A Review of Love and Respect: How the Book Gets Sex Horribly Wrong

by | Jan 14, 2019 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 173 comments

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs on Sex
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What happens when a bestselling Christian marriage book, like Love and Respect, treats sex as if it’s just for the husband?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the emails and comments on this blog from desperate people. I’ve been trying to address these things on a case by case basis, writing posts about very specific marriage issues.

But when the same things keep popping up, time and time again, I start to ask myself: “How can I address the root cause?”

A few months ago, I started wondering if maybe the reason that so many of the same issues kept recurring was because the Christian teaching in a particular area was faulty. So I thought I would review some popular Christian books on marriage for couples to see what they say about sex. And I thought I’d start with a review of the book Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs, since it’s consistently one of the best-selling Christian marriage books. I’d never actually read it all the way through before, but I thought it was time to take a look.

There’s a lot that I could say about how Love & Respect approaches marriage.

His premise is that women desire love, but men desperately need respect. And both must be unconditional.

I know that many people have read this book and found it very helpful in their marriage. I do believe that if you are in a good marriage, with two well-meaning people, the main message you’ll take away is “don’t be selfish”, which is beneficial. I think that’s why so many people like the book, and have gleaned a lot from it. But if one partner is not well-meaning, the advice can make the marriage worse. Beyond that, the underlying premise of a book can change our expectations and our conversations about marriage, even if it doesn’t hurt our marriage in particular.

And that latter part is what I want to review: How has Love & Respect shaped our conversations about sex?

I’d be happy to review Love and Respect more broadly if people want me to (just leave that request in the comments), but I really want to focus on the teaching about sexuality that is found in the book, since that is the cornerstone of what I write about. So let’s dive in:

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs: A review on how it treats sex in marriage

 

In Love and Respect, sex is only given its own chapter in the section covering husbands’ needs

Eggerichs divides his book up into two main sections:

  • What love looks like for women, and what women need;
  • and what respect looks like for men, and what men need.

In the section of the book that talks about women’s needs, sex is never mentioned as a need (helping her feel good during sex is never mentioned as a need, either). Sex tends to be mentioned as an afterthought in chapters about other things that women need, such as this quote from the Openness Chapter:

“When she believes there is a problem, when she feels hurt, lonely, or neglected, she definitely has no interest in responding to you sexually.” (p. 137)

And then there’s this:

You must not be open [emotionally] to “get sex”. A wife sees through that and is turned off sexually. But when you authentically meet her emotional needs, she’ll be empathetic to your sexual needs.” (p. 144)

Sex is portrayed as something that men will get from empathetic wives if they meet her other needs, and not as something that women may want or enjoy, in their own right.

Here’s what Eggerichs’ Love and Respect Includes in the Sexuality Chapter

When Emerson Eggerichs does explicitly address sex, it’s in the wife’s section of the book on how she can meet her husband’s needs. I don’t want to be accused of taking him out of context, so I’ve written a synopsis of this chapter. However, it’s quite long, so I’ll put it in a box that you can open if you’re interested. For brevity’s sake, though, I’ll summarize:

A Synopsis of the Sexuality Chapter from Love and Respect

Page 250: He can’t respond to emotional needs until he has physical release

The chapter opens with an anecdote about a couple where she wouldn’t respond sexually until he met her emotional needs, but he was withdrawing. So God asked the wife,

“Who is supposed to be the mature one here? He is a new believer and you’ve been in Christ for many years.”….She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. She just didn’t have that need for sex….

As the wife met his need for sex, he became very affectionate.

“Sex for him and affection for you is a two-way street. Just as he should minister to your spirit to have access to your body, so, too, you should minister to his body if you want to gain access to his spirit.”

Page 250: Sex is symbolic of his deeper need–respect

“A husband has a need for physical release through sexual intimacy.” (250)

Page 251: The Two Keys of Understanding Your Husband’s Sexuality

  1. His sexuality is different from yours, because he is visually stimulated.
  2. “He needs sexual release just as you need emotional release.”

Page 252-255: Husbands…can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release.” (252)

The section opens with a story about a daughter explaining to her mother that she and her husband are having a fight, and the mother telling the daughter that she should have more sex with him, saying, “Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him sooooo happy!?” (252)

His anatomy and design is much different from yours. “He needs sexual release as you need emotional release.” (253)

What if he doesn’t get it? “The cold, hard truth is that men are often lured into affairs because they are sexually deprived at home.” (253)

The chapter then goes into several stories about affairs that were started because a man lacked sex. “A man who strays is usually given total blame for his affair, but in many cases he is the victim of temptation that his wife helped bring upon him.” (253) A story about how a wife realized that she was to blame for her husband’s affair follows. She had been so busy with kids that she had left her husband vulnerable to attack from the enemy. She recounts:

“His need for this was so strong that at one point during our separation, he was willing to give up everything—marriage, family, business, reputation, even his relationship with the Lord–just to continue feeling the respect and admiration he was feeling from this other woman…God is helping me see my part in the breakdown of our marriage.” (254)

A final story of an affair, this time one that didn’t end on a happy note, because the wife did not realize that she was responsible for him being tempted. The husband writes (and Eggerichs quotes him approvingly):

“I don’t blame her for [my] immorality, but she doesn’t own up to anything. I’m not blaming her, but she is not blameless.” (255)

Pages 256-258: Men Are Tempted By Other Women, and Need their Wives to Understand

Men need to be able to talk to their wives about their temptations with other women’s bodies. Women need to accept that husbands will be tempted by other women, and not be hurt if a husband shares this. If a woman can share her deepest issues, then men need to be able to share their deepest issues. If a husband should empathize with a woman struggling with body image issues, then a wife should also empathize with a husband being tempted by other women.  (256)

Because she gets upset if she hears that he is tempted by other women, and tells him that he needs to stop looking at other women, he will clam up and will not be able to be open with her anymore. (256)

God understands that men are visually stimulated; women need to understand that husbands are, too, and that they will notice other women and struggle with that temptation. (257)

“Simply put, a man is responsive to what he sees. He needs his wife’s understanding of his struggles.” (257)

“A wife longs to receive her husband’s closeness, openness, and understanding. You can achieve this in two ways: (1) do your best to give him the sexual release he needs, even if on some occasions you aren’t “in the mood,” or (2) let him know you are trying to comprehend that he is tempted sexually in ways you don’t understand.” (257)

“If your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have. When you shame him, punish him, or deprive him, he feels dishonored for who he is. If your husband feels you do not respect his struggle, his desire for you, and his maleness, he’ll pull back from you.” (258)

Page 250: He can’t respond to emotional needs until he has physical release

It opens with an anecdote about a couple where she wouldn’t respond sexually until he met her emotional needs, but he was withdrawing. So God asked the wife,

“Who is supposed to be the mature one here? He is a new believer and you’ve been in Christ for many years.”….She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. She just didn’t have that need for sex….”

Page 250: Sex is symbolic of his deeper need–respect

“A husband has a need for physical release through sexual intimacy.” (250)

Page 251: The Two Keys of Understanding Your Husband’s Sexuality

  1. His sexuality is different from yours, because he is visually stimulated.
  2. “He needs sexual release just as you need emotional release.”

Page 252-255: “Husbands…can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release.” (252)

This section includes several stories about how women’s lack of sex led men into affairs: “The cold, hard truth is that men are often lured into affairs because they are sexually deprived at home.”

Pages 256-258: Men Are Tempted By Other Women, and Need their Wives to Understand

Men need to be able to talk to their wives about their temptations with other women’s bodies. Women need to accept that husbands will be tempted by other women, and not be hurt if a husband shares this. If a woman can share her deepest issues, then men need to be able to share their deepest issues. If a husband should empathize with a woman struggling with body image issues, then a wife should also empathize with a husband being tempted by other women. (256)

“If your husband is typical, he has a need you don’t have. When you shame him, punish him, or deprive him, he feels dishonored for who he is. If your husband feels you do not respect his struggle, his desire for you, and his maleness, he’ll pull back from you.” (258)

That’s a very quick synopsis, but you can see by the page numbers how much space is devoted to each topic.

No author can say everything they want to about sex in just one chapter. When they only have a little bit of space, then, what they do choose to say is indicative of what they consider to be the most important lessons. If people hear nothing else–then let them hear this. If I were to summarize Love & Respect on the topic of sex quickly, then, here’s the information Eggerichs appears to feel is most important:

A husband has a need for physical release. A woman does not have a need for sex; her need is only for emotional connection, which she won’t get unless she gives him sex. Men experience respect through their wives giving them physical release. If wives don’t meet their needs, husbands will be tempted to have an affair, and affairs tend to be caused by women not having sex. Men are visual and will be tempted by other women; when we don’t allow a husband to confess that he finds other women attractive, he will clam up and will cut himself off from us emotionally.

My response to the Love & Respect sexuality chapter:

I  have much I’ll say below about what Eggerichs omits from the book–and about how he portrays women’s sex drives. And I do agree that when we make love, we tend to become more affectionate towards one another (that’s the hormonal effect of oxytocin). But I want to comment here on the overarching theme that men will stray and be tempted if they don’t get physical release.

When Christian teachers repeatedly and consistently say that all men lust and that temptation is normal, this paves the way for dysfunctional marriages and normalizes sexual sin.

When a young woman who is seeped in this teaching is dating a guy who is checking out other women in public, watching porn, and trying to pressure her into having sex, she won’t necessarily see these things as red flags. Since this teaching is so rampant, she assumes that all Christian men treat women as commodities. And she doesn’t think that she deserves more, because she doesn’t realize that more even exists.

I have written at length about how the idea that “every man lusts” hurts marriages, traps men in a sin cycle, and is faulty theology. I won’t repeat it all, but you can see some of these posts:

Here’s what Eggerichs’ Love and Respect Does Not Include in its Sexuality Chapter

Love and Respect never once includes anything about sex being pleasurable for a woman.

Eggerichs frames sex as about the husband’s “physical release”–his orgasm–but he never mentions that women can (and should!) have orgasms, too. When one of the number one Christian marriage books completely ignores the fact that women are supposed to experience sexual pleasure, I find that concerning.

I had a man leave a comment recently about how his wife was in rebellion because she would never give him sex–and it’s not like it took very long! It was just five minutes of her day, and she was rejecting Christ by rejecting him.

This reasoning is consistent with what Eggerichs teaches (he even uses an anecdote about sex not taking very long, so what’s the big deal? Just do it! p. 252). But sex should take longer than five minutes! If sex has never taken longer than five minutes, then it’s quite clear that the husband is only concerned about his own physical release (exactly what Eggerichs says the purpose of sex is) and he’s never realized that he’s supposed to make sure she enjoys herself, too.

I spoke to a woman at a FamilyLife marriage conference once who wanted to understand why she never desired sex. She’d been married for 23 years, and this was the biggest thing they disagreed about. But she just couldn’t get excited about sex. The more I asked questions, the more I understood the issue: Her husband never lasted longer than three minutes, either. But they had no idea this was not ideal. They had heard teaching for years about how women needed to give sex, but never any teaching on a woman’s sexual response.

Her sexual pleasure matters, too! So I told her about 31 Days to Great Sex, and asked her to work through it slowly with her husband so that they could discover what made her feel good as well.

Love & Respect explicitly says that women do not have needs for sex. It also never mentions that women’s sexual pleasure should be part of a healthy sexual relationship. It erases women’s sexual being, turning them simply into vehicles for a man’s physical release. If women’s sexuality is erased, is it any wonder that women’s libido is as well?

Love and Respect never includes anything about sex being about a deep spiritual and emotional intimacy and a deep knowing of each other.

The starting point for many Christian teachers is that sex is about the husband. You see it here in Love & Respect blatantly, where we’re told that sex is about his physical release. It is something a husband alone needs, and something that a wife must provide. Mark Driscoll, in the same vein, called women “penis homes”. I commented on this type of thinking in these posts:

God does not present sex like this at all. God sees sex not as transactional where the husband gets what he needs, but as a mutual experience of a deep “knowing”, a Hebrew word that encompasses a deep emotional and spiritual intimacy as well. And here’s how I described intimacy in my book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex:

From The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex:

Sex is ultimately a longing, a passion, a deep desire for connection. God created in each of us this longing for intimate connection with him, and he put that same longing in us for each other to mirror how he feels about us. (p. 33)

When we’re vulnerable with our mates, we feel a deep sense of connection…And that connection is very powerful. It’s that urgency to devour your husband, to consume him, to be consumed by him, just so that you can feel even more connected. (p. 163)

That’s what sex is supposed to be–not just sex, but truly making love.

But Eggerichs does not even talk about “making love” (that phrase is never used in this chapter). Yes, he does say “sexual intimacy” a few times, but that’s only ever paired with the idea that the man needs physical release or he’ll be tempted. You can’t call it intimacy if it only involves one person’s pleasure and is motivated by the other person’s fear of rejection.

When Christian teachers frame sex as being about a husband’s physical release so that he’s not tempted to watch porn or to stray, we treat wives like the methadone treatment for their husband’s sex addictions. 

I sometimes wonder if those who teach such things have any idea what this teaching does to a woman’s heart–a woman who wants so desperately to be truly intimate with her husband, to be truly respected, and to be truly cherished. If sex is reduced to his physical release, then he is using her body while ignoring her soul. That’s erasing her very personhood.

Love and Respect never addresses the 25% of marriages where the wife has the higher sex drive.

So many women on my blog are desperate because their husbands never want sex. In my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that 24% of women had higher sex drives than their husbands. If they read this book (and others) and listen to Christian teachers who talk only about a man’s need for sex, and a woman’s obligation to give it–well, how are they going to feel?

Love and Respect never talks about how pornography is ravaging men’s sex drives (and women’s!) and how this must be dealt with before just “having sex”

Sex cannot be intimate if a man is using a woman after being aroused by images of other women. That is the antithesis of intimacy.

Yet if sex is only about men’s “physical release”, then none of this matters. That’s a recipe for an extremely unhealthy, and even sexually abusive, marriage.

I have written at length about how porn use rewires the brain so that what becomes arousing is an image or a video, rather than a relationship. Delve too much into porn, and it becomes more and more difficult to be aroused by your wife. Men who use porn often also “use” their wives in bed. They tend to be selfish and can be rough; they demand things that the wife doesn’t want to do that she considers gross; they don’t think of sex as being about love, but as being about him taking what he wants. This is extremely unhealthy–for the marriage; for the wife’s heart; but also for the husband’s soul.

If a woman were married to a guy addicted to porn, and she read Love & Respect, what would she hear?

His porn use is her fault, because the reason that guys stray is because their wives aren’t giving them sex (specifically physical release). This is demonstrably false. Most husbands who use porn got hooked before they married. In addition, most men with porn habits lose interest in their wives. In most marriages to porn users, the problem is not that he wants sex and she isn’t giving it, so he turns to porn. The problem is that he is never interested in her, because he watches porn and masturbates all the time.

Yet reading this book, she would be given no advice on how she should address his porn issue except “have more sex so he won’t stray“, which is actually exactly the OPPOSITE of what should be done to help him defeat this–and ridiculous anyway, because male porn users don’t tend to be interested in sex with their wives.

Love and Respect never talks about how a woman might have a good reason for not wanting sex right now.

Leaving out any legitimate reasons why a woman may want to say no actually fits with the Love & Respect approach, because if sex is only about his physical release, and not about them feeling intimate, then her feelings are completely irrelevant. So whether she is feeling pukey from pregnancy; grieving from a recent loss; pain from physical ailments (or sexual pain); or even just plain exhausted–none of that matters, because of his overarching need for respect, which he experiences as her giving him physical release. And because they’re needs, they supersede what she wants.

Indeed, Eggerichs frames sexual release as a desperate need that she will never understand. And if it’s a need like that, then she could not possibly have a good reason to say no. Eggerichs repeats this “need” sentiment several times in Love & Respect:

[H]e has a need you don’t have. (258)

He needs sex; she doesn’t. If that’s true, then it’s setting up the expectation that whenever they have sex, he will want to, but she won’t. She’s really doing it just for him. That’s explicitly what Eggerichs says, too:

She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. (250)

Women then grow up believing that the norm in marriage is having sex when you don’t want to. No wonder so many women struggle with the idea of consent! This mindset is the reason I had to write this post on how there can actually be rape in marriage.

Incidentally, if at least 1/4 of women are victims of sexual assault or abuse, and even more are victims of unwanted sexual attention, how do you think framing sex as something that she will never really want, but she must give to him anyway, makes her feel about marriage?

On this blog, I do indeed talk about how women should have sex more frequently. I do believe that sex should be a frequent and intrinsic part of marriage. But I do it in terms of “what can we do to help you boost your libido and reclaim the sex drive God gave you”, not in terms of “you’re obligated to have sex for your husband’s sake.” That difference matters. One honours women and how God made us; one erases us.

I try so hard on this blog to give both sides of the equation–how men need to woo their wives and make sex feel good, but how women need to be enthusiastic about sex, too.

I do believe that, in general, men make love to feel loved, whereas women need to feel loved in order to make love.

I do believe that the sexes in general terms approach sex differently, because this has been well-documented in scientific studies. I have been encouraging women for years to have more sex with their husbands–and here are just a few posts to show it!

This does not mean, however, that sex is only for the husband, or even primarily for the husband. The very fact that God created women with a clitoris means that in God’s eyes, women’s sexual pleasure matters!

We often criticize the world because our culture has made sex merely physical.

But when the church makes the same mistake–well, it doesn’t just break my heart. It makes me angry.

Angry for all the women who have been brought up never hearing that sex is for you, too.

Angry for all the men who have grown up hearing that lust is inevitable and that they can’t relate to women as full people, but will always see them as body parts.

Angry for all the couples who have been taught that sex is something husbands are entitled to from their wives, without ever hearing about how sex should take more than two minutes; how men should be responsible for a woman’s orgasm; that women’s sexual pleasure matters, too.

What do you think happens to a woman’s libido if all she hears is that men need physical release; if you don’t have sex, he’ll be tempted to watch porn or have an affair; and your way of respecting your husband is to say yes, no matter what you feel?

What do you think happens to men who are told that they have a need for physical release that their wives must provide, and that if they’re not given sex, it’s not men’s fault if they stray?

You end up with men who feel entitled to sex and women who feel used. 

Don’t you think we can do better than this?

I know I’ve been critiquing Love & Respect, but the truth is that this philosophy is pretty consistent with a lot of Christian marriage books, and even Christian marriage retreats (not the ones I speak at with FamilyLife Canada!). This is the message that I’ve seen, over and over again.

When it comes to Christian teaching about marriage, the woman’s perspective has been sorely lacking for far too long. 

I think the fact that so much Christian teaching about sex is so warped is directly related to the fact that there has been a lack of women’s voices.

It’s frustrating to me that men can write marriage books for couples, but women can only write marriage books for women. It’s frustrating that men can speak at marriage conferences, whereas women can only do so if they’re part of a couple. When it comes to marriage, you NEED the woman’s perspective.

So please, let’s give the full picture of sex as part of God’s design:

It’s the perfect picture of mutuality. It’s about a deep knowing of each other. It’s supposed to be pleasurable for both. It helps us understand real passion, by helping us become vulnerable and lose control. It gives us a window into passion with God. It helps us grow close and more affectionate. It’s designed as the height of human pleasure, for both of us. And in sex, we learn how to be giving, but also how to receive.

(Here’s a longer post on how to talk about sex in a healthy way to both genders).

Seriously, if we just talked about sex like that–I bet you would see far fewer husbands being selfish and far fewer wives with no libido! But when women grow up with the message that God built them with no inherent desire for sex, but a deep obligation to meet men’s sexual needs on men’s terms–

Well, is it any wonder so many Christian women don’t want sex?

I await, with great trepidation, your comments. 

* Thanks to daughter Rebecca, by the way, for that methadone line. That was awesome.

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Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs: A review on how it treats sex in marriage

 

Like this post?

Since posting these reviews of Love and Respect, many people have asked me how they can share their concerns with their churches and community.

We created a report of the hundreds of comments we received (including good and bad reviews) which is available to download together with a sample letter to send to churches.

You can download both and send them to whoever you think needs to read them here:

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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173 Comments

  1. Mollie

    Thanks Sheila!
    I am very thankful that my marriage is passionate and my sex life is mutually fulfilling! It shocks me that so many of your readers deal with these painful issues! Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in the church and I have a past that I know how good sex should feel for both parties?! I guess I assumed that everyone knew that! How sad to think that those who have always walked with God may not know how great sex can feel as an expression of love in marriage! As crazy as this may sound, for this reason I am “happy” for my past and I guess my husband is too as he benefits from the joy we both feel in making love!
    Keep on keeping on my friend!! Your voice is powerful and important!! May the Lord continue to give you strength and courage to speak up about such an important topic!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Mollie, dear!

      I do find that, especially with men, often those who grow up in the church have a harder time being good lovers and understanding what sex is for than those who grow up outside the church. That, I think, is really, really sad, and we need to take that seriously.

      • C

        I focus tremendously on my wife’s pleasure, and it is clear she enjoys it. I, as you said, take responsibility for her orgasms. Yet, she is incredibly passive, lying there in a way that makes me feel like sex is something I’m doing TO her rather than experiencing WITH her. I’m working hard to make sure she enjoys it, and she says and looks like does, but I feel so disconnected sometimes because she doesn’t reach out to me or they do give me pleasure other than just making herself available. Ive tried to talk to her about this, but i feel she doesn’t see it as a priority, that as long as i am able to orgasm (which, I guess I’m responsible for as well?), then she maybe feels she doesn’t need to do more than simply make herself available. It makes me feel like my need for her involvement isn’t important.

        Bur maybe it isnt? Having grown up in the church, I feel it’s my role as the husband to sacrifice everything for her, at the expense of myself. Or are least, that a the message I’ve gotten, that whatever happens in the relationship is my fault/responsibility as the man, and I’m the one that needs to make sacrifices instead of asking for her to change anything. Am I just being selfish?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          C, that’s a really common problem, and I think a lot of it is because we women aren’t taught that we’re allowed to enjoy sex, or that it can be for us, too. See if this post resonates with you, and then perhaps you can show it to your wife.

          • C

            Thanks. I think she does enjoy it, she says as much and I can tell by how she responds and, well, gasps. I just feel like she thinks all I need is for her to physically be there, but over these 15 years i would like to at least be touched and kissed back. I’ve asked her for this, and tried to communicate about it but always feel guilty asking, and it hasn’t really changed. The disconnection is emotionally draining, pouring out all the time.

            I’ve been telling myself it isnt really that important, that I shouldnt ask her to change, but my heart still hurts. And I know I shouldnt be asking her to meet my needs, I should be focused on making sure I’m attending to her needs and loving her.

            I’ve suggested several times that she read articles here, but she doesn’t read them. She doesn’t seem interested. I just need to find how to not care about it as much, i think, but I can’t find any articles about that.

        • Chris

          C, you and i are in the exact same boat. Every 4-6 months my wife wants to be intimate but that just means its my time to give her an orgasm. She does not touch me and my clothes don’t even come off. I feel your pain man.

        • Samantha

          C, honestly I don’t think your wife’s problem is that she doesn’t believe sex is for her to enjoy. I think she understands that sex is for her all too well actually. And from the sounds of it she has gotten selfish because of it.

          My husband always makes sure I enjoy our intimate moments. And because I have that perspective I can honestly say that it would be very easy for a woman to get selfish when her husband is very generous in that department. So much so that she could easily forget that her husband is a person who needs special attention too. It’s like you said, she figures you can take care of yourself too. It’s not wrong at all for you to want her to participate and pay attention to you. I’d say try having a totally honest conversation about what you need from her to make intimacy more fulfilling for you as well. Maybe begin by asking her how she feels about your sex life and whether or not she enjoys it. Maybe ask if there is anything she’d like from you. Then go into what you would like from her. If she dismisses your needs and feelings, then I’d say some boundaries need to be put in place. If that means no sex until she takes your concerns seriously I think that is perfectly reasonable. Make sure she knows that you don’t want it that way. That you miss being with her, but that you need her to take what you’re saying seriously. If sex currently isn’t emotionally fulfilling for you, then that is just going to get worse over time if things don’t change.

        • Samantha

          And, C, I think you bring up an interesting perspective about the church making you feel like everything that goes wrong in the relationship is the man’s fault. I actually worry about the tides turning too far in the other direction when it comes to some churches being abusive towards women. In all honesty I worry that some women would love nothing more than for men to be the ones who bend to the will of the woman in the relationship. I honestly can’t help but wonder that if this were a marriage book that focused on all the ways men need to comply to their wife’s wishes, would there be such an outcry about it? I’m NOT saying that is what Sheila’s purpose is. I think she made it very clear that there are things that a man and woman need to do in order to have a successful marriage. And I’m not saying I agree with this book. Quite the opposite. The fact that this turd of a man was such a selfish, self-serving baby that he didn’t miss his wife while she was away because he had too much fun acting like a sloppy pig was enough to turn me against him and his book. But some of these comments from women make me uncomfortable. Some do give the impression that men are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the church and in marriage.

    • Debbie

      Thank you, Sheila! Thank you! We need you in the public forum to maintain the balance that sex is for women too. If men would be taught the benefits to them when a woman expresses herself sexually, they would be eager to bring this truth into their marriages, and to GOD alone be the Glory!

  2. Sarah

    Well, no need for trepidation from this reader. This article is spot on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking for women and their needs. I was raised in an ultra conservative, Love and Respect type culture in my school and youth group. Thankfully, my father never showed us an example of objectifying women, but the teaching is still so prevalent. It is what I came into marriage expecting. I have always been a questioner and your blog has helped to solidify why so many things in the whole purity culture/love and respect culture never sat quite right with me. I aporeciate yohr blog very much.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Sarah! And I’m glad your dad was such a great person. The church needs more dads like that!

  3. Laura

    Thank you, Sheila. It was through reading a different (negative) review of this book that I realized that I had been raped several times within my marriage. No wonder it’s so hard to trust or feel safe!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Laura, I’m so sorry! Yes, there definitely can be rape in marriage. God values women. He does. And He never, ever wants husbands to treat us like objects or to use us just for their pleasure. We are created in the image of God. We are not commodities. Any theology that treats us that way is not of God. I do pray that you can get a great counsellor to help you process this!

  4. Gemma

    Woah… I had heard of this book. People often mention the whole Men need Respect Women need Love thing (although I didn’t know it was that women “only” desire Love). I never really bought into it (Surely we both need both in a marriage) but I didn’t think it was that harmful. This article has opened my eyes. If this book is ever mentioned among Christians I know I will make sure to make people aware of its harmful messages. Thank you for this article. I would like to hear more about what you think of the rest of the book!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Gemma! If enough people want it, I certainly will run it. And I do think that we need to speak up. Sometimes we assume that because something has sold a ton, it must be very wise. But it’s okay to read with your eyes open, and say, “this doesn’t line up to what I know about God.”

      • Susanna

        I want to hear about the rest of this book too!
        I know people that swear by it, but the whole approach makes me feel kind of icky. I’ve only read portions though, not the whole book.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Working on it now! 🙂 Thanks for asking.

        • Mikaela

          I’d also really like to see a review of the book as a whole.

        • Lin

          Same. I read the book before I got married and really disliked it but couldn’t quite put my finger on why at the time. I knew the whole framing was off but this article was like, whoa, no wonder I didn’t like it when I read it.

  5. Lydia purple

    How does he even come up with the claim that women have no sexual need?

    Suppose we turned that around… and claim that husbands have no need to procreate, so the women has the only legitime need for sex in order to get pregnant. The purpose of sex is clearly to procreate. Men are just sperm donors. So why bother with all the mess once the women’s need for children is met. Oh the outcry we‘d hear if we framed sex this way…(Disclaimer: I don‘t think this way I was just trying to create the opposite scenario)

    Also love and respect… both need both!!! It‘s a faulty conclusion that only men need respect and only women need love taken from the instruction in the Bible that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands. Maybe this was written because wives were loving their husbands but not showing respect, and husbands were respectful but not loving?!

    • Lydia purple

      Also consider linking this on amazon and goodread reviews. I think it‘s important!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thanks, Lydia. I appreciate it!

    • Deb

      Good thought!!! But not Godly of course as you said. Thanks for sharing it. There’s a few men who need to hear this idea… maybe put them in their place. It’s sad that the devil has perverted such a beautiful thing. 🙁 Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  6. Jeff

    I completely agree with your analysis of this book. I was very disappointed in the book as it really did nothing for our marriage or sex life. Making love to me as a man is extremely emotional. We are not just looking for a release but a deep emotional connection to the one we love and we want our wives to feel the same. I would much rather please my wife than receive my own pleasure. Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Jeff! And I’m glad a guy mentioned that. My husband always says that it’s not the physical release that he needs–it’s that feeling that we’re close, and that I want to be close. It’s the whole package. For him to reduce sex to just a man needing physical release is just so insulting to men, not just women. We really must do better.

    • Daniel

      Jeff: Yes! You nailed it. I too would rather please my wife than focus on my own pleasure. Sex feels great, but it just feels so selfish if my wife doesn’t enjoy it (which never happens).

  7. Kay

    YES YES YES YES YES.

    Two problems that feed into one another here: 1. Sex is solely about supply and demand, and 2. That this supply and demand system is based on FEAR, not love.

    Supply and demand: He has the need for sex (demand) and she has “the sex” and it is her job to give it to him. And if she doesn’t give it to him, he will go find it someone where, so she gives him sex out of fear. CAN NO ONE SEE HOW MESSED UP THAT IS? And is that even meeting a man’s need for respect anyway? What man is turned on when his wife says, “I am only having sex with you right now so you don’t cheat on me?” Wouldn’t that be deeply DIS-respectful?

    And any woman who constantly has sex only out of fear and only for him (not for herself) will quickly grow to hate sex. Which then turns into a vicious cycle because pastors like my FIL and in this book just keep saying, “Your husband needs sex and it’s your job to give it to him.” Can they not see that it is this exact message that is making women hate sex in the first place??

    Men and women BOTH need sex. Yes, our libidos may work differently. Women need to know that arousal often may not begin until *after* you’ve made the decision to have sex. But when sex is MUTUALLY satisfying, isn’t that what higher drive men want in the first place? A wife who wants and enjoys sex with him specifically because it is SO much more than physical release? And don’t most men intuitively know it’s about more than physical release or else sexual rejection wouldn’t be so painful and masturbating in the shower would be equally satisfying? Let’s give men the credit they deserve here. Sex is for BOTH of you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      AMEN AMEN AMEN.

      And it’s THIS sentence that sums up everything I’ve been trying to say about this whole approach:

      “Can they not see that it is this exact message that is making women hate sex in the first place??”

      Yes. That’s it indeed. Why is there a crisis of low libido among Christian women? Because this is what they grow up hearing. And nothing can be worse to their sex drives than this. Nothing.

      Keep standing strong, Kay! I know you’re in such a difficult church situation. Even if you never get through to your FIL, I hope you’re able to speak to some of the other women and say, “it’s not actually like that, you know.”

    • Diana L Harrington

      Perfect truth❤

  8. Michelle

    This is awesome! Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re welcome!

  9. Daniel Berman

    Thank you for writing this!

    Several years ago, my wife and I went through a weekend course put on by our church using “Love and Respect” and I am ashamed to say I didn’t catch any of the subtext detailed here at the time. The Lord has had me on a journey that has been covering a lot of this same ground over the same six+ months, but you have encapsulated it perfectly.

    This post spurred a good discussion with my wife and I will be passing this post on to my best friend who just got married, and our marriage ministry leaders at church.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Daniel. I’m glad it could help!

  10. Angela

    it’s amazing to me how people can get something so different from a book! I’ve read Love & Respect SO many times because it’s so good and I’ve never had any of the feelings or thoughts that you portray. It definitely depends on the mindset going in to reading.
    When I read it, I read it completely as women are wired to love naturally, so Paul didn’t feel like he needed to address the issue to Ephesus – but women have a really hard time giving someone respect unconditionally. However the opposite is true for men. They were wired to respect, but don’t quite grasp how to ‘love’ unconditionally. And obviously there are ALWAYS exceptions and none of us are perfect. Also – when I read the book, I was struggling/recovering from abusive relationships in the past and trying to make my marriage better because it was definitely not a healthy one. This book helped me change my attitude and realize that my husband was not the only one who needed changing (I started reading the book with the intention of sharing with my hubby all that he needed to change LOL). When my attitude changed, my husband’s attitude changed.
    I appreciate your honest thoughts about the book as it gives me another perspective when discussing with friends.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Angela. And given the outcry on my personal Facebook profile, I likely will write more about the book in general. But I just do invite you to take a look at what he’s really saying in the sex chapter. I’ve included so many quotes (especially in the “learn more” toggle box). It is very difficult.

      • Angela

        I’ve read the book many times over. Like I said, I think a lot of how it’s perceived has to do with the previous mindset. I’ll definitely read it again with fresh eyes though as it has been almost a decade since the last time I’ve read it 😉 (therefore, my memory of it could also be pretty skewed haha).

        • Michèle

          I interpreted the book much the way Angela did the couple of times I read it early in our marriage. It was spot-on in the part that it was easy for me to show love to my husband but respect didn’t come naturally. (Not the sex part though, we’ve always had a pretty awesome sex-life). It taught me to watch *how* I say things to try to phrase things in a more respectful manner. I never caught on to the messed up way he deals with sex because sex was never an issue for us. Reading this blog post has made me realize there were things in this book I missed (again, probably because it wasn’t an area we struggle in).

          Anyway, found my way here from a friend’s Facebook post. I’m intrigued and will look around. Even if something is great, it can always get better 😉

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            So glad you’re here, Michele!

  11. Lois

    Applauding over here!
    Well done! Thank you for writing this and pinpointing the harmful ideology perpetuated in Love & Respected

  12. LL

    Thank you!! I have heard so many raving reviews about this book, but when I read it, it made me raving mad! Haha! He actually says it’s a sin for a woman to not meet all of her husband’s respect needs because God commands her to, and then says a man can never give his wife the love she craves because only God can fulfill that desire. Totally lopsided view of all marriage intimacy. His book was very obviously “for the man”. So glad someone else felt the same way I did!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, now I’ve got to go find where he said that! I’m trying to write a follow-up post on this tomorrow, so I’ll take a look!

  13. Antonia

    I haven’t read this. But if it’s as you describe, then ifbthe husband wanders because “not enough sex at home”, that’s blaming the victim, just as in rape. Maybe the wife’s sexual needs were not acknowledged or she was objectified and she just felt this to be totally wrong, even sinful, to participate in. And so he found another woman who didn’t mind being objectified…Well, pursued, which at the beginning of a relationship makes you feel not objectified and hides the true nature of the man’s motive….And then she finds out and is victimized again. Yet, it’s “all her fault” according to this book.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Definitely the sex chapter devoted the most number of pages to telling women how when you don’t give your husband sexual release, he may have an affair, or he’ll be more tempted by other women. That was the thrust of his arguments.

  14. Lea

    “Men need to be able to talk to their wives about their temptations with other women’s bodies.”

    Why on earth would a man ‘need’ to talk about how sexy he finds somebody else???? I’m sure my boyfriend does not want me to routinely tell him about guys who are hot.

    He also later equates that to a woman having issues with *her own* body, which is not the same thing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m honestly not sure. I just didn’t even get that part of the chapter (I didn’t get the other parts, either, but I could at least understand where his thinking was coming from. This one left me totally in the dark. Doesn’t compute at all).

      • Lea

        I’m glad it’s not just me. The only thing I can think is that he intends this conversation to go – I find this other woman sexy, therefore you need to get more sexy? Or alternately to excuse a man’s bad behavior (porn, leering, cheating, etc). Neither of which sounds helpful.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          My son-in-law was laughing about this and trying to imagine such a conversation:

          Daughter: “I feel so fat and frumpy!”

          Son-in-law: “I understand, Honey. I’m sorry about the cultural expectations placed on you. By the way, you know who’s NOT fat and frumpy?”

          It is rather bizarre. I have a better idea. Let’s call everyone to holiness like Christ did.

          • karla

            Women , myself included suffer with body issues. Like your astute son-in-law pointed out, how does sharing that you find so and so attractive in a sexual way help your marriage? It tears down your wife. I have been there and it has made me feel invisible as a person. As if my feelings, my heart is of no concern. Only his bragging.

            Terrible marriage advice.

            I do have the book. I honestly don’t remember exactly what was the turnoff but I put it away. I had forgotten about it. I don’t think that it was this chapter though it may of been.

        • Nancy

          So when my husband and I read this book (eons ago now it feels like), I remember taking this more as the man sharing his struggles with lust in a safe way. That in general, women get upset to hear that a man actually struggles with lust and shames him instead of showing him grace and asking how she can help him overcome that struggle. Much like a woman struggles with her body image and doesn’t want to be shamed by the man for having that struggle or sharing it. So just as she wouldn’t want to hear “why would you struggle with that? That’s ridiculous!” he doesn’t want to hear that either but often that is the case when a man shares his struggle or that’s the fear at least. If he knows the woman will respond with grace, he might be more likely to share his struggles rather than burying them and letting them turn into more sin such as porn or an affair. I did not take that as is the woman’s fault of he does have an affair, but more so that open communication about struggles will help ward off problems becoming deeper and leading to greater temptations. However, where I do agree with this article is that Eggerichs answer to how the woman can “help” him through that struggle is just give him more sex… It’s super unhealthy. For my husband and I, helping him is me asking and holding him accountable with questions like “how are you doing spiritually? Have you had a lot of tempting situations regarding lust? What have you done when those temptations arise? How can I pray for you? Do you think having sex more would help? (by the way that answer has never been yes but he’s appreciated me asking) “… And as Eggerichs says, responding to those answers with grace and respect is so important. But just giving him more sex like that’s the only answer is a really awful and honestly degrading answer in my opinion.

          • T

            Nancy, this is how I took it. Your answer perfectly voices how I thought about it all.

  15. Carrie Breault

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. I purchased this book 15 years or more ago. And I was disgusted and very angry after I read it. It does have some good points in it, but, as you stated, the book and it’s advice can only work with two willing people. If only one person, and it’s most often only the women who is doing the work, is trying it will not be successful. I found the book extremely one-sided. I was so angry I could have spit nails. Women need the emotional connection, which men don’t seem to understand (or care), otherwise it’s just sex and nothing else. Nothing but emptiness. Very soul draining. Most of the time I felt like an unpaid prostitute. I felt used. My husband and I, in the last year or so, attended a marriage retreat (focused mainly on communication). At the end of the 3 day retreat they gave each of the couples the “Love and Respect” book. Inwardly I was screaming. I have not reread this book and I will not. I will also not recommend it to anybody either. Thank you again for this article.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Carrie! I’m sorry they handed out the book at the retreat. Likely a lot of couples at the retreat were really having problems, and the book may very well cement them. So sad. Please keep spreading the word! People need to know that they can speak up and say no, even if the book has sold a ton of copies.

  16. Dana

    It reminds me of an old Victorian era teaching i read about in college. Proper women were not supposed to like sex, they were supposed to tolerate it, even in marriage. And for good measure, they should tolerate a mistress as well, because he could do with that woman what not self respecting woman would want. Whenever I happen across Christian teaching on sex, I frequently feel like we haven’t come very far. Men are scarcely above animals in their quest for sex and women are to smile sweetly and take it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, “Lie back and think of England!”

      And I think we do great disservice to men, too, when we talk about them like they’re merely animals.

  17. Anonymous

    Thank you for this. I’m so sick of seeing this book recommended. These teachings were toxic to our marriage (my husband was a very, very broken man – “basically well meaning” doesn’t even enter into the discussion. He’s slowly healing, though).
    I haven’t read the comments, so I may be repeating, but my take on this book was basically: if Emmerson wants it but doesn’t get it from his wife, it’s lack of respect or overt disrespect. If Emmerson doesn’t want it (like the issue of picking up wet towels) but does get it from his wife, he chalks it up to lack of respect of overt disrespect. He writes over and over, “I didn’t feel respected.” He paints himself a great, big carte blanche. It’s largely about him, and the wife and the unit is distant second or third. My husband began using this tactic w/ me. We were taught this in church by the elders. “This is the best teaching on the man/wife relationship I’ve ever encountered” they told us. So, thank you for speaking out. We desperately need this.

    • Erin

      Sheila, I looked on goodreads and you gave it a 4star rating 4 years ago. You may want to change that and add a review.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Did I really?!? Crap. Thank you for telling me that. I had only skimmed it and hadn’t read it, either. I’ll go and do that! I really used to just assume that all of these books that were so recommended were good. Now I’m learning that you have to actually read them all and look carefully at what they say. And the more I do that, the more dismayed I am.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Just changed it! I think I’ll go back and review all of my reviews now. I really just assumed that the books that I was sent by a big marriage organization really were good. But that’s how I was able to write this in the first place–someone sent me the book. And I didn’t have to buy it. 🙂

          • anonymous

            Hi, thank you for your response to me, and to Erin. If it’s of interest to you, you also referenced it in Thought #2 (note 3, p 43 & 222) of _9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. It’s an affirming reference, with no caveat emptor. Might be worth removing from future editions.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you! I appreciate that. I’ll make a note.

          • Dave

            You gave 4 out of 4 stars in a review of the book, then admit you didn’t read it, but then write a lengthy warning rebuttal to its contents regarding sexual activity after you finally read it? But then discover that you have referenced some of the book’s content in your other writings as support material? That’s pretty messed up.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yep, I agree. It is. And that’s why I owned what I did.

            Here’s the thing: I thought it was a good book because all the organizations I worked with used it. And I had had it explained to me, and it sounded reasonable. So in blog posts, I would mention that men need respect.

            What I learned from this whole thing is that often we go along with groupthink. I hadn’t even realized that I was doing it. I just naturally assumed that what people said about the book was true. But then when I read it, I realized how bad it actually was.

            I’m sorry I ever rated it, and I have since corrected it. And I owned it as soon as it was brought to my attention, and I’ve mentioned it as well. I think it does show, though, that we ned to stop assuming that just because other people like something that it means it’s good!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I found that, too. I was very perplexed by the way he talked about his wife or described interactions with his wife. I wondered, “If this is how he treats his wife, why is he writing marriage books?”

      I’m glad you found this post affirming! God has given us all discernment. It’s okay to speak up, even if church elders recommend a book. It’s okay to say, “that book is toxic.”

  18. Anna

    The oft-given explanation of the underlying verse for this book always cracked me up. “Women need to be commanded to give respect because they LOVE naturally, but don’t show respect naturally.” And conversely, “Men need to be told to love, because it doesn’t come naturally but showing respect does.”

    Ha! Talk about reading your own biases into that. Where, in the history of the world, are all these men who have “naturally ” shown respect to women?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HAHA! I never thought of that, but it’s so true.

    • Susanna

      Yes! I don’t know any men who give respect unconditionally, not to women, not to other men. And historically, men have a terrible track record on treating women with dignity and respect. That whole premise just boggles my mind every time someone brings it up!

    • Lea

      Seriously agree. Isn’t a huge part of the problem that too many men absolutely do not respect women? I don’t get that as a way of excusing the book at all.

    • Dianne

      —Aside from the fact that it’s kind of hard to love a woman or meet her need for love if you show her no respect and treat her as a sexual object, making her responsible for your sin.

    • Anastasia

      My goodness, you made me almost throw my phone at the ACCURACY of your comment!! When have the majority men NATURALLY respected women??

      #preach

      Love your work, Sheila!!!

    • Samantha

      To be fair, there have been women throughout the history of the world who don’t respect themselves and therefore create a precedent for men to assume that all women want to be viewed as sexual objects or at the very least don’t mind being treated that way. So women have contributed to their own disrespect and the disrespect of other women. It is blatantly obvious in today’s culture that there are women who actually WANT to be sexually objectified because they realize there is power, money and fame to be gained from their behavior. There are various passages in the Bible that warn men about these types of women and for good reason. They existed then and they exist now. Only now there is a lot of money and fame to be gained from that lifestyle so it is much more alluring for women stoop to that level of depravity. Of course these women aren’t gaining any respect from men, but respect isn’t what they care about getting because it doesn’t contribute to their growing careers or egos.

      I’m not saying women are solely responsible either. But they have played their part and it’s important that we don’t heap all of the blame on men for the way women are viewed especially in our current culture. And I think it’s also important to point out that women who behave in that way are being incredibly disrespectful to men and other women.

      • Anna

        I have really given a lot of thought to this comment the past few days, and I want to make it clear that I know what you are talking about, I see it too, and I understand, I think, what you are trying to say. But I just am not willing to throw other women under the bus over this. Capitalizing on sex appeal has been one of the few ways women could take some power in the history of the world, and I am not going to condemn them for that. As far as modern society goes, well, that’s somewhat of a different story, but it has never really been any skin off my teeth if a woman chooses to live life differently than me by using her physical appearance to gain some traction in the world. I just can’t find it in myself to begrudge it.

        • Samantha

          I get the impression that an awful lot of women feel the same way you do, and I actually find your honesty about it refreshing. But often in the same breath women will begrudge men for supposedly taking advantage of the women who willingly sell themselves in this way. Women will talk all day long about the sleezy men who profit financially from sexually objectifying these women, but won’t admit that the women are equally sleezy. Women will also complain all day long about the men who choose to become consumers of the visual sex these women are willingly putting out there to be consumed, but they would never complain that women are also at fault for creating such a large and varied supply to be consumed. We talk about lust for female flesh being a huge problem for a lot of men but we never talk about the fact that the lust for power over men in this way is a huge problem for a lot of women. And I do believe it is a huge problem that women like to sweep under the rug because they feel like they are betraying some sort of sacred sisterhood by pointing out that women are also responsible for the way women are viewed as sexual objects in society. The truth of the matter is that men and women both have problems with sexual immorality, but women only like to focus on what men are doing wrong. Women eagerly talk about the fact that men are disrespecting women by viewing them as sexual objects and not whole people, but most women would never dream of admitting the fact that it is equally disrespectful for women to view men as mere lust filled pawns in their quest for money, power and fame. In other words, these women are taking advantage of men (encouraging them to fall into sin and stay there) for their own personal gain. When men take advantage of women women like to cry sexism and abuse. But when women take advantage of men and their weaknesses women call it female empowerment and resourcefulness. It is a double standard of the worst kind. It’s the kind of double standard that makes disgusting pigs out of one sex and heroic pioneers of body positivity, pride and empowerment out of the other.

        • Samantha

          And as far as women using their sex appeal to gain influence I actually do believe women can use their feminine charms and sex appeal in a good, respectable and Godly way. But let’s be honest here. There are honorable ways for a women to use these gifts and dishonorable ways. Using women of the Bible as examples there are Ruth and Esther who used their womanly sex appeal to influence men for honorable reasons. Then there are women like Herodias and her daughter, Potiphar’s wife, and Delilah who used their sex appeal to do evil.

          I actually believe God gave women a very unique and powerful influence over men for a good reason. But it would be foolish to deny that certain women have taken that God-given influence and corrupted it and exploited it for personal gain and use it in very dishonorable ways.

          Women can choose to turn a blind eye on this behavior and claim that those women can do whatever they want because it’s their body and their choice, but then they really have no right to complain about men choosing to objectify women when women hold part of the blame for fanning the flames of the disrespect and sexual objectification of women.

  19. Peggy Perry

    So far as I can see, the dumbest thing about this is saying men respect naturally and need to be taught to love. Really? Never noticed that while caring for children. No matter the gender, children love naturally, but need to be taught what respect is and how to earn it. Age does not change this. Education and observation does. If a boy watches or hears his dad or other men treat women like plastic dolls, they’ll pick it up because they think these authority figures know how things work. Girls will do the same. And so it goes on for generations. Then those who know somehow that something is wrong but not what, get advice from books like this and the authority figures of the church, and the poisonous rot goes on.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, it does. The poisonous rot needs to be stomped out, and it will be if women start refusing to read books like this in marriage studies. Let’s ask for books that point us all to Jesus, rather than books which ask women to put their husbands in the role of Jesus in their lives.

      • Lisa

        “Let’s ask for books that point us all to Jesus, rather than books which ask women to put their husbands in the role of Jesus in their lives.”

        This!!!

        I found your blog about 4 years ago after reading “Created to Be His Helpmeet,” and I couldn’t convince the wife of one of our elders (who was leading the study) how entirely wrong I felt the whole book to be, first and foremost because it pointed me to my husband, and not to Jesus. (And then from there, a whole slew of issues.) I’ve been reading your content ever since! (And am so thankful that my husband has always been so intentional about the mutuality of our sex life.)

    • anonymous

      “those who know somehow that something is wrong but not what, get advice …” This sums up so much, so succinctly.

  20. Natalie

    “In the section of the book that talks about women’s needs, sex is never mentioned as a need (helping her feel good during sex is never mentioned as a need, either).”

    This just seems so illogical to me. I mean, if a man didn’t get physical pleasure from sex or orgasmed every time (or almost every time), would he want sex as much as he does? I’d say probably not. Does this author not think that physical pleasure is an equal incentive to have sex for women as is emotional pleasure & connection? Considering the extent to which women are capable of experiencing sexual pleasure (i.e. multiple orgasms, no to mere seconds of the resolution phase required between rounds of sex, full body orgasms/spasms of pleasure, etc.), I’d say a woman experiencing sexual physical pleasure regularly from foreplay and intercourse would almost ensure any husband would get as much sex as he wants and then some! It cannot be understated, in my opinion, how large a role physical pleasure plays in the sex drives of both spouses. And like one of your articles mentioned last week, physical vulnerability and closeness goes hand in hand with emotional and spiritual closeness and intimacy, so much so that I personally find it hard to separate them all individually sometimes.

    In my experience, emotional pleasure and connection is wonderful and uniting and essential to a marriage and sex. But it’s not enough to make me want to have sex every day or most days a week, whereas the promise of orgasm or multiple orgasms definitely makes me want sex as much if not more than my husband. (I should note, though, that in our marriage in the past month or so, me orgasming is a new occurrence and due to the introduction of a small clitoral-only vibrator, which I know you’ve written about and are not a particular fan of. But for us and where we’re at in our marriage right now, it took me from being anorgasmic and low/no libido to now having a way higher libido than my husband and us feeling WAY more connected and intimate and passionate during sex, even being able to orgasm simultaneously which I’ve discovered is an extremely intimate and unifying experience. It’s been a huge marital aide for us and has encouraged my husband to keep trying to get me to that state on his own, since he now knows I’m capable of reaching climax, whereas we were unsure if I was even able to before. I think once he’s more comfortable in his body and with his weight and also has more energy and stamina to spend the time I require for manual stimulation, it’ll be easier for us to both achieve orgasms without the use of a vibrator. But until then, it’s been a huge help and great relief for us both.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I totally get what you’re saying about the vibrator, Natalie, and I’m not going to judge at all–especially since I know you guys are both battling the fact that he is so obese. I totally get it!

      And yes, I agree. The whole thing is so utterly illogical. Sometimes I read these books and they’re so far from my own experience of marriage that I wonder, “does the author really believe that this is normal?”

    • Daniel

      Natalie: Awesome comment! I strongly agree with what you said, especially this; “a woman experiencing sexual physical pleasure regularly from foreplay and intercourse would almost ensure any husband would get as much sex as he wants and then some!”

      It’s certainly true in my marriage. And it makes me sad that more women can’t have that amazing feeling. I still believe that virtually all women are able to experience intense pleasure from making love… there are exceptions, especially with medical conditions and in rape and abuse cases, but as a general rule, I think it’s true.

  21. Jillian

    When I read this book, his chapter on sex was very convicting to me because until recently, I was a pro at rejecting my husband. Everything Eggerich says about how men need sexual intimacy in a way we could never understand, I believe is true – at least it is for my husband. Our marriage has done a complete 180 in the last 6 months because I decided to make a change & start initiating sex regularly. However, there was something about it that didn’t “sit” right with me and you nailed it, Sheila. There is so much more to it than how is explained. I am blessed to be married to an amazing man that understands that.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Jillian! And I’m absolutely a huge proponent of having more sex in marriage, and in understanding how much it hurts the other spouse when we neglect sex. I just think the message needs to be much healthier than the way he describes it!

  22. JB

    I can’t thank you enough for this article. I was introduced to this book while going through a separation with my now ex-husband, and it felt so demeaning at the time even though I did try to read it with an open mind and heart because I wanted help for our situation. I kept questioning my reaction, wondering if I was just being defensive, but it just felt like I was being told that I had an obligation to have sex with him, in spite of the horrible way he was treating me and our children. He certainly used it in an attempt to pressure me into having sex with him, in order to “fix” our problems. Please forgive the graphic description, but having sex during this point of our relationship made me feel almost like a prostitute, except I wasn’t trading sex for money–I was trading it for momentary peace in our home. And then, because of this book, I was told that I was required to fulfill this marital “duty” because if I failed to do so, then I bore the blame not only for any sexual sin that was caused by his deprivation, but also for his treatment of me because he was only reacting to me withholding something I was required to give.

    I fully believe that this book is well-intended, but it caused great harm to me. At a time when I was vulnerable and wanted desperately to be obedient to God’s Word, yet felt that I had to do something to protect myself and my children, this book, and the discussion of sex it contains, were used in an attempt to guilt and manipulate me. I am so grateful to see someone trying to explain the fallacies in its approach, because at the time I was introduced to it, I couldn’t think clearly enough to articulate precisely why it troubled me. Please keep addressing this issue–I know I’m not the only one who has been in that situation.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, JB. I’m going to save your comment because it’s such an important one. I’m so sorry that you ever felt like a prostitute, but tragically, I don’t think you’re the only one.

  23. Heather

    I can’t say I have read the book, but everything you have said about Christians and sexuality is so spot on. It is a mirror of how I have felt in my marriage and partially what led it down a horribly painful path. Back when my husband and I were dating, he admitted that he had a porn problem. I was devastated, but decided that I should help him through it instead of just moving on. We got married and the whole I must give my husband sex even if I don’t want idea was very ingrained in my head. If I didn’t meet his needs, he may actually go back to porn use or worse. I read the every heart restored book and listened to what other Christian wives and friends had to say and the repeated message of have sex so he won’t stray was always echoed. I tried for ten years through 5 pregnancies, a miscarriage, and nursing 4 babies to be “in the mood” but everything was short lived. We tried scheduling it, playing games, a jar of beads, talking about it, etc etc. I felt so used and so guilty and I still tried just laying there and not enjoying myself. Even though I tried to have sex frequently, it never seemed good enough. My youngest is only a year old and my husband recently admitted to returning to his porn use and I can’t even say how devastated I was. But let me tell you, none of the things that these books or other Christians have said works. I cannot just be a receptacle or an object for my husband. I actually thought my own body was fueling his addiction. Like an alcoholic who can’t have a drink but I basically was told to give him a drink whenever he wanted. I am so incredibly thankful for this blog because for once, someone has told me that I am worth more than that, I am not just an object to be controlled. It is not my fault. My husband made that choice to sin for himself. We are working through it and because of this blog, I am able to better articulate my thoughts so I can work towards forgiveness and regaining trust and we can both work towards truly being emotionally and spiritually intimate. But I know now, more than ever, how truly damaging all of those “do not deprive your husband” commands and misinterpretations really hurt and tear apart a marriage. And because of that I am even more angry at those books, articles, and people who say “just do it”.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry.

      “I cannot just be a receptacle or an object for my husband.” No, you really can’t.

      And I agree–you could very well be fuelling an addiction when you follow the “just do it” command. I pray that you guys can build something beautiful out of the mess. God delights in doing that; I pray that your husband will be humbled enough that He’ll allow God to work.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story–and also for being such an encouragement to me.

  24. sheep

    I’m sorry to say that I read this book and followed the advice given for men. Wholeheartedly throwing myself into showing my wife “unconditional love” with the hopes of restoring our marriage. Unfortunately for me this meant turning a blind eye to increasingly destructive behavior, immorality, and even abuse. All with idea that if I just showed her more love, she would all of a sudden wake up and realize that she really wanted me. Of course this didn’t happen and I turned to tough love instead. This didn’t bring her back either, we are now separated and divorcing. But at least i’m not living in the barren wasteland of sacrificing everything for someone that has no intention of ever sacrificing self for me. Not what I wanted, but better than the alternative.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sheep, I’m so sorry about your marriage! And I agree–giving someone unconditional love rather than setting boundaries for inappropriate behaviour is not the right thing to do. The right thing, always, is to ask, “what glorifies God in this situation?” not “what does my spouse want in this situation?” I’ll be talking about this more on Wednesday.

      I am so sorry about what you went through. I really wish you all the best.

      • Lindsey

        I think the largest part of the problem is that people have the wrong definition of love. Boundaries ARE love. Just ask any decent parent. Personal boundaries show others that we know they are capable and expect them to be decent people.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          YEP!

  25. Rachel

    Okay, so my pastors have recommended this book before. The guy in charge of our church’s lay counseling was ambivalent because his wife hated it. (I was training to be one of the lay counselors at the time, but the timing was ultimately bad at this stage of my life. ) So, now, having read this post, I am even more curious about the book. I tend to have differences of opinion with Christian nonfiction anyway, especially the self-help kind, so I was already going to approach it with a big grain of salt. If I do get around to reading it, it might be fun if I get to tear it apart in a Goodreads review. Sometimes those negative reviews are just more fun to write.

  26. Melissa Titus

    Yes, please write more about the dangers of books like this. Women like me often read these and feel odd or bad for having a higher drive, for being visually stimulated, etc. I hated this book but felt I had to accept it because it was part of a sermon series my pastor at the time did. Also, my husbands porn use and affairs were NOT linked to lack of sex from me. I was very lucky that he didn’t give me an STD. We were having sex often and seemed to have a good sex life. Then we went through fertility treatments and the medicine he had to take made sex difficult for us which was tough for me with a higher drive already. That’s why I despise these books and wish the authors would do more research and look at varied perspectives before they lump as and God all in a box. So much to say.

  27. HR

    What a great article! As you said, it makes no sense to say that men seeking porn is the wife’s fault. It makes my blood boil to hear it and to know people believe it. That may have been a more common occurrence in older generations, but the experience of young wives (including myself) is that the husband comes into the marriage already using porn and has no desire for his wife to begin with. My husband lost interest in me a month or so after we got married, even though I was VERY interested and never once turned him down. A year and a baby later, I finally found out why.

    Here’s the good part. I didn’t find out about the porn by finding his search history or anything like that. As I was trying to figure out what the problem in our marriage was (because it was all SO confusing and hurtful to me that he didn’t want me, that he was so angry/volatile, etc., etc.), I came across your articles, Sheila. Most of the signs of porn use were there, and I finally asked him point blank. He confessed.

    Here’s the best part. That was 3.5 years ago, and he’s like a different person now. He says he hasn’t looked at porn since the day I confronted him, and I believe it because the evidence is there. The first year of the “detox” was really, really hard. And there were times I didn’t think our marriage was going make it (or particularly want it to). But today we have a strong and good and happy marriage, and two beautiful little girls who have the best daddy. AND his sex drive came back! There are still consequences/effects of that sin that we deal with, but wow, what a difference!

    So thank you, Sheila, for your amazing work. It really makes a difference. And thank you, GOD, for redeeming our marriage. I hope this gives hope to a young wife out there really needing it right now. <3

    Sidenote: I found Tim Challies's "Sexual Detox" series of articles very insightful. Would love to hear your opinion on those.

  28. Melissa

    My husband and I definitely jumped on the Love and Respect bandwagon when the book was at the height of its popularity. Over time, we discovered that while some of it worked for us, some of it didn’t. It’s definitely a book for marriages where both people are good-intentioned, not something I’d recommend to couples going through various difficult situations. And ultimately, we are all unique individuals who give and receive love and respect in our own ways. Too many blanket statements diminish the beauty of how intricately God designed each and every one of us.

  29. Cari

    Oh my gosh. I am so glad to have found this post. My husband and I went to counseling in 2011 and my husband REALLY got in to the Love and Respect book/concept. While I appreciate its message, I did see some flaws. I especially like, though, what you said about in 24% of marriages the wife desires sex more than the husband. YES!! This is the case with our marriage and there is nothing in the book about what a man should do when his wife wants sex more often. Because to ask for it when he’s not feeling it will be disrespectful, right? 😉

  30. Becky

    This was a great review, Sheila! I haven’t read it since my old church did a weekend conference on it several years ago, while my husband and I were still engaged. I don’t recall thinking this was an odd way of looking at sex at the time, but then, I’d never had it and didn’t know what to expect. In retrospect, I can see how damaging it’s been to be told that the best way to respect my husband is to have sex with him. In my struggles to just overcome the physical pain that it’s caused, during the times when I’ve been constantly nauseous for months straight due to pregnancy, and while wondering if there’s ever going to be anything in it for me just than a happy husband, the guilt of thinking that I’m not doing enough to respect him on top of all that is just too much. I’m so thankful that my husband is more understanding of these things than the author.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Becky! I think of you often and pray for you. I do hope that you reach a breakthrough soon!

  31. Anonymous

    Thank you for this post and for speaking against these harmful lies that are unfortunately prevalent in many churches. This is part of the larger context of harmful theology towards women in the church that dehumanizes women, silenced their voices, and ensures that men remain in control and their needs are prioritized even at women’s expense. God designed us to seek after Him and to flourish as part of the body of Christ – it makes me so distressed to see certain beliefs cause so much harm to women and go unchallenged. Thank you for speaking out.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for the encouragement!

  32. Michelle Adams

    I have read this book both with my husband and with a marriage group. I can’t say that I share your perspective about the book. It seems oversimplified and out of context in some places. The most interesting thing is that within this post you agree with the author’s researched data and site the fact that studies support the premise in which you are discussing. I don’t think that it’s fair to paint all marriage authors as one sided one tune writers when the research supports what’s stated. Could there be an opportunity for an exploration of the reasons why it sounds like women simply aren’t interested by the way it’s presented? Absolutely! Is there truth in what’s been shared? Definitely! Should a marriage author attempt to tackle this conversation in a way that honors a wife’s sexual desire and breaks it down in a way that speaks to the husband, too? Yes! To your point, no author who does self-help/empowerment books will ever sufficiently cover the areas that most interest us. If there was, we wouldn’t need so many books on the exact same topic. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Virginia

    I honestly find it hard to imagine that women don’t enjoy sex very much. I’ve been very lucky in this area. I also find it hard to imagine so many women having terrible Christian men who are bad lovers…. I had no idea. And what is up with the author?! Jeesh, so awful. He’s got issues.

  34. Kathi

    I have never read this book because I don’t agree with the premise of it; men need respect and women need love. Everyone needs love and respect – men and women. I’ve listened to others talk about the book over the years and have never really heard anything positive about it. Yours is another example.

    That being said, you did an excellent job covering the area of sex that is so pervasive in Christianity and the purity culture. Husbands are viewed as having no control over their high sex drives and wives are merely receptacles of that sex. If a wife doesn’t remain open to fulfilling the husband’s need for sex whenever he needs it, she is nothing more than what Mark Driscoll so lovingly called a “penis home.”

    For wives in a marriage where a husband maintains control and power, this places her in the position of being sexually, emotionally, and physically abused. There is no other option for a wife in this setting when the Bible is used to keep her there because then she is accused of not obeying God’s commands. *Add in the layer of spiritual abuse as well.

    Thank you for this important post. I, too, think that we need far more women writing and discussing healthy sexuality to both men and women. Perhaps we might see a change in the dialogue of sex and marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Kathi! I hope in the next few years we can usher in much more helpful conversations, too–conversations about a Jesus-centric marriage, rather than a husband-centric marriage.

  35. Lisa

    Love & Respect is a well admired book that has helped a lot of people for good reason. The author does address that both men and women need love AND respect, but typically one comes more naturally than the others. It can be very insightful.

    The teaching on sex varies very little from other Christian marriage books, and it’s not great. I sat through a marriage course based on Tim Kimmel’s Grace Filled Marriage and was just as hurt when women were taught that he needs this and you are his release, and if he strays it’s because you weren’t giving him enough sex. I got push back when I suggested that a husband might be responsible for his own sin (No, if he has an affair, his wife wasn’t meeting his sexual needs, period). I think withholding for an extended period of time is sinful, too, but not a license for a husband to sin. Again, no mention that a wife might have a sex drive or should feel pleasure. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing IN A CHURCH. So, really, Sheila, thank you for advocating for wives everywhere that sex matters to us, too!

    • Lea

      ” you are his release”

      This is just so gross and would make me feel deeply uninterested in sex! It’s like they are getting their ideas from porn, and considering how many men in church seem to have issues in that area it might be true.

      I wouldn’t trust relationship advice that refers to a woman as a ‘release’ not a person.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Me neither!

  36. Ruth

    Thank you for your review, Sheila! I have read this book and was raised in a church and family where this was the thinking on sex. My husband and I are still working hard (and successfully!) after nearly 24 years of marriage to undo the mess left by these unbiblical ideas.

  37. Anonymous

    Thank you for this!

    I have never read the book but I did listen to Eggerich’s podcast 3 years ago which covered topic and from his book.

    At the time, I got the sense that something was wrong in my marriage but I didn’t know exactly what. I would try to talk to my husband about it but he thought I was just too sensitive or not seeing things clearly (turned out this was gas lightings). So I wholeheartedly threw myself into Eggerich’s “The Rewarded Cycle” (basically doing your part in the marriage knowing that God will reward you regardlsss your spouses response).

    In spite of my efforts my husband grew more emotionally AND sexually distant and I fell deeper into desperate attempts to follow “Christian” marriage advice which really just led me into idolatry with my husband happily enthroned as the god of our home.

    I came to find out that he has a porn addiction which was beginning to escalate as I caught him surfing Tinder for girls. And this was after years of trying everything in my power to get his attention, sexually or otherwise.

    It turns out the problem was never me, it was an addiction that he had struggles with since before we were married. He was all to happy to keep his addiction and be waited on and doted on as god of the Home while never being held accountable for his actions as a husband or father. And sadly it was “Christian” advice like this that kept me locked in a “This must’ve be my fault” mindset for years.

    I’m so grateful that God has brought clarity to the real issue and that he has provided experts in the area of sexual addiction to help get our marriage back on track.

    Thanks again for speaking out!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry. So very sorry. But I’m glad that your marriage is recovering! Honestly, God loves to pick up broken pieces and mend them. I’m glad your husband has humbled himself so that God can do this. And I’m glad you’re on a good road now.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

  38. Heather

    I literally just sent this to a friend of mine who has watched my marriage fall apart due, in part, to these exact statements! The exact words I used in my message to her were “Yes! Yes! Yes! Someone finally wrote exactly how I feel about this damn book!” Thank you for writing this. Thank you for putting this out there so clearly. I wished the church would teach the aspects of sex that you brought up here. Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Heather! And I’m so sorry about your marriage. So sorry.

  39. Heather

    Wow. Now I’m so glad that I never got around to reading this book! Talk about a completely and totally WRONG understanding of sex. Clearly the people who write/teach about these ideas never read Song of Solomon!

  40. Kim

    I’m so sad to read all these comments, let alone posts(the two on the book) so filled with the tearing down of another believer and their ministry. We support Love and Respect and feel like you are being quite harsh and judgemental. If you haven’t read the book and commented, I urge you to read it first and then make your opinion known. It has so much valuable verbiage in it that has helped us in ways nothing else has. Emerson isn’t perfect and I am sure he knows that. Just as he urges in his book to believe that your spouse has good will, I urge you to believe that he has good will. Hoping you contact him as well to discuss in the future rather than tear him down without giving him a chance to explain what you may have interpreted incorrectly as well. Blessings to you and I pray that you will always preach love and respect for all humans…Emerson included.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kim, this isn’t between me and Emerson. This is between me and the book. A lot of people use the Matthew 18 passage out of context. You approach someone in private when it is a personal matter.

      However, when it was a public matter that revolved around false teaching, that’s not what we’re to do. When Paul saw Peter refusing to eat with Gentiles, he stood up in the whole congregation and rebuked Peter publicly. He then wrote about it in his letters to make sure that everyone got the message. He didn’t have a personal beef with Peter; he saw that Peter was harming the gospel. And when someone does that publicly, it must be rebuked publicly.

      If Emerson Eggerichs would like to speak on this, I invite him to the conversation. But I would hope that he would do what Josh Harris did, and re-evaluate his book, recognize the harm it has done, and disavow it. Josh Harris showed real humility when he saw how his book had been misused. It isn’t about what Eggerichs intends, you see. It is about what people see when they read the book. And that’s what I was commenting on.

      If a book harms a significant portion of those who read it, then we must warn people not to read it. Even if it helps others. There are other books that DO NOT harm anyone, and those are the books that we should be promoting.

      If I were a doctor, and I found that 30% of my patients died when taking a drug, my responsibility is not to contact that drug company in private. My responsibility is to say as loudly as I can, to all who will listen, “steer clear of this medication!”

      I understand that you like the book. But I would ask you in all humility to read these comments; and the comments on the next post; and the comments on Facebook; and ask yourself, “if this many people were harmed by the book, then am I missing something?” Because they are not all stupid or making things up or misinterpreting the book. They got the message loud and clear. But that message hurt their marriage; it didn’t help it.

      • anonymous

        Keep preaching, Sheila! “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them (false teachers) sternly, so that they will be sound in the faith” Titus 1:13

        “But those who persist in sin (such as false teachers) should be rebuked in front of everyone, so that the others will stand in fear of sin.” 1 Tim 5:20

        Parenthetical notes mine

    • Kim

      Wow…just wow. I used to send women to your site, but that has now ended. Your responses to those of us who disagree with where you stand on this book are so disappointing. You asked for me to humbly read the comments, which I have done. I don’t deny that messages from books are interpreted differently and after reading your reply to me what I got was “If you don’t agree with me (Sheila) then YOU are the stupid one.” I would ask you now to reread your own comments and see how they might possibly come across as snarky and better than thou. As a person with sexual abuse in my past and pornography trauma in my marriage (which God has given freedom to my husband) I can’t stand by and listen to your attacks anymore. As believers we are to pray for discernment, not only books but also blogs, and I believe I’ve been seeing a slow fade on your blog in the last year that hasn’t been heathy for me. I only hope for God’s favor on your life Sheila.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I am sorry you feel that way, Kim. In looking at my response to you above, I don’t see snarky, but I’m sorry if you see it that way. If you can point out where I’ve been snarky, I will go and apologize and edit any comments.

  41. Paul Byerly

    “Love and Respect never once includes anything about sex being pleasurable for a woman.”

    A post Eggerichs made the day after you posted this seems to “correct” this.

    “Sex is a shared act, between husband and wife, as an expression of love to each other. God created sex not only as the means for multiplication but as a gift of pleasure to enjoy within the boundaries of marriage. Sex was meant to be a wonderful experience for both husband and wife.”

    I would certainly like to have seen more of that in the book. Maybe he thought it then and didn’t say it, or maybe his thinking has evolved since the book was published 14 years ago.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad that he updated. What he needs to do, though, is recall the book. The book is horrendous about sex. If he is second guessing that now, then he should be humble and consistent and authentic and take the book back.

  42. R

    “Women need to accept that husbands will be tempted by other women, and not be hurt if a husband shares this. If a woman can share her deepest issues, then men need to be able to share their deepest issues. If a husband should empathize with a woman struggling with body image issues, then a wife should also empathize with a husband being tempted by other women. (256)”

    Literally cannot even with this.

    One is about SIN and the other is NOT. One is about SEXUAL DESIRE OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE and the other is personal.

    Just no.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree.

    • Michelle

      So, we don’t agree that a husband should be able to safely confess his temptation with his wife without feeling condemned as if had fallen to the temptation? He should just keep that to himself but be vulnerable about everything else? That doesn’t seem fair to me. Am I misunderstanding your point?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think the point is that we shouldn’t talk about lust as if it’s normal. We should talk about it as a struggle that people can get over. In Christ, we are supposed to find freedom. We aren’t supposed to be slaves to sin. But this one thing is talked about as if it’s something that no one can ever defeat.

        People who have Christ in them are able to see women as complete human beings, not body parts, and it’s not too much to ask men to treat women like sisters in Christ–something that the New Testament shows was the norm in the early church. I think that’s really the issue! I linked to a bunch of my posts in the Every man’s Battle series I did a while ago, too. Yes, many guys struggle with this, but let’s not give them the teaching like they can never defeat it.

      • Anna

        Well, I outright don’t agree that a spouse should be sharing all their temptations to stray outside the marriage. I think the end result of that would be nothing but bad. Flip the genders around and see if it seems “respectful” for a wife to constantly (or even just periodically) tell her husband all the guys she was attracted to, and the behavior, mannerisms and physical characteristics that made them attractive. At the very best, it’s horribly manipulative.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, I’ve actually written a post about how honesty is not always the best policy. We need to care for our spouse’s heart, and if it’s just a temptation, make sure you have accountability, pray about it, but don’t burden your spouse with it if it’s not necessary.

  43. Lisa

    There are many things I don’t like about this book, the premise that men need respect and women need love is not biblical from the starting gate, as we see that men are commanded to honor (respect) their wives, and that wives are advised to love their husbands.

    But, in his world, a man gets to say “I don’t feel respected when you won’t give me sex” but a woman doesn’t get to say “I don’t feel loved when you pressure me into sex”.

    Also, check out his advice to men on how to “lovingly” tell your wife she’s gotten too fat for you (“I don’t feel attracted to you”) instead of loving her and accepting her for what she is, for better or for worse.

    This whole “I won’t give you what you need until you give me what I want (an orgasm)” is emotional blackmail. It’s no way for a marriage to thrive.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It absolutely isn’t. It’s a recipe for emotional abuse (if not more).

    • Smh

      Pump the brakes.
      If you assert that the premise of the Love and Respect book is unbiblical then how do you explain Ephesians 5:33 where husbands are explicitly commanded to love their wives as they love themselves, and wives are commanded to respect/reverence their husbands.

      If you will remember from your unbiased and fair minded study of the book, that was the original question which prompted Emerson to look into the whole deal.
      Full disclosure my own marriage has been very damaged by misunderstandings from this book, but to say the premise is not found in scripture is false.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think the issue is that husbands are also called to honor and respect their wives in 1 Peter 3, so he’s building a whole book out of one verse, without looking at the wider context of the Bible and how we are told to serve one another. He also never defines respect, and his definition of how a woman should act towards her husband is really outside of what one would glean just from reading Proverbs. Just because a person uses a verse doesn’t make their premise biblical; it’s whether that verse is taken in context and whether their interpretation fits with the rest of Scripture. Does that make sense?

  44. Joel Horst

    I’ve never read the book and don’t have a copy. But after reading your reviews, and also a bit on Eggerichs’s blog, I’m wondering: does he ever cite actual statistics or references to prove that his lists of men’s and women’s needs are accurate?

    For example, you mentioned in this post that your own survey had shown that 25% of women had a HIGHER sex drive than their husbands, which kinda flips his “needs” list on its head. Does he cite any surveys, or even observations from years of counseling type of thing? Or is he just crafting lists and saying “This is how it is”?

    • Lisa

      Good question. No he doesn’t. He does quote a few sentences from a highly respected relationship researcher, John Gottmam. But he takes the quote completely out of context and uses it to claim that science backs up his views. Gottman has never published anything that backs up what Eggerichs wrote. I’m surprised his editor let him get away with that.

  45. Briana

    This review of “Love and Respect” is wrong. My husband and I have both read the book individually and watched the 10-week study video together. It was one of the tools that transformed our marriage for the better! This blog writer takes Dr. Eggerichs out of context several times. No where does the book say that women don’t need/enjoy sex, nor does the teaching give way to a road of abuse for a clueless young woman who’s been taught “ultra-conservative” ideas. It sounds as if this blogger was only writing an opinion to answer her readers complaints/questions, rather than having read it to personally seek help. I 💕HIGHLY RECOMMEND💕 this book for any couple as a source of pre- or post-mariage counseling. Dr. Eggerichs gets 99% of his observations spot-on!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Briana, I’m glad the book helped you. I am. But my synopsis of the chapter was correct. He may never have said women won’t enjoy sex; but he never, ever said they would, either. Do you see how that matters?

      Also, let’s imagine we were talking about medicine, rather than a book. What would a doctor do if he or she discovered that a drug being prescribed was hurting 30% of the people taking it? Even if it was helping 70%, he or she would shout from the rooftops that people should stop taking that drug, to stop the harm that it could do.

      God can use anything, and if God used that book in your marriage, that’s wonderful. But just look at the comments here, and at the comments on the rest of the posts all week. Many, many couples were seriously harmed by this book. That matters. They matter. And there are enough other books out there that you don’t need this one book to fix your marriage. There are many, many others that do not have the negative side effects this one does, or the blatant errors either.

      • Joyce

        What is interesting to me is that half the comments seem to be from people who haven’t read the book.

      • Briana

        The book is not harmful. Love and Respect comes from the Bible. The Bible doesn’t HARM. It does change people, though. In order to change, that means thinking differently from what you’re used to and what you’re surrounded by. Sometimes, change hurts, but Biblical change never harms.

        Your comment about “let’s imagine we’re talking about medicine…” doesn’t apply here. The book isn’t a pill that needs to be swallowed whole and therefore should be scrapped bc it “harms” some people. The topic of sex in particular is addressed in a small amount of the entire book! Why not read all the rest of the book and try out what he has to say?

        In order to have a good marriage, it’s going to take at least one person to be humble enough to surrender to their personal feelings and GIVE to their spouse. If not for a warm-fuzzy-feeling, then for loving Jesus and wanting to minister to the man/woman you committed your life to.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Briana, I totally agree with you. A good marriage does require someone to be humble and sacrifice.

          But what it really needs is for someone to act like Jesus.

          That’s the issue–we should all be acting like Jesus. And how does Jesus act? He endeavours to always point people to Christ.

          Eggerichs, however, does not allow women to have this freedom. Women are not supposed to voice concerns about their husbands, or else this is disrespectful. Women are not supposed to draw boundaries if their husbands are “drinking or straying” (his words, not mine), or else this is disrespectful.

          Jesus acted differently depending on what the situation warranted. Sometimes he let Himself be abused; sometimes he took a whip of cords and turned over the money changers tables. And that’s the key–we need to be able to do what the Spirit is telling us to do in a certain circumstance that will most point people to God.

          Instead, however, we’re told that we must follow our husbands, which means that if our husbands are going against God, we must not point them back to Jesus. That’s wrong. That’s unbiblical. And that hurts.

          As for sex, I think I made my point pretty clearly in the article. Emerson portrays it as only about the man’s physical release; never about the woman; and never about intimacy. I cannot imagine ever portraying sex like that. That, too, is unbiblical, and I do believe that this matters.

          If you’ve read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (as you said you had in another comment), you know that I’m passionate about people understanding that sex is not only about the body; it’s about spiritual and emotional intimacy as well. That is what the Bible shows. When we portray it as just about the body, we degrade sex and we seriously harm women’s especially views of sex. This does matter, and I pray that more women will experience freedom from the type of teaching found in Love & Respect.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            One more thought: goodness and kindness are fruits of the Spirit; niceness is not. What Emerson is asking us to do is to always be “nice”; to speak quietly; to not bring up things that are disagreeable; to treat someone well.

            Goodness and kindness are different. They’re not about external behaviour; they’re about looking at what is best for the person in front of you. Sometimes what is best is not that we fail to bring up big issues or that we speak quietly, but that instead we say, firmly, “I will not stand in this room while you speak to me like that, and I will no longer tolerate you drinking like this in front of the children. I am calling your brothers to tell them how you are acting and to ask for their help.”

            One works towards the other person’s ultimate good; that is what Jesus asks us to do. Sometimes good and nice are the same, but sometimes they are not. Eggerichs leaves no room for this. That’s why the book is fine for some couples (where good and nice coincide). But where God’s best needs more than just nice, Emerson adds guilt and traps women in particular with no recourse to defend themselves or their children or to help their husbands see God better.

  46. Jen

    Thank you thank you thank you for continuing to share this message!! I have been to three Family Life conferences with my husband. While in many ways they helped our marriage enormously (an already “good” marriage made excellent), I always left feeling torn down by the ideas of “submission” as absolute obedience and the giving of my body to meet a “need” no matter what!

    My husband is a die-hard “we shall have the obedience clause or we shall not be married” type. We dated for seven years before we married and this was one of the biggest things we argued about (I am very independent, have been both date-raped and abused by previous men and in a previous failed marriage, and I refuse to submit to that treatment ever again as a unique and intelligent child of God)! When we got married, I made my vow to obey. But before making that vow to my husband, I told him that I would NOT obey him if ever he went against Christ, and that I under NO circumstances would be bound to obey him if he asked me to sin. He knew that and agreed before we married…and we have been hashing it out ever since.

    In his defense in this area, he very much does care about how I feel in bed…at least some of the time…enough to spend 20-30 minutes just on me. Enough to pay attention to subtleties. But sometimes it is just so hard for both men and women to figure the whole truth of the matter out out when those we are following are feeding us half-truths and incomplete, misinterpreted pictures.

    I SO appreciate what you are doing here for me and for so many other women…and I only hope I will be brave enough to send this series of posts to my husband! I know that it will likely spawn a giant, ugly argument, in which he will try to yell me down about submission again. I also know he is a thoughtful and caring man who later ponders and thinks better of some things after his gut reaction is over and time has proved the ideas right. So I know what I must face to improve what we have and I have confidence in our growth together in Christ if I do.

    We are supposed to be attending another Family Life conference this year and I almost dread it…but we have digested the good parts many times…and now it is time to debunk the myth. And my husband is not one to keep quiet just because everyone else is and just because I am turning 1000 shades of embarrassed…once he understands what the truth is you can bet he will address the untruths face to face…aggressively. I love this about him. He is a courageous man in search of truth.

    Thank you again for your equananimous review of this dogma within the Christian faith!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks so much for your story!

      Can I say something about FamilyLife conferences? Keith and I speak at FamilyLife in Canada, and we do conferences COMPLETELY differently here. We don’t even talk about submission. We talk about people’s emotional needs, people’s spiritual hunger, resolving conflict, and having a great sex life. And that’s it.

      And we ALWAYS, ALWAYS speak as couples. It’s been like that for about 25 years now. Every conference is two couples speaking. In the United States, it’s still one couple and one man, and the wife of the couple only gets to speak to women, apparently, at most conferences. I find that really bizarre.

      So if you live anywhere near the border, maybe you should come to a conference in Canada!

  47. Lisa

    Keep up the good work Shelia! I’m so glad you took the time to address the problems with this book. There are so many.

    No matter who you’re interacting with, the relationship will benefit if you treat them respectfully.

    But there is so much in this book that has the potential to harm.

  48. Gabrielle Sutton

    Hi Sheila,

    You asked me to dig deeper into this subject after I commented that the book helped me quite a bit. I have read your articles, and I understand better where you are coming from and what has happened to some women as a result of this books teachings, but I still have to say, I think you’ve missed the boat on this one. This book was not meant to be comprehensive on the subject of sex. I think much of what you are saying goes beyond the scope of what the author is trying to communicate. There is so much more to the subject of sex than what the author wrote about, but I still feel that most of what he is teaching does have value. It shouldn’t be used as a stand alone fix for a deeply troubled marriage, but as one of many tools in our marriage toolbox. Generally, men do have a stronger need for sex than women, and it’s good for us to recognize that we have different needs. Personally, I agree that I am much more interested in sex if my husband is making an effort to connect with me emotionally, but there are times when I choose extend grace(as God provides it) to connect with him physically even if he has neglected me emotionally. If a man misapplies what he learns in the book-if he is demanding respect instead of looking at his own need to give love- then there is a huge heart issue there, and with the man who “converted to christianity” and came under the influence of this teaching and it made his marriage worse, his conversion was not real, because it would be marked by increased love and compassion. He gained a religion, not a savior. Yes, there are times when a woman needs to set strong boundaries with abusive relationships, but we can be respectful even in these situations. I acknowledge that sometimes our spouses definition of what respect is can be wrong, but I don’t think the author is saying that we must always submit to our husbands need for sex at the expense of our emotional health. I could say much more but I will only say that when I heard this teaching ten years ago, our marriage was in trouble, and this was one of several resources that helped us move through that season into a much healthier marriage. No one teacher gave us everything we needed to heal, but God put together the resources we needed to make our marriage good. As with so many books, Christian or secular, we can choose to eat the meat and spit out the bones. Not all teachings will apply to our situation and we need to rely on Holy Spirit to help us discern what actions God would have us take. God bless you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Gabrielle,

      What I can tell you is that I have been blogging about sex for a LONG time. And I get a lot of emails from women–tons and tons of them. And many of them have very messed up libidos largely because of how sex was framed when they were growing up.

      Even if you agree with what Eggerichs says, do you see the cumulative effect of hearing NOTHING BUT THIS your whole life? Because that’s what women face. They hear nothing but “women don’t want or need sex; sex is for a man’s pleasure; if you don’t give him sex, he will stray.”

      If that is ALL you hear–well, is it any wonder that women’s sex drives are messed up?

      We can do better!

    • Briana

      👏 well said. I agree. Ironically, I read both Love and Respect and A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex when trying to find help with my marriage. Both helped me in different ways. I’m shocked that SWG would have such a derogatory take on Dr. Eggerichs’ experience, research, and work like she has. Especially when so many have been blessed by his help.

      • Briana

        I was replying to Gabrielle Sutton, above.

  49. Heidi

    Sheila, I have silently benefited from several of your post through the past few years. However, when I came across this post I wanted to comment with my personal experience. Love and Respect was gifted to us at our wedding. Being a anxious to make a good and God-honoring start to our marriage, I started reading it shortly after we got back from the honeymoon. I was so disheartened by Eggerichs’ depiction of a marriage relationship. As I was reading I kept thinking if I had read this before I got married, I would have stayed single! I wish I had our first year of marriage to do over again. I resented my husband for letting me pick up the slack in multiple areas of our life. I sent mixed signals to my poor husband while I was trying to pretend everything was okay because a godly wife should always be positive toward her husband. Being the “neat freak” in our relationship, his story about wet towels on the bed hit so close to home that it made me want to cry. I was overwhelmed and disillusioned by my marriage. To be fair much of my struggle should be blamed on my own immaturity and not directly on the book. But, at a time I could really have benefitted from solid encouragement to start healthy conversations and open up to my new husband about my concerns in our relationship, Eggerichs’ book pushed for the opposite under the guise of biblical authority. Nearly everything you wrote in this review was exactly how this book effected me and there were several other issues you didn’t even have time to cover.
    (Thankfully my husband doesn’t hold to this definition of respect. He has since read sections of the book and groaned. I now tell my newlywed friends your communication can get better and don’t follow this book. ;))

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, Heidi, thank you for sharing your story!

      And I so agree–what couples need is the ability to communicate openly. He’s basically telling women that they should not communicate their feelings. That is just so wrong.

      It’s as if the aim is not intimacy, but instead the husband’s ease and comfort, and that’s very wrong. Thank you for sharing your story!

      • Heidi

        Just realized I posted this on the wrong article. I had all of your articles about Love and Respect open on separate tabs. I thought I was responding to the article about unconditional respect. It doesn’t really flow with his perspective on sex although that was also depressing if you ask me.

  50. Kristen

    I cried when I read the quote from his book about men’s lust being normal and like every man is like that. You’re right, it isn’t normal! And every man isn’t like that. There is freedom from lust available in Jesus. Thank you so much for helping me understand (through your book and articles) what it is, as a woman, that I’ve been longing for in marriage and sex. I feel like you stick up for the women’s hearts and I really appreciate all of your godly wisdom and insight. I used to do it all for my husband and had no interest in sex. But now I know that God wants me to feel connected, cherished and loved through sex. And that it’s okay for me to want it too. I used to be afraid of sex and ashamed of owning sexuality but I’m changing and learning that this gift is for me too.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Kristen, I’m so glad that this could help you! And I’m so, so sorry that other teaching from the church has hurt you. I pray that you’ll find the real freedom and passion that Christ has for you and your husband!

  51. TP

    Hi Sheila!

    Thank you so much for your heart for women (and men) in this area! I’m so sorry that you came under fire with your concerns about the damage some of that can be done by that book. I just want to say that my husband and I have been married for 24 years (we are Christians) and we followed the line of thinking promoted in that book. I have never enjoyed sex one time, but I have never denied my husband once, (sex 3-4 times per week-more in the beginning), even though I can’t stand it. Guess what? He still turned to pornography. It didn’t protect my marriage. And because of the teaching promoting that men will always struggle with lust and women have to accept it, my husbabnd thinks there is absolutely nothing he can do about his sin and so he said we both have to live with it. I cannot respond to him sexually due to many ways he has hurt me over the years with words and actions. I still tried to show him respect even though he has called me stupid, fat, etc. (By the way, he called me fat at 105 pounds, wearing a size 1- because I didn’t have a hard, super toned body like super models -and presumably porn models-have). I am not here to vent or get sympathy. I just wanted to back you up in your concerns about how the well meaning teaching of the author of that book might not be accomplishing what he is hoping. Thank you so much for your heart and passion for women to have fruit in this area. I will be praying for you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Tara, thank you for sharing your story. And I am so, so sorry. So sorry. This was never meant to happen to you. It really wasn’t. I am so sorry for the years that have been stolen from you, and the intimacy you never knew. What a waste! This does not please God, and I hope that those who enable men to be selfish like this see the harm they are causing.

  52. Michelle O

    Sheila!! I AM SOOOOOOO PRAYING for you!!

    Please don’t worry about your comments on the L&R. When we expose lies, it is scary – BUT GOD HAS YOUR BACK. Shining light on darkness, you are – and setting captives free. YOU ARE VERY BRAVE and your passion (pun not intended, haha!) I believe is why you did it – GOOD GOOD G O O D for you….

    My husband and I went thru the book, too in small group, but must have missed that Sunday! I’m sure Mr. Eggerich wasn’t being (totally) ignorant or meant it that way and that’s why a WOMEN’S perspective (aligned with a heart for God ) should be brought to the table, OUR VOICE YOU ARE!!

    Please rest well, You are a Warrior AND WE L O V E YOU!!

  53. Meriam Good

    Oh. My. Goodness. I am so angry! Thank you, Sheila, for fighting this good fight for healthy sexuality. I was a new Christian as a young woman and fed this misogynistic teaching in my young marrieds groups. It’s taken me years to grow out of those lies. As an incest survivor on top of that, I’ve lost decades of fulfilling intimacy with my dear (patient, loving) husband. I’m praying for your continued strength and joy in the path that the Lord has set you upon.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Meriam!

  54. Jennifer Dunbier

    All I can say is THANK YOU !!
    You are a true blessing to Christian marriages all over the world !!!

  55. Holly Peterson

    Great article. Well done! You might be my hero right now. Sending you a big virtual hug!

  56. Heather

    I immediately sent this over to my husband as soon as I had read this article, not because I have complaints but because I wanted to get his thoughts on if this was an accurate portrayal of how Christmas men view sex. Our conversation that followed was so good and he agreed that yes, this view is prevalent of it being just about “release” and that if they’re not getting it from their wives they are tempted to look elsewhere (yuck). But we talked about how that is so missing the mark because it’s not even actually the “release” they long for, it’s the emotional connections that comes from mutually-fulfilling intimacy. NO WONDER so many women hate sex and so many men think it’s just about release, if couples have no idea what a healthy sex life looks like and can’t get good solid teaching from the church.
    I asked him why he doesn’t think that way, as we have both grown up in the church, and he said it’s because of me. Possibly if I had a different/more passive approach to sex, we might have been in the same boat, but my enthusiasm and enjoyment has benefitted us both.
    I feel that your ministry, Sheila, has contributed to that in my life as I have been reading your articles for years and I know that my fulfilment matters and makes for a healthy, happier marriage. I wish that healthy sex was talked about more in the church, but I appreciate your writing. You are doing important work and making an impact, keep it up!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Heather, thank you for sharing that! That was very insightful, and very encouraging to me, too.

      I think what your husband said is so key. Men long for intimacy, too. They don’t just want release; they want a real connection. But they’re not taught how to articulate this, and women aren’t really taught it at all, and it’s all a big mess.

      Thanks again!

  57. Natasha

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you! I had spent 8 of my 9 year marriage feeling embarrassed and ashamed for wanting sex, and feeling like there was something wrong with me. I’m not supposed to crave sex or have any temptation in that area- that’s a guy problem, right? I grew up in the church and had never once heard about a girl wanting sex, or about sex from the wife’s perspective in a way that wasn’t an obligation to her husband. It was always, “this is what your husband wants from you”. You have been a God-send, Sheila. I’m still recovering and trying to learn to allow myself to like sex- rather, allow myself to ADMIT I want it, but your blog has helped tremendously.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad, Natasha!

  58. Sherry

    Hi Sheila, I read this blog post and there were links for past blogs which I also read, particularly the one entitled Men are Visual (from June 2017). My husband is a very self-disciplined guy and is very open and honest about his sexuality. The one thing that I have come to understand from him is that most males do have a physical, biological reaction to visual stimuli (although it may be different for different men – some react to tight clothes, some to exposed breasts, etc. and there may also be different degrees of this reaction), but that doesn’t mean that he will focus on that visual stimuli and lust after that woman. But it is pretty natural for a guy to have that immediate reaction. Have you ever read the book The Sexual Man by Archibald Hart? That book helped me understand male sexuality after I got married. It was written in 1995 so it’s a bit dated, but it still has good information. If you get a chance to read it, I’d like your opinion on it. I’m also wondering if you could check this website and give your opinion about what it says. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex-and-intimacy/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs. Thank you very much!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Sherry,

      Yes, having a reaction may be normal (and most guys do). But that is entirely different from saying that all guys lust, or that lust is normal, and the only way to fight it is for the woman to have more sex with him. That is undermining HER sexuality, which matters as well. That is making sex all about his physical needs.

      Sex is not only a physical need. The way that Eggerichs described it, it was all about “physical release”. No, it’s about intimacy as well. The physical and the emotional and the spiritual all go together, on a stool of three legs, but Eggerichs left out two of the legs of that stool.

      Men are more visually stimulated than women, studies have shown. But that is not the same thing as saying that lust is normal, or that women are responsible for making sure men aren’t tempted. That latter message is one that we often hear in church, and it is largely responsible for killing women’s libidos. We must find another way of looking at it.

      Also, I think too many boys have been held captive by lust because they’ve been told that noticing = lusting. And then, because they can’t help but notice, they feel as if they are slime in a constant state of sin. We need to teach our teenage boys better that noticing is not lusting. I also think that’s why we’ve got such a huge problem with lust in the church; boys aren’t taught that noticing is one thing, but they can then choose what they do with that.

  59. Joyce

    Wow! Yes! I have been reacting to the message with, “We need both! There is no love without respect! ” The very title of the book has offended me. Thank you for this review!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Joyce!

  60. Juliene Munts

    Spot on! Amen! Hallelujah! Thank the Lord for the platform he’s given you and your obedience!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Juliene!

  61. Len

    Thank you so much. You are writing reality not propaganda.

  62. Naye

    This article is terrific. So many women out there has a very bad perception about what’s real intimacy. I’m newly wed and I don’t have a lot of experience that’s why ive search for good sources where I can learn and this is a very reliable place where I can learn. Thanks for sharing I really appreciate your honesty and the time you put on researching and evaluating this book.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Naye! And congratulations on your marriage! Welcome.

  63. Ray

    My wife and I were preparing to host this series in our home until our Pastor sent us your review. We went through the series years ago and found it to be life altering for both of us. I am sorry but I read through the book again and did not come away with what you shared in your review. The first time we went through the series my eyes were opened to how my wife is truly and gift from God and shall be treated as such. Upon going through the book again John 5:25 was further reinforced in my life as her husband.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ray, I’m glad that was the message that you took away from the book, because it’s a great message. But ask yourself this: If you were a woman, married to a selfish man who was verbally and emotionally abusive, what do you think she would take away from the book? If you were a man who wasn’t as mature as you are, and who wanted an excuse to get what he wanted from the marriage, what message would he take? It’s great that it helped you. But remember that not all men are well-meaning. And then ask yourself–would this book hurt or help those marriages?

      Also, I find it interesting that you didn’t comment at all on the sex chapter. I pretty much summarized it completely, without embellishment. Do you think that his message about sex being only about the husband’s physical release is a good Christian message?

  64. Lacretia

    Thank you so much for this post. I started out as a young girl in love only to find myself in situation where my heart was broken as my love turned to look at women and make comments about their beauty all the time. I was broken and felt wounded to my soul. From there I have heard and read that men are liars if they say they dont want to look at other women. I have spent so much time being hurt and feeling defeated that I will never have the “full” attention of the person I love and it feels like a constant comletition. Readin this has made me again see that my view about it being an excuse and acceptable is downright wrong. Sex was meant as a gift from God for two people to be intimate and close not for it to be a thing men get and need. More people need to take a stand for this because in all reality even in the christian world people lack the right teaching and so many women are silently suffering because of it. People in general can struggle with “ALL” sin and we need to quit making wives feel like they are just another woman their husband could have sex with but they choose to only touch you. Thats crap!!! As wives we need to know we are the ONLY woman that our husband desires thought word and deed!!! This gives me hope that naube there are still men who can completely and wholeheartesly love and be attracted to ONE woman. God Bless you for this….

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Lacretia, I’m so glad this gave you hope! And, yes, I assure you that there are men like that. There really are. My husband is one. My sons-in-law are two. I know many of the male commenters here truly love their wives and want the best for them. It is possible! And it is better to wait for someone with good character than to settle for someone who doesn’t have it. That’s part of the problem with these books, too. They make it seem like it’s normal for men to lust like this, and so girls may marry someone who really isn’t a good catch at all.