Four Practical Ideas to Demystify Romance

Romance. That dreaded word so many men hate. Gestures met with disregard from a wife feel like a huge letdown. Plans changed or tweaked communicate it’s never good enough. Unmet expectations that culminate in hurt feelings create paralyzing pressure. Trying to figure out romance feels like an opportunity for failure.  So why even try?

But the word romance simply means to pursue. To tell our spouse by our words or actions, “ I care about you” or “I want you.” To not take them for granted but to continue wooing them. As our relationship matures, we become more in tune to their desires and what gives them a thrill. Romance communicates how well we know our spouse.

Culture has taught us that men romance wives. Really wives also need to romance their husbands. It might look different, but I want my husband to know that I think about him. Romance communicates that I am a student of his, because I love him. That I know his likes and his dislikes. I don’t take him for granted but continue to pursue him.

Romance does not have to be complicated. Simple gestures can mean as much as huge extravagances. One woman in class shared, a simple gesture that said it all. After 30 years of marriage they were getting away for a weekend. Unbeknownst to her, her husband packed their wedding album. Part of the weekend they spent time fondly remembered their beginning.

Let me help demystify the word romance as I share 4 practical ideas about romance.

1. Study Each Other

Romance communicates that you know your spouse. My husband and I always joke that every husband should know what kind of blizzard to order for his wife. Some wives know exactly what kind of coffee their husband likes. They might pick up their favorite drink once in a while, or faithfully make sure the  pot is full in the morning. Romance is knowing the small things that matter to your spouse. Once my husband brought home a pack of Good and Plenty because he knew I was missing my fix. When we go on a really fancy date, sometimes I even like to just ask him to order for me. After 30 years of marriage it feels romantic to trust that he knows what I like.

2. Timing

Timing can make or break the impact of a romantic gesture. Yes, special days, create expectations of a gesture of love. But sometime the most romantic thing you do is treat the other just to brighten their day. When you notice that your spouse needs a little pick me up, you communicate they come before work, projects or kids. Even a simple text during the day, saying a “miss you today. Can’t wait to come home” puts a smile on our face. Picking up flowers or a small gift “just because” communicates much more than the card on valentines. Doing something nice, for no reason at all,  says, “I’m thinking about you”.

 

3. Listen and Remember

When you do plan things that your spouse mentioned months ago, it communicates that you care enough not only to hear, but to remember. Maybe you noticed when they said they wished they had a new bathrobe, or cheese slicer. Or when they went on and on about the movie they want to see, you knew exactly what to plan for your next date. One of the men in class explained, “I usually hear things, but I used to always forget. Now I take notes in my phone to help me remember and I my wife loves it.” If you need to, set up a system and write a few notes to act on in the near future. Your spouse will be thrilled as you follow through.

 

4. Make Plans

There is nothing romantic about your spouse nudging you for sex at 11pm when are ready to drop off to sleep. Planning ahead let’s our spouse know that we are not just an afterthought. Simple things like lighting a couple of candles, drawing a bath, or inviting our spouse upstairs for a nice back rub can set the mood for an amazing night. Lining up a baby sitter and choosing a restaurant or activity in advance will add a thrill to your spouse’s step as you take the lead in making plans. Making plans opens up the possibility of rejection and takes courage. Making plans communicates you are not afraid to lead.

The Receiving End

Wives tend to have this special knack for discouraging their husband in the area of romance. If you want your husband to be romantic, then you need to affirm and encourage him in the small things he does – even if only for the effort he put forth. You also need to take your turn romancing your husband. Show him how well you know him by planning something he would love. Plan a picnic in front of the fireplace. Light candles in the bedroom and let him watch. Plan a fun, active date that both of you will enjoy. Turn romance into something good instead of something dreaded.

Understanding and Handling a “No” – Sexual Rejection

Those of us bold enough to initiate sex will eventually hear the dreaded word “no” from our spouse. How we react to that “no” will either move us toward disconnection or create greater intimacy in marriage. Though hearing a “no” is never easy and can literally throw us into a tail spin, we have the power to choose how we react. We can refuse to make the “no” personal and instead lean into connection regardless of whether we have sex.

I have experienced both sides of that “no”. Years ago, I said it more than I should have. Until I experienced a “no” myself, I had no idea how well my husband had been handling hearing “no” all those years. It has caused me to think about why I did say “no” and what I actually should have communicated.

Many times, the reason women say “no” to sex has nothing to do with whether they love their husband.  In fact, their saying “no” might be an indication that they need their husband more than ever. A “no” might actually be a cry for help.

Reasons for “No”

Women might feel totally exhausted and just need sleep. We might feel insecure about our body and embarrassed to share it during sex. Our mind might be filled with worry or stress over trying to manage life. Or maybe we feel insecure about whether our husband really love us. Maybe we feel like every time our husband pursues us, all they really want is sex.

When a “no” causes a husband to retreat in rejection, start pouting or become harsh, they move towards disconnection. They communicate without words that all they really wanted was sex. Once sex is off the table, they loose interest in us.

When a husband leans into connection, even when we say “no”, they prove with their actions that they care more about their wife then an orgasm. They declare they did not just initiate because their body yearned for a release, but because they yearned for connection. Sex was not driven by selfish desire, but as another way to say, “I love you.” When they don’t turn away after a “no” but continue to pursue us in other ways they build trust.

Sometimes a woman saying “no” to sex, is really a plea for help. A cry for our partner to come along side of us and pull us up. To insist on taking care of our needs by sending us to bed early or helping with the night feeding. To affirm our beauty by looking into our eyes, touching our curves and saying, “You are so beautiful”.  When we feel stressed, a husband asking about our day will help us process and stop worrying. A back rub might ease our tension a husband’s strong arms comfort us. Our “no” means something and we need you to move toward us and not away.

A woman in class, said, “When I say ‘no’ I don’t really mean no.” She was not trying to insinuate that she wanted her husband to force himself on her. What she was saying was that she’d like to say “yes”, but she needed some help. Her husband’s pursuit, even when she didn’t want sex, would help her move towards trusting him in the future, or maybe even that night.

So much of sex comes down to communication. Interpreting the meaning of a “no” is like asking a husband your mind.

Understanding Our “no”

Ladies, we need to understand the meaning of our own “no” and communicate what we really need. Share your fears, your insecurities or your frustrations. Help your husband be your hero and give him a chance to succeed. Seek connection by honestly sharing why you can’t say “yes” right now.

Final Thoughts

Even when we don’t communicate well, we still communicate. Our “no” means something. How you handle a “no” also says something. You have the power to change the dynamics in your marriage by not taking things personally and leaning into connection in ways that feel scary and hard. Ground yourself in God and continue to pursue each other. Even during a “no”.

 

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.

Shifting from Sex After…. to Sex Before

For most of my marriage I treated sex as something that happened AfterAfter a long day of completing my “to do” list. After the kids were asleep or company left. Making love after a great date with my husband. After the party was over or my project done. After Jim and I talked through our disagreement…. But changing my mindset to consider sex as something to indulge in before has both benefited me personally, and my marriage.

Before Our Day

Some of our most enjoyable sex happens before our day. With rested bodies and minds we can focus all of our energy on each other. Rather than immediately diving into our day, we take time to connect and love each other, and our day feels different because of it. Often by midday Jim has sent me a text wondering how I am.  Having sex in the morning connects us and smooths out our day.

Before the House is Asleep

Waiting until after the kids are asleep can seriously strain your sex life. Whether you have young kids still falling asleep, or teenagers staying up late to watch a movie, time will disappear if you wait. Learn to set boundaries on mom and dad time, use a lock on the door, and go escape together to communicate the importance of intimacy in marriage. Though I would prefer sex with the house empty or asleep, I have learned to have fun creating excitement by seeing just how quiet we can be.

Before Our Date

When my husband took me out on a nice date, by the time we got home, my body was ready for sleep. Hardly able to keep my eyes open, the idea of sex didn’t excite me at all. So I have learned to initiate sex before we go out on a date. Sex clears the drudgery of our day and opens us up to each other. When I get dressed I feel radiant and sexy. During our date, touching, teasing and looking into each other’s eyes happens naturally while conversation flows freely. Having sex before will make your date so much better.

Before a Party

I am a classic introvert. In a large crowd you will find me huddled in the corner by myself or with a close friend. The other day we hosted a group of people for dinner and before they arrived, we snuck in some loving. I have never been more relaxed or confident during a party. Through out the evening I dove into conversations, initiated mixer questions, and rallied game playing. Afterward I told my husband, “I did better tonight, didn’t I?” He grinned in agreement as we both secretly new why. Sex before a party does wonders for me.

Before our Challenges

Teaching Awaken-Love sex classes is both fulfilling and challenging. I am never quite sure what question will come up, or what difficult situation will arise. Teaching is bathed in prayer and dependence on God, but sometimes I just need to feel my husband’s support. Making love before teaching class comforts me and props me back up. It helps me remember why I do what I do and gives me the courage to stay the course. Whatever your challenge, consider connecting with your husband as a way to feel his support. Strengthen yourself with raisins, refresh yourself with apples and let God meet you in your love making.

Final Thoughts

Get creative and try having sex “Before”. Have the sitter come early so you can get dressed in peace. Shower off together and create some fun. Tell your teens you are heading to bed and go enjoy each other while they finish their movie. Start your day off right by getting up a little earlier to connect. Rather than making sex the last thing on your “to do” list, make it the first. Instead of treating sex like the cherry on the top, treat it like the appetizer that whets your taste for more connection. Don’t relegate sex to after but indulge in  it before.

How to Help Your Wife Orgasm More Often

If your wife only has an orgasm once in a while, the good news is that your wife knows how to orgasm. That bad news is that what worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow. If you expect your wife to orgasm simply through intercourse, then it might surprise you to learn the odds are against her.  Only about 30% of women orgasm on a consistent basis during intercourse. If you want your wife to enjoy orgasm on a regular basis than you must constantly learn new things about her. Rather than thinking you have arrived, you have really just begun.

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How Can a Husband Help His Wife Orgasm?

Some women lose interest in sex when it seems like their husband has all the fun. Watching a husband collapse in pleasure night after night, while rarely or never responding can feel discouraging and disheartening. And it can be enough to make a woman avoid sex. If you want your wife to enjoy sex than you need to do what you can to help your wife orgasm on a consistent basis.

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Kegel Exercises – Here I Come

I have decided it is time to get serious about doing Kegel exercises. After reading about a study that showed a direct correlation between Kegel strength and orgasm during intercourse for women, I am ready to stop messing around and start focusing. Especially as I age, I want to do all that I can to experience the pleasure God has for me.

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Don’t Wait Until a Marriage is in Crisis

” I’m learning so much and hope to be able to use what I’ve learned one day. I will pass the information on to my daughters to hopefully prevent them from making the same mistakes I have made. Thank you so very much for your class. I wish I had found it earlier in my marriage, or even a couple of years ago. We would be in a different place I am sure.” former student

Women in Crisis

Sometimes women whose marriage is in crisis sign up for an Awaken-Love class on the advice of their marriage counselor. Years of neglect and damage lead them to a desperate attempt to salvage their marriage. With nothing left to lose, they sit through six weeks of discovering God’s desire for their marriage bed. All the while wishing they had known the truth earlier or done something sooner.

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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.

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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.

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