Authors Kathi Lipp and Erin MacPherson encourage moms to overcome the daily challenges of parenting to make sexual intimacy with their husband a higher priority. (Part 2 of 2)
Kathi Lipp: And so, what we're asking wives to do and men in different ways, is to be more intentional, to get intimacy on the list. Because for a lot of women, it's not even making the list.
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John Fuller: That's Kathi Lipp and she's remind us that even in the midst of a busy season of parenting, you can be intentional to build a healthy, vibrant marriage. This is "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller Kathi Lipp is back and we also have Erin MacPherson with us again, as well. Let me just say that if you've got younger children in earshot, you might want to occupy them elsewhere as we talk rather candidly with some humor though, about the subject of intimacy in marriage. Our guests have written a book called Hot Mama and you can get that and a download or a CD of the conversation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim Daly: Well, and John, the subtitle's important. It's 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, which is so critical today and we started here last time, talking about the importance of talking about this subject. Unfortunately, in the Christian community, we have given this over and we are silent for the most part.
John: Yeah, we don't hear many sermons about this.
Jim: No, we don't talk about it and it crushes intimacy in marriage relationship and then they just kind of wobble along until they call or write us here at Focus, which we encourage you to do if you're struggling. But we want to talk to the couple who is just not as healthy as it could be and to give you some help through our two guests, Kathi Lipp and Erin MacPherson, as they have talked to hundreds of women, particularly about what they're facing in their marriages and in that intimacy space. So, please don't turn the dial. Let's talk about it. Let's hear their hearts and see how they have dealt with these issues in their own marriages and let me say with that, welcome back to "Focus."
Kathi: Thanks again.
Erin: Yes, thank you. This is gonna be fun.
Jim: It's a difficult topic—
Kathi: It is.
Jim: --to talk about, but you guys have done that in such a humorous way as John alluded to it. Let me ask you the hot mama way, what you're talking about (Laughter). I mean, it makes me uncomfortable even saying it (Laughter), but it is, it's a good construct, how to guard your marriage, 'cause in some ways, this is guarding your relationship with your husband. Describe for us what it means to be a hot mama and what that lifestyle looks like?
Kathi: Are you ever gonna be able to say "hot mama" without laughing?
Jim: I know, I'm sorry (Laughter), but you've—
Kathi: Yeah, no that's—
Jim: --seen my face smiling—
Kathi: --yeah. (Laughter)
Jim: --each time. You can see it's uncomfortable.
Kathi: Absolutely and you know what? Can I tell you the most uncomfortable thing for me? I'm on the teaching team at my church, at Church on the Hill in San Jose, California. And I'm there with the five pastors, all men (Laughter) and when the junior high pastor says, "I just bought your book" and I said, "Oh, which one?" And he said, "Hot Mama." And it never occurred to me people I know in real life (Laughter) will read this book.
John: Will read; oh yes.
Kathi: Yes and that should've been a little bit more obvious to me, but he was so excited and they're excited to share this at our church, because it is a question the pastors get all the time—maybe not the junior high pastor, but he said, "You know, we want this to be a great part of our marriage. We want every part of our marriage to be great.
And the reason that it's called Hot Mama is because we were talking to moms who were kind of setting this aside while their kids were young, 'cause they were tired. They were overwhelmed. They were exhausted, but we also knew that they really longed to have this physical intimacy, as well as spiritual intimacy and emotional intimacy. And we're saying, you can have kids and have a great intimate life with your husband at the same [time]. It really is possible.
Jim: Okay, Kathi, but a mom who has little ones—
Jim: --all around her all day just heard you say that and she went, "Check—
Kathi: Ha, ha, ha, ha.
Jim: --check, check. It's all accurate. I'm tired; I don't—
Jim: --have the emotional desire, the energy when—
Jim: --my husband comes home and after we eat dinner and he has those eyes—
Jim: --that he puts his hand on my shoulder and I'm going, 'Ugh!'"
Jim: "I really am not there."
Kathi: So, here's what I see, is that there are two different priority lists for men and women oftentimes and again, we're talking about the 80-20 rule, that this applies to 80 percent of who we're talking to. But for men, this is on their mind all day. And so, when they come home, you know, this is the [in] the forefront of their mind. And their wives are looking at him like, are you kidding me? Do you know what kind of day I've had?
Kathi: And so, what we're asking wives to do and men in different ways, is to be more intentional, to get intimacy on the list, because for a lot of women, it's not even making the list.
Kathi: That's really what's going on. And we understand. If your husband's approaching you at the end of a long crazy day and this has not been on your mind at all during the day, of course, you're gonna be like, (Laughing) "Back off, buddy."
But here's what I want to say, is if we can be intentional and do things like, swapping babysitting with a friend or saying, "We're going to have a date night on Tuesday." We've moved close to the grandparents. Let's let them be grandparents, so that we can be intentional about this, that we can be intentional about swapping even a weekend with a friend. You take our kids for a sleepover. You know, we're gonna have friend camp this weekend, so that if you don't have money, you can still be at home with your husband. To be intentional about putting this on the list, that's what we're asking.
Erin: You know, one of my favorite stories from this book is my friend, who told me that she and her husband had talked about how when he gets home from work, she is exhausted and she has toddlers hanging on her. And she said, by the time they finish with bedtime, she's just so frazzled, all she wants to do is veg out on the couch.
And so, her husband said, "Here's the deal. I'm going to on certain nights, I'm gonna say, 'Hey, Hon, I'm gonna take bedtime tonight.' And that is not your cue to go do the dishes and to go, you know, finish some chores. It is your cue to go sit on the couch, to make yourself a cup of tea or to get in the bath and to spend 45 minutes relaxing and thinking about yourself."
And she said, every single time he does it, but the time he comes downstairs, she is ready to be intimate with him and I thought, this is so brilliant. How come I did not think of it?
Jim: So, he takes care of those things in the evening, so that she can relax and begin to focus on him.
Erin: He does, but I think a lot of women at that point would start folding laundry and he said, "My rule is, is I take care of it; you go take care of yourself."
Jim: Well, it's true, because there's always so much to do and even if he takes some of that load, I think it's natural for a woman. What about that woman who has done that; that's been the modus operandi?. You know, he's doing some of that in hopes that they can be intimate that night, but she just fills it with other stuff.
Erin: Well, and I think that's where we're talking about being intentional. We're saying don't fill it with other stuff. Choose to say, this is really important. This is a priority. This is more important than the laundry.
Jim: So, it's willpower.
John: And Erin, along those lines, when you have young kids, I'm just thinking, 'cause you do have young children in the home, I go back to that season for us and we're runnin' two separate tracks. It's really hard to connect. How do you make time for that?
Erin: And I think it's exactly what you just said; you make time for it and it is hard. I think we could go two months and never have time to really see each other, other than in passing conversation, if we didn't find a way to make time. And it's very easy to get on those two tracks and just run. And you have to say, "I gotta look over and I gotta move over."
John: So, do you have regular date nights? I mean, Jim's point was really, I think important. You gotta have conversations about this part of the relationship.
Erin: I know.We do have regular date nights, but you're exactly right. Talking about it is really hard. It's hard to bring it up and say, "Hey, let's talk about intimacy right now." (Laughter)
Jim: Oh, right, I know what you are thinkin'.
Jim: I mean, that's kinda how it goes.
Kathi: But I have to push back, because when a guy wants to set up, hey, how can we have more intimacy in our life, you know, we almost put him off like, you dog, that kind of thing. But if a woman says, "I want to have more emotional intimacy in our marriage" and that's a high need for me, we're like, well, that's right and natural and we should be talking about that. But for some reason, sex, he's a dog. I think that we have to change our thinking about this, that we both have needs in the marriage and let's talk about getting all of that met, so that everybody feels honored.
Jim: And that's a great perspective. It's healthy, because so often, here at Focus in the counseling department and after a program like this, we'll get calls and counseling will alert us that, you know, people have felt that we focused too much on making women feel pressured, that they've got to change in order to accommodate the—
Jim: --appetite of their husband. What you're saying is so accurate. Both of you have needs.
Jim: And you've gotta recognize that and you've got to work with that in order to be healthy in your marriage.
Kathi: Well, and when I feel that my needs are getting met, I am so much more open to meeting my husband's needs and vice versa.
Jim: Yeah and I don't want it to go unknown that when they do social science research, one of the happiest groups of people in this area of life are the Christian community.
Jim: And we—
Kathi: The research backs it up.
Jim: --we need to celebrate that—
Jim: --that fact, that we have typically the most satisfying sexual relationship in couples in the culture.
Kathi: Go, Christians.
Jim: That's a good thing.
Jim: So, I think it's because we both do as husband and wife, want to understand and meet the needs of the other, perhaps more than the selfishness that might exist in other non-God-centered marriages. I mean, that's a big statement, but I think that's what's occurring there.
Let me set up this next thought with a story, 'cause this for me was really funny. I think it was our one-year anniversary. We had been married one year, Jean and I. We went to her mom and dad's for Christmas and (Laughing) her mom gave her a pair of flannel pajamas and I made the mistake of commenting—
Kathi: Oh, no.
Jim: --in front of her entire family. Now there's probably 30 people gathered around the Christmas tree at Jean's mom and dad's. And I said, "Oh, Pat, that's a wonderful gift for newlyweds. Thank you so much." (Laughter)
John: A little—
John: --sarcasm there?
Jim: --I mean, this was a family that it was news, weather and sports.
Jim: And so—
Jim: --I just kind of blurted that out to be funny and her mom, I mean, I was in trouble. But talk about the grandma underwear (Laughter) again, the grandma flannel pajamas and how, especially for (Laughing) young couples, that's not normally the most exciting thing to wear.
Kathi: Well, and I also think for older couples, I mean, Roger and I are in our 40s and 50s and there are times to be comfortable and you know, we still have a child at home. We're gonna be covered. But also I think what happens is, we get very relaxed, very, very relaxed. And maybe the elastic has blown out on (Laughter) some of the underwear. Maybe you know, you washed it with your son's red T-shirt. And we stop taking an interest in the other per[son] and I'm talking the guys here, too. This is not just women. Roger has, I call it his lace shirt. And what it is, is—
Kathi: --a lace—
Kathi: --shirt, because it has so many holes in it—
John: Oh, okay. (Laughter) It's like a doily.
Kathi: Yes and I said, you know, just so you know, that's a mood killer right there. (Laughter) It really is.
Jim: And it says Green Bay Packers on it or somethin'.
Kathi: Well, it's got Tigger on it, okay. (Laughter) So, he's—
John: So, it's not cute anymore.
Kathi: --he's a Disney guy It's beyond being cute. You know, you have one little thing, okay, that's adorable. But no, we're past that. It's amazing that as soon as I said that was a mood killer, that shirt never came out again. So, I think that we all have to say, you know, we have to step it up just a little bit.
And Erin and I have given each other permission and ourselves permission. We don't want to wear anything that we wouldn't want to be caught dead a friend seeing us in. You know, we don't want the ratty old underwear or, you know, when I talk to women and we talk about, can we just talk about bras for a second? I mean, are we going to kill people if we talk about bras?
But some women are wearing their nursing bras and their youngest is 12. That's not okay. And so, when we're showing up for our marriages and we're saying, you know what? You are so important to me, you're so special to me, I think that says a lot about the respect we have for our spouse.
Jim: Go ahead, John. You do the follow up question.
John: Well, I was just (Laughter) gonna observe, Jim, that it's really quiet on this end of the table. (Laughter)
Jim: Oh, it's part of it. I mean, it's funny, but—
Jim: -- this is good to talk about.
John: And if you need to talk with somebody about it, if you can't do as Erin said last program, if you can't have a text conversation with some trusted friends or you're not sure how to have that first discussion with your husband, call us here at Focus on the Family and we've got caring Christian counselors. We can help you take some first steps in that realm. We'll certain tell you about the book, Hot Mama: 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, written by Kathi and Erin. And we can also let you know how to get a download of this program or our app, so you can listen to it again and on the go. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY or we're at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: Hey, in the book you talk about these 10 conversations that every couple should have about sex. Let's highlight a couple of those and we'll post the list if we can at the website, so couples can use that as a guideline. You talk about likes and dislikes, confidence, history, limits, romance, rejection, fantasy, frequency, foreplay and planning. Pick the ones that you hear from mostly the married couples that are needing some help.
Kathi: Well, why don't we just dive right in and let's just go to foreplay, okay. So, we'll start there. I think that one of the things that's really important is to have the conversation about what does that look like for you? And for every couple, there is a wide, wide range of what works and what doesn't work.
Jim: And that is actually scriptural.
Jim: I mean, what's for the marriage bed is good.
Kathi: Yes, absolutely. I think that it's really important to have the conversation and when we say, have the conversation, it's when intimacy is not imminent. And so, you—
Kathi: --you're not feeling judged. We're gonna have a great open conversation, maybe over dinner when the kids are in the other room or something like that.
Jim: Well, and the other key thing you're saying is, have some agreement on what that looks like for you and that—
Jim: --you both feel comfortable with what each of you are expressing and have a discussion.
Kathi: Right, because in our culture, this is just an awkward conversation for a lot of people. But we have to remember that this is the person you're designed to be the safest with. And so, let's talk about this. And for a lot of couples, it's massage. That's really, really important to them. For a lot of people, it is touching in very specific ways and so, that's good to understand, because I know a lot of women will kind of not tell their husbands, "When you do that, it annoys the--
Jim: Daylights out of me.
Kathi: --daylights out of me." I cannot stand when you do that. But they don't want to hurt their husband's feelings. And my guess is, a husband would want to know. You know, in a very gentle, not while you guys are in bed together, but when you're at a kitchen table discussing this in a removed [setting].
Jim: And let me say this again. I believe some people who are hearing this are going, I can't believe we're talkin' about this, but part of it is, because couples are not talking about it. That's why we're trying to have the discussion, to inform married couples how to talk about this area of their lives.
Kathi: And we want you to enjoy every pleasure that marriage has for you. And so, when girlfriends can talk about it and say, you know, I want to encourage each other. We want to love on each other. It's easier for us to talk to our husbands about it.
John: But what about a couple that says, "Well, we talked about that once--
John: --10 years ago."
Kathi: It's an ongoing conversation. It has to be, because one thing is that as we age, what we enjoy changes. And so, we need to be honest about that conversation and also, maybe our needs are going to change or we're going through a rough time right now and I need more holding and loving than I did three years ago. We need to have these conversations on an ongoing basis.
Jim: Erin, let me ask you which on that list stands out for you, since of course, Kathi took the most difficult one there.
Erin: Thank you, Kathi. (Laughter) My husband and I had all these conversations and the one that struck me the most was the one about rejection, because for so long, I had told him, I had assumed that if I said, "Oh, I'm really tired tonight; I'm really busy; I'm feeling frazzled," he just was like, "Okay, she's not into it tonight."
But he was hearing, "She's not into me." And learning how our spouses hear our words and how they take rejection and then learning how we can help them, we don't have to say yes every time our spouse wants to be intimate. But we do have to affirm them and show them that we do want to have that intimacy with them. So, learning from my husband how I can say, "Hey, not tonight" without making him feel rejected was really important.
Jim: Well, and I would think there's this vicious cycle that can occur, where he feels the rejection, then he gets moody and upset that she's not willing or interested in him or what he needs. And then he pulls back and withdraws and then you've got some more difficult marital issues.
Erin: Right, well, and then he doesn't initiate intimacy the next day, because he's afraid I'm gonna say no again and maybe the next day would be a time that we could. And so, just learning how to have these conversations, how to say yes, how to say no and how to affirm each other in a way that helps our marriage be stronger was really important.
Jim: Well, and I would only add and this isn't true in every case—hopefully, it's a minimal number of marriages that would experience this—but that creates an opportunity for the enemy and for our flesh to begin to work. And so, it's not a guilt thing, but when this isn't healthy, that's where a spouse begins to stray, either the husband or the wife. And we need to be mindful of building that gate to protect your household, to protect your marriage by making sure emotionally, spiritually, physically you're healthy.
Kathi: You know, I had a friend whose husband loved travel and he said, "I'm happy if there's always a ticket on our bulletin board. So, I may not be on vacation right now, but I know when vacation's happening." And my husband said, "That's how I feel about our love life." He goes, "I may not, you know, it may not be happening today, but if I know that it's gonna be happening," he goes, "that's enough for me."
And so, the times when I said, "You know, I'm just too tired tonight" or "It has been such a long stressful day," but I can say, "You know what? What about tomorrow after dinner? We don't have any kids home. I will not be exhausted. Can we do that?" And that makes my husband so infinitely happy. He says, "I skip to work. I come home. I do the dishes. I'm so happy," 'cause he knows that it's waiting for him and that makes all the difference in the world.
Erin: Which is so funny, because Kathi and I have talked about this a lot. If I did that, my husband, he wouldn't go for it. Like the spontaneity is really important to him.
Erin: So, we've talked to so many people and in some marriages, the planning and the scheduling and saying, "Friday night is our night" is important. And in other marriages, it's like, definitely do not say "Friday night is your night," because that's not gonna happen on Friday night.
Jim: Well, how do you see yourself in that regard though? Did you have to move from the planning being more of your makeup to be more spontaneous? Or was that fairly natural?
Erin: I think it was pretty natural for me, too. Like I would—
Jim: So, it was a little—
Erin: --not have a plan--
Erin: --either, but that's another conversation we talked about. You know, is this planning important? And even if you wanted to be spontaneous, you're still planning, because you can plan to do something kind for your husband. You can write him a note. You can shave your legs, all these (Laughter) things that you can do, so there's always planning in some way.
Jim: Well, again, we've got these, thanks to you, these 10 conversations that every couple should have regarding their sex life and if you want to look at the other recommendations, go to the website; we'll post those there for people to take a look at.
Let's touch on that 20 percent for a minute. We've referred to it quite often, saying 80 percent of men typically act this way; 80 percent of women typically at that way. Talk about when that seems reversed, when in the marriage, it seems that the wife is the one that has more desire than the husband. How does she talk to her husband about her need for intimacy? How do they reconcile that?
Kathi: Well, I get this question a lot when we're at conferences and it's usually one person standing by themselves and waiting till everybody else has left.
Jim: Right, they don't feel like they fit in the discussion.
Kathi: Right and there's a certain amount of shame in that, as well. And so, a couple of the questions I ask are, you know, has your husband's desire gone down? Because that could indicate a physical, emotion or a mental situation that needs to be dealt with professionally. But if that is just how you' re wired, I think that this is the same as if a wife is not feeling as engaged as her husband in this area. You have to have the conversation. This is not a subject to cover over and remember, there is a wide range of normal. Nobody needs to be blamed.
This is a situation. I think that God uses our sexuality in such an amazing way to help us really love and support each other and say, you know, we're gonna meet somewhere in the middle. I don't know where that middle is, but you and I get to figure this out. And so, it doesn't matter what my best friend's life looks like in this area or your coworker or whatever. We're gonna create our own version of intimacy and it's gonna be good and we need to work on that together.
Jim: And again, I so appreciate that input from both of you. This has been very helpful, last time, this time and for those that feel a critical sense of this, know that many couples are gonna be helped because of this discussion. I know it. We'll see it in the mail bag and the e-mails. We'll hear it in our counseling department. You might even be that couple that needs that help. Can I encourage you to call us? We have caring Christian counselors who can talk with you about these very important issues in your marriage. Don't let it get to the point where it's catastrophic, where your spouse has had an affair or there's other ruptures in your relationship that seemingly feel like they're so far beyond your ability to get it back. Do the tune-up work. Talk about these things and I'm sorry if we've offended you, but please know that, that was not our goal. Our goal was really to help couples do better in this area that we neglect far too often. Thanks to both of you for bein' with us.
Kathi: Oh, thanks so much for having us.
Erin: Yes, thank you.
John: Well, we have been pretty open about this matter of intimacy in marriage and it is a matter that we want to help you with and if we can do that by sending a copy of Kathi and Erin's book, that's be a good starting point. Certainly listening to this again, maybe with your spouse would be a good idea. Get the CD or a download at our website. And then that list of 10 conversations that every couple should have, that was mentioned and we'll have that and all these resources at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .
And as Jim was mentioning, we have caring Christian counselors on staff and they can talk through with you issues that might be making intimacy in your marriage just feel like it's impossible. We have so many struggling marriages that get helped by our counseling team. And it'd be a privilege to talk with you. We're a phone call away and after they have an initial consultation with you, they'll help you find somebody in your area if you need some ongoing discussions. Our number to talk to a counselor or order resources is 800-A-FAMILY.
You can also use the website and that phone number to donate to Focus on the Family. As we reach out and strengthen marriages and save marriages, we need your help. And here's just one illustration of how together we can make a difference. We heard from a man who said, "It's been close to a year since my call to Focus on the Family and my discussion with your staff counselor. I had been unfaithful to my wife and the sin had been eating at me. I ended the affair and confessed my guilt to God, but hadn't told anyone, including my wife. Through prayer I felt that a first step of obedience was confiding in someone and I called your ministry. That day changed everything. Your counselor was caring and compassionate, but just as important, she was straightforward about what had to come next. I needed someone to be firm with me and speak the truth and you gave me that. My wife and I faced this together and God has performed a miracle in our marriage. It's better now than ever before and it all started with that call to your counselor. I pray you'll touch many other lives the way you've touched mine."
All I can say is wow. What an honor to see Focus on the Family used to help restore a marriage and we can only do that because of your valued partnership. As you pray with us, as you tell others about the ministry and as you support us with your financial gifts, you're making a big, big difference and I'll say thanks on behalf of Jim and the entire team for your gift of 25, 50 or maybe even $500 today. And when you make a gift today of any amount, we'll send a copy of the book, Hot Mama as our way of saying thanks for joining our support team. Donate and find resources at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call, especially if you need a counselor. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time. You'll hear one woman's powerful journey of walking through forgiveness.
Leslie Leyland Fields: I was waiting in a place that felt like death to me. I could not imagine a future. I could not imagine hope and so, I had to go far away, but that ... but that's running and I'm running from what God is really asking me to do, which was to forgive my father.
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John: Now that story is tomorrow, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Kathi LippView Bio
Kathi Lipp is a popular public speaker and the author of 16 books including Clutter Free, Hot Mama: 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project and The Cure for the Perfect Life. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and host of the podcast Clutter Free Academy. Kathi and her husband, Roger, are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, Calif. Learn more about Kathi by visiting her website, www.kathilipp.com.
Erin MacPhersonView Bio
Erin MacPherson is an author whose books include Hot Mama: 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, The Christian Mama's Guide series and Free to Parent. She has been a featured columnist for numerous websites and publications, including MOPS International and MomSense Magazine. Erin and her husband, Cameron, reside in Austin, Texas, with their three children. Learn more about Erin by visiting her blog.