About the Guest
We all enter marriage with great expectations, especially about sex. Author Brian Goins and his wife, Jen, reflect on what their "sexpectations" were before and after getting married. Together they remind listeners of God's expecations for sex: procreation, pleasure, and proclamation of the gospel, and dive into the Song of Solomon to find out what a woman needs to feel cherished. Recorded live on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise.
Playing Hurt: A Guy's Strategy for a Winning Marriage because he figured other guys might like his sports analogies. Jen has a passion to help parents reclaim the family dinner table. They enjoy their kids, hiking mountains in Montana, and cheering their beloved Tarheels.
We all enter marriage with great expectations, especially about sex. Author Brian Goins and his wife, Jen, reflect on what their “sexpectations” were before and after getting married.
Bob: This is going to sound crazy to a lot of people in our culture today, but intimacy was created by God; and, by His design, it’s intended only for husbands and wives to enjoy in a marriage relationship. Here’s Brian Goins.
Brian: Think about any game that you play—if you play basketball / if you play board games—what’s the first thing that you do? You look at the rules; right? I mean, even Candy Land® has four pages of rules! I mean—Candy Land!
In the same way, when God invented sex—this unbelievable invention—He had one rule and one rule only: “Keep it in marriage.” When you keep it in marriage, you have a shot at real pleasure.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. One of the keys to enjoying intimacy in marriage is understanding what God had in mind for intimacy in the first place.
We’ll explore that and other thoughts about marital intimacy today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We’re going to have an opportunity to get some schooling today.
Dennis: You’re being very diplomatic about a very delicate subject that we’re going to talk about, here on FamilyLife Today. We’re going to talk about intimacy. And one of the breakout sessions that we had on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise, back last Valentine’s, with Brian and Jen Goins.
Bob: I was not in this session when it happened.
Dennis: I snuck in!
Bob: Did you really?
Dennis: I did! And, at one point, Brian said, “Now, Dennis is not in here; is he?”
Bob: Was he a little worried? [Laughter] He might be pushing the envelope a little bit?
Dennis: Oh, yes!
Bob: All I know is—I walked by and the windows were steaming. [Laughter] So it was-- something was happening in there. [Laughter]
This was one of the breakout sessions that we had back in February on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. I did want to let our listeners know that a couple things are happening. First of all, we’re getting near sold out for next year’s cruise. I think we’re between 75-80 percent this week. I think it’s next week that the rates go up on the cabins. So we wanted to let listeners know that: “If you want to join us, now is the time to get in touch. Don’t wait until August and call and say, ‘Do you still have space?’ because we probably won’t at that point.”
Dennis: Paul David Tripp joins us on the cruise, as well as—buckle your seatbelts—Michael, Jr. [Laughter] If you have not been in a performance with this guy, he has them lined up almost an hour in advance of where he performs his comic routine. [Laughter]
Bob: Jeremy Camp is going to be with us; Kevin DeYoung; H.B. Charles—got a great lineup for the cruise.
Again, you can find out more about it when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
Dennis: Bob, you left out someone.
Bob: Who did I leave out?
Dennis: Barbara—and me! [Laughter]
Bob: That’s true! You’ll be on it / I’ll be on it. In fact, it’s been on our calendar for a year. We’re looking forward to being on the cruise. Part of the reason we’re looking forward to it is because we always benefit from the messages we hear when we are onboard—messages like the message you’re going to hear today from Brian and Jen Goins.
Dennis: Brian speaks at our Weekend to Remember ® marriage getaways, along with his wife Jen. They’ve done that for over a decade. He recently joined the FamilyLife team here, full-time, and is the Senior Creative Director, here at FamilyLife. He’s the author of Playing Hurt: A Guy’s Strategy for a Winning Marriage. I just have to say—you’re going to end up with a better perspective of the area of intimacy in marriage.
You’re going to rightly calibrate expectations or, maybe better said, have a better calibration of your expectations, going forward. You’re going to enjoy today’s broadcast.
Brian: We have this experience in life—especially in marriage—where you experience this difference between reality and expectation. [Laughter] Now, the closer you get expectations to reality, the less what you have?
Brian: Yes, the less frustration that you have. Now, the farther that you get expectations from reality, what?
Audience: The more!
Jen: The more frustration!
Brian: You’re catching on; exactly. So a sexpectation often means that we’re having an expectation that’s not coming anywhere close to reality. When you feel like you have all expectations and no reality, it’s a frustrating place to be; isn’t it?
We live in a culture today where I know that we have far more expectations about sex than we do conversations about sex. So today, what Jen and I are going to do is—we’re going to talk about what happens when you feel this frustration / you feel this disappointment between your sexpectations and your reality.
That’s where we’re headed today. We want to have a real conversation.
When I came of age, I began to be remotely interested in sex. My expectations were not being set by my parents or by the church. In fact, I remember my dad was giving me the talk, and I wanted to bolt out of the room; but he was a smart guy! We were going down the road at about 70 miles per hour so I could not get out of the door. So most of my sexpectations were set by friends, by music, and by movies.
I remember—I distinctly remember—where I was when I got my first sexpectation. I was in a theater. [Laughter] I was watching Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. I learned a really valuable lesson about sex that day—that all I needed to do was go put on a leather bomber jacket and go lip-sync You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling. So I had this sexpectation. I was hearing music from a group—I think was Huey Lewis and the News—remember those guys?—where they sang about “hot lovin’ every night.”
Jen: I grew up watching romantic Disney® movies, where the prince and the princess are so enthralled with each other; and there’s this great romantic story that happens. I grew up listening to songs like: “You’re the inspiration. You bring feeling and meaning to my life. You’re the inspiration. I want to have you near me. I want to have you hear me sayin’, ‘All I need is you. You’re my heart; you’re my soul; you’re my inspiration’.”
As I listened to that song, maybe 700/800 times, on my parents’ big, tall, tower stereo, my dream was that someone would say that to me someday. That my idea of sexual intimacy and romance was that someone would always be saying that to me: “You’re my inspiration. All I need is to have you near me. You’re my heart; you’re my soul; you’re my everything; you’re my inspiration.” So those were my expectations.
Brian: Yes; so if I just sing those words by Chicago?
Jen: No; it’s not going to work. [Laughter]
Brian: We have these feelings; right? And these feelings often collide / these sexpectations collide, and what happens? What do we do when we’re feeling that sense of frustration and disappointment? One thing that we often don’t do is ask the question of the Guy who created sex. God created this idea of sex—He knows best how it’s to work. We never sit back and go, “What did You want from this thing?”
We know that God really had three big reasons. Procreation: Which you see is the first commandment to “Be fruitful and multiply.” He says that over and over again in the book of Genesis—in the first two chapters. So we know it’s for procreation.
We also know that it’s for pleasure or recreation. And let’s just be honest! Once you procreate, it kind of limits your recreate. [Laughter] I don’t know about you—if you’ve had that experience; I know we’ve had that experience. They say the average couple makes love 2.4 times per week. I always wondered, “What’s the .4? I mean, what’s up with that?!” [Laughter] Until you have kids and you hear this [knocking sound]. There’s your .4! [Laughter] That works.
Now, granted, if you come into a relationship / marriage and you want to have kids—and you have this sexpectation that you’re going to have kids—and you don’t / your reality is that you don’t; what’s in between?
Brian: Frustration / disappointment. And if you stay there—you think, “Well, God did not give us that,” and we don’t think bigger than that—that maybe what He’s talking about is that we might procreate God’s name and God’s fame to the next generation. Even if you don’t have kids, as painful that is—we live in a fallen world, and He doesn’t guarantee it—it doesn’t mean that we stop procreating His name and His fame to the next generation, whether that’s in fostering, whether that’s in adopting, whether that’s in ministering to kids in your neighborhood.
So if that, for you, has been a hard frustration, then I would just say: “Go back to the intentions of God’s heart: ‘How can I love the things that God loves?’ To love His kids—His orphans / the foster kids—and to build into them. And maybe you’ll find that expectation coming back to reality.”
But, secondly, God’s sexpectation was for pleasure. Pleasure was designed to be exclusive. It was designed to be in the context of the covenant of marriage. You know, in Genesis 2:23, He talks about how a man and woman shall become one: “They will leave their parents. They will cleave to one another, and they will become”—what?—“one flesh.” They will leave, they will cleave, and they will weave.
Now, here’s what happens in our culture—we get it all backwards / we get it all wonky. What do we do? We start the weaving first—we become one flesh. We cleave to our expectations, and then we leave our options open. If things don’t seem to work out and if I’m finding that I’m not really bonding with this person—you know, it is intimacy first / love second.
That’s not the way God designed us to be. He designed us to leave our single life / our single world; cleave to our spouse / to one another, leaving all those things behind; and then, we get to experience the pleasure that God intended of becoming one flesh.
I recognize that in a room this size that a lot of us probably went the other way around; right? We weave first, then we cleaved; and hopefully, we won’t leave. It doesn’t mean that you can’t redeem that or restore that—God is a God of second chances, and He’ll do that; but it brings us back to saying that in the context of marriage is where pleasure is going to be found.
So am I leaving all those other options off the table? Am I seeing my spouse as the one place where God intended for this pleasure to be? And it’s not because God’s the fun police—it’s not—I mean, He invented sex! He’s fighting for your joy! He wants you to experience the pleasure that He intended for sex. He designed us for that. But if we don’t operate within His context, we’re going to find that our pleasure is going to be a law of diminishing returns. Every time you go outside the walls of marriage, even though it might seem fun for a second, you’ll discover, really quickly, that that pleasure was pointless. You’re going to be looking for that because what you long for really isn’t sex—what you long for is intimacy in a covenant relationship.
Think about any game that you play—any game that you play. If you play basketball / if you play a board game—what’s the first thing that you do? You look at the rules; right? I mean, even Candy Land has four pages of rules! I mean—Candy Land!
God invented sex for our pleasure. Why do you look at the rules first? Because you don’t want anybody—it doesn’t matter what game it is—like basketball / you don’t want anyone that shoots from half-court to go, “That’s a four-pointer! That’s four points!” “No, it’s not! It’s three points!” “Nope, I just called it—four points!” You don’t change the rules in the middle of the game because it limits your pleasure.
In the same way, God—when He invented sex—you think about it—He invented this thing called sex / this unbelievable invention—He had one rule and one rule only: “Keep it in marriage.” When you keep it in marriage, you have a shot at real pleasure. We see this celebration for mutual pleasure in the Book of Song of Solomon; don’t we? If you have your Bibles, you can go ahead and turn there. We’re going to spend a little bit of time in Song of Solomon.
I know that God cares a lot about sex and that He’s fighting for our joy because, when you think about the Bible, it’s 66 books; right? And there’s a lot that God says about heaven and hell, but there’s not one single book devoted to the topic of heaven and hell. There’s a lot that God says about prayer. There’s a lot that God says about finances. In fact, He says more about finances than about heaven and hell combined. But there’s not one book devoted to the topic of finances. Numbers is not a book about finances. [Laughter]
But in 66, he’s got one book devoted to the topic of sex. In fact, the Jewish kids were not allowed to read it—the boys were not allowed to read it until they were 13 because, back in the day, that was when you were up to marrying age. Can you believe that? I’m looking at my 13-year-old—“There’s no way!” [Laughter]
The first passage we’re going to look at is Song of Solomon 7:1-9. It says: “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, oh prince’s daughter. The curves of your hips are like jewels; the work of the hands of an artist. Your navel is like a round goblet, which never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a like a heap of wheat, fenced about with lilies.”
Incidentally, there are some Scriptures that aren’t good to read to your spouse. [Laughter] I would just maybe recommend staying away from that one. It meant something during that day, as Jen will tell you in just a second. [Laughter]
The next verse I really like:
Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-Rabbim; your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, which faces toward Damascus. (I’m hoping that was a small tower.) [Laughter] Your head crowns you like Carmel (not caramel), and the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads; the king is captivated by your tresses. How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms. Your stature is like a palm tree and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, “I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.” Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!
May the Lord bless the reading of His Word. [Laughter]
Jen: So, as we look at this together, and as a man says this to his wife, I want to talk specifically to the men about how we can take from this passage and men can learn a couple things from this man, who is saying this to his wife. I want you to pay attention, men, to how this man is wooing his wife into an intimate relationship. First of all, I want you to look at some of the things he says to her that show that he says, “You are beautiful, and you are desirable to me.”
What are some words that he uses that say, “You are beautiful”? [Audience response] Yes—that you are like “jewels.” Okay; what else? “…hands of an artist.” He uses the word, “beautiful.” He uses the word, “delightful.” He’s saying: “You’re beautiful! How delightful you are. You have all these charms.”
And we, as women—God made us to appreciate and to love beauty. He gave us that desire. We can see that as our young children and our young girls and boys grow up.
From the very beginning, our girls desire—I’ve seen my daughter come up to Brian and say: “Daddy, how do I look? Do you like my dress? Do you like my hair? What do I look like?” Our culture, of course, takes that and mixes it all up. We women can get into some big trouble—we can get into comparison issues / we can have eating disorders—we can be so focused on our beauty. But that’s the world mixing it up. God made us to want to be beautiful!
So when our men tell us that: “You are beautiful, inside and out,” “You are beautiful in how you look,” “You’re very desirable to me,”—that’s what a woman wants to hear. But it’s not the only thing a woman wants to hear. I want you to notice in here and tell me some things that show that this man is valuing her. What are some words that Solomon uses to tell his wife, “Not only are you beautiful, but you are valuable to me”? Can you notice any of them?
Okay; again: “…the work of the hands of an artist.” So, “You’re like a fine piece of art!” It’s very valuable / “You’ve got some value,” there.
What else? “Jewels” are very valuable. Okay; “wine.” Even the belly is “like a heap of wheat,” and I don’t really want Brian to say that to me. But a heap of wheat had great value in that culture. It would be something that they could sell, and it would be a financial gain for them. So not only do we want to know, men, that we are beautiful; but we want to know that we hold some value to you.
Because, see, if you just think we’re beautiful, we feel like all you want from us is that sexual relationship; but if we feel like we bring something to the table / to our relationship—that maybe we’re really good with finances, or we’re really good at parenting, or we’re really good at certain things—you are telling us, “Not only are you beautiful, but you are so valuable to me.” When those two things come together, a woman feels cherished. When a woman feels cherished, there is a natural intimacy that happens.
When a woman does not feel beautiful any longer / when she feels like she is—I mean, we all know we’re getting older. We’re not ever getting younger / we’re always getting older. After we have children, we don’t feel beautiful. As we age and go through different cycles in our life—maybe some of us are starting to hit menopause—we just go through all those things. When we don’t feel beautiful, we’re not going to want to be intimate with our husbands.
Then, if we don’t feel valuable / if we don’t feel like we bring anything to the table—again, we won’t feel cherished—and that relationship / that sexual relationship will be lacking. So, men, if you want your woman to throw away her mirror and not have the world tell her what she looks like / if you want to make her feel beautiful, and valuable, and that she will feel cherished, that is the start of a great, intimate relationship.
Brian: Yes; absolutely.
We have some mentors—Don and Sally—we meet with. They’re kind of—they’re in their 70s now. I remember talking to them.
They have this knack—they do a lot of premarital counseling. I remember asking the question, “How is it?” because they kind of brag about their sex life; and that’s really what you want. [Laughter] Initially, you’re going: “They’re in their 70s! That’s disgusting!” [Laughter] But all of us in here—you didn’t get married to have a three-year sex life! You wanted a three-decade sex life; right? And we asked them, “How is it you keep your love alive?” And what did she say? I thought it was really revealing.
Jen: Yes; Sally said: “You know what? Don still thinks I’m beautiful after all these years. He still tells me that. He still thinks I’m beautiful, and he still tells me that.” She said: “I know what I look like,”—she’s had four kids, and she has fifteen grandchildren—and she feels cherished / she feels valuable to Don—she feels beautiful in his eyes.
Brian: Yes. See, we have these expectations; right? But, if your reality is: “I’m not moving / I not moving—I’m not looking at my wife,” and “I’m just having expectations of her,” you’re going to always feel this frustration. But if there is an investment—that’s really what Song of Solomon is speaking to—
—where we see the husband and the wife talk to each other, but they speak to the value that they long for. God wired us! When we start speaking that cherish, that value, that beauty, there is a desire to say, “Hey, I want to be intimate.”
Brian: But if there’s only expectation, it’s only going to lead to frustration.
Jen: And a great question for you men to ask your wife sometime—even start right after this session or sometime today when you have a quiet moment together—say: “Do I make you feel beautiful? Do I make you feel valuable? Do you feel cherished in our relationship?” It’s a really brave thing to ask.
Wives, I give you permission to be honest in a gentle way and say, “I don’t.” Start a conversation about that / start a conversation about how your husband can make—maybe there are some things, as a wife, maybe you need to do. Maybe you need to take care of yourself a little bit better.
I know that sounds like a worldly thing; but, again, a man wants us—even if we’re just trying to take care of ourselves / even if we’re trying to look good for a night out, or we’re exercising / eating right—our man will notice that. We will not have a perfect body or a perfect face right away, but our man sees that; and that’s attractive to him.
Brian: So, for the guys, you should be asking your wife this week: “Honey, do you feel cherished? Do you feel valued? Do you feel beautiful? If not, I’m here to take notes,”—because everyone is different, and it will change. This is a big question that you’ll need to ask probably on a monthly, or at least, an every-other-month basis, to know, “How am I doing in that area?”
If you find that your sexpectations aren’t being met, maybe the reason isn’t because of something that’s going wrong in the bedroom. It’s probably outside of the bedroom that she’s not feeling cherished / she’s not feeling valued.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve heard the first part of a message today from Brian and Jen Goins talking about—did you like the way he said that?—“sexpectations.” [Laughter] I think we all had to recalibrate our expectations / make some adjustments when we got married; don’t you?
Dennis: I totally agree. Wives and husbands, by the way—here’s the big idea: “Don’t let marriage rob your relationship of its romance.” Just because you’re married doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some serious romancing going on and speaking one another’s love language when it comes to the subject of romance.
Bob: And I would add to that—if you think that romance and intimacy in marriage should just happen spontaneously, and just happen naturally, and shouldn’t take any work—I mean, it didn’t seem like it took any work back when you were dating; and that was all you could think about—well, that’s a part of the expectation adjustment you’re going to have to make because it does take a little work; doesn’t it?
Dennis: Well, as Brian mentioned—and Jen as well—they got their expectations a lot from music, and movies, and TV. Quite honestly, it’s difficult to have a correct calibration of what we should expect from our spouse and how we expect to be treated.
I want to tell you—if you want to treat your spouse to something—listen to me, guys: “Go online or call the 800 number and check out the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. There’s over 80 hours of great content, ballroom dancing, teaching, equipping you for your marriage and family. You’re going to come on this cruise, more than likely, a little tired and in need of some romance. You’re going to leave with a smile on your face. I can almost guarantee it!”
Bob: Maybe even a little tired—
Bob: —but with a smile on your face. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes, but you can choose to sleep in! Obviously, you’re not going to be able to take in all of what we offer on the cruise.
Bob: Well, I mentioned earlier that we are nearing a sell-out for next year’s cruise. It’s going to be February 13-18. We’re leaving from New Orleans this year. Going with us are Paul David Tripp, Kevin DeYoung, H. B. Charles, Jeremy Camp, Michael, Jr.—great lineup of speakers, musicians, and artists who are going to be onboard.
We’d love to have you be onboard as well. So, if you’d like to be part of the cruise, this is a good week to be in touch with us. Rates for cabins go up next week; so if you’re interested, call 1-800-FL-TODAY right now and say, “I want to find out more about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Or go online to FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. If you have any questions—or if you need to talk to somebody to get details—call 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, we have “Congratulations!” going out today to Bradley and Debra Young, who live in Newton, North Carolina, and who are celebrating an anniversary today. “Congratulations to the Youngs!” They listen to FamilyLife Today on WMIT, and they help support the ministry as well. Thank you guys for partnering with us in all that we’re doing, here at FamilyLife.
We appreciate your financial support, and we hope you have a great anniversary.
We think anniversaries are a big deal and part of the reason we exist. As the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™, we want to help more couples celebrate more anniversaries through the years. So thank for partnering with us in that.
And I hope all of you can join us back tomorrow. We’re going to hear Part Two of Brian and Jen Goins’ message on intimacy in marriage. That comes up tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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