Let’s face it—most of us could probably stand to have a little more passion in our marriages. That’s why we asked eight Christian marriage experts to give us their best advice for heating things up and restoring the connection you desire. Sexual intimacy is God’s gift to build your marital bond; these insights will equip you to strengthen that critical part of your relationship. Our hope is that you’ll be so encouraged, so motivated, and so energized by these perspectives on sex that tonight, you’ll decide to turn off the TV and instead invest in building the passionate relationship you long for.
1. Connectedness Is Key
At its best, physical intimacy is born out of a deep connectedness and relational intimacy. For some couples, their greatest need might be time or rest to create that space for one another. For others, disconnection is the norm, so they need to spend more time moving toward one another. As a matter of fact, learning to move toward each other in life will make moving toward each other in bed more fulfilling, more real.
—Dr. Kim Eckert, author of Things Your Mother Never Told You: A Woman’s Guide to Sexuality (DrKimEckert.com)
2. Think About It
On a practical note, sex begins in the mind. Many women’s minds are consumed with the eight million responsibilities they have to accomplish that day, and thoughts about sexual intimacy don’t rise to the top. But if you want better sex, you have to think about sex. Not as a task to check off, but as a gift to anticipate and savor.
—Dr. Kim Eckert
3. Explain What You Want
Start with this bottom line in getting your sexual needs met: assume that your partner doesn’t know how to satisfy you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married, beginning with this premise will help you set the stage for developing this habit by asking for what you would like. That’s the key and research bears it out. In one survey, 88 percent of the women who reported always discussing their sexual feelings with their spouses described their sex lives as good or very good. In contrast, only 30 percent of the women who reported never discussing sex with their partners described their sex lives as good or very good. What makes each of you happy is not necessarily the same thing. Your needs, in fact, may be dramatically different. So, do not make the mistake of assuming your partner knows how to meet your sexual needs if you don’t talk to each other about it. This is rule number one for firing up passion in the bedroom.
—Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, authors of Crazy Good Sex and Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage (LesAndLeslie.com)
4. Sync Your Calendars
This sounds so cold. So unromantic. So pedantic. But make no mistake, a fulfilling sex life for almost every busy couple depends on it. So at least once a month, schedule a specific time when the two of you can enjoy a leisurely time of passionate sex. We know this sounds artificial. We can hear you groaning right now. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this advice is for “other couples.” Every busy couple can benefit from scheduling intimacy. You can have spontaneous sex anytime you are so inclined, but this once-a-month “meeting” is key to firing up passion in the bedroom.
—Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
5. Do Shared Activities
Did you know that passion and intimacy plummets when a spouse begins to associate his or her partner primarily with dirty clothes thoughtlessly dropped on the floor, barked out orders, crying, and nagging? No surprise, right? But so many couples ignore this fact. He plays golf with his buddies. She attend her book club with her friends. They both may keep plenty active, but these activities are too often segregated. And when that’s the case, couples miss out on a weekly habit that will buoy their marriage more than they ever imagined. Shared activity is one of the supreme gifts of married life, and it is an insurance policy against the fading of passion and intimacy.
—Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
6. Be Humble
We don’t often think of humility as an aphrodisiac, but the greatest lovers are those who are unselfish, forgiving, and merciful. Couples get stuck because they can only see what they need, they fear, or they resent. There will be issues to work through in every sexual relationship, and humility helps you overcome them.
—Dr. Juli Slattery, author of Pulling Back the Shades, co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making? (AuthenticIntimacy.com and TodaysChristianWoman.com/Juli-Slattery)
7. Know that God Said It Was Good
Know that God blesses sexual intimacy. I’ve met so many women who are squeamish about sex. They have learned somewhere along the way that sexuality is shameful and that “good girls” shouldn’t want or enjoy it (at least not too much!). When a woman understands that God created sex to be exciting, adventurous, and pleasurable, and knows that she is not condemned for past mistakes, she is free to experience great sex in marriage.
—Dr. Juli Slattery
8. Be a Safe Place
We love the sex advice given to us early on in our marriage: “Do it often, in a way you both enjoy.” The foundation of great sex is emotional safety. Put significant time into building a marriage that feels like the safest place on earth—a relationship where you feel safe physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.
—Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, authors of the Little Book of Great Dates and The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship (SmalleyMarriage.com)
9. Understand Your Spouse
Wives, understand that your husband uses sex in order to connect emotionally. When you respond or initiate sex it makes him feel respected, appreciated, and valued. Thus, see his request for sex as a request for connection and intimacy. Men are like a “microwave oven” when it comes to sex—he is instantly turned on.
Husbands, understand that your wife needs to be engaged emotionally before she will respond sexually. She needs to be emotionally pursued, romanced, loved, and cherished. Thus, see her request to connect first by talking and sharing as “foreplay.” Women are like “crockpots” when it comes to sex—she needs time to warm up.
—Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley
10. Know Each Other
A vibrant sexual relationship requires great communication. We need to be willing to share our deepest sexual feelings, fears, wants, and desires.
The Hebrew word for “sexual intercourse” is the phrase “to know.” Become a student of your spouse in every way, especially sexually. Ask each other about what turns you on and what turns you off. Make it a point to stay current about your partner’s needs, as they aren’t static.
—Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley
11. Remember Together
Reminisce about your sexual relationship. Ask questions about your first sexual experience together, the best place you’ve made love, your best kiss, the most spontaneous night, the most romantic time, and so on. Talk about what you’ve enjoyed and what made these experiences exciting. Keep your discussion focused on the positive recollections.
—Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley
12. Learn What You Both Need
The most important thing I’ve seen in the research of men and women that increases closeness and physical intimacy in marriage is having your eyes opened to what you probably don’t “get” about what the opposite sex needs in this area. This changes everything! Women should know that for most men (more than 90 percent), physical intimacy is not primarily a physical need; it’s an emotional need. He wants to feel that you desire him—when you do, it gives him a sense of confidence and well-being in every other area of his life.
So instead of “doing your duty,” get engaged physically, and even initiate once in a while. It will transform the emotional climate of your marriage!
And men, you should know that if your wife is like most women (82 percent) she probably isn’t thinking about sex during the day, so you need to approach her differently. You need to give her time to anticipate before you enter the bedroom. For example, flirting during the day (“Hmmm . . . after dinner with Brad and Jeannie, maybe you and I can have dessert at home”) will get you a very different response than asking if she’s in the mood when she’s exhausted and getting in bed with the anticipation of sleep.
13. Stop Overthinking It
How often have you done this: you’re lying in bed, feeling guilty, wondering, Is he expecting something tonight? And then your brain goes into overdrive. Do I feel like it? I don’t know. Is he due? How many days has it been, anyway? If we start right this moment, how many hours of sleep will I still get? The silly thing is that if you had started in the beginning, you’d be asleep by now! We women often forget that our sex drives are primarily in our brains.
Unlike for our husbands, arousal usually comes after you start making love, not before. But instead of jumping in, we tend to overanalyze things. Tonight, silence all those thoughts running through your head, and just decide, I am going to feel good, and I am going to feel close to my husband! If you’re mentally excited, your body tends to follow. So stop thinking so much, and start doing!