The 7 (Sex) Habits: #3 Put First Things First 1

It’s time for habit number three in our series, The 7 (Sex) Habits of Highly Successful People.

Habit 3: Put first things first. Execute on most important priorities. To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.

Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge. You’re the creator.” Being proactive is about choice. Habit 2 is the first, or mental, creation. Beginning with the End in Mind is about vision. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation. This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. But that’s not all it’s about. Habit 3 is about life management as well–your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.

In our post on Habit #2, “begin with the end in mind”, we walked through a process for creating Individual Sex Life Visions and then combining the individual visions from both spouses into a Marital Sex Life Vision. Habit #3 is about making that vision a reality. The purpose of a vision is to drive your behavior — your Marital Sex Life Vision is the guiding star that leads the decisions in your sex life. When you have a choice to make, you evaluate your options in the light of your vision and move in the direction that brings your vision closer to reality.

Assuming that your vision is in line with God’s will, you will also move closer to him as you pursue your vision. This passage from the Old Testament is an example of how badly things can go when your priorities aren’t right. The Israelites were focused on building their own wealth and neglected rebuilding God’s temple.

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house [God’s temple] remains a ruin?”

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.

Haggai 1:1-15

Even when your vision is lined up with God pursuing it can be easier said than done. For the purpose of this blog post we’re going to assume that you and your spouse were able to create a Marital Sex Life Vision that is in line with God’s Word and also satisfying and agreeable to you both. If that’s not the case, then you’ve got more work to do. This blog post doesn’t talk about how to negotiate your vision. Don’t skip creating your vision together — go back to the previous post if necessary. Creating your Marital Sex Life Vision is fun and rewarding.

But just because you and your spouse agree on your vision doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy to implement. Sometimes it may even seem like circumstances are conspiring against your sex life: kids, jobs, health, church, anxieties of life, friends, hobbies, electronics… the list is never-ending. When you have more things to do than you have time, that’s where prioritization comes in: putting first things first. We’ve written about How to Have Time and Energy for Great Sex, and some concepts from that post will be helpful here as we talk about Habit #3. As we wrote previously:

You can’t have everything, but you can have what you want most if you prioritize it.

Your time and energy are finite resources, and everyone around you will drain them dry if you let them. Your boss will let you work as many hours for free as you want. Your kids will spend two hours eating dinner and stay up until midnight if you let them. Your church will let you serve every day of the week. Your friends will let you help them with every project. People on the internet will argue with you 24/7. Netflix will create more shows than you can possibly consume.

No-one will stop you from exhausting yourself for their benefit — except your spouse, if you’re blessed. The only one who can protect your time and energy is you.

Here’s an exhortation: if you don’t have time and energy for a great sex life with your spouse, that’s because it isn’t as important to you as all the other things you spend your time and energy on.

Is that exhortation convicting to you? It convicted us when we wrote it!

Steven Covey created the Importance-Urgency Matrix to help people understand how they’re prioritizing, and we’ve found it to be an extremely valuable tool.

The 7 (Sex) Habits: #3 Put First Things First 2
Importance-Urgency Matrix

Everything we do falls into one of these four quadrants.

  • Quadrant 1, Necessity: Activities that are both important and urgent. These are emergencies that you need to handle right now. Most people have no problem prioritizing these things.
  • Quadrant 2, Effectiveness: Activities that are important, but not urgent — this generally includes your sex life, unless you’re super-horny right now. It also includes all kinds of long-term personal growth: learning, planning, relationship-building, serving. Quadrant 2 is what usually suffers when we mistakenly focus on…
  • Quadrant 3, Distraction: Activities that are urgent, but not important. It’s all-too-easy to get sucked into these. Distracting tasks are often important to someone else who has made them urgent for you, but they aren’t important to your life. Just because something is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important! Say it out loud. This quadrant is tricky and deceptive. You can fill your entire day with distracting activities if you aren’t extremely diligent.
  • Quadrant 4, Waste: Activities that are neither urgent nor important. Some people can get trapped in these lazy, pointless activities, but most adults recognize this garbage. Checking your email every five minutes. Surfing Facebook. Worrying. Pouting. Substance abuse. It’s important to know that not all relaxation or hobbies are wasteful — the waste happens when these non-productive activities become excessive.

So where’s your sex life in this matrix? Your sex life should be in Quadrant 2 — it’s of critical importance, but hopefully not too urgent! Don’t sacrifice your sex life for junk that belongs in Quadrant 3 or 4.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Song of Songs 1:2-4

Identify the Quadrant 3 stuff in your life and stop doing it. This can be hard to do because many Quadrant 3 activities come from your commitments to other people. You may not be able to quit immediately because you gave your word, but you can immediately begin to unwind your commitments. Be warned: people will try to make you feel guilty — this is a trap! You don’t need to feel guilty for quitting unimportant activities.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

Proverbs 5:18-19

As for Quadrant 4 activities, you and your spouse will need to use discernment to determine if they’re excessive or not. Are Q4 activities preventing you from achieving your Marital Sex Life Vision? Facebook and television seem to be especially pernicious. You need to be ruthless in cutting back or eliminating Q4 activities until you have plenty of time and energy for Q2, including your sex life. Try finding some relaxing hobbies that you and your spouse can do together!

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 6:9-11

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

Putting first things first in your sex life means that you say no to activities that aren’t important, and you say yes to activities that move you towards your Marital Sex Life Vision. Your vision should include elements like frequency of sex, how you will communicate, how often you’ll try something new, how you’ll feel before and after sex — all of these things take time and energy to pursue! Throw away the Q3 and Q4 activities that are weighing you down and preventing you from running the race with your spouse.

What are the things you plan to put first in your life so that you can make your Marital Sex Life Vision a reality? Share in the comments!

The 7 (Sex) Habits: #2 Begin With the End in Mind 3

Today we’re going to take a look at the second habit in our series, The 7 (Sex) Habits of Highly Successful People.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind is based on imagination — the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.

What do you want your sex life with your spouse to be like? Forget about fear, rejection, apathy, disappointment, busyness, and any other obstacles… if your sex life with your spouse were unbelievably amazing what would it look like? Be honest with yourself!

Maybe it’s difficult or painful to envision your “perfect sex life” because it seems so far from reality. We get emails from people all the time who are frustrated and disappointed with the sex in their marriage and are looking for help.

Or maybe your sex life is pretty good… but could it be even better? Do you have some unmet desire that you haven’t mustered the courage to share with your spouse yet? Or maybe you know that your spouse has given up on achieving her deepest desires because you’ve been holding back.

If either of these paragraphs describes your marital sex life, then this habit is for you! But before you can hit your target, you need to decide what you’re going to aim at.

So how do you pick a target? The rest of this post will describe a method for creating a Marital Sex Life Vision that will represent the target you and your spouse will aim for in your sex life. Here are a few Bible verses that talk about the value of setting goals, and remind us to rely on God’s purposes even while we plan.

But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.

Isaiah 32:8

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Proverbs 21:5

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

2 Corinthians 5:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”

Luke 14:28-30

(If your sex life — or marriage — are in a bad state right now, you might be tempted to think something like “I just wish he’d never touch me again” — if that’s you, then this exercise probably won’t be of much benefit right now. For the purpose of this post we’re going to assume that both spouses want to have an unbelievably amazing sex life together. Otherwise see: “When All Else Fails, Try Tears”.)

Each spouse should begin separately, by writing down the elements of his or her Individual Sex Life Vision. Below is a list of topics your vision might address. Think of these items from the perspective of, “if our sex life were unbelievably amazing….” Don’t worry about being realistic — aim high!

Feel free to use any format you want for your vision — as you know, we like making lists with bullet points! The post “How to Talk About Sex Before You Get Married” has more ideas you can include in your vision. Write as much as you can, and then spend a little time editing it down. You may decide that some elements aren’t important enough to include, or you may realize that you forgot something critical.

Now each spouse has an Individual Sex Life Vision! Great work. Each of you has something concrete to use when you’re talking about your sex life together. These Visions are fantastic personal tools that you can update over time as your desires and expectations change, and as you refine your thinking. They aren’t cast in stone, so feel free to revisit them periodically.

The next step is to share your Individual Sex Life Vision with your spouse. Take turns sharing your thoughts, and be careful not to interrupt or be dismissive. This is an intimate process, and your spouse is showing great vulnerability by sharing his or her vision. There’s no need to react while your spouse is sharing — just listen.

Now get a new piece of paper to begin documenting your Marital Sex Life Vision. After you’ve shared your individual visions, each element will fall into one of three categories.

  • Agreement. Yay! Your visions are aligned. Write these items down in your Marital Sex Life Vision and underline them.
  • Disagreement. It shouldn’t be surprising if your visions aren’t completely aligned, so don’t be discouraged. You didn’t marry a clone of yourself! Write down areas of disagreement by indicating the desires of both spouses in the Marital Sex Life Vision and put a star next to them. These are items to negotiate over later.
  • Unsure. There might be elements in one spouse’s vision that the other spouse just isn’t sure about. Write these down in the Marital Sex Life Vision with a question mark next to them along with initial of the spouse who is unsure. The initialed spouse “owns” this question mark.

Depending on how many stars and question marks you have on your Marital Sex Life Vision, you might want to take a break. You’ve already done a lot of work just getting to this point, so don’t feel compelled to finish this exercise all in one sitting. Each spouse might need to think about the areas of disagreement, and particularly any question marks that belong to him or her.

When you’re ready to continue, the first thing to do is deal with the question marks. Each question mark should be resolved by the spouse who owns it. If the owner now agrees with the vision element created by the other spouse, remove the question mark and underline the element. You’re done — it’s a new area of agreement. If the owner decides that he or she disagrees, then they should write down their vision for that element along with a star — you’ve got another area to negotiate.

Now it’s time for the negotiation, but the good news is that you’ve already done some of the hard work. The steps to a successful negotiation are:

  1. Know what you want. Done!
  2. Say what you want. Done!
  3. Compromise to reach an acceptable agreement.
  4. Be content to receive what you agreed to accept.

You did the first two steps when you wrote your Individual Sex Life Visions, so it’s time for step three. For each element of disagreement, you’re going to have to talk about your vision:

  • Are there any parts that are not essential?
  • What are you willing to give to get what you want? This can mean compromising on one vision element to gain more on another.
  • How can you bless your spouse by giving him or her something they want?

Remember: the point of negotiation isn’t to convince the other person that your desire is better! You don’t need to change your spouse’s mind in order to reach an acceptable agreement. In fact, negotiations often break down because both parties get so focused on changing the other’s mind that they get angry and frustrated.

For example, let’s say that Spouse A wants to have sex every day, and Spouse B wants to have sex once a week. It would be easy to argue about who is “right” and which is “better” for the marriage, but it’s unlikely that either spouse will genuinely be convinced. So just skip all that. Recognize that each spouse wants what they want, the desires are legitimate, and you don’t have to want the same thing. You’re trying to reach an acceptable agreement! If “about three times a week” is acceptable to both spouses, then they can agree to that without either spouse changing their individual vision.

Negotiation is tough, and sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to give up everything you want in order to avoid conflict. Similarly, it can be tempting to push your spouse to give up her vision in favor of your own. Being loving doesn’t mean being a push-over, and it doesn’t mean “winning” at the expense of your spouse. Give a little, get a little, and show Christlike love.

It may surprise you to learn that there are several passages in the Bible that talk about negotiation, and particularly the importance of honesty and fairness in the process.

Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

Proverbs 16:11

Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

Genesis 29:15

Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

2 Samuel 24:18-25

Hopefully you’re able to reach agreements that are acceptable to both of you on all your starred items. (If not, come back to them in a day or two and negotiate some more.) Write your agreements down on the Marital Sex Life Vision and erase the starred individual elements that led to the negotiation. These agreements are now part of your Marital Sex Life Vision, and it’s time for perhaps the hardest part of negotiation:

Be content to receive what you agreed to accept. The Marital Sex Life Vision isn’t permanent, but we suggest that you try living with it for a while before reopening any negotiations (at least six months). Update your Individual Sex Life Vision as often as you like, but do your honest best to live up to and accept the agreements that you made in your Marital Sex Life Vision. If you’re having trouble being content, recognize that the shared vision is probably very close to the best possible arrangement you can make with your spouse (as long as you were both acting in good-faith throughout the process).

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

Proverbs 25:14

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:37

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

Amos 3:3

You didn’t get exactly what you wanted, and neither did your idiot, short-sighted, unimaginative, selfish, lazy spouse. I’m kidding of course! You’ll never convince your spouse to want exactly what you want, nor vice versa. Now that the two of you have negotiated acceptable agreements and created a Marital Sex Life Vision, it’s time to move forward and make this vision a reality — which will be the topic of the next post in this series: Put First Things First.

Do you and your spouse have a shared vision for your sex life? Do you know the target you’re aiming at? Leave a comment and let us know.

The 7 (Sex) Habits: #1 Be Proactive 4

(Here’s a link to the series introduction — a good place to start!)

Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.

And you can’t keep blaming your spouse, either!

Stephen Covey describes three Circles that can be used to understand and evaluate our circumstances:

  • Circle of Concern: Everything you care about, everything that impacts your life.
  • Circle of Influence: The subset of your Circle of Concern that you can affect with your decisions.
  • Circle of Control: The subset of your Circle of Influence that you can directly control.

Here’s a diagram, for you visual thinkers.

The 7 (Sex) Habits: #1 Be Proactive 5

When we’re reactive, we spend all our time and energy worrying about things we can’t control or even influence. When we’re proactive, we spend our time and influence on the inner circles, the things we can control (in our own life and body) and the things we can influence in our immediate community and family.

As an exercise with your spouse, it can be helpful to categorize your concerns using these circles. First, list everything you care about. Second, underline the concerns that you can influence. Third, put a star next to the things you can control. (Once you have your list, you can draw the three circles if you want!) Discussion questions: Do your lists match? What items are you spending the most time and energy on?

Here’s what Jesus says about our Circle of Concern:

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

God is all-powerful, so nothing is out of his control! As believers, we can trust God with our Circle of Concern and have his peace, relying on his power and goodness to handle everything that concerns us.

God’s power isn’t just for our Circle of Concern, but for everything in our lives. Proverbs 3 is full of advice, guidance, and commands for making good decisions — it’s hard to pull out a few verses to quote, but these are some of my favorites:

Proverbs 3:3-6

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Action words for the proactive Christian: bind, write, trust, lean, acknowledge — along with promises of what God is proactively doing for you. God is active — he is always at work around us — and since we’re made in his image he expects us to be active also.

Here’s another passage from Proverbs about being proactive.

Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

The ant doesn’t need anyone to tell her what to do, and she doesn’t sit around waiting, pouting, or complaining about the seasons. The ant works within her Circle of Influence to gather what she needs when the circumstances are favorable.

It would be easy to go on and on — God’s commands in the Bible are always proactive. Even when you’re in a season of waiting, you are commanded to be in prayer, service, and study.

So then, what does it mean to be proactive in our sex life with our spouse? Here are some examples that might resonate with you.

Reactive thinking says:

  • I don’t know if I want to have sex, let’s see how I feel at the end of our date
  • It’s not my fault, I can’t help how I feel
  • Our sex life is disappointing because of our jobs/kids/health
  • Why doesn’t he know what I want?
  • Why doesn’t she initiate sex?
  • After my day at work / with the kids, I just can’t do it
  • If he would ABC, then maybe I would XYZ

Proactive thinking says:

You can’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you act in response. You can take responsibility for yourself. You can’t control your spouse, but by being proactive you can influence your spouse through service and communication. As you focus on what you can control and influence, your Circle of Influence will grow!

The 7 (Sex) Habits: #1 Be Proactive 6

Being Proactive is a big idea, so maybe you’d like an actionable tip for where to start. Take a look at this post about The Five Love Languages and Sex and find your spouse’s primary love language, then do something for them that speaks to it. Afterwards, remind your spouse of your primary love language and point them at that post and this one. Rinse (if necessary) and repeat!

If this habit has made an impact in your life and marriage, leave a comment to tell us about it.

The 7 (Sex) Habits: Series Introduction 7

This post is an introduction to a new series based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen R. Covey. The ideas in “7 Habits” have been applied in many different contexts, and I think there are lessons that can be applied in our sex lives with our spouses. As always, our thoughts will be guided by Biblical truth, and I think you’ll see that the 7 Habits work very well in the context of a Christian marriage.

As I write the posts, I’ll add links to this list of the 7 Habits.

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

If you’ve never been exposed to the 7 Habits before you may be thinking that they’re a bunch of modern pseudo-psychological gobbledygook, but that’s not true. The posts in this series will include specific, concrete behaviors that you and your spouse can use to improve your sex life. We’ve written before about the power of habits to create real and persistent change in your life, and even though the Bible doesn’t use the word “habit” there are many passages that command us to build positive patterns of behavior. Here are a few examples:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Proverbs 3:1-2 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

1 Corinthians 11:1-2 “Be imitators of me [Paul], as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”

Proverbs 4:20-27:

My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

This series will look at each of the 7 Habits and discuss how to apply them in a Biblical manner to improve your sex life with your spouse.

I will conclude this introduction by mentioning a key tenet that is woven throughout the 7 Habits: the abundance mentality. The basic idea is that in most circumstances there is enough of everything for both spouses to get what they need from the marriage. Unless you each want exactly different things, there’s a way for both of you to be satisfied. Habit 4 (“think win-win”) builds directly on this concept, but the mindset is of broad applicability. The abundance mentality stands in contrast to the scarcity mentality — the belief that there isn’t enough for both of us. The abundance mentality isn’t magical thinking, and isn’t about actually having more. The abundance mentality is about acting on the expectation that the resources you have (e.g., time, money, attention, energy) can be used in a way that pleases you both.

The scarcity mindset says:

  • There isn’t enough for everyone, so I’d better get my share now
  • If I don’t get my way now, I never will
  • Only one of us can win this argument (and it’s going to be me)
  • I give her what she wants, but she never gives me what I want
  • How can I get more?

The abundance mindset says:

  • There’s plenty for both of us
  • When she wins, it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost
  • I can give away my time/energy/prestige/power/recognition now because there will be plenty more later
  • We can reach a decision that lets us both win
  • How can I give more?

As Christians, we have more assurance of abundance than anyone else in the world! The abundance of God is obviously not mere worldly possessions, but the fullness of a life built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

John 10:10 “[Jesus said] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Luke 6:37-38 “[Jesus said] Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Matthew 6:33-34 “[Jesus said] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [worldly needs] will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

I challenge you to begin thinking about your marriage and your sex life with an abundance mindset! Your sex life is not a competition over who gets what they want. You both have needs in your marriage, and there is plenty of sex, time, energy, and love to satisfy you both. Pray that God would show you his abundance in your marriage.

How Much Sex Do Other People Have? 8

Other people aren’t having as much sex as you may think.

How Much Sex Do Other People Have? 9

The numbers here are for men and women between 18 and 29, and the “reality” number is self-reported, so take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, you can see that we tend to wildly overestimate how much sex other people are having compared to ourselves.

Historically, married people have had a lot more sex than single people.

To look at the statistics about marriage and sex, you wouldn’t even know that there was an issue to begin with. “Studies have found that married people have more sex than single people, and they also have more varied sex,” says sexual health expert and best-selling author Dr. Laura Berman, who hosts “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN. ”Oral sex is also more common among married people.”

One of the most comprehensive studies on the subject, which was released in 2010 by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, confirmed this, compiling statistics on sexual attitudes and habits of 5,865 people between ages 14 and 94. An average of 61 percent of singles reported that they hadn’t had sex within the past year, compared with 18 percent of married people. Looking specifically at those between the ages of 25 and 59, 25 percent of married people reported that they were still having sex two to three times per week versus less than five percent of singles.

But sadly, some recent studies indicate that single people might actually be having more sex than married people now — primarily because married people are having far less sex than they used to.

Back in the early 1990s, the average American had sex about 60 to 62 times per year, but that number dropped to less than 53 times per year by 2014. Among married couples specifically, the drop was even more dramatic — from about 73 times per year in 1990 to 55 in 2014. This actually brings the sex lives married couples below people who’ve never been married, who have sex about 59 times per year as of 2014.

But forget about everyone else… what about you and your spouse? Sexy Corte and I advocate making a habit of daily sex — yes, every day! Sometimes you miss, but those misses should be the exception, not the rule. Tell us how you and your spouse fare in the comments.

"It's only a season" 10

People say it all the time: “it’s only a season”. Seasons come and go. Some are better than others. Rather than wishing time away, we need to learn how to embrace the season we are in. The light parts and the dark. Maintaining a good habit of having sex with your spouse can help shape your outlook on whatever season of life you are in.

Sometimes I’m well into a season before I realize how things have changed. Right now I think I would title the season “over”. Lately I feel a lot of “over-(blank)”. I am starting my third year of being home with three preschoolers. I love our kids like crazy, but toddlers definitely contribute a lot to the tone of a season. Often at the end of the day I feel over-touched, over-stimulated, and over-tired. However, I also feel that I’m in the best time of my life! Children are a blessing from the Lord, but they can zap your energy right out of you. So how do you keep a fulfilling sex life in the midst of raising kids?

Here are some thoughts. Please leave suggestions for what’s worked for you in the comments!

  1. Time of day. The first thing I do when I find myself in a new season of life is reevaluate the best time of day for sex. Pay attention to your body and notice when you feel that urge — be alert. If you are exhausted by the end of the day, try having sex in the morning. It takes more discipline — you need to go to bed earlier, set an alarm, and actually wake up.
  2. Pray! Do you pray for your sex life? You should! Pray for desire, satisfaction, and regularity, for both you and your spouse.
  3. Take a moment. We are all busy, whether at home or at work. By the time the kids are in bed, I am not ready to be touched for a while. Similarly, if you work at a job where you have to talk a lot or are around people all day, you need a bit of quiet when you get home. I’m amazed at how even just 15 minutes alone can rejuvenate me and prepare me to better spend time with El Fury in the evening. Most of the time, this is just a nice hot shower.
  4. Make sex a habit. If sex is a regular part of your schedule, it’s going to happen! The same way you commit yourself to exercise and brushing your teeth, you should treat sex as a priority. If you’re already in the regular habit of having sex, you’re more likely to maintain a good sex life during the different seasons of life. You are in charge of your own time, and if something is important you should be able to carve out 30 minutes for it.
  5. Be flexible. If you have kids you have constant interruptions. They have lots of demands and very little patience. Even when I wake up early, am alert, and in the mood, there are times that things have to halt because there is a tiny person crying at the (locked) door. It’s frustrating, but it’s part of having these wonderful little people in your life. Keep trying. That evening. The next morning. Just keep trying!
  6. Communicate and ask for help. For me, the hours between 4 and 6 can make or break how I feel. Making dinner and cleaning up is often intense. When EF is able to help — with either clean up or baths, or just taking the kids away so I can prep dinner, it makes a world of difference. For less stress, try some slow-cooker meals. Anything you can to make dinner time less overwhelming will help!

Your spouse deserves your best, not just whatever you have left at the end of the day. Adjust yourself and your sex lives throughout whatever season you’re in. And remember, it’s only a season!

Be Disciplined with Your Kids at Bedtime 11

Staying disciplined with our kids’ bedtimes has been one of the best habits that Sexy Corte and I have cultivated during our marriage. We’ve written two posts about protecting your master bedroom from your children and making it a haven for your sexual relationship, and it’s just as important to protect your time as your space.

When you have young children it’s easy for them to dominate every waking second of your life, but your sex life is going to suffer if you let that happen. Maintaining a consistent bedtime for your kids is important for their mental and physical health, your sanity, and your sex life. If your kids wake up and go to sleep when you do, it’s no surprise you don’t have time and energy for sex.

Children need structure and consistency, and they need a lot of sleep.

Among the children who were in bed by 8 p.m., 10 percent were obese as teens, compared to 16 percent of those who went to bed between 8 and 9 and 23 percent of those who went to bed after 9, according to the study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Although the study does not prove that early bedtimes protect against obesity, Dr. Anderson said, “there is a great deal of evidence linking poor sleep, and particularly short sleep duration, to obesity, and it’s possible the timing of sleep may be important, above and beyond the duration of sleep.”

“This provides more evidence that having an early regular bedtime and bedtime routine for young children is helpful,” she said.

We try to have our younger kids in bed by seven every evening, and the older ones in bed by eight. They’re not always asleep by then, but they’re in bed and quiet. We stick to this schedule about six days a week, and the other day we’re likely to have some church or social event that keeps us out a later. Our kids are like all other kids: they stall, delay, and beg to stay up later, but they know the routine and are generally compliant.

This schedule gives me and Sexy Corte at least two hours together almost every evening. It’s very easy to have a babysitter watch the sleeping children while we go on a date (which we try to do monthly) but most of the time we spend the evening playing board games together — and having sex! Sexy Corte’s best time of day for orgasm has moved around over the years, and now the golden hour is right after we get the kids to bed. As you can imagine, I’m pretty motivated to tuck them in!

As our kids get older I’m sure they’ll stay up later, but we still plan to enforce a quiet time in the evening starting around eight. We’ll see how that goes!

We’re frequently shocked to learn that many of our friends have their kids in activities several nights per week, let them stay up until ten, or even let them sleep in the master bedroom. I don’t see how such parents ever find time for themselves. If you’re in this position and you can’t imagine how to change things around, check out our post about creating the habit of daily sex — it contains a bunch of good tips for creating good habits in your life and marriage.

Do you have any good ideas for protecting your time, space, and energy for sex?

Create the Habit of Daily Sex 12

It can be hard to consistently find time and energy for sex, and yet we know that the best way to have great sex with your spouse is to have more sex. We get a lot of emails from husbands and wives who want more sex, but for all sorts of reasons it just doesn’t happen. It’s easy to blame your spouse, or to “try harder”, but there’s a tool available to you that you may not have considered and is guaranteed to work: creating a habit.

When was the last time you forgot to brush your teeth? Or put on clothes? Or how to drive to work? You’ve been doing these things for years or decades, and you basically never forget. Sometimes you even drive to work on accident when you mean to go somewhere else! These things are all habits, and you do them easily every day without thinking. They enhance your life, keep you healthy, and satisfy your needs. Bad habits are easily acquired, but good habits don’t just happen: someone creates them. Getting dressed and brushing your teeth seem routine, but your parents worked hard to create those habits for you! In the same way, you can intentionally create the good habit of daily sex with your spouse.

First of all, consider: does your marriage have a bad habit of assuming that you won’t have sex? This is pretty common for married couples. The expectation is set that they won’t have sex unless someone initiates it. The baseline assumption is no sex. That’s a bad habit! Fortunately, the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit.

Ok, so how do we build a good habit? Tom Bartow has identified three phases of habit formation that we need to recognize in order to be successful.

Phase 1: THE HONEYMOON

This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy.” As all married people will tell you, at some point even the greatest honeymoon must end. The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.

Phase 2: THE FIGHT THRU

Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:

  1. RECOGNIZE: Recognition is essential for winning the fight thru. When you have entered the fight through, simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next. Conversely, when you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.
  2. ASK 2 QUESTIONS: “How will I feel if I do this?”and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.
  3. LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.

Phase 3: SECOND NATURE

Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:

  1. THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: An individual allows negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”
  2. DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).
  3. SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.”

If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.

Here’s how to put this process into action and create a new habit of daily sex.

The first thing to do is have a conversation and say it. Tell your spouse that you’d like to change your daily default from no-sex to sex, that you want the two of you to set the expectation that you’ll be having sex every day. The key here isn’t that you must have sex every single day, but that the expectation is for daily sex —  if no one says anything, then assume you’re having sex. Does your spouse agree? If not, then you’re not ready to create a habit because you aren’t both on the same page. Continue your conversation and come back to this post later. To be successful, both spouses need to want to create the new habit.

After you’ve agreed on your goal, start doing it! Have sex every day unless someone asks otherwise. Make sex the assumption, and no-sex the exception. This is the beginning of Phase 1. It’ll probably be easy for a while! Remember your first year of marriage, your literal honeymoon? You’ll want to pick a time that’s usually available every day and start doing it.

But Phase 2 is the hardest part. There may be a few days where no one says anything, and you don’t have sex. Your new habit hasn’t solidified yet. You have to recognize that your expectation is reverting to no-sex, and you need to have a conversation about it. Reaffirm your shared goal of daily sex. Don’t make excuses for why you failed, and don’t feel bad about it. Just recognize the need to “fight thru”. Take the time to get in the mood, muster some energy, and make love. Just Do It. Winning “fight thru” episodes is the key creating a new habit — it will take several wins over the course two or three months to set your new habit in stone.

And finally, don’t become complacent when you hit Phase 3. Periodically remind yourselves about your goal of daily sex, and verify that your new expectation is solidly in place: do you always have sex unless someone initiates a “no”?

Once your habit is in place, you should never have no-sex unless someone intentionally initiates it. The end result won’t be sex every single day of the year — sometimes you get sick, kids drive you crazy, work and chores overwhelm you, and emergencies happen. That’s life! But the expectation every day is that you’ll be having sex together.

What do you think about the daily habit of sex? Is your daily expectation yes, or no?