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4 Must-Haves for Great Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

As usual, I’ve been thinking about great sexual intimacy in marriage and what it takes to get there. Are there principles that are must-haves to experience all that God intended for our marriage beds?

I came up with four I believe are integral to healthy, godly sexual intimacy.

4 Must-Haves for Great Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

Desire. I’m not talking about libido, or sex drive. Some spouses have a high drive, others have a lower drive. Or even no drive (sadly). But what’s needed is a desire to have great sexual intimacy in your marriage.

That could show up as a strong physical drive to make love with your spouse, or simply as a longing to figure out why things aren’t everything they could be. Healthy couples also desire to better understand God’s design for sex in marriage and fight against erroneous messages in our culture. They seek answers for physiological obstacles, resources to heal from past hurts, and ways to increase the passion in their relationship.

Essentially, you have to want to want it. When you truly desire better intimacy, you’ll actively pursue actions that increase your internal desire for your mate.

Respect. A lot of the arguments that break out in the comments section of my blog and other Christian marriage and sex blogs demonstrate a lack of respect from one spouse to another. From the husband who demands his wife be available for sex at the drop of a hat or a hint, to the wife who swears all men are perverts and should be treated accordingly, to the husband who insults his wife’s beauty, to the wife who won’t believe her husband when he says she’s beautiful… Just pick a topic that causes people to get riled up, and you’ll likely find that if mutual respect was overflowing in that marriage, a lot of the issue would dissolve.

Godly sexual intimacy requires respect for one another. Respect that her body belongs to her and his body belongs to him, while also respecting that her body belongs to him and his body belongs to her. No, this is not a conundrum; it’s biblical teaching (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Respect that you don’t view sex the same because of your different genders, personalities, histories, and beliefs. Respect when your spouse says something hurts, it really hurts, and when they say they didn’t mean what you perceived, they don’t have ulterior motives.

Respect that sex is an emotional need for your mate and not merely a physical release. Respect your spouse enough to take steps to assure them of your love, by making rules about contact with the opposite sex, keeping away from pornography and erotica, and speaking well of your mate to others.

Infuse the whole subject of sex in your marriage with respect for one another, and see how that nurtures your intimacy.

Intention. I love what Julie Sibert said in an interview with Delight Your Marriage: “No one drifts into healthy habits.” Yeah, I never just wander by and find myself accidentally on the elliptical churning out a workout. Likewise, sexual intimacy in your marriage isn’t likely to be the full blessing God designed it to be without some real effort.

There are simply too many obstacles in our way. The busyness of our lives distracts us from focusing on physical intimacy. Our emotional defenses keep us from dealing with sexual baggage, misunderstandings, and sin. Bad cultural messages attempt to draw us away from the beauty and monogamy of God-honoring marital intimacy. Our own self-doubts hinder us from being vulnerable and authentic in the marriage bed.

All of the obstacles can be with dealt, however, if we intentionally pursue great sex for our marriages. It won’t happen on its own, but we can foster intimacy that lasts a lifetime.

Communication. Honestly, I cringe a bit when I hear the word communication bandied about like a cure-all for everything wrong in your marriage. I almost hate to admit this, but in my own marriage, talking about our problems has at times made things worse. Therefore, I’m reluctant at times to suggest Communication! as a marital Band-aid.

But communication doesn’t mean talking an issue to death. Rather, it implies mutual understanding between the speaker and listener. Which comes from communication that seeks to get at the heart of the issue and help one another out. It also isn’t all verbal. A lot of communication is nonverbal and can be very effective in getting your point across. Regardless of how you go about it, you have to be able to communicate effectively about your sex life.

Here are examples of what I mean:

  • Initiating sex with your mate in clear, easily discernible ways. You can use your words, your hands, whatever. But make it obvious what you’re asking for, so you don’t have misunderstandings — like the next morning when one of you says, “I wanted to have sex” and the other says, “I would have done that, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted to.”
  • Speaking up for what you want and desire in your marriage bed. Wives usually have more of a problem doing this, but your mate is not a mind-reader. Unless you tell him or show him or move his hands there, he doesn’t know what feels good to you. This isn’t about demanding sexual acts (see Respect above), but communicate what would make sex more engaging and pleasurable for you.
  • Talking about problems when they arise. If one of you is struggling, both of you are struggling. (Two become one, and all that.) Be willing to address the topic, and listen, listen, listen to your mate. Be patient, but persistent. Work together to see what can be done to solve the dilemma or bring you back together into unity (Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8).
  • Confessing your sins and temptations. Fess up when and where you’ve been wrong. Will that conversation be tough? Yeah, but this person vowed to love you through thick and thin, and you need him or her in your corner. If your past is littered with sexual sin or your present is a minefield of temptation, come clean and ask for your spouse’s help. You don’t need to share every detail (doing so could unnecessarily wound your spouse even if it feels cathartic to you), but be honest and humble.

For many couples, discussing sex feels awkward at first. But as intimacy increases, it becomes more natural. There’s peace in knowing you can share openly and be there for one another.

Those are my four must-haves (at least for today) that you should foster for your marriage. Even if you have them right now, you can always nurture them more: Who couldn’t benefit in their marriage bed from having more desire, respect, intention, and communication?

Which of the four has your marriage struggled with? What must-have would you add to my list?

Don’t Let Beauty Comparisons Ruin Your Sex Life with Belah Rose

What a delight to welcome Belah Rose to my blog. You can find her at the Delight Your Marriage website, and she also hosts a wonderful podcast. I’ve done two interviews with her, and I know she has a heart for helping wives experience the best of godly sexual intimacy in their marriage.

If you haven’t checked out her podcast, you can find it at her blog, in iTunes, or on Stitcher. (My latest interview — broken into two segments — should be right at the top.)

I can’t wait to share with you what Belah has to say about beauty, specifically that tendency we all have to make comparisons. Bring it, Belah!

Don’t Let Beauty Comparisons Ruin Your Sex Life with Belah Rose

Everything comes with you into the bedroom. What you think about affects your intimacy with your husband. What you think about yourself matters. So, it’s time to get this straightened out: comparing yourself to others is unwise (as it says in 2 Corinthians 10:2b).

Why we compare ourselves

We see pictures of beauty all over the place, from the checkout line to the actual ladies waiting to buy groceries. It’s easy to get into the habit of comparing what they have to what we have. We’ve started this habit as children. Even my two-year-old son notices when I have some tasty snack that he doesn’t.

But when we compare, if ours is better, we feel better. If ours is not, we feel worse. It’s not okay to let our feelings of beauty and self-worth be subject to what we see at any moment.

Why we shouldn’t compare ourselves

God cares very much about our hearts. He cares about what we meditate on. We may be having low confidence or self-esteem because we saw that someone else has something we wish we had. But God says, “What is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18b). So, when you are meditating on negative feelings, that is actually more real than what you viewed that affected your feelings.

Instead, we need to be focusing on what we do have: a body made by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He was the one who beautifully and wonderfully knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). There was no mistake about His making you exactly as you are.

How to build our sexual confidence

When we grow in believing that our body is made by The King, we start to feel a little more relaxed. Your body wasn’t made to be measured according to some societal standard of beauty. God made you beautiful regardless of what someone else looks like.  

When we think about the purpose of sexual confidence, it is to bring wonderful unity and pleasure to our marriage. And if we think about what comparison does: it tears down a necessary element — confidence. So, we need to get to a place where comparisons aren’t happening in our hearts.

Comparisons are not helpful. They do not serve us. Comparisons throw us off track and undermine our sexual confidence. That is enough reason to shield our eyes from what derails our thoughts of comparison.

What should you be comparing

I think there is at least one time comparisons are helpful. That is comparing yourself with yourself. Only you and God know the road you’re on and what it has taken to get you there. Only you know what you’ve been through. It’s pointless to look at someone else’s life and compare; they haven’t been in your shoes.

I would challenge you to compare yourself by yourself and consider how you have become better, more beautiful, and more radiant. What areas of your heart have grown since before? What ways have you become more wonderful on the inside (the eternal places)? And let God have the glory for all of your comparing. Remember He delights in you and who you are. Basking in the true delight of God is far better for your confidence and your sex life than anything else!

Delight Your Marriage podcast logoBelah Rose is an author, coach, and host of the Delight Your Marriage podcast where she interviews wives and intimacy experts on how to have a fulfilling marriage and wonderful intimacy in it. She wrote Delight Your Husband: Make Him Crazy About You to help wives move past their reservations to feel free and confident in spicing up the bedroom.

Q&A with J: Where’s the Passion?

It’s Monday! Which means it’s question-and-answer time. Today’s reader question comes from a wife happy with her marriage, but noting their sexual intimacy lacks passion.

My husband and I have been happily married for almost 5 years. We saved ourselves for each other and are so glad we did. But we’re both pretty reserved and are not very passionate. I consider myself the higher drive spouse, which was one of the biggest surprises when we got married. I don’t ask for sex but wait for when he wants it (we do take care of each other’s needs in the meantime though), and even then I feel that he’s only doing it for me and that sex is a burden (like I said, not a lot of “passion”). How can I get past that mindset, and relax and enjoy? How can I make it more fun for him when I’m feeling like I’m burdening him? He is a thoughtful, self-sacrificial husband…

Q&A with J: Where's the Passion?

A few things stand out in this query.

They’re both reserved. I know it can be frustrating for one spouse to be the initiator, and the other one is far less so. But as long as there’s some cooperation, you can at least get something started that way.  But what if neither one of you feels comfortable taking the lead? How do you get things revvin’ when no one slides into the driver’s seat and starts the engine?

Some spouses are incredibly shy about sex. They might feel uncomfortable about their bodies or the act itself, or simply lack confidence. Speaking up and initiating sex is tough for them.

How can you overcome your timidity? Well, what gets you past being too reserved in any other area? As a social introvert myself, I suggest a few things:

  • Initiate anyway. In crowded gatherings and conferences, I force myself out of the corner and make a point to talk to others. The rewards have been well worth the effort. Stepping outside your comfort zone to initiate sex, speaking up for what you like, and engaging wholeheartedly is bound to yield great dividends in your marriage.
  • Practice makes comfort. I know it’s supposed to be practice makes perfect, but practicing something makes a habit and over time you feel more comfortable doing that thing. I still get butterflies stepping out of my comfort zone in a crowd, but it’s gotten way easier over time. Go ahead and practice a more confident you in the bedroom, and over time it will become a more comfortable approach.
  • Vulnerability breeds intimacy. And vice versa. There’s a vulnerability to opening up and initiating something difficult with someone else. But when you’re accepted, you have greater intimacy with the person you revealed yourself to. That intimacy helps you feel more comfortable the next time in being vulnerable, and more vulnerability leads to more intimacy, and on and on.

She’s the higher drive spouse. Hello, all of you higher-drive wives! I’m waving at this questioner and so many wives out there who have felt similar surprise when they discovered that they were more interested in sexual intimacy than their husbands.

I don’t know why that is in this marriage, although there are many possibilities — ranging all the way from innocent shyness to secret porn use and solo masturbation. I do know that rejection can make you doubt yourself. But the message here I most want to get across is that being the higher-drive spouse does not make you or your marriage weird.

It’s perfectly normal and fine if you’re more driven to have sex than he is — as long as he is willing to engage and you can learn to take the lead more. Nothing in the Bible says that the husband must be the one to initiate. In fact, the wife in Song of Songs says:Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (4:16). “Garden” and “fruits” are symbolic. She’s sending out a very clear invitation to her husband to engage in sexual intimacy.

As the higher-drive wife, you are not alone. If there are underlying reasons for his disinterest, get to the bottom of those. But if it’s just that your libido is higher than his, so be it. Feel surprised, sure. But definitely don’t feel defective.

He conveys that meeting her sexual needs is burdensome. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Sometimes a spouse really does give off a vibe that they don’t want to be having sex, because they are less willing or less participatory. Other times we can read into the situation because our spouse isn’t responding how we expected. We might have wrong messages in our head about what a hubby’s reaction to his naked wife or sexual activity should be, and when we don’t get that exact response, we conclude he just isn’t that into it.

I think you two need to have a conversation about sexual intimacy away from the bedroom. You might need to discuss the expectations you had going into the marriage, how sex has lived up to those expectations (did it meet what you anticipated, or did it fall short?), and what you hope to experience in the future.

Find out why he doesn’t seem so into it. Because it could be a misunderstanding, it could be that it’s more effort than he anticipated, or it could be that he feels inadequate because his body is not more libido-driven or he doesn’t feel like a proficient lover. There are numerous reasons why you could be getting the message that it’s not “all that” for him. Open up the conversation and make it clear that you are on his side and want to work together for better sexual intimacy.

She wants sex to be more relaxing, enjoyable, and fun. The number one thing I’d suggest for making sex more relaxing, enjoyable, and fun . . . is to reframe your view of what “sex” is. It is not merely the dish served as the main course, and too often we treat it that way. So we have intercourse, and it’s not earth-shatteringly awesome and we wonder why it isn’t so much better. It feels good, sure, but where’s that bone-shivering, heart-swelling sexual experience we expected?

I’d be seriously annoyed if I went into a restaurant, and they simply shoved a plate into my lap and told me to eat up in the corner. I don’t care how good that entrée is, it isn’t a “dining experience.” Likewise, your sexual intimacy is made up of everything that brings you closer together outside the bedroom (like shared time together and affection), to the anticipation of the event (flirtation and initiation), to the building of tension (foreplay and other sexual activities), to the main event (sexual intercourse), to the peak (climax), to the afterglow (lingering in one another’s embrace).

If you want sex to be better for you, and for him, attend to the various parts of this experience. Get your mind in the right space for sexual intimacy, take time to prepare for the event, and spend lots of time touching, exploring, and arousing one another. That’s at least a good place to start.

I also wrote a recent post on helping your husband be more adventurous in bed. That might be a good one to read as well.

Where’s the passion? I believe the passion is inside you. It’s also inside your husband, but since I’m responding to you, the wife, and not him, I’m focusing on your part of the equation. Awaken your own love and let your passion be contagious.

Sometimes when one spouse unleashes their passion and shares it with their mate, it can have a chain reaction. There are no guarantees, but it’s better for one of you to take positive steps, rather than neither of you initiating change. God created you to be a passionate woman and a passionate wife, so lean into His design.

I was recently interviewed by Belah Rose of Delight Your Marriage. Those episodes just went up on her podcast and have more helpful information. I’d love for my readers to check them out: How to Enjoy Sex More and Awaken Love Within You.

Speaking Seductively to Your Wife

Today’s post is for the guys! Listen up, husbands. We hear all the time that men are visual. Do you ever hear what women are?

Women are primarily aural. Which means they respond to the spoken word more than the visual image. I believe this is why porn is usually a stronger temptation for men and erotica a stronger temptation for women. It’s also why romance novels sell so briskly to the female population. We can conjure up an image in our head, but honestly what gets most of us is the words.

But this knowledge doesn’t simply have a negative connotation, with warnings to men not to lust after other women and warnings to women not to fall for another man’s sweet talk. Rather, you can use this information positively in your own marriage — to deepen your connection, your romance, and your sexual intimacy.

Give this a shot, hubbies: Speak seductively to your wife.

How do you do that?

Tell her how beautiful she is…specifically. Talk up her physical assets and her inner charm. Let her know with words how appealing she is to you and that she is your standard of beauty. Get specific about what you like about her feminine form and her unique features. Take time to savor those parts of her with full descriptions.

The Lover in Song of Songs does exactly this:

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone[a];
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies. (4:1-5)

Please use your own words — no teeth like a flock of shorn sheep — but you can follow the principle of overtly telling your wife why she is lovely to you.

Express the depth of your love. Yeah, I know you told your wife you loved her yesterday, but say it again today. And not just the same words you might proclaim to your brewing pot of coffee in the morning: “I love you so much.” Give your words a little depth, guys! Don’t think you can come up with anything? You could always follow the Bob Smiley example:

Well, she might catch on to that. But think about all those movie lines and song lyrics where guys tell the girl how much they love them, and use that as a framework to come up with your own expressions of love. I believe in you — you can do it!

Tell her what you want to do to her sexually. Build anticipation for sex with your wife with your words. Grabbing a body part ain’t gonna cut it, men. How about walking her through what you want her to experience in the bedroom, what arousal you want her to feel, what actions you want to perform, what response you want her to have? Slowly describe what you want to do with your hands, where you want to kiss her body, how much pleasure you want to bring her, how you want to meld your bodies into one, how you want her body to shiver with delight. Try doing all of this before you even take off a single item of clothing or fondle any body parts. Talk through the lovemaking and see if that doesn’t increase her arousal.

How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
    my love, with your delights!
Your stature is like that of the palm,
    and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
    I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
    the fragrance of your breath like apples,
    and your mouth like the best wine. (Song of Songs 7:6-9)

Savor the encounter afterward. You can also use the time after a sexual encounter to express verbally what the experience meant to you, how beautiful you feel she is, how much her love means. Wrap the experience in words of gratefulness and contentment. Letting her know how intimate you feel in her naked embrace can go a long way toward giving your wife sexual confidence and a desire to make love again.

Will every wife respond to aural stimuli? No, of course not. Some wives defy type by being more visual than aural, and some wives don’t respond to sexual advances well, even with words. But I venture to say that most marriages would experience a fresh boost of intimacy when a husband takes time to tailor his advance to his wife’s aural tendency.

Stoke the fires of your sexual intimacy with words that build her up.

Unfinished & Beautiful with Kate Aldrich

Brad & Kate Aldrich blog at One Flesh Marriage, with Ephesians 5:31 as their inspiration: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

I love their heartfelt posts on marriage in general, and when they cover sexuality, it’s always with biblical spirituality, authenticity, and practicality. If you’re looking for a place to start on their blog, check out their Top 10 Posts of 2015. They also host the 10-Day Sex Challenge in February.

Today, we’re blessed to have Kate with us, who is a fabulously fun woman and wife, and she’s sharing her heart on Feeling Beautiful. Welcome, Kate!

woman portrait .abstract watercolor

I can’t remember the first time it happened. I have no idea where I was or what brought it on. I can’t even remember how I responded. I just know I can’t remember a time when I was not conscious of my own body and compared it to those around me.

Everywhere I went I was inundated with images of what a woman was supposed to look like if she was going to be considered “attractive.” It took me till the beginning of my 30’s and two biological children (one natural & one emergency c-section) until I started to see myself for who I truly am, who God made me to be, and loving that person.

What woman alive has not struggled with her body image?

I think we could search long and hard and never come up with such a woman. It happens younger and younger now. My hubby and I have three kids. Two boys, ages 12 and 10, as well as a 9-year-old girl. We’ve been diligent about protecting our little girl’s mind and heart from the lies the world tries to sell her. Still at 9, she has asked questions about her body or made comments that make my heart cry! She is such a beautiful creation of God, and we are doing to do our best to tell her that every day. Admiring all that she is in Christ.

The question is how do we as wives, whatever age we are, embrace the beauty that God has created in us? The outside and the inside? Here are few of the things I have learned that have helped to change my perspective:

Loving you means taking care of you!

After we had our first son, I began to see how I took care of myself slipping. It was so much easier to just stay in comfy clothes all day. All of my energy was being devoted to someone else, and to be honest, I was running a little low on energy for myself. I was merely trying to survive the day.

It took me a bit of time, but when I was finally getting a little more sleep I had the opportunity to do more. I added exercise three times a week back into my schedule, and it became a time to take care of me. I also made myself take a shower each day and dress in regular clothes. Those simple things really helped me feel better as a wife and mom.

I continue to do this now, although with life sometimes my workouts don’t happen. But you know what? I just pick right up where I left off and get back on my treadmill. There is no sense beating myself up for a missed workout. Life happens. Yet striving to keep regular exercise in your life will help you take care of you!

Choose to believe your husband’s words

My hubby has always sought to lavish me with praise telling me that I am beautiful to him. I would drink it up like a woman in the desert and then, moments later, dispute it. I wanted those words so badly and yet, I couldn’t accept them. All the while he felt like I was calling him a liar. If the world is telling me I am not beautiful, how can I believe my husband thinks that I am?

If the world is telling me I am not beautiful, how can I believe my husband thinks that I am? Click To Tweet

Choosing to believe our husband’s words about our beauty is so important. Your hubby loves and adores you! You need to trust that! When he speaks those things into your life, take them in and say, “Thank you.” You trusted him with your life when you married him, trust him with your beauty!

When you are confident you are beautiful

My hubby says that one of the most beautiful things about me is my confidence. Both in life and in the bedroom. Being a confident person is sexy and beautiful. How did I get to that place, you might ask?

  • Seeking God on who He created me to be and who He is molding me into.
  • Believing that He loves me immensely, beyond words, just as I am.
  • Trusting and believing my hubby that he finds me beautiful.

You are His masterpiece

Five years ago our little girl said she wanted to take dance lessons. For me as a softball and tennis player, I was like “really?” My husband and I are always telling our kids to be who God made them to be, and He made our little girl to dance for Him. As she performed in her first recital, she recited a verse with her entire ballet class: “We are God’s masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10.”

“We are God’s masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10.” Click To Tweet

As I watched our precious, beautiful little girl proclaim who she was in Christ, I was moved to tears. I knew that God was challenging me that I too must believe I am His beautiful masterpiece. I am unfinished — He is still doing a work in me — but I am His masterpiece.

Ladies, we are unfinished and beautiful! When we embrace it, choose to believe it, and live accordingly, life takes on a while new look. I know I am beautiful in my Jesus’ eyes as well as my husband’s. I am unfinished and beautiful. You are too!

Ask God to give you eyes to see yourself as He sees you and trust what he shows you. Know that it is not always easy and there will be times that we allow doubt to creep back in, since we are all human. God wants you to feel your beauty. For a husband there is nothing like when his wife is confident in her beauty. You can be that wife.

Kate AldrichKate and her amazing hubby, Brad, write and speak on all things marriage. In 2009 they followed God’s prompting and founded One Flesh Marriage Ministries, a blog based on their marriage journey and God’s word in Ephesians 5. Brad is the Director of Small Groups and re|engage (marriage ministry) at their home church, the Worship Center. Kate is a homeschooling mom and a natural light portrait photographer. God has given Brad and Kate three amazing blessings, two biological and one adopted, who have enriched their life and marriage. They live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where the Amish buggies roam.  You can find their blog at www.onefleshmarriage.com