Is Sex an Amazing Connecting Experience?

When I spoke at a moms group the other day, a few women lingered to ask questions.  After beating around the bush, one of the women finally had the courage to get to the crux of her situation.“You talk about how sex is supposed to be this amazing connecting experience. But honestly, I don’t really feel connected afterwards at all. Sex just seems so mechanical and not intimate.”

I suspect many women relate to what she expressed. Sex with our husband can feel mechanical. The constant movement of our husband can almost make us feel dizzy. Instead of feeling more, we feel less. We can seem like two separate people going through the motions striving to get to the finish line. Even if we experience pleasure or orgasm, we don’t necessarily feel connected to our husband afterwards.

Physical response does not equate to connection. We can fantasize our way to orgasm while in two completely different worlds. Or we could simply over ride the lack of connection with an intensity of physical stimulation. A loving husband distracted by thoughts of what to do next or his own performance can even be completely clueless to his wife’s discomfort. Orgasm without intimacy can feel empty and lonely.

How We Have Sex

But God created sex as a way to “know” each other. It is the answer to “how” we have sex. “Knowing” each other through sex requires a completely different mindset. Rather than focusing on creating the friction required to orgasm, we settles into the quietness of listening, and feeling and creating connection to discover new things about each other. Knowing that our spouse sees us creates as much arousal as movement does.

Sometimes we must take a step back from movement in order to find connection. Just like a deep breath that cleanses our soul when sits in stillness to listen for God, we lay skin to skin and listen for each other. We feel their skin on ours, hear their heart beat,  look into their soul and listen. We listen to what our body craves but also to the beckoning of our lover. Even during intercourse, rather than racing into movement, we may simply sit for a moment and feel each other to the depths. Only after we settle and can feel our bodies connected, do we begin to move. And when we move, we go together.

Sometimes we go on a journey of discovering our spouse. Eyes open wide, we expectantly watch for clues to avenues of pleasure to explore.  Sharing our awe of who God created them to be we treasure every nugget they reveal.

Other times,  we take our spouse into our world. Uncovered and naked we give them glimpses of who we are, unrestrained and free. Eyes wide open, daring them to match our intensity, we spur each other on.

And sometime we don’t even know where we are going, but we go together.

Connection during sex does not happen naturally or easily. Moving beyond mechanics into the world of connection takes courage and an openness to experience something new. Rather than finding satisfaction in the surface of movement and orgasm, we dive deep to know each other and see what we can discover together.

Does Your Husband Initiate Sex?

I have this theory that in many marriages, wives train their husband not to initiate sex until we give the signal that we are open for business. We like to control our lives, including when and where we have sex. So, we develop subtle, or not so subtle signals. Maybe we linger as we kiss, or we touch more than usual, or we just tell him, “do you want to have sex tonight?” And our husband simply waits.

My Experience

Years ago,  I controlled when we had sex. If I kissed my husband and immediately rolled over, the gate was closed. But if we kissed and I lingered to talk or touch, my husband knew he might get lucky. Recently I asked my husband if he knew my signal and he said, “When you went to the bathroom one last time before we turned out the lights, then I knew I had a chance.”

Of course, sometimes my husband would patiently give me a back rub or snuggle in hopes that he might sway me towards connecting. But for the most part, he patiently waited. I trained my husband to watch for my signals and because he was kind and considerate, he catered to my time table and needs.

Maybe one of the reasons our husbands don’t  initiate without a signal, is because he doesn’t want to be one of those pushy guys that always wants sex. He wants to prove that he can love us in other ways than just making love. So he patiently waits, or timidly tests the waters. And even though there are times when our husband probably senses that the two of us need to connect, he waits. He holds back and we miss out on opportunities to bond.

The Turn Off

Here’s the really bad part. A husband that tip toes around, always testing the waters, and never quite knows what he wants is a real turn off.

We want a man that will lead.

After a hot date we want a husband that can’t wait to get us somewhere private. When we feel insecure, we want a man that will look us in the eye and say, “You are more beautiful today then the day we met” and show us.  When we least expect it, we want a husband to confidently say, “let me” and treat us to some of the most delicious sex because he loves it as much as we do.

In Naked Marriage by Corey Allan, Ph.D. he lists three rules for great sex for husbands.

  1. Approach your wife as if she is the most adventurous, passionate, and open-minded woman in the world. When you assume less that this, you limit the possibilities of excitement in the relationship.
  2. It’s her job to say no to anything she’s not interested in trying or doing. It’s your job to speak up and express your desires.
  3. Don’t take things personally. If she says no to sex on the roof tonight, don’t take it personally, then refer back to Rule 1.

When I read these rules, I immediately thought, Amen. I want a husband that will acknowledge his desires, stick his neck out there and go for it. And I want to have the same freedom. My husband can always say no, but I don’t want to just play it safe. I want to live and I want my husband to live.

Encouraging Him to Lead

God created our husband to lead, even in the marriage bed. Yet because of our controlling nature, we seem to think we should determine when and how we have sex. We’ve believed the lie that when our husband reaches for us, he is just like all those other men that use women for sex. We’ve lost touch with the fact that our husband would do anything in the world for us – even cater to our sex drive.

And because our husband doesn’t want to be one of “those” pushy men, he kindly waits for our signal. .  And the very thing that we want most, a strong, loving, confident husband who knows what we need even in the midst of our insecurities starts tipping toeing around second guessing himself.

So my question to you is,

Do you want your husband to lead? Even in the marriage bed?

Does he have the right to initiate sex when he feels disconnected? Or when he wants to love you? O maybe even when he needs to feel loved?

How do we trust our husband enough to let go of control?

How do we build up our husband and affirm his healthy desires?

Baggage Impacts Our Husband Too

As women, we can feel like everything about sex comes easily for our husband. How come our steely eyed husband can survive bad messages, straying into porn, or years of poor choices with no impact on their sex life? But the more I’ve taught men, and the more growth I’ve experienced in my own marriage, the more I’ve realized baggage does impact our husband. He may not readily admit or easily recognize baggage, but it’s there.

Strong purity messages, growing up in a sexualized culture, making poor choices or simply the lack of healthy communication about sex impacts their freedom. The baggage may look different and they may process it differently but they have brokenness, just like us. When I realized my husband had baggage, I could foster compassion rather than taking things personally. The more we create a safe place, the more we encourage our husband to heal and grow, in their own time and in their own way.

Purity Messages

Five years ago, when I decided to embrace my beauty I started trying to tantalize my husband with my body. I dressed different in bed and changed my clothes at opportune times to catch his eyes. Instead of sex in the dark, I wanted to watch our bodies come together. But I also wanted to feel my husband’s eyes fixed on my body. Frustration grew and feelings smarted when my attempts seemed to create little attention.

Eventually I realized my dear husband had spent our entire marriage intentionally keeping his eyes pure. He turned away from nude scenes in movies, discarded lingerie adds and constantly guarded his eyes – even from me. I remember at one point telling him, “I want you to look at me. I want you to watch me. This (my body) is for you and you only.  God wants you to enjoy it”.

Purity messages to my husband, good messages about guarding his eyes, had made him feel uneasy about looking at me. Years of guarding his eyes had helped him control his drive before my awakening. But now that I was finally getting things right, I wanted my husband to experience freedom too.

Growing Up in A Sexualized Culture

Trying to do the right thing in a culture filled with details of women used and abused by men must impact men. Scared to say or do the wrong thing, good Christian men could easily become timid to their wives. They could even question whether their God given sex drive is a good thing.

I sometimes wonder how many of us throw out the baby with the bath water. Not just women, but men. Do men that are trying to be good Christian husbands limit themselves to vanilla sex because they think only ‘those people” do that stuff. Do we decide to not get too creative, have too much fun, get too wild, because we are worried it is not ok? Just like purity messages can impact wives, they can impact our husband.

Porn Impacts

Most men have viewed porn at some time in their life, especially our younger generation. Many continue to battle and feel the impacts even after they gain freedom. In one of our men’s classes as we talked about getting to know each other through sex, the question came up, “how do I know if I want to do something because it is part of how God created me, or because I saw it in pornography?” Being exposed to pornography complicates life.

Some men that battle porn throw out everything associated with those memories and limit themselves to only vanilla sex. Other men want to try every idea they’ve exposed themselves to in hopes of recreating what they’ve seen. Either way, porn impacts the choices and the freedom they experience in their marriage bed.

Viewing porn impacts the lens that men view women but also how they view themselves. Healing from porn means creating something completely different then what they’ve viewed– intimacy. We must learn to share our insecurities as well as our hopes and desires. We must create a Holy experience by praying over our sex life, asking for newness and for His will. Focusing on connection by communicating, eye to eye contact and staying present create intimacy.

Poor Choices

Some men spent years treating sex as a commodity, trying to get all that they could. Years later, married to a woman they love and cherish, they realize they bought into using others for their own gratification. One man said, “After years of using women, I have a hard time even connecting sex with intimacy.” It is almost as if they have trained themselves to disassociate from what they are doing during sex, so they don’t have to feel bad.

In order to connect during sex, they may have to come to grips with the ramifications of their past life. God offers forgiveness, grace and new life to those with a repentant heart.

When my husband stepped up and took responsibility for his past mistakes, he changed. As he received grace and forgiveness from me, I saw him grow in confidence. No longer saddled by past failures or doubts, he leads me like a man that knows God’s grace.

Separating God from Sex

Many men have a harder time integrating and including God in their sex life than their wife. Silence from the church, crude jokes from the world and an attitude of “get as much as you can” make sex feel anything but Holy for a lot of guys. The idea that our God could look done on our marriage bed and say, “Drink, drink your fill.” Does not compute. Praying over our sex life feels strange and somehow, just wrong. Your husband’s past experiences and messages about sex impact what he believes and freedom to connect with you.

Final Thoughts

Men process their baggage very different than we do, and that is OK. I only share what I have learned about men in order to foster a sense of compassion. When we understand what has impacted them, then it helps us not to take things so personally. Become a safe place for your husband to realize his baggage and to receive God’s healing.

Lasting Impacts of Awaken-Love Classes

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at a moms group in the Twin Cities. Several women took the Awaken-Love class 9 months ago and recommended that I speak on sex.  While there, I got to reconnect with the women and hear the lasting impact from class.

Live Classes

One woman shared how eye opening the class felt when many of her assumptions about sex and about her husband did not align with God’s word. Even though she had grown up in the church and remained active, she never felt like they had provided any real answers. Left to her own assumptions and influenced by silence, awkward talks, and cultural messages, she landed where most women do – sex as an obligation to fulfill her husband’s needs. Conversation in class about God’s real intent for sex had literally shifted her mindset 180 degrees and continues to impact her marriage and attitude today.

She also said that when she took class, it felt like a fire hose of information. So many new and different ideas that contrasted what she’d believed her entire life felt almost overwhelming, but also good. She and her friends are already making plans to retake the class using the videos and revisit the topics. They will meet as a smaller intimate group and are looking forward to going deeper in discussion. All them pray for more breakthrough and freedom in their marriage bed.

Video Classes

But the best part of the morning happened as I was waiting to speak. A young woman came over and said, “I have to thank you for your classes. I took Awaken-Love about a year ago and it has completely turned my marriage and my sex life around.”

As we were visiting, I kept thinking, “I know I’ve taught a lot of women, but I don’t even recognize her.” Finally, I asked, “I am sorry, but I don’t recognize you. Did you take the class with me?”

And she replied, “No. I took the video class. About a year ago, a woman I hardly knew emailed 15 women and asked us if we’d take Awaken-Love with her. Class ended up with just four of us that honestly didn’t know each other very well, but now we are best friends. I talk to these 3 women about sex all the time now and we encourage each other in our marriages.”

What a blessing to hear first hand that the videos Melanie and I poured our heart and soul into are impacting women. What a miracle that 4 strangers could bond and experience healing during a crazy sex class developed by a couple of ordinary women.

I pray that God would continue to open doors to provide healing and wholeness to women through Awaken-Love. May women have the courage to go after their hearts desire –  deep and profound intimacy.

The Importance of Dreaming

This weekend I met a young mom at a craft fair selling beautiful pottery and we struck up a conversation. I shared that I also used to create things during naptime to help keep my sanity as a young mom. When I admitted that I don’t get down to the woodshop much anymore, she asked, “So what do you do now?”

Without missing a beat, my oldest daughter replied, “She’s writing a book.”

“What about?”, she asked.

In a split moment I had to discern, am I supposed to tell her what I really do?

“The book is going to be about sex. I actually teach sex classes to Christian Wives”, I quietly offered.

“That’s awesome!”, she said, “It is so needed! I would totally be interested in something like that. I’ve got to introduce you to my husband!”

As she enthusiastically shared with her husband what I do, I heard him quietly say, “I thought we were doing okay.”

Doing Okay

Now this couple seemed so at ease with each other, my guess is they are actually doing great. As he got pulled away to another customer, I said to her, “That’s so like a man, isn’t it? That whole, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. I figure there’s always more to learn.”

A few years ago, my husband might have had the same attitude. We rarely talked about sex, and when we did, it consisted of an awkward conversation to fix an issue. Talking about sex pretty much equated with some kind of problem or failure.

But talking about sex, taking a sex class, or learning new things, doesn’t have to send us into, “NASA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM” mode. Sex can become just another topic that creates enjoyment, expectation or excitement. Imagine if you could talk about sex in the same way that you brainstorm about your next vacation.

“I want to go somewhere warm, where we can just lay on the beach in the sun! Remember when we went to Hawaii. I’d love to go back there, or maybe Jamaica.”

“How about a trip to the mountains, skiing. It was so beautiful and after a long day we got to just snuggle up next to the fire.”

“I would love to see Italy. The artwork, the history, the food. Maybe a few days in the country, tasting the wine. Doesn’t that sound amazing!”

The Importance of Dreaming

The possibilities are endless as we dream about where we would love to go on vacation with our spouse and why. There is no wrong answer and no one takes offense at an idea. Though the vacation may not happen for years or possibly never, it gives us something to hope for and to aim for. We can even take small steps by reading travel books, attending a class about the area, starting a savings fund or taking a smaller similar vacation. Dreaming is the first step to making it a reality.

The possibilities God gives us for sex are endless! But it starts by creating a safe place to dream about what we would enjoy. Having the freedom to express ideas, desires and scenarios without insecurities or fears of failure shutting us down. Just because you want to try something new does not mean you don’t love what you already have. Just because you want to take a sex class does not mean you are not doing great. Planning and dreaming for the future produces hope, enlightens steps to take along the way and gives you something to aim for.

Creating a Resilient Sex Life

Many of us reach a safe place in sex, and make a truce. “I won’t rock the boat if you don’t rock it.” But all it takes is one small storm – kids, stress, strained living conditions, a physical challenge – and all of a sudden, we are taking on water and don’t know how to swim.

We need to build strong resilient sex lives that can weather storms. Talking about sex doesn’t have to throw our heart into A-Fib. It should feel as natural as a conversation about our next vacation. We need to discover many ways to connect and create pleasure and constantly look for more. We want to create a safe place to share everything from insecurities to dreams. I want to know that our sex life can weather any challenge thrown at us.

Working on our sex life doesn’t mean we have a problem, it means we want sex to be even better tomorrow than it was today.

How do you work on your sex life?

Trust – An Essential Ingredient to Great Sex

Trust seems like such a basic  ingredient for a great sex life and yet I am just starting to understand the depth of importance. Though basic trust in a marriage feels very similar for men and women, the challenges men and women face during sex vary drastically. The first step to create trust is an awareness and empathy for each other’s struggles. I want to share some specific ways that wives and husbands needs vary in regards to trust.

Past Experiences

Many women have experienced painful situations or breaches of trust involving sex. We have tolerated unwanted touch and looks that left us feeling used and angry. Our own loving husband might have pushed boundaries before marriage that left us wondering if we could trust him. Or he might have concealed a struggle with porn or guilted us into sex because of fear of relapsing into porn. Past experiences make us question whether our husband cares more about his own pleasure than us.

Most husbands fight an uphill battle to gain their wife’s trust. He will need to prove with his words and actions that he cherishes his wife. He must respect our right to say “no” without even subtle manipulation. The more they take ownership for their own stuff, the more a wife will trust him. When my husband asked that I forgive him for not helping us hold the line before marriage, we reached a new level of trust.

Delicate Bodies

For our 25th anniversary Jim and I traveled to Morocco to visit our daughter serving in the Peace Corp. We stayed in mud houses visiting amazing countryside filled with stone terraced wheat fields accessed only by donkey. Needless to say, hot showers were non-existent. When we finally had a little privacy he said, “I don’t even feel clean enough to touch you.”

A husband that respects our need for simple hygiene and grooming creates trust. Our sensitive body requires care. Rough finger nails or the stubble of a beard can feel like coarse sand paper on delicate tissue. A considerate husband will do all that he can to make us feel safe. A clean body, freshly shaven face and smooth hands can make all the difference.

In Tune and Concerned,

Few men understand  just how vulnerable we feel during sex.  Many wives have tolerated pain or discomfort during intimacy in order to avoid disappointing their husband. An act so pleasurable for a husband, can result in burning and pain because of inadequate lubrication, sensitive skin or the slightest yeast infection. Worry or anxiety can cause our vagina to contract during intercourse.  Women are painfully aware that our husband can hurt us during sex, whether intentionally or not.

In the midst of passion, even a loving husband can seem clueless to our discomfort. A clumsy touch or rough hands can feel like an intrusion as he pokes and probes. We tense as his nervousness amplifies through our body. Guilt fills us for acting finicky or controlling. We hold our tongue to avoid discouraging him, or maybe in the hope he will just finish quickly.

We need to trust that our husband is present during sex and paying attention to us rather than blindly forging on with his plans. Watching facial expression or sensing tension will help him identify the difference between pleasure and pain. When my husband started recognizing and asking if something felt uncomfortable he built trust. I knew that he noticed and cared and was happy to adjust to make things enjoyable for both of us.

Two Way Street

But trust needs to be a two-way street.  Women have to create trust with their husband by taking ownership and being honest.

Taking Ownership

Our husband has no greater desire than for us to enjoy sex as much as he does. When we fake orgasm, we cheat both of us. When we refuse to invest the time to recognize lies about  sex and learn the truth, we destroy trust. Taking ownership for figuring out our body and sharing that information with our husband creates trust. Our husband would do anything in the world to make sex enjoyable for us, but we have to help them know how.

Being Honest

As much as I want my husband in touch with me during sex, I don’t want him to constantly worry about me.  When a husband tip toes around, constantly asking if something feels good, his nervous touch unsettles us and turns us off. What we really want is to feel his confident touch in tune to our body and fully taking us in . We want him to have the freedom to enjoy sex and get caught up in passion. He can’t do that if he is constantly worrying. When he trusts that I will communicate, then he can let loose himself. My husband must trust that I will communicate honestly, no matter what.

Final Thoughts

We build trust brick by brick, layer by layer. From the intentional choices he makes for cleanliness to the life long journey of communicating our desires and longings. We start with the basics and build one brick at a time. I can only allow my husband to lead when I know that he is more concerned for me then his own pleasure. He can only lead when he trusts that I will be honest and communicate my needs.

What God asks and what I desire, to submit to my husband, requires the ultimate trust. But we can’t really let our husband lead until we absolutely trust him. We need to know that he cares more about us then a sexual release. That he won’t become so consumed with his own passion and desires that he loses track of us. He must trust that we will honestly communicate our needs, even in the heat of the moment. We want to feel the sureness in his touch. We cannot pause in waiting or watching. We must have absolute trust in each other.

We have to create a safe place to enjoy sex. A basic concept and yet honestly the bedrock of great sex, because deep down we desire a husband that will lead. A husband that will sweep us off our feet. That knows what we need more than we know. That will take control and with confidence say, “let me do this”, because he knows exactly what we need.

Do We Want to Know, Even About Pornography?

I had just finished talking about pornography in class when I thought to pause and simply ask, “Does anyone have something to add?” Some of the best teaching in class comes from other women sharing their own experiences.

Just as I was ready to move on, Emily quietly filled the silence.

“We went through this…”

She said, “My husband told me just a couple of weeks before we got married that he struggled with pornography. I didn’t really think much about it because I figured all single guys looked at porn. I thought that once we were married it would just go away. But about three years into our marriage, my husband came to me and said he couldn’t stand it anymore. Pretending like everything was okay while secretly viewing porn was killing him. He wanted to be honest with me.”

“I was crushed and hurt. I couldn’t believe he had been doing this behind my back. How could I trust him again?”

But she went on to share,

“I am now helping my husband battle porn.”

“He has other accountability partners that are guys, but I am also his accountability partner. He doesn’t want any secrets between us. Without sharing graphic details that would create more damage, he shares  enough that I know he is serious about change. Even though it is hard to hear, I am trying to be a safe place for my husband to be honest.”

She explained, “My husband saw my devastation when he disclosed his  porn habit and he never wants to hurt me like that again.  He wants to stay clean for me more than any other person. Since my husband first broke the silence years ago it has not all been easy, but his struggle with porn has gradually decreased.”

With tears in her eyes she said, “Even though I have no reason to suspect otherwise, I sometimes still wonder, if my husband is being totally honest.  The battle with porn is not just my husband’s battle. I have my own insecurities that put up walls to prevent intimacy. We have chosen to create a safe place to be honest with each other and to battle together.  Rather than pretending like things are ok, I would rather know.”

For a moment the room was silent, until one woman voiced what many wrestled with….

“I don’t know if I want to know…”

What a profound statement.

What if we don’t want to know?

Will we ever create true intimacy if we don’t know our husband?

Would we rather  just pretend he is the perfect husband, or do we really want to know him? Even his brokeness? Can we share our own brokenness and insecurities? How do we create an intimate marriage without knowing each other?

Satan knows that if he can just drive us towards shame and hiding then we will never experience true intimacy. If we hide the sexual abuse, the pornography, the insecurities, the lust – then it gains a greater hold in our life. The further we fall from being known the more he divides us from relationships. Whether that relationship is with God, our spouse, family or friends. Satan seeks to create division while Jesus came to restore relationships.

Discovering God’s Grace

The best thing that we can do for our marriage is to discover how much God loves us, regardless of what we have or haven’t done. When we realize how much we have been forgiven, then we can forgive others. Our worth comes not from our spouse or our accomplishments. He loved us while we were still sinners. Allow yourself to be fully known to the Father and ask Him to help you be fully known to others. Feel the depth of His love and ask Him to help you love others like He loves you.

Until we have the courage to know and be known in marriage, Satan will continue to wreak havoc. We cannot start the hard work of creating intimacy without creating a safe place to be known.

How can you create a safe place to be known?

Disclaimer – The post was not written about one particular woman in class but based on several conversations and experiences in class. For more ideas on battling pornography read Creating a Safe Place and Helping your Husband Battle Pornography