Category Archives: Q & A with J

Q&A with J: Are Separate Bedrooms Okay?

Today’s question is an interesting one, and a take on separate bedrooms I’d never considered before. Here’s what the wife asks:

Is having separate bedrooms a sin? We have sex several times a day…. I cannot sleep in the same bed as my husband. I wake up numerous times a night. He is hot (temperature) and I wake up sweating. He also snores. … He tells me that separate bedrooms are the fast way to divorce. I’m not leaving. I just want to sleep a full nights sleep in my pajamas and read for 10 minutes before turning off the lamp and going to sleep.

Is sleeping apart a sin?

No, having separate bedrooms is not a sin. 

In various cultures and eras, separate bedrooms were used by husband and wife, including men and women in the Bible. One example is Genesis 31:33: “So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent.” Jacob, Leah, and Rachel all had their own tents, and that setup doesn’t appear to have been unusual.

Will separate beds cause divorce?

Today, the National Sleep Foundation reports that 1 in 4 couples sleeps in separate beds. The divorce rate is about 33% (it’s hard to calculate, but that’s close), and I simply cannot believe that separate-bed couples account for a big percentage of that. So clearly, some couples are sleeping apart and remaining married.

If everything else in the marriage is good, why would not spending time together during the part of the day you’re mostly unconscious cause you to lose your commitment to one another?

What are the benefits of separate beds?

One can make a good case that separate beds actually benefit the marriage and your sex life. By not sharing bed, you avoid issues of snoring, cover-hogging, needing different mattress firmness, noise and light preferences, and falling asleep at opposite times or in unmatched ways. Dodging those interruptions contributes to achieving more and better sleep.

And quality sleep could help you get along better. We all know that feeling of being sleep-deprived and feeling a little snippy with others. But a specific marriage study conducted in 2017 with 43 couples demonstrated that a lack of sleep (less than 7 hours) heightened stress and conflict. If both spouses hadn’t slept enough, arguments became more hostile. Not a good outcome for marriage.

Fatigue is also named as one of the primary reasons why lower-drive spouses don’t feel like engaging in sex or struggle to participate fully. Sex requires some energy, and if you’re wiped out from not sleeping well, you don’t have as much juice to devote to sexual intimacy. As one husband who admitted to not sleeping with his wife said: “We have the most active sex life of any couple I’ve spoken with on the subject. Let’s face it — lack of energy is a far greater threat to an active sex life than lack of opportunity. And we are better rested.”

What are the drawbacks of separate beds?

If you moved into different bedrooms, and sexual intimacy fell off, then yes, it could be a problem. This questioner actually says, “We have sex several times a day.” Several times a day? That’s quite a lot for any marriage. I hardly believe that sleeping separately at night will kill that sex life.

But for many couples, sleeping apart may indeed cause problems. Drawbacks could include less sexual intimacy, not sleeping as well without your spouse, losing physical touch, and missing connection times. Sleeping apart usually reduces the opportunities you have to talk, touch, and make love. You could make that up at other times, but the question is will you?

Some couples who end up in separate beds drift apart in other ways, as they simply spend less time together. And some spouses actually head to another bedroom to avoid communication, affection, or sex—in which case, this is obviously a bad idea.

What about temporary arrangements?

Most couples at one time or another sleep in different beds, due to illness, caring for children, rampant snoring, or even that rare argument that makes you want a little more time to cool off. 

If the situation is temporary, it’s not likely to change your overall marriage. But it’s worth discussing how it might affect each of you and looking for ways to minimize any negative consequences.

What about this specific situation?

Back to the original question, it’s certainly not a sin to sleep in separate beds. It strikes me that all of your reasons for wanting to do so are reasonable—your desire to wind down through reading, his snoring, your sweating, and your waking up several times a night. You’re not dodging him or sex, just trying to get a good night’s sleep.

First, try addressing the issues that get in the way of you getting sleep while in the same bed. But if that doesn’t work, you could snuggle up and stay until your husband falls asleep, head to the other bedroom. Then you can both get the rest you need.

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Sources:  “Lack of Sleep Fuels Harmful Inflammatory Response to Marital Stress.” Newswise = Smart News Connection. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.newswise.com/articles/view/676974/; 
“My Wife and I Sleep in Separate Bedrooms. Our Marriage (and Sex Life) Have Never Been Better.” Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2018. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-austin-separate-bedrooms-20180326-story.html. 

Is Giving a “Blow Job” Enjoyable for the Wife?

A husband in my Facebook community recently posed the question of “what is it that the ladies enjoy so much about giving [oral sex]?” He explained that he didn’t mind giving to her, but felt awkward about the reverse and didn’t understand why a wife would enjoy that activity.

I held onto the question for a bit, mulling over how to answer. As much as possible, I avoid giving any reader a peek into my own marriage bed and/or getting too graphic. However, since I believe fellatio — oral sex for him — can be quite enjoyable for the wife, it seemed like something worth spotlighting.

So why would a blow job be enjoyable for a wife to give?

The present she gives.

Sometimes a wife gives a husband oral sex as a gift. It’s a way of showing that she cares about his sexual pleasure and wants to arouse and satisfy him. This can include giving a blow job when she’s out of commission, due to health issues or menstruation or other factors.

She thus derives enjoyment from being able to offer this wonderful present to her husband, knowing that she alone can gift him in this way. It’s simply one way of living out selfless love in the marriage bed. And doing good can feel good.

The power she possesses.

Much of a woman’s experience sexually is as the responder. Even if she is the higher-drive spouse and/or initiated the sexual encounter, her body receives manual or oral stimulation of her erogenous zones and intercourse is penetration by another. Turning the tables can give her a sense of potency.

She may enjoy watching the effect she has on her husband, how she can drive him wild with her mouth. It’s one of the few times in sex when the man seems to fully surrender — putty in her hands. It’s a sweet feeling to know the power she possesses to stimulate and satiate her husband.

The pleasure she feels.

Most husbands don’t lie back like dockside fish, either still or wildly flopping while oral sex is being performed on them. They respond with touches back to her head, her shoulders, her breasts, wherever he can reach. They make sounds of arousal. Their muscles clench and release. Their penis and testicles twitch or lift or shift. And to her, all that can be sexy, and therefore pleasurable.

Many wives become aroused while performing fellatio. They might be surprised at first to be focused so much on his sexual pleasure, then reach down to find their own body excited, but it happens. Turning him turns her on.

The passion she pursues.

Adding oral sex to your marriage bed expands your sexual repertoire, and variety is perhaps not the spice of life, but it is spicy. And it’s not an everyday thing for most couples, so much of the time, fellatio happens when she is feeling particularly passionate — passionate enough to put her mouth on or around her husband’s most private part. 

There’s also an implied recognition that his genitalia are appealing and sexy. Getting that up-close-and-personal can show she’s got a big crush on Junior. (Oh, every guy’s dream… Breathe easy, y’all.)

The support he shows.

Meanwhile, what can a husband do to make this experience good for his wife? Well, my best tips are in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.

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Want more straight talk? Check out this book for wives!

But in general, you can make this mutually enjoyable by:

  • Telling her what feels good. Since she obviously wants you to be pleasured, direct her to your most sensitive spots and/or indicate with words or sounds when something feels particularly good.
  • Letting her remain mostly in control. That is, don’t press her head against you or pressure her to “deep throat,” especially if she has a strong gag reflex.
  • Cooperate with what she needs to make it more comfortable. If she’s reluctant to give oral sex or swallow, be willing to wear a condom for easier clean-up, keep a towel by the bed, warn her when you’re about to ejaculate — that sort of thing.
  • Making sure she gets a full opportunity to orgasm too. If you ejaculate during oral sex, that’s not necessarily the end. She may want a round two where she gets to climax.
  • Giving her a chance to recover. She may need time afterward to clean up, and she may also need a while before she performs fellatio again. Even those who like it may see it as more of a treat than a regular activity.
  • Thanking her when you’re done. Many wives respond well to being appreciated for their effort.

For wives who don’t like it.

If you’re one of those wives who does not enjoy giving oral sex, I encourage you to read the “Oral Sex” chapter in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. The following posts may also address your concerns:

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Q&A with J: How Do You Know When Orgasm is Close?

Today’s question is a great one about orgasm. For many women, the building of an orgasm, the crossing of the line, and the characteristic spasms are fairly easy to detect. But for some women, it’s not so clear. And for pre-orgasmic women (a term Bonny Burns of OysterBed7 taught me!), it can be frustrating to feel that build and not know what it should feel like to get all the way to climax.

With that in mind, here’s this month’s reader question:

I wanted to ask how you know if you’re close to having an orgasm? There are times when my body tightens up in a way that seems similar to when my husband orgasms. However, it’s not followed by a sense of release or uterine contractions (which I thought is an orgasm?). Do you think this is on the way to orgasm?

Quick answer: Yes, I think you’re on the way to orgasm. Building tension is a key component of heading toward climax. But the arousal may not have increased enough to get you over the edge to release.

There are really two ways to look at orgasm: physiologically and experientially. Let’s look at each.

Physiology of an Orgasm

Medical professionals and scientific researchers define the buildup and orgasm through physical characteristics — that is, what’s actually happening in your body. Leading up to a climax, the blood vessels in the genitalia dilate, meaning that a woman’s vulva will swell. The inner vaginal lips will become 2-3 times their normal size. The blood flow can also cause flushing of the body, particularly on the neck and chest. Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase.

Right against the edge orgasm, blood flow causes the lower area inside the vagina to become firm. A wife’s breasts may swell, the areola of her breasts (shaded part around the nipple) flatten, and the clitoris pulls back from the pubic bone. The climax, however, has not happened until rhythmic contractions occur.

That’s a lot going on, and you’re almost certainly not aware of all that as it’s happening. Your husband is likely not fully aware either, as you are both hopefully caught up in the passion of the moment — not eyeballing your parts to see what’s swelling or firming or flattening.

But biologically speaking, that’s what’s going on.

Experience of an Orgasm

Experientially, the female climax has certain features most wives recognize, but it can also be individual. One wife may flush a lot, and another not so much. One wife may feel her pulse strongly, and another isn’t all that aware. One wife may feel the contractions strongly, and another less strongly.

So how do you know when you are coming close? Or have arrived?

I asked the wives in my Hot, Holy & Humorous Facebook Community to describe their experience, and here’s what they wrote:

  • Increasing leg twitches, a feeling of warmth in the whole pelvic region, and a building tension similar to the buildup before a sneeze.
  • Like I am on a roller coaster heading up a big hill then the drop off the end for the orgasm
  • Shin cramp
  • Legs start twitching and my leg muscles automatically tense. The pelvic region in general will tense and … there’s a feeling of warmth or tingling. And then there’s the wave as the tide hits
  • My stomach drops like on a roller coaster, just before you go over the top, then I have the most peculiar feeling to hold perfectly still and not breathe
  • There is a very intense feeling in the clitoral area that builds. All my muscles tense up. This continues till I can’t take it anymore and then the release…ahhh
  • Much more vocal, focused on only on us and the moment. My inhibitions become waaay lower
  • The good feeling of what is happening intensifies and gets more and more concentrated almost until I can’t take it anymore, then it’s like an electric explosion
  • A lot of pressure, but it’s pleasurable. Warm and tense in the clitoral area. Sometimes my body shakes a little bit. Breath comes in gasps. Muscles tense up right before. 
  • This weird sensation that starts from the pelvic region and travels up my left side of my spine, to my brain — then, fireworks. … I also agree with the leg twitches, and the first time I heard “like a pelvic sneeze” I thought- YES! that is exactly what it is like.
  • I feel like I’m moving closer and closer to something amazing—good sensations everywhere and everything feels so good and much more intense. When it happens—the best way to describe it for me is fireworks exploding in my brain and all over my body
  • Tingling, tickling, spark-like sensations. I also feel a swelling in that area and stimulation at times feels like it’s too much to handle. I also cannot keep my hips still… then it feels like a run away train or fireworks that go every which way in the end
  • I can no longer focus on what I’m doing (like kissing or touching his back)
  • Mostly it seems like my toes just curl up and I feel just warm and fuzzy, nothing real intense, but my breathing stops and I just feel so close and connected with my hubby

My favorite description here might be the “pelvic sneeze.” But think of a big sneeze — like that one that makes your whole body tense, and you know it’s coming and you won’t be able to stop it, and the eventual sneeze is actually a relief. 

If you’re not sure you’ve had an orgasm, then you probably haven’t. (Not always true, but generally so.) The contractions are really the key, and you should be able to feel those, at least somewhat — and it should be followed by a release of muscle tension.

Achieving an Orgasm

So what factors can help a preorgasmic wife finally reach orgasm? I recently read an interesting study about what helps a woman climax, in which researchers said mattered most were:

  • How important orgasms were considered personally
  • How high was sexual desire
  • How high was sexual self-esteem (including how skillful and good in bed women considered themselves)
  • How open was sexual communication with the partner
  • Ability to concentrate on the moment
  • Mutual sexual initiations
  • Partner’s good sexual techniques

I actually address every one those in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. So if you’re struggling, go get a copy! (Or get a copy anyway, to boost your lovemaking.)

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The vast majority of wives can, and definitely should, reach orgasm most times they have sexual intimacy with their husbands. If you’re not getting there, it’s time to consider the issues mentioned above. Though I would add relationship health and belief as a Christian that sexual intimacy is a God-approved and blessed activity in marriage.

Orgasm is an experience not quite like any other, and I hope and pray that each wife can lean into their sexual enjoyment and feel that special peak of pleasure.

Sources include Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about orgasms; NIH – Determinants of female sexual orgasms

Q&A with J: “What If Neither of Us Desires Sex?”

Our reader question comes from a wife who doesn’t care about having sex, but neither does her husband. Here’s her query:

…the problem I am facing is that neither me or my spouse have any desire for sex at all, like, none. I think I may be asexual. What do you do if neither spouse has any sexual desire? I mean, we are both very happy and our marriage can’t be any better, but I’m just wondering if this is normal and should we be worried if neither of us have any desire to have sex yet are happy either way…. Is asexuality bad? I love romance and so does my husband, but I have no desire for sex and neither does my husband. I’m just wondering your opinion of married couples who are completely happy being sexless like we are because reading everything you have written makes me wonder if me and my spouse are broken even though we are both otherwise in a happy marriage.

If you asked a psychologist or sex therapist what they think, I suspect they’d say you should only have sex as often as the two of you agree to have it. Moreover, some Christian authors and counselors might agree.

But what does God have to say about this?

I mean, hey, He invented this whole put-the-puzzle-pieces-together act. He also created the institution of marriage, with its other benefits and blessings. Surely, as both Creator and Lord, we should hear what He has to say about whether sex in marriage is nice or essential.

The passage many might consider as definitive is this one:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, NLT).

Except in your case, it could be argued that neither of you feels deprived or experiences self-control issues in the realm of sex. So are you really hurting one another to avoid it?

But everything I see in Scripture says that sexual intimacy is supposed to be happening in marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” While this verse includes many aspects of marital intimacy, you won’t find any reputable biblical scholar who wouldn’t say that sex is among them. Even the word choice of one flesh connotes a physical connection.

Jesus affirmed this focus of marriage by citing the verse: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:7-9).

Married couples have sex in the Bible. It’s what they do. Indeed, if you didn’t fulfill your full sexual obligations, you could get in trouble (see Genesis 38).

Additionally, God told His people to “be fruitful and multiply” — which means they must have sex. Now I do not believe this means every marriage must produce children, but it does show that one reason for marriage is to provide the context for creating more made-in-His-image human beings.

God’s Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love — for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy.

God's Word as a whole not only allows but encourages married couples to make love -- for the sake of reproduction, yes, but also for pleasure and intimacy. Click To Tweet

And here’s where the crux lies: intimacy.

If you live with someone and have a great friendship and partnership, wonderful! That’s a great relationship to experience in your life.

But it simply doesn’t have the same depth as one in which you are vulnerable at the most intimate levels with one another, literally joining your bodies together in the act of sex. Moreover, you increase intimacy by bringing one another to heights of pleasure that release body chemicals that bond you further together. This is how God made our bodies.

But now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that God intends your marriage to include sexual intimacy, but the real question is:

Why don’t you two desire sex?

Because you can mentally believe it’s good for you and still not want to do it. (Same reason why I’m not jogging right at this moment.) And I’m not going to advise, “Just schlep yourself to the bedroom, do the hokey-pokey, and check mark that you fulfilled your duty.”

That’s also clearly not God’s plan!

But physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy adults respond well to the pleasure and intimacy that sex with a beloved mate can bring. Plenty of people don’t have an independent drive ahead of time to engage, but they do get into it once things get started. So if you’re not getting into it, why? What’s amiss?

  • Have you soaked in erroneous messages that sex is inherent impure or base?
  • Do you experience pain or discomfort during sexual activity?
  • Did you have past experiences that soured you on sex?
  • Do have physiological issues, like depression or hormonal imbalance, that cause you to be disinterested?
  • Are you overly self-conscious about your bodies or the act itself?
  • Do you have arousal issues, like an inability to lubricate for the wife or erection problems for the husband?
  • Is your relationship more like a friendship than a romance?

Those are just some of the possibilities. But I would suggest that if you don’t respond well to sex, then something really is off and needs to be addressed. Because God made us to be sexual beings, desiring physical pleasure and intimacy with our spouse.

I would start with a visit to the doctor, asking for a full check-up to make sure there are not physical obstacles. If the issue is more spiritual teaching on the subject sex, may I suggest grabbing a copy of my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage (ebook less than $5), that will walk you through getting a godly, healthy view of sexuality. You may also want to see your pastor or a counselor together to discuss this issue and how you can address it. (Albeit it needs to be one who actually understands God’s design for marriage includes regular sexual intimacy.)

A sexless marriage, over time, can and likely will take its toll on your relational connection. It’s worth pursuing answers now to awaken the love in your marriage.

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Q&A with J: A Wife Struggling with Lust

Today’s reader question is from a woman struggling with lust and/or discontentment. Here it is:

I am a woman who considers herself to struggle with thoughts of lust, though many would disguise this cringe-worthy term with simply “discontentment”.

…I never thought of myself as attractive growing up, because my two older brothers were verbally abusive to me, which I believe was an effort in ensuring I wouldn’t be a slut (solely to not make them look bad… not because they cared). My perspective of it, anyway.

So to the point- I am not out looking for guys… but I know that there are men out there with attractive personalities that would be compatible with mine. I sincerely don’t have any attraction to them if they don’t express any interest. However, if some guy who is potentially attractive were to hint at being attracted to me, my mind goes wild. I begin to really wrestle with getting these thoughts out of my head. Essentially I am going insane wondering, “does he think I am attractive? Is this in my head? I don’t think I’m making this up…”, and can go as far as wondering what life would be like if I was married to said guy (my thoughts are thankfully not sexual in nature, but still covetous).

I’ve talked to several close friends and everyone is appalled when I say that I struggle with lust… and then when I explain, they pretty much all admit that they often wonder what life would be like with another man… but never do they consider it to be a real issue in their life… Help!

A wife asks about how to deal with her lust or covetousness toward other men, and J. Parker of Hot, Holy & Humorous answers.

First, let me say what she describes isn’t what some might immediately call “lust.” But if you read my post on What Is Lusting? I think you’ll agree her use of this term is fairly accurate. As she says, “my thoughts are thankfully not sexual in nature, but still covetous,” and the Greek word that gets translated at times as “lust” can also mean “covetousness.”

As to the question itself, I really wanted to answer this one. Partly because I’ve had lust issues too and been in circles with Christian women who act like that’s a shocker. “Seriously?” I want to say, “Have you never taken a longer look at a hot guy than you should have?”

But this really isn’t a problem for me anymore, so I’ll tell you from personal experience what I’ve learned.

1. Attention feels good, but it’s pretty meaningless.

If you grew up thinking you weren’t pretty and then discover some guys think you are really attractive, the attention can be heady. Growing up, I was puny, awkward, and the brainy type. Believe me, the profile photo you see on my website now is so much cooler than the complete dork I was in 8th grade, right when boys were noticing girls — but not me. So I understand that having guys looking, now that you’re an adult, can feed your self-doubt and longing for acceptance.

But this is false attention — it’s pretty meaningless. I’ve concluded that any guy who’s ogling a modestly dressed woman wearing a wedding ring is the kind of guy who ogles a lot of women.

I’m not saying you’re not gorgeous, but I started reminding myself in the moment this guy’s attention didn’t matter. Rather, it was my husband’s desire for me that filled me more and what I thought about myself that really mattered.

2. Instead of looking away, maybe look deeper.

I tried bouncing my eyes, but that didn’t really bounce my mind. What has helped instead is actually looking more closely at guys I find physically attractive.

Is he wearing a wedding ring? Then I think about how he’s probably a family man and at the store shopping for his wife and kids. Is he sporting a tattoo? Then I wonder why he got the tattoo and why that particular image. Is he wearing a T-shirt with a message on it? Then I consider what I think about the message, the team, the image he’s chosen to show to the world.

I take my mind off the man-as-an-image and find ways to see the man-as-a-whole. Then the potential for lust just fizzles. He’s a whole person, I’m a whole person, and we’re just going about life.

3. Maintain reasonable boundaries.

I maintain boundaries about being alone with men. Knowing how my past has been, I have pretty strict rules for myself—no extended or private alone time with a man other than a family member. If I have to meet with another man for professional reasons, I do so in a public place like a restaurant, and that’s rarely the case anyway since I can mostly do those things through other means like email or a phone conversation.

I don’t share any personal information one-on-one with a man. If I feel any spark of attraction to someone, I avoid them. Chemistry is not destiny, and it goes away if you don’t feed it.

In conversations with men, I bring up my husband or his wife positively, giving off the clear indication that I am happily married and he is married and that is that.

4. Focus on gratitude for what you have.

Finally, I think a lot about what’s so great about what I already have. Sure, it’s not perfect—no marriage is—but it’s pretty darn good.

I have a husband who loved me enough to marry me, have kids with me, and keep coming back for 25 years. I think he’s rather hunky too, so I’m certainly attracted to him.

And as others have said: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.”

A wife asks about how to deal with her lust or covetousness toward other men, and J. Parker of Hot, Holy & Humorous answers.

I simply want to add here that there’s been a bit of talk in the past on my blog about husbands and lust, but lust happens to women too. It’s our temptation as well. But it can be addressed and quelled by taking intentional steps to lessen the temptation and embrace what we have instead.

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