MUTUAL SEX SERIES: Can the “Do Not Deprive” Verses Apply to Women’s Needs, Too?

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Uncategorized | 96 comments

Do Not Deprive Applies to Women, too
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How often have you heard the “Do Not Deprive” verses, from 1 Corinthians 7, used to tell women they’re not doing enough as a wife to keep their husbands sexually satisfied?

Last month I conducted a poll on Twitter, where I asked: Which message have you heard more often in church, studies, or Christian books?

  • Do not deprive your husband
  • Women’s sexual pleasure matters

The results? 95%-5%.

Twitter Poll: Who is Do Not Deprive about?

Here’s the Facebook version of the same poll, with remarkably similar results:

How the Do Not Deprive message about sex is used against women

I’m starting to get really worried. Like, crisis-sized worried. 

I’ve always been worried that people don’t talk about sex well in the church. I wrote a while ago on my series about Every Man’s Battle and how that messes up the message about sex that we need to find a healthy way to talk about men’s sexual needs.

I wrote last month about how messed up and biblically wrong the message of sex was from the book Love & Respect, which taught that sex was all about men needing physical release.

And so I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to spend the month of February talking about how to make sex better for women! Let’s figure out where your G-spot is, or how to have multiple orgasms! Let’s start kissing again. I created 24 sexy dares with heavy emphasis on awakening her sex drive, drawing out foreplay, and making sure that she feels good.

Does your marriage need some spicing up–and some fun?

Try these 24 dares–plus one bonus–to take your marriage to the next level!

But frankly, I think we need a bigger conversation about this, because something is seriously off. And so, for the next few Wednesdays, I’m going to look at how we can have a healthier way of looking at sex that takes both the husband and wife into account, and that does look at what the Bible says about mutuality in sex.

As we start that discussion, though, I want to say something that may be radical. Let me start with some background.

I have heard the “Do Not Deprive” passage used a lot about how husbands need sex, and how women need to not deprive them.

Those verses are here:

1 Corinthians 7:3-5

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Do you notice anything about that passage, though? It’s not directed at wives, telling them not to deprive their husbands. It’s directed at BOTH spouses. In fact, if anything, the wife’s sexual needs are mentioned first. The Bible does not assume that the norm will be wives depriving husbands, and so we need to drill down on wives to give husbands sex. No, the Bible tells us that both genders need to look out for the other.

I want to submit that the sex that is the most likely to be deprived is not actually husbands. I believe that it is wives.

Let me put a HUGE caveat on this to begin with. I understand that many, many wives downplay sex in their marriage and leave their husbands in sex-starved marriages. I have written at length on how wrong this is. I have created a course on how to boost your libido. I have written a 31 day sex challenge to help couples rediscover great sex. I have created dares to spice up your love life. I have written a book to help women understand what sex is supposed to be like, and one of the chapters in that book is dedicated to helping women understand how important sex is to their husbands.

I totally get that so many men who read this blog have wives who hate sex. And my heart does go out to you, and I do know that this is wrong.

However, I’m asking you to bear with me for a moment, because I’m going to share something with you.

In my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I discovered that, among professing Christians, 20% of women report that they rarely or never reach orgasm. Another 18% report that they only sometimes reach orgasm. Around 44% usually reach orgasm, and only 18% always do.

That’s a lot of women who aren’t really feeling much pleasure when they have sex.

And that’s normal.

Now, I’m also very aware that many men would love to bring pleasure to their wives, but their wives don’t seem to care, they push their husbands away, they rush them through sex, or they just can’t seem to reach orgasm, no matter how much the husband tries. I know that this is not necessarily a husband’s fault. And I encourage you to check out this story of a woman finally reaching orgasm after 26 years of marriage. She had her own issues that she had never properly communicated to her husband, and she had to get over those first.

Nevertheless, let’s put that aside for a moment and ask this question: How would men feel if, when they had sex, only 18% of them always had an orgasm?

I understand that it takes longer to figure out what women need in bed, and that women just aren’t automatically orgasmic the way that men are. I actually think that God did that with a purpose, because we women would have to learn to communicate and be vulnerable to tell our husbands what we want, and husbands would have to learn to be giving to for her to receive pleasure.

But all that aside, the simple fact is that with the way we talk about sex, men’s pleasure is the aim, and women’s pleasure is an afterthought.

May I please suggest that this has to change.

No, women do not have to have an orgasm each time they have sex. I know it’s hard to learn to orgasm. I know that sometimes, no matter how much you want to, there’s too much going on in your head and you can’t shut it off.

But if, in your marriage, one person is doing all of the giving sexually, and one person is doing all of the receiving sexually, then that is wrong.

Now, sometimes the giving could simply be him giving her a huge backrub so that he makes sure she feels relaxed and pampered, even if she doesn’t orgasm. It may mean him giving her tons of affection and going out of his way to help her feel loved, even if she doesn’t have a lot of physical pleasure. Giving does not need to mean orgasm; but it does need to mean that BOTH partners, in their sex lives, are routinely giving of themselves for the other person, and are routinely ensuring that the other person receives something wonderful out of sex.

In what I have read about couple’s sex lives, I think women are just as deprived, if not more so, then men are, simply because their pleasure and experience is not often prioritized.

That is not the way that God intended.

As I said in my podcast last week, the fact that God created women’s bodies so that we are most likely to experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation rather than through intercourse means that God intended for men to pleasure their wives in a way that did not result in men’s direct stimulation.

God created us sexually so that, for a woman to receive pleasure, the husband would have to be giving.

Yet this is not what we are taught. Instead, we are taught that women are depriving men if they don’t give them sex. I think it’s time for a bigger message about what sex is supposed to be, and consider this post the first part of that.

I’ve been having a broader conversation on social media about this, and I shared recently on my Facebook page part of my reply to a guy where I was debating this. I wrote:

As you all know I’m hugely in favour of more frequent and better sex in marriage, and I think not having sex is so sad in a marriage. But we simply have to talk about this differently. Here’s part of what I said in a recent comment thread to a guy I was debating with:

“As for whether you should have sex when she doesn’t feel pleasure, why do you jump to the “do not deprive” verse? Why not instead try to figure out how to make sure she has pleasure? Why is her pleasure her responsibility? Why not try to figure it out together?

Maybe if men stopped telling women “you need to have sex with me” and started saying, “You know, women are capable of deeper and more intense orgasms than men, and are made for multiple orgasms. Maybe we should figure out how to satisfy our wives more.” That would be far more helpful.

You may think what I’m saying is off base, but think about it this way: For YEARS women have been told from church pulpits “Men need sex and you need to give it to them or you’re depriving them.” What’s happened? A crisis in low libido among women.

What I’m saying is that this approach doesn’t work.

You can double down on it if you’d like; you can say that women need to understand men, and how much they need sex, and how they struggle with lust, and how women need to help them.

What I’m telling you is that women DO understand men. We know men need sex. That’s not the point. Yelling about that louder won’t help.

What we need now is for men to understand women.

If that happened–if men did understand women’s need for intimacy, and women’s need to experience pleasure, and if churches started talking about mutuality, you would awaken women’s libido. So it’s your choice. You can keep talking about how women need to have more sex or else their husbands will lust. Or we can start a different conversation, more focused on how the Bible portrays sex as a mutual thing, and as pleasure for both of them, and as about intimacy, and then I think you’d see things change.”

THAT’S what I’m trying to do. I desperately want more couples to be enjoying the sexual side of their marriage. I want more women to know what great sex is like, and not to miss out on it. I want to help this generation of women awaken their libidos! But I truly think that can only happen when we start hearing about sex in a different way, rather than just “do not deprive or else he’ll lust.” THAT’S one of the big reasons for low female libido. It’s a terrible message, and it kills her heart.

Sheila

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So get ready for this conversation–because I truly believe God designed sex to be a beautiful, mutual, passionate, stupendous thing–and it can only be that if we learn to talk about it in the right way.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing? Learn what sex is REALLY meant to be!

Does Do Not Deprive Apply to Women's Sexual Needs, Too?

What do you think? Has the message about sex been warped? If so, how can we right it? Let’s talk in the comments!

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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96 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    My husband learned years ago that he should put my needs first. As he says, “I’m always going to be good. So it’s my job to make sure you’re good too.” It’s taken me years to get over a lot of the damage that purity culture did in my head. But with this approach from my husband, I was encouraged to try and communication was key. We actively work on our sex life. And it’s getting better with age. I’m so thankful that he learned this lesson years ago. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t even have a sex life today.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YAY! That’s a great husband. And I want to point out something important in what you said. It was YOU who was devaluing your own experience because of your teaching. That’s what I’m going to be talking about next week. It’s not always (or even mostly) men who are doing this to women. It’s women ourselves, because the teaching we’ve received has told us that we don’t matter. Most men aren’t happy with a sex life where the woman doesn’t enjoy it, either. So this truly is an issue for both of us, and I think if we women start realizing that we’re supposed to feel good, that would make our marriages better all round!

      Reply
      • Andrea

        Sheila,
        this was such an awesome post. I have long wondered who came up with the idea that the half the population that is in possession of a clitoris and capable of successive orgasms is the LESS sexual half. If I may say it in a way that you are way too nice to men: if you think your wife is less sexual, you might just be bad in bed.
        I would argue, however, with your point that “It’s not always (or even mostly) men who are doing this to women. It’s women ourselves…” I agree that it is women themselves in as far as they’ve internalized the purity message. But that message was preached largely by men (think about who heads most churches, authors most books, etc.), so in that sense it is men who have done this to women. They need to apologize (like Josh Harris) and, as you suggested, “start a different conversation.”
        Thank you so much; I hope men hear you and really change the conversation. Men are, unfortunately, still more likely to listen to other men than to women, so if we could get a few to get our message out, that would really help 🙂

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you, Andrea! And, yes, it is men who have preached this message. I am talking to some other male authors who are on board with talking about it differently, and I do hope to keep those conversations going. It’s just so, so sad how much passion we’ve prevented and wasted over the years with this teaching.

          Reply
        • Daniel

          Andrea: I’m a man, and I can’t agree with you more on your point that; “If you think your wife is less sexual, you might just be bad in bed”.

          I have a feeling that most men are to “manly” to understand this logic. But I truly believe that it’s a fact. Female libido, as Sheila alludes to above, MUST be directly related to how much pleasure she receives… in and OUT of the bedroom. If you treat your wife like crap any time your not wanting sex, chances are she will most likely have low libido. Treat your wife like an object of sex, even though everything is great outside the bedroom, and she will most likely have low libido. On the flip side; Treat your wife well in both areas, and she will probably have a great libido.

          And, yes, I also agree that Sheila is being too nice to men… I would argue that a woman’s sexual pleasure is about 90% based on how the husband treats the wife.
          — It seems pretty simple (not easy, but simple)
          1. Earn and maintain her trust
          2. Show her you love her… and not just because she has sex parts
          3. Be intimate in non sexual ways whenever possible
          4. Communicate. Also talk about sex
          5. Learn what your wife does and doesn’t like, in and out of the bedroom
          6. Buy 31 days to good sex by Sheila Gregoire, and go through it together and discuss it together. Don’t let sex be an unspoken secret between you.
          7. More, gentle, foreplay for her
          8. Don’t be selfish. What’s not to love about touching and kissing every inch of your wife?!?!

          I’m sure there are more to list, and it will change slightly for each couple, but that’s a great start based on my experience.

          Husbands: Help your wife have a healthy libido.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you, Daniel! Maybe I am being too nice to men, but I also figure that I can’t change men. What I can do is to help women do what they can. If we blame it all on husbands, it doesn’t help women much. But I hear you! And I used Andrea’s comment in next week’s podcast, too!

          • Daniel

            Sheila: You are so right. I’m not trying to tell you your wrong, or that you “need” to be more hard on men. You are spot on! You can’t change men, and it’s not only their fault.

            I guess my point is that the responsibility that falls on men should be highly emphasized. Women typically have to do so much internally to become sexually charged. But, men typically have a lot to do to enable and maintain the relationship with his wife on a bunch of different levels (emotional, spiritual, physical… etc?). Men are typically pretty thick-skull creatures. We don’t always pick up on what is going on. And in the marital/sexual relationship it’s very obvious. So many of the posts on this page (and many others on your blog), are of women saying this and that about sex not being worth the effort, and most of them ‘seem’ to point back to a husband that isn’t fulfilling one of the roles he is supposed to be filling. A wife who is not interested in sex seems to indicate a husband that isn’t meeting her needs in one or more areas. As an example: How many men would rather go fishing or watch football than sit and talk with their wife? How many men grunt in response to their wife saying I love you?

            Sheila, don’t change what you’re doing. What you are saying is incredible. I can’t tell you how many times my jaw has hit the floor because you wrote something that is EXACTLY the same wording as was in my head moments before. Keep up the good work. You are THE best christian sex expert I know of… at least if I’m not including myself. LOL!!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you so much, Daniel! I really appreciate that. I really do. 🙂

          • Andrea

            Wow, I’m really honored to be quoted. I might ask you for a job, Sheila, after I get fired for underperforming because I’ve been reading this blog all day long since discovering it recently, lol. Also super-encouraging to see men speak up, Daniel.

            I do have one question about men whose wives speak up and they simply continue with the same routine or sigh loudly, as some commenters complained. Could this be related to the many churches’ injunction against a woman instructing a man? There is a range to this rule, some say it only pertains to theology, some to society as a whole . John Piper, for example, stated a few years ago that a woman can instruct a man only if she is sitting down. This cracked me up because I was teaching two classes at the time, one had only a few students and we all sat in a circle as if in a book club, but the other had a 100 and I lectured from a podium with a mike, so obviously not sitting down. Since these were college classes, the men in them were legally adults and I was sinning (according to some preachers) by teaching the bigger class while standing up. Anyway, I can’t imagine that such a level of resistance to being instructed by a woman doesn’t affect the bedroom dynamics.

          • Daniel

            Andrea: I think the ‘continuing what they’re doing after their wife speaks up’ is, unfortunately, something us men tend to do… and not just in the bedroom. But, talking specifically about the bedroom… hmm, I’m not sure why this happens. Thinking back to my early days of marriage, at first I think I didn’t take her seriously when she spoke up. And really, I didn’t give sex a ton of thought before she got pregnant. We both enjoyed it, so why would we do something different?

            But then during pregnancy she just didn’t get horny. And wasn’t in the mood. And didn’t want me to touch certain parts. All very frustrating, but it meant that if I wanted to please her, I had to change the way I did things. I learned a lot about her body at that time. We learned together what it meant to make love, and intercourse wasn’t the one and done answer. We learned that she needed more than just a few minutes of foreplay, and that the foreplay that worked for the last few years didn’t work very well anymore. She never let me down or deprived me, and I tried my best to do the same for her. Though it was very frustrating, and I wanted to give up on many occasions, I didn’t quit, and she didn’t quit. She blames me for making her love sex… I’m ok with that. 🙂

            She spoke up, I listened, and we worked together as a team to ‘make sex great again’. When she has something to say, I listen. And I also ask periodically what she wants, and how we can make sex better. This blog has been incredible in helping us improve our sex life.

            Sheila’s insight and sexual wisdom on this blog, along with talking and practicing together a lot, helped take what we thought was 5 star sex to a whole new level. The 5 star rating isn’t even on the same scale.

            So why do men not listen? Pride. The heat of the moment. Routine. Fear of boredom. Fear of not being in control. Lack of education on sex. The church doesn’t teach us how to have sex. Lot’s of things. And maybe no reason at all.

    • Anon

      I could’ve written this comment, anonymous! My husband is amazing, but purity culture left me with a bunch of hang ups (not to mention being raised in a home with a dad who definitely did *not* love my mom).

      I’m looking forward to the blog posts coming up!

      Reply
  2. Kay

    Yep, yep, yep. And the comment above is insightful about how to some extent women downplay their own pleasure. But it’s because of what the results of that poll turned up, we were NEVER taught that it mattered. All that mattered is that our husbands get the sex that they need or else they will cheat on you or look at porn. Sorry, guys, but that doesn’t get my engines revving. That makes me have sex out of fear. And that kind of sex is not sexy. After a few years of fear-based sex, we just plain aren’t going to be super excited about it anymore. Change the message to focus on how BOTH spouses are designed to find delight in sex, and I think you will have much happier husbands AND wives.

    And frankly, isn’t that what higher drive men want anyway? They don’t want duty sex. They want their wives to desire them and desire sex! Tell women AND men that her pleasure matters every bit as much as his from the very beginning, and we’d be having a very different conversation.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m cheering you all the way here, Kay! Exactly.

      Reply
    • Daniel

      Kay: What men don’t understand is that when the wife gets intense pleasure from intimacy, the man’s pleasure is more or less automatically guaranteed. It’s FUN getting your wife horny.

      I would argue that HER pleasure is more important than his. If she is having fun, he is pretty well guaranteed to be having fun. Am I right?

      A willing and eager wife is intoxicating.

      Reply
  3. Sleepy

    As a man I think this is such an important message that all
    men need. Specially in the church. I used to be so selfish and I notice when I need to repent from my selfishness because I start to think about sex for my pleasure but the truth is that since I understood and learned about female sexuality I can now say that there is no greater pleasure than to give pleasure to the one you love. I love giving my wife multiple orgasms and it really gives a boost to my manliness when I can give this pleasure to my wife. I don’t say that as a selfish thing but it just feels so good. Sex doesn’t feel as good if I can’t make her orgasm too.
    Having said that I do think the church needs to change it’s message but I wonder is that possible without knowledge about sex. I got married at 27 and I didn’t know what a clitoris was. I understood that it was part of the vagina but nothing else. When my wife told me she orgasmed easy I was more like “cool” but didn’t think much more of it. She used to orgasm when I finished inside her so I never really thought about it. It wasn’t until we stopped wanting kids and had to have unprotected sec since she couldn’t stand any birth control(not even condoms) that I realized how I had to have sex with her. I had to learn to be unselfish and focus more on her and start to have sex in ways that I wasn’t used to. I had to move in a different way so I would stimulate her clitoris instead of just pounding her(English isn’t my first language so excuse me for the language). I wouldn’t have known about the clitoris and what it does if it wasn’t for your blog and other Christian marriage blogs. And if I hadn’t known i don’t know if I would think about pleaureing her and would have thought that my way would be enough. I come a from European country and we have sex Ed but they didn’t talk about this with us and in church you hear nothing about that. Growing up with porn didn’t help but made things worse.

    So I do think it’s important to talk about men’s selfishness. We need to change that. We need to learn to give instead of focusing on receiving but I think sex education is important because where are we going to learn these things that feel so taboo? Here comes the importance of churches having a healthy view on sex and that it’s not sinful and actually talking about it. I see this in my wife. She grew up learning that sex is bad. I want to pleasure her manually and oraly and only focus on her. While she has accepted oral sex she struggles with the manual part because she learned that it’s such a taboo for a female to masturbate that she has a hard time with my hands down there. She doesn’t know what to do to feel Manual pleasure. So she misses that chance of getting pleasure. And I sadly don’t know how to learn.

    So again the selfishness has to be addressed that is the most important part but more sex education and learning about female sexuality both men and women is also vita. The church is old and it’s always several steps behind and the lack of knowledge in this area is also a cause to why all focus has been on men since men usually finish more easily. That doesn’t excuse the horrible teaching that has come from this but shows that we need to battle this with knowledge and Gods word about living a unselfish life even in the marriage bed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great comment, Sleepy! I totally agree.

      And again, I think you’re right that often it’s women who don’t think that we deserve or need pleasure. And I think we need to do more to tell guys, “You’re going to go into marriage not understanding how a woman feels pleasure. Don’t assume you’ve got it all figured out. Women work differently. Take the first year of two and consider them a research project on how to make your wife feel great.”

      It needs to be the assumption that guys WON’T know and so they’ll have to do some learning. We’ve made it to assume that sex will automatically work. Not true. And then women don’t speak up, and men don’t always realize there’s anything wrong!

      Reply
    • Daniel

      Sleepy: So true. Not enough men know the powerful emotion that comes (pun intended) with the delight and pure ecstasy of loving your wife to multiple orgasms.

      Sheila: Yes! We don’t know what our wife needs… until we take the time and effort to figure her out.

      Reply
  4. Phil

    Sheila – ok so you want radical? How about this? Who drives the primary message about sex in the society? Christians or Secular? Answer: Secular right? What do we want it to be? Christians right? So you are a very popular public Christian that has a message about God and sex and you are trying to tell these small churches and 40,000 people here on your blog and a trickle of folks lets just give you 15,000 from social media and whatever the numbers are from Huckabee. Now you know many of who you are talking to are Christian, but you arent sure of who really is a Christian or we can use the term real Christian. Yet it seems you stay in the Christian network to deliver your message. But you will spend time debating some guy on facebook which is totally secular who may or may not be a real Christian. The secular world drives the message Sheila. You have a book called 31 days to great sex. A Christian based book that teaches the right message about what God intended for us for sex. Why are you not in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston telling this message? Thats over 15 million people or almost half the population of Canada. You yourself said it on Huckabee. People want to talk about sex and thats what you do. All you have to do is start reaching out to radio stations and tv networks. My gosh Sheila it would spread like wildfire. I bet I could make a few phone calls or send your book to a morning show in NYC and you would have a voice on the radio extemely quick. As far as what I can see you have the platform to do it. While we a appreciate your message, if you really want to help us make the change then please do. If you are listening to folks here, many of us talk until we are blue in the face and until the public message changes most of us are stuck. I would love to help you. I’ve Been trying to deliver the message where I can: In my marriage and bit by bit where it is approrpiate in my church and perosnal relationships and even with guys from my 12 step group. The overall societal message is really what you are talking about here. Maybe I am too radical but seems logical to me. I am not trying to pin this on you or even make this your responsibility Sheila. We all need to do our part. I am just wondering since you want this so desperately as you state, and you have the platform. What are you waiting for?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Phil, thank you for that kick in the pants. I mean it. That’s really very helpful.

      I’m actually working on a book right now that’s not directly about sex, but will be a general market marriage book (I’m co-authoring it with someone else). It will allow me to have more say in the secular society. And I’m trying to get on more and more podcasts with my message, so I’ll tell my assistant to stop looking for just Christian ones. My agent has been telling me this for years now, too.

      So I appreciate it, Phil. I do. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Phil

        Well – I wasnt sure how you would take it…and I am .glad you arent pissed at me. 😬

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, I was thinking about this more, and I think I’m going to use your comment in the “comments” section of my podcast next week (can’t do it this week; the podcast has already been recorded!). I likely have to explore this a little more. Thank you, Phil.

          Reply
  5. Kate

    I just love your blog. In fact Sheila, the previous blog post has something to do with this one. To consider others more important than yourself, to think of others, etc. If husband’s would do that in sex, wives who experience orgasm will defiantly increase.

    And since when did, don’t deprive EACH OTHER turn into WIVES don’t deprive your HUSBANDS? The Bible tells us God is not a respecter of persons, what he gives for women he always gives for men. It’s amazing how good humans are at twisting God’s word like Satan. If you don’t pay attention you start to believe that’s what that verse actually means. Satan always mixes truth with lies to get you to do his bidding. It’s like rat poison, 99% is good food and only 1% is poison and yet it’s the 1% that kills them.

    Sheila, you really showed me a whole new perspective i hadn’t even thought of. That’s it’s wives who are actually being deprived, especially in Christian marriages. Another post to pin! Thank you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Kate! And thank you for pinning. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Jordan

    Hey Sheila, I check up on your blog every morning like clockwork. I wanted to thank you for putting out posts over topics that are hard to talk about. I am a guy, and I always read your blogs to more understand how my wife may be feeling about things. You’ve opened my eyes to things that I may have been doing that were hurting my wife and I have been able to change. Thank you for speaking on these topics from a Christian POV!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Jordan, thank you so much for that encouragement! I really am glad that so many guys read. We’ve been talking behind the scenes about how to start more of a “men’s corner” on the blog and talk about issues that guys may want to talk about, too. I’ve got a few planned for the March. So I’m glad you’re here!

      Reply
  7. Jeffrey

    I completely agree that the message needs to change. I want to bring my wife pleasure during sex, but she rushes me and wants to get it over with. She has not had an orgasm in 12 years of marriage and has no desire to have one. All I can do is pray.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Jeffrey. Many, many women are like that. They just don’t realize that sex is meant to be for them, too, or they don’t feel the great need for it and so don’t know what they’re missing. I’m sorry.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Jeffrey, I just want to say that you are not alone in your struggle. My wife has not had an orgasm in 38 years. She has never initiated sex because she does not feel comfortable doing it. This makes me very sad for her…

      Reply
      • Kate

        Holy tomatoes! In 38 years! That is unbelievable to me. And here i’m a 28 years old single woman struggling with lust and porn (have since blocked it 2 years ago) just to learn that there are women who have never experienced orgasm, is shocking to me! My heart goes out to these women, i genuinely pray healing for whatever is going on in their heart that’s preventing them experiencing one of the most pleasurable feelings in the world! My struggle is to not think about sex and fantasize about men every time one shows an interest in me. I struggle to stop sex from clouding my judgment when dating, sometimes i pray my libido was lower. I’m so sorry, man. So sad.

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m sorry, Anonymous.

        Reply
  8. Exhausted

    So I think that men need to be taught to listen to their wives and follow their lead when it comes to giving them pleasure.

    Each woman’s body and mind works different. So reading a blog and finding out what works for one person is not going to necessarily work for your wife.

    My husband and I have been married for going on 17 years now and the most frustrating thing about our sex life is that he still doesn’t listen to what I say. He does what he thinks will work and what he thinks should feel good to me and regardless of how many times we’ve had the same discussion about what I like and what feels good he consistently goes back to his default settings… some days I can over look it and still manage to reach an orgazam and other days it is frustrating and blocks my ability to enjoy it.

    I’m not sure where he got his idea of what feels good for a woman we were each other’s first and though both of us have viewed porn in the past I’m not 100% sure that’s where he’s getting his ideas.

    If I am already turned on and horny then it’s usually not too bad. But it’s getting turned on that seems to be the area we’re stuck on. When we were first married that wasn’t a problem, but after 5 pregnancies, 3 miscarriages, raising 2 kids, postpartum depression, that spiraled into clinical depression, followed by going back to school and starting my own business, becoming foster parents and starting the process of adopting a third child, I don’t have a lot of energy and my labido has dropped considerably. I wish everything worked as easily as it did before but it doesn’t and I wish that he would listen to me when I tell him what works and what doesn’t and not fall back on his same old routine that doesn’t work 90% of the time.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Exhausted! I hear you. I actually talked about that scenario in the podcast that’s going up tomorrow, so listen in!

      Reply
  9. Kathy Haecker

    I think you are right about this. Maybe another way to say it is, “Men, don’t deprive your wife of the ways that she enjoys sex the most. ” That might mean for some, time and space. For others, it might mean lots of conversation and emotional connection before she is ready to be physical. For others, it might be manual stimulation instead of penile stimulation. I have been down this road and I know that my husband’s patience, kindness, and us learning to know what works for me has paid generous rewards for both of us. Maybe we should add, “and live (and love) your wife in an understanding way” as the more delicate member of the family.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great way to put it, Kathy. Husbands–give your wives the pleasure that she most craves. Yep.

      Reply
      • EM

        Yes! For us that has meant him spending a lot more time kissing than he would prefer, which was really an issue early in our marriage. More recently I brought up the issue that he never really said anything when we were making love. I had brought it up casually a few times over the years that I would really like him to say “I love you” when we’re being intimate. He would do it once or twice and then go back to silence. Finally, after 15 years and me learning about boundaries, I told him look, this is really important to me. You are the only man I love, and the only person on this planet who can fulfill this desire for me. I deserve to feel wonderful, and your words when we’re close drive me wild! I’m not willing to live the rest of my life without it.” At first he said, “Well, I’m just not that comfortable doing it.” Now I am probably the calmest, most compliant person i know, but when he said that I went through the roof. “Do you know how many things I do for you that were uncomfortable at first? But I do them because I see how much pleasure it brings you, and over the years it has become easier and now I actually enjoy it. I need you to do the same for me.” He finally got it and has been much more verbally affectionate. It’s only been a few weeks but I won’t feel guilty about reminding him if I need to. It’s so amazing how much things can change when we stop fearing conflict and really share our hearts. Sheila, thank you for helping me grow the intimacy in my marriage!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yay! That’s wonderful, EM! I’m so glad that you’re experiencing this in your marriage. Sometimes we do just need to speak up!

          Reply
  10. Erin

    I was actually just thinking about all of this exactly when I went to sleep last night and wondering why no one talks about this. Why no one talks about men not depriving their wives. And what that even means. 75% of the time, men have the higher sex drive so I think that obviously means the deprivation of women ISN’T talking about sex FREQUENCY but instead sex QUALITY. And the quality of sex is often up to the man. As long as the woman is communicating at least. I’m so glad you’re saying all the things no one else is saying. It’s causing a paradigm shift in my marriage. Things weren’t bad before but now they’re getting better. And who wouldn’t be thankful for that?? Thank you for what you’re doing!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so welcome, Erin. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  11. Anon

    What if you’re just done? I’ve had the orgasms (great and mediocre-lately they’re more mediocre) and I just don’t care any more. I give my husband sex and I even initiate. I don’t fake orgasm. I even want to give him sex. I just have no interest in trying for myself anymore.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Anon, I think that is your prerogative. But I’d just ask–is your husband done? Many men want sex not just for release, but actually because they want to connect with their wives. And a large part of that is feeling as if their wives are enthusiastic and as if they can actually give their wives pleasure. It is supposed to be something that’s for you, too. I think God does want us to have those brief fleeting moments when we are out of control, when we are vulnerable, when we are at the height of pleasure. It does mean something for us. So I guess I’d ask–is this really the best? Or do you think you could be missing something more than just an orgasm, but actually connecting?

      Reply
      • Anon

        I don’t really what the “right” answer is. I know that since I took this perspective I actually feel more connected to him and less resentful. I’m certainly not doing this to hurt him or deprive him.
        I remember when we were young and I didn’t have this idea that a hot wife/sex partner had to have an amazing orgasm to please her man, I had more of them. And even when I didn’t I loved sex. Now I just feel this pressure and I don’t want to. I avoid it.
        We’ve had a rough year or 5-more due to life circumstances making marriage hard-most of our many years were relatively easy. A lack of quality time to connect outside of the bedroom is a huge issue. I’m just tonthe point where I’d rather just let my “needs” go.
        It may not be ideal and it’s certainlu NOT what I anticipated my 40s looking like when the kids got bigger and I was freer. *shrugs*

        Reply
        • Anon

          Wouldn’t my approach be “others focused” like you’re talking about?! I don’t want to stop giving.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think it would be–but the difference is that for sex to be mutual, BOTH of you have to be others focused. If it really is only about one person, it’s kind of missing the richness of the experience, to a certain extent. A lot depends on how he feels, too, though. There really isn’t an easy answer.

    • Daniel

      Anon: It sounds like sex isn’t the problem. The vibe I’m getting is that your marriage is in a rough spot. Find a way to reconnect and start loving one another in more ways than just sex. I’ve had the sort of feeling you describe when my wife and I have had conflicts. We always find a way to come back together stronger than before.

      Reply
      • Susan F Peterson

        I don’t know if you have mentioned this somewhere, but JPII’s book Love and Responsibility takes the point of view you suggest. It was written when he was Bishop of Krakow, so before 1980 or so. Some of the more popular books written about the theology of the body do too. Aren’t these book read in your circles?

        Reply
  12. Natalie

    What we need to remember is the time period and the audience Paul was speaking to when he wrote that “do not deprive” verse. He was speaking to the early church in Corinth, which, though that’s in Greece, most likely did not have the same views on sex that we Westerns do today. In the Jewish tradition, the Vow of Onah was a vow assumed by the husband on his wedding day. I first heard of this and started researching it a month ago or so, and given the Jewish roots of Christianity, I am absolutely appalled at how far the Christian church strayed from the original traditional roots and views on sex that the Jews had in the past 2000 years!!! Like in Christianity, the Vow of Onah also confirms that sex is to be only between a married man and a woman, but it goes as far as to say that sex is a wife’s right, not a husband’s!! Perhaps that’s because a man’s orgasm (in any healthy newlywed male) is basically guaranteed but the wife’s is not, particularly if she is a virgin and has no clue about what should or will feel good for her. It was the husband’s duty to be attentive and make sure he was taking good care of his wife in bed, bring pleasure to her, and making her feel good and loved and comfortable. I wonder how many Christian husbands today see it as their duty to bring pleasure to their wife. At least in my own marriage, I know boys raised on porn have an extremely selfish view of sex which is hard to fully overcome, even if they love their wives and long for that emotional closeness during sex. I feel like the Vow of Onah needs to be a pillar in Christian sex education in the church today. Plus, to me at least, it kinda seems like it goes hand-in-hand with God’s command to husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. To me, a woman who feels adored, respected and deeply desired is far more likely to not only “give in” to having sex with her husband more regularly but also to truly desire that interaction with her husband for herself, especially if she’s getting the physical pleasure too instead of having her sexual experience limited to emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is nice, but getting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual intimacy all in one during every (or almost every) sexual encounter is a far more likely to rev her libido and make the wife truly desire sex too.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love that Jewish tradition, Natalie! I’ve read about that, too, and I think your take on it is accurate.

      And, yes, I think that porn has wrecked for many men the concept that sex is not supposed to be self-focused. I agree that when sex is all three, it’s best. I want women to really understand how that feels.

      Reply
  13. Kevin

    These are all good points, but I have a question from a different angle. What do you do when, as a man, you want to do all those things – make sex first about her, pleasure her, focus on her, but she says she doesn’t want that. She seems more interested in just rushing through to finish sex (on the rare occasion it happens), rather than enjoying it herself. Then, I feel inadequate to pleasure her, feel she doesn’t enjoy it and just puts up with it on occasion for my sake.

    How do you encourage/convince a woman that sex is about her too and I find as much excitement in pleasuring her as myself?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great question, Kevin. I do want to address this more in some posts coming up, because it is important. I’m going to think and pray about the best, most effective way of saying it.

      Reply
  14. Willing

    “Maybe if men stopped telling women “you need to have sex with me” and started saying, “You know, women are capable of deeper and more intense orgasms than men, and are made for multiple orgasms. Maybe we should figure out how to satisfy our wives more.” That would be far more helpful.”

    I totally agree and believe this! I wish my wife did. My wife is more like Anon when she says, “I give my husband sex and I even initiate. I don’t fake orgasm. I even want to give him sex. I just have no interest in trying for myself anymore.”

    She’s just done . . . but I’m not.

    Kathy above say’s, “for some, good sex might be time and space. For others, it might mean lots of conversation”. That isn’t sex. It’s definitely something important, but it’s not sex. So lets not say we should give women sex the way they want it and then redefine sex as something that isn’t sex. That changes the discussion and as a result we start talking at cross purposes.

    I feel sex matters a lot (it was the first commandment given to Adam and Eve), and if you’re “just done”, or want sex that isn’t really sex, then that is an issue that could and should be discussed. It’s not healthy for a marital relationship, when one partner is “just done” or redefines sex as something that has nothing to do with genitals.

    I love that we are having an honest discussion of the value of sex and the need for it to be mutual. I also think we need to keep the definition of “mutual” to include sex, and that the statement of “I’m just done” not be an excuse to not address what is a real issue.

    Sheila responded to Jeffery with, “Many, many women are like that. They just don’t realize that sex is meant to be for them, too, or they don’t feel the great need for it and so don’t know what they’re missing. ”

    Now that hits the mark of truth! Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes, (time, attention, in the bedroom, out of the bedroom, anything) to bring my wife sexual pleasure. It’s just not sexual pleasure she wants, but instead redefines “mutual” to mean something other than mutual sexual pleasure.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, Willing, I think you’re very right. I think that many people do run away from sex. A lot of that may be due from latent shame (I’m thinking of starting a course on sexual shame recovery); a lot of it may be because they’ve never realized how great sex can feel. But I know what you’re saying–it’s not always that men don’t take the time to make women feel good. Often it’s that women themselves don’t want it.

      I am going to write more about this. I do hear you. I think you’re right, and it is important.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Sadly, this just makes me feel guilty and think, once again, that I’m a disappointment and not worth it :’(
        And I’m sure I’m not alone.
        I’m not negating a man’s feelings at all. I get it. He wants her to want it as much as he does. But giving (and not with a cold fish attitude/demeanor-because I know that’s wrong) isn’t enough. So a woman is once again forced to jump through hoops. And have “pleasure”. Isn’t that like taking a kid to an amusement park and telling them “you have to have fun, if you don’t you’ve ruined this for me” even if the kid is terrified of rides or just doesn’t care to ride them?
        I’m really not trying to make anyone feel bad…I just want to know.

        Reply
        • Lindsey

          LoL! You can tell that you’re looking at this through a man’s eyes. “Time and space” to know that your husband will wait and work patiently however long it takes for you to get into the proper headspace; “lots of conversation before hand” so that you feel like your husband really KNOWS you, and is seeing the real you, and you remember that you’re a special, unique person and not just a mom/cook/housewife; and a great deal of “non-sexual” affection to get you out of your head and into your body, and to make you feel cherished and safe: only a man could view these things as not being part of the sexual relationship. I don’t say that to condemn, only to illustrate that there are huge differences in the minds and sexuality of men and women, and a loving partner can’t say “since that’s now how I work/think/respond it isn’t really right”. I’m not suggesting that stopping with those things would constitute sex, obviously, but to say that they aren’t a PART of sex is uninformed. A woman must feel safe, treasured, cherished, adored and connected emotionally to her husband in order for sex to be good on a level that makes our hearts feel full and achieves “ultimate” status. Sure, I can disassociate and have an orgasm – and that feels good physically. But afterwards I feel so hollow in my soul that part of me wishes it hadn’t happened (and my husband and I have pretty good marriage for the most part!). Ignoring the differences in what women want and need in the marriage bed because they aren’t “sexual” enough for you while telling women that they aren’t allowed to be “done” is counterproductive, because the reason so many women are “done” is because we are told that what we need to enjoy sex is burdensome and isn’t really what we should be focusing on. Thankfully my husband – who, like many of the men here really wants sex to be amazing for his wife – and I recently talked about this and he finally understood what I was saying and we accepted our differences and decided to love each other in the most meaningful way for our spouse. The result? Amazing sex.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Really insightful, Lindsey! Thank you. And so true.

          • Daniel

            MEN: If you are here reading comments, read what Lindsey wrote. Then read it again, and again… and as many times as needed for it to sink in.

            Thank you Lindsey!!

  15. CS in NY

    As a man, I don’t know what to do with this. The message I picked up in church during the purity culture movement was women should be able to dress however they want and it’s my job to keep myself from lust. (Along with this came the conviction that any problem that exists in a relationship is the man’s fault because, well, hes the leader and is always the one making relational mistakes, right? I know Sheila doesn’t say this, but pastors and speakers always joke about guys being the problem and not measuring up as husbands and fathers, but don’t you DARE suggest that of a woman. Mothers day sermons were always about how great mothers are, but fathers day sermons were a call for men to try harder to not mess up. Sorry, soapbox. It just makes it hard to know what is and is not my responsibility in marriage, because it seems like everything is on the man’s shoulders…) Anyway, for a while it was hard, strugging with lust, but 20 years of feeling undesired in a marriage has a way of making sex feel even lonelier than i already feel. Early in marriage I researched how to please my wife. She orgasms easily, multiple times. Great, right? But she is very passive when it comes to sex. She has only initiated about 10 times in 20 years of marriage. During foreplay, as I’m focused on her for a long time, she doesn’t reciprocate, doesn’t touch me, and while I can tell she enjoys it, she just doesn’t put in effort to make me feel pleasure, except for making her body available. That feels like I’m making love to a doll, not a person. Its lonely. I want a connection, not just an orgasm. I’ve talked to her about this many times, but it’s like she’s not interested. Sex now feels like I put in so much work focusing on her, which I know is my job, but its emotionally exhausting and lonely. I believe her pleasure matters, and I’ve always tried to put her needs above mine, and I was taught not to expect a wife to meet my needs, but to rely on God to meet my needs. I know she loves me, and aside from sex, our relationship is good. When it comes to sex though, it is exhausting though, and I feel very alone.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I get it, CS. I’m thinking of writing a post on how to make sex “other-focused” rather than “self-focused”, which I think many of us do. Remember, too, that many women are more passive during sex because they have to concentrate more to feel aroused, and that’s hard to do if they’re being really active. So that’s one roadblock many women have.

      But that’s no reason not to initiate, or not to have fun with your husband. Have you tried the idea of the Sexy Dares? Those help make sure that each of you is paying attention to the other, at least for some of the dares. She may like that!

      Reply
      • CS in NY

        No, we haven’t tried the dares. I don’t know that she’d be interested, though. She doesn’t seem to think about sex much, or want to talk about it. I don’t think she agrees there’s a problem. I’ve asked her what arouses her, what things I can do to try to help her mentally be turned on. She says she doesn’t know. So, I’m failing to turn her on and I don’t know what I need to change to fix it.

        Maybe you’re right, though, and I’m too self focused, hoping she’d want to reach out to me to touch me or offer me pleasure back. As I said, I know she enjoys it, and she says we should do it more, though its always right after sex she says that, not during other times. And I know that as the husband, I’m called to sacrifice for her and her needs. I know I’m responsible for her pleasure. Maybe if I just made it about giving her pleasure, and paid more attention, I wouldn’t think about myself so much… Besides, id rather no orgasm for me than just an empty one… I’m probably putting to much pressure on her, so if I focused just on her, maybe she’d relax and open up more. I just have to figure out how to not let myself be aware of my needs during that time, and I’m not sure how to do that.

        Reply
        • Daniel

          CS in NY: That’s a tough spot to be in. I feel for you. I would assume you have, but it’s worth asking; Have you tried something as simple as priming her for love making? This is something that is done on a daily basis, and at it’s roots it’s not based on sex at all. Loving words, gentle touches, long hugs, and soft kisses. It sounds like your wife would like those things. Once your good at that, and it’s time that you would like to make love, prepare her a little more on that day. Send her a sexy text or three during the day. Help her a little extra with household chores. Just do things that make her feel special and loved on a deeper level.

          I hope that makes sense…

          Reply
          • Lindsey

            That was beautiful. You, Sir, are a man who gets it. 🙂

          • CS in NY

            I do these things, and have done them for years. I must just be doing them wrong in some way. I know it’s my problem to fix, because if there’s a problem in the relationship i know, as the man, it has to be me causing it. I just keep failing, and its killing me. I wish I could be whatever it is she really desires. I’m exhausted.

          • Daniel

            CS in NY: Have you read 30 days to good sex? If not, you should consider reading through it with your wife. Sheila did a great job on that book.

  16. Discouraged

    My situation is similar but complicated and would love suggestions especially from men. Been married almost 2 decades. Neither virgins at marriage so I knew that he suffered from PE (premature ejaculation) but I stayed silent about it and he never said anything except an occasional sheepish apology. Due to lack of education and my upbringing that sex was bad, I never understood or explored how to always make sure I was satisfied (orgasm) and didn’t know how to discuss the PE because I was afraid of what it would do to his ego. I would often cry afterward without him knowing. :(. Although I could never complain about the foreplay, I went years rarely having an orgasm and never during intercourse because let’s face it, I didn’t have a chance with how short it always lasted and we’ve almost always used condoms. Last year I finally got the courage to address the PE (after reading your book Sheila and understanding how I was disassociation during sex) but I just mentioned it tearfully and we never really had a heartfelt discussion about it. It got a lot better for a while despite the fact that we didn’t really talk openly about it after I brought it up. I guess he researched a bit and figured a few things out. But now it’s back to how it was before and he says nothing – never addresses it. Sex without a condom is out of the question and I’d like to experience that more. He ALWAYS makes sure I’m taken care of during foreplay (we learned this awhile back thankfully and to say it’s great is an understatement) but I want the intercourse to be longer too! It feels like it’s just for him. If I start to enjoy it and get into it, he’s automatically done. Like it gets him too aroused. My quandry is this: Am I asking too much? Am I just being greedy since he takes care of me in other ways every time? Is it selfish to want it ALL?? I’m in my late 40s so I feel like my time of an enjoyable sex life is ticking! My libido is (obviously) higher than ever too which doesn’t help. I don’t know his source for the PE so I don’t try and offer suggestions. He’s also late 40s so it’s not due to his age and also it doesn’t matter how often we have sex, it’s quick every time. I take a while to orgasm which doesn’t help and I have to be in complete concentration so I can only imagine the same is true for him (in the opposite way)and maybe it just feels like too much work on his part. My fear is that if I turn it into a big issue which I think is what would have to happen for him to take me seriously he’ll shut down and sex will become just pressure and a frustration for him. This is how his personality is. Any and all advice is appreciated! I so want the FULL experience God intended for us and yes I’ve prayed about it a ton!! How should I broach this subject in a loving way where he understands where I’m coming from and truly wants to work on it even if it IS mostly work on his part??

    Reply
    • Anomimous

      Am I just being greedy since he takes care of me in other ways every time? Is it selfish to want it ALL??
      NO, your are not greedy at all. Being a man who had this (PE) and have learned what to do. If he does PE and afterward begin again, so that you can enjoy longer his manly member. Just talk about it before hand and make sure that he can go a second time or and a third time. The second time around it will take more time to reach orgasms for him. Practice this to let it become more and more easy to do. God blessings.

      Reply
    • jo

      Discouraged, I don’t have any words of wisdom but only to say you are not alone and yes, it is very painful. We are in a similar situation except that I was more naive and it took me about 10 years before I realized that 10 seconds or less of intercourse wasn’t the norm, and I honestly still can’t wrap my head around what it would be like to be different. You are fortunate that you have been able to get some satisfaction during foreplay; we have made a little progress in that area, but he can still lose control during foreplay, or he will tell me that he’s about to, and then it’s time for 2 seconds of intercourse. It makes me feel like I will never really get to enjoy sex before I hit menopause, because the advice that you have to lose yourself and just focus on the moment is not possible when you know your husband could lose control at literally any moment. I liken it to driving a car that is prone to stalling at the least opportune moment; a relaxed state of mind is not possible. I am not sure where to look for help that it might get better.

      Reply
    • Janet

      His libido/PE could be because his adrenals are burnt out. This can happen if he has a stressful job. In this case I would highly recommend lots of Vitamin C (1000-2000grams a day). Also he should take maca or horny goats weed to boost the testosterone/libido. As I woman, I’ve tried it and these things were like rocket fuel for me! They are worth a try.

      You might also want to consider that he is looking at porn. The reason I say this is because my ex-husband looked at porn so much and was jacking off at 2am with porn and never had anything left for me. He was also a germophobe and thought that sex was “dirty” in a germy way and didn’t like having sex because of that too.

      You know your marriage better than anyone else does. These things could be true for you or not. I don’t know. Just throwing out some thoughts. I do think you deserve to be sexually fulfilled in your marriage and pray you get that. After divorcing my first husband (the one who didn’t want sex) and getting remarried years later to current hubby, I can tell you that sexually, it is like night and day. Current hubby not only believes is pleasuring me, but also in making it last during intercourse. I’m not telling you that you have to get divorced to get that fulfillment. I think you can get it IN your current marriage if both of you are open and honest about what you really want. Do you know what he wants intimacy wise and sexually in your marriage? Have you asked him?

      Reply
  17. Carol

    A whole lot of my problem was that I had swallowed all the stuff about it being only about physical release for him. When he actually told me that he liked giving me pleasure, I was dubious. But he kept saying it so long that I finally believed him. He almost always makes sure that I orgasm, and sometimes I even have to stop him from continuing, even though we have both climaxed. I didn’t realize what a rare bird I had married. And this was even before we found all these marriage blogs.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful, Carol! What a great guy.

      Reply
  18. Melissa

    I once read a comment from a man (it was a long time ago and I don’t remember what site/blog it was on) who said he didn’t think it was fair for women to “deprive” their husbands for six weeks after childbirth. 😳 Someone has to explain to him why that was the norm!!! Instances like that and reading this blog for several years have led me to think there is a sad lack of education for men when it comes to how the female body works, not only when it comes to sex but in general. I have two sons and I don’t want to send them into marriage clueless. How those conversations are going to go…I have no idea. They’re a little young for it right now. But this isn’t an era where husbands go and smoke cigars in a waiting room while their wives give birth. We gotta catch up on the education front.

    Reply
    • KS

      Melissa,

      I totally agree! I’m an RN, and if guys understood that sex prior to six weeks after childbirth an may cause a very deadly but rare complication called an air emboli (essentially a bubble in a blood vessel), then maybe they’d understand it’s about so much more than the usual: she’s exhausted, she doesn’t feel sexy, her sutures are healing, it’s painful to even sit, etc. Education is SO important and I wish midwives and OBGYNS discusses more in depth facts about recovery and women’s anatomy during pregnancy/ post natal appointments.

      Reply
      • unmowngrass

        YES, to both of you! I am convinced that at least ~part~ of the porn problem is actually a sexy-sex education problem (ie, something beyond the mechanics) — because to younger teen men going through puberty and noticing young women for the first time, even with 100% pure intentions and extensive mental fortitude to resist temptation (which is itself like unicorns among people of that age with no experience of what they’re now facing…), they are aware that women are different from them, they are intimidated by them and want to get back onto a footing where they understand and feel in control of themselves, and in their young naivety, they don’t realise what they’re getting into, and their usual confidants are their peers who also don’t know anything, and so they do some “research” with people who, in their minds, are happy to just be less “secretive” about the sexy-sex part of it, and then they get in over their heads faster than they realise and then unleash all the problems that go along with it… so yes, more sex education, especially about sexy-sex, is definitely needed!! Well, ideally, young men (and young women, in a different way) would just be less willing to let go of their innocence too soon, but failing that, they need more sex education for sure!

        Reply
  19. Lisa

    I cried reading this. Do you have any idea how much more willing I’d be to have sex if there was ANY pleasure in it for me?! I would JUMP at it for just a backrub! I seriously doubt my husband would agree to sex with no orgasm and just a backrub!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Lisa. So sorry. It’s okay to tell him that things have to change. I know it’s hard, but it’s okay to want sex to be two-way. That is the biblical model. It really is. And your husband doesn’t know what he’s missing!

      Reply
  20. Anonymous

    A while back I found myself becoming selfish after reading so many articles about women should be satisfied during sex as much as men. It’s true men shouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from sex but we also need to be careful not to put too much enfasis on women’s pleasure as well. Jesus is our greatest example and he came to serve, not be served. I’ve found that when I’m more concerned about my husband’s pleasure I receive the biggest orgasms. So remember, it’s great if you orgasm but it’s ok if you don’t. I’ve found that it’s better to enjoy the closeness and don’t stress.

    Reply
    • Daniel

      Anonymous: Correct. The Bible is the ultimate example of how we should treat each other. Eve was created from Adam’s side, not his foot, and not his head. Eve was equal to Adam in God’s eyes. This is how we should look at sexual pleasure. If both partners put the other first, both partners will be satisfied.

      Reply
  21. Patience is a virtue

    Hi Sheila,
    After struggling with the empty void of a sexless marriage and feeling so lonely I prayed that I’d find the strength to speak to my husband about my feelings.
    In fact I got down on my knees and poured my heart out to God and told him I was desperate for affection and the closeness that sex brings when it is mutual. I think I ranted and truly lamented the fact that we had never really had the physical closeness that i was craving.
    On Valentine’s day my husband surprised me with a night away. I could hardly believe it. I’d not even packed a toothbrush!
    We talked (yes, at last) and it seems that his biggest fear is ED. He’s not as hard, rarely climaxes & has other medical issues and worries he won’t satisfy me which is why he rarely initiates. It was a huge break through. I felt so close to him for being so honest about it. I am so grateful that God heard my prayer.
    Since then we have somewhat fallen into the same pattern as before but I am still hopeful that he will seek help medically and we will find ways to keep the communication channels open!

    Thankyou for your ministry Sheila. Please keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m so glad! Thank you for sharing that with me, and thank you for the encouragement!

      Reply
    • Janet

      Have your hubby try so maca and/or horny goats weed to boost his testosterone and libido. Also, his adrenal glands could be shot. The are replentished with regular boosts of Vitamin C (1000-2000grams a day). If he is in a stressful job or under lots of stress overall, that could affect his hormones. He should have a full hormone workup by a good endocrinologist and be on a sleep/wake schedule that is hormonally good for him. If he is going to bed too late that could disrupt his hormone levels. If he is looking at his cell phone/the TV/or computer late in the evening, then the blue light from these devices can badly disrupt his hormones. If this is the case, the get blue light blocking glasses (zenni.com is good for this) and have him wear them al the time. People really don’t know how powerful the blue light is from these devices in damaging hormones. Also, EMFs (electro magnetic frequencies) from Smart Meters, paper shredders, baby monitors, and cordless phones and cell phones can mess up hormones. I got myself an EMF meter and was so surprised to find the source of my bad vision and headaches with it. I was shocked to find that my paper shredder and weather monitor were pumping out a phenomenal amount of EMFs. Now I pull my shredder’s plug out the the wall once I am done shredding paper, and I no longer use the weather monitor. For male hormone tests, I would recommend the labs at Life Extensions (lef.org).

      Reply
  22. Erin

    What a great post! I hope you can change the tide in Christian marriage teaching! Growing up in a conservative home and hearing all the teaching about sex is for men along with the equation of marriage between Christ and the church, made me not like Christ much. I still struggle with that analogy having dealt with so many marital problems stemming from our conservative Christian upbringing.

    Reply
  23. Thankful

    It’s funny, I had a conversation the other day with a close girl friend who was not a virgin before marriage. I was. We both grew up in deep purity/patriarchal culture. She “rebelled” … and I didn’t. As we compared our experiences she made the fascinating observation that I seemed to have way more problems in marital intimacy than she did (not that she was advocating for premarital sex!) But it was an interesting observation. It seems her mother failed to teach her almost anything about sex beyond “don’t have sex before marriage,” but my friend was frank with me about how she just values how she feels during sex and simply enjoys it. My mother was likewise pretty vague with me, but she was also keen to dispel any myths I had that sex would be great. She would make comments about how she would have to “take care of” my dad, and how she firmly believed that the reason God made a law about how men were not supposed to sleep with their wives during their periods, was to give women a break from sex. (Personally, I don’t understand this reasoning because in my experience, I was so surprised to discover that sex and orgasm during my period actually helps with the cramping and pain!) I think I struggled for so long because I was essentially trained to believe that sex was really just for the husband. It’s sad it took me so long to let myself enjoy sex and think of it as truly good for me too, even though I’ve been following you, Sheila, for years now AND have a super supportive husband. But I’m finally getting it. Especially after the Love and Respect post. That, for some reason, seemed to bring everything into sharp focus for me. I’m so so so thankful for you, Sheila, I feel like I am going to cry. I’ve sent so many of my friends to your website. It’s in large part because of your words of truth, combined with my gem of a husband, that I’ve been able to start shedding the purity culture lies and finally, truly, without baggage, enjoy sex with my husband.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YAY!!! Oh, that’s wonderful. And thank you so much for sharing that encouragement with me!

      I’m sorry your mom gave that impression. I’m even more sorry that she never experienced real intimacy, either. That’s so sad what so many women are missing out on (and so many men, too!). We need to start getting this right!

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Thanks beautiful, Thankful! So happy for you and your husband!

        Sheila, I think like how porn issues are so often generational (lots of boys finding their dad’s or grandpa’s or older brother’s Playboy magazines for example), so are women’s misconceptions about sex and pleasure. I know my mom definitely made it seem like female orgasm during sex was a rare occurrence, and that most of the time, our role as women was to honor our husbands and submit to them because they have needs. SOOOO DAMAGING!!! I’m still not over that harmful message yet, and nor has my husband completely undone the damage that finding his dad’s porn stash did to him and his sexuality either (not just magazines but videos too, so he was introduced to porn videos long before the rise of internet porn).

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          YES! So true. A lot of this is generational–and I just want to tell all the people reading this that when we recognize generational roots, and pray about it,and get our minds fixed on Truth (because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life) we can break those generational bonds! And we can get on a new path again.

          Reply
  24. Alexandra

    Since our marriage began, we realized I had a higher sex drive than my husband. Because of the teaching of men needing sex, and women needing to pleasure their husband, we spent a good amount of time assuming something was wrong with each of us. When I was the one pushing for sex, and he wasn’t always in the mood, I thought “but all men NEED sex. He clearly isn’t attracted to me.” HE thought, “what is wrong with me?! All men are supposed to want sex all the time!!”

    What damaging thought patterns 🤦🏽‍♀️ Thankfully we have sorted through all that nonsense. We realized that my highest love language is physical touch, so I just need more physical love – sex or otherwise. What’s really surprising to us is seeing how things have changed since I’ve been pregnant. He is now the one more prone to be sexually wanting, since I’m exhausted all the time. He’s used to his needs naturally being fulfilled because he’s meeting my needs. Now, We have switched and I have to be more conscious about meeting his needs, and therefore fulfilling my own. Mutually satisfied partnership is 100% the way to go. And WOMEN. STOP FEELING GUILTY ABOUT HIM SOENDING TIME TO MAKE YOU ORGASM. let him please you. Enjoy it. He loves you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Perfect, Alexandra! Thank you.

      Reply
  25. Edna Shrock

    Sheila, thank you Soo much for what you are doing! I was blown away when I read this post. My sister just recently signed me up for your blog posts, and I can’t be thankful enough. I grew up in a very religious culture (thankfully got away from that) where sex was only about men, and now, as a soon to be married girl, I am trying to learn as much as possible to prepare for marriage! I ordered your book, The Good Girls Guide To Great Sex, and can’t wait for it to arrive! Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So glad, Edna! I hope you really enjoy the book, and congratulations on your upcoming marriage! That’s wonderful.

      Reply
  26. Learning

    My husband and I thank you for this blog. It’s been paradigm-shifting for us, in a good way. We’re realizing that we are both responsible for my pleasure and both responsible for his pleasure. If we try to take any element out of that picture, we end up out of balance.

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      So glad you’re finding the blog helpful 🙂

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! That’s it exactly! I love it. Thank you. I just may copy that and use it later. Brilliantly summarized!

      Reply
  27. lars

    I’ve been going to church for over 40 years and can count the number of sermons on one hand where the pastor talked about sex and fulfillment and these are evangelical churches. Most pastors don’t want to touch this topic.

    Reply
    • Daniel

      lars: And the ones you did hear were probably the same old story: “Men need it, and women shouldn’t deprive them of it.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pastor say mutual enjoyment, and certainly not specifically women’s enjoyment. I’ve heard 1 guest speaker mention mutual enjoyment, but it’s certainly not the norm.

      Reply
      • unmowngrass

        I’ve mentioned this with Sheila before, but I don’t think sermons are really the place for this. I mean, sure, if it’s something that is an issue for a large section of the church, then, generally speaking, it absolutely ought to be preached about from the pulpit, because that’s a pastor’s job. And a lot of people are married. So there should be some teaching about it.

        But also, a lot of people are not married. Are too young for it (we are working towards “everyone age 14 or over ought to be listening to the main sermon”, but even people like me, who didn’t start attending church until age 18 but had always been young for my age…). Are divorced. Are widowed. Are desperately wanting to be married but are not meeting anyone, or due to circumstances (distance) can’t get married yet. Or possibly are in a long distance marriage (say, military). Or even just are happily single living the life they are called to right now and are not looking. There are a lot of people who aren’t married, for whom overt sermons about marriage would be the opposite of helpful. I mean, it seems a reasonable assumption that everyone hears a few sermons that are kind of irrelevant to them from time to time, aside from what it teaches about God’s character, and I’m sure that’s how married people feel about the occasional sermon about singleness that comes along. And I think that’s a matter for grace with each other. But what I am saying is that it’s not particularly directly the same the other way around, that sermons about marriage are just irrelevant to the single people. I am saying that those sermons can (sometimes) cross over into being actually harmful, or at least actively unhelpful, and are definitely hugely, hugely awkward, for single people, in a way that goes beyond basic irrelevancy.

        I mean, I get why some people advocate for this kind of teaching, because a general sermon is sort of less “optional” than something like a marriage group to which people need to opt in and make the effort. I get that. I just also get the opposite, the advocating against that teaching, too, and I think I fall on that side of the argument. Purely because getting married itself is optional, but being single, being widowed, being cheated on or abused (leading to divorce) etc, are often not. Which then makes it unfair to subject the people in those circumstances, that they did not choose, to the teaching about the circumstances that they may well be desiring. It’s just too cruel. Which means that the only option left then is marriage groups, etc. To say, you opted in to this marriage, therefore it is up to you to also opt in to what you need to make it work, unfortunately.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I actually agree. I’m not sure sermons are always the best place, unless it’s just mentioned in passing and isn’t the main thing. That’s why I like my Girl Talk event. It’s separate, it’s optional, it’s just for married women. That’s the place where you can really delve deep and say all those things you’d normally tiptoe around. I know as the mom of girls who were once much younger I would have been very uncomfortable had the pastor said many of the things in this post to them when they were 12 or 13. So there does have to be some discernment.

          Reply
  28. Emmy

    This was a very good and enlightening post. Thank you Seila so much.

    Some of the replies here mentioned sex education, or the lack of it. I believe that is a very important subject that should be studied further. It is not on ly the “Wives, do not deprive your husbands” type of teaching that has done harm. There have been other myths going around.

    I once read a book of Ingrid Trobisch who wrote that a grown up and mature woman is supposed to reach sexual pleasure and orgasm by just by plain intercourse. Oleasure from things like foreplay she labelled immature, belonging to the development phase of a little girl.

    It sounds unbelievable, but such books really were written and they circulated in churches and vere really popular. Ingrid Trobish was not evil and she was not against women having sexual pleasure. She even did encourage women to reach an orgasm, but she was very, very ignorant on some aspects of the female body, and alas, she helped to spread some very harmful myths.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think you’re right, Emmy. That’s another myth that has really hurt women. It’s so sad!

      Reply

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