NEW! Intimate Connections

Take Our Current Survey

Three Things Survey

Answer a quick question about what you would like to have more of in your marriage

Popular Series

Click the arrow to show/hide series

Search Journey to Surrender

Blog Archive

Friday, October 26, 2012

In my last post, Do You Assume Love, I challenged you to have full confidence in your wife’s or husband’s love for you. When faced with your spouse’s disappointing or hurtful behavior, rather than responding with insecurity or offense, simply assume love.

I received some thoughtful comments on the post that prompted me to write this follow-up.

An Important Distinction

When your husband or wife does something that to you that feels “unloving,” it does not necessarily mean that you are “unloved” by him or her. That’s a critical distinction.

In fact, in any marriage that has at least a nominal amount of good will between spouses, the chances are that they do in fact love each other. Love is a reasonable assumption.

But assuming love does not mean that you assume everything your spouse does is motivated by love. Some of the things they do will be motivated by selfishness, pride, ignorance, anger, jealousy or a whole host of other negative things. However, there is a difference between being subjected to unloving behavior and being unloved. Unfortunately it is easy, even tempting, to confuse the two.

Don’t Fake It

At the end of my last post I meant to point you to the Assume Love blog, written by Patty Newbold. There is lots of great stuff there about this topic, obviously, given the name of her blog. One post in particular, Don’t Pretend Love, points out another important distinction. She explains that assuming love is not the same as simply pretending love. The difference, she explains, lies in what you really believe.

Assuming love means believing that your spouse’s heart is good; flawed, weak and immature maybe, but ultimately good. Pretending love means faking it, even though you don’t really believe it.

Pretending love doesn’t really help. The fruit of it isn’t going to be much better than just being offended or insecure.

Believe Love

Assuming love, even when your spouse does something that hurts you, does not mean you don’t have valid feeling in response. Hurtful behavior hurts. The question is, then, what you choose to do with those feelings.

Assuming love means acknowledging but not yielding to your emotions. That’s not easy, especially if the hurt is deep. Still, if can truly believe that your husband or wife loves you, if you can really know it in the depths of your soul, it can help you not let emotions get the better of you. These emotions often will feed us lies. “If he can do ___, then he doesn’t love me.” “She must not love me or she would have ___ “If he loved me he would never ___”  “If she loved me she would ___” 

Don’t buy the lies. Don’t give them voice. Don’t give over your thought life to them. Instead feed yourself on truth. Realize that unloving behavior does not equate to him or her not loving you. Assume love. Believe love.

If you can get a hold of your emotions and choose to believe love, then you can proceed with fruitful conversation from a very different place.  “I know you love me, so you would want to know that what you did really caused me pain.”  “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, but when you do _____, it’s really hard for me.” Don’t accuse. Don’t blame.Calmly beckon forth the love you know is inside your spouse.

Your goal is not to be right, but to preserve (and restore if necessary) the relationship - to have intimacy. Ask yourself this question, “What can I do to help keep us close through this?”

Assuming love is not living in some phony fantasy land or stuffing down very real pain. No, assuming love is about believing in and calling forth the love you know that lies inside your husband or wife. 

Photo Credit: Julie Raven

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I say it here a lot, because I believe it is really important: how you think about your marriage is almost more important than what you do about it.

Now don’t misconstrue that statement as an excuse for neglecting your marriage. Of course I believe you should invest in your marriage and that you should put effort into making your marriage great.

But if you can learn to picture your marriage through the right lens, with the proper perspective, it can’t help but show up in your actions. I sum it up this way: right thinking leads to right doing.

One of the most important marriage lenses is the lens of love.

The Lens of Love

In my walk with God I continually find that I have a limited understanding of the depth, intensity, and constancy of His love for me. This limitation in my thinking causes me to constantly slip back into trying to earn God’s love and to win his approval. I’m working hard to get something I already have! At other times my limited knowledge of the love of God causes me to be offended in the face of difficulty. When things don’t go how I want them to, I begin to doubt His goodness and doubt His good intentions toward me.

We can tend to do the exact same thing in our marriages. Because of our doubts and insecurities about the love of our husband or wife, we either struggle to earn their love or we get offended by their perceived lack of love. Both of these cause tremendous negative fruit your marriage.

How different would your marriage be if you were totally assured of your spouse’s love? What if you could assume that love was at the center of everything he or she did, despite how it appeared? How would that kind of security change the way you interact with your husband or wife?

When Love Disappoints

Of course neither you nor your spouse will come close to matching the matchless and perfect love that Christ lavishes on us. Sure that is our goal, but we are human after all. What do you do when love falls short, when your spouse’s love isn’t as unconditional or selfless as you wish it were?

At the point where love disappoints, you have three choices:
  1. Become insecure, and work ever harder to earn their love, hoping that it will also earn their better behavior.
  2. Become offended, which typically causes you to pull away or get angry.
  3. Assume love. When you chose to believe that your husband or wife loves you, despite how it appears on the outside, you can move past the offense more easily and maintain your intimate connection.

Assuming love isn’t easy in the face of disappointment, but it is by far the best alternative.

Do you have an example from your marriage where assuming love made a difference?


See my follow-up post: Unloving or Unloved

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


For the first 13 days of October I participated in the CMBA ½ blogging marathon. I spent those 13 days challenging couples to reach for new levels of intimacy in their marriages.

If you missed the 13-Day Intimacy Challenge, I have created a convenient Summary Page with links to all the posts in the series. Be sure to check it out.

Today I shift my focus to an altogether different intimate connection. I’m talking about intimacy with Jesus.

I’m unapologetic about my emphasis on Christian marriage. It’s not that I think non-Christians can’t have good marriages. Of course they can. It's just that most of what I believe about marriage comes from my belief that God is the designer of marriage, that he set it up to operate a certain way, and that he sent Jesus as the Bridegroom to the church, His bride, in order to show us a living example of God’s design.

I call this the bridal paradigm, and for me it holds amazing revelation for marriage the way God intends it to be.

Jesus, Our Bridegroom, Our Example

The Apostle Paul paints a clear picture of this in Ephesians 5:31-32
"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.
Verse 31 quotes from Exodus at the advent of the first marriage between Adam and Eve. Then Paul ties marriage directly our relationship with Jesus. It couldn't be any clearer.

Much of what I believe and understand about marriage is formed from my relationship with Jesus. The closer I get to Him, the better I understand the “great mystery” Paul describes. Love, trust, faithfulness, freedom, passion, desire, and pleasure are all components of both of the two most important relationships in my life.

Intimacy: Naked and Unashamed

Intimacy is about being fully known and completely loved. It’s the same with my wife as it is with God. Let’s look back to the first marriage and see what intimacy looks like.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:24-25

Naked and unashamed – that defines intimacy with God. That is also intimacy with my wife. I bare my soul before the Lord and receive his complete love and acceptance through Jesus. I feel his delight in me and know his unconditional love intimately. It works the same with my wife and I (OK we aren’t quite as good at the unconditional part just yet, but we are working toward it!).

Jesus, Our Source

Not only is Jesus the example of love and intimacy, He is also the source of the love that we need to make our marriages more intimate. God is Love. If we want more love, we need more of Him. It’s really that simple.

What's also amazing to me is the way the reverse is true as well: I gain insight into my walk with God through my marriage.

Awesome mystery, aye?!

Some days I feel like I’ve only gone an inch toward the miles of understanding that is available to us. It’s kind of like seeking to “know the unknowable love of Christ.” There is always more.

What about you? How does your relationship with Jesus impact your marriage and vice-versa? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Keep Thinking, Doing, and Asking

We’ve reached the end of our 13-Day Intimacy Challenge. Congratulations, you made it!

Thank you for participating and for spending the past two weeks working on the intimacy in your marriage!

Whether or not you’ve been able to do the challenges every day or only a few days, it is my sincere hope that the time and effort you invested was beneficial to the intimacy level in your marriage. I want to thank those of you who commented here, on Facebook, via Twitter or by email. (Click these links to "like" or "follow" me.)

Important! Regardless of whether you have found this series helpful to your marriage or not, I’m asking you to do me a huge favor. Please spend one minute to take my quick feedback survey by clicking on the survey link below. It’s just seven quick multiple choice questions.

Journey To Surrender Intimacy Challenge Survey

As a thank you for taking the survey, if you so choose, I’ll gladly send you a nicely condensed pdf version of all 13 Intimacy Challenges plus the Intimacy Inventory from Day 1. Simply provide your email address in the space at the end of the survey and select either the wife’s and/or husband’s version. You’ll also have the option to subscribe to my Intimacy Challenge Monthly email newsletter or to receive a Super-Bonus Day 14 Challenge, available only to those who take the survey.



Day 13 for Wives
Keep on Thinking, Doing and Asking




Keep Thinking

Growing intimacy starts in your head. Thinking about your marriage and husband in the right way matters more than whether or not you did all the challenges exactly as I prescribed. When you get your thoughts straight, the doing part happens more naturally and consistently. If you have the right mindset, you will be able to continue to grow closer to your husband with intimacy actions and ideas of your own.

As you reflect on the series today, see if you can find one or a few areas where you identified wrong thinking through the challenge. I encourage you to write down the simple ideas that most spoke to your heart and remind yourself of them periodically.

Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight or by a single exposure to a new idea. You have to practice right thinking by frequently reminding yourself what your really believe.

Right thinking leads to right doing. 


Keep Doing 

The daily challenges, whether you were able to do all of them or just a few, were intended to give you specific steps you could take to grow intimacy.

As you can imagine, it’s really difficult to give specific ideas that will work for every marriage situation. The best intimacy ideas will come from you, so they will be tailored specifically for your marriage and your husband.

Your challenge today is for you to come up with one specific action you can take in the next 24 hours to grow the intimacy between you and your husband. It could even be something that goes along with the “thinking” part of today’s challenge. Or maybe go back and do a challenge that you weren’t able to do at the time. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Simple things, done consistently, will make a huge difference in your marriage.



Keep Asking

Communication is key to maintaining intimacy in marriage. Never forget that intimacy is all about being fully known and yet fully loved. You can't have intimacy without conversation.

Want to know how this challenge has affected your husband? Ask him,
 
"How has the intimacy level in our marriage changed in the last two weeks?"



Day 13 for Husbands
Keep on Thinking, Doing and Asking




Keep Thinking

Growing intimacy starts in your head. Thinking about your marriage and wife in the right way matters more than whether or not you did all the challenges exactly as I prescribed. When you get your thoughts straight, the doing part happens more naturally and consistently. If you have the right mindset, you will be able to continue to grow closer to your wife with intimacy actions and ideas of your own.

As you reflect on the series today, see if you can find one or a few areas where you identified wrong thinking through the challenge. I encourage you to write down the simple ideas that most spoke to your heart and remind yourself of them periodically.

Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight or by a single exposure to a new idea. You have to practice right thinking by frequently reminding yourself what your really believe.

Right thinking leads to right doing. 


Keep Doing 

The daily challenges, whether you were able to do all of them or just a few, were intended to give you specific steps you could take to grow intimacy.

As you can imagine, it’s really difficult to give specific ideas that will work for every marriage situation. The best intimacy ideas will come from you, so they will be tailored specifically for your marriage and your wife.

Your challenge today is for you to come up with one specific action you can take in the next 24 hours to grow the intimacy between you and your wife. It could even be something that goes along with the “thinking” part of today’s challenge. Or maybe go back and do a challenge that you weren’t able to do at the time. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Simple things, done consistently, will make a huge difference in your marriage.



Keep Asking

Communication is key to maintaining intimacy in marriage.Never forget that intimacy is all about being fully known and yet fully loved. You can't have intimacy without conversation.

Want to know how this challenge has affected your wife? Ask her,
 
"How has the intimacy level in our marriage changed in the last two weeks?"



Friday, October 12, 2012

Have Fun!

I’ve been pretty stressed lately. Actually, that’s an understatement. Between writing for this challenge, international travel and work demands, I’m completely maxed.

My lovely wife, and she is so very lovely, reminded me that I need to have some fun. Actually WE need to have some fun. Truthfully both she and I are under higher-than-normal stress these days, and although we’ve really worked at staying connected through it all, we haven’t been able to just relax and have fun in weeks.That is ridiculous and unacceptable.

Does our situation resonate with you? Many couples I know are under tremendous strain for a variety of reasons. It all boils down to the same thing – stress is a drain on intimacy. I’m not just talking about sex, although that seems to often be the first thing to go when stress hits. I’m talking about genuine intimate connection in the spiritual, romantic, emotional, financial and sexual dimensions of your marriage.



Day 12 For Wives
Have Fun!




When was the last time you and your husband did something together just for fun? When was the last time you laughed together or played a game or enjoyed nature?

Maybe it has been so long that you can’t even remember the last time.

If you are like me, prioritizing fun makes you feel a little guilty. There is so much to do, so many demands on your time and attention. How can you justify taking time to just blow off steam?

Because it's good for your marriage, that's how.

I’ve got to learn to get over that guilty pang that strikes when I think of just taking time to have fun doing simple, fun things with my wife! So do you! Fun is actually an essential component of intimacy. No, you can’t always make it happen, but you at least need to have a plan. For example my wife and I are looking forward to some time away together on a business trip that she’ll join me on.We are clinging to that. Meanwhile, we have a date planned for tomorrow night.

Your challenge today is two-fold.

First, sit down with your husband and make a fun-list. Jot down some ideas that you and your husband could enjoy together just for fun. It doesn’t have to be big or dramatic. It can be something as simple as going out for ice cream (one of my personal favorites!).

The thing is that it needs to something you both consider enjoyable. Sure, there are times when you’ll sacrifice and do something for the sake of your husband, or he might do the same for you. Those activities shouldn't go on this list. Find a dozen or so activities that you both enjoy and write them down somewhere you can refer to them easily and plan them into your crazy schedule.

The second part of today's challenge is to do something fun. No, really, I mean it. Do one of the things on the list or at least make a plan as to when you will. Don’t put it off more than a week, though – that’s too long.




“If you could pick one thing to do today just for fun, what would it be?”










Day 12 For Husbands
Have Fun!




When was the last time you and your wife did something together just for fun? When was the last time you laughed together or played a game or enjoyed nature?

Maybe it has been so long that you can’t even remember the last time.

If you are like me, prioritizing fun makes you feel a little guilty. There is so much to do, so many demands on your time and attention. How can you justify taking time to just blow off steam?

Because it's good for your marriage, that's how.

I’ve got to learn to get over that guilty pang that strikes when I think of just taking time to have fun doing simple, fun things with my wife! So do you! Fun is actually an essential component of intimacy. No, you can’t always make it happen, but you at least need to have a plan. For example, my wife and I are looking forward to some time away together on a business trip that she’ll join me on. We are clinging to that. Meanwhile, we have a date planned for tomorrow night.

Your challenge today is two-fold.

First, sit down with your wife and make a fun-list. Jot down some ideas that you and your wife could enjoy together just for fun. It doesn’t have to be big or dramatic. It can be something as simple as going out for ice cream (one of my personal favorites!).

The thing is that it needs to something you both consider enjoyable. Sure, there are times when you’ll sacrifice and do something for the sake of your wife, or she might do the same for you. Those activities shouldn't go on this list. Find a dozen or so activities that you both enjoy and write them down somewhere you can refer to them easily and plan them into your crazy schedule.

The second part of today's challenge is to do something fun. No, really, I mean it. Do one of the things on the list or at least make a plan as to when you will. Don’t put it off more than a week, though – that’s too long.




“If you could pick one thing to do today just for fun, what would it be?”






Being Confident in Love

Sometimes I forget to take my own advice. At lunch today I texted something suggestive to my wife about my hopes for tonight. Yes, yes, I know. Didn’t I just write yesterday that a man should pursue his wife the ways SHE likes to be pursued? Yes I did.

It wasn’t anything crude, but coming from out of the blue, especially since she was in the middle of dealing with a difficult issue with someone on the phone, it did not have its intended effect. At that point I had several choices. I could kick myself for being brain-dead and not doing things right. I could get offended, back off, and give up on my hopes for tonight. Or I could simply choose to believe that my wife loves me and wants to be with me. I chose the latter.

Because she reads my blog, she lightheartedly reminded of my own advice. Then she followed up with a text affirming our plans for later.

It’s so easy to have our confidence shaken in the area of intimacy, especially sexual intimacy. When we risk exposing ourselves, figuratively getting naked, before our spouse, things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Our instinct is to withdraw and cover, to put on the fig leaves and hide in shame, as Adam and Eve did before God.

No, it’s not easy to keep our confidence in the face of intimacy challenges and miscommunication. But confidence is what is called for if we are to keep pressing into each other, to keep getting naked, to keep pursuing, to keep communicating and to keep growing in intimacy.

When you remain confident in your love and in your determination to find intimacy, it is contagious. Your spouse will catch it that you aren’t backing away, that intimacy is important to you, and respond in kind.



Day 11 for Wives
Act with Confidence




Try to identify the areas where you tend to most often lose your confidence.

One common area for wives is in their appearance. Do you focus on every blemish, wrinkle or extra inch? Focus instead on the fact that your husband adores you admires your body, just as you are? Be confident in his desire for you.

Maybe your issue is sexual self-confidence. Do you fear not getting aroused or disappointing your husband in bed? Focus instead on the fact that you and he are one, that your body also belongs to your husband. Be confident in the fact that you were made for his pleasure.

Are you insecure in your husband’s love and affection? Do you get put off by his lack of attention, his romantic ineptitude or his inability to communicate his feeling toward you? How would your interactions change if you instead had total confidence in his love for you (despite the troubles he sometimes has showing it)? Imagine how different you would be with him if you acted as if his love for you was perfect?

Perhaps you feel inadequate or inept. It could be over the way you parent or keep house, your job, or any number of other things. Feeling like a failure and hating yourself will definitely inhibit your ability to receive love from your husband and to stay close.




Your challenge today is to step out in confidence.

Identify an area where you lack confidence, perhaps one I mentioned above, and decide to do something about it. Decide that despite your temptation to pull away, to hide, to shrink back from your husband, you are going to do just the opposite.

  • Appearance – do something bold tonight. Put on some sultry music and do a striptease for your man. Come to bed naked. Join him in the shower. Your confidence will be stunningly attractive to your husband, I promise.
  • Sex – have it. If you avoid sex like the plague, bolster your courage and just do it. Take on a new persona – imagine yourself a tigress. Seduce your husband. Don’t worry that you don’t feel desire at the beginning or that you won’t get aroused. Completely focus your attention on him and giving him pleasure, and your own arousal will come.
  • Husband’s Affection – spend an entire day trusting and believing in your husband’s love and affection, refusing to respond to anything he does that feel unloving to you, refusing to blame him for not showing you the affection you want. Instead, spend the day lavishing your love on him as if he was the perfect husband.
  • Inadequacy – Decide to set aside your shame and guilt and walk in confidence today, as if you were the perfect wife and mother. Forgive yourself and let go of your worry, at least for a day. Now take the time and energy you would have spent obsessing, and focus on loving your husband. Make bold intimacy moves – go back and read some ideas from earlier Intimacy Challenges.


"Is there anything I do that causes you to doubt my love for you?"






Day 11 for Husbands
Act with Confidence




Try to identify the areas where you tend to most often lose your confidence.

When you are rebuffed for sexual advances toward your wife, it will destroy your sexual confidence and make you want to quit trying.Don’t! Instead focus on the truth that the two of you are one and that you are intended by God for one another’s pleasure. Be confident in your sexual self. 

Are you like many men who feel inadequate or unskilled when it comes to romancing your wife? Maybe she has even told you as much. Don’t stop trying!Instead, step up and confidently take the challenge to learn how to romance your wife.

There are many forces at work against your leadership of your wife and family. Maybe you lack confidence in your ability. Maybe you have bowed to the world’s agenda and aren’t even sure God intends a place of authority for husbands in their homes. Don’t buy it. Man up, take up the mantel and lead your wife with strength and love, with servant leadership, like Jesus.



Your challenge today is to step out in confidence.

Identify an area where you lack confidence, perhaps one I mentioned above, and decide to do something about it. Decide that despite your temptation to pull away, to hide, to shrink back from your wife, you are going to do just the opposite.

  • Sex – If you have lost your sexual confidence and have given up on your sex life, do something about it today. Have an honest talk with your wife about the importance of the sexual component of the intimacy in your marriage. It is the glue that holds marriage together, and you want your marriage to be strong. Refuse to settle for anything less than a great sex life.
  • Romance – Do something today to upgrade your romance skills. There are hundreds of resources on how to romance your wife. You have to simply decide that even though romance doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a skill you can acquire. Make a confident romantic gesture toward you wife today.
  • Leadership – It’s time to man up and lead your wife and family with confidence. Admit to your wife that you haven’t done all you should with God’s mandate to lead with love and strength, and let her know it’s going to be different. Be confident but not cocky. Be direct but not abrasive. Explain to her what you think a husband’s leadership should look like and ask her what she thinks it should look like. Commit to her to lead boldly.



"Is there anything I do that causes you to doubt my love for you?"








Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In case you are new here, I am in the midst of a 13-Day Intimacy Challenge. If you want to catch up, you can go back and start from Day 1 for husbands and wives.

The Power of Pursuit

Regardless of how long you’ve been married, you should still be pursuing your spouse. We all want to feel like we are wanted, regardless of how long we’ve been married. In fact the necessity to actively pursue your wife or husband actually grows over time. Unfortunately, many of us lose track of that fact the longer we are married, the more we want to be wanted.

  • Pursuit says “I desire you.”
  • Pursuit says “I need you.”
  • Pursuit says “I would choose you again”
  • Pursuit says “I want you enough to come after you.”
  • Pursuit says “Let’s find pleasure in one another.”



Day 10 for Wives
Pursue Your Husband



You probably aren’t wired to be biologically driven with desire the way your husband is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your man anyway. If you wait to “feel” desire before you show him that you desire him, it may never happen.

Reflect today on whether or not you still pursue your husband.
 


You may be misled into thinking that pursuit is only your husband’s responsibility. Don’t believe it. He wants and needs to know you desire him.

Have you stopped doing some of the things you used to do to show your husband that you find him desirable? Do you wait around for him to make the first move? Do you purposefully dampen your affection when you aren’t getting from him the kind of engagement you want from him emotionally?

When was the last time you did something to purposefully stir your passion for him


Your challenge today is to do something to purposefully pursue your husband.

Remember that the Intimacy Challenge is all about showing love to your husband in ways that are most meaningful to him. In order to do that, you have to try not to think like woman. Pursuing your husband in the ways you like to be pursued will probably miss the mark.

Here are some ideas on how to pursue your man:

  • Dress for him – Your husband is visual. When you choose an outfit or lingerie he likes or fix your hair and makeup the way he likes, it sends him the message that his wishes matter to you.
  • Be suggestive – Words you might consider rude or offensive coming from your husband, he will most likely consider sexy. Sorry, it’s true. It turns him on to know you are thinking about him “in that way” outside the bedroom.
  • Kiss him – Physical affection tells your husband he is desirable. Kiss him like you mean it. Long, deep, passionate, even aggressive kisses will turn him into butter and let him know you want him.
  • Remind him – Affirm him sexually by recalling a specific recent sexual encounter, telling him how much you enjoyed him, and thanking him for how he made you feel (but don’t lie).
  • Proposition him – Coy hints can be nice and sweet, but nothing communicates your pursuit of your husband more than telling him straight out that you want to have sex with him – and right now.
These kinds of things won’t necessarily come naturally to you. You aren’t wired to think like him. But try them, and see if I’m right about it. I bet I am.




"Do I make you feel desired?"










Day 10 for Husbands
Pursue Your Wife



If you are like most men, desire is not much of a problem for you. What probably is a problem is communicating your desire for your wife in a way that she appreciates.

The kind of words and actions that you long to hear from your wife to tell you how much she desires you sound offensive and off-putting when she hears them from you. Mindless groping while saying, “Come on, baby, do me” might get you worked up, but it will probably just get your hand slapped.


What feels like pursuit to you, can feel like objectification to her.

Your challenge today is to do something to purposefully pursue your wife.

Remember that the Intimacy Challenge is all about showing love to your wife in ways that are most meaningful to her.


How do you show pursuit to a woman? Here are some ideas:
  • Make her feel beautiful – Go back and read Day 4, She Needs to Feel Beautiful. Do those things, especially if you missed them the first time.
  • Help her out – You are both tired; you both work hard. Why should you help her with “her” stuff? Because it makes her feel taken care of, and that makes her feel like you are pursuing her.
  • Non-sexual touch – This is really important! I’m not talking about grabbing and squeezing. I’m talking about soft caresses in non-sexual places, fingers in her hair, touches on her face and arms, holding hands, and gentle kisses. These build the bond between you by releasing a hormone called oxytocin.
  • Words –It’s likely that your wife is as wooed by words as you are by visual stimulation. Learn to talk and listen in ways that make her feel cherished and valued. Call her. Text her. Write her a little love note. Stay in communication. Frequency is more important than length.
  • Date her – Do you remember the things you did to win her in the first place? Do them again.
I know what you are thinking. “These are so boring and non-sexual.” Stop thinking like a man, and do them. Then tell me whether or not things turn sexual later. But don’t do these things with an eye toward sex. She’ll see right through it. Do them because you love her and want to let her know she is still worth pursuing.



"Do I make you feel desired?"







Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sex on the brain

Whether you know it or not, there is a tug of war going on in your brain. This tug of war is basically between two polar desires: security and excitement. The war affects more than sex, but it seems to play out most emphatically and uncomfortably in that arena.

It’s fascinating to me how our brain chemistry causes us to both crave and fear excitement. Research has shown that in a relationship our brain chemistry shifts over time, from the early, enthralled, head-over-heels stage (dominated by the presence of dopamine and nonrepinephrine) toward a more mellow, bonded and contented satisfied stage (increased oxytocin).

The excitement of new sexual experiences causes us to feel similar sensations to when we were in that head-over-heels, giddy-in-love stage of our relationships, aka the honeymoon phase.  At the same time, over the same new experiences, we can also encounter fear and feel compelled to seek “safer ground.” Our desire for the security and safety of the familiar fights against our desire for the thrill of the new and different.

Depending on your personalities, one or the other of these may have a stronger influence on you than on your spouse.  Typically men have a stronger need for adventure than women, and women typically have a stronger need to feel safe and secure. Of course this is certainly not always the case. In any event, a difference in desire for the “new and different” vs. “safe and secure” can create tension that needs to be recognized and addressed.

Marital intimacy, the idea of being completely known and completely loved, drives wonderful feelings of contentment and closeness, but at the same time it can also tend to push out the sense of mystery and excitement.  The fear of damaging intimacy and risking rejection by exposing our sexual desires can tend to drive us to shut ourselves off from the sex we really want. 

Can you have intensity and excitement without variety? Yes. Does variety guarantee intensity and excitement? No. I don’t believe in variety for variety’s sake, but I do believe there is a definite brain-chemistry benefit to at least occasionally stirring things up a little. If either spouse is feeling a little stuck in your routine, something should be done to address it before it leads to sexual boredom. (By the way, this applies outside the bedroom as well!) There is something to be said for keeping things fresh.



Day 9 for Wives
Shake Things Up




Think about where you personally land on the security vs. excitement spectrum when it comes to your sex life. How does this compare it to where you think your husband is?  If there a gap between you in this arena, have you talked about how to resolve it?

Think back over the last 30 days of lovemaking and consider the following
  • Did either you or your husband bring anything new or different to the bedroom (or wherever)? Who brought it up, and how did the other respond?
  • Are you satisfied with the current level of intensity and passion in your sexual encounters or are you in a rut with your routine?
  • Do you wish you had sex more frequently or in different places or in different positions? Have you told your husband of your wishes?
  • If you were interested in finding ideas to grow your sexual repertoire, do you have a “clean,” non-pornographic resource you could use for inspiration?



Your challenge today is to do something different from your normal sexual routine.

There are many ways to break from the normal routine. I understand that change involves risk and vulnerability, especially if when you were rebuffed when you brought new ideas in the past. However, deepening intimacy often involves risk.

Even if you are not the adventuresome type, there are plenty of options for you to choose that won't necessarily stretch you too far. Here are a few ideas:
  • Timing – if you normally make love at night, try it in the morning, or have a little afternoon delight if you can arrange for the kids to be occupied elsewhere.
  • Attire – wear something more revealing than what you normally wear to bed or wear nothing at all. Your husband is a visual creature and will appreciate such a gesture regardless of how comfortable you are with your body.
  • Location – try a different piece of furniture in your bedroom besides your bed (a chair provides some interesting options). Use the guest room. The shower or tub can be fun (at least to start out, because water doesn’t make the best lubricant).
  • Positions – the human form allows for an amazing number of possibilities when it comes the coupling of two bodies. It can be fun to experiment to find new pleasurable positions. Here are two options for some more sex position ideas from two other Christian marriage bloggers:
1.    J, from Hot, Holy and Humorous, recently did a post about sex positions using stick figure images.
2.    Paul Byerly, The Generous Husband, recently did a post on sexual positions using only descriptions.



Dare to ask: 


"If you could ask for one thing to add to our sexual repertoire, what would it be?"







Day 9 for Husbands
  Stir things up


 
Think about where you personally land on the security vs. excitement spectrum when it comes to your sex life. How does this compare it to where you think your wife is?  If there a gap between you in this arena, have you talked about how to resolve it?

Think back over the last 30 days of lovemaking and consider the following
  • Did either you or your wife bring anything new or different to the bedroom (or wherever)? Who brought it up, and how did the other respond?
  • Are you satisfied with the current level of intensity and passion in your sexual encounters or are you in a rut with your routine?
  • Do you wish you had sex more frequently or in different places or in different positions? How have you let your wife know of your wishes?
  • If you were interested in finding ideas to grow your sexual repertoire, do you have a “clean,” non-pornographic resource you could use for inspiration?


Your challenge today is to do something different from your normal sexual routine.


If I were to ask you what constitutes “good sex” chances are you would start listing specific kinds of activities. If I asked your wife the same question, she would talk about the atmosphere surrounding it, the emotions it stirred and how she felt she was treated during. It would have much less to do with what you actually did than how she felt about it. Women are just typically wired that way.

So in challenging you to do something different, I am asking you to try not to think like a man, but instead try to think about what changes might be meaningful to your wife. Make the new ideas all about her.

Here are a few of my ideas:
  • Ambiance – If you haven’t typically done so, try creating an atmosphere that is relaxing using soft music, scented candles, and tons of pillows. Sometimes placing this setting in a different room brings a fresh sense of romance.
  • Timing – If you normally drop into bed exhausted and typically settle for a quickie, make an appointment with her for an early bedtime. Use the extra time for foreplay.
  • Preparation – It takes women much longer to shift gears from mommy/ homemaker mode to lover.  Offer to put the kids to bed or do the dishes for her while she takes a long hot bath.
  • Attention – Let her know she is to be the center of attention tonight. Touch her and kiss her in new ways, take your time, let her have the first orgasm.
  • Other – As I said above, your wife is probably more affected by the emotional connection during sex than she is by the actual activities. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the opportunity to try out new locations for sex, try out different positions, or buy her something pretty to wear to bed. In all these attempts at variety, however, focus more on how it makes her feel than on what you do.
When bringing ideas into the bedroom, be aware of the likelihood that she will be reticent to try something new unless you go out of your way to make her comfortable with the idea.  Don’t push her. Also, don’t judge her and withdraw emotionally if she doesn’t go along right away. Always keep the conversation going.




Dare to ask:

"If you could ask for one thing to add to our sexual repertoire, what would it be?"






Monday, October 8, 2012

We are on Day 8 of my 13-Day Intimacy Challenge, and we are returning to the important topic of sex. Hopefully by now you have seen that intimacy goes way beyond the physical and involves your entire being. The truth is, however, that physical intimacy is an area of struggle for many couples. So we are going to spend the next few days exclusively looking at how to grow sexual intimacy.

Today we address sexual communication, an issue than many, if not most couples struggle with. Why is it that even couples who can seemingly talk about anything, struggle to talk about their sex lives with each other?

The answer is simple: vulnerability.

There are few topics that make us feel more vulnerable than the topic of sex. In the bedroom our insecurities, self-doubt and fears are uncovered more easily than any other place. As a result, we clam up. We suffer in silence. We play guessing games. We hide in our shame and fear, even to the point of refusing to initiate sex.

But this is NOT how it is supposed to be. Intimacy is about being fully known and yet fully loved, so it is not possible to experience deep physical intimacy if we can’t talk about our sex lives with each other. Sexual intimacy requires that we disclose our sexual selves.

You have probably heard Genesis 2:24 at every wedding you’ve been to, but how often have you heard verse 25?
(24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  (25) The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Naked without shame is how it is meant to be, and it goes way beyond simply having sex with the lights on.




Day 8 for Wives
Can We Talk?




Today I want you to give some honest thought to how well you and your husband communicate about sexual matters. Are you willing to be vulnerable and “naked” with him about your sexual desires, your lack of sexual desire, your passions and frustrations?

Consider where the boundaries are regarding your communication about sex. What topics do you feel are off-limits? Are there past painful issues that have been left to fester and remain unresolved, even after years?

Think back over the last 30 days and consider the following questions:
  • Did you talk at all about your sex lives? If so, what emotions were stirred up in you: excitement, fear, joy, pain, guilt, tension, intimidation, defensiveness? Why?
  • Did you at some point want to ask for something but were afraid of your husband’s reaction?
  • Did your husband ask for something that you weren’t comfortable with? Did you handle it in a way that would encourage him to ask for something else he was interested in?
  • Did you refuse or were you refused sex? How did it make you feel? Did you communicate that to your husband?
A recent study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and conducted by Cleveland State University concluded that sexual satisfaction is directly linked to how freely you talk about sex, especially whether or not you are able to talk during the sex act itself, which brings me to your challenge for today.



I’m not going to challenge you to an intense heart to heart discussion today with your husband about sex, so you can breathe a sigh of relief. I know if sexual communication has been difficult in the past, it will be almost impossible to dive headlong into such a conversation out of the blue.

Your challenge for today is to communicate with your husband during sex.

Your husband longs to please and satisfy you sexually. He wants to be your hero in the bedroom, perhaps more than any other realm of your marriage. The unfortunate truth is that he might be completely clueless about how to do that. Furthermore, he might be ashamed to admit it.

Today’s challenge will be easier for some than for others. For some, simply telling your husband that you want to make love will be difficult enough and a real stretch, especially if you rarely initiate sex. If this describes you, that’s your challenge.

For the rest of you, ask for something specific while you are making love. But here’s the deal, ladies, you’ll need to be specific. Men are often thick headed (I can say that, I am one) when it comes to what our wives want. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it just means we don’t get it.

So, for men, vague instructions rarely get the job done. Instead of asking him to “slow down,” say, “Before we do that let’s kiss for a few minutes.” Instead of saying, “That’s uncomfortable for me,” say “lets shift a little this way and see if that feels better,” and show him. Don’t just say what you don’t want, say what you do want.

Think about what you might like more of during tonight’s encounter. More touching? More foreplay? More kissing? More orgasms?Ask for it!

If asking for something is too hard for you, as an alternative, simply be more vocally expressive. Let him know if something he is doing makes you feel good. Don’t assume he’ll know. He probably won’t. Use both words and sounds to inform him of your pleasure. It will light his fire, I promise.



If you are feeling bold and really are willing to consider his desires, ask him,
“Is there one thing that we do in the bedroom that you wish we would do more often?”









Day 8 for Husbands
  Can We Talk?


 
Today I want you to give some honest thought to how well you and your wife communicate about sexual matters. Are you willing to be vulnerable and “naked” with her about your sexual desires, your lack of sexual desire, your passions and frustrations?

Consider where the boundaries are regarding your communication about sex. What topics do you feel are off-limits? Are there past painful issues that have been left to fester and remain unresolved, even after years?

Think back over the last 30 days and consider the following questions:
  • Did you talk at all about your sex lives? If so, what emotions were stirred up in you: excitement, fear, joy, pain, guilt, tension, intimidation, defensiveness? Why?
  • Did you at some point want to ask for something but were afraid of your wife’s reaction?
  • Did your wife ask for something that you weren’t comfortable with or that you felt you couldn’t do well? Did you handle it in a way that would encourage her to ask for something else she was interested in?
  • Did you refuse or were you refused sex? How did it make you feel? Did you communicate that to your wife?
A recent study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and conducted by Cleveland State University concluded that sexual satisfaction is directly linked to how freely you talk about sex, especially whether or not you are able to talk during the sex act itself, which brings me to your challenge for today.


You can breathe a sigh of relief. Today I’m not going to challenge you to an intense heart to heart discussion with your wife about sex. I know if sexual communication has been difficult in the past, it will be almost impossible to dive headlong into such a conversation out of the blue without it possibly raising some deep emotions or conflict..

Your challenge for today is to communicate with your wife during sex.

There is a good chance that your wife probably doesn’t really understand you sexually. She is wired completely differently when it comes to sex, and the idea of being driven by a deep physical need is probably foreign to her. It might even offend her. If she happens to be the higher drive spouse, she doesn’t understand why you don’t want sex with her “the way other men want their wives.”

You can’t close the chasm in understanding between you in a day. But you can begin grown in your understanding by starting to communicate in small ways about sex. Start tonight during your lovemaking.

If sex has been a struggle or non-existent, simply telling your wife you want to make love will be a stretch in communication.   If so, let her know that it might seem out of the blue, but that you’ve been thinking about how to strengthen your marriage and your intimate connection, and that you need that closeness. Your relationship needs it.

If you can bring yourself to do so, try asking for something specific while you are making love. You can ask for things you know she has enjoyed in the past. This isn’t time to stretch her boundaries with something new and edgy. Simply think of something you’ve enjoyed together before, and ask her if she would be willing to do that again. A position. A room of the house. Her touching you in specific ways.

You can also improve communication by learning to express pleasure during sex. If you tend to be mostly silent during lovemaking, tonight be more expressive. Give her verbal clues when she does something that feels good. Even a moan can say a lot.

The purpose of today’s challenge is to start you and your wife on the path to better sexual communication.



If you are feeling bold and really are willing to consider her desires, ask her,
“Is there one thing that we do in the bedroom that you wish we would do more often?”



Connect With Us



Subscribe by email and never miss a post!




New subscribers will receive a free copy of my ebook :




How to Have a Succ-Sex-Full Marriage


My new Heaven Made Marriage Facebook page has lots of extra marriage-related stuff not found on my blog.



Follow Journey to Surrender on Twitter: @marriagejourney.



Subscribe via
Reader:




Member of:
Christian Marriage Bloggers Association Members Badge


Contributing Writer: