The PERIOD Series: What Do You Do About Sex During Your Period?

by | Aug 17, 2020 | Libido, Uncategorized | 52 comments

What do you do about sex during her period?
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Do you have sex during your period? Or is sex during your period off of the table?

We’re in the middle of our series on periods! We’ve talked about the shame that some of us felt as teens; we’ve talked about how men can be more empathetic and aware of periods; and we’ve talked about when your period isn’t normal and you should seek help.

But mostly on this blog I talk about marriage and sex, so I thought we should dedicate at least one post to sex during your period!

How do most women feel about sex during their period?

It doesn’t really matter how MOST women feel. What matters is YOU.

From the research I’ve done, about 15-20% of women have sex during their periods pretty much like normal. Some women even say the sex is better, likely because they’re more sensitive with the increased blood flow

But the other 80% don’t. For some it’s an “ick” factor, which you could get over, if you wished to (and if he wished to). But for a substantial number it’s because the idea of it seems so off-putting based on how they’re feeling. When you’re super crampy, or you’ve got a very heavy flow which is making you hyper-sensitive in a bad way, the thought of anything touching there can be awful.

My take? If you both would like to have sex during your period, and you’re both comfortable with it, there’s nothing saying you shouldn’t. Get a towel under you, certainly DON’T wear a tampon at the same time, but have at it! And if you don’t want to have intercourse, but want to bring each other to orgasm in other ways, there’s no reason not to do that.

One caution, though: During orgasm, a menstruating woman can release more blood than usual, as your muscles push out, so to speak. So if you think you’re done and you’re only spotting, right after sex, you may have an additional mini-gush. Just be prepared!

However, if you don’t want to have sex during your period, that’s fine, too.

In the Old Testament Law, couples were supposed to abstain during her period

Women were considered “unclean” then, which has a rather unfortunate connotation that there’s something inherently shameful about being a woman. I see it more as they literally are unclean, in a land and time when fresh running water was hard to come by, and it was largely a hygienic thing.

But regardless, it was expected that couples would abstain.

If, then, you would like to abstain, no problem. God already expected men to abstain for those days; it’s okay if you ask your husband to because your body is making you uncomfortable for a time.

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What makes me very uncomfortable is how much some Christian marriage books tells women they must provide sexual favors during their periods

For the last few months, Rebecca and Joanna and I have been working on The Great Sex Rescue, our new book coming out in the spring with Baker. Based on our survey of 20,000 Christian women, it looks at the Christian teachings that have hurt women’s sexual response, decreased marital satisfaction, or increased sexual pain. We also looked at the top 15 marriage and sex books and saw which ones propagated these teachings.

And we were honestly dismayed by how the books handled women’s periods.

Most of the books taught a 72-hour rule, where men needed to be given sexual release every 72 hours or they would lust and be tempted to watch porn or have an affair. 

While I’m all in favour of a frequent sex life, that 72 hour rule is ridiculous, and certainly should not apply during one’s period. It’s far more important to figure out what you want as a couple.

We also found that if women enjoy sex and regularly orgasm, the frequency issue takes care of itself. We’re going on and on about frequency, when really what we should be going on and on about is how to make sex feel good for her–as Rebecca and I talked about in last week’s podcast!

But what really made us upset was that authors considered this 72 hour rule to be true even during the postpartum phase or her period. The husband just couldn’t be expected to wait for when his wife could enjoy sex, too. She owed him sexual favors regardless, because sex was seen as his right and his entitlement, and sexual release was the aim, rather than actual intimacy.

It honestly broke our hearts.

The Every Man’s Battle series was definitely the worst culprit, although Power of a Praying Wife said similar things. But even Sheet Music chimed in!

The most difficult time for this man [who was tempted by porn] was during his wife’s period, because she was unavailable to him sexually. After about ten years, she finally realized that pleasing her husband with oral sex or a simple “hand job” did wonders to help her husband through that difficult time.(49)

Kevin Leman

Sheet Music

Notice how he frames her period as a difficult time for the husband, rather than for the wife. When you read the stories of pain and cramping and heavy bleeding that have been in the comments all month, this is astronomically insensitive.

And here’s another:

There are times for whatever reason that a wife may choose to make use of what younger men affectionately refer to as “hand jobs”. A woman with heavy periods that last six or seven days, or who has just gotten through a pregnancy, or perhaps is simply not feeling her best, may genuinely feel that sex is more than she can handle. But with a minimum of effort, she can help her husband who feels like he’s about ready to climb the walls because it’s been so long. (p. 206)

Kevin Leman

Sheet Music

Now, if a wife wants to give a sexual favor (or if she wants to brought to orgasm by her husband, too), there is absolutely nothing wrong with that–as long as it is freely entered into. But setting up the expectation that this is an obligation is terrible, and will hurt how she sees sex (and we have the numbers to prove it–this lowers orgasm, increases sexual pain, and hurts marital satisfaction, as we’ll show in our upcoming book.)


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Can we call for Christian leaders to present sex as a mutual, intimate giving rather than an entitled taking?

Can we set up the expectation that sex should be freely entered into by both parties, and if it’s not freely entered into, then we should get to the root of the issue and honor each other, rather than guilting or manipulating someone into sex?

Can we set up the expectation that BOTH spouses would be giving towards each other? That includes the lower drive spouse working on embracing intimacy and passion at every level, so that the marriage can be a passionate one. But it also involves men giving their wives grace during times that God designed our bodies to not be available for intercourse?

I completely believe that sex is a vital part of a marriage, and I’m all for encouraging couples to figure out that sex piece!

If you’re having trouble looking forward to sex, check out Boost Your Libido! Work through 31 Days to Great Sex together and have those awesome conversations about what you both need to feel passionate, and what makes sex feel good for both of you. Read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and learn how God made women to be passionate, too. Or just take a look at this blog!

Are you TIRED of always being too tired for sex?

Do you yearn to actually WANT to make love–and figure out what all the fuss is about?

There is a way! And in this 10-module course I take you through what libido is (it may surprise you!), what affects libido, and how we can reclaim the excitement that God made us for.

No one can accuse me of saying that sex isn’t important.

But when we turn sex into simply sexual release that women are obligated to give their husbands regardless of how they are feeling, and when mutuality is completely off the table, we diminish sex and we miss the point entirely. 

Please, Christians, let’s call each other to more.

What do you think? Do you enjoy sex during her period? Is it asking too much to ask men to abstain during her period or in the postpartum phase? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of 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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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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52 Comments

  1. Becky

    Reading those book excerpts honestly makes me angry. There is absolutely no reason that a woman should be obligated to give even a hand job during her period/ postpartum healing time. Especially when the recovery can be so brutal. (My first left me with a tear that didn’t heal right and was still causing stabbing pain 12 weeks later, and my hip got so misaligned from my pelvic floor spasms that I could barely walk after my second. Thankfully, my husband is much more thoughtful than the author of the book you quoted, and was fine with waiting until I was ready.)
    I mean, honestly, isn’t SELF CONTROL supposed to be a mark of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life? Surely a man can keep from “climbing the walls” for one lousy week. And ESPECIALLY the time she would need to recover from having his child!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree, Becky. What’s sad is that this has become accepted teaching in the Christian marriage world. Our new book will look at these quotes, and others, in a lot of detail, and then show the survey results of how these ideas affected women’s sexuality. It’s not a pretty picture, and the evangelical world needs to do better.

      Reply
  2. Lydia

    What do you recommend to help couples overcome the “obligation” ideas and get into a healthier mindset?
    Also I really wish you all had a couples therapy/class where we could discuss the individual issues we are facing less publicly.
    We have an amazing therapist but she doesn’t understand the history of all of these bad marriage books that we’ve been indoctrinated with so I feel like we spend much of our time explaining our history to her.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, dear! Well, once the new book comes out at least there will be numbers to it! (If you believe X, you’re 43% less likely to orgasm).
      We’re thinking of doing some coaching groups once the book is out. We haven’t completely figured it out yet, but I do know that this is a big problem. And we do offer a lot of suggestions for how to overcome this “obligation sex” mindset.
      I’m sorry it’s not coming out til the spring! It just takes so long in the publishing world.
      I’d say take a break from sex for a few weeks, or even a month or so. You can make out, but nothing else. You have to feel as if it’s okay to say no, and that he won’t be angry or sin. That’s a hard thing to get over, but so many women in our focus groups said that this was the key to becoming orgasmic and getting over their libido problems.
      An alternative is to say that she’s allowed to stop during sex if she’s not feeling good, if anything is uncomfortable, or if she just isn’t into it (but especially if she’s uncomfortable!). Women often feel they have no right to stop, and then they just “endure” sex. If, on the other hand, you feel free to say, “wait, this doesn’t feel good to me right now. Can we go back to foreplay and start again? Or can we try another position?” Or even, “can we try tomorrow night instead?”, then she’ll understand that she isn’t obligated, and sex is about her own experience and needs, too. That’s a huge breakthrough when you can trust your husband with that.
      It does need your husband on board, but this is the key to many women’s sexual awakening. We were told such similar stories again and again from women that their husbands giving them permission to do this changed everything.

      Reply
    • Natalie L.

      A hand job takes minimal effort? Seriously? I used to do them all the time early in our marriage when we were still stuck in all those bad thought processes. My hands would ache so bad, and be throbbing by the time I was done. I will Not do them anymore.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, I would think that many, many women could have written the same thing.

        Reply
      • K

        I am so glad I am not alone in finding hand jobs physically painful. My arm would be on fire and my hand would hurt by the time it was over as I silently pleaded with God for it to be done. And my husband would kindly offer me breaks for my arm, and I was too scared (till recently) to say that it still hurt. He is a pretty good guy and wasn’t trying to make me hurt, but so clueless. His initial response to me saying my arm hurt was to ask whether I was doing any exercise to strengthen it. (And I am not out of shape). Because his mind set, like so many is that a hand job is “easy”.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I wonder if this is worth writing a post on? I think many women would share your views. And the thought that you were pleading with God for it to be done is something I have heard from others, too.

          Reply
          • K

            I think it would be worth its own post. It would also be great to address how to tell your husband this. I went about it all wrong in extreme frustration. And he is hurt, and embarrassed that he put himself in such a vulnerable spot when I was hating it so much. And I can get that pain. Essentially I was lying to him about my willingness to participate, because I thought I had too for a good marriage. But he can’t seem to see my emotional pain, I just can’t explain it right. Would really appreciate a post on it. It helps so much to hear that other woman have experienced the same thing.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            We may record a podcast about it! I think it’s easier to talk about this one, because it is really complex. But I do get it, and you’re definitely not the only one!

    • Jessica

      I was looking forward to this post and hoping it would address when the wife desires sex during her period but yet the husband does not. This has been a source of contention between us for many years. He is completely grossed out by it and my libido is highest during that time. It makes me feel very unwanted and undesired. It has caused so many arguments we don’t even discuss it anymore. I never even mention my period at all to him because once I do, I am treated like I have some sort of disease.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, that’s interesting! I think the question to ask is what the rest of your sex life is like? Many marriages endure different libidos, and have to find ways of managing them.
        If he really doesn’t want sex during your period, I do think that needs to be honored. But perhaps more education about menstruation is, and how the flow does differ on different days, and how it really shouldn’t be shameful, may help him see it differently. But it does bother some men. If you’re able to have a healthy sex life at other times of the month, then I think there needs to be some honoring of his feelings here. But if he’s refusing all of the time, then that’s a problem.
        There are also some products you can get to help make period sex easier and less messy. The Flex period disc is one of the most popular ones. Perhaps that would make him feel more comfortable, if it wasn’t messy?

        Reply
      • Marie

        I second the disc. There is another brand, softdisc, I believe, that’s sold in the period aisle in drugstores. It keeps the blood back, so period sex is no mess. And I am like you, my desire increases at that time, and I’ve found that orgasms ease cramping

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m going to do another post next week with all of these great suggestions! Thank you.

          Reply
      • Greg

        I agree with Jessica’s husband. When sex involves blood im out. I find it gross and off putting.

        Reply
  3. Ali

    You posed the question, “Can we call for Christian leaders to present sex as a mutual, intimate giving rather than an entitled taking?” They absolutely should, of course, but my first gut reaction was, “Yeah, right.” We can CALL for that, but it’s probably never going to happen in the church as it stands now. Why? Because in the conservative Christian church, where these messages tend to be the most prevalent, only men are allowed to be church leaders. Why would they want to dismantle a system that benefits them so much? If they tell women that they need to go no longer than 72 hours without sexually satisfying their husbands, then THEY get more sex, too. Sadly, there is absolutely no incentive for male Christian leaders to call for this. As you and Rebecca discussed in your podcast last week about the man who was “sad” that he might have a responsibility to help his wife enjoy sex, male Christian leaders won’t want to change the current system – they would actually have to put work into pleasing their wives. They would have to actually care about their wives’ feelings and what made their wives happy rather than their own release or satisfaction. As it stands right now, they get to demand whatever they want sexually or threaten women that they will stray and it will be the wives’ fault. Until women are given leadership roles in the church and wider Christian community and women’s voices carry as much weight as men’s, I fear these messages will never change.

    Reply
    • Ali

      I’d like to rephrase one sentence so it doesn’t sound like I’m putting words in your mouth you didn’t say: “Male Christian leaders won’t want to change the current system because, as you and Rebecca discussed in your podcast last week about the man who was “sad” that he might have a responsibility to help his wife enjoy sex, men would actually have to put work into pleasing their wives.” I didn’t mean to imply that you and Rebecca were saying that male Christian leaders wouldn’t want to change. That was my suggestion, not yours. Sorry!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you, Ali.
      And I agree with your diagnosis. Seriously, we were so amazed at how Love & Respect, for instance, said absolutely nothing about a man being expected to bring pleasure to his wife, yet talked so much about a man’s need for release and orgasm. It really does make you wonder if there’s any understanding of what makes a good lover.
      But I will still keep calling on leaders to do the right thing! I don’t think it will change (there’s too much invested for them to change), but I will keep calling for change. Because I hope then at least women (and men of goodwill, of which there are many) will see that the current teaching is wrong, and will either speak up, or will reject the churches that teach it and find better expressions of the true body of Christ.

      Reply
  4. Loving Husband

    OK, this is all well and good, but I have a question. I find that oral, hand jobs, or “assisted self-pleasuring” (wife fondling testicles, or at least watching and encouraging while husband masturbates) are incredibly intimate and satisfying. It’s mutual, feels great, and it helps us to feel closer. Certainly not a permanent substitute for intercourse, but the next best thing if intercourse is not feasible or desirable for whatever reason. Why would a woman not want to bless her husband this way? I know that if I could pleasure my wife by watching or assisting her in anything, I would certainly do it, eagerly and daily if possible! I would ask her if I could please pleasure her, whether that meant watching her shop for shoes or something sexual. And it would be very satisfying to me as well as her. Is this just a difference between men and women (or higher-drive vs, lower-drive spouses)?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great question!
      The issue is that we are talking about a time in a woman’s life when she may feel distinct UNsexual. Like the exact opposite of sexual.
      Let me give you another example. One of the ways that pedophiles are “treated” is to have them masturbate, and then, afterwards, have them masturbate again, this time to stimulation that involves children. Having to masturbate and try to get an erection right after orgasm is very uncomfortable for most men. It pairs the stimulation–children–with a very uncomfortable feeling, in hopes that this will decondition these men to find children sexually alluring (it doesn’t seem to work very well, but it’s been attempted).
      Well, when a woman is feeling crampy and gross, and then she is asked to do something sexual for her husband, it can have the same effect. It’s like pairing something sexual with the feeling of being uncomfortable or gross. In the postpartum phase, it’s pairing it with exhaustion and often great discomfort.
      That isn’t something that most men would want. Most men would want their wives to only participate in sex when it could actually be SEXY for them.
      If it could be sexy–if she were feeling like that–then they could do something mutual. But when there’s something physical making her feel distinctly unsexy, to then ask her to be sexy is to pair a very unpleasant feeling with sex, and I don’t think most husbands would want to do that to their wives if they want to enjoy a great sex life at other times.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Also, for a lot of women, they may be experiencing physical pain in other areas during this time. I always experience a lot of joint pain during my period, and sometimes movement of ANY kind is painful. My hands tend to be especially bad…

        Reply
      • Loving Husband

        Thank you, that does help with a different perspective that I had not considered. What about when she isn’t feeling “icky” and just doesn’t feel the need for herself? Knowing that I get the greatest feelings of intimacy and closeness through sexual activity with her (especially when it includes pleasure for both of us), why would she avoid it? I think I’m wrong, but the only explanation that makes sense to me is that she just doesn’t want to feel close to me.
        (BTW, we have a great marriage – we’re in our 60s and have been married 43 years. I help around the house and treat her like the queen that she is – not to get sex, but because she deserves it. We love and appreciate each other, and we have talked many times about our difference in desire. She ALWAYS has several orgasms when we are intimate. I would be delighted to pleasure her every day if she would let me. I would be happy with every day (I think – I’ll never know for sure!), and she struggles to be interested once a month. She has been through “Boost Your Libido” but no change.)

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi there,
          I know this must be so tough, and I know that many, many men (and many high-drive wives) feel the same way.
          I will say this: I understand that you feel close to your wife sexually. But it’s very likely that she does NOT feel close to you this way. It’s very likely that she gets a much greater sense of closeness through talking or spending time together, and honestly does not need or desire this in the way that you do. She isn’t rejecting you, then, and she isn’t saying that she doesn’t want to feel close to you. It’s just that you feel close to each other in very different ways.
          Also, for people with more of a responsive libido rather than a spontaneous libido (so people who do not feel a felt need for sex in the same way, even if they can feel good during sex once they get going), the idea of sex when you’re not aroused can seem off-putting. It’s kind of like eating when you’re already full. It’s not something pleasant. You don’t want to focus on food for 15 minutes or half an hour or whatever it would be; it feels like it’s an intrusion.
          I’m not saying that’s good; I’m just trying to explain how she likely sees it. It’s not that she doesn’t want to be close to you; and it’s not that she wants to reject you. It’s just that it seems like a negative experience to her, when she’s not in the mood, even if it’s something that would feel wonderful to you and you’d really enjoy. IF it were just a neutral experience, then she may be more inclined to do something to make you feel good (we all do things to make each other feel good). But it likely feels like a negative one–sort of like concentrating on food when you’re already stuffed.
          That being said, it doesn’t need to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. A lot of the reason that it seems negative is likely the things that she’s grown up telling herself about sex and the things that she has consistently felt about sex. If she grew up with shame messages about sex and about her own libido, and about how men see sex, then sex can seem like a big negative. And many, many of the teachings in the evangelical church that women hear do make sex seem very negative, and make men’s sex drives seem very negative. I’m trying to change that, but it’s a big, big thing to chip away at.
          If she grew up hearing that you have to have sex or men will lust; that you’re obligated to have sex when men want it; that men only want one thing; that he has a need you don’t have–all of these things are prominent in evangelical circles, and all of them have devastating effects on women’s libidos (as we found in our surveys).
          All that to say, she’s likely not rejecting you at all. She’s likely just got an instinctual negative response to sex because of what she’s heard, plus the fact that she has a lower libido.
          What to do about it? Talk about it. Ask her about what the messages she heard about sex growing up were. Ask her what harmful teachings the church has taught her about sex. Not in an intrusive way, but just as a conversation so you can understand. Talk to her about what passion is about and how much you want for her (not just what you want for yourself). But I think understanding how she’s thinking can help you feel less rejected.
          (And I’ll keep trying to counter the negative messages that women are taught).

          Reply
          • Loving Husband

            Thanks again. I do try to listen and talk to her, spend time with her, and support her. It’s just that before we were married (and I know that’s a LONG time ago), we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We did some things we probably shouldn’t have done, but we did not “consummate” our marriage until after the wedding. Over the years, I have stayed the same, but her desire has shrunk to almost nothing. I can’t help but think I must not be as attractive to her as I was back then. Obviously, we have both changed physically, but I still find her as sexy as she was on our wedding day, if not more. Apparently she doesn’t think the same about me. In my mind I know differently, but my heart says, “How can you love me and yet not want to make love to me?” That does not compute in my mind. Sex builds intimacy, it feels great for both of us, it’s healthy, it relieves stress, it pleases God, it’s free, and you can have as much as you want! Why would anyone NOT want that?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Hi there,
            I really know that it may feel as if she doesn’t feel the same way, but it may not be that at all. It could be that the reason she couldn’t keep her hands off of you before you were married is because you were just “making out” and it wasn’t going to end in sex. For many women, it’s sex that’s the problem because of all the messages we’ve been given. So we’re actually able to enjoy making out much more than we enjoy sex. It’s really strange and twisted, I know, but when you grow up with the terrible things that we hear about sex and how our needs are not important and we were just made to satisfy our husbands, well, sex can seem very degrading. So it honestly may not be that her interest in you has waned at all.
            One thing you could try is taking a moratorium on sex for 6 weeks, but go back to making out again. See if that helps her. I know it’s really tough, but talking through some of these negative messages she’s heard may help uncover what the issue is.

          • Loving Husband

            Oh yeah, I’m definitely “intoxicated by her love,” but how are her breasts supposed to “satisfy me always” if I’m never allowed to touch them?

          • Loving Husband

            Well that is interesting. I don’t think she was brought up with any negative attitudes about sex. At least in the first years of our marriage, she was pretty willing and occasionally even eager. Not that her drive was ever as strong as mine, but it was far more than it is now. 6 weeks, huh? That’s a tall order, but I think I would be willing to try that. I truly miss our heavy makeout sessions that we had back in the day. I know she’s reluctant now because she’s afraid it will lead to sex. Taking sex off the table may indeed result in a resurgence, which I would LOVE!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            There is another dynamic that can strike up in a marriage with a big libido difference. The lower libido spouse never has time to figure out if they want to, because the higher libido spouse always does want to. So the low libido spouse always feels inadequate and always feels pressured, even if that’s not the higher libido spouse’s intention. The higher libido spouse is consistently disappointed, and the lower libido spouse feels more and more inadequate.
            And then sex becomes equated with feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, guilt, and frustration. And it’s hard to want that.
            But the lower libido spouse may have actually wanted and enjoyed sex if they hadn’t felt the same kind of guilt or pressure (again, not the higher libido spouse’s fault if they weren’t deliberately making the other feel guilty; just what often happens).
            Taking sex off of the table and letting them know that you’re not expecting anything (and you’ll actually say no if they try to do something other than making out) can help a lower libido spouse recover their libido. It’s just ending the dance you’ve been in and beginning a new one.

          • Loving Husband

            Thank you. I think that accurately describes what has happened. She has stated multiple times that “you’ll never be satisfied no matter what I do” – and that is hurtful to me, because all I want is for BOTH of us to enjoy each other’s bodies. I’ll be working hard to eliminate the “pressure” and “guilt,” because that is indeed that last thing I want to put on her. Of course, I’ll have to just muscle through the “eye-roll” when I bring this topic up AGAIN (“Is that ALL you ever think about?”). I have to watch my words when we talk. After an incredible encounter, I say “Wow, that was fantastic!” But then I can’t help adding, “I can’t wait to do it again!” which results in the feelings of inadequacy and guilt that you mentioned. What I meant, of course, is that she is so good at sex and pleasuring me. It was (in my mind) a high compliment, but she interprets it the exact opposite. I’m still learning. Here’s to a new dance…

          • unmowngrass

            Please excuse me just jumping in here.
            I did have some kind of feeling reading this thread, and I think the reason why can be summed up in the following question: do you really want to be close to your wife, or do you want your wife to be close to you? Because they are not the same thing.
            I think a lot of men really don’t get how much of a rejection it is for women when men want sex all the time. I know that that might sound like I’m talking backwards, but hang with me here.
            Because the feeling that goes along with it is that we are not enough unless we are willing to ‘do the sex’. Not enough for him exactly as we are. Not valued enough to be enjoyed through talking and cuddling and tenderness; that he’s only interested if there’s “something in it for him too”.
            Because be honest, how many sexual encounters are there (in general) where men don’t orgasm? Zero. Or so close to zero that it’s statistically the same thing. How many sexual encounters are there where women don’t orgasm? Statistically, 63%. Actually, probably even more, because women have orgasms at 37% of the rate that men do, but some of those will be the same women having multiple orgasms to the guy’s one. And part of closing that gap is to bring more orgasms to women’s lives, for sure… but I don’t think it’s only that. Women also have times where they’re just not feeling it orgasmically even if they’re enjoying the pleasant closeness.
            But it is hard to believe that we are really valued and that men we are in love with just want to be close to us (not, want us to be close to them) if they are not willing to put aside their own orgasms in order to help us feel like we matter. If it was even a semi-normal thing that at least SOMETIMES men would be willing to forego getting an orgasm themselves in order to just give their wife an experience that she’d enjoy (on HER terms, not what he thinks she should/would want), then maybe, just maybe, husbands wanting sex all the time would not be loaded with so much rejection for (some) women.
            And on that note, I was going to make a separate post about this, but it would also be worth normalising the idea that during her period HE ministers to HER sexually. With oral, for example. Fully embracing her womanhood the way that God made her, with no pressure for her to perform, but to just lie there comfortably, even with a hot water bottle and tender breasts hidden away. And she’d probably cry when she orgasmed, but that’s OK too. That level of ministry, that those aspects of her womanhood would be not only tolerated, but valued… that would bring so much healing to a woman’s soul. Especially if it was common enough to be talked about too.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s beautiful, unmowngrass. I definitely think you’re on to something!

          • Loving Husband

            I’m happy you said that. I want the closeness to go both ways. There are definitely some opposites between the sexes. I would be overjoyed if my wife wanted sex all the time! I certainly would not feel rejected – I would feel valued and loved. I will admit that there are zero sexual encounters where I do not orgasm. There are many where my wife does not, but that’s by her choice – certainly not mine. It would please me greatly to minister to her anytime, anywhere – if she would only let me. I absolutely love to see her orgasm. I would gladly forego my own orgasm in order to give her one (or as many as she would like).

        • Leigh

          I hope you all don’t mind me sharing, but Dr. Jolene Brighten shares so much information on how hormones can affect women throughout the course of our cycles. https://www.instagram.com/drjolenebrighten/?hl=en It is really eye-opening for me and can maybe help demystify some things for husbands.

          Reply
  5. Jane Eyre

    I’m a firm believer that you can’t just pick out the good parts that you like and omit the rest. Your wife’s body isn’t a buffet where you can opt for the sex and the orgasms and the babies, but not the icky periods, stretch marks, and postpartum healing. Our bodies are unified wholes. We didn’t make ourselves like this; God did. Maybe ask yourself why you are rejecting part of His creation before asking for a hand job.
    This sounds like men who complain when their wives age and aren’t 25 anymore.
    I think many men have a tendency to see something fleeting about women as the ideal and what they are *always* entitled to. There’s only a very short time in our lives when we are young, hot, never had a baby, and within that time, aren’t menstruating. For Catholics, there’s an even shorter window when we aren’t fertile. Menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause, menopause, normal ageing – it’s a huge amount of time! It’s madness to look at the small amount of “25, hot, not on her period, not pregnant, not recovering from a baby” and just demand that as the norm.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally hear you, Jane! Another comment that you left earlier this year on this topic made it into our new book. It was so good. 🙂

      Reply
  6. libl

    The Catholic Church already handles this issue. One of the catalysts to my returning to Catholicism is the absolutely horrible and downright sinful way many protestant leaders teach married sexuality and tear apart scripture to justify selfish, lustful abuse of wives sexually.
    The Catholic Church expects a husband to be faithful, abstinent (like during period and post-partum or Dr NFP), caring of his wife, respecting her cycle, and self-controlled. It is a mortal sin to seek release outside the marriage, including masturbation. It is a mortal sin to have your wife substitute intercourse for oral or manual sex or any activity where he ejaculated outside her vagina.
    This draws the sexual focus very deeply towards the overall wellness of the marriage and respect of the wife, keeping it uniting and procreative, and not just for pleasure and release.
    To be honest, the way I see Catholic couples who do practice this theology of the body treat each other, and the way I see Protestant couples who don’t treat each other, the practice speaks for itself.
    Deviation from the common Christian married sexual practice of 2000 years has allowed sodomy, abortion, pornography, sexual abuse, infidelity, etc in marriage. I am sick at the number of Protestant men who are obsessed with getting their wives to try anal sex, and have the audacity to use the Bible and their sola scriptura to justify it. And we wonder why wives flock to sites like these in pain and suffering over their marriage beds.

    Reply
    • Cynthia

      With respect, I don’t think that the solution to saying that wives should ALWAYS be available and willing to do A, B and C is to say that they can NEVER agree to do those things or even things that would bring her pleasure. That’s different, but not actually empowering because it still isn’t based on what the wife actually wants.
      What Sheila is advocating, and what I agree with, is saying that whatever is done should be a mutual decision. If either doesn’t want to do something, you don’t do it. If both want to do something, go for it.
      NFP works well for some, but it doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. [If it did, theoretically it wouldn’t be “open to life”, would it?] I can’t accept the idea that a loving married couple who have children and know that another pregnancy would be risky would be in “mortal sin” for simply wanting to have mutually enjoyable intimacy without the intense fear of jeopardizing the wife’s health.

      Reply
    • Greg

      Maybe the catholic church or just religion in general should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I’ve learned one thing, when religion enters the bedroom I exit the bedroom.

      Reply
  7. LME

    The couple days before my period starts and the first couple days of it are when I want sex the most out of the whole month. I’m ravenous, lol! The only trick is trying to convince (low drive) hubby that I’m needing it now and that desire isn’t going to hold til the weekend or that it’s not gross. 😉

    Reply
  8. LME

    PS to my comment, after reading ones above. My hubby and I don’t fight, but some of my biggest frustrations have come at the beginning of my period when I’m ravenous for him and he’s acting like I’m undesirous or gross. And he’s not even squeamish (unlike me); he thought about becoming a nurse! Makes me feel so unwanted and hurt. I think he just doesn’t realize how this is my big moment of the month, 😂 so we’ve talked about it many times. It is getting better, tho, I think.

    Reply
    • LME

      PPS 😂 Hubby does have an incentive, though, as it’s the only time of month he doesn’t have to wear the dreaded condoms. 😁

      Reply
      • Greg

        I’m confused, wouldn’t he want to wear a condom so he doesn’t get any on him. I can’t imagine not wearing a condom or even having period sex.

        Reply
  9. Laura

    I love this!! Thank you so much Sheila! Such an encouragement and refreshing to not hear a one sided story to sex! Theres way too many authors writing sex books that are simply made up of what selfish people want to hear. What about the truth?! Thanks for being brave and speaking it!

    Reply
  10. AspenP

    I’d love to see a hand job and/or oral sex post. I may be the minority here, but I love giving them. I actually feel like my hubby unwinds for once. I’m by far the higher-drive spouse so sometimes I feel like I end up cheating myself out of my own rare opportunity for pleasure, but I like being able to see him just relax and take it in. Typically that opportunity happens if I’m on my period or postpartum, etc.
    Also, on a separate note any chance you’ll do a men’s podcast about men who grew up under strict Purity Culture? It’s been a real struggle for us to have any conversation about sex because it still seems to be taboo and we’ve been married for over a decade with a few kids. 😅

    Reply
  11. Anne

    Somewhere I read once that men who spend a lot of time bonding with a newborn find that they have less of the “climbing the wall without sex” feeling.
    Has anyone else heard this?

    Reply
  12. LME

    I know this is off topic for this article, but others were talking about it. I second you writing a hand-job post! We’ve been married 7 years, and I’ve only successfully managed it a few times. The way hubby says to do it is uncomfortable growing to painful hand contortion, and I can’t help but think the only way he knows how to do this so well is that he’s done it to himself hundreds of times and has it down to a science (mood killer thoughts). 🤦

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      WE’re talking about this in tomorrow’s podcast, actually! Maybe we should make one that’s more focused on how to make it comfortable, but we’re just acknowledging that for a lot of people, it really isn’t comfortable!

      Reply
      • LME

        Great!

        Reply
  13. Lea

    These comments and thoughts are interesting. I started out as a obligatory wife who enjoyed seeing and ending up a loving wife who still enjoys sex, however we rarely have traditional sex during period days and never during postpartum. The body is healing and shouldn’t be subjected to sex during postpartum. Even hand jobs during postpartum can be hard because, if the wife is aroused, it can lead to more profuse bleeding. My husband and I find that we each have a duty to each other, that our bodies belong to each other, and that we are one with each other. Though, occasionally, selfishness may occur, there is very little if you simple care more for your spouse than yourself. This means being understanding of different desires, being willing to try something new and caring enough when the other isn’t feeling 100% to say, I understand and I just want what’s best for you.

    Reply
  14. Tory

    Fascinating discussion. I am in the 20% of women who like to have sex even during their period. I am pretty lucky because my cycle only lasts 1.5 days and is very light, I don’t have any cramps or pms or anything like that. My husband on the other hand treats me like I have the plague and am untouchable! Lol maybe not that bad. We have had so many arguments about this because he wasn’t even open to a work-around when I was on my period. Thankfully he is trying to be more open minded! Maybe I’m in the minority, but while I agree with Sheila that men shouldn’t demand to be satisfied while their wife is menstruating or postpartum, would it be the worst thing for the wife to offer something up for her husband? (Here is a tip for the wives who don’t enjoy giving handjobs or oral: offer him sex between your breasts 😉 use lots of lube, it’s very little effort for you and gives him a great visual.) I am all for mutuality, but we can’t just do things in marriage when we feel like it. What if the husband said “look, I just don’t feel like asking you about your day. I’m not in the mood to talk to you or connect with you today.” That wouldn’t fly, right? I just think both spouses should try to be generous, and yes, sometimes offering something to their spouse whether or not they feel like doing it. (Disclaimer, i am the higher drive spouse, and yes I’m a woman, and my husband has never pressured me when I wasn’t in the mood.)

    Reply
  15. Char

    Talking about going without sex – realistically, both spouses absolutely have to go without it at times because of health issues. It can be very dangerous to have sex too soon after a surgery, for instance. So, we all need to grow in self-control, patience and love. My husband has chronic back pain and it doesn’t usually keep him from having sex, but it does occasionally and I need to be understanding. But he has always been understanding of me – after having babies, after surgeries, and yes, during my period. Some men just need to grow up! They will be extremely disappointed (and women too) if they always expect things to be to their satisfaction. It’s difficult to mature, to grow up, but it helps a whole lot to rely on God. He gives us believers the love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control we need to have. But we have to rely on Him for it, not ourselves.

    Reply
  16. Gabor

    1.
    19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.
    2.
    27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 
    28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
    29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people.
    ‐————
    So, not for Israelites, not “under the law”.
    For everybody without any biblical laws.

    Reply

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