Monthly Archives: December 2016

5 Fresh Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Husband

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a roundup of all of my previous gift ideas, which you can find here: A Sleigh-ful of Gift Ideas for Your Spouse. But what else have I got? Any other ideas?

As a matter of fact, I was feeling a bit tapped out last month, which prompted me to post this on Facebook:

I do a Christmas gift post every year, and I'm wondering what to do this year. I mean, really, how many sex-related gifts can I come up with us spouses to give one another? I'm just wondering how to shake things up this year. Is there a different angle you'd like to see? Any fresh thoughts on how I can address the gift-giving thing this holiday season?

And y’all gave me some great ideas! I’m going to cover them in categories (including a couple more I came up with myself).

Red background, green wrapped present, title of post

1. Romantic Messages for Your Bedroom. Deuteronomy encourages us to write God’s commandments “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (6:9). Because displaying important messages in front of our eyes on a daily basis practically guarantees we’ll remember their content and their importance.

Wouldn’t that also be true of your marriage? A few months ago, I finally put up wall art in our bedroom that looks like this:

"I have found the one whom my soul loves." Song of Solomon 3:4

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that message, and how often it makes me smile. It reminds me that I believe that and to believe that. How about a bedroom decor gift that celebrates your marital love or intimacy?

Gifts.com has a number of wall art options that can be personalized for a couple. Here are two of my favorites (click on the picture to find the item):

And Etsy.com features many shops that make beautiful wall art, including Song of Solomon themed options like these:

I have found the one whom my soul loves, I have found the one my soul loves, Song of Solomon Wall Decal, Song of Solomon Wall Art

EADY TO SHIP,My Beloved Is Mine And I am His,Song Of Solomon 2:16, Scripture Art,Scripture Wall Art,Wood Sign,Wedding Gift, Weddings

2. Date Nights for the Year. Just type that into the Pinterest search bar, and I bet you can find a gazillion ideas. But here’s how Hannah said it on my Facebook page:

I made a date jar for this Christmas. Hubby doesn’t like planning dates because, I’ll be honest, I can be moody and wishy washy. So I made him a date jar with different colored popsicle sticks. Each color represents how expensive that type of date would be so if we are broke he can still pick a date and “plan” it. Takes the stress off of him and gives me what I want, a date I didn’t have to plan. 

What a great idea, Hannah!

To help you get started, Oh Simple Joys provides a good list with DIY Date Night Jar (52 Almost Free Ideas), Freshly Married has an impressive master list of date night ideas, and The Dating Divas has a Steamy Bucket List you could make as a gift.

3. An Outside-the-Box Activity. I recently listened to an interview of clinical psychologist and marriage author Dr. Les Parrott on The Art of Manliness podcast, and he mentioned an amazing finding. Remember those fluttery feelings when you were first falling in love? Some of that is fueled by the novelty of getting to know your now-spouse, and after a while, that part of the romance seems to fade. Yet you can tap into that by doing novel activities as a couple. You get that same rush of excitement and it’s paired with your beloved when you do something fresh together, whether it’s exploring a new garden or skydiving from a plane.

So how about a gift that isn’t tangible but rather an experience? (Thanks to Ambrosia for this idea.) Book that weekend trip or last-minute cruise deal, buy those tickets to a game or concert, make reservations for a couples cooking class or horseback riding, schedule a tour of your local museum or winery, plan a state park visit or beach outing.

There are many creative ways to put your Date Night in a Box together. But just make sure your idea is something outside-the-box that will bring an opportunity to share new memories, engage in fresh conversation, and foster your friendship and romance.

4. A Celebration of His Manhood. Your man is different from you. Manlier. Of course. Sometimes we overlook the importance of celebrating our guy’s masculinity — his particular interests, hobbies, delights. What if your gift instead celebrated his manhood?

Here’s what Debbie said on my Facebook page:

What about gifts speaking to manly or womanly hearts? Just thinking out loud….I think by far my husbands favorite gift was the braveheart sword I got him one year…

Can you get more manly than a replica of William Wallace’s sword?

William Wallace Sword braveheart 51"

Or maybe an Indiana Jones whip.*

Now I don’t actually know what says to your particular husband, I celebrate the man you are, but I bet you could come up with some ideas. It could be a T-shirt with his favorite fantasy character or movie quote. It could be a crossbow and arrows with a gift certificate to an archery range. It could be tickets to an ice hockey game or a men’s worship conference. It could be the newest gadget that seems like a complete waste of time to you but that catches his eye every time you enter Best Buy.

And yes, I know those ideas sound somewhat stereotypical. It’s still true for a lot of husbands, but maybe your hubby’s masculinity comes out in his cooking and he’d appreciate a chef’s hat and new utensils. Or maybe your husband’s a history buff, and a subscription to WWII History magazine would bring him great joy.

You know your husband and what he likes. Give him something he wouldn’t expect you to buy for him, but that celebrates and shows your appreciation for his manhood.

5. A Sex Schedule. So this is for the wives whose husbands want sex fairly often. (I’ll address how higher-drive wives can use this information in a minute.) What if your Christmas gift to your higher-drive spouse was a 2017 calendar on which you’d marked days you committed to have sex?

Maybe your idea is to choose one day of the week and make that your guaranteed, I’m-a-sure-thing promise. So you’d simply take a calendar, decorate every Thursday (or whatever) with markers, stickers, glitter, etc. and encourage him to hang it somewhere he can see it the next year.

Or maybe you want to promise banner sex once a month, one time that will be more special in some way than the other times. You could select your weekend each month and then theme it, like:

January – Exploring Positions
February – New Location
March – Strip Tease Foreplay

…and so on. You can choose what you want to include, increase his (and your) anticipation, and share the commitment to try some new things for your marriage bed this next year. I suspect this gift would make most husbands smile.

Now to the higher-drive wives … can you use an idea like this? You can, but you’d likely have to change its focus. For lower-drive spouses, this could feel like a demand, and it’s better to issue invitations and flirtations. You might gift him a calendar with a note suggesting you together fill in the dates you’ve had sex throughout the year with the idea of celebrating your sexual intimacy. Sometimes tracking it will help you both see sex as a priority and help you know what’s really happening. You could give him the calendar and ask him to mark up when he would like to have sex. But remember, you don’t want this gift to become a point of contention. So if you think conflict is likely to arise, maybe skip this idea and focus on some of the other ones above that foster your relationship … which will hopefully lead to more sex.

That’s it! Five fresh Christmas gift ideas for your husband.

And what have I bought for my husband? Zilch, zero, nada. (And he’s probably reading this, so I need to get busy shopping.) Let’s come up with something great for our hubbies this Christmas!

Are You Treasuring Your Marriage Bed?

It’s that time of year when you’re buying gifts for the beloved people in your life, including your husband (or wife). As I thought about this season of giving, I recalled this passage from Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Of course, the primary message of this scripture is a spiritual application.

However, these verses also made me think of why we actually buy stuff for our families. Yes, there’s meeting your Secret Santa duty for the office party or buying presents for extended family because that’s just what you do. But most of the people on our list are people we’re in relationship with — people to whom we want to express our appreciation and love. We spend on these people because they matter to us more than the cash in our pocketbooks or buying another trinket or piece of clothing for ourselves. We invest our treasure, and that’s where our heart goes.

Of course, God should have our ultimate treasure. But we also give to the people we love.

Which makes me wonder about a conversation I had with another marriage blogger recently. We’ve noticed that wives sometimes struggle to buy things for their marriage bed.

Maybe you hear ideas about sprucing up your bedroom and feel like that’s unnecessary and even indulgent. You look at the lingerie ticket price and decide you can just sleep in your old T-shirts instead. You consider booking a hotel for a single night and reconsider because you could use that money for the appliance you’ve been wanting. You look at Christmas gift ideas related to your sex life and determine that you don’t really need that stuff so why bother.

Hey, I admit feeling rather selfish and somewhat silly purchasing a sex pillow recently. But why? If my kid had needed a new pillow, I wouldn’t have blinked before getting him one. I would have bought it for him not because the pillow matters so much, but because my child and his sleep matter to me.

So why wouldn’t we invest in something, and someone, who means so much to us? Why don’t we apply “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” to our marriage beds?

Matthew 19:21While it’s clear from context this isn’t the primary point of this verse, it’s still a wise principle we know to be true. Where we put our time and money says a lot about our priorities. As they say, show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I’ll tell you what really matters to you.

Maybe we could be a bit more generous this holiday season. Maybe we could find a little extra money to buy something — lingerie, a marital aid, a getaway, etc. — that adds to our physical intimacy. Maybe a sex-themed gift would make our husband (or wife) feel valued.

Just a thought.

Related Post: A Sleigh-ful of Gift Ideas for Your Spouse

November Giveaway — Thanks to all those who participated. And the winner is Stephanie! Here’s what she’ll be receiving:

Open box showing giveaway items

Q&A with J: “Is It Okay Not to Have Sex in Marriage?”

Today’s question comes from an unmarried woman who’s considering marriage … and whether sex must be a part of that relationship.

Mainly my question is, is it ok to not have sex in a marriage? So if I don’t want to have sex, should I never get married? Because women around me are always saying how great sex is in marriage and what a blessing it is and I have come to despise that. I read Christian blogs on the topic and they say the same kind of stuff and how a wife shouldn’t deny her husband sex. What if the husband is ok with not having sex too? Is that possible? Because my boyfriend … says it’s ok to not and he’s ok with not and we can come pretty close to sex without actually having it. Is that alright? He has a medical condition as well “adrenal insufficiency” which most likely won’t allow him to have kids. I don’t know if that also affects his desire to have sex but if it does, maybe that’s why he’s ok with not.

… I don’t want to be with him and waste both of our time if he is super driven to have sex and I won’t give it to him. I didn’t want to go all the way to a month before marriage and realize we have such a big problem. But we seem to agree on it. We’re very careful and wanting to do the right thing with our future and I’m hoping you can help with these questions. I haven’t been able to find anything on “a fear of having sex” on the Internet so I am asking directly and personally now.

Couple lying back to backJust a note for the readers: In the full email, it was clear that her “boyfriend” is very close to being a fiancé.

Now to the question: Is it ok not to have sex in a marriage?

Well, what are the purposes of marriage? You can see a number of purposes for marriage in the Bible:

It appears that first one is off the table for you two, with his medical issues. But honestly, all of those other purposes should be present in a healthy, godly marriage.

And sex is involved in a lot of those other purposes as well. You need sex to procreate; sex promotes romantic love; sex deepens intimacy; and the sexual act itself reflects the unity God desires to have with us.

Sex is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the marriage relationship from all others. I can have a roommate with whom I form a partnership, and we can be friends and serve God together. But that isn’t a marriage. A friendship between man and woman becomes marriage when we link our lives and our bodies in a covenant relationship before God.

You simply can’t find me a marriage in the Bible that didn’t include sex. So if all biblical marriage relationships involved sex, maybe God is communicating something about its importance. After all, sex was His idea from the beginning:

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame (Genesis 2:22-25).

Why would God make sure there’s an entire book in the Bible devoted to romantic and sexual love? Song of Songs makes it clear that there’s barely a heartbeat between a husband and wife saying, “I love you,” and then desiring physical intimacy:

How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant (Song of Songs 1:16).

My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens
and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies.
 (Song of Songs 6:2-3). (Gardens/flowers in Song of Songs are euphemisms for a woman’s sexual organs.)

Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villagesLet 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 (Song of Songs 7:11-12).

God intended for married couples to experience sexual pleasure and intimacy. It’s in His Word, and I just don’t know how a couple can get around that. Now I understand some couples cannot engage due to physical/medical constraints, but that’s an exception — not the rule.

The Bible also talks about how sexual intimacy in marriage can serve as a protection against your husband or you wandering away and falling in love with someone else. I’m not guilt-tripping you here with, “if you don’t put out, he’ll go get it elsewhere.” Cheaters choose to cheat, and that’s their sin. Yet healthy sexual intimacy helps to keep you both focused where you should be.

Here’s how Proverbs 5:15-19 says it:

Drink water from your own cistern,
    running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
    your streams of water in the public squares?
Let them be yours alone,
    never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
    may her breasts satisfy you always,
    may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

It’s in the New Testament as well, from 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Honestly, I don’t know all the reasons you’re reluctant to have sex once you’re married. But your statement that “I haven’t been able to find anything on ‘a fear of having sex’ on the Internet…” tells me that you’re actually frightened about intercourse.

I get that. But I want to reassure you that there are answers to and ways to overcome that fear. If you’ve experienced sexual abuse in your past, go grab The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender and even its accompanying workbook. If you’ve been taught that sex is dirty or feel like it’s just icky, I’d suggest The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregoire. If you don’t understand how it all works and how it’s part of God’s plan, pick up The Pursuit of Passion by Julie Sibert and Jeff Murphy. If you need a biblical view of how to approach sex in marriage, check out Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage by yours truly.

Read Christian articles and blog posts and books about sexual intimacy. Hear beyond the message that sex is something you should do in marriage to the truth that sex is something your marriage should do for you.

Sex isn't just something you should do in marriage, but something marriage should do for you. Click To Tweet

Just look at a few practical positives of sexual intimacy in marriage:

In the long run, a healthy sex life in marriage will be one ingredient that can make your relationship stronger, deeper, and longer lasting. So I pray that you seek out godly sexual intimacy and have a blessed marriage.

Related Post: Mystery 32 – What’s So Beautiful about Marital Intimacy?

NOVEMBER GIVEAWAY WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON SATURDAY.

Does Your Sex Drive Take a Dive in the Holiday Season?

I’ve been sleeping too much lately.

Usually, it’s the other way around — not getting enough sleep. But after a rough start to last week with serious sleep deprivation, I decided to make it up with earlier bedtimes, later wake-up times, and a couple of naps. Surprisingly, I’ve had no problem soaking in every last moment of sweet sleep. I’m like a hibernating bear.

So when I woke up this morning and thought, Why am I sleeping so much? and Why would I totally pick sleep over sex right now? I reminded myself of what time of year it is.Does Your Sex Drive Take a Dive in the Holiday Season?

December brings together three challenges to your sex life. Especially us ladies. See if you recognize any of these.

Stress

The Christmas season is a joyful time in many ways. But remember that to-do list that’s always hard for you to get through? It’s grown by three feet.

You have presents to buy, wrap, and send. You have lights and decorations to put up. You have the Christmas pageant, choir performance, or candle lighting to prepare for. Your work wants you to participate in the charity drive, Secret Santa exchange, or off-site party. You need to send Christmas cards (for those of us who still do that). You must take the children or grandchildren to see Santa, the live nativity scene, and/or a tour of Christmas lights. You must get ready for the arrival of family or get ready to travel if you’re going somewhere else.

Whether you are naturally Suzy Snowflake or struggle against being the Grinch, you still have more to do this time of year. Good stress or bad stress, it’s still more stress.

And stress has been shown to negatively affect our sex drives. Prolonged increases in cortisol, the “stress hormone,” lower your libido. It’s harder to relax enough to become aroused and enjoy a sexual encounter. And with pressures all around us, we simply have less time.

Sex can feel like another to-do that’s down on the list between mail grandma’s pecan pie recipe to my husband’s cousin and make a stocking for the dog. It might happen, but if it doesn’t, you figure you’re still okay. Yet deep down, you know your marriage — and your marriage bed — are more important than that.

So take a few steps to help with the stress factor:

  • Cross off items on your list that you really don’t need to do. Be honest, and even ruthless. It’s good to say no to some opportunities so that you can say yes to your marriage. If you struggle with this, ask a trusted friend to take a look at your list and let her be the bearer of the “you’re not doing that this year” news.
  • Involve your husband in the to-dos, asking for help. Of course, he won’t do the task like you would — for example, he might buy cookies instead of baking them for your daughter’s school holiday party — but that’s okay. You can get more things done, and you’ll feel a sense of togetherness. Which will hopefully translate into a desire to get together in a more pleasurable way later.
  • Put sex on your list, near the top. We mostly accomplish what we plan for. If you prioritize sexual intimacy, you’ll likely get it done. Even block off time for this important nurturing of your marriage and intimacy.
  • Compartmentalize, like a dude. It may seem like I’m asking for the impossible, but hear me out: Guys have an uncanny ability to focus on the task right in front of them. What if we gals adopted a bit of that approach? Make an intentional effort to shove all your must-dos aside so that you can be fully present in the marriage bed. Remove from your bedroom the stacks of gifts to wrap, the holiday decorations to go through, and the small children asking when Santa is coming. Take the time you need to mentally prepare, maybe with a bubble bath or body massage to counteract the stress. When your mind wanders, meditate back to the thought that this is my intimate time with my husband.

Fatigue

A close compatriot of stress is fatigue. Your fatigue could be caused by juggling so many holiday-related tasks that you feel like the official Christmas Court Jester. When you finally get home and into bed, you burrow into the covers and hide from the world and the demands of the day.

Or perhaps you feel the need for more downtime to balance the busyness of the season. When not working that to-do list, you want to throw on your flannel pajamas, grab a cup of cocoa, and binge-watch the most recent series of Gilmore Girls. You’re too exhausted to get your lady parts excited about sex.

Maybe the weather is wearing you down. It’s darker earlier. And later. Basically, it’s dark a lot of the day. And it’s cold. (To those in the Tropics or Australia, I know this isn’t you, but…) And if you’re in an area like mine (Southeast Texas), it’s not that cold but it is gray and rainy.

Whatever the cause, you feel too fatigued to get aroused. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if your husband just wanted to snuggle on the couch and watch Gilmore Girls with you? (Don’t hold your breath.) But you have a niggling feeling that ignoring your sexual intimacy altogether would be short-changing your marriage.

Instead, be consistent with your sleep habits. Make yourself go to bed and get up at regular times, keeping your body’s clock on track. Interspersed with those holiday comfort foods, be sure to consume healthy foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, water. Even if you love mulled wine, wassail, or eggnog, don’t overdo the alcohol because that will make you even more tired. Find ways to exercise and do some activities that simply give you a burst of joy, whether that’s going to an art museum or ice skating or watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Finally, look for better times in the day to make love. Nighttime might not work well for you this season, but could you get up a little early for some nookie? Plan a “lunch date” so you can have needed naked time alone? Get in some afternoon delight? Be creative and give your husband that time of day when you’re most perky.

Depression

This is a wonderful season for many, but a really hard season for some. Those who already struggle with depression may have additional challenges this time of year. And Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that most often occurs in the winter months.

Without sufficient exposure to sunlight, our serotonin levels can decrease. Serotonin is a body chemical responsible for mood balance, and its deficiency is one cause of depression. For those who suffer from SAD, one option is bright light therapy. But even making sure you get out of the house when the sun is out can help.

Also, it’s tougher to exercise in the winter months. Yes, there are winter sports, but many favorite activities are off-limits this time of year. And we probably walk less, avoiding getting out when the weather is cold or dreary.

We’re also more aware of personal losses during the holidays, whether it’s the relative who died this past year or the adult children who won’t be joining us this Christmas.

Some depression sufferers may need to ask their doctors for help or a temporary increase in their antidepressant medication. And if you have the “winter blues,” you may actually be experiencing depression, so get sunlight, get exercise, get help if you need it. Also, prioritize self-care. I don’t mean a marathon of holiday movies with a tin of Christmas cookies and a half-gallon of eggnog. Rather, find and do activities that give you a smile and a sense of accomplishment.

Our spouses shouldn’t be relegated to the bottom of our priority list. Rather, we should give our best gift to our beloved. And sexual intimacy is a beautiful gift we need to give this season. Figure out what’s making your sex drive dive this season and then find ways to bring your libido back.