Category Archives: Current Issues in Sexuality

Get Off Your Screen & Have Sex with Your Wife

Your wife told me to write that. At least some of your wives.

Yes, this blog is primarily for wives, but today’s post is aimed at the husbands. Specifically, those husbands who are spending time with screens—phone, TV, tablet, computer, gaming systems—when they could be enjoying romance, intimacy, and sex.

Let me start first by saying that I’m not talk about watching porn on a screen. That is a big problem, but I’ve addressed that issue in other places like here, here, and here.

Instead, I’m talking about screen activities that are perfectly fine when used in moderation. It could be social media, video games, reading posts and commenting (yes, I see the irony), or online news—and all of those things are just fine. Except when they get in the way of something better: the intimacy in your marriage.

How much time do you really spend on screens?

Most people underestimate their screen time.

For example, in a recent study of 2,000 baby boomers and millennials—as usual, skipping us Gen Xers, but oh well, whatever, never mind—researchers concluded the average American spends 5.4 hours per day on their smartphone. Yet, 82% of respondents thought their personal screen time was below the national average.

Yet the average viewing time on Netflix is 71 minutes per day. Men spend an average of 96 minutes per day on video games, though “gamers” spend quite a bit more and also tend to watch videos of other gamers to improve their skills.

Do you really know how much time you spend on screens?

I wouldn’t know how to answer for myself, especially since my job has me on a screen for most of my day, and my flexible work schedule means I can be off-the-clock one moment and working the next. But I bet my answer would be less than the actual amount.

You know who might answer more objectively for all of us? Our spouses.

If your wife has said your screen time is excessive, it may be time to do an honest evaluation of where your focus is throughout the day or week.

If your wife has said your screen time is excessive, it may be time to do an honest evaluation of where your focus is throughout the day or week. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

How much time do you spend with your wife?

Statistics on how much time couples spend together was oddly more difficult to find. However, the UK’s Office for National Statistics suggested an average of 2½ hours per day, and a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2015 found that couples were exclusively together for about 2 hours on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends. Since those match up pretty well, I suspect 2½ hours is a good estimate for couples generally.

However, what’s interesting is the difference in how men and women view time spent together. Note this observation from researchers: “Women report spending about 20 minutes less per day with their husbands than men report spending with their wives, even when diaries show agreement between husbands’ and wives’ activities…. This implies different interpretations of what counts as shared time as opposed to differences in actual time spent together. Evidence shows that husbands would like to have more time with their wives, but women would like more quality time with their husbands rather than simply more time together.”

In practice, this means that if she’s sitting next to you on the couch while you’re on the screen, you may think that counts. But for her, it doesn’t. Your attention is elsewhere, so it doesn’t feel like time spent with her.

But honestly, if your wife told me to write this to you, you’re likely not even spending two hours a day with her. Why not? Didn’t you get married to spend time with this awesome woman who loves you and wants you and shares a toilet with you? (Believe me, as a wife and mom of two boys, regularly sharing a toilet with a man is a sign of love.)

What does this have to do with your sex life?

Well, for starters it’s hard for your wife to have sex with you when you’re not there. Not surprisingly, there’s even research on that count, with a 2007 study of 6,029 couples showing that the less time couples spend together, the less sex they have.

But there are other potential problems as well:

She can’t compartmentalize like you. Plenty of men can shut down the smartphone or video game, switch their mind to thoughts of sex, and engage. Many wives, including higher drive wives, cannot flip the switch that fast. They need time together to ease into lovemaking. So not only could you be less willing, but she may be less willing too, because the build-up time isn’t there.

You’re getting dopamine with screens instead of her. An intriguing study reported that gamers experience fewer problems with premature ejaculation than non-gamers. Sounds great, right? Except “gamers reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction and … one explanation for lower rates of premature ejaculation could be due to gaming’s ability to alter the brain’s reward system. In other words, men who play a lot of video games may be lasting longer in bed because they just aren’t that into having sex.”

What you see on that screen can impact your view of sex. It doesn’t have to be porn for your screen to be showing you something that isn’t good for your sex life. Look up the most popular shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime and you’ll see that most of them are rated MA (mature audience), meaning they feature graphic violence, foul language, nudity, or some combination of the three. Video games feature voluptuous females built nothing like your average woman. Social media can connect you with ex-girlfriends or show you eye candy. Point being that the world sends us messages all the time about what women and sex should look like, and if husbands take large gulps of those messages, they can start expecting their wives or their sex life to look like the fictional version on the screen.

You may be too pooped to pop. Screen usage is not a sport, and yet physical fatigue is a real thing. From eye strain and resultant headaches, to body aches from sitting in a particular pose or hunching over a keyboard/joystick, to muscle tension and consequent exhaustion, you may be wearing yourself out while on your screen. So much so that a tumble in the sheets is a draw on your last reserves.

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How do you know if you’re on screens too much?

The answer to that question can’t be as simple as: You’re on the screen too much if your wife tells you that you are. Because yeah, some wives have unreasonable expectations or make exaggerations. Just because she says you’re on too much doesn’t mean you are.

But it might. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Has your sexual frequency decreased as your screen-time has increased?
  • Have you skipped or put off meals to stay on your screen?
  • Do you sometimes or often come to bed too late to engage in sex with your (now sleeping) wife?
  • Are you sometimes willing to have sex but feel “too pooped to pop”?
  • Do you regularly respond to your wife’s bids for attention with “just let me finish this” as you gaze at a screen?
  • Have you ever thought gaming or online activity was more enjoyable than sex?
  • Not counting work obligations, how long could you go without screens? (Be honest.)

And the question I asked myself when my husband (many moons ago) was practically addicted to a computer game called Myst:

  • If you died and your wife was asked to identify you, could she do so just looking at your face, or would she ask the coroner to flip you over because she would only recognize the back of your head?

Obviously, no one question—excepting that last one—means you’re definitely the problem. But think about it. Are you wittingly or unwittingly denying yourself and your spouse the pleasure and intimacy you should have because the draw of the screen is so difficult to ignore.

Well, don’t ignore your marriage anymore. Please, get off your screen and have sex with your wife. Like now. (Since you’re finished with my blog post anyway.)

5 Things that Burn Me Out on Marriage Ministry

I have several drafted, but not quite ready, posts in my queue, and I have every intention of getting to them all. But I’ve been focused recently on dealing with comments and emails, catching up on reading others’ blog posts and articles, and going through research about sexuality. And frankly, I feel a little burned out at the moment.

Don’t worry—I’m not quitting marriage ministry! Hot, Holy & Humorous will be here for a looooong time, if I have anything to say about it. 🙂

But here’s what I mean. Burnout is defined as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” (Merriam-Webster). And I do lack emotional strength or motivation sometimes, because I get stressed or frustrated with some of what I hear out there about sex in marriage!

So today, since I owe y’all a post anyway, I’m going to lay it all out there and tell you what gets me burned out on marriage ministry.

Gender Bashing.

There’s always been gender bashing—men complaining about women, women complaining about men. We don’t totally understand each other, and yet we have to live together. So like siblings, we find it easy to blame and complain about the other.

To be fair, I’ve sighed or rolled my eyes about such things as “man flu.” But always in jest and with a sense that we gals have our own stuff too. But the humorous point out of differences is not what I’m talking about.

Example of such humor:

Rather, real gender bashing seems to have ramped up lately, particularly in Christian circles! Either all the problems of the world are the patriarchy or they fall at the feet of those nasty feminists. Good gravy, y’all! Have you not heard that evil was here on earth before man and woman were in conflict? Satan slipped into that garden in the form of a serpent (literally or figuratively, take your pick) and tempted humankind to sin.

Of course there are men who promote the patriarchy and angry feminists who attack men, but the vast majority of men and women around you aren’t them. So stop falling for the manosphere’s and angry-feminists’ hoopla and look at what God says. No, no, not that one verse they pulled out to support their position, but the whole of God’s Word. What does God say? ” In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Stop the gender bashing already. We need to learn to live with these other people with the kindness and respect humans made in God’s image deserve.

Stop the gender bashing already. We need to learn to live with these other people with the kindness and respect humans made in God's image deserve. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Martyrdom.

This is my tell it like it is post, so I’m just going to say it: Some of you are more invested in being a martyr than making your marriage better. If you’ve been complaining about the same thing over and over and over, and nothing ever changes, you might be a martyr.

I’ve witnessed caring, support, terrific advice, and action items given to someone struggling with the sexual intimacy in their marriage and that person rebuffing all or nearly all of it. They usually give reasons why all that won’t work with their scenario, but at the end of the day, that’s often bunk. They just don’t want to do the right thing or the hard thing to make the situation better. (Admittedly, now and then, leaving the marriage is the best decision, and that’s an incredibly tough choice.)

Ask yourself what you really want when you come to a blog like mine. Do you want ideas to make things better? Or do you secretly wish someone would tell you that you’re right, that you’ve been sorely mistreated, that have every right to be angry? And you may be correct, but what has that gotten you?

If you’re steeped in resentment and bitterness about where your marriage or the sex in your marriage is, write down ten things you’ve tried to do about it. Put the paper away, come back in a few days, and read the list. Be honest: Are all the things basically the same thing? For instance, talking to her, pointing out Scripture, over and over. Did you give those efforts long enough to work? Even if it’s 90% of your spouse’s fault, do you listen to advice on where you need to change?

Hedonism.

I hedged on what to call this category, but I think it’s accurate, since hedonism is the belief that pleasure and the pursuit of happiness are the highest goal in life. Now apply that to the marriage bed, and you get what I hear and see: Spouses and couples chasing the sexual high.

Look, I’ve written extensively about how to make sex more pleasurable and exciting. I’ve got lots of tips here and in my books for spicing up your sex life! But at the core of everything I say is God’s design for intimacy between husband and wife.

Yet that doesn’t seem to be the goal for an increasing number of Christians anymore, or even some Christian sex authors frankly. Rather, you can find information on every kind of kink out there, with some Christian saying it’s the thing that will make your marriage bed sing! Whether it’s:

  • anal sex (a risky practice that has increased in frequency with the use of porn and erotica)
  • sex toys that mimic body parts (I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard from that want or use a dildo, but would they be as excited if their husband wanted to use a vaginal sleeve?)
  • BDSM (bondage/discipline-domination/submission-sadism/masochism)
  • exhibitionism (having sex in public, or sharing the specifics of your sex life with others, as if you’re aroused at the thought of others reading it)

Or some other fringe practice. We need to be careful not to put pleasure ahead of all other considerations. God calls us to treat our bodies and others with honor, gentleness, and kindness. Pleasure is absolutely good in the marriage bed, but it must remain in the context of agape love and covenant intimacy.

Pleasure is absolutely good in the marriage bed, but it must remain in the context of agape love and covenant intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Argumentativeness.

I like debate. Raised by a father who enjoyed the back-and-forth of ideas, I was the child who took to it and remained at the dinner table with him to discuss deep topics and debate theological issues. I continued that practice with others in college and can recall many conversations, particularly with men, in which I verbally sparred over politics, religion, and philosophy. These discussions helped me hone my own viewpoint and sometimes changed my mind.

But what I like individually isn’t the same as what’s good for my ministry and my readers. All too often, I get comments or emails where someone takes me task for a statement I made or asks me a follow-up question on a particular, and while it’s an interesting idea and I might engage if we were sitting at a restaurant table over coffee, it’s not relevant to the primary point or what people need to hear.

Example: If I just spent 900 words explaining to wives that men are not pigs after all, and some dude comes on and leaves a comment arguing one point in a way that smacks of yeah, men are pigs, I’m not approving that comment! I feel bad sometimes about it, when they’ve written 900 words themselves and I know that took some time and effort, but this blog ain’t just about you! Nor is my email inbox or my Facebook page. It is about you, but not just about you.

If you want to debate something from my blog, ask whether your comment will be constructive and whether it’s primary or petty. And if you’re just going to argue no matter what, ask yourself if you wouldn’t rather use your time more productively. Because you’re exhausting the rest of us. Seriously.

Sales pitches.

I hemmed and hawed about including this one at all, because it’s my problem really. But it is causing me some burnout moments, so here we go.

I hate selling you stuff. I mean, I love offering you fantastic resources, telling you about my books and podcast webinars, encouraging you to use what’s available to improve the sexual intimacy in your marriage! But I hate selling. I always end up feeling like “Professor” Harold Hill from The Music Man or a snake oil salesman, even though my products are definitely not snake oil.

But the reality is that people don’t buy a product or service unless they’re convinced they should get it. And that convincing—which can be called marketing or selling, depending on how it happens—is increasingly a huge part of being an author and speaker.

Blatant sales pitch below!

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Truth is, I make very little money from what I do. I’ve joked about it before, but I honestly would be better off working as a toll booth operator. And I’ve heard all the encouragement about how one should be in ministry and/or the creative arts for other rewards. But no one tells the surgeon who saves lives that should be enough; they get a paycheck. (And no, I’m not comparing what I do to surgeons who save lives! That would be preposterous. I was simply going for the most exaggerated version and showing they get paid too.)

So my burnout conundrum is always: How can get people to buy my resources, which I believe in 100%, without constantly doing sales pitches? A close corollary would be: How can I make enough money to continue doing this ministry, when my family needs me to bring in a higher and more consistent income? I don’t know the answer, but if you have ideas, I’m willing to listen.

The other thing that’s burned me out is my own schedule, but that’s on me. I’ve had an unusual year, with my older son getting married, releasing four books (only one with HHH), and 19 trips on my calendar. Don’t feel too bad for me, though, because one of those trips is an upcoming Caribbean cruise in November that I got for a steal! Still, it’s all sapped my energy somewhat.

Fair is fair. Are you feeling burned out? What’s sapping your energy?

Extra Hot, Holy & Humorous

Once again, I’m sharing a few other places where you can find me sharing about God’s design for sex in marriage! I hope you’ll check these out.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

On our latest podcast episode on Sex Chat for Christian Wives, we discussed female sexual health. Yep, that’s right—we gals need to take care of the lady bits, and we candidly talk about why and how.

Click below to listen and see show notes too!

To Love Honor and Vacuum

A little while back, Sheila Wray Gregoire contacted me and several other female marriage bloggers about putting together a collaborative post on what male teachers about sex need to know—as in things that often aren’t covered as well as they should be. I jumped at the chance to include my thoughts on higher drive wives.

Click below to read the post that appeared last week!

Rolling Stone

This one is not new, but I’ve been trying to catch up and clear out my email inbox and came across this link again. And you know what? Regardless of anything else that ever happens or doesn’t happen in my life, I can always say that I was quoted in Rolling Stone! Not on my thoughts on rock-and-roll, though I suppose one could refer to sex as rocking and rolling. 😉

May your weekend be extra hot, holy & humorous! Thanks for reading and subscribing.

Should You Use a Dildo?

When the subject of wives who have difficulty orgasming comes up, oftentimes people suggest using a vibrator. That can be a good addition to a couple’s sexual intimacy, if it’s mutually engaged and doesn’t get in the way learning how to arouse one another well and enjoy skin-to-skin contact. You can see more about my thoughts on that here: Q&A with J: Is It Okay to Use Sex Toys?

But what about penis-shaped vibrators, or dildos?

Women have long used dildos.

A dildo is defined as “an object resembling a penis used for sexual stimulation” (Merriam-Webster). And dildos have been around a loooong time. The first written use of the word dildo comes from a rather bawdy poem written by Thomas Nash in 1592-3, but given its use, the word was probably well-known before then.

Preshistoric Phallus
Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons, License
License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Go back further to ancient Greece, 411 B.C., to be precise, and Aristophanes presented the play Lysistrata, in which women go on a sex strike against their husbands to end a war and bring them home. In the wives’ original complaint, Lysistrata explains: “And not the slightest glitter of a lover! And since the Milesians betrayed us, I’ve not seen the image of a single upright man to be a marble consolation to us.” The Milesians manufactured those “marble consolations,” aka dildos, but they were no longer being imported because of the war.

Take your time machine back even further: Archaeologists have discovered penis-shaped objects dating back to prehistoric times. Although experts largely dodge the issue of whether they were used as sex toys, when you see them, it’s a little tough not to think that someone could have used these phalluses for stimulation.

Thus, whether or not to use a dildo is an age-old question. But these days, it’s far easier to get one—just click on an online store and in a few days it’s delivered to your door.

Click to listen to our podcast episode on sex toys!

Are there are concerns about dildo use?

Hygiene

If you looked at that museum photo up there, you might wonder about the hygiene involved in using a stone phallus like that. But today, we have cleaner materials, hot, running water, and cleansers that can help you keep sex toys safe for use.

So hygiene shouldn’t be a big concern, as long as you regularly and fully clean the item according to instructions.

Your expectations

We get used to things when we use them, whether it’s our favorite pair of broken-in jeans or the appliance we finally figured out how to use or the toy we incorporate into our sex life. Using a dildo sets up expectations within your body about size, stimulation, and satisfaction. If you grow to enjoy the sensations of a dildo, will you enjoy the other stuff as much?

Plenty of people argue they’re just expanding their repertoire, and this is a different sensation, not a better one. That’s a good point. Except I’ll be honest: I’ve heard too many wives say things like, “I don’t even need a man. My vibrator works does the job as well or better.”

A too-large number of women have grown used to the stimulation of a vibrating dildo and believe it’s as effective or more effective than their husband’s penis. So let’s ask the tough question of what expectations we’re setting up with the marital aids we use in our bedrooms. How do they change what our body expects and desires?

Your husband’s feelings

Let me share with you an email I received recently from a husband. He wrote about finding his wife’s dildo at their house. He didn’t know about its existence before he came across it, which is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. But he also says this:

It’s a dildo and the first thing that came to my mind was how inadequate I felt next to that thing. I could understand if the dildo was a little bit smaller, the same size, or even a bit bigger. But this thing is double my size. 9 or 10 inches and really wide. I’m not a very big guy 4.5 inch long and kind of thin. I can’t compete with that thing when it comes to intercourse.

Yep. Dildos can do things men can’t do. Because we can engineer them that way—longer, wider, differing temperatures, vibration, and so on.

I’m always mystified when a wife wonders aloud why her husband opposes the use of a vibrating dildo in their bedroom. Given that the average penis is 5.16 inches in length and 4.59 inches in girth (see Q&A with J: “Is My Penis Big Enough?”), and many dildos are 6-7 inches, how do you think that comes across to a husband? Not to mention that he can’t make motions like that. So is it really surprising to discover that a wife begging to use a dildo could make her husband feel inadequate?

Let’s turn the tables. Imagine if in the midst of lovemaking, your husband said, “I don’t want to penetrate your vagina. I’d rather use a penis sleeve.” (For those who don’t know, a penis sleeve is a hollow, cylindrical device, made with materials that mimic or “improve on” the vagina, into which a man can insert his penis and experience sexual stimulation.) That might be reasonable if your vagina is absolutely, under no circumstances whatever, an option. But to know that your husband prefers that would be hurtful for many wives.

So I get it when husbands object or secretly feel hurt.

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Are dildos really that bad?

Using or not using a dildo is not a salvation issue! And you are free to disagree and choose a different path for your marriage bed, because God gave us free will.

That said, we often ask this question: Where’s the line? That is, what can I include in my bedroom that won’t cross some invisible boundary?

And it’s the wrong question. That approach is about how much you can selfishly pursue rather than what leads to mutual pleasure, marital intimacy, and mature faith. Instead, we should ask: How can we best honor God in our sexual intimacy?

So should you use a dildo? Will that honor God in your sexual intimacy?

I can imagine a situation where the answer would be yes. For instance, a man who is physically, medically incapable of becoming erect could find it intimate to pleasure his wife with a penis-shaped object while touching her in other ways as well. And she might enjoy that experience as well. Even then, I’d consider which dildo to get, but I can see such a choice honoring God’s design for physical intimacy in a marriage.

But most of us aren’t in that situation. Rather, the desire to include a dildo in sexual activity comes from several possibilities, including:

  • Lack of sufficient sexual frequency for her
  • Frustration at not having an orgasm yet, either ever or during penetration
  • Husband not spending enough time or knowing how to help her become aroused and/or reach orgasm
  • Desire to “spice things up” by adding a sex toy

And there are ways to address these issues without the drawbacks dildos often bring. In fact, this blog and my books are chock-full of ideas. I suggest starting with Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.

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For more great tips on how to have sizzling sex, check out this book for wives!

Should You Have Sex or Make Love?

Several fellow Christian authors and bloggers have written about how couples should “make love” not “have sex.” These are colleagues I respect and admire, and I agree entirely with the principle underlying their point.

However, I’ve wondered if it really matters in common conversation. I’ve certainly talked about having sex in my own marriage, as one phrase among many options we have to describe our meaningful sexual intimacy. It would feel odd for me to label it as making love every time. In fact, my husband has been known to initiate in such unromantic ways as “Are we going to copulate today?” (His defense is “hey, it worked.”) Yet I still understand how meaningful sex is to him.

With this in mind, I posted to my closed Facebook group, outlining the issue and asking: What do you think about using “having sex”? Is it really important to you that you, your spouse, or others call it “making love?”

Here what I learned.

People have varied perspectives and preferences.

I cannot advise readers to use one phrase over another, because your spouse might see it differently. Among the answers I got were:

  • making love applies to the whole of sexual activities in the marriage bed while having sex is intercourse
  • making love feels cheesy and uncomfortable while having sex sounds more natural
  • having sex feels more shallow than making love
  • making love is long, slow, and passionate while having sex is fast-paced and pleasure-driven

And plenty said you can call it whatever you like, it’s always making love because that’s how their marriage bed feels.

The specific language matters a great deal to some—and not necessarily in one way or the other—and not as much to others. Whatever you call sexual intimacy in your marriage, however, it should sound respectful and attractive to your spouse. So ask what they like. You might find out it matters more than you thought or less than you thought.

Culture and generation are factors in word choice.

I remember talking to my sons once about what body parts are called these days…and being astounded by the common use of a word that has no negative connotation in their generation but certainly does in mine. Who’s right on this one? Well, we have to consider culture and context in word choices. In my culture, that label would be a no-go; in theirs, it’s not a big deal.

As it turns out, this appears to be true with making love and having sex—with several younger couples saying making love sounded weird, like a euphemism for people who can’t bring themselves to say the actual words. Now that’s not true of everyone their age, but it’s an interesting perspective.

Some phrases for sex might appeal to people from one region or in one generation or with one background while other phrases appeal to those from different regions, generations, and backgrounds. As an example, references to being “ridden” as part of sex don’t bother me a bit, maybe because I’m a Texan who’s ridden horses, enjoyed rodeos, and seen the affection a rider and the ridden can have. Yet for someone else, that phrase could feel understandably disrespectful. Culture and context matter.

Spouses want sex to be pleasurable and meaningful.

Whatever you call it, spouses want sex to be both pleasurable and meaningful. The point colleagues have made about making love > having sex gets at this very point. While I don’t see the importance of the phrasing the way they do, I agree entirely that sex should be more than a physical act. It should involve our whole selves—body, mind, heart, and soul.

The responses I got from the group members demonstrate this desire. Husbands and wives both want experiences that are physically exciting and satisfying, while recognizing the underlying commitment and intimacy to what they do in their marriage bed. As one husband aptly put it: “Yes, we have sex, intercourse, coitus, I ‘know my wife’, we ‘do it, have a quickie… and whatever else you call it, but in all of those things (and many others) we are making love to each other.”

Husbands and wives both want experiences that are physically exciting and satisfying, while recognizing the underlying commitment and intimacy to what they do in their marriage bed. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

What will I call it in my resources?

I call it everything under the sun. I’m a writer, a crafter of words, a lover of language. I like using all the options available to me, as long as they are accurate and respectful. Since I don’t personally find anything problematic about having sex or making love, I’ll use both of those. But also sexual intimacy, physical intimacy, and any number of nicknames for The Deed. You can check out a few interesting euphemisms for sex here: What Euphemisms for Sex Do You Use?

But please know that I honor your desire for sex to be both pleasurable and meaningful. That is God’s design for sex in marriage—that both spouses feel good, feel connected, feel honored in this intimate experience.

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