Start Your Engines Podcast: On Periods Plus How to Tell if Sex Advice is Good

by | Feb 27, 2020 | Uncategorized | 22 comments

Men's Podcast: Hormones and Bad Sex Advice!
Merchandise is Here!

It’s time for our men’s edition of our podcast!

Women are more than welcome to listen, too (and, honestly, this one is pretty much great for both genders), but on the last Thursday of every month I like to focus on some specific topics that may be of interest to our male readers/listeners, too.

So today we covered two things: How to tell if the sex advice you’re reading/hearing is seriously off, and how to understand women’s hormonal cycles.

I’ve got some extras below, but first, listen in:


Main Segment: Is this Advice, Well, Dumb?

Usually my husband joins me for these podcasts, but after getting back from our trip Keith is swamped with work, so I had Connor and Rebecca jump on for the main segment, because this one was actually Rebecca’s idea, after doing some research for our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue.

What she found in reading a lot of marriage/sex books and marriage/sex advice online is that a lot of it is, well, kind of weird.

Take Love & Respect, where one of the ways that Emerson Eggerichs tries to convince women to have sex is with this line:

Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him sooooooooo happy? (p. 252)

(he’s quoting a woman saying that.)

Now, given that in order for sex to feel good for women, women tend to need a lot of foreplay, and that quick sex is generally not good for women, why would you talk about sex in these terms? Why is sex being SHORT supposed to be a selling point? And should we be telling people that sex isn’t supposed to take that much time–that quick sex is normal? This completely misunderstands what women need to feel good–and most men on this blog genuinely want their wives to feel good! I find it really difficult to understand why a man would want to spread the message that sex doesn’t take very long (unless, of course, you’re talking about quickies. But in context, he wasn’t). When I read things like that, to be honest, I do wonder what people think sex is supposed to be like.

Or here’s another example, from Desiring God:

There aren’t any ideal sexual experiences in the world, I don’t think. Every woman probably has a picture in her mind of what she would or wouldn’t like. And every man has a picture in his mind. And they’re never identical. Maybe once in a thousand you would say, “This marriage represents her receiving and giving exactly she wants, and him receiving and giving exactly what he wants. They’re always in total harmony all the time.” That just never happens virtually, which means that marriage is a test case for sanctification and for self-denial. And it works both ways.

This isn’t bad–it’s just odd. What would an “ideal sexual experience” look like? It sounds like he’s talking about fantasies or something. All of us on the podcast agreed that we just don’t think in these terms. You make love, you feel close afterwards, and you don’t say, “was that ideal?” You just enjoy each other. So it’s just an odd way of looking at things that makes it seem as if we’re focusing on the physical of WHAT we’re doing, rather than just being together and making each other feel good and feel intimate.

Then there’s the problem that some ideas go so far in Christian circles that they’re taken as gospel–like like the idea that all men lust. I think it’s because we often confirm our own biases, and since most advice is given by men, we often overlook women’s experience.

Additionally, we tend to think that because someone has an M.Div, it means that they can talk authoritatively on anything. But having an M.Div does not mean that you’re a sexual expert. The Bible actually doesn’t talk about sex in specifics that much, and people do need to know more than just the Bible.

So here are our five points to help us be more discerning when it comes to choosing what advice to heed:

  1. If I don’t like this advice, is it because it’s challenging me appropriately, and I’m resisting that?
  2. If I like this advice, is it because it’s confirming my biases, and is laying the responsibility for change at someone else’s feet or justifying me staying the same?
  3. Is this advice backed up by genuine research?
  4. Does the person saying this actually have credentials or experience to know what they’re talking about?
  5. Does this advice fit with a holistic view of sex, which includes mutual pleasure, passion, and a mutual “knowing” of each other?

Some other posts you may like on this subject:


Reader Question: How Does a Woman’s Hormonal Cycle Affect Sex?

I asked on my Facebook Page this week for ideas to tackle on this podcast, and this was a great question:

One thing that I see men needing understanding on is dealing with hormonal changes in there wives. One week anything gets her in the mood. The next you pull out all the stops and nothing. Guys need to understand women’s cycles and that it’s not that they are not doing thing right it’s just that she is not hormonally into it.

Rebecca and I explained the nitty-gritty of how a woman’s hormones affect libido, sexual response, and mood over the course of the month, similar to what’s explained in this post on hormones. Seriously, if you don’t know this stuff, listen! And I think women will really appreciate this, too.

We also talked about how our Sexy Dares could be used: 

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!

And then we threw in some stuff about menopause and the birth control pill, too! Plus how hormones are natural, not something to be defeated, but are also not an excuse for terrible behaviour. But having periods of melancholy and introspection may be something that God actually intended for us. (and we’ll be talking about that tomorrow on the blog!).

Hope that helps husbands understand their wives (and women understand themselves, too).

What do you think? Do you ever read advice that sounds, well, odd? Did you know about how hormonal fluctuations affect libido? Let’s talk in the comments!

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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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  1. Phil

    Sheila – I believe Emerson called you a SEXPERT somewhere in his response to your review of his book. I can only guess you like that label haha. I really like the point that was made that there are not a lot of women giving Christians good sex advice. I think that is a true statement. That is exactly why I am here. I take what is talked about to the women here and turn it inside out and reverse it so that I can apply it to my wife and our marriage. So I really appreciate the Start Your Engines Podcast that talks directly to men also. Now I can get both sides right here. For me I come from the place of where my wife struggles with me giving her pleasure. So even though I know what to do, it is a struggle to apply. That being said I wanted to add this: Good Sex/Bad sex/Ideal Sex. I think it should be addressed that as a married couple we are on a journey. The journey involves all aspects of the physical emotional and spiritual realms. In the case of sex my experience is just like my emotional and spiritual places. We fluctuate. So our sex life fluctuates from ideal to good to great to so so to even bad once in while. Yeah, every once in a while we have bad sex. (ever happen to you?) I would say the goal is for that not to happen, but the reality is it is part of “life” while we are on the journey. For me when I listen/read this blog I want what is described here to “get to” that ideal sex life. PERMANENTLY. The bottom line is life is a journey and that sex is just like the rest of life. We fluctuate. Sometimes I feel like we miss that point here when it comes to sex. Sometimes I feel like the the picture that is painted here is that if we do X then our sex life will be perfect. I just think a point should be made that if we do X and strive towards the goal of improved sex life then we are more likely to have a satisfying sex life over the course of our marriage. Maybe that is my own stuff talking here but I really think that point it is worth the conversation.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I quite like your perspective here, Phil–the idea that in marriage, sex fluctuates as we learn more and adapt and go through valley and mountaintop experiences. What a great way to explain how sex is about more than just “the deed” but a way to walk through life together, even in bad times (or during bad sex!).

  2. Doug

    It has been several years since I read his book, but I have to tell you that I don’t quite agree with your interpretation of that quote from the book.
    “Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him sooooooooo happy? (p. 252)”
    I understand your point completely, and I do agree with it in principle. In general, sex should not be rushed. It is something that should be a bonding experience. With that said, there are a lot of marriages where it is not happening. I have to confess that very same thought process caused a great deal of resentment in me for many years. I felt unloved, and for the most part, un-appreciated.
    Do you know what the voices in a mans head tell him, when he works as much as 60-80 hours a week, not for himself, but to support his family, and his wife makes absolutely no time for him.
    The voice he hears says that he is not worth 20 minutes of her time once or twice a month, or even less in many cases. That voice is sometimes silent, but on other occasions, it drowns out everything.
    As I have confessed before, I had an affair. We both agree that is all on me, but you can not dispute or deny my experience. I make no excuses for what I did but it did not “just happen”. You have stated on any number of occasions that one spouse is not responsible for the others sin, and I agree with you. On the other hand, the scripture is pretty clear that you are not to deprive your spouse and does a pretty good job of spelling out why.
    I think if you look at that quote in that light, it is not only valid but valuable.
    20 minutes is not ideal. We agree there. But if you can’t even get to the point where you willingly invest 20 minutes of your time in your spouses emotional wellbeing, what are your chances of ever attaining better.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear what you’re saying, Doug, and I’m sure that’s the perspective that Emerson Eggerichs meant for that quote.
      But here’s the thing: To put that in his book, and then give absolutely no caveat that sex SHOULD take a while if she’s going to feel good, and that of course sex doesn’t have to be short all the time, and that a man SHOULD be making sure his wife feels good–well, that’s just odd. It makes it sound like Emerson Eggerichs honestly believes that sex is just super fast. And I don’t know why any man would want to advertise that fact, quite frankly. Why wouldn’t he want to encourage men to actually make their wives feel good?
      Our survey results are quite stark in this regard. With little or no foreplay, women’s sexual experience is abysmal. And yet that’s how he’s advertising sex, and there’s nothing in his book that tells men that this shouldn’t be the norm–that men should care about their wives. That’s what’s weird. It’s like he’s saying that this is normal.

      • Lea

        “It makes it sound like Emerson Eggerichs honestly believes that sex is just super fast. ”
        Right? Usually sex that is fast is bad. I hate this whole idea of ‘giving’ sex in general. It should be mutual and shared. It should be connection. IT should be giving on BOTH sides. I doubt Emerson feels that way and no wonder some don’t want to ‘give’ their husbands sex if the man comes in with that sort of attitude.
        And anyone who talks about how much they work or hours they put in as a reason they should have sex is going to put my hackels up. That may not be how doug meant it, but don’t link money and sex. Yikes.

      • Doug

        That is exactly my point. The advice was not universal, but it wasn’t dumb either. It was intended for a specific audience, and for that particular audience, it might just be the nudge that either saves a marriage, or to move a broken marriage into an area of growth. I never read it as advice on how to do sex, but rather that you should be having sex.
        When my wife started refusing me, it was not because she hadn’t been satisfied in the past. There has never been a time in our marriage where my first desire during sex was anything other than to provide her pleasure, so in any given encounter, my orgasm was after hers. There has also never been a time that intercourse would get her there, so my focus was exclusively on her pleasure.
        I agree that there are some oafs and brutes out there who do not treat their wives correctly, or give their pleasure the attention it should. I don’t agree that every piece of advice relating to sex should include every single caveat for every single exception or outlier.
        With that said, I would propose editing your list of questions about whether advice is good, or bad with a simple addition, because it deals with those caveats, and if you are writing advice about advice, it is sort of key.
        Simply add a sixth question to ask about advice. “Is this advice intended for me, or someone else. Does it apply to me and my circumstance…”
        Honestly, within the context of this post, I am not sure that isn’t the most important question.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Doug, the broader context does matter. When he says NOTHING at all in the book about how sex is supposed to feel good for women, too, and then tells women they should do it because “it only takes so little time”, then what is the message about sex that women are getting? Remember, women have a different experience with sex than you do. For most women, orgasm is difficult. It isn’t easy to get aroused. Many men don’t understand how women work, either. So think about this: if the narrative about sex that you hear time and time again is, “men need it, women will never understand that, so women need to do it, and it doesn’t take much time, so why not?”, and there’s never ANYTHING about how women need it, too; about how sex is for intimacy; about how women need foreplay; then what is going on? What are women going to think? And that’s the whole point. It’s become normal in Christian culture to talk about sex in ways that make women think that sex has nothing to do with them, except that they need to provide it. That’s it.
          IF you want to stop the epidemic of low libido in women, then I’d suggest that we start trying a different message–and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

          • Maria

            Plus, he flat out tells women what it (supposedly) costs them. As if he knows a woman’s circumstances better than she does.

    • Maria

      20 minutes of investing in your spouse’s emotional well being… Is sex the only investment that counts? What about listening without judgement? A back rub? Going for walks together? Helping him with a project?

  3. Jordan

    I LOVE the uncut podcast from today. Y’all’s personalities show and it’s fun.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I haven’t actually listened to it yet, and I’m scared to know how much Connor left in… 🙂

  4. Lindsey

    “That’s what she said!” Bwahahahaha! 😂
    I appreciate all the information in every podcast. But, this uncut one really helped give a glimpse of who y’all are as individuals and I love it!

  5. Maria

    When a woman has sex with her husband, all it costs her is time? Really?
    How about vulnerability. If he’s coming down with the flu or anything, she’ll almost certainly catch it. Or he might treat her poorly, depending on the sort of person he is. She might become pregnant. Time is not the only factor.
    Oh, and for any part of the body to stretch, that requires certain nutrients and vitamins. So if magnesium is needed to protect against muscle cramps and needed to allow the vagina to stretch, the cost she pays might well be muscle cramps later on.
    (And if anyone said that a man owes his wife sex whether he wants to or not, I’d say the same thing. With some edits in respect to biological differences, of course.)

    • Doug

      I really probably shouldn’t go here, but you opened the door.
      Do you know what it costs a man to work in the construction field. There are constant hazards, long hours, adverse, often brutal weather conditions, sore muscles regularly, with the risk of long term debilitating injuries, over use injuries, stress for the supervisors that unless you are in the field, you cannot comprehend. Injured or killed associates and friends and the long term consequences that follow that(I lost a brother and a couple of close friends).
      I guess it would be OK of I just decided I didn’t want to work any more, sat at home, and played video games. I mean, it isn’t like I owe my family the support that job provides.
      Oh, wait, we both know that isnt true, don’t we

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Doug, this is the problem. Do you see that?
        Sex is supposed to be about intimacy, not just a man’s physical release. Sex is supposed to be an experience where a woman feel cherished, too, not just a man. Sex is supposed to be an experience where both feel passion.
        You can frame sex as an obligation all you want; but my survey of 22,000 women showed that the more women think that sex is an obligation, the less they enjoy sex and the more sexual pain they have. The more they think of it as something mutual, the more they enjoy sex and the less sexual pain they have.
        Perhaps that’s because God made it to be about BOTH of them. So you can keep telling women how much they should be sacrificing to have sex, OR you could reframe the conversation so that we’re telling women that God made something amazing for both of them, and why would they want to miss out on that? That they were created for passion. That sex is for them. That there’s a reason that God gave them a clitoris.
        Now, which message do you think is going to work better (because we already know how badly the “women are obligated to have sex” message is doing).

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          One more thing–there’s nothing wrong with the message “relatively speaking, it doesn’t take that long” in and of itself, IF it’s in context of all of these other things–like God gave you a clitoris; you’re meant for passion; it’s okay to let go; it makes you feel connected. I’m sure I’ve even said that! “Look, ladies, this is meant to be amazing for you–and it really doesn’t take that long, relatively speaking. You were made to feel passion!” But the only two selling points Eggerichs had for sex in his book were: 1. it doesn’t take very long; 2. if you don’t do it, he’ll have an affair.
          If those are the only two things he says to make women want sex–do you really think women are going to want it?

      • Lisa

        Do you know what it costs a woman to work outside the home? Same as a man. Many women do work for income.
        Do you know what it has cost me NOT to work outside the home for many years? A lot. I’ve lost 17 years of my career staying home with our children. I could not get hired again in my field in which I have a master’s degree unless someone does me a favor. That is a huge loss for me. In these 17 years I have worked 365 days of the year. No holidays, no days off.
        If I died tomorrow and my husband had to hire someone to do everything I do, it would cost him close to $90,000 per year. He’d have to hire two nannies who are willing to do housework, errands, and all the cooking. Most nannies will not do those things.
        It cost me a lot to give birth to five children, too.
        Even selfish people will have sex if it brings them pleasure. I don’t know your situation and why your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you, but the way you frame how your career isn’t for yourself but for your family, therefore you should get something, it’s really sad. I assume you wanted to have children and you are in agreement that your wife doesn’t earn an income during these years. Maybe she’d be happier working. Maybe if you switched roles you wouldn’t feel so cheated. Just a thought.

      • Lisa

        I’m coming back, Doug, because my initial response was defensive and reactive. I think that’s almost inevitable when we start into the “who has it harder” question. Looking back at what I’ve given up to be home with my children, I wouldn’t do it again. If my daughters want my opinion when they are older, I will suggest they work part time in their field. (I won’t give them unsolicited advice.). If my sons want my opinion, I will encourage them to encourage their wives to put time and energy into themselves, separate from who they are as a parent.
        In your situation, which I don’t know, I assume your wife loved you in every way before you were married, including physically and sexually. I assume she was looking forward to having a great sexual relationship with you. You aren’t the only one losing out. She is losing out, too.
        If she never had any intention of being in a sexual relationship with you, and she never told you that prior to marriage, then it seems like fraud. But if her dreams have been crushed too, I hope she decides to talk with you and get help. You are BOTH missing out, neither of you is happy in the marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, this is an important point. Sex is vulnerable for a woman in a way that it isn’t for a man because she can also be physical hurt or physically uncomfortable. For it not to be physically uncomfortable, she does have to want it, to some extent. Otherwise she’s just a receptacle. We shouldn’t be discounting her physical discomfort and vulnerability. How about instead we just talk about sex in a way that makes it appealing for women, and that includes women in the conversation? Something simply like: “You were created for passion! Don’t live a passionless life. This is something that will help you feel connected, help you relax, help you sleep, help you feel amazing…” Why doesn’t he talk about it like that?

  6. Natalie

    I think one asks themselves if that was an ideal sexual encounter when the sex was unfulfilling. And when unfulfilling sex becomes the norm, that’s when the idealised expectations can become the standard we hold in our minds. At least that’s been my experience. For me, I don’t really know how to break out of that. The only thing I can think of is maybe if we have really great sex frequently (like, every day or every other day) to kind of “re-write” the narrative I have in my head based on our previous 10 years experience of generally bad sex together.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that’s likely very true. But when sexual encounters are fulfilling, I don’t think the question of whether it’s “ideal” or not even enters your mind, really. That’s why we all found this comment of his so bizarre. But it does make me wonder if many of these writers know what it’s like to have a fulfilling sex life, because one who does would not write about it that way.

  7. Rachel C

    Thanks for leaving the jokes in, it was great. And, hey, I finished podcasts through the end of February. Progress. 🙂


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