5 Steps to Better Sex in 2019
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a married person say, “I hope my sex life never gets more enjoyable than it is right now.” Sex is one of those areas of marriage that can always be improved upon. If your sex life with your spouse is going well, just imagine what awaits around the corner with a little hard work and intentionality! And if it’s not going well, these five steps can help move you on a journey toward something more fulfilling, satisfying, and intimacy-building in your marriage.
American culture has the strangest double-edged approach to sexuality. It’s celebrated in pop culture. PG-13 movies are getting more and more aggressive with their degree of explicitness every year, as are our network and cable television shows. Film & TV characters are shamed by their friends for wanting to take it slow in relationships. Victoria’s Secret stores plaster 10-foot-tall images of barely clothed women in the windows of their stores, which thousands of kids pass in the mall every day. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue are still things that exist, because of reasons. Sex. Is. Everywhere. Even recent attempts to class-up some of our most sexually aggressive pop-culture icons don’t have a strong impact on the culture at large. HBO recently dropped all pornographic films and television shows from its programming content, and social media app tumblr recently made moves to ban pornography from its platform. Meanwhile, in 2018 alone, quote-unquote news site Buzzfeed published about a dozen articles on PornHub, the biggest porn site in the world, most of which were meant to be fun or funny. These publications included PornHub’s annual “Year-in-Review,” which was also published in Spanish, because, you know, cultural sensitivity and whatnot.
But when we move out of the pop culture sphere and into our own homes, sex continues to be a taboo topic, especially among many conservative Christians. As sex and sexual issues such as the legalization of sex work, rights and legal protections for transgendered individuals and alternative sexualities, the Free the Nipple movement, the proliferation of sexual assault, & more, it seems that many of us are growing increasingly uncomfortable discussing sex at all for fear that we’ll open a massive can of worms that we’ll never be able to close again. And all of that isn’t even to mention the good ol’ classic reasons for being scared to talk about sex: embarrassment, rejection, lack of education, etc. Carly and I prepared 5 couples to walk down the aisle last year, and we’re already starting on the next group, with a handful of clients who are planning to get married this year. And as we get closer to the big day with each of them, we have honest and open discussions about their expectations about sex in their marriage and any pre-existing knowledge they have about sex. More often than not, we’re astonished to discover how little intentional instruction or guidance of any kind from their parents or any other mentors.
I don’t think that’s unique to this generation, either. Many of us went into our marriages unprepared for what sex would be really like and ill-equipped to have constructive conversations with our spouses about our needs and desires. But this year, we want to say, “No more!” We hope this will be the year that Christians all over the world wade bravely into the public ethos and add a voice to the discourse surrounding sex that promotes health, love, intimacy, respect, education, and God’s design. With that in mind, here are 5 things you can do to improve your own sex life. Our prayer is that you’re brave enough in 2019 to share a little bit about what you experience with these exercises to help someone who’s either been too nervous or unprepared to take the first steps on their own.
Let’s start with the hardest step - the one that most directly responds to the issues above. If you want to improve your sex life with your spouse, you have to be honest and direct. I was watching a talk show interview with a well-known actor named Dax Shepard the other day, and a woman from the audience had a question for him. “How do I tell my husband of five years that his favorite position is my least favorite position?” My answer to that question? Just like that. Forgive me as I make a generalization, but many times it’s difficult for men to talk about their desires out of fears of seeming ignorant or impotent, or getting rejected sexually. But for women, talking about their desires can often lead to getting rejected emotionally and relationally, being pressured into things they’re not comfortable with, or being ridiculed, shamed, and manipulated because of their feelings. As men, it’s our responsibility to create a sexual environment in our marriages that invites our wives to be forthright and open with us, and assures them that their communication will be welcomed, attended to, and respected. However, many of us, male and female, might be in a sexually supportive relationship where communication would be well received and just not realize it. It’s a cliche and an old one, but nevertheless true that our spouses are not mind-readers. They cannot hope to try to meet our sexual needs if we don’t explain what they are! We must be brave in our relationships and tell our wives and our husbands how we really feel about what happens in the bedroom and what we really want. And certainly let’s not suffer through unenjoyable sex silently for five years.
Being educated sexually is crucial to a fulfilling sex life. The best way to get educated is experimentation and experience. It’s almost impossible to know what you enjoy sexually unless you’ve tried it. Same for your spouse! Learn your own preferences and your spouse’s just by trying some stuff out - the same way you discovered your favorite movies together, your favorite restaurants, whether or not you like having dogs or cats or hamsters in the house, or what your Christmas traditions would be. Don’t spend too much time wondering whether the stuff you’re wanting to try out is weird - just be honest and direct with your spouse about what you’re interested in and ask them if they’re willing to give it a shot! It’s important when trying new things to listen to both your body and your spouse’s body. The majority of human communication is body language, and a lot gets said during sex. You may try something and decide it wasn’t for you after all - your body will let you know that this isn’t as much fun as it seemed in your head. Likewise, your spouse may not be into it, although they may be more reluctant to say so out of a desire to ensure that you get to enjoy something you wanted to try. It’s important that you also pay attention to what your spouse’s body is saying to you so that you can be loving and respectful even while experimenting.
In the era of modern technology, few things can be more debilitating to the sex life of the married than cellphones, tablets, and smart TVs. For a lot of people, sex needs more than just a 30-second advance warning. Foreplay can last all day, if you’re doing it right. A light touch here, a hug and a kiss there, and you’re primed and ready to go when the time comes - after the kids go to sleep. But if you’ve been on your phone all day, or you put the kids to bed and immediately start watching Netflix or playing Fortnite, you’re gonna miss out on opportunities to connect to your spouse. Intimacy often happens in the quiet moments, with few distractions and with your mind focused on the one you love. But technology is so in your face, and so captivating, it’s nearly impossible to initiate meaningful, intimacy-building sex (or to properly respond to an invitation to sex) when most of your brain is off, neutered and numbed by Snapchat, Hulu, or SportsCenter. Set some time aside at the beginning of each night (or whenever works well in your schedule) to just exist unplugged together. Keep things quiet and keep screens dark and see where the night takes you!
For so many people, sex becomes kinda habitual - almost to the point of being ritualistic, albeit probably without the sense of awe or celebration. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni in the 2005 comedy Fun with Dick and Jane. Right as they start to get into it, they stop and one of them says something to the effect of, “Let’s have sex… on Saturday.” And the pair of them get so excited to have sex a few days later. They’re gonna pick up the new jazz sampler from Starbucks and maybe get a new candle. Because married people can only have sex once a week, and certainly not on a weeknight. NO! Married people can have sex whenever they can make it happen (provided, you know, it’s legal - I wouldn’t recommend public parks or anything). Break up the routine by bringing sex out of the bedroom in certain ways. If you don’t have kids to worry about, try different rooms in the house. Send a flirty text message in the early day. Stop by your spouse’s office at lunch time and drop off some roses, some chocolates, and a good, sexy kiss. Find creative, fun ways to show your spouse that you’re thinking about them throughout the day, and the bedroom will light up at night.
Finally, and we’ve said this before, but sex can and should be a spiritual experience. Sometimes ya just need to get it on with the one you love, but sometimes sex gets elevated to something beyond what’s happening between your bodies. It involves your soul, and becomes a concentrated version of the story of Jesus Christ and his relationship with the church. It becomes a story of self-sacrifice, where you’re focused on your spouse’s needs and happily sacrificing your own. And those moments are truly beautiful, and shouldn’t be few and far between. Choosing to spend time in prayer before, during, and/or after, can enhance your sex life in some amazing and unexpected ways. Creating spiritual intimacy encourages all the other kinds of intimacy. God created sex for our enjoyment. He wants those of us who are married to enjoy the gift He’s given us - but like everything else he does for us, the glory goes to him. Some of us may take sex for granted in our marriages and never think to say thank you, to invite God to bless our union, or to ask the Holy Spirit to enter into the experience and offer peace and comfort when sex is difficult. But sex is spiritual in nature as much as it is physical. Make 2019 the year you embrace that truth in your own relationship!
Thanks so much for reading our first blog of 2019! We’ll keep these coming every week. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, & Pinterest with the buttons at the top of the page, or post this article to the platform of your choice with the buttons below. Also, please feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to hear your questions or receive any feedback you’d like to offer! Finally, if you’ve found this information helpful at all, you should know that we get to sit in person with couples like you every week and help them through their relationships. We’d love it and be so grateful if you would consider making a donation to support our work so that we can keep serving couples in our community and all over the world! Thank you and enjoy 2019!