15 Ways to Spice Up Your Marriage (without 50 Shades of Grey)

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on July 10, 2012

(For more spicy tips, you can now buy my eBook, Spice Up Your Marriage – A 28-Day Adventure, on Amazon!)

So, 50 Shades of Grey is a smokin’ hot topic these days, isn’t it? I admit, I haven’t read it (beyond a few excerpts here and there), but from the descriptions I’ve seen I’m not a fan.

But–oh my word–have I received a lot of email about this. I’ve received email from wives who feel guilty for having read it but can’t deny that it kicked things up a notch in the bedroom; from husbands who are concerned about the fact that their wives are reading the book but aren’t sure whether they should be because they, too, have appreciated a resurgence of passion in their marriage; and even from young women who read it and are worried that having a passionate marriage will require that they take part in the things they’ve read about in 50 Shades of Grey.

After reading through all of these emails what I took away is that a lot of men and women desire to heat things up in the bedroom but aren’t sure how to do so in a healthy way. I thought I might attempt (with your help) to brainstorm a few ways that we all can do so without resorting to the ways of Mommy Porn (which is such a lovely term, no?). Here are a few things that I recommend:


  1. Let Him Lead - The one thing I keep hearing about 50 Shades is that women are attracted to the idea of their husband taking on a dominant role. Now, while I’d say 50 Shades takes this idea about 5 million steps too far, there’s nothing wrong with letting your husband guide things in the bedroom from time to time. Let him lead you, love you, and savor you.
  2. Practice Foreplay Throughout the Day – I don’t mean literal hands-on foreplay (though that wouldn’t hurt either), but there should be a build up to intimacy that occurs in the hours leading up to it. Spicy text messages, an occasional glad eye from across the room, lots of compliments, and acts of service–because, really, does anything make you feel more amorous than a spouse who just folded a load of laundry or brought you a fresh cup of coffee?
  3. Wear Smokin’ Hot Pajamas – We talked about this awhile back over here and from what I’ve heard, our little pajama challenge proved quite fruitful! Try incorporating some eye-catching sleepwear into your evening once in awhile. Now one thing to note: while a lot of men appreciate lingerie, this isn’t true of all men. (Or rather, some men simply place other varieties of sleepwear higher up on their list.) So, ask your husband what he’d most like to see you in for a romantic evening at home. The key here is to mix it up a bit. Even if he says, “a t-shirt,” if you wear t-shirts to bed every night ask him to answer again.
  4. Primp – I know all the skin care experts advise us not to go to bed with makeup on, but there’s something to be said for crawling into bed with smoky eyes, tousled hair, a bit of perfume, and maybe even a pair of cute heels. I guarantee you’ll catch the attention of that husband of yours.
  5. Make Up a Secret Language – If you happen to have a few code words (of the intimate variety) in your back pocket you can pull them out at any time of day to let your spouse know just what’s on your mind.
  6. Sample Aphrodisiacs – Do they really work? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that they sure are fun to experiment with! Plan a night of love in which you sample of variety of aphrodisiacs and see what happens! I can almost guarantee that if nothing else, the placebo effect will be steamy!
  7. Massage One Another – This one is pretty self-explanatory but if you’re not in the habit of grabbing a little massage oil and rubbing away your spouse’s stress, what are you waiting for? This one has a 99.999% success rate in the Increase the Heat department.
  8. Make Love During the Day – I can’t explain it, but there’s just something about daytime lovin’ that can be especially delicious. Try it! You’ll see.
  9. Use Sumptuous Linens – Meeting your husband in a bed made up with soft, gorgeous linens rarely fails to ignite a spark. And again–as with the sleepwear recommendation–the trick here is to dress your bed in something fresh and new for those special nights of romance!
  10. Dance Together – Just because you can’t salsa doesn’t mean you can’t put on your favorite love song and hold one another tight. Now that’s romantic!
  11. Laugh – Have a sense of humor. I don’t know about you, but there are few things that make me feel more affection toward my husband than when we spend time laughing together. Sex doesn’t have to be super serious. Sometimes the most satisfying sex occurs when a husband and wife spend time being silly together.
  12. Embrace Healthy Competition – Whether it comes from playing a board game or a sport, a little friendly competition is a fantastic way to turn up the heat. (This game looks promising! I haven’t actually looked closely at all of her squares but the nice thing is that you can tailor it to your own desires and comfort level.)
  13. Get Away for a Night – I know this isn’t always an easy thing to do when you have little ones around but it is so important for couples to have couple time. Your union is the foundation upon which your family rests. If possible, you and your husband should make it a point to lock yourselves away in a hotel room for 24 hours or so and focus on enjoying one another with no distractions.
  14. Make Sex a Priority – I know we’d all love to be able to keep physical intimacy spontaneous, but sometimes we need to make an effort to create those romantic moments. Put it on the calendar and just do it. It may take you a moment to warm up if you’ve had a hard day, but you’ll get there.
  15. Make Out – How much time do you and your husband spend simply making out? Sometimes we’re so tired/stressed/distracted that we simply go through the motions and rush through the intimate moments. Make a little time for good old fashioned “petting.”


The above list is made up of the first few things that entered into my mind when I considered ways in which a couple can spice up a marriage. There must be a million other ways to do so, though, and I bet some of you have fantastic ideas. If you’d be willing to share, I know there are a lot of women who would love to hear your suggestions!


Given the spicy topic, anonymous comments are welcome!

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Kendra @ The Nerdy Wife July 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Looooooove this. I know a couple also who sneakily texts each other romantic thoughts during the evening so their kids are out of the loop :-P
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Anon today! July 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Hallie. I love that bed sheet game! But oh my goodness, I do not have time for all that creativity. Here’s an alternative: it’s a game on the computer called Bliss. http://www.gamesforloving.com/ It can be altered to comfort level. I’m blushing just sharing this…but it’s pretty amazing. Totally hot.

Also, because I 100% trust my husband and know that he would never take advantage of it at a bad time, I made a decision when we got married that I would never turn him down. We’ve been married 9 years and I’ve never told him no. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve found it to be a huge blessing in our marriage.

I never thought much about the PJ thing until your post. Being a mama for practically our whole marriage, I mostly erred on the side of practical. But, I took your advice (even though I hate for my legs to touch when I’m sleeping) and it’s been a huge benefit. Thank you for giving us all that little push!

Great ideas! Ok, I’m going to go put my kids to bed and have a glass of wine with my man.

Love all your ideas too. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s ideas.

Anon today! July 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Also, there is no inappropriate pics or images on the game. That was key.

Alison Solove @ExperimentalWifery July 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Making love during the day is really important. Many men wake up in the mood, so morning can be a special treat. My husband says it turns his whole day around when we can sneak off between our son’s morning nap and the time he has to leave for work.
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Melissa July 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Can I just tell you how much I love that faithful Catholic women are talking about sex? Sex should be private, yes, but it doesn’t have to be a secret. All these Catholic babies didn’t hatch out of eggs!

Anonfortoday July 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Change locations for fun…as long as there is a lock or the kids are gone.
Depending on your schedule…write love notes. We had a notebook next to the coffeemaker…I would leave one for him to read when he left at 0 dark thirty and then when I came down before the kids I had one waiting for me. A low tech way to communicate with a record you can save!

Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama July 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Great list! I, too, have avoided the call of “50 Shades” and I will readily admit that we could use a little spicing up! (But at the same time, I am 5 mos preggo and not really feeling at my most amorous! That baby belly is super cute, but does get in the way!) Afternoon delight is key for us (two kids 5 and under) and we are fans of cute PJs, but right now, pregnancy has really sapped it out of me. :(
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Kallah July 11, 2012 at 6:25 am

I love all of these ideas… But especially the last one! I hadn’t realized how much I was missing just “making out” with my husband, until we started practicing NFP :) – we had been blessed with a honeymoon baby righy sway, so we didnt start practicing until after our one year anniversary! It really added a lot of spice! Make-out/cuddling/talking sessions on the couch in the living room (with a lot of care to not take things too far!) are the BEST.
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Jeanmarie July 11, 2012 at 7:12 am

Great and timely post for sure! I read a sample of 50 Shades of Grey on my Kindle just to see what all the fuss was about, and was SOOO disappointed that this is the kind of stuff that makes it onto the NY Times Bestseller List. Kudos to you for a thought-provoking discussion on the topic.
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Sarah July 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

Love it! Thanks for this list. I haven’t read the books, have no desire to. In my old days I was all about the romance novels that were basically just porn with words. I knew these would be too much for me, so I didn’t even pick it up.

However, I can recommend a book! It’s called Intercourses: An Aphrodesiac Cookbook and we LOVE it! We usually make a meal from it every few months, having an at-home date night after kiddo is in bed.

Thanks again for sharing.
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Colleen Martin July 11, 2012 at 7:42 am

My husband and I flext a lot (flirty texting) and have been known to let the kids watch a show in the morning every once in a while so we can stay in bed :) I think just using NFP is a great way to keep the flame alive since there are so many times you have to abstain, each time back together feels like a honeymoon! On the rare occasions I don’t feel in the mood, I just tell my hubby that we’re only going to kiss, and then kissing him for awhile always leads to me wanting more. He’ll jokingly say “I thought we were only allowed to kiss?” as I’m tearing off his clothes. Married love is awesome!!!

Betsy July 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

One word: blindfolds!

Jodi July 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

One of best parts of NFP is the kissing while abstaining. :)
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Anon, too! July 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

Have any of you tried bringing a bowl of whipped cream to bed? My hubby and I love it!

Caitlin July 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

Love this post. The 50 Shades of Grey thing baffles me. The last time I was at the airport there was a woman about my mom’s age reading it in the waiting area. I just about died. lol. EVERYONE knows what you’re reading about. Friends of mine wanted to go see Magic Mike (which I couldn’t just because I just DONT do nudity in movies and to be honest as adorable as Channing Tatum is I had no interest in watching these dudes gyrate on screen for an hour and a half….) and I told them I didn’t want to go because I was afraid of all the women in the audience all hopped up on 50 Shades of Grey. lol.
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lilacs July 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

ooh, that is a great idea!

Teresa July 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm

How do you all feel about role playing? Not imagining that your husband is Richard Gere or anything, just maybe pretending to be a nurse/Wonder Woman/French maid? And are costumes ok? It’s hard to know where to draw the line in the bedroom.

Anon July 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

What’s wrong with that? As long as it is you as a nurse and not some stranger nurse that your husband is fantasizing about I think it’s innocent fun!

Jeremy July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I have a question to ask you and your readers: as a man I’m not sure if my wife would be offended if I brought sex toys to bed. (Not battery operated or kinky toys.) Do any of the women here have an opinion on this? Thank you.

Mrs 1st Lt July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

this is so funny b/c i am a total “morning” person *(ahem), however, husband not as much…. lol i feel like we’d have a lot more “yays” than “nays” if he were asking in the mornings! (right now, however, Army PT schedules cramp those possibilities…. as do cosleepers….)
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LHG July 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I say thumbs down to that one. It strikes me as spiritually dangerous to pretend you’re someone you’re not. I don’t think Christians should do that.

Anonymous2 July 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Wait…What kinds of sex toys aren’t kinky or battery operated? (Sorry if that’s requesting TMI…Feel free to delete, Betty. Just confused.)

Jeremy July 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Silk scarves, feathers, blindfolds? Do you think those are kinky?

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I like the thoughts of the commenter below. As long as you are the one being a nurse (and not pretending to be a stranger), I don’t see a problem.

grassias July 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

My spouse and I are good, Mass going, non contraception using, Republican, Catholics. The number one thing we do to spice things up is smoke up (get high). It makes for truly incredible love making. I’m pretty sure that if our friends knew they would be absolutely floored.

Just Me July 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Jeremy, I don’t think scarfs, feathers & blindfolds are kinky at all. And I don’t think your wife (or most wives!) would be offended.. but that’s just my opinion. You know her better! :)

Anon4Today July 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Man, combine that with grassias’ suggestion and that’d be a hell of a night!

Wifey July 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I might be a bad Catholic (I don’t think I am) but DH and I have no issues with role playing or battery operated toys. I just don’t see any danger there. What could be “spiritual dangerous” about a happily married, non-contracepting couple playing dress-up or using a vibrator together??? I don’t think sex needs to be that serious.

Jen July 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

My husband and I swear NFP keeps the flames going. :)

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I really need my kids to go to sleep and my hot husband to get home. Y’all just put me in the mood for love!

Carol July 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

DH and I made a pact over the weekend that we will make love every single day for the next 7 days before he leaves for a camping trip…TONS of fun trying to figure out the logistics and timing (we have 7 kiddies!) and the anticipation is delicious!!!

Julie July 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm

These are all great! (1,7,8,11 & 15 are musts!) Remembering it is all about a marathon not a sprint. :) All I can say is, after 23 years let things be natural and don’t try or *over* think it. (All of the *preoccupation* for me at times is a turnoff.) I can guarantee that what was a trip at year 4 won’t be the same at year 23…it gets better! Reject the cultural attitudes that Catholic couples know nothing about having sex ~ only about making babies. WHAT?? Where does the culture come up with this stuff? We don’t talk about and flaunt sex as much but then again we are much more willing to accept mystery into our lives and after all what helps sex better than that? ;) Knowing, trusting and being with someone for a looong time is a subtlety to love that many just miss out on in the modern secular world because when it comes to relationships the trend is to sadly adopt the ADHD method and change partners by breakfast! (Thus the need for 50 shades of grey thingy~ma~bob and NO I haven’t read!) After babies ~ years and life there is a mellowness that is much ~ much deeper and sweeter then the garden variety hot or steamy things. Time grows roots, adds a depth and dimentions to it all. Catholic couples have to set an example. This is why shades of gray or whatever color it is called ~ is juvenile, silly (and shallow) and perpetrates MORE (if there weren’t already enough messing with peoples minds!) misconceptions of realtionships, love, sex and marriage etc….

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm

My #1 tip is trying different positions. My husband and I like to challenge ourselves to come up with a new position for every night of the week. It’s beyond satisfying.

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I once read a thread on a Protestant blog where the ladies were talking about Slip N Slides and baby oil. This *seemed* like it crossed some sort of line, though I suppose the Catechism has not addressed this one directly. (Also, if nothing else, it seemed like it would take a long time to clean up.)

This Heavenly Life July 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Actually, this was one of the things I wanted to mention: body oil. Almond oil doesn’t absorb as fast as, say, jojoba, so it lets you stay slippery longer. Just throw some towels over the sheets! Oil for a massage leads directly into wiping each other completely down. Which makes it quite fun and challenging to hold on tight ;)

Your skin will be luxuriously supple the next morning, to match your completely blissed-out posture ;)

Totally blushing…
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Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I guess that would depend on what you’re planning on doing with that feather, sir. ;)

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I’ve been married under 5 years, but we have 3 kids and, although it’s not hard for my hubby to “get in the mood,” it can be hard for me. The suggestions that are the most helpful for me are the ones that get me to the place where I’m wanting to (or at least open to) making love–once we are there, it’s like “why did I have to be convinced again”–I love the encourage about putting effort, because seriously if it’s been the last thing on my mind, its so hard for me to say yes, but if I’ve been thinking about it (or planning for it–even in a small way) then its much more exciting. One of best (simple) tips I received was to look through your wedding album, other great romantic memories, or even just daydream about all the wonderful things about him or things he’s done.

Katie July 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Anything having to do with my mouth-food, kissing, tasting (you get the idea)-put me in the mood for love in an instant! Uh oh. Does that mean I have an oral fixation? ;)

Elizabeth July 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Thank you for this post, Betty. I really needed these ideas. And thanks to all the commenters. It’s been a tough week and you made me laugh.

AnonforToday July 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’ve heard this from friends. Kind of want to try but don’t know where to get the goods.

Marcel LeJeune July 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

This post rocks my bald head off. Too bad there are so many Catholics afraid to talk about sex openly. In this day and age we need frank discussions about it and how to make it amazing, beautiful, loving, holy, and fun. Nothing wrong with that!
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jen a July 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

And people keep accusing us of being afraid of sex!

Anon. July 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm

This post makes me sad. Married under 5 years and hubby never wants to have sex. We go weeks without it.

notanalchoholiciswear July 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I have no experience with anything that requires a lighter, but I have to say that getting good and drunk once in a while really helps us. I’m an over-thinking, over-scrupulous type who struggles with letting go and just enjoying myself. It really led to some major issues early in our marriage. Now, though, especially since we’re at a point where we can trust our kids to sleep through the night, a bottle (or three) of wine can be the start of an extremely fun night. (:

Christine, R.N. July 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Have you ask your confessor if illegal drugs are legit foreplay?

Christine, R.N. July 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Drinking responsibly is fine, but deliberately getting drunk is a sin.

Anonfortoday July 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Ummm, I don’t know how to say this. But getting high is a no no sort of like getting drunk. It is a temperance issue and an issue with impairing our reason. Check it- CCC 2290 and 2291 and CCC 1809.

Margaret in MN July 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

This is a very spicy and slightly controversial post, Hallie! Controversial, mainly, because so many Catholics are unwilling to talk about such things.

And yet, look at our divorce rate.

There are many things I could add to this list [grin] but the most important of them is this: Having sex more often saved my marriage. If God hadn’t meant for it to be beautiful and pleasurable–both for the man *and* the woman–then He wouldn’t have made it so. It does take some work, however–REAL work, especially, for some of us wives who have considerable “baggage”, but nothing is more important than letting your spouse know you love him (or her) with ALL of your heart.

PS. Sacramental grace helps. It really, really helps.
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notanalchoholiciswear July 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

So, I’m really trying to not get too defensive here, especially since this is such an extremely personal topic. I feel like I ought to mention, though, that I *have* discussed this with my spiritual adviser, especially in case anyone who has had similar struggles is reading this. I tried to gently mention above my struggles with scrupulosity and the negative toll it took on my marriage, but maybe it got lost in the translation. Sex, for us, had become something akin to mental torture for me – I wanted so much to let go and enjoy and my husband but the very desire to relax (and worry that I would not be able to) often killed things for me before we’d even begun. I am not a teenager getting wasted every weekend, I am a married mother of many who occasionally (not every month occasionally, more like less than a handful of times a year) enjoys perfectly legal alcoholic beverages with my husband until I reach a point where I am no longer psyching myself out. This has in fact been a very, very positive development in our marriage and has gone a long way in helping me sort out my negative issues with sex. My confessor agrees.

Sex is such a very intimate thing, and every couple has their own issues to work around. There are lots of things in this thread that would make me very uncomfortable and would most likely be bad for my husband and I. That doesn’t mean these things are across-the-board wrong. Sometimes people need to baby-step their way towards a place of peace and grace, and I don’t know that it is helpful for people on the other side to look down on their efforts and say, “That’s not good enough.”

Imwithanon July 12, 2012 at 8:38 am

@Anon. I hear you. My marriage is significantly sexless. I used to be more aggressive about lovemaking, but after so many no’s you learn to just bottle up those feelings. I’m grateful that I want a big family, as that at least motivates me to insist on “reunification” so to speak at least once a month. Now I just have to convince myself that I’m not using my husband as a stud horse.

Anon3 July 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

In the ice cream topping aisle, there is a product called magic shell. It is like a chocolate syrup that goes on as a liquid and then hardens. Fun, fun, fun and tasty, too.

yayforwine July 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I just want to chime in to agree with notanalchoholiciswear.

Different people have different definitions of “drunk.” For example, if a couple were to get so intoxicated that they would not be capable of helping their children in an emergency (e.g. getting everyone out if the house caught on fire), or were so hungover the next day that they couldn’t take care of basic responsibilities, it’s pretty clear that that would be problem. But that doesn’t seem to be what notanalchoholiciswear is talking about.

During periods when my own libido has been at rock-bottom, I too have found that one or four glasses of wine helps set the mood, and the result has certainly blessed my marriage. Is that the right solution for everyone at all times? Doubt it – especially not for people who have tendencies toward addiction. But can it work well for some couples? Certainly.

Angie July 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I wanted to recommended a book that was recommended to us that has been wonderful in spicing things up…working through struggles…and giving a. Catholic perspective that I’ve found is seldom written or talked about. The title is Holy Sex! And its written by Dr. Gregory Popcak (spelling). Thanks for blogging Hallie. I sure appreciat reading what you share!

Monica July 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Three cheers for creative thinking!

anonymouse July 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Wait, I have to ask (and sorry if this is a stupid question) but.. it will harden on things other than food?

Dern it, I just got back from the grocery store, shoulda stopped here first! LOL

lilacs July 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I second the book recommendation! The theology can be a thick read, but it’s worth it. Very frank and specific. It really helped me regain my desire after a long dry spell postpartum. The basic idea is that as long as you’re not breaking one of the few big rules, and as long as your attitude is right and loving, and you’re on the same page, you can do pretty much whatever you want, and it’s good to push boundaries and try new things.

TimidAnonymous July 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

Hmmmm. OK, so I’ve been stewing on this potential comment since the comments to Hallie’s fantastic post came rolling in. Some of the comments have struck me as…well, just really TMI? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking/praying, trying to figure out why many of the comments have left me unsettled. I mean I loved Hallie’s post. I think she balances, as always, talking frankly about marital love with appropriate discretion…especially in light of the 50 Shades phenomena. Yes, we as Catholics, need to talk about sexual love which is a fantastic gift from God. And sexual love, while certainly sacred and holy, is fun, wonderful, and many times funny/silly. I just wonder sometimes if we cross a line when we start to joke about “what my husband and I do or will do.” If we somehow move beyond trying to encourage and help each other to piercing the veil between the world and husband and wife? Because while sex is all those great things above, it still is holy, a sacred form of communication that bonds husband and wife…and therefore should remain veiled. When we start to talk about what we inividually (or as a couple) do/will do/like….it feels like we’re inviting others behind that veil. I don’t know. I truly hope I don’t get anyone’s dander up or sound accusatory. I obviously can’t explain why I’m left unsettled by this comment thread….it just feels like at some point it crossed some line I’m at a loss to define. Maybe I’m being too sensitive…..but you all seem pretty fantastic so I figured why not share? :)

AnotherAnon July 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

I agree with you completely TimidAnon. Some of these comments seriously unsettled me, and I can’t articulate why exactly, but it is certainly not because I have problem with sex.

Wifey July 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

I think it can be wrong to over-spiritualize it. It took me a long time to have fun in the bedroom and that was partly because I was concerned it would be a sin to have too much fun with something so sacred. I still think this is a good conversation to have (and, let’s be honest, this is the information age, if people want to talk about sex they will find answers here or in less savory places) and I don’t really see anything here that I find offensive.

Rachel July 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

I agree. While I respect that some women are more bashful, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women talking about these things. I know a lot of women who aren’t sure how to spice things up on the bedroom and aren’t sure how to find help without bumping into pornography online. Women who ate really suffering and are afraid to talk about it. I’m very grateful that we all came together here to brainstorm in a safe forum. It’s not like we have cameras in our bedrooms!

TimidAnonymous July 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

As I wrote in my comment – I completely agree sex is a combination of the spritual and the physical. I’m not overspiritualizing. I ackowledged that fun in the bed room all very good and necessary. But I think in an effort to not overspiritualize, there is a tendency to move to the other extreme of making it so ordinary and it becomes SO easy to talk about that we forget the spiritual element. We start to forget that it still is a gift from God to husband and wife and that many elements of the way that gift plays out should remain private. I would feel betrayed if my husband shared with an online forum what turned me or him on. Giving advice on the matter is important (hence my comment about loving Hallie’s original post) – it’s SO important we have healthy, loving, satisfying sex lives, God wants that for us. And yeah, sometimes we need advice because something is lacking in the sexual-love part of our marriage and in this screwed up secular world, we aren’t sure what’s “ok.” So thank God we have people like Hallie and Dr. Popcak willing to write about sex! But there is a difference (a fuzzy difference to be sure) in giving advice and sharing intimate aspects of their marital relationship – and I felt the comments were straying in that direction. That’s all.

Rachel July 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

(I promise I’m not mocking with this question.)

If someone said, “Maybe wives could bring whipped cream to bed sometimes” that would be okay but if someone said, “I am going to being whipped cream to bed tonight” that would cross a line? 

Just want to understand.

TimidAnonymous July 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thanks Rachel! Honestly, probably yes. It seems like a small difference, but I think that might be the difference between Hallie’s post and some of the comments. It’s the difference between: here are some “high level, you get the idea” pointers and sharing personal information about one’s sexual relations. Yeah, you might be able to presume some of the “high level” pointers are coming from personal experience, but that aspect is left a mystery. I’m sorry if I’m not being clearer….as I noted, I have felt “unsettled” and have been trying to work through why. I want to stress I’m truly am not accusing anyone of wrongdoing!

Rachel July 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I agree to some degree, TA. I don’t like the idea of women discussing the details of their sex life publicly (I don’t think it honors their husbands or their marriages) but most of these comments have been anonymous. Certainly the more risque ones have. If we can’t identify the people involved I’m not sure why it matters. At that point, isn’t it all semantics?

neglected-in-bed July 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Like two other commenters here, I also have a husband who…could perhaps use some wine? Hmm, that’s a new one I haven’t tried. Too bad he’s a Protestant teetotaller…

Betty, could you open a forum like this one on *issues*? All anonymous, just helping each other out. “Help! My faithful & devout husband says ‘he wouldn’t cross the street for sex’!” or “Help! I’ve been married 12 years & we don’t know how to bring me to climax!”

I don’t know…what do you think? Too TMI?

TimidAnonymous July 14, 2012 at 7:07 am

I see your point Rachel. Upon re-read of some of the “anonymous” comments, some I initially reacted too really aren’t as revealing as I initially perceived (to your point, because they are anonymous). Still I think some do still cross the line into oversharing. I don’t want to point any specific ones out because it’s not fair to those commenting. It’s clear they were just trying to add to the conversation and online communications are so difficult to manage. I think in the blogosphere, it’s understandably easy to overshare (on everything, not just sex – and I am guilty of it myself!) because we are posting somewhat anonymously. I guess it’s ultimately dependent on motivation and circumstance. Are you sharing details in order to seek help from trusted sources? Are you giving details because those details are necessary to explain something to a sister in need? Or are you sharing details, even if anonymous, that are ultimately unnecessary to achieving your communication’s intentions and provide others an inappropriate glimpse into the most private parts of your relationship? People may be posting anonymously, but they are still people and at a certain point, I’m not sure it matters if we can put a face to a comment. I think if we Catholics are going to engage each other and the culture on these matters online- as we should! – we should talk about just “how” we do that. Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful responses…..they helped we work out a bit more my initial reactions to the comments here.

Rachel July 14, 2012 at 7:36 am

See, I don’t think we did get into the realm of oversharing. Perhaps you have a thriving intimate life but I have scores of female friends who are suffering greatly because they lack a healthy sex life and don’t know how to fix it. These women need practical tips – practical tips that yes, are extremely intimate in nature. I think it is far better that they can come into a combox for guidance and advice than to talk about this stuff with individuals that know them and their spouses. 

Even if some of the comments advised things that you feel are no-nos for a faithful couple (or any couple, for the matter) isn’t it a good thing that they are brought into the light ad debated? Otherwise the individuals in question will continue to do what they’ve always done with no idea that they may be veering into dangerous waters. Thanks to sin and regrettable life experiences, not everyone has a reliable intuitive sense of what is a go and what in a no-go in the bedroom. 

I think that everyone in this combox was either a) trying to get help or b) trying to give help. I don’t perceive that anyone was simply trying to be titillating. Having said that, some women are more comfortable discussing these topics than others and I would simply say that if this crossed a line for you (or anyone else) that they can choose not to engage. 

One last note, almost–if not–all of the things discussed here are covered in Popcak and West’s books. It concerns me that there is more of an acceptance of a man discussing these issues than of a woman doing so. Honestly, I think it’s healthier for women to hear from other women than for us to be taking all of our cues from men. We need to consider whether we are doing our sisters-in-Christ a disservice by perpetuating that double standard.

Thanks for the fruitful conversation, TA!

TimidAnonymous July 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

Thanks to you too Rachel! :) I will just add that I think you and I actually agree on a lot more than we disagree – there’s not one sentence in your most recent comment (except maybe the first, a little ;)) with which I disagree! I’m probably not articulating my thoughts very clearly and I’m not sure I could do it without citing specific examples from the comments, which wouldn’t really be fruitful or fair. And I’m done. :)

Anon July 16, 2012 at 6:39 am

So, ladies, don’t know if anyone else does this, but “going down” on my hubby has added a fantastic dimension to our sex life. I remember in college (I went to Steubie) in our Christian Marriage class, we were told it was OK, so long as everything ended up in the “right place,” and I know my hubby LOVES it. At first, to be honest, I thought it was kinda gross, but now it has become a really sensual way to love him and I enjoy it now too. Conversely, I don’t really like it when he does it to me, so I’ve told him as much and we find other ways for him to love me.

Just to open up your mind a little…just make sure that you finish the right way!

Jeannine July 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I have just been introduced to a beautiful song, and in my most recent post, I have placed a gorgeous video by Sanctus Real. Not “spicy,” but I think it addresses the beauty of marriage, and being led by a man who’s led by God. It’s there in the comment-luv (thanks Hallie!).
Jeannine recently posted..AntidoteMy Profile

Tonya September 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm

GOD is SOOO GOOD! I found this after being so sad after a lonnng time and desperately trying to find something someone catholic to share about bedroom/intimacy issues! you all are right there is NOWHERE to find good holy advice without it being of teh wrong spirit.We have been married 8 years-have 7 (singles!) children and are in still in love and its growing-love of all kinds! But yes things can get mundane and I am so passionate about him that I want to share that in a way that shows that!but to find women who understand the spiritual/Catholic mindset I am coming from is absoltuely priceless.I cried when I found this blog! I am devouring the blog all over-I never knew such real,FUN, Catholic and relevant (not boring! or lame!) content and honesty anywhere.Yet you are all so respectful and classy..wow! THANK YOU! very very sincerely! We have so many questions about couple things and can never find ANYTHING anywhere! and confession conversations are really not as in *depth* as I feel I am needing.We know what is crossing the line-and we are so very vigilant about making sex anything other than the expression of the Divine life within us that it is supposed to be.I will be visiting th e site alot.thank you for your ministry-and it is indeed a ministry!

also anon September 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Very sorry, Anon. Hope you can get to the bottom of that.

Samantha October 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Holy cow that Game of Love is a lot of work. I’ve been looking around/playing a few (easier) games. Tried out and android app called Mattress Mambo that was good. Anyone else have good games?

Michelle July 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Can’t seem to get to the 52-ideas for stay-at-home dates ebook through my feed. I know you said a couple weeks ago your feed was broken somehow – could you provide another way to get the ebook? I’d love to check it out. Thanks!

Sydney January 4, 2014 at 2:38 am

You all are going to hate me after this post, but I just want to voice my opinion. I’m a born and raised catholic, but when it comes to sex with my devoted partner/husband I think differently. I’m willing to try almost anything (minus involving somebody else – that just crosses the line for me.) I don’t read the CCC or go to mass every Sunday, but I do believe in God and most Catholic morals. Why can you not dress up as somebody for your partner? They know it’s you, and you are doing it to make them happy. Also, what a wonderful list this is. Great ways to connect with your spouse :)

Indian girl February 26, 2014 at 6:59 pm

I like all of the ideas on this post- except that I have the same issue as Anon’s. What would one do if the husband is just not interested? We have a child and an otherwise fine marriage. But what else is there if sex is nearly absent from the marriage?

Anon Husband May 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

I feel odd coming to a sight like this to mention the following (came here from Jen’s site), but my wife hates sex. Always has. Didn’t know this would be the case before marriage as everything seemed to be progressing in the proper manner, but our honeymoon was a disaster and our sex life has never recovered. We’ve been married for over a decade now and sex is the hardest thing in our marriage by a long shot. I feel like we’ve tried everything from flirting throughout the day to changing the environment, but there’s like some line in her mind that as soon as we approach it, she completely clams up & shuts down. We’ve spoken with our pastors about it and they’ve said it’s just normal and we have to just push through it, but she can’t. She says that she wants to want to have sex, but just can’t.
Anyways, if anyone has some thoughts on ways that I could help her out (to help us out!) I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

Caitlin May 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

Dear Anon Husband,
Would you consider marital therapy? I’m not a professional, but it seems to me that perhaps there is something more than physical that is holding her back, but perhaps she just can’t name it or recognize it. I know there are some good Catholic counselors in the D.C. area (and probably others), but if there isn’t perhaps even a phone session? I’d recommend Dr. Fitzgibbons: http://www.maritalhealing.com/practice/staff/staffprofiles.php

Anon Wife May 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Dear Anon Husband,

What you’re describing sounds like vaginismus, which is an involuntary (and painful) spasm of the pelvic floor muscles. This is common in abuse survivors and women who had a very guilt-focused sexual development, but it can also be due to a physical injury (in my case, due to damage giving birth followed by a botched surgery to repair it) and sometimes it “just happens”. Women usually describe it as pain, burning, or severe pressure during intercourse; eventually, it can start when the woman thinks that intercourse is imminent. Believe me, once the thing starts, there’s no relaxing or enjoyment. “Locking up” is a very good description of it. From the woman’s perspective, it’s both totally humiliating and frustrating. But it’s more common that you might think: something between 1 in 20 and 1 in 5 women have it to some degree.

The good news is, it’s almost always treatable, and without a huge outlay of money or time. What she needs is a set of vaginal dilators (search Amazon), which are a set of hard plastic tubes of increasing diameter, and some water-based lubricant. These are NOT sex toys, and using them is NOT sexually arousing. Instead, what she does is insert the largest size that will fit without any pain at all, for a few minutes at a time (I did it twice a day). Once she’s 100% comfortable with that, then she moves to the next size up. The smallest is usually the size of a pinky finger, and the largest is, um, man-sized. Don’t rush, do use lots of lube and remove immediately if there is ANY discomfort. Once she’s comfortable with using the “full” size by herself, then you should be the one to apply it. Start with the smallest size, don’t rush, do use lots of lube, do remove immediately for ANY discomfort– and don’t view this as foreplay or part of sex. It’s helping her stretch some overtight muscles, that’s all. “I want to help her through this” is a great mind-set to have–a loving, trusting relationship with you is essential, really; and if so, there’s a 95% chance that she’ll be past it in a weeks-to-months timeframe.

“Push through it” is exactly the wrong advice, BTW. I’m also assuming here that she’s had a full gyn exam (i.e. told her doctor all of her symptoms, then was examined fully), since there are a number of physical injuries and diseases that can cause pain on intercourse (everything from birth defects to infections to ovarian cysts). Most of them are treatable. If she suffered (or watched somebody else suffer) abuse, then counseling is HIGHLY advised, over and above the physical therapy I’ve described above.

Good luck to you both. I know from experience how spectacularly frustrating and embarrassing this is for a woman, and I hope you both feel better soon.

Meeeeg June 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I feel like a lot of these options are inapplicable when using NFP to avoid pregnancy.

Because the time for sex is literally mapped out on the chart, my husband and I find spontaneous sex to be impossible. It is also hard for either one of us to be “the aggressor” when we both know the desire isn’t there, but merely a feeling of “we better have sex while we can”.

Also, morning sex is a total no no for all but one method that I know of for Phase 1.

Getting away is also pretty impossible to do if you want to be in the infertile phase and be able to be intimate without getting pregnant.

What are some tips for those of us who are doing NFP and find that there is little physical desire by the time you are in the post-ovulatory phase?

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