Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage: #3 Bring the Awesomeness

James: “Well that was pretty amazing.”

Rachel: “Really, you didn’t find it just OK?”

James: “Babe, you’re definitely much more than ‘just OK’ in bed.  Trust me, that rocked.  I mean, at least it did for me.  Was it good for you?”

Rachel: “Fabulous.  Just fabulous.  I’m not sure when the last time my heart rate got up that high.  Except for maybe last night!  *Laughs*

James: “Yeah, that was a good time, too.  Hey, how about we do something different tomorrow night, but reengage …let’s say, two nights from now?”

Rachel: “Good for me.  Whew!  It’ll be good to take a breather.  Just don’t forget about me.”

James: “Forget?  How can I forget?!”

James and Rachel quietly fell into a deep sleep.  The next morning before driving to work, James discovered a small envelope taped to the steering wheel of his car.  He opened it up and there inside was a hand-drawn sketch of the next position Rachel wanted to experiment with the next time they connect.  At the bottom was a small note – “I’m not sure how fulfilling this will be for me, but I think you’ll really like it.  If you decide to not wait until tomorrow, I understand.”

James and Rachel did wait until the next day, and by then James had made some minor modifications to Rachel’s sketch.  He, too, left a small note, using verbiage they and only they share with one another when the moment is right.  On this occasion, the moment was right.  Rachel arranged for child care and when James arrived home they enjoyed one another freely, and then stayed awake into the middle of the night, discussing their hopes, fears, and dreams…all the while knowing they were already fulfilling them all.

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In this series we’ve been discussing the possibility of not just experiencing, but sustaining sexual freedom in your marriage.  In our first post we discussed the need to believe that sexual freedom is possible.  In our second we discussed the importance of silencing outside voices.  Today we want to discuss something that can be a little more controversial, the art of sexual experimentation.

In fact, a reader recently asked a pretty important question.  They noted that blogs such as this one have been a tremendous resource and that their sex life has increased exponentially.  However, they also asked a tough question that goes something like this, “How much of this kind of reading can I do before I become too overwhelming in my sexual desire for my spouse?  At the same time, how can we keep the current excitement we have going without reverting to a season of much less sexual gratification?”

With questions such as these tied in with the subject of sexual experimentation, there’s a lot to talk about.  However, while MUCH could be said, we’re going to keep this post as simplistic as we can.

1. Experiment ONLY in ways you and your spouse agree

Whether you’ve been married one year, five years, or twenty, there’s a possibility that you both have thought of trying something different, but you’ve never discussed it for fear of how your spouse may respond. Maybe it’s a new position to try out.  Maybe it’s how you go about having “conversation” while you’re together.  Maybe it’s about trying a new element of foreplay, or oral sex.

Whatever it is, maybe you haven’t asked because you know your spouse very well and your fears are based on some pretty good evidence or conversations from the past.  If that’s the case and you continue to be sexually fulfilled, perhaps it’s best to not ask about exploring in some new way.  However, if you’re not asking because you’re just not sure how they’ll respond, then take the opportunity to ask.  If you’re not willing to freely discuss your sexual boundaries with one another, you’re not likely to discover full-fledged sexual freedom anytime soon.  Discuss oral sex.  (In fact, some other great Christian blog authors have written some pretty poignant posts on the subject.  Here’s one.  Here’s another.)  Discuss various positions to try out together.  Discuss everything and ONLY experiment with what you both agree to.

What should you agree to?  Well, we won’t get into too many details, but you should only agree to what you both believe are God-honoring acts.  We’ve been asked a number of questions about anal sex, pornography, sex toys, among others.  As for the first, God didn’t design the human body in this way for human sexuality.  As for the second, it’s a terrible industry.  And if the husband asks to do something really, really out there, then there’s a chance he’s been peeking at porn on the side and needs some good counseling.  As for the third, we don’t want to say that they’re *always* ungodly, as you may one day find a legitimate need.  But if you can just use flesh on flesh to please one another, go for it.

In short, openly discuss ways in which you can both agree to touch, kiss, suck, bend, twist, thrust any way you like.  You’ll likely find her favorite 1, 2 or 3 positions and he will too.  But you may find something new that you can go back to on some special occasions….and maybe even more regularly.

Now you may be thinking, “We don’t even know where to go to get ‘appropriate’ ideas!”  Well, this is where the subject can get more controversial.  That word ‘appropriate’ can be defined differently, for sure.  If you find these recommendations untasteful, forgive us.  One, check out the iKamasutra app for iphone, ipad, etc.  It’s likely available for Android/Windows Phone as well.  Additionally, here are a number of shopping sites recommended by our friends at The Marriage Bed.  Just remember to agree on everything you decide to purchase, and then begin playfully experimenting for the benefit of both parties.

2. Be certain to maintain self-control

How can you know if you’re becoming too overwhelming in your desire for one another?  Well, chances are your spouse will tell you if you’re coming on a bit too strong.  Not only that, but if you discover that more often than not you’re totally into sex solely for your own pleasure and you’re not paying any attention to your spouse, you’re probably not maintaining an appropriate boundary for your sex life.  However, if you’re both openly and freely enjoying one another and not pressuring him/her or becoming self-absorbed, no worries.  “Eat, friends!  Drink, be intoxicated with love!” (Song of Songs 5:1)

3. Bring the awesomeness

We recently watched a short satirical video that had this tagline.  Whoever designed it did their job well, because it stuck.

You may be in a position (pun intended) where don’t feel the need to experiment or do anything different.  You’re completely and totally sexually satisfied right where you are.  That’s great.  Keep at it.  Connect regularly.  Keep bringing the awesomeness and there’s no way you’ll revert to a time when sex doesn’t come freely.  Just bring the awesomeness, and like James and Rachel, you’ll be living free and looking forward to whatever comes next.

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This is Part 3 in our series on Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage.  Additional posts in the series can be found at the links below.

Part 1: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom In Marriage #1 – Believe

Part 2: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #2 – Silence Outside Voices

Part 3: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #3 – Bring the Awesomeness

Part 4: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #4 – Understand the Seasons

Part 5: Five Ways to Sustain Sexual Freedom in Marriage #5 – Create Opportunities

 

Feel free to answer one/all of the following questions in the comments below, or discuss them with your spouse.

  1. Why do you think couples shy away from openly discussing how they can better fulfill one another sexually?
  2. What are 3 ways this series has helped you think about not just experiencing, but sustaining sexual freedom in your marriage?
  3. Discuss with your spouse: If there’s just one thing I could do this week to “Bring the Awesomeness” in bed, what would it be?

Waiting for “The Mood”

I (Megan) learned very early on in our marriage, if I waited to be “in the mood” we weren’t going to have very much sex.  Prior to marriage, we had based much of our relationship on things other than the physical aspect.  But early on in marriage, things were different.  Sex was good.  Really good, in fact.  But it was still just one part of our marriage, on top of everything else.  That said, I still realized that sex was good for me, for my husband and for our marriage. It wasn’t just good…it was necessary.  As I began to understand the importance of sex I began to take far more interest in understanding how to be in the mood, or at least desire a thriving and healthy sex life.

A good sex life is a healthy indicator of a great marriage.  Being that sex connects a couple on emotional, spiritual and physical levels, it’s worth learning how to understand or increase sexual desire. Sexual desire is often misunderstood and many choose not to openly discuss their desires with their spouse. Today we want to point out a few ways to engage yourself in the increase of sexual desire. Mind you, these are just a few suggestions, but just sitting and waiting to be “in the mood” rarely makes a difference.

Here are three things to practice and keep in mind if you want the mood to be more welcome in your life.

1. Relate.

Take time to relate to your spouse throughout the day and the week. Regular conversations about what’s going on in life are great but don’t leave it at simply coordinating your schedules! Take time to share what’s going on in your heart. Emotionally, what is bothering you or bringing you great joy? Take time to regularly evaluate how your marriage, finances, outside relationships, work life, parenting, etc. are working for you.  The more often you communicate about all aspects of life, the more free you are to engage. Guarded emotions and lives don’t allow complete sexual abandon, vulnerability and relational connectivity does.

2. Remember.

Build your sexual memories on your most enjoyable experiences. Remembering just how good it can be has an uncanny way of making you want that same thing again.  What happens when you have lots of ho-hum or even negative sexual experiences? Create what I like to call sexual nostalgia.  Make love in different places, positions or introduce specific cues that trigger your mind and emotions to become nostalgic. Maybe it’s a spot on the couch. It could be a certain touch or scent. Whatever it is, use your mind to your advantage. Over time, even the memories of meaningful past sexual experiences, will make a difference in your desire and readiness.

3. Relax.

Seriously. If you are worried about being in the mood the moment you start to make love – STOP IT!  Making the choice to make love is often the first step and the rest follows. So, relax and just go with it. Allow your body to catch up with the mental choice and you will start a positive sexual cycle.

Fee free to check out other things we have posted about sex drives:

Sex Drives: Do I make you horny?

Sex Drives: Libido Saboteurs

13 Realities of Married Sex: #11 Sex is Exploration

We recently listened to a song titled, “I don’t know enough about you.” Have you ever asked that question about your sex life? Ever wondered if you really had any clue what your spouse likes or dislikes? Whether or not you ‘knew’ enough about their desires in the bedroom?

We’re hopeful that you have, because every married couple ought to be on equal footing in one area: knowing how to please one another sexually. Regardless of your spouse’s sexual history, or even your own history together before marriage, every married couple should continually be learning about how to please their partner.explore

Some people believe that with enough time and/or practice they will be able to just “figure it out”. While there may be some truth to that way of thinking, sex is about exploration. Exploration of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexual intimacy. Approaching sex with an attitude of exploration has strong benefits in marriage.

In fact, the really exciting thing about sex as exploration is that it includes active participation from both partners. She may provide verbal or physical cues that guide her husband’s words, touch, and movement in a way that it brings her immense pleasure. Or, he actively participants in exploration, watching and waiting to see how she responds. He adjusts accordingly, with the sole intent of ensuring she is sexually satisfied. She, too, takes opportunities to explore him, slowly revving him up before the big bang.

While sexual exploration can (and should!) be done in a variety of ways, below are a few different ways to approach sex with this mindset.

Explore and learn by way of:

Observing – Notice your spouse. Pay attention to her facial expressions. Is she showing pleasure, or concentration? Is she changing her movements and modifying her position often? Is she tense, or is she very relaxed? You may think you know what she wants and desires, but if she’s continually adjusting her body then focus some of your mental energy to change that. Pay attention to all of the non-verbal physical cues she’s providing, and adjust accordingly. The same principles may be applied to observing your husband.

Talking -Talking about sex may be unnatural for some married couples. While sex is a regular occurrence for most couples, openly discussing it isn’t something some couples like to do.

Listen up, because this is important: It’s OK to talk about your sex life, what you like, and what you don’t like. It’s OK to do this in the bedroom, and outside the bedroom. While non-verbal cues are important, actual words about what you each like will help your spouse be able to please you better. Not only that, but your spouse will also be more sexually pleased if they know they’re bringing you greater pleasure! So go ahead and discuss it. You’re going to get naked with them again soon, so why not tell them how much you enjoyed your last time together, and what they can do to make the next one even more memorable.

Touching – Even if you have been married for many years, challenge yourself to grow in your exploration of your spouse. Take a hot shower together and then slowly explore one another’s body. What simple touches causes his body to respond? Where do caresses or kisses cause her to giggle? Don’t just focus on the face, chest and other sexual regions. Explore their WHOLE body. These opportunities will lead to longer times together, and a more vibrant, fulfilling sexual experience. Not only that, but you’ll likely learn something about your spouse you can use sometime in the future…something that may provide them with a “claws to the wall” experience.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Which is these is most difficult for you in the exploration process: observing, talking, or touching? Can we spend some time observing one another in that way soon?

2. I think we’re doing OK because most of our sexual encounters are 10 minutes or less (a statistical fact). What do you think about slowing it down a little and doing a bit more exploration? How many minutes do you think we should add to our next encounter?

3. Challenge: I don’t want to discuss these questions! I’m ready to take a hot shower and explore your body – let’s get to it!

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum, Messy Marriage

13 Realities of Married Sex: #9 Sex is Ecstasy

Years ago, Megan decided to surprise me by purchasing a ticket for us to ride a special bungee-swing-like ride in a major theme park.  The only problem is that I’m afraid of heights.  Though this event took place years ago, I remember it very clearly.  The slow ascent to the final destination (which was hundreds of feet off the ground!) was not a pleasant experience.  But once you’re there, there’s only one way to getKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA down.  The employee called out over a loudspeaker, “Are you ready?”  And then continued, “3-2-1 PULL!”.  Megan pulled the pin.  Over the next 1.37365 seconds, we were in a complete free-fall, and I’m pretty sure I was screaming like a little girl.  Then we felt the rope catch, and we swung back and forth until we descended to safety.  During this event, all 5 senses were fully engaged.  And in the end, I did laugh a bit about the experience.  But it wasn’t as enjoyable as Megan hoped.  It didn’t provide the moment of ecstasy she was going for.

Sex, on the other hand should be a thrilling, tantalizing and exciting experience. And while no marriage experiences those attributes every time they connect physically, it should not be a distant memory or completely foreign idea.  So what happens when sex is not ecstasy? When boredom, monotony and familiarity cloud that which you wish was more exciting and fun?

1. Build up the mind.

Great sex begins in the mind. If you have a ho-hum attitude towards sex, your bedroom activities won’t fail to reflect that attitude.  Fully understanding that where your mind goes, your body will follow is an important first step.  Use the power of your mind, your thoughts and your will to release your sexual confidence.  Make an effort to spend time thinking erotic thoughts about your spouse and anticipating how good sex could be. If you find yourself blaming your spouse for being a lousy lover, why don’t you try taking time to teach them to be a great lover.  Nobody knows everything about someone else’s body so take time to teach them about yours.  It is possible, but it all starts in the mind.  (If you are a wife with a low libido, check out Pearl’s OysterBed and join in her challenge to Unlock Your Libido.)

2. Build up the body.

If sex begins in the brain, then getting to know your own body is the next step to better sex.  Learning how your body responds to touch, taste, sight, smell and sound is a great starting point to understanding what turns you on. Marriage is the only place where sexual experimentation is encouraged and appropriate…so get to it!

3. Build up the heart.

Sex without connection can never be as good as sex with connection.  If sex is not producing much ecstasy then look to the relational aspects of your marriage and sexual relationship.  Is sex being withheld because of anger or unforgiveness? Is there bitterness or resentment building up as a result of self-centered living? Are there underlying problems in how you value sex?

Another approach may just be to work on your friendship. Sex or friendship, friendship or sex, which comes first? Truth is, neither one is as good without the other. Working on your friendship may well be a key to unlocking more passionate sex.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Is there anything I can do this week to help you think sexual thoughts about me throughout the day?

2. Challenge: Do something special with all 5 senses the next time you connect.  Don’t tell your spouse what you’re going to do (surely you can think of something sexually arousing to surprise him/her in 5 ways) but let him/her choose the order of the senses.  Then mix-and-match those 5 things the next time you connect.  Chances are, you’ll discover a new, fun, way to pleasure your spouse!

The Great Divide in Sex Initiation: How To Initiate

In our last post we mentioned several reasons why someone may not initiate sex.  These reasons range from simple nervousness and feeling they are doing it wrong to more serious issues that need addressed.  Today we will look at a few ideas that can spark the mind of a person who simply feels awkward or hesitant to initiate sex.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Consider your spouses desires. When you initiate sex the goal is that your spouse actually responds.  However, oftentimes the tendency is to approach your spouse the way you would want them to approach and initiate with you.  This is not always the best plan.  Take time to consider what it takes to help your spouse respond and then initiate with that in mind.  Perhaps they like some romance, kind words, or a gentle touch.  Maybe they prefer stronger sexual advances and a bit of a sneak peek.  Maybe showing up naked is the best way to get your spouse to respond.  The only way to know what will work for your spouse is to talk about it with them and then try it out.  A gentle reminder though, what works one day may not be the only approach you will ever need.  Vary the way you initiate from time to time and keep the good times coming.

2. Get the mind going early in the day.  We wrote awhile back about how sex really begins outside the bedroom. This can be true when it come to initiation as well.  Giving your spouse an idea that at the end of the day you would like to connect and enjoy their sexual pleasures can help them mentally prepare for the night ahead.  This is particularly important if your spouse tends to plan ahead or just has a very busy schedule.  A simple text message, phone call or note could pave the way for a spectacular night together.

3. Use code words or props.  Add an element of fun to your love life by having a few select words that signal your spouse that you would like to join your bodies together as one at some point during the day.  Or maybe you could let your spouse know you are in the mood by lighting a specific candle that lets them know your flames are burning for them.  It’s even possible for you to have the audacity to include a racy love note or certain undergarment in a place where they are sure not to miss it.  Whatever you can think of that not only let’s your spouse know you desire them but is also flirtatious and fun at the same time.  Nothing wrong with that.

4. Scheduling, planning or expecting sex at certain times is a form of initiation.  Some couples may not need to include any initiation. They’re ‘in the habit’ of knowing one another in such a way that they just seem to know it’s time to have sex.  Some may argue that this is a goal to work toward within marriage.  But while it may be good to always be on the same page, a surprise sexual initiation at an unexpected time or in an unexpected way can still create fireworks and improve upon your sex life even more.

5. Get help. It seems that ‘counseling’ has become a dirty-word in today’s day and age. Sadly, some individuals may initiate sex over and over and continually be turned down. Instead of constantly dealing with rejection and finding ways to suppress your sexual desires, we recommend getting council. Sex is supposed to be part of the marriage relationship. If you’re being rejected over and over again, do everything in your power to get the help your marriage needs. Fulfilling your sexual desires with vibrators, masturbation, or pornography will only fulfill your physical desires.  But a good marriage has strong emotional and spiritual desires fulfilled through sex as well. So if necessary, get help. In the end, your spouse and your sex life will be glad you did.

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Have another tip for initiating sex?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum, Women Living Well

The Great Divide in Sex Initiation: Why won’t they initiate?

Have you ever seen an episode of The Cosby Show?  Though we have many different favorite moments, one that we have always found amusing came from an episode where Cliff takes Claire on a kid free romantic getaway.  After they have a leisurely dinner and return to their room they’re both anticipating what comes next.  Bow-chicka-bow-wow….they know they’re alone, no kids to interrupt, no dishes to wash no work phone calls, just the two of them.  Claire spends time getting ready and when she returns from freshening up, Cliff is “napping” on the bed.  Although a bit disappointed by her sleeping husband, Claire continues undeterred to enjoy their evening.  This is when Cliff says these wonderfully romantic and chivalrous words, “Let’s get it on.”  Claire is not impressed and is rather put off by these words.

We give Cliff a little bit of credit.  After all, he did initiate sex, albeit in the opposite way Claire was hoping.  That said, some rarely, if ever initiate sex.  This leaves the spouse wondering, “Why won’t he/she initiate sex?  Why am I always the one to do so?”

Here are some reasons a spouse may not initiate sex:

1. Track record of refusal.  When a spouse is refused time and time again it’s common for them to just stop asking.  Refusal of sexual advances is often a deeply hurtful, humiliating and distressing experience.  Regular sexual connection is important in marriage, therefore, when sex is regularly refused the marriage will likely suffer, and the one who was refused will be less likely to initiate in the future.

2. Sexual dysfunction or lack of pleasure during sex.  If a spouse does not feel that they are able to perform sexually then there is often little desire to initiate.  This could be a man who suffers from erectile dysfunction or it could be a woman who rarely or never experiences orgasms or sexual pleasure.

3. Specific sexual desires or needs are unmet.  Sadly, many people receive a great deal of education about how sex “should” take place from movies, music, romance novels and other forms of cultural entertainment.  However, these resources rarely provide helpful information that relates to real life.  Still, some may have very specific desires for their sexual relationship.  Perhaps they want more romance.  Perhaps they’re ready at the drop of a hat.  Whatever it is, they’ve come to learn that their spouses needs/desires are much different than theirs.  Knowing their desires will never fully be realized, they may not initiate sex very often, and may stop initiating altogether.

4. Sexual needs are being met elsewhere.  As much as we hate to say it, if your spouse never initiates sex or has drastically changed the frequency of initiation it could be that they are fulfilling their sexual needs somewhere else.  Whether through porn use or regular masturbation, if your spouse does not initiate you may need to find out if this could be a cause.

5. Distrust in the relationship.  Great sex takes both physical and emotional nakedness.  When trust has been broken or there’s unresolved conflict, the desire for sex will significantly decrease.  A spouse may not initiate if they do not feel safe (emotionally or physically) in the marriage.

6. Fear of doing it wrong.  This is much more simplistic than the other topics we have mentioned but many people feel shy about how to tell their spouse that they would like to have sex.  It is entirely possible that your spouse wants sex but want you to initiate every time because they feel uncomfortable or awkward when they do.

We’re quite certain these are only a handful of reasons as to why one spouse would not initiate sex.  Soon, we’ll post a follow-up giving some specific advice in how to initiate sex, as well as some suggestions for how you can discuss this subject with your spouse so that you may both initiate sex more equally.  Until then…

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What are some other reasons one spouse may choose not to initiate sex?  What harm can happen in a marriage relationship when one spouse rarely/never initiates sex?

And for those who are interested, here are Cliff and Claire in action!

 

Linking with: Women Living Well; To Love Honor and Vacuum

After The Act:

People often talk about how important the moments are that lead up to sex.  But what about afterwards?  If sex is the main event then what happens after doesn’t really make any difference, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  We believe the time a couple spends together after sex is an important part of a healthy sexual relationship.  Strong relationships are built on respect, love and good communication.  A lack of communication in this area of your life can cause more trouble than you may think or be aware of.

Let’s begin the discussion by evaluating what your current post-sex routine is. Are you most likely to: lay in each others arms? Take a shower? Get up and continue with whatever, immediately? etc… And then there is the issue of how you handle “clean up”?  What happens when one person wants one thing post-coitus and the other person wants something else? Does time of day, emotional or physical exhaustion, or time constraints affect how you spend your time after sex?  There are no “rules” about what to do after sex but having open and honest dialogue about what you want and why you may want it is essential to making it work for both you and your spouse.

Understanding how hormones work in your body is important to understanding why you or your spouse might want something different after the act.  After orgasm the body releases the hormones of oxytocin, prolactin and endorphins.  The levels released and their effects on the body differ from person to person and differ after each sexual experience.  Some will experience feelings of contentment, bonding and yes even sleepiness may overwhelm their senses.  Each party needs to understand that falling asleep does not necessarily indicate lack of interest but rather true satisfaction.  A partner who does not experience orgasm may be left feeling unsatisfied and may be reaching for more through continued need for physical touch and close proximity.  Arousal that is not resolved can cause tension for a partner who did not experience orgasm and they may desire to fulfill their needs through continued physical touch and closeness.

Post sex kissing, hugging and talking is what psychologists call “pair bonding”. Professing your love for your spouse and other intimate behaviors seem appropriate to build further depth in your relationship.  But what about the times when you or your spouse just want to resume normal activity?  Some people may not care very much for the cuddling and pillow talk.  This could be in part due to hormones as well as personality driven.  While the release of oxytocin (also called the “bonding chemical”) draws out feeling of contentment and closeness the release of prolactin causes a decrease in arousal possibly causing a sense of being “over” the need for sex or physical touch.  It is also possible that a person who has a low need for physical touch may have all their physical needs met through the act of sex itself.  While this is not an excuse to never cuddle or touch outside of sex, it may help explain it.

So, what does all of this mean?  You and your spouse should take time to talk about what you want/need after having spent time together and then fulfill those needs. If one really needs additional talk/touch time, do everything in your power to provide that for them.  If one really needs to rest in the fact that they’re over-the-top-satisfied, allow them that moment of rest.  And if you’re both feeling completely satisfied but aren’t yet ready for sleep, we’re pretty sure there’s a re-run of Law & Order on somewhere.  It may not be as invigorating as sex, but it may be just what you need to wind down a bit.

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How have you and your mate worked together to ensure that what you do “After The Act” benefits your relationship?

On Rocks and Sex:

A pile of pea gravel sits at the bottom of our steps, and every day the pile grows little by little.  The gravel comes from our oldest daughters shoes.  Each day she takes them off and slowly empties out the gravel onto the floor.

Click.

Clack.

Plink.

The sounds of these pebbles can be heard reverberating through our home.

Though we regularly ask her why she doesn’t take her shoes off after recess and empty them back onto the playground she responds that they don’t bother her.  Don’t bother her!?!  She has rocks in her shoes for crying out loud, how can that not bother her?  Apparently the rocks just seem to find the cracks and cervices in her shoes where they don’t cause immediate pain and therefore she ignores the problem.  She doesn’t take the extra step required to end the pain and discomfort.

For some couples, the subject of sex is just like this.  Every time the subject of sex comes up in conversation it causes some discomfort for at least one person in the marriage relationship.

Words are spoken but not heard.

Feelings take precedent over rational solutions.

Loving suggestions become ultimatums.

All of these things are like rocks.  A simple conversation about having sex turns into a fight.  When this occurs, many couples talk about and participate in sexual intimacy less often.  Not only that, but sex seems to find its way into places in the marriage where it causes less direct pain and can be largely ignored.  The male or female will find a way to fulfill their sexual desires while maintaining the “more important” marital aspects of commitment, faithfulness, and priorities.  Not so fast, sex matters.

Sex matters.

Sex matters.

Sex matters.

A lot.

It may not be the only thing that matters, but it matters.

So, how does one begin to remove the “rocks” in your sexual relationship?  How can you discuss sex without a huge fight?

1. Set up a neutral time to talk about sex.

Not talking about the problem is NOT a solution.  If you or your spouse have differences of opinion in this area, you have to talk it through.  It you’re not able to work out an amicable solution yourselves, then feel free to seek the wisdom of a counselor.  But it must be talked about.

Wives: If your husband isn’t being sexually fulfilled, he will find a negative way to satisfy those cravings.

Husbands: If your wife isn’t being sexually fulfilled, she will flirt with others to reassure herself that she is sexually attractive.

Neither of these solutions are good for the marriage.  Find a time to talk about it, and talk about it.  Our advice: get child care and hash it out for 2-3 hours.  When it’s all said and done, you may have a great time having “make-up sex”.  And when that’s done, you may wonder why you ever fought about sex to begin with!

2. Begin working on your marriage outside the bedroom. 

Sometimes sex isn’t happening because your friendship and emotional intimacy is not strong.  This is just as likely for men as it is for women.  So take opportunities to spend as much time with each other as possible.

Wives: He wants to know just how much you appreciate all he does for the family. He wants to hear that you still find him attractive.  He wants to hear more about what he’s doing right than what he’s doing wrong.  He wants to hear more, “thank you for _________ today” more than he wants to hear, “I need you to ___________ today.”  He wants to know that you care more about him than the stuff he does.

Husbands: She needs to hear that she’s attractive.  She hears this not only in words, but in time spent with her.  When you spend time with her, she is constantly reminded that you chose HER over every other woman on earth.  She wants to hear this, both verbally and non-verbally.  The more time you spend with her, the more she knows you find HER as the post important part of your life.

The simplest solution to communicating these things is to spend more time together.  If your lives are nearly as crazy as ours, here are a couple of suggestions.  1) Stop watching television, and talk about something instead.  Yes, we know guys generally hate this.  But maybe the conversation can be about sports.  Maybe you can each listen to a podcast on a subject HE is interested in and talk about what you liked / didn’t like / understood/didn’t understand about it.  Take a Saturday to do something together that you both would be interested in doing.  It’s not brain surgery, but it does take some thinking and some work.  But this work will benefit the marriage, and most certainly your sex lives will benefit as well.

3. Understand that your spouses needs may be different than yours.

Wives: He really may need to have sex every other day, or sometimes 4-5 times a week.  And receiving this from you may be the one thing that causes him to forget about the rest of life’s worries.

Husbands: She may have emotional needs to be satisfied sexually more than you.  You may think, “I told you I loved you…and I still do!” but she still needs to be SHOWN that you love her.  She wants to know that you desire her, not your work.  She wants to know you desire her, not the ballgame.  She wants to know you desire her, not the video game.

Inevitably, this is what leads to many arguments over sex…one person has a larger sex drive than their spouse.  Each spouse must come to the understanding that their spouses drive is different.  Take time to understand these differences and then commit to working it out.

As the small pile of rocks at our doorstep grows larger and larger, we cannot help but think of the number of days our daughter has walked with some form of discomfort.  Likewise, we cannot help to think of how many marriages are regressing due to different opinions on sex.  Take opportunities to remove the rocks.  Live with the knowledge that sex is an important part of marriage.  Removing the rock will make things not only more comfortable for your spouse, but for you as well.

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Linking with: Women Living Well & To Love Honor and Vacuum

Slow It Down: Keeping the right attitude when sex “takes too long”

We all lead incredibly busy lives.  We go from activity to activity with barely any thought as to how many different activities we make important in our lives. Some of us prioritize better than others and some of us simplify better than most, too.  That being said, it is still true that most of us live rushed lives, even when it comes to sex.  This busyness in our lives leads to hurried sexual encounters.  Even if you take a “long time” with sex (say 1 hr.) you limit your sex life because you can’t spare extra hours to spend having sex.  Some even admit they would have more sex if it didn’t “take too long”.

In a comment on her recent blog post about The Elusive Orgasm Kate of One Flesh Marriage had this to say about taking our time during sex: “Think about it, if it only took 2-5 minutes each time, we would never spend “time” together, we would just have sex and move on. God designed one of us to slow things up a bit and while that seems like a burden to us, it is a good thing.”  That is some great advice and a wonderful perspective.

Though we could write much more on the subject (and we very well may in the future) we just want to challenge you to think about how your rushed and busy life impedes your sex life and marriage.  If you fall into the trap of thinking sex “takes too long” and are therefore less interested in sex and make love less often as a result here are a few questions to consider.

1. What are the benefits of slowing it down in the bedroom?  How does that positively enhance my marriage?

2. Are there things I need to cut out of my life to allow more time to keep things slow and truly savor this time with my spouse?

3. How can I learn to focus my mind and heart on my spouse during love making rather than thinking about my to-do list or the countless other things I could do with that “extra time”?

We know that this may be very challenging for some of you.  Truly great sex is always challenging on some level because it has been designed to require such a deep level of vulnerability.  Putting aside the time crunched thinking and truly understanding the beauty of  spending time with your spouse in this way will benefit your sex life as well as your marriage as a whole.

Sex Drives: an introduction

We were recently asked by a reader to discuss more about “getting it on when you don’t really want to.”  We loved the frankness of the suggestion.  Therefore, throughout the week we want to discuss this very thing.

I (Megan) like to call this, “I’d rather…” sex.

“I’d rather… sleep.”

“I’d rather… watch TV.”

“I’d rather…play video games.”

“I’d rather… be with my friends.”

“I’d rather… eat chocolate.” (Maybe that’s just me!)

However you would complete the “I’d rather…” sentence, we know these thoughts occur in marriage.  Most married couples experience this from time to time and as long as it is fairly rare we don’t believe it to be detrimental to a strong marriage.  But when the “I’d rather…” comments happen consistently, that is when we believe problems can occur.

Here are some tips to help you get over the “I’d rather…” mindset.

1.  Understand your sex drive and how it affects your marriage.  Marriages are made up of two people.  These two people often have different sex drives.  Learning how to interpret and appreciate the differences and how to use them for the benefit and building up of your marriage is important.  We will be discussing this in depth throughout the coming week.

2.  Apply creativity to your sex life.  If you have lost interest in sex and don’t feel like “getting it on”  because sex has become predictable, passionless and boring; get creative.  Engage your senses.  Try new positions.  Think about it.  Talk about it.  Read about it.  Our bodies were created to give and receive pleasure and as married couples we should be doing just that.  Sex is not just a fringe benefit of marriage but the acting out of the very essence of marriage: intimacy, oneness, nakedness, connectedness.  It’s also a whole lot of fun!  God created marriage and has given His blessing for marital intimacy.  Never let it become boring or non-existent.

3.  Intimacy is a choice.  Everyone will experience  “I’d rather…” moments.  It is in those moments when you can choose to act, not out of obligation, but out of love for your spouse.  If your spouse occasionally experiences bouts of pain, anxiety, lack of energy, etc., one of the best things you can do for them is to please them sexually.  When you give yourself to your husband or wife, your first goal ought to be to please them first, and yourself second.  And remember, every time you choose to “get it on” when you don’t really want to, you’re likely to discover the experience will be just as enjoyable for you as it was for them.

A note for men:

I (Justin) have experienced my very own “I’d rather…” moments.  And to be honest, one of the most frequently asked questions from men is, “Am I allowed to tell my wife, no?”  It’s true that men oftentimes have their very own “I’d rather…” moments just as frequently as women.  If your wife is looking to “get it on” even though you don’t want to, I would encourage you to make yourself available to her for her own sexual fulfillment.  And as we wrote in #3 above, you’re likely to discover the experience will be just as enjoyable for you as it was for her.

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What do you do within your marriage to limit the “I’d rather…” moments?