Shaunti Feldhahn & Dr. Michael Sytsma: The Secrets of Sex and Marriage

In today’s Deep Dive Interview, Mark and Jill sit down with Shaunti Feldhahn and Dr. Michael Sytsma to discuss their new book, Secrets of Sex and Marriage: 8 Surprises that Make all the Difference. Shaunti is a social researcher with an analytical background, while Dr. Sytsma is an ordained minister, professional counselor, and a sex therapist. Together, with their unique approaches, they have tackled the topic and written this book which gives straight forward, practical advice, delivered with biblical truth.

Talk About It:

Have we allowed the “Hollywood Version” to bring in any unrealistic expectations in our marriage or sex relationship?

What does it take to woo you (get you engaged) even when you’re not hungry for it?

Can we identify what our relationship challenges are that may be hindering sex from happening? i.e. communication issues, energy management, etc.

Think About It:

Jill mentioned the phrase “committing assumicide” (too many assumptions leading to negative results). In what areas do I need to stop committing assumicide in our marriage?

Am I the initiating desire or the receptive desire? What about my spouse? What can I do to better accommodate this?

Notes and Quotes:

Initiating Desire- Feel desire first and do something about it
Receptive Desire- Make a decision to get involved sexually and eventually feelings of desire follow

Dr. Sytsma and Shaunti Feldhahn’s joint platform with free resources:

“Invite, don’t indict” -Jill Savage

“Couples are way closer than what they think they are” -Dr. Michael Sytsma

Why Your Thinking Matters

What you think determines what you feel, believe, do, and ultimately the results you get in life and relationships. This is why we need to take our thoughts captive and push them in the direction of God’s truth. In this Double Date with Mark and Jill, we help you understand how to apply Romans 8:5-6 to your marriage.

Talk About It

Where, in life, do you need to more intentionally take your thoughts captive?

What is one “flesh” thought you have regularly in our marriage that I could partner in prayer with you about?


Think About It

What is a thought I have consistently about myself or my spouse that does not align with God’s truth? How can I flip the script on that thought to have a more Spirit-led, truth-based thought?


Notes and Quotes

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death and to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  Romans 8:5-6  (underline emphasis ours)

Flesh–our way
Spirit–God’s way



Invite–Don’t Indict

Too often we put our spouse on the defensive simply by how we approach them. We have to learn how to invite, not indict. In this Double Date with Mark and Jill, you’ll learn the skills to move from indicting (accusing) your spouse to inviting them into growth and conversation.

Talk About It

In your home of origin, was there more indicting or inviting?

Do you feel I indict or invite more often? (Don’t be defensive–simply say, “Thank you for the feedback.”)

Think About It

Am I making accusations or requests?

Am I believing the best in my spouse?

Am I curious? Is there another thing I can attribute this to?

Notes and Quotes

Stop indicting. Start inviting.

Learn to make requests, not complaints.

Stay away from “you” statements as well as “always” and “never.”

We need to believe the best and not accuse.

Secrets of Sex and Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn and Dr. Michael Sytsma

Ask yourself, “Is this a bad skill or this a bad heart?”

Be curious.

The Power of Perseverance in Marriage

Love perseveres. It sticks. It hangs on. This is where “for better or for worse” really gets lived out. In this Double Date with Mark and Jill we explore the power of perseverance in marriage!



Talk About It

When have my personal struggles leaked out all over you?
What person in your family modeled perseverance? How did that affect you?

Think About It

Do I ever think of relationships as disposable?
Am I more likely a quitter or a person who perseveres?
Am I able to love someone who is hard to love?

Notes and Quotes

I Cor 13:7–“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

When our spouse is making life difficult for us, we don’t look for a way out.

Disappointment often leads the way to the exit door. This is the damage of unrealistic expectations.

We have to learn to love someone who’s hard to love. (check out Romans 12:9-21)
Here’s a podcast episode on that topic!

Believing the Best In Your Spouse

Are you believing the best in each other? Love believes the best. In this Double Date with Mark and Jill, we dig into another part of the I Corinthian 13 “love chapter” in the Bible to explore what it looks like practically to apply God’s word to our marriage.



Talk About It

Do you feel that I believe the best in you?

Is there some way I can better speak life to you?


Think About It

What keeps me from believing the best about my spouse?

Am I imposing fears on my spouse that come from other relationships I’ve had?


Notes and Quotes

I Corinthians 13:7–Love believes all things.

We need to believe the best in our spouse.

If we don’t believe the best, it’s often because pride, judgement, and criticism rise up.

God believes the best in us.

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