July 11th, 2011 by JulieSibert

I'm so glad Jim and Carrie Gordon of The Intimate Couple are adding their insights to my "altar" series.   Their below post is a perfect follow up to my post the other day about unintentionally killing your sexual intimacy.

Have you become indifferent to sex in your marriage?

If that seems like no big deal to you, listen closely to the Gordons' wisdom on ways you can go from being indifferent to intentional when it comes to nurturing sexual intimacy.  (For the other fabulous posts in the ALTAR series, see the links at the bottom of this post).

Everyone wants a dream marriage -- a relationship where both husband and wife enjoy the deepening love, intimacy, and sex God designed for them to have.

Like most things, though, a dream marriage doesn't come automatically: It requires being observant, careful tending, and regular investment from both husband and wife.

Tragically, there are husbands and wives who simply don't value their sexual relationship. There is a disregard and lack of interest in understanding the importance of healthy sex in marriage.

They are unaware of the final price tag of this indifference towards sexual intimacy.

What may start as naiveté, turns at a frightening rate to ignorance and then indifference.

It's tragic really: potentially the most glorious relationship known to humankind is sacrificed and spoiled on the altar of indifference! Apathy. Disregard. Unconcern. Disinterest. Undervaluing.

Apathy and indifference towards sex can actually kill a marriage.

Either of these sound eerily familiar:

Their day had been a pleasant one.  Perhaps tonight she'd be okay with having sex. Andy reached his arm around Gail's waist and felt her stiffen against his touch. "Not tonight, Andy. We can cuddle if you want."  Andy withdrew his arm and rolled over.  It had been 3 weeks since they had enjoyed sex together. They were averaging sex less than once a month!  He remembered Gail's comments the other day, "Andy, I don't need sex like you do." Gail thought their marriage was "just fine" and there was nothing that needed changing, but he was becoming more discouraged and frustrated as month after month went by.


Carol had a special evening planned.  She thought surely Steve wouldn't be able to resist her advances tonight! Her preparations included special music, candles, and a new negligee ready to model for him!  But Carol had misgivings.  It had been 5 weeks since they last had sex together.  Steve never asked for sex and he always had excuses whenever she mentioned it.  "You’ve been really busy, Carol, so just get yourself some rest." Or "I've got a lot on my mind.  Not tonight, okay?" Always excuses.  Carol wondered if Steve was dabbling in pornography again. If only he knew how much she desired intimacy with him!

These are two typical scenarios that spouses often share with us through our website for married couples.  A husband or wife is crying for deeper sexual intimacy while their spouse seems to only show lack of interest and disregard—indifference.

Warning Signs of Pending Indifference Towards Sexual Intimacy:

a spouse is naïve about the differences between a husband and wife's needs and desire for sex

a wife, with less sexual drive than her spouse, isn't willing to talk about this difference with her husband

a self-centered spouse is blind to the desires of their partner and puts their own needs and wants first

there is a fear of asking one another,  "Are you satisfied with our sexual relationship?"

an insecure husband is unwilling to work hard at being open and vulnerable with his wife

a lazy spouse has an "I know it all" attitude and sees no need for change or improvement in the sexual relationship

But apathy doesn't have to stay!  An indifferent partner can learn to care, understand, and value sexual intimacy in marriage.

Steps to Remove Indifference Towards Sexual Intimacy:

1. Educate yourself about the differences between a husband and wife's needs and desire for sex.

2. Talk about these differences with your spouse.

3. Learn to communicate how you really feel: be open and vulnerable.

4. Be intentional about understanding how your spouse feels about sex.

5. Become a student on marriage topics (through books, podcasts, seminars) and then apply what you learn.

6. Ask one another, "Are you satisfied with our sexual relationship?"

7. "Kill" selfishness; put your spouse's sexual needs and wants ahead of yours.

8. Be willing to try new things to have better sex!

For married couples that want to guard against the effects of apathy, we highly recommend our stay-at-home, week-long course designed for re-igniting sexual intimacy: The 7 Day Sex Challenge, our best selling eBook!

Read below as Jim describes how we avoided sacrificing our sexual intimacy through indifference.  Instead, we now enjoy an awesome sexual relationship … truly we have our dream marriage!

Carrie and I would both have said our marriage was great! But inwardly I was frustrated. I tried my best to "make do" with the sexual intimacy we enjoyed -- which was less frequent than I hoped.

I did my best to ignore my frustrations simply because it was obvious Carrie didn’t need sex in the same way I did. Why wasn't Carrie's desire for sexual intimacy like mine? She was oblivious to my inner struggles and disappointments.

Carrie was, in many ways, naïve about sex -- although certainly not against it, she was just totally unaware of the typical male sex drive.

I was unaware that differing sex drives were classic.  I needed to learn that it was crucial for me to open up, become vulnerable and communicate clearly with Carrie what was going on with me.

Thank God, I was able to be honest and open with Carrie about my frustrations.  She responded, not with indifference, but with a desire to see our marriage become all God designed it to be!

Has indifference threatened your sexual intimacy? Take steps today to remove the indifference, and re-ignite your sex life!

Jim and Carrie Gordon's site explores the vital areas of intimacy in a marriage: sexual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Don't miss the other posts in this on-going series!  Sign up with the RSS-thingy so you can catch what other great marriage bloggers will be saying about the Altars We Sacrifice Sexual Intimacy On.

PART 1: The Altar of Time by Dustin Riechmann

PART 2: The Altar of Ideal Conditions by Lori Lowe

PART 3: The Altar of Inhibition by Kate Aldrich

PART 4: The Altar of Tiredness by Paul Byerly

PART 5: The Altar of No Pleasure by Sheila Gregoire

PART 6: The Altar of Seriousness by Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous

Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles Tagged with: , , , , , ,

July 3rd, 2011 by JulieSibert

Sex can be a lot of fun!

That's why I'm thrilled Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous has decided to chime in on my "altar" series.

Truth be told, a lot of couples are just so serious when it comes to sex.  Instead of enjoying the playful and recreational aspects of sex, they go through the motions and zap any hint of fun right out of it.

So, praise God today for my pal J who blogs about sex at Hot Holy Humorous.  Just as we have looked at the altars of Lack of Time, Waiting for Ideal Conditions, Inhibition, Too Tired and No Pleasure, we now take a peek at the Altar of Seriousness.

Picture the most romantic, passionate love scene – one where the man and woman melt into each other, can barely contain their desire, and every kiss, touch, and pleasure is more intense than the last.

Don't you wish every intimate encounter with your spouse mimicked that scene?

Scrolling through that mental video, however, I would bet that not once did either partner laugh. Which is a shame.  Because sex is humorous.

Don't believe me?  Imagine the Queen of England having sex.  (Prince Charles got here somehow!)

In one sense, God's amazing gift of sexuality to married couples is serious business.  He has purposed this activity to produce children, express love, give pleasure, and increase intimacy.

Yet, if you think about it, the logistics of how we accomplish that are  . . . well, funny.

To have sex, you get into positions you would never otherwise strike – except perhaps in an expert-level yoga class or to "put your left hand on red" while "keeping your right foot on green."

Also, you are naked as the day you were born, and stripping down in any situation usually causes a bit of a blush on our cheeks (maybe both sets).  Also never contemplated in passionate lovemaking:  The words "Ow!" or "You're on my hair!"

(If you manage to stay married for 10 years without ever injuring your spouse (sorry for accidentally racking you, Honey), you could write a sex manual for the rest of us).

Listen, sex can be comical.

Moreover, God designed us to enjoy humor.  Most animals do not laugh; humans do.  In fact, laughter maintains health by reducing stress hormones and releasing endorphins; "a cheerful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).

You can find examples of humor in the Bible:  Remember that one Jesus told about the camel and the eye of the needle (Mark 10:25); at least one of His disciples laughed at that image.  Plus, the speck and the plank in the eye (Matthew 7:3)? Hello! That’s witty.

Given that sex is a funny experience and God enjoys humor, why not introduce laughter into the bedroom?

Sadly, we sometimes sacrifice our sexual intimacy on the Altar of Seriousness. We allow certain barriers to hinder our ability to relax, enjoy, and be playful.  See if you recognize any of the following:

1. Self-consciousness.

Concerns about physical appearance and performance can make us self-conscious to the point of near paralysis. It's natural to wonder if we are attractive to our mate when we're buck-naked.  Chances are, though, your spouse doesn't mind if you have a little back fat or if a normally smooth area is stubbly.

Clean yourself up, groom a bit, and smell decent. Then strut into that bedroom with an "I'm too sexy for my shirt" attitude, and your spouse will likely yank that shirt right off.

We can also over-think performance.  How are we doing?  Will I climax this time?  What will she think if I propose a new position?  What will he think if I make noise? However, your sex life is not made up of one instance of do-or-die lovemaking.

Intimacy is achieved through a pattern of give-and-take, live-and-learn, ouch-and-adjust, and so on.

2. Sense of duty.

Whether it's a sense of duty to procreate or to fulfill God's desire that you not deprive your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:4-5), we can approach the bedroom like a mere obligation.  Yes, we are expected to have sex with our spouse, just like we are expected to eat food.  But you don't munch on bland toast all day long, do you?

So spread some love jelly on your intimacy bread and make a tasty meal.  (I meant it figuratively, but I can see where some of you are going with that.)

3. Secrecy.

Hopefully, since you're reading this blog, you're not someone who must whisper the word "sex." But we can make physical intimacy such a confidential subject that our spouses practically need a code and a secret handshake to get into the club.

Sex is private, but within the context of the married couple, your bedroom should be like Las Vegas:  What happens there, stays there!  So loosen up and enjoy your personal vacation to Happy-Land.

4. Sanctity.

Yes, God has blessed this union of marriage by saying that we will become one flesh.  Yet, we can have both sanctity and playfulness.  Consider the formal sanctity of a wedding, perfectly punctuated by the groom dipping his bride and delivering a prolonged, giggle-inducing smooch.  If a wedding can be sacred and mirthful, why not your sex life after the I do’s are done?

5. Stress.

Sometimes we are so stressed that we can't relax and have fun.  It happens in life, and it happens in the bedroom.  So what relieves stress? Um, exercise, laughter and sex.  Really. Look it up.

So how do you introduce playfulness into the bedroom?

Think about what makes you smile or laugh outside the bedroom.  When are you playful with each other?  If you've never done anything to bring humor into your sex life or want more options, here are a few ideas:

Use word play or tell jokes.

"Is that our baby's 3:00 a.m. feeding bottle in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

Use humor to comment about your sex life. (Make sure, of course, that you are building each other up).

For instance, my husband recently said that something was "Amazing! Stupendous! Awesome!" and I responded with a goofy smile, "That’s what I said when I saw your [manhood]."

He replied dryly, "Really? I'm surprised you could even speak." Guffawing ensued.  (And for the record, Honey, you are indeed – ahem – stupendous!)

Wear something that brings on a smile.

I'm not talking about a lace negligee (though most husbands would grin at that).  But the not-so-serious approach is wearing your old cheerleading uniform, gift-wrapping your body, or spraying whipped cream on your most delicious places.  Hey, who doesn't like to dress up?

Play a couple's sex game.

A board game with a few fun suggestions can bring out the comedian, as well as the sex kitten, in you.  My husband and I once played a game called Bliss that got us laughing hysterically and making love passionately.  Check Christian sex products retailers for options; there are several online.

Introduce physical humor.

I am not suggesting pratfalls in the bedroom or hanging from your ceiling fan for your spouse's entertainment.  But crawling provocatively toward your honey or performing a belly dance for him might free up your funny bone.  Wiggle, jiggle, and giggle.  (As you age, you’ll have more to wiggle and jiggle!)

Try something new.

A new position or role play might liven up your sense of playfulness.  Or having sex in a new place or in your car could get you laughing, especially if you drive a stick shift.  Just do something out of the ordinary and let loose!

Whatever you do, just don't sacrifice your physical intimacy on the Altar of Seriousness.

You will both have a great deal more joy when you learn to relax, smile, laugh, and enjoy the gift that God has given. As a loving Father, God wants you to take pleasure in His gift. When you introduce playfulness and humor into your marital sex life, God smiles as well.

To read more about humor, sex and sacredness all wrapped into one, check out the blog Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous writes. You can also find her on Twitter.

Don't miss the other posts in this on-going series!  Sign up with the RSS-thingy so you can catch what other great marriage bloggers will be saying about the Altars We Sacrifice Sexual Intimacy On.

PART 1: The Altar of Time by Dustin Riechmann

PART 2: The Altar of Ideal Conditions by Lori Lowe

PART 3: The Altar of Inhibition by Kate Aldrich

PART 4: The Altar of Tiredness by Paul Byerly

PART 5: The Altar of No Pleasure by Sheila Gregoire

Posted in passion, sex Tagged with: , , , , , ,

June 18th, 2011 by JulieSibert

This is Part 4 of our series “What Altars Are You Sacrificing Your Sexual Intimacy On?”

If you feel too tired for sex, listen in to what Paul Byerly has to say in today's post. Paul and his wife Lori are such strong advocates for nurtured sexual intimacy in marriage.  I'm fortunate to have them part of this series.

You’re dead tired, and he wants sex. Why would a man ask for sex when his wife is so tired she’s likely to fall asleep before he's done? Is that reasonable?

Clearly, it is neither loving nor reasonable to expect sex in this situation; however, being too tired for sex most days is also not reasonable.

In my experience most men are understanding of being too tired – if it's not the norm. When he hears "too tired" frequently, it is, at best, a problem, and at worst an indication that he doesn't matter much to his wife.

Think about it from his point of view – you're usually too tired for lovemaking, but still managing to do all kinds of things for others day after day. You can see how a fellow might take that as "You are not very important to me." If that is not the message you want to send, you need to do something.

To a great degree, tiredness is a season of life issue. As your kids get older, you will be less busy and less sleep deprived. When the kids can do more for themselves, you won't be as exhausted at the end of each day, and you won't be worried about crying or a knock on the door just as you are starting to enjoy sex.

But that is then, and this is now.

How do you deal with the issue until then?

How can you have enough energy to enjoy sex the way you want?

How do you keep your sex life alive so it's there when you have the time to desire and enjoy it?

How can you keep hubby from being grumpy and unhappy?

Start by explaining to him what I just said about time of life, and assure him that it is going to get better over time. Let him know you are aware of the situation, and you want to find ways to make it better now. Hearing this from you will help – especially if you follow up with action.

One problem is that most sex happens at bedtime – when we are the most tired. If you do the typical mommy obstacle course/endurance race each evening, it's difficult to be interested in sex – even if you're not too sleepy to care.

One solution is to help your husband understand that the evening grind is not compatible with you wanting sex.  Then ask him to help change things. What can he do to help you, at least some nights? If he put the kids to bed, while you soaked in the tub – in blissful quiet – might you be more open to, if not downright desirous of, a bit of love play?

Another idea - arrange a few days a month for morning sex. Maybe every other Saturday he gets up to make sure the kids have breakfast, then he comes back to enjoy a morning romp with you.

Explain to him that if you get up and see the kids, your mommy mind kicks in, and that is not what he wants. You get to relax in bed while he does the necessary parenting, and then you both get to enjoy sex – what a deal.

There are other ways to morning sex happen. One couple told us they have a Sunday morning sex date – he drops the kids at Sunday School, runs home to join her in bed, then they dress and go to church smiling. (Obviously this works if your kids are a little older and your church does not require a parent be on premises when their kids are in Sunday School).

Be on the lookout for the chance to have sex in the afternoon or early evening. Any time the kids are away, grab the opportunity.

Alternating car-pooling for after school events with another family can give you occasional home-alone-together time.   If all your kids are in school, you could have him come home "for lunch" occasionally (or both of you, if you work outside the home); or get wild and meet him at a hotel once a month on his lunch hour. (Grab something to eat during afterglow.)

Another way to meet his need, show you care, and still not ignore your need for sleep, is to learn how to pleasure him by hand; not instead of "real sex," but in addition to. It may take a bit to learn (ask him, he should be glad to help you get the hang of it), but once you do, this is a fast easy way to take the edge off.

Grab him in the morning or join him in the shower, and give him a bit of pleasure and release. You can also use this at bedtime when you're tired but you know he is feeling the need. By the way, if you offer this before he asks for anything, you get bonus points for initiating.

Aside from being fun and leaving him less frustrated, these kinds of things show him you care and let him know you are committed to meeting his wants, needs, and desires. Making an effort really helps in another way -- it's easier for a guy to cope with sexual frustration when he is sure his bride understands and is working to take good care of him.

Finally – studies have repeatedly found that being short sleep is very harmful. Most of us suffer if we get only seven hours most nights. If you are regularly too tired for sex, you are too tired.

Being too tired for sex is a warning sign that you need to make changes to get the sleep you need. (For husbands reading this, be sure to check out my post Her Sleep Is Important To Your Marriage.)

Paul "The Generous Husband" and his bride of 25 years Lori "The Generous Wife" have been writing and teaching about marriage and sex since 1997. You can follow them on twitter as @themarriagebed.

Don’t miss the other posts in this on-going series!  Sign up with the RSS-thingy so you can catch what other great marriage bloggers will be saying about the Altars We Sacrifice Sexual Intimacy On.

PART 1: The Altar of Time by Dustin Riechmann

PART 2: The Altar of Ideal Conditions by Lori Lowe

PART 3: The Alter of Inhibition by Kate Aldrich

Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles Tagged with: , , , ,