Podcast, Sex & Intimacy

“Married Sex” (Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta)

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This months “Sex Talks” series continues with a bonus interview with Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta about their new book Married Sex: A Christian Couple’s Guide to Reimagining Your Love Life. This is a tricky topic, and we so appreciate Gary and Debra’s willingness to come on and talk with us and our listeners so candidly. We pray it blesses you.

To get a copy of their book, find it wherever books are sold or visit https://amzn.to/3abTa50.

Also, as mentioned at the end of the episode, we did a full second Zoom video with Gary and Debra, it it’s ONLY available on our learning platform for marriages, https://GospelCenteredMarriage.com. Sign up and save 25% with promo code: SEXYTIME. You’ll also get access to our growing suite of marriage enrichment material, including our 6-Week Marriage Core course.

Here’s the description of their book: A great sex life is something you make, not something you find. If you feel confused or frustrated about your sex life–or simply wonder, Is there more to it than this?–Married Sex is exactly what you need to make your marriage stronger, in and out of the bedroom.

Transcript Shownotes

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Scripture, Show Notes, and Resources Mentioned

Full Episode Transcript

Gary: Married Sex is more like a Lego set than a Tonka truck. You know, Tonka truck, you take it out of the box, you play with it, you’re good to go. A Lego set, the fun is putting it together. But the time comes very soon when you have to tear it apart and put it back together again. Because the sex life that served you prior to having children may not work once you do have children, may not work when you reach middle age. And so just having that understanding, then you don’t freak out when you realize, “Hey, we used to be so excited and fulfill each other and now it’s taking a little bit of work.” That’s to be expected.

[00:00:40] <music>

Ryan: And that, of course, is the voice of legendary Gary Thomas, who we interviewed today with Debra Fileta. They’ve co-written a book called “Married Sex.”

Selena: It just released.

Ryan: It just released two days ago. It couldn’t be more timely for the series that we’re going through on the podcast. We’re talking about sex and intimacy and all the issues surrounding it. We’re going to be asking and answering, hopefully, or providing wisdom around some really hard questions in this area. And so today is a true treat. I couldn’t imagine a better pair to interview for this month on sex and intimacy.

Selena: Yes. We’re definitely in the midst of greatness, I feel like. And just an extra word of caution here. You probably saw the title of this episode, and you’re like, “Yeah, let’s listen to it.” However, if you have little ears that are within your shot, you may want to just make them out of your shot. [both laughs] However that needs to happen. Whether you plug in your headphones or just not listened to it in the car with little-

Ryan: You’ve been warned, listener.

Selena: You’ve been warned, yes.

Ryan: You’ve been warned. So in this talk, a few things that I really love. We talked about simmering sexually. Something along those lines. It’s just extremely enlightening for me personally, I think for us as a couple. Also, they talked about what specifically husbands and wives can do to be attentive to one another.

Selena: I think the titles of the book were like, what gets him going, what gets her going.

Ryan: The chapter titles, yeah.

Selena: The chapter titles in the book. Just to put a little teaser out there for you.

Ryan: So it’s going to be a lively conversation. We’re really happy to have you here with us. We trust that it will help you and so we’ll see you on the other side.

[00:02:12] <music>

Ryan: All right, Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta, welcome to the Fierce Marriage Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us. How are you guys doing today?

Debra: Good. Thank you for having us.

Gary: Doing great. Thanks.

Ryan: This is a timely, sensitive topic. Today we’re kicking off our series in the month of October. And it’s actually very timely because you guys both have co-written a book called “Married Sex.” And if I’m not mistaken, it releases on October 5th?

Debra: 5th, yeah.

Ryan: Okay, so that’s a wonderful thing. So it’s very timely for us because this is kicking off our conversations’ whole month-long theme of sex and intimacy in marriage. So I can’t think of a better team to have on to our podcast to help, to bless our listeners. And so we’re just going to dive right into the conversation.

So while the topic of sex culturally it’s commonplace, and you guys know this, but it continues to kind of plague the church. Right? It continues in that it just seems like we can’t seem to get it right. [chuckles] I’m speaking broadly, of course. There are many directions to go in this conversation. I guess I’ll ask you this. There are tons of books on sex even within the church. What drove you guys specifically to write this book for this moment in our culture? Debra, why don’t you start?

Debra: You know, truth be told, I had this concept in the back of my mind for many years. But recently, Gary approached me and said, “Listen, I want to write this book about the topic of sex in marriage, and I don’t want to just tackle it as a pastor, and I don’t want to just tackle it as a male.”

So with me having my counseling credentials and being a female, we just thought it would be a really great collaboration to focus in on the subject of sex in marriage, not necessarily from personal experience, like many books have done, but from expertise experience, from our education, from the experience we’ve had with patients and clients and couples that Gary has counseled as well as I have.

So it was just a really exciting opportunity to talk about something that we haven’t always done the best job of talking about in the Big C church. Like you said, we haven’t always gotten it right. And to be honest, I don’t think we will ever get it completely right because we’re learning and growing and evolving or becoming more like Christ along the way. He’s revealing more to us as [00:05:00] we move towards the kingdom of God. So I hope and pray that this is a book that gives you the male, female perspective and just offers a lot of new opportunities to talk about sex in a way that we haven’t necessarily done in the past.

Ryan: I love that. Gary, what are your thoughts? I mean, both of you actually are prolific authors. Gary, you’ve written – what? 19 books? 20 books in your career? If not more. You’ve seen kind of the landscape of the Christian take on this issue. What is “Married Sex,” the book, bringing to that narrative at this point.

Gary: The spark that really set it off, to be honest, was a chain email from a bunch of national marriage ministry leaders, where they just said, “We need a new book on this.” Some of the earlier ones that were so popular, the ones that my wife and I read when we first got married… we’ve been married 37 years, Ryan. So I mean, life changes, culture changes, information can even change. So they were a bit dated.

And even some of the more popular ones, people felt like they had a slant or language where, for instance, the wives might say, “Look, I’m offended by some of this, or I’m not comfortable reading this.” And a couple of [inaudible]. We think with your style, you know, you’re not the academic, but you can reach people.

But Debra’s right, I recognize my limitations. This is the kind of book I thought where I want a counselor, and not just the male and female, which I thought was invaluable. But we’re from two different generations, to be honest. I mean, Debra literally got pregnant writing this book. It would be a miracle along the lines of Abraham and Sarah if Lisa and I got pregnant while writing this book. [all laughs]

So we felt like they were close enough to it starting out. And then I could deal with some middle-aged issues and later issues. And when you have just one solo author, you can’t possibly do that. You forget where you were, you haven’t been there before.

And I’m just so grateful to God that it turned out this way. I thought Debra did a brilliant job with her chapters. I was very glad she was able to write some of the ones and say some of the things that I didn’t have to say. But I got to tell you, it is a different experience writing on this, particularly when you’re reading the audiobook. It’s one thing to write these words and describe what people do. It’s another thing to say it out loud. So it’s different.

But the reason I think “Married Sex: A Christian Couple’s Guide to Reimagining Your Love Life” matters… I want to emphasize “Christian.” I was one that really wanted to push for Christian in the title for when to let people know we’re trying to go off the owners, that makers manual, so to speak, the How to. We believe God created sex, our assumption in this book, we want to pursue sex the way that God designed it in the way that he designed it. What is the importance that God gives sex? What are the parameters from which God places sex? What is the purpose for sex as God looks at it?

So we felt like with us together we’ve got the theological and the psychological, we’ve got the practical, a lot of real-life stories. I think one of Debra’s great contributions was we got a private Facebook group together. Debra and I didn’t want to just talk about our marriages. And so we had a lot of people that could tell us instances that we’ve just never could have dreamed of or thought of. And I’m just so thrilled with how everything came together. I’m really quite excited for it to get out there.

Ryan: Wow.

Selena: That’s so awesome. I feel like I should be calling you Mr. Thomas because we’ve read your books when we were married, and we’re just constantly in awe of all of your guys’ work. And I have to admit, when the book arrived at our house, I was like, “Wait, they’re not married and they wrote a book on sex. How did that work out?” [laughs]

Debra: That seems to be the first response for some people.

Selena: But obviously, the two came together like you just described. And I think it’s so beautiful because at least for our generation, and for… I mean, we’ve been married 18 years now and there’s still lies and things that we struggle with as a couple. So I guess Debra, maybe you can speak to this, or both of you if you want to, but let’s start with Deborah. Just kind of speaking broadly, what are some of the lies that couples tend to believe when it comes to their sex life?

Debra: Well, backing up I think it’s important to know that when we wrote the book, we also tag-teamed it in a way where Gary was covering his chapters of expertise, like the theological components, the in-depth look at the Song of Solomon, where I was covering my chapters [00:10:00] from a counselors perspective. And so we each kind of took turns and took the chapters that we really felt like we could speak into the most. I think one mistake that some authors make is they speak into everything, even things outside of their area of expertise. So I really liked that we were able to do that.

So one of the things that I cover is the lies that we bring into marriage. I call them our false sexpectations. Because they’re things that are so subtle that sometimes you don’t even realize you’re believing them about sex. You don’t even uncover some of the beliefs, you just act out of them without realizing that they’re rooted in things that aren’t true.

And those lies can come from our family of origin. How you were raised and how your family talked or didn’t talk about sex informs what you believe in, think about sex. Your past sexual experiences create a template of beliefs, and things that you then bring into marriage. Maybe abuse history, trauma history. All of these things then kind of begin to inform the way that you look at sex.

And honestly, even the things that we learn in church. You know, I look back at some of the narratives that I learned in youth group and some of the things that well-intentioned people try to help you understand this topic. But then we don’t always do it justice. And I really believe we just don’t talk about it enough.

And so some of the false expectations that we might have, for example, is that we’re not going to have any problems in sex. And then when you have a problem, you’re like, “Wait, I’m a Christian, I saved sex for marriage. Why am I having problems?” But I say in the book, just because you wait, doesn’t make it great. I mean, it’s not a guarantee.

And you don’t wait because of what it will do for your sex life. You wait because of what it’s doing in you, in your character, in your obedience, in your faith, and your self-control. So that’s just one example of some of the things that we bring in that we really have to face and work through if we want to have a healthy sex life.

Ryan: Wow, that’s phenomenal.

Gary: An analogy I might use to build on what Debra just said, because I’ve had some friends that are professional golfers. Even if you get your game to the highest level, if things go wrong, all of a sudden, you can’t putt or your drive starts to go bad. So sex is a physical activity. So it’s something that can be learned, but then you have to relearn it. And then things happen because bodies change situations change.

The climate of a marriage is very different when you’re young and don’t have kids and you’ve got energy and all of that time. It changes dramatically when you’ve got pregnancy hormones and nursing hormones, and then when you’ve got teenager stuff. And it changes as you get into middle age, and older age. And so sex is a skill that has to be not just discovered and honed, but relearned and reapplied.

I love one of Juli Slattery’s analogies. That married sex is more like a Lego set than a Tonka truck. You know, Tonka truck, you take it out of the box, you play with it, you’re good to go. A Lego set, the fun is putting it together. But the time comes very soon when you have to tear it apart and put it back together again. Because the sex that served you prior to having children may not work once you do have children, may not work when you reach middle age, or certainly become a senior citizen.

And so just having that understanding, then you don’t freak out when you realize, “Hey, we used to be so excited and fulfill each other and now it’s taking a little bit of work.” That’s to be expected.

Debra: Yeah. And something that Gary just said about the Legos kind of got me thinking. You know, we often have to deconstruct before we can build up again with our sex life. There’s two extremes when it comes to conversations about sex. On one hand, we’ve got the world and the porn culture speaking into what we think sex should look like, what it should feel like, all of these different things that are false expectations. You know, they set us up for despair. They set us up for disappointment. They set us up for these unrealistic expectations.

On the other hand, many times the church culture is speaking inadvertently shame. “You know, you shouldn’t talk about this. You shouldn’t do this.” I’ve worked with couples who have been married for four years and haven’t been able to have sex because of shame. It’s just so much guilt and shame surrounding the subject. So sometimes even before marriage, you’ve got to begin deconstructing what has been built up about sex so [00:15:00] that you can begin building on a solid foundation of God’s truth and a solid foundation of just what it looks like to be psychologically and spiritually healthy in your sex life.

Ryan: Man, I love that. So timely. That actually speaks to this point that I read in the book. I think, Gary, you were talking about the ordinary sex. So it’s just a perfect segue because we do come into marriage, even within our marriage, we’ve been married, you know, Selena said 18 years, even now you don’t have to be newlyweds to have these expectations that it’s going to be like this Tonka truck every time, brand new and all that kind of stuff. Instead, the deconstruction of it, the good deconstruction, not the negative kind of bad sense of that.

But Gary, you talk about when you’re writing sermons and how you feel like you want to make the very best sermon possible, and you put all the illustrations and you pack all the information and go through it and realize, “Oh, man is way too long,” you start cutting stuff out. You start realizing, “Oh, no, it’s not going to be as great as I thought. It’s going to be another ordinary sermon.”

But then he goes on to say that there’s a place for the ordinary and there’s a place for ordinary sex that has its time and place specifically in marriage. So what led you to address kind of that phenomenon? I found that so refreshing to say like…

Gary: I think we can bury the beauty of sexuality by putting too many expectations on it. Sometimes it can be surprisingly wonderful and amazing. But other times, it’s just got a different purpose. If you talk to a couple that has a difficult time conceiving a child, there are moments when you’re having sex to conceive a child. It’s not necessarily primarily about pleasure or even connection. You’re trying to get a physical job done. But it’s a miraculous job. I mean, you’re trying to create a human being and that’s so overwhelming.

In the epilogue, I shared about how Lisa and I had had weeks go by and we haven’t had too many sexual deserts in our marriage. But we had our oldest daughter who was very close to dying, was in ICU for almost a week. Every day, these Ivy League trained physicians are telling us “this is what we’re doing to keep your daughter alive today.” And her life is about platelets and white blood cell counts and numbers that I just forgotten that just become familiar. And Lisa mentioned how long had it’s been. Wow, really?

And so we ended up being intimate again. But at that point, it was more like life is back to normal. But a huge threat almost losing a child has passed, and you’re just sort of reconnecting—we can be a married couple again.

So I think what I love about married, sex speaking not about the book, but the actual married sex is that it’s a lifelong relationship with a lot of different seasons, a lot of different purposes, a lot of different incantations, so to speak, where sometimes it’s about fun, sometimes it’s about connecting, sometimes it’s intense, sometimes it’s athletic, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it just reminds you “I’m hurting, we need to reconnect.” You’ll have any number of different kinds of sex if you’re married for a long period of time. And appreciating each one, and not evaluating them but they’re not like Hollywood sex every time.

Ryan: That’s the wonder of the Christian vision of sex, the biblical vision of sex as it is all those things. It can be all those things because there’s biblical love, gospel-centered, you know, that worldview that undergirds all of those reasons why sex is good. That’s one thing.

Just as a sidebar, as I was reading through the book, I appreciate that you let the Bible Speak on what it speaks on. And you don’t apologize for that. But then you also don’t make it say things that doesn’t say, even about controversial things. I think there’s a lot of power in that. You let the Bible do what it does, and then exercise wisdom in the kind of the gray areas. So given that… and this is kind of along those lines, Debra, in this question, if you don’t mind, what are the greatest challenges? Okay, we’ve talked about some of the expectations and past experiences-

Selena: And lies.

Ryan: …and lies. What do you see as the greatest threat? Or maybe what are the greatest threats for Christian married couples in thriving in this area? We talked about maybe pornography, we talked about wrong kind of paradigms. Is there more to that?

Debra: Honestly, I probably come at this from a little bit of a different angle because I’m a licensed counselor and I’m working with so many couples. [00:20:00] I find that many times couples come in to see me and what they think is a sex problem is really actually a relationship problem. What they see as a problem underneath the sheets is really a problem with their life and connection above the sheets.

I think of a couple that I worked with who said, “We have a great relationship, but we have a terrible sex life. We don’t ever have sex.” And you realize that their version of great relationship and my version of great relationship are very different. When you’re a counselor, you start digging in “what do you mean by a great relationship?”

Well, their emotional connection just wasn’t there, their spiritual connection just wasn’t there. They were, like really pleasant, polite roommates. And in their mind, not fighting, not arguing, getting along, agreeing for the most part was their version of having a great marriage. So when that lack of emotional intimacy then translates to a lack of sexual intimacy, they’re surprised by it. Whereas I look at the relationship as a whole, and I think, “You know what? There’s so much more work we could do to really connect emotionally and spiritually”

And I really believe that the overflow of a good emotional connection is a good sexual connection. And that’s not 100% of the time. But in rare cases, you see a couple struggling with their sex life because of some sort of physical or hormonal problem. Usually, it’s a lack of communication, it’s a lack of respect and feeling loved, it’s a lack of feeling encouraged by your spouse, appreciated by your spouse, understood by your spouse. There’s so much more to building a good sex life than just the practical tips and tricks.

Now, we cover so many of the practical tips and tricks in the book, such as positions and things that you can actually do physically. But if your emotional and spiritual connection isn’t where it needs to be, it’s going to overflow into your bedroom no matter what you try to do.

Ryan: Wow. And then the practical stuff starts to feel out of place.

Debra: Right.

Ryan: Or have the foundational-

Gary: Or it only lasts so long. Let’s say you get the best practical touch here, turn here, do this, do that. Okay, that’s great for one experience. But then the lack of emotional and spiritual connection brings you back to baseline. So I think all of this stuff is really important to assess. When you’re looking at the big picture of your sex life, it also means looking at all of the other components as well.

Ryan: I appreciate that you said, generally speaking, a lot of the dysfunction can be attributed back to a lack of emotional connection, spiritual connection, things like that. But there are those outliers, right?

Debra: Yeah.

Ryan: So I guess I just want to articulate some of the concerns we get. Because we get a lot of folks that write in, listeners that write in, even people in our immediate friend group, where they have, you know, it’s the husband or the wife, they consistently desire sex, but the other one doesn’t desire it physically in the same way but wants to love their spouse through being available for them sexually.

But then that lack of desire, it’s almost like a dutiful desire to love, but there’s lack of that passion and that sexual desire there. And so that lack of desire that makes the other spouse think, “Well, what’s the point? You don’t want to be with me.” So what advice would you have for that couple? I don’t know if this is covered specifically in the book. I don’t remember reading it. But what advice would you have for that couple?

Again, just to rearticulate the question. The husband will say he wants to have sex regularly, the wife wants to love her husband well, but she has no desire for it, and that makes the husband feel unloved. What would you have for that couple?

Debra: Well, the good news is this is definitely covered in the book. There’s one whole section in the problem spots chapter about low drive, high drive. And I think the important thing to remember is that this fluctuates in different seasons. And it’s very common in a marriage for sometimes that high desire spouse to be the man but it’s also very common for other seasons that high desire spouse to be the woman.

So I think the key to really getting to the bottom of this is getting to the root of the why. Why is there a lack of sexual desire? Rather than what can we do now, how many times should we have sex and how frequently should we have sex? It’s not just about trying to solve the problem with having more sex. It’s really getting to the bottom of the why.

And in some cases, the why is going to be a hormone struggle. Many women who are pre-menopausal are [00:25:00] going through menopause, you start seeing hormone changes in your early 30s that really affect your sex life. But if you don’t know what’s happening, you can think, “Oh, my goodness, my sex drive is just gone. And I don’t know what to do about it.”

So you want to be looking for the why. Is it a hormonal issue? Is it because you know what, sex isn’t that enjoyable for you, and maybe that’s why you don’t want to have sex very often? So if that’s the why, then we’ve got to figure out what does it look like to come together and make sex an enjoyable mutual experience for both of you. If the why is emotional issues, then we get to the root of those emotional issues. If the why is a physical pain, we get to the root of that physical pain.

I think part of the problem is, when it comes to different desires, we try to solve the problem by figuring out, “Well, how many times can we get sex on the calendar per week?” And maybe you guys need another date night to try to get yourselves in the mood. But if we’re not getting to the root of the why all of that stuff is just adding a temporary fix to the problem without really getting to a long-term solution.

Selena: Maybe, I think, the hope for Christians, because, you know, we have talked with friends about, they’re scared to say why, you know, there’s not that ahh, because it feels like it might be attacking or your spouse gets defensive or whatever. And maybe you guys can attest to this or offer some clarity. But I think the hope of our covenant just grounds us, I guess, to be able to have those hard conversations, even if we’re not good at them, to be able to just come to the table again and again, say, “I know that this is a hard subject to talk about, I don’t want to hurt you. How can we navigate this better? I understand these things?” I don’t know if, Gary, you want to speak to that at all.

Gary: Deborah has a great section in the book about how to talk about things sexual. It’s almost universal it’s easier to have sex than talk about it. I don’t know why. But that section really is designed to help people understand, “Hey, what’s going on?” And then in our chapter on the five senses, we end the chapter with, “Hey, here’s some questions. Think about this. How do you think this sense could enhance our lovemaking from the past? What do you think about this? Is there something you’d like to try?

And then we try to get them to talk about positions in the chapter. Choose your adventure. We talked about how every sexual position can speak of a very different kind of sexual experience. Again, athletic, soulful connection, sensual, fun, you name it. And just getting couples to consider that. We know it’s not easy. But I do think talking is the way to go. And we really try to give some help for couples that want to do just that.

Ryan: Wow. Okay. We’re going to continue our conversation at length on our learning platform, Gospel Centered Marriage. But before we do that, I have some kind of final questions for you two. Or we have some final questions for you two.

We have a lot of listeners who kind of tend to trend on kind of lower age, marriage age demographic, married 1, 2, 3, up to 10 years, I’ll say. Gary, given that you guys just celebrated… What did you say? Your 37th anniversary?

Gary: Yes. Yeah.

Ryan: That’s phenomenal. So you’re 37 years in, and you’re going strong. And you wrote a book, you literally wrote the book on married sex [chuckles] at this point. The two of you did. What advice can you give to a young couple? And they’re in their first second third year of marriage? They want to build a life together that includes a thriving sex life. What fixed point on the horizon would you have them set their eyes on at this time? How would you direct them?

Gary: Let your sexual relationship be opened up by discovery. Debra accuses me of wanting to be a wannabe amateur neuroscientist, to which I plead guilty. I’m fascinated by neuroscience. And even having been married to Lisa for 37 years, reading about it to do the research for this book showed me how much ignorance we have.

Ryan, this is what fascinates me. Dr. Daniel Amen, who’s done literally tens of thousands of brain scans has said, “I can’t tell you if I’m looking at an Hispanic brain, a Caucasian brain and African American brain or an Asian brain. I know immediately if I’m looking at a male brain or a female brain.”

Ryan: Wow.

Gary: So the husband has to discover “This feels different to my wife than it feels to me.” I found out, I didn’t know this, a woman’s skin can be up to 10 times more sensitive [00:30:00] than a man’s skin, which explains a lot of the frustration, somehow women wanting more foreplay, because it actually feels better for them and why men say their wives touches are a little too light, and wives might say their husband’s touches are a little too forceful. You could trace that to brain.

Now, here’s the thing, though. Every woman is different and every man is different. You could do great damage to your marriage treating your husband, like most men want to be treated, if that’s not how he wants to be treated. And then with women, who she is on Friday sexually could be dramatically different than who she is on Sunday. I mean, just as things change and hormones change.

And so empathy and understanding. In the early parts of marriage, discover each other. Find out what feels good. Get comfortable with each other’s bodies. There could be different reasons why women are a difficult feeling naked in front of their husbands or husbands in front of their wives. Try to get as comfortable as you can maybe by degrees.

And then don’t just focus on penetrative sex, focus on the journey to it to see what feels good. And maybe the wife guides the husband’s hands, or maybe they just talked about, or maybe they take penetrative sex off the table and say, “Let’s just find out what feels good.” But take the time to discover, to build empathy, and understanding, and realize that bodies change over time. So this is a lifelong process. But don’t just expect that you know what feels good for your spouse so that you can just do it. Discovery is a big part, I think of sexual satisfaction.

Ryan: Love it. So. Again, Gary, you’re at the 37-year mark, going strong, talking to the newlywed couple. But there’s this huge gap in between. You’ve got middle-aged marriage and you’ve got young kids and you’ve got chaos, and you’ve got career and you’ve got all the issues of life. Debra, can you speak to the couple who’s just feeling like, “You know what, I’d love to have sex maybe sometime next month, right? [all laughs] Because I got so much going on and my kids are crazy.

Debra: Yeah. Yeah, I think I’m in that stage with the kids being crazy. Four kids. Our youngest is eight months old. It’s easy to see why couples in the 7 to 20-year marriage mark kind of struggle with intimacy and sex. Honestly, one of my favorite chapters in the book is called “What Gets You Going.”

I think it’s my favorite because it’s not the typical Christian advice. Like, usually you want to focus on your spouse, what gets your spouse going. And I think that’s great and it’s part of what we’re talking about as well. But if you don’t focus on taking ownership and responsibility for your own sex drive, your own sexual pleasure, you’re going to get stuck in the trap of thinking that sex is just another place to give and to output, and I don’t have anything left, and I am empty, and I can’t give anyone anything else. And I’ve had kids touching me all day, and I’ve been working hard all day, and I’m just done.

Sex isn’t just about giving. Sex is also about receiving. In a healthy Christian marriage, you go to receive just as much as you go to give. And I think where we’ve really done a disservice is to make it feel like it’s just the sacrificial act, especially for me as a woman, rather than seeing it as this beneficial act of receiving a chance to get filled up at the end of a long draining day, a chance to feel loved, and connected and secure.

And so a lot of that is in how I view sex, my mentality about sex, what thoughts I have about it throughout the day, what I believe the purpose of sex is, and then how do I take responsibility for getting my heart at a place where it’s ready to receive.

Again, that’s one of my favorite chapters. But I also think it makes sense that it’s one of my favorite chapters as a mom of four in the 15-year mark of marriage, where there’s a lot of things that can take over, a lot of priorities that can trump the beauty of a healthy, loving sex life. So that would be my advice is just take some responsibility for what you bring to the bedroom.

Ryan: Wow. Excellent. Excellent. So Gary Thomas, Debra Fileta, you guys have done a service to the church in overtly addressing this issue of sex in Christian marriage in a Christian context. I can’t thank you guys enough. Listeners, if you’re hearing this and any of this piques your interest, which I’m sure it does, you can find “Married Sex”… What’s the subtitle to the book, guys? I don’t have it [00:35:00] in front of me.

Gary: A Christian Couple’s Guide to Reimagining Your Love Life.

Ryan: I love that. I love that. So A Christian Couple’s Guide to Reimagining Your Love Life: Married Sex. You can find that anywhere books are sold, I’m sure. Do that and it will bless you, not only now but for years to come. Do you guys have any closing thoughts on that?

Debra: No. The main website is marriedsex.us for more information. I really believe this is going to be one of those books you want to keep on your nightstand and you’re going to refer to it in different seasons of marriage. And we just pray that God would truly not just bless your sex life, but bless your marriage overall as you read through.

Ryan: That’s awesome. Okay, we’re going to continue the conversation for longer. And we’re going to get a little bit more specific, very practical in Gospel Centered Marriage. That’s our online learning platform for Christian couples looking to go deeper in the things of God and with one another. We hope you’ll join us there. But to our listeners, we’ll say goodbye. Gary and Debra, thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll see you on the inside.

Gary: Thanks for having us.

Debra: Gary: Thanks for having us.

[00:36:07] <music>

Ryan: All right, fierce listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Gary and Debra about their book Married Sex as well as the subject of married sex.

Now, as we mentioned in the episode, Gary and Debra were kind enough to stick around for another full session’s worth of content. And that content is available in our online learning platform for married couples. It’s called Gospel Centered Marriage. You can go to gospelcenteredmarriage.com to sign up there. You’ll get access to this specific enrichment course with Gary and Debra. You’ll also get access to our entire suite of marriage enrichment material. We do monthly Zoom calls with our gospel-centered marriage enrollees.

So I hope you’ll take us up on that and I think this session is worth it alone. But to sweeten the deal, we’re going to do a special 25% off discount for this month. The discount is this, SEXYTIME. So to sign up, just go to gospelcenteredmarriage.com and select your plan there and then use the promo code SEXYTIME at checkout and you’ll get full access to the best of what we have to offer as a marriage ministry.

We hope you’ll take us up on that and we hope to see you on the inside. Otherwise, we hope the Fierce Marriage Podcast continues to bless you and your family as you continue your journey toward building a fierce, God-honoring marriage. God bless!


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