This week we’re in Song of Solomon discussing what it means to sensually speak to your spouse within a Christian marriage. As Ryan says, “Much to a lover’s delight, even these questions have answers in scripture, and hardy ones at that.”
Ryan: Well, Selena, do I have a treat for you today!
Selena: Oh, boy, you know I like treats.
Ryan: This is gonna be a steamy episode. [Laugh] You know, I actually do mean that. So if you have kids-
Selena: Another warning.
Ryan: Yeah, another warning. You know it’s getting good. Things are heating up on the Fierce Marriage Podcast. So today we’re talking about something that might be a little different. If you’ve never thought about it or talked about it, welcome to the conversation. We’re talking about [Selena laughs] intimacy with your spouse.
So how do our conversations unfold when it comes to us discussing not the logistics, but our sex life and how we can improve it during, after, before, all around the actual marital act itself. [Selena chuckles] So if you ever wondered about that, you’re in luck because today, here we go. We’ll see you on the other side.
Ryan: Greetings and welcome once again to the Fierce of Marriage podcast. My name is Ryan. This is my lovely, beautiful, amazing wife, Selena, the star of the show. My whole job is to bring out the star qualities of my lovely wife and my baby, who… our baby, [Selena laughs] equally yours, who is not in the frame right now, but you might hear her sounds because she’s getting very vocal about things and she still joins us on podcast days for. So welcome to the conversation.
Selena: For a little while longer.
Ryan: For a little while longer. So welcome to the show. We love doing this. The reason we do this is basically because we want to shine the bright light of God’s word into the areas of marriage, including how spouses communicate sensually, how we communicate in these… I’m just gonna say it in erotic ways.
Ryan: Do we have scriptural basis for something like that? Can we even talk about that? I’m here to say yes, we do. But first I want to say hello to our newest patrons. [both laughs].
Selena: That’s quite a jump.
Ryan: How’s that for a jump? So, hello new patrons. Mark, welcome to the Patreon community, the Fierce Family, capital F, capital F. Fierce Family.
Selena: Trying out names.
Ryan: We’re still working it out.
Selena: Fierce force families. I don’t know.
Ryan: “Force” I think is a no-go for me.
Selena: It’s a no-go?
Ryan: It sounds too young.
Selena: Too new-agey and weird. [Laugh].
Ryan: I’m not a big Star Wars fan. More of a Battlestar Galactica guy.
Selena: Also, Karen, welcome. Welcome, welcome. We are glad to have you on board.
Ryan: If you want to partner with us, we would love that. Go to fiercemarriage.com/partner. Okay, let’s get into this topic. I feel like the listeners are just wanting-
Selena: Where is this topic coming from?
Ryan: Okay, ready? Let’s hold them up. This topic is coming out of our most recent book releases. We have pair of books—here they are. If you’re watching, you can see them—called How a Husband Speaks, How a Wife Speaks, together, How They Speak, how a couple speaks. I don’t know. I forget what we went with. But you can find these. If you go to fiercemarriage.com/speak, they will take you to the product page for this.
I do have some good/bad news. [Selena laughs] We ran out of our first print. We printed 10,000 books, 5,000 each. We’re outta those because you guys are awesome. We have another printing coming and we ordered it like two or three weeks ago anticipating this. So we’ll have those shortly. Definitely head over to fiercemarriage.com/speak and you can pick up your very own copies of How a Husband Speaks, How a Wife Speaks.
These books are a little different. Here’s the caveat. And we’ll get into that in this chapter a little bit. I’m gonna read this chapter. We’ve never done this before.
Selena: Oh man.
Ryan: But I want to read the chapter because I want you to get a taste of what these books are all about. Also, this chapter is very similar between the two books. It’s one of those ones that we wrote really closely together. A lot of them we wrote obviously completely separately, but a few of them there’s overlap and this being one of them.
So here it is. I’m just gonna read it. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do on the YouTube front, but I’m gonna put it on the screen somehow. And here it is. Chapter 12 in the men’s book. What’s the chapter in the women’s book?
Selena: Chapter seven.
Ryan: All right. Is it okay for me to read the whole thing? Because it’s the one…
Ryan: So this one’s addressed to the-
Selena: Go ahead
Ryan: I’m writing to husbands talking about how a husband speaks with their wife. So it’s chapter 12, The Lover and the Beloved: the blessing of communication before, during, and after sex. My beloved speaks and says to me, ‘Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away for behold the winter is passed, the rain is over and gone again (Song of Solomon 2:10-11).
Much of this book deals with occasions for communication and tools to handle them as opposed to specific topics. This is because the content of communication varies widely from couple to couple. Instead of prescribing what to say, I’ve presented tools to help you think through how you say it. While I can’t rip your boards for you, I can point you to the table. So teach man to fish and all.
With that said, there is one particular topic most couples face with varying degrees of agony. So I thought it worthy of its own chapter. That topic is sex. Acts of intimacy, and the discussion surrounding it are rightly vulnerable and prone to sensitivity. This means conversations about your expectations, hopes, desires, and even frustrations with your sex life can be difficult to have. Still, that’s not my angle with this chapter. I trust the other tools in this book will help you to have productive conversations about your sex life since I’d say it falls under the quote, “difficult conversations” category, which is addressed elsewhere.
Here, I’d like to talk about how you communicate in an intimate manner toward one another before, during, and even after sex. Specifically, what sorts of sexual phrases, words, illusions, and the like are appropriate and godly for Christian men speaking to their Christian wives, what should he anticipate and aim for as he seeks to quote, arouse love, in and from his bride. Much to a lover’s delight, even these questions have answers in scripture, and hardy ones at that.
The song of all songs. The Song of Songs is a masterclass on intimate communication and its canonicity tells us something too. Just the mere fact that the song is part of the Bible demonstrates the weight of its content. The question of how to speak throughout intimacy is an important one and talk between lovers while private is good to get right. Sensual speech toward one spouse is speech blessed by God. And not only does intimacy matter, but how we communicate intimately matters as well.
The title “Song of Songs” also emphasizes the book’s place among poetic literature. It is a song of all songs, superlative, masterful, elevated, supreme. As one commentator notes, The title could be construed as it is the very best of all songs. The Song of Songs is not just a flyover book in the Bible. It’s a masterpiece worthy of appreciation and application alike. Sorry, songwriters, eat your hearts out. Despite their tenacity, Tenacious Deed didn’t actually write the greatest song in the world, [Selena laughs] Solomon did.” [both Laugh] I like that reference.
Selena: Look at that sentence. Tenacity, Tenacious.
Ryan: Essentially speaking. “Though interpretations and thus application of the song varies widely among scholars, most agree that it’s clearly sensual poetry expressing romantic love between a young man and a young woman in marriage. Though much of the imagery is foreign to our modern minds, make no mistake, the book is unquestionably steamy. Given that, let’s look at four themes from the Song of Solomon that show us how spouses might communicate centrally in marriage. Also note that my use of the word erotic shouldn’t indicate carnality or lust in central communication, but rather the overtly sexual nature of the themes observed.
Number one, erotic physical admiration. The song is littered with examples of the lover and the beloved complimenting one another’s physical appearance. It’s not just that they’re attractive folks in an objective sense, it’s that they’re especially charmed by each other. Of the woman, the young man says, Behold, you are beautiful my love. Behold you are beautiful.’ (Song of Solomon 4:1) He goes on to systematically admire her many features, her eyes, hair, neck, lips, and even her breasts are mentioned. Every facet of her body is delightful to him.
Finally, as if to throw his hands up in resignation at or perfection. He concludes, you are all together beautiful, my love. There is no flaw in you (Song 4:7). She’s flawless in his eyes and he must tell her so. Then the young woman reciprocates. Of him, she says, ‘My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousands (Song 5:10). Then just as he did, she goes on to systematically admire his features from his head down to his column-like legs, since apparently he never skipped leg day, and back up to his mouth. There is no doubt that this woman thinks her husband is a physical specimen to behold, and there is no doubt that she wants him to know it, so she tells him overtly.
As readers, we should note that these statements are not mere observations. They’re erotic admirations with an end goal in mind. They’re expressing a deep desire to see their emotional love physically consummated in the act of making love. They’re anticipating intimacy, which is the next theme we’ll explore.
Number two, erotic anticipation. In the Song, both the lover and the beloved desperately crave one another. Their expressions of admiration carry with them full anticipation of their sexual appetites being satiated. They’re not content admiring the ocean from the observation deck. They want to wade deep in its waters and be awash in its waves. The one says, ‘I adjure you O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved that you tell him I’m sick with love (Song 5:8). Also, let my beloved come to his garden and eat its choices fruits (Song 4:16).
Her love is invitational and she’s not content with mere observation. She calls herself his garden, not just to be admired, but to be tasted and consumed. Like I said, things get steamy. Of course, the man is not silent and his language is equally rousing. He says things like, your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat (Song 7:2) and your stature is like a palm tree and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples (Song 7:7-8).
His terminology may seem odd to us to the point of inciting belly laughs from countless schoolboy’s past. But it’s clear that this is not passive language. It’s language of partaking, enjoying, and experiencing. After all, what does a man do with bowls of mixed wine, heaps of wheat and clusters of fruit? He drinks deep, his appetite is satisfied and he delights in their flavor.
Number three, mutual conversation. The Song of Solomon is not a monologue. Both the lover and the beloved contribute to the conversation, mutually giving of and receiving their words and themselves. As the young woman says in multiple places, ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.’ They’ve both given themselves over to each other, which is evident even in the manner of their back-and-forth exchange. The takeaway here is that sensual communication is a dance and both partners must participate for it to work.
In practical application, one spouse may initiate the communication, but it takes two to verbally tango, otherwise, things can get weird fast. The solution, have a discussion or many, about how sensual communication might function in your relationship. When does it work? When does it decidedly not work? What are your expectations? What sorts of language will you use? And what makes both of you feel comfortable and aroused? To help with this, let’s look at the next theme.
Number four, edifying talk. When it comes to bedroom talk, there’s a line that can be crossed that’s not always clear where it lies. While the language of Song of Solomon is intensely sensual, it’s also decent. The warning here is to avoid language which might cheapen sex or degrade one another. As such, speech dishonor your spouse pollutes the marriage bed, and dishonor God. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled (Hebrews 13:4, NASB).
While the author of Hebrews was referring to things like fornication and adultery, I would argue that the words uttered in the bedroom must be carefully curated so as not to import defiling practices and fantasies from unholy sources (think r-rated movies, porn, explicit books and music). In other words, speak to your wife with the honor and admiration that befit her and speak of sex as the treasure God created it to be. Keep it classy. Your words need not be lewd to have the desired effect.
Your turn. In an ideal marriage, both husband and wife are committed to giving their whole selves over to each other for their whole lives is to that end that you’re reading this book. You probably want to learn to communicate well with your wife so you might love her better. Similarly, learning to speak sensually is an opportunity to love your wife and her in new and profound ways. The Song of Solomon has shown us just how spirited sensual talk can be. I’ll leave it up to you and your beloved to take it from here.
All right, there it is. Chapter 12. What do you think, Selena? Having obviously written your version of that chapter, but now revisiting it?
Selena: Well, ours are very closely entwined as they should be. It is a chapter about sex. [Laugh]. So there are some very specifics. It’s almost-
Ryan: The main points are the same.
Selena: Yes, all the main points are the same. There’s even some of the same language because I just… it’s really difficult to talk about it from a different perspective when the truth of the Bible is the truth of the Bible. So you can modify it slightly for wives, but not a ton.
You know, whenever you’re in marriage ministry, you have to talk about sex. You get to talk about sex, right? [both laugh]
Ryan: That’s funny.
Selena: I have to convince myself. But it’s also a way for us to process our own, you know, sex life. And I think that it’s good for us as believers to understand that communicating well before, during, and after is not something that we need to shy away from, it’s not something that we need to ignore. It’s something that we really do need to embrace and we need to do it masterfully and we need to do it with wisdom.
I love how you said that it doesn’t have to be crude to have the desired effect. There’s another way to-
Selena: …achieve what you’re trying to achieve. You know, then we have to go to our own well. What have we been consuming? What have we allowed into our own hearts, our own minds, our own, you know, visuals? Lord, help us. Like weed out anything that is toxic, that is of the adulterous nature, or is lusting after someone else that is not… Because again, like you said, this is a love talking about her beloved. And they have a desire and an affection and appreciation specifically for that person, not for anyone else.
Like maybe her man… she says, you know, he’s one of ten thousand or something and maybe to another person on the street, he may not seem like one of ten thousand. But to her, he is that, and she is an admiration and in awe of who he is.
Ryan: And the point here is that it’s okay to let that admiration flower into how you speak to one another.
Ryan: Because I think oftentimes we can think like, you know, it’s naughty. Well, we have a whole book in the Bible that is specifically lover, beloved exchanging this type of speech with the end game of intimacy. That’s one of the main takeaways that I got from studying this book. We’ve studied this entire book of the Bible just to write this chapter. Because I wanted to know, what can we give to couples that is biblically grounded, that is gonna speak to this issue.
And these are the themes. I always want to revisit these themes real fast. And I’m gonna give you some tangible takeaways and some questions to ask yourself, some questions to take home to your husband or to your wife. But here were the takeaways, the four themes that we noticed in Song of Solomon.
Number one, it includes speech that has to do with erotic physical admiration. As a reminder, that’s admiring your physical being, your body.
Selena: The temple that God has given you.
Ryan: The temple God has given you. There’s a lot of that happening in the book. The second theme is erotic anticipation. So you’re admiring, but you’re doing so in anticipation of where it will lead.
Selena: Right. The admiration is not in and of itself… It’s leading somewhere, which I think is where the world falls short in terms of, you know, we idolize our bodies. But it’s like, no, the bodies are for a greater purpose. They’re temples [inaudible 00:15:40] Lord. So yes, you are anticipating engaging with your spouse in a gift that God has given you as a married couple.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. So you’re admiring, you’re anticipating. And then you are doing so in a mutual way. So that’s number three. There’s a mutual conversation. Both parties are articulating their admiration. Now, you could say, “Well, my husband feels comfortable talking about that sort of thing. I don’t.” Well, this is our challenge to you to say like, well, maybe you could get comfortable talking about it. Now, you obviously don’t say anything that is ungodly. You don’t say anything that’s gonna be degrading. Like don’t go out of character in that sense.
Selena: You can start small. And with everything that is new or uncomfortable, just practice. Right?
Selena: Just continue to practice.
Ryan: That’s where you have the mutual conversation centrally back and forth. Again, we’re talking about not just like before, anticipating, during the sex act, and even after. You know, it’s all around it. And yeah, you do grow.
And the fourth theme is this. It’s always edifying. We don’t say rude things to each other. We say things that are edifying to one another, that are glorifying to God. Because believe it or not, God made sex. He’s glorified by sex that is within His design, that is done in a pure, holy way. And this includes how we talk about it. So that being said, Here’s the key takeaway. This is from the book.
Each chapter has a key takeaway. The question of how to speak throughout intimacy is an important one. And talk between lovers while private is good to get right. Sensual speech towards one’s spouse is speech blessed by God. And I think that’s where a lot of us get hung up.
So what are the risks here? I think one risk is that, you know, one spouse takes a chance and says, “I’m gonna communicate sensually and they just mm with it. I imagine a husband saying something and the wife’s like, “Um, what? [both laughs] So there’s a primer that can be done. Like you can prime the pump here and say, Hey, I just read this chapter. I heard this podcast. They said, use us as your scapegoats.
Selena: Maybe we should work on this. Maybe we should practice this.
Ryan: They said that this is a godly thing, it’s a good thing. Now, what would this look like for us? And that’s where you can start and just say, How can this look for us? And I would avoid that pitfall. Right?
Selena: One risk that I’m just thinking of is that it could feel as if one of you is taking the reins of the situation. And maybe there’s like some dominating… I don’t want to say that. That’s too big of a word for that. But somebody’s just kind of leading the charge more quickly than the other one wants, you know? Does that make sense?
Ryan: Yeah. And the quote from the chapter that comes to mind is it takes two to verbally tango. In other words, there needs to be a giving and a receiving, not just always… It can’t be one-sided.
Ryan: So it’s gotta be balanced. And husbands, wives, you need to have discernment to know when to lay it on thick and when to not lay it on thick. You have to be discerning in that way. Another risk could be that it gets lost in translation. You mean for it to sound one way and it doesn’t sound that way. It could be the timing, it could be whatever. Again, you have to work through this. We can’t tell you when or what to say. [Laugh] That’s between you and your spouse. But you can tell each other when and what to say. You can have that conversation.
Selena: And you know.
Ryan: And you know. You know them better than anyone. So that’s the key takeaway is that it’s speech blessed by God. We also have these grids in here that’s mediocrity versus mastery. Like what does communication mediocrity look like in this given topic? And what does mastery look like? So here’s three points of mediocrity. Well, I guess I’ll do the mediocrity and then the mastery.
So mediocre communication centrally, it says, they don’t value communication during intimacy. Mastery would be you understand the importance of communication throughout intimacy. It’s weighty. It’s important.
Selena: It is.
Ryan: Mediocrity would be that you avoid talking about sensual speech, whereas mastery looks like you’re seeking to have candid conversations about what works and doesn’t work. And then finally, it’s mediocre to use sensual speech to self-satisfy. Meaning that you’re doing it in a selfish way.
Mastery looks like this. You use sensual speech to edify your spouse. Another risk that comes to mind. I thought of this. But you find that your spouse is trying to communicate sensually to you. Oh, I can’t wait for… Or “I really enjoy when you…” or “You look amazing…” or “I enjoy this part of your body,” or “I enjoy the way you look to…” Like whatever… You can go as far kind of into… Think of it on a scale from things I would say in front of my parents to things I would not say in front of my parents. [Laugh] So if my parents were in the room, I could say to Selena, Man, you look really beautiful today.
Ryan: I could say that. There’s things [Laugh] that I would say to you that I would never say to my parents and they would still be decent, but they’re just not decent outside of a private context. So a spouse that communicates those things is trying to say things honestly, but they’re not being believed or received by the other side. So if I say, Man, I just think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, as a wife, you could say, you could think to yourself, well, you have to say that. [Selena laugh]. Well, okay, you might have a point. I kind of have to say that, but I also really do believe it. I really want to tell you. And I want you to believe it. And I want you to know that I think this about you. I want to take this conversation to the bedroom. [both laughs] Eventually, that’s the end game is I want to enjoy you as my wife, as the gift that you are. And I want you to, in return, enjoy me.
That’s the risk is that it’s one-sided, not in the sense that only one person’s talking too much, but it’s not being received on both sides. Does that make sense?
Selena: I think you said what I was trying to say on that second risk there. I was like, yes. It’s like someone sort of moving forward and the other one’s either not there or trying to be there, or just has given up being there. And then, you know, you’re kind of like, yeah, you’re working it out. As you can see, we even struggle with how to communicate. How to communicate-
Ryan: Well. It’s also weird because we’re talking to people on the internet and it’s not just me and you [both laugh]. Okay, so here’s some application questions. And you can take these to the bank. [Laugh] Would you say
Selena: You want me to read it?
Ryan: Oh, yeah, go ahead.
Selena: Okay. Some application questions here. Would you say you and your spouse feel comfortable speaking centrally to one another before, during, and after sex? Why or why not?
Ryan: Thinking about that one. Second question is, how might being thoughtful about sensual speech improve your intimate life?
Selena: People write in to us all the time saying, “Man, my, our sex life is just… there’s non-existent. It’s meh.” [Ryan chuckles] I would challenge you and say try using your words [laugh] see what happens. And know that you and your spouse are working on that. And I say, yeah. I say go for it. Use your words that God has given you and see how far they will take you.
Ryan: That’s good. And we have a challenge for you. So those are two questions to consider. But Selena, what’s the challenge that we can give to couples here?
Selena: So we encourage you to set aside an evening in the near future to talk to your spouse specifically about this topic. How can you start that conversation? Jot down a brief outline of what you might say. You can use this book as a helpful jump-off point.
Ryan: Yeah. Again, the name of the book, How a Husband Speaks, How a Wife Speaks. We did just to go through one chapter, but part of the reason for that is I feel like this topic is important and it’s easy to get wrong. So I wanted to just go with words that we had written that had been edited a lot [laughs], so we wouldn’t get them wrong. Another good book, by the way, on married sex is aptly titled Married Sex [Laugh]. It’s by Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta. It’s great.
Selena: Yeah. The word they use for a similar idea is simmer. So simmering before-
Ryan: It’s a lot easier to bring a pot to a boil if it’s on the back burner simmering all day long.
Ryan: And then the whole point is like, okay, now it’s time to boil this water, let’s bring it to the front burner, and crank on the heat and it’s boiling, as opposed to having an nice cold pot of water that you’ve got to get up to boiling temperature. So this is a way that you could simmer in that regard. That being said… there’s no good way to transition this, but we are a Christian marriage podcast. We’re talking about things in light of God’s word, in light of all that Christ did, all He accomplished on the cross, the fact that He died a sinner’s death but did not stay dead. He resurrected from the grave so that we would not be dead to our sin, that we could be made alive in Christ.
If you don’t know Jesus, we want you to know Jesus because He gives your life context. Not only does He save you, but He gives your life context, He gives your marriage context.
Ryan: Our marriage would not be if it were not for Christ. So we always want to make mention of Him. We want to invite you in a relationship with Him if you do not know Him. If you’re looking for ways to start down that path, talk to a friend, go to a good Bible-preaching church. If you have neither of those things, go to thenewsisgood.com, and that should help in that regard.
Let’s pray. Father God, thank You for giving us Song of Solomon as a guide for this area of our lives. Not just how to speak about sex to one another, but also how to enjoy it, how to enjoy one another as married people. I pray that we would do so unto Your glory, for our good, that our marriages might flourish, Lord, that we might build stronger marriages, stronger families, stronger churches, stronger societies. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ryan: All right, thank you so much for joining us. This episode of Fierce Marriage is—
Selena: In the can.
Ryan: We will see you again in about seven days. So until next time—
Selena: Stay fierce.