My husband and I are fans of the book The Five Love Languages, by Gary D. Chapman. Our love languages relate to more than just the day to day, but it also impacts how you approach your sex life.
The 5 senses guide to sex
It came as no surprise my husband’s love language is physical touch, and knowing this caused me anxiety because I thought physical touch just meant sex and I needed to be ready for it at any time. I took a risk and asked him about it. To my surprise, we talked about sex in a productive way. It wasn’t easy at first, but over time I gained confidence. Together we learned sex is more about the journey than the destination. One way to enrich the journey is through the five senses guide to sex.
Sound is not only about what you say to each other, but also how you say it. Let your tone and inflections be gentle; try greeting each other with kindness or a soft word after a long day. Create a good vibes playlist on Pandora or Google Play to set the mood. Our men listen for our verbal cues ,so it is important that you provide verbal sounds or whispers to express how much you enjoy your husband in the moment.
Taste is more than things like brushing your teeth or chewing gum for a fresh taste. It’s also about the food and drink you share together. Think about how your lips taste, or how your body tastes, especially after a work out. Go ahead and rinse the salt off!
Smell is an aroma that is pleasing to you and your spouse. Try lighting a candle, using a pleasant smelling lotion, or spraying fragrance that he loves.
Touch is about caressing, massaging, holding hands and skin-on-skin contact. Always kiss while saying hello or goodbye. Wear something that feels soft. Put clean sheets on the bed so it’s fresh.
Sight is about getting out of the loungewear and feeling good because you know you look good. Text each other throughout the day to let your spouse know you are thinking of him and can’t wait to see him. Before you part ways for the day linger a little longer between changing clothes, make sure you catch each other. Or while you’re out shopping make a stop at the lingerie store.
Later, put on an impromptu fashion show and he helps you decide what to keep and what to return. If it helps set the mood, replace one of your bulbs in your bedroom with a red bulb. Maybe it is just the signal you need to help you both get in the mood. Lastly, schedule it. Honestly, when I look at all the things on my schedule for the day and I see “sex” pop up, it is a visual cue that helps get me prepared well in advance.
One Small Win: This list is just a small start, but I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and let one or all of the senses be your guide. The goal is to build and/or enhance physical intimacy in your marriage.
Julie Landreth is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage. She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her curriculum: Consistency and Persistency: The Art of Praying for your Husband. Having been married 12 years, she and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love, effective communication, sustainable fun, and a date night every Friday night for the last nine years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her 9-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents. Follow her along on Instagram at @julielandreth.
“Earlier this year 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed in an interview with The Wrap Magazine that she was denied a role opposite a man almost 20 years her senior because she was ‘too old’.
‘There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,’ she said. ‘I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” DailyMail.com
I love Maggie Gyllenhaal’s evolution of feelings when it comes to being judged as “too old” at 37 to play the love interest of a 55 year old actor.
First, she felt bad.
Then, it made her angry.
Then, it made her laugh.
When one of us is made to feel badly about ourselves, for our age, our weight, our sags, our lines, I know very few people who embrace such a body positive image that we’re able to just laugh straight off. Just as there are seven stages of grief, I believe these are the three stages of self-acceptance.
As a woman who is trying to make sure that I’m doing all I can to feel great about myself and my marriage, the world is definitely not making it easy on us.
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And so at 40-something, when I start to feel bad about the criteria the world uses about how I look, about my sex drive, my energy level, I realize I need to move from stage one to stage three pretty quickly. (For my sake, and for the sake of my husband.)
Because the sexiest things about a wife are confidence and the ability to laugh at yourself – and fellow forties friends – this is where we have it all over our younger sisters.
We mamas in our forties know a few secrets that our younger friends may have yet to discover:
Our teens think we’re hard of hearing because we play the TV so loud, (but really that’s just to cover up the sounds of our nooner on a Saturday after lunch.)
We realize that naps aren’t just for sleeping anymore. (Daytime sex is awesome, especially since most of our kids aren’t so “little” anymore. When they stopped taking naps, we started.)
We love Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass” (and buy lingerie with some structure so we too can keep “all the right junk in all the right places…”)
We understand that while the visual is important (that’s why, even at our “advanced” age, we’re STILL going to the gym,) that the pat on the butt and the “Can’t wait to see you tonight, the kids are staying with friends overnight…” as he’s going off to work can have a pretty daunting effect.
So as I work at being a Hot Mama in her 40’s, I want to give you a real glimpse of what it looks like:
My Hot Mama Marriage: Recently, I had breakfast with Elisa Morgan, the founder of MOPS. Elisa and I have known about each other for a long time, but hadn’t spent any time together until this breakfast. After the food had been placed on our table, she turned to me and said, “I want to know about you. Well, what I do know about you from Facebook is that you are madly in love with your husband.”
Yep – after the fact that I’m a Jesus girl, that’s the most important piece of information you could know about me. But it hasn’t come without a lot of struggle and pain.
Two divorces (one his, one mine,) two kids, two step kids, and two exes. Debt, death, and did I mention exes?
It hasn’t been an easy road, but now, in our forties (OK he’s in his fifties, but he acts like he’s in his forties – in the best way possible,) we have the gift of having a few years under our belt and being supremely and utterly comfortable with each other. It’s such a gift.
My Hot Mama Bedroom: OK – you know how all those romance books tell you to reserve your bedroom as a sanctuary for your romance?
For me? Not so much.
I run a business from my home, and grand central is a corner of our bedroom. BUT, one of the advantages of being in my late forties? Pretty soon all the bedrooms in our house will be vacant and I will have my own little office. I will be able to dedicate our bedroom just to bedroom activities (which include sleep, Seinfeld reruns, and sex. In that order.)
My Hot Mama Exercise Routine:
I was trying to be a runner.
Until the scourge of Planter Fasciitis hit. And now I’m a walker. (But at least I’m not using a walker, so that’s a good thing, right?)
So while I’m not “crushing it”, I’m taking exercise more seriously than I ever have before. I’m walking a mile every single day, and have walked two 5Ks. I’m trying to challenge myself in new ways. And part of the reason is I can feel the difference when I exercise like never before. When I don’t move? I feel it for the rest of the day. That’s even more motivation than looking great – feeling great.
My Hot Mama Clothes:
I spend more money on my clothes now than I did when I was younger, but I’m also way more confident in what I look good in, and what I should avoid at all costs. And remember – confidence is sexy.
My Hot Mama Nights:
Monday through Friday? I love to cook a good dinner, and after a long, long day, relax with my man for an hour or so, (I get up at 5 AM, so the hour between 7 and 8 PM is the best one I have,) where, if Roger had his druthers, I would spend the entire time scratching his back (and sometimes, that’s exactly what happens,) and then Roger goes back to work in his office (his team is India) and I wind down for bed.
Hot – right?
But that connecting during the week pays off on the weekend when we go out with friends or travel on the weekends. It’s a comfortable routine, with a little hot thrown in on a regular basis.
My Hot Mama Sex Life Challenges:
Let’s be honest – if you’ve hit the forties, you’ve noticed some changes in your sex life. Physically, things have changed – for you and for him.
It’s at this point, you can’t be shy about talking to your doctor. There are meds, there are over the counter helps. Don’t be shy! Your great sex life depends on it!
My Hot Mama Confidence:
I am absolutely more confident than I was in my 20’s or even my 30’s. In your 40’s, you stop trying to please the world and start working on pleasing the ones that are important. In my case, that’s God, my husband, and in my forties, I can finally say, myself.
Are you a hot mama in your 30’s? Then head on over to Erin MacPherson, my co-author’s post about hot to pull off being a Hot Mama when you still have some kiddo in the house… http://wp.me/p33YCp-Kz
Hey friends- this is Kathi. I could NOT be more thrilled to have Shaunti Feldhahn on the blog today. This woman changed the course of my marriage with her book For Women Only – Understanding the secret Lives of Men and now she’s done it again with her latest book. Keep reading! And don’t forget to comment at the end and be entered in to win all five of our books featured this week!
Show him you’re safe with his secrets – including one key burden he has probably never shared.
Ladies, did you know your man has a secret? It may not even be an intentional secret, mind you, but a very personal burden that often stays hidden by default. Nearly all men face it, but few feel able to really talk about it with their wives. Yet if we know how to talk to our husbands about this and show them that they can talk to us about it, we will learn so much more about each other and go to a new level of intimacy we didn’t realize we were missing.
Here’s the secret burden: even the most honorable, godly man today lives in a culture saturated with enticing images that he cannot avoid, and which stimulate his brain in a sexual way even if he does not want them to.
When I first started doing research about men, I was stunned to realize that this applied even to men who were very trustworthy, even to men who worked to keep their thought lives pure, even to men who adored their wives and wanted to honor their wives (and God) in their choices. And it wasn’t just other men – it was my man! I started to realize that there was big part of my husband’s life, including how his brain processed the world every day, about which I was completely clueless.
[Tweet “The Secret He Secretly Wishes You Knew by @ShauntiFeldhahn #bettermarriage5”]
And if I was missing a big part of my husband’s life, wouldn’t there always be a limit to how close we could be? I didn’t want him to carry a burden on his own only because he didn’t know how to talk about it – or didn’t know if he could trust me with it.
So I started to ask questions, tentatively at first. (“Um… What do you think, when you see something like that hot woman in the skin-tight shirt who just walked past us at Target?”) And he started to give some answers, definitely tentatively at first. (“Uh… why do you want to know…?”)
But as I showed him that I wasn’t going to bash or condemn, but truly just wanted to understand (“Honestly, honey, it’s because I love you and just want to understand what life is like for you”) he began to open up and share things we’d never talked about before.
Some of it was hilarious. (“She must have paid a lot of money for those.”) Frankly, some of it was hard to hear. (“Well, OK, to be honest, sometimes when I see someone almost undressed, there’s this micro-second flash of wanting to picture what she might look like if she is undressed. And then I have to immediately stop that flash and think about that work email instead.”) There were times I was sad, or hurt, as my husband shared certain struggles he’d had on and off over the years. But I tried so hard to not let those feelings control me and instead tried to show my husband that I wanted him to be able to share what was going on inside him.
Because as I began to do more of the research on the male brain wiring, I began to realize: men’s brains are actually designed by God to be visually stimulated in this way, because the only revealing image a man was ever supposed to see was of his wife! And yet today, this culture is filled will very public images that were only supposed to be seen in private. Our men and boys are living in a visual minefield.
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Some men make rigorous choices to look away, look down, take those thoughts captive. Others have grown weary of that struggle and have given into the temptation to look at things that they shouldn’t have, and many feel great shame in doing so. Still others—although a much smaller number – have become trapped or addicted.
Yet many of them have one thing in common: they wish they could talk to their wives about it. They wish they could open up about their struggles. They wish they could come in from a particularly bad day at work and say, without fear of condemnation, “Wow, Kerri at the office missed doing up those top two buttons on her shirt again and I couldn’t focus on a thing she was saying.” Or if they are trapped in looking at porn, something deep inside sometimes wants to come into the light and get help – and yet the self-protective side says “no way!” So all of it stays hidden. All too often, a man handles all of this on his own.
But I think lots of us as women wouldn’t want our men to handle this all on their own. That was one of the main things that spurred me to do the research that became my book For Women Only and later, my new book Through A Man’s Eyes. I wanted my husband to know that I was safe to talk to about this, even as he also knew that if there were any real issues (which, thankfully, there hadn’t been in recent years), I would expect him to get help. And once we started talking about this, once he saw I wouldn’t freak out or condemn, we found that if we could talk about this in a healthy way, we could talk about anything.
I urge all my sisters out there: show your husband that you are safe to talk to. Even if you are hearing some difficult things, show him you love and support him anyway and you’ll walk with him through it. Learning how to talk about those things you’ve never talked about before will take your marriage to a whole new dimension of intimacy. A place where you have no secrets and where you know and love each other fully, regardless.
Sounds a lot like what marriage was supposed to be, all along.
To win a copy of all 5 books featured this week, leave a comment below!
Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ?ndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.
Hey friends- this is kathi. you are going to love my friend sheila wray gregoire and her thoughts on sex (yes – it is for you, too!) I love how she honors marriage, wives and husbands all in one fell swoop. don’t forget to comment at the end and be entered in to win all five of our books featured this week!
[Tweet “Sex is for you too! @sheilagregoire and how to make #sex and your #marriage great! #bettermarriage5”]
My husband and I have been married for 24 years and happily married for 21.
Most of our early problems were with sex. It was uncomfortable, icky, and awkward. The more Keith wanted it, the more I felt he only loved me for what I could do for him. So I would pray, “God, please help him see how much he’s hurting me. Help him just to love me again.” I’d pour out my heart, certain that the God who wipes away tears would hear me and answer me.
I did everything I felt the church had told me to do: I prayed. I cast my cares on God. I drew close to Jesus. Yet my prayers didn’t work. Keith still wanted sex! And he still got grumpy when I wasn’t frisky.
I wanted a marriage where my husband understood and cherished and valued me. Didn’t I deserve that? So what was Keith’s problem? And more to the point, what was God’s problem? I was doing my part, after all.
After I had prayed for two exhausting years that Keith would start caring about me, God put a thought into my head: Do you believe the only one who can fix this relationship is Keith? Don’t you have something to do with it?
I didn’t particularly like that thought, and so I vehemently argued with myself–and with God–about why changing was impossible. Even if we only considered sex, how was I supposed to enjoy something so gross and uncomfortable?
Then another thought hit me even harder: If God says that sex is good, and the whole world says that sex is good, maybe you should start figuring out how to make sex good.
[Tweet “God showed @sheilagregoire that she needed to figure out why #sex wasn’t good. #bettermarriage5”]
I was stunned. If that thought was right, then the responsibility fell on me to do something about my struggle. I had to stop thinking sex was awful and start thinking, Sex is great—I just don’t have it all figured out yet. The problem may have started in the bedroom, but it wasn’t a problem with sex. It was a problem with how I was thinking.
A lot of us in church have awfully lousy thinking about sex. Maybe it’s for good reason–we were sexually abused or assaulted; we grew up thinking sex was shameful; we are burdened by a promiscuous past.
But then there’s the added burden that the Christian message about sex throws at us, and it goes something like this:
Just do it! Men need it, and if you don’t satisfy him, he’ll be super-tempted and might fall.
Wow, has anyone ever considered how totally UNsexy that message is? Just have sex–or your husband will cheat on you! Definitely not cool.
And also definitely a misunderstanding of what God created sex for.
You see, what I learned in my sexual journey is that there is a vast difference between just having sex and making love. Having sex has to do with the body; making love is an intimate joining on so many levels–physical, spiritual, and emotional. And actually, the closer you are emotionally and spiritually, the better the physical feels anyway!
The church is getting so concerned with things like porn that sometimes we give the “Just Have Sex” message a little too much, without elaborating on WHY we should just have sex. So let me share with you some of the things that I needed to learn about why sex is great for me, too (and not just for my husband!). When I started thinking this way about sex, then suddenly I wasn’t searching for my “No Trespassing” flannel nightgown anymore:
Sex helps you “let go”
We women have a non-stop to-do list in our brains every minute of the day. But sex is a way to turn all of that off and just feel. You don’t have to think. You don’t even have to do much of anything. You just get to experience your husband.
With sex, you can’t be a control freak. You have to let it just happen–or it won’t feel very good. That chance to turn off your brain, for just a few minutes, is a real gift.
Sex helps us sleep
How many times have you said, “not tonight, because I’m just too tired,” only to toss and turn all night because you know your husband is disappointed. And then the next day you’re so defensive you push him away?
But the nights that we do make love I fall asleep almost immediately and sleep so deeply! So now when I’m tired, I say, “Come put me to sleep, Baby!”
Making love helps you feel closer
When Keith and I haven’t made love in a while, it drives me nuts that he bites his nails. On the days after we do connect, though, I don’t even notice.
Making love truly covers a multitude of minor annoyances.
When you connect, you feel closer. You feel like, “everything’s okay.” We’re a team. When you don’t, then you’re always a little defensive about the relationship. And that’s why we tend to get more ticked off by little things!
Making love helps us “know” each other
No one else knows the things about me that Keith does, because this is something we only experience together. And the longer we’ve been married, the more “wild” I can be. It’s like everything that we do can become truly sacred, because we’re doing it together.
I feel this most after a fight. After we’ve let words fly perhaps a little too fast, and we’ve emptied ourselves emotionally, suddenly we’re so drawn to each other. We’ve become so vulnerable with each other that we need to connect even more.
It was the same the night that our son died. There we were, in total and complete anguish, and we turned to each other. Not because we were turned on in any way, but because there was this gaping hole that only the other person could fill. And we needed that intimacy.
Our culture–even our Christian culture–has made sex seem like it’s just for men. And it’s reduced sex to something purely physical. But it’s not. Making love is so much more. You empty yourself. You bare yourself. You truly see each other. And then, after all that, you can truly relax and find peace. That’s a wonderful gift!
And if sex can do all that, and you’re not experiencing it yet, don’t settle for that! Make this the most fun research project you’ve ever done with your husband. God made sex to be amazing. When we start believing that, and stop believing all the gross things we’ve heard about sex, then maybe, just maybe, we can truly make love, too.