Let’s See the Pornographic Style of Relating in Action

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Pornography | 37 comments

Husband's pornographic style of relating will wreck sex in your marriage
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What do you do when you’re told that it’s your Christian duty to act like porn for your husband?

Many of you have really enjoyed hearing Andrew Bauman on the Bare Marriage podcast. He’s the co-founder and co-director of the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma, and he’s written extensively on what sexual health looks like for men, and how to overcome what he calls the “pornographic style of relating“, when you view women as objects to be consumed rather than as people to know, serve, and love.

This week he published a post on his blog that affected me deeply, and I wanted to share it with you today. It’s like the perfect storm of everything we talked about in The Great Sex Rescue, of all the bad messaging we grow up hearing in church about wives being obligated to give their husbands sex; about all men struggling with lust; about the cure for lust and porn being wives simply having more sex. It shows how often, when you go to the church for help for your marriage, the first question asked is, “are you having enough sex?”

In this piece, Andrew invites Taylor May, a survivor of emotional and spiritual abuse, to share her story. It’s quite raw, so major trigger warnings for abuse and sexual coercion. But it’s an important story, because it illustrates all too well what many women are told by our books, our radio shows, and even our pastors and counselors when we seek help for what we know are bad marriage and sex dynamics. I want to pull three things out of this story.

First, Taylor felt growing up that being a girl was problematic, even sinful.

As we looked at on Wednesday on the blog, girls are often portrayed as being seductresses and being sexual just because they develop adult women’s bodies. It is wrong to ascribe sexual motives to a child simply because men or boys may see her as sexual. This is viewing a girl through the eyes of the men and boys, and erasing her own motivations:

For me, this conditioning started long before I ever even understood sex and relationships. Since I was very young, my father wouldn’t let me be friends with boys for fear of something sexual happening. I was only a child! This said way more about him than it did about me or my friends. Sex was on his mind, not mine or any other children in my friend group. I was told over and over again that body parts and hormones were dangerous and sex before marriage would ruin me–but that it would be all boys wanted; all they thought about. If they liked me, there must be ulterior motives. They couldn’t possibly like me for me alone. To this day, my mother is suspicious of every male friend I have. If they are friendly, she will immediately jump to conclusions and will issue verbal and “mom look” warnings. 

Taylor May

Christlike or Pornlike? A Christian Woman's Role in Marriage

Second, women often feel trapped and coerced into sexual acts because they believe they must be his only sexual outlet. 

Because we’ve been taught that men have insatiable sex drives, and that his sexual desire must be targeted towards us, then we feel that every time he wants sexual release we must give it to him, or he will sin. In fact, he can use spiritual manipulation to make us do this, because he can tell us that God made marriage for him to get his sexual release, and without her he’s trapped in sin. 

He would touch the “right” parts, usually in the same way, the same order, and I would orgasm. He would often act bored, not aroused, and usually had to start his arousal process over because pleasing me was such a turn-off. If I was sick, uninterested, or incapacitated, he would ask for a handjob. All he needed was a couple of body parts, and he was happy. (You can see his pornographic mindset and pornographic style of relating. I didn’t see it at the time, but looking back, my body was right. I felt it, I just didn’t know how to put language to what my body was telling me was true.)

Taylor May

Christlike or Pornlike? A Christian Woman's Role in Marriage

She goes on to explain how she had to dissociate during sexual encounters and think about something else or fantasize about something else because she felt so used. Sex wasn’t a deep knowing; it was a using. That erases  you as a person, and is fundamentally traumatic.

Third, the fault for marriage problems was often laid at her feet–specifically that she needed to give him more sex. 

When she did seek help, often the first question asked was about sex, and it was insinuated that simply having sex would fix all their problems. He couldn’t be expected to be nice to her if he was sexually deprived, and “filling him up” would somehow release this wonderful husband that couldn’t exist without sexual fulfillment. 

Another lie I was told was that, as the wife, I alone was responsible for the health or lack thereof in our marriage. The church has made this point loud and clear. Over and over again, women are told that without a consistent sex life (which is our responsibility to cultivate), our marriage will crumble. But, if we just have more sex, our marriage problems will disappear. Put on lipstick, do your hair, show a little cleavage. But only when you’re alone, of course, or you’ll cause other men to stumble. Do you hear the absolute madness? These are contradictions that would drive any woman insane.

In other words: “Be like the porn I have consumed for the last two decades. Dress like a porn star in the bedroom and a Hollywood actress when in public. This will help me stay committed and keep my eyes from wandering elsewhere.”

But what about my needs? What about the importance of my pleasure; my sexual wants and desires? Why did I have to kill them so I could remain married? I am not saying my desires should have been above his. What I am saying is that both partners should both bring their full selves to their sexuality. Giving and receiving pleasure is part of God’s gift of sexuality.

Taylor May

Christlike or Pornlike? A Christian Woman's Role in Marriage

One of the things we talk about early in The Great Sex Rescue is the importance of understanding the definition of biblical sex.

Many of these problems could be avoided, and much of this advice could stop being given, if we differentiated between a sexual encounter where a man has an orgasm and biblical sex, which is always mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both.

One-sided sex, where one person feels used, is not biblical sex. 

It is not the physical actions that make something sex; it is the meaning and the emotions that are imbued into that act. Just like Jesus said, it’s not the outside of the cup, but the inside that matters.

If someone has a pornographic style of relating, then sex won’t grow a marriage; it will only ever steal from it. Every time you have sex, you degrade your spouse. You make her feel used. Often she is coerced. This isn’t right.

We simply must differentiate between healthy, life-giving sex, and soul-crushing sex. Like we said in The Great Sex Rescue, we really need new words for this, because we use them interchangeably, and that’s where a lot of the confusion lies.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

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.

This month and next month, as we talk about sexual confidence, let’s remember that confidence entails accepting all of yourself. 

As we talked about earlier in the series, confidence means accepting who you are and what led you to this point. 

But that means that you matter. 

Who you are matters. You can’t be sexually confident if who you are is being erased, minimized, or ignored during sex. Unless sex is about two people deeply connecting, you will never feel confident. You will never feel known. You will never feel loved.

And that’s not what God meant for you.

It’s okay to reject the pornographic style of relating when it comes to sex. 

Marriage does not mean that you have to consent to being used. And if you see ourself in Taylor May’s story, please seek out  a licensed counselor. Call a domestic abuse hotline if necessary. And read The Great Sex Rescue (Taylor found it helpful too!), so that you can get a picture of what real biblical sex is.

Husband's pornographic style of relating wrecks sex and intimacy

How can we change this conversation about the definition of sex? What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!

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

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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. P

    My husband and I have walked this journey. I seen a comment on your fb page asking if it’s considered trauma if children view porn. It is considered abuse and is traumatizing per our individual therapists and our marriage counselor.

    My husband was introduced to porn as a young boy. At 16 his older brother had an older woman have sex with him for his 1st physical encounter. I wasn’t aware their was a porn or addiction until 4 years ago. We were just shy of our 30th wedding anniversary. He used it as a coping mechanism that had nothing to do with sex.

    We are still working through the devastating impact on both of us. He grew up in a Fundamental Independent Baptist Church and brought that sex obligation mindset with him. We have been healing from that horribly painful way of thinking.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry, P. I think using porn to cope with negative feelings is very common. I hope that he’s been able to get licensed help and recovery groups to deal with this and the emotional stuntedness/wounds he must have had. And I hope you’ve worked through the toxic marriage teaching, too. That is very, very hard to deal with, especially after 30 years. I’m sure in retrospect his porn use explained so much, but that must be very difficult.

  2. Anon

    What’s scary is that a porno graphic style of relating is seen as so normal that people don’t see how bad it is.

    I have a question I have thought about a lot about obligation sex. Specially related to obligation sex. I grew up learning that masturbation is sinful and bad. Creating a lot of shame and guilt when I did it. And I see that idea among many women. They are afraid that their spouse will masturbate. Not necessarily watch porn but masturbate.

    But I wonder what would happen if the shame around masturbation was changed. What if we teached men that they don’t have to lust but also teach both men and women that masturbation is a natural thing and in moderation totally ok.

    I just feel that the pressure of obligation wouldn’t be so strong. Sex would happen when both feel ready and if there is a time they don’t feel it one person could handle things on their own so to speak. Or does that steal intimacy from the couple? Can’t both masturbation and intimate sex live side by side in a marriage? Or is that still a pornographic style of relating?

    I have no one to talk to about this because most want to slam a Bible on my head and say it’s sinful to say that but I just want to understand. I feel that the constant shaming of men and women isn’t helpful.

    • Anon

      I feel like the high you get from orgasm should only be experienced with someone with whom you feel vey close/intimate with. Masturbation reduces sex to just a physical action, just the sexual release. When my husband used to masturbate it made me feel more used. Like sex was only about his need for release and if he didn’t get it from be (masturbate inside me) he just did it himself. It made it animalistic, and I felt more like a receptacle, les like a person

    • S

      I have had this question myself!

      It’s shaming was partly what kept me from truly orgasming most of my marriage. Even in marriage, while WITH my husband, I thought it was a sin in general. But once I was fed up enough and started trying it out (on my own) I found my sexuality! Since then, I do it while having sex with my husband. I found this is practically the only way I can reach climax and feel sexually fulfilled, it takes a long time, he tries it but after a while gets tired, so I take over. I came to the conclusion that the need I had for this outweighed any shame people throw at it. Should it be expected that I never orgasm? Why is it bad if done during our time together, while thinking of each other, and he enjoys it too? I still wonder what exactly the bible has to say. But I do think the shame I felt came from the church and not necessarily God.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ve honestly been thinking about this a lot too. It seems as if a lot of the pressure, especially in the postpartum phase, may be solved with masturbation. I’m not sure. I’m really still formulating this in my mind. I think I’d like to do some more surveys on it.

      • Annie

        I would agree that masturbation steals from intimacy. I’ve seen both sides being a military family and also someone who “just couldn’t” often during pregnancy. We have since come to have a good sex life together. I do believe that using hormonal birth control was detrimental to our first 5 years of marriage. It wasn’t until after our 2nd was born that I felt like I had my body back sexually.

        Prior to that there were both porn and occasional masturbation found. The porn was dealt with. The masturbation wasn’t because I’m not sure it was seen as a problem. But hindsight is 20-20. And it did hurt; though I told myself it didn’t. Orgasm wasn’t something to experience together. It made me feel inadequate. Even if it was reserved for when I couldn’t. It wasn’t about us. It made it about him at times when I was suffering. That hurt! It’s not loving to basically say “I took care of it myself since you can’t right now.” I don’t think I’d ever heard someone teach on how to deal with these times. And I grew up in a church where healthy sex was even taught from the pulpit by an elderly woman pastor. I do remember the youth pastor (who never shied away from sharing his mistakes) teaching us that masturbation often becomes something you want more frequently the more you do it. And it seems accurate to me. If you can get released easily; you go that route. If you think there is no mental aspect to it; I’m going to strongly disagree. Porn in your mind is just as bad as porn on your phone.

      • Anon

        It seems like if you’ve absorbed the shame messages around masturbation, then it can be really problematic in a marriage. I had a lot of shame around it before we got married, but it ended up being a blessing to us as newlyweds because I knew how my body worked and I could show him. Looking back I really wish I hadn’t felt any guilt about it. In my opinion it’s normal and not that big of a deal unless it’s combined with porn or fantasizing. I think we could prevent a lot of the shame and obsession around sex if we told teens it was ok to take care of their urges occasionally as long as they aren’t using another person/image. And once you’re married it should be something you talk about and decide as a couple. Are we ok with it if we are apart or physically unable? If not, both should abstain. As with most things, bringing it into the light helps so much!

        • Anon

          I just wanted to add that I only think this is healthy if you are both satisfied with frequency & quality of your sex life overall. If either spouse is using it to get out of intimacy that is not ok! I’m only comfortable with it because I know it’s only when necessary (travel or illness), and it isn’t replacing our regular times together.

          • Laura

            That’s a helpful caveat. I think it depends a lot on the motivation, and what you and your spouse are comfortable with.
            My former husband and I had all kinds of sexual issues – for me, internalizing a lot of harmful purity culture messaging, for him, years of struggle with porn. I often felt his masturbating, even the rare times it wasn’t to porn, was him being lazy, and depriving me of that connection. It seemed it was much easier for him to just look after his sexual desires himself without cultivating real intimacy with me.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, absolutely! Not ever okay if it’s stealing from someone else. It’s a really complex question. I’d like to spend more time thinking and studying and reading about it.

          • meg

            Sheila, I’d love to hear your thoughts, if any, on the C.S. Lewis take on masturbation: For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself . . . . And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.

            The true exercise of imagination, in my view, is (a) To help us to understand other people (b) To respond to, and, some of us, to produce, art. But it has also a bad use: to provide for us, in shadowy form, a substitute for virtues, successes, distinctions etc. which ought to be sought outside in the real world—e.g. picturing all I’d do if I were rich instead of earning and saving. Masturbation involves this abuse of imagination in erotic matters (which I think bad in itself) and thereby encourages a similar abuse of it in all spheres. After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

            ― C.S. Lewis

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, I think that’s pretty much what I’ve always believed. I think he said it so well.

            Where I’m stuck is whether masturbation is wrong during a prolonged postpartum phase, for instance, when she is not interested. I think the idea that she should have to give him a hand job because she is his only sexual outlet leads to so many problems. I just don’t know.

          • M

            I do totally agree with CS Lewis! I do not think a person can masturbate and not have fantasizing thoughts. It is sinful and not what God wants us to think on. The book “At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry” by Steven Gallagher, explains this well in chapter 2.

          • Ally

            Personally, I believe that if the wife is “sitting it out” during postpartum, it shouldn’t be a stretch for the husband to “suffer” it out for that length of time just as she is doing. He is, after all, made in the image of God and just as capable of disciplining his body and physical appetites as she is.

            If the argument withstands that sex is not a need – no man has ever died because of a lack of sexual activity – then it should also be true that he will survive this period of time as well.

            Fasting is a true principle, and it serves to strengthen us if done in faith and with trust in the process. As the quote from C.S. Lewis tells us, the danger of masturbation is that it spends and wastes the sexual chemicals of oxytocin that are meant to bond us with our partner, spending them selfishly on ourselves. It is stealing sexual energy from our spouse and our partnership through a solo act, solo having nothing to do with a partnership or team effort, obviously.

            The problem is, we allow the culture to instruct us and condition us through the false philosophy that men are no better than the animals in their desire for sexual gratification, that they have no spiritual power (which is infinitely more potent in its abilities and potential) over their physical body (which is but a temporary home for our spirits and considerably weaker than our spirit – at least for this mortal journey). We allow the culture to skew and contaminate our perspective on what it really means to be a child of God.

            I personally believe that if a woman can discipline her body to abstain from sexuality for a time, then a man is equally as capable of such a feat. If not, then women truly are the superior sex.

          • Ginny Kirk

            This is excellent! I’m so glad I came across this! Thank you much!

    • B

      I have been married for 32 years and have masturbated for all but the first 18 months. My wife is 70 and I am in my early 60s so now maturation is about getting to sleep if I’m awake in the middle of the night, but in earlier years it was about release, not fantasy. My wife has zero interest in sex or even just cuddling. I don’t think masturbation is a problem if it doesn’t involve mental or emotional fantasy of other women (porn or other women).

  3. S

    When my husband and I were dating, he put me through a lot of betrayal trauma with his porn use. Neither of us understood porn addiction at that time, so I thought it was more of a spiritual issue alone. He also pushed my sexual boundaries, making me feel ashamed and used. Looking for help, I had him read “every mans battle” and I read “every womans battle”. At the time, I thought they were helpful (some parts of mine actually gave good advice), but looking back after reading your stuff I realize the harm they included. Nothing in them mentions sexual/porn addiction that I can recall. My book talked all about our emotional and spiritual needs (women don’t desire sexual high apparently), while his book was all about lust of the eyes (perfectly describing the symptoms of a porn/sex addict, but calling it normal). There is much I could say, but I don’t think those books actually helped us, but rather harmed us. He thought marrying me would cure him of his porn habit, and I married him to make up for what we had done together. I thought his lust was natural and part of sex in general for men, and I expected to be there to meet those needs. My church didn’t help prepare us for true intimacy and contributed in teaching us wrong beliefs about sex and marriage. They were not the worst church compared to others though, to be fair. But of all my years attending, I never understood what real intimacy was, what it should look like and what a healthy sexual man and marriage should be (as you are so good at explaining). I know now how vital that is. As you can imagine, I did not cure his porn addiction. He did not tell me until 11 years into our marriage and two kids later. He wanted to tell me once he had been free from it long enough. I’ve been hit with a second betrayal trauma. We realize our marriage was a mistake. This should have been avoided at the very beginning had the church as a whole given us the right advice and examples to follow. I partly do blame the church culture. We were young and didn’t know any better. Sex addiction needs to be called out for what it is. I didn’t know it had completely changed the way he would approach sex with me. He is incapable of connecting with me. He is emotionally immature. He is the stumbling block to why we cannot have real intimacy. It wasn’t fair for me going into a marriage with a man who can’t express real connection, emotion, empathy. He can’t even chit chat about how he feels. I’ve been so lonely, as those things came so natural to me. I just had to learn to accept this isn’t who he is and those needs I have will never be fulfilled.

    Is there any hope that he can restore those things he never learned to have? Real question!

    It’s been 5 months since he confessed and claims he hasn’t gone back. He hasn’t gone to therapy yet. He also hasn’t had a passion to search for it. He will when I mention it. That worries me. He doesn’t want to loose me, but also isn’t giving his 100%. He’s embarrassed by it and doesn’t want to tell anyone. But we have gotten in contact with a Christian, spiritual minister in case there are demons involved (I personally know people who they’ve helped cast out demons). But this is not the only help I want us to get. I want him to take full therapy for it too to help fix his brain. And I’m glad that I’ve stumbled across your blog. I now see the danger in simply going to a Christian councilor. But that’s the type he wants to go to (once he eventually does). How can I convince him that a professional is a professional? I wouldn’t go to a church for brain surgery, I would go to a doctor, whether he is a Christian, or not.

    Basically, I am in limbo right now, just waiting to see what he does, giving him a chance to show me he cares enough to make real change and humble himself enough to go get it by himself. He’s had 11 (or more) years to do this. I want him to know how serious of a matter this is. I don’t want to leave, but part of me does. I now refuse to feel used and alone any longer. He MUST change his caracter and behavior. It’s more than just the porn. He gets angry. I have felt taken for granted and disrespected in general. We must have real intimacy and equality in our marriage for me to want it to continue. I feel my survival in general depends on how he makes me feel.

    Sorry this is long. Yes, I need therapy too.

    • S

      To correct something I said…

      When he works hard at it, he CAN talk about some feelings, it just doesn’t come naturally to him, so he struggles.

      He IS trying to make change and become free. He desperately wants to. He IS willing to do whatever it takes. However, it seems like something is holding him back from passionately seeking it out.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, S, I’m so sorry! I definitely think he needs a licensed sexual addiction recovery person, because likely his inability to communicate feelings is linked to all of this. That’s likely why he’s afraid of going to therapy–he doesn’t want to deal with his wounds. I’d recommend reading Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick, and having him read it. It goes into how porn use allows men to cover up their emotions, and it sounds like your husband has never really reintegrated with his emotions.

      You can’t make him go to therapy, no. But you can see a licensed counselor yourself to learn how to draw effective boundaries and figure out what you want. And, yes, please, please see qualified counselors and insist that your husband does too!

      • S

        Thank you for your reply.

        He has read that book among others. He said it described him perfectly.

        He has also said it would be hard for him to open up to someone about it. He acknowledges his struggle with tapping into his emotions and sharing them. He has much anxiety. He always felt rejected by girls and also his mother died of brain cancer. We wonder if these things are related to his emotions and porn struggles.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, I’m sure! That’s a lot of grief and insecurity, and often those feelings, instead of exploring them, get channelled into porn to deal with them. I know it’s hard to open up to someone–but it’s likely not the opening up to someone that’s bothering him; it’s likely the opening up in general. The thing is, though, that he’ll only be able to grow if he does the work. So ultimately he’ll have to decide if he wants to grow. That’s so hard, though, for you in the meantime. I’m sorry.

    • K

      I highly recommend you read the book Fight for Love by Rosie Mackinney. This book changed my life and my marriage. My husband also did not willingly seek help and I just kind of hoped thru the years that everything would get better. Rosie lays out a clear plan to recovery for YOU and what steps to take to help him. She also has a Facebook group and podcast of the same name.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      To answer your question, yes it is possible for your husband to recover from this, but it is very hard work sustained over a period of YEARS, not weeks or months. And most choose not to do it.

      Pure Desire has good classes and curriculum for both addicts and their spouses. An important aspect of the wives’ course is creating a Safety Action Plan. It would be a good idea for you to start working on that.

      As Sheila said, you can’t force him to go to counseling, but you can say what you need to feel safe in your home, and you have every right to ask for that and have boundaries and consequences if you don’t get basic emotional and physical safety. It’s ok for you to say, “I can’t tolerate x, y, and z aspects of our relationship. You need to go to counseling to fix that, and if you don’t I will _______” and it’s ok for the blank to be filled in with divorce. It’s not ok for you to be treated like that.

  4. Laura

    Taylor’s story sounds like mine. When I was married to my ex, most of the time sex never felt mutual and it often seemed all about him. He would say that if we had more sex, we would not have as many problems. Well, when a man treats a woman like garbage outside the bedroom, why would she want to give her body to him? When a friend of mine said that to me, it made me realize that our marital problems were not really about a lack of sex or not enough sex; it was about the way he treated me as a person.

    Even though we attended church throughout our marriage, I cannot fully blame church culture for the way he behaved and the messages I had believed about sex and marriage. As I’ve said before, the lines between the church and mainstream culture are blurred. Mainstream culture also teaches these messages and growing up, I often heard that “all boys care about is sex.” I heard this message through sex ed in school, my peers, and media (TV shows, movies, books) and years later, I am surprised this message seeped into the church creating “purity culture” which I did not know was a thing, yet I started living it after my divorce 19 years ago.

    I am still reeling from the fact that a lot of “Christian” teachings on marriage and sex are harmful and it troubles me that marriage ministries in my local churches casually talk about what a great book Love and Respect is. Whether I remarry or not, I decided I don’t want to have anything to do with marriage ministries at church. I notice how they like to encourage single people to join. No thanks, I’ll pass.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, my big prayer is that churches recognize that many of their marriage resources have been harmful.

  5. D

    I would encourage everyone to read Taylor May’s story. Bravo to Andrew for telling it on his blog.
    To me so many Christian marriage teachers are encouraging a pornographic style of relating. They are encouraging women to play a part in the marriage bed, regardless of whether this aligns with her own desires and needs. I have to think many of these Christian marriage teachers have been influenced by porn themselves—it comes across in their messages.

  6. Codec

    In my experience those i tried to hide porn use from allready knew. It can be an incredibly embarassing thing to talk about.

    I wonder how many people use porn because they feel that they are just not enough.

  7. EOF

    When I read Taylor’s story in the full article, it was like reading my the story of my own past. Far too many similarities. It’s sad, because I really thought I was completely alone in my experiences. I’d been convinced by reading books (like L&R and FWO) and listening to help from my church, that I was at fault. I wasn’t being submissive enough, I wasn’t being giving enough in the bedroom, I needed to learn to like the things he wanted but I wasn’t comfortable with. There were no mentions of consent – that didn’t apply to me as a Christian wife.

    Things have changed since we stopped reading those horrible books. My husband is trying. I’m still stuck in the mindset drilled into me for well over a decade. Those teachings were the foundation of my marriage. I was young and impressionable. It’s taken years to even come to the point of disbelieving all those harmful and unbiblical teachings. Even to this day, they slip back in. Reading this blog post, I found myself thinking that I didn’t deserve to be treated well in the bedroom, that my needs don’t matter.

    These lies are dug in deep. Please keep sharing your stories. These accounts are what help the lies to leave. Many have, but I continue discovering ones that haven’t.

    • Jo R

      EOF, you are most definitely NOT alone in your thought processes, reactions, and everything else. Too many women who rely on conventional “Christian” teaching find themselves in the same boat, thinking we’re alone, we’re still too sinful, too disobedient, too unsubmissive, too whatever.

      But no more.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know the lies dig deep! I’m so glad you found me. I hope that we can continue to deconstruct all this stuff! And I’m glad your husband is changing too.

  8. Anonymous305

    What she said about having to dissociate to survive reminded me of some blog posts about porn addicts who only disrespect their wives in bed, but are good guys elsewhere. It sounds like Taylor’s husband treated her badly everywhere, so that doesn’t apply to him, but it got me thinking about how some addicts have a disconnect in their minds that causes the wife to develop one as a coping mechanism. If an addict is disrespectful in bed, but loving elsewhere, the wife will be confused, and dissociate during sex to cope, and then she also will have a confusing personality split where she loves him in some contexts and hates him in others. I don’t mean personality split to the extreme that one is unaware of the other, but his behavior of acting like 2 different people causes her to feel like her mind is splitting in 2 as a reaction.

    It also adds to her confusion if he started porn as a child, and she knows that counts as trauma. Then, she’ll feel compassion at first, which might fade as he treats her harshly, but she might be confused as to whether she should see him as a victim or a perpetrator and wonder whether she should feel caring for him or feel angry against him.

    Only if he actually starts respecting her in all contexts will she have a chance at feeling undivided love again, but even then, it might take years of changed behavior before she feels safe and trusting enough to have consistent feelings and to stop dissociating.

  9. KM

    This is heartbreaking and it’s sadly too common. I read a comment under the Facebook post that said ALL men who watch porn act like this, however, and that’s not true. I would have been very confused if I had read this (along with that comment) 2 1/2 years ago when I first discovered my husband was watching porn because he never treated me this way. I might have though he wasn’t “as bad as those other guys” and not pushed him to get into recovery.

    I was completely blindsided. My therapist helped me work through the question of “How did I not know?” and the answer is because he never gave me a reason to suspect it. He always treated me with respect and as an equal. I never felt objectified and I never saw him “checking out” other women. He never even commented on actresses or singers being attractive. The only signs were his lack of emotional connection and “low libido”.

    I don’t want anyone to think I’m minimizing this experience because I’ve heard it too many times. I just don’t want anyone else to think this is the only manifestation of porn use/addiction and question their own experience.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I appreciate you saying this, KM! Not all porn users do develop this style of relating. There really is a wide spectrum. Porn is ALWAYS wrong for a variety of reasons (not least because it contributes to sex trafficking and features people actually being abused), but it does not have the same effect on everyone. So much goes into that–age when you started; other trauma in your life; emotional coping patterns; how long you’ve been using porn; and more.

  10. A

    My husband got annoyed when I told him where to touch me. He thinks it’s elusive or something. I stopped trying, and I find myself fantasizing about him with someone else in order to finish. It hurts, but if I told him he’d be angry with me. I feel so disconnected from him. I don’t have the abuse like described above, so I’m not sure if this fits in with what you’re talking about here. I just want some direction, and help with this issue.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      A, if he isn’t concerned about your pleasure, and he isn’t doing anything to help you feel good, then you can say something like, “Honey, I’d love to have a good time with you, but I’m no longer willing to be just be used. We need to work on making sex mutual.” You do not have to put up with being used. Sex is supposed to be mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both. We aren’t required to just give our mates intercourse when they are treating us like objects. It may be a difficult conversation, but it is an important one to have. We talk about this a lot in the Orgasm Course, and there is a men’s edition that goes along with it. Maybe he needs to take it with you so he understands how you’re made?

  11. Pam K

    What are some good talking points regarding our ideas/beliefs we brought in to our marriage? My husband and I have survived a lot of turmoil together ( thanks counseling!) But we struggle in our marriage bed. Sometimes things are great, sometimes not. The obligation sex message has really messed with me, and the idea that his “needs” are more important than mine. I want to have a good talk about it all with him , possibly with our counselor as well. Im looking for some key things to ask ourselves & share with each other. Thanks so much! Love your blog, podcast & books!


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