March 25, 2014

Who Needs Handcuffs?

Gary Thomas — 

photo: Karin Beil, Creative Commons

(Note: If your name is Allison, Graham, or Kelsey, and you typically call me “Dad,” I suggest you skip this blog post.)

“Talk about world domination!”

My wife had been in a busy season, so I purposefully had planned an evening I knew she would enjoy—dinner at a Jazz Club, followed by an evening of romance. I intentionally let the sexual energy smolder throughout the day.  Well before dinner time, Lisa finally suggested, “Why don’t we just get on with it, already?” but I simply smiled at her and thought, “Not a chance.”

On the way to the club I filled up her gas tank because I know Lisa hates to fill up her gas tank and she was going to be driving the next day. That may not sound so sexually enticing, but it’s not up to us men to determine what constitutes foreplay. Trust me, men—something like that can do wonders; it builds the mood. It makes your wife think, “He’s taking care of me.” A spiritually healthy wife who feels taken care of is supernaturally predisposed to take care of you.

The “dinner” (iceberg lettuce masquerading as a salad, poorly cooked chicken covered with gravy, instant mashed potatoes) was a bit of a disaster given Lisa’s organic bent, but she loved the music and atmosphere. At one point, we were the only white people in the club. It’s not a place I would have gone to on my own—Lisa knew we were there because of her.

My small touches during the dinner were intentional and deliberate, but nothing scandalous. If someone from our church had been sitting right behind us they wouldn’t have even noticed, but I’ve been married to Lisa for 28 years and pretty much know how, even in public, I can slowly bring her near to a boiling point with touches and caresses that no one watching could possibly take offense to or even know what was going on. After nearly 3 decades of enjoying each other, an innocent looking caress, a simple touch, a slight moving of her hair can bring to mind past memories and a future promise that are packed with impending pleasure.

When we got home, I knew what I was going to do, and I did it. It wasn’t anything grand, just intentional and thoughtful, and it showed a little preparation. Within minutes Lisa was lying back saying, “Talk about world domination!”

What she meant was “You have conquered me. Do what you will.”

When it first came out, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was discussed by more marital and Christian bloggers than could be counted, but my thoughts are a little simpler: Men, if you need handcuffs and ropes to make your wife feel the enticement of full surrender, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Try studying her, getting to know her moods and total body—not just three parts that men typically focus on, but everything.

Try kindness, on a daily basis.

Try spiritual connection—make sure she knows she’s supported in prayer.

Try years of giving pleasure unselfishly so that she knows, once everything gets started, she’s going to be carried away by your touches, not used by your demands.

Try taking care of her kids, and taking care of her.

Try thinking about how you’re going to exceed her expectations.

If you study your wife and then apply all this, you’ll come to a place when you never need handcuffs—what you’ve got is much stronger, more powerful, more exciting and more fulfilling.

When our kids were young and at home, something much more effective than handcuffs was loving on our children. If a kid was in a rough spot and I took them out, or if one of them was starting to make some dubious choices and I sat down with them and talked with them and prayed with them, Lisa’s natural response was, “You’re such a good dad. And let me show you how a wife shows her appreciation for a man who loves her kids…”

My wife’s take is that women would be less inclined to read about sex with an imaginary billionaire if they were fully enjoying real sex with a thoughtful husband. She’s not saying if your wife is reading Fifty Shades that you’re a poor lover—just that it might be a symptom that things have started to slide in the bedroom. “I don’t think most women want pain or the kind of sex described in those books,” Lisa told me. “I just think they want something a little more creative than what they’re getting.”

The world’s form of pleasure is almost always a cheap substitute of the real thing and it’s never as satisfying. A guy can’t get his wife excited, so he looks at porn to watch some other guy get a woman excited. A man can’t get his wife to the place of appropriate surrender, so he resorts to silly things like handcuffs and ropes and not so silly things like pain to bring a little “spice” into the bedroom.

I’m not into constructing Christian lists of “do’s and don’ts.” I don’t want to marginalize something that you and your wife have truly enjoyed, so please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m just saying that long-term sexual satisfaction in marriage has to go well beyond gimmicks. If you want to use a gimmick now and then, fine—it’s your marriage. But if you think something like that is going to sustain you through the years, you’re fooling yourself.

For long-term satisfaction, study your wife, not just a few parts of her body. Build years of trust with kind touching and generous pleasuring. Let her know that if she lets herself go in your hands you’ll make her momentarily forget everything bad going on in her life and feel everything good. If you can’t get her excited in public, fully clothed, if you need to get her “naked and handcuffed” to feel like things are getting hot, you probably don’t know her well enough yet.

And guys, it’s perfectly holy and God-honoring to think about how to sexually please and thrill your wife. Far better to fantasize about ways to take your wife to a new place of pleasure, than to spend one second fantasizing about any other woman.



When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

11 responses to Who Needs Handcuffs?

  1. I’ve been looking for some good, God-honoring blog posts about that book as many Christian friends I know read it and I wanted to know how to respond to them. This was perfect. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and encouraging readers to take a moment to think about God’s intention for sexual pleasure in marriage.

  2. Gary, in your book Sacred Marriage chapter 11, you talk about the connection of God in the bedroom and the shekinah glory that is there when a wife and husband are making love. When I first read this I thought” I have always left God out this time” because to me it is private. Well, after reading that chapter I prayed that if this is true” then God show up”, and that night He did!!! My wife almost freak out (I did not tell her about your chapter or that I prayed for God to show up) I was blown away. Have you had any type of God showing up or have you heard of any people who did? We are still in awe from this manifestation if you call it that. Anyways, I prayed to God to forgive me for shutting Him out in that part of my life. It not private from God anymore.

  3. Eddie Wasswa Jjemba April 4, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I am pleased to get insights from an experienced man of God. I take your advice seriously. Eight months down the road of marriage, I have been wondering what the future will look like in terms of intimacy. Thank God you have shade a ray of hope.

    • Eddie–it really can get better if a couple is intentional about it, and there are more Christian books than ever to address these issues from a variety of angles

  4. Beautiful gutsy transparency, Gary. Thank you.
    Exclusive focus and tailored tenderness take a couple down an intimacy enjoyment path that no shortcut can find.
    There are no shortcuts to Gods great gifts.

  5. You’re describing my husband! Thanks for putting it into words for me.

  6. This is right on! When my husband takes the time to study me, it is one of the sweetest actions. He already has me in the palm of his hands at that point. Putting anything into action thereafter, I am jello. Thanks for being such a great advocate for strong marriages.

  7. Wow! Truly inspiring and convicting all at the same time. And I’ve never even been tempted by handcuffs. Thank you for your striking transparency.

    • Thanks Michael; this one went out with a little “fear and trembling” but I thought it needed to be said

      • Wow, Gary, you hit this one out of the ballpark!!!! Way to go! ESPECIALLY the impact of watching your man be a tender and gracious father to your children. 🙂