Tag Archives: Romance

The Art and Progression of Sexual Intimacy

Source: Smithsonian via Flickr
Source: Smithsonian via Flickr

My lover tried to unlatch the door,
    and my heart thrilled within me.
Song of Solomon 5:4 (NLT)

One of the things that I love about the Song of Solomon is the way the relational give and take develops between the young man and the young woman in the duet. Like all relationships, there is a progression of the relationship from the beginning of the song to the end. There is the initial infatuation with one another as they look upon one another and are impressed with what they see. Then there is the growing desire for one another as they seek to be in one another’s presence. In today’s chapter we feel the growing desire and anticipation of sexual intimacy.

The young woman is having another dream, and this time she hears the young man attempting to unlatch the door of her bedroom. Her heart is thrilled (and, I suspect, other parts of her as well). When she gets up to let him in, she finds him gone. Disappointed, she runs through the streets in a frantic search for him. The night watchmen find her and beat her up. You can see in the dream the anticipation of intimacy, the disappointment that it has not happened, and the intense feelings of personal pain and injury that she has not been able to consummate her love.

I have learned over time that sexual intimacy in marriage is best built with anticipation, just like the progression in Solomon’s song. While sex occasionally occurs at the spur of the moment, motivated by a surprisingly sudden surge of hormones, the truth is that there is typically a subtle song and dance that happens between me and Wendy. A glance and casual touch at the breakfast table hints at the possibility that this day may come to a passionate end. Hints are dropped by the wearing of things that the other has commented pleases his or her eye. A dab of cologne on a day that none is typically warranted. There is the casual touch in public that lingers a moment longer than usual. The mind is engaged. The eyes are engaged. The sense of smell is stimulated. The ears hear coded messages: “I shaved my legs today.”

Playful thoughts flitter in and out of each other’s minds during the day. Anticipation builds. A regular evening dinner takes on new layers of sensual meaning as each become aware of what I mentioned in yesterday’s post: There is a connection between senses. The feeding of one appetite will invariably lead to another. The main course tastes so good. The wine seems downright decadent, and savoring the dessert feels almost sinful.

One of the things that Solomon’s song subtly conveys to me is that the climactic, sexually intimate event of the day does not typically just happen. It happens when husband and wife learn and know one another’s subtle, sensory dance. It is me learning how to slowly feed multiple senses of my wife during the day in the ways she best responds. It is my wife learning just how to tease the deliberate build up of anticipation that will lead to a successful, intimate feast after dinner that night. There is an art to the intimacy between husband and wife that takes on the unique characteristics of the two artists involved in creating the intimate moment.

In contrast, I find that popular media (especially pornography) likes to portray sex like it’s most awesome when easily cranked out like one of those ultra high speed photocopiers at Kinko’s (yes, pun intended): Get it fast. Get it often. Get it easy. Everyone gets a copy. Sure, you get the picture – but it’s monochrome, impersonal, and unoriginal. Each one is just like the one before. It quickly becomes meaningless and lifeless. You crank out more copies hoping for something different in the output picture, but it will never be an original work of art.

My experience is that sexual intimacy does not become a breathtaking original work of art unless there are two people learning to create something together over time, learning to work together, make mistakes, erase errors, try something new, explore, play, complement one another’s individual style, and develop their own unique style as a couple over time together. As Solomon’s Song suggests, there is a progression. It gets better, deeper, more refined, and even more powerful in ways neither husband nor wife could scarcely imagine, even in the intoxicating infatuation of the early relationship.

Sexual intimacy between husband and wife is a work of art.

A Hint of Paradise

wendy at als

Kiss me and kiss me again,
    for your love is sweeter than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2 (NLT)


I sit in a hotel lobby as I write this. I have a couple of days in client meetings early this week, so Wendy and I left on Saturday morning to tack on a little weekend getaway to my business trip. We’ve had a lot of fun and it’s been one long date since we left on Saturday morning. As I write this post the elevator music in the lobby is playing “Babe” by Styx, the sappy late 70’s early 80’s power ballad that conjures up memories of school dances, teen romances and off the chart infatuations. I laughed to myself as I heard it and thought about it in context of a romantic getaway with my bride. For some strange reason, I thought it would be fun to start Song of Solomon this morning.


The lyrics of Solomon’s ancient, romantic power ballad bills itself as “more wonderful than any other.” The duet (with back up chorus) starts with the young woman saying that her lover’s kisses are “sweeter than wine.” The truth is that love is intoxicating. I feel it this morning. I’ve felt it all weekend. I’m feeling drunk and sappy with love for Wendy who is my wife, my lover, and my friend. And, I’m enjoying it thoroughly, thank you very much.


Conservative theologians like to point out that Song of Solomon is an ancient allegory of the relationship between Jesus (e.g. the king) and the church (e.g. his bride). I get that, but that’s where the stuffy legalists like to leave the conversation. God forbid we actually have a conversation about the healthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife. What a shame. God is an artist and great art communicates truth on a multitude of different levels. Song of Solomon is an incredible set of ancient lyrics full of sappy romance and strong sexual references both overt (e.g. “my lover is a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts”) and subtle.


God, the artist, created us male and female. He created us naked. He told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Love, intimacy and sex between husband and wife was part of the original ideal and when we are blessed to experience a moment of it here, East of Eden, it is allows us to capture, even for a brief moment, a hint of the original paradise.


Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 30

There are three things that amaze me—
      no, four things that I don’t understand: 
      how an eagle glides through the sky,
      how a snake slithers on a rock,
      how a ship navigates the ocean,
      how a man loves a woman.
Proverbs 30:18-19 (NLT)

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day, and how fitting that we run into wise King Agur’s contemplation of romantic love in today’s chapter. I don’t claim to understand it anymore than he did, and perhaps my life journey and my own plethora of questions only serve to prove that I understand it far less. Nevertheless, the ladies in my life will tell you (at the risk of losing my man card) that my heart has some pretty large soft spots. I’m a sucker for a little romance.

Scholars will tell you that the ancient Greeks had three basic words for the one English word “love.” Agape is a pure, spiritual love. Phileo is a fond, brotherly love. Eros is the love of sensual appetite. I happen to love all three varieties in life giving measure.

Today, I’m grateful for the mystery of love between a man and a woman. I’m thankful for my wife with whom I can experience a fullness of agape love, phileo love, and eros love. And, I’m looking forward to the dinner we have planned together tomorrow night :)

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Date Weekend in the Twin Cities

The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis
Image via Wikipedia

This past week I had to make a run to Minneapolis for meetings with a client, so Wendy and I decided to make it a date weekend to get away and have some time for just the two of us.

On Friday night we headed to the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre for a production of A Wrinkle in Time. The children’s book by Madeline L’Engle was (and still is) a favorite of Wendy’s. I was unfamiliar with the story, but later understood Wendy’s curiosity about how they would stage it. I found it to be a fascinating science fiction plot with a touching human message. I told Wendy afterwards that it reminded me of the original Star Trek: the cutting edge science of the day woven into an engaging story that explored social issues and, ultimately, human nature. As always, MCT did a masterful job and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday morning took us on a jaunt through IKEA to purchase some replacement glassware. Of course, you can’t visit the store without wandering and dreaming for a while. We ended up in downtown for a matinee performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Guthrie Theatre [pictured]. Wendy and I were in Pella Shakespeare Company’s production of the show a few years ago, and it’s one of our favorites. It was fun to see it staged so differently, and so well.

I must admit that the weekend was nearly ruined – or at least severely damaged – when it was discovered that my on-line reservation for the hotel downtown was not completed. Wendy and I both remember me making the reservation, but I must not have completed it correctly and discovered that I never received a confirmation. So, let’s just say that there was no room at the inn we regularly stay at, love, and were expecting to enjoy [strike one]. In true male “fix-it” mode I quickly got on-line and made reservations at another hotel a mile away…without consulting Wendy [strike two]. After the show I immediately started driving us to our “new” hotel, once again,…without consulting Wendy [strike three – end of the inning].

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for me at that point. Yet, I’m happy to report that, in the end, the “new” hotel far exceeded our expectations [hit]. We found a wonderful little restaurant just a few blocks away and walked in the unseasonably warm evening weather to enjoy a romantic dinner [hit]. The following morning’s walk to the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings game was a lot longer than we anticipated (1.1 miles to be exact), but the warm weather was beautiful and the walk did us both good [walk]. We then had the pleasure of watching our beloved Vikings win their first game of the season from some excellent seats in the 9th row [GRAND SLAM!].

So, despite striking out in the late innings, I was overjoyed to have pulled out the victory with a walk-off (1.1 mile walk-off, mind you) homer in the bottom of the 9th. Which reminds me, in case you might not have picked up on it, Wendy and I also watched the baseball playoffs all weekend ;-)

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Out in the Moonlight All Alone

It was a gorgeous, full moon last night. The cool evening was calm and the lake was like a sheet of glass. After a wonderful, late dinner Wendy and I got in the boat, set the throttle to just above idle speed and took a slow moonlight cruise around the lake. We were the only boat on the lake. The moonlight illuminated the hills and the hundreds of dock lights decorated the shoreline in a romantic, blue string.

The seasons they are turnin’ and my sad heart is yearnin’
To hear again the songbird’s sweet melodious tone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The dusky light, the day is losing, Orchids, Poppies, Black-eyed Susan
The earth and sky that melts with flesh and bone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The air is thick and heavy all along the levy
Where the geese into the countryside have flown
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
Well, I’m preachin’ peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
Yet I know when the time is right to strike
I’ll take you cross the river dear
You’ve no need to linger here
I know the kinds of things you like
The clouds are turnin’ crimson–the leaves fall from the limbs an’
The branches cast their shadows over stone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The boulevards of cypress trees, the masquerades of birds and bees
The petals, pink and white, the wind has blown
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
My tears keep flowing to the sea
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
It takes a thief to catch a thief
For whom does the bell toll for, love? It tolls for you and me
My pulse is runnin’ through my palm–the sharp hills are rising from
The yellow fields with twisted oaks that groan
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
– “Moonlight” by Bob Dylan
Photo by Tom Vander Well