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What if I told you you could say some magic words that would take your sex life to the next level in your marriage? 

Let’s try it. Ready? Say them aloud slowly and clearly: 

Koh-mew-nick-hey-shon. 

Did it work? 

Probably not. Magic words don’t really work that way.

But there’s good news! There is something that can bring your marital sex life to the next level! (And it’s magical, in a sense!) Communication. 

Lots of research has shown us how communication and sexual satisfaction in marriage are positively linked.

How you talk to each other could determine how fulfilling your bedroom activities are. Here’s why: 

  • Good communication in marriage is conditional; it depends on using effective communication skills in a healthy way.
  • Good marital sex is conditional; it depends on setting the right atmosphere that good communication provides. 

Public Service Announcement: We have to make a distinction between good marital sex and, well, just sex. Any couple can “do the deed.” No communication needed for that. But you do need healthy communication for you and your spouse to have fulfilling, satisfying, amazing, bring-two-bodies-and-two-hearts-together-makes-our-marriage-stronger kind of sex.

I think you get the picture…

So, with that simple but very important concept in mind, here are three ways good communication can enhance sex in marriage: 

1. Good communication gives you a greater sense of connection, closeness, trust, and intimacy, which spells out better sex later on. Good communication is great foreplay. 

Author and speaker Dr. Gary Chapman tells us that, because satisfying marital sex depends so much on other areas in our marriage being healthy, foreplay doesn’t begin once you hop into bed. It starts way before. It’s how you handled that tough morning conversation, the deep discussion you had over coffee, the laughter you shared. All of these interactions throughout the day set the stage for what happens in the bedroom at night. 

Put It Into Practice! Read up on some resources for more meaningful conversations in your marriage, including this and this. If you want to go into a deep dive for deeper communication, work through this fun online communication course as a couple.

2. Good communication increases vulnerability. Baring it helps you bare it all! 

“Bear” with me on this (pun totally intended). 

Marital sex is often a reflection of how other relationship exchanges with our spouse go down, including how you communicate. So, if your points of communication include moments when you feel like you can “bare it all,” (you can share your true feelings, thoughts, and needs) then this helps you to feel more vulnerable and open in the bedroom. It increases your ability to feel secure with your body and to “let go” a little when having a fun romp with your spouse. 

Put It Into Practice! Incorporate “deeper level” questions into your conversations:

  • What are the top 3 things you need from me in our relationship?
  • What is a dream you would love to see fulfilled (no matter how unrealistic)?
  • Who’s had the greatest influence on you as a person? 
  • When do you feel the most loved by me? 

3. Good communication about sex can enhance sex. So… talking about sex leads to better sex! 

Studies tell us sexual communication among couples—discussing what they like, what they don’t like, what’s a turn-on, what positions they enjoy, and so on—is linked to satisfying marital sex. 

Couples often need to work through the awkwardness they might feel with sexual communication. It’s important to remember this is a process. The more you engage in sexual communication, the more natural it becomes. Sexual communication both increases connectedness and improves what goes on in the bedroom. 

Put It Into Practice! Schedule a regular weekly time to talk about sex. Focus on a specific question each time, like: 

  • What gets you in the mood? 
  • Which things turn you on about me?
  • What positions feel the best for you? 
  • What kind of foreplay (besides good communication, of course!) sets the stage for you? 
  • What’s something new you’d like to try in the bedroom?

There are no magic words you can just say to make sex more mind-blowing. But over time, the words you say, the communication you share between you and your spouse, can make marital sex more magical. Try some of these practices this week. Make them a habit and watch the magic move from words to the bedroom.

Great articles for improving your marital communication:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

Why Do Couples Stop Talking?

Get 10 ways to spark more conversation.

When you got married, did you imagine endless conversations and an unending exchange of thoughts, ideas, dreams, and emotions? Fast forward a few years down the road and now you find yourself sitting in the bed or eating a meal together in sheer silence, feeling disconnected from each other…

Finding yourself in this place isn’t that unusual. Many couples experience times in their marriage where the talking to each other seems to stop. However, like anything else in marriage, conversations do take a little extra intentionality than when you first began. To start talking again, it helps to understand some of the reasons you may have stopped talking in the first place.

Here are 10 reasons couples stop talking and a few ways you can spark the conversations again:

1. You’re just out of words.

It’s easy to run out of things to talk about. At times it’s okay not to be talking each other’s ears off.

The ebbs and flows of marriage will often self-correct this situation. Conversation starters can begin casual conversations that get you below the surface and learning new things about your spouse. Sometimes sitting and simply enjoying each other’s presence, taking a stroll down memory lane, or embarking on new adventures all aid toward a new batch of conversation.

2. You’re tired and busy.

Life stacks up, and all of a sudden you find yourself lying in bed at the end of the day too exhausted to connect. 

Stop, take a timeout, gain control of your schedule, and consider your priorities. Give yourselves the margin to gain your energy back and reconnect again.

3. You’re tired of having the same conversation over and over again with no resolution.

You know the argument… the one that never ends and neither of you can seem to agree or feel heard. You both feel like your feelings are being invalidated. This affects anything else you talk about, causing tension to build. Instead of saying the same things over and over, you choose to remain silent.

Giving attention to make sure you’re addressing the real issue and not just the symptoms may be the first step in removing the roadblock to your communication.

4. You live separate lives.

You work, exercise, talk to your set of friends, and golf. Your partner works, is a wine-tasting connoisseur, talks to their set of friends, and plays video games. You’re not sharing time, experiences, or interests.

Begin doing something together: cooking, hiking, puzzles, learning a new skill together, etc. It sparks conversations, creates memories, and cultivates curiosity in your relationship..  

5. There’s a lack of emotional safety in your relationship.

You don’t feel cared for or like you matter. When you do share, you feel judged, misunderstood, criticized, or dismissed. To prevent experiencing the sense of rejection, you shut down.

Have an open, honest conversation about how you’re made to feel when you share. Gently give specifics about comments made or expressions that hurt. Share with your spouse what an emotionally safe space feels like.

6. No one is taking the first step.

Neither of you wants the responsibility of initiating a conversation about what may be causing the lack of communication.

Choose to take the lead in meaningful conversation. Just like leading a dance, when one person leads, the other typically falls into rhythm and follows along.

7. Technology has taken over.

Distracted by the phone, social media, and all the technology trappings? 

Consider phone-free and tech-free time just for the two of you to connect.

8. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

There’s a topic that needs to be brought out in the open, and it’s causing the potential for any other point of connection to be shut down. 

There’s only one solution for this: have the hard conversation; but, make a commitment to discuss it in a healthy,  respectful way. Remember to affirm each other’s opinions and feelings. 

9. One of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert.

If an extroverted partner doesn’t leave room for the introvert to talk… pretty soon, the introvert just gives up.

Discuss each other’s communication styles and how you can ensure that both of you have your thoughts and feelings heard and understood. 

10. There is anger or unresolved conflict present.

Something has happened in the past which causes you or your spouse pain. And this pain short-circuits any kind of meaningful conversation you could have with your spouse. 

Whatever has happened needs to be addressed in a safe environment. Each person’s pain needs to be validated. Seeking professional help may be the best option. 

There are lots of reasons why couples stop talking, but you don’t want this to become the norm. You are always in the process of either connecting or disconnecting in marriage; there’s no such thing as maintaining the status quo. Reflect back on why you married your spouse in the first place and become a student of your spouse; there is always more to learn about them, and therefore, always more to talk about. 

Understanding the reason you stopped talking in the first place can be the first step to reconnecting again. Ironically, talking together about why you aren’t talking can be the start of a beautiful dance. The goal to reconnect on a deeper level just might be, at the moment, the one thing both of you can talk about.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

3 Great Dates To Enhance Communication In Your Marriage

Open up to each other during your time together.

With everything couples have been having to focus on lately, it’s no surprise that enhancing communication in marriage might be a bit lacking. I mean, who has time to sit down and have meaningful conversation about anything besides work, school decisions, masks and hand sanitizer?

That being said, what if we get creative for you and give you some fun date nights that set the mood for some lighthearted fun along with the chance to enhance communication in your marriage? Good idea? Great, glad you like it! Let’s get this party started. 

Date Night #1 – Party Under the Stars

Grab some snacks, a candle or two (gotta set the mood for romance right?!), a quilt, change into some comfy clothes (depending on where you live, clothing could be optional ;-)), one smartphone with a stargazing app (Skyview and Star Gazer have great reviews), make sure the kids are tucked into bed, and head on outside for a date under the stars. This is especially fun if you are in the midst of a meteor shower.

While you are searching the night sky for the different constellations, play a variation of the game Never Have I Ever… One person starts by saying, “Never have I ever…” and then finishes the sentence with something they have never done. If neither of you have ever done it, give each other a smooch. Then it is the other person’s turn to say it and complete the sentence. If the other person has done it, no kissy face for you! Unless of course you decide to cheat a bit.

After you’ve played a few rounds, spend some time sharing the answers to these questions:

  • What I love most about us is…
  • One of my favorite memories about us as a couple is…
  • Something I would like for us to do more of as a couple is…

The goal here is not to create a major production, but just something simple that will give you some time to yourselves. Believe it or not, even 30 minutes (we hope you will take longer… just sayin’…) to just be together, playful with each other and talk about lighthearted things will help you feel more connected to one another. Part of what makes a date night great is the anticipation of knowing it’s coming, so grab your calendar and make it a date! Oh, and don’t forget, this is your time to reconnect—so no talking about the kids, bills, work, the in-laws or anything else that could create space between the two of you.

Date Night #2 – Shut the door and turn the lights down low… Spa Night

Talk about a great way to de-stress and create conversation. This date starts earlier in the day as you send text messages to each other creating anticipation about the experience. It’s all about pampering each other. Oh yeah! 

Grab some towels, scented candles (lavender, lemon, or jasmine scents all promote calm), massage oils, bath salts or bubble bath, cucumber slices, and face masks (No, not that kind, silly—the kind you rub on your face and peel off later :-). Create or select a romantic playlist (check out this Warm Fuzzy Playlist on Spotify). Oh, and don’t forget some yummy snacks you can feed to each other. Lock the door and let the fun begin.

To get things started, turn the lights down low, hit play and light the candles.

Next, draw a warm bath and include a bath bomb or bubble bath (hopefully there’s room for two for a nice long soak). If a bath isn’t an option, there’s nothing wrong with a nice steamy shower or just a simple soak for your sore feet. It’s all about washing away the stress and tension of the day and focusing on your love.

Now that you’re a bit more relaxed, it’s time for a couple’s massage. What? You aren’t a professional masseuse? No problem. Actually, massaging each other builds intimacy, creates opportunity for bonding and opens the door for conversation. Don’t underestimate the power of your touch. Oil up the areas you want to massage and teach each other what you like. Try massaging different parts of the body—feet, hands, neck, shoulders, back, etc.

As you continue on your journey to relaxation, you may find putting cucumber slices over your eyes after slathering on a face mask refreshing. If you’re not into the whole face mask thing, maybe just cuddling is your next move, or… well, I’m sure you guys will figure it out. 

If you are looking for a few conversation starters to enhance communication in your marriage…

  • What’s one thing you love about our sex life?
  • If I could have more of one thing from you it would be…
  • One thing I would love for us to do more of together is…

Date Night #3 – Dinner and a trip around the world—virtually

a staycation of sorts. This date starts with the two of you dreaming about the places you would like to go, but can’t right now. Once you have made your list of places, narrow it down to your top three. Based on your top three choices, decide on a food theme, where you will eat your meal (at the table, on the patio, in bed or somewhere else). What kind of environment do you want based on the places you will visit? Music? Candles? What’s the appropriate attire for your date? Do you want to cook the meal or will you order it from somewhere? Cooking together can add to the fun… or not. That’s for you to decide. 

Now that you have all of that decided, once dinner is ready and you are eating, you can either take a trip around the world visiting the places you would like to go some day OR you can take a trip down memory lane and go through pictures from previous trips to the places you love and want to visit again.

Here are some conversation starters for the trip you decide to take:

  • What makes our marriage adventurous?
  • One of the things I look forward to most about taking this trip with you is… OR My favorite memory of us on a trip was when…
  • One day, I would love for the two of us to…

★ Now, you may be wondering how in the world any of these dates will enhance communication in your marriage. Glad you asked.

For communication to flow easily between spouses, people need to feel cared for, connected, a bond, safe, valued, and a sense of closeness. 

When you are intentional about dating, especially dates where you take the time to open up to each other, check in, where you can be playful with each other, and dream together about the future, you are laying the foundation to enhance communication in your marriage.

Wait, what? You’ve had so much fun with these three dates, you want more?! Well okay. 

How about this? FTF has created a special couple toolkit—5 Days to Better Communication in Your Marriage. Don’t worry. It’s not intense— just filled with practical strategies for helping you get to where you want to be as a couple when it comes to communication. Go ahead, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

A look that needs no explanation, a touch on the arm that says I love you, an unexpected hug because even though you think you’re hiding it well—your spouse knows you need it. Pretty much all of the warm and fuzzies happen when you feel connected to your spouse. And there’s nothing quite like that feeling.

Having a deep connection with your partner enriches your marriage and makes it fulfilling. The understanding you have between each other, the romance, and delighting in the little things (like waking up together) always feels more natural when you feel connected to your sweetheart.

Sometimes, it can feel a little challenging to connect when other things in life keep popping up and vying for your attention. But don’t get discouraged, there are little things you can do each day to pull your spouse a little closer even when you’re apart. 

Ways To Feel More Connected To Your Spouse:

1. Embrace the Micro-Moments of love.

You don’t need a grandiose plan to show the tenderness you feel towards your spouse. Think small and build from that. When you pass each other in the kitchen, touch each other. If you go to work, whether at the same or different times, kiss each other goodbye, say “I love you.” Write a note and stick in a lunch box, on the mirror or hide it somewhere you know your partner will find it. You could write a compliment, a note of anticipation to be together again—the options are endless. Send a text just because without any agenda beyond the desire to connect. (Don’t ask about what’s for dinner or bring up something they are responsible to do.) These small moments of connection can go a long way and they don’t take more than 30 seconds to do.

2. Rekindle the flame with a nickname.

It may sound funny at first, but whispering sweet nothings in your spouse’s ear can spark a smile, a kiss… maybe something more. Taking a moment to show adoration and endearment with a simple “honey,” “sweetie,” “boo,” maybe even “sexy,” or “hot stuff.” 

Grab their attention, tell them you love them, and take a few moments to bask in who they are. Flirt with your spouse! Takes a little more effort, but anything worth your time does. Change your usual, “How was your day?” to “I’d love to make your day even better ;),” and choose what that connection looks like.

3. Do a task or chore for your spouse.

The catch is to not point it out, bring it up, or expect recognition. Do this as a reminder to yourself that you care for your spouse, that you’d go out of your way for them. Plus, if you had time to do something they normally do, by getting it out of the way, you’ve made more time to be together!

4. Be Intentional.

Being connected to your spouse means you make your interactions count. (That may mean being intentional amidst all your busyness and being sure they happen.) Run an errand with them. Ask them to run an errand with you. Make those car conversations count. Go for a walk around the block together. Tell them to dress up fancy for a night in or out. 

Another way to be intentional is through conversation. Instead of saying “I like your outfit,” say, “That color is so flattering on youit brings out your eyes.” Or when your partner is about to leave for work change, “Have a great day at work!” to “I’m so proud of you, you have such a skill for what you do!” These verbal affirmations communicate that you’re paying attention to what’s going on behind the scenes.

When your partner is telling you about their day, opening up about how they’re feeling, exploring a new topic for conversation, try giving them your full attention and some verbal affirmations. Not only will it show them that you’re present, but it’ll also show that you take interest in them, are still curious and want to know more about who they are today. Ask open-ended questions, “What got you interested in this?” “How can I be there for you?” 

These 4 little ways to feel more connected to your spouse can make a big difference in your relationship! In marriage, the pursuit for each other never stops. You fall in love with each other over and over again as you continue to change and go through new experiences and seasons. If you want to try a new experience or need help sparking some conversation, we have some great free date nights you can do at home—check them out here! The two of you have a daily opportunity to express the love you share, and the more love you share, the more connected you’ll feel!

Some bonus blogs to keep that connection going!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

There are a lot of answers to questions I don’t want to find out: How long can my car run without an oil change? Would anyone notice if I walked out of the house wearing a crop-top? 

And if you were to ask me, “Can a marriage survive without intimacy?” I’d tell you I wouldn’t want to find out. But then I’d ask, “Is that really what you mean?” 

Because there’s a big difference between surviving and thriving. I can survive wearing a crop-top out in public, but I sure as heck wouldn’t thrive (at least how I picture myself thriving). 

Do you want a surviving marriage or a thriving marriage?

Show me a thriving marriage, and I can’t help but show you a marriage chock full of intimacy

People sometimes mean different things when they say intimacy. Some refer to emotional intimacy, that affectionate, emotional connection with your spouse. 

Others take intimacy to mean, well, sex. 

And both would be right. If you do some research, you will find that these are two sides of the same coin and that emotional connection and sexual connection are inextricably linked. The quality of one has an effect on the quality of the other. 

Here’s what I mean: Jack thinks there’s a lack of physical intimacy in his marriage to Jill; sex has become mundane and much less frequent. Jill’s not too bothered by this, but believes that there’s a lack of emotional intimacy; they just don’t communicate and connect on a deep level. Jack doesn’t know much about that; he’s just hoping tonight might finally be the night. 

What Jack and Jill might want to know is that neither physical nor emotional intimacy just happens. You have to work at both with intention and gusto. 

And when Jack and Jill take the time to connect on an emotional level, their sex life can experience an uptick. Conversely, putting some more effort into their sexual relationship can easily deepen the level and bolster the volume of their emotional connection.

I like to think of it like this: building up intimacy in your marriage is like pedaling a bicycle. One pedal is emotional intimacy and the other is physical intimacy. Pushing one pedal forward brings the other around ready to be pushed. Repeat the cycle (see what I did there?) and you quickly gain momentum and acceleration. 

And there are two things I know about pedaling a bicycle: it takes work, but the more you gain momentum, the easier it becomes to push the pedals. The same goes for emotional and physical intimacy in your marriage. 

So how do you push those pedals to build intimacy in your marriage so that it will thrive? 

Make small connections throughout the day.

Key times are when you wake in the morning, before you leave for the day, when you come back together at the end of the day, and before you go to bed. Connect by bringing a cup of coffee in the morning, a goodbye hug, a hello kiss, asking, “How was your day?” Leaving love notes, or watching a funny show before bed. You choose your rhythm and kind of connection. Small things count big with intimacy. 

Carve out time to spend with your spouse.

Shoot for one date-time a week, even if it’s at home with microwaved pizza watching a RomCom. Establish some basic rules: no cell phones, no talking family business, no kids in the same room (or floor, or house). Just be with each other. 

Plan sex.

Have a Sex Schedule. Yes, you read that right. Plan the nights you’re going to have sex. This has worked wonders in my marriage. Scheduled sex helps my wife (who needs to warm up to the idea of sex sometimes) to anticipate it ahead of time. And it helps me (who needs no warming up whatsoever) to avoid wondering when the next time will be and to initiate with the confidence that I won’t be met with rejection. (A couple of caveats to scheduled sex: our rules are that either of us can call an audible and ask for a raincheck for any reason. And, unscheduled, spontaneous sex is certainly never off the table!

Dedicate to communicate daily.

Talk, talk, talk. Try to go beyond casual conversation and go deeper with personal insights, feelings, dreams, and needs. Much of our communication is like a small business meeting: Did you pay the water bill? Are you driving Little Man to practice? Google “Questions that build intimacy” and have some pillow talk.  Listen twice as much as you speak. Learn more about active listening here.

Can a marriage survive without intimacy? The truth is, yes it can, BUT it doesn’t have to. Even if you find yourself in a hard place right now where your marriage feels empty and neglected, you can commit yourself to do something different. Push one pedal and then the other. I repeat: it takes work and some time. Sometimes, one spouse in the relationship has to do the bulk of the pedaling before the other catches on. But it’s worth it. Plenty of couples have been where you are, changed up the dance, and would wholeheartedly tell you it’s worth the energy and effort to have a happy, healthy, intimate, thriving marriage. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

2020 might be the year everyone wants to escape from and/or forget for so many reasons. This means we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that many of us are looking for ways to escape the pain and fear. One of the escapes that has seen a dramatic increase in use during the coronavirus pandemic is porn. 

A variety of sources report a 16 to 30% increase in use in the U.S. since March. India reports a 95% increase. Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, reported an 18% increase in users after making its premium content free for 30 days. 

To give you some perspective, check out these porn usage statistics from 2018 tabulated by Webroot Cybersecurity:

  • Every second, 28,258 users are watching pornography.
  • $3,075.64 is spent on porn every second on the internet.
  • 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites.

Let those stats sink in for a second. Staggering to say the least.

Coronavirus and Porn

In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Justin Lehmiller explains that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting not just the amount and type of porn being produced. It’s also affecting how much porn people are consuming and what they’re searching for on major sites. According to Lehmiller, people are not just searching for porn, either. In one month’s time there were more than 9 million searches for coronavirus-related or pandemic porn, as in people wearing masks, surgical gloves and gowns engaging in sex.

He explains that porn searches are up, in part, because a lot of people are at home with more time on their hands than usual. But, he and other experts say there are other potential reasons for increased porn site visits. Some of those reasons include using sex as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear of disease and death, plus loneliness and the dramatic increase in experiencing anxiety, stress and negative emotions.

The Impact of Porn Addiction

So what about this “gift” that Pornhub has given to people, married, single or even teens, in the midst of COVID-19? The truth about porn is, most people don’t realize how pornography reaches out and grabs people. Research shows that when a person sees pornography, the brain releases endorphins that are 200 times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine. They also give you an enormous false sense of well-being. Fight the New Drug likens it to eating junk food. It seems like it is really good and satisfies you in the moment. However, it actually leaves you wanting more and never feeling full.

Additionally, research consistently indicates that pornography use can hurt a couple’s relationship. This is especially true when one person is frequently viewing pornographic images online.

In an open letter discussing the dangers of porn, Drs. Julie and John Gottman argue that intimacy for couples is a source of connection and communication between two people. But when one person becomes accustomed to getting pleasure from porn, they are actually turning away from intimate interaction. Second, when watching pornography the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control. Thus a porn user may form the unrealistic expectation that sex will be under only one person’s control. Third, the porn user may expect that their partner will always be immediately ready for intercourse. Pornography can also lead to a decrease in relationship trust and a higher likelihood of affairs outside the relationship. 

Here are some red flags that may indicate your spouse is involved in this highly addictive activity.

  • Is their body language open and does he/she respond appropriately when you ask questions? Does your spouse look you in the eyes when he/she talks to you? One lie often leads to another. You may ask a simple question and get a very complicated answer or an answer that was different than the day before.
  • Does your spouse have appropriate boundaries? They seem to live in drama and chaos all the time. They may ask you to record yourself or take pictures of you getting out of the shower or at intimate moments. 
  • Does your spouse use lots of sexual humor and innuendos, even when the conversation has nothing to do with that subject?
  • Is your spouse preoccupied with sexual behaviors? Is he/she constantly wanting to push the boundaries and experiment sexually in ways that make you wonder where they got the idea from? 
  • Does he/she exhibit inappropriate anger? This anger appears to come from nowhere. For example, if you ask about household cash flow or what time they will be home, he/she explodes. 
  • Have they lost interest in you sexually? Or has their demand for sexual activity increased, although they seem to be “elsewhere” in the midst of sex? If so, sex at this point is not about intimacy. Instead, it’s about control and power and what he/she can get you to do. 
  • Do you seem to constantly have money problems? No matter how much money you have coming in, there just is never enough to cover the expenses.   

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and people being quarantined, many have commented on how they really didn’t realize how much they really needed in-person, face-to-face experiences for their emotional wellbeing. The research is clear: while a person may be using porn as a coping mechanism, the thirst for it is insatiable. And it still leaves them feeling empty, unfulfilled and needing more.  

Helpful Resources

If you or someone you love is struggling with porn addiction, the Fight the New Drug and The Addiction Center sites may help you determine best next steps.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Discover the 8 Essential Lessons to Build an Unbreakable Marriage Right from the Start! 

Preparing for Marriage is a self-guided online course that will guide you and your bae on a journey to build a solid foundation for your marriage! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME. All the essential tools to create a thriving marriage are jam-packed into 8 fun and fast-paced lessons guided by relationship experts.

How you’ll build an unbreakable marriage:

✅ You’ll get 8 essential lessons that you can work on when you want & where you want.

✅ Each lesson is divided into 3 parts, “Past You,” “Present You,” and “Future You.” Each part has a brief video led by marriage experts, Reggie & Lauren. You’ll have questions to talk through together and a handout to dive deeper. 

✅ After watching the videos and completing the lesson, there will be a quick pop-quiz* to make sure you’re getting the information you need! (And remembering it!)

✅ BONUS: You’ll have access to Reggie & Lauren by email every step of the way to answer any questions or just give you a little encouragement!

3 Ways to Have Better Sex in Marriage

Here's how to rejuvenate your sex life AND your marriage.

I have good news for you: an exciting sex life is salvageable and well within your reach for you and your spouse. 

Here are three ways you and your spouse can take your sexual relationship from mundane to mind-blowing:

1. Don’t make fun the point of sex.

Wait, what? Did he just say that? Isn’t fun the point? Yes, I did, and no, it isn’t! It seems counterintuitive and requires a change in your thinking. Zack Brittle, certified therapist and blogger for the Gottman Institute, says sex isn’t just about the act itself (or at least it’s not all about the act), but rather it’s about sharing the body, mind, and soul as a couple. Sex is about connecting, bolstering intimacy, and exercising vulnerability with the one you’ve chosen to love the most. It’s a part of your relationship that’s meant to strengthen your relationship.

If the attention to your sex life with your spouse is centered merely on fun, you forget the overall essential role sex plays in your marriage, and the irony is that fun becomes a casualty. Focusing on connecting with your spouse in your sex life goes beyond the fun; it makes sex better

And here’s where it becomes even more ironic: when you do focus on connection, sex becomes a lot more fun, adventuresome, and playful! (For a more in-depth look at the relationship between sex and intimacy, check out our Marriage Course: Discover Deeper Intimacy In Your Marriage!)

2. Dedicate to communicate.

Say it with me: Communication affects the sex. (Doesn’t that rhyme nicely?) Couples who struggle with communication struggle with other areas of their marriage, including their sex life; it’s all connected. But those who work on better, healthier ways to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs with each other experience more connection, friendship, and intimacy. And this, as we’ve learned, is directly correlated with healthy (and fun) sex!

There are many resources out there for improving marital communication (see the links below for some great advice), but what I would emphasize to you here is frequency and depth of communication. Strive to communicate on a daily basis with your spouse, and aim for deeper levels of conversation than simply small talk. Work on communicating your opinions, dreams, ideas, needs, and emotions with each other — and listening to those of your spouse without value judgment. Simply listen to understand and draw closer to the one you love the most.

One more thing needs to be said about communication and sex.

Working on your marital communication is vital; however, marital sex is even better when you work on talking about sex. According to marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman, only 91% of couples who can’t comfortably talk about sex with one another report sexual dissatisfaction. (So, Salt-N-Pepa had it right when they rapped “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby…” back in the 90s.)

Talking with your spouse about what turns you on, your interests and preferences, vulnerabilities, and sexual playfulness can be uncomfortable for many. But the good news is that it’s a learned skill that can greatly increase your comfort level. In her book, The Sex-Starved Marriage, therapist Michele Weiner-Davis says the right way to approach conversations about sex with your spouse is very much akin to approaching healthy conversation all around: Pick a time you both feel ready to talk; don’t talk when you’re tired, angry, or in a bad mood; pick a safe, comfortable environment; use “I” messages and talk about what you want rather than criticize. The more you wade into the discomfort of talking about sex, the more comfortable and natural it quickly becomes.

3. Super-glue your marriage — including your sex life — to the top of the priority scale.

This is crucial, especially if you have children (of any age) running around your house. Life is busy, schedules are hectic, money is tight. Attention to your marriage and your spouse must supersede these potential speed bumps. A wise person once said, “Show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I’ll show you what’s important to you.” 

Set reminders on your phone to leave love notes. Schedule date times. Adjust your monthly budget to include some funds — even if it’s a small amount — toward nicer dinners (alone) or romantic gifts. ☆ Pay attention to your spouse’s love language — how is it that they feel most loved? Work out childcare with family or neighbors so you can get two hours alone with your spouse. Trade babysitting services with another parent — you’ll watch their kids one night and they’ll watch yours another. 

Prioritizing your marriage doesn’t take doing anything elaborate.

It’s the small things that build and grow a marriage. But it has a direct and powerful impact on your sexual relationship. Foreplay doesn’t begin in the bedroom; rather, the turn-ons, attractions, and mood-making happen during continual moments of boosting your spouse to the top of your priority list.  

Fun, playful sex is within the reach of you and your spouse, and you can bounce boredom out the window with some simple, intentional strategies. So here’s your assignment: Pursue your spouse. (No, not in a creepy, follow-them-around-all-day kind of way.) 

  • Remember when you were first dating, and there was nothing in your focus except this person? 
  • Remember how things were fun, but that wasn’t the point — you were just wanting to be together and get to know them better? 
  • Do you remember how you talked and talked, and actually listened with interest? 
  • And remember how you set the time and energy to be with that person, and it didn’t matter that you had to wake up early the next morning, or that you were tired from the work day, or that you barely had any cash in the account? 

Pursue your spouse like this, and watch your marriage—including your sex life—be rejuvenated and energized. 

Great articles for improving your marital communication:

Also: 

10 Things Every Couple Needs to Know About Sex

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

Everyone knows how to do “it,” but few people know the secrets to body-aching, soul-connecting, “I feel closer to you than ever” sex. What if sex wasn’t just doing it? What if sex was more satisfying physically AND emotionally? (Maybe it wouldn’t only be a Saturday night thing?) Here are 10 things EVERY married couple needs to know about sex.

1. Foreplay Begins With Each New Day.

Great sex starts outside the bedroom, long before the first button is unbuttoned. If sex is the high point of how the bodies and emotions of two people become connected—start that connection early and often, without expecting sex (or anything) in return.

Connect Emotionally: Listen, share feelings, do the dishes, help with the kids, don’t nag, give a sincere compliment, say “thank you.”

Connect Physically: Hold hands, give a quick shoulder rub, sit with your arms around each other. (In other words, sex shouldn’t be the only time you touch.)

2. Do Your Sex Homework.

  • Know what turns you on!
  • Know what turns your spouse on!
  • What kills sex dead for you?
  • What kills sex dead for your spouse?
  • Talk with your spouse about these questions. 

(This takes the guesswork out of sex.) 

3. Talk About Sex.

Talk about your sex life, what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to try. Do some things make you uncomfortable? Are there things your spouse could do that might make sex better? What brings you sexual fulfillment? How often would you each like to have sex?

(This DISCOVER INTIMACY TOOLKIT can get those conversations started.)

4. New Is For You!

Keep sex fresh and adventuresome! Excite your partner by doing the unexpected. Don’t approach sex in the same way or do the same things in the same place! That’ll leave you and your spouse bored, unsatisfied, and in a rut.

5. Expectations Are Everything.

People are wired differently—that includes libidos. Sexual interest can be affected by stress, fatigue, medication, season of life, and problems in other parts of the relationship. Some people need to connect emotionally before they can connect sexually. Some people need to connect sexually before they can connect emotionally. Communication is the key!

6. Sometimes, Focusing On Having More Sex Will Get You Less.

Remember, sex is not an end in itself. Sex is a means to an end. The “end” is deeper intimacy, a stronger connection, and a healthier relationship. Focusing on other ways to increase intimacy, strengthen your connection, and grow your relationship frequently results in more sex! Nothin’ wrong with that!

  • What are three activities that make you feel close to each other?   
  • When do you feel closest and most connected to your spouse? 
  • When do you feel most loved?

7. Sex = Give & Take!

Sometimes, you might not have sex when your spouse doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes, you might have sex when you don’t feel like it. Understanding this and respecting each other will set the stage for some great sex! Sex shouldn’t be transactional. Sex should be intimate and treasured. When sex is “weaponized” or becomes a demand or entitlement—you’re not gonna have a good time. (If that’s frequently the situation, talk about it or get help from a counselor.)

8. A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action!

When you finally have time alone, talking about finances, kids or in-laws can kill the mood. Don’t get me wrong—there are important marriage and family things to talk about. But if you want to get down to the business of love, leave those conversations for another time and take time to enjoy each other.

9. Keep Sex Fun and Playful

Sex is serious business, but if it feels more like work than fun, it’s less likely to happen! Playing together helps you associate fun and good vibes with your spouse, and that’s a good thing. Little things like winking at each other, using that signal that says, “Let’s go somewhere private,” or flat-out flirting can do wonders. Perhaps you’ve seen the TikToks where people simply walk into the room in their birthday suit while their spouse is playing video games. That’s an attention-getter for sure. And there’s always strip poker…

10. Less Stress = More Sex

The things that take up your mental and physical energy can impact whether you’re in the mood for love. Helping each other out can lighten the load and make you feel more like a connected team. So that means getting that to-do list done in half the time by working together frees you up for a little party later on. (Note: Sex can also relieve stress, too!) Give these four little magic words a try: How. Can. I. Help. Then watch what happens.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.