12 Ways a 1970s Christian Sex Bestseller Tried to Push Back Against the Sexual Revolution

by | Apr 21, 2021 | gsr, Uncategorized | 74 comments

The Act of Marriage 1970s Christian Sex Book

When we understand the culture that books are written into, we can understand those books better.

Yesterday Connor told us some super weird (and some good) stuff that was in a popular sex book from the early 1970s. On the podcast tomorrow we’re going to give even more context–the Kinsey report from the 1950s, the 1960s and the sexual revolution, but let’s just say for now that in the early 1970s, divorce rates were skyrocketing (they’ve been falling ever since then), women were starting to head to the workforce, and “free love” was all the rage.

And the church needed to speak into that culture. Thus, much of what was written was reactionary–we had this idea that we needed to stop the world from changing, because a lot of the change is bad. We wanted to keep marriage, and that meant stopping women from working. But we knew that the idea of great sex is really enticing, so let’s make sure that couples have great sex in marriage so that no one had to stray.

Tim LaHaye, in The Act of Marriage, was the first one to talk at length about how women deserved pleasure, too, and what clitoral stimulation was like. He wanted there to be fulfillment in the marriage bed, which honestly is an awesome goal.

But I want to share with you twelve other things he emphasized in his book that shows that, in many ways, he was trying to turn back the clock and keep people “Christian” by fighting against the tide in the culture, rather than embracing some parts of the culture that were good.

Yes, a lot of cultural change in the 1970s was negative. But a lot was awfully good, too. And yet, in an effort to preserve marriage, it seems as if much of the good (like valuing women as whole people) got left behind as well. And, just like the cultural books, he seems to have downplayed the whole intimacy aspect in favour of looking primarily at the physical side. Let’s take a look!

Sex is centered around men’s experiences and needs

1. Men’s affairs are framed as women’s fault–be sexy or he’ll stray

Take this statement. This sounds like a progressive thought, right? Now we’re going to let women enjoy sex!

“Formerly it was common for many wives to look upon the sex act as a “necessary part of marriage” or a “wifely duty to perform.” Now an increasing number of women view it as a God-given means of enriching their relationships for a lifetime.” (p. 33)

Act of Marriage

But the problem is that this statement was made in the context of how, if you keep him satisfied at home, he won’t have an affair. So women’s sexual satisfaction, while stressed by LaHaye, is still stressed largely for men’s sake. Here are some more quotations along that vein:

“While his decision to leave his family cannot be condoned in a Christian, I am confident, knowing the youthful character of the man and his commitment to Christ, that it would not have happened if his wife had not been afflicted with an unbiblical mental attitude toward married lovemaking.” (p. 20)

“When you have a Cadillac in the garage, how can you be tempted to steal a Volkswagen off the street?” (p. 33)

“Male eroticism, fulfilled within the home, does not hunger for more outside.” (p. 45)

“Most Christian men (as high as 70 percent in some surveys) do not violate their sexual commitment to their wives, even though it is tempting,” (p. 51)

Act of Marriage

So men are seen as about to have affairs at any moment–and women are supposed to be the bulwark against men straying. He also talks about how no one is allowed to refuse to meet their mate’s sexual needs, but at the same time, you’re not allowed to see it as a duty (“If either person looks on it as a duty to perform” [p. 29]). So there’s some strange messaging to women going on.

Along this line, there’s a vein going through all of The Act of Marriage that talks about women learning how to be “successful” in bed. This is strange wording; you would think learning how to “enjoy sex” or discovering her sexuality. But instead it’s framed as a pass/fail thing, and presumably she has to be successful so that he won’t have an affair. He says things like “she might consider herself unsuccessful in bed” if she can’t enjoy it, or there’s this:

“A wife is more than a mother and homemaker. She is also a sexual partner to her mate. Like the male, if she doesn’t succeed in the bedroom, she fails in other areas…” (p. 40)

The Act of Marriage

Sex is successful when people don’t have affairs!

Men and Women Are Seen as Different Species Sexually

2. Women are expected to not want sex–and then blamed when they don’t

Even though women are supposed to be “successful” in bed, it’s assumed that women won’t want sex the way that men do.

“Because of their lack of experience, preconceived notions, and most of all their fear of pregnancy, many young wives do not share their husbands’ enthusiasm for lovemaking.” (p. 29)

“Young wives may equate their husbands’ youthful passion with bestiality, not realizing that their husbands’ drives are not unique, but characteristic of most normal men.” (p. 29)

The Act of Marriage

Good sex reinforces gender roles and allows him to be a man

Here’s where we really see the reactionary nature of a lot of The Act of Marriage. Tim LaHaye framed good sex as what allows a man to go out and provide, and women should give sex so that he will be able to be a good breadwinner.

3. You need to sexually satisfy him if he’s going to succeed at being a man–which includes providing for you

 

“No matter what our love life consists of, there is one time each month when I always try to get my husband to make love to me—the night after he has paid the family bills. It seems to be the only thing that gets him back to normal.” (p. 31)

“I’d rather spend my evenings working on my racing car than on a second job to support a family.” His wife admitted that their physical relationship had been minimal and that she had never shown any appreciation for the sacrifices he had made for the family. Realizing that her indifference may have contributed to his dissatisfaction and irritation, she pleaded with him, “Give me another chance, and I’ll prove to you that marriage is worth whatever sacrifices we both have to make.” (p. 34) (so she has sex in order to encourage him to get a job and provide for the family)

“One way to understand the function of the female mind is to contrast it with the male thought system. A man has the God-given mandate to be the provider of the family. Consequently his mental psyche is so oriented that he gains much of his self-image from successful occupational pursuits.” (p. 40) (whereas when you ask a girl what she wants to be, Tim LaHaye asserts that she will answer “housewife”.)

“It fulfills his manhood. A man usually possesses a stronger ego than a woman. If he is not a man in his own eyes, he is nothing; and somehow his sex drive seems to be intricately linked to his ego. I have never met an impotent or sexually frustrated man who enjoyed a strong self-image. A sexually satisfied husband is a man who will rapidly develop self-confidence in other areas of his life.”

The Act of Marriage

4. Sex mirrors hierarchy

And the sex act itself mirrors the hierarchy between men and women:

“Remember that you are a responder….Except for those occasions when a wife is particularly amorous and initiates lovemaking, the husband makes the first approach most of the time.” (p. 112)

“The very nature of the act of marriage involves feminine surrender…But to a strong-willed, choleric woman, surrender in any way is difficult. Consequently she will often subvert her sex drive and responses to avoid surrender.” (p. 146) (he talks a lot about how a woman who likes to make decisions or speak up for herself will eventually lose her libido and never enjoy sex).

“As we know, in sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman the passive one, the receiver, the acted upon.” (p. 147)

Even in a chapter where LaHaye is telling men that their wives need companionship, he ends up giving the advice primarily to women about how to make it easy for men to talk to you. And the answer? Make sure the conversation that you so desperately want is actually centered around your husband: “It is also true that many women would do well to improve their companionship appeal by talking about things that interest men instead of making small talk. It is unwise for a wife to direct all the conversation toward her interests when her husband comes home. It is a good rule to accompany his arrival home with pleasant conversation that is interesting to him and conveys a message of love and welcome. This usually involves allowing him to share his thoughts with her and showing her interest in his activities. This gives her opportunities to build him up with her positive comments.”

The Act of Marriage

But then, after saying all that, he says something again contradictory: “Practically every man has dreamed of having a sexually aggressive wife.” (p. 184). So women are supposed to be the responders, but men secretly want them to be more. But if they are more, then they’re not really women and they’ll lose their sex drive. It’s very confusing.

We should note, too, that in our survey for The Great Sex Rescue, we found that performing stereotypical gender roles does not hurt one’s sex life or marital satisfaction in the least! We’re not saying that you can’t be a housewife and he can’t be the provider. In fact, that’s really the role that all three of us who wrote the book did, or are doing, with our own families. What DOES impact the marriage & sex life, though, is feeling as if it has to be this way. If it’s a choice freely made, everything’s cool. As soon as you don’t feel like it’s an actual choice, and you feel like it’s a duty, things go haywire. So just imagine what these 1970s women felt like!

Oh, and Intended for Pleasure chimes in along these lines, too: “A responsive and receptive wife willingly demonstrates that she surrenders her freedom for his love, adoration, protection, and provision.” (p. 31) So she’s giving up her freedom and become sexually responsive so that he will protect and provide for her. It’s kind of scary when you put it like that, I think!

The Great Sex Rescue

Now Available!

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

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

5. Women and men are two different species–even outside the bedroom

If we’re going to stress the idea that sex is tied up to gender roles, then we have to also stress that the sexes are completely different to make this make sense. And in a world that was seeming to make women into men by letting them work, it was important to stress that women weren’t like men at all. Here are just two examples:

“His need for romantic love is either nonexistent or minimal. But he is married to a creature with an extraordinary need for romance.” (p. 42)

“Has it ever occurred to you that He made no such directive concerning a woman lusting after a man?” (p. 111) (women are basically incapable of lust, while men do it all the time, naturally)

The Act of Marriage

6. There’s an archaic view of what makes a “virtuous” woman

Just as men and women are made differently, so the expectations for men and women are different in terms of “sexual purity” and the approach to sex. Even though biblically both sexes are supposed to wait for marriage, this is stressed far more for women, and women are expected to be afraid of sex:

“Almost every virtuous bride understandably goes to her wedding bed with a good deal of trepidation.” (p. 138)

“Their maidenly inhibitions and misconceptions compel them to lie on their backs and allow the vigorous young husbands to satisfy themselves.” (p. 139)

“Many a married woman suffers today from guilt feelings and shame caused by indulging in such practices before meeting her husband.” (p. 259) (nothing about a husband feeling guilty for what he may have done).

The Act of Marriage

Consent is entirely absent from the discussion around sex

7. No understanding of coercion, rape, or trauma

I’ve spoken at length on podcasts and in other blog posts about the infamous Aunt Matilda story in The Act of Marriage. Basically, Tim LaHaye tells a story of Aunt Matilda warning her niece who is about to get married that marriage is just “legalized rape”. LaHaye explains that on her wedding night, Aunt Matilda was raped “kicking and screaming”, and this has continued. But Aunt Matilda is the antagonist in this story, as she wrecks her niece’s view of sex. And as LaHaye bemoans the fact that Matilda never learned to embrace sex, he talks about Aunt Matilda and her “equally unhappy husband.” So he calls the rapist equally unhappy as his rape victim. This is horrifying.


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The book has several anecdotes of husbands “pawing and grabbing” at wives, and wives trying to get them to stop, and he says that the women need to understand the men. But the coercion can go the other way, too, as in this bad piece of advice of how a woman should approach a man with a lower sex drive:

“How do I cope with my husband’s indifference to our sex life? Have a frank talk with him—perhaps you are doing something that turns him off. Then try to ignite his interest by showing affection, displaying provocative attire in the bedroom (or elsewhere when no one else is around), and massaging his penis. Even the most reluctant penis can hardly ignore wifely stroking.” (p. 296)

Note: if he doesn’t want sex,  you shouldn’t be grabbing at his genitals!

And there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about trauma. He lumps guilt from rape in with guilt from doing something bad, and says that the solution to each is repentance:

“Guilt is a common cause of orgasmic malfunction, as verified by the fact that every book we have read on this subject refers to it. Whether related to an attempted rape for which the unwilling victim feels guilty, or an ill-advised adulterous liaison experienced prior to marriage, or promiscuity before or after marriage, guilt is a cruel taskmaster that must be confronted spiritually. As a pastoral counselor, I have been privileged to lead many women to the forgiving grace of God, either through accepting Christ as their Savior (as explained in chapter 14) or applying the cleansing principle of 1 John 1:9.”

The Act of Marriage

8. Men will want to push your sexual boundaries

And it’s assumed that men will push you to go further than you want before marriage, and this is normal and okay.

“Our whole four-year courtship seemed to be a continuous scene of Tom trying to seduce me and my fighting him off. I made too many compromises and am honestly amazed that we didn’t go the whole route before our wedding. After we were married, it just seemed to be more of the same. Why did God include this sex business in marriage anyway?”

“Ever since I met him it seems I’ve been fighting him off.”

The Act of Marriage

In our survey, the idea that “boys will push girls’ sexual boundaries” is highly correlated with lower levels of arousal once you’re married and lower rates of orgasm. It isn’t an okay message. It should be a red flag that something is wrong with the relationship. (And you can see a post here where I looked at how the book For Young Women Only teaches the same thing.)

Sex must be done properly so as not to violate the conscience

In the middle of the “free love” era, it made sense that Christian books would want to stress sex only a certain way, because it seemed as if all boundaries were being torn down. And so while there was emphasis on sexual pleasure, you could only get it certain ways.

9. Sex could easily become “wrong” if you do bad things

Whether it’s oral sex or cohabitation, it’s very, very wrong.

 

“It is readily apparent …that oral sex is on the increase today, thanks to amoral sex education, pornography, modern sex literature, and the moral breakdown of our times.” P. 225

“Our chapter of questions and answers (chapter 15) will deal with illegitimate sexual experiences [including oral sex], but here it must be pointed out that they all have one factor in common: although they provide biological release, they do not guarantee lasting enjoyment, because the conscience God has given to every man “accuses” him when he violates divine standards of morality (read Rom. 1; 2:14–15). When sex provides only gratification and is followed by guilt, it makes a mockery of what God intended to be a very satisfying experience. By contrast, the act of marriage [intercourse] when properly performed is followed by physical relaxation based on innocence. Because sex is such a necessary part of a man’s life and married love preserves the innocence of his conscience, the woman who provides these for him will increasingly become the object of his love.”

“How should parents treat a son or daughter who is living with someone without marriage? This is one of the most distressing experiences a parent can endure. As one mother exclaimed, “I would rather hear that she died!” (p. 265)

And what about pornography? That’s blamed on women somehow, too. This prediction about porn is actually sad in retrospect: “We look for this problem to increase as the woman’s lib philosophy creates more conflict in the home and continues to assault the male ego.”

The Act of Marriage

10. Orgasm is only really good if it’s simultaneous and during intercourse

Along with that, while the book does talk about clitoral stimulation and acknowledges that bringing her to orgasm in another way on the wedding night is good, the aim is orgasm during intercourse, and simultaneous orgasm at that. What we found in our survey is that intercourse is the least reliable route for women’s orgasm. Of women who can orgasm, only 39% do so through intercourse alone. The rest need a lot of foreplay, or find other routes easier. By centering his book around orgasm during intercourse, he is actually denying a lot of women their best routes to orgasm. He does insist that women deserve pleasure, but there seems to be a misunderstanding of how women get pleasure.

Now, in our orgasm course we do talk about how to make orgasm through intercourse easier! But no one is a failure if they can’t get there.

The Orgasm Course is Here to Help You Experience Real Passion!

Figure out what’s holding you back. Open the floodgates to orgasm.

11. Sex Education is Very, Very Dangerous and Bad

Along with there being a “right” way to do things, the blame for things being done the wrong way is very clearly laid at the feet of our schools, with an entire chapter (and quite a long one at that) talking about the evils of sex education. Now, I have my own misgivings about how sex education is done in schools, but the vehemence with which he rails against it is telling:

“If they emphasize reading, they will get good readers, or if they emphasize math, they will produce good mathematicians. Instead, they have emphasized explicit sex education and have produced the most sexually permissive generation in the history of America.” (p. 58)

The Act of Marriage

12. Lots of Stuff that Just Isn’t True

A lot that was in the book is simply wrong, or extraordinarily bad advice.

“A woman never ejaculates or expels fluid as does a man,” (p. 71). Actually, female ejaculation is a thing!

“In this enlightened age a bridegroom would rather have the hymen surgically removed in advance to reduce the possibility of causing pain to his virtuous young bride.” (p. 75) Oh, my word! No. Some women do require this, but in general, absolutely not necessary and traumatizing.

“I think my female organs are too small, and I can’t function like other women.’ (Modern research indicates that all female organs, like those of their male counterparts, are approximately the same size regardless of the person’s size.)” (p. 107) LaHaye absolutely denies vaginismus exists, and says that it is caused by women’s irrational fear.

“Anxiety over one’s ability to function sexually is the primary cause of sexual malfunction.” (p. 108) Again–not true. The causes of sexual dysfunction are varied.

“Interestingly enough, women who have had the clitoris removed for some reason reported no adverse effect on their sexual capability,” (p. 108) ummm…..no.

“Few sexually vigorous wives have impotent husbands.” (p. 185) Again, ummm….no. And let’s not blame men’s sex conditions on women!

“Where can a Christian wife go for help when there is a sex problem in her marriage? Your minister is the proper person with whom to start.” (p. 258) Ummm…..no. I would start with a licensed therapist!

The Act of Marriage

My Final Thoughts on The Act of Marriage

For its time, The Act of Marriage was groundbreaking. It talked about sex openly; it talked about how women were designed for pleasure, and it helped women get there. It celebrated good sex in marriage.

The problem was that it did this in the context of: You need to get this right or very, very bad things will happen. Affairs, divorce, or perversion was just around the corner if you couldn’t figure out how to be “successful” in bed. So sex was to keep the bad world at bay; it wasn’t fundamentally to celebrate just being together. Even though The Act of Marriage makes allusions to intimacy, it isn’t a big part of the book. 

As we’ll talk about tomorrow in the podcast, secular books made headway in the 50 years since How To Get More Out of Sex was published (which Connor looked at yesterday). But in a lot of fundamental ways, we’re still stuck in the 1970s. In fact, on our scorecard of the evangelical books we looked at for The Great Sex Rescue, many books written decades AFTER The Act of Marriage scored worse on our rubric (including Power of a Praying Wife, His Needs, Her Needs, For Women Only, Every Man’s Battle, and Love & Respect). 

Get access to our scorecard and rubric here

I hope that we can understand God’s bigger purposes for sex, especially intimacy, and stop approaching sex in a reactionary way. I think then we could discover what’s really beautiful about “the act of marriage”!

12 Tidbits from The Act of Marriage 1970s Sex Book

What do you think? How much of that is still a part of our evangelical culture? Anything stand out to you? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sex Throughout the Ages Series

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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

Related Posts

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

Related Posts

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74 Comments

  1. Joy

    No pressure! You must learn to enjoy sex, you must do it correctly. You must…. and we wonder how we got where we are.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      “Interestingly enough, women who have had the clitoris removed for some reason reported no adverse effect on their sexual capability,” (p. 108) ummm…..no.
      YIKES😬

      Reply
      • AT

        Well, I guess, if it had been completely ignored the whole time it probably wouldn’t make much difference! 🤯😣

        Reply
  2. Anon

    Reading this makes me understand why many Christians are stuck in these ways of thinking about sex.
    I just have a question about sex and hierarchy. In your research did you find that couples following stereotypical gender roles had better sex life than those who didn’t? And specially women wanting more sex when they were in a marriage where a couple follows stereotypical gender roles?
    I mention this because I see this teached among many Christian men. That if the man is the leader who makes all decisions and provides then that will make the woman feel safe which will increase her sexual desire. If the man doesn’t make the decisions (even the decisions his wife is against if he thinks that it is the best) and if he isn’t the main provider then he will be seen as a “wimp” in his wife’s eyes
    I see this among Christian men. Specially in this day and age where there is a lot of talk about toxic masculinity and what it means to be a man. All these who preach this mean that the man should love his wife as Christ loves the church and treat her well etc. but it’s not enough. He needs to take the lead. He needs to say no to her. Even as I saw as a sex tip yesterday “have opinions she disagree with”. So having opinions that your wife disagrees with and stand by apparently makes women want more sex.
    I just wonder if this is true? Is the hierarchy needed to really have a fulfilling sex life? It’s often portrayed that modern women that are strong willed don’t know what they need. That they don’t really are satisfied and that’s why there are so many sexless marriages. When the man “puts in his pants” and takes the lead then he will be irresistible to his wife. He should live holy and take the lead.
    I have seen people profit from teaching this and seen testimonies how this really works. So I just wonder? Specially after seeing this post.
    (I’m a Patreon subsriber so I can bring this discussion there too if it is easier to discuss)

    Reply
    • anon

      I can’t speak to the research, but my husband and I have “reversed” gender roles and very non-steriotypicaly-gendered personalities (ie, sometimes I’m more of “the man”, and sometimes he is, depending on the situation). Our whole marriage, bedroom included, improved when he quit his job to stay home with our kids, started accepting who God made him to be, and stopped trying to force himself into a steriotype that he was never meant to fully fit into.
      We still have plenty to work through, and no one else seems to know quite what to do with us, but my experience is that “hierarchy” is not a universal need.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yep! Sounds pretty accurate and healthy! That’s what our surveys found too–believing in gender roles is the problem, not acting them out. Once you set yourself free to not have to abide by stereotypical roles (even if you choose to do so), things get better.

        Reply
      • Anon

        Thank you for your comment.
        This is what I think too. I have a easier time staying at home than my wife. It’s just not her to be a SAHM and that should be ok. But this teaching is so common.
        And it’s worse when it gets coupled with this being Gods way so if we don’t follow that we are sinning. That adds so much guilt and shame. I sometimes feel awful because if this.
        But not just that I keep thinking something is wrong with our sex life. My wife is strong willed and is much better at making decisions than me which I honestly think is hot. I have always wanted a woman like that. But then I keep wondering if she would want sex more if I was taking the lead. If I was more like this gender role teaching says would she want more sex and be more “wild” in the bed?
        Our sex life is ok (stressful time in life so not so frequent but we are ok) but I wonder if we are missing out and that there is this wild side of my wife that she doesn’t know of and that only a man like
        That can unlock. It adds to the feeling of not being enough

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      No, hierarchy doesn’t lead to a fulfilling sex life. In fact, we found that in marriages where the husband actually makes the final decision (even if he consults with his wife first), terrible things happen (including an 8 times higher divorce rate). Hierarchy doesn’t lead to better sex or better marriage, nor does living out traditional gender roles. What DOES lead to better sex & better marriage is deciding that you don’t HAVE to live out certain gender roles.
      PS: And thanks for being a Patreon supporter! 🙂

      Reply
    • Rachel L.

      Replying to Anon,
      No, there isn’t a need for heirarchy in sex. Or marriage. In fact, studies show that there is more marital satisfaction for BOTH partners when marital relationships show more equality and mutuality.
      There’s even a (controversial) movement for Female Lead Relationships in the secular scene, where the involved parties tend to focus more on her needs, goals, career, etc. Now, that might be considered “cancel culture” but regardless, I think the real issue at play is that relationships are better when we allow each other to play into the strengths.
      A big reason why hierarchical, gender-based marriage teaching doesn’t work is because it forces people to act AGAINST their God-given disposition and giftings in many cases. And the inference then, is that anyone who “breaks” that mold is literally sinning by going outside of God’s design.
      I was forced to go through this book as part of my pre-marital counseling. And I pointed out wrong information that it was trying to feed us, but was dismissed. I also had other issues with it, but didn’t know how to articulate why they made me uncomfortable. Luckily, I had a mother who was very frank and clear about sexuality, so she set me up to expect joy and pleasure in the bedroom from the time we had “the talk” when I started developing breasts. I think she was my saving grace, because if my first exposure to expectations in bed had been this book, I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it. And I would have been denied such amazing experiences we discovered about my body!

      Reply
    • Lindsey

      Anon,
      I’ve been thinking about your question, as well as the stereotypical things that you’ve heard. There probably is some truth to them – but not necessarily for the reasons many believe.
      If my husband railroads me and my wishes – that’s not a turn on. However, if he has an “opinion [I] disagree with”, and communicates that respectfully, in a clear way, I feel like our relationship is stronger and we have more intimacy.
      Additionally, if I am carrying the majority of mental load (as are many women), my husband “taking charge” means that something is getting done without my input or decision making – which can be a tremendous relief!
      So “yes and no” would be my answer to your question.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think what you’re describing, Lindsey, is the difference between taking initiative and taking command. Taking initiative can be such a godsend! Taking command rarely is.

        Reply
      • Lindsey

        I would argue that the difference isn’t so much in whether or not it’s taking initiative or taking command (or charge), because to my mind taking command or charge CAN be a good thing, and make me desirous of my husband.
        The difference to me is what is he taking command OF?
        Is it me? That doesn’t work out well.
        Is it a situation that is hurting me or bringing me stress? That makes me feel more love and admiration for him.
        Sometimes a man CAN be too nice, or too easy going, or handle things too tactfully. When that happens, his family is left feeling unprotected or undefended. Not because he is a bad husband or father, but simply because there are times that call for him to stand up with strength and vehemence. Failure to show that repeatedly in such situations can erode some of the respect that a wife or child might feel towards an otherwise wonderful man.

        Reply
      • Anonymous

        Hi, I’ve been loving following your blog and fb for the last few weeks after I heard your podcast with Rosie Mckinney. My hubs and I have great, fulfilling sex ( happy to be part of the 48% club lol). However, we’ve struggled in the oral department. I mean I know how to give great oral; just the other way around not so much! We want to get better at it but don’t really want to go searching the internet😬 Do you have a course or a blog on great oral sex? (Btw, this feels VERY weird to be asking for help here, but here I am🤷🏻‍♀️) Thank youuuu

        Reply
  3. Anna

    Well, that is just a steaming, fetid mass of awful. In fact, I think I may disagree that having a book like that published is in any way a step forward from silence in the church. At least if you don’t get taught anything except basic mechanics in school, (I actually came of age at the end of the seventies, slightly before purity culture kicked in) you don’t wind up thinking you’re a degenerate for liking oral sex, or for wanting to do more than passively acquiesce to missionary position.
    The massive, steely arm of control–trying desperately to control women’s sexuality is so obvious. You are our property, therefore you may only have sex with whom, how, and when we say. And porn culture was there as well, so although you must have sex on demand, you must do it enthusiastically and gratefully, just like the women in porn do.
    Honestly, I got married in 1986, shortly after embracing Christ, and I had a better view of sex BEFORE people started gifting me with Christian marriage books. I had some sexual experience, too, which I learned after the fact should have scarred me and consumed me with sexually crippling guilt. Good thing I knew from experience that was hogwash.

    Reply
    • Kacey

      The “Has it ever occurred to you that He made no such directive concerning a woman lusting after a man?” quote makes me wonder if he’s ever read Proverbs. Proverbs contains lots of warnings for men to be pure, and a few specific warnings to stay away from adulterous women on the prowl for sex.
      But that’s not a portrayal of all women, since we’ve also got the strong, virtuous wife in Proverbs and wisdom personified as a woman. It’s almost as if the Biblical writers assume an anecdote of moral or immoral behavior is not supposed to be taken as a description of the way ________ gender is forever, all the time.

      Reply
  4. Jo

    So let’s see…
    1. She’s supposed to be responsive sexually, except when she’s supposed to be aggressive.
    2. If she’s not interested in sex, then she has to talk herself into being interested. If her husband isn’t interested in sex, then she has to massage his penis into being interested.
    3. A choleric woman finds that “surrender in any way is difficult.” She then subsequently “will often subvert her sex drive and responses to avoid surrender.” Huh. Or maybe she’s listened to the “Christian” books that talk about “making her husband feel like he’s good at sex” even when he isn’t, so she essentially wires her own jaw shut to spare his feelings, which only ends up making her even more sex avoidant, instead of daring to say “Hey, this isn’t great for me.”
    4. The thing about the wife needing conversation that then gets turned around into HER helping HIM talk is a huge part of His Needs, Her Needs as well. In a chapter purportedly written to men to help them meet their wives’ need for conversation, examples were given of how the WIFE was supposed to introduce topics interesting to HIM and also to limit her own side of the conversation. Was there similar advice to men in the chapter on his greatest need (sex, of course) of how to make it good for her? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. Then in the “Questions for Her” at the end of the chapter, the wife is supposed to ask herself, “Do I talk too much?” Any corresponding question to men in their chapter of “Do I want sex too much?” Again, you get three guesses.
    In short, if anything is going wrong, it’s the woman’s fault.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Pretty much!
      To be fair, His Needs, Her Needs does go into detail on how to bring her to orgasm. The problem is that the rationale for this is that the husband can’t really enjoy sex unless he feels as if he’s bringing her pleasure and she’s enthusiastic. So she needs to receive pleasure so he can enjoy it–not for her own sake. Again, man is at the centre of the whole thing. And then we wonder why no one talks about intimacy! You can’t have real intimacy unless both people matter.

      Reply
    • Chris

      “So let’s see…
      1. She’s supposed to be responsive sexually, except when she’s supposed to be aggressive.” I don’t think that statement is an oxy moron at all. Let’s just word it differently: “ She’s supposed to be responsive when he tries to initiate sex, and she should be frequently initiating sex herself”. There, fixed it for you.

      Reply
  5. Jane Eyre

    “Because of their lack of experience, preconceived notions, and most of all their fear of pregnancy, many young wives do not share their husbands’ enthusiasm for lovemaking.”
    Have not read the book. Does he go onto explain that these are ALL problems with a solution, albeit one that depends on husbands, too?
    Lack of experience: part of marriage is gaining that experience. Although I guess that doesn’t work if there is no expectations that husbands will take the time to learn about their wives.
    Preconceived notions that sex isn’t great for women: dude, don’t write an entire book on how sex is bad for women. Men, plan a relaxing wedding night. Don’t have sex if foreplay is not going well. Explicitly tell her that you are looking forward to sex, but are more than willing to ease into it so she enjoys it too.
    Fear of pregnancy: wear a condom or be completely supportive of abstinence during her fertile time. As the wedding approaches, discuss options for contraception. Shower her with love if she gets pregnant. Love her body, even if she hates how she looks after babies. Change a diaper every now and then. Take the kids to the park so she can get coffee with her friends.
    Just saying.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! And it’s just funny because men are supposed to have lack of experience and even a fear of pregnancy, too, right? And preconceived notions? But somehow men are portrayed as knowing how to do sex right, while women are portrayed as somehow “less than”. And the only reason that I can see that men apparently know how to do sex right is that they’ve masturbated in the past. It’s just weird.

      Reply
  6. Tory

    I think this review of the book is very thorough and fair. I read this book, and there were lots of good things in it. I also found it to be very black-and-white (he says most couples prefer the missionary position only; oral sex is seen as a fringe/kinky activity; and he claims that most women can climax during intercourse after 75-80 thrusts— that is just so weirdly specific! My husband and I as a joke tried to count several times just to compare but always lost count 🤣) I could go on and on. He makes a lot of black and white assumptions. All young women want to be homemakers, etc. Overall, this post was a very balanced review. And like I said, I thought the book was overall pretty good!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I forgot about the 75-80 thrusts! That’s actually pretty funny.

      Reply
    • Kya

      Oh my goodness, SERIOUSLY?! 75-80 thrusts? Guess I have to start wearing a pedometer to bed…XD

      Reply
    • Debra

      That would be great if my husband could make it to 75 or 80 thrusts. LOL

      Reply
    • Katherine

      Perhaps a new category to add to the next generation FitBit 😂🙄

      Reply
  7. Shannon

    The fact that Christians grew up reading these books, coupled with the patriarchal nonsense that the church pushes….no wonder we have a crisis in our churches!!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      What boggles my mind is that people still recommend this book! Why? It was written 50 years ago in a different time, and we know so much more now! It’s like we’re more interested in turning back the clock than teaching what is healthy.

      Reply
  8. Dorthea

    Women’s pleasure matters- kind of, but we’re still not seen as fellow human beings worthy of respect. And sadly the church has not improved in the last 50 years. I’d say that’s a fail!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, what’s alarming is how much of this is still being taught, and how much women are portrayed as using sex to get basic needs met (like provision for the family). If you don’t have sex with him, he won’t work hard and won’t bring home a paycheque, but at the same time you’re not allowed to earn money. It was really difficult.

      Reply
  9. Kat

    Very few sexually vigorous wives have impotent husbands?
    I have to wonder what research (if any) was conducted to reach this conclusion.
    Impotence in males can be caused by many underlying health problems- low testosterone, blood pressure problems, diabetes, just to name a few!
    None of these are caused, or cured, by how high the female partner’s sex drive happens to be. They require treatment from a medical doctor, not a pastor.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      To be fair–what the literature in the 70s was saying about erectile dysfunction was often wrong, too. It was seen as mostly “in your head.” But this is where we really should change with science!

      Reply
  10. Amy

    First of all, I really, really resent all the comments these authors make about women having a need for romance. I have little to no desire to be romanced by a man let alone having as this author says, “an extraordinary need” for it. Stuff like this makes me feel like I’m somehow defective or incomplete as a woman.
    Wow, a parent would rather their child die than find out they were living with someone they were’t married too. Yikes! That is deeply disturbing. Why would you EVER put that in print?! I can’t think of any behavior my child could choose that would be worse than me having to face the grief of her death.
    I think that Tim LaHaye has an erroneous belief that pastors have solutions to all of your problems. I read a book by him after I got married (can’t remember the title) where he commented that the pastor who performed your wedding ceremony was invested in your marriage and that you should seek his help before filing for divorce. I followed that advice when I realized that my marriage was horrible. My pastor was completely inadequate to handle that task and made the situation worse. A licensed counselor or a domestic violence organization would have been much better equipped to respond to my issues.

    Reply
    • GG

      Not sure how it would have turned out if my husband and I had sought out the pastor who performed our marriage– seeing how he had multiple affairs and murdered his wife to marry his mistress……

      Reply
      • GG

        It’s gets even worse—-he was my husband’s uncle. He was never convicted (not enough evidence) and has since died, but his daughters and other family members know the truth. (And the insurance company did not pay out to him but to the daughters.)

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Amy! Yes, that romance thing was something we mentioned in The Great Sex Rescue, too. Many MEN want romance. Not all women do. All this gender stereotyping doesn’t help.
      And, yes, most pastors are not equipped to do marriage counseling. And the marriage books written by pastors did not, on the whole, teach about sex well according to our rubric.

      Reply
      • R

        Just was talking about this book the other day and how awful some of it was. Surprised not to see an anecdote mentioned which was appalling to me.
        It was about a wife who one morning seductively asked her husband if he was “man enough” to take her on that night.
        So far so good – sexually aggressive and confident wife inviting spouse to have some fun. An evangelical unicorn!
        Only he ruminated on the comment all day at work and began to seriously question himself – WAS he man enough?
        “Failed” (there’s that successful/unsuccessful metric again) in bed that night and then promptly left on a business trip where he got to further ruminate on his failure for days, compounding the problem – he WASN’T man enough, apparently.
        Guess whose fault the sudden massive marital rift was.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh yuck! Yes, he definitely framed a lot of erectile dysfunction as her fault. It was all just a big mess.

          Reply
  11. EOF

    So, in summary, the weaker and less intelligent of the spouses is solely responsible for anything that goes wrong? Makes sense…
    Actually, it reminds me of the time early in my marriage when my husband came home from a husbands lesson at church. He started yelling at me about how God is going to hold him responsible for every stupid thing I did, and that I needed to stop doing stupid things. He was also told that the men were taught that if their wives wouldn’t submit, the men must make them!
    In point 2: “Because of their lack of experience, preconceived notions, and most of all their fear of pregnancy, many young wives do not share their husbands’ enthusiasm for lovemaking.”
    The assumption is that the woman has no experience, but the man does? This from a “Christian” book? 🤮
    I feel like I need to bleach my eyes after reading all of these quotes.
    All I can say is that I’m so grateful that these false teachings are finally being exposed for what they are before they can hurt anymore women.

    Reply
    • Anon

      The sad thing is that this is still taught. I see this in Ema Facebook groups. Big groups with thousand of members.
      The man is responsible for what the woman does so he needs to have the authority to make sure nothing goes wrong.
      I have even seen some say that the man should “command” the woman if she is doing something he thinks goes against Gods will(even if that is very subjective).
      This teaching also makes it seem that men who dont have that authority are bad and don’t live right. They are “wimps” buying into “feminism” that is seen as such evil.
      It leads to guilt and shame for men who don’t live like that. I’m so glad for Sheila and the teams work or else I would have felt horrible for not being as they describe.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        wow, that’s awful! Do these FB groups do anything healthy for you? Because that sounds awfully toxic. I can’t think that they’re actually improving their marriages, because we found that kind of hierarchical control structure to be toxic to everything. Wow.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The quotes really are bad, aren’t they? I used maybe 1/3 of what I had.
      Does your husband still think that way? Or are you in a better place?

      Reply
      • EOF

        He’s much better now, thankfully! We stopped reading “Christian” marriage books long ago and have hardly gone to any of our church’s marriage seminars in the last 15 years.
        Now the issue is me finding my worth. The ironic thing is that as I’m starting to feel valuable, I’m much happier to treat him with respect. Yet when I was being shamed for being a woman who needed to submit to the almighty man, I was bitter and it seethed from everything I said and did.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          So interesting, EOF! I’m glad you’re finding a good balance and a good place.

          Reply
  12. Kay

    So… this mom thinks that DEATH would be better than her daughter having premarital sex? Um, WHAT.

    Reply
    • Madeline H

      That line angered me as well. How dare that mother think such a thing about her child!

      Reply
  13. Lea

    How should parents treat a son or daughter who is living with someone without marriage? This is one of the most distressing experiences a parent can endure. As one mother exclaimed, “I would rather hear that she died!” (p. 265)
    Apparently a happy relationship without a ring is the worst thing that could happen? Yikes!
    So many things wrong with all of these books. I was cleaning out mine and saw my mom gave some josh Harris nonsense about waiting for dudes that i happily I never read.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yay for not reading it! Just remember to toss rather than donate so it doesn’t get into anyone else’s hands. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Madeline H

    A well meaning friend recommended this book to me shortly after I got married in 2008, at the tender age of 21. I was already a victim of purity culture and had already slept with my now husband, therefore “ruining” my future sex life (oh the guilt I carried!). I also possess several high functioning autistic traits (no diagnosis yet) so imagine how much worse that toxic advice was…
    Some of the advice in this book was good, but it also put a lot of pressure on me, especially for the simultaneous orgasm. (I haven’t had much of a sex drive for as long as I can remember!) Also the porn use. My husband struggles (much less now than then, praise God!), and there have been times where it seems I rocked his world and the next night I catch him watching or reading (sooooo yeah, giving more sex doesn’t help…). What HAS helped is letting him know that it’s not ok and that I will set boundaries. He really has made an effort and gotten a lot better since then.
    Another thing in that book that bothered me was treating women who had a low or no sex drive, like me, as being “frigid” and acting as if that’s a clinical condition we’re just stuck with. That one really messed me up. I was “frigid” and broken, I would never enjoy sex to the fullest. I write this comment nearly 13 years later, trying to pick up the pieces of my warped view of sex.
    Sheila, this blog and your books have been a Godsend, and while it hasn’t fixed my issues completely, there HAS been improvement and the biggest thing I’ve gotten is HOPE. I cannot wait to jump into your Great Sex Rescue book, which my husband and I plan to read together. Right now we are going through Boundaries in Marriage to help address other issues we have had.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome, Madeline! Hope it so needed. I’m glad you found me.

      Reply
  15. Bethany#2

    Reporting a typo under the #10. I enjoyed reading the article and comments. But I’m getting over the stomach bug and shouldn’t try to contribute!

    Reply
  16. Kimberly

    OK – the bit about Sex Education – I’m no statistician, but from what I understand, more un-planned-for pregnancies and STDs are a result of young people being un- or undereducated about sex than over-educated.
    I am a survivor of 80s and 90s “purity culture” – my parents took me out, gave me the purity talk, and gave me a “key to my heart” necklace (a very nice James Avery piece) that I was to give my husband one day. At least they didn’t parade me up in front of the entire church. Come to think of it, our church didn’t really do that at all, so maybe they would have if given the opportunity. I think they were doing the best they could.
    But this was so damaging to my view of a healthy sexual relationship:
    SEX IS BAD!
    SEX IS EVIL!
    ONLY BAD PEOPLE HAVE SEX!
    *Sign a piece of paper*
    OK – you can have as much as you want now; in fact, you must have lots of sex to keep your husband from straying!
    UGH!!
    Thank you for your voice on this issue, for putting words to my own struggles, and for giving me the tools to have healthy conversations with my own children about sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a pretty good description of what so many women were told! So damaging.

      Reply
  17. Wild Honey

    Can we evangelicals PLEASE kick the notion that “men have an innate desire to be the provider and women don’t” to the curb? BOTH men AND women desire to contribute in meaningful ways to the family, and those ways include financially, through other means, or (most commonly) through a mixture of both. Even patriarchal societies have recognized this!
    If pastors would start reading more literature or social history books, they’d quickly realize this.
    My great-grandparents were subsistence farmers. Great-grandma literally put food on the table by raising hogs and chickens and tending a massive vegetable garden, while her husband was the one “out” in the fields.
    In “Clarissa” (Samuel Johnson, published 1748), the heroine finds refuge with a shopkeeper and his wife. It is a family business that the couple runs together and both work at.
    In “The Ladies’ Paradise” (Emile Zola, published 1883), a rather dim view is taken, actually, of upper-class women who sit around and shop or socialize all day and don’t do anything to contribute to the family. In the same novel, a shopkeeper across the street makes custom-order dresses (ack! He must have turned in his masculinity card) with the help of his wife, daughter, and male (ack! another man lacking his masculinity card) apprentice.
    Then there’s Proverbs 31. “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard… She sees that her trading is profitable… She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes… Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, he praises her.” I don’t know how much more blatant you can get than this.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true, Wild Honey! The whole idea of the traditional homemaker was really born far more recently, after the industrial revolution had really taken hold. Before then, almost everyone either had a family business or a family farm, and so everyone’s labor was required. It also meant that often the children worked with dad, so mom wasn’t the only caregiver.

      Reply
  18. Laura

    I’m looking forward to taking some time to read through my copy of your book soon. Having grown up fully in purity culture, and now going through a divorce, I have lots to unpack about some of these harmful messages.
    A few weeks ago, I was able to identify a specific contradiction from purity culture that’s brought some freedom and healing to me in my situation.
    Message #1: if wives are sexually available to their husbands, husbands won’t look elsewhere for sexual fulfilment (ie women are responsible for men’s sexual sin or lack thereof)
    Message #2: if a husband cheats on his wife, she should not take it personally or wonder what is wrong with her, because it’s not about her, it’s his sin struggle.
    I was told both these things many times. I would broadly agree with Message #2, that if a husband sins sexually, this is his issue and not his wife’s, and certainly not a reflection of her worth. But that truth never resonated while I was also believing #1, that it was up to me to make sure he was sexually fulfilled.

    Reply
  19. Andrea

    I’ve been thinking about the Aunt Matilda story for a while now (since the book came out last month and it’s been brought up on the blog several times) and I think it was LaHaye’s attempt to severely restrict the then brand new notion of marital rape. He uses that phrase, but puts it in Aunt Matilda’s mouth, that’s how she frightens her niece. Aunt Matilda screamed because her husband stripped and violently raped her. Her niece’s husband will gently remove her clothing and spend plenty of time on foreplay (as instructed by LaHaye), but once he starts thrusting, the niece will let him until he finishes even if it hurts, and when he wants to do it the next night and the next, she will voluntarily submit to it and clench her teeth. My sister calls this “voluntary rape” and this is what LaHaye was going for. He knew he couldn’t get away with just saying there’s no such thing a marital rape, so he made sure to let us know that only the very violent kind counts, but a man can earn the right to more gently rape his wife if he spends some time on foreplay. Based on my Christian friends’ stories, most women’s first years of marriage were like this and then they “got used to it.”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s really interesting. I’m going to have to think on that!

      Reply
    • Daisy

      The thing people like Tim don’t realize is that even with, as you put it, “gentle rape” (where the wife “consents” because she believed she must) the BODY knows consent has been violated, and it’s definitely traumatizing. I realized this when talking to a woman who had bought into this message for many years… from what she described I realized her body was reacting as if she’d been raped many times. So sad for her and I’m sure her husband would be horrified to learn he’d been raping her all those years. (And yes I pointed her to your resources!)

      Reply
  20. Anon

    This book was recommended to me shortly before our marriage last year – reading this article, I’m SO glad I didn’t buy it!!! It is really troubling that so many apparently ‘mature’ and ‘wise’ Christians think this is one of the best books available on marriage.
    But the thing that horrified me the most was the way he equates willing sex outside of marriage with rape: “Whether related to an attempted rape for which the unwilling victim feels guilty, or an ill-advised adulterous liaison experienced prior to marriage, or promiscuity before or after marriage, guilt is a cruel taskmaster that must be confronted spiritually. As a pastoral counselor, I have been privileged to lead many women to the forgiving grace of God”
    So rape victims need to seek God’s forgiveness for being raped? WHAT PLANET IS THIS GUY LIVING ON?!!! Do victims of any other crimes (theft, fraud, GBH) need to seek forgiveness for being victims too? I can’t even begin to understand the way his mind is working here…and to be honest, I don’t want to!

    Reply
    • Andrea

      Does anybody else find this super-pervy as well? After lumping together rape and adultery, 50 years old when he first wrote that book, LaHaye says “As a pastoral counselor, I have been privileged to lead many women to the forgiving grace of God.” Not people, women. “Many women.” “Privileged.” Then there’s Kevin Leman telling us his pet name for his penis. Then the pornographic depictions of women in Every Man’s Battle, whose author is married to his third wife and she’s half his age. John Piper telling us how “stimulating” it is to watch a young woman pumping iron at the gym. Pervy old men have been interpreting the Bible for us!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I feel it too. And, yes, the double standard in The Act of Marriage re: needing grace and forgiveness about sex was astronomical even for the 1970s. He was telling stories of men being physically abusive to their kids (I didn’t even include that one in this post; I did in The Great Sex Rescue); raping their wives; pressuring their fiances into sex; etc etc. Yet the ones who keep coming to him needing forgiveness? Women.

        Reply
      • Anon

        Yes. And I find it interesting that WOMEN who are raped need to seek forgiveness from God…but there is literally NO mention of the MEN who commit rape needing to seek forgiveness. And again, WOMEN who commit adultery or engage in pre marital sex need forgiveness, but there is no mention of MEN needing forgiveness. It reminds me of the ‘woman taken in adultery’ who was brought to Jesus.

        Reply
  21. Anon

    Regarding gender roles, has anyone read The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher? Published in the 1920s, it features a couple who have to ‘role swap’ when the husband is paralyzed in an accident and can no longer go out to work. The whole family blossoms after this, because Lester was useless at his job but is a great ‘home maker’ and natural child carer, while Evangeline loathed housework and cooking but relishes her new life as a businesswoman. But the only reason their happy new life is possible is because they ‘have no choice’ – it would never be acceptable for the role swap to continue if/when Lester recovers.
    Lester eventually recovers the ability to walk but decides to hide it so that he & his wife can continue in the roles they found so fulfilling. The weird thing is that the forward to a recent reprint of the book talks about it is so hard for a modern reader to believe this, but that we need to realise how totally different life was back then! It really struck me that for those within most churches, life ISN’T any different now, 100 years later!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      OH, wow, that sounds really interesting! And, yes, I would think that there were many couples who were doing totally mismatched work–and still are. We need to get beyond gender roles and look at all of our unique personalities, giftings, and interests!

      Reply
  22. Christine

    His soliloquy on oral sex sorta rats him out that he CLEARLY never experienced it. Lol. And the bit about the vigorous young husband satisfying himself…. disgusting. Just come out and call me a blow-up doll, why don’t you?

    Reply
  23. Sue

    Sigh~
    I tried so hard to do it right. I read Act of Marriage several years before I got married and again as I was near marriage, so I was sure I knew what to do. This approach probably helped destroy my libido. I did the dressing up thing, initiated sex, made sure we had sex about twice a week. But doing it for my husband, without consideration for my own pleasure eventually evolved into resentment.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re not alone! And you even share the name of one of the women he talks about in his book exactly like you–where he says that she just has to have sex more and care about her husband’s needs. I’m sorry.

      Reply
  24. Connie

    Just want to say….we got married in 1983 and were given that book right beforehand. In the context of that time and place-that was a great book and we found it incredibly helpful. As far as the problematic stuff, that was a product of its time and was consistent with the messaging we were all getting from everywhere else in the Christian subculture.
    My husband and I have discussed recently just how glad we are glad times have changed now. It was not easy being a Christian woman in those days!!!

    Reply

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