sex resources

Y’ALL. You may have already found out about this woman, but based on what I’ve read so far on her blog: I’m pumped. She covers so many of the topics I teach in session, and gives ways to engage in conversation with your husband, as well ideas for spicing things up. It’s called “29 Days to Great Sex” and it is faith-based in nature. I hope you enjoy!

In addition to “A Celebration of Sex” (this is a great reference book to keep on the nightstand) and “When Two Become One” (I love this one for help in understanding God’s design and purpose for sex) as I’ve suggested in previous posts, I’ve also been told that “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex” is a wonderful resource as well as “Sheet Music.” 

Great sex requires communication and trust. It also requires planning, prioritizing, and a willingness to be completely vulnerable. I hope that these resources and my posts help you create or reclaim great sex in your marriage!

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sex talk, part 2

Ladies, here are some of my practical solutions. I think you are going to hate them, because do you really have time for more things?!?! I hope you’ll try some of it anyhow. I know it’s not easy, but we can do hard things!

1. Time to have sex: Ask yourself, when is the ideal time for your mind and body to be open to sex? Ladies, when you are dog tired, your body will not respond the way you want it to. Sex can become uncomfortable or even hurt in this state. Or it can feel like you are being used, or like a very unpleasant chore. I don’t recommend pushing through these things and having sex like this (unless you are trying to conceive, in which case you may have less choices about timing–do the best you can with what you have, friends). So, make sure you have made space in your life during the times you are more rested.

2. Well rested, relaxed: Not getting enough sleep? When possible make appropriate changes to get to bed earlier, take turns with your husband on night or morning duty, get out of the house with friends or alone. Skip the 2nd or 3rd glass of wine. It’ll just make your sleep less restorative and your mornings harder. Ask for help from your parents, friends, neighbors. Give your kids to someone trustworthy for the day or evening. It takes a village, folks.

 3. Feeling appreciated, valued, loved: You could try something a little like this (whisper this seductively so he knows you’re being silly, even though YOU  TOTALLY AREN’T JOKING AT ALL): “Baby, you know what really turns me on? Clean dishes. Oh yeeeeeaah. Or dinner made, kids bathed. A note or text during the day. A ‘thank you’ or a ‘what would I do without you?’ A, ‘isn’t mommy so beautiful?’ to the kids. I especially get aroused when you offer to do something I normally do, or when you put me first. Or when you genuinely want to know how I am, or remember about that meeting or the doctor appointment I was nervous about and ask me about it. When you listen to my feelings. mmmm…yes.”

4. Connected to husband: But for real though, what makes women want to have sex is emotional connection. We have to teach our husbands how to connect with us, and how to love us so we feel loved. We are simply more complicated. And he feels loved when you have sex with him…so this is a win/win for everyone. Husbands love for you to say EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT/NEED. They can’t always read between the lines and he sure can’t read your mind. Be specific, be honest, be real, and be vulnerable with him. Also, check out this blog if you need help explaining to him what a day is like with the kids or ideas regarding talking about your day. Being known is what intimacy is all about.

5. Feeling sexy or attractive: For me, the goal was all about getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight and all my old clothing. Once I got within a few pounds of that goal I realized that there was no way some my old stuff would fit even if I lost all the weight. My body was just different (this was especially true after my 2nd). I decided I needed a different attitude and some new clothing (and some alterations) and not a different body. Also, check out this and this for help with your perspective. It is vital for the health of your marriage that you find a way to accept yourself EXACTLY the way you are. It’s great to want to be healthy, exercise, and eat well…but love yourself WHILE you do those things. Don’t wait to be kind to yourself until x, y, or z thing happens. Feeling awful about myself just made me feel depressed and made it even harder to get motivated.

6. Sleeping kids: When this is happening make sure you and your husband are in the same vicinity the number of times you decide is your normal. More on frequency in the next post.

7. Clean house: a clean house totally turns me on. But, I am learning to live with the mess. I just try to see it all as our abundance and feel gratitude instead of anxiety. It’s a journey, friends. But if you wait for a clean house and a checked off to-do list you will NEVER HAVE SEX AGAIN. And that’s no good. We have to learn to focus and say to ourselves, “this man right here. He is the most important thing to-do right now.” Besides you can get back to your list when you’re done. A good friend, life coach, or counselor can help you prioritize, let go of what you need to let go of, and learn how to manage your anxiety or racing thoughts if it feels too big to tackle on your own.

*PSA: It is impossible to write a comprehensive blog about sex. It’s too complicated and big. I would love to have written so much more, but the kids only nap for so long. If you need more ideas, check out “A Celebration of Sex” or “When Two Become One.” Please let me know if you’ve found a book that was really helpful to you. I need more sex books!

**PSA #2: If you try these things and find yourself thinking: “NONE OF THAT HELPED, thanks for nothing Lauren!” You could be struggling with negative feelings toward your husband, resentment, post partum depression, depression, anxiety, pain due to changes in your body from birth, difficulty figuring out how to be a mom and a wife and acknowledge your body as more than a vessel for babies to grow and feed and use and empty until you have nothing left, nothing at all for anybody else, especially not the jerk who did this to you. Kidding. But seriously though, email me and I will help you or find someone who can help you. Your family needs you to be healthy and whole and to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. And, at the risk of sounding cliché, please know that, no matter what your road(ahem…sex)block is, there are answers, there is help, and you aren’t alone.

self-loathing

It’s something I see and hear all too often in sessions. It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager or a grown adult, self-hatred can be very dangerous. I’m not just talking about physically dangerous (aka self harm or suicide) either, although that is a very real problem too.

But today, I’m focusing the non-physical damage self-loathing does. It prevents forgiveness, it worsens depression, and it hinders intimacy. It leads to a lowered self-worth, which can lead to risky and promiscuous behaviors, substance abuse, and destructive relationships. It can cause you to NOT believe you are who God says you are. Or in God at all. A person who struggles with self-hatred may believe they are not worthy of good, healthy, loving relationships. They may believe are not lovable at all. Many don’t believe that they deserve forgiveness, redemption, or salvation.

I can relate. I just hope you’ll begin to understand that withholding forgiveness from yourself is just as much of a sin as withholding it from others. Forgiveness is the cancelation of debt. If this is a struggle for you, I ask that you please stop punishing yourself and begin the process of acceptance and forgiveness.

Some comfort and wisdom from the May 9th entry in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young:

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. I can bring good even out of your mistakes. Your finite mind tends to look backwards, longing to undo decisions you have come to regret. This is a waste of time and energy, leading only to frustration. Instead of floundering in the past, release your mistakes to Me. Look to Me in trust, anticipating that My infinite creativity can weave both good choices and bad into a lovely design. Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes. Thinking that you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride. Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses (AMEN.) Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me (amen again!). I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes (amen x3!). Trust Me, and watch to see what I can do.”

And, last but certainly not least: please read this beautiful love letter. It was written for you.

sexual communication

Talking about sex can be difficult. There are many reasons for this, but mostly I think the reasons lie somewhere in between the opposing messages of religion and culture. Religion, because of the church’s relative silence (or the message that sex is “bad”) and culture’s abuse and misuse of sex and sexuality. The idea that sex has to be illicit to be good and that sex is “just” physical.  We bring these confusing and distorted messages with us into marriage.  And, thinking that marriage would solve them; we often feel disappointed. Unsatisfied. Like there is more that we are missing.

So, in an effort to increase passion, some folks resort to adding “illicit” stuff into the mix. From watching pornography together to inviting other people into their bedrooms…it works for a little while. But by temporarily increasing passion in this way, they find themselves further from true intimacy than ever. Further from what they really craved in the first place. Connection. Being known.

I am pretty good with words. But sex is something that I have a hard time describing accurately. It is sacred. And while the Lord has redeemed it for me in so many ways, I still struggle to remember the Truth sometimes. And so, that’s why I’m going to share with you someone else’s words, I hope you find them as powerful as I do:

“Sexual union is first and foremost a means of communication. We communicate powerful messages to each other and the Lord when we join ourselves sexually. It is our most intimate form of communication, enabling us to say things about our spiritual oneness that words cannot.

The word intercourse conveys this notion of communication. It is not exclusively a sexual term but simply means ‘to have an exchange or communing between persons.’ Couples must ensure that the messages of their verbal intercourse and their relational intercourse line up with the messages of their sexual intercourse. If they are communicating love throughout the day in the ways they serve, honor, and cherish each other, then the joining of their bodies in lovemaking bears testimony to that love. If, however, they are communicating anger, hatred, criticism, neglect, or disdain, the statement of their sexual union becomes a lie. With their bodies they are saying, ‘I love you so much that I want to have every part of you and to give you every part of me’; but they have communicated something entirely different throughout the day.”

(From the book, “When Two Become One” by Christopher and Rachel McCluskey).

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. But the main message I’m hoping to get across is this: Sex is Sacred. It makes me sad to think about how often we exchange this beauty for something false or incomplete. Physical intimacy should be an extension of the emotional and spiritual intimacy you share with your spouse. My hope is that you will one day be able to experience sex the way I think we were made to: to feel safe enough and loved enough to bring more than just your body into lovemaking, but your soul and mind as well.

grateful monday

It’s grateful monday time! I decided last week that I would share some of the big and little things I’m grateful for each Monday as a reminder to focus more on what I do have instead of what I don’t.

Thanks for joining me!

lunch with my dad!

this devotional! reading this treasure first thing in the mornings is just what I need!

"let Me teach you thankfulness..."

2 Things:
My wonderful MacBook Air
and...
An incredibly healing, educational, and eye-opening workshop this weekend! I learned so much that I am eager to incorporate into my counseling practice as well as in my family!

This video monitor has been a gift from God. I love it!

and I got to see a dear childhood friend again and she’s pregnant! I am very grateful for her friendship and her baby!

Your turn! Who wants to be the first to share something big or small you are grateful for today?

the secret to a happy marriage

Ok, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… you suffered through reading alarming divorce stats. And why most marriage therapy fails. Now, you are ready for the secret.

And here it is: happily married couples share a deep friendship. This means they enjoy each other’s company and share a mutual respect for one another. They like each other.  In other words, their positive thoughts about each other override and outweigh their negative ones.

“In the strongest marriages, husband and wife share a deep sense of meaning. They don’t just “get along”– they also support each other’s hopes and aspirations and build a sense of purpose into their lives together” (Gottman, p.23).

Does this sound like your marriage? If it does, awesome! Keep on doing the things that keep you close and feeling mostly positive about each other!

If it doesn’t sound like your marriage, I pray you’ll consider doing something about it. Now, it doesn’t have to be therapy (although I’m sure you have picked up on my not-so-subtle hints that good therapy can help). It can also be through a group, classes, and workshops or even reading this book (the “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman) together.

Life is hard. Raising a family is even harder. And it’s just a darn shame when you and your partner don’t feel like much of a team. The good news is, there are a lot of resources out there that can help. Let me know if you’d like help finding them.

I wish you blessings in your journey, friend. Good luck!

why most marriage therapy fails

I introduced my favorite marriage book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” in my last post. I love this book because it’s based on scientific research. There are a million and one books on marriage and some are very good, but very few are based on actual empirical data.

I'm really enjoying reading this book again!

There are many reasons why marriage therapy often fails. I won’t bore you with a long list since I’m ultimately trying to make a point: I believe that good marriage therapy can work.

What often goes wrong is that therapists can get caught up in each individual fight and ends up refereeing this week’s drama. So, they teach communication and conflict resolution. You learn active listening techniques (nothing wrong with teaching it, it can be a helpful tool). BUT, successful conflict resolution isn’t enough to keep a marriage together. Communication is not the secret to a blissful union (gasp!). Believe it or not, happily married couples can have screaming matches (Gottman, p.11).

So, what is the secret to a happy marriage?

the state of the {marital} union

Summarized from “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman:

  1. The chance of a first marriage ending in divorce over a 40 year period is 67%.
  2. Half of all divorces happen in the first 7 years.
  3. Some studies say that the divorce rate for second marriages is 10% higher than first marriages.

Yikes. With this in mind, I tend to agree with Gottman when he says,

“The chance of getting divorced remains so high that it makes sense for all married people – including those who are currently satisfied with their relationship – to put extra effort into their marriages to keep them strong” (Gottman, p. 4).

People who are happily married live longer, healthier lives than either divorced people or those who are unhappily married.

I’m sure that these statistics are not new to you, and yet…I would argue that our marriages tend to be what we neglect more than anything else. What do you think?

stay tuned for my next post on why most marriage therapy fails!

true beauty

In the award winning children’s novel, “A Wrinkle in Time,” the main character, Meg is trying to explain seeing to a creature from another world:

“Well, it’s what things look like,” Meg said helplessly.“We do not know what things look like, as you say,” the beast said. “We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.”

After reading this, I spent several minutes soaking in the depth and truth of this passage. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful for my sight! I love being able to see my family and friends, to be able to read, and having my breath taken away by the beauty of a sunset reflecting on the water…but I am very aware of the limitations that seeing presents, such as:

Judging others based on the way they look or dress. We are limited when we miss the opportunity to know someone special because of the way he or she looks. We are limited when we allow ourselves to feel ugly in comparison to models and movie stars. We are limited when we focus on perfecting what we see in the mirror, instead of perfecting who we are.

Since I wouldn’t wish away my vision and I’m sure you wouldn’t either, I propose we try this: let’s try living in an awareness that beauty is fleeting and has been distorted. And most importantly: it really is what is inside that counts.

If you haven’t already seen this amazing video on beauty distorted, check it out: