This post is about sex. A lot of sex. For many readers, it is a favorite topic. For this post, it being our year of Hindsight, we have read through our previous posts about sex and have created a highlight reel of tips. However, since our main audience is toward dating and engaged couples, we’ll start before the honeymoon….
“Why would you talk to her about that?!” My boyfriend was less than thrilled when I summarized my recent conversation with Miss Betty, my mentor. It is not as though I asked her for tips and tricks. She spoke to me in a candid, yet age-appropriate, respectful way and I appreciated it. If anything, young people do not talk to their trusted elders about sex enough; and, in the absence of solid, God-honoring, realistic explanations, Hollywood, pornography, and ill-educated peers are all too happy to fill in the gaps.
I did not always like it, but I am thankful for the brave adults who broached the topic with me despite their discomfort. Thank you all for being frank and pointing me to God’s Word and standards.
So many believe God’s standards on sex are outdated, which is hilarious if you think about it. How can anything God says be outdated? God is omnipresent and transcends time! To Him, a thousand years is as a day. He spoke the world into existence. Do we really think that God is outdated? God?
God’s way is always the best way. His way not only protects the body, but also the heart. All too often, I willingly unguarded my heart and said, “I want to do it my way!” And… it was fun… for a while (sin often is fun; but, the consequences are real).
Let Us Start this Conversation!
Shortly before their wedding date, couples need to discuss sex at a healthy level. Obviously, talking too much for too long and in too much detail in a dark apartment is counterproductive if abstinence is your goal. However, you can discuss expectations and even talk about the sexual “lessons” instilled in you over the years. Pack a lunch and go sit in a public park surrounded by around fifty kids and their parents. That sounds pretty safe (I hope)! Purchase (don’t borrow – you’ll want to keep it) Sheet Music by Kevin Leman and read the first four chapters as well as the for men only and for women only chapters. Save the rest for later as it will most assuredly preheat your oven!
Before we jump on the sex tips for your married life, let us quickly mention a few pre-marriage suggestions which will serve you well now and for the entirety of your marriage.
First, focus on the whole picture. Purity before Marriage + Intimacy in Marriage = Godly Sexuality. We cannot take credit for this equation. Our friend J from Hot, Holy, and Humorous mentioned this in her guest post on our site several years ago. She wrote, and we agree, that the church has gone out of its way to say, “Just don’t do it!” before marriage, but does a poor job of stressing the importance and awesomeness of sex within marriage.
This imbalance leads many churched young people to think of sex as dirty rather than an amazing gift from God. Instead of considering godly sexuality only in the context of abstinence, remember the second part of the equation. Sexual intimacy in marriage is godly and should be practiced regularly. You may not think prioritizing sex is going to be a problem, but after a few hundred responsibilities fall on your shoulders, sex may fall farther and farther down the list unless you and your spouse proactively plan for it.
Secondly, beware the forbidden fruit sex. This is another gem from J! There is something illicit about premarital sex, especially when you have been taught to abstain.
Three times in the Song of Solomon (2:7; 3:5; 8:4) we are told not to arouse or awaken love until it pleases. Once the fire is lit and that desire awakens, it becomes much harder to remain obedient. Waiting until marriage for sex is not pointless torture, just as waiting for Christ’s return is not torture. It creates a longing in us which makes us look forward to marriage all the more.
Forbidden sex comes with a rush. It intensifies feelings. It can be hot. Unfortunately, it also causes couples to grow addicted to that illicit feeling. They do not just crave the emotional intimacy and the physical ecstasy of sex, but they long for the danger. When the taboo is gone and the marriage bed is now honorable, the previous drive toward illicitness will continue affecting the desire and quality of married sex. Young couples like to think “That won’t happen to us. We are so attracted to each other; our sex life will always be awesome.” Just remember, every couple in one way or another has said “that won’t happen to us.” Famous last words. God knows what He is talking about and obedience is easiest on the heart.
Next, be ready to forgive and receive forgiveness. Your future spouse is not perfect and may have a sexual history. If after hearing his or her story, you do not feel comfortable continuing the relationship, that is an acceptable position (as previous sexual history does bring some baggage into a relationship); however, be sure you can make a clean break. Be prayerful and do not make a knee-jerk decision. Is he repentant? Does she evidence turning away from that behavior with consistency? Yet, if you choose to continue in the relationship (also an acceptable position), you must be ready and willing to completely forgive his or her past. Otherwise, you will purposefully or accidentally use those failures against him or her in the future. When sharing your past with each other, first be sure the relationship is heading towards marriage; and, secondly, do not go into so much detail that it paints a picture. Those are conjured mental images your partner will never forget.
Finally, settle on a birth control plan before your wedding night. Whether you want to take birth control pills, try a natural approach (such as the Billings Ovulation Method), use other contraceptives, or hope to get pregnant right away, discuss and agree on a strategy before you get married. Your wedding night is not the time for this conversation. Get that major discussion out of the way so you can focus on fun and exploration on your honeymoon!
Okay, now we can fast-forward a bit to your honeymoon and beyond. Read and discuss these twenty tips with your future spouse (and write down extra thoughts or ideas not listed here).
- Avoid going from 0-100 overnight. You are married! You waited your whole life for sex! Let’s do this!!! But, wait! Wait just a second. Give yourselves (women especially) the chance to warm up! To quote J, “A virgin bride who has had no preparation may find it more desirable to sit on a cactus than have her husband penetrate her when she isn’t prepared.” Soak in a warm tub together. Rub each other’s backs. Reject any preconceived notion of what should happen or how this evening should Go slowly and enjoy the experience – you both will have a much better time.
- Read Sheet Music by Kevin Leman– all of it! Take this book on your honeymoon. No, I am not kidding! Now that you are married, you can read the whole book together… in bed… naked. Read it, talk about it, and then practice what it preaches. (You will absolutely want to after [or while] reading it!)
- Kick those other people out of your bed. Parents, siblings, friends, TV evangelists – any number of people may be in your head preaching to you about sex. “It is dirty!” “It is awesome!” “It is only for procreation!” “It is for recreation!” “Do it often and never say no!” “Do it occasionally, but not at the expense of prayer time!” Kick them all out of your bed. If they are swirling around in your mind, they are also taking space under your covers. This time is about you and the one to whom you have committed your entire life. Aunt Jane, Cousin Sally, and creepy neighbor Bob are not welcome in your pleasure den. Kick them out of your mind and to the curb.
- Lose your inhibitions. Again, it is time to lose the notion of normal. “A lady should act a certain way.” “A man should always be the initiator.” “It is embarrassing to be too loud.” “Trying different positions seems inappropriate.” Kick those lies out of your bed too. While you do not have children, be loud. Live it up. If you want to try something new, you don’t have to answer to anyone but God – and He said the marriage bed is undefiled (cf. Hebrews 13:4). In other words, have at it!
- Christen every room (and maybe even some vehicles). Sex is not meant for just the bedroom. Spread out and give your living spaces some memories. Need I say more?
- Create your own normal – but make sure it suits you both. The quickest way to get frustrated and hurt in the bedroom is to have different ideas of normal. She might believe once a week is normal. He may believe three times a day is normal. When she turns down his second pursuit of the week, he is likely to feel slighted or, perhaps, shattered. She might feel objectified or uncherished. Remember that you are married and on the same team. Neither person is trying to hurt the other. You may just have different beliefs which land yourselves with different expectations. Talk about what you want and why. Be understanding and listen to each other without judgment. After hearing what your partner has to say, honestly consider if your expectations are realistic or if they can be tweaked to better serve your spouse and relationship.
- Talk about the experience… later. “Was that good for you?” This is one of the few times we advocate for using ‘never’ – Never ask that question while you are still lying there. You are emotionally charged and any negative feedback will likely be crushing. Who wants to get in a fight after getting it on? Wait a while (perhaps the next day or two) and then verbally revisit the experience if you want to. Be kind, give honest feedback, and be teachable. Learning sex is more fun than learning most subjects, right?
- Get enough sleep. Staying up late playing games on your phone may be fun, but your body is going to pay for it after a few nights. Investing in your sex life will require sacrificing some late-night hobbies to rest your body and mind. I think you will find the sacrifice is worth it.
- Good sex starts in the kitchen. To create a fulfilling sex life, you must first create a loving environment. If you want sex in the evening, flirt during breakfast. Kiss her like you mean it before you leave for work. Send him an “I can’t wait to see you later” text. Act crazy about each other all day rather than fifteen minutes before you want your engines revved.
- Champion non-sexual affection. Affection is something you can give your partner whether you feel particularly loving or not. Tell her what she needs to hear. “You are beautiful. I am so glad you are my girl. I’ll vacuum tonight.” Show him what he needs to see. Wear that dress he loves. Smile at him like you adore him. Stretch out those arms and hold him close. Ask each other, “When do you feel the most loved and respected?” and then show affection in those ways. Loving, connected couples want to express themselves physically. Emotional intimacy leads to physical intimacy.
- Place a specific object on the bed (or on yourself) when you are in the mood. Maybe in the early days you will always be in the mood. It is possible, I suppose. You will not know for sure until you are there; and, even if you are always in the mood – fifteen minutes before work, during a commercial break, and 3 am – that does not mean your partner can keep up with you. So, whether it is a specific scent (cologne or perfume) or object (e.g., a heart-shaped pillow you toss on the bed, a piece of jewelry or shirt that you wear), have a special way of letting your other half know you are ready for action without having to say a word. If your partner puts out the signal, and you are not feeling it, try to warm up to the idea. Take a shower, fix yourself up, think about being with him or her, and prepare your body. If after that, you are still too exhausted (sick or overwhelmed) for sex, kindly explain why and plan for the next encounter.
- Do not assume you will never be attracted to someone else. When a relationship is new, you are so enamored with each other it is hard to imagine ever looking at another person; but, that infatuated love dims and (hopefully) deeper love develops. However, it is after that new experience ends that the blinders come off and we are more aware of what is going on around us – the co-worker who smells good or the friendly and understanding neighbor who pops over when you are home alone. If you do not nourish your sexual relationship and set boundaries, you can fall prey to infidelity. Discard the following phrases: “I would never do that” and “that will never happen to us.” Strike them from your vocabulary altogether. Such beliefs only set us up for failure by diminishing vigilance. If it will never happen, why worry about it? If we do not think about it, we will not guard against it. Enter marriage knowing you will eventually find other people attractive and agree on safeguards to keep your relationship protected. Prioritizing your emotional connection and physical intimacy are two of the greatest defenses against affairs.
- Keep talking through your problems so they do not build up. Though not a juicy tip, if we ignore it, we may find ourselves in a sexless marriage – or divorce court. For a while, couples can ignore their resentments and anger, and even make love despite them; but, over time emotional walls build up around the heart, and sex either stops or is not enough to save the relationship.
- Share chores. Exhaustion is a romance killer. Men, if you see your wife wrangling three kids, cooking, washing dishes, giving baths, and you still expect some sweet lovin’ that night, help her! Send her in to take a bubble bath while you wrestle on children’s pajamas, tell bedtime stories, and bring last minute glasses of water to their nightstands.
- Write each other love notes. Have a code language (verbal and physical). Create private email accounts and send flirty and suggestive messages to each other. Find creative ways to say, “I’m looking forward to tonight.”
- Go away. Take weekend trips together. Reconnect periodically. Make it happen or it will not happen. Life is too full of distractions. If you do not prioritize sex and romance, it will not come looking for you. Even if you only drive one town over, get a room and play honeymoon. A change of scenery is good for us all and it will most definitely be good for your sex life.
- Learn to love the mac-n-cheese. In college, our Marriage and Family Psychology professor lectured us on the difference between steak sex and macaroni and cheese sex. Steak sex is what we all imagine. It follows the amazing dinner, the hours of flirting, the slow and sensual buildup and undressing, and then the main event. Fireworks. Steak sex is awesome, and… most of your married sex will not be steak sex. But, never fear. Mac-n-cheese sex is great too! It may not come with the bells and whistles of steak sex. In fact, it may happen in the bathroom while the kids watch the second half of their cartoon. Mac-n-cheese sex is that unscripted, quick, life is busy kind of sex. It is the I am so tired, but I want to please you anyway It may not fulfill you at the same level as steak, but it sustains you both until your next protein-packed meal.
- Enjoy some Bible study! No, really! Flip open your Bibles to the Song of Solomon and read to each other – slowly and often. It may sound weird at first, but it is good stuff. Along with your own personal Bible study, buy or rent Tommy Nelson’s Song of Solomon DVD series. He knows the Song of Solomon backwards and forwards and does a wonderful job teaching through the book. It is a great resource for couples.
- Paint a healthy picture of sex to your children. Clearly, we are not recommending you open your doors and invite them in, but you can create an environment which is sexually affirming rather than sexually vilifying. A mommy and daddy who hug and kiss in front of the kids – even if it grosses them out – sets a good example. Parents who are willing to talk to their children in age appropriate ways about sex without squirming portray sex as a gift rather than something dirty. When sexual scenes (or even heavy kissing scenes) come up on movies or TV, do not freak out. Instead, turn off the display (or fast-forward) and talk to your children. Tell them why we need to guard our eyes (and our hearts). Use the experience for teaching rather than panicking as overreacting might affect their views of sex forever. Or, it may create an obsessive curiosity since humans are naturally drawn to the taboo.
- Consider sex with your spouse an act of service. Some acts of service are more fun than others! Did you know that God is not only happy when married couples enjoy His sexual gift, but we bring Him glory when we sexually delight in our spouse? Sexual expression in marriage is part of the grand picture of Christ’s love for His church. Gary Thomas hits us with a powerful and convicting quote in his book, Sacred Marriage, “If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would I be known as a mature Christian or as a near pagan?” Let that sink in and revisit it five, fifteen, and thirty-five years into marriage.
When I was a teenager, I recall an older friend telling me, “You have to ‘test drive’ the car before you buy it.” As much as I looked up to her, I was somewhat mortified. Test drive the car? It was then I realized her ideas about marriage were a little out of balance (and unbiblical). To pick a partner based on sexual performance rather than on character, sense of humor, and personality seemed more than unwise – it seemed completely selfish. Sex, as wonderful as it is, changes over time. If we think sexual compatibility is something to look for in a mate, we must first test the waters. Then, if we pass each other’s test, we can only hope nothing causes our performance to suffer… such as pregnancy, childbirth, exhaustion, menopause, erectile dysfunction, unforeseen health problems, and basic aging.
When couples marry for love and devotion, looking for a satisfying life with someone they respect, they can develop sexual compatibility. First sexual encounters are not typically the best. Like with any sport, practice makes perfect and I cannot think of anything more fun to practice!
As we conclude this post, let us take one more shot of wisdom from our favorite sex blogger, J:
“It’s refreshing to walk into a marriage with a clean slate and an empty comparison column. Your standard for what’s good and right becomes your exclusive experience with your spouse. I know it’s hard to wait. I don’t even like to wait for all the smaller stuff in life – amusement park rides, traffic jams to clear, the Starbucks line to move, the public bathroom at a sporting event, Christmas morning. But we wait because we know that in the end, it will all be okay.
There is a lifetime of under the covers (or living room couch or kitchen floor or truck bed or…) fun to be had with your spouse. It is worth the wait, friends. It is so worth the wait.
Which other important tips can you add to this list?