Are you struggling in your marriage and are looking for help? Have you ever considered going to marriage counseling? For those who do not live in California, the Psychology Today website is a good place to start looking for a counselor.

For those who do live in California, I would love to help you personally with your marriage. Please visit my website for more information on marriage counseling.

Do Men Like to See Their Wive’s Imperfect Body?

I participate in an online marriage forum as a resident therapist called Talk About Marriage.  I recently came across a forum post where a wife was wondering if husbands really like seeing their wives naked despite their bodies being imperfect.  The original poster was concerned about her body image because of the effects of having children and breastfeeding.

She outlined some of her concerns with her body (i.e. sagging, scars, etc.) and then said, “My question is, is it possible that he actually wants to see me naked anyway?”

I thought I would publish a few of the responses.

Yes, he wants to see you nude.
You may think you look bad but I`m telling you he most likely doesn`t agree with you.
My wife is very petite, c-section scar, breasts that seem to inflate and deflate depending on time of the month, eating habits..whatever. All these things bother her.
I think she`s a goddess. If she hid her body from me it would seriously irritate me to no end.

 

Conduct an experiment.
Three nights a week, walk around the bedroom totally naked. Then – three nights with a long shirt and granny panties. Alternate – three and three.
Keep track of how often he initiates sex – or touches you – or compliments you.
Or – you can take our word for it – he wants to see you naked!!!

And from the original poster again:

Hearing how men really feel, is tremendously encouraging! The filters we sometimes see ourselves through are often so debilitating, they hold us back, if we let them. Media, porn, etc…makes us feel like if we aren’t at that level, somehow we are sub-par, physically at least. The fact that men check out other women, watch porn, things like that- I think those things make it hard for a girl like me to feel I measure up… because a self-conscious girl doesn’t feel all that sexy~however I realize it’s not up to him to make me confident- that’s an inside job. BUT- knowing that most of what holds me back is ME, makes it so much easier to feel comfortable just being myself & not stressing about what he’s going to think.

More from other posters:

My wife went through three C-sections to have our kids. Her stomach is nothing like it was or what she wants it to be. And yet it is so very sexy to me. It is a constant reminder of her gift to me of our children – what she went through so that we could have our three wonderful kids. It is a part of her and our life together, and makes her that much more attractive to me.

Join him in the shower soon He won’t object. Promise.

sexy is an attitude. act sexy and you will be sexy.

Don’t be surprised when your husband tells you that you are getting better as you get older.
Many men continue to fall deeper in love with their wifes.
I have been married for 28 yrs and my wife is more beautiful and sexy than ever.

The original poster again:

I am so glad I decided to write here~ You all are awesome :-) We showered together about 2 months ago- it went very..ahem…well & he thanked me for inviting him in with me.. I thought it was interesting that he thanked me..that made an impression on me, so ever since I’ve wondered about what he thought of me initiating that. I’m getting better at processing what he says to be honest, but it’s taking practice to believe that he’s meaning what he’s saying..”you’re sexy, hot, etc..” I only partially believed him, but lately I’ve been just going with it & trusting. Again, not because he’s been untrustworthy, just my personal issues that try to take over & tell me he can’t possibly be serious! That sounds so bad! It’s been steadily improving though & being on here is REALLY helping as well! (Not to mention the inner work I’ve been doing to gain a healthier perspective regarding myself.) Thank you!!!!!!

Wives, your husbands really do find you to be sexy.  You see scars and sagging, and he sees years of growing older together.  You say you just don’t look the same as when you married him, he says you look better than ever.  Take a moment and look at yourself through your husband’s eyes.  Let him see you.  Be proud of who you are whether your clothes are on or off.

To read more from that forum post, go here.

Sex Outside of Marriage

Nearly 90% of Americans say it is “always” or ”almost always” wrong for a married person to have sex with someone other than their spouse (Smith, 1994).  This information was taken from an old 1990s text book on human sexuality.  While this percentage has probably decreased in our day (as sexual promiscuity has become more common place), I would estimate that there are still a vast majority of people who believe that married persons should only have sex with their married partners.

Other research studies (this time more recent) identified some of the risk factors that lead people to have sex outside of their marital relationship (DeMaris [2009]), and some of the safety nets that may help prevent extramarital sex (Treas & Giesen [2000]).  A couple of items from these studies really stood out for me. 

1) Married spouses were more likely to be faithful to each other when they remained together and did not have a marital separation (DeMaris [2009]).  Some may think that ”absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  All too often, absence can make the heart grow fonder, but fonder for someone else.  This goes along with my previous post on trial separations

2) This study also noted that there was an increased risk of sexual activity outside of a marriage when couples spent little time together (DeMaris [2009]).  Doing things together fosters unity.  Couples who spend more time are more apt to have sex with each other, and not someone else.

3) Living together before getting married (cohabiting, or shacking up) actually raises the risk of later marital infidelity by about 39% (Treas & Giesen [2000])In other words, living together before getting married does not strengthen the sexual relationship between a husband and wife.  I have written on this topic as well, find it here.

4) Spending time together and building relationships with in-laws was shown to decrease the risk of marital infidelity by 24% (Treas & Giesen [2000]).  This statistic was very interesting to me, but it also makes sense.  Building a relationship with the in-laws seems to be a helpful safety-net for decreasing the risk of infidelity.

References
DeMaris, A. (2009). Distal and proximal influences on the risk of extramarital sex: A prospective study of longer duration marriages. Journal of Sex Research 46(6), 597-607.

Smith, T. W. (1994). Attitudes toward sexual permissiveness: Trends, correlates, and behavioral connections. In A. S. Rossi (ed.), Sexuality across the life course (pp. 63-97). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Treas, J., & Giesen,D. (2000). Sexual infidelity among married and cohabiting Americans. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 48–60.

Limiting TV in the Bedroom

Image: nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Most rooms in a home have specific furniture with specific purposes.  The kitchen table’s primary function is to allow household members to sit and eat a meal.  Sometimes it may be used for other things such as doing homework or playing family games.  The couch in the living you can be used for watching TV or movies, or for talking with others.  The bed in the master bedroom  can also have multiple purposes.  It can be used for sleeping, sexual relations, or even pillow talk.  All three of these activities can help strengthen a marriage.  There is one activity that is commonplace in many beds that can actually be detrimental to a marriage–the practice of watching TV in the bed.

Like many things I discuss, TV can be acceptable in a marriage if appropriate boundaries are set.  One of the boundaries that should be set with married couples revolves around how much (if any) TV should be watched in the bedroom when both spouses are home.

 

I mentioned that TV in the bedroom can be a deterrent from a couple’s sexual aspect of their marriage.  TV allows its viewers to focus on the screen and not each other.  It allows its viewers to think about what is coming next, instead of your partner.  These characterisitics seem to be compounded when the TV watching occurs while in bed.  Heavy TV watchers will eventually associate the bedroom and the bed with watching TV and trying to escape instead of a place of romance and a time to love.

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Watching TV in the bedroom can put a damper on a couple’s likelihood that they talk together before going to sleep (pillow talk).  I think that some of the best conversations that I have had with my wife have been when we were both laying down and getting ready to sleep.  I might be rubbing her back, or she might be rubbing mine.  Needless to say, if there was a TV on and one or both of us was watching it, we would lose out on many precious times together.
 

Lastly, many will use the TV as a means of falling asleep.  They might say that they are night owls and cannot get to sleep.  They can actually do their body a diservice when they associate their bed with watching TV instead of falling asleep.  A lack of sleep over a lengthy period of time can affect one’s physical, mental, and relational health.  If you don’t think a lack of sleep has ever affected your relationship, think about a time when you were really tired.  How did you treat your spouse at that time?   I am not against having a TV in the bedroom.  I am not against couples watching TV together in their bedroom.  I am against couples watching TV in their bedroom when they could otherwise be making love, talking, or sleeping.

 

Affairs: Healing from an Affair

As I was doing a little bit of research, I found one man’s story on a marriage forum.  His wife had an affair for 12 years and he talks about his struggles and triumphs in getting his marriage back together.  I think his story is incredible.  I have highlighted some of the parts of the story that I found to be very important.  Click Affairs: One Man’s Story to read.  If that link does not work, you can find the original comments here: How We Overcame Adultery.
Here are some ideas (taken from the story and my own experiences with couples in counseling) that will greatly help in healing from an affair.

To those whose spouse cheated:

  • Draw close unto God.
  • Be willing to forgive your spouse as soon as possible.
  • Hold your tongue (i.e. refrain from criticism, no name calling, don’t tell your spouse you hate them).
  • Acknowledge how you contributed to a poor relationship with your spouse.
  • Seek individual counseling.
To those who cheated:
  • Draw close unto God.
  • End the affair IMMEDIATELY.
  • Honesty, Honesty, Honesty.
  • Answer ANY question that your spouse may have, and be completely honest.
  • Seek individual counseling.
For couples where one (or both) cheated:
  • Draw close unto God.
  • Resume your sexual relationship.
  • Spend time together in constructive activities.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes a day communicating with each other.
  • Set up healthy boundaries.
  • Seek marriage counseling.

Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

 In my opinion, sexual intimacy is just as important in a marriage as communication, conflict resolution, spiritual togetherness, and emotional connectedness. Couples are usually able to talk about how they communicate with each other or how they resolve conflicts. They can have spiritual discussions and usually know how to connect to each other emotionally. However, many couples do not know how to have an appropriate discussion about their sexual relationship.
Marriage and intimacy expert, Laura M. Brotherson, recently talked about 20 questions that can help couples “break the ice” in terms of talking about their sexual relationship. Laura is the host of “The Marital Intimacy Show” and author of the book And They Were Not Ashamed–Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment. To learn more visit www.StrengtheningMarriage.com. The original podcast for these twenty questions can be found at http://thewinonline.com/episode/lets-play-20-questions.

“You can make this a date night activity or something to discuss as you go for a walk. You could also choose a night for some pillow talk (with no expectation that it will lead to anything…!) and then ask each other the following questions. You may want to take turns who answers each question first. Here we go!

1.What are three of your favorite things about lovemaking?

2.What three things did you previously think I liked most about lovemaking?

3.How often do you think most couples have sex?

4.What do you remember about our first kiss?

5.On a scale of 1-10 (1 = a little, 10 = a lot) how much do you enjoy kissing in general? What could make it better?

6.What is one of your favorite memories of us being intimate?

7.What are three things that happen outside “the bedroom” that make you most interested in being intimate?

8.What are three things that happen outside “the bedroom” that make you least interested in being intimate?

9.When we engage in non-sexual touch or affection (i.e. hold hands, hug, sit close, etc.) what does that usually communicate to you?

10.On a scale of 1-10 (1 = a little, 10 = a lot) how important is non-sexual touch and affection to you in our relationship?

11.Where do you most like being touched during lovemaking?

12.What does sex mean to you?

13.What is something you’ve thought might be fun to try sometime?

14.What misconceptions did you have about sex before we got married?

15.What is one thing you wish we would have done differently on our honeymoon?

16.How much do you think our honeymoon experiences affect the sexual relationship we have today?

17.Tell me what your ideal intimate encounter with me would be like?

18.What do you most think about or worry about when we are being intimate?
19.What do you most like me to say to you during lovemaking?

20.On a scale of 1-10 (1 = a little, 10 = a lot) how comfortable was it for us to have this conversation?”

Used with permission from Laura M. Brotherson.