Tag Archives: libido

The Secret Sex Lives of Real Wives

I shouldn’t be surprised that one of my closest friends lives over a thousand miles away and I’ve only spent a few days face-to-face with her. After all, my own grandmother married her pen pal, whom she’d only met once before they got engaged.

But it’s a bit different in the internet age, in that I met Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife through blogging channels and got to know her through comments and Facebook messages. Together, we then hatched the idea of a roundtable podcast, invited Gaye of Calm.Healthy.Sexy. and Bonny of OysterBed7 to join us, and deepened our connection through Skype chats and podcast recordings. We finally got together in person last fall and did it again this past April.

What really seals our friendship is our similar personalities and shared mission to promote godly, intimate, and satisfying sex in marriages. So what a pleasure today to have my good friend Chris with us to share her thoughts on the secret sex lives of real wives. Take it away, Chris!

The Bible very clearly tells us that God created men and women differently.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Not only do men’s and women’s bodies look different, their sexual response is different too.

I’m going to let you in on a secret about that.

This is God’s design.

A Male Paradigm

Our differences are part of God’s design—yet we seem to think our sexuality and sexual response should work the same way in either sex. More often than not, we look at male sexuality and assume it should be like that for all of us, women included.

This male paradigm of sexual response tells us several things:

  • Orgasm is reached after only a few minutes of sexual stimulation.
  • Even if you’re tired or stressed, sex should be easy.
  • Intercourse is the way to have an orgasm.

For most men (not all), this is pretty much the way sexual response works.

For women? Not so much.

What About Women?

For most women, sexuality looks very different from what we see in men—but far too often this is such a secret that we ourselves don’t know how our sexual response works.

We learn about sex from our parents, our schools, our churches, and popular culture.

We’re taught about how our bodies will change during puberty. We may learn the basics of sexual mechanics (although even that instruction presumes that arousal has already taken place). Some of us have learned from our churches that boys think about sex a lot.

It’s rare to find a woman who arrives at adulthood with information about female sexual response.

It’s rare to find a woman who arrives at adulthood with information about female sexual response. – Chris Taylor via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Without accurate information about women’s sexuality, we assume that our sexual response should look like a man’s—and when it doesn’t, we easily can feel defective or broken or think it means we have a low sex drive or sexual dysfunction.

A woman’s sexual response has nothing to do with whether she has more or less sexual interest than her husband does. A wife with a higher drive than her husband has a female sexual response, just as a lower-drive woman does.

On our podcast, we’ve often talked about how sad it is that we were married and sexual for so long without understanding our own sexual response. I’ve heard from many women who’ve read my blog and say how relieved they are to learn that they are completely normal.

Secrets of Female Sexuality (and Tips for Husbands)

Female sexuality is shrouded in mystery—and it shouldn’t be. Today I’m going to lift the veil and reveal some things that shouldn’t be secret at all.

Unfortunately, our husbands might be even more in the dark as we are about our sexuality. So for each of the secrets below, I want to include a tip to help husbands make the most of that aspect of female sexual response.

1. Orgasm requires time.

Women require an average of 20 minutes to reach climax, which means that although some women need less time, some will need quite a bit more.

Instead of thinking it is taking you a long time, tell yourself that it takes how much time it takes—and that your sexual pleasure is worthy of both your time and your husband’s.

Tip for husbands

In Song of Songs 6:2-3, we see a husband who takes his time browsing in his wife’s garden. So guys? Take your time to browse. Slow waaaaaaayyyyyyy down. (See J’s The One Sex Tip I Give Husbands Over and Over.) Don’t be in a rush to get to a happy ending. Enjoy the journey of your wife’s body.

2. Sexuality is contextual.

Research into women’s sexual desire and response* shows that women are influenced by many factors that seem to have nothing to do with sex: their emotional state, current life stresses, dysfunction in her family of origin, physical and mental health, self-image, general level of intimacy and connection in non-sexual aspects of her relationship with her husband, and more.

So ladies? Take care of that context. Tend to your health. Learn to deal with stress. Work on intimacy outside the bedroom. Taking care of yourself helps your sex life.

Tip for husbands

Make it easier for your wife to take care of herself. Take on some of the mental and physical responsibilities of caring for your home and children. Create space for her to do things that help her feel good about herself. Encourage her to seek healing of old emotional wounds. Be intentional about fostering non-sexual intimacy in your marriage. The Bible tells you in 1 Peter 3:7 to live with your wife in an understanding way. Let that understanding come with support and encouragement.

3. Intercourse is not the most effective means to reach orgasm.

Only about 30% of women achieve climax through intercourse. Most women find that manual or oral stimulation have the best chance for leading to orgasm.

Many couples find that it works best for her to experience orgasm in some way first. Then they proceed to intercourse and his orgasm. Talk with your husband about what kinds of touching and kissing you like, and when. If you like to be aroused through kissing and your husband’s hands first and then proceed to oral sex, be sure to communicate that to your husband.

Tip for husbands

Learn the kinds of touch that are most helpful and pleasurable for your wife. Be sure to check out this great post at Awaken Love about how to touch your wife.

No More Secrets

Women, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our sexuality works the way it does because God created us in this way.

If it takes you a while to achieve climax, if you find that you are easily affected by other things in your life, or if you need something other than intercourse to help you experience an orgasm, know this:

You are not broken. You are not lesser than. You are not defective or dysfunctional.

The secret is out: You are a woman.

To learn more about your sexual response, check out the upcoming Sex Chat for Christian Wives webinar series. Two of our webinars about your sexual response—one webinar for you and one for your husband.

If you’d like to talk with other women about women’s sexual desire and response, I’d love to have you join my new Honeycomb & Spice community for Christian wives.

Chris Taylor encourages women to enjoy sexual intimacy in their marriages at The Forgiven Wife, on the Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast, and in the Honeycomb & Spice community for Christian wives.

She lives with her husband in southeastern Wisconsin where she enjoys Wisconsin weather even in the winter.

Sources:
*Basson, R., et al. (2003). Definitions of women’s sexual dysfunction reconsidered: advocating expansion and revision. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 24, 221-229.
Basson, R. (2002). Women’s sexual desire—disordered or misunderstood? Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 28, 17-28.
Brotto., L., Heiman, J., & Tolman, D. (2009). Narratives of desire in mid-age women with and without arousal difficulties. Journal of Sex Research, 46 (5), 387-398.
Goldhammer, D., & McCabe, M. (2011). A qualititative exploration of the meaning and experience of sexual desire among partnered women. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 20 (1-2), 19-29.

Q&A with J: Sexual Release Without Sinfulness

Our question for today comes from a wife who is currently separated from her husband, fighting for her marriage, and trying to deal with her restless sex drive. Here it is:

Our sex life has been amazing from day one. I have a very high libido and I just enjoy sex and trying new things, etc. However, we are currently separated due to him falling into an international affair. I am fighting hard for my marriage and I’m praying the Lord will grab his heart and turn him from his sin…

My question is this: I’m 31 years old with a high libido and I feel trapped in how to how to honor the Lord with my sexuality right now. How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful? I believe masturbation is okay, especially in my situation, but it has become really hard to climax without having a scenario in my head. I believe erotica can erode a marriage, but are there certain types of erotica that can help people people in my situation?

Blog post title + woman under bed covers with arms raised

First off, I’m praying for your marriage too, and I invite my readers to do the same. Obviously, the best answer is for this marriage to be not only restored but brought to a place of thriving.

Yet whatever happens, you have to deal with this high libido that was awakened in marriage and now has no place to be satisfied. I feel for you. Your sex drive doesn’t just go away when your spouse is gone; it can be a hungry little beast when not properly fed.

You essentially have three ways to deal with a restless sex drive.

1. Release it.

That’s where your question heads to: “How can I get a release without indulging in anything sinful?” You say that masturbation is okay, and I’ve laid out my own position on this blog before. A summary of my perspective would be that masturbation that brings you and your spouse closer together is okay and masturbation that draws sexual energy away from your spouse is not okay.

Long physical separation from your spouse could be one of those times when it’s beneficial to “take the edge off” so that you can remain focused on your husband and your intimacy with him and not be tempted by another’s man attention, get cranky with your husband because it’s been way too long, etc. But imagining a scenario in your mind that doesn’t involve your husband takes sexual energy away from him; it’s inherently detrimental to your relationship.

If you’re imagining anything other than your hubby in your mind, you’re in sinful territory. And that’s what erotica encourages you to do. Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NLT). Of course that also applies to a woman looking, or imagining, a man with lust.

Ideally, if you’re masturbating to be able to withstand a long physical separation from your spouse, you’re doing so with their knowledge, support, and even presence (yes, some married couples Skype and simultaneously pleasure themselves). In your case, however, that’s not possible. So you need to be careful about how you engage in this physical release.

Look at your motives, your heart and your mind, and what will best keep your sexual energy on your marriage. Prayerfully ask those questions and listen for God’s answers.

2. Channel it.

You don’t have to use sexual energy sexually. That pent-up feeling can be channeled toward other activities. For instance, physical exercise can help diffuse that tension. It’s another way to be active, experience body chemical highs, and end up with that level of fatigue you sometimes feel at the end of sex.

I’m sure you’re also missing that physical touch that comes with sexual connection. You can refocus your desire for sexual affection to other forms of affection and other relationships. Spend more time with family. Volunteer in your church’s nursery. Head to a convalescent home and hold hands with an old woman, who might also have some wise life advice to share while you’re there.

Check out these and other ideas on what to do with your sexual energy when you’re not attached in this post.

3. Ignore it.

You’re probably thinking, I can’t! It’s impossible to ignore. But hear me out. In psychology, there’s a principle called extinction. In behavioral therapy, we know that linking a stimulus and a consequence causes people to expect the latter when the former shows up. The classic experiment is Pavlov’s dogs who heard a bell before being fed and thereafter drooled for food whenever they heard the bell ring. But if you de-couple that stimulus and consequence (bell → food), eventually the conditioned response (drooling) goes away. That’s extinction.

Right now, your hungry little beast — aka, your sex drive — wants to be fed. But it doesn’t literally need to be fed. You don’t have to have sex for your heart to keep beating. So it’s possible to use a bit of extinction in dealing with your drive.

I don’t believe your libido will completely go away, because our sexuality is an integral, God-given part of our humanity. But if you constantly shove juicy morsels at that beast, it will keep coming and coming, demanding to be fed. If you ignore it, eventually your drive will diminish. Enough to be more manageable.

Lest you think I’m being completely unrealistic, my husband and I did not have sex for about four months when expecting our second child. I was right in that high-libido part of my pregnancy when my doctor announced that health risks precluded intercourse. I did a lot of ignoring my drive, and so did my husband. Over time, it got less demanding. So I believe it can be done.

(By the way, for those who are in a marriage where you should be having sex and one of you has been practicing extinction, this might help to explain why it’s hard to get going again. But you should, for the sake of your marriage.)

Which of the three options should you choose? Each of them — releasing your sex drive, channeling it, ignoring it — could be beneficial depending on the motives, circumstances, and goals. But ask serious questions about what would honor God and your marriage when deciding what to do.

Once again, I’m praying that your marriage will be saved.

5 Truths for High-Drive Wives

When it comes to sexual intimacy, I’ve had an interesting journey. I’ve been the virgin, the “technical virgin,” the so-not-a-virgin, the redeemed bride, the lots-of-sex newlywed, the no-libido wife, and the higher-drive wife. Sometimes I wonder if God allowed me to be put in all of these scenarios so that I can have compassion for people in different circumstances.

As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Although every situation is unique, there’s something about the general been there, done that which makes you understand someone else’s struggle just a bit more.

So believe me when I say that I’m very sensitive to those wives who read, hear, and see the constant message that men are incredibly eager to have sex … yet their experience doesn’t bear that out. As a high-drive wife, I remember falling into conversations with other Christian women and feeling like a penguin in a tropical forest — the only one of my kind and completely out-of-place. Was I the only wife who wanted more sex in her marriage?

5 Truths for High-Drive Wives

On Monday’s post, I responded to a comment thread about a higher-drive wife with the following:

When we’re going through a tough situation, it’s so easy to feel like everyone else is doing okay in that area and you’re alone in your misery. But…this isn’t some freakish thing for a wife to be the higher-drive spouse or for a husband to be less interested in sex. As I read and study this issue more and more, I’ve become convinced it’s maybe 1/4 of marriages. That’s hardly a small number!

Look at it this way: As of 2014, there were over 59 million married women in the United States. If 25% of those are higher-drive wives, that 14.75 million women whose husbands aren’t pawing at them all day long. Even if it’s 10%, that’s still 5.9 million wives. Hey, just imagine I’m completely wrong, and it’s 5% — still almost 3 million women. It just might help to put this into perspective and realize that, while a difference in sex drive can be a challenge that needs addressing, being the higher-drive wife doesn’t make you as rare as a dodo bird — far from it.

Today, I just want that to sink in for all of you higher-drive wives. There are millions of women like you. You are not alone.

I know that doesn’t solve your problem of libido differences with your husband. But sometimes we need start by recognizing some truths about what’s normal. So let me speak five truths to you higher-drive wives wondering a few things about yourself:

1. You are normal. You cannot find me a Bible verse, a biology textbook, or a quality marriage expert that says there’s anything wrong or weird about the female having the higher libido. Frankly, I’m thinking we should move away from talking about what’s typical or normal versus atypical and abnormal, and instead talk about what’s healthy and unhealthy. And desiring your spouse sexually is absolutely healthy.

2. You are not a “nympho.” Well, admittedly, someone out there might be. But overall, wanting sex more than your husband doesn’t make you a crazed sex fiend or a “slut” or any of the other labels that might float through your head from time to time. Would you ever let a friend call herself such awful names? Then why would you let your inner voice call you any of those wrong, hurtful names even one more time? Speak the truth about who you are.

3. You are not ugly. Given the ongoing messages about men being driven to have sex, and women being less interested, when you discover your situation is different, the first question often asked is “What’s wrong with me?” You wonder why he doesn’t want you the way you expected any red-blooded male would dive into the opportunity to have sex. But there are only a handful of times I’ve heard of sexual rejection being appearance-based. And if your husband is rejecting you because you gained a few pounds or whatever, then you’ve got bigger issues than a mismatch in sex drives.

4. You are not alone. It’s not true that no one else in the world understands your heartache. Other women in similar situations need your encouragement, and you need theirs. My hubby and I took the popular Marriage Helper course twice, and the first time I was the only woman in our small group who listed Sexual Fulfillment as one of my top marriage needs; the second time around, there was a like-minded wife in the class (bless her!), and it was affirming to have another wife who understood. Thank goodness we were both wiling to speak up!

5. Your sex drive matters. In marriage, both of you matter — his sex drive and yours. Ideally, you work together to find physical intimacy that pleasures and sates you both. If the lower-drive spouse isn’t there yet, it doesn’t mean the higher-drive spouse should squelch their natural desire to be sexually intimate with their beloved. You may have a bigger hill to climb to get to where you want to go, but start walking. Because your sex drive, and your sex life, matters — to you and to your marriage. God wants you to both enjoy satisfying sexual intimacy, and that’s a goal worth pursuing. You will likely need patience, wisdom, and perseverance, but aren’t those qualities we always need when we’re stretched to grow in our lives?

I hope you can hear these truths, and remind yourself of them often. I have a whole chapter in Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design just for higher-drive wives, with specific ideas on how to proceed. But start with knowing who you are — a healthy, desirable wife, who simply has a challenge to be addressed. And then pray to know that next step.

Reminder: Check out details about my fabulous September giveaway by clicking HERE.

Sept 2016 Giveaway 1

How Libido Works: For Women, That Is

If you follow me here or on social media, you’ll quickly discover that I share a lot of what Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum writes. That’s because we have very similar views on sex in marriage, and her wisdom is well worth my readers’ time.

Not to mention that we’re friends. Which is one of major bonuses of doing what I do — getting to meet like-minded people who are smart, fun, and Christ-like.

It’s my pleasure to share her with you today! Sheila’s here to talk about how libido works — for women, that is. Because it’s not how many of us were taught that sex drive works. And now…Sheila.How Libido Works: For Women, That IsHave you ever noticed that movies and TV shows make women’s sex drives look just like men’s?

Here’s what happens, pretty much every time: the couple’s together, and they start to pant. So they fall into each other’s arms and they begin to kiss. Then the clothes come off. And then they end up in bed.

They pant, they kiss, they take off their clothes, and they end up in bed.

Pant. Kiss. Clothes. Bed.

Every time.

If this is what you see, over and over, you may begin to think that’s natural.

So there you are, at home with your husband, and you’re waiting to pant.

And nothing happens.

So you figure, “I guess I’m just not in the mood”, and you return to browsing Pinterest or you go and make another cup of tea.

But what if that whole portrayal of women’s and men’s sex drives is wrong?

Rosemary Abbott of the University of British Columbia did a study a while ago that found that while men tend to be aroused BEFORE they started to make love (that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?), most women are not aroused UNTIL they start. They’re not panting at all!

Instead, they make the decision to make love, and then once they start, they relax enough and tell themselves, “I am going to have FUN tonight!” It’s only then that their bodies kick in.

For women, our sex drives are primarily in our heads. If our heads aren’t engaged, our bodies won’t follow.

But that also means that we have a great deal of power when it comes to our libidos! Instead of waiting to feel in the mood, we can tell ourselves positive things about sex: “I am going to enjoy this tonight.” “I am going to sleep so well after this!” Or even, “I am going to rock my husband’s world!”

Unfortunately, many of us don’t quite understand this. We figure that our bodies should kick in if he does the right thing, romances us the right way, or touches just the right place. So we start making love, but while we’re doing that we’re also composing shopping lists in our heads, trying to figure out if there’s enough milk in the fridge to get us through breakfast, and planning our errands route for tomorrow. So sex feels lousy. And it must be his fault, because he’s just not doing it right!

Now, there’s no doubt that husbands often need to learn what makes wives feel good (because many husbands don’t understand foreplay, for instance!). But it’s also true that one night he could do something that has you in raptures, and three nights later he’s doing exactly the same thing, move for move, and you’re lying there thinking, “Will you just get over with because I want to get to sleep!” It’s not about what he’s doing; it’s about what you’re thinking!

That’s why great sex isn’t about panting beforehand and it isn’t JUST about him doing the right thing. It’s also about us concentrating and putting our brains to work for us!

When you make love, ask yourself, “What feels good right now?” That makes your brain cut off that shopping list and concentrate instead on your body. And you just may find that it does feel good, after all!

God made women so that our response isn’t as automatic as men’s sexual response tends to be.

We have to make the decision that we want to make love. We even have to make the decision that we’re going to have a good time! But I think there’s a logic behind that. Because we need to make that decision, then both husbands and wives have an incentive to work on feeling intimate outside of the bedroom, too. We have to build goodwill towards each other to even want to make love in the first place. If our sexual response was always automatic, then our relationships could be quite shallow.

Instead, when things work well, we get the best of both worlds. We feel close to our husbands, and we feel great in the bedroom. But ultimately it’s up to us: will we decide to jump in and take the initiative, or will we sit back and wait for the panting to happen?

Personally, I’d suggest jumping in. Sex helps you sleep better. Sex helps you feel closer. Plus great sex feels amazing! It’s too great a gift to leave to chance. So decide to have fun tonight, and see what happens!

Sheila WC 100Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and 31 Days to Great Sex. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

Come on over and download her free ebook, 36 Ways to Bring Sexy Back to The Bedroom!

Thanks, Sheila! I love this wise advice.

A Wife’s Guide to Sexual Man Speak

Last Thursday, I wrote a post that got some flak. Because I explained how my husband tried to initiate sex in the middle of the night. In our conversation later, he’d said something like, “I woke up and felt turned on.” Which makes it sound like he just had an urge and expected my body to meet his “need.” Not at all what happened, because I know how loving and gentle his advances were, how he views sex in our marriage generally, and how to translate man-speak.

A Wife's Guide to Sexual Man Speak

Oh, if only our men would express their heartfelt desire for closeness and connection the way heroes do in the pages of romantic novels! Novels almost all written by women.

I’m not knocking all romance novels. I actually enjoy some of them. But many do a poor job of illuminating the mind of a man. We can come to expect that a man’s mind works much like ours does, and then when we find out otherwise we’re offended that “men are pigs.”

But they’re not. They’re just a different side of the same human coin. So let’s give our husbands some grace, remember that — by and large — husbands truly love their wives, and translate some common hubby phrases when it comes to sex.

“I’m turned on.”

It sounds like he flipped a switch and expects you to be ready to go just as fast, right? But really, this translates to “You turn me on.”

I’m not saying a man never gets turned on by other stuff, or just it being that time of the day. (Even with all the research I’ve done, I still find their equipment to be a bit of a mystery.) But the consistent message I hear from husbands is that they get most turned on by being with the wife they love.

And it can happen slowly or quickly. It could build from intimate actions and deep feelings throughout the day, or she can just walk through the room naked. Maybe that’s why it feels so weird to hear “I’m turned on” for some wives. Because the pattern for women is more often getting turned on after romantic and sexual activity begin, while hubby can get turned on by you and then seek a sexual encounter.

Just be assured it’s most likely about you. Not simply a burning need in his pants.

(Note: Men do get turned on by porn, and that’s a whole different issue. God definitely intended the turn-on stimulus to be one another, not third parties or images of third parties. If porn is a struggle in your marriage, it needs to be addressed immediately, lovingly, and firmly.)

“I need sex.” 

Speaking of need, here’s another phrase you might hear in your marriage: “I need sex.” This rarely means “I have a purely biological need to have sex, and you’ll do.” Yes, God did make us sexual beings, with reproductive biology and sex drives. Most husbands feel sex as a need. But husbands tell me again and again that their need for emotional connection to their wives is even stronger.

Yes, he “needs” sex in the sense that he has a biological drive to sate the desire he feels in his gut, his brain, and, oh yeah, his groin. (It’s all connected.) But “I need sex” is more about “I long to experience the love and intimacy I feel when I have sex my beloved wife.”

“I want you.”

In too many wives’ minds, we complete that sentence with extra stuff. Like “I want you to do me a sexual favor,” “I want you to be at my beck-and-call,” “I want you to sate my desire.” Yeah, I get it. To some extent, those are all in the fantasy wheelhouse for plenty of husbands. Not all — yes, I see you, higher-drive wives! — but some.

We wives often put the emphasis on want when, once again, it should be on the you. And very often, it means that he wants all of you. Not just your body. He wants you to be fully involved in the experience, giving yourself 100% to the physical intimacy that binds you together as one flesh. He wants all of you engaged in the marriage bed.

I suspect most of us know the difference between letting your body show up for sex and engaging your whole self in sexual intimacy. When your husband says he wants you, consider that he wants all of you — your heart, your body, your pleasure, your connection.

“You’re beautiful.”

To husbands, this means: “You’re beautiful.” Yep, they’re actually saying what they mean. Unfortunately, we ladies often read their words as “he’s just saying that,” “he only wants sex,” “he knows I’m not as beautiful as ____.”

But for the most part, hubbies think their wives are hot. Not because we’re all objectively Helens of Troy, but our guys love us, they have history with us, they like our curves, they think our smile is cute, they know that bodies don’t stay 20 years old forever, etc. Basically, your husband’s love for you gives him special vision that helps him see past the pounds, wrinkles, and self-doubt to the beautiful you that you truly are.

For the men.

And guys, do you see how you come off sometimes to women? I get that many of you are straight-to-the-point, as-few-words-as-possible men. Believe me, I’m married to one. But use your words to express what you really mean and what your wife really means to you.

If you want sex with your wife, express that you want her, not just the sex. Your wife is worth the extra effort to consider your words carefully and be a little more of a romantic hero in her life.

Also worth reading: Ten Lies Wives Believe about Sex (And Ten Truths Husbands Want You To Know)