PODCAST: Whose Responsibility Is it That She Enjoys Sex?

by | Aug 13, 2020 | Uncategorized | 34 comments

Podcast: Why Husbands need to make sure their wives enjoy sex
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If a woman isn’t enjoying sex, is the husband to blame?

We received a comment recently from a woman whose husband has been listening to our Start Your Engines men’s podcasts, where we’ve been talking about the importance of foreplay. And he was becoming sad, because he felt like we were saying that it’s his responsibility to make sure that she feels good.

So today Rebecca and I tackled this in our podcast! Or rather, I should say Rebecca went on some epic rants that you really just have to hear!

And we’ve got our podcast on YouTube now, too, so you can watch it!


(And, yes, we’re filming this in my closet again. The sound is really good in there. We’re working at making the sound better in Rebecca’s office, but we’re not done with the foam squares yet!)

Anyway, I don’t want to sum up the podcast entirely, but I will give a few thoughts.

She is responsible for getting herself in a positive frame of mind about sex

Sometimes the way that we think about sex gets us into negative territory–like we’re not even neutral towards sex; we’re actively negative towards it.

There’s little that men can do about that (except for the concept of emotional labor and mental load! Guys do need to understand that!).

But we’ve written a TON about that, and we’ve even created courses on it, like our Boost Your Libido course.

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.

And we do need to give ourselves positive messages about sex, and these may help:

And you can sign up for my 5-step sex pep talk! It’s an email sequence to help you see sex in a positive way, and it’s totally FREE.

So as you can see, I have written a LOT on how to help women see sex in a positive way.

In fact, that was really my goal in writing The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, too! Get rid of all the negative messages and the shame that we hear about sex, and understand that God made sex for you, too.

But when it comes to sex actually feeling good–well, he’s the one most responsible for that. 

He can do everything right, and if she’s got negative shame messages yelling in her brain, she won’t feel good and she won’t want sex.

But at the same time, if she’s raring to go, there’s only so much she can do to make sex feel good for her. He needs to take the reins on this one. There’s no getting away from it.

And we don’t think that this should be cause for a guy to be sad (as this commenter said her husband was). It shouldn’t be cause for a guy to feel defeated. It should be an honour to make your wife feel wonderful!

Just a few posts that we’ve written about this:

And so, so much more!

And if this is a challenge for you, 31 Days to Great Sex helps you figure out what feels good for her, step by step. It confronts the lies she’s believed about sex (and the lies he’s believed), and it helps you figure out what arouses her and how she feels pleasure.

I won’t write anymore, because you have to hear Rebecca’s rantings! But just because a wife needs a husband’s help to enjoy sex does not mean that he has a reason to mourn or to feel sad because it’s not as “natural” for her. This is the way God made our bodies. God wants men to serve their wives and to be sensitive to their wives. This is an opportunity to serve and to see the pleasure you can bring your wife, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing!

What do you think? Does your husband get frustrated that he’s got to make you feel good? Or, if you’re a guy, how do you feel about this? 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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  1. Jeff

    I think there are a majority of us men out there that would absolutely LOVE to have 20 minutes of foreplay and do whatever it takes to give our beloved wife an orgasm IF they would only let us. But there are still too many wives that just go thru the motion and still don’t want their own pleasure……..

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree, Jeff. I think that often it’s women who don’t feel comfortable with this.

      • Jane Eyre

        Alternatively, 20 minutes of foreplay will never get us to climax, we’re tired of the expectation that 20 minutes of foreplay is anything other than 20 minutes of boredom, and the refusal to “experience pleasure” is a refusal to put ourselves in a situation in which pleasure isn’t going to happen but we’re supposed to be grateful for what we never got.
        Shorter version: distinguish between what she wants to happen and what she is certain will or will not happen.

  2. David

    Thank God for this podcast Sheila, I’m 20 and a guy and I really was looking for an alternative to sleeping around to learn how to pleasure my future wife.
    Thanks alot.

    • Anonymous

      I want to echo this comment that you don’t have to have sex before marriage to have a great sex life. My husband was almost 40 when we married and we both never had sex and we have a great sex life. The world tells us that you need to get experience and try someone out before getting married but that’s silly – you have plenty of time to get experience when you are married. Education before marriage and good communication with your partner are important. Ultimately there are no guarantees that we will have a great sex life in marriage whether we have sex before marriage or not but following Gods ways changes us and leads us to become more like Jesus.

      • Anon

        I agree. We’re newly weds – in our 40s/50s – and neither of us had sex before marriage. We are learning together and it’s amazing! Each person is different anyway, so even if you know what would please a dozen other people, it doesn’t necessarily mean you would know what would please your future wife!
        We started out from a base of wanting to please the other person. And we talk all the time about what works for us and what doesn’t feel so good. And so far, it’s working pretty well!

  3. Sandy Beach

    If a husband is unsafe emotionally, there is not enough foreplay or savvy sex techniques to overcome abuse or deep disconnection.

  4. Natalie

    If Christians are taught that her sexuality is primarily for his pleasure because she (Eve) was created from him (Adam) and for him to be a helpmeet and companion, then yes, it is on the man to make her feel good. That theology completely takes a woman’s sexuality away from her; she has no agency over her own body and, thus, none over her own sexuality either. Everything she is and everything she does is for her husband, and God through her husband.
    If Christians believe that a woman has some say over her own body in her marriage and, thus, her own sexuality, then yes, it is up to her to come to a healthy understanding of her sexuality and how that manifests itself in her marriage.
    I was raised to believe the former. It devastated my marriage and the dynamic and connection my husband and I had. I now believe in the latter, and it has taken my marriage to new heights, not just for me but also for my husband now too, who also seems to be stepping up to the plate more as a husband now that I’m not just whimpering in the corner trying to be a more submissive/godly wife (which I’m not naturally. Naturally, my husband and I are far more egalitarian).

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I think so much is up to her (and I so appreciated your story, Natalie! I’m using a lot of the ways you’ve helped me to think about this in my orgasm course, too!). She has to think differently, deal with stuff, understand that pleasure is for her, move more during sex–all of that. But hopefully he will still also leave room for foreplay and try to make her feel good! She needs him too.

  5. T

    I know there is other husbands out there that are willing to do anything for their wife to enjoy or love sex and become more sexual. But it feels like there is nothing I can do to help. I suggested to get 31 Days to Great Sex. We did it for four days and she lost interest and she didn’t want to do anymore. I suggested taking your boast libido course but she said she wasn’t interested. She has very little interest on becoming more sexual or growing sexually.
    I would love to make sex be as enjoyable and intimate as God intended it to be.
    What does a husband do when his wife isn’t interested in making sex be as enjoyable and intimate as God intended it to be?

    • Chris

      T, you need a good hobby. You need to find a hobby where it is rewarding and gets your mind off of the sexual side of your relationship. Exercise is also good to get your mind off of it. It will never go away completely of course (I mean look at me, I am reading a sex in marriage blog), but it will make it easier.

    • Jo

      Hi T, I don’t have an answer to your question, but I do have some thoughts.
      (First, if you have any suggestions on motivating a husband to read similar books, I am all ears!)
      Sometimes I think we as Christians face a certain pitfall when we think of “sex as intimate and enjoyable as God intended it to be.” We can fall into a “sexual prosperity gospel” where if we have the right doctrine, the right information, the right books, we do all the right things to love and encourage our spouse, we expect that a certain result will follow, “sex as it should be.” Maybe in our minds, that’s a Christian married version of movie sex, or maybe what we read on this blog as the joys of married sex. We read about how happy and satisfied others are, how they experienced transformation in their relationships, and we wonder what we are doing wrong. Or what is wrong with our spouse, when they seem uncooperative. Don’t get me wrong, proper information is critical, and there is certainly a wise and a foolish way to care for our relationships and our bodies, but it’s not a guarantee of the outcome.
      One passage that has helped me a lot in this area of my life is the end of John 21, where Jesus tells Peter not to compare his journey with the disciple John, but “you follow me.” It is hard when you realize that your journey is a lot longer and harder than you thought it would be, or than others seem to have to travel on their journey. If I can give you any encouragement, it is to offer your sexual desires and your love for your wife up to God with an open hand… or as I have done frequently, with the admission that it feels like I can’t let go of my desires. God loves you and your wife, and if he has allowed this challenge into your life, it is for a good purpose. Sometimes God takes us on the long road, and the ultimate joy is to be changed by him in many areas, not just the areas where we think we would enjoy change.
      Perhaps you’ll consider changing your prayer from “God, please show us how we can experience all the pleasures of married intimacy” to “God, guide us on the journey that is unique to us. Help us to see and be thankful for the tiniest milestones, even if no one else would consider it something to celebrate. Use this challenge to change both of us to look more like our Savior.”
      Some years ago I did a study of the book of Genesis, and I was struck by the character of Leah, the unloved first wife of Jacob. Read her story and you will see her intense longing for her husband to desire her… it’s reflected in the names she gave her first 3 sons, but she grows in faith and names her fourth son Judah, which means “Praise.” Her focus shifts from capturing her husband’s love to praising the one who lives her perfectly for eternity, the on true God. I’ve shared some scripture that has encouraged me, but just to say that God has encouraged me in unique ways on my and my husband’s journey. There have been times where I just really wanted to give us, but I am glad I didn’t. I will pray that God will also give encouragement to you and your wife in a way that shows his unique love for you.

      • T

        Hi Jo
        I wish I had a way you could motivate your husband to read books to help your marriage. But if he’s not motivated himself to read those books then he won’t be motivated to apply what he read in your marriage. Which will leave you feeling hurt and frustrated wondering why you or your marriage isn’t important. Sorry I couldn’t help you. The only thing you can do is pray that God will speak to him and change him.

  6. Dani

    This podcast is in response to my comment and I want to make a few clarifications. Firstly you guys have made a LOT of unfair assumptions about my husband and his character and I understand that because I know a lot of what you see and hear echos the sentiments you projected onto him but very few of those things are true for him.
    Secondly, my comment was not about orgasm particularly but sex more generally. One discussion we had that upset him was the podcast you did a while back about women’s cycles and it upset him because as I was explaining it all he was hearing, there is MAYBE a week a month where a woman will be keen for sex and the rest of the time you are going to have to work really hard for it and there is nothing that can be done about that because it’s the way God made her. Now if he listened and read more widely of your material he would realise that’s not how you think and as someone who really does care that his wife feels good when it comes to sex and in life more generally that you don’t think the responsibility falls solely on him. He just hasn’t listened to those podcasts. I might encourage him to do so.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I’m so glad that it’s not as bad as it sounded from the comment, Dani!! 🙂 And I hope that some of the other podcasts are helpful to him in learning more about women’s sexuality.
      But I will say that, frankly, God DID make women’s bodies to not get as aroused at certain times of the month. So a husband DOES have to work harder to make it feel good for his wife at those times! And if it takes a bit of extra time to get his wife there, why would a husband get to be frustrated about that? He married a woman… he doesn’t really get to be mad when her body is, well, a woman’s body. So while women can take steps to boost their libidos throughout the month, men also need to realize that her libido will be different than his and that shouldn’t be a source of frustration, it should simply mean he changes how he views sex and his role in helping her get there changes as her body does!
      Sex doesn’t only have to look one way. If we all had libidos like dudes do, it may very well always be easy and always work the same! But we don’t–and part of a husband loving his wife like he loves his own body means he works WITH her body, he doesn’t blame her body for not acting like his. The goal is not to have a woman have a man’s libido all through the month; the goal is for the couple to work together to learn how to make her feel good wherever she is in her cycle. Because if he’s willing to take on the challenge and learn, you really can!!

      • Dani

        I actually do think it’s ok to feel frustrated about some of these things sometimes. My kids who are going through puberty are emotionally charged and unpredictable. That’s the way God made pubescent kids. It’s still perfectly ok for me feel frustrated about how hard that makes life for me. And I chose to have children so this is part of that choice, absolutely but I’m still allowed to feel frustrated. God made newborns to not sleep all night. He made them to need night time food and comfort. I’m still allowed to feel frustrated with sleep deprivation and the sometimes hard task of teaching my baby to sleep better.
        I don’t think it’s ok for you to dictate how someone else is allowed to feel in any given situation. In the situation I have described, it’s actually ok for my husband to feel the pressure of initiating sex and getting me in the mood 3/4 of the time. That’s a legitimate feeling. It’s not ok for him to be a jerk and decide it doesn’t matter and expect intercourse regardless Of how I feel but that’s also not what I said. Again, you have a lot of opinions about someone you know from a grand total of about 30 words in an internet comment and I really do think you should think twice before tearing someone to shreds on so little information. You guys could have contacted me to clarify some things before going off on a tirade. Thankfully he will never know that a comment I made about his feelings were used to assassinate his character with very, very little basis because if he did, he would probably feel pretty offended. I wonder if you would consider that an appropriate use of his feelings?
        I know this probably sounds pretty snarky and I apologise for that but it was actually pretty upsetting to hear a podcast where my husband was ripped to absolute shreds and some really harsh things were said about him by total strangers based on a very short blog comment. Your words are important and powerful and you need to be careful you do not use them to needlessly attack people because I will think very carefully before sharing/posting/asking questions again.
        My husband is a very caring, giving and sacrificial person. He is by no means perfect but there is nothing in his behaviour that would/should appall you and I should know, I grew up in a Love and Respect loving home and you can imagine how well that played out.

        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          I do want to apologize, Dani, that you were offended by how we spoke on the podcast. We were really talking more in general terms, since your comment sparked a larger discussion and I think it’s clear we did not make that distinction clearly enough, and we’ll watch for that in the future.
          I’m so glad that you’re in a marriage where you are cherished and loved, but so many women are not in those marriages. And so when we discussed your comment, we were mainly talking to the men who see women’s sexuality and how their bodies are made as a hindrance to them, or an annoyance, instead of simply choosing to love their spouse and make sex feel good even if it means having to spend more time than they would personally choose to on foreplay. And again, I am sorry that you felt it was a personal attack because it really was intended to be more of a general discussion sparked by a specific comment.

          • Dani

            I really appreciate your clarification and apology. It probably particularly touched a nerve because I grew up in a home with a marriage like the ones you speak so strongly against (and so do I, it’s my biggest issue within the church) and so to have my very good husband put in that same basket felt horribly unfair.
            I do appreciate you guys being bold enough to speak out about things and It seems I interpreted it more personally than it was intended in this case!

  7. Doug Hoyle

    I have some mixed feelings about this post. In general, I agree with the principle that we are responsible for learning our spouses body, and doing what she needs to help her reach orgasm. I don’t think there is any hurry and I take as much time as she needs, and would keep going if she wanted another round. I get that.
    On the other hand, I don’t feel I am responsible for her pleasure or getting her to orgasm. That is quite honestly beyond my ability. It is like telling my wife that she is responsible if I don’t enjoy a meal she prepares. The meal may well be perfectly prepared, and for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with the food, I may not enjoy it.
    Another thing I note, and it may well be my perception, but you often talk as if a man having an orgasm automatically makes sex good for him. You even mentioned it in a roundabout way in the podcast, that if we suddenly lost our erection because the technique was counterproductive. So for the record, no, most men don’t complain when the sex is “bad”. Honestly, as you point out regularly, it is generally pretty easy for a healthy man to reach an orgasm. It can literally happen in a matter of a minutes if that is the goal. Isn’t that setting the bar pretty low for women? Do you think a wife has a similar responsibility for her husbands pleasure, or is it enough that she just brings him to orgasm in the most efficient(quickest) way possible.
    Don’t get me wrong. I think an orgasm is a great thing, but I don’t think that having an orgasm means that the sex was great, or even necessarily good. It just means that you stimulated the penis in a predictable way for a short length of time. The truth is, We have had almost 40 years of practice, and I am familiar enough with the way my wifes body responds, it takes longer for her to get there, but I can pretty much do the same for her. There is nothing wrong with figuring out what works to get her to orgasm, and then putting that into practice, but by my way of thinking, that is just the beginning. I wouldn’t think I was a very good lover if I just made an orgasm the ultimate goal, without consideration for anything else.
    It might be helpful to look at the orgasm as a destination, but it is the scenic drive that gets you there that is the real pleasure. That should apply to husbands and wives equally.

  8. Ray

    I find it quite ironic that the author of Love and Respect uses the excuse for women to have sex when they don’t want to “it doesn’t take that long and makes him soooo happy” when he won’t even take wet towels off the bed. This wouldn’t take long and would make his wife soooo happy!

  9. AJ

    Who actually orgasms more easily? Men or women? It is a proven fact that some woman CAN orgasm without ever receiving any genital stimulation. I have witnessed the occurance of this many times with my wife. I have never heard of a man being able to reach orgasm without genital stimulation. So tell me now, why is it that men almost always orgasm during sex and woman often don’t? Whether a woman feels good during sex is almost entirely in her head. I would dare say a big road block for many of the woman on your blog, who are complaining about the love making skills of their husbands, have a bad attitude and thus a mental road block that prevents them from reaching orgasm. Don’t get me wrong, I know there really are some awful men out there, but most men, who love there wives, really do want please them sexually, but it’s impossible to please a woman who has a bad attitude.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      AJ, I’ve certainly written a lot about this.
      But I’d also ask WHY women have a bad attitude.
      When we did our survey of 22,000 women, we found that women’s orgasm rates and libidos were greatly affected by the teachings that they grew up with about sex. When they were told, for instance, that sex would cure his porn addiction, their enjoyment of sex went way down. When women are taught that all men struggle with lust, their libidos and enjoyment go way down. When women are told that they are obligated to have sex whenever their husbands want it, their enjoyment of sex goes way down. When they are told that men have libidos and women don’t, enjoyment and libidos go way down. When teen girls are taught that they have to be the gatekeepers to prevent going too far, because a boy can’t stop, this affects orgasm rates for the rest of their lives.
      The reason that many women have bad attitudes about sex is because we have been taught terrible things about sex that invalidate our personhood and our needs and experiences.
      If we want women to have positive attitudes about sex, then we need to stop talking to women as if our needs and experiences don’t matter. It’s like what Emerson Eggerichs said in Love & Respect–sex is about a man’s physical release. If a woman hears that her whole life, honestly, why would she want to have sex?
      If we could just talk about this well, I think we’d see sex lives flourish. And that’s what I’m trying to do on this blog: dispel the teachings that we know hurt women’s sexual experience, and talk about sex as a mutual, passionate, pleasurable “knowing” of each other.

      • AJ

        Yes, I agree with all you said. My point is simply that many woman don’t orgasm not because there husbands are bad lovers, but because they have a bad attitude about sex. He can’t change her attitude. Only she can. So instead of criticizing their husbands maybe they should work on changing their minds.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, AJ, I think men could go a long way to changing women’s attitudes! In our focus groups that we conducted as part of our study, woman after woman told us that her sexual breakthrough came when her husband told her she was free to say no to sex; that she didn’t have to do it for him. That he wanted sex to be for her, too, and if that meant stopping in the middle of sex if she wasn’t enjoying herself or was uncomfortable, they would.
          And THAT was what changed the equation.
          If women are taught over and over that all men lust, that they are required to have sex or husbands will lust or won’t feel loved, etc. etc., then for a husband to say, “No, I love you for who you are, and I want this to be mutual,” and then to actually follow through–well, that is amazing. And that can be the breakthrough that she needs.
          I’m not saying that she doesn’t play a role as well (and that’s why we’re writing the book, to help women see sex differently. In fact, that’s why I’ve written all my books!). But what we found is that she really can’t change her view of sex if her husband is still believing the same toxic messages.

  10. AJ

    One other big problem I believe often occurs is that woman feel very uncomfortable making their request known their husbands. In the “tables turned” example Rebecca gave about a man not receiving adequate stimulation to achieve orgasm during sex I think it is important to note this would never happen because a man would not allow it. He’s going to take it upon himself to do something about the situation ( move his body differently, change to another position or verbally request something different). No man is going to just lie still and let sex happen without actively trying to make sure he gets the appropriate stimulation. Woman should do the same. Most women orgasm much more easily during intercourse in woman on top position because of this. Us men need to assure our wives that we want them to make their requests known and they are free to take charge of their pleasure during sex. There is nothing I find more arousing than having my wife verbally ask for exactly what she wants and then giving it to her.

    • Leigh

      ” He’s going to take it upon himself to do something about the situation ( move his body differently, change to another position or verbally request something different). No man is going to just lie still and let sex happen without actively trying to make sure he gets the appropriate stimulation. ”
      One benefit of being a man is having grown up with visible genitals and a stronger visual connection and understanding as to what arouses you. For some women, this really might not be as easy as you think. Also, maybe you were raised (consciously or unconsciously), with the idea that you CAN do all of that, and as women, many of us were taught not to. I think that is what Sheila has worked so hard to help us all change.

  11. Anonymous

    If I might add, I really believe and agree that it is largely up to the woman. However, she must be comfortable exploring and communicating to her man. One thing women have been taught is to tiptoe around men’s egos and women are afraid to speak up in my opinion.
    In addition, because of men controlling women’s sexuality in the past, and passing bad messages and info to women about sex, many women are not willing to believe pleasure is theirs and not willing to experiment when it comes to their own pleasure.
    I believe subconsciously women don’t believe that they should be able to enjoy it and that it’s not for women. In addition, there’s this information still floating around out there that it is all about the clitorris.
    The clitoris is only the tip of the iceberg. It is the easiest and least rewarding of all the spots, but most women do not know their bodies. There’s information floating around out there that God gifted some women with internal pleasure and left the other women out. I believe the vaginal canal is desensitized on the surface because of childbirth.
    Women need to understand that they have nerves behind or underneath their vaginal walls and nerves far back. God made women’s bodies, yes, and for whatever reason, it appears that he requires the man to have to work harder to please the woman than the other way around. Either way, both people are to satisfy one another.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree with all of this. Thank you! (And I am trying to help women understand the front wall of the vagina does have a lot of nerves deep inside!)

  12. J. Miller

    Maybe you’ve already done this, but can you do a podcast or blog on foreplay? My husband does not like it, and it makes it hard for me to get in the mood, because I know he’s not enjoying it. It’s like a chore to him.
    I have vaginismus which doesn’t help anything either. We are going through 31 Days to Great Sex, however, and we love it so far!


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