Tag Archives: taking photos in marital bedroom

Q&A with J: “It’s Just a Boudoir Photo, Mom”

Today’s question is an interesting one. A newlywed wife shared something with her mother, which stirred up an emotional hurricane. Here’s her question:

My new husband and I had a couple’s wedding boudoir photo shoot the day after the wedding. (We waited till our wedding night to have sex.) Our pictures were tasteful and beautiful. I mentioned to my mother (60 yr old) about it, and she asked to see an example of what I was talking about. I sent her 1 picture with both of us, me in the bridal corset and everything I wore under the dress and him in underwear laying on a bed looking in each other’s eyes.

The response was as if we had made a hardcore porn flick to sell on the internet. I was told how embarrassed of me she was and how disappointed in how I turned out considering my conservative Christian upbringing. She could not fathom why I would do anything like that. Suggested that I should be embarrassed to step foot in church and pretty much did everything but call me a whore.

I just don’t know what to say to her now to combat all this. She questioned my husband’s salvation (a newer Christian) and suggested that he is a bad influence and I am unequally yoked. I was regaled with all the plans and hopes and dreams her and dad had had for my life…like missionary and pastors wife…had how short had fallen. Any suggestions on how to approach this?

sexy bride are preparing to wedding

Before I tackle the specific question, I want to point out that this couple waited until marriage to have sex, took the boudoir photos the day after the wedding, and wanted intimate yet tasteful photos. I’ve written about bridal boudoir photography, but I hadn’t covered couples’ photos like this. Actually, I think it’s a rather nice idea if approached properly.

But . . .

The problem arose when she shared the photo with Mom. First off: Hey, Mom, you should know better than to ask to see something called “couples boudoir photos”!

As I’ve said before, (most) parents want their grown children to have beautiful sexual intimacy in their marriages — but they don’t want to know anything specific. It’s like how my parents know I have this blog and books about Christian sex, and they’re pleased, but they do not want to read them. Even if you’re completely fine with what your kids are doing, you can’t erase all that personal stuff from your head. So parents, don’t ask.

But now for the questioner: Yes, I know it’s too late for you, sweet wife, but in the future and for others reading this, keep the boudoir photos to yourselves. I assume your reasons for taking them were to mark the beginning of your intimacy together, to have a reminder of your first day as a one-flesh couple, to relish the special bond represented by the marriage bed you share.

That’s all very lovely. But even though nothing was revealed, it can be awkward for a friend or family member to see you and your husband somewhat undressed. Be careful not to plant images in their heads they really don’t need.

However, Mom asked to see the photo, you complied, and now the pointed edge of her scathing critique has left a wound in your heart and your relationship. Let me reassure you that her attack on your faith was out of line. It is one thing to say, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you did that!” — because some people simply won’t get it — and a whole other thing to insult you and your husband personally with attacks on your character and commitment to Christianity.

Even if you were doing something wrong (which you weren’t), the way another Christian should approach the situation is with gentleness (Galatians 6:1) and dealing with the fault at issue (Matthew 18:15). I want you to understand this point because, putting yourself in your mother’s shoes of believing this was wrong, it still doesn’t give her — or any other Christian — permission to slander you in this way.

Yet you still have an obligation to treat her with kindness. That’s so hard when you’re personally attacked and emotionally wounded. But I tell it like it is here, and we don’t get excused for bad behavior on our part just because someone else did it first.

Remind yourself often that you are commanded to honor your mother (Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, Ephesians 6:2-3); that you must respond with love (John 13:34-35Ephesians 4:2); and that agape love is active (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Honestly, I have times with certain people in my life when I recite the Fruit of the Spirit in my head like a lifeline. No matter how much someone pisses me off hurts me, I don’t want to forget who I am before God and my desire to live according to His commands.

So remember to be the daughter and Christian you want to be, rather than letting your own hurt become anger that lashes out and turns you and your family into enemies.

Now let’s get down to the real question: What to do now? Does treating your mother with honor mean you put up with her accusations and attacks? Nooooo!

It’s time to set some boundaries around your marriage. The decision to take couples boudoir photography was yours and your husband’s, and the photos are for your use and enjoyment. While it’s sad that your mother feels the way she does, she needs to know that you stand with your husband and your marriage.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend assert in their groundbreaking book, Boundaries: “For marriage to work, the spouse needs to loosen her ties with her family of origin and forge new ones with the new family she is creating through marriage.” Setting appropriate boundaries means responding calmly but firmly to anyone who attempts to damage your marriage with hostile words or actions.

Likewise, in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, based on extensive marriage research, author John Gottman, Ph.D. states, “An important part of putting your spouse first and building this sense of solidarity is not to tolerate any contempt toward your spouse from your parents.” When a parent personally attacks your spouse, you should speak up in his defense.

“Mom, I understand your feelings about this, but my husband is a committed Christian who waited until our wedding night and treats me well.”

My husband has not been a bad influence on me. Rather, he loves me, and I hope you can learn to appreciate that.”

I will not stand here and let you insult my husband. If you continue, I’m going to have to leave.”

Stand up for yourself as well — reassuring her that you are the same person she has known and loved for all these years. One boudoir photo she doesn’t approve of does not change who you are.

“Mom, I know you see this as evidence of a problem, but I’m totally committed to my Christianity and to my marriage. Even if you don’t understand, I hope you can see past this to the person I really am.”

When things like this happen, it’s tempting to argue out all the points with her. But when the emotions run so high, it’s very unlikely you’ll get anywhere with such a conversation. It’s better to set boundaries so your family understands you’re only willing to discuss this issue, and any other problematic ones, if and when they can approach you with respect.

It also usually takes time and repeated reminders to get across that you really will not hang around for go-nowhere conflict or stand-here-and-take-it slander. Mud-slinging just leaves everyone covers in slimy dirt, and who wants that to be the tone of your family?

In the future, if she can address the subject more calmly and respectfully, you can discuss your reasons for wanting to do boudoir photography. You could even listen to your mom’s concerns, since she may have drawn conclusions that aren’t even correct (like who might see these photos). You can reassure her and perhaps help her to see your viewpoint. It doesn’t mean she’ll agree, but families can disagree about all kinds of things and remain close.

Finally, I want to point out that her reaction may have been extreme due her own wounds. I don’t know this for sure, but often when people have an over-the-top, freaked-out response, it’s because their own sensitive places got poked. If that’s possible, recognizing this might help you to give her a bit of grace while she works through emotional pain.

I don’t know what that wound might be in this case, but a different example (just to illustrate what I’m talking about) would be a mother who’s appalled by her daughter’s super-sexy lingerie . . . because her own husband looked at porn with similarly dressed women. In her mind, that links her daughter to porn stars, which could bring out a negative overreaction. It wouldn’t be okay for her to berate her daughter, but it would at least make her response understandable.

As pastor James MacDonald has often said, “There is no pain like family pain.” It is a unique experience to be in the storm of family conflict — and especially difficult when your family of origin is pitted against your chosen family through marriage. But many have navigated the turbulent seas, reestablished calm, and enjoyed the blessing of having two families who care about them deeply.

I pray this is your outcome.

Bridal Boudoir Photography

Q&AI am still responding to questions left on my Q&A with J at HHH post. Today’s question was left by an anonymous reader who wants to know whether bridal boudoir photography is okay.

Hi! I asked this somewhere on the blog before, but I don’t think I asked in the right place. I basically wondered what you thought about bridal boudoir photography. In some senses, I think it’s a really cute and special thing to do for my husband-to-be (I’m getting married in December), because I won’t always have the body I have right now, and I’d like him to remember our wedding day from those pictures, so maybe bridal boudoir is kind of a way to remember our wedding night in pictures (except we definitely won’t have pictures that night, because I hear it will be messy and awkward.)

On the other hand, I feel really weird about a photographer seeing me in that state of undress, but maybe it’s kind of like a gynecologist, where it’s their job, so it’s not a big deal. And also, I feel a little bit weird about him getting the pictures the morning of the wedding, because (and this is way legalistic of me) then we’re not officially “married” yet. I don’t know. I guess I just wonder if I’m overthinking this and if it would actually be a fun, cute thing to do for him.

Here’s my response–short and sweet.

Bride's Garter

Here comes the bride. Get ready, groom.

This wasn’t popular when I was getting married, so I had to do some research. There’s a wide range of boudoir photography, from an artistic black-and-white photo with a peek of the shoulder and a sexy grin to a come-get-me pic of a naked derrière or breasts. Part of it depends on what we’re talking about here.

However, I agree that these photos should NOT be presented before the wedding. Sexy pictures of the bride should not be thrown at the groom until he can have some of those goodies you’re tempting him with — after the vows are exchanged. You don’t want him standing there uttering “I do” but really thinking “I wanna.” (Yeah, yeah, male readers. Pipe in here and say you were thinking that already, but you gotta agree you didn’t need visual teasers in your brain.)

Yet a bridal boudoir photo as a wedding gift (post-vows) might be fun for a couple.

Remember a few things when taking pics:

You need to choose a photographer wisely. I would not pose sans clothing with a photographer I didn’t know. I’d probably set up a self-timer on my camera or find a close same-gender friend to take shots for me. That said, I know that photographers can be very professional about it. If the photograph is a mild teaser, you can certainly use a professional photographer. If you’re posing in the buff, you might think carefully about whether you want such photos in a photographer’s portfolio. I don’t think it’s wrong because let’s face it — the bikini waxer and the spray tan gal at the spa see as much or more. But I’d be uber-cautious about choosing someone.

You’d better have a great plan for keeping the photos private. You don’t want your in-laws helping you move one day and suddenly they come upon the boudoir photo of you in your hubby’s nightstand. We got some ‘splainin to do! Then again, some parents might just see that and think, “Yay, grandkids soon!”

The photo is a teaser of the real thing. The poses are fun, but it’s the action that matters. You don’t want your hubby attached to a photo of you. You want him attached to YOU. The picture should be like him finding a trail of clothes to the bedroom when he gets home from work: It’s a preview of the main event.

Speaking of all that action, your hubby will still love your body even as it changes with age if your sexual relationship is a good one. Looking at a boudoir photo of yourself later in life would probably be no different than looking at a clothed photo; sure, you’ll both look younger in those early photos, but with age and experience you have a deeper appreciation for one another. In fact, studies show that most couples are happiest with their sex lives after several years of marriage.

Congratulations and best wishes! Next week, I’ll be back answering a question about preparing for the wedding night!

Anyone have experience with bridal boudoir photos and want to add any tips?

Sex Photos & Videos

Sunset Blvd movie close-up

Ready for your close-up?
From Sunset Blvd.

Ah, Monday, you are here again. Thus it’s time for another Q&A session on my blog. Here is a question posed in the comments section of my Q&A for J with HHH post:

Can you give some thoughts or advice on taking pics or vids of you & your spouse for you two to enjoy?

To be honest, I’m not a personal fan of taking sexual pictures and video. Why? Primarily because you never know when and how they might be discovered. Someone in your family might find the evidence or it could get culled from a computer. Recently, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage did a great job of addressing related privacy concerns with Sexy Email? Think Twice Before You Send. Another issue is that I’m not sure I want to see myself naked that way; you know, without professional lighting, airbrushing, and Photoshop. Finally, I have the notion that overuse of this medium could get a couple hooked to being titillated through images rather than interaction with each other.

So given my own approach to this subject, it should not surprise you to learn that my husband and I do not have a private video collection — even though I’d give a thumbs-up and five stars to plenty of our performances.

Yet, I understand the appeal. There is something tantalizing about not only experiencing sex with your spouse, but viewing yourselves with one another. A photographic image is like a mirror, but one that you can look at over and over. I can also imagine how hot it could be to send your spouse a photo of the two of you entangled together with a caption like, “Let’s do this one again tonight.” Bring on the drool, baby!

Is it wrong? No, I don’t think so. Do you have to be wise about the way you do it? Yes, I think you should — for privacy’s sake and to ensure that such visual representations remain in their proper context, as teasers for the main event.

If you want to give it a shot, here are a few things to think about when taking sexual photos for or with your spouse:

  • If you try to hold up a camera and engage in something at the same time, you likely won’t get much. If you really want a good picture, follow general photography advice: Frame the shot ahead of time. Use a tripod and see where you want to aim the lens.
  • Remember that black-and-white photography is more forgiving when it comes to nudity. Color provides a starker image, and your physical features and blemishes will show up. You may want color, but you might want to try black-and-white too.
  • If you want to pose a shot, pose it and get your picture. But make that separate from lovemaking.
  • If you’re actually making love, don’t play to the camera. It might be tempting, but physical intimacy in marriage is not about performance but connection. And you don’t want to connect to the camera. You should be paying attention to your spouse! If you can’t focus on the sex itself, turn off the camera. It’s not worth it.
  • Be prepared to take a lot of photos or video . . . and then erase some of it. Those magazine covers you see do not come from a few clicks of the camera. Nor are movies filmed in a single take. Likewise, if you want something worth looking at, be selective. Not every photo or moving picture is worth saving and viewing later.
  • Don’t critique. Even though I think our “performance” has been red-carpet worthy at times, it’s really not a performance. Ever. Don’t judge him or even yourself. If you had sex, connected and grew together, and enjoyed your time, it’s perfect. If you start saying things like, “Look at how my thighs shake, ugh!” then the next time you have sex, guess what you could be thinking about? Remember, sex is about focusing on your spouse and the intimate experience.
  • Have a fool (or kid) proof plan for protecting the privacy of your images. Where will you store these photos and videos? How will you lock the files? What is your plan to prevent them from being discovered and gazed upon in horror by your mother-in-law? (She wants grandkids, but not details.)
  • Move beyond the images through the use of words and touch. When either or both of you view the pictures or video, add something personal to it. Include a suggestive caption with a photo, cuddle as you watch the video, talk about what you enjoyed about your time together and what you anticipate in the future. Remember that the photos/video are representations of the real you.

If, like me, you’re reluctant to put it all out there for the camera, you could always draw a picture of yourselves for your spouse. Here’s mine:

Stick figures

Not really. I’m much prettier than that.

So what about the readers? Have you taken photos or videos of yourselves? Do you have recommendations? What have you done to protect the privacy and security of such images?