Sex Advice For Engaged Couples

When Jim and I married we weren’t exactly clueless about sex. We had already crossed many lines. Even though we understood the physical aspects of sex, we knew little about God’s design. We had no idea how to talk about sex, or how lies would impact our marriage bed. I wish someone had sat us down and not only shared the truth, but modeled comfortable conversations. What if we didn’t wait until couples had years of bad habits and hurts? What advice would you give to engaged couples?

Twice a year Jim and I teach the engaged class at church and we often wrestle with what to teach about sex. How much do I tell them and what should they discover on their own? Where is the line between setting reasonable expectations and creating self-fulfilling prophecies? How personal do I get and how much do I get into their business?

I have found most engaged couples are thrilled to even have the topic of sex addressed. Few pastors talk about sex during pre-marital counseling. Most of them just gloss over it or recommend a book to read. This summer, Jim and I are excited to record a pre-marital video class  couples that pastors can use or that couples can view on their own. I am excited to offer engaged couples a tool to get off on the right foot.

As we prepare for recording, I want to share what we teach in class and ask, “What else do you wish you knew about sex before you got married?”

Open Up Conversation and Create Self Awareness

After introductions, I dive right in by opening conversation with a few questions….

  • What did you hear about sex from your family?
  • What messages about sex do you remember from the church?
  • How does media portray sex in marriage?
  • How about sex outside of marriage?
  • What does the world tell you about men and sex?
  • What does the world tell you about women and sex?

Couples need to get comfortable talking about sex, and learn to create a safe place for their spouse to share. But even more than that, they need to start realizing that we don’t start with a clean slate when we marry. We come with all kinds of expectations for sex. We also have preconceived ideas about how our spouse will act and their motivations. Unless we grew up in a family that openly shared how awesome sex was in marriage, the twisted messages from the world far outweigh the positive ideas about sex. Before we can hear God’s truth we need an awareness that we view sex through a distorted lens. We need to start with a clean slate so we can hear God’s truth.

God’s Design

God’s designed sex to create life, but also to make us into one. God intended that we spend a life time getting to know each other through sex. He wants us to experience pleasure, and comfort through sex. When we are completely captivated with each other, sex creates a defense from other temptations. But more than anything else, sex helps us understand the depth of intimacy God wants with us. When we aren’t sure what is true about sex, then we can compare it to our relationship with Christ.

Couples need to understand how God’s design tends to play out between husband and wife. What comes easily to one and requires trust and growth from the other. They also need to understand the drastic contrast between God’s design and what the world says about sex, especially for wives.

Boundaries

Within the confines of one man and one woman, God gives us much freedom. We have to remember that ultimately God designed sex as a way to love each other. As we make choices about what we enjoy, we must constantly ask ourselves, “Are we both comfortable with this?”, and if not, “why?” Baggage impacts us and working through baggage will help us to know each other in a deeper way. We also ask the question, “Does our choice create intimacy between the two of us?”

I want to equip couples to talk through differences, and to discern what God wants for their sex life. I don’t have the answer, God does.

Pornography

We also spend time talking to couples about pornography and make it very clear that getting married will not fix their struggle with lust. The best thing they can do is commit to start getting clean before marriage – by disclosure, accountability partners, smart choices about technology and going after deeper issues. Having an understanding of what porn is and opening up the conversation will help couples battle together.

Then we help them understand each other.

Men, you need to know that she ….

Women, you need to know that he ….

  • Is aroused by sight.
  • Can be ready at the drop of a hat – or not. Some men are impacted by stress, anxiety or whether they feel emotionally connected.
  • Needs an average of 2 minutes of stimulation to orgasm.
  • May have a hard time lasting as long as he wants, and feel like a failure if he doesn’t. Take the pressure off by communicating, and providing other pathways.
  • He wants you to enjoy sex as much as does. Take the time to figure things out for yourself. Show him what you like. Share initiation.
  • Erections are not always under his control. They just happen because he thinks you’re beautiful.

I also touch on vibrators and advise taking at least a year to get to know each other before they consider incorporating one.

The Wedding Night

We encourage couples to talk through their wedding night in advance. How late will it be? What will you wear? How much do you want to see? What would be a good way to relax and transition from the wedding events? What kind of  lubrication will you use?

We challenge couples that have not waited to abstain for a period before their wedding. Maybe from now until their wedding night, to say to God,  “I am going to trust you in this”. To say to their spouse, “You can trust me to be faithful.” And to say to themselves, “God made me sexual and that is a good thing. But my sexuality does not control me.” Abstaining will help them get off on the right foot and create anticipation for the big night.

What Else?

So, if you were getting married in a couple of months, what do you wish someone had taught you before your wedding night? What do wish you had discussed with your fiancé beforehand? What resources would have been helpful?

God’s Design for Equal Roles in the Marriage Bed

I write all the time about how God created sex for wives as much husbands. In Song of Songs, the beloved and the lover play equal roles in the marriage bed. Just having sex for the sake of your husband is not what God intended, and definitely not what your husband yearns for. But God’s plans for equal roles is not just about equality, I believe God has a plan for us. God wants husbands and wives to play equal roles in the marriage bed because we both have something to bring to the table. 

God’s Design for Sex

God created a powerful design to refine both husband and wife through marriage. He created man and woman—both in His image, but so very different from each other. As we work towards creating an intimate sex life, we stretch to meet each other and learn from one another. His design drives us toward connection and toward personal growth.

Many women have wrestled with why God made sex so complicated for us while it seems so easy for our husband. We start feeling broken or punished, or we feel like we are doing something wrong. Some Christian writers even suggest that if women would just surrender control to their husband, orgasm would come easily during intercourse. That is a lie and does nothing more than assign blame to avoid growth or learning. Just because a husband can have an orgasm does not mean he has everything figured out about sex.

God created sex to refine both husband and wife as they learn from each other. If sex was easy for both of us, it wouldn’t create intimacy. Vulnerably sharing our needs, praying over baggage, and asking to be shown, creates intimacy. Having hard conversations, understanding each other’s insecurities, and extending grace to each other creates intimacy. If sex was as hard for our husband as it is for wives, we would probably both just give up.

Women might feel like they got the shorter end of the stick, but imagine how a loving husband feels. His greatest desire is to give pleasure to his wife. For him, nothing else matters. Can you imagine how frustrated, and confused he might feel as he tries to figure out his very complicated wife. Sex is hard for both of us.

We Learn From Each Other

God instilled different understandings about sex in order to grow each other. Men understand the importance of becoming one, even when we are disconnected. Wives must learn to trust their husbands and trust that God will help make them into one.

Women understand that sex can’t just be about orgasm. God created sex as a way to know each other. Husbands need to let go of their plans and focus on what they can discover about their wives.

God created men with eyes to enjoy their wives to create arousal and to affirm her beauty. Wives need to lovingly stretch in using their bodies to tantalize their husbands. Stepping into freedom to embrace our bodies takes courage and the belief that our husbands’ eyes are God’s good creation.

God created women with a huge imagination and an understanding of the power of words to create arousal. Husbands must create a safe place for their wives to express themselves. They should attempt to match their wives’ creative energy. They must constantly seek to learn new things about their wives and anticipate what they would find exciting. Husbands, too, must stretch, in learning to use words to create excitement and arousal during sex.

Even though the mechanics of sex and orgasm come easily to our husbands, intimate connection may not. To get beyond movement and create arousal through connection can feel foreign and even scary to a husband. Looking into each other’s eyes, feeling each other’s bodies through stillness and speaking words of excitement challenge a husband to stretch in order to meet his wife’s needs. Along the way, he discovers a connection sweeter than anything he ever imagined.

Final Thoughts

God designed sex to grow both of you. It is hard work.  Don’t think that because orgasm comes easily, you have things figured out. Don’t think you are broken because orgasms don’t come easily.  He wants to use your spouse’s needs to show you something new and create intimacy between the two of you. Even more than that, God wants to create a dependence on Him as you vulnerably stretch to love your spouse.

Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Encourage Your Husband

As much as we want our husbands to be more romantic, work on intimacy or better meet our needs, we have a hard time not shooting ourselves in the foot. Even when our husband tries, we complain, or negate their attempts until eventually they just give up. The best way to encourage growth in your husband is to get excited about the small steps he takes.

In A-L Men’s Edition, rather than assign reading, we focus on hands-on-learning. The other day, Jim and I asked for feedback about the hands-on-learning. One of the husbands immediately replied, “I tried doing the ‘hug every day until your wife relaxes’ but she said, ‘this is your homework, isn’t it?’”

I almost cringed. This husband had not only stepped out of his comfort zone to take a class on sex, but he followed through on the assignment. Because he loved his wife, he willingly did the hands-on-learning to try something new for his wife. Rather than feeling thrilled or just going along with the flow, his wife shot herself in the foot. She negated what he did because it wasn’t his original idea. She relegated his action to “you’re just doing it because it’s homework”. And she decreased the chances that he will try again.

We wives shoot ourselves in the foot all the time. We ask our husband to buy flowers for us. Then when they do, we complain about how much they spent, or what kind of flowers. Or even worse, we dismiss their effort because they did what we asked instead of surprising us.

We ask our husband if we look good. When they tell us we’re smoking hot, we don’t believe them. We think they are just saying we’re beautiful because we asked.

When we ask our husband to learn more about sex, and they try something new, we analyze their intentions. Instead of being thrilled that they put in some effort, we pout and think they only tried because we asked. If they really cared, we wouldn’t have to ask.

Most husbands are much lower maintenance then we are. A hot meal, help on a project, sitting by their side to watch their favorite show, and sex once in a while is all they require. We on the other hand are quite the opposite.

We want our husband to read our mind, constantly think of ways to make us feel special, share deep meaningful thoughts and make us feel like a princess.

But the worst part is that when they try, we knock them down. We negate what they do because they didn’t think of it themselves.  Or we point out how they did not quite meet our expectations.

Ladies, if we want our husband to stretch and grow to meet our needs, then we need to encourage them. We must notice not only results but effort. Instead of pointing about how they missed the mark reward them for the effort they put forth. When they do things that are completely uncomfortable, even when it feels awkward or scripted at first, appreciate them. Don’t always question and doubt their motives. When they try to meet our needs, even those specifically requested, they do so because they love you. Build them up,  encourage their growth and watch them start to thrive.

Finding God in the Midst of Sex

While figuring out how to have a better sex life with my husband, I found God—or should I say He found me. I’ve been a Christian my entire life. Besides a short stint of rebellion during college, I have always been connected to a church body. Still, my relationship with God was more intellectual then relational. I knew God with my mind, but not so much with my heart.

Going after intimacy with my husband helped me discover a deep intimacy with God. In the midst of insecurities, I’ve crawled up into God’s lap. As tears rolled down my cheeks from frustrations of growth, I’ve felt the steadiness and comfort of a Father that knows and understands me better than I know myself.I have fallen head over heels in love with Jesus. He has captured my heart, and the more I understand sex, the more I know who God is.

Sexuality and Spirituality

It might sound strange to talk about a connection between our sexuality and our spirituality. In fact, it might even feel wrong or sacrilegious. God and sex in the same sentence? How can that be?

Most of us have created a huge divide between our sex life and our faith. The world’s corruption of sex through pornography or media has caused us to disconnect great sex from faith. We safely stay inside the confines of being a “good girl,” or we reduce sex to procreation. If we do enjoy sex, we separate it from God. We pretend like God can’t see so we can play. Most of us cannot imagine that God would look upon us thoroughly enjoying freedom in our marriage bed and smile. But He does.

Sex Helps Us Understand God

God created sex not just to strengthen marriages but because it embodies who He is. God is a God of relationship– Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit–the same, yet unique. Man and woman were created the same– human, yet uniquely male and female. We were created as sexual beings and designed to yearn for relationship with God and with others.

Relationship with God does not necessarily come easily. We cannot physically touch God, smell Him, or hear Him speak to us . . . or can we? Is it possible that as we learn to let go of ourselves and enter into holy communion during sex, we learn what it means to let go of ourselves and enter into holy communion with God? Maybe one of the reasons God gave us sex was to help us understand how to connect with Him.

When I first studied Song of Songs as an allegory of God’s love for me, I remember thinking, “So when I have an orgasm, that point in time when I am thinking about nothing else–not how I look or what I sound like–but I’m just face to face with my husband and nothing else exists, that is what God wants with me.”

Surrendering to orgasm mirrors what it means to surrender ourselves to God. I stop worrying about what I look like or sound like.  Instead of trying to accomplish a task, I just desire to meet with God. Time does not matter. I let go of control and expectations and open myself up to experience something new. Understanding what it takes to orgasm has helped me learn how to worship and simply commune with God.

God created sex to not only unite husband and wife but also to provide amazing pleasure through orgasm for both husband and wife. Orgasm helps us understand God’s character. He is not a stingy God. He is extravagant beyond our wildest imagination. In Song of Songs 5:1, God says, “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.” In other words, get drunk on each other, and don’t hold back. In marriage, He offers wide open pastures to play. Within His boundaries of marriage, when we enjoy the pleasures He offers, we better understand His extravagant love. As we step into the freedom He desires for our marriage bed, we understand the freedom He wants to give us from or our own brokenness. When we understand His unconditional love, we begin to live out of a fullness and abundance of God’s blessings rather than a desperate attempt to measure up.

Sex with my husband also taught me the difference between checking God off the “to do” list and pursuing a heart connection. My husband has never wanted me to have sex for the sake of fulfilling my duties. If I just went through the motions, sex felt empty to him. My husband cared more about where my heart was than he did about having a sexual release.

Jesus made it clear to the Pharisees in Mathew 23 that God cares more about our hearts than our actions. For years, I felt guilty when I did not have my quiet time, read my Bible, or pray. God really just wanted me to fall in love with Him.  He wanted to hear about my day when I struggled or help celebrate His blessings. God doesn’t want me to read my Bible just to check it off my list. He wants to speak to me through His Word and teach me who He is. God doesn’t care if I have quiet time at 7 am every day. He cares that I desire Him.

As I have fallen more in love with Jesus, prayer has changed from something I do to check off my list to having a constant conversation. I talk to God all day. When I need answers, encouragement, or truth, I read His word. When I feel empty, I worship Him. He restores my soul. God does not want to be part of your “to do” list. He wants you to fall hopelessly in love with Him.

Sex teaches us about intimacy with God.  Think about the most intimate connection you have ever had with your spouse and imagine that God wants to love you that intimately. Pretty amazing.

 

 

Ministry on the Mission Field – One Woman at a Time

Marie serves on the mission field and for years has quietly spoken truth to women about sexuality, one woman at a time. This year she discovered Awaken-Love and  was able to take the class using the internet. She hopes to use the Awaken-Love videos to minister to other women on mission field. But I believe God smiles down at the quiet mentoring she does in her village. Here is a little glimpse into her world. 

 Ruth

Held

The other day the word “held” and the variations of that word made me pause and think. One simple word and yet so profound. Welcome to my corner of the world where I am held by God to bring His life to a country where villages are nestled high up on mountain sides or lie sleepily in the valleys below. Where people quickly welcome you into their family.

Ministry in Another Country

This world in which I live is the reason why I feel compelled to share the Awaken-Love lessons I have learned. When people come to visit they are often touched by the warmness of the people and the rugged beauty of this place. I too shall never grow weary of the beauty – the beauty of the people, the beauty of the deep relationships I cultivate, the beauty of the mountains, valleys and lakes. My heart, however, is affected in another way.

As the years go by and as the women here age, you can literally see the years of heartache and disappointment etched into the lines on their faces. They carry the heaviness of the burdens upon their shoulders. Arranged marriages are normal here. Some arranged marriages work and are beautiful. Other times lost hope and profound sadness, coupled with years of hard manual labor in homes, kitchens and fields make the women humped over. They look overwhelmed by the burden of struggling to survive not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

Transformation

I am ever so careful of how I address the cultural mindsets here as I mentor some of the ladies. I love seeing transformation as the ladies begin to dance in the arms of their Savior. They hear Him sing an intimate song of loving and belonging to Him. My heart is filled with joy as I see understanding light up in their eyes. They begin to know they are more than a cook or an excellent housekeeper. Yes, those things are important, but it is only a small part of who they are! God the Father calls each of them by name as His beloved daughter. As they realize their true identity,  a change begins within them that has a positive impact on their closest relationships, beginning with their spouse, and then extending beyond that into their extended family and friends.

I live in a land where old traditions and superstitions still hold sway over the people today. Young ladies in this society can never walk alone publicly. A male family member must escort them everywhere they go.  Or a group of girls together may venture into town. Even middle-aged and older ladies cannot walk alone after dark. A young lady’s maidenhood is protected, which is a good thing. Sex education is taught in great detail in schools, but never mentioned outside of the school walls because it is scandalous to mention the word “sex” in mixed company. In situations when I am teaching only females and I even hint about the beauty of sex between a husband and a wife, the girls feel embarrassed and even ashamed to talk about the subject. With eyes cast down – they think, this should not be!

Mentoring

We are beautifully and wonderfully made. He knitted us in our mother’s womb. Young brides feel extremely nervous about their wedding night. No one has told them about the beautiful gift of sex and how it connects them to their husbands. God has created this gift for our pleasure and His glory. Making love to our spouses is right and good in God’s eyes. Fear dissipates as I explain how we can be both a godly wife and a sensuous lover to our husbands. I rejoice when women understand that God created pleasure for the both of them to enjoy.

So, I will continue to teach these precious ladies, even though the context is almost always one by one due to the culture. I will continue to give what I am holding – the knowledge that they can be free in Christ. Free from the shame that seeks to cling to them, holding them back from freedom and joy. I am holding a precious gift, given freely to me, and I pass it on to many others. I teach them to arise and dance in the arms of our loving God and to enter into the freedom of enjoying the pleasure of sex with our husbands. And so I hold these precious people in my own heart as I myself am held safely and securely by my Heavenly Father in His arms.

A Slight Detour – And Finding Fun

Last week my husband and I took an unexpected detour. In the past, before I had learned how little control I have over life, I might have been upset at my husband when our plans changed. But I have grown to realize we have little control and when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Our Plan

Early Friday morning Jim and I flew from Minneapolis to Denver to buy a used car for our daughter. My husband loves to shop for cars and he was determined to find something for a good price that had not been exposed to salted roads of Minnesota. The plan was to buy the car, drive half way to Lincoln Nebraska for an overnight. The next day we’d visit a car museum that’s been on Jim’s bucket list, on then be home by Saturday night.

We packed light and I brought some chapters of my book to work on. Really I just came to keep Jim company, and to help with the driving.

When we picked up the car, the salesman warned us that the weather didn’t look good. Used to driving on snow in Minnesota, we didn’t think much of it. But when we got on the highway and watched the semi’s blow around in the wind, I started wondering what we were in for.

After driving only 3 hours, they closed the interstate due to blizzard conditions across Nebraska. To tell you the truth, I was relieved that the decision was taken out of our hands.

Our Detour

Our off ramp dumped us into the small town of Sterling, Colorado where we quickly checked into a nice hotel. As the hotel quickly filled up with storm refugees, the weather channel held our attention. The forecast didn’t look good with blizzard warning though out the next day and the biggest snowstorm of the winter hitting Minneapolis on Saturday. Even if they opened the interstate, the drive home would be treacherous at least until Sunday.

So we settled in to our hotel, found a nice restraint for dinner with some of the best steak I’ve ever eaten, and took a run to Walmart for clean underwear and a jar of coconut oil. Without our computers we had time to just relax and lounge in bed. The second day the sun came out. We explored a local museum, visited some bluffs and found a cool tree carving. My husband kept saying it felt like a second honeymoon.In the past I probably would have pouted, blamed my husband and spent my weekend worrying. Instead we ended up with an amazing weekend of connecting.

Our plans did not turn out like we expected. Finally Sunday night, a day late we rolled into Minneapolis. My husband never got to see the car museum he had his heart set on. We lost $50 on our hotel in Nebraska and had to pay for two nights in Sterling. But I could either treat our detour like a total bummer and pouted the whole time. Or I  could appreciate the gifts of safety, a wonderful hotel, and a sweet time together.

3 Things a Husband Should Know About His Wife

With my awakening, my husband has experienced his own growth and awareness. I asked Jim, “What 3 things have you learned that helped you with our sex life?” I found his answers simple and yet profound. Not only that, but I can clearly see how his understanding and subsequent changes have directly impacted me and my growth. So, I have adapted his insights to speak into your sex life – 3 Lessons Learned to Love Your Wife

1. Your Wife is Insecure

I am a confident, capable woman that completed engineering school, taught herself to snowboard, and could handle any house project. But I still struggle with deep seated insecurities. For years I denied my desire to feel beautiful. When we started working on our sex life, I knew to experience freedom in my marriage bed, I had to trust my husband loved everything about me. Beyond guarding his eyes, I needed to hear that he thought I was absolutely beautiful.

Jim has learned to constantly affirm my beauty with his words. Whether I am dressed up for a date, bending over in my jeans to screw in a deck board, or playing naked in bed.  He doesn’t just say I am beautiful, he believes it and breathes it into my life. After we have great sex I feel most vulnerable. My mind starts to questioin if I revealed too much, or if my husband enjoyed what I did. When he dotes on me after sex and shares his amazement, he stops the lies and insecurities.

2. Don’t Take Things Personally

What feels great to me one night, can do nothing the next night, or can even feel painful. My body constantly changes, can become ultra-sensitive, and just darn right finicky. I don’t try to be complicated or high maintenance, but that is my reality. As I have taken ownership by saying things like, “I am sorry, my body is just tricky tonight”, Jim has learned not to take things personally.

In his resilience Jim is able to offer other suggestions rather than give up. We have learned when something doesn’t work or temporarily shuts down, it does not have to derail us. Jim can try a different path or offer another delight and I can get on board. Not taking things personally has opened up possibilities. Jim is more likely to try new things without worrying about failing. Not taking things personally has helped me to appreciate my complicated body a little more.

3. Be Vulnerable and Open Up 

When I awoke, I began craving deep intimacy with my husband. I started sharing vulnerable things from my past that helped me gain freedom. We had hard conversations about my insecurities and how Jim could help me. Many nights I cried in his arms as I got in touch with my emotions. Though I focused on myself I also wanted to know Jim. Just like most wives, I feel closest to my husband when he vulnerably shares his emotions, insecurities, or failures.

Jim has been an amazing husband and dad, but vulnerability does not come easily. I remember once asking him, “What painful childhood experiences do you remember?” And he incredulously responded, “Why would you ask me something like that?” Later he explained that talking about a painful experience was more painful than reliving it. What felt freeing to me felt oppressive to him.

But Jim has slowly taken steps in learning to vulnerably share. He has shared about past experiences that left him feeling like a failure. He has owned his past mistakes and asked forgiveness. When he struggles at work, I am the first that he tells. And though it means the world to me, even more importantly I have witnessed changes in him. I’ve seen his boldness in speaking truth to other men and ministering to marriages. He walks with more confidence. When you allow yourself to be fully known and are received with grace and love, it sets you free.

Final Thoughts

If you want to become the an amazing lover to your wife then learn to affirm her with your words. Help her battle insecurities by speaking truth. Understand not to take instruction or failed approached personally. Stand firm but gently as you navigate your wife’s complexities and you will see her begin to open up. Match your wife’s vulnerability with your own steps of growth. Share from your heart and open her heart to yours.

 

10 Ways to Prepare Before You Confess Porn

I have never had to hear my husband confess a porn habit, but I have sat with plenty of wives who did. Though I am encouraged by the ministries pouring into men to help them gain freedom, I wish they did more to prepare husbands for the moment of disclosure with their wife. What advice could help a husband so he could support his wife as she begins her journey into healing?

If a husband was ready to take the next big step of repentance and disclosure with his wife, I would say?

I want to affirm you for the work you have been doing and your desire to break the bondage of pornography. I understand that telling your wife the truth, the whole truth, will take courage and strength. Though it may feel like one of the worst days of your marriage, I pray that one day you both will look back and thank God for this day. Until you allow yourself to be known to your wife, you will never have the intimacy you desire and God created you for.

Confessing and repenting shows that you are becoming a man of integrity and honesty. You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. Though confessing might feel gut wrenching, stay steady. Take ownership for your brokenness and extend grace to your wife as she begins her journey.

Below are some 10 steps to think through before your conversation.

1. Confess Dishonesty

Start by confessing that you have not been honest and ask you wife’s forgiveness. Don’t minimize the impact of a breach of trust. Own it, affirm your commitment to change and tell her you don’t want to pretend anymore, so you have something to share.

2. Be Prepared and Committed to Full Disclosure

Without sharing details that will cause her to visualize what you have seen, confess everything. Let her know if she needs a break or time to process, you can stop at any time, and readdress the topic later. There is nothing worse than receiving part of the story and finding out later you still don’t know the whole truth. Offer that from now on she can ask you any question, and you will answer truthfully. Again, details that cause her to imagine what you viewed don’t typically help but cause more pain. If she pushes for details, assure that you are committed to full disclosure but ask to check with her support system to determine if it will be helpful.

3. Start at the Beginning

How did it start? How old were you? What role did it play while you were single? What happened when you got married? When did you realize it was a real problem? How have you been battling it? When was the last time you looked? How often do you view? Where do you view?

4. Expect Her to be Upset

Though disclosure may feel like a huge relief to you, your wife is at the beginning of her journey.  She may cry, get angry, go numb, or call you names. She may act like it’s the end of the world, or she may pretend like it is no big deal. Her behavior may subtly change as she battles her own insecurities. She might start changing her clothes in the closet or turning the lights out during sex. Everything about sex may remind her of you watching porn and increase her insecurities. Regardless of how she treats you, treat her with love, tenderness and compassion. The world that she once imagined just disappeared.

5. Take Ownership for Your Recovery

Don’t insinuate that frequent sex will prevent you from viewing porn. You are responsible for your own actions. Make sure that she knows you are committed to get free no matter what she does. Don’t use your struggle with porn as a way to guilt her or manipulate her to have sex. Treat sex as a way to love her.

6. Create a Safe Place For Honesty

Your wife needs to know she can be honest about her own feelings and insecurities. If she thinks you will spin back into porn because she shares how much she hurts, then you still have not created intimacy. Have the strength to hold your wife in your arms as she grieves. Have the courage to keep gently approaching her even when she pushes you away.

7. Treat Her With Compassion

Your struggle with porn will cause her to question her beauty and whether you find her desirable. Affirm her and speak tenderly to her often. Give her quiet time alone to process or connect with friends. Take her out on dates to go and have fun and laugh together. Take care of her.

8. Give Her Permission to Seek Help

While you have accountability partners to encourage you in this journey, your wife will feel absolutely isolated. Encourage her to seek out a couple of Godly women that she can process with and give her permission to disclose everything. Encourage her to see a counselor if she wants to. Offer resources like Shattered Vows by Debra Laaser.

9. Rebuild Trust

For years you lied to your wife, withheld the truth, or slanted the truth. After your confession, she may question what she can believe about a lot of things. As a repentant husband, ask her for input on how you can rebuild trust. Show your commitment to work on your deeper issues, maintain consistent accountability and choose practical lifestyle choices to reduce temptation.

10. Change Takes Time

Think about how long you struggled with porn, how long you hid it and how long it took for you to gain the courage to tell you wife. Your wife will need time. Though you feel your porn struggle has nothing to do with her, you’re wrong. Porn created hiddeness and division between the two of you, and it will take time to rebuild trust.

Final Thoughts

Be encouraged. God can heal your marriage and create something better than you ever imagined. Honesty is a huge step towards freedom. When you can share your brokenness with your wife and she can share hers with you, well, that is real intimacy. When you feel shame welling up, chase after God. He loves you so much and He can set you free.

4 Reasons People Don’t Connect During Sex

I often write about the importance of connecting during sex, yet for most of us connection does not come easily or naturally. Though God intended we “know” each other through sex, many of us have no idea how to connect. We go through the motions, do what we can to make sex orgasmic and settle for a small taste of what God wants for us. The first step towards change is an awareness of what’s impacting our life that makes it hard to connect. Let me share four possible reasons why people don’t connect during sex to help you discover how to grow.

Cruise Control

If you’ve ever read a book on how to become orgasmic, many experts suggest a method called Sensate Focus developed by Masters and Johnson. Basically, while you receive pleasure, you relax, block out everything else and just focus on what your body feels. As you tune into your own pleasure, and shift into cruise control, you also tune out any distractions, including your spouse.

Though Sensate Focus might help a person learn to orgasm, it totally misses out on the power of connection. Rather than tuning out your spouse, can your awareness of them loving you, watching you or getting turned on by you add to your arousal instead of create distraction?

Men get used to shifting into cruise control when they masturbate.  Taking the most direct route they learn to chase after their own pleasure with laser focus. Instead of learning to discover, linger, or feel someone’s energy, they slide into cruise control on the road to nirvana. Slowing down enough so that your spouse can join you on that road will require growth. Every once in a while stop and ask yourself, where is my spouse? Try keeping your eyes open during sex or kissing.

Carrying the Load

You might feel responsible for making sex wonderful for your spouse. Or maybe you worry about how you look, or sound. When you spend all your time evaluating what you should do next, worrying about your performance, or concerned for your spouse’s enjoyment, you act a spectator. Instead of enjoying the moment, you anxiously watch, critique and evaluate.  Rather that feeling your spouse’s touch, your mind plans your next move, or worries about how you look.

Great sex happens when two confident people show up, have the courage to communicate what they desire and share that experience with their spouse. Adding pressure and carrying the load for someone else is a recipe for disaster and leads to spectatoring.

If you want to connect during sex, then remove pressure and expectations from yourself and learn how to “be” instead of “do”. Get out of your head and experience your spouse with your senses. When was the last time you smelled your spouse during sex? Have you noticed how their breathing changes when they relax, or when arousal ramps up?

You cannot carry the load and be present during sex. Let your self off the hook and show up.

Shifting Gears

During A-L Men’s Edition one of the men said, “I have a hard time even relating sex to intimacy. They are two separate things.  Before I was married, I bought into the world’s view of sex. My goal was to get as much sex as I could.” After treating sex simply as a physical commodity, how could he attach love and intimacy without facing his past. Until he faced the fact that he spent years using women, and discarding them for his own pleasure, he could not attach sex to intimacy.

Women that have experienced sexually abuse often disassociate during sex. How can this thing that caused them great pain also communicate love from their husband?

If we want to connect during sex, then we have to face our past. If we have been abused we have to seek healing and render how something so hurtful could be loving with our spouse. If we have used others, then we will have to face our own brokenness. Until we feel the depth of hurt we have caused we cannot experience the depth of connection during sex. We must repent and ask forgiven for what we have done. Rather than just receive God’s forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves, so that we can allow ourselves to feel during sex.

Facing our past takes courage, but God offers grace and healing and forgiveness. He wants you to experience sex as this amazing connection with your spouse. Don’t settle for less. Seek counseling and healing.

Out of Touch

Some people just seem stiff as a board, stoic, unemotional, and with clubs for hands. Raised not to cry, they are trained to keep a stiff upper lip, and work hard.  Their arms don’t know how to wrap you up in warmth, because they are too busy trying to fix you.

Though God created each one of us unique, I believe He created us in His image. God is a God that is passionate, loves dancing, and holds our tears. We can learn new things, and we can unlearn what our past taught us. We can learn to slow down and savor our meal rather than just scarf it down. We can learn to relax and spend time “smelling the roses.” We might even take a dance class to loosen up our hips. You can learn to feel.

Sometimes we know how to feel and move, but we are afraid to express ourselves. Purity messages might have limited your sensuality or freedom. The shame of promiscuity before marriage might have caused you to leave passion and freedom in the past.  Struggling to contain fantasies of what you want. you secretly stew, hoping a kind gentle spouse will wake up and rescue you from the monotony. Not matter your situation, God wants you toe enjoy freedom in your marriage bed.

God created you and gave you an amazing body to move and moan and grasp and even scream. Unlock the power of your God given sensuality. Come out of hiding and show yourself.

Final Thoughts

Sex has dramatically changed since my husband and I have shifted the focus from mechanics to connection. We linger, explore, look into each others eyes and call each other back towards connection with our words. We are less anxious, more fluid and more in touch with our senses. Not only has connecting made sex better, but it has helped us understand how to connect with God. No matter what challenge you face in connecting with your spouse, God has the answer and He has something for you to learn.