Category Archives for "Sex & Family Planning"

Jan 18

When Did You Stop Nurturing Sex in Your Marriage?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

lack of sexRecently, there was a big fire in a treasured old building in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

I wrote a blog post about it here (I used the fire as an illustration for vital lessons for marriages struggling sexually).

Today I again want to use the fire as an illustration.

As is the case with most fires, the investigation after the recent Omaha fire primarily was about figuring out how and where it first started.

Fire investigators try, often successfully, to trace everything back to a source. A starting point. A trigger.

By working backward, they can figure out how to move forward – either to make sure whatever went wrong doesn’t happen again OR to solve mysteries that are hidden way back at the source.

“Uh, what exactly does this have to do with sex?!” you’re probably wondering.

Quite a bit, actually.

The longer I speak and write about sex and hear countless stories about marriages struggling sexually, the more intrigued I am about how and where the struggles began.

I used to want to jump quicker into talking solution, but not so much now.

Now I want to know the back story.

When did these sexual problems start? Why do you think they started? I dig through the rubble for the source, the starting point, the trigger.

Sure, in the headline, I ask, “When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?” But I just as easily could have asked…

“When did you start refusing sex?”

“Why did sex become boring?”

“When did you start disagreeing about sexual frequency?”

“Why is sex always a battle ground now?”

Anyway. You get the picture, right?

It’s really hard to find solutions to sexual struggles if we don’t at least have some framework to look closer at the problem in the beginning.

Truth be told, a lot of people just don’t want to do that.

Because it is exhausting and tedious work – to lift and sift through the boulders and shards of relational turmoil.

Sometimes, what’s going on couldn’t even be classified as turmoil. It often goes by it’s more common name – “life.”

“Life got crazy busy. We had soccer practice. And that job promotion. And the furnace went out. And then our teenagers had to study for the ACT. And don’t even get me started about the problems we had with the car.”

I meet and hear from so many people whose sexual intimacy is anything but intimate (and certainly not frequent), and they drifted to that reality long ago.

That sexual drift – away from intimacy – likely was trigged by something.

Maybe that something was  intense on the relationship Richter scale, like a porn addiction or adultery.

Or maybe that something was less dramatic, like a rogue calendar or added responsibilities at work or slowly mounting financial struggles.

Something, though, began sabotaging the sexual relationship.

If that describes your marriage, I pose the question again:

When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?  Think for a moment.  Can you find the how and where?

When you find the how and wherethe source, the starting point, the trigger — it is easier to find a solution.  (Notice I said easier, not easy, because solving sexual struggles takes hard work and heart work).

But your marriage is worth it.  It is so worth it. And nurtured sexual intimacy is worth it.  When we learn why destructive fires start, we are better equipped to keep them from doing more damage in the future.

For more reading, consider the insight found in the post Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

Dec 21

Sexual PDA: Better to Give AND Receive!

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

public display of affectionIt’s that time of year when you’re making the rounds of parties for Christmas and the New Year.

Maybe you’re even hosting a few of these shindigs. (If that’s the case, then you’ll definitely need a way to relieve some stress!)

I want to lay down a challenge for you and your spouse.  Be super intentional about communicating your sexual desire for each other at these gatherings — without being obvious about it.

There’s something beyond sexy about public display of affection (PDA).

I think this is particularly arousing if PDA isn’t really your thing.  After courageously venturing into this arena, you may discover it is your thing!

Let those crowded chaotic boisterous parties be your opportunity to give AND receive PDA. It will make sexual connection even hotter when you crawl beneath the sheets after the party lights go down.

You may even be inspired to leave the party early!

Want some ideas? (Of course you do!)

Here are 5 public displays of affection worthy of your heart and time:

Use Those Fingernails

Gals, you more than likely have an advantage in this department.  There’s just something about fingernails and light caresses.  Some great areas to run your fingernails?  Back of the neck, just under the shirt cuff, along the arm, along the hand and fingers.

Get creative and make the most of those tingling touches with your fingernails.  Your lover will totally get what you’re saying.  And you won’t have to say a word.

Find the Small of the Back

What is it about that waistline area right in the center of the back?  Husbands and wives can both make the most of affectionate touch in this area.

To make it especially sensuous, move your finger tips in a subtle, yet firm, circular motion, drifting along the waistline toward either hip or up the spine.

Get Sneaky

Okay, this might not count as true public display of affection, because it’s all about sneaking out of sight.  Obviously, you have to be wise about this, especially if you are in someone else’s house.

But if you discern it’s appropriate and easy to sneak into the pantry, den or a hallway out of sight, then take the chance to have a passionate kiss or some less-than-subtle caressing.

Whisper Your Intentions

Sure, you don’t want to announce in the presence of partygoers what you’re going to do later when you get naked.

But there’s no reason why you can’t whisper those things quietly to your lover.  You know, while you’re going through the buffet line or making your way to the kitchen for a refill on your refreshment or cuddled up on the couch in the family room.

BONUS TIP

You don’t have to wait for a party to put your PDA plan into action.  All of the above work well in other atmospheres as well — shopping at the mall, traveling in the car, waiting at the airport, going out to dinner,  seeing a movie, running errands and so forth.

Make the most of your public display of affection!  It will pay big dividends later! (And by later, I mean a few hours later.  Literally. Just. A. Few. Hours. Later.)

Nov 16

Should You Have to Talk Yourself Into Sex?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

talking-yourself-into-sexSo let’s say you don’t really like sex in your marriage. You maybe even would go so far as viewing it as a “necessary evil” – something you “have” to do to keep the peace.

But you pretty much hate it.

And you find yourself having to “talk” yourself into sex.   Not surprisingly, a vicious cycle of resentment grows in your marriage. You resent having to talk yourself into sex – and if your spouse knows you’re talking yourself into it, they resent you.

After awhile, you may even wonder if you even should keep talking yourself into it. (Tragically, some people eventually arrive at a “no” and decide to withhold sex completely).

I hope you’re not to that point. I encourage you to try a more humble (albeit, harder) approach.

A better question to ask yourself is, “Why am I having to talk myself into sex?” Until you understand the why (and seek to do something about it), then you’ll never get beyond the resentment dance that has come to define all of your sexual encounters.

Each marriage is unique and I obviously can’t cover every scenario, but the below three situations may urge you toward healthier sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you haven’t healed from past pain?

This is a broad area, I know. Past pain can mean anything from abuse to past promiscuity to abortion to adultery to pornography to a host of other sources of sexual pain.

Past pain can skew sex in our hearts and minds so severely that it may seem almost impossible to see sex as good and holy and worthy of pursuit.

But getting stuck in your pain will sabotage not just sexual intimacy, but all intimacy with the person you married.

Resolve to seek God’s heart through prayer, as well as the countless Christian resources available, including counseling, books, websites and conferences.  It is possible to heal from past sexual pain. You and your spouse are worth it.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you don’t experience sexual pleasure?

God designed sex to be pleasurable for a husband and a wife. Orgasm was God’s idea, His gift to both men and women.

It’s no surprise that if you are not experiencing orgasm fairly consistently when you and your spouse have sex, you likely see it more as a chore than a privilege.

Begin having some authentic conversation with your spouse about what turns you on, what turns them on, what it will take to make sex more pleasurable.

Are these conversations awkward at first? Well, sure. But the alternative – status quo of little or no sexual pleasure – isn’t doing your marriage any good.

A married couple arrives at extraordinary sex through lots of trial and error – through a willingness to enjoy foreplay and to show each other what feels good. Don’t limit yourself to missionary position, which for many wives is often one of the worst positions to achieve orgasm.

If you are a wife who struggles reaching orgasm, you might find some ideas from the many posts I have on this resource page on my site.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you don’t see the benefits of sex to your marriage?

We usually have to talk ourselves into something because we’ve yet to grasp what gain we’re really getting out of it

This is true with exercise too – until we start to see the transformation in our body and health, the thought of getting on the treadmill or lifting the weights sounds dreadful, tedious and boring.

When it comes to sex, the benefits to a marriage are countless. When a husband and wife regularly carve out time to make love, to mutually enjoy pleasure and to understand each other sexually, they begin to reap benefits beyond the bedroom.

Sexual intimacy endears a couple to each other, helps them extend grace, better equips them to do life together, and relieves stress.

There’s a boatload of science that explains all this (endorphins, the power of touch, oxytocin, hormones, etc.). But few people need science to tell them what they genuinely feel.

Truth be told, I don’t just love my husband more because of our nurtured sexual intimacy, I also like him more.  I honestly think the “liking” is the “it” factor that propels marriages beyond mediocre to something quite profound.

It’s just easier to be friends with your spouse if you both are attentive to sexual intimacy – the one form of intimacy that you can’t ethically or biblically go find elsewhere.

My hope for any marriage is that “talking yourself into sex” is the rare exception — not the rule — in your marriage.

Build an attitude into your heart and marriage that enthusiastically proclaims, “We GET to have sex!” – not “We HAVE to have sex.”

For more reading, check out 5 Ways to Be Sexually Playful While Clothed!

Oct 29

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography Addiction

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography AddictionFor some, pornography might not seem like a big deal—who doesn’t look at it?

But the truth is pornography is addictive and can lead to serious problems down the road.

Pornography and sexual addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationship.

Research has shown that 56% of divorce cases involved one partner having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

To learn of your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction can completely blindside you and leave you questioning your relationship and self-worth.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to question if they are “good enough” for their spouse, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with them.

Like any other addiction, people use pornography (or drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, etc.) as a way to self-medicate.

The first thing to remember is that your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is not your fault. Their turning away is not a reflection of a lack on your part, but on theirs.

As the spouse of an addict, many emotions may have risen from denial, hurt, anger, and guilt and has left you wondering what to do now.

There are no easy answers.

Take time to allow yourself to heal from the discovery. You cannot rush the healing process and will have to let your emotions out.

Many times a spouse won’t know where to turn, or who to talk to, and will struggle through the situation alone.

Instead seek outside help, either in a trusted friend or therapist, to help you navigate the twists and turns while you deal with the revelation.

As you move down this path, here are 5 things to do to help you move forward.

1. Map your recovery

When dealing with trauma (and yes, discovering your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is traumatic), you need to take time to acknowledge your feelings.

During this time, you may experience self-blame, outbursts of anger, depression, feelings of detachment, and many other emotions. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and create your own recovery plan.

2. Don’t isolate

During this time you may find your wanting to retreat into yourself especially when you feel your world is falling apart. Instead, find a trusted friend, spiritual leader, therapist, or support group you can talk openly with.

This experience is too difficult and traumatic to be dealing with all alone.

3. Seek understanding

You’ve probably heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and taking time to learn and understand compulsive and addictive behavior can help you on your path to recovery.

Pornography addiction, like any other addiction, is a disease and is a method of self medicating.

As you learn more about the addiction and the impact on the brain, you will have a better understanding of how their pornography addiction is not from a lack (those lies you tell yourself like, your not sexy enough, not smart enough, and so forth) on your part.

4. Practice self-care

As you move through the recovery process, self-care is vital to your healing.

This can be particularly difficult for women because, by nature, they tend to put their needs second to everyone else. When starting out, choose something to focus on from these 3 categories: personal, physical, and spiritual.

These could include keeping a journal (Julia Cameron has an excellent book, The Artist’s Way, that talks about morning pages), signing up for a zumba class, and meditating daily.

As you begin practicing the art of self-care, it may seem selfish but is essential for your own healing. Eleanor Brownn, inspirational life coach, once said, “Self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Taking time to recharge and take care of yourself will, in the long run, help you take care of those in your life.

5. Sense of community

Many great teachers have talked about the importance of “losing yourself in the service of others.”

When you are feeling overwhelmed, with emotions and life in general, take time to go out and perform an act of kindness for someone else. You can also volunteer at your local shelter, library, or community center.

What is wonderful about taking time to help someone else is that you forget about your problems for a while.

During this time it is so important to remember that you also need to take time to heal.

Through journalling new insights, feelings may arise and that can help you in your recovery.

Use this time to set boundaries, define your limits and write down what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. A therapist, spiritual teacher, or trusted friend can help you with this and help you to see things differently.

Remember to take the time to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The journey towards healing does not happen overnight and takes a lot of deep soul work.

It is also strongly recommended that you don’t make any major life decisions for a while about your relationship, unless abuse is involved.

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

Oct 19

Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

I tend to be in the camp that no marriage is beyond repair as long as two people are still in it.

marriage-beyond-sexual-repairI’ve heard from couples who have gone literally years with dysfunctional patterns (sexual and otherwise), yet at some point, something compels them both to move toward each other and heal the disconnect.

Maybe even grow closer sexually than they ever could have imagined.

Personally, I think marriage is hard.  It is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done or will ever do. I think many people would agree with me.

And some of you are in marriages where the pain is incredibly raw. And deep. And debilitating. And maybe the sexual struggles have left you discouraged and disillusioned. If that describes your marriage, I want to neither minimize your pain nor haphazardly throw around false hope.

But here’s the thing.

If you are still married, in my opinion, you are left with no biblical choice but to do what you can to improve the relationship.

(I know this should go without saying, but I’m not talking about abusive relationships.  I’m talking about marriages where two people have grown apart, lost interest in sex and/or encountered relationship roadblocks that seem insurmountable).

So what does it take to heal and strengthen a marriage, particularly from a sexual angle?

If you think your marriage is beyond sexual repair, here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I refusing to own my part in it?

Sexual disconnect begins in too many ways to outline here.  Suffice to say, sex is both complex AND simple. That dichotomy can make it hard for a couple to get on the same page (or on the same bed, if we’re looking for a more accurate phrase).

But if I had to funnel the challenges into themes, one that would consistently rank at the top is that one or both people in the marriage won’t own their own stuff.

In other words, is sex difficult in your marriage because of you?

For example, you won’t seek healing from the past, such as past promiscuity, sexual abuse, adultery or pornography use.  Or you won’t let go of false messages, such as sex is bad, sex is a choresex is gross, and sex is sinful (even in marriage).

Or possibly you refuse to understand what’s going on with your body, such as hormonal issues, other physical issues, lack of orgasm and body image struggles.

Whatever your issues may be, are you dealing with them?

Because if you are letting them to continue to sabotage sexual intimacy with your spouse, that’s heartbreaking.

There is no better time to deal with your issues than now.  And there is no better time than now to find countless Christian resources available (counselors, books, seminars, blogs, DVDs, etc.)

2. Did we stop working on our friendship?

Because I write about sex, people think I know “secrets” to incredible sex in marriage. There is one “secret” that I consistently recommend (and it’s really not a secret at all).

I tell people to build great friendship with their spouse. And I’m not talking about friendship that looks like other friendships you have.  I am talking about genuine companionship and fun with the person to whom you literally pledged your life.

Many things sabotage a couple’s ability to work on their friendship.  Sure, it’s easy when you’re dating and newly married, because you likely have a ton of time to simply focus on each other.

But then life happens. Careers. Kids. Crazy calendars. House maintenance. Bigger decisions. And so on.

The other subtle thing that happens is friendship drift, meaning you start to take a lot for granted with this person standing next to you.

Those “dating days” seem like a luxury for which we just don’t have the time.”   It’s not malicious.  Two people drift apart because the demands of life became relentlessly loud and stressful.

But great friendship in a marriage is foundational to incredible sex with your spouse.  You have to walk in the direction of friendship.  Or you’ll continue to drift apart.

3.  Am I always reacting the same way to my negative spouse?

Okay, I get it.

Maybe  you aren’t the one hurting sex in your marriage. Maybe it is your spouse who is the culprit.  So what then?

What do you do when your spouse is not responding to your frustrations, pleas for marriage counseling, sexual initiation and so forth?

It’s probably time for a different approach.  If your spouse is manipulative, passive aggressive, unwilling to deal with their own issues or just generally negative, then you still need to find ways to stay healthy.

Seek counseling for yourself. Continue to build and enjoy your activities and hobbies. Invest in yourself physically, such as walking more, joining a gym, getting plenty of sleep, taking hot baths.

Read books for tips (one I recommend is How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick).  Pray. Find ways to give back to your community by getting involved in charities you believe in.

Strive to not get sucked into your spouse’s manipulative arguments.  I’m all for communication, but when a negative spouse is just trying to pick a fight, your best response is to stay calm and refuse to engage in childish behavior.

Sometimes when you start responding more maturely to a negative spouse, they will begin to see the light and realize they too need to grow up and help restore all aspects of intimacy in the relationship

Sometimes this doesn’t happen.

But even if it doesn’t, your choices still will help you be healthier emotionally and physically.

Is your marriage beyond sexual repair? I don’t know.  But I do know the above questions are worth asking.

For more reading, also check out the series What Is Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

Sep 21

When You Crave Sex More Than He Does

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

When You Crave Sex More Than He DoesI am a wife with a high sex drive.

Some people would say that trait puts me in an incredibly small minority.

But word to the wise, there are more of us out there than you may realize.

I do hear from women who would love more sex with their husband — and they are baffled as to why he isn’t on board with that.

Each marriage is unique and the circumstances behind mismatched sex drives certainly vary.  I get that.

Some of the below questions, though, might spur some opportunities to either better understand what’s going on or to initiate some dialogue with your husband.

If you want sex more than he does, ask yourself:

Does he really know I want more sex?

Sometimes subtlety works in making sexual desires known, but I wouldn’t rely too heavily on this approach.

If you are “hinting” at wanting more sex or if you are simply waiting for him to always be the one to pursue you, such an approach is probably leaving you frustrated.

Somewhere along the way, I think women (particularly Christian women) got the idea that it is more appropriate to wait for him to do all the initiating. The problem is there is nothing biblical to such a thought.

If you want more sex, don’t assume he knows.  And if he is not receiving your attempts to initiate, talk to him (preferably in a non-sexual setting).

Express to him that you hunger to be with him more sexually.

Could there be a physical reason he’s not interested in sex?

I certainly can’t cover every physical possibility, but there are a few worth mentioning.

For example, some guys experience erectile dysfunction and they find this embarrassing and/or discouraging.  They simply don’t want to either initiate sex or respond to your pursuit, because they question whether they will be able to get and/or maintain an erection.

They don’t want to disappoint you or themselves, so their logic is to avoid the situation altogether.  But that approach is not doing either of you any good.

A variety of things can cause erectile dysfunction.  Sometimes age and/or alcohol consumption can play a factor. Sometimes it can be the result of medications (such as for high blood pressure) or various medical conditions.

Certainly you and your husband shouldn’t navigate this on your own or make sudden changes in medications.

If you think your husband is struggling with erectile dysfunction, talk to him.  Be his champion and partner and safe person.

Remind him that it is not a reflection of him as a man and that erectile dysfunction is increasingly a more treatable experience.

It is worth a trip to the doctor and any specialists to talk openly.  This is true not only for erectile dysfunction, but also such things as weight gain, depression, diabetes and so forth.

Doctors, nutritionists and counselors exist to help individuals and couples build healthy lives, including healthy sexual intimacy.

And it is important to remember that even if actual intercourse is no longer possible, sexual contact that is affirming to both of you is still possible.  Throughout marriage, whether we are talking about sex or anything else, we have to find ways to adapt and still nurture our oneness.

Is he stressed about something?

Stress can take a toll on any person’s sex drive.  No surprise there, but we tend to think it is women who struggle with this, not men.

As much as we like to joke around about men being able to forget about everything when they crawl beneath the sheets, this is just not always the case.

I can point to a few occasions when my husband and I tried to make love, but he admitted that his mind was preoccupied with something else.

It wasn’t that his heart wasn’t in it.  His mind wasn’t.  And he couldn’t get past that barrier in that moment.

If you think your husband might be worried or stressed about something (finances, work, family matters, other responsibilities), shed light on this. Express to him you are concerned and you want him to be able to talk to you about everything, even the stuff he maybe is trying to protect you from.

Ultimately, what makes for an intimate bond (sexual and otherwise) is a deep abiding friendship.  If he is overwhelmed or stressed, you as his wife need to know.

Dealing With Unbalanced Sex Drives...
or Other Intimacy Issues?

Intimacy Reignited was created to help you rekindle the intimacy in your marriage and create a lifestyle that encourages more and better sex. Intimacy Reignited
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Does sex always mean mutual sexual pleasure?

This question might surprise you, but hang in there with me, okay?  If the pattern in your sexual intimacy has always meant intercourse, then that is how you as a couple have come to define “sex.”

As life moved along, you found you wanted sex more than he did, and you both still saw it as always including intercourse.

But a husband and wife can experience sexual connection without intercourse every time.  Are you willing to experience nakedness with each other and closeness and sexual touch without it always concluding in an orgasm?

Are there deeper issues going on?

Sometimes a man’s sex drive with his wife decreases because of deeper (maybe even tragic) circumstances in the marriage.  These could include (but not be limited to) such things as deep communication problems, pornography use, and infidelity.

Obviously, if a husband and wife are struggling in their relationship (or if one of the spouses is struggling in the relationship), then this is going to take a huge toll on sexual intimacy in the marriage.

I think counseling can benefit a couple any time in marriage, but I think it is a necessity if the marriage is facing a crisis.  Don’t hesitate to say to your husband that you want the two of you to go to a marriage counselor.

If he won’t go, then go on your own.  Not only will this give you the insights of a professional counselor, it also will demonstrate to your husband that the status quo situation of your marriage is not okay with you.

You are going to do whatever you can to strengthen the marriage.  (If you can’t afford counseling, check out these three ideas).

Lastly, with regard to sex drive, I want to encourage you as a woman to remember that it is not wrong that your sex drive is higher than your husband’s.

Sometimes I hear from women who think there is something “wrong” with them for wanting sex.  But the truth is that sexual desire is a good thing in a marriage and couples will spend their married years navigating the impact that desire has on their relationship.

As I said at the beginning, I am a wife with a high sex drive. And that drive at times has been higher than my husband’s.

Though it can feel uncomfortable to address this in a marriage, we are grateful we have.  The health of our marriage is worth it.

Sep 15

Finding Time for Sex

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Today’s post is adapted from our book 15 Minute Marriage Makeover – Refresh Your Relationship, Add Sizzle to Your Sex Life & Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day.  Please check out the end of the post for more information.

Finding the Time for SexHave you encountered times in your marriage where one or both of you wanted to have sex, but there just wasn’t time or energy for it?

I know that we used to face this realization way too often in our own marriage.

We would exchange some “indications” earlier in the day that we were looking forward to an intimate evening.

However, after a longer-than-usual time spent getting the kids to go to sleep, we would remember the need to straighten up the house for guests the next day or a work deadline would surface that needed immediate attention.

Before we knew it, one of us was busy working on a project while the other had fallen asleep on the couch.

At this point, it’s often easier to just say, “Let’s try again tomorrow.  Good night.”

Today’s Lesson

So, how can we avoid this recurring problem where we feel there’s no time to have a quality sexual relationship with our spouse?

The simple answer is that we must make sex a priority in our marriage.  Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are practical ways to make it happen.

It all starts with our mindset.

I want you to imagine for a moment that you know that your spouse is not going to be alive tomorrow night.

Tonight is literally your last night together on Earth, and you know that both God and your spouse desperately want your last night together to be spent making love and sharing a deep intimacy with one another.

Now, do you have time for sex tonight?

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but the point is that we cannot treat sex with our spouse like another chore on our to-do list for the day.

We cannot say that we’ll have sex as soon as the “important” stuff like the dishes, laundry and baseball game are out of the way.

We’ll dig deeper into why sex is important to each of you in tomorrow’s lesson [note: the lessons in the book build on each other each day], but suffice it to say that a healthy sex life is the center of a healthy, thriving marriage.

And when you treat sex like just another chore, it becomes just another chore.

And that is not okay.

Today’s Couple Time Task

During your 15 minutes of Couple Time today, I’d like you to talk openly and honestly about where each of you sees sex fitting into your lives in terms of priorities.  Discuss both where it sits in your own mind and where you observe it to sit in your partner’s mind.

Please be forewarned that there’s a very good chance that your personal perception will not be your spouse’s reality when it comes to this sensitive topic.

Do not get into a fight about who is right or wrong, but instead treat your partner’s thoughts as the truth.

After all, when it comes to your sex life, it’s truly their perception that matters.

Spend a few minutes talking about how you can make improved intimacy (including sex) a higher priority in your daily lives.

  • When are some times when you could be intimate instead of doing other mundane things around the house?
  • Where are some areas that you could improve in your overall intimacy, including those areas that don’t directly involve sex?
  • What has been holding you back, and what can your spouse do to ease your burdens and help you desire more intimacy?

Finally, I’d encourage you to spend this evening pretending like it is your last evening together on Earth. 🙂

Today’s Tips

  • Do not fall into the trap of using your Couple Time today to argue or point blame at each other.  This is your time to be constructive and work together to improve the intimacy in your marriage.
  • While sex is the culmination of physical intimacy, keep in mind that intimacy should be alive and well in many areas of your marriage.
  • Some examples of intimacy outside of sex include recreational time spent together, physical activity together, spiritual intimacy, emotional connection and even financial intimacy.
  • For in-depth and very “HOW TO” help improving both the depth of your intimacy and the frequency and quality of sex in your marriage, be sure to check out Intimacy Reignited.

This post is adapted from one of 28 powerful daily exercises that will take your marriage from good to extraordinary in just 15 minutes per day.  To pick up your own copy (in Kindle, paperback or audiobook format) and take your marriage to the next level, just click here.

Aug 17

Why Now Might Just Be the Perfect Time for Crazy Hot Sex

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

 

crazy-hot-sexNot long ago, I was reading a blog post in which the author meanders through what she wants her daughter to know about sex.

I was struck by how spot on the post was.

I mean seriously.

The post was chock full of beautiful transparency — and hard core truth — about what really makes for great sex. (Even if you don’t have a daughter, read the post).

The gist of that post and many other ones like it is that profound sexual intimacy happens against a backdrop of a husband and wife who know — really know — the messiness and emotional investment of doing life together.

That post does a beautiful job of reminding us that genuine lovemaking is not about mere instant gratification.

How heartbreaking that single teens and young adults give themselves away sexually, long before they are even equipped to recognize what authentic sexual intimacy is.  And yet, our society portrays such scenarios as dripping with passion and sexual ecstasy.

And sadly, many married couples that have indeed grown up enough in their lives and in their marriage to have what truly is hot passionate sex — well, they aren’t.  It’s within their reach, and yet they have shimmied right past it.

What do we do with that irony?

Certainly I get why we are diligent in educating youngsters on the value of waiting until marriage to have sex.  I regularly talk to my teen son about this (and his girlfriend, by the way). And I used to speak in the public schools about abstinence as a realistic choice.  To say I’m not shy about it is an understatement.

BUT I think if we really want to prevent single people from having sex, those of us who are married should do all we can to nurture hot sexual intimacy in our own marriages.  Easy enough, right?

Well, as Christians, we have a long history of  lauding the sin and consequences of sex outside of marriage.  Lamenting about sin on a grand scale is much easier than practicing godliness (1 Corinthians 7) on a small (individual) scale.

What if we gave equal (if not, more) airtime to singing the praises of sex in marriage? And not just sex, but hot passionate “I can’t get enough of you” lovemaking between a husband and a wife?

Extraordinary sex lives in the ordinary. I kid you not. That is where it lives.

Now might just be the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage.

If that is not your reality, what can you do to move in that direction?

For some of you, not only is hot passionate sex not your rule in your marriage; it’s not even your exception.  So to flip a switch and make it a reality at all is not so easy, right?  But what if you could at least begin to uncover what it will take to move in that direction?

Marriage is not meant to be stagnant.  We are always either growing closer or growing apart.

Now might just be the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage.

When I think back on that post I mentioned earlier, I think what I liked so much about it is that it speaks positively of passionate sex that finds its roots in authentic love and marital commitment. It recognizes that marriage is a long haul of give and take, trenches and mountaintops, tiredness and rediscovered sexual enthusiasm.

As much as I want my kids to know the consequences of sex outside of marriage, more than that I want them to know the consequences of sex INSIDE of marriage — the positive, soul enriching, oneness that out-competes against the counterfeit version the media sells.

Is now the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage?

Jul 20

5 Ways to be Sexually Playful While Clothed

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

Does sex seem to be the last thing on your mind by the time you both fall into bed at the end of the day?

sexual playfulness in marriageOr maybe it’s the last thing on your spouse’s mind, but you are still hoping for some sexual connection. Yet, you feel way too disconnected!

Hey, I get it.

Life has a way of sabotaging late night encounters.

If you ever feel like you and your beloved are simply trying to keep your head above water (you feel that way sometimes, right?), you are not alone.

Good news!  There are ways to increase the odds of sexual intimacy happening on a more consistent basis.

Sexual play when the lights go out tends to be easier when there’s sexual play while your clothes are on.

Below are 5 ideas for being sexually playful while clothed:

1.  Touch while driving.

I’m not even talking about anything overtly sexual here. I am talking about expressing your sexual desire and affection with simple gestures.

Any one of these will likely get your message across:  Gently put your hand on your spouse’s leg.  Caress the back of their neck.  Softly run your finger just under the the hem on their shorts or the sleeve on their shirt.

If there aren’t kids in the car (or if the kiddos are fast asleep), you can probably get away with more suggestive caressing.

Sure, you have to keep your eyes on the road and stay safe.  But trust me.  A simple touch while driving can speak volumes about your intentions later.

2.  Use suggestive code words and nicknames.

When I was growing up, a childhood friend of mine had parents who occasionally would playfully talk in some sort of “code,” even when we were around.

As children, we obviously didn’t know what they were saying.  We probably even thought it was weird, even though it was obvious the spirit of the “conversation” was playful.

Now as a grown up who is in love with my husband, I think about my childhood friend’s parents and it makes me smile.

They had found a way to connect as husband and wife amidst the busy details of the day.

Who knows what they were talking about with all those secret words and whispers?!  I would bet my last dollar, though, that those innocent exchanges were anything but innocent.

Do you and your spouse have ways to talk about sex playfully without really talking about sex?

My pal J of Hot Holy Humorous wrote a couple of great posts along these lines, including “What Euphemisms Do You Use for Sex?” and “Is He Sweetheart? Stud Muffin? Romantic Nicknames.

3.  Kiss. Really kiss.

There’s just something about an unexpected passionate kiss that is genuine and heartfelt.

When was the last time you kissed your spouse this way when the two of you were not making love?

A spontaneous lingering kiss in the kitchen or before your spouse leaves for work or even as you are putting laundry away can convey that your sexual desire is alive and well.

Sadly, too many married couples stop kissing passionately.

4.  Don’t be afraid to sext.

I wouldn’t recommend this if your spouse has a company-issued cell phone, because obviously that phone is the property of the company and they likely have rules against sexting.

But if you are sending texts to your spouse’s personal phone, you can get creative.  Discretion is the key.

To be super wise about this, you should use code words.  That way, your spouse knows that when you type, “Did I mention we were out of chocolate syrup?,” what you really just said has nothing to do with an ice cream topping.

(Unless, of course, it does having something to do with an ice cream topping). 

Anyway, you get the idea.

When it comes to sexting, less is more.  Say too much too often and the technique loses its arousal factor.

I hope this goes without saying, but don’t send any suggestive photos.  Save all the visuals for the “live-and-in-person” escapades in the exclusivity of your marriage bed.

And obviously, double check that the text is indeed going to your spouse.  Sure, you’re talking in code.  But do you really want your kid’s soccer coach asking if you’re still out of chocolate syrup?!

Awkward.

5. Hold hands.

I know.  This one seems so obvious.  But why don’t we see more married couples holding hands?

Holding hands with the person you fell in love with and pledged your life to is one of the easiest gestures to actually do — but also the easiest to disregard.

When you hold hands with your spouse, whether you are walking to your kid’s ball game or heading into the grocery store, you convey to them that they are still the one you want by your side.

You convey a great message to those around you too, but that’s simply a nice side benefit.  What’s most powerful is the message you are sending to the person you married.

And remember that all hand holding is not created equal.  When you hold hands frequently enough with your spouse, you quickly learn the subtle differences of the type of affection being shown.

You can definitely be sexually playful through holding hands, and no one will know but the two of you!

After reading all of this, do you think there are ways you can be more sexually playful while your clothes are on?

Weave sexual expression into your relationship in a healthy way, and you will better appreciate why making love is so vital.

And for more reading on this topic, check out this post on my site by the same title.

Jun 22

No Time for Sex? How Much Time Does it Really Take Anyway?!

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

My husband and I have had some fairly incredible lovemaking sessions.

I mean, off-the-charts “I think the neighbors can probably hear us by now” lovemaking.

no-time-for-sexAnd even those sexual episodes of “my-world-has-been rocked” have not lasted hours.

Nope.  It would probably be a stretch to say they lasted an hour.

My point?

If the “no time for sex” argument seems to be a constant in your home, you likely are missing out on incredible sex that can be had in less than 20 minutes.

I would even go so far as to say in some marriages, most of the sex that happens is quickie sex (or at least within close proximity of quickie sex).

And that’s not a bad thing.

Sure, long drawn-out lovemaking has its place and I savor those encounters tremendously.

But if my husband and I were banking on those types of encounters to sustain our sexual intimacy, we’d be taking a huge risk with the health of our marriage.

Are you always waiting for ideal conditions to make love to your spouse? Are you always waiting for more time?

If so, you might be missing out on a lot of great sex.

Ideal conditions are hard to come by in the lives of most married couples, what with the messy houses, chaotic calendars, demanding jobs, and whiny (uh, I mean adorable) children.

Ironically, that crazy “I can’t even see straight” life you’re living most days would likely become more enjoyable and bearable if you nurtured sexual intimacy in the midst of it – rather than wait for the chaos to subside.

Seem impossible?

It’s not.

But you have to be willing to walk in that direction.  Have a heart-to-heart chat with your spouse about what it would take to make love more often – rather than put it off until you “have more time.”

A huge bonus is that when you learn to arouse each other and connect sexually when time is in short supply, you’ll be laying a good foundation for those more drawn-out sexual encounters.

(Laying. A. Good. Foundation. See how I worked that in?)

When I hear people say they have no time for sex, I don’t usually believe them. My heart is in the right place, though.  What I really hear behind the “no time for sex” is “we haven’t figured out how to have great sex in 20 minutes.”

So how do you figure that out?

Well, I offer these three tips:

1. Remember that sex is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.

I know, this seems like I’m over-generalizing a bit, but it’s true. Nurtured sexual intimacy softens a husband and wife toward each other, better equips them to do life, and helps them be intimate in ways beyond the bedroom.

2. Rely on the sexual techniques that are a sure thing.

Obviously, I have no idea what turns your spouse on.  But I am guessing you do.

When you don’t have a lot of time, make a dash toward the sexual touches and repertoire that your spouse most enjoys.

3. Focus on the connection, not the orgasm.

Hey, I like an intense orgasm as much as the next person, but I also know that sex is not all about climaxing.  It’s also about being exclusively and emotionally connected with the person you love.

(I also think the intense physical pleasure is more likely to happen the more we practice, so to speak — the more we communicate well on what will help us climax. I have an entire page on my site with posts about orgasm.)

If you are not accustomed to spontaneous and/or quick sex in your marriage, remember that this is a learned behavior.  Give yourself and your spouse grace and encouragement to grow in this aspect.

You can become each other’s champion for healthy sexual intimacy in your relationship, where you both have the freedom and enthusiasm to initiate and engage sexually.

But whatever you do, don’t keep falling back on “there is not enough time” for sex.

There is enough time.

 

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