SWM 056 – How To Feel Connected During Sex
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What does it mean to feel “connected” during sex. For many spouses, when their husband or wife says “I don’t feel connected during sex”, they get quite confused. They’re thinking “I am literally inside of you/you are literally inside of me, how can we be MORE connected?!”
But of course, they’re not talking about a physical connection, but rather an emotional, mental or spiritual connection.
And unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a problem that is actually solvable as is. I don’t think there’s any such thing as an emotional, mental or spiritual connection. I think we made those things up to express how we feel. But, I don’t think they actually exist. Rather, I think we should be looking at what’s behind those feelings to try and solve the problem of not feeling “connected”.
What is Spiritual Connection?
Let’s start by taking a step back and not talking about sex for a moment. Let’s talk about church. If you talk to people after a church service about their experience, it’s amazing the responses you’ll get. In the same sermon, you can have one person who “really felt the LORDs presence” and another who felt “God wasn’t here today”. One will say the sermon was directly from God and another will say it lacked God’s inspiration. Some will say the music was heavenly, and others will say the music was too much like a concert (or an elevator). Some that the prayers were heartfelt and powerful, others that the prayers were long and boring.
How can people who all listened to the same thing, in the same room at the same time have so many different opinions about the service and its connection to God?
And the simple answer can be found in scripture:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
For I the Lord do not change;
God is always there, and God is unchanging. He was in the room during that service and all the other services. He’s with you in the auditorium, He’s with you in the hallway, in the parking lot, the bathroom and the bedroom. God is always there. Always focused 100% on you, always loving, always caring, always calling you hoping for your attention.
What then is what people call “spiritual connection”?
Some people think that we have this tenuous “thing” called a soul, and that somehow that soul connects to God on some spiritual level. However, I don’t think the Bible teaches that. I think the Bible is clear that we don’t have a soul – we are a soul. There’s nothing magical about what people call a spiritual connection. Rather, I think it’s simply that our expectations of what a connection should be like is being met.
For some, they feel connected when the sermon is passionate, exciting, when the pastor is yelling, has this cadence to his voice, is stomping around the stage, thumping his Bible. They hear that sermon, and they feel connected. For others, they like a sermon that’s quiet, contemplative, thought provoking. One that has pauses to give you a chance to reflect. It lets out some new tidbits of knowledge that give context and understanding to your walk with God. They hear that and feel connected.
But you’ll likely never have these two people feeling connected about the same sermon. God was always there but their expectations of what that connection feels like weren’t met.
And the same can be said for worship styles, for types of music, for orders of worship and for prayers. During prayer, some people feel connected, when they feel their needs are being prayed for. So, they hear a congregational prayer that says something like “Lord, I know some people here are hurting, lift them up”, and they’re hurting, they feel heard, they feel connected. For others, they like prayers that make them feel repentant and forgiven. That sense of accountability makes them feel connected, like God is watching over them, pushing them to grow.
But the sermon, music and prayers are the same. It’s the individual that has their expectations met, or not.
Back to the bedroom
So, then what about feeling connected in the bedroom? I think it’s much the same way. Some believe that our souls are overlapping or reconnecting, but that’s not a bible-based belief. Rather, it’s based in Plato’s teachings from The Symposium.
I think the truth is that, as above, we have our preferences that inform our expectations. We have the things we like that make us feel connected. And yes, now we’re dealing with humans on both sides, so their focus can drift, they can be more or less enthusiastic at each session, but the basic premise is still the same:
We have expectations that need to be met in order for us to feel connected.
And I think a lot of the time, we don’t know what our expectations are. Do you know what makes you feel connected in the bedroom?
I asked this on Instagram and Facebook and quite a few people shared their answers. Some of them were:
- Eye contact
- Hearing my spouse’s voice during sex / Language / Words
- Being face to face
- More foreplay
- Talking before sex
- When my spouse reads my body language and responds
- All day / non-sexual interactions
- Prayer before sex
Some people overlapped, having similar or even the same expectations, others were quite different – and that’s okay. These are personal preferences.
The problem we get into is when people start to think they are principles rather than preferences, that our spouse should know our preferences because they are universal truths, when we judge others for having different preferences, or when when we think our spouse is being selfish, crude, animalistic, or perverted if our preferences don’t get met every time you have sex.
And you might laugh at that idea, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are men and women out there who believe that any sexual act besides missionary position, face to face, is not fit for married couples. Sometimes they’re mad at me for suggesting otherwise. Sometimes their spouses email me in tears because they don’t know how to make their spouse see any differently and they’re frankly hurt by their spouses lack of vulnerability – their unwillingness to step out of their comfort zone with them.
On the other side, there are also men and women who feel the strongest connection when they or their spouse is face down, tied spread-eagle while blindfolded and they’re using multiple erogenous zones and techniques at the same time to bring about a variety of sensations culminating in massive orgasms. But sometimes they or their spouses email me too saying that sometimes it would be nice to just hold each other and have some slow, romantic sex and asking how to bring that up with their husband or wife.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, or that both are extremes and the truth is in the middle. All I’m saying is that we need to recognize these are preferences. They are how we feel connected. There is no actual connection. There is merely two people, focusing on each other, both with their own set of expectations of what good, connected sex looks and feels like.
Why is it important that connection is misunderstood?
Because it changes that connection from something that’s magic to something that we can make practical changes to affect.
When we believe in things like spiritual connections or emotional connections, then it’s not based in a real world. It’s not something we can do anything about. When we feel God is not present, we are lost, what can we do to get His attention if He chooses to withhold it? Absolutely nothing. Look at some of David’s Psalms and see the despair when he believes God isn’t paying attention.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
When you believe that connection is some mystical force, or because the other person isn’t focusing on their side of the “connection”, then you have little hope. What can you do? Especially if you don’t even know what causes that connection.
But if you recognize that “connection” is merely an abstracted concept of us having undisclosed expectations that either get met, or don’t, then it’s now partially our responsibility to feel connected. If you don’t tell your spouse “I feel connected when …”, then how can they be expected to meet that expectation?
However, if you accept that these are just your preferences, not universal truths, or some unmeasurable, unknowable force that connects some mystical part of your being, then you can do something about it.
You can tell your spouse “I need xyz to feel connected”. You can ask them what they need to feel connected. You can recognize that those two things might be mutually exclusive.
You can also realize that your preferences are just preferences, and preferences can change, they can grow, they can expand. They can learn to enjoy new situations, new activities, new expressions.
And of course, we like the things we know we like. We prefer them. We might even think that we don’t like things we’ve never tried. My children all went through this phase. Up until about a month or less ago, as soon as he heard that it was time to eat dinner, my 5 year old immediately started screaming “I DON’T WANT SUPPER!”. Why? Because it’s probably not going to be pizza which is his favourite food right now. The funny times are when it turns out to be pizza, then he gets this embarrassed look on his face.
Either way, he still has to eat dinner, and usually he eats it – it’s not bad, it’s just not pizza. And sometimes he’s surprised by how much he likes it. He gets this look on his face at that first bite, turns to us and says, with astonishment, “This is actually good!” Each time, we tell him the same mantra – it’s good to try new things! In the last few weeks, he’s started to outgrow this and learn that new things are sometimes good.
I wonder how many spouses say “NO, I DON’T WANT TO TRY THAT!” when it comes to sexual activities because it’s not their favourite and they can’t even conceive of liking anything else. I wonder how many have been taught, explicitly or implicitly, that there’s a “proper” way to have sex, and that makes them feel connected and other ways aren’t valid.
I wonder how many couples are missing out on really good sexual experiences that would benefit their marriage, simply because they’re trying to grasp on to a “connection” that they believe exists.
I wonder how many refuse to bless their spouses in ways that would make their spouse feel connected because they refuse to have sex where they themselves don’t feel as connected.
How do you improve the feeling of connection during sex?
Recognize it’s just a feeling, not reality. Talk about what generates that feeling in you and ask your spouse what generates that feeling in them.
Then, craft experiences where those expectations and preferences are met. Either for one of you, or both. But, don’t be afraid to experiment with experiences where there’s a chance neither will be.
You might be surprised to find a new method of feeling connected. Either way, you’ll learn something new about each other – and that knowing and being known can help produce those same feelings.
If you’ve been stuck in a rut for a long time, maybe try something like our Spice Jar, which I designed to help couples shake things up. Yeah, you’ll likely have a few encounters where both of you say “this didn’t work for me”, but you might find some new ones that spark something in you.
We also have a printable called Our Sexploration List which is a massive 25 page resource with hundreds of sexual activities on it.
Or, if you feel you need a more strategic and focused approach to get things moving, check out our marriage coaching to really give your marriage a push in the right direction.
In the meantime, keep exploring. Remember – it’s good to try new things.
14 thoughts on “SWM 056 – How To Feel Connected During Sex”
Sometimes, I think we think of love and sex as being two different, unconnected things. But I think most women want sex to be the ultimate expression of their love life. We men can drift into a mindset where we love our wife, then we have sex with our wife that is all about the physical, her body parts, what she looks in this position or that, what we want her to say or do sexually, until we orgasm, the sex ends, and we return to being the man who loves his wife.
I have found that if I focus on my wife as the person I love, while I am having sex with her, she really appreciates that. She knows sex is a lot about the physical for me, but when I stroke her hair, kiss her lovingly, and look into her eyes and tell her I love her while I am actually orgasming inside her, she feels loved and connected. And that is how sex is supposed to make her feel, I believe.
Thanks Kevin for this great comment. It is very well explained and helpful. I agree 100%. I really love my wife, she is an amazing woman, and partner, mother, and I blessed to be married to her. But, when making love I used to focus (perhaps naturally) only on the physical elements. My wife,however, was left mostly dissatisfied. I agree with Kevin, “most women want sex to be the ultimate expression of their love life.” For most women it is important for sex to be an act of intimacy, to really feel like a connection. Especially for my wife, I learned sex is an expression of love.
Things have dramatically improved for us when I began concentrating on my wife as a woman that I love. As we are making love, I think and focus on all the wonderful things she does every day for our family, on her kindness, humor and love. She can see the love in my eyes. As I am stroking in and out of her, I kiss her lovingly, look into her eyes, tell her that I love her, and gently caress her hair and cheeks. Importantly, I think she feels loved, cherished, and appreciated during sex.
Ufff, that was one of the least useful or correct articles I’ve ever read in my life, especially about sex. It’s a shame that those who follow Satan’s various religions, spiritual traditions and teachings, know far more about sexual connection than Christians. And yes, there is such a thing as non-physical connection, it’s real, it’s tangible. And no DO NOT go to Satan’s many sources and read up about it, instead go directly to God, and He will teach you.
How can it be non-physical and tangible (perceptible by touch)?
I’d love to see some verses you have on creating a connection during sex if you have them.
Terrible article- especially the ending focused on trying new things…
The Holy Spirit works in many ways. He was sent to comfort, and be a counselor in John 14 or 15.
2 Cor 5:8- To be absent from the body is present with the Lord. Also see 2 Cor 12.
I doubt any woman feels “connection” just by trying some new positions or being extra kinky that day during sex.
She feels connected when she is known in all her ways of being (mother, friend, personality, preferences etc) like the other guys’ comments mentioned. And her man looks at her as a whole PERSON. Not a bunch of body parts and angles for him to look at & have different sexual experiences with solely. But where they are experiencing sex together enjoying each other. (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with changing things up or expanding the menu per se.)
It sounds like the author is very focused on the different sexual experiences, may have a chart or graph either in his mind or on paper of everything his wife does or will do during sex. (Anal sex? Check. Blow job? Check. ) Which If that’s IT, to me as a woman would make me want to leave my body there for him to have sex with and to take my soul and brain/head to go and watch a movie in another room. There’d be no need for me to be present;)
I think you just proved the point of the article – that connection is highly dependent on the individual’s particular needs, expectations and desires.
But, no, you’re wrong about the checklist for me. My wife could do all those things and still not meet what makes me feel connected – what I really desire to feel connected is for her to be present and enthusiastic. So, no, leaving her body would absolutely ruin the experience for me.
I remember reading this post when it was first published and being disappointed. Now, reading some of the comments, I can better articulate what I thought the piece was missing. Love and sex are deeply intertwined. Having sex with my husband is an expression of our love. And, like the other wife has said in the comments above, what a woman needs to feel connected is to be acknowledged as a person and not just seen as body parts. For a woman to feel connected, sex needs to be experienced together. I want to feel my husband see and value all the aspects of me as a woman: wife, mother, friend, partner, caretaker. Sex is an expression of this. I want my husband to look at me when we are making life, I want to him to see me (and only me), and I want to feel that he values me and cares for me as a whole person. Sometimes it means him actually saying that he cares for me during sex, perhaps when he pauses to gently stroke my hair or kiss me. And sometimes words are not necessary as I can feel the love and tenderness in his eyes. Any woman who felt that would know what I am talking about. A new kinky position or experience wouldn’t make me feel any more connected to him. Actually, it would probably make me feel disconnected from my husband. I do not want my husband staring at my naked behind as I am looking at the wall in front of me. That’s disgusting. Perhaps, the author just has an agenda (as men do sometimes), but I urge him to put this in one of the surveys and see for yourself. I am certain most women will agree with me. Anyway, as a few previous comments mentioned, a very simple how to feel connected tip would be for a man to consciously and deliberately focus on their wife as a woman that they love during sex. Focus on all that elements (her kindness, her love, her support, how she cares for him and their family, her being a good mother, how she wished him luck for his important presentation, etc.) and not just the physical. That is a recipe for a real connection. In case you think I am making this up. My husband and I have actually struggled with our sex life and connecting early in our relationship. We went for marriage counselling offered at our church. It was there that my husband leaned this technique and sex has been wonderful ever since. I am very grateful for it.
I feel perhaps I didn’t do a good job of conveying the point then. I mentioned the things you did as being what some people need to feel connected.
Different people feel that connection through different means. For some, it’s going to be the focused attention you describe. For others – the “my husband staring at my naked behind as I am looking at the wall in front of me” really works for them. Some would vote to add cuffs and hair-pulling to feel really connected. For some, reminding them of all the “outside of the bedroom” stuff is a real turnoff. The idea of being watched as intently as you describe would be distracting.
The point is, figure out what works for you and communicate about it because there’s no such thing as connection – only expectations and preferences which need to be discussed in order to be met effectively. That was the agenda of the post – to get people to talk about what they need. I’m not sure what sort of agenda you thought I might have other than that.
I do agree it would make an interesting survey though – I’ll add that to my list.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I apologize if my comment came across as harsh. I guess I felt that my view of how to feel connected during sex represented the majority opinion. Based on the few comments to this post, at least, it seems that way. I am sure you’ve seen other points of view too, as you describe some couples prefer BDSM practices to feel connected. However, I do not think we are talking about the same connection here. Can you really equate being tied up and roughly handled to gentle love and devotion to your spouse? You also say “for some, reminding them of all the “outside of the bedroom” stuff is a real turnoff.” By “some” do you mean some men? If yes, perhaps that’s a problem. I would like my husband to value and love and appreciate all the aspects of me as a woman, especially those outside the bedroom. What defines me and what I am most proud of is being a mother and a home maker, not of my physical attributes. If a man is turned off by the thought of his wife as a mother or home maker, then I think it’s a big issue. For sex to be a communication of love, a man’s sexual desire should be invigorated by his wife as a person, and not just an object in the bedroom. And if it is not, that is something to work on, rather than dismissing it as a preference. My husband had to work very hard at it, and I prayed everyday during those trying times for him and for us, and now we are both happier and more fulfilled.
I would say quite a few would prefer what you call BDSM practices (I think your inclusion of practices would be broader than mine), but I’m curious to see what a survey would say.
I did a survey quite a while back that didn’t really encapsulate this, but it did find that more women than men prefer rougher sex, and more men than women preferred more gentle sex – at least in my audience.
No. Actually, I’ve never heard a man express this. Quite the opposite – most of the time men are desperate for that sort of attention and respect. In my experience, it is 100% of the time women who find that being reminded of the “outside of the bedroom stuff” to be distracting and a turn-off that pulls them out of the mood.
This is not an idea I was expressing in my comments, though there are definitely some who suffer from a Madonna/whore complex as you describe. I believe it’s fairly rare though. If anything I find most men find it very arousing that their prime and proper wife in day-to-day functions is acting so erotic and sexual when alone. In fact, I think it’s why men are willing to go along with many of those “BDSM practices” that their wives suggest (yes, it’s often the wives suggesting them) because it’s arousing to see that juxtaposition. It’s generally the women who struggle to reconcile the mother/wife roles together and tend to find it much easier to compartmentalize them rather than integrate the two. When you remind them of their role as a mother/homemaker, you break their compartmentalization that’s so important to their ability to maintain arousal. I think one of the reasons they tend to like “BDSM practices” is because it helps compartmentalize the roles as well as remove the burden of responsibility from them as they struggle to find themselves as erotic beings. So, being able to relegate the sexual responsibility to their husband helps maintain that compartmentalization even further.
“For sex to be a communication of love, a man’s sexual desire should be invigorated by his wife as a person, and not just an object in the bedroom.” (Melanie wrote) Right. I think most women would agree 🙂
“The point is, figure out what works for you and communicate about it because there’s no such thing as connection – only expectations and preferences which need to be discussed in order to be met effectively. That was the agenda of the post” (JayDee) I think most women would have an issue with your saying that “there’s no such thing as connection”. Connection is the MAIN reason most women would want sex. They want to experience connection. Closeness. Oneness. To be loved for exactly who they are. Wife, mom, friend, lover etc. as a whole. While men experience that connection when their wives are fully engaged with them and believe in them as a guy. When a wife lets them know how amazing he is- most often shown by her orgasm. He wants to know that HE did that for her. Right? This is how he feels respected. Am I missing something?
I’ll try to explain my point better. Yes, I agree, many women seek that connection, however, there is no such thing. It’s an abstraction of a variety of different inputs. We call many things connections when there actually isn’t a connection. When a car is connected to a trailer, we can point to the connection. From both the car and the trailer’s vantage point, we can both agree, objectively, that there is a connection. Likewise with a circuit, whether you run the circuit forward or backwards, there is a path that the electrons flow through – the connection. It’s objective and real.
With other things, we pretend there is a connection when in fact there isn’t. For example, we look at our cell phone and when we have a signal, we say it has a connection to the cell tower – but that’s not actually true. There’s no connection to point to. There isn’t an active signal going back and forth. In fact, our phones don’t actually get “called”. Rather, our phones constantly check the nearest tower to see if there is an incoming call, then, if there is, it rings. Likewise, with websites, there isn’t a connection. The information you send doesn’t travel down a singular path to get there and back. In fact, it’s split into many small packets of data that may or may not arrive in the same order you sent them. One side might consider the other to be connected, and the other might not, depending on when the last data piece was sent.
In cases like that when there isn’t a connection, but it acts as if there is, we abstract the idea and call it a connection to make the concept easier to talk about – but it’s an abstraction, not reality.
Likewise, with relationships, there is no connection, merely the perception of one. You cannot point to the connection, you can’t even objectively evaluate it because one spouse might feel a connection and the other might feel no connection. It’s entirely a subjective abstraction of what’s really going on – expectations and preferences, being met or not.
That’s why one can have a sexual encounter with a spouse and one side feel it was really connecting – because they got what they were expecting out of it and it met their criteria – and the other didn’t. This is why communication is important, because if we rely on “connection”, then we’re only listening to our perspective.
That was my point – to communicate so that the pieces that you call a connection can actually be there rather than merely assumed based on one spouse’s experience of feeling connected. I think that’s what you’re actually searching for when you’re looking for connection but most people don’t have the words for it, so they call it a connection. Also, it’s shorter than explaining the whole thing, which I apparently couldn’t even adequately accomplish with 2,000+ words 🙂
Does that clarify my stance?
I saw that there seems to be a debate around this post and wanted to add my two cents. Male perspective here. Sorry Jay, but I got to agree with Melanie and “a happy wife” here. You seem to imply that there is not such thing as a connection. I disagree, I think sex within marriage is special exactly because such a connection can only happen within a marriage. The secret is exactly as the previous comments said to focus on your wife as a person. Sex is a physcial manifestation of love that I feel for my wife. And it has not always been like that, I think it rarely is for men. In fact, it was only after we’ve had kids that my love for my wife deepened immensely and sex became different. My wife is an incredible mother, I have such tremendous respect and love for her, and the sacrifices she makes for our family. I admire her so much, and those are the feelings that I focus on during sex. Like Melanie said “What defines me and what I am most proud of is being a mother and a home maker, not of my physical attributes. If a man is turned off by the thought of his wife as a mother or home maker, then I think it’s a big issue.” Those are exactly the qualities that attract me to my wife. In fact, given that you are anti porn, I would have assumed that you would be promoting this more wholesome, special, loving type of sex more. I do not think I was ever “addicted”, but I have used porn on occasion before. It has been years since I had even an inkling to watch some. The reason is because vacuous sex (images of sex) do nothing for me. What turns me on and what I want to experience in sex is making love to my wife, connecting with my wife, showing my wife my love. I do not see any other women as sexual objects primarily because sex is about my wife and I and our love. I do not see how you can argue against that.
Welcome to the discussion.
I don’t see my post as promoting any activity in particular other than communication – in fact, that was the point that I failed to make clear it seems – that what some people feel is more connecting will not be felt as more connecting for others – even between spouses. SO, you have to communicate about what makes you feel connected and hopefully find something that makes you both feel connected. This occurs outside of sex too. Some people feel connected sitting and watching TV with someone – it’s a shared experience. Others would consider that the opposite of connecting because there’s no conversation, you’re both just watching TV.
As for there being a “real” connection – could you please tell me how that connection is established? Is it chemical? Electrical? Magnetic? Can you point to the connection and say “there it is”? Can you measure it? Quantify it? No, of course not, because it doesn’t exist. It’s an abstracted concept, not a real, concrete thing. That’s why one person can feel a connection and the other person doesn’t. It’s entirely subjective to the individual, and thus it doesn’t exist as objective reality. Ergo – there’s no connection.
Now, you’ve found things that work to make both you and your wife feel connected, and that’s awesome. That was what I was suggesting you do. But let me be clear – it’s a feeling, not an actual connection – there is no such thing, just because you’ve found an overlapping thing that makes you feel connected doesn’t mean there is an actual connection. Now, in practicality for you, it doesn’t matter. You both feel there is, so it works. But for others, one can feel connected, and the other doesn’t – and that’s who the post was intended to help.