13 Realities of Married Sex: #8 Sex is Different

Recently, I took the opportunity to scroll through the Amazon Prime Video service to see if there happened to be any movies that would entertain Megan and I for an evening.  As I scrolled through the listings, one movie in particular caught my attention.  The movie was “North Face”.  I knew nothing about the movie, nothing at all.  It was easy to see from the MEDION DIGITAL CAMERApicture that it would be about mountain climbing, but what caught my attention was the number of very high reviews.  It seemed like nearly everyone who saw it gave it a full 5 stars.  I quickly saw that it was in German and we would have to watch it with subtitles.  But I didn’t care.  “If a movie has these kinds of high reviews,” I thought to myself, “then it’s got to be a great one to watch!” Needless to say, my expectations were high, and I was really looking forward to relaxing while watching a great movie.

***Warning: For those of you who have never seen “North Face”, the below text will contain spoilers!!!  Skip down a bit if you don’t wish to know what happens.***

So Megan and I started watching the movie – English subtitles and all – and soon became pretty engrossed in the film.  We were mesmerized not only by the climbers desire to do it, but also by the gear they used way back in the 1930’s.  Why would anybody desire to do such a thing?  Anyway, (here come the spoilers) about 75-90 minutes into the film one of the non-lead characters died.  We kind of saw it coming, but were still saddened to see him go.  Not long after, 2 more died, including one of the 2 main characters.  It was then that Megan looked over and said, “If this last guy dies, then this is going to be a really bad ending for a movie.”

Well, a rescue team was dispatched to save the final climber.  It was here that Megan and I were on the edge of our seats, waiting for some moment of triumph in what had become a ‘downer’ of a movie.  He was cold and his arm was frostbit, but they were going to make it.  They had to.  A dear friend of his stayed out on a ledge all night long to keep him awake so he wouldn’t die.  And in the morning, the rescue team arrived.  He began repelling himself to safety…but the rope was too short!  Oh, no!  Surely they were going to get to him in time, right?  Nope.  Before a second effort could be made, he froze to death.  The End.

To say we were disappointed as we turned off the TV and headed to bed would be an understatement.  Movies just aren’t supposed to end this way!  Movies are entertaining.  Fun.  Joyful.  While “North Face” was gripping, it didn’t seem to rise to our expectations.

***End of Spoilers***

Movies aren’t the only thing in life that disappoints us if it’s different than we expect.  Late last year Megan and I wrote a series called “Unmet Expectations”, and we immediately realized that many couples go into marriage having very specific expectations as to what marriage will be like.  Expectations about time together.  Expectations about money.  Even expectations about sex.  And when these expectations aren’t met, it’s easy to be disappointed with the result.

Take sex, for example.  You have certain expectations as to what your sex life will be like.  You probably have expectations as to what your next sexual encounter with your spouse will be like.  But what happens if those expectations aren’t met?  What happens if the result is different than what you planned out in your mind?

What happens if he isn’t sexually fulfilled because he can’t stop thinking about the fling she had in college with another guy?

What happens if she doubts she pleases her husband sexually because she discovered some risque photos on his laptop?

What happens if it’s obvious he’s thinking about a deadline he has at work?

What happens if it’s obvious she’s thinking about the kids?

Even a best-case scenario: What if he’s hoping for a hard romp in the sack, while she’s hoping for a mild, long, slow, sensuous time together.

All of these “what if’s” can be answered with one of two options: disappointment, or appreciation.  Focusing too much time thinking about the “what if’s” will lead to disappointment.  Instead, taking the opportunity to think about “why” you’re taking the opportunity to connect will lead to appreciation.  Not only appreciation for sex itself, but appreciation for your spouse.  For example:

1) Remember that you chose each other

We write about old flings from high-school and college pretty often, and that’s because we’ve talked with many couples who wrestle deeply with their sexual past.  They have a difficult time forgiving themselves or their spouse for something that happened years ago.  While we can’t cover this subject too much in this post, always remember that you chose each other.  Despite your past or hers, you chose to be with one another until death do you part.  You chose to unite and connect with his/her body the rest of your life.  If you need to, write this down and read it to yourself every day this week.

“I chose to live my life with my spouse, not my past.”

Good.  Now, begin to put that thought in motion, both inside and outside the bedroom.  Get under the sheets to be with your spouse, not your past.  Enjoy sex just as an opportunity to be with your spouse, not your past.  Use sex as an opportunity to avail yourself and to appreciate your spouse for doing the same.  Use it as a way to see into your spouse and know them.  Use it as a way to remember that you chose one another and that you want to live with, be with, and connect with one another.  You may never completely forget your past (or theirs), but you can forgive it.  And by doing so, you can appreciate not only your spouse, but your time together behind closed doors.

2) Remember that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex

You may be living in a situation right now where you’re choosing to not have sex because it’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be.  Well, life is always going to be different than you expect it to be, too.  But let me tell you a secret, having sex that’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be is a whole lot better than having no sex at all.  Every single time you connect, you’re reminding your spouse that you choose him/her.  Every time you connect, they’re reminded that they chose you, too. Your time together may be a little different than you expected it to be, but different isn’t always a bad thing.

3) Remember that ‘different’ isn’t a bad thing

I’m pretty sure that every person who experiences sex for the first time thinks to themself, “Well that was different than what I expected it to be.”  Our culture gives us one indication of what a good romp looks like but reality paints a different picture.  Similarly, one set of parents may educate their child in one way, and another completely different.  So there will be times when you and your spouse have different expectations and desires.

But remember, sex being ‘different’ than what you expect isn’t always a bad thing.  For example, “North Face” was much different than I expected.  But the more I’ve thought about the movie, the more I’ve come to appreciate it.  I appreciate it because it’s not the typical American-made movie.  I appreciate it because it showed some qualities of human nature that we don’t always see in movies.  I appreciate it because it was nothing like what I expected.  In short, I appreciate it because it was different.

You can do this with your sex life as well.

You can appreciate that your spouse is willing to be completely availed for you.

You can appreciate that your spouse chose you, not your past.

You can appreciate that ‘slow and easy’ builds your orgasm even longer.

You can appreciate that sex is more enjoyable than any deadline.

You can appreciate that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex.

In the end, you can appreciate that sex simply brings you together.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. What would you say to a friend who is discouraged because their sex life is ‘different’ than they expected it to be?

2. Do you have any sexual desires that I’m not aware of?  How can I work toward pleasing you in this way?

3. On average, how often have we had sex over the past few months?  What can we do (or give up) to make more time for sex over the next month?

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum

13 Realities of Married Sex: #5 Sex is Giving

There are 2 kinds of lovers in this world, selfish ones and selfless ones.  Now, take the opportunity to think: Are you a selfish lover, or are you a selfless one?  A rather cutting question but one that begs to be answered.

Today we want to consider how our approach to sex can fall into either the category of selfish or selfless.  More than anything, we want to convey that sex is meant to be more than just individual gratification.  Learning to give more than you get, learning to think more about your spouse than yourself…these are just a few steps you can take to become a more giving sexual partner…and in the end, have an even BETTER sex life.gift

Here are a few practical ideas about how you can become a more selfless (giving) lover.

1. One of the best ways to become a selfless (giving) lover is to make time for sex.  Life is busy and often times “getting busy” with our spouse can become just one more thing on our ‘to do’ list.  Even if you truly enjoy making room in your schedule for sex, it’s easy to try to rush through or speed it along.  Sex is meant to be savored and enjoyed.  Begrudging the time it takes, scrambling through it or entirely putting it off; these things steal the very restorative nature sex was designed with.  Appreciate, cherish and treasure the gift of married sex by making time for connection.

2. Communication is an incredibly powerful gift when it comes to sexual intimacy in marriage.  In fact, if there is very little or no communication about sex (prior to or during the act) we would argue that your sex life is not functioning as well as it could.  Learning to speak about your hopes, desires and dreams for your sex life could very well impact your marriage as a whole.  Not to mention the fact that if you learn to communicate to your spouse what feels good and turns you on while you are making love!?!  Yes, communication becomes a very practical and amazing gift, indeed.

3. Great sex puts you in vulnerable positions, so learning to lean into that vulnerability is a very giving thing.  Mind you, we are not talking about force, pain or sexual sin.  What we are saying is that sex often forces us to face things about ourselves like nothing else can.  Are you ashamed of how you look? Admit that to your spouse but don’t let it steal your joy.  Lean into that moment of vulnerability and give yourself to your spouse in a way that makes you forget about your appearance.

Do you feel that you are failing at your job?  Focus on accomplishing something great with your spouse, a pleasure that only you can bring.  You just may find that when you admit and lean into your vulnerabilities with your spouse you may discover a new confidence begin to emerge.  Sex (within a properly functioning marriage) has a mysterious power to right wrongs and release us from our deep insecurities.  So, when we become vulnerable emotionally, spiritually and physically with our spouse, we begin the process of turning those vulnerabilities into strengths.

4. Learn to give your sex life mental space. By that we mean, take time to think about sex.  Taking time to consider what turns you on, what turns on your spouse and how you can make sex a priority in your marriage goes a long way to producing enthusiasm and eagerness to connect.  Letting your spouse know that you find them desirable and that you have spent time thinking about what happened last night or what’s going to happen tonight, is the epitome of giving a sexual gift.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. What one thing or hobby are (each of) you willing to limit or “give up” so you can “get more” in the bedroom?

2. How can I communicate to you better both outside and inside the bedroom?

3. How much time do you spend thinking about connecting with one another?  What are 2-3 things you can do this week to help one another think about your next sexual encounter even more?

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum

13 Realities of Married Sex: #4 Sex is Necessary

The following song has very little to do with sex. Nevertheless, the relationship here is unfortunately very characteristic of many marriages in our culture. In fact, just the other day I (Justin) had the opportunity to return something to the store.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I need to return these.

Clerk: Is there anything wrong with them?

Me: Nope, my wife just prefers something a little different.

Clerk: *being humorous* Oh…those wives!

Me: Yeah, I know.  I love mine to pieces.  She’s fantastic.

Clerk: Wow…that’s great.  That’s not something you hear very much of these days, that’s for sure.

It was obvious she knew of many marriages that were struggling on some level.  And this song shows the current state of how many in our culture view marriage (perhaps even their own):

Our guess is, couples who relate to this well-sung song by “The Civil Wars” don’t just have a struggling marriage relationship, they have a poor sex life, too.  We mentioned before that Sex is Always Changing.  And while sex is always changing, there is one aspect of sex that doesn’t change, it’s necessity.  In fact, take just a few seconds to repeat after us:

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

“What if somebody is sick or injured, are you saying they can’t have a healthy marriage?”  No, we’re not saying that. We’re saying that if a husband and wife are relatively healthy, their marriage, their personalities, their friendships, their parenting, and even their physical and emotional health will all benefit from a thriving sex life.

“Wait just a minute! My husband and I have a great marriage.  We’re best friends. We’re very social with others.  And neither of us have a high sex drive…but we have a healthy marriage.”

That may be so, but there is a difference between being sexually satisfied and being sexually fulfilled.  Our guess is, one person in a marriage such as this continually tells the other they’re satisfied, but out of respect for their spouse isn’t willing to say they’re unfulfilled.

Again, you may disagree.  But we remain very convinced:

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

Sex is necessary for a healthy marriage.

In fact, we would go as far to say that a sexless marriage (let’s define ‘sexless’ as anything less than consistent weekly sex) is in danger.  Perhaps the marriage itself isn’t in danger, but certain aspects of a healthy marriage are.  These dangers include:

1. Loss of connection. 

A couple needs to connect.  Yes a couple can (and should) have moments of intimacy that lead to greater connection in their friendship, their companionship, and their marriage.  But the connection these moments provide are not holistic in nature.  One moment may help the couple to connect emotionally, and other may help them connect spiritually.  But sex gives the opportunity for a couple to connect holistically on every level.  It glues the couple together, providing security, comfort, and a bond that both men and women need.  To go through married life without regularly experiencing this type of intimate bonding and gluing of man to wife is to cut off a very special form of connection.

2. Loss of exclusivity. 

Sex is only meant to be shared between one man and one women in the context of marriage.  This means that sex is exclusive to marriage.  Not participating in this sacred bond is to not participate in something set apart by God Himself.  Sex has been set apart, by God, specifically for you and your marriage.  It’s a gift.  A gift to be enjoyed, not hidden in a closet.  A gift to be remembered, not forgotten.  A gift to hold onto, not let go of.  Use that gift that was created exclusively for you and your marriage.

3. Loss of passion. 

Passion is largely an emotional state. It is found through affection, enthusiasm and fascination.  Read those words again:

Affection.

Enthusiasm.

Fascination.

This may be affection toward your spouse’s body, mind and soul. Enthusiasm to please them and to be pleased.  Fascination as to the wonders of your spouse’s curves, smell, or taste.  Sex provides all of these and more.  It provides passion.  Never let your passion be at a loss.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Do you agree that sex is ‘necessary’ for a healthy marriage?  Why or why not?

2. Do you believe our marriage is experiencing a loss of connection, exclusivity, or passion in any way?

3. Challenge: Think about the difference between being sexually satisfied and sexually fulfilled.  Are you completely fulfilled in your current sex life?  If not, what can I do to help you be completely fulfilled?

13 Realities of Married Sex: #3 Sex is The Act of Marriage

The act of marriage.  Maybe you’ve heard sex referred to that way, maybe not. We want to take a moment to explain what we believe that phrase means.  Sex is not just a physical action, it’s also deeply emotional & spiritual.  When a couple chooses to join their bodies in physical intimacy they are coming together at the deepest possible level.  Two entwined bodies, not knowing where one ends and one begins, is deeply personal, intimate and vulnerable.

Personal – What happens to our bodies happens to every part of us.  We can no easier separate our bodies from our mind, emotions or spirit than we can take the oxygen out of the air.  When sex is used as an impersonal thing, as bodies just doing what bodies do, it is dangerous.  God designed sex to be so much more than physical bodies in action.  And when sex in marriage is nothing more than going through the motions, that marriage is robbed of the beauty of personal growth and marital strength.  So how can one make sex more personal in marriage?

  • Be intentional to think about sex.  When you spend time thinking about sex you become more involved with the emotions attached to sex.  You become more aware of your spouse and you can fall more in love with the one you are intimate with.
  • Use words and sounds to communicate during love making.  Silence during sex is not wrong, but if you need to be reminded that you are personally involved, that it’s not just something that is happening, then be encouraged to make some noise.  Say your spouses name, included the words “I love you”, speak, moan, laugh…whatever you feel comfortable with, but do something.
  • Don’t shortcut the after glow of sex.  Maybe you don’t spend 20 minutes in each others arms after each sexual encounter but if your intention is to make sex more personal don’t underestimate how what happens after the act can have as much impact as what happens during the act.

Intimate – Though closely associated with personal, the word intimate is not just about the individual but about the relationship to the other as well.  Intimacy is built on faithfulness, familiarity, affection, closeness, love, confidentiality and devotion. When any of these characteristics are missing, intimacy will suffer.  Working on the above relational character traits will increase the intimacy in your friendship with your spouse as well as the intimacy during your physical connection.

Vulnerable – To enter or be entered puts one in an incredibly vulnerable position.  If someone is willing to make themselves available at that level physically, not having trust, honesty or commitment at the same time is foolishness.  But great marital sex entails emotional vulnerability, too.  While emotional vulnerability may not be easy or even natural, knowing that there exists a commitment from and for your spouse makes the possibility more accessible.  Work together to reassure your spouse of your commitment to one another and allow your marriage to flourish through speaking the language of vulnerability.

So what do these three things have to do with sex being the act of marriage?  When sex is personal, intimate and vulnerable, it’s as God designed.  To come together with all of these aspects working in harmony creates an incredibly moving, powerful and  artful experience.  Marriages need strength, stability and courage in a world that is broken and marred.  Sex as the acting out of these three aspects of marriage will help a marriage walk in strength rather than weakness, togetherness rather than discord, oneness rather than individuality.  Sex truly can be the act of a strong marriage.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Do you agree that sex is the act of a strong marriage?  Explain.

2. What are three ways we can improve in these three areas (personal, intimacy, vulnerability) outside the bedroom?

3. Challenge: Each of you take the opportunity to write out a paragraph of what a God-designed marriage and/or God-designed sex life looks like.  Compare notes when you’re finished, and then discuss what one thing you can do this week to better live this out.

13 Realities of Sex in Marriage: #2 Sex is Always Changing

Change is a word that draws on many different emotions.  Some embrace it.  Some fear it.  But we all know that change is going to happen throughout our lives.  In one way or another, change will happen every year.  Every month.  Even every day.

Sex changes, too.  The way our Western culture discusses sex today is drastically different than we discussed sex even 50 years ago.  The way Jewish culture discusses sex today is drastically different than Song of Songs.  The way a couple will engage in sex will likely change throughout their marriage, too.  Whether due to illness, injury, or personal choices, a couple will mix things up in their sexual relationship throughout their marriage.

These changes are sometimes welcomed, and sometimes not.  How can you ensure your understanding of and desire for sex thrives regardless of the changes?

1. Remember what is constant about sex.

Sex is connection.

In the Bible (Gen. 4:1), it says that Adam lay with his wife, Eve.  The best Hebrew translation here is that Adam knew his wive.  According to scholars, the terminology used here means that Adam likely knew Eve with his eyes, with his touch, and with his mind.  It means that in that moment, Adam understood every aspect of who Eve was as a person.  He was one with her.  Just like that.

Well, one thing that hasn’t changed through the years is that sex still involves this deep oneness.  It visual.  It’s physical.  It’s emotional.  It’s full-on understanding of one another.  It connects two individuals like nothing else can.

Sex is loving.

Consider the following words from Song of Songs 8:5-7

    I aroused you under the apple tree,
where your mother gave you birth,
where in great pain she delivered you.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.

Here, Solomon explains the significance of real love.  It is strong. Jealous. Enduring. Hot as fire. Cannot be quenched. Cannot be bought.  Anybody who has ever experienced a deeply, intimate, loving relationship understands this passage perfectly.  While there are many words for “love” throughout the Bible, the terms used in Song of Songs are often used to describe the sexual relationship between two lovers.  The couple understands love itself, and serves one another in a sexually loving way.

Sex is fun.

There are a lot of things a couple can do to laugh and enjoy time with one another.  None of them compare with sex.  Even if sex doesn’t always bring laughter, it brings joy.  And it’s a joy worth coming back for again and again.

Sex is restorative.

Ever have an argument and then have make-up sex?  C’mon, you know you have!  As we said above, sex gives a deep oneness, the most intense oneness possible between two people.  So, when you and your spouse are at odds with one another, sex is a great way to get back on the same page.  No matter what your marriage goes through, sex is restorative.  It always heals.  Always rejuvenates.  Always restores.

2. Understand Intimacy.

Sex is a huge part of intimacy, but it’s not the only way to experience intimacy.  For those who have no physical limitations or problems, keep making sex a priority in your marriage.  Do everything you can to make room in your lives and schedules to connect in this way.  It will increase the intimacy aspect of your marriage 100 fold.

For those who are experiencing unwelcome change due to illness or injury, know that you can still experience intimacy with your spouse outside the bedroom. Seek medical advice and help if necessary.  Aside from that though, find means of physical touch that are pleasurable and work for you.  HandsAwaken all your senses to a greater understanding of arousal and sensuous awareness.  Work on communication skills, learn the language of love.  Maybe this is even a good time to learn how to write a good love letter!  To be honest, we’ve heard stories of couples who in their old age or during a severe physical trauma who stated that those seasons were the most intimate ones of their entire marriage!

Bottom line, make it work for you.  It may look different than others and it may even look different than you always dreamed but applying creativity to your love life will always have big returns.

3. Accept change.

While change can be difficult, we must be willing to accept that it’s going to happen.  By accepting it, we’re continually moving forward into the unknown of what God has in store for our lives.

The same is true for the sexual relationship in marriage. While change in the bedroom is ultimately unavoidable, the greatest sex may be gained by accepting the changes as they come.  Accepting them may lead to the unknown.  But the unknown will just be the beginning of  a new chapter of marital oneness.

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Discuss with your spouse:

  1. What changes have occurred in our sex life?
  2. Are there any changes that could improve our communication, our intimacy, or restore our marriage even more?
  3. What is one “fun” thing we can do next time we connect?
  4. Challenge: Are you keeping any secrets from your spouse that are preventing you from being fully known?  Prayerfully consider discussing this with your spouse and if you like, having some restorative sex afterward.  Know, and be known.

13 Realities of Sex in Marriage: #1 Sex is Poetry

Sex is a lot of things.  It’s fun.  It’s intimate.  It’s vulnerable.  It’s…well, too many things to write into one post!  Therefore, we thought it would be good to start off the New Year with a new series: 13 Realities of Sex in Marriage.

WP_000465Earlier in our marriage we purchased magnetic poetry for our refrigerator.  While the majority of ‘creative’ poetry we came up with was based on nature (or other common poetic themes), we occasionally wrote something a little more…well, erotic.  There was nothing like walking to the refrigerator for a glass of iced tea and then see something like this posted for the other to see. (If you’re curious about the ‘garden’ reference, feel free to check out Song of Songs 4:16-5:1.)

Twelve years later, we just busted out the magnetic poetry once more.  Only now, we have a couple of children who are getting more and more inquisitive as the days go by.  Therefore, something tells us that we won’t be publishing too much ‘code’ on the refrigerator in the near future.  Even still, we both know that sex is meant to be poetic.  Poetry, by definition, is used to express both feelings and ideas and is done so in rhythmic patterns.  Sound familiar?  And while sex in marriage could be described in many poetic aspects, we’ll keep this post limited to the following:

Sex is poetry in action

We’ll be honest, we don’t read a great deal of poetry.  But we know that like other genres of writing, poetry often includes a hidden meaning.  The author is usually longing for something greater, or dreaming of something grander. They work tirelessly to put their dreams into words and by doing so, allow their dreams to become reality.

Similarly, when a married couple takes the opportunity to ‘connect’, they’re participating in an act that helps them experience something greater and grander than the everyday life.  He often goes to work dreaming of accomplishing the impossible.  She may wonder if she’s truly fulfilling her dreams.  But when they disappear under the sheets, they’re like a poet putting their pen to paper.  Dreams become a reality for a short period of time and then before you know it, it’s time to put pen to paper again, and experience the impossible once more.

Sex is poetry in motion

Poets don’t only have the task of writing words, but their phrases have to have a specific rhythm to them.  This rhythm may be different depending on the time period and culture of their writing, but after reading enough of their poems, it’s easy to see how they’re able to tie one thought right into another through their words.  Study their writings long enough and you’ll begin to fully understand their entire worldview.

Similarly, sex gives the opportunity to know your spouse in countless ways. You know what makes them smile, giggle, blush, and even climax.  But these discoveries are dependent upon studying your spouse’s sexual cadence for a long period of time.  You have to know their love language, their body, their emotions, and their sexual rhythm.  Once you know their rhythm and they know yours, you can then work together to keep your rhythm in sync with one another.  Write enough ‘poetry’ together and you’ll create your own rhythm.  A rhythm that you, and only you will know and understand as your love for one another deepens even more.

Sex is poetry in words

Poets know their own thoughts and emotions extremely well.  So well, in fact, that they will spend countless hours wrestling through how to describe them in words.  But when the moment is just right, their words flow effortlessly and they are able to communicate deep truths that help both themselves and the reader long for more.

Similarly, many couples know exactly how they feel about their spouse, but don’t always know how to put their thoughts and emotions into words. But in those secret moments behind closed doors, they’re able to physically, emotionally, and spiritually communicate deep love for one another.  They are able to physically accept one another in full, emotionally accept that their love for one another is very real, and spiritually accept that they are one flesh.  In those secret moments when everything is communicated just right, you’ll both be left completely fulfilled, yet longing for more.

On a final note, poets don’t just take time to think about life and how to put their thoughts and feelings into words, they also think about how to be a better poet.  So, if you’re looking for a worthy goal for 2013, don’t just think about taking more opportunities to make sexual poetry together…that’s a given.  But take opportunities to think about how you can make your sex life even better.  And like a good poet, always believe that there’s another poem to be written.  Always believe the effort it takes is worth it.  Always believe that your next poem will be better than the last.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. What first comes to your mind when you think of sex as poetry?

2. Poetry in action; poetry in motion; poetry in words – which one resonates most with you?  Why?

3. Challenge: Take the opportunity to read Song of Songs this week with your spouse. Write out one verse to him/her each day from your reading, and think about how you can implement that verse in your marriage…that night!

Healthy Sexuality: Experiencing True Sexual Freedom

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Our culture is obsessed with sex.  Spend just one hour listening to music on the radio or watching a television show, and you’ll see/hear a number of sexual references.  Chances are you’ll see well over a dozen, perhaps two dozen in just an hour.

This overload of sex here, sex there, sex everywhere has led many people to have an incorrect and even inappropriate view of sex.  From our observations, it seems the predominant view is that people believe they should be able to have and experience sexual freedom with whoever, whenever and as often as they want.  The primary misstep of this view is an incorrect understanding of “freedom”.  “Freedom”, from a cultural perspective, is all about physical sexual desire and nothing else.  And while this “sexual freedom” mantra continues to be shouted from the mountaintops, people are discovering that this view of freedom has consequences.

Severe consequences.

Those who suffer these consequences begin believing that sexual freedom must not be possible.  Or they attempt to hide their scars by engaging in “free-er” sexual activities.  And the consequences just keep coming.

If you have personally experienced consequences of a sexually “free” lifestyle, we want to take an opportunity to let you know that there is such a thing as true sexual freedom.   And this freedom is found when we understand some basic principles of healthy sexuality.  For those who have never suffered these experiences, we encourage you to keep reading as well.  These principles are vital for all who wish to fully understand sex, and sexual freedom.

1. Sex is…designed by God.

Our culture attacks this principle long and hard, and for many reasons.  One is that God (or any religious beliefs) are under attack more and more today than ever before.  People are having a difficult time on an intellectual level believing in a Supreme Being.  But without getting into too many details, let’s just say for the sake of argument that there is a God.  Now, if there is a God, and He’s completely “good”, and He created sex, then there must be something good about sex!

For the sake of brevity, this is exactly what we believe!  The question now is, “Why would a ‘good’ God dole out severe consequences for people living sexually free lifestyles?”  The answer, as we hinted above, is an incorrect view of freedom.  One of these views is that sex is merely a physical appetite.  We cover this in principle #2:

2. Sex is…not just physical.

Sex does feel good.  REALLY good!  It is a bonding experience that was purposefully designed and created to bring two people together in a way that nothing else can.  Many argue that sex is all about physical urges and appetites that need to be satisfied…but there’s more to it than that.  God tells us that He created sex to be like glue.  The wording he used specifically means a permanent bond between 2 people.  This bond, is not merely physical.  It’s very emotional and very spiritual.  Sex, therefore, is to be treated with care. This is why sex outside of marriage is dangerous.

Whoa, whoa, whoa…the objections begin pouring in.  Dangerous?  You actually believe sex outside of marriage is dangerous?

Yes, and we stand firm on this point.  Sex is for marriage only.  While the idea that 2 consenting adults enjoying the physical nature of the sexual relationship is touted as perfectly fine, it is a counterfeit to God’s best.  Consensual or not, it leads to consequences that haunt people the rest of their lives.  We’ve talked with men and women who have told us through tears how much their sexual past has hindered their personal life and/or their marriage.  Sex outside of a permanent and covenantal marriage causes pain, and as said above, severe consequences.

We wish to be blunt for one moment: those who disagree with us on this point are very likely to be currently experiencing (or have experienced) consequences for their sexual lifestyle.  Our encouragement to you is this: try changing your view of sexual freedom and continue to seek out what God says about sex.  Your way hasn’t worked, it isn’t working now, and will never work…so maybe it’s time you try something different.  This leads to principle #3:

3. Sex is…a picture of God’s Love.

We have to be honest, the Bible is so full of wisdom on marriage and sex it’s actually unbelievable.  One of the things it says about marriage (and sex) is that it’s a picture of Jesus’ love for the church.  If you haven’t read the bible much, this is pretty incredible.  Jesus lived a perfect life.  And then died a severely tortuous death.  And he did it all as a way to love us.  It was the perfect example of what God’s love towards us is like.  He was willing to literally go through hell so that we could understand his love for us.

Now, translate this to marriage and sex.  Marriage and sex are supposed to be just like God’s love.  We’re completely “one” with our spouse and this oneness is physical, emotional and spiritual.  When we operate in this oneness, the idea of sexual freedom begins to take on a whole different picture.  A married couple is completely free to enjoy one another sexually, yet at the same time operates in such a way that they willingly sacrifice their own wants and desires for their spouse.  These sacrifices happen in the marriage relationship as well as in the bedroom.  While this selfless love appears unfulfilling from the outside, couples who live this way are more sexually free and are physically and emotionally satisfied in ways that other couples will never experience.  This leads to principle #4:

4. Sex is…worth understanding.

We realize we already said a lot of things that God communicates about sex.  But we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. For those of you who may not be married, we want to let you know that sex is worth the wait.  As we wrote above, the number of people we’ve communicated with who have sexual regrets from their past continues to climb.  The hurt and pain they experience is very real.  While they can experience sexual freedom again, it takes them a bit longer to understand it and appreciate it.

For all: if you’ve never in life opened your bible and read and studied what it says about marriage and sex, we strongly encourage you do so.  If you want, click the link at the top of the page and go through “The Meaning of Marriage” study.  If you don’t understand sex you’ll never fully appreciate sexual freedom.  And it’s our desire that not only appreciate sexual freedom, but you experience it as well.  Freedom can be found behind closed doors.  And once you discover it and experience it, you’ll also experience a lasting satisfaction that will never be taken from you.

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Have you experienced an incorrect view of “sexual freedom”?  What impact has it had on your life or marriage?

Have you experienced a correct view of “sexual freedom”?  What impact has it had on your life or marriage?

Sex: Over, Under and Around

Sex.  Thinking about it.  Talking about it.  Participating in it.  Whatever it is, sex matters.  Everyone has formed opinions about sex and everyone operates out of those opinions.  Where those opinions come from and how they are formed vary from person to person.  Some acknowledge that their views and opinions may not be appropriate.  Others may believe the entire subject is inappropriate.  But all in all, there are a few specific personality types when it comes to the subject of sex.  These include…

1.  …those who OVER think it.

Sex is not meant to be glorified above other things in life, it is merely a part of life.  Nevertheless, there are some who have extremely high expectations of sex.  They believe that sex isn’t just a part of life, but is the ultimate fulfillment of life.  Unfortunately, when those who over think sex believe it will be something or do something for them that it was never meant to be or do,  it leads to disappointment every time.

Sex is powerful.  When that power is used as God intends, it is beautiful.   But when that power is misused or even abused it is destructive.    Sex will not fulfill all your desires.  Sex will not make you a better person.  Sex will not make your “issues” disappear.  Sex will not offer life fulfillment.  Our culture does an excellent job of setting sex up as the be all end all in life and sadly, too many people fall into this trap.  The result is an over thinking of sex, and an under appreciation of it’s goodness.  Sex becomes a punchline, not a sincere moment of intimacy.  A self-pleasing hobby, not a connection.

2.  …those who UNDER think it.

Failure to understand that sex is more than just a physical release is the epitome of under thinking one of God’s greatest gifts to married couples.  Sex is not dirty.  It is not animalistic, nor is it crude.  Sex is not simply about getting your jollies and personal gratification.  Sex is meant for connection, for vulnerability, for giving and receiving. Denying that you have longings and desires does not make you a more spiritual person.  Recognizing that there are boundaries in which those longings and desires are appropriate to be fulfilled, that is what one must pay attention to.  If you have never really taken time to really think about sex we encourage you to do just that.  Think about the connection.  Think about the oneness.  In fact, take the opportunity to write down five things you love about  your sexual relationship with your spouse.  And then take regular opportunities to not only engage in sex, but to discuss the fruit that it creates within your marriage.

3.  …those who SKIRT AROUND it.

Yes, there are people who would rather just ignore sex altogether.  Some people are afraid of sex because of their own sexual past.  Sometimes it is wrong done to them or sometimes people live with regret about their decisions.  Sometimes the pain surrounding sex keeps people from thinking about, dealing with or healing from the negative opinions they have formed about sex.  This approach doesn’t work either.

Sex is not a topic that can be skirted around.  With our culture pounding the subject into every advertisement, song, and sitcom, it is not a subject that can be ignored.  Teens today are forming their beliefs on sex not only because of what they hear from culture, but also on what they don’t hear from adults.  We need to be clearly communicating God’s purposes for sex to them so that they’re not over thinking sex, or under thinking it believing it brings only shame.

4  …those who UNDERSTAND it.

Sex is Godly.  And while this is quite difficult to explain, the Bible says that marriage (including sex) is a reflection of the relationship Jesus has with the Church.  It is the strongest possible bond between two people.  It connects them in a way that goes far beyond the physical and emotional.  It is a perfect representation of the “one flesh” mentality is in the eyes of God.  Sex isn’t God, but it is from God.  And when couples understand sex as something created by God, given by God, and fully approved by God within the marriage relationship, then sex becomes something that one cannot over think, under think or skirt around.  It becomes a positive reminder of how close, how intimate God’s love is for each of us.  And that’s a reminder worth experiencing often.

To truly understand what sex is takes placing sex in the proper position in your life.  Over thinking it (or making an idol out of it) will lead to disappointment and frustration.  Under thinking it takes for granted that sex adds something to your life.  Though sex is far from the only factor in living a happy and fulfilling life, for those who are married it is meant to bring respite, fun and greater joy to your relationship.  No one should miss out on that.  Finding ways to get around thinking about sex is understandable in many cases but it is not a way to live.  Healing and fulfillment are possible and ignoring the root problems don’t make them go away.

Each of us needs to take time to evaluate how we view sex, how that came to be and what we can do to have a healthier approach.  Are you one who may over think it?  Are you one who may skirt around it?  Or are you one who wants to continually understand it more and more and more?

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We confess, we’re slow learners.  When we went through marriage counseling our pastor pretty much said, “You’ll figure it out,” when it came to the subject of sex.  He’s right, we did!  But not immediately.  We had to read, re-read, and re-read certain books again to come to a fuller understanding of sex.  Truth is, we’re still getting there.  And if you’re one who only wants to understand sex more and more and the impact it can have on your marriage, don’t stop here, check out some of these great posts as well:

Hot, Holy, Humorous post titled, “Am I Obsessed With Sex? No. Are You?”

To Love, Honor and Vacuum’s, “29 Days To Great Sex” – take the time to read all 29!

Sex is…Connection

Have you ever really taken time to think about the purposes for sex?  It is one of our favorite things to do.  As evidenced by our on-going series “Sex is…” we believe sexual intimacy has been given to us as a great gift by our Creator.  There are few joys in life that come close to the experience of sex as God designed it.  Sex is meant to connect husbands and wives to one another.  To cement their bodies and their souls in a union that cannot be torn apart.

In a world that is fast paced, hectic and busy, marriage is meant to be a place of respite and renewal.  A place where a man and a wife can be fully known and  fully present.  To give and receive respect, affection, understanding and love.  Within marriage, sex is designed to be a place of great connection and oneness.  No other act in marriage has the ability to connect a husband and wife in the way that physical intimacy can.  It is possible to just look at sex through the eyes of physicality and make it all about the release but this is not the way God designed it to be.

Sexual intimacy is designed to connect a married couples on all different levels; physical, emotional, spiritual.  The deeper our emotional, mental and spiritual connection the greater our satisfaction in our physical connection.  In her new book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Shelia Wray Gregoire states it like this; “When we’re vulnerable with our mates, we feel a deep sense of connection because we vow that we are in a situation together.  And that connection is very powerful.  It’s that urgency to devour your husband, to consume him. to be consumed by him,  just so that you can feel even more connected.  It’s that hunger that God put in us to yearn for each other.  And to feel that for your husband, you also have to realize how God feels about you.”  Though she is writing specifically to wives if you replace the word husband with the word wife you will have the same effect.

Now we know that for some of you it is still quite a stretch to think about God and sex at the same time but we pray that over time you would truly come to recognize that anytime you exclude God from sex you are missing out on His full design.  His design to protect your marriage and to provide a deep connection with your spouse.  Never underestimate the way physical connecting of your body with your spouse can lead to a deeper connection in all the other areas of life.

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Have you felt the connection

Linking with: Alabaster Jar Marriage Monday

Sex is…Stressful?

For many, sex isn’t stressful at all.  When sex occurs as it was designed, couples become closer, their marriage is strengthened, and the difficulties in life seem to fade away.  However, sex (or even conversations with your spouse about sex) sometimes becomes quite stressful. If one spouse is “fine” with how their sex life is going and the other is decidedly “not fine”, problems will arise. If these problems make the subject of sex more stressful than stress relieving, the marriage can suffer.  While every marriage encounters “I’d rather” moments, some allow those moments to become the norm.  For whatever reason, sex just isn’t viewed as exciting, fun or worth their time.  The newest episode of The Big Bang Theory does more to relax them and disconnect them from their day than sex with their spouse.

If sex has become stressful, consider the following:

1.  Do you believe what God says about sex?  While our culture is continually screaming, “SEX” as loud as possible, many Christians today rarely discuss it openly. But God discusses it openly.  In fact, the first command God gave Adam and Eve…was to have sex.  Literally, God said, “Be fruitful and multiply,” but it was the first thing God told them to do.  Look at one another.  Have no shame in your nakedness.  Become one.  There was no stress. No anxiety. No fears. No hindrances. And no limits. God did not create sex to be stressful, nor does He desire conversation with your spouse about the subject of sex to be stressful.  In His eyes, you are one unit, not two individuals.  He desires you to be one, and your oneness should not cause stress.  Read what the Bible has to say about sex, and read it often.  You’ll continue to discover that sex with your spouse was designed to be stimulating, not stressful.

2.  Which causes more problems for you, the thought about sex or the physical act itself?  If your thoughts and perceptions of what sex is cause you problems then study, pray and ask God to help you view sex as He views sex.  If it is the act itself, here are some things to consider.  Performance is a big hang up for many men and women alike.  If we come to bed thinking our spouse is supposed to react one way and then they don’t we can leave disappointed.  Here are some specific thoughts for both men and women:

Men – Understand that many women do not orgasm with every sexual encounter.  Sometimes this is because they don’t know their bodies well enough or communicate well enough about how to climax.  Other times it is simply because they don’t feel the need to orgasm with every encounter. Don’t pressure your wife to orgasm.  If she doesn’t ever orgasm, encourage her to communicate with you about how to please and then do it!  Also understand that what works one day may not work the next day.  Women are complex and if you try to…kiss here, rub here, press here, jackpot…you will never get the results you want.  Show up to each sexual encounter with a fresh perspective of how to please your wife in that moment not with preconceived ideas of what may have worked before.

Women – If you think that sex is just for your husband then think again.  God designed our bodies with a specific knob of flesh (the clitoris) that has no other purpose than to provide sexual fulfillment.  Men can’t say that about their bodies.  If you are one who has never or rarely experience orgasm, then please read what we have written here and here.  Those are just the basics but are a good place to start.  If you do experience orgasm but feel pressure from your husband to orgasm every time you have sex communicate to him how that makes you feel.  But be sure he knows you want to make yourself available to please him.  And the more you make yourself available, the more you’ll learn how he can help get you there.

Sex is meant to be pleasurable and satisfying.  This pleasure and satisfaction combine not just the physical side of things but also the emotional, mental and spiritual levels.  If sex is not pleasurable on any of these levels we encourage you to pray about it, communicate about it and work on it.  We all need a place in this life to relax, find release and connection.  Sex is meant specifically to meet many of those needs in marriage.