Want Your Life to Be More Magical?

Have you ever had those moments in life that feel so transcendent that you can only describe them as other-worldly? As magical?⠀

When I write something that I know didn’t come from me. When my baby looks at me and I allow myself to be swept up in the magic of an infant. When someone tells me that something I said changed their life for the better. Watching one of my kids gain the confidence that comes from mastering a new skill. Those family moments where everyone is laughing or playing together and time seems to go on slow motion like in a movie.⠀

Magical.⠀



And I’ll add to the list something not oft discussed but every bit as magical as the magic moments listed above . . . moments in the bedroom with my husband.⠀

Pure magic.⠀

Sadly, so many of us have so much baggage around sex in our marriages that it loses all its magic. It becomes boring, hard, an obligation, awkward, vulnerable, a bargaining chip, a source of resentment, a source of insecurity.

This really bums me out.

Because I used to be there. Sex used to be a boring obligation and occasionally a source of resentment for me too.

Taking the time (and money) to learn how to really love sex has been the best use of my time and resources in recent years. It has brought so much magic to my life.

And that magic has spread further than just the bedroom. It has affected how I view myself, my body, my relationship to my husband and to God, my parenting, and my joy.

I share more about my journey from sex being something I “should” do for the sake of my marriage, to a beautiful, transcendent gift FOR ME in my “Learn to Love Sex” course, which you can read more about here.

So, HOW do we move from sex with baggage to sex as magic?

I have lots of ideas, but basically, our first step will be to remove all the barriers that keep it from being magical:

    • negative thoughts of sex as dirty, gross, only for men.
    • negative thoughts about ourselves as abnormal and undesirable.
    • negative thoughts about our partners and our relationship.
    • stress and too much to do.⠀

Then we need to learn the tools to make it more magical:

  • PRESENCE and ability to focus in the moment.
  • Seeing sex as a gift rather than an obligation.
  • Willingness to be vulnerable.
  • Confidence.

To name a few. I go much deeper into all of these in my course.

I’ve priced the course at $70, but if you finish it (which isn’t hard), you get half your money back. So really the course is $35. Pretty cheap as far as magic is concerned 🙂

Nothing would make me happier than helping you add in the magic and transform your sex life from an obligation to a gift.

Learn more here.

sex is magical

Talk to me

Alright guys, it’s about time for my annual sex post on this blog.

via tenor

I’m a marriage blogger. It happens.

Here’s the thing this time though, ever since I posted about how I went from never caring about or really wanting sex, to loving sex last year, I’ve been getting A LOT of questions about sex.

Via my blog email yes, but also in my personal life.

Sometimes from close friends. Sometimes from people I hardly know.

Just this month I had two different women from my church congregation come talk to me about sex who I’ve never before had conversations with, but who had read my blog and felt comfortable enough to ask me.

Which thrills me. Truly.

But each time this happens, two thoughts strike me:

  1. Good gosh, there are so many misunderstandings about how to have a good sex life!!
  2. I want to just download all the books I’ve read and e-courses I’ve taken into these women’s brains so they could understand and be more equipped.

But I find myself hesitant to fully endorse any of the resources I’ve learned from to my fellow LDS women. I have hang ups with each.

I wish that Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s courses weren’t so expensive (or jargon-y, they went over my head the first course I took from her).

I wish that Passionate Marriage wasn’t 900 pages long.

I wish that Slow Sex used the “f” word about 99 less times, and that she would acknowledge that who your partner is and how long you’ve known them DOES in fact affect your sexual experience with them.

I keep wishing for a resource with all the best sex tips and mindsets I’ve gained without scaring people and without taking a million dollars or a million years to process.

Then the thought, “Hey wait a minute, why don’t I make a sex resource?”

Then I imagine the conversation telling my parents (and my mother-in-law :I) about said project and think, “Nah, better not.”

via tenor

Friends, if you want a sex e-course from me, please let me know. Because it just might take all of my bravery to do so. I’m thinking of creating a course called, “Learn to Love Sex.”

I would be targeting LDS women because I feel much more qualified in understanding the mindsets and roadblocks around sex within the LDS culture than the world at large, but of course, I will make it helpful to anyone who wants to learn from the resources I have learned from.

I want my course to be super helpful to YOU, my readers. To do so, I need to know what you are struggling with currently in your sex life.

If you would answer these three questions, I would be ever so grateful.

[powr-survey id=2ee559e7_1542216752]

Thanks a million guys.

Life is too short for mediocre sex, or worse duty sex! Let’s learn to love sex, what do ya say?

What Would Happen if You Had Sex Every Other Day For a Month? (PHYSICAL TOUCH Love Experiment Re-cap)

What happens when you have sex with your spouse every other day for a month?  Good things. Good things happen.

This post contains affiliate links.

We just wrapped up our love experiment for the month- having sex every other day. This challenge is based on Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, specifically the physical touch love language.

Time for a re-cap!

What would hapen if you had sex every ohter day with your partner? Amazing things! Click through to read all about it.

Of all the love experiments we’ve done so far this year (connecting for 10 minutes everyday for quality time, sending a loving text/note everyday for words of affirmation and giving a gift every week for gifts), this one – to have sex every other day – was by far the most demanding.

It was also the most rewarding.

We had to SUPER prioritize it in order to make it happen.  If we’re being honest, when every other day rolled around, at least one of us, but usually both of us would have rather just watched a show together instead of having sexy times.

Why? Because sex takes energy and its just plain easier not to do it.

BUT I’m SOOOO glad we did. Two years ago, Rich and I held a similar experiment and I wrote all about the outcomes of that in this post (spoiler alert- the experiment went FAR better than I could have ever anticipated).

I’m happy to report that we experienced similar results this time around. Suddenly, we were flirting like we normally didn’t, we were understanding each other better, we were happier. When he came home from work, instead of our usual disconnect from him having a demanding day at work, me having a draining day with the kids and neither of us being totally sure if we’re just drained or if we’re miffed with each other- we were just on. He would come home and we would be legitimately happy to see each other. We had lovey eyes.

Awwww.          [source: Tenor}
We were able to express having a hard day while still being grateful for each other.

It was like this upward cycle. I’m not sure who would start it. But I think having regular good sex just brings out the best in Rich- he’s more attentive, more caring, more empathetic, which then in turn brings out the best in me. Or perhaps its the other way around?

Either way the little things that come up that plague our marriage just sort of dissolve into oblivion as we connected sexually every other day.

Did you know a good sex life could do that??

I didn’t (well, I did since we started working on it two years ago, but before that I had no idea!).

Let me try to explain where my mind was at two years ago (and often still resides). I didn’t prioritize sex. I did it mostly to appease my husband and to improve our marriage, but I didn’t enjoy it for ME. I didn’t think I had to. I plainly just never thought about my sexual desires one way or the other.

I think I did this because I had SO many other things to prioritize when it came to my own self-improvement and sex just was not on the list. I strive to be more kind and generous by prioritizing serving those around me. I strive to be closer to God by prioritizing prayer and scripture study. I strive to be a better mother by being more patient while disciplining effectively.  I strive to be healthy by cooking meals and exercising. I strive to keep my life clean and orderly (ok, this one is kinda far down on the priority list, but you get the idea).

In ALL of these many priorities I strive for, where would prioritizing my own sexual development come in?

It wouldn’t. I didn’t see it as necessary AT ALL to my personal progression.

Sex was mostly for Rich and to feel connected to him.

And here’s the thing- I still can’t really find the words to convince anyone who thinks like I did to start prioritizing their own sexual feelings and development.

All I can say is that by doing so, my life became indescribably better.

Just everything better- my generosity, kindness, patience, happiness.

I have no idea why this occurred. Really I don’t know.  I just know that once I started thinking about sex a lot, talking about it a lot and doing it a lot- life became so much more rich than it was before.

And I can’t stress enough that the mental transition from “doing it for my husband” to “doing it for me and for us” was SO necessary.

I didn’t want duty sex, Rich didn’t want duty sex, and yet duty sex was what we had for SO LONG. It wasn’t until I started exploring what I really wanted and owning that, that things changed.

And I’m SOOO thankful to this blog for helping me to start the experiment in the first place. I honestly don’t think I ever would have if it weren’t for this blog.

Here’s the official experiment re-cap:

What would hapen if you had sex every ohter day with your partner? Amazing things! Click through to read all about it.

Extra Resources

I mentioned in this post where I talk about how to improve your sex life that the most important thing for me was to acquire new ideas and I mentioned what I read last time we did this experiment.

So I wanted to include some resources I’ve come across that helped me this time around:

  1. Boost Your Libido E-Course

One of my readers recommended this to me (thanks!) and because I LOVE Sheila Gregoire’s book 31 Days to Great Sex, I knew I wanted to check this course out too.  So glad I did.  There are 10 modules- each with a short video, assignments  and resources. Some of the topics include:

  • Feeling comfortable in your skin
  • Making hormones your friend
  • When it doesn’t feel good
  • Making sex exciting

I breezed through the videos pretty quickly and loved them, but I have to say the real magic of the course happens when you fill out the brainstorming exercises for each module.  Its come up again and again this month that it is important to realize exactly what you like and what you don’t and why and these exercises are a great way to do that!  Highly recommend.

Check it out here

2.  Ultimate Intimacy App

I just came across this awesome and free (!) resource- its an app designed for Christian couples to keep things exciting.  Its got this great game for foreplay with prompts and suggestions based on your comfort level. It also includes conversation starters to connect with and over 190 position ideas.  Here’s a video explaining it all.

Check it out here for Android, and here for Apple products.

3.  Sex Prompts

For a gift for Rich, I made us a little box with cut up pieces of paper with what I call “sex prompts” on them. There are three categories- fun, sappy and sexy- depending on our moods. I’ve decided to share them with those that are interested. You can either copy these and give them as a gift to your spouse or just use them whenever 🙂

Since not everyone would want these, I’m including them as a free download here:

Sex Prompts

Enter your email address to gain access to the free download.

By entering your email, you are signing up for my mailing list. You will receive your download after confirming your subscription. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 


If you like this post, be sure to sign up for our monthly emails. They’re sure to give you that extra kick to keep your marriage fresh and healthy 🙂 (don’t worry, I don’t bite.  Or worse try to sell you things):

 

YOUR Sex Questions Answered (by a sex therapist) Part I

In preparation for this post, I asked you what you, my readers, are struggling with regarding sex, and passed those struggles along to Aimee Heffernan.

sex therapist

Aimee, who is a licensed couples therapist and sex therapist who lives and works in Washington, was kind enough to answer a number of your questions last year (Part One and Part Two).

In preparation for our interview, I sent her a list of your concerns to review. Right away we noticed some themes and will be talking about those themes instead of answering question by question.

Desire Discrepancy

First up- desire discrepancy.  Here are a few of your struggles on that topic:

“I feel like he always initiates and I WANT to, but really when it comes to it, I’m tired, cranky, pms, or just not feeling attractive etc. etc. I want to initiate without the ‘perfect’ scenario and get past the thoughts that I have to be always in the right mind set to do this.”

“I’m the wife and currently undergoing treatment for a medical condition but the medicine makes me have low libido. I’m willing -touch is my love language – but my husband’s discouraged because I’m not climaxing, which makes it hard for him because he feels like he’s not doing his job and is a failure. I don’t see it that way. I’m not sure how to encourage him to keep trying.”

“My biggest struggle is that I just don’t care about [sex]. I’m not sure if that’s just being a tired mom, or if it’s because of a medication I take, but I have ZERO sex drive anymore. I make it a point to make sure we have sex once a week for his sake, and I don’t mind it because I know that he likes it, but I feel like I could go without sex for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t even notice.”

Here’s what Aimee has to say:

“The first thing I’m noticing is that most of these deal with a ‘desire discrepancy.’ I can tell you right now that that is one of the major things I deal with doing sex therapy with couples.

In ANY relationship you enter, there will always be a low-desire and a high-desire partner. In the field of sex therapy, there are people who don’t love that description, “low-desire vs. high-desire,” because it makes it sound like your desire is a thing that either you’ve got it or you don’t.

One of the most profound things to learn about yourself is what YOUR desires are. Not just how strong they are in comparison to someone else (your spouse). But knowing your own … sexual palate. What works for you and what you truly look forward to achieving because of sex.

On the desire spectrum, another way to think about it besides “high” and “low” is “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire.” That concept comes from one of my favorite people in the field, Emily Nagoski, a sex educator and therapist.

“Spontaneous desire” comes on suddenly, out of the blue, but “responsive” desire only comes on when a person is in a sexual situation already. Mainstream culture really only depicts “spontaneous” desire as real desire. But responsive desire is normal and healthy and way more common in women (as depicted by this graph on Emily’s blog).

What this means is knowing what’s true for you. That is incredibly important. That’s part of owning your own sexuality – recognizing what kind of desire you feel and what affects that desire. And that takes work to figure that out. But when you are able to work on YOU, you are better able to show up for sex and, ultimately, be more satisfied.

Confronting your own sexuality is crucial!

YOUR sex questions answered (by a sex therapist) | improve your married sex life

(PS For more ideas on how to deal with desire discrepancy, you guys, my readers,  answered the question, “How do you agree on how often to have sex?” here)

Redefining Sex

That leads me to the other major topic, one that I am constantly talking about as a sex therapist, and it’s something I saw in your readers’ questions which is women not being able to, or just not having an orgasm.

[Here were some of those questions:

“I’ve never had an orgasm and I don’t know if that’s normal, as we haven’t been married that long but still…It always feels like he gets way more out of sex than I do, and that’s frustrating.”

“I have a hard time reaching orgasm but he doesn’t even know it.”]

There’s a lot to talk about here. Because for some people, this is a medical situation (this post may be helpful there.)

But the first question I have is, “How can we talk about sexuality, with the ‘prize’ not being orgasm?”

The idea of “good sex” resulting in this kind of climax … it’s very normative. Certainly not all people, not all couples achieve that and pretending otherwise only puts more pressure on the act of sex.

And of course it’s important! But there are a lot of other aspects to consider too: How are you sensual with each other? How do you treat and act toward one another in this intimate, vulnerable situation? That closeness, that skin on skin interaction – it feels nice. And for different reasons, for a time, not climaxing might be a part of your sexual story.

Let’s just take away the stigma that there is something wrong with you if you are not able to reach orgasm easily. That is perfectly normal. We need to figure out how we enjoy sensuality without it.

There are a lot of scenarios that might interfere with orgasms. When someone is taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), a medication used to treat depression, you are less likely to have orgasms. You may find you can’t quite make it. And so many men experience erectile dysfunction. So the question is: “Is sex only enjoyable because you orgasm?”

I would encourage you to expand your definition of “successful” sex and shift the goal off of climaxing every time.

There are ALWAYS challenges to sexuality. That’s why it’s so crucial to talk about it, and even redefine your sexuality with your partner.

Think about scenarios where someone in a relationship experiences disability. Disability changes sexuality for people. But it’s still a part of those relationships. It’s still on the table, even if it looks different.

That’s why I think we should be, on a regular basis renegotiating, re-establishing our sexuality. That’s what the expectation should be going into marriage – not “this is what our sex life will look like,” but “this is how we are going to approach the changes that will happen in our sex life.”

We talked above about figuring out your own desires. Well, this means we also need to be talking about our expectations and those desires with our partners. Marriage is a “in sickness and in health” agreement and we need to figure out what sex is going to look like in BOTH of those situations.


In this post, Aimee shared a lot of great ideas and ways of thinking about sex and desire. In Part II, she’ll share more concrete suggestions on how to have these (sometimes challenging) conversations, figuring out our own desires, and how to communicate them to our spouse.

Stay tuned!

PS If you would like to hire Aimee, we highly recommend her.  This is her website.

Resources for Improving Intimacy:  “The Art of Desire”

A review of the e-course “The Art of Desire” by Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

By Celeste

This is the second half of my “Resources for Improving Intimacy” post.  Check out the first half about a book called “31 Days to Great Sex” here.

This post is part 5 of the series:  Improving Intimacy
Part 1:  How to Agree on How Often to Have Sex
Part 2:   Waiting for Sex Until Marriage- Can I Really Do It?
Part 3:  When Sex is Painful:  One Woman’s Story
       Part 4:  A Therapist Answers Your Questions About Sex First Half  and Second Half
Part 5:  Resources for Improving Intimacy:  “31 Days to Great Sex” and “The Art of Desire”

This post may contain affiliate links.

The Art of Desire

This is an e-course from Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, an LDS sex therapist written for Mormon women.

This course was so much more eye-opening for me than I ever anticipated.  I was expecting it to go something like, “for years you thought sex was bad and now you need to know sex is good, let’s discuss.”  But it was so, SO much more than that.  It made me take a good, hard, thorough look at myself, my relationship to desire and all sorts of masks and facades I may be hiding behind that I didn’t realize were there at all.

The course is divided into four classes:

  • Class 1:  Understanding and overcoming women’s cultural and psychological challenges to desire. (1.5 hours)
  • Class 2:  The art of desire:  How to discover and cultivate your authentic passion. (1.5 hours)
  • Class 3:  Understanding female arousal:  Physical and psychological factors (2 hours)
  • Class 4:  Sexual Self Development: (Including the how-tos of orgasm and sexual thought)  (2 hours)

She doesn’t even really get into talking about sex until Class 3.  Similar to the “31 Days to Greater Sex” book, she makes you tread through some uncomfortable water of what your psychological issues are, not only with desire but with yourself.  And you come out better and stronger for it.

Here’s a quote from another lady who went through the course and wrote about it on her blog:

“JFF’s perspective, and the introspection it’s incited, has completely changed the way I view real intimacy. It’s opened my eyes to the flaws in needing validation from your significant other and confusing that validation for real connection. We do this all the time, in all kinds of sneaky ways, and we sell our relationships short because of it.

We want our partners to see us at our worst and tell us they love all our imperfections as they are and wouldn’t want us to change a thing. We call that real love. So often when we’re dating, we fall in love, not with another person, but with the perfected view of ourselves we see reflected off them. …. [We must create] a space where we can be fully known and stand solidly, even if it forces us to acknowledge the ugly parts of ourselves.”

I know, right?  It gets all kinds of real.

Anyway, maybe my favorite thing from the course was that it called me out, it calls us all out on consistently defining our desire (women’s desire) only in terms of men’s desires.  Generally, we focus on men as the desirers (active) and women as the ones who are desirable (passive).  As LDS women, our relationship to desire is primarily REPRESSION (occasionally mixed with fear, guilt and/or control).  This focus on desirability instead of desire fosters non-identification with our self-knowledge and our desires and deeply undermines women’s strength and self-confidence.

For example, Dr. Finalyson-Fife says women who come to her wanting to improve intimacy so often say, “I owe my husband better sex!” and struggle to see a problem with negating any relationship to desire for themselves, which you kind of have to do to make sex better for both you and your spouse anyway.  Throughout the course, I had to keep reminding myself to focus on this course just FOR ME.  I had to own up to my own relationship with desire outside of just how it relates to my husband and my marriage.  Something I have never done before.

I’m starting to see sex in a totally new way.  I’ll be honest that throughout this month, in the back of my mind I kept holding on to the question, “Yeah, but do I REALLY need to explore this side of myself?”  Both Sheila and Jennifer pose the question that if our relationship to desire was supposed to be repression, why would God have given us a clitoris?  A part of our body that serves NO other function other than physical desire. A part of our body that contains 8,000 nerve fibers (twice as many as a man’s genitalia).

I’m now committed to figuring out and strengthening my own relationship with desire.  The homework assignments really help out with that, and I’m excited to read some of the books she suggests, such as Passionate Marriage and Slow Sex.

My one hold up with recommending the course full-throttle is that I wasn’t a huge fan of the format- which is a formerly “live” e-course with a little video of Jennifer talking in the corner, a power point in the center and a chat window where you can see the former live participants chatting below that.  I would prefer either being an active participant in a live course (being able to live chat and have her respond throughout the classes) OR just watching a lecture from Jennifer where she isn’t interacting with anyone- just speaking.  In any case, this issue doesn’t affect the QUALITY of her message, just the delivery.

The course is normally $145, but for a limited time only, Dr. Finlayson-Fife is generously offering a 10% discount to my readers by entering the code “ATHING10” at checkout!

The cost may sound like a lot, but it’s actually a great deal because not only does this include all four classes, but also 12 months of “office hours” which is a live, anonymous group meeting held once a month where you can call in and ask questions about any of the course content and questions specific to your situation.  She then sends you a recording of the whole “office hours” session.

Seeing that one session with a sex therapist will generally cost you $100 – $200+, this is actually a pretty phenomenal deal.  Buy it here. She also offers three other courses for couples on her site (which I hope to review in the future!).