Book Review: XES – Why church girls tend to get it backwards…


When Joy McMillan contacted me in 2014 about reviewing her newly published book, I was definitely curious. Her book title, “XES – Why church girls tend to get it backwards…and how to get it right” was certainly provocative! 

XES bookAs I read XES, there were moments I chuckled and plenty of moments I cried. I found myself pausing often to read portions aloud to my husband:  “Jim, listen to this…”  Besides that, my copy of Joy’s book now has highlighted portions on almost every page!

No doubt, women will be deeply moved to read Joy’s story as she shares it with such openness, honesty, and vulnerability. Despite her painful past with its shame, God’s redeeming grace has given Joy a beautiful confidence that is inspiring to read and understand.

Joy teaches and encourages wives to intentionally pursue God’s best for their marriage and gain a greater understanding of God’s heart toward sexual intimacy in marriage.  Her “Reflection and Action” sections at the end of each chapter help the reader apply the important topics she clearly discusses. Any Christian wife will find something in Joy’s book they can identify with and take steps to move their marriage relationship closer to God’s beautiful design.

Visit Joy’s website for more details.

Note! The Kindle version of XES is available now through Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 for only $2.99! Click here to get your copy today!

Part III: The Benefits of Lifelong Learning


The ABCs are always recognized as the basics: they represent the first principles of anything you’re learning. The ABCDs, however, represent Above and Beyond the Call of Duty! This is the approach of high achievers and winners who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goal! 

A lifelong learner is aware that they don’t know everything, they haven’t “arrived”, and their marriage can always improve. A lifelong learner is always looking for opportunities, resources, and activities that might enrich their marriage.

ABCD Learners, then, are willing to do whatever is necessary to grow and learn and enhance their relationships! Why not commit to win at the most important relationship in our lives—our marriages?!

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (the ABCD approach) is an attitude that changes the way we talk, think, and act. The ABCD approach teaches us that investing in the on-going health of our marriage is no longer just a duty to discharge, an obligation to meet, or a responsibility to fulfil. It is a passion to pursue!

The ABCD Approach in Action

ABCD Learners are willing to experiment and try new things! Here are a few ideas:

  • Date nights: When we were married for about six years, we attended a marriage enrichment seminar with dozens of other couples from our church. One of the take-aways we had from this seminar was developing the habit of a weekly husband/wife meeting (a date night with a planning/strategy component). We were encouraged to talk about finances, parenting, our personal and spiritual development, areas of concern or conflict that had arisen since our last meeting, or ongoing issues we were working through. At the time, we did not know that it would become one of the major contributors to a successful marriage!
  • Leading a small marriage group: Find a few couples to connect with around the topic of marriage enrichment. Choose a book study, or a DVD-based study, and simply facilitate the group!
  • Keep a book handy for riding/walking: Carrie and I have gone on road trips together where one of us drives and the other reads aloud from our marriage book. In the same way, we’ve gone for long walks together taking turns reading aloud to one another from our marriage book.
  • Bedtime marriage devotional: Find a great devotional, try and stay awake, and read to each other!
  • Take the 7 Day Sex ChallengeThis is a week-long in-home marriage enrichment course that will change your life, both inside and outside of the bedroom! 

As you apply these principles (the significance of marriage habits, like weekly date nights) and approaches (a top-of-the-year marriage evaluation, a new ‘together’ activity), we are confident you will see positive change and much forward motion! 

We’d like to CHALLENGE YOU: which ABCD learning experiment will you try? Share with us on our Facebook page!

The Science of Intimacy!

For many years, neuroscientists have been interested in the role of the hormone, oxytocin, released in large quantities during childbirth. This hormone helps the birth mother experience intense bonding with her newborn (despite all the recent pain the baby has caused!). This same bonding hormone is released during orgasm, leading relationship experts (see to refer to sex as “the Super-Glue” of marriage!


More recent studies indicate that oxytocin is also released during specific social interactions, and play a neurological role that tends to promote trust, empathy, and feelings of closeness:

  • appropriate physical contact between individuals
  • hugs, non-sexual touching
  • a genuine smile
  • active listening—demonstrating authentic interest
  • constant eye contact during a conversation

Differing degrees of closeness can be developed in most relationships. It is apparent that neuroscience confirms the fact that God has wired us all to experience intimacy. Even using the few techniques and new understanding briefly described here, we will be able to develop deeper levels of significant intimacy!

Make the Call: Strikeouts or Homeruns?

Phones in the bedroom… yes or no? Let me tell you about a couple’s recent experience that helped them decide whether keeping a phone on their bedside table was a good idea or not. (This is a true story though names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Harry and Sally enjoy “morning sex” on their days off especially because they can relax, take plenty of time, and really take pleasure in lingering in each other’s arms. This story begins on their day off when they woke up about 7 am.

7 AM
After a quick visit to the washroom, Harry and Sally brushed their teeth and then returned to bed for some relaxing “skin time”. For the next 30 minutes, they dozed on and off as they talked about plans for their day and prayed together.

8 AM
Shortly before 8 am, Sally cuddled up a little more closely to Harry and they began foreplay. As time progressed, lovemaking became more passionate and heated!

Suddenly, Harry’s cell phone rang! After letting it ring several times, Harry scrambled to find the phone and answer it. He ended the call quickly and politely but the interruption was enough to set them back in their lovemaking. Sally teased Harry, “That’s strike one!” Harry and Sally immediately re-engaged in foreplay and, after a few minutes, were back to where they were before the phone call.

Suddenly, the home phone started ringing! A quick peek at the caller id indicated an early call from the office…probably not urgent but still important. Harry answered the call, promising to call back later with the information being requested. Sally smiled, “That’s strike two! What happens if we get another phone call? Strike three? Strike out?!”

Harry and Sally were determined to get back into lovemaking and finish without any more interruptions! Their passion escalated with a hint of desperation. Soon they were lost to the world…only focused on each other. Passion gave way to climax! Homerun!

Just seconds later, Harry’s cell phone rang again! Harry, still trying to get his breath from the passionate lovemaking gasped, “Sally, you answer the phone! I can’t talk!” Demurely, Sally answered the call and politely offered the caller, “Harry’s not available at the moment. He’ll call you back soon.” She hung up the phone. Sally turned to Harry, “That was a close call…almost strike three!”

Image courtesy of Feelart /

Image courtesy of Feelart /

Over the next few minutes, Harry and Sally realized that either all phones needed to stay out of the bedroom or phone ringers needed to be turned off to “silent”. They were determined … No more strikes during lovemaking! Only homeruns!

Do you and your spouse need to have a “no phone/no texts/no email” policy to protect your times of intimacy? Like Harry and Sally, do you risk “striking out” in the bedroom!?!

Why Porn Will Kill Your Sex Life

We’re not going to approach this topic by appealing to your morality, even though the overwhelming majority of married, porn users readily acknowledge it’s wrong. From a morality point, nothing else needs to be said: when we feel something is wrong, we hide the fact that we’re users and that we’re addicted. Let’s leave the morality issue for a moment.

Instead, here’s another thought: if you value marital sex, you need to realize that porn will kill your sex life with your spouse. Consider the following 4 reasons:

  1. Your spouse can’t compete with a virtual sex partner.
    There will be many sex acts you fantasize about through porn that your spouse will not participate in when you’re having marital sex. This will lead you to degrees of disappointment that you can’t mask.
  2. Arousal eventually will only occur by using porn.
    The hormones released into the blood stream to bring the onset of arousal become triggered with pornographic images. Just as water or electricity flows through a pathway of least-resistance, arousal via porn will define a neural pathway that demands arousal occurs with the same or greater level of pornographic intensity.
    Simply stated, eventually arousal with your spouse becomes more difficult.
  3. Shame and guilt will take their toll.
    Assuming the husband is the porn addict, his guilt will trigger a response of withdrawal from his wife, sexually. Compounding this, she will then experience shame as she realizes she no longer arouses him sexually.
  4. Porn is solo sex.
    Use of porn is solo sex that undermines the very design of sex in marriage: meeting your partner’s sexual needs and desires. A mental shift towards selfishness occurs. Eventually sex becomes self-focused in the life of the porn user. Rather than sex being the super-glue in marriage, it becomes the issue dividing the marriage! Why? Porn.

Do you want more sex and better sex? Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Forget porn.
  2. Focus on loving and serving your marriage partner.
  3. Study our site with your spouse.
  4. Take the 7-day Sex Challenge.


Communication at its BEST!

Everyone knows open communication is the key to a great marriage. And, everyone knows that sex is critical to an invigorating marriage. However, only smart couples know that openly communicating about sex is one of the best indicators of a great, invigorating marriage!

  • awkward
  • insecure
  • embarrassed
  • shy
  • inadequate
  • vulnerable
  • afraid

…these are just a few of the emotions we might experience when we start to open up about sex. Really—that’s the point isn’t it? Healthy marriages are developed by learning to talk about the difficult things in constructive, non-judgmental ways. When we can open up about our deepest feelings, we enter a new level of closeness.

How Do We Learn to Open Up Like That!?
Are you afraid to voice what you really think about sex—or other difficult issues? Are you afraid to hear what your partner might say about their deep issues and their responses to yours? The Bible indicates that “…perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) Being afraid to discuss things—and thereby creating a “don’t mention” category of topics is evidence of fear crippling our lives.

Face Your Fears
Though this step may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done—it’s essential!

  • For some couples, counseling will be necessary.
  • For other couples, setting aside times of introspection and evaluation will be necessary.
  • For still others, taking the 7-Day Sex Challenge home-course will be necessary.

But for all couples—honesty and humility will be necessary!

The Real Deal is Intimacy
For many people, sex is a synonym for intimacy. In actual fact though, sex is like the tip of the intimacy iceberg! Following our metaphor, under the surface, the other types of intimacy: emotional, spiritual, and intellectual really define what the tip will look like!

Fantastic sex will be a natural consequence of developing intimacy through communication in all four areas! Yes, difficult conversations may make hard times, awkward times—but the payoff will be huge! With the openness and transparency that will develop, your marriage will go up to an entirely new level!

Better Sleep … Better Sex!

Recently, we experienced an extremely difficult three-week period as a result of Carrie’s acute insomnia. During this time, Carrie suffered from anxiety attacks, depression, negative thoughts, and feelings of hopelessness. It was terrible.

Then, after a change in medication, sleep returned and, within a few days, most of those terrible symptoms were gone–thank God!

Since that time, we’ve been making a concerted effort to get better sleep–and now without using any medication. Quality sleep has changed our lives!

Considering our little adventure with insomnia, we’ve started to better appreciate the simple things (those we easily take for granted) that can have huge effects on everything–including our sex lives!

Here’s a list of a few things that may seem small and, on their own, rather insignificant. We’d like to suggest, however, that small improvements in these areas may yield huge, positive results. Furthermore, improvement in all of these areas will guarantee significant dividends!

  • Quality sleep (8 hours)
  • Improved nutrition
  • Weight loss (if needed)
  • Regular aerobic exercise
  • Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness

The Couple that Plays Together Stays Together

The couple that plays together stays together.”
This proverb packs a lot of truth!

Playing and having fun together helps keep the friendship bond strong between a husband and wife. Life requires a couple to take on plenty of responsibilities: careers, scheduling, parenting, housework, finances, and more. Without times of playing together, couples may not be more than managers of their household and their friendship bond weakens.

What do you and your spouse do together for fun, leisure, and play? Every couple answers that differently according to their unique interests.  It’s important you find fun activities to share to remind you that you aren’t only business or parenting partners or household managers.  You are best friends! Sharing fun, playful times and laughing together helps keep your friendship healthy and strong!

Some couples enjoy playing sports together.  Others enjoy the arts.  Some enjoy leisurely walks through their city or local park. Others enjoy playing board games together.

Let me suggest a recreational activity that you may not have considered as playful.

Fun and laughter are healthy for your marriage!

  • Times of lovemaking are often very passionate and intense.
  • At other times, sex is gentle and sensual.
  • Consider though, that sexual intimacy can also be a time of fun and playfulness a couple enjoys together!

Every married couple needs to have regular times of playing, laughing, and having fun together during times of sexual intimacy.  Sex ought not to be sombre, dull, and boring.

If sex isn’t ever playful for you and your spouse, change something! Perhaps you need to consider a different location, position, or routine. Incorporate storytelling or role-playing to give your intimacy a playful spin. Don’t allow sex with your spouse to be “same old, same old” or just another chore on your “to do list”. Healthy sex often includes laughter and fun!

Playful sex between a husband and wife strengthens the friendship bond and ultimately strengthens the marriage!

Image: imagerymajestic /

How Carrie & Jim Regained Sexual Intimacy After Her Aneurysm

Part 3 by Carrie

Four and a half months ago, I underwent a 7-hour brain surgery to repair a brain aneurysm.  I am thankful to God for the many healthcare professionals whose expertise helped me through the surgery and recovery.  God continues to pour out His grace in my life as I recover from the trauma of brain surgery.  At this time, I have no need for

Before and after photos of Carrie's recovery.

therapy of any kind. I only use medication to help me sleep.  I expect to have weaned myself off of the medication completely by Valentine’s Day!

During these past months, you can imagine what happened to what was previously a very healthy sexual relationship between Jim and I.  Though sex was “put on hold” during the critical time of my illness, we learned that sexual intimacy could be restored! As I think back over my recovery, I recognize there are keys to overcoming medical challenges and renewing sexual intimacy.  Here are tips to use when you are the spouse with an extended medical condition:

  • Be Proactive About Getting Well:  rest, take therapy, use prescribed medication properly, exercise, eat healthy in order to help your body recover and gain strength
  • Do What You Can to Stay Encouraged: pray, read books or listen to podcasts that are motivational and help you have a positive outlook, play music you enjoy and that gives you a sense of well-being
  • Be Cautious About What You Focus On: avoid feelings of self-pity; rather, become more sensitive to the needs of your spouse who is well
  • Be Intentional About Physical Affection: keep kissing, cuddle often, be creative in how you bring your spouse to orgasm if intercourse isn’t a viable option
  • Give Your Marriage the Best of You:  as your strength improves, make sexual intimacy a priority and use your energy for your marriage relationship; realize that shopping or doing housework may sap your energy leaving little strength for sex
  • Keep Saying “I love you”: your spouse is making sacrifices during the time you heal and recover; thank him/her for being understanding, for their support and the personal care they give you; those three little words are powerful in keeping the two of you connected emotionally!

Finally, during those times that do require abstinence from sex, it’s important to increase non-sexual touches and focus on deepening spiritual, intellectual, and emotional intimacy.

Two Important Keys to Marital Intimacy During Extended Illness!

Part 2 by Carrie

How do a husband and wife keep their sexual relationship healthy during times of serious illness especially when the recovery takes time?  Here are two keys Jim and I have learned are very important!

1.  Regular Communication. Jim and I must be willing to talk about the impact my brain aneurysm is having on our sexual relationship. No doubt, both of us have thoughts about the changes to our sexual relationship, but it’s so important that we share those thoughts and feelings with one another. It would be totally detrimental to our relationship to avoid talking about our sexual intimacy and allow the topic to become the “white elephant in the room”.

It can be difficult sharing our feelings of disappointment, frustration, loneliness, rejection, and more with our spouse. But we owe it to one another to speak openly and honestly (with kindness!). Without open sharing, we run the risk of allowing misunderstandings to come between us.

Initiate conversations with your spouse on the subject of your sexual relationship regularly. Ask your spouse how he/she is feeling. Brainstorm together on ways to work through the challenges.

Ask God for help!

 2. Pray together. The challenges facing a husband and wife during times of serious illness are too difficult to assume that the couple can overcome them on their own. Invite God into the situation!

  • Thank God for the healing while asking for a complete recovery
  • Ask God to help draw the two of you closer despite the “hindrances” brought on by the medical condition
PS.  We’ll be sharing more tips in a future blog post!