it. Besides, she claims, that woman do not like sex and only do it because their husbands demand it. She says that sex should be quick and that anything over 30 minutes is much too long. Our therapist has commented that in the context of sex, I think like a woman stereotypically thinks and my wife thinks like a man. I am a hopeless romantic who prefers long love-making sessions that include lots of touching and kissing. I didn’t get much touch when I was little, at least not the good kind. She shows me very little affection or tenderness which, I have told her are my top two needs.

In your experience, is my sister-in-law right?

Q&A with J: Do Women Like Sex?

I’m going to digress a bit, but hang in there with me because I’ll connect the dots in a moment. As much as I love history, I don’t know how I could have lived before indoor plumbing. If I had lived in the days when outhouses were the norm and that’s what I’d known for 37 years and then one day someone said, “Hey, you don’t have to squat down in a stinky wooden shack in the backyard with bad weather seeping through and insects or snakes threatening. You could just shuffle down the hallway from your bedroom and use a bathroom closet which will flush away what’s left behind.” Well, I can guarantee you that I’d not spend another day steeped in the smell of poop in last year’s latrine. I’d install an indoor toilet immediately!

Which brings me to this: So what if you did something that stunk to high heaven for 37 years?! If you find out there’s a far better option — something God Himself wants you to have — why wouldn’t you pursue that alternative? Saying “you put up with it before” is not an argument for continuing. Step out of the stink and shoot for the intimacy you and your wife should have!

I’m not saying there are guarantees that you’ll get everything you want, or as soon as you want. But it seems wholly preposterous to me not to desire a deeper connection and to foster that intimacy as best you can.

Yet you asked a more specific question: Is your sister-in-law right? Is it true that women don’t like sex? That wives only do it because their husbands demand it? That 30 minutes is more than enough for a sexual encounter?

Let’s put those assertions up against what God said about sexuality in His Word.

“Women don’t like sex.” Just a few verses into Song of Songs, the wife says this: Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers” (1:4). That sounds to me like a woman eager to get to her marriage bed. Later she says the following:

  • “How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant” (1:16)
  • I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me” (2:3-7).
  • “Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love” (7:11).

I could go on. But a whole bunch of women have also commented on this blog, written me in emails, and spoken to me personally about how much they enjoy the sexual act in their marriages. Plenty even have a higher drive for sexual intimacy than their husbands.

And lots of gals are orgasming out there. *waving at grinning wives* Not everyone, of course, which is why there’s a whole orgasm chapter in my book, Hot, Holy & Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. But enough to know that a fair amount of women like sex, want sex, enjoy sex.

So no, one-half of the population does not automatically dislike sex simply by virtue of being female.

“Women have sex because their husbands demand it.” Deuteronomy 24:5 says: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” This has often been interpreted, and I agree, as one year to build intimacy in your marriage, including sexually satisfying your wife. Indeed, the traditional Jewish viewpoint of sex in marriage is that it’s the woman’s right and a husband should do his duty by providing sexual intimacy and making it pleasurable for her.

And in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says that wives have the same conjugal rights as husbands. Why bother stating that husbands owe their wives sex if the wives wouldn’t ever want sex?

Then, there’s the issue that husbands shouldn’t be demanding sex. No, no, no. There’s nothing Christ-like about that approach. Would God create men to demand sex and then instruct them, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29)? Or how about this outright command? “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). Unwanted sex is pretty harsh.

Rather, God created sex to be a mutual experience, desired and enjoyed by both husband and wife. Will they desire it exactly the same way, or with the same frequency? No — perhaps because having to work at it a bit forces us to get past our own selfishness and act in love toward our mate. A higher-drive husband should pursue activities that make his wife feel cherished and desirable, and a lower-drive wife should commit to making sexual intimacy and pleasure a priority.

“Sex should be quick.” Song of Songs 2:16-17 says: My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.” Translation? “We did it all night long.” Hmmm.

Hey, I’m not opposed to quickies. They have their place in marriage. However, a diet of quickies would be like eating fast food all the time. It might take off the hunger edge, but it’s not the delicious experience you should have from dining out.

When I looked up the typical time for women to reach climax, the averages reported ranged from 4 minutes to over 20 minutes. Not sure which studies to believe… However, women I’ve talked to say it rarely happens in less than 10, and several take 30 minutes or more. Whereas lots of guys can get it done quicker, although hubbies tend to last longer as they age. Even so, this isn’t like going from zero-to-sixty in a sports car where less time is more impressive. It’s not how quickly you can make sex happen; it’s what length of time fosters real intimacy.

And most couples need time to build anticipation, romance, and desire. Physically speaking, it takes time to arouse a woman enough for her to even be ready for intercourse, since she must be well-lubricated and her inner vaginal lips swollen to 2-3 times their usual size. Then there’s the vulnerability and wonder of being naked together, viewing and touching one another’s bodies. Not to mention the act itself, which can take a bit of time to pull off. If you rush all that, it can feel rote and impersonal. Couples should devote enough time to sexual intimacy for it to actually feel intimate.

Now all of this doesn’t fix where you are in your marriage. I have a bunch of blog posts about how to approach your lower-drive wife and dealing with sexual problems in marriage — so many that it feels a little overwhelming to list them here. I encourage you to use that search tool at the top right of this page and see what you can find. May God heal you, your wife, and your relationship!

HHH coverIn Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, author J. Parker gives candid advice for wives on everything from kissing to oral sex to orgasm to sexual positions all from a Christian perspective.

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What I Thought About Swimsuits in 1993

I’m a magnet for clutter. Paperwork seeks me out like a missile locating its target. On any given day, I feel that I must apologize for the state of my desk. And let’s not even discuss how badly I need to go through my files.

But as I was (finally) attacking some of the clutter, I came upon a couple of notebook pages of a journal-like entry dated May 1993. I was shocked to find I’d written almost 300 words about body image, modesty, and swimsuits. I decided to share it [with minor editing] here.

What I Thought About Swimsuits in 1993

I struggle with the fashion industry’s view of what clothes are to do. I thought clothes were to cover and enhance. Try shopping for a swimsuit with that in mind. Most swimsuits either look like they should be worn by your grandmother or a Sports Illustrated model.

So forget the grandma thing.

Everything else unveils rather than covers. I’d be afraid to jump into the water for fear that I’ll lose my modesty to the nearest wave.

Modesty is not big in the fashion industry. Suppose I wear an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini. Does this actually enhance? I will now have to shave my “bikini area,” which always brings on a painful red rash hanging past my immodest bikini bottoms for all to see. I guess I could opt for electrolysis…yeah, right! Who said beauty was worth that kind of pain?! Who said a naked bikini area equals beauty?

Let’s go back to the modesty thing. Even if I solve the bikini area dilemma, I’m stuck with the constant game of tug and pull. I take a couple of laps in the pool, and as I’m leaving I’m pulling down the back of those bottoms, the bottom of my top, and up on the top of my bottoms. Makes you not even want to enter the pool.

If some other woman wishes to inflict self-torture, fine. But I quarrel with the fashion industry for not offering options.

I want swim shorts, like men. Speedos have been on the market for years, but most men opt for trunks. They won’t fall for that skimpy look thing. They demand comfort. Women demand tug and pull.

Well, they have swim shorts now. And swim skirts. Maybe someone in the fashion industry actually paid attention to what some of us wanted.

However, I still see the majority of women’s swimsuit departments inundated with swimsuits that neither cover nor enhance. Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two about shopping for swimsuits. Since it’s mid-June — and absolutely beach weather where I live — I wanted to once again share what I’ve written about modesty and swimsuit shopping:

What Does Modesty Look Like?

6 Questions to Ask about Your Swimsuit

Swimsuit Shopping (without Weeping and Wailing)

What about you? How do you approach modesty and swimsuits? Have you found a good solution? And has your opinion changed since 1993?