Welcome to the love hope adventure podcast where we talk about the marriage relationship, intimacy in marriage, and how you can go deeper with your spouse. And today, we’re really excited because we have guests on with us, we have Matt and Jen from the intimate covenant podcast. And today we’re going to talk about how you can build sexual connection in your marriage. So not just have sex, because sex is great. And maybe it’s not great for you, we don’t know, but have sex that actually builds connection, what does it take to build connection in a marriage to have great sex? And we’re so excited to have them on to Matt and Jen, thanks for coming on. Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Hi, welcome here. Thank you for having us. We’re excited to be here for sure. So we’re Matt and Jen, Matt and Jen Schmidt. We live outside of the Houston Texas area. And we have, we are the founders of Intimate Covenant. We’ve had Intimate Covenant now for about five, six years, something like that. We’ve been podcasting for 85 weeks as of this recording, so that’s kind of our newest adventure that we offer. kind of started out an intimate covenant with just like local group Bible studies.
Really nothing formal and just a group Bible studies about marriage and intimacy and building connections in all realms.
Yeah. And then it grew from there, we started a local marriage retreat, I thought, how hard can that be? But great, and worth it. So this, we’re coming up this year, this fall will be our fifth marriage retreat. So that’s a huge accomplishment for us. And then we also started doing seminars where we travel, and we’ve gotten to go to a lot of really cool places and meet a lot of great people doing weekend seminars.
And that’s how it all has evolved. Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. But yeah, we just keep saying yes, I guess this is the theme of all of that.
That’s the cause of the problem, or whatever it might be. That’s how it’s happened.
Is that the symptom or the problem? We’re not sure exactly.
I love that you guys went into the thought of doing like a marriage retreat and thinking how hard can that be like as former people who used to do a lot of retreats that was like the most stressful things in the world to do?
Its work that’s why we only do one a year, but it’s, it’s and the seminars, when we get to go other places. It’s nice, because other people have done all the planning and the Hard Talk and that’s
the difference between being a speaker and being the event camper. Yeah, right. Yeah, right.
Right. It’s, it’s kind of all consuming, but ironically, this is not our, our full time jobs, if you will, although it definitely is becoming Yeah, could could definitely be mad as a veterinary specialist. And, and I’m, I’m a homeschool mom, I’m a stay at home mom, although our youngest is in ninth grade. So I’m about to lose that title. Only a few more years left with that. But yeah, intimate covenant kind of came about. Mostly because we’ve been married. It’ll be this year, 25 years.
Thank you super excited for that milestone anniversary. Um, but I would say that, you know, intimate covenants really been around for for six years. So for around our 19 year mark is when that really got started. But really, for 19 years, we’ve always had a heart to mentor other couples, even when we really had no business, mentoring other couples, mentoring ourselves. And yet, that really comes from a place of we started our marriage in a very broken place. And we were very young. We had had a lot of brokenness that had happened to us that we had caused ourselves brought into our own merit brought into marriage, not just because we were married, but things that we brought in.
Yeah. And I think we just quickly at some point in the in when we were still in the midst of dragging through all of that said, how can we help other couples not have this same story? And so again, we still needed the mentoring ourselves, but I just always had a heart for, for proclaiming the truth of marriage of God’s plan for marriage and being real does and that there could be something better than what most people are just willing to settle for. So that’s kind of been our goal and our message over
Yeah, we’ve tried to be very, very real, very vulnerable.
But what and what we’ve really found is, the more we talk about marriage, the more that couples wanted to talk about the sexual relationship in marriage, because that’s what was not being talked about, as I know that, you know, as well, right, yeah, especially within the church, he certainly had very little to no training or guidance or mentorship in that regard. And so the more we talked about marriage, and the Bible studies that started out as a marriage class turned into a sex class, and not you know, how to get tab an into slot B, but how to build that relationship? And what kind of conversations need to be had? What kind of conversations Are we avoiding? What kind of conversations do we not even realize that we need to have? So that’s, that’s where we’re really diving into what is the purpose of sex, you know, and I write too often, especially within conservative Christian circles, we were all growing up with this understanding that you save sex for marriage. And, you know, that’s often presented to us in a very negative way. A very, you know, sex is a no, no. But the day you say I do, it’s, yes, go do that. But we’re not going to talk about it. Just figure that out, you know, yeah. And so many couples start off their marriage. You know, sex is hard. Access, not just two bodies going together, right? And, and you quickly realize this takes a lot of work. And yet, nobody’s talking about the work right?
You know, no one’s talking about, you know, just hangups that you may experience or have, either, and no one’s telling you, how being bored that sexual connection in the marriage, because we just always want to say, well, oh, well, we’ll just figure it out. And you’ll just figure it out. Except for that, like, we have so many people write in to us telling us how they haven’t figured it out.
Hear more people talking about is that it’s not just, you know, no, no, no, no, no, flip a switch and refine it, you know, there has to be a little bit more going on there. And, and we’re seeing more and more of this kind of conversation is taking place, which is Yeah, I think
I know what your experience was. But when we got married the preacher up at the front of the, you know, chapel didn’t have a switch behind that Bible that he was holding. Like, okay, and right. So we so yeah, you’re right, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make that transition from trying to live a chaste and pure life before marriage. Right. And then switching that too because we had no understanding of what sex was, I think, and I appreciate the, you know, the topic that you kind of put before us and mentioning and talking about building sexual connection, not just talking about how to have sex, and how to, for lack of a better term, how to better stimulate our genitals.
Right, sex is so much bigger than that. And really, I think even Scripture is very clear that sex is not just an act. But sex is a relationship. And it’s integral to the marriage relationship. It’s part of what builds that relationship. It is, it’s a requisite for marriage. It’s not just something that you can give or take. It is a requisite for marriage, as God describes, even from the very beginning, when he talks about Adam and Eve becoming one flesh, that’s, that’s how he defines the marriage relationship. It’s how we, it’s how he separates the marriage relationship from all other relationships. And even from the very first descriptions of sexual relationships in Scripture, God uses the term in Scripture that Adam knew his wife Eve, as a metaphor, or as a description of sex, not because he’s trying to be mysterious or cryptic with the language necessary, but I think he’s being very purposefully descriptive of sex, that it is a knowing it’s a knowing and being known.
Right? It’s not that you can just have sex and if you put your bodies together, then you have sex and that’s checked off the box for a sexual relationship because that’s not connected in all of the other ways. But sex is an avenue to spiritual connections and an avenue to emotional connections as well as physical connections. All of those aspects have to be integrated and should be a part of that sexual relationship. In fact, the best sex that you will have is not about how you do it. But the best sex that you have is when you’re connected in all of those ways. Grade. I mean, the example that I always love to give is, I mean, why is hotel sex so much better?
Why is vacation sex so much better? It’s not because the bed is so much more comfortable something they see that sounds like it’s because the carpet is cleaner or the decorations are better. And it’s not even necessarily because you’re doing something wildly different than what you do at home. Vacation sex is better because you’re connected in all of those other ways. All of the distractions are out of the way, all the stressors are out of the way. And so you’ve been able to take the time and have the time to connect in all those other ways. And that’s why that experience is so much better than it is on a Tuesday night at home. Generally speaking, right?
But Tuesday night at home can be great when you reframe your purpose of sex, right. And it is very clear that God created sex for pleasure. And that’s, that’s clear in the way our bodies work. That’s very clear within the Song of Songs, you know, this whole book in the Bible that is all about sexual pleasure. But the focus, though, is that pleasure is a byproduct of the connection, because it’s really about connection. And when you reframe your purpose with sex, when you recognize that the reason we’re doing this is for connection, well, then number one, it can make the pleasure even better. But it also just gives you something so much deeper than just what two bodies can and cannot do.
Yeah, and I think you know, for me, I love how you guys are talking about how building a sexual relationship is way more than just having sex because so many people write to me, and I will have a spouse say, Well, how can I get my spouse to be more engaged with sex like sex is like they could take it or leave it with sex. And I always try to tell them, Okay, there’s obviously things going on in your marriage. And if you guys have this idea that sex is just to bring pleasure physically to that other person. Whether you experience physical pleasure or not, it’s just a duty, then, of course, they don’t want to have sex with you. Of course, this isn’t like really important in their minds, because they just think, well, it’s like, you know, me needing any other physical need of theirs, instead of seeing it as a thing that brings you together with your spouse. So maybe they are having sex that’s driving them apart or spouses. Yeah, one spouse is not feeling connected and that spouse is typically the one who isn’t super enthusiastic about sex.
Oh, write it because it’s no more fun than changing dirty diapers because it’s just a duty. And just an item on the to-do list. Just meeting someone else’s needs is no fun. But when it’s viewed and used as a means of building deeper connection, and maybe even in a bigger picture is when a couple is connecting in all of those other ways, sex becomes so much more enjoyable and so much easier to transition to it becomes a sort of just a natural extension of the rest of the relationship. Because it’s being used and used to build connection and use to accentuate connection and all of those other ways. So yes, you’re exactly right. You can’t just put your sex life in a box and just pull it out from underneath the bed. You know, every couple of weeks when everything is working well right thank you. It’s no it can’t be icing on the cake. When the rest of your it only happens when everything else is perfect in the relationship.
We like to talk about how sex is icing on the cake sex is the eggs that hold the cake together. You know, it is an inter you don’t have the cake. Without that and when we learn to view our sex life together as a source for deep connection. Then it shifts from this obligation mindset. It shifts from that sense of sex is something that I give or sex is something that I get.
You know, when really sex is the relationship it is about, you know, something that is so like something we build. It’s not something that I’m giving or taking. It’s something that we are building. Yeah. Esther Perel, who I can’t necessarily recommend everything that she says or writes but she says sex is something is not just something you do. It’s a place you go. And I just I love that. That visualization that it takes it to a place that’s Far beyond, again, more than just what you are doing with your physical bodies, it is something that you are building together, it’s a place you go to escape everything else, it’s a respite from the rest of the, the world and the rest of the obligations that you have. It’s such a beautiful way to state it. Yeah. And
I think that that’s such a mind shift. You know, so often I hear wives say to me, and it seems to be especially true for young mamas. And I get that we had four little people at one point in our lives, and they get that sense of, I just don’t want sex, you know, so many times I hear women say, I could just live forever without sex, I don’t want it. And that I think, is coming from a place of viewing sex as just another thing that needs to get done, you know, your text is something that I need to give him in order to, you know, keep him satisfied.
Keep him from interesting data of recognizing the benefit of sex for both of us. It is that place of connection. And it’s a place of connection meant to bleed into, if you will, all other realms of intimacy. You know, I think we purposely named our ministry drill or whatever you whatever word is, covering it, the thing that we do, we purposely use the word intimate and that and it’s always interesting to see people’s reaction to that.
Because we frequently especially again, within conservative Christian circles, use the word intimacy as a euphemism for sex. You know, we don’t really say the word sex in polite society, but we can say, and so people are often like, yeah, yeah. Intimate covenant. What are you guys talking about? You know, we are very purposeful with picking the word intimate. And we like to talk about, how there are realms of intimacy within your marriage.
There’s spiritual intimacy, mental intimacy, emotional, intimate intimacy, and physical intimacy, and those are all connected together. And, and then learning to see the connection between all of those. And again, like what Matt was saying, you know, your physical intimacy is not just something that, you know, every once in a while you pull out, it is a part of your spiritual intimacy together, it is a part of your mental and emotional intimacy. And when you’re really struggling with physical intimacy, one of the best things you can do is step back as a couple and say,
Where are we not connecting in all these other realms? Exactly? No. And so for a young mama, who’s saying, I don’t want sex, my answer to her is often, Okay, how’s your emotional connection? How’s your mental connection together? Because you do want sex in a different way, when you see the benefit of the connection, and all of that.
And when you are struggling in one area like that, the question often is, how can I use our emotional connection to accentuate the sexual relationship? And how can I also use our sexual connection to accentuate my emotional connection as well, that those two things feed into each other and if I can just get over the idea that sex is just a to-do item or it’s just for men or whatever it is, you know, then that that’s a pathway to strengthening the relationship and, like we’re talking about building a sexual connection? Yeah.
And, you know, you were talking about intimacy being in this different sort of personal realms of emotional, mental, physical, all the sounds of things. I’m feeling like there’s within the marriage relationship, or just, I don’t mean, maybe family, it can go into different areas of the home or different forms of the relationship. So you know, there’s, there’s a, an intimacy in the bedroom, there’s sexual intimacy, but then there’s just like, a conversation, and the conversation can be intimate. It doesn’t mean like you’re saying it doesn’t mean sex and times.
It means a close, personal private connection, and I think that the private part is maybe low. It always trips over into who must be talking about sex, because to me, it means something private, that I share with one person. Yes. The type of relationship I have with cutie in regard to our finances is more intimate than my relationship with a friend or a co-worker. I’m walking my talk About my finances in the same depth and level of interest, etc, etc.
And so all those different aspects you can have intimacy with your spouse in the realm of parenting, are the two of you parenting together and trusting each other and communicating in those kinds of ways. And like you said, about, you know, people wandering in and saying, well, um, you know, we’re not connecting, sexually, etc. You know, how was the intimacy in those other areas? How have the intimacy, you know, like, it, it sounds kind of stupid to say, you know, is your checkbook impacting your bedroom, but seriously, if there’s a product in regard to the way that you’re handling the bills or the way you’re talking to the kids, or how the chores, how the chores are being divvied up, or whatever, and can cause issues?
And, and because if there’s a broke in that trust in, in personal nature, that is intimacy within whatever wrong it is, it’s going to impact that trust in other areas. Absolutely. If I don’t trust the way you’re, you know, doing X, Y, and Z, you know, in this realm, again, with what the phoniest is, or what the kids are with, you know, how you’re taking care of yourself, I might do wasn’t going to trust you in another area as well.
And I feel like a lot of times the feedback that we get on but you guys, a lot of the concerns that get brought up about sexual intimacy do involve trust, do involve, yeah, because trust me trust is integral to any kind of vulnerable relationship.
That’s one of the kingdoms that are looking for intimacy and is vulnerable with somebody. Right?
And that’s what intimacy is, I mean, absolutely, intimacy means that I am putting myself in a place of weakness, intentionally opening myself up, so that I can be known. And so then I’m hoping that you will also open yourself up in some way emotionally, so that I can no you I mean, intimacy is about knowing and being known. And, and trust that and seek that from each other. And so you’re right, that that has so much more to do than just sharing our naked bodies together. That is vulnerable, and that is intimate, for sure. But a lot of times, I think many of us find it more challenging to be vulnerable emotionally than we do sexually. Because it’s so much more challenging sometimes to have a conversation about some of these things than it is to just do it. I can just, you know, close my eyes and think of England if I can mean Victoria, famously, yes,
I can, I can dissociate.
Queen Victoria’s advice to her daughter on how to survive sex, close her eyes and think of England. Just way too often, like that mindset that we have of this is something to just endure to just to get through, you know, yeah, but it’s so much more challenging to invite your mind your soul, in like that gets through the bedroom, and even invite that to the relationship because we, we put up barriers, because we don’t want our spouse to know who we really are.
Or we’re afraid of what they’re going to think of what who we really are inside what we’ve done, what we thought what we desire, we, we are so anxious to suppress all of those things that we think our spouse would shy away from, or would our spouse would think 30 of us if we even brought those topics up. But the greatest gift that we have been given in this life is to be loved for who we really are.
Yeah, if my spouse only loves me for who I want them to know me for, then they’re actually only in love with my PR department. Not me. Yep. But when I’m able to share who I really am, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and all those other ways, that’s the greatest gift that we have. I mean, that’s the gift that God offers us through Christ to be loved in spite of who we actually are. Yeah, and when our spouses can also offer that, to me, that’s the greatest gift that we have in this life is to be loved for who I really am, in spite of who I really am. That’s the greatest gift and that’s what intimacy is. But you can only get that if you’re willing to share who you actually are. Right? Yeah. But that puts you at risk. I mean, that means you’re being vulnerable. That means you’re likely at some point to get hurt. And we don’t like to be hurt. And we like to try to control the outcomes of these kinds of conversations, but you can’t get deep intimacy unless you’re willing to be deeply vulnerable. So to me, that’s a risk worth taking.
Risk. I mean, it’s, it’s scary, to contemplate doing that, to take that first step. And to begin that process. I know Kayla and I have gotten, you know, I feel like in like, in fits and starts, I’m about you guys. But again these Mormons have sort of this reckoning in whatever area of our psyche, or, or in our sexual relationship or whatever, then it’s like, okay, we need to talk, you know, this is sort of like, one of us will want to link something out on the table. And it’s terrifying. But I can, I can look back over the course of our marriage, and even prior to our marriage, just our dating relationship.
And see, there are those moments of vulnerability and how our relationship just like, jumped up onto him from a slow growth curve to just sort of for a second, and we’re just in a different place with your mortgage. And it’s amazing. And then the next one comes, you know, you don’t necessarily look back and go, oh yeah, it was tearing every time.
I say this, or falling, right? Open this part of the app, it’s gonna hurt one other word, hurt, and I don’t want it but right. But you really, I mean, you know, again, talking about how do we achieve sexual connection with one another? Well, the greatest way we do that is by talking is by sharing. And, you know, but and I think that the reaction to what Matt and I are doing is always this sense of relief, every time we go to a seminar, and we have a roomful of people, and they’re all kind of a little on their edge, because they’re like, these are the people that talk about sex. And I don’t really know if we should talk about and, and the minute we just start talking about sex, and God-honoring ways proclaiming the beauty of this covenant relationship, you just, it you can feel it in the room when people realize this is right and holy and great. Talk about, and this is exactly how we get to where we want to be, you know, the Cosmo magazines want to convince you that it’s all about the technique, you know, and that’s what people think about each other’s minds or whatever.
When they know that we talk about sex, they immediately think, Oh, they’re the people who probably talk about positions and technique and hanging from the chandelier. And that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about trade coming from hanging from chandeliers, I did that. I’ve never tried it.
So I can’t you know, hey, we’ll get that soon. Fan. You know, class one more, but you know, yeah. An interesting point that you guys are talking about this in the context of, you know, of like, public speaking, basically, whether it’s a retreat or seminar or whatever, and you have to do it on your podcast, we do it on our podcast on our blog, and that kind of thing.
And what I found is that when when you first start saying the words there’s this nervous energy in the room? Yeah, like, wait a minute, where’s this going? Because I don’t know if you guys but when we’re watching a movie, especially with the kids, and I am certain that humor starts drifting in a certain direction like yeah, okay the pause button or no going okay, now we’re gonna have to, we’re gonna have to cancel this. And we’ll lay it out in like you said in terms where we’re okay we’re not going to go off the deep end here guys.
Right, I talked about something and we’re going to use the wrong groups that we’re not comfortable moving very often on our own want to translate that to that’s when a roomful of people it is it is palpable, like everybody can feel the nervous energy with your spouse, even sometimes, yeah, depending on your comfort level. And we’ve been doing this for so many years, we just don’t even realize sometimes how comfortable you are with sir.
Right. And, Irwin, it’s, you know, what, what do we say and how do we approach it and can and again, can I trust this person to not be worried about it or whatever.