The Best Kind of Handcuffs Aren’t Made of Metal

“Talk about world domination!”

My wife was in a busy season, so I purposefully 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 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.

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.

My small touches during the dinner were 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 29 years and pretty much know how, even in public, I can slowly bring her to a boiling point with slight caresses that no one watching could possibly take offense to. A simple touch in just the right place, a slight moving of her hair can bring to mind past memories and a very promising future.

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.”

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has been discussed by more 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.

Lisa and I don’t seek one great sexual encounter—we want a lifetime of shared sexual memories and moments. I’m not into creating artificial “do’s and don’ts” that aren’t in Scripture, but even an elementary bit of brain knowledge tells me that sexual excitement served by pain will soon feel normal, and then require a little higher level of pain to reach the same excitement, and what does a couple do then to take it to the “next level?” How does the need for pain and a hardware store’s worth of products (including a separate room!) fit into a marital sexual relationship designed to last fifty years or more, when kids are living in the house half of that time? Can that kind of sexuality possibly be sustained in a lifelong love?

A Husband’s Confession
Though I would try just about anything to serve Lisa sexually—as long as it’s not forbidden in Scripture—I’ve told her, “I couldn’t hit you. I just couldn’t. And I could never make you bleed.” Her body is so precious to me, leaving a mark on her would feel like spray-painting over a Rembrandt.

Lisa was fine with those comments by the way—she wouldn’t want me to do either.

Granted, there are many times a woman just wants to be “taken.” My wife, like most wives, doesn’t want to be married to a linguini-spine man. The lie so often ignored, however, is that it also matters intensely what leads up to that taking (and I’m talking months or years, not minutes, prior to the taking).

When a husband has studied his wife, getting to know her moods and her body so well, knowing how each touch will take her to a new place, but then puts in the forethought so that he can still occasionally surprise her—let me tell you, there is no surrender like that of a well-loved wife whose eyes open so wide in surprise with a new touch, and then close right away to enjoy it.

I’ve found that daily kindness will keep Lisa on the bed far more securely than metal handcuffs. The fact that she knows I won’t hurt her pleasures her more than the thought that I might.

A spiritual connection—knowing she’s supported in prayer, knowing I bow my knees to God before I touch her—gives her the freedom to surrender without reservation.

Years—decades, now—of giving pleasure unselfishly has convinced her that any “yes” she offers means she’s soon going to be carried away by my touches, not used by my demands.

There’s no hidden room in our house. The scandal of a pure and intense Christian marital bedroom is that the “tools” of the trade are in full view for all to see. It’s just that our “handcuffs” are spiritual and relational—though no less strong than the kind that requires a key.

Don’t Diminish What You Have
As I already stated, I’m not into constructing Christian lists of “do’s and don’ts” that aren’t taken directly from Scripture. I don’t want to marginalize something that a husband and wife have truly enjoyed, but I also don’t want couples pursuing lifelong sexual satisfaction to think they’re “missing out” on something by forgoing the most recent, popularized sexual gimmick.

For a lifelong love, it’s not about what gets you through the next thirty minutes—it’s about what gets you through the next thirty years. Lisa and I are actually enjoying the sexual freedom that comes with being empty nesters. We don’t have to worry about being quiet, we don’t have to stay up late or muffle our voices in the morning. If things heat up at 7:30 p.m., we can wear each other out, get up, and finish our evening.

True surrender comes when a wife knows that she can slide into her husband’s arms with the full confidence that he’ll soon make her momentarily forget everything bad going on in her life and feel everything good. She won’t want a blindfold, because she wants to see in her husband’s eyes how much he desires and adores her; she won’t want a whip, because she knows nothing will ever please her man as much as her hands, her hair, her lips, her breasts—she has it all, she is all, she is desired above all, she commands him as surely as darkness overtakes the sky at twilight. Her husband just wants her, even more than he wants pleasure, and infinitely more than he wants pain.

Isn’t that what both men and women truly want, sexually? To be wanted for who they are, not the “love weapons” that they hold?

Men, it comes down to this: if we can’t get our wives excited in public, fully clothed, through seemingly “innocent” touches and light caresses, and through the power of memories fulfilled and pleasure liberally given, if we need to somehow convince them to get “handcuffed” to feel like things are getting hot in the bedroom, we probably just don’t know our wives well enough.

And women, you need to know that this trilogy and film series is just another play from the world’s playbook that seeks to make marital sexuality sound less than fulfilling. You never see the long-game in these accounts, only the short-term excitement. If you are enthusiastic in your love with your husband, creative in your expression along biblical lines, generous in your touches, and available with your time, you have everything you need to keep a good man sexually excited, fulfilled, and pleased.

The best kind of “handcuffs” are spiritual—a biblical commitment to each other creating hearts that are eager to serve each other with pure but intense pleasure.

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Gary Thomas is author of many books on spirituality and the family life. His most recent book is A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is About More Than Just Staying Together? You can follow his blog at

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