Tag Archives: improving your marital intimacy

3 G-Words to Improve Your Marriage

I was recently chatting with a fellow marriage blogger, the marvelous Sheila Gregoire, and talking about my own marriage story — how my relationship went from terrible to terrific. I’ve written before about what made the difference in my own marriage. The summary version is I stopped merely seeking changes from my husband and praying for God’s intervention, and instead prioritized living out God’s Word day-by-day.

Did I do it perfectly? Of course not. I still struggle in many areas. But through the years, I’ve learned how important is to attend to three actions that all begin with the letter G.  So here are 3 G-words to improve your own marriage.

Wedding Rings & Cross

Grace. Your husband isn’t perfect, and he will not meet all of your expectations or desires. For years, I piled up the slights, the neglect, etc. I felt my husband heaped upon me, and then asked him to change and prayed God would make him. Couldn’t my husband see how much I needed his help, his reassurance, his romance? Why instead did I get his clutter, his frustration, his avoidance?

Strange isn’t it? How I wanted grace from my husband, but I wasn’t offering grace to him?

I’ve learned the beauty of giving your mate the benefit of the doubt. If your husband has an annoying habit, it likely isn’t personal; he’d forget things or leave his stuff out or fail to match the kids’ clothes whether you were there or not. He may not handle your stressful day well because he had a stressful day of his own. He may not want to hang out with you if you’re always nagging the poor man. Thinking about how I treated my husband when we were at our worst, I wouldn’t have wanted to be with me either.

When I turned my heart to giving him grace, a weight fell off my own heart, and I began to see my husband in a different light. He was struggling like I was and needed my love and reassurance. I no longer saw all his failings, but his effort and care for me. We receive so much grace from our Heavenly Father, can we give a little grace to our spouse?

Generosity. I love the mission that Paul and Lori Byerly, Generous Husband and Generous Wife, have made of bringing this concept to the forefront. All too often in our Christian walk, we ask how much we must do. And in our marriages, we ask what minimum actions will get us what we want from our spouse. But the attitude God calls us to is generosity.

In my own marriage, I was stingy in certain ways. I didn’t want to pick up extra slack around the house for fear of being taken for granted or treated like a doormat. I didn’t offer help when his hands were full, because he hadn’t done everything I wanted that last time when my hands were full. I didn’t have sex with my husband on those days I stored up anger about something he’d done (whether or not he knew it).

Ah, but the wondrous rewards of going the extra mile! (Matthew 5:41-42). When I shifted in my marriage to looking for ways to show love, I discovered the joy of serving, I took personal pride in being my hubby’s helpmate, and his appreciation of me increased. I was no longer doing only what I had to do, but demonstrating that he was important enough for me to be generous with my time, my efforts, myself. That generosity even spilled into the bedroom, where I became freer with letting him see and touch me and with touching and pleasuring him.

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We tend to focus on that first sentence, the promise that if we give it good, we’ll get good back. But look at the measure we’re supposed to use in how we treat others: “pressed down, shaken together, running over” — such that’s it pouring out over the sides. Now that’s generosity. Do we use that measure in our marriages?

Growth. You’ve got three choices in marriage: Your relationship is getting worse, stagnating, or getting better. Now believe me, I understand the desire to just hang in there at times — to batten the hatches, hunker down, and ride the storm. I’ve had those moments in my marriage. But sometimes we people of faith settle for staying in our marriage, when we should be striving for building our marriage.

We should expect to steadily grow toward better understanding of one another, deeper intimacy, and maturing of our faith and relationship. Indeed, growth is one of the benefits of being married (“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17).

You will likely have ups and downs in your marriage, but if one were to track the whole of the marriage, there should be discernible growth. Maybe your years would be a timeline like this:

Ups & Downs of Marriage - timeline

Despite years of struggle, I can definitely say that we are more mature, more intimate, more satisfied in our marriage now than we were when we began. We have sought and experienced growth. And it’s been well-worth our effort.

I wouldn’t be on this blog chatting it up about marriage if I hadn’t learned a thing or two about making one work. And really applying these biblical principles of grace, generosity, and growth can make a big difference in a flailing or stagnant marriage. Or even improve a good one.

What guiding biblical principles have helped your marriage improve?

Asking Readers to Share Their Best Advice

No, I am not running out of topics. Believe me, there is PLENTY left to discuss about marriage and sexual intimacy. There are a myriad of challenges and ways to attend to this particular aspect of the marital relationship. The secular world continues to toss out their wrong ideas about intimacy which need to be addressed. Plus, my readers continue to challenge me with new questions and subjects I have yet to touch on.

However, I wanted to take today and simply thank those readers who have taken the time to share their story, give quality advice, or offer encouragement and prayers to others in the comments section. Quite often, I throw up a post, receive comments, and find some amazing gem (or two or three or more) among the readers’ thoughts. You often do better than I at answering questions — especially if you have been through a similar situation and worked through a challenge.

One more time:

Thank you!

And now, I’m simply going to open up my comments to see what wisdom remains out there. Here’s the question at hand that I want you to answer for me and the readers:

What one piece of advice have you received that has made a positive difference in the sex life of your marriage?

It can be something gleaned from the Bible, from a good friend or family member, from a book or blog, from your doctor or counselor, or any other resource. It can speak to the whole of marriage or some specific technique (but don’t get too graphic so that we’re all wincing and spitting here).

I will be gathering up your advice and sharing it in other ways as well. Blessings and thanks to all of YOU. Because I really do have the BEST readers!

Half-Marathon Finish Line: More Fabulous CMBA Posts

CMBA logo

Last Thursday, I explained that the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association — of which I am a member — was hosting a half-marathon with 13 consecutive days of posts from marriage bloggers. While I did not participate this go-round, I have been reading some fabulous posts from fellow CMBA members. Once again, I want to share with you some of what I found regarding marital sexuality. This is a LOT of reading, so take a look through and click on what interests you.

The Alabaster Jar: The Enticing Wife. Jolene Engle takes a fresh look at the wife in Song of Solomon.

The Generous Husband: 6 Best Sex Positions. Paul Byerly reveals the top six sex positions according to a survey of more than 250 women.

Intimacy in Marriage: Are You Headed for a Sexual Train Wreck? Julie Sibert implores you to look down the track and see what’s coming.

5 Ways to Be a Better Lover. Julie gives specific tips on what to do to become better in bed with your spouse.

Should Married Christians Be Better Advocates for Sex? Julie asks what would happen for marriages if more than just us marriage bloggers spoke up in favor of godly sexuality.

Journey to Surrender: Intimacy Challenge – Day 8. Scott Means gives wives and husbands tips for talking to each other about sex because, hey, it’s a topic that makes us feel vulnerable.

Intimacy Challenge – Day 9: Sex on the Brain. Scott explains how we crave both security and excitement in the marital bedroom.

Marriage Fire Ministries: Wives Body Image Issues: A Husband’s View. Steve Fryar looks at why we wives struggle with body image and what husbands can do about it.

Mission: Husband: Sexual Satisfaction Survey Results, Part 1. Gerad Harris reports from his survey with over 800 respondents and shares the wives’ answers to “If you could get across one thing to your husband about sex, and know that you could say it in a way that he would totally understand it, what would it be?”

Mission: Wife: Sexual Satisfaction Survey: The Results Are In! In her companion blog, Valerie Harris reports the husbands’ answers to ““If you could get across one thing to your wife about sex, and know that you could say it in a way he would totally understand it, what would it be?”

One Flesh Marriage: Dolt to Don Juan in 4 Steps and Sex: Your Parents’ Style. Brad and Kate Aldrich answer a top reader question: “How do I shake off what I was taught about sex and intimacy by my family and church?”

Redeeming Marriages: Sex Is Good, God Created It. Jack and Janet share the main principles that God laid out for married sex.

Sex Within Marriage: Do Men Want Their Women to Take the Lead More When It Comes to Sex? Jay Dee addresses whether husbands really desire sexually aggressive wives.

Does It Hurt A Man’s Feelings When We Give Instructions to Him in the Bedroom on What We Like and Dislike as a Women In Bed? Jay Dee explains why the answer is “It depends.”

Do You Believe Couples Go through Sexual Seasons in Their Relationship? Jay Dee tells about the sexual seasons of his marriage.

Why Do Married Men Masturbate? Jay Dee talks about husbands masturbating alone and whether this is advisable.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum: Encouraging Email from an Older Reader. Better sex in your 70s? You betcha! Read this encouraging note to Sheila Gregoire.

Honeymoon Blues to “O”ver the Rainbow. Guest Rajdeep Paulus tells her story of going from ho-hum honeymoon to the height of delight in her marriage. Great perspective for women struggling with orgasm.

I hope you find something here to bless your marriage. The blogging challenge is still going for a couple more days, so I’ll share a few more posts next Thursday along with a regular blog article from me.

Where to Begin with Improving Your Marital Sexuality

Unmade bed

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Hello again on a Monday! For the time being, Mondays are the day I answer readers’ questions. Today’s question is from another Anonymous reader:

My hubby and I have been married for 4 years and just recently had our first child. Neither of us waited for sex until marriage, although it is something we regret. Before we were married and early on in our marriage, we had a great sex life. But over the last couple of years, it’s…dwindled a bit. More often lately, my husband complains that sex is boring for him, mostly because of a lack of variety in the bedroom. While I understand his issue, I also have one of my own: new positions often hurt and sometimes make me feel like I’m being used. Some positions hurt before pregnancy and childbirth, but even more do now that my body has been changed by having a baby. Our daughter is 4 months old and I’m breastfeeding, so I’m sure hormones play a part in this. I was also molested by my stepfather as a child (though he never forced intercourse) and my first sexual partner was very emotionally absent. I’m sure these play some sort of part in my issue as well, at least emotionally. I WANT things to get better, but I’m truly at a loss. Any advice?

Like many couples, there are various challenges to having a satisfying sex life. Specifically, this reader mentions:

  • Regret from engaging in premarital sex
  • Complaints from husband about lack of variety
  • Physical pain with certain sex positions
  • Emotional hurt from feeling used
  • Hormonal changes in her body
  • Painful memories regarding sex

Many of us have one or more of these issues to contend with at some point in marriage. I’ll tackle each issue briefly and then give a prescription for where to begin improving marital intimacy — even when several obstacles are present.

Regret from engaging in premarital sex. Not starting out on the right foot can lead us down the path of feeling guilty or believing that we are getting payback when our marital sex life is flailing. I have definitely spent some time wallowing in regret for my past sins. However, God’s desire is that we confess our sins, choose His path instead, and receive forgiveness. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says in part: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers…will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

So you messed up. A lot of us do. But God is in the business of taking imperfect situations and turning them into good (Genesis 45:5, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). When a woman was caught in adultery, Jesus did not say, “Go now and wallow in your sins and regret for years.” No, he simply said, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

You are now in a marriage blessed by God, seeking out His will for intimacy with your spouse. There are consequences to entering marriage with a sexual past, but God wants to heal you and bless you both. Let Him do so. (See The Gospel in the Bedroom.)

Complaints from husband about lack of variety. I am perplexed by your husband’s statement that “sex is boring.” I wonder what variety he desires because some husbands may be looking for more frequency and participation from their wife while others use this statement to get their wife to try something edgy they’ve seen in porn. A lack-of-variety complaint can run the gamut for what we’re talking about here.

Variety for variety’s sake isn’t all that appealing to me. However, variety can provide new sensations and connection, and that is attractive. Variety can come through different positioning, different locations, what you wear, setting the scene, and even the use of sex toys or props. If the request for variety includes activities that are questionable or simply off-limits to you, however, you need to negotiate.

Find out what kind of variety would work for you both and introduce small changes. Most of us won’t do something way out of our comfort zone, but we will incorporate something new here and there until our repertoire has expanded over time.

Physical pain with certain sex positions. Thankfully, there are many positions. You can adjust a position feels sometimes by shifting your limbs or hips to get more comfortable. However, when you’re getting back in the saddle after childbirth, many wives report desiring more control over how the husband enters. The woman-on-top position may be preferable for that reason.

I suggest you talk it out as you engage in sex. Try to avoid the “you’re hurting me!” scream in the midst of intercourse and opt for something positive like, “Let me shift and see if I can get more comfortable” or “That hurts. Can we try ____?” Also use lubricant if you need it.

Emotional hurt from feeling used. All too often, husbands give the impression that they need sex from their wives like they need food from the drive-through. Some wives feel like a receptacle for their husband’s sexual satisfaction, and for almost all husbands, it is so much more than that.

Sex is how a majority of men feel emotionally bonded to their wives. That sounds crazy to us women who must feel emotionally bonded to have sex. However, it’s true. I don’t know your husband, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that he wants to have hot sex with you because he loves you, not simply because he wants to ejaculate in some chick. You are not just anyone; you are his wife, the mother of his child, the woman he chose to spend his life with.

So what can you do when your husband’s advances feel like you’re being used? Ask what having sex means for him as far as your relationship is concerned. Also, express what you need from the your marital intimacy. Speak up for what feels good, what you want from the experience, and how you need to be cherished.

Hormonal changes in your body. The worst time in my married sex life was when I was breastfeeding. I loved nursing my kids, but it wreaked havoc with my sex drive and ability to lubricate. I later discovered I was extremely low on estrogen, and a cream from my obstetrician  drastically helped with the pain of intercourse post-childbirth. I still struggled with drive, though.

If I had it to do again, I would talk to my OB more about my sex life. Your doctor can help address how your hormones are affecting your marital intimacy. Be specific and don’t accept the “well, it takes a while for sex to get going” response. This is your body and this is your family: Insist on doing what you can to help balance the needs of you, your baby, and your husband.

Painful memories regarding sex. Of all the things I hear about sex, this is the one that gets steam to come out of my ears. Sexually assaulting a child is absolutely unconscionable to me, but my belief is that God will deal with those people.

Sexual assault weaves together the body’s sexual parts with feelings of pain and hurt, and that imprint can linger for a long time. My advice is two-fold: (1) get professional help through counseling or healing resources because that scar remains and needs to be dealt with; and (2) create new memories that counter the bad, old ones, thus retraining your body that sexuality is a good thing in a covenant marriage relationship. Remember that you are not to blame for what happened, and your body is now a beautiful gift you give to your spouse.

So should a couple simply knock these out one at a time? Yes, but quality sexual intimacy in marriage isn’t merely about removing obstacles. You should set forward-looking goals for what you want your sex life to be.

Sit down (outside of the bedroom) and discuss with your husband what you want for your sex life  and invite him to explain what he wants. Try to be specific. How often? What things would you like to try? What do you most enjoy about your time together? What does having sex mean to you? How does it feel when you are pursued, welcomed, or rejected in the bedroom?

Lay out your desires as openly as possible, not placing demands on your spouse or complaining about past hurts, but looking toward a positive future together. You don’t have to agree on every single point to have terrific marital intimacy. I can almost guarantee that one of you will want to have sex more often than the other and that one of you will want to try something the other doesn’t want to do.

That’s okay. A healthy sex life as God intended is not about selfishly meeting your own desires but building an intimate physical relationship with your spouse. There will be give-and-take and live-and-learn. But by expressing your desires, you can start to see where you and your husband have the same goals, how you can work toward meeting his needs and desires, and express that you are interested in good sex and what that looks like to you. Then you can evaluate which of the above obstacles need to be addressed immediately and discuss how to address them.

Seek resources to deal with each issue, set up a plan to work toward your dream sex life, and celebrate progress as you go. One of the absolute best parts of God’s plan for sexuality in marriage is that you should have plenty of time to work on developing physical intimacy with one another.

Blessings for a beautiful life of intimacy!

Sexual Olympics: Are You a Gold Medalist?

The London 2012 Olympics has arrived! I don’t know what your favorite summer Olympic sport is, but I always find myself watching gymnastics at some point. So I looked up the USA team gold medalist hopefuls and found this video about Jordyn Wieber:

http://youtu.be/0bJ7tYTB4-Y

Now you might wonder how I can possibly draw lessons for marriage and sexuality from the story of a 17-year-old Olympian. Well, here I go.

Because I think we are involved in our own event of Sexual Olympics in marriage. We need the same attitudes that Olympians possess to nurture sexual intimacy.

All too often, what gets portrayed in movies, TV shows, and books is that the best sexual experience is among the first. We tend to believe that the first interaction of passion or the honeymoon are the best sexual experiences a couple will have. Not so, bloke. Couples tend to experience the best sex years into their marriage.The video of Jordyn showed her doing gymnastics as a child and, while she was good back then, she has grown into an athlete worthy of accolades and applause through several key factors. Let’s take them in turn.

Desire. Olympic athletes want to be involved in their sport and achieve. Sexual Olympians in marriage also have a strong desire to be the best they can be. I’m not talking about desire in terms of libido here. You can have a low sex drive but still have a desire for quality marital intimacy. If you truly want it and see the importance of having it, you can build on that; you can develop a healthy libido and sex life in marriage. Having quality sexual intimacy starts with a strong desire to attain what God desires you to have in your marriage.

Focus. It’s called “intensity” in the video above. Essentially, this is the quality of blocking out other distractions and giving marital intimacy your full attention. This is a huge challenge with the demands on our time from job, household, friends, children, other family, and more. However, when you begin intimacy with your husband, your focus needs to turn to him. The other things can wait. Indeed, a strong focus on the sensations and pleasure of sexual intimacy can help wives achieve orgasm more easily and frequently.

Training. Olympians have coaches; couples can get coaching too. There are more resources now than ever to help you know what you’re doing in the bedroom. Pick up a book on Christian sexuality or follow some blogs with tips (I’ve given tips on orgasms, oral sex, and more myself). Ask a more experienced woman in church if you can. And most importantly, let your spouse train you as to what is most effective to turn him on and make him feel desired and close to you.

Practice. Ah, now the fun part! If you want to have quality sex, you need some quantity sex. Olympians don’t just practice every other week. They hit the gym daily, for hours on end. Now I’m not suggesting that you have sex every day for hours (although…). Rather, I’m saying that having lots of sex gives you practice and the opportunity to try new things, tweak your approach, hone your skills, and become a better lover for your spouse. And my, oh my, I’d rather practice mounting my hubby than dismounting a set of parallel bars any day. I’m just sayin’.

Performance. Thank goodness there are no judges in the bedroom! “8.3 with points off for a shaky landing.” And no announcers! “She simply couldn’t recover from that foible in the middle of her routine.” But hey, when you know you’ve put on your best performance — whether for the Olympics or your hubby in the bedroom — there is some part of you that beams with pride. “Oh yeah, that was me who made him sweat and pant with pleasure.” You want to stand tall and accept your gold medal because you are that good.

Balance. The mom in the video about Jordyn Wieber mentioned that she had to insist on balance for her daughter. I believe in this too. Getting the gold in your marriage isn’t merely about sexual Olympics. Aim for balance by attending to other areas of intimacy — emotional, spiritual, recreational, etc. In fact, your intimacy in the bedroom will be nurtured by focusing on other parts of your marriage too. The better the relationship, the better the sex; the better the sex, the better the relationship; the better . . .  It’s a loop. Work on your friendship with your spouse, as well as your sexual intimacy . . . and both will improve.

Now what is your favorite Olympic sport? And what lessons for marriage can you draw from watching the Olympics?