Why I’m Not Safe in Polite Company Right Now

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Sex | 32 comments

Why I'm Not Safe in Polite Company

I’m so immersed in talking about sex all the time that I sometimes forget how weird I am.

I talk about this stuff all the time, so I forget that other people don’t.

Anyway, I’m in the middle of launch week for The Great Sex Rescue, and it’s going great! Thank you so much to everyone who has bought it, and especially for all the encouragement you’ve given us and all the great reviews pouring in! We really are blown away. And we’re doing so well on Amazon! Woke up this morning to being #151 in Canada, which is amazing. So thank you.

Because of all that’s been going on, I hadn’t actually planned a post for today.

But then something happened on Twitter that I thought you may all find a little funny, and that may show you where my head is at!

First, Julie Roys reported on a pastor making very sexist and degrading comments in a sermon recently. He talked about how women shouldn’t gain weight once they’re married, and how they need to stay attractive, like Melania Trump. And he talked about how a friend of his has a “divorce weight”, where over a certain weight he divorces his wife.

I won’t belabor it; I think it could be triggering. But needless to say, it was bad.

(And for all of you who are reading this via email, i’m not sure the embedded tweets will come through. So you can click on over to this Twitter Thread to see what I’m talking about! )

After Julie posted this, someone tagged me.

I had heard about the incident, and knew that it related to something we talked about in The Great Sex Rescue. One thing that we found in many of the evangelical books that we looked at is that women’s attractiveness is emphasized, but men’s weight is never mentioned.

However, attractiveness is merely a preference issue. Obesity, on the other hand, can actually affect the mechanics of sex, since “useable length” changes (as I’ve talked about before in my posts on sex with a husband who has a big belly). We looked in our book at how there’s a very lopsided treatment of this, since, by any measure, a man’s obesity affects the sex life more than her attractiveness. And yet, most of our evangelical books fail to talk about men’s weight while they do talk about a woman’s responsibility to keep up her appearance.

So I tweeted it out:

I think I forget how weird this stuff is. I was just trying to make a point in 280 characters.

And then the replies starting coming in.

Anyway, I think I just sometimes forget where people are at when it comes to this stuff, and how I’m really not normal!

So I thought you all may get a kick out of that.

And now, can I share two reviews for The Great Sex Rescue that came in?

They’re all so wonderful, and I’m truly blown away. I don’t know which ones to share, but here are the first two I saw this morning:

I just finished TGSR and all I can say is “WOW!” Sheila, Rebecca and Joanna have written a beautiful book that brings humanity back into marriage and more specifically, the marriage bed.

If you have grown up in the evangelical church over the past few decades, you have internalized messages from pastors/authors that have shaped how you view marriage, sex, and intimacy. While their intentions have most likely been for good, these messages (that really don’t take perspective or input from ACTUAL women) and their interpretations have cost marriages in the evangelical church dearly. This book brings the voices and experiences of Christian women (and their spouses) to the forefront while maintaining Biblical integrity and truth. They aren’t afraid ask the hard questions and ask for better from those with the most influence. Has the advice we have been given ACTUALLY WORKED? Does research-based evidence exist that can prove the advice from the top selling Christian books is effective or not? They have created a rubric to help Christians discern the books they read in order to spur them to live out marriage in a way that honors and brings glory to God.

The overall message of this book, taken from Chapter 6, is that a Kingdom view of sex is a mutual, passionate knowing and sacrificial serving. It’s what Jesus did for us, and it’s how we can extend that to our spouses. I would recommend this book for any married couple… whether you’ve been married for 1 year or 40. I would also recommend this to any engaged couple or even late teen in a serious relationship that is possibly heading toward marriage. Just skip the “Try This” sections. I think it is important for those engaged and in serious relationships because it sets a standard for how a truly godly man (or woman) should behave in a committed relationship. This book does not gloss over red flags but makes them known. If there are red flags, please don’t ignore them! And you know what? Even if you’re single and a godly marriage and perspective of sex/intimacy is important to you… please read this book! It will truly minister to you in ways that you might not even knew needed ministering to.


on Amazon

Finally. A Christian book not based on myths and old wives fables!! This is packed with science and data driven studies- while given in an easy to read and fun format. The message evangelicals have given for decades is so one sided and has taken consent off the table. The Great Sex Rescue makes consent a priority and teaches how this is not one-sided. Both people should be enjoying this and being fulfilled! One sided intercourse should not be accepted any longer in Christian circles! The Bible has ALWAYS portrayed it with two sides. For the man AND the woman. Sex is not “God’s gift to man” with woman commanded to fulfill her duty. And a wife is not held accountable for her husband’s sexual sins. TGSR deals with Scripture, medical issues, childhood trauma, date rape, consent, and how healthy couples can grow closer than ever and continue to have a fun sexual relationship throughout the years!


on Amazon

Thank you all so much. I’m humbled.

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

Again, thank you. And I’ll try not to be so weird in public all the time!

Do you ever forget that most people don’t see the world the way you do? Let’s talk!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jamie

    Expecting a wife to look a certain way, or else divorce, is a terrible thought. It’s very immature and destructive.
    Sheila, I don’t think “usable length” is really appropriate. I mean, how many times have you told us that so few women find it really pleasurable with standard intercourse? “Usable length” in that case just doesn’t make any difference.
    I guess I would say that your retort to this immature comment was also immature.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Actually, this came up quite a bit in our focus groups with women, and in emails that have been sent in, and it’s actually a topic of great discussion in academic journals. Sexual pleasure is more difficult for a woman if a husband is obese, because “useable length” is often impacted, as is hardness of erections and girth of erections. When men lose even twenty pounds, or fall from morbidly obese to merely obese, there’s often a great uptick in function. We made it clear that obese men can still be awesome lovers and can still find ways to pleasure their wives even if intercourse is difficult, but this is a factor that many desperate women wanted to talk about. What we found so jarring was that all of the books talked about women’s attractiveness, but none talked about sexual function.
      When someone has a real beer belly, useable length can decrease by a number of inches. Obesity also makes certain positions very difficult, and the “woman on top”, while possible, is often challenging if she finds it difficult to straddle that wide.
      So I know it seems juvenile, but there are many academic journals looking at the biomechanics of sex when obesity is involved, and we have spoken to a lot of women who are desperate about this with no where to turn.

      • Jo

        If you look at the pic on https://baremarriage.com/2017/02/sex-with-husband-with-big-belly/, then that location of male weight gain can definitely cause “usable length” issues.
        The issue isn’t really the level of penetration in and of itself. If a woman only needs friction on the clitoris from the side of the penis as he moves, then there may not be an issue. For those women who need rhythmical pressure against the clitoris or the entire clitoral area, then the fact that his belly shortens each thrust means she has no shot at all of orgasm during PIV. His belly stops the penis from going all the way in, which is what it must do for his pubic bone to press against her clitoris.
        As for thinking this can’t REALLY be an issue, that women are just using this as yet one more excuse to avoid sex, imagine a slim couple trying to have man-on-top PIV with a basketball between their stomachs. Men’s belly fat is often hard and unyielding just like the ball, and in good old missionary position, his ability to press against her clitoris is going to be greatly limited.
        The other issue is that that big belly is going to squash her abdominal organs against her diaphragm (the one we breathe with, not the contraceptive one), which makes breathing very difficult unless he keeps the bulk of his weight on his forearms most or all of the time.

    • Belinda

      Jamie, Sheila was not crude, didn’t even use anatomical names of any sort–accurate or nicknames. I do not consider her reply to be immature. It’s factual. Not being able to constructively criticize leaves humanity in childish mentalities. I’m so ready for Christians to get over these taboos. I’m not asking for pornographic language, but had there been better discussion of normal & healthy marital sex and relationship, I might not have gone through the abuse that I did. I want to help young people, especially my children, avoid such a life and therefore have a zero taboo policy in my house. My kids are welcome to ask about anything. My answers are adjusted to individual maturity. Twitter is supposed to be 13+. I guarantee they hear worse at school or in their entertainment–even the sheltered ones.

      • Jamie

        I did not think Sheila was too graphic in any way whatsoever. I thought she was immature. I think it was an attempt to deflect using immaturity.
        Just like the absurdity of the original claim that women need to look a certain way to remain good enough looking to remain married, this was an attempt to indicate that men should not be obese to be able to pleasure their wives because they just wont be able to get their penis to the right spot.
        I know you don’t believe that Sheila. You’ve gone on and on about penetration not being the important part of pleasure for a wife. The comment was marginalizing of obese men and I know that was not your desire, but it came through.
        Being obese is not something people can just change with immature chides. Years of struggle accompany it, and this is no way to help those who are needing daily love and kindness.
        I am NOT trying to minimize what the pastor said. It was absolutely un-Christian and he deserves to lose his job. Please don’t do likewise, though.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          The point that we made in our book is simply the double standard: That women are told we must stay attractive simply because men like attractive wives, while no thought is given to the actual repercussions of a husband’s obesity on the wife’s sexual experience. So his preference is elevated over her actual experience. This is something that I do find concerning in the books. Our plea is that spouses love each other and are kind to one another, and caring for our health and appearance (within reason) is a way to do that, while also allowing grace where certain issues are very difficult to change on a dime. Unfortunately, most books completely ignore a husband’s responsibility in this, and place all of the responsibility on the wife.
          And since the pastor actually quoted from a passage from His Needs, Her Needs that we actually addressed in The Great Sex Rescue, I thought I’d reference what I said!
          I do think it’s very uncomfortable to talk about weight/obesity, and I do wish we didn’t have to. But this also came up so much in our focus groups that we do think it needed to be addressed.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, “useable length” is an actual term in when discussing the biomechanics of sex.

    • Phil

      Jamie – I think you missed the point. The term that Sheila used is scientific. That is the fact she is explaining. She used the scientific term in her twitter reply and because she is so engrossed with the topic of sex it was “normal” to her. Folks who do not have the information or understanding found the term amusing. That was the message I heard in the post. I did not hear Sheila using a term to pick on people with weight problems. It is funny how we sometimes become sensitive to stuff and our responses take over. My boss and I have conflict. There are issues. However, when I get responses that inflame me I try to step back and know that even though in her case she can not help it – she is trying and truly deep down she does not mean to come across that way. It is a hard pill to swallow for me…it happened yesterday as a matter of fact. I can say this. Knowing who Sheila is because I have been hanging around here long enough – there is very little chance that the way you are interpreting her post is fact to what you project. Furthermore there would be a correction by now if that were the case. Peace

      • Phil

        Reading down through the comments I would like to extend my response to ALL.

    • Soup + Celery

      I’m one of those “few women” that has only figured out how to orgasm via penetration. If my orgasm became non-existent because of my husband’s weight gain, I would want to address the issue. This issue needs to be addressed with MUCH love and compassion. But not something to throw aside as unimportant just because it may only be relevant to a “few” women.

  2. Laurel B

    This gave me a good chuckle this morning, after I got over being upset at the pastor’s horrible teaching. My husband wanted to know what was so funny, so I told him. Then we had a small disagreement about whether it’s true that sex is more complicated if the man is overweight versus if the woman is overweight. 🤭 Neither of us is overweight currently. Are you saying sex is more difficult if the man is overweight? Or are you saying that either spouse’s weight gain is complicates sex?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Both spouses do, but biomechanics says that a man’s weight matters more, I believe!

      • C

        I will state from experience that while penetration from behind can be wonderful, having a larger behind can make that more difficult. The wife’s derrière reduces the husband’s usable length too.

    • Julie

      Bwahahaha thanks for the chuckle.
      I’m a nurse and totally get the “weird in public” factor. But for me it’s usually around the dinner table, with family, saying something I think is hilarious, but they all find inappropriate. 🤣
      I’m looking forward to getting your book.

  3. HB

    Is that photo of the pastor that said that?! He’s at least 30# overweight himself! SMH. And the whole idea that women are not visual is silly. Somehow with all the negative teachings I grew up with that one didn’t stick as much. “Nature” overrode that one? I read somewhere the other day that women don’t ogle men out of the shower (they complain about his dripping water or something, although I still notice that!) the way men do. Then my husband comes out of the shower later and I had to laugh… I seriously ogle him just about every single time! Admittedly not to the extent he does, but not that far off! He’s a very attractive guy. On a serious note these messages are very damaging. I lived it. I was depressed, mainly due to his treatment of me, and gained weight that clinically put me 3 pounds over into the overweight category, so barely clinically overweight. My husband was critical of me, even before the weight, and was absolutely influenced by “Christian” resources to embolden him in the criticism. He was upset at me from the start of our marriage for not losing 5# gained from high school (I was 27). And then he was mad when I lost it (the barely clinically overweight pounds) because I didn’t do it for him, I did it by learning to do self care and not actually trying to lose weight directly! FF 12 years and come to find out porn was a major factor. How interesting how these pastors talk, and stats show a disturbingly high % actively watch porn on some level! No wonder… Praise God for His redeeming work in my husband! It’s amazing to me to see the difference in how he views me, even if I have 5-10 “extra”. Over a year later and I’m still in awe at the vast difference. It’s so sad how prevalent these things are, and how our Christian culture prolongs and enables it. But hope is available in our Savior!

  4. Laura

    Please keep talking and sharing, Sheila. You gave me a great laugh this morning, but frankly, I’m so sick of church people who can’t discuss this stuff like adults. So let’s keep at it until it’s normal!

  5. Jane Eyre

    Last I checked, Jesus does not say that you get to divorce your wife if she weighs too much; in fact, He says the opposite.
    For most of my life, I have been slender. Yet, I never dated men who had such requirements for women, because that is not unconditional love. I don’t want a man who would leave me after pregnancy or an illness. (Not to mention, there is actual scientific evidence that pressuring postpartum women to “bounce back” actually *inhibits* weight loss.)
    It is incredibly problematic that a pastor thinks it is okay to preach such an absurd, conditional love.

  6. Chris

    I think Sheila was just discussing mechanics. Nothing wrong with that.
    I am far more concerned about all the commenters out there who posted laughing GIFs at the expense of mens bodies. If it wasn’t for double standards we wouldn’t have any I guess. If men started posting laughing GIFs about women’s bodies being over weight sulfur would rain down and break the internet. Heck, the man who posted it might even lose their job. But when women make fun of men’s bodies? Its all just a good funny joke of course! Sad. So very sad. Ladies, if you want to be sure your husband never touches you again, just keep making jokes about the adequacy of his penis and I assure you you will never have to see his inadequacy again. I thought we as a culture were trying to move past this body shaming stuff but judging by the reaction to Sheilas comment about body mechanics it looks like we have just moved the shaming from women’s bodies to mens. Sad. Very sad.

    • Rachel

      I agree, Chris. It’s incredibly hypocritical (just like an overweight pastor condemning overweight wives). The self-righteous blindness is unreal. Mechanics and health discussions are one thing. Body shaming and mocking is another entirely. It’s mere revenge. Two wrongs don’t make a right. One learns this in childhood.

    • mtKatie

      All in the eye of the beholder I guess. I took the laughing responses as an”I can’t believe you just went there” not as “haha men are fat” (and I shouldn’t need to add a disclaimer just to make my opinion need weight but here we are—my husband of 17 years spent 14 of those years in the category the medical world would call “morbidly obese” I’ve always been attracted to him no matter what size he was because he’s a wonderful person but 3 years ago he decided he wanted to get healthier for me and for himself. He put in the work to pay attention to his eating and exercise habits and lost 40 pounds without me ever having once our entire lives saying I wish he’d loose weight. We never knew that Him loosing weight would make sex better but wow. Just wow. If I had a twitter account my response to Sheila would have been giggles and “you go girl!” Because it’s actually something people should be told. And I would be giggling in excitement thinking about how much better sex is now than before. My husband’s twitter response 5 years ago would have been something along the lines of—covering mouth, trying not to laugh, saying “Do you think that’s true? Maybe I should go on a diet!” And now he would do something more like—mock buff his nails in his chest and say “yup” to which I would respond with what you ask? That’s right —Laughing. Laughter isn’t always at someone else’s expense. Don’t always assume it’s a negative.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s awesome that your husband did that! I love it. And, yes, I assumed they were laughing at me, too, not at the guy.

  7. M

    I think what strikes me as funny or ironic isn’t the man and his issue… I have great compassion for weight problems…. but the fact that women have had SO much pressure to maintain a ridiculous standard of beauty at the threat of the husband leaving when men’s weight is never ever addressed as a problem in any way. However the truth is a 20 pound weight gain in men can affect the function. It also can be an indication of general vascular issues. It is ironic. This irony is what hits my funny bone not trying to shame anyone.

  8. Z

    My husband was morbidly obese at one point in our marriage. I still loved him deeply, but I struggled with the fact he loved eating garbage more than he cared about being here for his wife and children. Sex was a struggle too. I was also slightly overweight (and also some of our children were born during this time, so pregnancy added extra struggle). He would sometimes complain about his weight. I would make efforts to cook healthy meals, offer to exercise with him, but he always had an excuse not to, and would not consume anything but soda all day at work. After several years of this I told him I support him, I want to help him, but if he refused every attempt I made to help I would no longer be available to hear complaints about the effects of his own choices. It hurt too much.
    Eventually, he had a wake up call and started working on his health. Things got better for a few years, but the damage he did to his pancreas with drinking multiple liters of soda every day caught up with him.
    He has type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. One symptom of these conditions can be ED. It took a long time of not being capable of getting an erection before he got around to seeing a doctor. I am sure there’s no need to elaborate on how difficult this time was on our relationship. Through it all I occasionally asked if he had spoken to a doctor yet, but I was very careful to affirm my love and commitment to him and avoid nagging or blaming him.
    Once his blood sugars were controlled, and his blood pressure at a normal level, his physical condition improved drastically. As did our marriage. Losing weight improved every aspect of his health and our sex life dramatically. I have also worked hard on my own health, and we are both enjoying the results.
    The effects of a husband’s health and lifestyle decisions can ABSOLUTELY affect the wife. And I’m so glad people are finally talking about this.
    I don’t say any of this to bash my husband. He’s a good man, a considerate lover, and he regrets putting me through what I went through while he refused to seek treatment for ED. What we both went through. I just had to express how grateful I am to see these conversations coming along.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Z! That’s amazing your husband dealt with all of that so well finally, too.

  9. Boone

    Every year I have to complete 15 hours of continuing legal education. A few years ago a friend of mine taught a three hour course entitled, Famous People and Their Lawyers. It dealt with legal documents executed by famous folks including, George Washington, Paul McCartney, Leona Helmsley, etc. In the mix was the pre nup executed by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. In said pre nup Catherine is only allowed to gain so much weight. If she does she has a limited amount of time to lose it. The time is extended a bit for post childbirth situations.
    After seeing that girl wield a rapier like a musketeer in Zoro I think old Michael had better forget that clause. She could hurt him.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ha! Absolutely. Really, I think Michael should have promised Catherine more!

    • Chris

      That’s nuts. Just nuts. I am a man who is attracted to curvy women and thats kust rediculous.

  10. Melissa

    Nobody is laughing at the expense of men’s bodies. We’re laughing at Sheila’s words, much like a group of kindergarteners crack up when someone says “fart”. Sure it’s immature, but none of us are completely mature all the time! And the phrase “usable length” may not be something many people have heard so there’s an astonishment factor there too.
    There’s a somewhat well-known male internet figure who is known for having lost nearly 200 pounds, and he gets asked all the time if his *ahem* genitalia got bigger when he lost weight. He himself answers that no, it didn’t get bigger, but because the amount of body fat around it decreased there is more usable length. The dude said it.
    This entire conversation is indicative of how skewed the narrative has been in the church regarding sex and marriage, placing so much responsibility on women and not holding men to the same standards. It literally does not say in the Bible that a man can divorce his wife if she gains weight. Pastors who preach non-Biblical principles from the pulpit need to be held accountable.

  11. Renee

    Does this “pastor” think he is doing stand-up comedy? I am appalled at this.

  12. Jacqueline Orosco

    Hahaha…I have the same problem! I run a porn recovery blog for women and sometimes forget you have to warm someone up to the conversation first. I’m also a nurse so I just don’t hesitate to “get right on in there” so to speak! Thanks for sharing- it makes the rest of us weirdos feel normal. ☺️

  13. Anon

    I grew up in a farming community, and we would regularly all gather at one farmhouse for Sunday lunch after church., including any visitors who had attended the service. We’d be happily talking about some of the muckier aspects of farming over the roast lamb and suddenly realise the town visitors were turning green and ‘not feeling very hungry’!


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