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

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Man” *thinking to himself* “We’ve been at this for a long time.  She seems to be enjoying it.  Maybe this is going to be the night!”

Woman *thinking to herself* “This is ridiculous.  I can’t keep stringing him along forever.”

Woman: “Oooooohhhhh!”

Man:  *thinking to himself* “I knew it!  This is it!”

Man: “That’s it, my love.  Let it out!”

Woman: “Sorry, dear.  Not happening.  Again.”

Man and Woman: *sigh*

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Orgasm.

This word can only be defined in one way – the epitome of a satisfying sexual encounter.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that many women struggle to achieve orgasm regularly.  Her failure to orgasm often leaves both the man and the woman feeling cheated, frustrated and dissatisfied.  A man feels less like a man if he isn’t able to please his wife.  A woman feels like she isn’t ‘normal’ because she can’t seem to climax through penetration alone.

Her inability to orgasm shouldn’t hinder their relationship or cause contention in their marriage.  But is happens.  Give it enough time, and this situation may lead to a type of performance anxiety for both the husband and wife.

A husband may begin to over-perform, continually looking for a way to evoke rapturous shouts of ecstasy.  Temptation to bring out the ‘big guns’ – touching, massaging, even kissing or licking every piece of her flesh in sight – reveals his desire to please his wife, but his overzealous desire often turns a time of close intimacy into a moment of disaster.  His heart is in the right place, but his moves turn to a missed opportunity.  Connection turns to contention.  After enough of these experiences, a man who feels he is unable to please his wife may begin to doubt himself, or even worse, spite his wife.  “Her inability to climax must be a sign that she isn’t as ‘into me’ as I believed,” he thinks to himself.  Over-performance turns to under-performance.  Why bother, right?

Meanwhile, a wife may believe her inability to ‘perform’ proves there is something wrong with her.  After not experiencing sexual release, she may begin to avoid sex altogether. While she considers taking opportunities to be a willing and even enthusiastic participant, her husband’s continual breathing down her neck about why she hasn’t “had one yet” turns her off.  No matter how many times she tells her husband that orgasm isn’t necessary for her to enjoy their lovemaking, he cannot be dissuaded from his quest. Feelings of inadequacy, hurt and resentment invade what should be a wonderfully bonding experience.

When a husband and a wife are dealing with unmet expectations regarding orgasm regularity, tension builds, sexual satisfaction wanes and intimacy erodes.  It affects not only their sex lives, but every other aspect of their marriage as well.  But orgasmic conflict does not need to hinder the sexual experience.  Positive changes can occur when a couple broadens their definitions of a satisfying sexual encounter.

It’s essential for a couple with these struggles to understand that great sex is not simply an orgasmic experience, it’s an emotional and spiritual experience as well.  Sex is designed to bond, connect and cement a couple together.  Don’t get us wrong, orgasm is great.  But, bodies, souls and minds becoming one flesh in a moment of affection, closeness and partnership is better.  Learning to truly understand sex, building marital friendship and working towards common goals will benefit the entire marriage and enhance the sexual relationship.

Once a couple with these struggles begins to understand sex, their expectations will change.  Contention will return to connection.  Their desire to better ‘know’ one another is what begins to drive them.  His desire is for her, not for her orgasm.  Her desire is for him, not his ability to please her.  So, lest you think that orgasm can never be a goal, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Men:

Don’t pressure her!  Understand that the more pressure she feels to ‘perform’ the less likely she is to enjoy the moment and feel freedom to try other pleasures.  Understand that there are many women do not orgasm through intercourse alone.  They need direct clitoral stimulation.  Try different positions, use your fingers and take your time to figure out what feels most pleasurable to her.  Help her to understand you are willing to do what it takes to help her climax, but also understand that there may be times when she just doesn’t want to.  She’s perfectly content availing herself to you, still giving you opportunities to know her in the most intimate ways.  Though it may be difficult for you to fully comprehend at first, her satisfaction can be complete without orgasm.

Women:

There is nothing wrong with you!  You are not alone if you don’t easily achieve orgasm every time.  Many women don’t.   Feeling isolated and abnormal will only increase your anxiety rather than help you understand what is really going on.  Take some time to familiarize yourself with female anatomy and the physical realities of your body. Intercourse often does not provide the clitoral stimulation necessary for orgasm.  That simple fact may open your eyes (and your husband’s) to a completely different understanding of  how your love life could be better.

Take opportunities to communicate with your husband that when you feel pressured to orgasm, you lose the sense of intimacy (or as others call it, “into me see”). Let him know if you want to keep trying but also help him to know that there are times when you are ‘all in’ for his pleasure alone.  Learn what arouses, excites and send you over the edge, but reassure your man that if you choose not to orgasm it has nothing to do with his ability or prowess.

Both:

Remember that sex isn’t about your spouse being ‘into you’.  It’s about both of you being ‘into us’.  It’s about connection.  As such, your time together will create a deep bond.  A bond of love.  Friendship.  Dependency.  Intimacy.  It’s a bond that should not be broken.  Could not be broken.  Will not be broken.

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This is part 3 in a series on Unmet Expectations.  Other posts may be found here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage

 

Sexual Rhythm:

Within our house we are rather eclectic regarding the types and styles of music we enjoy.  Justin and I (Megan) both privy ourselves musicians. I am classically trained, Justin is self taught.  We’ve spent hours crafting and fine tuning our skills and training ourselves to make beautiful music.  We’ve spent years perfecting our sense of rhythm, the central pulse that makes organized sense of music.  We find that this applies to our marriage as well.  Marriages and sex lives need a good cadence.  A strong central rhythm that makes organized sense of two different people coming together to make beautiful music.

Within marriage, there are times when sexual rhythm may seem a bit off.  Maybe you aren’t connecting as often or there is some other factor that is infringing on your intimacy.  Today we want to explore common factors that lead couples to get out of rhythm sexually.

1. Mismatched libidos. 

Sometimes one of you wants to “get it on” and one of you doesn’t.  Most marriages have “I’d rather” moments, moments when sex is just not going to happen but it is important to remember these should be the exception not the rule.  Marriages which consistently experience times when libidos (sex drives) just don’t seem to match up need to keep a few things in mind.  Having open lines of communication is essential to understand what is really happening.  Are there an over abundance of activities on your schedule that are making finding the time difficult? Are you truly tuned in to what turns your spouse on or off?  Are there relational issues under the surface in your marriage? Taking time to actually discuss and figure these types of questions out will truly help your libido’s line up with one another.  Often the discrepancy between your sex drives is not a disdain for sex but a problem communicating what gets your spouse in the mood.

2. Physical limitations.

Throughout marriage every couple will experience times where physical limitations disrupt your sexual rhythm.  For some couples these limitations are brief such as pregnancy and child birth or healing from surgery.  These disruptions are often easily overcome once the physical healing takes place.  Taking time to connect emotionally and physically in addition to preparing your mind for sex is often all that is necessary to get back into a healthy sexual rhythm.

For others, however, chronic pain, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, and other limitations take considerably more effort and commitment to overcome.  A healthy sex life is important in marriage.  If there are physical reasons sex is painful we recommend seeking the advice of a professional health care provider.  It may seem very uncomfortable to discuss such private issues with a healthcare provider but it is well worth it.  Getting help that allows your sex life to flourish is worth the temporary embarrassment and extra effort.  However, for some, the pain and disability is still very difficult to overcome.  During these times it is imperative to have open, loving conversations about how you can work on fulfilling each others needs in this area.  There are so many ways to have a close physical relationship with your spouse that don’t necessarily include intercourse.  There are ways to satisfy your God given sexual desires for your spouse.  Just take some opportunities t0 think creatively and feel free to try new things out.

3. Emotional reservations.

Feelings are a fickle thing.  There are plenty of times in marriage when words are said, actions are done and behaviors are repeated that cause one or both partners emotional pain.  At times these situations are resolved, apologies are made, forgiveness is offered. Other times, however, there is never a proper resolution and these types of underlying emotional issues can disrupt your sexual rhythm.

If you’re having trouble “connecting” due to some other marital factor or problem (finances, disagreements in parenting, who will drive the ‘nice’ car, etc.) then you need to take some serious opportunities to talk these things out.  Most couples decide to grin and bare it, believing the lie that “this is just the way marriage is”.  This. Is. A. Lie.  And it’s often small emotional decisions that turn into bigger ones and drive a marriage into the ground.  Get on the same page in every major area of life first (finances, parenting) and decide on the little stuff later.  If one of you thinks you need counseling to get through it and the other doesn’t – chances are you probably do.  And if you don’t like the term “counseling”, then don’t think of it that way.  Just sit down with a trusted married couple who has weathered the same storms and ask them how they did it.  It may not take professional “counseling”, but having a few well-experienced married friends over through the course of a month and asking them some specific questions about how they pulled through the tough times will reap dividends for your own marriage relationship.

4. Mental Apprehension

We regularly write about how sex is not just physical.  Sex is also spiritual, emotional and mental.  Working through your reservations, fears, misconceptions and misunderstanding about sex is important.  If you have negative opinions concerning sex, seek understanding.  Openly communicate with your spouse that you want to work on your sex life and then invite them to help you figure it out together.  The greatest sexual organ you have really is your brain so training and teaching your mind to have positive associations with sex is going to go a long way in making your sex life great.

Because of the emotional and spiritual power of sex there are times where sexual rhythm is disrupted by thoughts or emotions that you thought had been dealt with already.  You are in the moment, enjoying your partner then all of a sudden there is a flash back, a sensation, a smell that shows up completely uninvited. In those moments it is important to stop, communicate with your spouse what it happening and allow them to help you build a new memory to replace the old one.  Thoughts cannot be ignored but they can be dealt with properly.

5. Physical absence.

For most couples, traveling is at least a minor factor that disrupts sexual rhythm.  Some couples deal with extensive traveling or periods of absences. There is much to be said of the feast or famine sex lives that some couples have.  Sexual rhythm is certainly out of whack when you aren’t even together to enjoy each other.  But really, the best way to handle this type of situation is to change your mindset.  Your sex life is normal for you.  Don’t compare your sex life to others who don’t experience long absences.  Evaluate your relationship on how close you are emotionally.  Spend time in regular conversation with an emphasis on a great friendship. Don’t evaluate your marriage based on how many times you have sex each week.  Build each other up, encourage one another and enjoy your times together immensely when they come. In fact, your anticipation might be so big you can’t wipe the grin off your face for many days afterwards!

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

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

Sex Drives: Do I make you horny?

“Do I make you horny baby?  Do I?”

As much as we like to quote movies and TV shows around our house, this line from Austin Powers is not one we say with any frequency. On any given day, in any given situation and circumstance, the answer may be a yes or a no.  Feeling “horny” or “turned on” is often relative to what’s going on under the surface in our lives emotionally and circumstantially.  This week we want to take a real look at sex drives in order to  gain better understanding of how they impact our sex lives both positively and negatively.

One’s libido (or sex drive) is simply their overall desire for sexual activity.  Sex drives differ from person to person and are affected by biological, psychological and social components.  Sexual tension builds in both men and women and needs to be released.  When sufficient tension is built up there is a physical and sometimes emotional urge for it to be released.  Marriage is the appropriate boundary God has in place to fulfill these urges, making sexual desire an important part of marriage.

Generally speaking, men have stronger urges and desire for release than women, making their sex drives far more straightforward.  Men have an easier time being “goal oriented” and are not easily distracted. Oftentimes, if a male’s sex drive is not being fulfilled at home, it’s being fulfilled somewhere else (internet pornography or some other form of release). This isn’t always the case, but wives want to be sure they are helping their husband release when necessary so he isn’t prone to temptations elsewhere.

That said, it is possible for a male to have a lower sex drive than his wife.  Whether it’s emotional factors, physical problems, or side effects of medication, men, too, may have a decrease in their libido. Understanding where he is at and why is very important to a healthy sex life.

As for women, their sex drive is often far more complex and is far more likely to be influenced by a wide variety of factors.  Many women enjoy  sex regularly but rarely feel the strong “need” for sex.  Distractions such as a full schedule, household chores, children, etc. all affect women’s perceived desire for sex.  Not feeling a strong emotional connection with their spouse, a strained relationship (marital or other) or just plain not feeling sexy may factor heavily in a woman’s desire for sex.  This still doesn’t take into account hormones, slower physical responses and a plethora of other factors.  Can a woman have a strong sex drive? Of course! In many marriages it is the woman who wants more sex than their husband.  But it is helpful to understand that women’s sex drives are often times more difficult to understand and interpret.

Because sex is such an important part of a marriage, having differences in libido (perceived or actual) may cause serious stress.  When one spouse makes a move and it is met with refusal, it causes pain.  When a spouse rarely if ever feels “horny” or aroused they begin to feel guilty, as if there is something wrong with them.  It takes a lot of self examination and open communication to understand how you respond sexually, and how your spouse can help you learn their responses.

Today, we would like you to focus specifically on your own sex drive.  Understanding how you respond to sexual advances (and even knowing why you respond in these ways) is a very beneficial exercise.

1) Think about the last time you felt aroused.  What, specifically, made you feel aroused?  Was it something that your spouse did or was it an unexpected response to some other stimulus?  Did you act on that arousal with your spouse or not?

2) Have there been times when you felt fully aroused yet something distracted you and you lost that feeling?

3) How long does it take you to go from being unaroused, to fully aroused?

We encourage you to discuss all of your answers from these questions with your spouse.  They need to be fully aware as to what, specifically, brings you to a state of arousal, as well as what distracts you from getting there.

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What do you believe couples need to understand most about sex drives?  Let us know in the comments below!