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My Blog, 3 Marriage Books, and an Upcoming Interview with “J”

Does it ever feel like there’s just a whole lot going on? If you’re more Christmas-inclined than I am (honestly, a rather low bar), perhaps you’re looking forward to a busy season. As long as what’s going on is positive and you’re not feeling overwhelmed, then it’s all good.

Well, it’s all good here.

For me, this has felt like a busy, busy month, and I want to share with you some current resources and upcoming releases to help you in your marriage.

Tips about my blog. Since moving over to a self-hosted site, I’ve been discovering small issues to address. For instance, a fabulous reader recently informed me that I didn’t have sharing buttons (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) below each post. To which I thought, Duh, J! Sharing buttons! I’ve remedied that oversight. So share away!

I asked my website designer to move the “Leave a reply” button from its default position at the top of a post to below the post, where it makes sense after you read. So it’s now a nice red button you can easily see and click.

I also want readers to know that the option to leave a comment as “Anonymous” is still available. When you click “Leave a reply,” you’re presented with blank boxes to input name, email address, and website. Simply type “Anonymous,” or your made-up moniker, into the name box, write your comment, and post.

Given the subject matter here, all comments are approved before they appear. You can find my policy by clicking the Comments button on the menu bar above. A summary of the policy is “Treat others the way you want to be treated” (Matthew 7:12).

31 Days to a Better Marriage. Jolene Engle of the Alabaster Jar coordinated and hosted a series of marriage posts for wives all throughout October. I was thrilled to contribute my own post on “Can Sexy Wives Be Godly Wives Too?” But if you missed the series or any posts in the series, don’t worry. You can get the whole thing in a free downloadable ebook! Sweet deal, right? To get your copy, click the pic below! 31 Days to a Better Marriage ebook

The Pursuit of Passion. Fellow Christian sex blogger, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage, has co-authored a book titled The Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage, which was released just this past week. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my e-reader. And since I agree with almost everything that gal says on her blog, I feel very comfortable recommending her book.

Pursuit of Passion book cover

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Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Wives. Doesn’t that title alone make you want to get my upcoming book? It’s a handbook for Christian wives to learn the ins and outs of sexuality in marriage, to become savvy women in the bedroom.

When can you get your hands on copy? Thanksgiving Day. (‘Cause nothing says sex like eating turkey and cranberry sauce, right?) For those of you not in the United States and not celebrating turkey day, that would be next Thursday, November 28.

For those wives in the United States, just make sure to finish the cooking and serve the bird at Thanksgiving before you buy and start reading Sex Savvy. I’d hate to be responsible for your family having to hungrily wait an extra hour because you got distracted by the chapter on orgasm.

Sex Savvy will be available first by ebook and then by print. But first, here’s the cover reveal. You ready?

1…

2…

3…Awesome book cover for Sex Savvy

Besides thinking ooh and aah, I know what you’re asking yourself: What’s that?!!! Is that a last name? Is that her real last name?! Why yes, yes, it is. After much consideration, prayer, and consultation of close friends (also known as relentless prodding from close friends), I decided to forgo the pen name I’d considered and use my married name instead.

Upcoming Interview. I love listening to podcasts and audio books. In my opinion, it’s really the only way to clean a toilet.

One of my favorites is The Stupendous Marriage Show with Stu and Lisa Gray. If you’re not subscribed to their podcast, check them out. There’s such an authenticity to their Christianity, their marriage, and their answers for couples seeking help. I’ll be appearing in the next few weeks on their podcast when they interview me about the book, Sex Savvy, and sex in general. (Although I also hope Stu and I can chat about Batman for a little bit. If Lisa will let us.)

So that’s it! All of my announcements for today. If you have any questions about anything, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer as soon as I can. Blessings!

Technical Difficulties

Just a quick note to my subscribers to explain that I’m without Internet. My apologies if I have not approved or replied to your comment. I just can’t get to it. I should be back to a normal schedule on Wednesday and have a new post on Thursday.

In the meantime, I’m praying for your marriages!

Blessings!

-J

Creating an Intimacy Timeline

Your sexual history can impact how your intimate life in marriage is going now. Whether your past contains negative or positive messages and experiences affects how you view sexuality now. This is definitely a challenge in many marriages — to move beyond what came before and create new scripts in keeping with God’s design for intimacy in marriage.

All too often, however, we don’t even realize how we’ve been impacted. We don’t pause to make the connection between our past and our present. I suggest that you create an Intimacy Timeline. This exercise can help you pinpoint when and how your sex life got off track.

Let me explain what this Intimacy Timeline would look like by illustrating from my own life.

List factors that affected your view of and satisfaction with sexuality. I went for broad categories of childhood, premarriage, newlywed, post-children, and mid-life — although I certainly could have tracked more variations by using specific ages.

Childhood: conflicting messages about sexuality (media focused on sexuality vs. religious messages of “just don’t do it!”), didn’t feel pretty

Premarital: no strategy for maintaining purity, curiosity about sex, promiscuity, guilt, multiple short-term partners

Newlywed: in love, secure in relationship, freedom to engage in sex, ample time, high sex drive

Post-children: low sex drive, estrogen deficiency, exhaustion, menstruation problems

Mid-life: increased sex drive, improved marriage relationship, endometrial ablation, vasectomy, commitment to time alone with hubby

Assign a value to the categories, with 0 being not one way or the other, -5 being awful, and +5 being ideal. For myself, I put Childhood: -1, Premarriage: -4, Newlywed: +3, Post-children: -3, Mid-life, +4. Of course, you could use any range you want.

Transfer the data to a graph to see your sexual intimacy through the years.

By doing this exercise, I see when my intimacy suffered — when I was promiscuous before marriage (see My Personal Testimony) and after having children (see When My Sex Life Sucked). I can also see when my intimacy soared. Yeah, increased sex drive! Yeah, better marriage relationship! Yeah, all that practice that has paid off!

What things might negatively affect your sexual health and satisfaction?

  • Overly strict messages about sexuality — such as sex is bad, sex is for men only, etc.
  • Being molested or raped
  • Ongoing sexual harassment
  • Pornography
  • Sexually-transmitted disease
  • Promiscuity
  • Low sex drive
  • Pain in intercourse
  • Sexual mistreatment or apathy from a partner
  • Extreme difficulties with menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Poor body image

And the list could go on.

Positive factors might include:

  • Quality biblical teaching about sexuality
  • Maintaining purity before marriage
  • Getting married
  • Taking a marriage and sexuality class with your spouse (with homework:))
  • Trying new things
  • An increase in sex drive
  • Mentoring other couples

And the list could go on.

Try this exercise. Sit down and list those things that you believe have impacted your approach to sexuality and your current satisfaction with this area of your marriage. Give those messages or experiences a value from -5 to +5, with 0 being a-okay but nothing special. Then chart a timeline to see where you have been.

What can an Intimacy Timeline reveal?

Are you making general progress or backtracking? For instance, if your sex life is only a +1 but it was in the negatives for most of your life, that’s good. However, if your sex life is a +1, but it has been +3 to +5 for most of your marriage, you might need to pause and address whatever the problem might be. Some ups and downs are to be expected, but living according to God’s design for marital intimacy should result in an overall upward trajectory.

Are there events in your past still affecting you negatively? If you were molested, told sex was terrible, and struggled with weight as a child, it would be no surprise to discover that poor body image and/or low sex drive affect you now. Even if your current situation is substantially better than that awful time, those messages are likely hang around in the background until you replace them with the positive truth from God’s Word. Maybe you’ve blocked it out to some extent, but it shows up when you represent your sexual health in an Intimacy Timeline.

Do you have current issues that need to be addressed? Had I done an Intimacy Timeline when my kids were infants or toddlers, I would have noticed how terrible things were. At the time, I didn’t realize how much our sex life had dropped off and how unavailable I was to my husband. I was in survival mode: I was tangled up in the trees and couldn’t see the forest. Doing this exercise would have helped me to step back and gauge where our intimacy was. Armed with that information, I could have spoken more candidly to my doctor and my husband about our sexuality and remedied problems. I’m betting many of you have analogous situations.

Are you and your spouse on the same page? If both spouses create an Intimacy Timeline, you can compare how you view your marital intimacy.

Maybe your lines wouldn’t be as in sync as the ones above. Perhaps you think things are going fine, so you’d give your current intimacy a +3. And then you find out from his Intimacy Timeline that it’s a -2 for him — meaning he feels sex-starved right now. Wouldn’t a loving wife want to know that?  Wouldn’t a loving husband want to know if his wife thinks sex is not going well now because it hurts or she’s tired or whatever?

An Intimacy Timeline is simply a tool to see where you’ve been and where you are, and then to actively plot where you’re going. It can also be a tool for communication with your spouse to see where the two of you are going — or rather, growing — together as a couple. Take a look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. Pinpoint issues that have negatively affected you and start to deal with them.

I’m a firm believer in redemption and healing from God. Yet you will not likely combat a bunch of negative messages with a single great experience. In fact, psychologists say we need about five positive messages to combat every one negative message. But you can start today. Take a new approach. Make new memories. Experience new satisfaction. When you start piling up the positives, the negatives will slowly fade. Your Intimacy Timeline can mostly hang out on the positive side, and maybe some of you will even have those +6 times.

Let me know if you use this exercise and how it works for you.

Note: I appreciate all of the questions from Monday’s post. You are welcome to add your question there at Q&A for J at HHH. I will begin answering the inquiries next week.

Easter: We Will Rise Up

And now for something completely different . . .

Instead of exploring another topic of marriage and sexuality today, I want to share my joy at the coming Easter Sunday, which Christians specifically dedicate to celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” A few verses later, he asserts, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (v. 20). I believe that with all of my mind, heart, and soul. Our faith is not in vain.

The following remains one of my favorite Christian videos ever. It was presented in 2000 by the Second Baptist Church in a public park in Houston, Texas. I’m hardly the first to share it, since it has been viewed over 1 million times on YouTube. But if you’ve watched it before, it’s worth another look. And if you haven’t seen it, please enjoy Dance Your Shoes Off.

Happy Easter!

Update, April 6: Thanks to Vickie for pointing out that Second Baptist did it again! This year, April 1, they had children perform to the song. Here’s that video: