I wasn’t thrilled when my wife told me her father would be our pre-marriage counselor. Yes, he was my pastor. Yes, he’s a smart guy with a PhD in God or something. Yes, he’d counseled hundreds of people before they tied the knot. But there was no convincing me I’d make it through the inevitable sex talk without blushing and possibly throwing up a little.
He saved sex for our last session. Becky and I took a seat together on the couch in her apartment, the couch she jumped on as a kid, that she watched TV from with snack in hand after school every day.
Across from us sat her father. And beside him, my mother-in-law.
My girlfriend’s father and mother are about to talk to me about having sex with their little girl. No, this won’t be awkward at all.
By contrast, my own parents never once talked to me about sex. I’ve never even heard them say the word. I’m not entirely convinced they know how my sister and I got here. I didn’t get a book to read, a pamphlet, an after school special, nothin’. I learned about sex from Chris Scudder in the second grade on the playground of Lane’s Chapel Methodist Daycare. He drew me a picture.
So my father-in-law began…
The Best Marriage Advice Ever
He talked about the usual stuff you’d expect to hear: Men generally have greater sex drives than their wives. But sex is still important to both men and women. Blah blah blah… it’s a beautiful and spiritual thing… blah blah blah… Communication is important… blah blah blah… Foreplay…
Wait a second. Did he just say foreplay? Oh, he’s still talking about it. Make it stop! Ok, breathe. Breathe! Try to pay attention without actually listening…and don’t throw up. Don’t. Throw. Up.
I accidentally listened for a second, just long enough to hear the best marriage advice ever.
Foreplay for a man, he said, starts a few minutes (or seconds) before…well, you know what, and my mom and dad are reading so I’m not spelling it out.
But, he said, foreplay for a woman begins when her husband takes out the trash.
My mother-in-law said nothing the entire session. She just nodded and smiled her “amen” as my father-in-law talked, not about what would happen in our bedroom, but what would happen in my wife’s heart if I served her every day.
How To Serve
My friend Billy Patterson, who patiently mentored me for years on how to be a husband, later put it to me this way: “Out serve your wife.” He described how he woke up every morning and scanned the house looking for ways he could make his wife’s life easier or better.
Billy and my father-in-law are onto something, men. Make the kids’ lunches the night before so she has one less thing to do the next morning. Empty the litter box. Mow the yard. Run her a bath and make her some tea when the kids go to bed.
And sometimes, when you can, take the whole day off, put the cell phone in a drawer somewhere, close the laptop, take her to lunch, catch up on that list of home repairs, or just do whatever she wants to do.
Do this without being asked to and without calling attention to what you’ve done. Doesn’t sex mean more to you if you don’t have to ask your wife for it and she doesn’t act like it was a chore on her list?
My father-in-law admitted that it’s hard for a man to serve his wife without expectations of sexual reciprocation. Darn near impossible. But as much as a man can, he has to try to serve his wife just because he loves her, he said.
That advice was well worth the awkward.
My phone’s off. I’ve got a light fixture to replace and a bathroom to clean.