My Love List About My Husband … and why gratefulness is good for the heart

Photo by Libbey Lewis

Photo by Libbey Lewis

Evenings at our house are rather hilarious … you see, neither of us cook. Kids are now gone and so is the sense of obligation to fix dinner … or go to the grocery store. The beloved and I will walk in the door sometime around 7, look at each other and then look into our empty fridge. We open a bottle of wine and do our best to get creative. We laugh. One of us usually says something about wishing we had a “wife” … but look as we may … he is nowhere to be found!

At our age beauty is seen in flexibility. Our skin is more like a ducks back … so much just rolls off. It takes a lot for us to get flustered. Gone are the days when things had to be just so. I’m far from perfect and so is he. But parts of us are tasty and those are the parts we relish and feast on regularly. We don’t get everything done … far from it. Our timing for tasks is completely different. I make decisions fast, he makes them slow. I plan ahead, he keeps the options open. He brings us spontaneity, I bring us … I don’t know, predictability? You know, the boring stuff. But, we ‘get’ each other … and we appreciate each other.

It can be so easy sometimes to focus on how our differences drive us crazy … but these days, we seem to want to focus on how lucky we are. I think over time we have just gotten better at accepting our differences, making adaptations, lowering our expectations, figuring out work-arounds and deciding to focus on what is good about “us”.

So in honor of all that I love about him, here is today’s rambling ‘love list’ …

  • I love the way he gets distracted from working in his home office at night (often several times) to come find me and nibble on my neck for a while.
  • I love the way he hates to get out of bed in the morning and just wants to hold on as if he could stop time.
  • I love the way he worships the feel of my skin and the smell of my hair.
  • I love the way he listens to my rants about sexual shame, abuses of power, sexual health, the spiritual side of sex, our kids.
  • I love that when I freak out about some proclamation one of the kids make about their future that scares me, how gentle he is in reminding me that they are ever evolving and to be patient.
  • I love that he gets the mail and takes out the garbage … 2 things I routinely love to forget.
  • I love that he is always 100% behind my dreams and passions – even when it takes resources from ‘us’.
  • I love that I have never felt like his intimate touch was about him … but always about his love and desire for me. I tell him he needs to bottle and sell this … it is magic!
  • I love that he is usually willing to read a book with me or go to a conference about marriage, sex or spirituality. What man does that?
  • I love that he cries at stories of love and attachment, and feels with his whole being.
  • I love that his intelligence and who he is in the world makes me want to be my best self
  • I love how he loves and protects our kids, our family, our life together.
  • I love how hard he works, how much integrity he has and how you can completely trust him.
  • I love how his body fits perfectly with mine.

Now while this is quite the list … he is not perfect … I am not perfect … we are not perfect. In fact you cannot be human and be perfect. It’s an oxymoron. I could write an equally long list of complaints … and his about me would be longer – for sure!! But you know, there is nothing on my complaint list that is more important than the things on my ‘love’ list. They may be nagging inconveniences – but they are opportunities to grow my patience and compassion with him. Just as he grows his patience and compassion being married to me (and it is NOT easy – trust me!). He is a true gem.


One of the truths about the tender heart of a human, is that we bloom under the ‘love list’ of our partner or parent, and wilt under their constant criticism. In a past life I lived under constant criticism. It was like being a block of delicious aged gouda slowly being dragged across a cheese grater. After years of constant reminders of all my many failures and flaws, I was but a whisper of myself. Finding my value was like finding oxygen in water. I was always gasping for air. If we have the privilege to be around children we see the evidence of how they are treated. We can observe the difference in confidence between the child who is affirmed and the child who is criticized. As we get older, we get better at hiding the effects of how we are treated. We wear a mask. But our heart is made of the same tender substance it always has. Criticism is like poison. Honest affirmation and love … pure nourishment. Yet somehow if things are particularly rough in our partnerships, we are all prone to criticism and silencing our appreciation. It is as if we are afraid silencing our desire to criticize and focus our mind, heart and words on what we appreciate and love is “giving in”, “not standing our ground”, “letting him get away with something”, etc. Have you ever found yourself thinking something like this? We want so badly to believe that criticism and lectures actually work to create change in others – even tho we know it never works with us. Why is this?

Now, a lifetime later, I am eternally grateful that this is the man I get to learn more about the gift and nature of love alongside. I don’t want to be on my deathbed, or he on his, when we realize what gifts we were given. I don’t want to squander our opportunity to grow in grace and compassion by focusing on our complaints and criticisms – or try to change each other to be more like clones of ourselves. I want to learn to appreciate our differences and expand the things I love. I want to feel them, wallow in my appreciation, marinate in my gratefulness. Feel the fullness of this blessing. It seems a much more life giving way to live.

For those interested in coming to our next Passion for Life Couples Intimacy Retreat.  Registration is now open and there are a few spots still available. The retreat is September 24 – 27, 2015 at  the beautiful Whistler Village Pan Pacific, British Columbia, Canada. For more information and to register.

Posted in intimacy, marriage, parenting, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How the Purity Movement Causes Symptoms of Sexual Abuse

Depression and SorrowI put the paper down.  I was 15 papers in with 17 to go – sexual autobiography assignments of my graduate family therapy students. It was the second paper I had read in the last two hours of a young woman who had pelvic pain and vaginismus.  My stomach was in knots.  How many of these papers have I now read in my career?  She had been married three years and had been unable to have sex – it just hurt too much.  She was completely freaked out about sex and hated herself for it. It was like her vagina had a mind of its own and had shut itself closed. She felt like a freak.  She had waited her whole life to be married, had kept herself pure, had not dated until she met her husband in college, and even they had hardly dated.  They were involved in ministry at their church when they met, got accountability partners to help them with their sexual desire during their courtship and waited for the day they would be married.  They assumed it would all be fine.

What she hadn’t noticed was what she felt and thought about her body, his body, or sex in general. She had only spent years avoiding everything she could about the topic. Staying as far away from it as humanly possible. But what sadly was now floating to the top since her wedding night was a distain she had for her body – especially her genitals.  She had grown up seeing them as dangerous. They were almost separate from her. “They” were the tempters.  She barely tolerated her genitals.  She dealt with them functionally for elimination and dealing with her period. That was it. She knew it was ridiculous, but she saw his body as dangerous too, as was his desire.  She had been told so many stories in her youth group of how men could not control themselves that she wasn’t sure his desire had anything to do with her at all.  It was a force – a force that frightened her. This only made her hate herself more.  She thought – “What wife is afraid of her husband and won’t or even, can’t, give him sex?” She wasn’t sure what she had done wrong growing up, but she was sure she must have done something.  Sex was supposed to be easy, beautiful, blessed when you married as virgins – but their experience was hardly that.  They loved each other, yes, but nothing about their sexual life felt easy. It all felt hard. Both struggled with sexual desire, performance issues, depression and anxiety.  Both felt isolated with no one to talk to. Both were sure it was somehow their fault. Both felt horrendous shame.

iStock_000017120141Small - chastity belt

Adult Manifestations of Childhood Sexual Abuse

According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists people who experience harm to their developing sexuality growing up, either from incest, molestation or, in this case, extreme fear, misinformation and silence, can typically exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety, fear, shame, humiliation, self-blame, distorted self-perceptions, a belief that they caused their harm, low sexual desire, arousal disorders, orgasmic disorders and may be less skilled at self-protection.  In women we often hear symptoms of chronic pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus and non-specific vaginitis. It is not uncommon for this population to also suffer from eating disorders, obesity or self-neglect.  When someone has been taught that the very body that can and does bring them pleasure can ‘turn against them’ either by being vulnerable to being taken over by a sexual perpetrator (this is the victim’s meaning of what has happened to them – they believe they caused it or “let it happen”), or by desiring sexual intimacy while being told that every bit of that feeling of desire, thought of desire, or action of sexual desire is wrong, a sin against the God they dearly love, a violation against their future husband or wife, and an impingement upon their future happiness (this is what the purity movement preaches), the most earnest and tender hearted Christian’s are left in a position to hate themselves and turn against their own body and against themselves.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Here are the kinds of quotes I hear year after year that provide evidence of sexual damage, abuse and pain caused by the particular combination of religious sexual silence, fear and sexual threat. It is this evidence that reveals the correlation between religious sexual shame and childhood sexual abuse.

“Here it was taught that female sexuality was equated with the “spirit of Jezebel” from the bible.  The spirit of Jezebel was described as the sexual, manipulative, and controlling part of women that could draw godly men away from their calling by their seductive and enticing nature.  We couldn’t hang out alone with a person of the opposite sex and obviously dating was illegal for the year. Hearing sermons and talks about this made me feel dirty and bad, in the very fact that I was a woman with those sorts of powers to pervert men.  So I had to deny my sexuality.  I guess it makes sense that that was the year I turned to food and gained forty pounds instead!”

Any sexual experience I had as a child produced guilt and fear, especially sex play behavior. For a long time I thought something was wrong with me because of this. Because of these feelings, discussing sexuality became difficult for me. I felt like sexuality was ‘dirty.’ I think these experiences contributed to my feeling like sexuality and becoming a woman was shameful; that my parents did not accept that part of me.”

“My husband and I both came from good Christian homes and were virgins when we married at 23 years old.  Both of our families didn’t talk about sexual matters. For most of the first 24 years of our marriage I had low sexual desire and my husband was the constant initiator.  It set up a bad dynamic between us.  All I knew was what I ‘should’ do and nothing about what I really wanted as a wife or a sexual person.” 

“I was taught that sexual sin was more grievous than any other sin.  Stories of how people’s marriages were permanently scarred and were in a constant state of struggle because they had been sexual before marriage were constantly told to us.  Because sexual desire was so powerful and could screw up your life so much we were warned to not do anything that might stimulate our genitals because it would inevitably lead to sex. Being naïve, I of course believed this was possible. But because I couldn’t keep from getting aroused sometimes, I was sure I was the pervert God couldn’t possibly love. For so many years I was disgusted by myself. I know it made receiving love almost impossible and caused my years of not being comfortable enough in my own body to have an orgasm.”


Photo by NSW Reference and Information on Flikr

Photo by NSW Reference and Information on Flikr

Virginity is not the Issue; nor is Purity … It is Fear, Shame and Silence

It is important to understand that it is not teaching a child to wait to have sex until they are older, married or in a committed loving relationship that causes shame or sexual pain and dysfunction. It is the particular combination of Fear, Shame and Silence. Fear and Shame are the elements children experience when they are told their feelings for intimacy and connection, including their sexual curiosities and desires, are bad and wrong, a sin, not of God, disappointing to those they love, and place their future in jeopardy.   Silence is the element children experience when they desire to understand about their changing bodies, their world, sexuality, gender, relationships, etc and no one they trust gives them accurate information each year as they grow. No one safe fields their questions. No one provides the knowledge they need to protect themselves, appreciate themselves or differentiates the truth about themselves from the marketing spin of their consumer culture that routinely sells bodies and people.  This combination of Fear, Shame and Silence wrapped in a religious context of “This is of God” is what produces religious sexual shame that can manifest as symptoms of childhood sexual abuse in adults. The Purity Movement delivered this in spades … and we have a generation of young adults now trying to heal from levels of shame, depression, anxiety and sexual dysfunction unlike we have seen in recent history.  If you’d like to hear the real stories of people who experienced this listen to the stories of Andrew, Randall, Anna, Sarah, Adam, Lauren and others here.

It is time we begin to develop a New Covenant Sexual Ethic – this is an ethic which demonstrates mutual sexual caring infused with love, grace, justice, acceptance and commitment. When you teach children these values and appropriate life and sex education EACH YEAR of their developing lives they will choose loving people to have in their lives and will make good decisions to care for themselves, their sexuality, their heart and that of others. They may make a mistake here and there … as we all do … it is part of human learning … but they will know how to love well – give love well and receive love well – both with another person and with their God. Isn’t this the point?

Posted in God, intimacy, parenting, Relationships, Sex, Sex Ed, Sex, God, and The Church, sexual health, sexuality, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Sex Ed Easy …. # 4 in a Blog Series: Parenting 9 – 12 Year Olds

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Let’s begin this final (long …) post in this series with first talking a bit about puberty to get us all on the same page.  Puberty is the time frame when the body changes from that of a child to that of an adult, capable of reproduction. On average, this happens over four to six years usually sometime after age 9.  The first noticeable signs of puberty in girls is generally breast buds – often between 9 and 11 years old.  This is followed by underarm and pubic hair about six months later.  There is usually a growth spurt during this time as well.  Most girls will begin their periods about two years after first noticing breast buds. Boys experience many of the same changes as well usually a couple of years later – beginning sometime between ages 11 and 13.  They will notice pubic and underarm hair, more active seat glands, and the enlargement of their penis and scrotum. He may also occasionally have a wet dream.  It is good for young boys to know this may happen so he doesn’t go through the worry that something is wrong with him or he has wet the bed! (Kids are so relieved to know they are normal, their bodies are growing and changing just as they are intended to, and how to care for their bodies as they do.)  As with girls, the changes of puberty for boys will often unfold over four to six years.

Because these ages are averages, and your child could begin changes even earlier than this, it will be important that you have had conversations about periods and wet-dreams along the way.  I remember when I was ten one of my best friends who was spending the night, started her period.  She was shocked – as was I!  Her mom hadn’t thought to talk about this yet.  Thankfully I had a nonchalant Swedish mom who was completely comfortable dealing with this, had already talked to me about it, and dealt with it with complete grace and compassion.  This same girlfriend and I (now many years later) were just talking about this story the other day.  It is the kind of event you don’t easily forget!

Photo by Frank Schermer

Photo by Frank Schermer

One of the things I love in our community here in Seattle, is a program at our Children’s Hospital on growing up for moms and daughters, and dads and sons. This program is for kids 8 – 10 years old and helps kick-start the conversation for parents who are finding it hard to begin.  Many communities have programs like this and they are so worth it! I grabbed a couple of girlfriends and their kids and we all went together when our girls were small. It was a great excuse to go have fun, open the conversation, and model for the girls how we can talk about this stuff.

Another great way to open the conversation with your child is to tell them some stories about you at this age/stage. Here are some opening lines you can use if you are a mom with a daughter:

  1. When I was your age, my body looked like …
  2. My biggest concern about my body when I was your age was …
  3. Would you like me to tell you my story about when I started my period?
  4. I remember boys were …
  5. I remember thinking sex was …
  6. I remember I wished I understood more about …

If you are a dad, here are some opening lines to use with your son:

  1. When I was your age, I thought my body was …
  2. This is what I remember about my first wet dream …
  3. My biggest concern during the years my body was changing was …
  4. I remember thinking girls were …
  5. I remember thinking sex was …
  6. I remember wishing I understood more about …
Photo by Beth Schermer

Photo by Beth Schermer

As a mom, one of the things I did with my son when he was around 10, was read together in the evening the book What’s Happening to My Body – A Book for Boys.  This book was fun and it gave us plenty of natural places for questions, stories and more conversation.  The ages of 8 – 11 are usually ages when kids are still very open to lots of conversation and questions especially if you can appear curious, open, and excited for them to learn about all the wonderful changes that are going to soon be happening for them.

Photo by Jerry Sellers

Photo by Jerry Sellers

Ok – here are a few things about each age – Nine through Twelve:

Nine and Ten

Playground banter about sexual language increases exponentially among 9 to 10 year olds in large part because their minds are newly able to gasp the concepts of society in a much more complex way – its values, institutions, communities, the future.  Because of this, they are able to take in the complexity of relationships more and are now absorbing sexual innuendos – in other words … less goes over their heads! This age also loves learning about fetal development.  It is as if their awareness of their own gestating puberty awakens their curiosity about in utero development. I remember this clearly with my own kids. This was when we had the book with all the in utero LIFE magazine photos out. I loved telling stories about being pregnant with them, teaching about fetal development and they loved hearing about it! They are also increasingly curious about how bodies look without clothes on.  My own daughter couldn’t get enough of the book “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris just to see if her current state of development was represented. Kids are both excited and relieved to see the range of bodies and timing of development. This is especially important in a consumer culture like ours that is constantly telling people that their bodies are not ok – and kids are picking this up too!

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Speaking about ways culture can function as an “educator” or communicator, I want to stop and talk for a minute about Porn – as a sex educator?? One of the other reasons it is so important you are talking to your kids about sexuality, in the context of real life, is so your child’s only “sex education” is not coming from American media and American pornography.  The porn industry has had a powerful effect on how men and, by proxy women, have come to view “normal”. For example, because it is easier to see a close up camera shot of hairless genitals, actors in porn are hairless.  Since this is the only consistent form of “sex education”, the vast majority of heterosexual men believe this is what a normal woman’s body is supposed to look and act like. Since the US provides no comprehensive sex education and most parents, churches and community groups, do not provide sex education – typical bodies and common sexual activity in the context of caring relationships is not shown or taught anywhere.  Media becomes the only window into human sexual behavior and bodies.  Since young people have nothing to compare it to, they assume porn and media’s depiction of sex is typical, common, normal, expected.  With the influx of internet pornography in the 90’s we began a new widespread “sex educator”.  Like Pavlov’s dog – a conditioned response was set in place to define as erotic or beautiful, hairless genitals, women who liked money shots, being demeaned, and a lack of sexual anticipation or sexual desire.  This is also what was then communicated to heterosexual women through men’s responses to them, usually when they were teenagers, who now spend billions of dollars waxing and pretending, in order to look like and act like the women who men have been viewing while they masturbate.  None of this however lends itself toward meaningful loving sexual engagement which looks, feels and deeply moves us heart, body, mind and soul … especially when this is a man or woman’s ONLY form of sex education.  Now, I am not trying to make a judgment about pornography – that is for your family to decide via your values and views.  I am however, wanting you to think about the understanding a child might grow to have about sex, sexuality, sexual expression, women and men, if pornography and media WERE THEIR ONLY OR PRIMARY form of information about sex and gender.   The average child is now exposed to porn around age 9. Just as a child needs to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, cartoon and real, REAL TV and life, so they need to understand the difference between pornography and real relationships where people are sexual and accountable to the effects of their behavior on each other.

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers


The fifth grader is fact and detail oriented. They want to know how everything works including their bodies. They can be giggly – but they’re uncomfortable feelings are transparent and easy to deal with.  They are becoming more and more able to deal with abstract and complex ideas, controversies and moral dilemmas.  It is a great time to cultivate strong clear values and critical thinking.  Ask them lots of questions about what they think, and why they think what they think. They are at an age where they like to think this way and are still willing to share it with you.  They are also usually fairly clear headed about risk taking and can tell you what is good or bad for you and why.  Give them as many opportunities as possible to articulate their thoughts, opinions and values.  This allows them to build a scaffolding they can begin to rely on later.  At this age many have begun to notice body changes in themselves and each other.  And are aware of boys and girls in new and different ways than just a year ago.  One of the ways to help your child minimize their feelings of self-consciousness at this age is to talk briefly but often about body changes in order to normalize the process that is coming or happening.  Having some familiarity with these conversations gives context to the child and goes a great distance in reducing the shock value.

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers


At twelve information is penetrating their minds and bodies at such a rate, one sex educator said she thought sixth graders needed their own sexuality tutor! New questions emerge every hour.  At this age nothing escapes them. They see this great big puzzle of life and they are desperately trying to get it right.  They think about everything … and sexuality is no different.  Their interests have now extended beyond reproductive facts and information on sexual behaviors, and now include a large variety of topics.  My first career was as a junior high science teacher. I had the fantastic fortune of teaching sex education each spring.  I kept an anonymous question box in my room and each Friday we would spend an hour pulling questions out of the box and answering them, or if I didn’t know the answer, we would find the answers together.  I was so grateful I taught at a private college preparatory school which gave me the leeway to meet the student’s questions with respect, honesty and openness.  This was an important part of our weekly curriculum.

Also at this age, modesty, feelings of privacy and feelings of self-consciousness are now being provoked especially for those who are early or late bloomers.  They are aware of changing feelings and relationships with friends, family and same and other gender peers.  Cliques, popularity and a need to fit in can begin to drive the social dynamic.  Peer cruelty can be a means of social control and can be very powerful during these years.  Social media has amplified the speed and impact of this, adding increasing concern about the impact on the self-esteem of many children.  Conversations around these issues are essential especially for kids that are sensitive or who do not easily fit in.  I remember reading the book Odd Girl Out with my daughter when she was this age.  We both wanted to better understand how social media was amplifying the girl drama she was experiencing.  While later they might want to keep to themselves, at this age they still often welcome a trusted parent or teacher to listen, affirm and guide. I let myself be the ‘fall-guy’ on many occasions.  I would give my daughter or son permission to blame me when they did not want to go over to a friend’s house, or did not want to talk to or text a friend. By saying it was “their mean mom that would not let them do this or that …” they could save face until they were old enough to have their own voice and stand up for themselves.  The ridicule and humiliation of adolescents can be vicious.  Giving your kids a way-out can be very helpful.

Lafage Trip 002

The ‘M’ Word

The last topic worth covering in this age range is masturbation.  Kids at this age and as they move further into adolescence will likely engage in self-pleasuring behavior.  Research shows that as many as 75% and of boys and over 50% of girls under the age of 15 masturbate. Unlike the more comforting forms of touch I described in the younger years, as a child gets older and enters puberty, the touching becomes more purposeful, with the tween to teen seeking pleasure and eventually orgasmic release.  Many parents and often kids are worried that they are masturbating too much.  How much is too much?  Here is the general rule.  If masturbation is interfering with your child’s school, homework, family life, or friendships, then it is likely too often.  Otherwise, it is very individual – from more than once a day to never. It is useful for your pre-teen to know that while many pre-teens, teens and adults masturbate, (both men and woman), many never do.  If they are worried about this behavior, or lack of behavior, they can talk to you or to another safe adult.  Some families oppose masturbation, some are fine with it, some are fine with masturbation in private but oppose pornography or certain types of pornography or imagery … Whatever your values, take the time to communicate them to your pre-teen and let them know how you came to those values and beliefs, what influenced you and why.  It is also important to know that there is no research to show that forbidding masturbation will stop a young person from engaging in this behavior.  It is only likely going to drive it underground, increase their sense of guilt and shame, and keep them from coming to you as a safe person to talk with.  Remember, you want to remain a resource to your child.  You can share your values, beliefs and hopes for your child and why.  This will open the door for the child to hear your love and care for them while acknowledging that they will ultimately make some of these decisions whether they let you know it or not. Honoring that they are responsible for their decisions and consequences, allows you to stay safe and a resource to them.  We all were born with a prefrontal lobe that is not fully developed until we are 25 – 28 years old.  This means we are designed to learn from our experience … and our mistakes. My rule of thumb was … a mistake was not a mistake if you learned from it … it was a lesson. While all children will make some mistakes, accurate information and your love are the tools they need to make informed responsible decisions.

One more thought about masturbation for those of you who are ok being ok with it.  Please encourage your boys to take their time and go slow.  Let them know that if they end up being attracted to women, that women were created to have a much slower arousal cycle than a man.  If they masturbate in such a way that they are always ejaculating fast, it will end up being something they worry about later when they are in a relationship.  They can help themselves by trying to lengthen and slow the time before they ejaculate and learn to have some control. This will give them more confidence when they are older and in a loving relationship.

Here are some great books for this age:

What’s Happening to My Body – A Book for Boys 

What’s Happening to My Body – A Book for Girls

What’s Happening to Me – A Guide to Puberty

Let’s Talk About Sex – A Guide for Kids 9 – 12

More Sex Ed Resources


So there you have it – 4 posts on Making Sex Ed Easy … at least, I hope, a little easier! 12 Guidelines for Sex Ed Communication, Sex Ed with Preschoolers, Sex Ed with 4 – 8 year old’s and this one.  A special thanks to my amazing kids who allowed me to ‘learn on them’, use their adorable pictures and continue to allow me to share their stories all over my blog and in my teaching … and who grew up famously in-spite of having a crazy sex therapist for a mom! You guys are my heroes!

I hope this has been a helpful step by step guide through the Sex-Ed Conundrum.  Please feel free to send me questions. I am always happy to help make this easier for you! xo

Posted in intimacy, parenting, Relationships, Sex, Sex Ed, sexual health, sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Sex-Ed Easy … #3 in a Blog Series: Parenting 4 – 8 year olds … H.E.L.P!


By Tina Schermer Sellers

By Tina Schermer Sellers

During the years when my daughter was 5 and my son was 10, both of them straddling this particular stage, we went through a period where we would sit atop my son’s Captain’s bed and read this book called A Very Touching Book by Jan Hindman.  It was a book with hilarious pictures but told an important message of “good touch”, “bad touch” and “secret touch”.  The kids loved it because it gave permission to discuss bodies and sexuality in the context of life and values.  It also made perfect sense to them, and gave them a language for how to manage their bodies … THEIR BODIES. During this phase, kids want information and they want that information from you.  Their life is now spent for much of the day away from home, at school, and there is a lot to manage and understand.  They are looking to you to help them make sense of it all and help them develop the language and constructs to stand up and stand in to the world they are growing up within.

Before we get into talking about guidelines for Sex Ed during these ages, let me first say that the developmental task of this stage is to begin to form a sense of identity and personal power.  I call this the ‘Paper Bag Princess’ and ‘Batman’ Phase. This is when they begin to find their voice and their sense of who they are.  They love to try things on … play dress up, learn to say NO! and push boundaries, learn responsibility and the ability to express affection and other emotions. Here are a few affirmations that are particularly helpful for a child between the ages of 4 and 8:

  • You can explore who you are & find out who other people are
  • You can be powerful & ask for help at the same time
  • You can try out different roles and ways of being powerful
  • You can learn the rules of your behavior
  • All of your feelings are ok with me
  • You can learn what is pretend and what is real
  • I love who you are

One of the things I love about affirmations that match a developmental stage is it helps us ask ourselves if we heard or felt these things when we were this age?  If we did, YEA!! If we did not, then we may have a hard time not being triggered by our kids when they are what I call … “fulfilling their job description” … that is, acting exactly their age! If you notice that you did not hear or feel some of these affirmations at this age/stage yourself, know that a part of you still needs to hear these things and work to extend this kind of grace to yourself!

Ok … on to the guidelines for Sex Ed with the 4 – 8 year old kiddo:


Life Prior to College .04 082They are still curious about their bodies and other people’s bodies

Children ages 4 to 8 continue to be very interested in bodies and sexuality.  In one study of more than 11,000 children ages 2 to 12, moms reported observing sexual behaviors in their children at each of those ages. For example, 40% of boys and 20% of girls’ ages 6 – 9 were observed touching their genitals at home, 20% of boys and girls tried to look at people nude, and 14% were interested in the other gender. During this time, stronger friendships are being developed and most children begin to show a stronger preference to play with kids of their same gender. During this age they also become more aware of societally defined gender roles expressing a clearer idea about what is expected of boys and girls. They continue to engage in sex play with children in both genders, although they are much more likely to do it where they will not be discovered by adults. And in private, their exploration of their genitals may become more deliberate.


They are becoming moral creatures

These are critical years in the development of moral thinking. During early elementary school, children begin to understand that there may be other perspectives or ways to consider a situation. They also begin to understand the golden rule. This is a key developmental stage in foundational thinking for adult sexual health and the integration of moral and sexual development.  This is another reason why engaging this conversation in an open and integrated way, is so helpful to kids at this age. You can introduce questions into a story you are reading or TV show you are watching.  For example, “How do you think it felt for her to be treated that way?”  “What else could she have done other than complain to her friends?”  These kinds of conversations help children integrate moral thinking and decision making with their sexual and gender development.


Life Prior to College .04 045They Need the Facts of Life

During these years kids get so much information from other kids on the playground, on the bus and in their classroom.  And … it is often coming in some crude or confusing way.  Perhaps some fifth grader comes up to her on the bus and asks point blank, “I bet you don’t know where babies come from!” “Well, let me tell you.  Your parents f**k each other.”  Then they go on to give their little rendition of the ‘birds and the bees’. What is most unfortunate, is that kids pick up on the tone and feeling of shame, and they never tell their parents about the incident.  So not only do they lose out on the opportunity to get the real information, they lodge this unfortunately shameful experience into a dark inner vault now called “sex”.  Because of this, I believe this is the best age to equip our children with the basic information about intercourse and reproduction. This allows a child to be able to say to this kid, “Yes, I know already.”  During this age however, kids have often moved from ‘geographers’ (where) to ‘manufacturers’ (how), therefore they may not be satisfied with “the woman has an egg cell and a man has a sperm cell and when these two cells are joined …”  They may now want to know all the ‘hows’ – including intercourse and in-vitro. For example, you can ask if they know ‘how’ this happens. If they don’t or offer another good idea, you can say,

Parent: “That’s a good guess. But what really happens is that when a grown man and grown woman love each other, there are many ways they enjoy touching each other and loving each other.  All of these ways bring them lots of pleasure.  Sometimes it feels pleasurable when the man and woman place the man’s penis inside the woman’s vagina. After a while, the man’s sperm come out of his body and travel up the woman’s vagina into her uterus, where an egg cell may be.  Sometimes the sperm and the egg join inside the women and that is the beginning of the fetus that will grow into a baby.”

You can then wait to see what they say or do. If they say, “Oh that is disgusting!” or give that look, you can say, “I remember it was hard for me to believe that the first time I heard about it too. But as you grow up, it begins to make more sense. It is something that is for grown-ups who are old enough to love and care for each other, and care for any baby that might come from their loving each other in this special way. We have lots of time to talk about this more as you grow up.”

But no matter how they respond, the ‘go to’ guidelines are: affirm their feelings, give correct info, state your values, and keep the doors open for more conversation later.

At this age children can also learn the basic concepts behind contraception as well.  For example, that all children deserve to be wanted, that some families have children and some do not, that some families are able to conceive and some are not, that some decide to have children and some do not.  You can introduce the idea that there are ways you can keep the sperm and egg from fertilizing.  You can also introduce the idea of in-vitro fertilization and adoption and how this is often a method of conception or having children for same-sex families or families who are unable to conceive.

It’s Going to Happen Anyway … Be Their Ally … Let it Come From You!

DressUp 002All of these issues will be part of their awareness in their school environment and someone WILL BRING THEM UP!  It is always better for your child to hear about this FROM YOU who they trust and who they know has their best interest at heart.

Fundamentally, hearing all this from you first helps them know they can trust you to protect them to help them navigate their world. That is why kids who have parents who talk about these things as they grow up describe themselves as closer to their parents over all!  Their parents have proven themselves to be trustworthy and not silent!

Next week … the last installment in this series … Sex Ed with 9 to 12 year old’s … Stay tuned!

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Making Sex-Ed Easy … #2 in a Blog Series: Parenting Preschoolers … H.E.L.P!

picture by Emily Sellers

picture by Emily Sellers

Preschoolers, little ones ages 3 to 5, are the epitome of sensual and curious little creatures!  During this time they develop a strong sense of themselves as a boy or a girl and what that means to the people around them.  For the vast majority of children their body parts will match their sense of themselves as a boy or girl and be equally mirrored by those around them.  But for a few this will feel confused.  It is important to listen to your child and hear their experience of themselves.  This is the age they will will want the names of ALL their body parts including their genitals.  Use the correct terminology so your child can know all about their body. Each part, wonderful, unique and created as a gift with a special and unique purpose.

Let labeling come up naturally while dressing them or at bath time or as they make observations or ask questions.

Get yourself some great fun sex ed books for kids.  You can help little ones know that men and boys have penis’ and girls and women have vulva’s.  You can look for an opportunity to tell your preschool daughter that the hole between her legs is her vagina and the little button on the forward area of your vulva is called her clitoris. Help boys and girls understand the correlation between the head of the penis in boys and the clitoris in girls.  You can look for a time to explain to your son that the sacs between his legs are the scrotum and inside are two special parts called testicles.  There will also undoubtedly be a time when you can explain to your son why his penis sometimes is hard and sometimes is soft. I remember the bath time exclamation from my 3 year old son when he saw his erect penis and the explanation I gave.   I remember saying to his concerned question, “Mama, will my penis always be this big?”  “No, sweetie.  As soon as you stop swimming on your tummy back and forth, it will probably go back to its normal size.  But isn’t it wonderful that God gave boys penis’ that change size sometimes?”

Photo by Christine Urias

Photo by Christine Urias

As children move closer to 4 and 5 bath time is also a time for children to learn to care for and wash their own bodies.  This is a time to address how you keep yourself clean, including your genitals.  It is also a good time to introduce safety issues. For example saying something like, “Your body belongs to you.  You are getting old enough now to wash it and care for it.  No one should touch your genitals except a doctor or nurse or your parents for health reasons.  If you are ever uncomfortable about touch, you should always let me or someone else safe know.”  Here is my kids favorite book on the subject.

Likely sometime between 3 and 5 your child, who is now out of diapers, may develop the self-soothing behavior of touching their genitals.

This is not the same thing as adult masturbation.  This is more like a pleasurable, calming, soothing activity. You will need to figure out how you want to handle this and how you want your child to feel about their body, so you respond in a way that helps their development and does not shame this normal response. Children need guidance however.  I remember with my own children, affirming their wonderful bodies and how very nice they were to touch, but that when they wanted to touch their penis or vulva or clitoris, they were to do this in a private area like the bathroom, bathtub or their bedroom.  For us this was the beginning of helping them understand the role of privacy and safety.  You will have to decide what is right for your family. One thing to remember tho, when you are teaching kids about what is to be done in private … they often need lots of reminders.  At this age, their self-soothing genital touching will often happen unconsciously. If you want them to do this activity in private, don’t be surprised if they need to be gently and compassionately reminded many times before they remember.

Photo by Martin Talbot

Photo by Martin Talbot

Being tactile, curious and observant, little boys and girls will often experiment with peeing in different places and different positions.  I remember both of my children at this age following camping trips where they got to pee in the woods, thinking it would be fun to pee in the bushes at church!  Who wants to come in and use the bathroom, when a bush is right there?? These are also the years where your child is likely to ask “Where did I come from?” or “How are babies made?”  Ask them first, “What do you think?” or “Tell me what you already know.”  This will help orient you to what they know, and more what they want from you.  The books you have gotten will help guide you on age appropriate language. Basically you want to offer simple straight forward answers and then check in with them.  For example, “Well, a sperm from a man and an egg from a woman are joined together.  This is called fertilization.  This begins a process of a baby growing inside a woman’s body. Is that a good enough answer, or would you like more detail?”

They are also very curious about other people’s bodies.

They will ask you lots of questions about yours and will likely explore sex play with a same age neighbor, sibling or cousin during these years. Because these curiosities are a normal way your child discovers and learns about their world and the people within it, it is important for the child to have adequate supervision.  If children are playing with kids their same age and where the power differential is equal (neither much larger, or stronger, or a bully) – then this kind of learning and exploration will take its normal course and kids will have their questions answered through their explorations and your offering of information.

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

Photo by Tina Schermer Sellers

As you can see, there will be countless opportunities, nearly daily, to offer the beginning of body, gender, relationship and sex education to your child during these years.  One final thing to add here.  Enjoy these years and all the sex ed teaching!  Here are a few more resources for you.

We have so much to re-learn from our kids during these years.  They fully inhabit their bodies.  They live in the here and now! They are sensually and emotionally present to their world.  They are alive and they live out loud in no uncertain terms.  This kind of full life, full body embodiment is something we lose in our self-conscious adolescent years and rarely get back.  Let your preschooler teach you to inhabit your body again and embrace pleasure and joy … in all it’s messy, delicious, wild and colorful ways. See if you can inhabit your sexuality, your body, and your relationships in a new way during these years too!

Next week’s post will be on Sex Ed with 4 – 8 year olds … Stay Tuned!

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Making Sex Ed Easy …. #1 in a 4 Part Blog Series: 12 Guidelines for Communication

Woman with thought bubblesBeing a parent is a humbling endurance event … every day.  One minute it can be incredibly rewarding and the next incredibly frustrating.  So often when my kids were little I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants.  Of all the areas of parenting that send our tails between our legs, I think teaching our kids about their bodies and sexuality is definitely one of the most challenging, uncomfortable and fear inducing. This is largely because 85-90% of people grow up in homes that are mostly silent around issues of sexuality.  The deafening silence and loss for words gets passed from one offspring to another. We don’t know how to talk to our kids, because no one knew how to talk to us. We don’t have words to say, because no one had words to say to us. We are at a loss, because our parents were at a loss with us. And so the story goes, from one generation to another.

But with each generation is a desire to figure out how to ‘get comfortable’ so our kids don’t have to feel so in the dark, isolated, ignorant, and naive as we did.

To help in this endeavor … to help us all find the words to give to our kids the knowledge they need to understand, celebrate and take care of their fabulous and beautiful bodies, this will be a mini-blog series for those with toddlers, preschoolers, young grade school and late grade school aged kids.  Now, you might wonder, why I would stop here … or you might wonder why I would start here and not start at the junior high age.  Well, actually, our kids are in their prime to learn and understand about their bodies, gender and sexuality during ages 2 – 12.  If you have not started the conversation by then, they will have absorbed their knowledge from culture, media and their friends long before you have your first conversation.  You will be late in the game. Maybe not too late, but later than is ideal. You will see as we go through this series how early childhood curiosities about gender, bodies and sexuality emerge in a child’s life.  Ideally YOU want to be their primary voice and resource for accurate information.

We begin with an overview of basic communication guidelines –

1. Remember, your kids want to hear your thoughts and feelings about your values – what is important to you.  Kids need to hear your point of view.  They want to know the facts, but they also want to hear your stories too.  While they want room to form their own thoughts, they want to know how you came to believe what you believe.  What experiences led you to where you are now.

2. Don’t wait for them to ask you questions.  Some kids ask questions non-stop.  These are often the same kids whose every thought is spoken out loud.  But many kids are all internal.  This kid may not ask many questions. I remember my oldest son did not have an internal thought that was not spoken until he was eight.  My youngest daughter on the other hand, was internal from the day she was born.  Think of it this way.  We do not wait for our kids to ask us about safety issues or how to get dressed before we teach them.  We just teach them as we go along and as it is appropriate for them to have the knowledge. Gender and sexuality information needs to be seen in much the same way.

3. It’s OK to not know. I have talked to so many parents who say they don’t broach the subject because they are afraid they won’t know how to be helpful. I have heard kids say right back to these same parents, “It’s ok. You don’t have to know. We can find out together. Just be there with us. Tell us your stories. Don’t judge us. Help us to learn.”  They just want you at their side learning with them.

4. You don’t have to feel or look comfortable.  It is alright that this topic makes you squeamish, uncomfortable and insecure.  Just say so. Tell your child that your parents never talked about this, even tho it is an important and wonderful part of life.  But because they never talked about it, it feels odd to talk about it now.  You want it to be open and more comfortable for them, so you are learning right along side them to talk about it … and  being uncomfortable is ok and natural.

5. Stay watchful for everyday natural moments to teach a new concept.  Once we begin to shape our mind to watch for gender issues, relationship issues, and sexuality issues that emerge on TV, in the movies, in articles, in social situations in our kids lives, we find there are natural teaching moments happening all over the place.  These kinds of moments allow us to teach a gender or sexuality concept right as it is occurring in its natural context. This kind of teaching helps them understand sexuality, gender and relationships as an integrated and sometimes complex part of life, rather than a separated issue.

6. The facts and the trimmings.  One of the downfalls of the kind of ‘sex education’ that is often present in our public schools is that it is a biologically based data driven set of facts that are often completely detached from person or circumstance, context or values, relationship or situation. Kids want to understand the whole picture.  They want to understand an issue in a way that makes sense to how they understand and experience the world they are living in right now. What are they expected to understand about their friends, how you treat people, how you treat your body, how you take care of yourself, others, and why.  They want to understand whatever aspect of gender or sexuality in a similarly appropriate context as well.

7. Educate both your sons and your daughters.  If you have a two parent household, both parents ideally need to be involved in teaching these things to ALL the kids – the boys and the girls.  The girls don’t need this more than the boys, any more than the boys need this more than the girls.  Both little boys and little girls deserve the right to grow up fully cherishing and understanding their bodies and sexuality.  It is wonderful when kids can see and hear information about sexuality and their bodies from both parents in addition to witnessing the parents speaking about it together in front of them.  They learn ‘this is an open topic’ my parents talk about this among themselves.  It normalizes and destigmatizes the topic and helps them gain more comfort for themselves and trust in you every time they see it modeled and hear it spoken.

8. Plan ahead & Practice!  One of the best things you can do is get a book on developmental sexual tasks at each age and prepare yourself ahead of time.  This helps reduce the S.H.O.C.K. factor when they do something perfectly normal but perfectly unexpected.  You know. The first time they walk in on you and your partner making love!  The first time your 5 year old is found naked with her 5 year old cousin each with marking pens creating picassos on each other’s bodies. Knowing what is coming, talking about it and planning for how you want to respond, will help you to be more the parent you want to be in those key moments.  (And when you are not … remember you can always go back, and apologize and explain!)

9. Be brief and age appropriate.  One of the things we can tend to do as parents is ‘get technical’ when we are uncomfortable.  We do just what doctors sometimes do.  We talk way to long and way too technically about something that actually just needs a simple straight forward answer.  With kids and sex, think about what they are asking and give them a brief, simple answer that fits their age and stage.  Ask them after, “Do you want to know more, or is that good for now?” When your kids do ask you questions, ask them first what they already know or what prompted them to ask the question. These questions actually help us as parent to really hear the question they are asking before we launch into what we think they are asking. Also, try to remember that if it is something that is important to your child, no matter how trivial it may seem to you, it is important and needs to be heard with care.

10. What you do is more important that what you say.  Remember the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words”? Nowhere is that more true than in teaching your kids about the value of their bodies, sexuality and intimacy. If your child never sees her parents flirting, going on dates, or kissing, it will be hard for her to truly envision the security of a loving partnership for herself. If a child hears about the importance of equality but watches as one parent dominates and silences another, it will be hard for him to securely adopt this belief for himself. Our relationship with our partner sets the stage for our child’s future relationship.  It becomes their DNA relationship default.  If things are less than ideal, it will be important to help your child understand the discrepancy between what they are experiencing and what you would like for them to be experiencing. This will at least make the circumstances clear and not confusing for them.

11. Remember there is a big difference between childhood sexual curiosity and adult sexuality. It is sometimes hard to remember that children do not think like adults.  It has been a long time since we were kids – we forget what it was like or how we thought.  But it is unfair, and often shaming, for us to attribute to children or young teens adult motives to sexual curiosities.  For example, it is common for 8 – 11 year old girls to touch each other while play acting during sleepovers.  It is also common for 11 – 14 year old boys to masturbate at the same time while together.  If these kids were to be found by an adult, it would be wrong to attribute sexual orientation assumptions to these behaviors, when we know them to be normal developmental curiosities.

12. Remember to talk often as kids grow up and to include the positive. The two things parents forget most often when it comes to conversations about sexuality and gender is to talk about it OFTEN as it comes up in small ‘sound-bites’ and to include the positive aspects of sexuality and bodies … the joy, pleasure, and beauty. These two small things are huge … they help kids see sexuality, bodies and gender as a normal part of life and they help them not become filled with fear, shame and guilt.  They gain a balanced view of sex – the stuff you need to be aware and careful of, as well as the joys and beauty as well. Like so many other parts of life, they gain a complex technicolor picture. The best kind of view.

My favorite piece of research about sexuality education says that parents who manage to talk openly, honestly and often with their kids about bodies, sexuality and gender have kids who describe themselves as closer to their parents overall.  

Hopefully these 12 guidelines will help you as you launch on your way as your child’s sexuality educator, and facilitate you having an even closer relationship over all the years to come!!

 Next week’s post will be on sex ed with Preschoolers … 3 to 5 year olds … 


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Who is Having the Best Sex? What Research (not the media) Says

photo by Chloe Sellers

photo by Chloe Sellers

We see this question on magazine covers lining grocery counters every day. I read studies looking at the numbers all the time. Many of the studies focus on frequency of intercourse. But how good is that frequency?

As a sex therapist, I hear far too many stories of bad-normal-bad-sex. The kind of normal-bad-sex that is “another thing on my ‘to do’ list” kind of sex, or the “it’s been three weeks” kind of sex, or the “something is better than nothing” kind of sex. But what I’m really interested in is … who is having sex they love … with someone they love … and have been loving for a long time. What is their secret!! Inquiring minds want to know!

So I set out to cull the research and see if I could get a handle on what truly made a difference as far as sexual satisfaction and frequency was concerned.

Here is what I found out about whose got it good and why (according to what is being studied, anyway)…

First and foremost … Contrary to what pop-culture would have you believe, it is

Those who are in long-term committed relationships

Not those who are wild, crazy, unattached and swinging from chandeliers! A 2010 study out of the Kinsey Institute found that those who were unattached were 40 percent more likely to not have had sex in the previous year than those who were attached. In another study analyzing ages of 25 to 59, married folks were five times more likely to be having sex two to three times a week (25%) than those who were single (5%). While the complexities of life may change frequency over time, that frequency still exceeds those who are not partnered. Researcher Laura Carpenter out of Vanderbilt University says long-term partnered couples also become more skillful in how they nourish their relationship, both in and out of the bedroom. This adaptation occurs in part because of the maturation of their relationship in the next three areas:

Partners having the highest sexual satisfaction and the most frequency:

ONE: Feel respected and understood by their partner.

Partners are responsive to each other’s feelings. This usually comes down to listening to each other …

listening to hear not listening to respond

This also usually comes down to flexibly sharing responsibilities in running everyday life. Both research out of John Gottman’s lab and from sociologist Constance Gager from Montclair State University found variations on this theme.  There is a sense of managing life and working out the details together – while also having a conscientiousness for preserving their overall energy. Partners feel like partners … on the same team … both mindful of their quality of life and quality of relationship.

Every couple gets out of sync at times,

and during these times one person, if not both, feel very alone and misunderstood. But this couple, soon finds a way to sit down, and re-balance their ship. One person sets their need to be understood aside for a moment and seeks to hear and understand the other. In doing this, they know the other will in time extend the same reciprocity to stop and hear them as well. There is responsiveness in both word and action.


TWO: They have found positive ways to respond to each other when one partner is not ‘up for it’.

Virtually every couple will have times, if not entire seasons, where one’s sexual appetite will be different than their partners. Like any other appetite in our life, we have preferences and those preferences can change. We have a hankering for steak or fish, ice cream or fruit.

We are more hungry or less hungry.

We desire comfort food, warm food, or fresh food. To expect our partner to be exactly like us all the time, would be as ridiculous as expecting them to want to eat the exact same thing all the time. So, in the same way as we might negotiate what restaurant we want to go to, we negotiate how we want to express our desire for pleasure and intimate connection.   If a couple has a narrow vocabulary of how to talk about sexual touch and a narrow way to think about sexual touch,

the vulnerability of the desire for touch can feel very risky.

For example a person may only know to say, “Hey, you up for it tonight?” The ‘it’ is understood to be intercourse only. The partner, equally as limited in their language and understanding, and who is not up for intercourse says tersely, “Not tonight.” Behind this terse reply, is an inability to language the guilt, the expectation, the resentment, and maybe even the desire for something different. They only know how to say “Not tonight” –

but this is packed with a punch and that punch is felt.

This kind of interaction repeated countless times is very hard on a relationship. This is just as true if the person being ‘turned down’ responds harshly or negatively.  A couple with more of a sexual vocabulary for both language and touch might say, “Hey, I’d love to have time tonight for some playful loving touch. You up for that?” The other who has limited energy, might say something like, “Well, I’m pretty pooped, but I’d be game for taking a quick shower together before bed and doing some fun touching there, then falling asleep to you massaging my body with that touch of yours I love.”  If the person asking, only gets the response, “Well, I’m pretty pooped …”, she/he might respond with the suggestion, “Is there some way I can love on you tonight that would let you know how much I love you without the touch feeling demanding?”

Since they have a long history of ‘making love’ in multiple ways,

some with one or both moving through their arousal cycle, some with neither moving through their arousal cycle, some with intercourse, many without, yet all drawing them closer, all pleasurable and all fun, they can be adaptable, flexible and open minded.


THREE: They keep their individual lives rich and adventure alive.

They believe in touch, adventure and play. Several years ago when I was first working on my book (which hopefully will be out in 2016), I had the pleasure of talking with the family and sex therapist Esther Perel about her newly released book, Mating in Captivity, which has now become a bestseller. Her TED talk has over 5 million views. She hit a marriage nerve when she suggested we need adventure, risk, difference and novelty in our longterm relationships if sex is to stay enjoyable. She makes the point that togetherness, sameness, constancy, even security, have a way of breeding complacency – and in the arena of sexual desire, this drains the tank.

Sexual desire and eroticism is fed by excitement, joy, adventure, even adrenaline, chaos and anticipation.

If we are to keep this alive in our long-term relationships, we must keep our individual lives vital and growing in order to keep ourselves engaged and offering something essential to our relationship. As we grow, we invite our relationship to grow. This is also true as we experience new things together as a couple – try new things, explore new places, take new risks, conquer new challenges. Adventure, play, anticipation, growth is like mainlining vitality into our erotic energy both inside and outside the bedroom.

As contrary as it sounds, protecting play and adventure, for us personally and as a couple

is one of the best things we can do for our relationship.

The “Oh!” in “The Big O”

I would anecdotally add from my years as a couple and sex therapist, that those couples who are open to seeing their love and sexual relationship as a deeply spiritual endeavor, will at times describe transcendent experiences that are ecstatic beyond description. One man who had come through an intimacy retreat where I teach sacred sexual intimacy practices said after an experience with his wife, “I had no idea sex could be so powerful and spiritual.  Nothing I have ever experienced, no porn, nothing, holds a candle to this. I only wish I had explored this side of sex before.” In America we display a very limited view of the capacity within sexual expression – one that is often void of being seen, known, loved or accepted.  Instead it is simply a physiologically focused response to a pleasurable arousal cycle.

But sex can, and often is for those who risk it, so much more.

So there you have it … the truth about sexual satisfaction and sexual frequency. It all boils down to emotional, sexual, spiritual and relational health … the easy and the hard of it. The journey of life.


Posted in God, intimacy, marriage, Relationships, Sex, sexual health, sexuality, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment