I’m a lady with sex in mind

Wives can be a lady AND an exciting sexual partner. It’s true! What goes on in your bedroom can be wild, fun and downright HOT, but the minute you step into the world, you can be classy, courteous, agreeable and all the things that make you, YOU! (…and you can even think SEXY thoughts about your marriage bed while out in the world!)

Women tend to wear MANY hats. We are wives, mothers, sisters, friends AND lovers. We can play all of these roles and still have sexy thoughts and wild bedroom behavior. We’re sexual beings that were created to enjoy sex. It’s not dirty or obligatory and thinking of your spouse in a sexual way in and outside the bedroom is one way to keep your sex life vibrant.

So be all that you are in this world. Be the lady you strive to be AND go ahead and wear those undergarments that make you feel desirable! Go ahead and think about the next sexual encounter with your spouse! Your marriage bed will be all the better for it!

Have you had a sexy thought about your spouse today? 

Love in the afternoon

I know. Right-before-bed sex may be the only romp you ever seem to squeeze into the end of a very long day or week, but sex doesn’t have to always occur at night, after you’ve cleaned up from dinner, helped with homework, made lunches, given baths, read stories, when you’re exhausted and right before your head finally collides with your pillow. Love in the afternoon sounds a lot more appealing to me.

With such a busy life, it’s easy to see how sex could be pushed to the bottom of your to-do list, wherein it becomes a quick, not-all-in task. Since sex is important to grow a couple’s intimacy, it needs to be a priority. On Saturday afternoon, take the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house and then go home and have long, enjoyable, wide-awake sex that perhaps takes place OUTSIDE the bedroom (some research and people themselves say orgasms are better under these circumstances)! If taking the kids to someone else is too much work, take advantage of nap time or gasp!…the television (it won’t kill [too many] brain cells if it’s kept to a minimum).

If sex in the evening is all you CAN fit in, even if it’s between all the evening rituals and a much-needed night’s rest, then get to it. Be sure, however, to place love-making closer to the top of your priority list than to the bottom of it. Make sure your schedules can at least fit in an occasional round of afternoon (or morning) delight.

When do you typically have sex with your spouse? Have you looked at ways to make your sexual life more interesting? If not, why not?

The importance of “aftersex”

Photo Credit: Matthew Romack (via Flickr)

Photo Credit: Matthew Romack (via Flickr)

When it comes to sexuality in marriage, there’s plenty of talk about foreplay, the preparation and lead-up to intercourse. Foreplay is important, but I don’t think we give enough thought to what comes after. I may have invented a word in the title but whatever you call it (pillow talk, afterglow, after-care, etc.) give some thought to how you spend the moments after a sexual encounter. A relatively recent study has shown that our post-sex behavior can affect our overall satisfaction with sex.

The stereotype is that men immediately roll over and fall asleep after sex. There is some biological basis to that idea. Men tend to have a very drastic drop in arousal and energy level immediately following orgasm, while women tend to come down more gradually. That means that husbands may need to be more conscious of being mentally and physically involved with their wives after their orgasm. Obviously, job one is for a husband to make sure his wife has achieved her own orgasm, if she desires one. (Yes, it is possible to have a fulfilling sexual experience without orgasm, for both men and women.) That being said, orgasms are not the goal of sex. The goal is increased intimacy, and building intimacy through sexuality is not achieved solely through orgasms .

Be intentional about your aftersex time. Cuddling and caressing are good, but take time to communicate after you make love. Words of love and affirmation will be more powerful in those moments. They will be amplified by the hormones released in the body during sex. These hormones, primarily oxytocin and vasopressin, promote bonding in our brains. This is just one example of the ways God designed sexuality to work for married couples, and why sexuality is important to a healthy marriage. (It also explains why studies have shown that sex is more fulfilling within committed relationships.) After sex is the perfect time to reaffirm your love for each other.

It can also be helpful sometimes to discuss the “nuts and bolts” of your sexual activity. Ask questions, be honest and encouraging, and be open to change. Share with each other specific things you found enjoyable or less than enjoyable. Talk about different things you may want to try in your next sexual encounter. Discuss in non-critical language the ways you might try to improve your sex lives. Despite what many may think, good sex doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a learned skill like anything else, and since it’s a shared experience, improvement requires regular communication with your spouse.

Have sex with your spouse. Lots of it. Focus on effective foreplay. But don’t neglect aftersex activities.

Ladies, love your body

Photo credit: Andrea Parrish-Geyer

Photo credit: Andrea Parrish-Geyer

Do you ENJOY sex with your spouse? More particularly, do you feel freedom and fulfillment in your sexual encounters with your spouse? Or, is something holding you back from the complete abandonment that it would take to feel ultimate pleasure? Perhaps it’s the image you have of your body that’s holding you back. Your body image has a significant impact on your sexual fulfillment.

In her book, The Sexually Confident Wife, Shannon Ethridge reports this alarming statistic, “Eighty percent [80%!] of women report that they are unhappy with their appearance.” Wow. That is an incredibly sad finding. While in graduate school, my master’s thesis attempted to find a connection between a poor body image and sexual fulfillment. My research found that women with a positive body image had higher sexual satisfaction and those with a negative body image had lower sexual satisfaction. We may address the possible reasons behind this (media, conditioning, etc.) in a future post. For now, let’s cut right to the ramifications of a poor body image.

Let me illustrate this with a hypothetical couple. If Mary is in the right head space and has the energy…AT ALL…to engage in sex, she gets dressed in THE most flattering lingerie she can find (you can read that as covering the parts she feels are the most offensive). She then turns the lights down VERY low (off completely is preferable) and as her husband, Frank, comes into the room, she makes sure she is very carefully positioned, so her breasts sit “just right” and there are no bulges showing (but, her husband probably can’t see them anyway…it’s too dark). We can stop there. Hopefully, I don’t have to go any further for you to see a troubling pattern. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to look your best for your husband, you cannot truly pour yourself into a sexual encounter and experience love-making to its fullest if you’re worried about the way you look. Your sexual fulfillment takes a negative hit when you have difficulty accepting and loving your body.

Love your body. Take care of it. Make healthy improvements, but love your body. You can attempt to make healthier food choices and attempt to lose weight, but a work in progress (aren’t we all?) still needs to be loved AND, loving your body will improve your sex life. No ifs ands or buts.

How do you really feel about your body and how does that feeling affect your sexual fulfillment?

Supporting your spouse’s passions

Photo credit; WebHamster (Flickr)

Photo credit; WebHamster (Flickr)

When Lori and I married nearly 27 years ago, I was trying to find a way to develop a career in music. Lori endured the long rehearsals, the gigs, and the time I spent alone practicing my craft. Through it all her support was unconditional and enthusiastic. As an accomplished singer herself, she understood my passion. Later in our marriage my passions turned toward theology and being a pastor. This presented a greater challenge for her, since my role as a pastor put different demands on her. It’s not easy being a pastor’s wife and she hadn’t “signed up” for that responsibility when we married. Nevertheless she accepted the role with grace because she supported my passions.

When Lori decided to pursue a career in psychology, the roles were reversed. She spent a lot of time in class, reading texts, studying, and writing papers. We had to find ways to finance her studies. Schedules had to be juggled to make sure our daughter was always cared for appropriately. And then there are all the other struggles and emotions of a non-traditional student (ie. being older than some professors) that must be dealt with. It wasn’t an easy road for either of us, but it has been supremely rewarding for both of us. Now, our passions have converged here with Permanent Passionate Partnership.

Supporting each other’s God-given passions is one of the great responsibilities and privileges of being married. It also can be one of the great challenges of marriage because the stronger own passions are the harder we may find it to give focus and energy to someone else’s passions, especially if their passions are significantly different from our own. That’s because as human beings we are by nature selfish. Selfishness is the core attribute of our sinful nature, and it is poison to any marriage. Love is not selfish, in fact some have argued that the opposite of love is not hatred but selfishness. I think there is merit to that argument. To be truly loving is to put our loved one’s best interest ahead of our own. In different seasons of life, we may choose to minimize or postpone our passions to make room for our spouse’s passions. Sometimes those decisions may be quite difficult to make. To be truly loving, however, means that we do not demand that our spouse serve our passions, no matter how important they may seem. We seek first to support theirs.

It takes intentional effort to discover your spouse’s passions. We must consciously decide to set aside our own agenda and listen. It takes even more intentional effort to make sacrifices to support our spouse’s passions once we’ve discovered them. The result, however, is greater fulfillment as individuals and greater intimacy as a couple.

What is your spouse passionate about? What are their dreams for the future? What are you doing to support those passions?

Are you married to your best friend?

Photo Credit: Richard Foster

Photo Credit: Richard Foster

Imagine any relationship wherein you can safely express how you REALLY feel, fearlessly be your true flawed self, engage in mutually enjoyable activities, laugh with one another, comfortably sit with one another in silence and one in which you truly look forward to being together. Now imagine all of those relationship qualities, but add one more quality…the ability to have sex! Now that’s a satisfying relationship.

Marriages can start off feeling as though they’re friendLY, but the couple members don’t necessarily see their spouse as their best friend. Even if one does consider their spouse their best friend at first, sometimes the friendship portion of the relationship simply isn’t nurtured as couples move out of their more newlywed-like, emotionally connected days. Spouses may not invest in their marriage in the same way they invest in their platonic relationships. But, making this same investment in your marriage can be SO rewarding.

Let’s not get caught up in the semantics of this. You may be a woman who’s thinking, “But, I have a best girlfriend AND consider my husband my best friend.” Those two relationships fulfill different needs for you and IF you’re investing in your marital friendship by going on dates, laughing together, having conversations in which you deeply connect and more, then you’re in a good place maritally. Having a close relationship with a girlfriend isn’t necessarily a problem. Being more emotionally intimate with that friend than with your husband IS a problem. The goal should be to always put your marital friendship first and do so by being deeply intimate in emotional and cognitive ways as well as in sexual ways.

Is your spouse your best friend? If not, what’s preventing that from being the case?

Are we too wedding-centric, rather than marriage-centric?

The Impressive Clergyman from The Princess BrideI’m beginning to come to the conclusion that society in general and evangelical Christians in particular are focused much more on the event of a wedding than on the process of a marriage, and that’s to the detriment of everyone involved. Particularly regarding sexuality, we focus on waiting until marriage (that is, waiting until the wedding ceremony), rather than on the gift and blessing–and challenges–of married sexuality.

I’m going to make a startling claim: I think that God is more interested in the keeping of marriage vows than on the making of them.

For the nitpickers: yes, Jesus said not to make vows at all. That could be discussed elsewhere in context, but if you wish to call the marriage vows promises, commitments, or whatever else, the fact remains that God is more interested in the process of the marriage relationship than he is in the circumstances of how it began.

Think about it: the Bible has very little to say about weddings. Evidently the wine shouldn’t run out at them, but that’s another discussion. On the other hand, it has a lot to say about husbands and wives and how they should treat one another with mutual submission, love, and respect. It tells us that divorce and remarriage constitute adultery, because people can’t just separate what God has joined together. It tells us that singleness is a practical option for those who want to devote themselves completely to ministry, but that if you’re married, you should give yourself physically to your spouse. The Bible is focused on marriage, not the wedding ceremony.

Contrast this focus with evangelical purity culture. We tell young people that they should stay pure until they get married (implying that even married sex is somehow impure). We tell them that if they lose their virginity before marriage they can be forgiven but they can’t ever really be whole again. We tell them that if we’ve made mistakes in the past, we’re only able to give our spouse the broken leftovers. We tell them that the best and highest plan that God has for us is to withhold even our first kiss until after the minister pronounces, “Man and Wife.”

None of this is biblical. The truth is, we all lost our purity at the Fall, and the only way to regain it is through the restoration that God graciously gives us through Christ. If we make an idol out of our own purity–that is, out of the fact that we didn’t make a particular kind of mistake prior to the wedding ceremony–then what do we do once we’re married and the idol is no longer relevant? If we condemn ourselves because we already broke that idol, how do we get past it within married life? How do we make the psychological leap from “sex is sinful and off-limits” to “sex is a wonderful gift to enjoy with your spouse”?

I write this because the whole purity culture mentality does great damage within marriages, regardless of whether a particular couple, or particular individuals, waited for marriage or not. It makes promises of great sex for those who wait that don’t necessarily pan out in real life. It fills those who’ve made mistakes with shame that should be under the blood of Christ. It gives those who did wait an opportunity for pride and self-righteousness. It wrongly focuses on the status of virginity rather than the virtue of chastity. And it leaves married couples with no guidance regarding what to do about issues of married life and sexuality.

Let’s get our focus off of weddings and onto marriage. Let’s stop worrying about the status we held at the altar, and start dealing with the intricacies of a marriage relationship. Let’s prepare young people for a lifetime of married love, and not just a young adult experience of Just Saying No. Because too many people are still dealing with the effects of an internalized Just Say No mentality, years after the wedding ceremony is over.

It’s time for a marriage checkup

photo credit: dumbledad via photopin cc

photo credit: dumbledad via photopin cc

Just because you haven’t had an affair or choose not to nag, doesn’t mean you’re not damaging your marriage. Avoiding transparency is damaging. Carving out too little time for each other is damaging. Demanding your way is damaging. Not expressing what you need is damaging. Lacking respect for your partner is damaging. Avoiding sex is damaging. Hopefully, you get the picture.

Getting past current events

Photo Credit: Sharon Mollerus (via Flickr)

Photo Credit: Sharon Mollerus (via Flickr)

The most common conversation in marriage probably starts with some variation of the phrase: “So, how was your day?” The second most common conversation tends to focus on tomorrow, starting with questions like “When will you be home from work?” or “What would you like for dinner?” or “Who’s taking Joey to soccer practice?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with these kinds of conversations. In fact, these conversations are necessary and beneficial. If most of your conversations focus on a 48 hour window, however, you have a problem.