Understanding Sex from a Woman’s Perspective

by | Jul 29, 2020 | Uncategorized | 44 comments

How men can see sex from a woman's perspective

Can men understand sex from a woman’s perspective?

Or is there such a thing as a “man’s perspective” and a “woman’s perspective?”

It’s Keith (Sheila’s husband) here again, for our monthly men’s corner!

Every month, I try to write a post with some of my thoughts about what Sheila is tackling this month on the blog.  Some of the themes this year have been challenging for me to write about as a man, like “How to Help your Wife with her Body Image Issues”, but I have soldiered on. 

But I really balked at this month’s topic: “Sex Questions You Can’t Ask Your Pastor?”  Where do I go with that?!? I briefly thought of writing a post called “Sex Questions Keith was scared to ask his Pastor” just to see if I could give Sheila a heart attack, but I decided that would probably end up with me more embarrassed than her!  Then I remembered that Sheila got some flak earlier in the month, particularly on Facebook.  People took issue with the title of the series, thinking Sheila was saying you shouldn’t talk to pastors about these things which was never what she meant.  That got me thinking about the topic of where do we get our ideas about sexuality and how might that influence our approach to sex in marriage.

Let’s face it, sex is one of those things that we historically haven’t talked about much in the church (present blog excepted).

So I think most husbands have gotten their knowledge about sex from three sources: the media, other guys and their own experience.

As a result, I think that we men have sometimes developed what I would call a “male-centred” view of sexuality, often without realizing it.

I can already hear the questions: “What do you mean by that?  I am a male, shouldn’t I think about sex like a male?”  Of course! There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes when we assume that our way of thinking about sex is the right way and our wife’s way of thinking about sex is somehow abnormal or wrong.  If you have no idea, what I mean, read on! 

Before I go on, though, I want to give the caveat that I know that not all men think about sex the same way, nor do all women.  You know that I have said before that I think we often make too big a deal out of gender differences.  However, there are clearly biologic differences in the way we participate in sex which one can’t ignore that can influence our approach and may cause problems if we don’t understand and value each other’s perspective.  Take my first point, for example:

Sex is more than intercourse.

To some of you who have read the blog for a while, that won’t be shocking to you as it has been talked about before.  However, it is fair to say that most people are biased toward thinking that is what sex is.  The expression “had sex” most often implies intercourse. Why is this an issue? Well, biologically speaking, intercourse is a very different experience for a man than it is for a woman. For instance, consider orgasm rates with intercourse for males and females.  For males, it’s typically pretty close to 100% unless there are issues. But in contrast only about a third of women achieve orgasm through intercourse. How a couple handles this difference can have a profound effect on the enjoyment of both partners.

For example, women have emailed Sheila saying their husband has basically told them, “Sex works fine for me. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s your problem.”

In that mindset, each partner in the marriage is responsible only for their own enjoyment.  Now I hope none of the men reading this would have such a selfish view of things! But not only is that the exact opposite of what a loving, selfless husband should be like, it is also so unhealthy because it interprets our biologic differences in a way that says I (husband) am working and you (wife) are broken, when really we are just biologically different! 

Some women even internalize this message and ask if God likes men more than women since sex is so much easier for them!  Think of how that must feel for those women!  Men, let’s commit to seeing our wife as different, not defective!  If women can reach orgasm, but only do so during intercourse in one third of cases, let’s take the approach that says if my wife can experience this, I want to do what I can to help her get there! Let’s not be like the husband above and shrug and say, “Well, too bad for you then.”  I have often challenged men at marriage conferences about this. I try to remind them not to view foreplay as the price of admission to the main event. We need to get past that kind of mentality.  Our wife should never feel like the “other stuff” is a burdensome add-on to something that should be quick and easy. And if you want to learn how to make the “other stuff” natural and really fun for her, be sure to check out 31 Days to Great Sex!

Wonder if you will ever share a passionate sex life with your wife?

Have you given up hope that sex can be stress-free?

Do you feel like you’re on two different planets when it comes to sex in your marriage?

Take the 31 Day Challenge that will help you rediscover passion!

 

Another issue husbands can trip up over in this way is male-female libido differences.

Sheila has handled overcoming libido differences on the blog before, but that was mostly talking about libido in terms of “higher” and “lower” libidos (which don’t always follow the traditional male higher than female assumption!)  But what I have been reading about recently is the idea of “spontaneous” versus “responsive” libido.

I had never heard of this before and I found it quite fascinating.  The basic concept is this: For us to have satisfying sex both our bodies and our minds have to be in a state where we are ready and willing for it to happen.  The body side of things is the physiology of sex – erection, lubrication, etc.  The mental side of things is the psychology of sex – desire. The concept of spontaneous or responsive libido suggests that these two systems fire up at different rates in different people (or maybe even at different rates in the same person depending on the day!). For someone with a spontaneous libido, the starting point is desire.  For whatever reason (or maybe for no reason!) they get “that lovin’ feeling” and if all goes well their body begins to follow. For someone with responsive libido, though, it looks a little different. For them, they really only mentally start to feel that deep desire once their body starts getting going. Now supposedly, women are much more likely than men to have responsive libidos and men are much more likely than women to have spontaneous libidos.

What does this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that if she’ says she’s not in the mood, you should try anyway. No means no, even in marriage! But I have heard so many men say something like the following: “I don’t understand it. My wife always says she enjoys sex when we have it, but she never initiates.” Sometimes they are worried that she has a “libido problem”. Sometimes they are worried their wife is no longer attracted to them.  But a large part of the time, the line of thought is something like this –

“Does she really enjoy sex or is she just humouring me? I mean, if she really liked it, wouldn’t she be seeking it out?”

This insecurity is fed by all the portrayals of desire in movies and books, which are always the spontaneous type – often portrayed as not just spontaneous, but uncontrollable.  And we all want someone to feel that way about us – men and women alike. So when that doesn’t seem to happen in our marriage, we feel like something is wrong – either with our wife or with us.  I always felt those guys’ pain. And now I finally have something to say to guys in that situation. 

Maybe nothing is wrong at all! It may be that your wife just has a libido that is more the responsive type than spontaneous type and all those times where she “went along” and told you she enjoyed it, she really did.

So talk to her about it! Trust what she tells you even if she doesn’t act the way Hollywood tells you she should act.

Finally, we need to realize when it comes to readiness for sex, women are very sensitive to “surrounding conditions”.

We men –  not so much. For example, “conditions are perfect” for a woman might mean:

“We are in the bedroom, we feel close to each other, I am not tired, nothing is worrying me and he is rubbing my neck in that amazing way he does”.

In contrast, for just over half of men “conditions are perfect” stops at: “We are in the bedroom.”

Not to be too blunt, but many men tend to see their wife’s availability as the sole condition that needs to be met.  A husband can fall into bed exhausted after a stressful day at work with no thought of sex on his mind and if she winks and asks, “Y’wanna?” his whole perspective instantly shifts.  Again, there will be some men & women who do not fit this pattern, but this dynamic does seem to be a problem in enough relationships that it needs to be addressed.  And the root of the problem is we are assuming women see (or should see) sex the same way as men, when they don’t.

Simply put, guys, you can’t just signal your availability to your wife and assume it will have the same impact on her as when she signals her availability to you.  You need to create the conditions where she feels free to start thinking in sexual terms. But a lot of guys don’t seem to understand this.

Sheila has received enough emails asking, “How do I get my husband to stop grabbing my breast when I am doing the dishes?” that she asked me to write about it.

Well, here goes! First of all, I’m just going to say that if someone touches a person in a way that they have been specifically asked not to, that is just wrong. Full stop. And if you are that guy, then stop. Just stop.  But hopefully now you see why this sort of  “out of context” behaviour does not get the response you expect. The simple fact is that most women need to be “in the right head space” before they can make love and if they are not, sexual advances can be considered unwanted or even intrusive.  This is totally normal.  I think the fact that sex – especially intercourse – is such a profoundly vulnerable thing for a woman plays a big role in this.  They need to know they are safe. They need time to make sure they are ready for this. Guys, we have to be sensitive to this.

So instead of being frustrated that “she never wants sex”, maybe try working on creating the right conditions rather than jumping in with both feet.

If you need some ideas, Sheila has a great post on 10 Ways to Get Your Wife in the Mood.

I hope I have explained enough to remove some of the frustration that I know a lot of couples experience over these issues.  I look forward to seeing what other thoughts people have in the comments!

 

What do you think? Are there other ways that many men miss what many women feel about sex? Do any of these resonate? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Blog and Podcast Contributor, Co-Author with Sheila of two upcoming marriage books

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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44 Comments

  1. Anon

    This was great. More men need to hear this. Reading this blog and other blogs by female marriage bloggers have been very helpful to learn to see sex from a woman’s perspective. I think more men need to do this.
    I think in general the message about responsive and spontaneous desire needs to be taught more. I have started to developer a more responsive sex drive and I fear how my wife will take it. We haven’t had sex in almost a month because of her pregnancy and it hasn’t really affected me.
    I struggle with even being turned on. I fear that she will take it personal if she one day wants a quickie and I just can’t perform. The last time (before we knew she was pregnant) she wanted a quickie and I could barely finish. I was so afraid because I know that she could get upset and take it personal.
    I know we need to talk about this but I hope she won’t get hurt by my changing sex drive. Specially now that she is sensitive.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s an excellent point, and maybe we should write more on what happens when men develop more of a responsive desire, which especially does happen with aging as well. I think many women may interpret this as being a rejection, when it really isn’t.
      Sometimes changes in libido do signal that something is wrong; but sometimes they’re just part of a gradual process as we get older or even just as we get more stress. (although I guess that is something that’s wrong, isn’t it? 🙂 )

      Reply
      • Anon

        Hehe you see through my comment. Yes there are a lot of things that are wrong. Many are my fault. Other things are just confusing. I guess I fear that this is how things are going to stay permanently. And I fear how that will affect my wife.

        Reply
  2. Doug Hoyle

    Overall, I agree with this, but I think it fails to tell the whole story. For many men, there is no such thing as “conditions where she feels free to start thinking in sexual terms”. There are a lot of reasons for this, some perfectly understandable and innocent, and others that should be combated, but are often difficult to overcome.
    For a responsive desire to work, one has to have a willingness to respond, and to prioritize that. I understand that worries and day to day life can get in the way, but there are other things that can get in the way as well. Television, Social Media, Games, etc are some of the things that come to mind.
    My wife and I had something of a sexual awakening after decades of drought, I am not blaming her for that drought. It was the natural result of a lot of neglect and no short measure of hurt on both our parts. We got thru it to something better. Gradually, tho we are now very close in every other way, the sex has fallen off to where it was when we were at our worse. It isn’t bad sex, it is just infrequent. It is also entirely up to her when it occurs. She casually remarks that “we should do this more often”, but then after she is satisfied, she seems to forget that sentiment until the next time that she is wanting it. Generally 10 days to 2 weeks seems to be the frequency that fulfills her needs, or at least that is how l am left to interpret it. We are still sexual in between those times. We shower together regularly, and there is a good amount of both sexual and non-sexual touch, but it never leads anywhere.
    I have grown to accept this, and even make some sort of peace with it. I suspect that what seemed like an awakening was more of a making up for lost time, and probably couldn’t be sustained indefinitely. We are now at a place where she is comfortable and I suppose I am (usually) content.

    Reply
    • Keith R Gregoire

      Men commonly tend to think their wives are the ones that set the frequency as you say in your comment. That can be a very frustrating (& frustrated!) place to be. However, as I have talked to couples at marriage conferences I often find even in those couples the wife often feels HE is setting the frequency, not her.
      Communication!!!
      I think in the end, the solution is to communicate to each other what you would like in a positive way (i.e. “I want the best for both of us” versus “I need this & you’d better give it to me”) and then take care of your side of the equation the best you can.
      When a couple has differing libidos, they will both have to compromise. And it is human nature to feel like we are the one who is compromising more.

      Reply
      • Chris

        “However, as I have talked to couples at marriage conferences I often find even in those couples the wife often feels HE is setting the frequency, not her.“ Um, ya, um, Keith, don’t take that bait. When women feel cornered and are on the defensive as marriage counseling and marriage retreats tend to do, the first thing they do is start throwing stones. I really feel bad for the higher drive wives out there because for them, their husband is the gate keeper and is determining the frequency of sex. But for a lot of women, the minute you start pinning them down on this stuff, their just going to retaliate and say their husband doesn’t want sex. This despite the fact that they have told their husbands not to bother with sex. But this approach of mud slinging will accomplish its goal with the marriage counselor or marriage retreat leader who now doesn’t know who to believe. In short, this approach takes the heat off the wives.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Chris, I don’t think that’s what Keith meant. I think what he meant is that low drive wives also feel like the husband sets the frequency, because he wants it, and so she has sex far more frequently than she’d normally have sex. So he’s affecting the frequency, too. He feels like she sets the frequency because they’re having sex so little; but she feels like he is because they’re having sex so much.

          Reply
          • Chris

            Sheila. That’s a good point. I didn’t think of it that way. My apologies. (“But we just had sex last year! You’re wanting to do it too much”) I have to say, thats pretty pathetic. May I ask why Keith didn’t respond?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            He’s with patients right now. And we don’t check comments at night, so he hasn’t seen it yet. He’s working full time this week, and he’s in clinic all day.

  3. Jane Eyre

    Great post.
    I think the issues go deeper than this. Women are (generally) smaller and weaker than men. I’m tall and strong for a woman, but there are loads of men who are taller and stronger than I am. For women, puberty is gross and it feels like your body isn’t yours: you start bleeding, you get curves, boys your age and even older men leer at you. Men go through an awkward phase of puberty but at the end of it are stronger and bigger than they ever thought possible.
    As we grew up, men often grab at us, leer at us, proposition us. Boyfriends sometimes do things like grab at a breast to try to get us in the mood and push boundaries.
    Meanwhile, a lot of men talk about how they would love to be objectified, mostly because they don’t have any basis of being objectified by people who are both stronger than they are and physically repulsive to them.
    So at the end of it all, when a man grabs his wife’s breast, her gut level response is something that he just can’t wrap his head around.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very, very true! Exactly. I think I’ll put this one on Facebook later this week! 🙂

      Reply
      • Kay

        I confess I am surprised (and a little frustrated) by how many women pushed back on this on Facebook and said they love it. I call it the “drive-by boob honk,” and I absolutely abhor it, and so do all of my friends. I’ve never before heard of a woman that actually likes it.
        I want to like it. I really do. I want to be that fun, playful, flirty wife. I do believe my husband is trying to be playful and flirty. But honestly my reaction is to cringe and stifle the urge to elbow him in the stomach to get him away from me.
        So to any men reading this, I highly encourage you to have a conversation about this with YOUR wife. She may love it, but she may absolutely hate it. If she hates it, stop it. It is actually a huge turn OFF to me. If your goal is to turn her on, please take the time to find out what actually turns her on—AND OFF.

        Reply
        • Meghan

          I’m in the same boat! I read the FB post and comments and was like “hey just cause you like it doesn’t negate other people’s experiences.” I, too, hate the drive-by boob honk and have ever since my daughter came into the picture. Something about pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding fundamentally altered my body in a way that my boobs are super sensitive now. If I’m not “in the mood,” it can hurt really bad!

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think after all the discussion on Facebook (and here) I’ll likely make it the topic for next month’s Start Your Engines podcast. I copied a bunch of comments to use as discussion starters. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding going on here, but there’s also a basic issue of respect.

        • Andrea

          It makes me wonder if some Christian men feel like they’ve missed out on being able to harass women (cause that’s what the boob honk looks like to me too), so they do it to their wives. Same with the degrading sex they see in pornography, some want to try it within marriage. It’s as if they think the difference between Christian and worldly sex is just in quantity (Christians are supposed to be monogamous) and not also in quality (the kind of sex you have, one that in the Christian context should symbolize Christ’s great love for his bride the Church). I think Christian sex should be qualitatively better than worldly sex and simply limiting it to one other person doesn’t automatically make it so. You have to also treat each other like the children of the King that you are.

          Reply
          • Anon

            Andrea, I think you may have something there – in my early 20s, I had a serious boyfriend (we had reached the ‘talking about getting married’ stage) and then I discovered that he was also dating (and discussing marriage with) a Christian girl in another area on what he had told me were ‘business trips’. The men in the church 100% defended him on the basis that ‘Christian guys have to be faithful after marriage so this is his only opportunity to work the multiple relationship thing out of his system’!!! I found it really sad that they felt men ‘missed out’ by doing things the Biblical way and that they seemed to view the world’s attitude toward sex & relationships as ‘more fun’.

        • Melissa W

          That is exactly why you have to talk to your spouse and respect what they say. Like I mentioned in another comment, I like a little boob grab. It does feel spontaneous, flirty and playful and it makes me feel desired and pursued. However, I do not like it when my husband puts his finger in my belly button. Makes me cringe. Or when he snaps my underwear when I am getting out of bed. So, everyone has things they love and things they hate. Communication is key. I just don’t like blanket statements that say something to the effect of “men don’t grab your wives boobs when they are busy with something else” because some of us do like that. I would be really sad and question if my husband was still attracted to me if he stopped doing that. The statement should be more like “men find out what makes your wife feel pursued, desired and sexy and don’t do the things that she asks you not to do”.

          Reply
      • Anonymous

        I appreciate the emphasis on communication in this thread of comments. I believe that is essential for a topic like this.
        My husband and I have been married 7 months, and I happen to be one of the wives who enjoys my husband spontaneously touching me in sexual ways throughout the day. It makes me feel beautiful and romantic while making dinner, talking on the couch, etc.. I think one of the reasons I’m open to this is that my husband was very careful and respectful of boundaries when we were dating and engaged. And because he was the first guy I ever dated, I wasn’t scarred by negative experiences of guys pushing limits the way many women are (not that you have to have a negative experience to not enjoy this kind of touching).
        I wasn’t aware that many women don’t like this until reading a marriage book that advised against it. The author’s argument was that women generally have a higher need for affection (which is very different from sexual touching) and a lower need for admiration and sexual intimacy. Thankfully, my husband and I were reading the book together, so I could let him know immediately that I don’t feel that way. While I don’t have a super high need for sex, my husband’s admiration means worlds me. That might be part of why I like the admiring nature of his sexual touch as well as the affectionate nature of non-sexual touch.

        Reply
    • Melissa W

      I would have to say that is is entirely dependent on the person. I love it when my husband grabs my breasts when I am cooking or doing dishes but I also have a very high sex drive. I also grab my husband “stuff” every morning when he is getting dressed. That being said, it is something that each couple has to find out about each other and respect what is and isn’t okay with their spouse. If my husband stopped grabbing me when I was in the kitchen I would be upset and wonder if something was wrong and feel very rejected. So again, each couple needs to figure this out with their own spouse and then respect their spouses position. It isn’t a one size fits all.

      Reply
      • Keith R Gregoire

        Thanks for reminding me why I always try to intentionally write “not all men/women are like this”!
        I think the key is communicating clearly what you like/don’t like and then respecting what your spouse has told you.

        Reply
    • Doug Hoyle

      I suspect there is a very real difference in vocabulary and definition at play here. I doubt that most men wish to be objectified. I think it is probably more accurate to say that men wish to be desired.
      A man groping his wifes breast is probably not objectifying her so much as he is expressing desire (poorly). Given the experience you describe, it is easy to understand the womans response to it and to see how she interprets it differently.
      The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. The husband should respect boundaries, but at the same time, the wife should probably at least try to give the benefit of the doubt.
      It can be sort of tricky for us men trying to figure out when a hand on a breast would be welcomed, and when it is not. As near as I can tell, there are few hard and fast rules.

      Reply
      • Keith R Gregoire

        I hope we all agree that boundaries should be respected and that “I don’t like that.” is a pretty clear boundary!
        If it is tricky, the solution is clear communication – – and apologies if we unknowingly cross a line/make our spouse uncomfortable.

        Reply
        • Doug Hoyle

          I agree that is a pretty clear boundary and absolutely should be respected. What I was referring to was the much more common “stop that”. Not every action is consistently liked or disliked, and sometimes we just get the timing wrong. That is the point I was making as to granting the benefit of the doubt.
          Yes, an apology is still in order, but the truth is that you really didn’t do anything wrong other than misjudge the timing.
          I would also add that if a wife falls completely into the “I don’t like that” camp, that she probably has some work to do herself, so she can respond to her husband and not respond to ghosts from her past.

          Reply
          • Active Mom

            Doug, I agree with a lot of what you said however, if I am cooking dinner, managing the kids etc and as I am at the stove my husband just walks up and grabs my breast and I say stop I don’t like that there is nothing I have to work on myself about. If I am working trying to do my job I do not have to allow myself to be sexually grabbed. Some may like it but a lot would not. I can’t imagine if he was in the middle of a meeting at work he would be okay with my walking in as he is presenting and grabbing his crotch. Time and place is everything. Just because I am breathing and in the house doesn’t make that type of action ok Especially if I have said no.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, exactly. I think it should be quite easy for spouses to understand–“when my spouse is busy with something, do not grab my spouse sexually.”

    • Keith R Gregoire

      Absolutely right, Jane Eyre! I have also heard guys say they would love to be objectified before with the implication that therefore women should not complain about it. Those men need to realize there is a HUGE difference between how a man and a woman perceive this based on the inherent increased vulnerability that a woman tends to have in this situation.

      Reply
  4. Phil

    Keith – spot on! More Recently Sheila has been mentioning the word responsive with regard to wives libidos in some posts. And I picked up on it and “labeled” my wife as having a responsive libido. My problem is that after 20 years just being available doesnt do it for me anymore. I have been up one side of the tower and down the other asking for change. I THINK (praying it really is true this time). She is seeing the light. My wife is truly wonderful and loves me beyond the scope of my understanding. As much as I try I can not change my libido or my desire to be wanted by her. It has been such a roadblock. Maybe I am completely wrong but I know there is so much more for us sexually if she will just come along with me. At times I get super frustrated and literally give up. However, I will not quit until I know we are both getting what God wants for us.

    Reply
    • E

      We are the opposite and it has taken years of me crying because I felt rejected and him interpreting it as me being angry at him for not wanting sex more often. Because he felt I was angry at him it didn’t make him have very many feelings of love. And him doing nothing was even more rejection or him doing something felt guilty because I wasn’t sure if he really wanted to. Ridiculous! Communication is so hard because we kept having the same discussion, but we were both interpreting each other’s words wrongly. That is why nothing changed. Things have really changed now and it is so nice! Don’t give up.

      Reply
      • Phil

        Thanks E – this reminds me of an early period of my marriage when my wife and I attended a marriage conference. It was Marriage Encounter and it was of the Catholic flavor. The BIG take away from that entire weekend was that my wife and I were both saying the sky was blue but I was saying the sky was blue and she was saying yellow and green make the sky blue lol. <—— I just made that up lol – but literally we were both saying the same thing but yet we would argue immensely over stuff because we just plain didnt understand each other. I am going to take the larger part of the blame here just because of who I am and my past. That actually stings a bit cuz I am not sure I ever admitted that….today we still occasionally have misunderstandings where we are basically saying the same thing but often we will catch it before it becomes too much of an issue. I will say that sometimes we get so blinded by things we really hear or see things the way we want to even though it is very clear…and I do have a case an point here with out this being a stinger towards my wife. However, recently Sheila did a post with the heading of why her book is called 31 days TO great sex and NOT 31 days of great sex. We have owned that book for several years. We attempted to go through it and only made it to day 4 at which she refused to move forward. She happened to see the bulk email from Sheila that day of the post as it went into my inbox on our computer(we share email manager on that computer). She came to me and admitted that she actually thought it was 31 days OF great sex for all this time. For me I am grateful she has realized but on the other hand I ask HOW? Where does it say that? It clearly does not – but when we (and I am EXTREMELY GUILTY of this) have our minds set we just sometimes do not hear until we are ready. There is a saying in the 12 step room I am part of. His own self enlightenment must tell him this. Meaning when we are ready it has to be our own idea no matter how many times we have heard it. Some of that has to do with ego but it really means that it has to come from within. The bottom line is this when it comes to sex working within a relationship – Keith mentioned communication – but here is the thing I have learned from banging my head against the wall so many times with regards to the topics around here. You can go over the top with love and God and pour it on with all the concepts Sheila teaches: you can be down right cold and be a jerk and be hurtful about it (yeah I have regretfully done that) and the thing about it is YOU WILL NEVER GET YOUR SPOUSE TO CHANGE. IF THEY DONT WANT TO PARTICIPATE THEN IT WONT WORK. Thankfully I realize this as frustrating as it is. Clearly the alternative to giving up is ugly. Therefore, I WILL NOT GIVE UP.

        Reply
        • Phil

          PLANT SEEDS

          Reply
        • LBB

          My husband had an emotional affair. They didn’t every have sex. It’s been 3 years and I still feel dirty and further apart by any sort of sexual advances by him. I just feel forgotten. He’s done all the right things I guess but I struggle to want to be around him or like him. I think I’ve forgiven but still hurt at times.
          This to say after reading some comments.. we went through some years of me having a low drive. Then he spent one summer while I was pregnant with number 2 looking at porn. After my pregnancy he came clean and we were closer than ever. We had an amazing 2 years of sex. multiple times a week and I actually enjoyed it.
          Then an affair and ever since then I hate it. I don’t see him the same. It’s hard to feel any attraction when he feels like a stranger now. How do you do that after 10 years of marriage?
          Any advice to help us? It feels like this will never get better

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, LBB, I’m so sorry! That’s a lot to carry.
            Have you ever seen a licensed counselor about it? It may be worth sitting down with someone and truly talking this out. And then, other than that, you rebuild as friends. You start at the beginning and go back to what drew you together before. You start just hanging out and doing things together and learn to enjoy being with each other again. I have a reconnect with your spouse free email course that may help with that. But I think that’s an important step.

          • Doug Hoyle

            LBB,
            Shelia is right. That is a lot to come back from. I don’t want to put you on the spot, so don’t feel like you have to answer this here. You said the emotional affair was 3 years ago. What have the 3 years since been like. Have you done anything specifically to rebuild and strengthen your marriage, both individually and as a couple. Has an effort been made by your husband to rebuild the trust he broke?
            Hurting at times is normal, but struggling to be around him or to like him sort of implies that there are things yet unresolved?
            You say he has done all the right things. What exactly does that mean?
            I have been on both sides of betrayal, both as the offender and the victim, and I can tell you that it does get better, but it is something you have to want and to work for.

          • Teresa

            Wow! I’m struggling with this too. My husband actually had a physical affair with one woman in 2017 and a different woman in 2018. He has continually lusted after any woman younger than me and who meets his standards. He has used porn and masturbated for years. We both are doing our best to recover from this but I admit that I struggle with always having my guard up and waiting for the proverbial shore to drop. I want to trust him but I find myself hesitating wondering if I really can or if he will wound me again. The betrayal hurt so bad that I never want to experience that rejection again. But neither do I want to live in the past always holding this over his head. I want healing for both of us. I just signed up for the email course Sheila offers for reconnecting. I’m hoping for tools that will help me start responding favorably again.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, Teresa, I’m so sorry! You say that you’ve doing your best to recover, but I’m wondering what steps your husband has actually taken to show that he’s trustworthy? It’s okay to have trouble trusting when your trust has been broken and the offending party hasn’t taken steps to show you that he’s changed. It’s okay to be wise.
            I think working on your friendship with the course is a great idea, but it’s also okay to take some time to rebuild trust in the area of sex.

  5. Dani

    My husband and I love a lot of the things written on this blog about marriage but my husband does not love many of the things that are written to men about sex and I’m wondering if you have any tips for me to deal with it. I tell him about some of the posts or start your engines podcasts and he actually gets quite upset by them. He feels you guys put the responsibility squarely on the mans shoulders to make sex good and tbh I think he thinks it sounds like a whole lot of hard work, all the time.
    This isn’t because he is selfish in the bedroom and doesn’t want to try harder because he isn’t at all and really does care that I have a good time too. I when he hears this stuff he is hearing the same message that women get drilled with… It’s YOUR responsibility to make sure THEY have a good time. And on top of that, you are going to have to work really hard at it because she often doesn’t feel like it due to where she is in her cycle or all the other things she has on her mind so expect to spend a lot of time getting her in the mood.
    I can kind of understand why that feels exhausting to him…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Dani, all I can tell you in our surveys of 20,000 women is that lack of foreplay is a HUGE reason that women don’t want sex and don’t enjoy sex. Other studies have shown that women need, on average, 20 minutes of foreplay.
      I have so many posts on this blog telling women how to enjoy sex (seriously, like 2,500 of them), but I did want to start talking to men about what women need, because women can only go so far on their own. If they’ve got the right attitude, and they’re looking forward to it, and he just doesn’t want to do foreplay, there’s so little that women can do.
      And when you look at the orgasm gap (it’s about 95% for men and 48% for women), this is a serious issue.
      I’m not sure what else to say. I do try to tell women to enjoy sex, but I’ve had so many women asking me to tell their husbands what they need, that I thought it was time. I hope he understands!

      Reply
      • Dani

        I get it and it doesn’t bother me at all that you say this stuff but he gets super defensive. But maybe for him it’s a matter of feeing like he already does a good job (and he does) and so when I mention what you have written because I find it interesting he feels like i am telling him to do more again and he doesn’t feel he has that capacity.
        I’m sure all this is need to do many men and I really hope they take it on board.

        Reply
    • Jan

      Dani, if he is a good, decent man who is really doing his best to understand you and make sure you are happy in the bedroom then this post probably isn’t aimed at him. It has taken me a long time to realize that there are some posts on blogs meant for women which really don’t apply to me in my situation and that I’d be better off not reading it. We shouldn’t be frustrating ourselves when there is no need. I think this is a great post, probably the best one I’ve read on this subject . A rare insight even within the Christian blogosphere.

      Reply
  6. Whitney

    How can you write something about sex and not address the porn issue. Most men first viewed porn as young boys and it definitely impacts their view on sex and women. The impact is lifelong and extremely difficult to overcome.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We actually have several hundred posts on porn on this site; we just can’t mention it all the time. The first post in our recent porn series is right here.

      Reply
  7. Stephen

    Really grateful for the content in this article. I’ve been married going on 13 years and continue to learn the ways and means of healthy sexual intimacy. The description of the two “types” of libido is incredibly insightful. It has helped to put a few of the puzzle pieces together in my mind about my wife and me (especially during this season of young children, busy jobs, etc.) Not long ago, a massive lightbulb went off for me when I realized for (many) men, sex is the *beginning* of something and for (many) women, sex is the *end* of something. Meaning, for me sex is often a chance to start something new – which makes intimacy wonderful after a long, stressful day/week, or when I’m feeling discouraged, etc. For my wife, it is the end of something and is best for her at the end of a wonderful day, night of romance, when she is already happy, etc. This is not always the case, but it is what I’ve learned after many nights of not being on the same page. For an example, my parents just left the house after visiting for a long weekend. “Honey, let’s go to the bedroom my parents just left and I’m stressed (wanting to move on.)” “Babe! I don’t want to go to the bedroom, your parents just left and I’m stressed (wanting to recover.)” Your description of the two libidos continues to expound on what I’m learning and is super helpful. Thank you!!

    Reply

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