Today we’re answering questions we received in August from our anonymous Have A Question page. For those who are new to our podcast or blog, these are questions that people have submitted anonymously, so I can’t ask any follow up questions, for more context, or anything. We discuss them in our supporters forum as they come in, and once a month, I gather the previous month’s questions up and answer them all in a blog post and podcast episode.
So, without further ado, here’s the first question.
Question 1 – Negative Self-Talk
My wife and I love your podcast. Thanks for informing/educating us that I have a spontaneous drive and she has a responsive drive.
My situation is, my wife has been engaging in negative self-talk when we try to have weeknight sex because 1) she can’t warm up as fast as me, 2) she gets anxious/frustrated and can’t be in the moment because of time constraints, 3) is thinking about work in the morning, and 4) feels she’s broken because we sometimes need to use lube (which sometimes makes her itch) and she isn’t as wet as she expects herself to be.
I’ve read books and listened to your podcast for several months, so I’ve encouraged her that nothing is wrong with her, that it’ll take some time for her body to catch up (not hours, either, but even as little as 5 to 15 minutes), and thirdly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using lube… Do you have any suggestions on what I as her husband can do? How common is our/her concerns and thoughts? I encourage, I love, I don’t rush, I even made the call for us *not* to engage in sex, since she was clearly frustrated and anxious.
Alright, so, I’d say what you can do is have her listen to this podcast episode, or read the show notes on it. Let me be explicitly clear – there is nothing wrong with using lube. Sometimes people just need to hear it from someone other than your spouse.
Now, that said, the part about the lube making her itch is mildly concerning – that shouldn’t happen. So, maybe try a different lube. I was listening to something a few weeks ago (sorry, can’t remember what it was for the life of me), and they were mentioning that they had the same issue with lube. They had to try a dozen or so different ones before they could find one that didn’t cause a reaction.
And it’s different for different people. For some, the more synthetic lubricants are more likely to cause irritation. For others, the natural ones are. It all depends on how your body reacts to it. Synthetic lubricants, you can find in the store or on amazon. Natural ones that people tend to use are things like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and such. We tend to use Sweet Almond Oil ourselves, because it’s what my friend Denis over at Melt suggests for massages, and frankly, it’s a lot easier to transition from a massage to sex if you can use the same oil. Plus, it smells good, doesn’t have a strong taste, and just glides very nicely.
Now, if you’re using condoms, I can’t guarantee what affect coconut oil or almond oil will have on them. I get conflicting reports on whether or not they break them down. So, beware of that.
Secondly, yes, it’s perfectly normal to take time for your body to catch up if you’re not being pre-warmed up. 5-15 minutes is actually considered fairly quick. However, because of what we see in media, women tend to think they should just be ready to go at the drop of a hat. That’s generally not the case. As you said, you two have learned about responsive desire, and if you have responsive desire, well, it takes time to respond. That’s not usually simply like flipping a switch, but rather more like getting a big wheel turning. It takes a bit to build up the momentum.
So, yes, it’s perfectly normal. There’s nothing wrong with you, except maybe you need to find some lube that doesn’t cause irritation.
Other than that, what you can try is giving yourself a little more time for weeknight sex if possible. Maybe try giving her a massage to get her body started and relaxed. If you don’t know how, check out Melt. I highly recommend his couples massage classes. Another thing you can try is talking dirty – many of my readers have said that’s a game changer. If you can arouse your wife’s mind, there’s a pretty good chance her body will follow. If you don’t know where to start with that, I have a resource to help you get started.
Question 2 – Sex and Midnight Prayer
Can you have sex and perform midnight prayer?
Alright, so I had to look this one up. I’d never heard of “midnight prayer” before.
It turns out some people teach that prayers at midnight are more powerful than at other times. Personally, I think that’s nonsense – we, as Christians, believe in a God that exists outside of space and time, as He created both. So how can prayers be more effective at one time over another?
Even with Sabbath, which is the only marked off time that we’re supposed to keep holy throughout eternity, God was clear that it’s for us, not Him. We’re to keep it, by resting on it, as a memorial to Him as Creator. It’s not that prayers or ceremonies or church services on Saturday have more meaning or weight to them, but that we keep Sabbath as He commanded, simply because He told us to.
Christianity is a religion based on a relationship with God, not rituals and spells that get more or less powerful depending on the positioning of celestial bodies. I think the idea that they do is just paganism creeping into Christianity, as it often does.
So, can you have sex and perform midnight prayer? Sure, why not?
Question 3 – Is it okay to ask God for a spouse who enjoys anal sex?
Is it OK to say prayers asking God that, for whoever God may pick as my future wife, that she will enjoy anal sex, or at-least not be opposed to it?
I have a very strong fetish for it, and marrying someone only to find out after the fact that that’s a no-go would be crushing. I’m talking purely straight, heterosexual, man and woman in marriage anal sex. I get that it would obviously need to be in balance with life giving PiV sex, but it would make a nice treat now and then.
I had history with porn half a lifetime ago, half my lifetime being with me being in my twenties, which may have influenced this, but one can argue that porn didn’t create the desire / fetish, but the fetish / desire informed the porn tastes. Note that I am free from porn since this half a lifetime ago, over a decade, as it’s not a present issue, praise God!
I don’t know what else to say, perhaps just give me your thoughts on the first part and the second part.
So, here’s the problem – you say you’ve been free from porn for over a decade, yet, it’s clearly still having a massive impact on you. So much so that you want to prioritize a specific sexual act and ask God to make sure He meets that desire.
And I don’t think that there is anything wrong with anal sex (arguments about that can go here), but when you’re asking God to find you a wife based on a single act – I think you’re missing out on the point. Sex should be about relationship, not specific activities. And it’s quite possible that God will grant you what you want – a wife who loves anal sex, but you may miss out on a wife who is generous, kind, loving, a good mother, a follower of God – because you decided that anal sex was a deal-breaker.
Why not ask that God will change you, to love whoever He brings you? Then let God decide what’s important for the marriage. That way you can be happy with whatever He sends your way. And maybe you will get someone who is interested in meeting your desires.
Personally, I think that’s a better way to go.
Question 4 – How to deal with jealousy?
How do I deal with retroactive jealousy and broken trust?After several years of marriage I learned that my wife had three previous sexual partners before we were married. Not only did she let me believe a lie (that I was her first) for many years, she lied and misled me several times over 3 months before she ultimately came clean (as far as I know). She had unprotected sex and also became pregnant by one of them. She had a miscarriage. As the young people say, I was shook. My insecurities have exploded and my trust has been shaken. Help!
If you can’t forgive and move on, then I’d say get a therapist that specializes in these things. That’s what they’re there for – to help people who have been broken by something, who cannot move forward, who are stuck because something is holding them back that they can’t move past.
My specialty as a marriage coach is helping people who are ready, willing, and able to move forward by helping them build a plan, holding them accountable to that plan, and helping them gain the skills and knowledge they need to meet their goals by sharing experience, perspective and resources.
So, I’d find a Christian therapist or counselor. I often recommend Dr. Jessica McCleese and haven’t heard any complaints about her yet. The only time I ever heard anything less than positive was one couple who weren’t actually in need of a therapist, what they actually needed was a coach.
Those situations are a bit like trying to go to a doctor to lose weight – yes, they’ll tell you that you need to exercise more, eat less, burn more calories than you take in, but it’s not really their specialty to build a meal plan, an exercise regime and hold you accountable to it. They’d refer you to a coach. Or they’ll offer to staple your stomach – because that’s what they know how to do.
So, sometimes I do get people who have spent months, or even years in counseling with little to no results but then they start coaching and they’re off to the races making massive progress in weeks.
The point is – it’s important to use the right tool for the right job, and in this case, I think the right tool is a therapist.
Question 5 – Sex isn’t special after wife had an affair
I’ve been married over 20 years. My wife never swallowed before she met me, but now she does it regularly. She had an affair with a coworker, basically a stranger. They never got together outside of work and she gave him oral in the bathroom a few times and swallowed. She didn’t understand why I thought that was something reserved for us, not something you just do to anyone, especially a stranger. What are your thoughts?
It seems she had done everything with him that I thought it was special for us now I no longer am her last first kiss and I’m not the one she only swallows with why would she believe that had no meaning when I always told her it was like I was making love to her and she was making love to my penis it’s much more intimate than just sex. Do women that do do it to anyone?
You’ve had a massive break in trust and it sounds like you’re fixating on the activities, one in particular, rather than the broken trust. Personally, I’d be less worried about “how do I know it’s special when she does it to me” and more “how do I know our relationship is special if she’d break it like this”.
My next thoughts are – why did she do it? People usually don’t just have affairs out of the blue for no reason. There’s usually a cause. Something is likely broken in the relationship already.
So, I wonder if you had a conversation about that. What is missing? What needs aren’t being met? What is it that made it easy for her to betray that trust?
But, broken trust is another one of those areas that I’m not an expert in. However, I do know of a therapist who is. I’d contact Dr. Jeffrey Francis at fcchr.org who specializes in affair recovery.
Question 6 – Did Jesus ever get married?
Did Jesus Christ ever get married?
No. Nothing in the Bible or trusted extra-biblical accounts tell us that Jesus was married or even had a romantic relationship.
The book/movie The Davinci Code popularized the idea that He was, but that book is historical fiction, at best, and not to be trusted as a real account of anything.
Question 7 – Is it wrong to have sex in the same room as another couple?
Hi, we are a Christian couple. My husband and I have had sex in same room as another couple that we are good friends with. I never thought in my wildest dreams something like this would happen. But we were sharing hotel rooms one weekend and it just happened in the dark. I couldn’t see anything only hear but if I am being honest the sound of his wife coming for sure made it more exciting. In the morning we all downplay everything. Is this wrong?
This sparked a really interesting conversation in our supporters forum. Because it’s not a simple question.
On the one hand we have the idea that sex should be between husband and wife and no one else. On the other hand, for most of human history, people were having sex where others could hear simply due to the logistics of not having a lot of other options.
Most of Christianity agrees that having sex with an audience would be considered wrong, but where is the actual delineation?
And I think that’s going to be different for every person. I don’t know if I can say “this far and no further”, and in our supporters forum, the opinions expressed were radically different from person to person. One person has no issues with nudity in the presence of others and felt that sex is similar to that. But, like nudity, it shouldn’t be done in order to try and arouse others, or yourself. More like an “if it happens, it happens, and it’s no big deal”, and that’s likely close to where much of humanity was for much of history when we had one-room houses, tents, cabins, or what-have-you. You probably couldn’t avoid hearing others having sex, maybe even seeing it.
For another in the group, simply the idea of sharing a hotel room with another couple was inconceivable. That was too far already.
But everyone seemed to agree on these common guidelines:
- You shouldn’t be seeking out the scenario of having sex by another couple.
- You shouldn’t be trying to make others hear or see you have sex because it turns you on.
- You shouldn’t be trying to hear or see others having sex because it turns you on.
In short, you shouldn’t involve other people in your sex-life.
So, then what do you do in a situation where you just happen to hear others having sex? Because even if you never share a room, it can happen. You might visit someone else’s house overnight and hear them, or have visitors and hear them. You might be in a hotel room that has thin walls or the sound transfers easily. Or neighbours that are especially loud with their windows open. It might never happen to you, or it might happen often. So, what do you do then?
Is it okay to get aroused by the sounds? Is it okay to act on that arousal? Is it wrong to have sex with your spouse because you heard someone else having sex?
There are plenty of movie scenes where this scenario happens, sometimes the characters turn up the music so they can’t hear it. Sometimes they try to have really loud sex, sort of to “out do” the first couple. Sometimes they jump on the bed and hit the walls and ceiling while yelling in order to make the first couple think they’re also having crazy sex. And sometimes they just sit there uncomfortably thinking “why aren’t we having sex like that?”
So, what do you do? And I think the same basic principle applies – don’t include others in your sex-life. So, how do we apply that?
For me, I think it would look like this:
If hearing someone else put me in the mood for sex, I’m perfectly okay accepting the fact that I’m in the mood for sex, doesn’t really matter what the reason is. I mean, I can be in the mood for any reason, or seemingly no reason at all, so the cause doesn’t really matter to me. So, I’d probably see if I can get my wife in the mood. But, it would be me trying to get her in the mood, not me trying to get her to listen to the other people having sex in order to get her in the mood.
Secondly, I’m not going to have sex to try and and out-do the other couple and prove something to them or myself. To me, that would be including them, even if they don’t know it.
Thirdly, I’m not going to have sex simply because the other couple is and if I don’t, then I’m somehow less of a man, or that we’re not as good of a couple, or not as in love or passionate, or anything like that. Again, that would be including them, even if they don’t know it.
It’s sort of like if I see a couple having fun going for a walk and I think “oh, that looks like fun, now I want to go for a walk”, I might try to convince my wife that a walk would be fun. But I’m not going to try and convince her that we should go for a walk because the Jones’ are, or that if we don’t, then we’re not as good a couple as the Jones’. But I’m also not going to not go for a walk, simply because the Jones’ are out for a walk. To me, that would be like not having sex, simply because someone else was and hearing it got me in the mood.
So, did you do something wrong? Did the other couple do something wrong? It’s a really complex situation, and in almost every turn, I can think of a better way to do things. For example, having sex when you know the other couple is awake and can hear you could be considered really inappropriate. We don’t know what their proclivities are. They might have done it because she like being exhibitionists, in which case, they were basically using you as a sex toy. That wouldn’t be cool.
But, would a discussion beforehand make it better? Then it’s premeditated, and you probably could have found a way for one couple to leave for a bit and sort of trade off the room so you each could have some time for sex. But, maybe that’s making it more awkward than it needs to be.
Part of me says that if neither couple has an issue with it, then what’s the problem, given the criteria above, but then another part of me knows that we love to rationalize things and sex makes us stupid. So, if we say “well, I don’t see an issue here”, what’s the chance that the next vacation, someone is going to suggest a single room again, because it turned them on? I’d say it’s fairly likely. And then you are intentionally including the other couple in your sex life.
So, what do we do with this? It’s a maze of a situation, full of moral pitfalls.
What would I do? Probably recognize that it didn’t happen intentionally, but that it probably wasn’t ideal. I probably wouldn’t think I’d done anything wrong, but if I vacationed with that couple again, I’d probably insist on separate rooms, simply because I’d be uncomfortable with putting myself in such a morally ambiguous position – particularly with what a second occurrence might mean.
Question 8 – Is it okay to leave my wife because she can’t have sex?
I hate that I even have to write this and I am kicking myself for even thinking of leaving my marriage over this but I have to ask. My wife and I have been married for nearly 5 years and our sex life has been pretty good. I of course would like to have more and use more positions. In the last 2 years my wife has developed a condition called lichen sclerosis which basically is a nasty rash on her privates. It makes having sex painful even with excessive lube. We have discussed quite a bit about what can we do if we can’t have sex and we agree the only real option is oral or manual stimulation. The problem is that she agrees to do it and then never does. I ask her for it but she makes excuses one after another. Before her getting this condition she would occasionally provide oral but never to completion, no swallowing or allowing me to ejaculate in her mouth or near her face. She has tasted me and said the taste is actually good but hates the consistency. Ok no biggie I always finished with piv. But we don’t have that option and now I didn’t even get touched. Knowing the psychological aspect of all this I suspect she feels bad about her body not being up for sex. I completely understand and when I ask her why she can’t even just touch me sexually I get a big pushback and it leads to an argument. I don’t want to be selfish over something she can’t be blamed for. But I am not sure I can handle a lack of sex or intimacy for much longer. I also know that it isn’t a biblical reason for divorce either and I am feeling pretty down about myself for even thinking about it. What should I do? I want sex so badly and I don’t believe Solo masterbation is an ok thing to do. Please help. Thanks
Sounds like you need to be able to have a serious discussion about what the future of your sex life looks like together, and maybe let her know that you’re really struggling with seeing how you can have a future if things continue the way they are.
That’s not an ultimatum, but a very real “this is where I’m at” discussion. And if you can’t have that discussion without an argument, you might need to involve someone else to help mediate. I’ve helped mediate other discussions with couples when they’re both motivated to move forward and both are willing to listen and grow, but if she’s not willing to have the discussion, you might need a trained counselor or therapist to help you.
If that’s the direction you want to go, I’d consider saying something like “Dear, I love you, and I’m really struggling with the physical part of our relationship. I think we need some help. I would like us to go see a Christian sex therapist to help us with this issue. I would love for us to go together, but if you won’t come with me, I’m going to go myself to figure out how to work through this on my end.”
Then if she’s on board, great – if she’s not, then you go yourself to get the support you need.
Dr. Jessica McCleese is a certified Christian sex therapist that you may want to check out if you don’t know where to start.
Question 9 – Should anything go in the bedroom?
Should anything go in the bedroom?
In our supporter’s forum, we weren’t sure if this meant activities, or something like a TV …
The short answer is, so long as it doesn’t violate Biblical principles, then yeah, anything goes.
I know I’ve answered questions like this before, but I couldn’t find it quickly. So, here’s a quick rundown of the general rules as I see them:
- Don’t involve other people – that would include porn, erotica, etc.
- Make sex about the relationship, not about the activities
- Humiliation / degradation / harm seems inconsistent with Christian living (note – pain doesn’t necessarily equal harm, but that’s a tricky subject)
Question 10 – Trouble with manual sex
My husband and I have been married for 3 years and sex has always been a little bit of a stuggle. One thing that tends to be a reoccurring problem is his attempt to stimulate my vagina with his fingers. (I have trouble getting wet enough for penetration without manual stimulation.) Almost every time he tries, he ends up hurting me or not stimulating the right parts. I’ve had conversations about this with him, even showing him where to place his fingers, but this is met with either frustration resulting in an abrupt shutdown or him bringing out our vibrator because he can’t be bothered with trying anymore. How do I bring this up without him completely shutting down on me? Is there a possibility he’s just forgetting where everything is and it will improve with time? The vibrator is an excellent tool, but I’d rather prefer my husband’s touch on most occasions. Thank you for your help!
First off, I’d highly recommend getting some lube. You mentioned not getting wet enough for penetration without manual stimulation, but if you aren’t wet enough for penetration, you might not be wet enough for manual stimulation either. That might solve some of the issue.
Personally, we’ve been using sweet almond oil lately and it’s fantastic for both full body massages and sex. Don’t know how well it mixes with condoms though, so beware of that.
With manual sex, there’s a lot of things that sort of get in the way.
- Feedback isn’t instantaneous – you don’t know what your s pouse is feeling immediately, so adjustments are slow. When it’s yourself, you know exactly what feels good and when and can make adjustments immediately.
- Feedback isn’t perfectly communicated – even if you’re communicating extremely well (which most people don’t), it’s still not perfect. He doesn’t know exactly how it feels, and so he’s going on instructions that can be a little difficult to follow sometimes in the heat of the moment.
- Female anatomy is far more complex than male anatomy – with men, there’s generally three things you need to worry about – movement along only one axis (up and down), speed and pressure. For women, the landscape is far more complicated, which is awesome, but also more difficult to navigate. When you’re used to something relatively simple like a penis, the vulva can be a bit difficult to master. It’s a bit like going from an automatic transmission car to a Boeing 747 without autopilot.
- Female’s reactions tend to vary – for men, what worked on one day is likely to work on the next day and every subsequent day. For women, that’s generally not the case. Many women even are frustrated by the fact that their body won’t respond the same from day to day. Their husbands can equally get frustrated by it.
On top of that, he has three years of feeling like he can’t do this, and so the entire effort likely has a lot of pressure attached to it with the belief that he can’t do it right. So he’s probably showing up already frustrated, embarrassed and afraid, feeling that he’s going to mess it up again, but desperately wanting it to work. So, he might be building a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, which invariably gets triggered at the first setback and then he gives up because it’s all just happening again.
Add to this that many men simply don’t know how to accept correction, because it feels like failure, and they don’t know how to deal with emotions, because we’re told emotions make us weak.
Frankly, there might not be anything you can say to stop this reaction at this time. He might need to mature a bit. He might need to learn how to express his feelings better. He might need to learn that it’s okay not to know everything and be good at everything right away.
But, here’s what I’d try:
- Lube – if you aren’t already, try it.
- Try getting yourself aroused first – what if you reversed the sequence – try with the vibrator for a bit, until you’re very aroused and then ask him to use his fingers. The arousal will make everything feel better, plus everything gets more engorged and wet, so it sort of puts your vulva on “easy” mode for him. As well, you’re mentally more aroused and more willing to put up with some fumbling.
- Increase your communication – especially about what feels good. Respond faster and more vocally so there’s no misunderstanding.
- You can also try, instead of just showing him, to actually put his hand over yours while you masturbate. This might give him a better idea of what sort of speed, movements, pressure, etc. Then reverse it. Put your hand over his. Use his fingers to masturbate with.
Lastly, some communication tips – focus on the positives. If you want something to change, don’t say “but”. Instead use “and” or “I wonder”. For example “That felt really good, and I think next time, if you could use a little less pressure, it would be even better”. Or, “That was amazing. I wonder if next time if you waited a bit longer before touching my clit directly if it would be even more amazing.”
So, there are some ideas. I hope they help.
Question 11 – How to keep intimacy alive without sex
My husband was recently injured and had surgeries to correct it. He’s home now but his recovery is predicted to take at least another few months and we were told not to have any sex since his injury is so close to where it counts.
At the same time, I’ve been in and out of the hospital and doctor appointments because my reproductive system is on the fritz.
All this to ask – I know how important sex can be to a marriage- is there anything we can consider to help our situation? I understand you’re not a doctor and that your opinion doesn’t hold weight against the advice of doctors. But we haven’t been able to be intimate in over a month and it’s looking like it’ll be months more.
So if someone medically can’t really have sex, how do you advise keeping the romance/intimacy alive?
My first question would be – what does “no sex” mean to the doctor? Does it mean no intercourse, no orgasms, no arousal?
Because depending on what the actual limit is, that changes the options. For example, if it’s no intercourse, then oral sex and manual sex are still available as options. If it’s no orgasming, then he could still do oral sex or manual sex to you or watch you masturbate, which to some men would be better than not having any sexual relationship at all. If it’s no arousal – well, then you’re simply waiting for it to be over.
In that case there are still lots of things you can do to keep romance and intimacy alive. Sex is only one sub-type of intimacy. There are others, for example:
- Emotional intimacy – Now might be a good time to learn how to share your emotions better. For example – sharing that you’re frustrated by not being able to have sex shares with your spouse that you miss them and that you desire them. Sharing that you’re scared that this hiatus might damage your relationship is actually a good way to help ward off that damage.
- Spiritual Intimacy – It’s a great time to start reading your Bible and praying together if you aren’t already. Share what you find, have discussions about your faith, your beliefs, your journey with God. Ask for forgiveness for things you have done wrong, and ask each other to hold you accountable to what you think is right.
- Intellectual Intimacy – Read a book together, take a course, learn, grow and share that.
- Experiential Intimacy – This is simply doing life together. Be it going for a hike, watching TV, cooking together. Just doing life. Sometimes people downplay the “roommates” part of marriage, but to be honest, that’s the majority of marriage and there’s a lot of intimacy to be had in those times.
- Physical Intimacy – Just because you can’t have sex, doesn’t mean you can’t have physical intimacy. Likely you were intimate before you ever had sex. You held hands, you kissed, you touched and cuddled. Just because you’ve had sex doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy those things again. Plus, you can give each other full body massages and take showers together.
Sex isn’t the only type of intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important, and if there’s a way for you to manage some sort of sexual intimacy, I’d take it, but even without sex, you can still be intimate. Practice those ways, and then when sex is back on the table, don’t forget them. Keep them up, as well as sex. You may actually find that this season makes your marriage more intimate, and might make your sex even better when it comes back as well.
That’s all the questions for today. If you have a question of your own, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can submit a question on our Have A Question page and wait for a response in the next month’s roundup. Or, what some people have done is ask a question, then join the support forum to see the discussion.
A special thanks to all our supporters who help with answering these questions, giving their perspectives, experiences and thoughts, and for supporting this ministry, which helps keep us going. You’re all awesome.
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
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