Monthly Archives: June 2016

Why Being a Good Father Turns Your Wife On

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in the United States, celebrated by the purchase of power tools, electronic gadgets, sporting goods, and neckties. And extra attention for the Beloved Dad in our homes.

But not too long ago, I heard from a wife who admitted that she had enormous difficulty letting down her guard to make love when her husband mistreated their kids. She couldn’t switch to seeing him as safe and appealing after he acted harsh and dismissive of someone else she loved so very much — her own child.

On the opposite site, several wives have told me that they feel more attraction to their husbands when those men step up and do the right thing as fathers. I absolutely understand that feeling.  Seriously, there is something sexy about seeing your man being a fabulous dad.

Why does his ability to father impact our physical attraction?

Caring for our children is caring for us. We are so connected to this little person, or people, that we cannot entirely separate ourselves from them. Our children carry a bit of their mother’s heart around at all times. So when a father treats his wife’s children well, it’s felt not only by the child, but by the mother as well. Likewise, she feels the barbs too. It’s as if we mothers naturally follow Romans 12:15 when it comes to our children: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

I’m not saying that a father should not discipline his child — he should — but I’m talking about the father who exasperates his children (see Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). It’s hard for a wife to feel a strong romantic attraction toward a man who injures her child’s heart more than he shapes her child’s character.

Being a good father reminds us that we complement each other. Ideally, children are raised in two-parent homes with a mother and father. God designed the family to flow from this one-flesh connection of male and female. A dad cannot take a mom’s place, and a mom cannot take a dad’s place. As the mom, all I can do is my part of the parenting, and when my hubby does his part as father, our complementary roles join to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

This harmony reminds a woman that she is better off with a man in the house. And hey, it’s kinda awesome to have a manly man doing his thing. In fact, there are other ways in which we complement each other… For instance, our body parts seem to line up quite nicely too. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that wives translate this to the bedroom. But I do believe that seeing the balance of male-female in the home sets a good atmosphere for that connection.

Loving the most vulnerable in our lives helps us feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. When our children are infants, they are helpless; as toddlers, fragile; as preschoolers, unguarded; as elementary age, tender; as tweens, insecure; as teens, tentative. Yes, our children are more than those traits, especially as they mature, but in a world rightly run by adults, being a minor means being vulnerable. So when a man shows tender love toward children, he demonstrates that he’s protective, safe, trustworthy.

Now, sharing our hearts and our bodies is an incredibly vulnerable act for a woman. We want to feel secure and to know that we can trust our husbands with that vulnerability. It’s kinda sexy to believe that your husband will take care of your body the way he protects and cherishes your children. We wives can feel more confident about baring ourselves, physically and emotionally, when we’ve seen how diligent and gentle our husbands can be with our kids.

Listen up, guys: I’m not saying this is an exchange where if you treat her children well, you’ll automatically get laid. You should treat children well because it’s the right thing to do. And there are no guarantees with your wife, because she may have other reasons why sex is unappealing.

But being an exasperating father will likely be a barrier to her wanting to make love. And being a godly father makes you more appealing — and may well turn her on.

So to all the great fathers out there, and to the ones who commit to do better, thank you! Your children and your wives benefit. And I pray that you will be blessed too!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Father's Day Verse: Psalm 128:3-4

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Q&A with J: How Can I View Sex as “Hot and Holy”?

If you’re like me, today’s question will make your heart crack a little and/or bring moisture to your eyes:

I am a trauma counselor who works with children who have been sexually abused. I hear so many awful stories about abuse and the images are so vivid, I carry them with me and can’t seem to get them out of my head… especially when I am being intimate with my husband. I can’t get excited about sex and I have a hard time viewing sex as “hot and holy.” Never mind the fact that I am already very self conscious about my body, and I know my husband struggles with pornography. I can’t seem to shake my thoughts when trying to “get in the mood” for sex. I have discussed my concerns with my husband, but I’m not sure what he can do, if anything, to help. What do you suggest?

Q&A with J: How Can I View Sex as "Hot and Holy"?

Just that phrase — children who have been sexually abused — presses down on my chest and makes me weep for these precious, innocent victims. It also makes me want to rail against the evil in this world that would do such a thing to those among us who most need our protection.

And this wife hears these stories, in detail, day-in and day-out. That must take its toll. Yet, I’m grateful for trauma counselors who help these children come out of the shadows and find healing on the other side. May God bless their efforts over and over again.

Let me walk through the three issues here: the trauma she hears, the self-consciousness she feels, and the pornography struggle her husband experiences. Each is an obstacle to sexual intimacy in marriage.

Sexual trauma stories. As clearly as I can possibly say it: What those children experienced was not the sex God created. We almost need another word that indicates how it’s sexual in nature, but not at all the same thing as sex itself. It’s abuse, plain and simple. And in the most heinous way — preying upon the vulnerable in the most vulnerable parts of their body.

That “sex” is absolutely not hot or holy. It’s opposed to anything and everything sexual intimacy in marriage was intended to be. I pray that all victims, and those who work with them, hear what I’m saying — that sexual abuse wasn’t in any way the victim’s fault and it doesn’t resemble in any way what God created sex to be.

This may be something that you have to rehearse your head again and again: that is not sex, that is not sex, that is not sex. It could be that the wording makes a huge difference to you for distinguishing the two. So that you even get rid of the word sex when referring to what happens in the marriage bed, and call it marital or physical intimacy. Because that’s what God intends for marriage — a deep relational connection that is voluntarily expressed in a physical way.

Right now, I think the scales are so tipped toward sex being attached to the abuse stories that it’s hard to tease that out. Besides making a clear-cut, black-and-white distinction between sexual abuse and marital intimacy, you also need some experiences that reflect the better side of sexual touch and activity. That’s one of the reasons I believe healthy marital intimacy can combat some of the bad messaging kicking around in our heads: It readjusts the balance so that we identify with a new script that involves God’s design for sex in marriage.

Self-consciousness. I don’t know any woman who isn’t at some time self-conscious about her body. Maybe those women exist, but I don’t know them. We may be more confident or less confident, but body image continues to be a struggle for many wives. It’s why I launched my Feel Beautiful goal last year with the hope and prayer that we ladies would learn to embrace our inner and outer beauty.

I highly suggest you read the myriad of posts from myself and other Christian wives about how to feel beautiful. But ultimately, my confidence in the marital bedroom to bare my body is simply about courage. And, being a Texan, I like this definition of courage from western actor John Wayne: “Courage is being scared…but saddling up anyway.” Funny thing is, once you “saddle up” and go for it with your husband, you often end up feeling better about your body. Because your body is a truly remarkable masterpiece.

Your softness and curves, your sensitive places and pleasure spots, your ability to affect his body — it’s all rather amazing. And none of that is changed by sporting a few extra pounds or not having the breast size you want or wondering if your thunder thighs should be registered as a lethal weapon. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and if your husband wants to see you naked, it’s because he likes to see you naked. He recognizes that your feminine form is exciting. Talk yourself into owning that, with a dose of courage that you can reveal the beauty that is you.

Pornography struggle. That said, having your hubby looking at porn is not helping your body image. And it’s certainly hurting his view of sex and your marriage as a whole. He’s unlikely to white-knuckle his way out of this habit, so take steps to fight against the temptation of pornography. Be his supporter and his advocate, but yes, be his boundary too, if needed.

You should make clear that you don’t want pornography coloring your marital intimacy. It needs to stop. Rather, you two need to foster the kind of physical intimacy God wants you to exclusively have in the proper bounds of covenant marriage.

The sex displayed in pornography is at the least unrealistic and quite often abusive of women on the screen. So it’s no wonder wives often object to that representation of sexual contact. I recently read a well-researched description of the adult video industry (in Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by journalist Chris Hedges), and the amount of physical abuse displayed and perpetrated against porn actresses is staggering. It utterly breaks my heart.

But regardless of how tame some porn might be in comparison to the hardest core stuff, it all objectifies people and focuses purely on the physical. Yet again, this is so far from the gift that God bestowed on marriages when He created sexual intimacy. It’s incredibly important that your husband move away from this depiction of sex, and that you both embrace the far better version of sexuality God described in His Word.

When someone asks what that looks like, I often refer them to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Of course we don’t perfectly measure up to this ideal, but if the intimacy in your marriage doesn’t look like that description at all, it’s not what God wants you to have.

It will take intentionality and time on your part to adjust how you’ve seen sex up to now. I encourage you to read up on God’s plan for physical intimacy. My own book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design covers both attitudes and tips for creating that “hot and holy” experience in your marriage bed. I also encourage you both to read Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage by Julie Sibert and Jeffrey Murphy, which is a great overall treatment of physical intimacy for husbands and wives.

Read quality marriage blogs. Study what God’s Word has to say about sex; for example, the Song of Songs. Communicate with your husband about your concerns and your hopes. Pray for your heart to heal and your mind to focus on what God wants for your marriage. But you can get there. And I pray that God blesses your marriage with intimacy that truly is hot and holy.

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Have You Ever Been Injured During Sex?

Once upon a time, I broke my right pinkie toe. When asked by a good friend how it happened, I blushed and told her about how my husband and I were making love. I was turned with my feet by the headboard, and things got heavy and heated. It was so amazing and out-of-control and earthshaking that I flung my foot out, caught the headboard with my toe, and broke the bone.

After I finished my explanation, she gasped and asked, “Really?”

To which I answered, “No. I was walking into our bathroom early one morning, couldn’t see where I was going, and slammed my foot on the door jamb. But doesn’t the first story sound more exciting?”

While I didn’t break my toe mid-sexual encounter, the sexual intimacy in my marriage has included some minor accidents and injuries. Stuff like hair getting accidentally pulled or legs cramping or my latest, which I shared on Facebook this morning:

Facebook post 6-13-16

In response, a few others shared their stories. And I bet y’all have more tales.

Have You Ever Been Injured During Sex?

While I’ve never read a novel or seen a movie with a romantic scene in which someone has an accident or injury during sex, I know it happens. If you’re making love as often as you should in your marriage, and you’ve been married for a while, you’ll likely have a story or two about the time you unintentionally kneed him in the nuts or he elbowed you in a bad place. You might have fallen off the bed, or even broken the bed. Or — like some friends of mine — you accidentally started a fire in your bedroom.

Not everything goes like clockwork every time. And that’s okay. The physical intimacy in your marriage is comprised of all those experiences bundled together, so a few oopses over the years don’t detract at all from the beauty of your one-flesh experience.

In fact, it might add to it. You get these shared memories of “that time when.” Remember when we dove naked onto your parents bed, broke the frame, and had to explain how we destroyed their furniture? Remember when we decided to make love on the kitchen table and ended up smacking our heads on the ceiling fan overhead? Remember when we set the mood by lighting all those candles and also set the pillow on fire?

And if you really do get injured making love, don’t be so embarrassed that you don’t tell the doctor what happened. You might be surprised how often such incidents occur. In fact, there’s a whole documentary series called Sex Sent Me to the ER. I haven’t watched the show (don’t really want to and don’t have cable anyway), but I’ve heard stories about the episodes.

The point is that it happens. Sex is something of a sport, and sports involve some risk. But they also involve scoring, winning, and celebrating. So it’s worth getting in the game.

Of course, remember your limits. For instance, the reason I pulled a muscle isn’t because I was going full-on Cirque de Soleil in my bedroom. Rather, my back is older than it used to be. Between age and turning it the wrong way, I’ve ended up with a slight injury. It will heal.

And avoid those sex acts, typically kinky, that are actually dangerous. Just because someone thought of a sexual act you haven’t done, doesn’t mean you have to do it. In fact, some are a really bad idea. Use your common sense.

But if it happens, it happens. Just like my sports analogy, sit on the sidelines for a bit if you need to and nurse your injury to healing. Then get back on the field (of loooove). After all, to your beloved spouse, you’re the MVP.*

Have you ever had an accident or injury during sex? You’re welcome to share your (not-too-graphic) story below.

*Most Valuable Player

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The Ugly Side of Christian Sex Blogging

I consider myself extremely blessed by my readers. The conversation, encouragement, and support I receive is nothing short of breathtaking at times. 95% of the time, my task of writing about godly sexuality in marriage is a joy. Not in the sense that I’m always happy writing about a particular subject — because some definitely break my heart — but in the sense that I feel peace and assurance that I’m doing what God has called me to do.

However. (You knew that was coming, right?) There is an ugly side of Christian sex blogging, and it’s not one y’all usually see. Basically, it’s comments I’ve gotten that say things like:

  • You’re a filthy person to talk about sex in public.
  • What you’re writing is tantamount to Christian porn.
  • You encourage wives to be mistreated by telling them to have sex no matter what.
  • You are a prude and an idiot for opposing porn and erotica.
  • Your husband is unlucky to have sex with you.

When I first started getting not merely negative comments or debate — which I’m fine with — but personal attacks, I was deeply hurt. I carried around the comments all day long and let them burrow into my brain and my chest until I wanted to cry. But what I’ve learned since is that I probably poked a tender wound for someone, unintentionally of course, but it happened. And what they’re saying about me likely isn’t about me at all.

Still, although I simply delete personal attacks these days (against me or other commenters), I tend to answer their charges in my head before I move on, like:

  • You’re a filthy person to talk about sex in public. Are you saying God was a filthy person? Because He did it.
  • What you’re writing is tantamount to Christian porn. Have you ever seen porn? What I write is a biblical yet honest treatment of sex that is absolutely nothing like the twisted version of sex promoted by porn.
  • You encourage wives to be mistreated by telling them to have sex no matter what. I’ve never said that. I encourage wives to be intentional about sexual intimacy and equip them to enjoy this gift from their Heavenly Father.
  • You are a prude and an idiot for opposing porn and erotica. I’m neither, and the evidence is piling up to support God’s opposition to this sinful version of sex.
  • Your husband is unlucky to have sex with you. Yes, really. Someone said that. And I simply defer to my husband, who says that he’s one lucky bloke. So there!

Now don’t go shooting sympathy messages my way, because I’m really okay. It’s not tear-inducing anymore; just annoying.

But I have been giving some thought to how this might expand as my ministry expands. With the release of Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design that will reach a wider audience and the launch of my speaking ministry, I’m likely to get more push-back from people who don’t appreciate what I’m doing. While I’m fine with disagreement and debate, personal attacks might also come with the territory.

Which got me thinking more broadly about Christian sex authors. I don’t know everything my colleagues have faced in this regard, but I expect they’ve had some difficult challenges. It’s never easy to proclaim the Word of God among people who resist the truth. And there are many reasons people resist God’s design for sex in marriage — some understandable reasons, like past abuse or shame, and some selfish reasons.

I’d like to think that we are not alone in talking about God’s plan for sex in marriage. That Christian authors and speakers are merely the mouthpieces for what the Church wants people to know about God’s design and His heart for His children.

That’s why this week, I’m asking your memory verse for marriage to involve the larger message about sexual intimacy that we proclaim to the world.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” Colossians 4:3 Marriage Memory Verse 6-11-16

Pray that God will open a door for His message in your own marriage; in churches that need a clear, biblical approach to sexuality; in the world at large that needs this hopeful and healthy view of sexual intimacy. Pray that Christian authors and speakers will proclaim the mystery of Christ, which permeates all the way to our marriage beds.

Coming back to your marriage, I know many of you need that open door with your spouse, that you are aching for something better in your marital bedroom. Please know that I’m praying for you as well. Let’s have a bedroom revolution where married Christians enjoy all the blessings of sexual intimacy.

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Q&A with J: I’m in a Sexless Marriage

Today’s question is heartbreaking. Listen to this husband’s emotional pain as he writes:

It has been 22 months since my wife of 22 years has had sex with me. She has told me she doesn’t feel a desire for sex. She either has an excuse for not doing it or want even answer my requests. I am really struggling with the situation. I’m looking for suggestions on how to discuss the issue further with her. The most hurtful thing to me is that my interpretation of the situation is that she doesn’t care about me enough to do something for me that she knows would make me happy.

Low-drive wives who struggle with high-drive husbands, please read that last sentence. I hear this again and again from husbands who want greater sexual frequency: What hurts isn’t the “blue balls” of not getting any sex; it’s the dismissal of their emotional needs and desire to connect physically. As I’ve often said, if it was just about the sexual release, he could take care of that on his own. Rather, it’s about sexual intimacy with his wife.

Q&A with J: I'm in a Sexless Marriage

Experts define a “sexless marriage” as one in which couples have sex less than 10 times a year. This poor husband has gone completely without for 22 months — almost two years — which isn’t sex-less so much as sex-free. And it’s absolutely not okay.

Of course, I’d love to chat with the wife. Oftentimes, a woman will tell a girlfriend what’s really going on more than she will her husband. Because she’s embarrassed or doesn’t think he’ll understand or gets caught up in her own fears. It’s risky to talk to your spouse about what’s going on in your head and heart regarding this most vulnerable, intimate act. But the wife isn’t available at the moment.

That’s okay. While spouses cannot make one another change, we do have influence. So to this husband . . .

She has told me she doesn’t feel a desire for sex. To me, this is the key line in your email. Because that’s where I’d start.

Did she have desire previously? If she used to desire, or at least enjoy, sex but doesn’t now, what changed? That’s what you need to know. And if you can calmly have that conversation with her, you might discover the underlying cause. Has her sex drive diminished with perimenopause or menopause? Is she under greater stress now than before? Is she discouraged in your relationship in some way? What’s different now from the way things were before the 22-month dry spell began?

Getting her to share such information requires creating a secure space for her talk, and not feel judged. Yes, she might have failings she should own, but this isn’t the time to point fingers or apply blame. As much as possible, make this subject one you can discuss as easily as “What did you do today?” Keep in mind Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Approach your conversation with the goal of peace and understanding.

Does she have a desire for you? Too often, a lower-drive spouse views sex as an optional component of the relationship. If they feel like it, they’ll engage in sex. But if they don’t feel like it, they’ll just say they don’t want sex. That’s not the ultimate point, though, because it’s not just about sex. You clearly, and understandably, feel her rebuffing of sexual encounters as a personal rejection of you.

When you approach the subject of your sex life together, try to speak in terms of deep intimacy, loving acceptance, and physical expression of love. I understand you feel this as a strong physical need — because the longer you go, the more raging that physical drive can feel — but try to avoid statements like:

  • I want sex.
  • I need a sexual release.
  • I can’t go without for this long.

Dig deeper to what you really feel about this situation, with statements like:

  • I want us to connect physically.
  • I need to feel one flesh with you.
  • I miss you.

Make it clear that it’s not just the sex, but the sexual intimacy you desire with her. You can even liken your desire for sex to activities that make her feel connected to you — perhaps conversations, holding hands, vacations together, etc. Explain your perspective that sex is an important part of feeling uniquely connected to your wife.

The most hurtful thing to me is that my interpretation of the situation is that she doesn’t care about me enough to do something for me that she knows would make me happy. It’s normal and reasonable for you to feel rejected personally since she appears to be making no effort to address the lack of sex in your marriage. However, one thing here hit me as well. Yes, sex would make you happy. And I think you should be happy in that way.

But what about her happiness? What would your wife get from being sexually active with you? What’s the payoff in her world? Yes, of course we should serve one another in our marriages, but God also designed sexual intimacy to be mutually pleasurable. It’s not for one spouse or the other — it benefits you both.

Plenty of Christian wives have heard the erroneous message again and again: Sex is for him. What a pile of cowpattie! It’s for him and for her. God’s biological design of male and female and His Word repeatedly convey that He wants husband and wives to delight in this gift for marriage. What can you do to ensure your wife gets that message from you? That she knows it’s not all about your needs, but about your mutual needs and satisfaction?

Your wife might need to hear how much you want to sexually pleasure her to a mind-blowing climax, or maybe for now she just needs you to offer her a full-body massage with no strings attached. There are many ways you can communicate with your gaze, your words, and your touch that you long to bring her physical happiness that’s meaningful to her. From that place, wives are often more willing to engage sexually over time. Because they feel safe and cherished.

Those are some thoughts specific to your email, but I’ve written many times about related topics. Here are a few other posts you might want to check out:

How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse – how-to advice

3 Things Higher-Drive Spouses Long For – perspectives for you

For Wives: When You Don’t Desire Sex – possible reasons for her low-libido

More on Wife’s Low Sex Drive – more resources on low libido

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