Take Our Current Survey
Answer a quick question about what you would like to have more of in your marriage
Introduction to the Journey:
About The Author:
Click the arrow to show/hide series
On Being One Flesh
The Audacity of the Bridal Paradigm
The Path of Intimacy
Shame and Intimacy
Grace In Marriage
- My Marriage Beliefs
- What If...?
- ▼ 2016 (37)
- ► 2015 (33)
- ► 2014 (47)
- ► 2013 (51)
- ► 2012 (93)
- ► 2011 (83)
- ► 2010 (102)
About (19) Accountability (7) Authority (49) Awards (1) Being One Flesh (80) Blog Links (77) Blogging (35) Books (25) Children (10) Christmas (3) Commitment (26) Communication (60) Date Night (7) Differences (38) Difficulties (56) Downloads (5) Dress for Success (7) Faith (10) Family Life (43) Finances (8) Friday Favorites (7) Friday Freebies (9) Giveaways (15) Glory (4) Goals (40) Grace (46) Guest Post (4) Headship (12) Intimacy (167) Intimacy Challenge (21) Kindness (9) Love (89) Man-up Monday (17) Marriage (92) Men (47) Men Only Monday (7) Needs (6) Paradigm in Practice (22) Passion (23) Positivity (23) Prayer (26) Resources (21) Respect (13) Roles (9) Romance (44) Romantic Ideas (23) RRR (19) Sex (68) Shame (11) Society and Culture (44) Songs (2) Spiritual Life (97) Submission (39) Surrender (34) Surveys and Polls (36) The Bridal Paradigm (75) The Church (16) Transparency (25) True Love (9) Truth in Tension (5) Videos (8) Watchfulness (56) What If? (5) Wives only Wednesday (18) Women (35)
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Creating a sexual menu together is a great way to talk openly about your sexual wishes.
Continuing with last week's culinary theme (6 Ways Food and Sex Go Together), this week we'll use the analogy of a menu to examine your sexual repertoire.
It's not unusual for couples to struggle in the bedroom. Conflicts arise over what's okay and what's not, when one or both partners feel stuck in a rut, and when opinions differ about exploring new sexual territory.
The menu concept is a helpful way to discuss these issues with your spouse in a non-confrontational and collaborative way. Let's take a look at how that might work.
Think of the various activities in your sexual repertoire as a menu. You and your spouse can discuss the various menu sections listed below in order to come to mutual agreement. My suggestion is that you actually create your sexual menu on paper or computer or phone and store it in a private and secure location that is password protected, but where you can both get to it easily.
These are the tried and true sexual activities you both enjoy. These trusty house favorites are your go to menu items when you don't feel like trying something different and you just want to connect in a deep and pleasurable way that's sure to leave you both feeling satisfied. Talk about what's on your favorites list and write them down. His favorite and hers may not be the same, and that's okay, but limit it to a maximum of about 10 items in total.
Foreplay is like the appetizers on your sexual menu. It's an often neglected yet important dimension of your sex life that should get the same level of attention and consideration as the main course. Good foreplay takes time and requires you to be intentional in pursuing and wooing your spouse. One useful way to talk about foreplay is for each of you to complete the sentence, "It really gets me turned on when you/we ______." And remember that foreplay can and should happen throughout the day and not just in the minutes immediately preceding intercourse. Your appetizer list should contain 10-15 items that get your motor running.
Last week I likened quickie sex to fast food, noting that it's okay once in a while, but it's not healthy if your diet consists of nothing but fast food. Quickies are also like the "lighter fare" section of the menu. Lighter fare choices are a great choice when your appetite for sex isn't strong but your partner desires the physical connection that sustains the emotional intimacy in your relationship. If quickies are on your lighter fare menu, talk about the how and where you would like these encounters to happen. Just because these encounters are quick, doesn't mean you can't be creative. In addition to quickies, manual or oral stimulation to orgasm of the desiring person can help sustain the sexual momentum in your relationship until you have time, energy and the desire for something from the "heavier" main course menu items.
The daily specials section of your sexual menu is where you make room for experimentation. On this list go the new ideas that either of you might want to try out sometime, assuming you are both comfortable with it. Joint willingness is essential! Keep in mind that after trying a "new dish" a time or two, you may decide to move it to the favorites menu, keep it on the daily specials menu, or remove it from the menu altogether. That's okay! It's also okay for a specials item to remain on the menu for an extended time before you finally decide to try it out.
The sexual equivalent of the dessert menu are those things that you add on top of your normal routine that make a sexual encounter extra special. This could includes things like using a sexual toy, a challenging but pleasurable intercourse position, different methods of orgasm, or sex in a new/special location. The point of this list is to have ideas at hand that you wouldn't necessarily want to include all the time, but that add just a bit of extra spice to your sex life.
The menu metaphor might be just the tool to give you and your spouse an easy way to talk about your sexual desires and wishes in a non-threatening and cooperative way. Do your best to be open to one another's menu suggestions. When you don't agree on something (and there will be things you don't agree on) keep in mind that just because you don't want something to go on the menu, it doesn't mean your spouse is a bad person for wanting it. In the same way, just because your spouse doesn't agree to put something you want on the menu, it doesn't make him or her a prude.
Approach this discussion with grace and an open mind!
And remember to revisit your menu from time to time. Just like a restaurant, you will want to make adjustments as preferences change over time.
Do you think the menu metaphor would work in your marriage? What other menu metaphors would you add to my list? Leave a comment.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Valuable culinary lessons to help your marriage grow in sexual intimacy
Rather, I've listed below six dining metaphors that are useful for considering and improving the sexual intimacy in your marriage.
1) Fast Food
Amid the chaos and demands of daily life, sometimes quickie sex is all you’ll have the time and energy for, but you can’t live on that alone. It’s unhealthy and costly in the intimacy department. Sometimes you need to set aside an hour or two just to focus on finding pleasure in one another. When it comes to sexual intimacy, there is no substitute for time.
2) Fine Dining
Upscale restaurants pay a lot of attention to the way your meal looks on the plate. Appearances do matter and can leave a lasting impression. How much effort do you put into your “presentation” at bed time? Brush your teeth, comb your hair, strategically add a dab of perfume or cologne, wear something to bed your spouse finds appealing and that makes you feel sexy. Make your bedroom appealing with candles, nice music, and luxurious sheets. Going the extra mile in preparation tells your spouse that you love them and desire them.
3) A New Cuisine
It’s fun and exciting to experience a great new restaurant. Similarly, there’s a new kind of sexual energy and focus that is available with a change of venue. If you haven’t done so recently, book a hotel room or a mountain cabin for a weekend. It will give you time to focus exclusively on each other, without the normal pressures of home, and allows you plenty of time to enjoy each other sexually. And the change of scenery can help break you out of a sexual rut, giving you the freedom to experiment and change things up a little. I don’t know exactly why, but there’s just something different about sex when there is a number on the door. (If a hotel is out of the question for budgetary or child care reasons, pick a new room of the house as a change of venue.)
While regular and frequent sex is an important part of a healthy marriage, it's possible to use prescribed periods of abstinence (5, 7, 10 days or whatever you mutually decide would not be unhealthy) to create and build sexual anticipation. The idea is to rev up non-sexual intimacy, to give all your attention to expressing love and desire without sex. Go ahead and tease and flirt. Talk about how much you miss the pleasure, and plan what you will do when it’s all over – it’s all part of the build up to breaking your fast.
In the opposite vein, I have also seen regular “sex challenges” on various marriage websites that dare couples to go for 3, 7, 10 or even 30 days of sex in a row. However long you choose to binge on each other, the goal is to make sex a priority and then to use the time to learn about your self and each other sexually. I have seen many testimonies of the positive, rejuvenating impact such a challenge have on marriages.
6) Junk Food
Face it, we are surrounded by things that are sexually unhealthy. The media and entertainment industries rarely portray married sex as fulfilling and exciting. Instead they glamorize randomly “hooking up,” sensationalize and normalize extramarital affairs, and portray marriage as an out of date and irrelevant institution. Modern technology grant easy access to things like pornography, chat rooms and a vast array of other marriage-destroying opportunities. Just don’t. Even things as “harmless” as Facebook and romance novels can do damage. When it comes to your marriage, keep the sexual junk food out!
What other dining metaphors can you come up with? Share them in a comment.
Do you want to improve your sex life further but have a hard time talking about sex with your spouse? You can get my ebook How to Have a Succ-Sex-Full Marriage for free when you sign up for my monthly newsletter and blog digest. Sign up now!
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
It's finally going to happen. And I need your help!
I'm happy to announce that I'm in the process of building a completely new website. Okay it's been "in process" since the beginning of the year, and in planning even longer, but I'm finally hoping to launch in October. I've got a bunch of great things planned for the new site, but more than anything else I'm interested in serving my readers with stuff that can help their marriages right where they are.
What Are Your Longings?
If you are like many of my readers, you've been married for a while. Are there things you've always wanted to see in your marriage, but haven't yet experienced? Have you given up on them? I believe it's never too late to see your dreams come true. Maybe it's time to renew your dreams. Don't settle for the marriage you have now. Dust off those heart-longings, take them to the Lord, and start to work toward seeing them come true, one small step at a time.
Maybe you don't have unfulfilled longings. Maybe your marriage is pretty good, even great. The thing is there is always more. There is always room to grow in intimacy and passion and trust and freedom and grace and love... There is plenty of new territory to explore for the sake of growing your marriage. Don't let auto-pilot take over, even if, and especially if your marriage is on solid footing. Auto-pilot is a death sentence!
My sincere desire is to see every couple have the marriage they dream of and to continue to grow together. I believe that's not only possible, but that it's God's plan.
So my question is this: How can I help you do that? Here is your chance to tell me.
Here's Where You Come In
I have an ongoing survey on my blog called "Three Things." If you are an email subscriber or you get my blog via an RSS feed, chances are you've missed out on this survey. Simply put, it poses the question, "What three things do you long most to see more of in your marriage?"
Would you please help me be able to focus on the things that matter most to you and take 1 minute to answer this simple question? Click below now!
As part of the new website initiative, I'm moving to a new web address as well, so you'll want to watch this space in order to make sure you move with me!
In addition, I am working on some tremendously helpful resources for building intimacy and passion in your marriage. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, pray for me and my efforts to get the new website up and running. It's a daunting task!
If there are any other topics you'd like to see covered in the future or a specific question you'd like to see addressed here, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment below.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Does your marriage more closely resemble a religious exercise or an intimate relationship?
Did I cause you to do a double-take with the headline? After all, isn't this that blog where they are always talking about the intersection of the marital and the spiritual; the blog that explores that "bridal paradigm" thing with Christ and the church being a model for marriage?
Yep this it that blog, but would it shock you if I said I'm not a big fan of religion?
Religion vs. Relationship
The popular Christian pollster George Barna published a 2003 Study which found that 81% of self-identified Christians contended "that spiritual maturity is achieved by following the rules in the Bible."
Does that statistic make you cringe? It actually makes me a bit sad. I think it makes God sad too.
Religion is what Jesus came to deliver us from! Religion is all about rules. Following Jesus is all about relationship. Jesus spent most of his earthly ministry blowing up the rules of His day and pointing people to relationship instead.
It's not that the truths in the Word of God aren't important. They are very important and there for our good. It's just they aren't the main thing, and they aren't a substitute for the relationship God longs to have with each of us. Spiritual maturity is about being as intimately connected to Jesus as possible. When I'm in that place of intimacy with Him, the rules tend to take care of themselves.
An Important Distinction
Why is the distinction between religious rules and relationship so important for your marriage? Because if your marriage is intended to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church, then you need to have an accurate picture of what God intends that to look like. And His highest intention is intimacy, not our good behavior or religious activities.
1. Performing for Love
Religion says that God loves me most when I perform for him. Relationship says that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or to make Him love me less. Love is who he is. It's his nature. It's unconditional.
Love for your spouse should be as unconditional as the love of God. Lavish love on your spouse with abandon, regardless of the love you feel you are receiving. God does not withhold blessing from me until I have my act together. Neither should I withhold blessing my wife based on her performance to my standards.
2. Punishment or Grace
Religion says that God will punish us if we mess up. In fact, some act like God is shocked and offended by our screw ups. But the truth is that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross has paid for every screw up I have done and for every one I ever will do. Same for you. Our sin comes as no surprise to him, yet he chose to give his life for us anyway.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.A grace-filled, religion-free marriage means that forgiveness overrules retribution. There may be natural consequences when you or your spouse makes a mistake, does something unkind, or are guilty of some other offense, but relationship dictates that grace is at the forefront of our response.
As you have been freely forgiven by Jesus; freely forgive your spouse.
3. Passion and Desire
The Bible is a love story of a God in passionate pursuit of a bride, who would go to extreme lengths to win her to himself. So great is his desire for us that he sacrificed his own Son in order to live with us in intimacy, right now and forever.
Passion and desire are godly emotions. We feel them because God feels them, and we are made in his image.
Could it be that the way we have disconnected God from sex has something to do with the way we have disassociated God from emotions like passion and desire? Of course his desire is not of a sexual nature, but I definitely believe that there is a direct spiritual parallel between sex in marriage and the kind of deep, passion-filled intimacy God wants with us.
A right understanding of the emotions of God toward us, including His great passion and desire, is key to understanding how we can love each other in marriage. My own journey into understanding the bridal paradigm started with a revelation of the emotions of God, and it greatly impacted my marriage.
I recently heard Pastor Robert Morris explain this in a sermon entitled "God's Greatest Desire." He summarized it this way, "God's greatest desire is to marry you, and to live happily ever after with you. And he has worked out all the details through grace." God's own desire for intimacy is mirrored in us, since we were formed in his image. That's the reason he made man and woman to be intimately joined in marriage.
4. Two Become One
Many Scripture passages make it clear that when we come to faith in Christ we become one with him. Yet somehow we labor under the notion that we have to work our way into unity with him and that if we mess up, then that unity is somehow broken. Yet God makes it clear in Scripture that "nothing can separate us from the love of God." (Romans 8:39)
In a similar way, many describe marriage as the process of becoming one, with oneness as something that we work toward, but never fully achieve. Oneness is portrayed as fragile and elusive. I used to think of it that way too! But then I realized that unity in marriage works the exact same way as our unity with Christ. It is what Paul calls a "great mystery" in Ephesians. When we marry, two become as one.
'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.So then, marriage is the process of learning to enjoy and live fully in the unity we have already been granted by virtue of the fact that we are married. If we see our oneness as something we have to earn, then we'll forever be falling short and striving for the unity that is already ours. As I said in my post What If We Really Are One? we will live very differently if we believe we are truly one.
I've been digging into the bridal paradigm for more than a decade, yet I am continually discovering new ways in which my relationship with Jesus informs my understanding of marriage and vice-versa. I am realizing that if I want to understand how marriage is designed to work, I have to more fully know the true nature of God.
What other "religious" notions about God might negatively impact how you live out your marriage? Add to my list. Leave a comment.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Are body image issues keeping you from being "naked without shame" with your spouse?
My posts on body image are consistently very popular with readers. The high level of interest in this topic convinces me that this is a major issue, especially for women, and something that hinders both physical and emotional intimacy in many marriages.
If you or your spouse struggle with body image issues, be sure to read these posts and take action to deal with it. It's worth it!!
The Body Image Battle
This is a post directed at husbands, encouraging them to help their wives win the ever-present war that rages against their self-image.
Your wife is in a major battle. It’s an important and difficult battle. In this battle you must choose sides. You can choose to fight for her or against her. There is no middle ground, because if you are not fighting for her, in her mind you are fighting against her...Read the post
The Body Image Battle Continues
This is a post directed at wives, encouraging them to embraces some basic truths about their bodies. Among them:
- Your husband wants you to feel beautiful
- Your husband already knows the parts of your body you don't like
- Your husband likes your body
- Your husband is attracted as much by your confidence as by your appearance
What If Your Husband Really Does Love Your Body?
This post is part of my "What If..." Series and a Wives Only Wednesday post that encourages wives to ask themselves this question:
How would you act and speak differently if you really believed what your husband says about loving your body?Read the post
If your marriage is being negatively impacted by body image issues, I encourage you not to just live with it as something "normal." It may be common, but that is no reason not to do something to address it.
Connect With Us
Subscribe by email and never miss a post!
New subscribers will receive a free copy of my special report:
What Husbands and Wives Need Most
Don't miss this intriguing report!
Facebook page has lots of extra marriage-related stuff not found on my blog.
FREE! Intimacy Download
Sign up for my monthly Pathways Newsletter and get this free download! It's a new e-book couples can use to improve sexual intimacy in their relationship.