PODCAST EXTRAS: A New Definition of Sex, What Millennials Do Right, and More!

by | Mar 14, 2019 | Uncategorized | 38 comments

Podacst New definition of sex
Merchandise is Here!

It’s time for a new episode of the Bare Marriage podcast!

And this week we’re finishing up our series on how sex should be mutual–including working towards a new definition of sex.

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast:

<script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/242918/993758-episode-10-a-new-definition-of-sex.js?player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>

Main Segment: Can We Work Towards a New Definition of Sex?

Too often we see sex as simply about a man doing something to a woman. But what if we thought of godly sex as something that was meant to be mutual–that was meant to be an intimate knowing of both people?

If we did that, then I think a lot of the problems we have with women having no libido, or with women feeling like sex is icky, would be greatly diminished. When we talk about sex as only being about men’s physical release, we cheapen something beautiful that God made. We make sex about a “right” rather than an intimate experience. We actually rob sex of the purposes that God intended for it. And that’s wrong.

Yes, it’s good to be giving to our husbands. But if we always see sex as being about a husband’s needs, we’re robbing our husbands of real intimacy, too. We need to be an active participant!

I know that I’ve been talking about this a lot, and this podcast concludes everything I’ve been trying to say. My intention was never to “let women off the hook”. I do believe that sex is vitally important in marriage. But what we mean by the word “sex” matters. When we make it all about men, we almost guarantee women won’t want it, enjoy it, or think it’s for them. When we make it about a mutual experience, we get closer to what God intended.

This is good news! It isn’t something that’s meant to bash men. And I hope, as you listen in, you hear my heart.

Here, though, are the two posts that I mentioned in this segment:

Millennial Marriage: 2 Things Millennials Tend to Do Right

We’re always hearing about how lazy millennials are, and criticizing them as a generation. Millennials, though, have some priorities really right! Today Rebecca and I talked about two of those priorities: Millennials are willing to embrace creative living arrangements in order to have a better quality of life and save some money (and no, we’re not just talking about living in your parents’ basement); and millennials are far more willing to go to marriage counselling far earlier when conflicts arise.

What else do you think millennials do right? Let us know in the comments!

Reader Question: My Husband is Always Too Tired for Sex Because of His High-Stress Job

A reader writes:

My husband is always too tired for sex and it’s really starting to bother me. We probably have sex like twice a month so it’s not never but still too little. We have been married for a few decades, and in the beginning when all the kids were born it was me who was so tired, so I feel like i can’t say much now, because my husband dealt with it before. He works really hard for our family and has a high stress job as an emergency responder, so I understand why he’s tired but I still need his affection. What can I do?

I totally get this. But I decided in this podcast to focus more on the sources of his stress, because I think if we can deal with the stress, the sex part would take care of itself.

Also, I have something to celebrate this week! My husband did his last call ever at the hospital where he’s been working. He’s changing his practice so that he won’t be up all night. He decided that two decades of sleep deprivation and stress was enough.

Some professions are simply high stress–emergency responders, like paramedics, police officers, fire fighters, emergency room staff, some inner city teachers, children’s protection workers, even the military–they deal with stress in a way that other people just don’t. Other jobs may be high stress in terms of what’s expected of you, but there’s something unique about jobs where you’re always dealing with emergencies and seeing humanity at its worst and at its saddest. It’s hard to turn that off.

In the long run, that kind of stress is a bigger health hazard than smoking or obesity. It takes its toll. I think, then, that when you’re married to someone in a high stress job, part of your job is to help your spouse handle stress. Figure out how to arrange their schedule so they have some downtime to decompress in a healthy way (not just with time wasters that don’t feed the soul!) Get great eating and sleeping habits. And try that marriage check in where you share your high and your low of the day. They may not be able to share all the details of what happened, but if you know in general terms what your spouse is dealing with, you can be a big support.

And then keep working at intimacy and staying close!

Comment: In Which I Step in It with Co-Sleeping Again

Last week I shared that I don’t think it’s healthy for moms to sleep with children (we’re talking toddlers and older kids) instead of their husbands. The focus on my video and post was really on those older kids, not on babies, but most of the Facebook comments were about sleeping with babies, so I’m not sure people truly got what I was trying to say.

I do bring this up every few years, and whenever I do, people get very upset with me. I do understand that sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get some sleep. But I wanted to highlight something about the research behind attachment parenting. On Facebook, a reader wrote that I was ignoring how babies attach better with their parents when they sleep in the same bed. Again, though, I want to reiterate this:

In my post I was talking about older children past breast-feeding age, not infants! Most of the pro co-sleeping comments were discussing 5-month-old infants, and I believe that is an entirely separate conversation. What we were discussing was a reader question where a wife was sleeping in the 8-year-old’s bed and it was damaging their marriage.

Rebecca responded with this, and I thought it was important enough to highlight:

 

I actually went to university for psychology with a focus in developmental & cognitive psychology. So my profs talked about attachment parenting a LOT. And honestly? Not a single one was “pro.”

I want to say something though: cosleeping while breastfeeding is different than cosleeping with a toddler or older. I’m focusing mainly on toddler or older here–kids are not breastfeeding anymore.

The problem is that attachment parenting doesn’t do a good job of differentiating between a “tight” attachment and a “secure” attachment. So parents see their kid who loves them and only goes to them and loves to spend all their time with them and see it as secure. But that’s not actually what secure attachment means.

In fact, much impartial research that is done (e.g., not paid for or done by attachment parenting organizations, since there aren’t any “anti-attachment parenting” organizations since no one has monetary gain by promoting the alternative) has found that attachment parenting leads more to anxious attachments than it does secure attachments.

Much of that is because a secure attachment comes about by a child having a secure attachment both with the parent but also with their own standing in the world. If the parent doesn’t allow them to explore the world and experience discomfort and then realize “Hey, I’m fine if I’m not cuddled when I fall asleep because I wake up feeling OK and nothing bad happened”, the child can actually become more anxious. That’s an oversimplified version, but that’s the gist of it.

Kids need parental supervision, attention, care, and love! But they don’t need to avoid all discomfort. Some discomfort is GOOD for kids, since it teaches them that they are capable and safe–their fears don’t come true and they learn to self-soothe in those situations.

Because it takes away this chance to learn to self-soothe, a lot of attachment parenting actually can be to the kids’ detriment by not showing the kid, “You’re strong enough to handle this. And you’ll be OK. The world isn’t such a bad place that you need to be rescued from all the time.”

At the end of the day, are parents who co-sleep bad parents? No. They’re not. But psychology also says that you aren’t necessarily giving anything extra to your kids, and you may be at a greater risk for kids having anxiety issues later in life. And I’m just not sure that it’s worth sacrificing a marriage so you can sleep with kids for years on end when it doesn’t actually help the child much after breastfeeding is over.

Again, we’re talking about children here, not infants.

I know I’ll still get a lot of pushback, but the reason I keep bringing this up, even though so many pushback, is twofold:

  1. I think husbands matter. So many wives sleep in their school-age kids’ beds, and the husbands feel really left out and neglected, and just want their marriage back. That’s not insecurity or immaturity or not understanding how important kids are. That’s actually husbands valuing the right thing. Ladies, if we’re going to say that marriage is supposed to be mutual in other areas (including with mutual sex), then we have to also say that husbands matter, too. If we want them to consider us, we should also consider them. And choosing to sleep in an older child’s room, or with all of your kids in the bed, when your husband would rather keep the bedroom to just you, really is something that needs to be dealt with.
  2. Many parents are simply exhausted. The reason that so many parents say that they let the kids into the bed is that it’s the only way anyone gets any sleep. I get that. My kids didn’t sleep great as babies, either. But what a lot of parents don’t realize is that you can actually train your children to not know how to “self-soothe” (as Rebecca was talking about) so that when they wake up, they need you. They can’t go to sleep without you. That’s why they keep waking you up in the middle of the night–because when they wake up, they can’t just roll over and fall back asleep. I know how tiring that is. And I just want parents to hear–there is another way! That’s all.

Look, if you all co-sleep, AND your husband loves it too, AND you’re all getting great sleep, AND your kids are well-adjusted, then more power to you. But if you’re sharing a bed with your kids long-term and your marriage is growing distant, or if you all are chronically sleep deprived, or if your child is school age and can’t bear to be without you, then maybe something needs to change. Do you think we can agree on that, or am I still totally off base?

Let me know in the comments! And I’d love to hear what you think about the conclusion to our sex should be mutual series as well. What do you think? Can we change the conversation?

[adrotate banner=”302″]

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

Related Posts

Is Someone Stepping on Your Air Hose?

So many women--and many men as well--honestly feel like the church is hurting them. I do not believe that it is Jesus that is hurting them, but the things that the church teaches, especially around sex and marriage, do cause harm. Our surveys have shown that...

Can Sex Be Hot and Holy at the Same Time?

Can sex be hot and holy at the same time? One of my big picture passions that I want people to understand is that sex is more than just physical--it's supposed to be deeply intimate too. And maybe to understand that, we need to take a step back to see what God thinks...

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

38 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Do people really believe that men have a stronger need for sex than women? I did previously comment about how senseless it seems that the half of the population with the clitoris and the capability of successive orgasms is considered the less sexual half , but we do absorb those messages since infancy. Women have “wet dreams” too, it’s just that it doesn’t involve squirting, but young teenage women especially have orgasms in their sleep, just like teenage boys. I think it would help a ton if we also changed that part of the conversation about sex — maybe something like “God gave women this anatomical part that you men could NEVER understand because you just don’t know what it’s like to have an organ that’s for pleasure only and can keep firing without a refractory period, so you really need to learn to work it because it makes women crazy sexual and therefore super-bickery during the day when it’s not properly satisfied (ideally multiple times).” Seriously, Sheila, we could have some fun writing a spoof of Love&Respect that way! And I really am convinced that a sexually satisfied woman just doesn’t have the energy to get angry about the little things.

    One more thing that’s been bothering me about quickies and how many bloggers assume those mean it’s for the man only. Since Sheila mentioned it first on a previous blog, I feel comfortable bringing up the fact that women come as quickly as men do when they masturbate. I know the mainstream Christian view is that this is sinful, but it also means that a man could manually give you a “quickie” if you teach him to touch you the way you would yourself. So a quickie could still result in an orgasm for each. And it’s only sex if you’ve both come! 🙂 Seriously, otherwise it’s just him masturbating into your vagina.

    Reply
    • Ingrid

      No. As a woman who, so far at least, has been incapable of receiving an orgasm, I find that last sentence highly offensive. My husband is not “masturbating into my vagina.” We are actively deepening our relationship, sharing an intimate moment, and connecting on a physical level. Quite frankly, I find this attitude demeans sex to the purely physical as much as the idea that sex is only for male release.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        I think the conversation needs to be about, like the post said, mutuality. So if the woman actively does NOT want to have sex, not just is feeling “I could or I couldn’t, and you want to, so let’s do this and have fun,” and then he demands a quickie, it can feel a bit like the woman is being used for release, like a masturbatory aid.

        However, we also need to be careful like you said, Ingrid, to not characterize all sex that doesn’t result in orgasm as manipulative, bad, masturbatory, or wrong. Like you said, sometimes it’s about the intimacy even if it doesn’t lead to orgasm! And that’s also perfectly acceptable and can strengthen a marriage and lead to feelings of closeness and deepen your bond.

        It’s about figuring out what works for BOTH of you while working towards figuring out how to get the most pleasure for EACH of you out of sex. But it isn’t always going to look the same for everyone. And that’s also OK.

        Reply
        • Ingrid

          I know what you and Sheila are saying and I agree,Rebecca. Mutuality is where it needs to be. I just get so grieved when I see comments spouting that, ” sex is only sex when you both come. ” there’s probably thousands of men and women who get knives through their hearts when that is how we’re defining sex. I don’t remember the percentage of women that sheila mentions in “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, ” but it’s a pretty hefty number that you’re alienating with that statement. I mean,I guess that we’ve never had sex. The miraculous joining with God to create daughters wasn’t sex. That idea kills my libido ten times more than the idea of men needing release (not saying that the latter idea is right or good.)

          Reply
          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            I totally get what you’re saying, too, Ingrid. I guess what I’m concerned about, though, is that if women’s pleasure isn’t at least a goal of sex then it becomes very easy for sex to become one-person centered in many marriages. So as long as sex brings pleasure to both people, then even if you don’t orgasm, both people have been considered and taken care of. But what we often see in emails and comments is that not only is a woman’s pleasure not aimed for, women don’t even expect it because they’re so used to feeling used for sex without any consideration. And that is concerning, because then it is very one-sided and not at all what you’re talking about when you say sex where the woman doesn’t orgasm.

            But if a woman is in a marriage where she is cherished, loved, and greatly enjoys intimacy even if it doesn’t lead to orgasm, that is very different than a marriage where the man is the only one who is ever considered in bed. See what I mean? So yes, you are completely right–we need to not alienate women who don’t always orgasm during sex. But we also need to recognize that a lot of women feel a bit like sex toys in their marriages instead of people with preferences, desires, and feelings. And we need to tell them: your pleasure matters! If it’s not even a consideration, that is wrong.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Totally understand, Ingrid! I’m really grieved that so many women have trouble reaching orgasm. I certainly don’t think that if a woman can’t orgasm that therefore she’s not having sex. But I do think that men need to be giving in bed as well. That means helping her feel arousal; it may mean a big backrub or helping her feeling relaxed if she can’t orgasm, as I mentioned in the posts.

            I also want to write more about orgasm. I’m hoping to do a course on it soon (I have so many courses I want to film!) because I do think that a lot of us have mental blocks that we can get over, and also a lot of us just have never spent enough time in foreplay to teach her how to feel good. This can be overcome! There’s no biological reason why women can’t orgasm, except a very small minority who may have some issues. But not the 36% that rarely or never orgasm as reported in my surveys. So what can we do to help that 36%? I’m still trying to figure it out, but I hope to have it ready this year!

      • Andrea

        I sincerely apologize for the offense. Sheila and Rebecca, as usual, have explained it all much nicer than I can. I have the same problem in person. My sister tells me about her sex life and I get so mad that I end up alienating her instead of helping. Sheila’s percentage of women who can reach vaginal orgasm is much higher than the secular numbers and maybe that is because Christian women are willing to work harder, but I’ve taken a different point of view. Trying to reach orgasm through intercourse when your clitoris is more than an inch removed from your vaginal opening requires too much acrobatics and trying to stimulate my clitoris manually while he is inside me feels irritating rather than pleasurable. So at some point I simply said “since I can come three times in the time it takes you to recover from just one, does it really matter that I don’t come vaginally?” If the husband always makes sure the wife comes (before or after, or ideally both), does it matter that it was his finger or tongue that caused it and not his penis? I just don’t see the point of making something fun so laborious; I mean, can you imagine insisting that men come in a way that is only indirectly stimulating? So, even though I don’t come vaginally, I still don’t feel like he is masturbating into my vagina because he has shown me in other ways that he cares about my pleasure. The clitoris actually extends far beyond that nub on the outside and surrounds the vaginal walls, which is why penetration can feel amazing even if you don’t orgasm, especially if you experiment with different speeds and motions. Because of this I have even started thinking of sex in reverse: penetration is more like foreplay for me because it stimulates without causing release while direct clitoral contact is the pinnacle of the experience because it causes orgasm. I’ve heard various researchers describe this as “foreplay is coreplay” and “outercourse and intercourse.” So, my crass comment is really only meant for men who start thrusting away with no regard to female pleasure, not when it doesn’t cause orgasm. I have felt similarly offended when a friend who can easily come vaginally asked me what was even the point of having intercourse (unless you’re trying to get pregnant) if it doesn’t result in orgasm. “It still feels good!” I yelled. And then I told her about the internal part of the clitoris. Which wasn’t discovered until the 1990s, just to re-iterate earlier points about how female sexuality is underresearched even in secular circles and medical journals.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Andrea, I really do understand where you’re coming from! And let me explain, too, that the 36% of women who never orgasm include those who never orgasm ANY way. It’s not just through intercourse. I think a lot of women don’t orgasm through intercourse but they can other ways, but a lot of women don’t at all. I don’t think it matters one bit HOW one reaches orgasm, which is why we need to see sex as more than just PIV (penis in vagina) and more in terms of all the sexual things we do together, which should include intercourse at least most of the time, but may also include so much more. But beyond that, it’s just important that women receive in some way. I don’t care how. It just can’t be that women are doing all the giving and men all the receiving. That’s not intimacy.

          Reply
          • Andrea

            Wow, OK, so while the women having orgasms through intercourse in your survey outnumber those from secular surveys, the number of women who never orgasm at all in your survey is a lot bigger than the secular ones, which say 95% of women can come if they do the job themselves. Not to sound like I’m trying to promote masturbation by bringing it up again, but there is just no reason why a loving husband couldn’t patiently learn from his wife how to touch her exactly how she likes. I have seen Christian bloggers (maybe you, but I’ve kind of gone down the rabbit hole of reading them all lately, so I forget who’s who) suggest a wife explore herself and then show her husband. I really like the idea of alternating — she does it a little first, then he tries to copy her movements, then she takes over again, and so on. It can be so fun if you have two people equally eager to please and really not awkward at all if, say, he cradles her and kisses the back of her neck and fondles her breasts from behind during the times his hands are free. Sorry, now it feels like I’m writing an instructional, I’ll stop, especially since I noticed that the newer evangelical sex manuals written by women like Sheila supply a lot of specific advice. I know we want to be respectful of an act that symbolizes Christ’s great love for his Bride, the Church, but specific instructions can revolutionize a couple’s relationship.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Andrea, I’m not saying that they can never reach orgasm at all–only that they don’t with their husbands. I didn’t actually ask about any other way, so I couldn’t comment on that! I do think there’s a lot of benefit in showing him what makes you feel good. And I wouldn’t even technically call it masturbation when you’re with him, personally!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point about a quickie, Andrea! Maybe I should do a post on quickies for women. 🙂 I just feel like I have to help more women be able to achieve orgasm first, because I know so many who read struggle with this.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Sheila, to your point above about doing a course of orgasms, I’d agree, I think the reason the vast vast majority of Christian women who can’t orgasm is due to mental blocks. I know that’s the case for me. For me, everything I read online (which is mostly secular given the topic) says to start out by touching yourself and learning what you like. But what if your mental block against masturbation is even stronger than your mental block against thinking you’re capable of orgasm? I know that’s the case for me! Even inserting a tampon still gives me the heebie jeebies! Maybe that’s because of my enlarged hymen that needed to be surgically removed (& I imagine women who had/have vaginismus would also have a similar “PTSD” sort of relationship with their vaginas). How do you get past that? I still have yet to figure that out, and still don’t touch myself and try to figure out what I like. I’m fine if my husband and I experiment together, and in some ways, I find I’m more sensitive when I’m with him… probably because I shut down mentally when I try to touch myself because of all the “masturbation is a sin! Never touch yourself!” preaching I grew up with from even an earlier age that I was taught the concepts of Love & Respect. Anyway, if you do a course on orgasms, I’d love to hear that mentioned!

        Reply
        • Andrea

          I just saw this comment by Natalie after I posted mine, so I apologize for the repetitiveness, but this clearly means that more than one woman is interested in the topic of masturbation and there may be more. I have also wondered whether the purity movement is to blame for women’s PTSD (ouch, Natalie, and I thought I had a tendency to put it harshly!) relationship with their nether regions. I hope no one takes offense (and I’m brand new here, so no hard feelings if you delete me), but I had the good fortune of discovering my clitoris before Josh Harris’ book hit the shelves. And once a woman makes that kind of connection with her body, no amount of Bible-thumping can ever take it away from her. I knew from the jokes my guy friends in church and my guy friends at my Christian college made that they were masturbating regularly, though the ones with a conscience said they tried to do it without fantasizing, that it’s possible without lusting, which is what the actual sin in masturbation is, so I just thought I was entitled to the same and that I was doing my future husband a favor cause he won’t be left in the dark.

          Reply
          • EM

            Haha same here! I was raised in a shame-free household so when I started exploring as a young teen i didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. Only later did I learn what “masturbation” meant and that it was supposedly wrong, so I felt a lot of guilt about it.

            So when hubby and I were dating, he made a big point of not saying I love you until he was sure he wanted to marry me. We were on a road trip talking about some deeper stuff, and the topic of porn came up. He confessed to me that he had struggled with porn use in college. The poor guy felt so awful that it would cause me pain. But then I was sitting there thinking, well how can I condemn him when I have my own issues? So I confessed to him that I struggled with masturbation. It was a very sweet, intimate conversation and I think we were both crying. Well a little while later we stopped for gas. He leaned over, hugged me, and told me he loved me for the first time. In the moment I thought it meant “I love you no matter what, even though you are such a sinner.” Years later he told it was more like, “I love you because you are such a sexual woman!” We laugh about it now and how my confession got him all excited to get married. Anyway, looking back I wish I hadn’t felt any guilt about it. Knowing how my body worked was a gift to us as newlyweds. There was a lot of learning since we were both virgins, but I was able to get enjoyment out of sex right away.

            I have a dear friend who has been married 17 years, and just last year she told me she’d never had an orgasm. We talked about it over a glass of wine and I told her – for the first time in her life – where her clitoris is. That is just a crying shame! We can’t send women into marriage so woefully uneducated.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            17 YEARS?!? Oh, my word. That’s so sad.

          • Andrea

            I’m replying to EM (but there was no “reply” option next to her post, only next to mine, which is the one she responded to).
            This: “Knowing how my body worked was a gift to us as newlyweds.” I like this a lot more than a woman’s virginity being the gift she bestows upon her husband. Knowing where your clitoris is and how it functions is the best gift you can give your husband. (Also, your husband is super-cool; I’m sure many would condemn you and claim that their porn use is different because, you know, it’s harder for men, blah-blah-blah.) When I was in college and the first of my friends started getting married (and being disappointed in sex) I really wanted to give them the advice you gave your friend, but I was afraid I’d be morally suspect for possessing that kind of information. Can you imagine a boy being held morally culpable for knowing how his penis works? Maybe both men and women should be required to pass a basic anatomy test before being granted a marriage license 🙂

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I do hear what you’re saying about a double standard. We definitely have to teach this stuff more!

      • Phil

        Hey ladies as they say around here…I am late to the party….do you have any idea how cool that would be if my wife asked me to give her a quickie? Like holy cow! My wife and I have expereinced mutual sex in the past that indeed confirms that yes this is true atleast in my book that a woman can climax quickly…and by manual stimulation as an option. Seems to me a potential pathway to help the 36%. Heres the idea; maybe a new dare? mutual masterbation. Woman goes first…..

        Reply
        • Natalie

          Again, before a couple tries mutual masturbation, the wife needs to be totally comfortable with masturbation. I (& I think a lot of other Christian women, especially those raised in the purity culture) am definitely still not comfortable with that as stated above. While I’m totally fine with my husband touching me, I don’t feel comfortable touching myself. I can instruct him verbally all I want and try playing his hand where it feels good, but ultimately, I can’t control his quality of touch, rhythm, intensity or speed. So if masturbation is to be tackled here, I think it’d be best address in a series of posts or a paid online course all about orgasms. Just my two cents.

          PS: And for the record, I’m not opposed to masturbation now that I’m married. I know that theoretically it’s not a sin for me to touch myself in my husband’s presence, or to touch myself while thinking about him. And even though I know that consciously, my subconscious continues to scream, “No! Don’t touch yourself! Masturbation is a sin.” That is, I think, the last wall of my sexual repression that needs to be torn down. Lord knows it’d definitely help my husband if I could should him exactly what I like in the flesh. But as it is right now, I still have no idea how exactly I like to be touched. I’m 29, have 2 kids and have been married for 5 years. :/ I’m unacceptably late to this “know your body” game.

          Reply
          • Phil

            Natalie – thanks for the discussion You seem to struggle with my comment – Here is a question that may help you or others with the idea. Whats the difference between manually stimulating yourself with your husband in you to reach orgasm vrs manually stimulating yourself in front of your husband while he watches? This discussion has nothing to do with masturbating alone that’s a whole Other topic and my wife and I choose not end of discussion also doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that intercourse should be part of sex but I’m curious what you and others think because to me if it’s mutual what’s the difference especially if it helps somebody. If we’re going to re-define sex then we have to get outside the box and look at the whole package

          • Phil

            Also I would add if you don’t know how to touch yourself then how can you show your husband.? I suppose you could…but seems to me it sure would be easier if you knew Before you try to show him….

  2. Madeline

    Haha, the millennial marriage segment made me laugh today! I love that you two have the attitude that no generation has gotten everything right and neither should just conform to the other. I also find the differences in perception of marriage between the different generations to be so interesting. I definitely have a different approach to marriage than my parents and I think it has a lot to do with what y’all touched on in the podcast. One of the most interesting pieces of marriage advice we got when we first got married came from my husband’s aunt, who is a sociologist. She said that in studies of couples that have been married for many decades, they found that a common element is that these couples *do* sweat the small stuff. They don’t wait until an issue snowballs into a massive problem before they talk about it and they don’t stuff their true feelings (I’m from a family of emotional stuffers, so I’ve had to *really* work on that in my marriage). Obviously, I’m sure this message could be taken the wrong way and a spouse could use it to constantly criticize their spouse (Gottman’s research tells us how dangerous that is), but I think that taken in a healthy way, it falls in line with what y’all are saying about not being afraid to address problems before its too late.

    Reply
  3. Natalie

    I think we also need to clarify the meaning of “mutuality” within the church as well. I’m just now listening to the very beginning of Segment 1, and am getting some seriously vivid flashbacks of a sermon I heard when I was probably 13, 14 or 15 (can’t remember if it was at a co-ed sex ed edition of weekly chapel time at my Christian school or if it was from summer church camp, but I think it was one of the two… I remember other kids my age being present). The pastor read 1 Cor 7:4-5, and he read the part too that says that husbands shouldn’t deprive their wives. It’s not like he skipped over reading that part. Just as he finished the reading and looked up at the audience, I distinctly remember him saying, “Ladies,” with a tone in his voice that insinuated it was time for a heart-to-heart. “This is probably a verse you are going to hear your husband quote to you time and time again in your marriage. And the reason for that is because it’s SO true! Ladies, sex is one of the most beautiful, uniting parts of marriage. It’s what every husband is looking forward to when he’s standing at the alter: a lifetime of making love with you!” (Note the genuine, sincere and romantic language and tone he was using to appeal to the girls in the audience who all want that fairy tale ending with a husband who loves them for them and wants only them.) “That’s why it’s so wrong for you to deprive him of sex, of that intimacy with you. Men, we just need it. We need sex! That’s just the way it is. And we can’t get sex any other way than from our wives. That’s why it’s your responsibility, ladies, to always take care of your husband just as he takes care of and provides for you. He does that ’cause he loves you, and you should have sex with him because you love him.”

    WHOA! That just all came back to me in an instant! I haven’t consciously thought about those words in over a decade, but clearly they made an impression on me! And this was in something like 2003, 2004, 2005, so really not that long enough! This was after the purity movement technically! Looking back now, I can’t get over how that pastor appealed to 1) women’s need for love that’s as unconditional as a man can give her, and 2) her need to love, nurture and care for those she loves. Wow! Talk about manipulative!!! And he started out by talking about how sex is beautiful and holy and unify, which are all true and biblical! So you think what he’s about the say next must also be true, right?! NOPE!
    Wow! I am literally floored right now by that memory! No wonder I didn’t start off my marriage thinking my husband and I needed to put more effort into making sex feel good for me! The main pillars of my Christian sex/marriage-ed that I was taught early on, whether I consciously thought about it or not, was that sex was 1) holy, good and beautiful and created by God for only a husband and wife in the context of marriage (which is true), 2) that I shouldn’t deprive my spouse of sex and 3) that his need for sex was so great – “that’s just the way it was” – that there was nothing better I could give him than sex when he wanted, even if I got nothing out of it or didn’t feel like doing it.

    No wonder I’ve never orgasmed!!!! Oh man, I have so much to unlearn!!!

    Reply
    • Natalie

      Oh, anyway, that’s all the pastor said about 1 Cor 7:4-5. Not once did he talk about the husband’s duty to his wife. Not once did he mention that sex in marriage was about pleasing your spouse and putting them and their needs above your own (not just the wife doing that for the husband). Not once did he say anything about the fact that WOMEN CAN LIKE SEX TOO for physical reasons, not solely emotional. UGHHHH!!! The whole sermon was focused on women submitting to their husbands and giving their husbands sex because otherwise they’d be depriving them, and clearly right here in the passage he just read, it blatantly said to not do that. UGH!!!! Teaching a half truth is just as damaging as teaching a falsehood, in my opinion!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It really is just as damaging, Natalie, because you think you’re hearing the whole story, and it’s such a distorted version. It’s just awful.

        Reply
      • Andrea

        The more I read about how authority and submission are used in the Church to apply to the bedroom, the more of an icky, BDSM, Fifty Shades of Grey-feeling I get. This is how pornography has seeped into Christian culture (a lot of commenters have been bringing this up).

        As to the pastor’s explanation that the wife should give sex because the husband provides for her, this is a transactional view of sex or, in other words, prostitution. If she is supposed to have sex with him irregardless of her feelings because he provides for her financially, this is prostitution, people, it is the definition of prostitution in fact. Those same radical feminists who tried to outlaw pornography in the 1970s were the ones who offended everyone by calling marriage legalized prostitution, but if she is submitting to sex because he pays the rent, then the label fits. It’s another offensive statement that actually makes sense if you take the time to think about it, as painful as it may be, and should not be taken as an affront to the institution of marriage, but as a necessary condemnation of marriages in which wives are treated like prostitutes. If she does all the housework because she stays at home while he works very hard outside of the home, that seem like a fair exchange in that both are contributing to the household, but if she is being used sexually because she doesn’t receive a paycheck, then you are killing her soul.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I agree, Andrea. The language we use is really icky–and it does bear a lot of resemblance to BDSM. We need to change the conversation!

          Reply
        • Natalie

          But like so many men (my father and grandfather come to mind first, but even my own husband to some extent), when they come home, they say, “So, what’d you do all day?” (a more demeaning way of saying “how was your day”). To most men and even in the eyes of some SAHM’s, working outside the home is more difficult. It’s professional. It’s with other adults. Stay at home with kids, while difficult at times, is more enjoyable because you love your children, they’re cute and adorable, and you have less stress than the man does when he works out of the house. You don’t have deadlines to meet or have to worry about rising the ranks to get better pay. You can send the kids off to school, get your nails done, make some food, read, clean, etc.

          While that may seem like leisure time to many (I’d argue that seeing SAHM’s as having it easy is still the majority view in Western society), they don’t take into account all the mental energy it takes, and how we never get to go home and turn that part of us off. It’s always on!

          I’d agree that what that pastor preached was a very prostitution-like view of sex and marriage. But unfortunately, I think most men (& many women because they’ve been taught that & seen it modeled for them growing up) still have the view that the SAHmom/wife has it easier (especially if they also help around the house when they get home or help with the kids), thus she should put out because he has needs and she has a very easy, stress free life. He needs the stress-relieving effects of sex more than she does.
          (I’m not arguing that. I’m just saying I think that’s where they’re coming from. And I’d agree, that’s wrong and a very chauvinistic view of marriage and women/SAHM’s in general. But sadly, that is the norm.)

          Reply
    • Madeline

      Natalie, I read the words that pastor preached and I just *cringe*!!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Brilliant, Natalie! So glad that God has been revealing so much to you. I do think that’s the first point in healing–understanding the bad messages you’ve received.

      I want to point out this sentence: “No wonder I didn’t start off my marriage thinking my husband and I needed to put more effort into making sex feel good for me! ” I think this is the story that many women have. I talk about this phenomenon in my Girl Talk event, too. You get married, sex is ho hum at best and awful at worst, and we don’t speak up because we didn’t really think we mattered much. And it cements this idea that sex is for him; that sex isn’t pleasurable; that he doesn’t have to make an effort to make us feel good.

      Rebecca and I have been planning a Honeymoon Prep course that we’re hoping to launch in June, and we want to teach that arousal should be the aim, not just sex. If we taught people to aim for arousal, I think we’d have much better beginnings to marriage, because a lot of people have no idea how to arouse her at all!

      Reply
      • Natalie

        I don’t even think it’s that we think we don’t matter that much. I think (at least for me) it’s more that we were never told sex CAN feel good for us too, or even that it should and it should regularly (not just once in a blue moon). So if you don’t masturbate (like me & lots of other Christian girls and women), you have NO idea what your body is capable of cuz you’ve never felt it before. And then if you also get messages from your mom’s or family’s “birds and the bees” talk or from another trusted source that also reinforces the idea that sex can sometimes feel good but usually it’s just meh (which is basically what my mom told me), then even if you know you matter in the marriage (as I did/do), you still don’t think it’s that big a deal that sex is okay and boring for you cuz that’s just the way it is for women.

        My husband was more experienced with girls than I was with boys when we married. I’d had one boyfriend previously who I only kissed, and he’d had a one night stand when he lost his virginity, 3-4 other girlfriends who he’d fingered and one he’d performed oral on. I also knew he’d watched porn like pretty much every other guy (he wasn’t a Christian until after we met). So when we started having sex, I trusted that he knew what he was doing. It didn’t hurt me, but it felt meh and boring like my mom said it often did, so I didn’t think anything of it. I thought women who orgasmed were either always faking it or were a very small and irregular minority. I think even in marriages where both are virgins completely, it’s natural for the woman to trust her husband’s lead because his anatomy is external, he’s more familiar with it, and if she was raised to have her sexuality suppressed before marriage, she’s probably not all that familiar with her own anatomical pleasure centers. (You can definitely be knowledgable about female anatomy and the reproductive system while knowing NOTHING about pleasure and the female body, as was the case with me.)

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I think this is all definitely true, Natalie. And many women don’t realize that they do have a piece of anatomy where the only point is her pleasure!

          Reply
        • Andrea

          The thing is, if women don’t speak up, men don’t know. This isn’t a Christian problem only (I feel like I’ve been comparing Christians unfavorably to secular people a little too much in my comments, so I want to provide a balance). A secular guy can have multiple female partners and each one is doing the next one a disfavor by not telling him what feels good. You see what I mean? A guy can go through his entire life thinking he’s Casanova because no woman has ever told him otherwise. Casanova probably thought he was Casanova because no woman ever told him otherwise 🙂

          Reply
          • Natalie

            That’s exactly what my husband experienced. A month ago, we were discussing the topic of his sexual history and sexual experiences, and I asked him if he’d made his past girlfriends orgasm regularly (or at least frequently enough) when he fingered them or went down on them. He said of course. I said, “really? All 4-5 of them and most of the time too?” He didn’t bat an eye and again said yes. I think he honestly thinks he made all of their orgasm, and that’s when he was between the ages of 15-19! He said he could tell by how they responded to his touch. I seriously doubt that was actually the case, given their age and lack of experience and also that the longest he dated any of them was 6 months, most were 2-4 months. None of them verbally spoke up and told him that something could be better. So by the time he got to me, he was pretty set in his thinking of what women like, I was trusting of him given his experience compared to mine, and then I didn’t speak up because of my preconceived ideas about what sex is usually like for the woman. Tale as old as time. Haha, he was not very happy when he found out with me that he wasn’t actually Casanova. :p And this all goes back to why educating Christian teens on sex properly is SO SO SO important!!!!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            So sad and so funny at the same time. Yes, likely he just didn’t know that he wasn’t actually pleasing them. Teenage girls are unlikely to speak up, and he’s unlikely to realize how long most of them would take. It is sad.

            There is a problem with many men not realizing that they actually are not pleasing their wives very much. The only way around that is for us to speak up. And the earlier you do that in your marriage, the better.

  4. Anonymous

    It is interesting to read all these comments about their sex education in the church. My wife and I are in our 60s and our experience with sex education from our and parents was this: don’t have sex before marriage (and my wife’s Mom told my bride that men want lots of sex). That was it! We learned the mechanics of sex from secular sources. Even our pre-marital counseling sessions from our pastor did not include one word about sex.

    After nearly 40 years of marriage, my wife still has not orgasm. Only 1 year ago, she finally told a doctor that she has low sexual desire (but not about her lack of orgasm). I am so glad that there are Christian resources such as this blog that can help Christian couples with intimacy issues.

    Reply
  5. Kate Sorensen

    I just found your podcast and was thoroughly encouraged by the first topic! This is the first time I’ve heard someone else echo my desire for sex to be a “knowing” experience: spiritually, mentally, emotionally AND physically – not just a physical act. However, I was disappointed with the co-sleeping discussion. I understand the science behind your/Rebecca’s response but the research behind self-soothing shows it actually damages relationship building skills for the long-term. It teaches babies and small children their needs aren’t important enough to be addressed and shuts down the part of the brain that expects response from others. I have co-slept with each of my four babies and do transition them to sleeping on their own in their own beds – each baby at a different age . They demonstrate many readiness cues as to when they’re ready to sleep on their own and have never suffered any detrimental effects from our sleeping decisions. In our family, co-sleeping led to me having MORE energy for my marriage, not less. And believe me, there are lots of creative ways to be intimate even if you are sharing your bed with a baby. 😉

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Kate, I totally hear what you’re saying. But again, our discussion about co-sleeping revolved around toddlers and older kids. The problem really comes when parents allow older kids to sleep in the bed, and then they don’t learn to self-soothe. Even the post that we referenced was about an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. So I really do think it’s a different story with babies, and the fact that you transitioned them all is a great thing! And thanks for your kind words about our first segment. I’m glad some people are getting it!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *