Over The Edge:

We often receive questions about what orgasm feels like or why someone can’t achieve orgasm regularly.  People often want to know if there is a magic secret that will push them over the edge every time they have sex.  We always answer, “Not that we can find.” There is no certain technique that will work every time nor is there some magic equation that guarantees that your toes are going to curl and your voice will wake the neighbors when your spouse does such and such.  Sex is far more complicated than just having a few good moves.  Great sex is a combination of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical factors and learning to appropriately prepare in all of those areas may just be the push to help you fall over the edge. Today we will take a look at some of the factors that may be keeping you from going over the edge.

1. Mental – Just where is you mind going?  If there are business meetings, household repairs, parenting concerns crossing your mind before or during sex, they can prove to be a distraction. Taking time to clear your mind of these distractions, as best as you can, is an important step to take.  If you need to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about a parenting issue, a bill payment or a scheduling conflict then by all means talk about it.  It may deflate the mood for a moment but that can be recaptured.  What you don’t want to happen is to be only half-present during your time of intimacy because your mind is filled with thoughts of things other than how good it feels to be together.  If you struggle to remain present while making love because you feel that it takes too long, recognize that being half-present will make it take longer with less satisfaction.  Being mentally prepared for sex has far greater rewards than just presenting your body to your spouse for their benefit. *

2. Emotional – Being angry, frustrated, discontent or annoyed with your spouse will affect your sex life and your ability to orgasm.  Unlike the things that distract our mind from being ready for sex, when our emotions are not ready for sex it takes more effort than just a few minutes of talking before sex.  Being emotionally prepared for sex takes effort because it means not letting things build up, continually clearing the air.  There are some offenses that need to be released without discussion and there are some that need to be brought into the light.  Openly communicating about the things that hurt you, upset you or frustrate you is the only way to live in freedom in this area.  While it is impossible for you to change your spouse and how they respond to your openness, you can know that you have done your part by not holding bitterness and resentment toward them.

3. Spiritual – Yep, you read that right, spiritual. Some may be reading this and thinking, “I don’t need somebody telling me about God and how I respond to Him matters in my sex life.  Sure, my intimate life isn’t great but I’m sure I can figure this out on my own.”  Well, if you haven’t fully figured it out on your own, perhaps turning to God isn’t such a bad idea now is it?

Sex IS a spiritual affair and when there are problems on a spiritual level they can and will show up in the bedroom.  Holding onto hurt, unforgiveness, anger and pain will lead to problems with intimacy.  Husbands and wives are meant to be one and sex is the greatest example of this oneness that exists.  When either the husband or the wife is unwilling to accept the spiritual side of sex there is a great void in intimacy. Dealing with the spiritual depths in life is time consuming and often uncomfortable.  In this area you’re often confronting yourself, not your spouse.  You’re realizing some of your inadequacies, which are often judgmental thoughts toward your spouse or others.  Once you release this hurt, unforgiveness and anger over to God, you’re free to experience what He created, naked and unashamed.  Make no mistake, it is the most crucial aspect of sexual intercourse.

4. Physical – When there are physical insecurities or embarrassment in marriage they can prevent the over the edge feeling of sex. If you don’t know how to enjoy sex because you feel you “don’t know how to do it right” then take the time to figure it out. Reacquaint yourself with your body through your senses.  Invite your spouse to explore your body and explore theirs as well.  Allow them to touch, feel, tickly, kiss, blow, etc. various parts of your flesh and let them know what you enjoy and what turns you off.  Enough practice will get them reading your body language as to how they can please you the best.  Just be sure to keep your head clear of the emotional/mental stuff, and enjoy the wonders of oneness with your mate.

*If part of your mental struggle with sex is that sex is dirty, not good or unimportant we recommend you check out what we have written about that.

Sex: Over, Under and Around

Sex: Understanding

Sex is..Not a Dirty Word

Sex Begins Outside The Bedroom:

Exciting, passionate, exhilarating, satisfying, fun.  These are words which every married couple wants to use to define their sex lives. Often times though other words get in the way; exhausted, boring, busy, frustration, conflict.  When the second of these lists becomes the norm it’s time to think about sex outside the bedroom.  Although a quickie in the shower or a romp in the living room may fit the bill this post is not about logistics of where but rather the preparation.  How you think about sex throughout the day can actually assist or inhibit your sex life.

Thoughts concerning sex are formed over many years of information; some good, some bad.  What happens in marriage then is that as husbands and wives we often have a very different understanding of what sex is or can be. Having brought our own experiences, perceptions and expectations into marriage often causes sex to become a breeding ground for arguments and fights. When discussions about sex lead to fights and disagreements it is most likely due to differing views about the purpose of sex.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking about sex outside the bedroom.

1.  What is the purpose of sex?  What does God have to say about sex?  Taking time to evaluate, study and understand the purposes for which sex was designed will change your life.  Honestly, we believe that if we understood all the purposes and blessings God designed sex to fulfill in our marriages we would never want to miss out.  Read, study, pray, seek out the answers using God’s word as a guide.  Though silence or negative thoughts have been pervasive in much of Christianity, God is not silent about sex and in fact has a great deal to say about the subject.

2.  What inhibitions do I have and why do I have them?  A lot of inhibitions are based on the way we were raised or our past sexual experiences.  When either of those are negative it clouds our understanding about how free and exciting sex can be.  Take time to evaluate how your family of origin thought about sex.  Now take time to look at the difference between that and what you discovered when answering question # 1  (God’s purposes for sex).  If you have past experiences with sex that have left you clouded in your understanding, take all the more time to study and understand what God says about sex then believe it!

3.  What small changes can I make to apply my new understanding of the purposes of sex to my marriage?  The great thing about sex is that the shift from bad sex to great sex is often found first in the mind.  Learning to control the way you think about sex outside the bedroom greatly increases your ability to enjoy what happens inside the bedroom.

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Linking with: The Alabaster Jar Marriage Monday

Nakedness: Emotional

Last week we talked about how physical nakedness can be difficult.  Today we’d like to continue this series and focus on emotional nakedness.  Emotions, we believe, are severely misunderstood in today’s culture.  Emotions themselves seem to be greatly feared because many believe it impossible to control them.  Due to this, when it comes to emotional nakedness in marriage, the subject first appears quite confusing.  What does “emotional nakedness” actually mean?

Marriage is about nakedness.  Part of the reason we are not supposed to be naked physically with someone before we are married is because we must first learn to be naked emotionally.  Physical nakedness is best in the context of emotional and spiritual connectedness.  One of the definitions for the word naked is being devoid of concealment or disguise.  What better place than the marital relationship for this to occur.  When you join your lives and your bodies as one there should be no need for a disguise.  Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.  Self-protection is a very human experience, and one which we never need to receive any training.  We often self-protect ourselves by  concealing and disguising, and we do this just as much emotionally as we do physically.  Here are some reasons we wear disguises that make emotional nakedness hard:

Hurt and pain from past experiences.  Sometimes this pain occurred in childhood.  Sometimes it happened in previous relationships or marriages.  It may even show up in your current marital relationship because of intentional or unintentional conflict.  Our past experiences affect our current relationships in incredible ways.  In all areas of life it is important to face and deal with our past.  We will always be trapped and our growth stunted if we are unwilling to look into our past and search for freedom from the hold it has on us.

Inability to trust in or depend on our spouse Marriage is a partnership.  God designed men and women to compliment and complete one another.  Whenever self-centeredness or self-reliance enter the marriage it is not as it should be.  Husbands and wives have a lot of freedom to make decisions regarding how to best use their abilities and natural inclinations to serve each other and live their lives but if there is a constant fear or being used, overlooked or put down, emotional nakedness is not happening.  In order to let go of the disguise we must learn to work as a team.  We must put the needs of our spouse ahead of our own.  The disguise can only be destroyed when we are willing to see that we need to trust and rely on someone other than our-self.

Fear of coming undone.  We live in a culture that values strength, not weakness.  Self-reliance, not interdependence.  Control, rather than the unknown.  For all these reasons and more, learning to be emotionally naked in marriage is counter-cultural.  Somewhere the fear that our spouse will reject us because of our “junk” outweighs the risk.  We become comfortable with our disguise and it stays in place because the fear of humiliation and shame don’t seem worth the effort.  We get by and resign ourselves to thinking this is just the way life is.

The only hope to experience freedom from these masks is humility.  To be emotionally naked requires humility.  It requires us to humbly admit we don’t have it all together.  To admit we don’t even have words to describe what we are feeling.  To admit that facing our past scares us so much we don’t want to go on.  To admit we have needs we cannot fill.  To admit we can’t live life in a pretty little package all tied up with a bow, we need to come undone.  None of these thing are possible without the help of God.  We can never learn to be emotionally naked with our spouse if we are not aware of our deepest need, the need for a Savior.

So, yeah, emotional nakedness is hard but it is so worth it.  The experience we have in our marriages when we become emotionally naked is just a taste of the beauty we can have in our relationship with God.

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How do you and your spouse become “emotionally naked” with one another?  What kinds of open-ended questions do you regularly ask one another to ensure you keep vulnerable with one another and your marriage stays strong?

 

Linking with : WLW and WW

Nakedness: Bodies

Naked: 1. Not covered by clothing.  2. Devoid of natural or customary covering.  The word “naked” may make you giggle like a Jr. High kid or force a giddy “I’m gonna get laid” smirk appear on your face.  Maybe feelings of shame or embarrassment show up.  Or maybe you are just plain terrified about being naked.  Whatever it is for you, the word naked definitely causes some kind of response.  Today we are going to look at how physical nakedness in marriage is important, but also how difficult it can be for many of us.

I (Megan) don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least some insecurities regarding physical appearance.  Most of us can easily make a list of things about our looks that we would change.  Women tend to struggle more openly and obviously, but men have body issues too.  The case could easily be made with statistics and examples of how our body image affects our lives.  How our confidence and self-esteem take a blow when we gain a few pounds or get a boost when we lose a few.  But for today, I am just gonna assume you’ve got some body image issues that at least, on occasion, cause problems in your marriage.

The struggle with body image often starts in childhood.  Many of us probably wouldn’t even care to know how many hours we have spent worrying and obsessing over how we look, how much we weigh, what hides our flaws and accentuates our positives.  But you see, the problem is not that we have physical flaws it is that we have flaws in our thought processes.  The way you feel about yourself is not directly correlated to the number on a scale or the number of heads that turn when you walk in the room.  Instead, the way you feel about yourself is directly related to the way you think.

When you think you are fat you feel fat.  When you think you are unattractive you start believing you are unattractive.  When you don’t feel sexy you stop wanting to have sex.  The thought of becoming naked is horrifying and when your spouse tells you that they love your body you don’t believe them.  This cycle of thinking poorly about your physical appearance can easily destroy your sex life.  So what happens when body image issues threaten to hijack your marriage and sex life?  And what can you do to stop it?

1.  Stop being so critical of yourself!  You regularly give grace and acceptance to your friends when they believe they are not measuring up.  Learn to do the same for yourself.  It is not easy but it’s necessary.  If you happen to be a spouse who is critical of your mate, STOP IT!  You are only making the situation worse and you will never affect positive or long lasting change by being critical.

2.  Believe your spouse when they say they find you sexy/attractive.  They chose you and they want to be with you.  Trust that and choose to believe that.  Many marriages have past hurts, broken trust and hurtful or critical comments, however focusing on these moments will never bring about good results.  Nakedness in all areas of our marriages can only be found when we choose to trust our spouse with all of who we are.  So continue to work on trust if it has been breached.

3.  Understand you are more than the sum total of your parts.  There is so much more to you than a number, a size or a body type.  You are God’s creation and He has made you for a purpose.  There was never a doubt in His mind when you would enter this world, how you would look or what your personality would be.  Lean into Him to discover who He made you to be.  Don’t let the world around you dictate your happiness, allow Him to direct your joy.

Truthfully there is so much more I could write on this subject.  I certainly have a very sordid past (and sometimes even present) experience with body image.  Over time I am sure I will share more on the subject but for now I just want you to know that your marriage and sex life can survive and thrive despite what you believe are physical flaws.  When I used to hear the word naked my immediate thought was “horror” but I can honestly say now the word that comes to mind is “freedom”.  That can be your story too!

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Sheila Gregoire: has a great post about loving the skin you’re in.  I encourage you to check it out.

Nakedness:

Nakedness.  Such a stark word.  Such an intimate word.  Strong marriages are based on husbands and wives who are willing to be naked with one another.  To be revealed, bare, vulnerable.  Husbands and wives take many twists and turns in this journey called marriage and nakedness in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ways are all part of that journey.  Truth is…nakedness is hard.  There are times in our lives when pain, fear and insecurity overtake our ability to be naked.

Webster’s defines naked as: 1. Not covered by clothing.  2. Devoid of natural or customary covering.  3. Scantily supplied or furnished.  4. Unarmed, defenseless.  5. Lacking confirmation or support.  6.  Devoid of concealment or disguise.  This week we want to take a look at how each of these definitions affect our marriages.  How do we deal with physical, emotional and spiritual nakedness?  How can we overcome insecurities, past pain and really be free to be naked in our marriages?

From our experience, nakedness in marriage is a journey.  Learning to trust, depend on and rely on your spouse is part of the journey.  We learn through trials and victories.  Times of difficulty and times of pure bliss.  Here are some questions to spark your thinking as we discuss nakedness this week.

1. When is the first time you were physically naked around your spouse?  What thoughts and emotions did you have at that time?

2. When is the last time you were physically naked around your spouse?  How have your thoughts and emotions changed over the years?

3. Apply #1’s and 2 in the realm of emotional nakedness.  (Note: Men will generally struggle with being emotionally open more than women.  Men may discover they were once far more emotionally naked than they are now, or maybe vice versa.)

4. What do you think it means to be spiritually naked?  What does your spouse think it means?  Talk through whatever differences of opinion you may have in this regard.

5. When is the last time you allowed your spouse to openly call you out on your “junk”?  How can allowing them to do so improve your marriage relationship?  Are there any cons to doing this too often?  (If yes, how often is “too often”?)

6. What kind of impact has being physically, emotionally and/or spiritually naked had on your marriage relationship?

Take the opportunity to really think through these questions, and we’ll continue the discussion in our next post.

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Reminder:  This is the last week to enter our March Madness Giveaway.  Please take advantage of the possibility of winning 1 of 2 great marriage books.  thanks for reading!

Linking with: WLW and WW

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?

Sex After Kids: Practical Advice for Women

Today we will continue with our ideas about how to keep sex a priority after kids enter our lives.

Women:  As a wife and mother I (Megan) have a rather constant preoccupation towards the needs of my family; feeding them, clothing them, who needs to be where and when, emotional and spiritual development, etc.  Life is busy and often leaves me completely exhausted.  When the end of the day comes I am looking for a break, a time to relax, rest, unplug and dare I say sleep!  It is very easy for sex to be the last thing on my mind.  So….I have to think about it throughout the day.

I have talked to many women who believe that women don’t or shouldn’t  have much of a sex drive or that thinking about sex is what “other” women do.  Let me tell you, good girls can have crazy great sex.  I know that when I engage my mind, emotions and body into my physical relationship with Justin we both benefit. {grins}  It is a choice for me to bring something to the bedroom or not.  I made a decision early on in marriage and after having kids I would choose to bring something to the bedroom.

So how does this look for me?  I think about how great it feels to be wrapped in his arms, how great the moments of touch and warmth feel.  I tell him what feels good and what does not.  I ask for help when I feel overwhelmed with household tasks.  I consider if there are emotional roadblocks in our marriage or other relationships that are making it difficult for me to release myself to the moment of love making.  I prepare myself physically by pampering myself or by exercising my kegels.  (If you don’t do these exercises do yourself a favor and start. Now!)  Ladies, if we leave it entirely to our spouse to “get us in the mood” we are shortchanging ourselves and possibly cheating them out of a fantastic lover.

I believe that one of the reasons I am at complete peace and experience such great freedom in the sexual relationship in my marriage is because I have solid beliefs about the purposes for sex and enjoy the pleasures of a strong and trustworthy marriage.  We are far from perfect but the quickest way to lose interest in the bedroom is when our communication in other areas of life and marriage is off kilter.  Communication in all areas of our marriage is essential to having a good intimate relationship.  When I am not open and honest with Justin about the things that are going on in my personal life or the issues in our marriage I am less likely to be responsive in the bedroom.  Emotional intimacy is a key to great physical intimacy.

I will leave you with one final thought, one I am sure we will revisit another time: The more you have sex the more you want sex.  If you make time for sex in the busyness of raising children and living  life you may just find you become less busy so that you can enjoy sex more often.  Just saying!

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Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share?  Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Sex After Kids: Perspectives

We are so excited about the positive responses we are receiving concerning Do Not Disturb and have already had several conversations with people posing us questions.  One request we had was that we discuss our suggestions about sex after having kids.

One thing those of us who have children can all agree on is that our sex lives change after children enter the picture.  There is another human being who needs our attention, affection and energy.  Sadly, the needs of our children often seem more immediate than our need or desire for sex.  So, how do we reconcile the differences between our sexual desires and the pressing and immediate needs of our children.

1.  Recognize a strong marriage is very important to parenting well.  Having  a strong marital relationship is beneficial for your children’s  personal identity development and can help them foster positive relationships in the future.  Taking time to put your marriage first, including your sex life, will benefit your family as a whole.

2.  Take time to talk about your expectations and needs when it comes to sex now that you have family obligations.  There are few things worse than feeling like you are completely ignoring or disregarding your spouses needs. But with open communication it is so much easier to find out you may not actually be miles apart in your thinking.

3.  Take time to plan for sex and use all day long to prepare for it.  Set aside pretenses and notions that sex always has to be romantic and learn the art of the quickie.  Gone are the days of free time and spontaneity.  There is nothing wrong with putting on your calendars when you want to connect intimately.  The important thing is to follow through!  Prepare yourself all day by thinking about your planned intimate time and you won’t believe how much you are ready to go by the time the day is done.

4.  Evaluate things in your life that are causing distractions and prohibit you from having intimate time as a priority in your marriage.  If at the end of the day you have nothing left to give your spouse, evaluate what you are giving all your energy to and whether or not it’s worth it.  If you find that you are out of the house for activities every night or most nights of the week consider dropping something from your schedule to be home.  We really do believe that a strong marriage and family life is far better at producing a well rounded child than providing them with every lesson and sports activity available.

Tomorrow we will address further ideas about how we have managed to make our love lives a priority but we would love to hear from you.  How have kids cramped your style and what are you willing to do about it?
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Link: WLW