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February 11, 2022 5:00 am
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Is it possible to love your spouse without expecting anything in return. Focus on the Family were excited about season five of the Leffingwell podcast. I'm John Fuller and will be joined by my friends and colleagues, Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife during as we discussed practical ways, love and appreciation to your mission will find the Leffingwell podcast had Focus on the Family.com/loving well that's focusonthefamily.com/loving well this is Focus on the Family Jim Daly I'm John Fuller and they were covering a delicate conversation topic. If you younger listeners get them occupied elsewhere as we explore the fiscal intimacy that a couple can have in there just a beautiful gift and Jim.
I'm really looking forward to the continuation of the conversation with her. Guess I would only ever talk about marriage couples right so that's important to John so often in this discussion.
Get a little were uneasy like what on eggshells, but we in the Christian community need to him race what God has done here. He has made something beautiful for us to celebrate in the context of marriage. It is a good thing and unfortunately we fail to talk about it. And so what happens the world takes it over the world exploits it they twisted just like what the enemy of our soul will do, and for our household and I'm talking about the wider Christian community. This is about getting our sexual appetites in order.
It's about us celebrating within the context of marriage one another. Husband and wife and knowing what God meant when he said the two shall become one flesh. As we covered yesterday. This is deeply spiritual. This is something God intends for our joy and for pleasure, not to be mocked or kinda sullied by the world's approach or this is a gift from God and I'm so glad that Gary Thomas and Deborah for later back with us today to talk about their book, married sex, a Christian couple's guide to reimagining your love life is a terrific resource and a gym.
As I think you said last time every couple should have a copy every couple should welcome back. Both of you. Thanks for having us think you are Deborah I want to start with you. I appreciate fact in the book you talked about your honeymoon, your wedding night and I I want to do but maybe we could do this one together a collection of terrible wedding night stories which Jean and I have one as well, but right now, when asked about years in blue. Remember names. We gotta do it knowingly having expectations that sex is going to be magical on the honeymoon night and especially because many of us wait for second and we assume that just because we wait it's going to be great per height, weight is and what it will do for our honeymoon. We wait because of what God is doing inside the house and the character he's building inside of us to the waiting and the obedience that going back to our honeymoon night. Let me just say our expectations were very wrong because getting Pare into part B was a lot more complicated than we thought it would be so we decide to use this ice hot lubricants ended up being extremely excruciating and we just laughed the entire night ended up snuggling in bed eating leftovers and that was a honeymoon night that example can go in 100 directions.
I mean, the fact that you could laugh about it and snuggle and said okay will try again tomorrow. Right. That's beautiful, it's your honeymoon.
It's what should happen.
What about the couple in that circumstance, I mean were now we panic guys really upset. I've worked with a couple just like when the honeymoon didn't go as expected, the husband got really upset and stormed out of the room and talk about a disappointing wedding night for both of them into going with the expectation that it's going to be perfect and problem free sets us up for major disappointment, but we've got these unhealthy and untrue expectations throughout the entirety of our marriage that come up in different parts of our sex life and that's why it's important to get her expectations and healthy place. Let me for today. Let me start with some of the brain science. I think that's really intriguing and, for example, you state that men have 2 1/2 times is like a to me, but men have 2 1/2 times more brain space devoted to their sex drive than women, and all the women said Yep that's right. But frankly, I'm not surprised by that, obviously, so how do we navigate the difference and you think God has a sense of humor and this is to decide what's is really one of 2 1/2 times more capacity to think about it, and the other one and half times less. Let's see what happens. The wonderful thing I think about this is that God doesn't use a cookie cutter to create men or women were all different.
But what I found so helpful and what we got into the brain science is.
I find a lot of husbands approach their wives thinking this is what I would like.
Therefore, this is what she would like the wise approach the husband's. This is what I would like.
Therefore, this is what he would like your spouse has a different brain and body than you do. Whether it's because of brain science, or because his mother dropped him on his head as I go there. The fact is there different than you different things create arousal different things.
Great satisfaction different things create pleasure when things it was surprising to me and I've been married over 30 years that a woman skin can be up to 10 times more sensitive than a man's.
And we wonder why women more into foreplay in general. Well it feels better to them, but it also helps women understand why guys often say their touches are two light women much that you know your touch is to firm so it's really for us a book about questions more than answers.
We present this is how researchers say. Most men operate or the spectrum of where we lean so you can say is this true for you is this not true for you because it's difficult to talk about this.
It's almost universal.
I don't know that anything is universal. But this is close. That is easier to have sex than talk and if so, we have a section Deborah's accounts are just right right. Here's some suggestions for one to bring it up, what to avoid. Where to go but to look at the whole book as conversation starters a couples can read through it together because and get to know each other because we really do believe that when you start to grow in this area. It feeds every aspect of your marriage and it has benefits and so many different arenas of life yet and Deborah want to be cautious here because one of the feedback loops that we get her focus will be women that feel a certain amount of guilt because were talking about this freedom in Christ and this is what we should be enjoying and they struggle. They deeply struggle with with making that step in it did doesn't come with that great joy and we mentioned a moment ago, and I wanted to ask a little bit further here on that obligation. Feeling because perhaps the brain wiring and their desires chemically. It's just not as high and so their husbands thinking about it more often. Maybe probing say hey is tonight going to be a good night for us and she had that fine okay it's that kind of reaction.
How does she get over that difficulty of embracing it for something that is good and not something that is that this is the million-dollar question where and how do men become more sensitive. I want to let us off the hook to where we understand that that it she's just not thinking the way were thinking. Like I said a moment ago.
Funny you know that I love dessert. I mean, I'm never too tired. So how how do we manage that together and how can we encourage our wives to yeah whatever okay first and foremost I think we may need to really understand that it shouldn't be the norm to have that type of reaction toward sex. I think sometimes culture makes it seem like that's the norm. You know, even comic strips are comedies on TV they make it seem like it's always that reaction of now think they have a headache tonight.
I don't really feel like it shouldn't be the norm. And that's not God's intention for intimacy marriage. So if that's the norm in your life. I think the next question is why what is going on underneath the surface that might be preventing you from seeing sex as a gift for you to be enjoyed. Be a hormone imbalance. Could it be problems in the relationship that are going unaddressed lack of emotional and spiritual intimacy. Could it be that you're not saying what you need and speaking up about the things could be that your schedule is so busy and stressed out and you're so exhausted by the end of the night. I want women to really begin to reframe this conversation and see sex as a gift for them. Maybe it's not mutually pleasurable and part of the next steps means sharing with my spouse what I need to make it mutually pleasurable in conversation about these type of things are what help us to get the average couple is uncomfortable talking about sex. I bet you the majority of people listening or even cringing a little because this is not a conversation that were taught to have on a regular basis, but it should be and let me assure you, the more you talk about this the more comfortable you going to be times easier to come tonight.
I can't say amen enough to that because I do think we give over so much territory to the enemy in this space and then we don't communicate well I do want to come back on helping men better understand your you can take a swing at this as well, but I want to hear Deborah's thoughts first, sometimes again the stereotype were little dance I can't read your mind. You gotta come to tell me how I can help us here for that husband. With all the counseling you do for couples what is the roadmap for the husband to say building emotional intimacy looks like this. I mean, seriously, some of us don't know. I don't know what that means to connect emotionally.
Please tell me the secret you now think about emotional connection like a spiders web every little string is building something they current building something that's gonna last. It's building this connection that you're weaving between you and your spouse so everything from the affection that you get three or touch the compliments and affirmation that you gift for your words. The time that you offer her the attention the listening year.
They teamwork mentality as your navigating and raising a family. All of these things build strings of emotional connection, one to another. I think I sex I should almost be a gauge for you men when you feel like your sex life isn't where it should be. You've got a look at the emotional tank in your marriage and see how I've been fueling the emotional tone because if it's not fall your sex life is going to suffer as well and women said yes that's exactly right and were at like 1/4 tank or less. They said if you want my body. Gotta start by arousing the okay that is good that is good stuff. Gary, let's turn to talk about husbands approaching their wives for the know, whatever it be good to know some tricks that you've heard by know that like Ted Cunningham who we've had on the broadcast. They like candles that I think my house burned down in a honey, here's the lit candle recited but there can be some mechanisms that a husband can used to probe the question, how should we as husbands can probe that since is very knowing that we could get rejected and that stuff we need talk about that to one your wife Satan. I don't feel like it tonight and that happens the next night the next night. What would we do the two things that said husbands two different errors one for emotional attachment, empathy will go a long way that you care about your wife's well-being in all that sound like in that exchange. Yeah when husband was she's presenting a problem. You're not just trying to fix it rather you trying to say, but it's difficult to understand and an active listening would be a second part of it. Tell me more. Instead of just giving the Reader's Digest version. Try not to make it too painful. Tell me more, and is so that that really is the rest were in this life together.
If you're too busy. It hurts me. If you feel like you got too much on your plate. I want to help take something off. Not that I'm adding another burden to you what were doing life together so you creating this unified response. Too often in discussions on marital intimacy were putting husbands against wives and were exacerbating the battle rather than saying we want to be in this together. But the second part of that I think comes to focus on mutual pleasure.
Understanding what we have this whole chapters in the song of songs on the five senses the way that we can make it more special by looking at each of the senses. It's amazing to me and I this was new for me. Just getting into the song of songs. How being more thoughtful about you guys are so focused on site, but the power of sound, smell, taste and touch and emphasizing it so that if our wife's pleasure comes first. She's more likely to want to go back the next time because she knows there's a frankly a big pay offer if she becomes open to the idea.
So I think empathy and kindness. Mutual pleasure focusing on her being satisfied set you up for what goes forward a malefic is in the context of you and Jean and I just had this conversation because she were sitting in the morning talking having coffee together connecting which is good. You'll get me in a write up but the other day shall often start with the situation. She's down the line of the story. I don't have the context for what she's talking about and also can you give me the banner, then fill in the detail because she starts with the detail I'm going I don't know who you're talking about and show I like to give that to you at the end how it helps me. If we start that I can understand context, but even that is to your point. I'm not kind of just listening and biting my tongue and say okay I can go items then big mound and understand the context later, but for her. She wanted that to be a little surprising right.
That's what will I know a couple more. I love it. They are stereotypical is not always this way, but she values emotional connection so that she can be physically intimate.
He feels like he wants to be physically intimate before can open up the most.
It's not true with every couple that's the stereotype it's often true, but rather see those as warning against each other. They see it is two different barometers if he notices a physical yearning. He says how do we get connected as a couple. She notices the emotional disconnect. How do we get connect as a couple to rather than well, you gotta be physical so that I can be emotional. She says I can't be physical for not emotionally connected and he says it's difficult for me to be emotionally connected, if not physically connected because they both value connection emotional attachment is what they both strive after they see it is two different warning lights.
We don't want to let this go on too long and then deal with the underlying issues that doesn't mean, okay, we got have sex or we gotta have a deep talk right now it's what's happened in their case it was. We too busy. Have we not done the check ins I like to do morning check ins and then weekly check ins, Deborah and her husband John often do weekly check ins as well, but it's looking at it rather than selfishly okay how can I get my needs met. It's a barometer, they were not connecting as a couple.
It's not healthy that either of us are living long-term with unfulfilled desires like this.
So how do we get reconnected jointly. Not one against the other, but both and let's move into some of those common problems which again, this meant to be helpful so that your identifying with one of these that would be the trigger to say okay I need to get the book in touch with focus to hold the counselor and that's our intention to move you along into a healthier continuum.
That's the goal for all of us. Let me go back to that disappointment, and maybe with the couples that your counseling with Deborah you can give us some insight here were it's that regular pattern of husband probing wife rejects husband probes wife rejects and that pattern goes on and then there may be, connection, physical connection, whatever that you know once a month or twice a month, but it's more infrequent than what would probably be healthy and everybody struggles with that number right the road to get to that question, Jim.
What's a normal sex life look like. Maybe you can weave that in the point of it is the rejection because when that happens, men turn to anger in the you know don't how to manage that rejection, perhaps, and they need to work on that. So, just as a common problem right there. How do you manage not connecting and not taking them personally. So one of the number one problem spots that come up in marriage is a difference in desire, and often times I'll have each person in the marriage right down the number that they would like to have sex per week. The husband right that a number the wife writes that a number what's interesting is most often the numbers aren't that far apart. And so it begs the question more than how many times do we want to be having sex. The deeper question is why.
Why is this the number of times I want to be intimate in my marriage and why are we not achieving this number, let's have that conversation. That's where we start. And maybe the answer to that is were not emotionally connecting and we need to work on the answer to that is, our schedules are just too full and we don't have the time were not prioritizing for each couple the why is going to look a little bit different, but in order to get on the same page. The why is the most important thing to ask that the root that we have to get to in order to solve that problem and what you'll find in one thing that we seen in the research that we've done is that most couples want to have sex more than they are just not sure how to get there and they're not having conversations about it though that's good and it would indicate something is not quite as healthy as it needs to be anything when add that Gary Evans stresses part of it, work stress, you kind of alluded to that for yourself. One thing that's helpful just to understand the different ways our brains operate. This is in a male-female thing. This is just different brains and resources of these different terms once responsive desire in one spontaneous desire as you describe yourself, Jim. You're clearly spontaneous and you don't need a reason it doesn't matter was going on in your life. It doesn't matter if you're tired the thought is there, your open for right short responsive desire mean somebody literally has to allow themselves to be in a wanted way consent is paramount physically stimulated before their brain desires more intimacy and some people might recognize as if it never really seemed like a good idea but maybe they decide to step you know be nice to the spouse or something to get done and say why we do this every night just responsive desire, their brain doesn't really kick into arousal until physical stimulation happens out, your brain is it your fault. One brain isn't better than the other issues the person I spontaneous desire can't expect his or her spouse, to not operate the way their brain operates and they might initiate more and they shouldn't take it personally, but the one who recognizes their responses spouse is okay. How do I guard against that immediate, not now, but maybe now again in context.
You always have the right to say no, but you also realize way that your brain operates.
You might really desire it if things go on and so maybe can be a very healthy word in marriage you can say well we can cut a little bit we can kiss a little bit. Maybe something happens.
Maybe it doesn't. There needs to be a climate of of safety and security in each other, respecting each other but often it's it's respecting that were making love to someone who has a different brain, a different pattern of arousal and celebrating that and appreciating that it figured out. How do we make that work to serve the relationship, not just my desires, but our mutual relationship to have a mutually pleasurable sexual experience. Let's hit some of those big things that we have been able to cover and again people.
If this is touching a need in your own life to get a copy of the book and will give you the details.
To do that just a minute, but those big themes Deborah coming back to the idea that physical pleasure is good. It is good God is okay with it. It's not something to be shameful of but something to embrace. Take a swing at that one.
Yeah, you know, when you feel like your marriage is doing well emotionally and you had a good place and I just think of the average couple who's got kids, and there's so much going on in their life and all of a sudden the kids start becoming the forefront of everything that they do concentric concentric marriage and their their intimacy and their sex life, takes a backseat and those are the couples that we want to focus on. We want to remind them that when you prioritize one another when you prioritize the intimacy in your marriage when you prioritize your sex life, you're actually helping your family because I connected to mom and dad a connected couple overflows good things into their children's lives into their families life when you're filled up emotionally, and sexually it overflows into your ministry overflows into your life and and so many ways and so there's a benefit and a blessing. And God knows this. This is his plan.
When coming up with this stuff. Biblically speaking, God knows that healthy sex life goes hand in hand with a healthy marriage that we had a couple that just is encouraging work before they had kids, they would have these long drawn out sessions and they really remembered gourmet intimacy experiences than they were in a place where they had three or four kids and she said you know I feel I can be in pot all day and would look okay turn up the TV we got 10 minutes to take care of just because I just needed that release but after a while she said, I realize it wasn't serving our marriage. There's a place for quickies in marriage, but they look like and that to fast food you're not hungry but is not really nutritious. It's not nurturing and they realize we need to take a step back and create symbols gourmet experiences that we just taken for granted and that's what I love about the whole idea of married sex with a God designed it there so many different forms. There's a place for quickies. There's a time for fun sex and sensuous sex athletic sex or just those gourmet experiences and it. They all serve the relationship in a different way. But taking a step back and just as you say to my wife every day. Have you gotten your seven servings of vegetables and has a relationship gotten our emotional connection and have we gotten our sexual connection we got in our spiritual connection, recognizing what does our relationship need and recognizing that sex can be a big part of it. But not just sex different kinds of sex that reaches each spouse in a different way and I think it brings us down, and I love the summaries to this last question and then were done and we can all breathe easier.
But again, this is awesome.
I'm so grateful to your writing the book and being here with us, but let me ask each of you to describe what the ultimate goal of a good and godly sex life is and, for example, you encourage husbands and wives to keep learning. All they can throughout their lifetime. Throughout their marriage. To do this better better so kind of hone in on what were aiming for putting in one sentence I would say that a healthy sex life is more about relationship than about release and what is it look like to use sexual intimacy to build the relationship.
When sexual intimacy is lacking. What is that tell me about the relationship and what we need to work on. So when we can keep flat front and center. I think it'll really help us in hat navigating this conversation. I mention this yesterday. I believe it's mutually pleasurable. It's personally affirming I feel valued.
I feel cherished. I for closer to you, and I believe it's spiritually energizing it leads us closer to the God who created us and created the act who created marriage. So when we appreciate each other. We appreciate the fact that were created with bodies and we can enjoy each other and we can worship God because of it. I think were going to a special place for this is been good and very energizing, I believe, and I hope for you the listener. The viewer this is a topic that you may not talk a lot about what you need to and I hope that Gary and Deborah's book can give you that guide to begin those discussions and and really help you with the boundaries of that discussion married sex.
A Christian couple's guide to reimagining your love life is an excellent resource and I would encourage you to get it from Focus on the Family and if you can make a gift.
Monthly gift is great. It helps us with our budgeting, or one-time gift.
We will send it to you as our way of saying thank you if you benefited from ministry. Focus on the Family generally or this conversation with Deborah and Gary specifically would invite you to contribute to the work of the ministry. Donate today request your copy of the book and we can connect you with the counselor as well.
We flew to that during the course of the discussion. Our phone numbers 800 the letter a in the word family or you can click the link in the episode notes Deborah Gary thank you so much for being with us. This is really good and we hope that you as a listener. Have a great weekend with your family and with your church family as well and then please join us on Monday for insights on showing unconditional love in your marriage filled herself up with God's love for you. God's perspective of his love for your spouse and then let God's love for you port and you spill out on your spouse and now you got a whole different love source for your marriage on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.
Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back again help you and your family thrive in Christ so many married couples today are struggling hurting even on the brink of divorce, and some can't afford to get help. You can make a difference in their lives.
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