Physical intimacy in marriage should be a lifestyle, a wide array of activates from full-on lovemaking to loving play with just a touch of sexuality on the edge. Here we offer three actives that can be part of your “less than full sex” intimacy.
First, we need to define less than full sex, and that definition differs between men and women. For women, it’s something that does not cause sufficed arousal to cause her to even think of going further. It’s fun, but it’s not foreplay, and she is happy to do it and move on. For men sex-play that does not end in sex is more of a choice because anything done in the nude with one’s wife is going to get him thinking about doing more. God made men to respond to the naked female body, and we respond even when sex is not our goal. So:
Please don’t let physical signs of arousal make you feel that something was done “just to get sex.” If the two of you have full sex regularly, he can enjoy sex play for what it is, and not be upset that it goes no further. However, he is going to get turned on none-the-less.
Please understand that women are not as visual as we are, and nudity alone does not make something a sex act in her mind. It’s okay (and uncontrollable) to be aroused by your less-than-fully-clothed wife (even after all these years) 😉 but if you ALWAYS act out on those feelings you will not be blessing her. Learn to enjoy touch and nudity for its own pleasures – and for the freedom it will help her to feel about her nude body.
Elsewhere we’ve discussed the importance of touch both for physical and mental health, as well as relational and sexual health (see Oxytocin), but why make a point of being naked? First because nudity is (or is supposed to be) something we only do with our spouse. Naked activities therefore create a sense of bonding by setting them apart from clothed activities we do with others. Second, if the goal is skin contact, then the more skin available, the more contact we can have. The three naked S’s are: sleeping, showering, and snuggling.
Okay, be honest, when’s the last time you showered together? When’s the last time that showering together wasn’t foreplay?! Ever shared a long hug in the shower? Washed each other? Washed each other’s hair? Shared a long soak in a bubble bath (if your tub is large enough)? Next time you’re going out together, try a joint shower when you’re getting ready. Next time your spouse is in the shower, join him or her… or invite them to join you.
Men: This one is tough but you can do it. Wash more than her breasts, and don’t expect her to kneel!
Women: If you don’t want him to expect sex, stay clear of his penis.
Sleeping together is, in our minds, extremely important. Part of sleeping together is falling asleep together and waking up together. It’s not just about being in the same place; bedtime small talk and half asleep hugs create a deep sense of closeness. Lori and I feel so strongly about sleeping together that when I worked nights I went to bed with her and lay with her until she fell asleep. When I went to bed, she was always there too. Of course, this fell short of what’s best, which is to spend the whole night in the same bed. Research on pheromones (we call them “airborne hormones”) suggests that prolonged exposure to each other’s pheromones has profound effects on us. While the details aren’t all proven, it seems likely that the pheromones we get while sleeping together actually make us feel closer, more secure, and more loved; they may even contribute to better physical and mental health, and may sync our bodies in many ways – including sex drive!
A few “issues” about sleeping together:
Snoring: As I’m on the receiving end of some serious snoring (my dear wife can even snore while lying on her tummy) I think I have the right to say find a way to stay in the same bed!! I wear earplugs, she wears a dentist fitted snore guard (fantastic invention, worth every penny), and when she keeps me awake I think of how much I would miss her snoring if she were taken from me. Of course, snoring can be a serious medical condition, and there are medical procedures to deal with it, so a visit to the doctor may be in order.
We don’t do that!: Sleeping in the nude seems to violate some unwritten rule in the USofA and some other countries. It may be good for the folks who make pajamas, but why do we “dress” for bed? Not that we are opposed to lingerie, but we see that as something which is put on to be taken off. If we can’t be “naked and unashamed” in bed with our own spouse something is wrong. Keep a robe handy if you may need to jump up for the kids.
Temperature differences: The only time Lori and I agreed on what temperature the bedroom should be was the winter she was pregnant with our son. Usually men run a lot warmer than women, resulting in him lying on top of the blanket sweating while she lies under it shivering. Then comes menopause, and she is throwing off the covers while he is trying to stay under them. Make the room just cool enough for the person who is warmer, and add blankets on the other person’s side. An electric blanket or mattress cover with duel controls is a great investment if temperature differences are a real problem in your bed. The one “exception” to the sleep nude “rule” at our house is socks … it’s amazing how much warmth socks can provide. It also protects the warm person from the dreaded wandering toes of ice!
We figure fewer than one couple in a hundred is getting their daily allotment of snuggle, so there is a real good chance your marriage could use more. Lazy naked snuggling is so easy when you sleep together IF you don’t go to bed exhausted and IF you wake up more than 30 seconds before you have to jump out of bed. Just wrap yourselves around each other and enjoy the contact; no movement or talking is required
One reason many women avoid this is they fear that it will “always lead to sex,” while men often avoid it out of fear that “it won’t lead to sex.” The problem here is one of priorities; women tend to place higher importance on the non-sexual touching, while men tend to place more importance on sexual contact. When each is having their first priority met, it’s easy for them to engage in both activities, and neither is overly concerned about the order. On the other hand, when either of them feels their top priority is being “neglected,” things don’t flow too well.
Men: Realize that your wife needs non-sexual touch in order to be physically and emotionally healthy. A lack of touch makes it impossible for her to desire or enjoy sex; she might say yes, and she might climax, but she will not truly enjoy it. Her negative responses in these cases are not manipulation, rather you are seeing the result of the way the lack of touch and intimacy affects her brain.
Women: Realize that your husband has a strong sex drive, and while he can and should control what he does, he cannot control what he feels. When he has insufficient sexual release, his brain is affected much as yours is when you don’t receive enough touch; just as your hormones drive you to seek touch and intimacy, his drive him to seek sex. His feelings in these cases are not a sign of his selfishness, but rather a response to the way the lack of sex has affected his brain. Even if the two of you are having sex often, snuggling is going to turn him on. Ignore that most of the time, and occasionally grab him and give him a quick something.
Both: The answer is to be giving. Understand your spouse’s needs and make it your goal to meet them even when you feel your needs are unmet. Unselfish giving will bless your partner, and meeting their need will make it much easier for them to meet your needs.
Don’t reserve nudity for times when you are going to be sexual. Becoming comfortable with each other’s bodies will have benefits both in and out of bed. Within the walls of your bedroom you can have your own private nudist colony!
image credits in order
couple in shower © Hans Braxmeier / Pixabay
finger couple sleeping © ElisaRiva / Pixabay