Start Your Engines Podcast: Do You Rush Through Foreplay?

by | May 28, 2020 | Podcasts | 22 comments

Do You Rush Through Foreplay? Our Men's Podcast

Let’s talk gender differences–and gender differences with foreplay!

On the last Thursday of every month we like to do the podcast that’s aimed more specifically at men (though women will enjoy it, too!). And this week Keith and I tackled the problem with overblowing gender differences and downplaying personality differences or family of origin differences. And then we tackled some sex questions!

So first, listen in!

Main Segment: Are gender differences overblown?

A man wrote in with this question:

​As a man I don’t want to read a book about how to love my wife…written by a man. If men could figure it out I wouldn’t need the book. All these marriage books written by men are helpful to understand myself, but are woefully inadequate when addressing my wife. I’m reading your book 9 Thoughts (because I didn’t realize it was written for wives), but I’m learning a ton anyway… except what I want to know, which is how to love my wife. What I’ve recognized is that I have been loving my wife like a guy would want to be loved, and surprisingly it’s not working, but it’s taken me 18 years to figure out what I was doing wrong. Now I need help figuring out how to do it right, and I’m stumped. I love your perspective, because it’s so similar to my wife’s, so I want you to write the book, but would take reading suggestions if you have any in the meantime.​

The main point Keith and I were making is that often we think distance between us is caused by gender differences–when that’s not really the main issue. And even if it is, working towards understanding each other isn’t as out of reach as we often make it sound.

If you didn’t read it yesterday, check out Keith’s post on gender differences!

And you may also appreciate these, too:

I wanted to get practical in this podcast and talk about how to feel closer to each other, and one of the best ways is the emotional needs inventory! It’s a free download, and then you can read it through with your spouse and do the exercise (it seriously doesn’t take very long), but it will give you some insight into how your spouse likes to be loved, and your spouse will understand what small things they can do that reap big dividends.

Are We Rushing Through Foreplay?

A woman asks:

We’re both Christians and pretty shy on the topic of sex, so when I first read your book “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex”, it really helped me and our marriage a lot, thank you! I was stuck in the bad girl mind set that I had to be perfect for everything to be right! Recently my husband asked me a question that really stumped me, what is foreplay? I struggle with most of the time not getting anything out of it because it’s rushed but I try to enjoy it since it makes my husband happy.. I was wondering if you had any advice?

I think a lot of times couples rush through foreplay because they feel like intercourse needs to be the main event. And women feel guilty if we make men spend too much time on foreplay, because we feel like we’re being selfish and demanding too much, and we should get as much out of intercourse as he does. And some men feel as if women are somehow broken if they need more attention.

So I talked in the podcast about how for many women, foreplay IS the main event. They don’t orgasm through intercourse.

Can we please start saying instead, “she comes first”, and make HER the main event before intercourse? Some women don’t need that, of course, but many do.

Incidentally, I’m starting work this week on my orgasm course (finally!). I’m excited about that (sorry if that’s a poor choice of words). But it should be out in August!

What about sex during COVID?

Keith and I tackled this one together from a woman who is nervous about physical contact during COVID:

I was wondering what tips you have for couples and sex during this pandemic?

Obviously our kiddos are home all the time so there’s not a lot of alone time to connect. We have 2 boys ages 15 and 12. My husband and I have played some board games together because I know those are things that help him to connect with me. Our communication is good. It’s just really hard for me to focus on sex. My mind is in a hundred places and I’m not an essential worker dealing with stress many are.

We are also not kissing. Mostly just out of fear. I still go to the grocery for us and I would hate to bring something home to him. I take all necessary precautions going to the store mask, gloves etc as well as going as soon as stores open for less people. I don’t want our sex life to diminish but it’s just so hard for me to be into it.

Okay, so as far as I know, all the guidelines are that you do NOT have to socially distance from relatives at home unless you’ve been exposed to COVID or you have it. So there is no need to avoid kissing (and even in our Good Friday post by the wife of a NYC internist, they weren’t socially distancing).

We need to find a way to get perspective on this. It’s one thing if you’re talking about 3 weeks; but we’re way beyond that now, and likely this will last at least another year. So ask yourself:

  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • What’s the chance of that worst case scenario occurring?
  • What are we giving up in order to avoid that worst case scenario?

I know this is scary for many, but I think we have to realize that we aren’t in control, and we have to be willing to accept some risk in our lives. How that looks for each family we’ll all have to individually decide, but I think clinging to each other in uncertainty is worth the risk myself.

If your spouse is having a hard time with that, then try to talk it through with those three points, above.

Now today I would LOVE to talk about rushing through foreplay in the comments. What do you think? How can we avoid feeling like foreplay is “extra”? Or do you have any comments about the pandemic and sex? Let’s talk!

Like this post? You should also check out:

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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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. Sheila Wray Gregoire

    Sorry the original version of the post had the wrong podcast link! It’s fixed now!

  2. Nathan

    My guess is that I rush through things more than I should. I want Mrs. Nathan to be happy, though.
    I have, however, actually asked her what she wants from time to time, so I know a little bit of what we should do.

  3. Kya

    During pre-marriage counseling my fiance and I read a book called Should We Stay Together? (Jeffry H. Larson). Exactly what you want to be reading while getting ready to marry the love of your life, right? The book was actually fantastic and sparked some great conversations between my fiance and me. My main takeaway was that the more similar you and your spouse-to-be are, the easier it will be for you to be married. (The book also walks through compromising on your differences and even throws out red flags and recommends rethinking marriage if you are too different in specific areas.) My husband and I have very different personalities, but we are remarkably similar in ethnicity, background, religious beliefs, life expectations, hobbies, etc., and I think it has made for very smooth sailing in our marriage of almost a decade now. I can really see the challenges that could come from differences in these areas, especially if compromises aren’t discussed in advance of marriage. And the book attributes NONE of these many differences to gender! They are just the differences that you will find between two different people.

  4. Blessed Wife

    About the COVID thing- there is a lot of fearmongering and paranoia out there that the numbers simply do not support. If you have preexisting health issues that increase your risk for a serious outcome from Covid-19, then yes, you should be careful, though even then I would not cut off physical contact with my spouse unless one of us was actually infected. In fact, I saw an article the other day stating that the prohibitions on visitors and touch enacted in nursing homes and retirement facilities is causing failure to thrive among many residents, similar to what happens to newborns that are not touched.
    For most people, all the drama surrounding Covid-19 is a giant nothing burger. 80% or more of infected people never even know they are sick. I’ve been seeing numbers saying the survival rate is 98% or higher. Using common sense and plenty of soap and water, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and vitamin D is really the best way to stay healthy, COVID or no COVID.

    • Elsie

      I wouldn’t agree that Covid is nothing to worry about. Actually, 80% of people have mild disease or no symptoms and 20% have more severe disease (it’s not true that 80% of people have no symptoms and symptoms of mild disease can actually be pretty bad sometimes). People with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk of severe disease but even young, healthy people have died. One of the big concerns is that hospitals will be overwhelmed by all the patients coming in at once. If that were to happen, then some people with Covid would not be treated and it could also jeopardize availability of medical care for people with other health conditions too. There’s no reason to isolate from others in your household unless they are sick or have a known Covid exposure. But please follow the current guidelines for your area regarding associating with people outside your household. Taking precautions to try not to get Covid helps the whole community and will help reduce the number of people who die. It is a way you can show love to others, especially those more vulnerable to this disease. So don’t live in fear but please take this seriously. And please pray that God will deliver us.

  5. EOF

    I agree with the quoted commenter about reading marriage books by the other sex. I will never forget reading a marriage book written by a married couple – but the HUSBAND wrote the chapter on wives submitting. He did clarify that he had his wife’s full support in the chapter, but it gave me the willies! It did not sit well with me at all. WHY couldn’t she write it? Would that have been unsubmissive? It sure would’ve been more appropriate, IMO.
    On a side note, that book also had a horrible chapter for stepfamilies which basically blamed everything on the stepparent, not assigning any responsibility for the parent of the children. My stepchild is grown now, but I sure hope the church has better resources for stepparents these days. I felt like I was drowning and people were throwing rocks at me while I was struggling to stay afloat.
    I can’t wait for Shiela’s book next year!! I’m going to share it far and wide.

  6. unmowngrass

    Wait, wait, wait…
    File this under “sex ed for Christians”, but if you’re talking about orgasms or maybe-orgasms, I wouldn’t have called that “foreplay”? I thought that the orgasms or maybe-orgasms stage was after the foreplay? (Hence the term “fore”.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Most people call intercourse “sex”, and everything OTHER than intercourse “foreplay”. But the problem is that about half of women who orgasm don’t do so through intercourse. So if you rush through foreplay, you’re really denying her orgasm, and that’s the problem! Does that make sense?

      • unmowngrass

        I know what you’re getting at, it’s just the terminology. I thought the foreplay was the kissing/touching/caressing/exploring/undressing stage. The part that takes an hour but should take four, the part that is more than making out but less than ‘doing-the-sex’, the part that makes the sex actually sexy? (And then when you get to the doing-the-sex part, the orgasms or maybe-orgasms part, that would either be with or without PIV, or with both? Lots of couples can’t even do PIV for a lot of reasons — lesbians are the obvious example! — but they still have a sex life. They still get to the doing-the-sex stage.) But if you’re calling foreplay the non-PIV part of the doing-the-sex stage, I just wonder what on Earth you’d call the stage before that that I described??
        If you would say that that’s also foreplay, doesn’t that make the word foreplay too broad to be functionally useful? Idk, I don’t know a lot about these things. I’m just musing. But at a guess I’d say there’s a lot of couples that fast-forward entirely through the part I called foreplay and skip straight to the main ‘play’, the doing-the-sex stage, they don’t even undress each other they just undress themselves because it’s faster, but then because of tv they figure out that there is supposed to be something called foreplay and then mislabel what they are actually doing? (This guess also comes mostly from tv.) idk. I suppose so long as one clarifies terms with one’s actual spouse, it’s not really that important? Idk…

  7. Ed Aikema

    I Love your ministry, and have learned a lot from you all! Thanks so much for what you are doing. On your podcast about differences between men and women, I think you where spot on to say that we shouldn’t generalize on how men and women are, and then you lost me. Unless I didn’t hear you right, Kieth then goes on to say that men don’t have a problem initiating sex….. So, I am broken as a man if I have trouble being the initiator even though I have the higher sex drive In our marriage ? If so, how can I fix this?

  8. Trucker Dave

    What about foreplay being the main event? I always strive to give her an orgasm either oral, manual, or with a vibe. Always works. Only problem is, when she’s done, we’re done. When do I get to have one? It’s almost worse than no sex at all.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, dear! That’s very worrying as well. Have you tried saying, “Honey, I want to have an amazing sex life with you, but sex was meant to be mutual. I want to make you feel amazing, but I’d like to feel that, too. I’m not willing to only be used to make you feel good. I’d like to talk about how we can BOTH feel great!”

      • Trucker Dave

        Good point! It’s getting difficult for me to get excited about driving down this crappy 1-way street, I can really sympathize with women who go through this. To the guys who do this to their wives- shame on you! Penalty! Unsportsmanlike conduct, 15 yards and loss of down!

  9. AspenP

    Great points as usual Sheila. I’m grateful for the Start Your Engines podcasts because they’re easy to share with my husband.

  10. Wade

    Sheila, can you describe what foreplay would look like if the wife doesn’t like to kiss, doesn’t want her nipples to be touched, and won’t allow oral sex?
    My wife enjoys intercourse 3-4 times/month and orgasms nearly every time we have intercourse, but she is not interested in any foreplay.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      If she’s happy the way things are–and some women don’t like or need foreplay–then that’s perfectly fine! As long as you both are satisfied, that’s the main thing. Is it more that you want to do more and she doesn’t?

      • Wade

        Yes, I want sex to be an amazing connective experience for both of us. For me, being able to demonstrate my love and affection by stimulating all of her physical senses and providing an amazing experience for her is important.
        It is the gift that I want to give but is always rejected.
        I don’t think that both parties orgasming is indicative of the sexual relationship being all that it can be.
        For me, sex without foreplay is shallow and reduces the experience to a purely physical one that leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled.

        • bill

          My wife sounds similar to Wade’s. Unlike what nearly all advice says about women, she has minimal interest in foreplay or buildup. She likes sex once a week, the same sequence of moves every time. If I take too long or try something different, she gets impatient.
          She says over and over that she is satisfied and even how good our sex life is, but, like Wade, I find it very de-motivating and de-masculinizing. It’s not that there is anything in particular that I desperately want to do. But I want to be able to surprise and delight my wife with my touch. Instead I feel rushed and that I cannot fully express my sexuality to my wife, even in our most intimate moments.

  11. Brownbear

    I am with Wade. Foreplay is the most important part of having sex. Unfortunately my wife does not allow any touching kissing or any intimacy. Only way for her to orgasm is orally
    and that happens maybe once a year She normally gives me 5 minutes every few night. One way allowed and no participation from her side. I am not happy but she refuses to talk about it. It has been pretty much like that for the last 23 years of our 26 years of marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Brownbear, I’m sorry that you’re enduring this. There are a lot of different possible reasons for it, but many of it is the negative messages that women grow up with about sex, and the ways in which we see sex. I’m working on several courses and a few books that will hopefully dispel some of this. And 31 Days to Great Sex re-releases late next month, and it’s a really great journey to go on together that includes a lot of things that she’ll enjoy, plus helping her talk about sex more and getting more affectionate and flirty. It also has a lot of “pep talks” for women who find sex difficult. I hope that will help!

  12. MommaB

    What can we do to make foreplay feel better? After a minute or so of touching my body is completely turned off. It feels uncomfortable, almost painful. I’ve never been able to orgasm with my husband (13 years) and it’s taking a toll on our sex life. It’s hard to initiate knowing it’s not satisfying.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I get that, MommaB. And a minute touching your body, if he’s going straight for the breasts or clitoris with no warm up, is not going to feel good at all. My book 31 Days to Great Sex is coming out in just a few weeks with Zondervan, and if you work through that, it will help you figure out where you like to be touched and how, and also help you figure out how to be more affectionate, etc. And then it has some challenges on figuring out orgasm as well. Make sure you’re on the email list, and I’ll tell you when it’s available. I get how difficult this can be.


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