A pastor friend of mine talked to me recently and told me he was doing premarital counseling for a couple in his church whose wedding date is approaching. He told me he wanted a woman's perspective for the bride to be and he asked me if I'd be willing to share. Of course I said yes. Offering my encouragement, strength and hope is one of my favorite things ever.
Gotta love a man who knows how to lead a conversation. Following are his questions and my answers which the pastor printed and gave to the bride-to-be in a premarital counseling session.
Pastor: What is the best advice you got before getting married?
Me: My fiftysomething aunt told me "Honey the longer you stay married the lovemaking just get's sweeter and sweeter!" She was smiling and clearly looked like she meant it.
The best advice I got after I was married, so that's what I'm going to pass on. See below.
Pastor: What do you wish someone would have told you or you wish you'd have done differently?
Me: I cannot afford to spend any energy wishing I had done anything differently. Love boldly, repent when convicted, embrace a teachable spirit and move on with joy. I have gratitude and peace and no regrets. I'd hope the same for you.
Pastor: From what you’ve learned about feminine sexuality, what three things would you tell a young lady that is about to get married?
Me: Make the sacred irreversible life decision that you want every good thing God wants to grow in you and you will not settle or give up or back down when the personal growth becomes painful or costly. Sold out for Jesus. Like Jacob wrestled with the Angel and said "I won't let go till you bless me". This is a holy determination that will serve you well. This is what our stubbornness as women was designed to do: designed to make us stand and not give up for all the glory God wants to reveal in us. This is a big deal. This is not fluff. This is discipleship.
Take responsibility for your own emotional state. Differentiation is so important. It takes a tremendous amount of maturity and personal growth to live up to your erotic potential, and your overall life potential. A free heart and a godly sexual mindset is the most powerful sex organ you possess. Don't underestimate this.
Cultivate desire daily. Your sexuality is yours. You have to fully possess it in order to be able to fully give it. It is OKAY to WANT. The Christian world has thrown the baby out with the bathwater on the subject of purity saying all Desire is Lust. That's not true! Sexual holiness is not repression or denial of desire. Sexual holiness is surrendering the HOW and WHEN you act on desire, surrendering the HOW and WHEN to the lordship of Christ. DESIRE is NOT WRONG. Calling all desire lust is like saying all stomach growling means you are plotting to snatch the sandwich out of the hand of the person sitting next to you. No. Get your own sandwich in a morally appropriate way. Hunger is not wrong. Satisfy the hunger in a righteous way. It's not a sin to feel the emotion and sensation of sexual desire any more than it is a sin to feel a hunger pang in your stomach. When a woman can own her sexual desire with a clean conscience she is 90% of the way to fulfillment in her sexual relationship with her husband. Tell yourself every day, "My desire for my husband is a good thing. My desire is a gift from God. My desire is good."
Make friends with your body. Get to know what kind of touch you like. It is completely appropriate and okay for you to touch your own body. I promise. It is an important way to own your body so you can fully give it to your husband. It is also a wonderful way for you to teach him what you like. And when you make the gift of yourself by allowing him to see you give yourself pleasure, your husband will be utterly convinced that you are the HOTTEST woman God ever made. And he will be right!
Choose to believe that your husband's desire for you is good. He is not a sex maniac if he wants to make love daily. In your mind, imagine every time that your husband's penis gets erect because of you that his body and his heart is giving you a standing ovation. His body is saying "You ROCK! I want YOU!". Feel complimented down deep in your soul when your husband gets hard for you, when he kisses and touches you. This is really important. Down inside your heart and your mind you have GOT to believe that is it okay to BOTH of you to WANT each other and to EXPLORE and ENJOY each other with a free heart and a clean conscience.
Now that you know your heart is good and your mind is good and your body is good....and now that you know that your husband's mind is good, his heart is good and his body is good, give yourselves permission to play! When you see him naked think "ooooh" and begin to touch lick and suck every inch of him. Well maybe not his eyeballs. But everything else. (giggle) Enjoy it when he wants to touch lick and suck every inch of you. You're his beautiful treasure. Speaking of beautiful treasure....
Lean in. I'm going to whisper something really important. You are the promised land. You're the gift. You are the soft fragrant place he goes on vacation. He is the exciting safe place you go on vacation. This is a sacred honor and a sacred trust before God. For the rest of your life, starting now until you are a hundred years old, I want you to walk around knowing you--the combination of your heart and your body--are Shangri La. I want you to know down deep in your soul that you are the sweetest most lovely and lifegiving destination in all the world. Carry this sweet secret knowledge inside of you all of your life. Honor it. And give it to him freely.
Pastor: Considering a husband and wife's potentially differing levels of libido, what advice/suggestions do you have for her as they likely will encounter challenges in this area?
Me: Now that you know desire is good and you know each other's bodies are good, whenever one of you has desire, then welcome the desire and honor your sacred trust to be the fragrant place your spouse goes on vacation. Unless you're like violently ill like with the Flu. Make the choice right from the get-go that all desire will be welcomed and honored and satisfied. Sometimes a snack. Sometimes a 3 course meal. But nobody goes hungry. I am not kidding. At the bare minimum, the horny spouse will be held and kissed by the other spouse while the horny spouse brings themselves to orgasm. And don't be surprised if the spouse who wasn't horny a few minutes ago gets horny when they witness the glory of their spouse's arousal and desire. If the less horny spouse finds themself feeling turned on while blessing their spouse, they can go for it and take a more active role in seeking their own pleasure in that lovemaking session. Make up your minds, both of you, from day one, that no one in this marriage is going to go hungry. Our holy honor before God is to be the sacred vacation destination NOT to be a prison where you starve someone in captivity. Would you adopt a pet, put them in a cage and then starve them? Of course not! That would be cruel and horrible. Don't do the same thing to your spouse by denying them sexually. To do that would be a grave dishonor against your sacred trust before God.
Pastor: What influence can your relationship with Christ and the Bible have on your marriage bed?
Me: For years, when I heard the phrase "Keep Christ at the center of your marriage", I thought it sounded vague and fluffy. Now this phrase has a very specific behavior attached to it-a behavior I believe is vital to a healthy relationship. Imagine both marriage partners hold a bucket in their hands. This represents their love tank. Keeping Christ at the center means each partner goes to God to get their love tank filled, then walks over to their partner, and pours the majority of their love all over their partner. Repeat hourly, daily, whatever it takes.
This concept came to me when I was reading Passionate Marriage and learning about the concepts of Differentiation and Self-soothing as important ways to build intimacy.
Differentiation says "I'm separate from my mate. I'm a healthy person who can choose to connect out of want, not need".
Self-soothing says "I'm okay whether or not my mate is choosing to give me what I want."
When I read this, a light bulb went off over my head, and I said "As a believer, the way I self-soothe is to plug into God and get my okayness from God instead of asking my spouse to grant me okayness." I have road-tested this and experienced some amazing results. I remember being in a particular discussion and my man said something to me that caused me tremendous pain. In that split second, I mentally turned to God and said, "Wow that really hurt. Okay God, how do you want me to handle this?" I listened for that still small voice in my heart before I said anything to my man. This went on for several seconds. My man said to me "You're very quiet." and I said "Well I am feeling pain after what you said and I know it's not healthy to repress my feelings so I'm taking those feelings to God and asking Him what He would have me say to you." And then I went back to silently listening for a few more seconds until I had clarity on what to say to my man. Then I said to him whatever I felt God would have me say. It was NOT what this sassy Irish gal would have said on my own and it was undoubtedly the right thing to say.
Even in the moment of a painful or angry discussion with your man, you are responsible to God for the words you allow to fly out of your mouth. It IS possible to self-soothe with God in the heat of the moment and not say something you might later regret. It's not "natural". It's a deliberate choice. But it IS possible. And it can yield some very good fruit. Not the least of which is the dignity of knowing you answer only to God and don't have to allow another human being to manipulate you or "push your buttons". There is so much dignity in serving Jesus. If you embrace this concept, it can make a world of difference in your own heart and in your relationship.
So to sum up a Christ-centered marriage:
Step 1: plug into God, get your heart filled.
Step 2: Pour your love all over your mate.
Step 3: Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Pastor: What specific advice would you give her so she can enjoy freedom in their marriage bed?
Me: What I shared with you in Step 5 will help to free your mind and heart.
Don't be afraid to use your words to tell your man what you like. This is nothing to be shy about. And it does not have to be an awkward conversation. This can be very hot. For example: "Give me your mouth. Put your hand here. A little to the left. Softer. Ohh yes baby, just like that. You feel soooo good."
Do not be afraid to make happy sounds. In a lovemaking session you might pant, growl, moan, sigh, gasp, scream or whimper. In one particular session, you might do one or all or none of the above. Give up any idea of what you're "supposed to" sound like. The point is to cut loose and not hold back. Being free to blurt out whatever sound you want to make is the point. And this could vary from day to day and the sound privacy of your location. This is why hotel sex is so fabulous because you can make all the noise you want. Be genuine. Be free. Unleash your true self.
Pastor: Assuming that the new bride might have inhibitions about going all the way with oral sex for him or receiving oral sex and trying for her own orgasm, what practical advice do you have?
Me: Think about a time that you had an itch on your back and you couldn't reach it so you asked someone to scratch it for you. You were focused. You were desperate. You blurted out directions "Down. Left. A little bit more to the--yes! that's it!" You could not quit until you were satisfied. Then ahhhh. Apply that same sort of focus to the experience of genital kissing and you will open up a whole new world of pleasure and connection.
Pastor: Anything else you want to add?
Me: Yes. Please make the choice to hear what I am about to say as something fresh and new without any of the hundred times you might have heard this. Okay? Here it is. Love one another. Down deep in your belly, carry a fierce devotion to one another and a tender regard for each other's hearts and wellbeing. Feel that sweetness in your heart, that loyalty, that tenderness and passionate devotion to your man and let it flow through your fingertips every time you touch him. Life is short and beautiful. Make the most of it. If you love like this, you will never regret it.