About the Guest
How would you grade your kissing? Ron Deal shares more about kissing, passion, and romance in marriage. Add spice to your relationship by taking the 30-second kiss challenge.
How would you grade your kissing? Ron Deal shares more about kissing, passion, and romance in marriage. Add spice to your relationship by taking the 30-second kiss challenge.
Bob: As a married couple, how would you grade your kissing? Here’s Ron Deal.
Ron: Most couples kind of get stuck. We—honestly, we get stuck in the kiss rut—the hello/goodbye kiss [kissing sound] and the passionate sex kiss—and we don’t really have anything in the middle. I would encourage you to have the 30-second kiss challenge. This is not a sexual kiss / this is just a passionate kiss. This is just: “I care for you kiss,”—this is just an aroma-activating kiss. There is no agenda. There’s no pressure, but it’s just a: “I’m connecting with you” kiss.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to spend some time today thinking together about kissing, and passion, and romance, and more in marriage. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. Many of our listeners have heard our friend, Ron Deal, who has been with us regularly, here on FamilyLife Today. He heads up the FamilyLife Blended Initiative, here at FamilyLife—
Bob: —and has written extensively on issues facing blended families. I think a lot of listeners may have assumed that that’s kind of Ron’s exclusive area—to deal with the challenges facing couples in blended marriages and blended families.
Dennis: And if they think that, they are in for a real surprise today; right, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: Ron has spent thousands of hours—
Dennis: Stay tuned, folks—stay tuned.
Bob: That’s right.
Bob: Ron has spent thousands of hours, over the course of his career, counseling couples—whether it’s blended couples or couples in a first marriage—working with them on the challenges that couples can face in marriage. One of the challenges that has come up, over and over again, for just about every couple has been the challenge of issues related to marital intimacy—
—to sex in marriage.
Back in February, when we were on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise and we had a couple thousand people with us, we said, “Let’s do a breakout session and have you talk to any of the couples who want to show up and hear about issues related to intimacy.” There were a lot of couples who showed up—it was a standing-room-only afternoon as Ron gave an outstanding presentation on this issue.
Dennis: And as our listeners are about to hear, Ron says that about 80 percent of all folks in marriage experience some kind of problem related to sexual intimacy. And I guess—I’m wondering about the other 20 percent, Bob, because I’ve got to believe that, at some point in a lifetime, almost 100 percent of married couples would have some difficulty relating to each other in this specific area of a marriage relationship. If you do—you need some training, and guidelines, and some coaching—
—and what you are about to hear from Ron Deal is both biblical, but it is also very practical.
Bob: Yes, he’s already laid out for us, this week, a foundation for marriage, talking about sex from God’s point of view. It’s a gift created by God and given by God. It’s a picture of spiritual oneness. It’s a renewal of the wedding vow, and it’s a way that we get to know one another more deeply. Today, what he is going to talk about is very specific and very practical.
Ron: When it comes to responsibility for sexual pleasure—who is responsible for your sexual pleasure? One of the oddest things that we do to ourselves is—we set ourselves up for disappointment because we make somebody else responsible for our own sexual pleasure. If there is a bias in our culture, it is toward men. Men are the ones who are responsible to—listen to our language—
—“perform and do well so that she has pleasure, and that is going to bring him pleasure because he’s enjoying her having pleasure.” So, it’s ultimately his responsibility to get everything right so things happen—that just creates pressure on us.
And by the way, there is no other aspect of your life or your relationship that you would relegate, ladies, over to your husband. He doesn’t decide for you what you are going to eat when you get up in the morning. He doesn’t decide for you what you are going to wear when you go about your day. He doesn’t decide for you what job you’re going to work at, and how you are going to apply yourself, and where you are going to go—all that kind of stuff.
There is no other part of your relationship—would you just kind of just lay it down and say, “It’s your job.” But sometimes, we do that when it relates to sexuality. No! You’ve got to be responsible for you. You’re responsible to bring your heart, your head, your body, your attitudes, your thoughts, and your feelings to every sexual encounter—which means: “I’ve got to communicate. Somehow, either nonverbally or verbally, I’ve got to kind of let you know where I am, what I’m thinking, about, what I’m interested in.
“It’s my job to be responsible for, then, sharing that with the other in a way that’s helpful/ in a way that nurtures our relationship.” But what if there is this pressure that it’s up to one person to figure it out for both parties? You can see how that just takes you down the wrong road.
Guys—don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking that it’s all on you. Now, what immediately this requires is that you have to trust each other. I mean, if the other person communicates and you go, “No, I don’t really think that’s what you want,” then, all of a sudden, we’ve got another problem; right? There is nothing worse than one partner knowing what the other person should be happy with. And I’m going to assert that on you, whether you are open to that or not. That just creates all kinds of control issues; and now, we’re kind of battling over who is in charge of whose sexual pleasure. But here is the part that’s difficult about all of this—we’re kind of getting to the naked and unashamed thing again.
This brings us to the next suggestion: Be flexible during lovemaking. Let’s talk about this concept of non-demand pleasuring. One of the worst things you can do for yourself in lovemaking is grade yourself during lovemaking: “Okay, I wonder how I’m doing. Is he going to say, ‘I’m happy’?” “Would she say that I’m doing okay?” The whole time you are doing this—you’re having this internal conversation—and where you are not tuning in. You’re not tuning into what’s happening between the two of you. That creates demand—“I need to do better.” You see how that creates demand instead of non-demand? Non-demand is an attitude that simply says: “Whatever happens happens. I’m here to meet you, and there is no agenda. I don’t have to force anything, and you don’t have to force anything. It’s all going to be okay.” When you take the pressure out of the equation, and you just relax and you go: “I’m here. Whatever happens is going to be okay,” then, all of a sudden, you’re free to enjoy and experience.
Is demand okay sometimes? Absolutely, demand is okay. Sometimes, you have a specific hunger for a specific kind of touch or sexual act, and you need to communicate that on any given occasion. That’s fine; alright?—there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just— if every time was like that—as a matter of fact, that takes me to managing your sexual desire. I’ve got good news for those of you that kind of wrestle with this whole idea of how sex starts in your relationship: “Who gets it started?” Turns out there are two kinds of sexual desire. Seventy percent of the time, the person who initiates sex, if you will, in whatever form that is—the first hint, the first word, the first, “Hey, come here,” the first kiss—whatever that looks like—the person who initiates that—70 percent of the time, it’s the husband.
Well, what are the reasons for that? Yes, there are some reasons for that. Yes, one of the biggest reasons is testosterone; okay? Testosterone is principally the thing that turns on your sexual initiative for sexuality / “your hunger” are the words I like to use. Your sexual hunger—it makes you hungry for it; alright? And men have 20 times the level of testosterone in their bodies than women do.
Now, women, it’s not estrogen for you—it’s testosterone in your body that activates your sexual energy, just like in his. We just have a whole lot more of it. So, it naturally makes sense that 70 percent of the time—more often than not—it’s the guy who is doing that.
By the way, our minds are also thinking about it. So, we kind of have sex on the brain more often than not. Average man thinks about sex 30 times a day—it just crosses through his mind in some form or fashion—whatever that is. It may be a fleeting thought, or it may be something that hangs around for a while—30 times a day. The average woman is less than 5. So, it’s on our brain, and it’s in our body. It makes sense that we are the ones who initiate more often than not.
But when the dance of want—when you get insecure and fearful— and you think: “Okay, is it just me that I always want sex?
“How come she doesn’t ever start sex?” We start doing this game of “I’m going to try to wait until you start it because, then, I’ll know that you want me the way that I want you.” I’m here to tell you: “That’s a silly game, and it’s unnecessary because here is the thing—there is another kind of sexual desire—and it is receptive desire. Receptive desire is: ‘Are you open to the idea?’ You didn’t come hungry for it / somebody else brought it up—but since they brought it up, you’re kind of like, ‘Hey, I’m open to that.’”
Guys, good news, it may be you that initiates more often than not—it is okay. “Is she receptive?” is the only question. From time to time, the answer will be, “No.” From time to time, the answer will be, “Yes”. “Is she receptive?”—that is an equally valid form of desire. But if you start grading and demanding, based on who initiates, then, all you are doing is creating this arbitrary bar—that all it does is turn down her sexual energy and makes it harder for you guys to connect and find each other.
But I do need to ask this question, “What if he has a lower desire?” It’s always been the case that 20 to 30 percent of the time the wife was the one who initiated sex more often than not in a husband and wife relationship. But we are beginning to see a trend where men are having less interest and taking less initiative—less hunger for sex. Why is this happening? Why is there an upward trend of men who are taking less initiative than their wives? Well, we don’t really know.
There are a lot of reasons why this could be. There are the physiological reasons—low testosterone could be happening—could be just a physiological thing. Hypertension, diabetes, depression medication, cancer treatment—all of those things affect sexual interest and desire for sex—the hunger for sex. Stress—exhaustion in women and body image are high at the top of the list of turning down her sexual energy. Stress is really, really high on the list for men.
I think the upswing of pornography. I mean, with all this pressure going on, if you could find a pressure release that didn’t require any vulnerability from you, wouldn’t you be tempted toward that? That’s what pornography is for a lot of guys: “Nothing is expected of me. I just get this little fantasy—this quick sexual release—and I don’t have to be anything / perform anything. I don’t fail.” If that’s part of your story, take that captive because I just want you to see the trap and how it pulls you in deeper, and deeper, and deeper and further into hiding and hiding instead of being naked and unashamed. You’re getting clothed in hiding, and you’re staying further and further away.
Anyone of these things can be contributing to what’s going on. The point is—number one—it might not be anything wrong at all. It’s perfectly normal for some couples to have a relationship where she has more hunger than he does. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong.
First thing is—maybe, just relax about the idea. But if the trend was—if he was the normal more hungry one and now he’s the less hungry one, then, something has changed. My suggestion would be to look into that—start with the physiological—go get testosterone levels checked out. Then, just begin to kind of deal with things and all the possibilities as you walk out, trying to figure out what’s exactly going on in your relationship.
Another suggestion is eat a variety of sexual meals. This comes from Clifford and Joyce Penner—I think it’s a great, little analogy. Think about this for a minute—eat different kinds of sexual meals over the course of your relationship. Now, sometimes, we kind of get stuck in the rut of eating McDonald’s® every meal—it’s not very nourishing to your body—neither is it nourishing to your sexual relationship. So, wonder with each other, aloud, “What would it be like to maybe enjoy some different types of sexual meals with one another?”
Appetizers; right?—that’s that engaging aroma that kind of turns on your hunger. Aromas/smells—
—compliments, smiling when your spouse enters the room, calling him at work and leaving a sensuous message for the other person to get, having an extended kiss—you know, not just the hello/goodbye kiss [kissing sound]. Most couples kind of get stuck. Honestly, we get stuck in the kiss rut—the hello/goodbye kiss [kissing sound] and the passionate sex kiss—and we don’t really have anything in the middle. I would encourage you to have the 30-second kiss challenge; alright? This is not a sexual kiss / this is just a passionate kiss. This is just an “I care for you kiss.” This is just an aroma-activating kiss—there is no agenda / there is no pressure—but it’s just an “I’m connecting with you” kiss. But in the scheme of your relationship, it will likely turn up some sexual energy.
There are snacks. Everybody needs a quick snack every now and then. Sometimes, we even call these—sexually, we call them quickies. And quickies are generally good for one partner more than the other partner, but it serves a purpose in your relationship—
How about well-balanced meals? Most meals in life and at the dinner table involve four food groups. Well, you want to balance your lovemaking with a variety of food groups in your sexual relationship. It could mean that intercourse happens—could be that intercourse doesn’t happen. “What?! It’s not sex if we don’t have intercourse!” Who said that? Who made that rule?—that’s one of those arbitrary bars you set in your life for yourself and for the other person. Let that go—that’s a demand. Just relax. It’s okay.
You have a conversation about it. By mutual consent, you decide what you are interested in. You can figure that out with one another, and you take responsibility to communicate what interest works for you / what doesn’t work for you. And over time, you kind of learn from one another how that works. Does every sexual encounter need to include all that? No. The point is—over time, there is a variety of meals.
Eighty percent of couples experience a sexual problem—that is the best news you’ve heard all day. We have—you probably have. At some season of your married life, you are bound to have—if you haven’t had—it’s a really common thing. We don’t have to be so embarrassed by it that we don’t say it to anybody, we don’t ask anybody for help, we don’t reach out. You can get help.
So, let’s end where we started—with God’s ideals about sexuality. He really does give approval to this. Song of Solomon—it’s a great book / it’s a passionate book. You guys have heard something about it, I imagine, somewhere along the road. It’s a book of poetry. So, it’s challenging to understand in many ways; but when you cut through all the chase, it is God just saying: “This is good. This is good. Let Me just come in on your sexuality.” The book is pretty graphic—it’s very explicit. You kind of have to understand Hebrew poetry to really understand it well, and there are a number of good authors that have written books that kind of help us understand that.
Let me just pull out a couple of verses, and we’ll close with this. Chapter 4, verse 16: “Awake”—this is the woman, and she is—it is their wedding night. She says: “Awake, O North Wind, and come, O South Wind, blow upon my garden. Let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its choice fruits.” Wow! Okay, in earlier chapters, this woman was encouraged not to stir or awaken love before its time; but guess what? It’s time. It’s the wedding night, and she is pleased to release this to her husband. Now, notice, ladies, this is not a passive woman. She is taking responsibility for her own pleasure. She is pursuing it—she is inviting it. She’s contributing to it, and there is delight going on between the two of them.
Let’s call this verse, “The before verse,” because this is the invitation she offers. If we read the very next verse—Chapter 5, verse 1—he says:
“I came to my garden, my sister, my bride; I gathered my myrrh and my spice. I ate my honeycomb with my honey; I drank my wine with my milk.” That’s “the after verse.” Apparently, it was very pleasurable for them.
This next little part—where it says, “friends”—and there is this little note there in Scripture. It’s kind of like, now, he’s talking to a different group of people—and there is “Eat, friends; and drink and be drunk with love.”
Now, pause for just a second. There are two possible interpretations of this little passage. First of all, context—in Jewish culture, if a couple got married, they got married, and then, they went into a side room, adjacent to where the ceremony was, and then consummated the marriage. Everybody else was still partying and having fun. Then, they would come out and announce that they had consummated—now, you want to talk about pressure; alright? [Laughter] Hello, isn’t that kind of weird? So, the context is—she is going, “Okay, awake, come, winds blow on the garden—come on in,” and he does.
And then, he is saying to his friends: “Hey, this is really cool! You all might just have another round because we might have another round too”; alright? He’s kind of announcing, from the bedroom: “This is naked and unashamed.”
There is another possible interpretation to this verse. It’s really more likely that who is speaking in the second half—“Eat, friends; drink and be drunk on love,”—is not the groom talking to the friends that are out in the party / but God who has just witnessed this beautiful thing that He created—the consummation of this marriage—and God is talking to the couple themselves. If we interpret the language, it could be interpreted this way: “Be intoxicated with your sexual love,”—this is God talking to the couple: “Be intoxicated with your sexual love. I approve and endorse your abandonment and giving yourselves freely to one another.” That’s His wish for us.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to our friend, Ron Deal, as he has been talking about marital intimacy and God’s design / God’s perspective—how a husband and wife can experience all that God intends for us in this very intimate area of marriage.
Dennis: And if your sexual intimacy is doing well, celebrate it together. Thank God and pray together and say: “God, thank You for this dimension of our marriage. Thank You for how well we work together in this area.” And if you are struggling—it occurred to me, as I was listening to Ron, Bob—that in our marriage, God uses certain things to drive us to Him / to cause us to trust Him.
So, to that listener today, who is married and in a relationship where you’re struggling to better understand your spouse sexually / to really meet one another’s need in this area, maybe, it needs to become a point of prayer.
Maybe, you, as a couple, need to pray—maybe, you need to pray just yourself. Perhaps, the work God wants to do in your heart and your soul has nothing to do with sex; but has everything to do with Him, and He’s looking for a relationship with you. He is the One who romances our soul, and I think He uses problems in marriage to draw us to Himself.
It is why I have said, for years, “Marriage can be redemptive.” It literally can redeem us from ourselves, being focused on ourselves, and get us into a right relationship with Jesus Christ so that we, then, can have an excellent God-honoring relationship with our spouse.
Bob: Well, certainly, anybody who has been married for any length of time knows you need help, and we have a helper. We have a God, who has said, “I am here to provide help for you.”
Dennis: And God shows up in the bedroom. I mean, He’s the One who made this dimension to the marriage relationship in the first place.
He’s not down on sex. Ron said earlier, “It’s a gift.” He designed it for our pleasure, for procreation, for bonding us to one another and renewing our vows; but we just need to get His perspective, and we, also, need to be in pursuit of loving Him and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bob: Might be a good idea for a husband and wife to read a book together on this subject—
Dennis: —or go to the Weekend to Remember®, Bob. There are a lot of couples listening, right now, to our broadcast who have not been to the Weekend to Remember—or you know someone who needs to go. Perhaps, you need to take them with you and go experience a true weekend getaway that will encourage you in this area but in a lot of other areas of your marriage relationship as well.
Bob: The fall season for the Weekend to Remember kicks off in about two months and will continue through October and November. If you would like to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, get more information, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. When you go to our website, click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
The information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway is available right there. Or call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
And if you have any questions on the subject of intimacy in marriage, there is a helpful book that we have offered for years at our Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. It’s by Dr. William Cutrer and Dr. Sandra Glahn. The book is called Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. It is realistic, it is Christ-honoring, and it’s candid and speaks directly to issues that couples face in this area of marriage. You can order a copy, again, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER”; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Now, as we wrap up this week, I just want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are supporters—
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And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this Sunday, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to spend some time with Tedd Tripp. He’s the author of the book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. We’re going to talk about that very important subject of how we focus on a child’s heart as we raise our kids. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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