Categories
For Marrieds Married Sex Sexuality

Not your obligatory Valentine’s Day

Fun sex incorporates three things: memory, sensation, and adventure

If you’ve been married for any length of time, Valentine’s Day can feel like an obligation to come up with something new, exciting, or better than the year before. The same old same old just doesn’t cut it – a bouquet of roses is pretty on the dining room table but maybe you want more from your spouse this year.

How about a memorable Valentine’s celebration with your honey that takes you back through the stages of your relationship while propelling you forward in your sexual intimacy? Fun sex without the typical performance expectations that come with Valentine’s Day…here we come!

not your obligatory valentine's day - intimatetruthsMemories

While your kiddos are napping or you’ve got a second before heading off to work, jot down a few songs you remember from important times in your relationship. What did you dance to at your wedding? What did you listen to on that one road trip? Do you have a worship song that always encourages you both? Putting together a playlist of music to have playing in the background when you get alone time together can bring out all the feels and set the tone for your intimate time together.

A special piece of lingerie, a favorite tank top, or memorable bathing suit might be a fun prop to have around during love making. Whether you start off wearing it or not – it’s gonna come off anyway! – bringing back a memory of when you were first married or a fun vacation is a great way to cut through the pressures of performing on the day of love and softens the expectations that come with it.

Pictures are always a great way to bring back memories. Checking out your wedding photos or special ones you took just for your husband to see (and printed at home because you didn’t want the Costco photo folks to see them) give you both the chance to reminisce and re-live days when you could focus on just the two of you, something you get to do on Valentine’s Day.

Sensation

Giving and receiving pleasure – let alone reaching orgasm – is not always as simple as magazines and movies make it out to be. Remove the stress that comes with performance expectations by incorporating external stimuli to enhance your body’s responses.

Running a soft brush along the skin combined with gentle rubbing of the arms, legs, and erogenous zones is one way to wake up nerve endings that are often over-stimulated by deeper touch. Having your spouse close their eyes heightens sensations as well since they can’t anticipate where you’re going to touch or kiss them. Speaking of kissing, give yourselves the freedom to explore one another’s bodies with your lips. Kissing, nibbling, and licking the neck, ear lobes, and feet (along with usual locales of the lips, breasts, and genitals) produce erotic sensations, something that God wants us to enjoy within the safety and comfort of our marriages.

You can employ the senses to create the beginning of stimulation as well. Have your husband run an ice cube between your breasts (hot/cold), slather a bit of honey or chocolate sauce on each other’s body and lick it off (taste), or diffuse/wear an essential oil blend that evokes feelings of pleasure (ylang ylang and ginger are two oils known as aphrodisiacs).

Adventure

While men stereotypically love the adventure aspect of sex, you might discover it’s the x factor you’ve been missing in your intimate relationship with your husband. If you’ve ever had sex in the backseat of your car – even if it was parked in the garage – you probably had a different sexual experience than an intimate and cozy Tuesday night in your bedroom.

Manual stimulation is a must on the adventure checklist. Whether you stimulate yourself with his verbally accompaniment in your pleasure or you manually stimulate your spouse, enjoying physical touch with your husband is most couples’ first step in sexual adventure. If you’ve already experimented with that, a vibrator might be a great next step in your journey. Usually associated with [lonely – I don’t know the word I want here] masturbation, a vibrator can be used along the same lines as manual stimulation. Either by you or your husband, the use of a vibrator for pleasure with your spouse can heighten sensations and, in turn, a sense of adventure.

What about where you have sex? Have you ever had sex with your windows open (someone might hear you)? In the back seat of the car (see early paragraph)? Against the washing machine while it’s on the spin cycle (vibrations to echo your honey’s)? On the floor in front of the fireplace (the kids are in bed…you’re good)? Upping the ante in regards to environment is a surefire way to have a memorable Valentine’s Day with your husband.

No matter what you do, enjoy this excuse to focus on your marriage and sexual intimacy with your husband. Let memories set the stage and invite sensations to carry you through to some adventures you’ll want to repeat.

Categories
Honeymoon Married Sex Pre-marital Sex Ed Wedding Night Intimacy

6 essentials for your honeymoon bag

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help support Intimate Truths at no extra cost to you.

6 essentials for your honeymoon bag

[Soon-to-be] newlywed gals, there are a few items that will make sex more fun and less stressful that you’ll wish you had been given at your bridal shower and/or bachelorette party. Instead of letting you discover these by trial and error, here is a quick list. Point your friends this way for a practical care package or head out and buy them for yourself before you head on your honeymoon (or settle into life’s intimate rhythms).

Lubricant

When you’re new to sex, you’ll want some form of lubrication until you and your husband have found different forms of foreplay that turn you on to the point of self-lubing. Some women always require lube regardless of how turned on they are simply because of body chemistry so don’t feel bad if you don’t “graduate” from using it. If you’re not using condoms, you can use a variety of lubricants including oils you might already have on hand (fractionated coconut oil is a great choice). If you are using condoms, you’ll need to use a water-based lubricant as you have a higher risk of the condom breaking with oil-based lubes.

Fun yet practical underthings

Too many pieces of lingerie are really only for his viewing pleasure. You should own a few key pieces of lingerie that you feel pretty in but can leave on long enough to enjoy a foot and back rub. When it comes time to be completely naked, you don’t want to spend 10 minutes unlacing something or have to wiggle out of something uncomfortable (discomfort does not equal beauty).

A simple robe

Whether you’ve always been a bathrobe girl or never worn one, a robe is super practical. Whether you need to scamper from the bathroom to the bedroom after a steamy shower with your new hubby and you don’t want to freeze (or let the neighbors see you through the drapes you forgot to close) or you want to tempt his imagination just a few moments longer, a robe is a key piece of your newlywed wardrobe.

Baby wipes

Sister, sex is messy. If you don’t use a condom, there will be semen to be cleaned up. Whether he ejaculates inside of you or elsewhere (if you’re using withdrawal as a natural family planning method), you’ll need to wipe it off. Instead of defaulting to the last shirt to get tossed in the laundry basket or rushing down the hall to grab a fresh towel, keep a packet of baby wipes nearby. Semen is sticky which makes baby wipes an excellent option for quick clean up.

Panty liners

While God made semen sticky for a reason (He also made gravity so He had to ensure the human race continued on somehow), it doesn’t always flow out all at once after intercourse. Panty liners are great at catching those last amounts of semen after you’ve cleaned up.

Thermometer

If you aren’t already tracking your cycle, you need to start now. Not only will you be better informed as to how your body works, tracking your basal body temperature with an oral thermometer helps you identify your fertile time of the month to help prevent or encourage pregnancy. You’ll also be able to anticipate your period which is helpful as well.

Shopping list

Lubricant: water-based (condom compatible) or oil-based

Robe: jersey knit or kimono silk

Baby wipes

Panty liners: for regular underwear or for thong underwear

Thermometer

What items do you keep on hand to make the logistics of sex less stressful?

Categories
For Singles Sexuality Your Story

The world or the Word – one girl’s story

A dear friend offered to share her journey of choosing purity as she continues to wait on God’s plan. I hope you are encouraged by what she shares here and can find hope in her story. ~Rachel

one girl's story of choosing purity - Intimate Truths

Friends, it is with extreme vulnerability that I tell my story. I am not sharing it with you to feel self-righteous or to make myself look good. I simply want to let you know that you aren’t alone in your choice to wait.

Once upon a time

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of living out a fairy tale like the ones I saw in movies. “Once upon a time” and “happily ever after” were words that every perfect love story began and ended with, or at least that is what I thought. Even at a young age I longed to be loved by a man, to be known by a man. To be fought after, protected, and rescued by a man.

Superman became the man I desired; he was a true hero in my eyes. He was a rescuer. Oh, how I wanted to be Lois Lane and be rescued from a falling helicopter. I will always remember that deep longing in my heart.

The moment I chose to wait

At middle school summer camp, I asked the Lord to come into my heart. Though I didn’t fully understand it, something in my heart knew I needed Him for the years to come. It was also that moment I chose to stay pure for my husband. Without realizing it, that moment became the best decision of my life.

I longed to be rescued by a man instead of wanting to be rescued by Jesus. I’d long for a man to love me the way the songs on the radio described. I liked having boyfriends; they made me feel wanted and loved.

It was in high school when I first overheard a friend talking about having sex. I chose not to have sex for many reasons: ignorance, not wanting to get caught or pregnant, but also because it was a decision I was committed to. I was questioned and laughed at by my peers and my boyfriend. It was hard but I knew I made a decision I wanted to keep.

I still chose to wait

Fast forward ten years and I made it out of college pure by the world’s standards. I knew that my heart was fragile and was longing for intimacy. I pursued the wrong relationships and gave a piece of my heart away each time. I knew if I slept with them, I would lose control of my emotions and become more attached.

I was frustrated and confused why I still had not found my Prince Charming. It seemed like everyone else had and I questioned if true love existed for me. I knew I needed help. I surrendered to the Lord…again.

I chose to say no to ungodly passions and desires. (Titus 2:11-12)

I chose to believe that we are to be naked and not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)

I chose to develop inward beauty rather than focus solely on my outward appearance. (1 Peter 3:4)

You can chose to believe the world’s view about sexual desires or you can chose the Word’s view which is shameless, pure, undaunted, and untainted. This world is rigged to distract us. We get caught up in our clothes, our bodies, our sexual desires, our boyfriends. We are easily confused Who we serve.

I chose the Lord to guide me.

I chose the Lord to pursue me.

I chose the Lord to fill my needs.

The Lord did not promise it would be easy but He did promise it would be worth it. He wants you to experience shameless, real, passionate, true love. Exactly the way sex was created for with your one and only, your Prince Charming, your Superman.

You have a choice…

You can choose to believe the world that tells you to surrender to no one

You can choose to serve yourself and do what makes you feel good

You can choose to find happiness in men, which can lead to anxiety and unfulfilled expectations

You can choose to use sexual distractions to fill the void in your heart, which can lead to shame

You can choose to believe the lie that says “test drive the car” first

You can choose to believe the world that makes us feel like there is no other way

Or

You can believe the Word that says surrender to Christ and be filled with joy

You can choose to serve, love and respect one another

You can choose to believe the Word that teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives

You can choose to guard your heart and remember that your body is a temple

You can choose real love in Christ that will fill your void greater than any human sexual desire

Categories
Married Sex Postpartum Sex

Postpartum intimacy: the good, the bad, and the ugly

postpartum intimacy

Congrats! You’ve just had a baby. Whether it’s your first or fourth (or more!), you’re head over heels in love with your little one. What’s even better is watching your husband bond with your little one. Thought you loved him on your wedding day? Every time you catch a glimpse of him changing a diaper, burping your sweet baby after a feeding, or passed out asleep on the couch with your bundle on his chest (my favorite!), you feel yourself fall more in love with him. But you’ve just had a baby and you know you can’t take him to bed and show him just how much you love him.

Postpartum intimacy: the good

1. It creates avenues for conversation

This season of life calls for sexually intimacy to both protect your marriage and provide mutual pleasure. Your sexual intimacy needs may not be able to be met through intercourse but you can share what your needs are even if you know up front your typical go-to option is not available.

Being willing to explore other options – for both you and your husband – requires humility and vulnerability in what and how you talk to each other.

Your husband might need you to initiate conversations about creative forms of intimacy or you might need to ask your husband to make suggestions as to how to reach sexual pleasure together. On the other hand, you might need to hear affirming words from your husband about how good of a job you’re doing mothering your child or how much he loves the way you look and feel. Make sure to ask for what you need rather than force him to guess or figure it out on his own.

2. You’re forced to find alternate forms of intimate touch

Most OBs and midwives tell you to refrain from sexual intercourse for at least 6 weeks. Your body needs time to heal even if you had a c-section* but while this is wise advice, 6 weeks (or more if you had to stop having sex during your 3rd trimester went) is quite a long time to not be intimate with your husband. Too many Christian married couples view sex as only for procreation; if you’re among those who haven’t experimented with other forms of physical intimacy, this is your chance to start (at least open the conversation!).

While you can continue to be spiritually, emotionally, and relationally intimate with your husband, this is an opportunity to explore other forms of physical touch: massage, breast stimulation, or genital stimulation. Once you are able to have sex again, you’ll find that continuing to do these things will only further enhance your sexual intimacy and pleasure when coupled with intercourse rather than take away from it.

3. You have the tools to get to know your body better

In the lead up to childbirth, your OB or midwife probably suggested you work on your pelvic floor. If you hadn’t done so before, you learned a lot about how to target these areas. Relaxing and tightening these muscles, including the musculature that makes up the walls of your vagina, is not as simple as flexing your biceps or doing a sit-up. Now that you’ve spent time focusing on how to relax and tighten the muscles directly involved with your genitals, you will [most likely] also have heightened sensation as well. When you are able to have sex again, you will get to use these same muscles to enhance penetrative intercourse with your husband.

Another plus is that you might be able to have intercourse in different positions that had been able to before (after getting the green light from your OB or midwife to have sex again, that is). Learning how to signal your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to relax coupled with pleasurable non-penetrative sexual touch leads to heightened arousal. Having your body ready itself for sex gives you the chance to try a different position or even location for sex (now’s your chance to do it in the kitchen once the kids are in bed!).

Postpartum intimacy: the bad

1. You can’t do everything you (or your husband) wants to do

Take a moment and reflect back on the good elements of postpartum intimacy (besides the way your heart leaps when your husband loves on that adorable baby!). While you may not be able to have sex again yet, you’ve increased your communication about sex, found other ways to be sexually intimate, and perhaps have even found that you can do things you weren’t able to do before. Be patient with yourself and give yourself (and your husband!) grace in this season.

2. Hormonal changes affect your natural lubrication

A marked drop in estrogen after childbirth, especially if you’re breastfeeding, increases vaginal dryness. In order to enjoy sexual touch with your husband, and later, intercourse, you’ll need to invest in quality lubricant (if you haven’t needed to before).** There are many types available depending on your preference. Fractionated coconut oil is a great option since it doesn’t leave a greasy film. You could also use evening primrose oil if you have some of that leftover from ripening your cervix in preparation for labor (capsules – which you can pierce with a safety pin – or liquid).

3. It’s logistically difficult to be intimate [right] after having a baby

Sleepless nights, ’round the clock feedings (bottle or breast!), and taking care of daily life makes you one tired mama. Your husband is tired too; he’s upping his efforts around the house or is already back at work (or both). If you’re co-sleeping or have baby in the room in a bassinet, it is even harder to sexually connect with your spouse even if you have the time.

Do what you can to make the most of brief windows of time. You can stimulate each other in the shower, enjoy some cuddling before you go to sleep, or line up a babysitter to take your baby for a walk so you can be at home alone together for even half an hour (farm out the rest of the kiddos too!).

Postpartum intimacy: the ugly

1. You don’t like the way you look

Your body just went through World War III, vaginal delivery OR c-section. Extra pounds, things stretched how you’re not used to seeing them, jiggles where you’re used to being firm…you probably don’t feel very beautiful.

Mama, this is a great opportunity to experience sexual pleasure NOT based on how you feel about your outward beauty. Your husband married you for the whole you, not just what you looked like.

Honestly, he’s probably holding himself back from ravishing you now that you have extra curves and larger breasts! Your body has an incredible capacity to experience pleasure within your marital relationship; let your husband’s words of affirmation sink in and enjoy his company emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and sexually.

2. It might feel like your first time all over again

You may find you’re figuring everything out all over again when it comes to sex. Whether it’s how you feel about yourself, worry about how much it will hurt, or you are rushed for time, sex after baby is a touchy subject for many couples. You are not the first couple to go through this and you will not be the last. After the birth of each of your children, you’ll need to re-navigate these waters…and that’s okay. You just have to be patient rather than let it get ugly between you and your husband. Take it slow, talk a lot, make light of the fact that you’re probably milking all over yourself (and him!), and remind each other of the love that led to the baby that is putting you in this state of postpartum intimacy. You’ll be back riding that bike sooner than you thought.

3. Satan loves to attack this part of marriage

There’s a reason the porn industry is such a huge business; Satan loves to attack marriage how God designed it. Another way he attacks marriage is by letting sex become an issue between couples, especially in the sleep-deprived and overworked days and months after having a baby. Keeping communication lines clear by sharing your expectations and difficulties, being intentional about being intimate on a regular yet realistic basis, and staying in prayer for one another especially in this area of marriage are all keys to keeping Satan’s attacks from holding any ground.

Practical take-aways

If you want some concrete challenges, the suggestions below are a place to start.

Be intimate with each other at least twice a week. Put it on the calendar (in code) if that helps!

Send your husband a text message inviting him to a time of creative intimacy when he gets home from work (and if you’re the up-front type, tell him you can’t wait to give him a handjob in the shower).

Find a couple who is willing to hold you accountable for your intimate time; not to divulge all your details, but to hold you accountable for taking time to be intimate with each other.

Baby in your room? Do what you would have done even with them there. The challenge of having to stay quiet and communicate with your eyes and bodies what you would have said with your words will make it new and exciting.

I know you have ideas that have worked for you. Won’t you please share them in the comments below?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Your clicks and purchases help support Intimate Truths at no extra cost to you.

*The 6 week window is prescribed by birth providers for women who deliver either vaginally or via c-section for several reasons. It gives ample time for post-delivery bleeding to stop as well as for their cervix to close. Tears to the perineum, episiotomy stitches, or a c-section incision are also factors for women depending on how they delivered.

**If you use condoms for pregnancy prevention, don’t use oil- or silicone-based lubricants because this weakens the material. Only use water-based lubricants to prevent condoms from breaking.

Categories
Healing from Sexual Abuse Tough Topics

Hope for those who have been defiled

hope for those who have been defiled - intimatetruths.com

This is called a “tough topic” for a reason.

If you’ve come from a religious type of background (or even if you haven’t) you’ve heard about the concept of being defiled. It’s the concept that certain activities make your soul or heart dirty, and it’s often connected to sexual activities. People that come under the belief that they’ve been defiled often have a very hard time sexually expressing themselves without feelings of guilt and condemnation. They feel as if they can’t ever achieve the best that God has for them because of things that have happened to them in the past: sexual molestation, rape, pre-marital sexual activity, etc.

This is about hope, however. Believe it or not, Scripture tackles the subject of defilement with much more beauty and grace than many give it credit for.

There are two different types of defilement: what people perceive to be defilement and true defilement.

Scripturally, the difference between the two is found in the Master’s words. Read this parable closely.

“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”…

So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”” (Matthew 15: 1-11, 16-20 NKJV)

This argument, spawned by the subject of bread, was over a deeper subject than mere food. Jesus and the Pharisees were having a disagreement over perceived defilement and true defilement. Here’s the simple version of their conversation:

Pharisees: “Hey! Don’t you know that eating with dirty hands makes your soul dirty?!”

Jesus: “The soul is deeper than that, guys. What goes into you doesn’t defile you, what comes out of you defiles you. You’re teaching the doctrines of men like they’re commandments of God.”

Do you see how important this concept is?

What’s been done to you does not defile you. What you do defiles you.

If you’ve been molested, raped, abused, or otherwise sinned-against sexually, you most likely feel defiled or dirty as a result. According to Scripture, you’re suffering from perceived defilement: you’ve picked up a false idea and taken it on as truth. You’ve been lied to and you’re suffering from guilt that should not be yours.

However, if you’ve sinned against others – done anything on that list that the Master mentioned, (fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, etc.) – then yes, you’ve been truly defiled. You’ve been defiled by your own actions.

Ready for a news flash? Everyone’s been truly defiled in that way at some point in their lives. That’s the difference between perceived defilement and true defilement. Now we’ve established the difference, we can dig into the treatment of these conditions.

Yes, there IS a treatment!

First off, the Master called perceived defilement for the ugliness that it is: a lie. It’s a false teaching that hinders worship and creates bondage. So how does someone combat a lie? They learn the truth! What is truth? In John 17:17 Jesus said that God’s word is truth, a special kind of truth that sanctifies (makes clean). This truth also liberates (see John 8:31-32 NKJV).

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The way to become clean and free from false teaching is by learning the truth. Your perceived defilement is not real, it is an illusion that binds you with a guilty conscience. In contrast, what is real? True defilement is real, it is ugly, and it binds just as badly as false teaching. Thankfully, Scripture both defines what true defilement is, and it reveals the cure, in the same breath. John 8 continues in verses 34-36:

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 NKJV)

What is the answer to true defilement? Grace is the answer.

God doesn’t want you to be a slave to sin. He wants you to be His child. He wants to be able to wash you clean. He wants you to accept and abide in His love. If you stop doing the things that defile you, and you seek God’s forgiveness, He has promised that He will grant it, gladly. (Luke 15)

Now…all that grace talk may all be well and good. But somewhere, deep inside, most of us have a problem. We don’t feel clean. In our head, we may accept the facts, but in our heart, we still feel guilty, we still suffer from the memories, we doubt. This is where you have to dig into prayer, because this is where faith comes in. To be able to accept grace, you have to trust the God who gives it. And trust is a daily struggle. It requires for us to believe that God is enough. He is strong enough, loving enough, kind enough. When we underestimate God’s power to forgive, then we doubt who He is.

When you feel yourself slipping into this depressing swamp of anxiety, I encourage you to read this Scripture verse. Commit it to mind and heart if you have to. Keep it ever before your eyes.

Remember my affliction and roaming,

The wormwood and the gall.

My soul still remembers

And sinks within me.

This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:19-24 NKJV

Truth is the answer to lies. Grace is the answer to condemnation. Faith is the answer to doubt. Can you obtain this truth, grace and faith on your own? No. It can only be received by seeking your heavenly Father. Thankfully, He greatly enjoys giving His children good gifts. (Matthew 7:9-11)

I’ll leave you with one last verse.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…

And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:6-7&19 NKJV)

Categories
For Marrieds For Singles General Sex Ed Parents Sexual Health Education Sexuality

Teenagers need to talk about sex with trusted adults: will it be you?

The heart behind Intimate Truths is encouraging conversations about anything surrounding sex and sexuality. I feel especially burdened when I come across things in our society – like lowering the age on the morning after pill – that lessen this imperative to a something like a website’s FAQ page. The post below is to remind all of us the importance of communication when it comes to sexual choices, to pray for women of all ages (and backgrounds) who are in the midst of making choices that will affect the rest of their lives, and to encourage you to create a dialogue with teenage girls in your life about intimate truths.

teenagers need to talk about sex  - intimatetruths.com

Matt Walsh’s recent post about not teaching his kids about safe sex brought to mind an article that was published in our local paper last year. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker’s Prude or prudent? The debate over access to Plan B ran under the headline Plan B is for women, not young girls. As a public high school health educator [granted, I’m on not teaching right now, but I still care deeply about it!], I am keenly interested in debates like those surrounding age limits on Plan B aka the “morning after pill.”

While I’m not getting into the debate about whether or not it should be available to girls as young as 15 (which it is now legal according to this article), I do want to address something that Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of pro-life political action group the Susan B. Anthony Lise, verbalizes quite eloquently:

“The FDA is recklessly positioning itself as a parent to our children,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Fifteen year old girls need the protection that comes with the involvement of real parents and doctors in their lives.” [emphasis added]

Ms. Parker, the Washington Post columnist, gets at this near the end of her column by asking a very important question:

What does it say about our culture that we discourage family communication about something as important as sex?

One of the most important parts of my [public high school] health class was encouraging my students to talk about sex with a trusted family member or adult family friend. Not to divulge everything they’ve ever done, what they want to do, etc but to gain a more well-rounded perspective on all of the ins and outs – physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, spiritually – of sexual activity. When I read that they’re lowering the age for getting Plan B without a prescription and without parental consent, it breaks my heart because we are essentially removing any encouragement for kids, yes, KIDS, to talk to their elders about sex.

I am a scientist by training. So why am I not advocating for Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards’ viewpoint, insisting that since the pill has been deemed safe, age barriers should be dropped? In my 5 years as a sexual health educator for Seattle Public Schools, if I learned one thing it was this: quality sexual interactions, regardless of your thoughts about age, relationship stability, etc for those involved, come down to communication. By having Plan B available to GIRLS as young as 15, we remove the need for conversation and let them make decisions all on their own. The more liberal reader might counter me by pointing out that they will probably talk to their sexual partner about it. I’m guessing not, however, if one of the tabs on the FAQ page on Plan B’s website is, “How can I talk to my partner about taking Plan B One-Step®?” Usually if there’s a how-to, it’s a difficult task or it’s not happening.

Here’s the deal: we need to encourage conversations about sex with the teenagers of our society. Whether you have a teenager or not, this is vitally important to actually teaching kids something rather than scaring them into not doing something. I know not all health teachers address sex ed like I do/did but the most important thing I wanted kids to leave my class with was an emphasis on communication with their partner. I don’t get to speak to where they’re at in life…but whether straight, gay, lesbian, atheist, Muslim, Christian, boy, girl, trans, sexual active, wanting to be sexually active, wanting to wait for marriage, or wanting to wait for a steady partner, they left my class armed with information and practice in communicating with something as intimate as sex. Did I scare them into not having sex? No. That’s not my place (though we did play STD [political correction] STI Jeopardy and I did show them graphic images of body parts ravaged by unchecked infections). My job is/was to prepare them for making their own decisions while emphasizing that sexual contact OF ANY KIND has incredible consequences physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.

Which brings me to a similar question to that posed above: How can we encourage positive and fruitful conversations about sex with those younger than us? We need to encourage them to talk to a trusted adult about intimacy but go beyond, “Sex is great but wait for marriage.”

Let’s get back around what got me started on all this: Matt Walsh‘s comments on “safe” sex. With something like Plan B legally available as a get-out-of-jail-free card, we allow sex to be deemed “safe” outside of a committed [hopefully marital] relationship. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, something Mr. Walsh eloquently addresses:

Sex…is supposed to be an act of great depth and consequence. Sex is meant to be open and exposed. It’s meant to bring out scary and mysterious feelings of desire and devotion…We have taken the honesty, love, passion, beauty, and creative power out of the act, and replaced it with something sterile, guarded, frivolous, and disinterested.

Intimate Truths is a place to foster conversations about all things intimate. How have you used/how can you use what you learn here to reach others, particularly those younger than you?

Categories
Books Healing from Sexual Abuse Infertility Married Sex Mechanics of Sex Resources

Book Review: A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Douglas Rosenau

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A celebration of sex

Whether you’re newly married, several to many years past your vows, or just said “yes” to the big question*, A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy is an invaluable book to have in your reference library. And no, it’s not meant to sit there and be used as often as you use your dictionary (never for some of you?). You and your spouse should take time reading most – if not all – of it but also revisit different sections depending on what season you are in (30-year-olds probably don’t need to read “Sex After 45” for a while).

Your purpose (and the purpose of the book)

One of Dr. Rosenau’s statements in the opening chapter perfectly aligns with the purpose here at Intimate Truths:

“A purpose of this book is to encourage each of us to think carefully and bring our sexuality and lovemaking into accord with God’s truth and sexual [glossary]economy[/glossary]…together we as Christians need to carefully reclaim from distorted worldly values God’s precious gift of sexuality. Let’s create a practical and accurate sexual theology and practice.” pg. 11

Why are you here? Why are you interested in a book about celebrating sex? One guess: because you want to be a better lover. You want to fully realize everything that God promises regarding sexual intimacy with your spouse but need practical instruction as to how to make that come about. Maybe you’ve wondered if the semi-pleasure you’ve experienced in your first 5-10 years of marriage is as good as it gets (it’s not!) or you’ve just made it through your first year of marriage and wonder when you’re going to hit that climax you’ve heard so much about. Or you want to be as prepared as you can to pleasure (and receive pleasure from) your spouse and have made the wonderful and difficult decision to save that part of your relationship for after your wedding.

Every married couple should have a copy of A Celebration of Sex:

a peek into each section

I need this book as much as you do. Just because I write a blog that seeks to address all things intimate doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. Yes, I may feel more free to talk about it because of my background in science and teaching but I am not immune from the many challenges sex brings to a marriage. We were given this book as a wedding present from dear friends who had gotten married just a year and a half before us. They had benefited greatly from going through it together and being very purposeful in the development of their sexual relationship as a married couple.

Section 1: Creating Knowledge

The intimate truth presented here is that sex is more than one body part interacting with another. Sex is emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical. Dr. Rosenau emphasizes this in his discussion of how to be the world’s greatest lover: true sexiness requires a knowledgeable and together person and a great relationship, much more than just knowing a particular position in the bedroom. The rest of the first section does, however, go into the physical aspects of a great sexual relationship, including both his and her [glossary]erogenous[/glossary] zones, the physical arousal cycle, and having sex without the mess (all of which we’ll end up covering here at Intimate Truths).

Section 2: Enhancing Pleasure

This might be the most important section for you and your husband to read. That doesn’t mean you need to beat your husband over the head with it. But since men more easily experience pleasure from sex, it’s imperative that both you and he understand what brings you pleasure during lovemaking besides intercourse. I love the title of the last chapter of this section: Making Love with Clothes On. This, of course, comes after a chapter on sensuous massage, which is especially welcome (and stimulating) for gals after a long day of work in or out of the home.

Section 3: Enjoying Passionate Intimacy

Of all of the things this book addresses, you probably think you are best at this. However, like anyone wanting to become better a particular discipline, continual improvement requires constant study and practice. Consider this section your practice plan. Dr. Rosenau covers mutual pleasuring, intercourse, specific chapters on making love to either the husband or wife, and how to [continue to] be passionate lovers. He emphasizes this commitment to constant work in the following passage:

“Dynamic intimacy and fantastic lovemaking come at a great price and elude most of us, because we are too immature and untrained. A deeply passionate relationship doesn’t just happen because you love each other. Now the good news: specific disciplines can be practiced over time that will help us create mature, exciting intimacy – and if we ask, God will teach us these disciplines (Hebrews 12:11). God’s professional lovers must learn from Him and incorporate His heart of intimacy. Passionate lovers realize a great sex life is based on [the following] disciplines they learn from their Creator.” pg. 179

Section 4: Overcoming Common Hurdles

Sometimes sex is not what you expected. Or you run into something that makes it incredibly difficult. Whatever the case may be, Dr. Rosenau hits on several common issues that face married couples when it comes to difficulties with sex. This is especially true for women, and a huge reason why this website exists. Yes, you need a copy of this book so you can have the take of a license psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and certified sex therapist. But after you’ve read and discussed what Dr. Rosenau has to say about body image/feeling sexy, becoming a more easily orgasmic woman, the issues surrounding sex when you have kiddos or are over a certain age, and the seemingly ever present problem of sexual desire and frequency, I’d encourage you to come back there to Intimate Truths for encouragement to continue pursuing a healthy sexual relationship with your husband, perspectives from other women who’ve been in your situation, and more resources to build on the work you’ve already put in.

Section 5: Resolving Problems

This troubleshooting section hits on several issues that uniquely strain a couple’s sexual (and overall marital) relationship. He provides practical steps to deal with common male malfunctions, common female difficulties, and making love when you or your spouse has a disability. With his professional training in psychology and marriage and family therapy, he also provides valuable steps to take for survivors of sexual abuse. Dr. Rosenau also speaks to the common misconceptions about infertility, seeking answers to questions about infertility, the difficulties surrounding miscarriages, and practical steps couples can take to survive and heal. This is a particularly painful subject for women and one we hope to provide support and resources for here at Intimate Truths.

Another reason this site exists is to provide a place for you to discuss anything related to sex and sexuality, something that Dr. Rosenau emphasizes as vitally important to addressing common female difficulties. I cannot implore you more to follow these instructions of his from this section of the book:

“If you were raised in an environment where sex was never discussed or was considered ‘bad’ or ‘dirty,’ undertake a personal education program [perhaps with the resources here at Intimate Truths!]. Communicating about sex and developing a comfortable language will assist you in becoming more at ease with sexuality as well. Tune in to your self-talk, your fears and inhibitions about sex. On your own, examine your beliefs about your sexuality and the ‘meaning’ you have developed about sex. Do you know how God feels about sex? …He created sex as a wedding gift for you, to be used throughout your married life for unity, for connection, for fun, for comfort. pg. 290

Section 6: Healing Brokenness

Perhaps from your own experience or that of a loved one who has shared their own story, you may be aware of the pain that comes with negative sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the magnitude to which sex can ruin a relationship can be far greater than the magnitude that quality sexual intimacy can bolster a marriage. Enter what Dr. Rosenau coins God’s sexual emergency room. Does there need to be confession between the two of you? Repentance? Grieving? Where these things abide, so does both forgiveness and restitution. Where other books about sex may ignore the spiritual side of sexual relationships, A Celebration of Sex emphasizes God’s hand in healing hurts between spouses. He adds chapters on extramarital affairs and sexual integrity or sexual addiction (pornography) as well as provides a perspective on homosexuality.

Convinced yet?

A Celebration of Sex is truly a great starting point for enjoying sexual intimacy the way God intended. It’s also a great reminder and refresher for those that have hit a plateau in their marriage. I firmly believe every married couple should have this book so if that’s you and you don’t have a copy, consider forgoing a few lattes and order one. I am 99% confident that if you do decide to take it out of somewhere else in the budget, your husband won’t be mad. If you already have a copy, consider gifting it to a friend or relative for their wedding. Your encouragement for a strong sexual intimacy from their wedding day forward will be an incredible blessing. If you buy this through the links on this page, your purchase helps further the work of Intimate Truths without costing you any extra.

*The banner at the top purposefully cautions you to not read this unless you’re married. However, if you feel it would be valuable to have this extra preparation as an engaged woman, I’d encourage you to have a trusted married girl friend go through selected portions of this book with you. Reading this book with your future spouse, no matter how close the wedding date is, could encourage you to cross lines you had committed to staying behind until you each had rings on your finger. I’d also encourage you to have your fiance do the same with a married guy friend, husband of the girl you went to if possible! There is incredible power in having mentors in marriage, especially in an area as potentially difficult to navigate as sex.

I want you to have a copy of this book in honor of the launch of Intimate Truths. There are two easy entries below plus one where I get to here from you!

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Categories
Sexuality

Why should we discuss intimate truths?

why should we discuss intimate truths - intimatetruths.com


Sister, we need to talk.

 

Sex is everywhere*. But you already knew that. You are probably here because you want to know what the big deal is, how you fit into the whole equation, and how it all works.

Made in God’s image, we as women have a marvelous template to follow as we journey through this life as daughters, sisters, friends, wives, mothers, aunts, and more. Our Heavenly Father is kind, generous, courageous, powerful, humble, strong, and so many other things. He put these stamps (and many others!) onto our lives, personalities, callings, and talents and with His strength, we get to live out our journeys in these different and varied roles as women.

I don’t think we talk about sex enough in the right ways, at the right time, with the right people.

This isn’t just for you married gals, either. With all the twisting our culture has done with everything relating to sex and sexuality, it’s no wonder single gals feel like they can’t talk about it without being labeled, married gals feel like they can only talk about it with their husbands (and most rarely even do that), and there is just a general sense that intimate topics are somehow dirty, tainted, and overly private.

One huge problem I’ve encountered as a woman – both within and outside of the Christian community – is a lack of healthy, positive, and real conversations about sex, sexuality, and everything else relating to intimacy.

In regards to how Christians handle sex, I count myself among the lucky ones. I experienced the abstinence campaign(s) of high school youth group, got “The Talk” from my dad (which was great), worked through one chapter in our premarital counseling talking about intimacy with my soon-to-be husband, and was given a handout (with pretty good explanations) about how natural family planning worked. With my science background, I knew where things went and how it all worked but that was pretty much it when it came to sex. There were more than a few things nobody told me…couple that with physical difficulties I didn’t foresee and I was in trouble.

Then there’s how the rest of the world handles sex. Seen a cover of Cosmo or Self lately? You’ll find at least one “how to be better in bed” article (or something similar/more provocative) on each. Or perhaps you learned nothing in your public high school health class’ portion of sex ed because, well, we really only have time to teach you what to do if you get pregnant/get a girl pregnant (oh, the pregnancy options lesson) and how to not get STDs (now called STIs to be more politically correct).

A safe place to come to get your questions answered…

Single or married, virgin or not, loving sex with your husband or despairing because sex hasn’t been all it’s talked up to be, this site is for you. Think about just about anything you’ve ever wondered – or have been too scared to wonder about – that has to do with sex. And sex is not just about how far you can go with your boyfriend before marriage. God created us as sexual beings and has a grand plan for our lives whether we are sexually active or not. We’ll talk about the philosophical side…

…but really hit on the science side as well. As a high school science teacher, I realized just how many women don’t understand how their own bodies work. Yes, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching teenage girls about their reproductive system but as a result of my science and teaching background, I’ve had countless friends and family members ask me question after question relating to their hormones, reproductive and sexual issues, and more. Do they not have anywhere else to go? Did they not get a solid explanation in their younger years? Whatever the case may be, it is imperative that we as women understand the amazing design God used to put us together and especially how our reproductive system works.

You need to talk about IT.

It’s no accident that the abbreviation for this site is IT. Things surrounding sex are often euphemized by saying, “Did you do it?” or “How was it?” and it just so happens that we really should be talking about IT. There is no replacement for a close friend whom you can ask your most difficult and intimate questions. Perhaps you do have that friend but an issue comes up that she doesn’t have wisdom in yet so you don’t know where to turn. That’s where Intimate Truths comes in. This is a place where you can learn about your body, ask questions, and find answers to things you needed to ask but just hadn’t realized yet. We want to encourage you in your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health when it comes to your sexuality.

In Christ,
Rachel

*If sex makes you uncomfortable (giggly? frustrated? ashamed?), do me a favor and go somewhere private (bathroom? back porch? in your car?) and say the word “sex” as many times as you need so you can keep reading about it. Trust me, it works. When I taught sex ed in a public high school, I started off the unit by having all the kids plug their ears and repeat whatever anatomical terms they needed to say as many times as necessary so we could actually get some learning done without interjecting tons of giggles.

Categories
Female Reproductive System Symptothermal Method

Fertility Awareness in 400 Words

fertility awareness in 400 words - intimatetruths.com

The fertility awareness method (FAM) is also called the sympto-thermal method. Extremely well-outlined in Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, it involves charting your body’s cyclical changes in cervical fluid as well as body temperature which reflect your body’s hormonal changes.

All women – those seeking to avoid/achieve pregnancy or those not sexually active – are encouraged to practice FAM to better understand their body.

Your body temperature is the thermal part of the name. The other part is the symptoms – what your cervical fluid is like. During different parts of your cycle, your cervix will produce different consistencies of fluid (you’ve probably noticed this in your underwear). Right before and during ovulation, your body produces silky smooth, stretchy fluid that is almost the consistency of egg whites before they’re beaten. God’s design amazes me: He created women to have best-for-swimming-sperm cervical fluid just before and during ovulation.

In regards to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, since sperm can be viable up to 72 hours after ejaculation, it is imperative to know where you are in your cycle. Tracking your cervical fluid and body temperature does just that. After doing this for a few cycles, you get to know approximately when you ovulate so you can either abstain from sex that day as a well as a few days on either end or use a condom if you really wanted to have sex but weren’t ready for a baby.

FAM is cheap because you just have to buy the thermometer. It’s extremely reliable if you do it right: you have to take your temperature at the same time every morning right when you get up. It needs to be the first thing you do before you even get out of bed because you are measuring your basal (resting) body temperature.

If you’re sick, traveling, in a time of stress, etc, ovulation will be pushed back. Another part of God’s grand design – if you’re not in a situation to bring a child into this world, your body postpones releasing an egg.

For pregnancy prevention, it is just as effective as the most effective chemical birth control (98%) when done correctly and diligently. FAM requires a bit more discipline than taking a pill but has no side effects. There is also no waiting to try for a pregnancy with FAM – when you want to try, have unprotected sex near ovulation.

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