Tag Archives: sex in marriage

When Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

I have about 20 draft posts right now, some with a bunch of words, some only a few, but none ready to publish. You might think I should go work on one of those and post about that. But something else has been weighing heavily on me this week. Integrity.

When I looked up the meaning of integrity, I most liked what Etymology Online says about the word’s origin:

“innocence, blamelessness; chastity, purity,” from Old French integrité or directly from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” figuratively “purity, correctness, blamelessness,” from integer “whole.”

https://www.etymonline.com/word/integrity

Integrity is about consistency and completeness of character. It’s a core principle I tried to teach my sons, explaining it to them as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

Integrity Takes a Hit

The first half of 2019 was quite lovely and culminated with the marriage of my impressive son to a beautiful daughter-in-law, an event that was nearly perfect in every way. But then, as life does, there were quite a few disappointments in the second half of 2019 — instances in which people acted in ways that I didn’t expect.

From public politics to personal connections, I’ve witnessed rifts that make my chest ache. The details don’t matter, but suffice it to say that I could list a number of times when I’ve wondered about people’s integrity.

Why were people turning their back on principles they’d previously espoused as important? Did they ever believe what they’d proclaimed? Had they changed their minds? Lost their way?

Had I failed too? Did I need to guard better against losing my integrity?

Integrity in Marriage

How are we doing with integrity in our marriage? Are we consistent in doing what is right? What is loving? What we say we believe is important?

When no one is looking — or when at least your spouse isn’t looking — how do you treat your marriage and your sexuality?

Consider whether you could say any of the following:

  • “I know porn is wrong, but I still watch it in secret.”
  • “My spouse doesn’t know how much I masturbate on my own.”
  • “I believe that sex is important, but I haven’t made time for it.”
  • “I said I would initiate sex more, but I haven’t.”
  • “Given how I treat him/her, my spouse might not even say I’m much of a Christian.”
  • “I complain and/or blame my spouse on blogs and social media, knowing s/he won’t see it.”
  • “I had an affair, and my spouse doesn’t know.”
  • “I believe I should meet my spouse’s emotional needs, but I haven’t tried much.”
  • “I’ve been faking my orgasm.”
  • “I’ve lied to my spouse about ____________.”
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A long time ago, Spock and I had a bad marriage. During that time, I believed myself to be a good person, committed to fixing my marriage. But the way I behaved around him and out in the world were two different things.

On one hand, I touted my Christian faithfulness while treating my husband quite poorly at times. On the other hand, I spoke ill of my husband to others while not sharing my own contributions to our problems.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that’s when my marriage began to improve.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that's when my #marriage began to improve. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

It wasn’t easy changing my habits. It’s still not easy when I decide to ditch a bad habit and pick up a new one. Like right at this moment, I’m hungry because I had a salad for lunch instead of my usual sandwich, chips, and salsa — though my last cholesterol test tells me a salad is the right thing to do.

But a touch of a hunger is nothing compared to other personal pain we could invite by following through with integrity. We might encounter:

  • Relational conflict
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of respect from someone we care about
  • Criticism
  • Financial expense
  • Emotional discomfort
  • Reduced sexual intimacy

Some of those sacrifices may be temporary, and some may be long-term. We cannot always anticipate how our changes will impact others’ choices. And others have their own choices to make about integrity.

But we can control our own pursuit of integrity. Is it worth it?

God Calls Us to Integrity

  • “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8).
  • “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever” (Psalm 41:12).
  • “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
  • “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).
  • “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).

Those are just a few of the verses that have the word integrity in them. There are more, and other scriptures highlight the principle of walking in integrity.

What does that look like? Well, what do you say you believe about marriage? About how one should treat others? Are you living up to that?

None of us will get this perfect. If we could, we wouldn’t need a savior! But we do need a savior, and we have one in Jesus Christ. What God calls us to is the ongoing pursuit of integrity — the commitment to do the right thing, even when no one’s looking, or when everyone’s looking and wanting something different, and when it’s just plain hard.

Where do you need to have greater integrity for your life, your marriage, and your sexual intimacy? Pursue that.

Resolution Week: What's Your "One Word" for Your Marriage?

I’m declaring it Resolution Week here on Hot, Holy & Humorous, and after a bit of break over the holidays, I’ll be churning five posts this week! All on making resolutions, goals, or attitude shifts—however you want to look at it—to improve your marriage and the sexual intimacy within it.

A few years back, someone concocted the idea of choosing a single word as your “word of the year” that would guide your goals and attitude. For the past few years, I’ve selected a word of the year. This practice has yielded varied results, with me sometimes feeling very focused by the word and other times forgetting what word I chose altogether.

My One Word for 2020

After mulling for a while about my one word for 2020, I’ve chosen PROMISE.

Frankly, I had a couple of other words floated around in my head until yesterday morning when I was at church. I saw the word promise somewhere, and it jumped out at me. Maybe that’s a God-thing—I like to think it is—or maybe the word just appeals to me. Yet promise conveys my desire to be a person who keeps my word, who relies on God’s promises to me, and who feels hopeful about the future, believing it is indeed filled with promise.

Of course, the word PROMISE has extensive implications for my marriage. I made a promise to my husband 27 years ago, or rather a bundle of promises. We call that wedding script our marriage “vows” for a reason. How have I done fulfilling them? What can I do better?

Regarding our sexual intimacy, doesn’t marriage involve the promise of physical exclusivity, connection, intentionality, desire, and even passion? Whether we know it all at the time, when we say, “I do,” we’re also saying, “I do you.” How’s that going in my marriage?

Whether we know it all at the time, when we say, "I do," we're also saying, "I do you." How's that going in my #marriage? @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Promises to Keep

Maybe I’ve got you thinking about how well you’ve kept your promises in your marriage and whether you need to make some new promises for the sexual intimacy with your spouse. For example, do you need to make any of these vows to your beloved?

  • I promise to visit the doctor to see why my sexual interest and/or sexual function isn’t what it should be.
  • I promise to seek help for my porn habit and knock this out of my life once and for all.
  • I promise to give you a rain check if I’m not feeling up to having sex when you initiate. (And I promise not renege on the rain check.)
  • I promise to try something new in the bedroom, to stretch my comfort zone just a little.
  • I promise to prioritize my health so we can be more active in our sex life.
  • I promise to turn on the lights, at least low lighting, so you can see my body.
  • I promise to stop pressuring you about sex.
  • I promise to initiate sex more often.
  • I promise to go through a book about sex in marriage with you.

Of course, promises aren’t worth much unless you keep them.

I once did an extensively study of the Bible, looking for scriptures about trusting others, and you can’t find much on that. God is very concerned that we trust Him, but as for one another, most verses don’t focus on trusting others but rather being trustworthy. Trustworthy people keep their promises.

Or at least do their best. We will let one another down, since we’re not perfect like our Heavenly Father, but we can try to be trustworthy. We can try to be a person of our word.

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My Word Isn’t Your Word

But speaking of words, my word of the year likely isn’t your word. Don’t just copy mine. Rather, figure out where you need to focus right now in your life.

If you hate New Year’s resolutions, don’t think of it as coordinating with this moment in time, but rather this spot in your spiritual and/or relational journey. Where are you in your marriage and with your sexual intimacy? What areas need your attention?

Here are some of the words I’ve recently heard from others. Perhaps something here will strike you.

Healing
Restoration
Forgiveness
Hope
Persevere

Encourage
Joyful
Compassion
Trust
Change

Passion
Prioritize
Margin
Closer
Growth

You can also find numerous blog posts and sites with one-word ideas, such as this one, this one, this one, or even this quiz from DaySpring.

Personal One Word vs. Marriage One Word

But even if you choose a word for yourself, is that the same word you should have for your marriage? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

Whether aligned with the New Year or not, it’s a good practice to periodically sit with your spouse, preferably away from the stresses of work or home, and discuss where your relationship is and where you want it to go. What do each of you see as positives? And where do you see areas for improvement?

What one word sums up what you both want for your marriage bed? Here are a few ideas to get you brainstorming the answer to that question:

Priorities
Purity
Prayer
Unity

Health
Wholeness
Renewal
Peace

Passion
Spice
Selflessness
Trust

Promises Kept

And now I’m back to my word for the year! Because if you do talk this out and come up with a word, don’t just make it a nice exercise you did around January. Rather, make it more like a vow to one another. For instance:

  • “This year, we will mutually pursue PURITY, by making our home porn and erotica-free, by focusing our thoughts solely on one another, by embracing that sex in marriage is a pure act of love blessed by God.”
  • “This year, we will mutually prioritize PRAYER, by making a goal of praying together at least once each day, by praying for one another, and by praying before, during, or after sex to invite God into our one-flesh relationship.””This year, we will foster TRUST, by confessing where we have failed one another, extending forgiveness and working on repentance, being open and vulnerable, and by treating one another’s bodies with gentleness and respect.”

What area of your marriage and sexuality needs your attention right now? What’s your marriage’s one word?

4 Research-Based Tips for Better Sex

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been clearing out emails (ever so slowly), including ones I’d received from Google alerts on sex research. I shared a few findings recently with What Research Says You Need for Better Sex), and I’m sharing more today!

Here are four more tips for improving your married sex life.

Clean the House

Last time, I addressed making your bed. But a survey of 1,000 people looked at how the state of their whole home affects their sex life. Apparently, “choreplay” is a real thing. According to researchers: “Over 50 percent of people said they’re more likely to have sex with their partner after they’ve completed household chores, and just over 60 percent said a clean, organized bedroom makes them more likely to have sex.”

How does that work? A good while ago, I wrote a post titled Is Vacuuming Foreplay?, in which I said my husband performing household chores turned me on. I’ve gotten pushback on that idea at times, but the point is not that his cleaning is itself arousing or that I’m “rewarding” my husband with sex like a bartering program.

Rather, hubby cleaning up clears that task to-do off my list, thus reducing my stress levels and making me more likely to get in the mood. Plus, both of us taking care of the house reminds me we’re a team in life — and make a good team in the bedroom too. That perspective is what I’ve heard from many other wives as well. And a few husbands.

Perhaps you should clean up and see how things go.

Source: MBG Relationships – The Surprising Thing That Gets Couples Turned On At Home

Talk (or Make Noise) During Sex

It’s crucial that you and your spouse be able to discuss your sex life away from the bedroom so that you can voice your desires, navigate obstacles, and troubleshoot problems together. However, a study of 398 people also linked sexual satisfaction to verbal and non-verbal communication during sexual activity. Which all boils down to: speak up or make some noise!

One caveat: The study also showed that your partner’s response to your communication style — non-verbal, verbal, moaning like a hyena in heat, whatever — impacts sexual satisfaction. “Given that individuals may be especially vulnerable when engaging in partnered sexual activity, the consequences of a negative partner reaction may have more impact than a negative reaction in a less vulnerable situation.”

We need acceptance and encouragement to express ourselves fully. So make sure you also reassure your spouse and let them demonstrate their pleasure vocally in their own way.

Sources: Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy: Show or Tell? Does Verbal and/or Nonverbal Sexual Communication Matter for Sexual Satisfaction?; MBG Relationships – Why Couples Should Talk More During Sex, According To Science; Explore Health – The One Thing That Leads to More Satisfying Sex, According to Science

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Eat Chocolate

Ooh, aren’t you glad this one made the list?! Though specifically, it’s dark chocolate, not milk chocolate bars.

Dark chocolate has been shown to promote the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, two body chemicals that improve mood. In addition, chocolate with 70% or more cacao may lower stress levels and inflammation—thus raising sexual interest and performance.

So why not invest in your sex life with a few nibbles of dark chocolate? Even better, feed each other as part of your sexual encounter! Dark-chocolate-dipped strawberries, anyone?

Sources: Medical Daily – Chocolates For Enhanced Libido: Why And How It Works; Express UK – Low libido: Eating this one thing can help increase your sex drive – what is it?

Run, Cycle, or Swim

Exercise leads to better sex? No shocker there. But a good reminder nonetheless.

Researchers surveyed 3,906 men and 2,264 women who were cyclists, swimmers, runners, and/or multisport athletes about their exercise habits and sexual function. Men who exercised more had less erectile dysfunction, while women who exercised more reported increases in arousal and orgasm.

How much is enough? Well, the biggest gains came with more than I plan to do — 10 hours a week of cycling. But improvements were significant in lesser amounts, particularly at the point of 6-7 hours of moderate cycling per week for men and 5.5 hours per week for women. The likely reason is simple: Exercise yields healthier arteries and better circulation, and that makes for your parts working as they should.

You don’t have to cycle, of course. The study also looked at swimming and running. Though if you see me running, you should run too — because we’re being chased by something we don’t want to catch us. I’d prefer to dust off our bikes and get back to riding together again.

Sources: Bicycling – How You Can Ride Your Way to Better Sex; The Journal of Sexual Medicine – Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sexual Function Among Physically Active Adults

A Quick Word on Research

If you see a sex study reported on a blog, website, or news source, don’t just go by the headline. Believe me, sex studies are not all equal. It’s important to look into who they studied, how the study was conducted, and what cautions are given as part of the results.

Who sponsored the study can also be important information, as commercial entities will sometimes finance research that benefits their bottom line. That doesn’t mean all results from such studies are wrong, but they should be more carefully scrutinized.

All to say: Be cautious. “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26).

Wrapping It Up

Here are the four tips in a nutshell:

  • Clean the house
  • Talk (or make noise) during sex
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Run, cycle, or swim

Pick as many as you’d like and see how it goes!

And gentlemen, don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming webinar. Hosted by four female marriage and sex bloggers, you’ll get the inside scoop on Understanding Her Sex Drive for only $5! If you can’t make that time, no worries — replay is available.

How the Sexually Rejected Spouse Feels

Not long ago, I posed a simple question in my higher drive wife group.

Over 100 Responses

The 111 answers I received reveal a lot about how a spouse regularly rejected in marriage feels.

Of course we’re not talking about the occasional no or not-now answers that are entirely reasonable within the course of a marriage! Rather, these are emotions experienced by spouses who see a pattern of sexual refusal or disinterest from their spouse.

Instead of writing a lot about their responses, I simply want to share the list of emotions, in hopes that:

  1. Frustrated, higher drive spouses will recognize they are not alone.
  2. Refusing or gatekeeping spouses (not just lower drive, which is normal) can see how emotional sex is for the HD spouse.

Related posts: Is Sex Disconnected from Love for Men?, Do You Personalize Sexual Rejection?

Take the Vow

One caveat, though: We higher drive spouses will now raise our hands and promise the following:

I will not use this post to feed my resentment or anger, but rather to grieve through my own situation and sympathize with others. Moreover, I will not use this post to challenge or berate my spouse for not giving me sex.

Later this week, I will share what those same HD wives believe their LD husbands feel about their situation. Because a big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. And it’s important to also consider the feelings our spouse is experiencing.

A big gap in sex drives affects both spouses emotionally. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
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Here’s the List

Question: What primary emotion do you feel as a result of not getting the frequency and/or quality of sex you desire in your marriage?

Adrift

Alone

Angry

Anxious

Apathetic

Ashamed

Betrayed

Bitter

Brokenhearted

Bummed

Cold

Dead inside

Depressed

Desperate

Devastated

Disappointed

Disconnected

Embarrassed

Empty

Fearful

Frustrated

Glum

Grieved

Heartbroken

Helpless

Hopeless

Hurt

Inadequate

Irrelevant

Irritable

Isolated

Jealous (of others)

Lacking confidence

Lonely

Misunderstood

Naïve

Needy

Neglected

Numb

Overbearing

Oversensitive

Pushy

Replaced

Resentful

Resigned

Robbed

Sad

Self-deprecating

Self-doubtful

Selfish

Tearful

Trapped

Ugly

Unaccepted

Undesirable

Undesired

Unimportant

Unloved

Unwanted

Unworthy

Weird

Worried

Don’t Give Up

Those are heavy words to process. But I want to leave off with the encouragement that many couples who’ve been in this place found their way up and out. We hear success stories in that higher drive wife group too, as sexual intimacy in marriages begins to improve with love, intentionality, prayer, and perseverance. The road isn’t always easy, but it’s a path worth taking.

As the higher drive spouse, do you relate to any of these emotions? If you’ve been a reluctant sexual partner in your marriage, did any of these emotions surprise you?

What Research Says You Need for Better Sex

Long ago, I installed Google alerts, a service that culls content for the user according to given parameters. In my case, I asked for phrases like “sex research” and “higher drive wife.” And for nearly two years, I’ve gotten daily emails with links to relevant articles—as well as a lot of irrelevant articles because false positives happen a lot.

As I’ve been going through them, I decided to summarize some of the more interesting ones; particularly those that don’t warrant a full blog post. So here we go!

Embrace New Experiences

This isn’t about new sexual experiences, though you can have those too. Rather, a study of long-term couples published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that when each partner had an opportunity to have novel experiences or develop new skills/perspectives, they had more sex and reported greater satisfaction with sexual intimacy.

The researchers called these “self-expanding activities” and noted the benefits continue. “The benefits of self-expansion for relationship satisfaction are sustained over time, and…effects cannot be attributed solely to increases in positive affect, time spent interacting with the partner or closeness during the activity.”

So go out on the town. Take that trip. Enroll in a class. Explore local nature. Do a Bible study together. Read my Pillow Talk book. Find something where you can learn together and embrace new experiences!

Sources: APA PsychNET – Broadening your horizons: Self-expanding activities promote desire and satisfaction in established romantic relationships; MBG Relationships – Couples Who Do THIS Together Have A Better Sex Life, Study Shows

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Be a Conscientious Lover

Ruhr University researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 couples about their personalities and their sex lives. For personality, they used the Big Five Framework that measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. One trait in particular was correlated to fewer sexual problems and higher sexual satisfaction: Conscientiousness.

The correlation was even higher for women whose male partners were conscientious. “Men who are thorough and dutiful may feel the need to satisfy their partner sexually, which may in turn lead to better sexual function of their partners.” Gotta love that word thorough!

Conscientiousness people are described as organized, reliable, and ambitious. They tend to be intentional and to plan, as in scheduling sex. They take time to get it right. How are you faring on conscientiousness? Need to up your game?

Sources: Inverse – “Big 5” Personality Trait Predicts How Good Sex Is for Couples in New Study; Quartzy – Turns out the best sex actually doesn’t come from hot-blooded passion

Use Cannabis…No, Don’t!

Hey, I want to be honest about the research out there, and if I’ve seen one article, I’ve seen 12 saying mild cannabis use is linked to higher sexual frequency. But notice first the word mild and then ask why this result occurred. Hmm, let’s see… What a shocker that studies showed a substance that relaxes you relates to more willingness to have sex! (And every frat party attendee ever says, “No duh.”)

I included this point because because I want to accurately represent current research, while also showing how we must ask good questions about the results. If cannabis usage is related to more sex, you still have to ask: Should I do cannabis? My recommendation is no, because we have other ways to get that relaxing effect that don’t have some of the drawbacks of cannabis. For example, cannabis may well lower sperm count and affect embryos fertilized from that sperm.

As Christians we need to ask about what we put in our bodies and whether it’s good for us. I plan to stay away from the cannabis. Although I enjoy a glass of wine sometimes—something I figure Jesus would be okay with, given that wedding miracle He performed.

Sources: My SA: Is Marijuana Good for Sex, Bad for Sperm? (I read plenty of others but didn’t keep their links.)

Note: CBD oil is not the same. These cannabis studies are essentially about marijuana.

Believe in Your Body

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of a positive body image, both for women and for men. We should embrace our inherent beauty for our own’s sake and to honor the Creator who crafted it. But research also shows it’s good for your sex life.

In a review of research literature, a study’s authors concluded that “women who are more satisfied with their appearance tend to initiate sex more often and report more orgasms during sex, while both men and women with a better body image tend to be more comfortable discussing sexual topics with a partner.” We also know that communication with your partner about physical intimacy increases sexual satisfaction. So for both genders, body image matters.

I know, I know—easier said than done. But if you’re not feeling great about your body today, take a step in the right direction. Find one thing about your body you’re grateful for—appearance, function, or health-wise. Write it down and read it several times over the next week. Then choose a relevant memory verse to meditate over. I’m a fan of Psalm 149:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Next week, do the same thing but with a different trait. And on and on. Begin to believe in the body you have and share with your spouse.

Sources: PsyPost: Positive body image linked to better — and safer — sex; Science Direct: A review of research linking body image and sexual well-being

Make Your Bed

In a study commissioned by a mattress company of 2,000 couples, researchers found those who made their bed had more sex per week (3 times/week) than those who didn’t (2 times/week). And even if you’re not a bed-maker yourself, if your spouse is, it’s a good idea to go with flow on this one. Why? Because 42% of bed-makers consider it a turn-off for their partner to leave the sheets untucked.

Mind you, the bed-makers were also found to be high-maintenance, but if you already married that person, too late. You’re in for a penny, in for a pound. Make that bed and maybe you can add another sexual encounter to your week!

Sources: Toronto Sun – Making your bed can boost your sex life: Study; Happy National Make Your Bed Day! See Our Survey Results

Summing It Up

There you go! Four things to improve your sexual intimacy:

  • Embrace New Experiences
  • Be a Conscientious Lover
  • Believe in Your Body
  • Make Your Bed

Do all of them or pick one to work on, and see how your sex life improves!