You Matter: Is the Pendulum Swinging Too Hard Towards Women?

by | Nov 29, 2021 | Bare Marriage | 75 comments

Women's Needs Matter During Sex: Is that swinging the pendulum too far?
Merchandise is Here!

As we’re wrapping up the sexual confidence series today, I’ve been thinking about what the main message is that I want people to take away.

For the last two months we’ve been talking about sexual confidence–what it is; what it’s not; how to feel confident if you’re embarrassed by your body; and so much more.

I would sum what I’ve been trying to say into three things:

  • It’s okay to still be learning
  • Accept yourself and where you’re at
  • You matter

If you have all three of those mindsets, you’re likely quite sexually confident. It’s not about being able to do sexual gymnastics or even orgasm every time; it’s about not berating and blaming yourself but instead accepting that you’re important and you matter, and moving ahead with that.

I want to concentrate on that last one today–you matter. A number of things have happened in the last week that I’d like to respond to, and it makes a great wrap-up for the series. So this may be more of a “Sheila sharing” post than a “3 points you need to know” post, but I think you’ll track with me!

I got thinking about some of the arguments that have been railed against me this month as I’ve tried to argue for true confidence, and I think it comes down to this:

One of the big reasons women especially aren’t confident is that the female point of view is often seen as threatening.

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: The opposite of patriarchy (where men are preferred) is matriarchy, not equality. Equality is already the middle. 

All we’re arguing on this blog is that, for true intimacy to occur, both of you need to matter.

The point of sex is true intimacy in every way.

That’s how God designed it–physical, spiritual and emotional intimacy, all wrapped up in one (that’s the basis for The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the revamped Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, coming in March!). Intimacy is about truly “knowing” each other in every way. But if one person’s needs are prioritized over another’s, then you don’t “know” each other, because one person isn’t allowed to really share. If one person’s needs don’t matter, then they are erased. It’s not real intimacy at all.

Intimacy requires equality. 

And that’s the way that God designed it. He wants women to feel great in the bedroom (that’s why we’re capable of multiple orgasms and we have a clitoris!). He wants sex to unite us (that’s why we have oxytocin, the bonding hormone, that releases in huge quantities at orgasm). Sex is meant to bond us together.

That’s why sex can’t be about one person getting their needs met at the expense of another. Then it’s a using, a taking, rather than a knowing and a joining. 

And what we found in our survey of 20,000 women is that one of the biggest roadblocks to women enjoying sex is believing that they don’t really matter–that sex is mostly about meeting his needs. When women are told to have sex under threat (because he can’t manage to go more than 72 hours without ejaculation; because otherwise he’ll watch porn; because he may be tempted to lust); then sex is no longer a knowing.

It’s an erasing of a person. And remember our characteristics of confidence? Accepting yourself and recognizing that you matter are two huge markers of that. The sad truth is that most evangelical sex and marriage books work directly against that (and then we wonder why women are insecure sexually!).

When we ask for women’s needs to be considered, that is not “swinging the pendulum too far.”

There is no better example of how egregiously the evangelical world looks at women’s needs than our books’ responses to the postpartum period. As we talked about on last week’s podcast about postpartum sexual favors, the only advice we could find about the postpartum period in our evangelical best-sellers was that the main concern should be that she realizes she needs to give him hand jobs, because he can’t be expected to wait. And, in the case of Gary Thomas’ book Married Sex, she shouldn’t just give him hand jobs; she should also be aroused doing so.

During one of the most difficult physical times in a woman’s life, she is told that his needs for ejaculation exceed her needs for healing. I sometimes wonder if the authors who write this understand how much what they’re saying will make women resent sex. And then they have to lecture women even harder on how they need to have sex with their husbands more, which just makes the resentment and “ick” factor worse. And it’s all a vicious cycle.

But if we talked about this in a healthy way to begin with, there’s no reason to think that women will resent sex.

Because, you see, women don’t resent sex. Women resent being used. 

Incidentally, this is one of the big reasons why I’m so thrilled that Femallay is a sponsor of this blog–and one reason why I just love their vaginal melts. When you need a little extra help with lubrication while you’re postpartum, new to sex, going through menopause, or just experiencing hormonal ups and downs, yes, you can buy a lubricant at the drug store. That lubricant will make sex easier.

But it doesn’t actually do anything for her. 

Yes, it’s great to be able to have sex. But it doesn’t address the underying issues. Femallay’s melts actually nourish the vagina so that it reduces discomfort overall, and makes you more elastic, more moisturized, just healthier. It isn’t just about making sure they still have sex; it’s about making sure that she feels better and is nourished while they still have sex! Do you see the difference? It’s saying that women matter, too.

Blueberry with Applicator

Pointing out that women have been terribly hurt by current marriage advice is not “misandry.”

I have one guy who emails me almost daily telling me that it’s imperative that I address the very real concerns that I am becoming misandrous. (We have since blocked him; he can continue to write emails if he wants, but nobody will read them). I had many of those comments last week. But think about what they’re saying: they’re implying that if you say that women should be given time to heal rather than that men should be given postpartum hand jobs, we’re insulting men.

No. We’re simply standing up for decency and dignity. That is not misandrous.

I loved what Keith said in the last minute of the podcast last week, and this is call that we all need to heed:

 

Pointing out that men are more than capable of being generous and considerate, and have the Holy Spirit as much as women do, and are not made to naturally sin, is not “misandry.”

It is simply calling men to what the Bible calls men to–to be decent human beings who love their neighbors as themselves. This isn’t me saying this; this is Jesus.

Jesus would never look at a bleeding, exhausted woman who is trying to figure out how to feed her baby and literally sustain her baby’s life, and say, “the biggest need right now is for your husband to ejaculate.” Can anyone picture Jesus doing that? But that is what our evangelical best-sellers have done. And so it feels normal. And so, when we ask people to come back to the Bible, it feels somehow “off”, because we’ve actually trained ourselves to ignore biblical injunctions when it comes to sex in marriage. We’ve trained ourselves to expect the emphasis to be about men’s needs, rather than about shared needs.

When we are used to men being prioritized, equality feels like men are being erased.

They’re not. They’re simply not given priority anymore. We’re asking for intimacy rather than hierarchy.

When you prefer hierarchy, intimacy feels threatening. 

That’s why people are so upset about The Great Sex Rescue. It’s not because we’re prioritizing women (we’re not). We’re simply asking for men’s needs not to be prioritized.

If women don’t feel like we matter, then there is no way that we can ever be sexually confident. There is no way that we will ever embrace our sexuality or feel true freedom in the bedroom, because sex will always feel threatening. 

You know, one of these best-selling authors emailed me a few months ago, critiquing The Great Sex Rescue and said to me:

Your work has unleashed an anger and even a fury that concerns me–and Sheila, it’s not working.

Well, yesterday I received this Instagram message from a woman who had been struggling with vaginismus, and who had been doing some hard work with dilators to try to lessen the pain. She said:

Well, I started reading your book a couple weeks ago when a married lady sent it directly to me because I had shared my struggle with vaginismus. As I read the book, things started to click! We had a true Thanksgiving miracle two days ago-my husband could actually enter me without the pain being awful and he could ejaculate inside of me. I was so happy to finally see progress-it gave me hope that maybe we could actually conceive naturally! THANK YOU for your work. God is healing me bit by bit and you have been a huge part of that process.

(Again, I always recommend that women with vaginismus see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, but one of the things that we’ll be sharing at the American Physiotherapist Convention in February is that letting go of toxic beliefs can also be a huge part of the healing journey).

It looks to me like this woman thinks it’s working.

And we had some great news from our publisher last night! Our sales have been great, and we’re now on our fifth printing. Please keep spreading the word about The Great Sex Rescue, because I think it is setting women free!

And they’re not being set free because now they get to be in charge, or only they matter. No, they’re being set free because they’re learning they matter, too.

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.

When I say that women need to matter, I’m also not saying that men are the cause of all the problems.

In fact, the big thesis from The Great Sex Rescue is that in many marriages the problem is not the husband and it’s not the wife; it’s the teachings that we’ve internalized. It’s our culture. Reject those teachings, and suddenly sex works so much better!

And that’s often the problem with sexual confidence, too. What we believe is holding us back. That’s what I’m fighting against. Not men. Just teachings that tell women, “you don’t matter.”

When one group of people has been told they matter more than another group of people, there will always be pushback if people try to correct the imbalance.

That does not mean the pushback is correct.

And I am so encouraged by what I am seeing and hearing on the ground. That author likely still thinks what I’m doing isn’t working. He can keep thinking that.

But I’m going to keep saying that women matter, too. Not more than men; but they matter as well. Because that is what intimacy is. 

I’ve experienced that kind of intimacy, and I can’t imagine going through my marriage, and my life, without knowing what it is. Once you’ve experienced it, you never want to go back.

So, everyone reading this, male and female, you matter. Now, in the benediction from Beth Allison Barr’s book (are you signed up for our “Tea and Tent Pegs” webinar yet?), go and be free. 

Pendulum Swing: Is telling women you matter during sex too much?

What do you think? How can we help people not see this as misandrous? How can we help women understand that they matter too? 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 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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75 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Absolutely women matter.
    Keep fighting. Keep teaching.
    A “best seller” cannot silence you.
    May the Lord bless and keep,
    May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you,
    May the Lord turn his countenance on you and give you peace.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, I just finished my morning prayer liturgy (I use the ones from the Northumbria Community) right before I checked comments again, and that’s the way the prayer ends! So cool.

      Reply
  2. Jo R

    So I guess that male author thinks women should dance with joy at being spiritually abused—and let’s face it, there’s no other phrase that better describes the situation—for the last six or so decades with regard to marriage and sex, and, the case could be made, for the way women in the church overall have been treated for centuries if not millennia.

    Well, he must be a much better—or much worse—Christian than most of us women are if he thinks we’re just going to give a quick “Oh, that’s OK” as a response and just carry on as before. 🙄🙄🙄😠😠😠 Not happening, dude.

    If he thinks women’s reaction with anger is wrong, I’d sure like to hear, in very specific detail, why he thinks so and how he thinks we ought to be reacting. I’d also like to hear his very specific explanation for why your message itself is wrong, Sheila, which he seems to also think.

    If men can’t handle it because the pendulum is swinging a tiny bit away from their having it pegged 100 percent on their side, well, all I can say is “Man up and put on your big-boy pants.” Kinda stinks to not get to have ***total*** control anymore, huh? Well, how do you think it’s been for women having ZERO control, or even zero SAY, all these centuries?

    And again, such deliberate misrepresentation of Scripture is spiritual abuse, pure and simple. And the people who put themselves 100 percent in charge of everything have no one to blame but themselves.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is spiritual abuse, honestly. Anything that teaches women to ignore their legitimate needs or they’re in sin in the name of God–is definitely spiritual abuse.

      Reply
  3. Laura

    Telling women we matter is not misandry at all. What is misandry (which I’ve seen in Christian books and blogs about wives being submissive to their husbands) is saying things like “men have such fragile egos that if we say ‘no’ to them sexually, their day is ruined” (this comes from Married Sex) or “if we (women) use direct communication, men’s fragile egos just cannot handle it and they feel emasculated.”

    Here’s something I found from a blog about being a submissive wife and I can see some misandry in it:

    Nina Roesner (author of The Respect Dare) tries to debunk the assumption that “Submissive wives are women who are stupid and need to be taken care of [since] (one could actually say that because we are smart and can multi-task and accomplish a ton, so much so that we can actually threaten a man’s confidence in leading – and there’s actually research to back that up – read “For Women Only,” by Shaunti Feldhahn) (Don’t you wonder if that’s why God actually tells us to be submissive? Because He knows how He wired men and us, and what we have the potential to do to our husband’s self-esteem if we are not [submissive to their leadership]?)” (https://ninaroesner.com/2013/12/18/what-submissive-wives-are-not/).

    I loved last week’s podcast and the other posts which I could not comment on from my home computer (not sure why). I’ve never given birth and probably never will (I’m 45) so it was eye-opening to hear about Rebecca’s post-partum experiences. If I’ve gone through that, the last thing I would feel is sexy and to give a hand job pp (post-partum) would not arouse me like Gary Thomas seems to fictionalize in his latest book. Heck, when I’m PMSing and/or on my period, I don’t want anything to do with that (hand job, oral sex).

    I know all too well the feeling of being used which I never realized a lot of Christian marriage books were doing to women. In my former marriage 20 years ago, I felt used all the time and just thought it was normal. It was expected of me to be at my husband’s beck and call sexually almost all of the time. When I couldn’t do PIV due to my monthly, I was expected to “do him a favor” (his words) and never turned on by it. Totally turned off, so I see how the messages that have been given to women cause resentment toward men.

    I am currently single and trying to work through not having resentment towards men because as you mentioned earlier, it’s the teachings that are the problem, not the people.

    Sheila and team, keep up the excellent work!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I don’t know why you can’t comment! I know a lot of people are having issues. It’s going to take a lot of work to fix (all the quick fixes didn’t work), but we’re switching to a new domain entirely in a few weeks, so I hope everyone can just wait until then! Should be sorted out then.

      Reply
      • A2bbethany

        New name for the blog finally coming? That’s one change I’ve been waiting for!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It’s been a big, huge project we’ve been working on for a long time! Our deadline is January 1 (self-imposed deadline, but deadline nonetheless!)

          Reply
  4. Nathan

    > > When we are used to men being prioritized, equality
    > > feels like men are being erased.

    This happens in other areas, too. When something unequal is presented as “the way it is” for so long, we accept it and our perception gets skewed. Then when an attempt to bring it back to REAL equality is made, it can appear that it’s going to inequality the other way.

    Men and women being equal and being equally important is always the message I’ve gotten from this site.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Nathan! I’m glad, because that’s truly what I believe.

      Reply
    • CMT

      Spot on. I don’t want to get political here but IMO there is a similar dynamic at play in a lot of current social issues, at least here in the US.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Very true, CMT.

        I’m seeing that with CRT (Critical Race Theory) which a lot of Christians I know see this as the ‘new Red Scare’ (heard this in a podcast by the New Evangelicals). A lot of people in my hometown are worried that CRT will be taught in the schools and be harmful to their children. From my understanding, CRT is taught at a graduate college level and is difficult to understand.

        Reply
    • Anon

      I think you are onto something there – so many people have got so used to living with serious inequality for so long that it feels equal. I guess it’s a bit like stepping onto dry land after being at sea – you’ve got so used to the constant pitching and rocking that solid ground feels unstable by contrast!

      Reply
  5. Jen

    It’s working for me, Sheila!!! And it’s working for my husband. He had such a huge moment of freedom when TGSR helped him see that he’s not trapped in lust just because he is male. The false teaching by other teachers has been putting men and women in bondage, and you, Sheila and team, are part of the movement to set the captives free. My husband and I are walking in freedom, and when those old scripts try to bind us back up, we remind ourselves that intimacy is knowing, not using. My husband is literally standing taller now that those spiritual lies are no longer weighing him down. I am coming alive again, too. It’s so good to have hope. God sends help to His people, and YOU have been that help for our marriage. Thank you!!!!!!

    Reply
  6. Mara R

    Sheila quote near the top of this article: “If one person’s needs don’t matter, then they are erased. It’s not real intimacy at all.”

    I know that Driscoll is old news. But this was my huge problem with him back in the day with his Peasant Princess series. He made it all about men, their needs, their wants etc. Most of the Songs is from the female pov. But he literally took her words, repeatedly, and ascribe them to the man and made it about him.

    One very small example:
    http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2009/07/manipulating-scripture-for-personal.html

    But as it has been pointed out by many people, Driscoll wasn’t saying anything out of line with mainline Evangelicalism. He was just more obnoxious, crass, and attention seeking with the way he said it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that was my issue with the Mars Hill podcast episode about what he said to women. It wasn’t just him. He was saying it the loudest, but it was completely in line with what evangelicalism is teaching–and completely in line with Love & Respect. The podcast didn’t go far enough.

      Reply
    • Laura

      Totally agree! Driscoll said all the things the other authors were probably thinking. Referring to women as “penis homes” said it all about his character and Driscoll is still allowed to speak at marriage conferences.

      Reply
  7. CMT

    Oh wow, Sheila. You better stop talking about this stuff because you’re making women angry. And we all know that is the last thing we want winsome submissive feminine ladies to be. Let’s all go home ladies, we’re upsetting the menfolk!

    *end sarcasm*

    Aagh what ABSOLUTE CHICKEN$&^£.

    If she spends decades being told in all kinds of subtle and not subtle ways that she does not matter, that she is less valuable or less capable or less free because of the body she was born in, what should a woman feel when she realizes she has been lied to? What should she feel when she finally understands how she has been manipulated and gaslit, and in the name of God, no less! What should she feel when she finally sees what has been stolen from her, from her sisters (and her brothers), from her mother and her children?

    I could rant on. But I’m preaching to the choir. Let us remember the command is not “don’t be angry,” but “Be angry, and sin not.”

    The beauty of it is that we don’t have to convince Mr. Bestselling Author and his ilk to set us free. God has done, and is still doing that, whatever anyone else thinks.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Preach it, sister!

      Reply
    • Mara R

      Yes, I was going to point out something about how fearful (some) men are of the anger of women. But I like the way you said it.

      So Best-Selling Author is concerned over the anger of women. Is this best-selling author male or female? Not that it matters. The token females are well-trained to walk the party line and express self-righteous concern over the anger of women and to pass judgement, declaring what works and what doesn’t.

      Of course it doesn’t work for them for women to be angry and reject their emotionally, spiritually and sexually abusive teachings. They could stand to lose a lot of money over this. Poor babies.

      Reply
      • CMT

        Heh. You’re right, I guess that could have been a female author, I was assuming.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It was a man. Our family has sort of adopted that as a meme. Every time we get a huge Amazon boost, or we get talked about in the news, or we get some more amazing stories come in, we all say, “It’s not working, Sheila.”

          Reply
    • EOF

      Well said! I feel like I’m coming out of a fog of lies, realizing that I was spiritually brainwashed for multiple decades.

      Reply
      • CMT

        EOF-Yes, same here. For me it was not just the gender-related stuff, although that is a huge part of it. It’s the whole ethos that wants to paint valuing yourself as sinful, and twist things like “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked” to say that your instincts can’t be trusted. If you believe that, then “they” have you!

        I have come to a place where I feel intensely grateful to God for the restlessness that propelled me out of that. It didn’t seem like a blessing at one time, but on this side of the “fog of lies” I see it very differently.

        Yes, there is anger out here. Grief, too. But as I get to know those two, the more I find joy sneaking up on me. That’s what the naysayers don’t understand. Righteous anger is not the end goal. It’s a necessary step on the road to healing.

        Reply
        • EOF

          That’s a good explanation of what I’ve been going through, too. Although I’m at the point of having broken down so many strongholds, I have to figure out where to begin with *rebuilding* my faith.

          I’m so glad that God cares about me and actually likes me – I’m not creature of wrath I was led to believe I was. Yes, we must face our sin but after we repent, we’re supposed to experience life to the full. Here, not just in Heaven after we’ve earned crowns for all of our suffering that makes us holy.

          Reply
        • Jo R

          Except, OF COURSE, that MALE hearts aren’t desperately wicked, so we can all trust these authors and preachers implicitly. 🙄🙄🙄

          Reply
          • CMT

            “I’m at the point of having broken down so many strongholds, I have to figure out where to begin with *rebuilding* my faith.”

            Same. I think it was on here a few months ago someone compared deconstruction to gutting a decrepit house down to the studs. You stand in the middle of the mess and say, what have I gotten myself into? But that’s the only way to rebuild it into something worth living in.

  8. Andrew

    But that is NOT what you teach. You teach that womens needs outranks men’s needs at:
    1)honeymoon
    2)menstruation
    3)frequency (must be mutual- but if one has a need for sex that is 2x,3x,4x etc greater than the other you’ll never be what you consider mutual unless the wife gives more than she wants and he gives more than he wants in other areas of marriage)
    4)after childbirth
    5)menopause
    6)or pretty much anytime there is an issue

    Which when you add this up can easily get to 50% of the first 15-20 years of marriage. Now if your 50/50 the other 50% of the marriage it ends up being more like 75/25 if things are well and there are no issues. Issues can tilt it even more.

    Why do you think so many are telling you it’s misandry? Why should everyone listen to you when you say it is misogynistic but you don’t have to listen to them? Your teaching almost at every turn considers the intentions, motives and spiritual life of women a positive light and men in a negative light.

    I’m a happily married man. My wife thinks your every bit as evil as I do. This isn’t personal. I just believe your ruining tens of thousands Christian marriages in just the first generation and a multiple in the second generation.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well, the good part is that I can scientifically say that you’re wrong! Believing the stuff that you’re talking about, we can now show, leads to lower marital satisfaction and lower sexual satisfaction and much lower orgasm rates. (That doesn’t mean that you are experiencing that, but the chances that you are are much higher). So that’s great! It’s no longer just a doctrinal difference anymore. I can now unabashedly say, “you’re wrong.”

      And, yes, when she is the one postpartum and when she is the one bleeding, her needs take precedence at that moment. That’s what equality means. The person whose needs are greater needs to take precedence. That’s called loving your neighbour. That’s what God asks husbands to do–to love their wives as their own bodies. Which means that women’s bodies matter. God Himself told men to give their wives a break for AT LEAST 7 days a month (Orthodox interpret this to be much longer) and between 40 and 80 days postpartum. That’s not me. That’s God.

      Yes, we’re in the New Covenant now, but the reason for that rest? Because women needed time to heal.

      As for frequency, I have a whole course called Boost Your Libido, and a whole chapter in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex about how important it is to prioritize sex and how his desires matter. So you can get mad if you want, but you’re simply wrong.

      And I’ll just rest in the amazing testimonies of couples being set free!

      Reply
    • LinB

      You are wrong. Sheila’s important study, survey of 20,000 women – now solid research being made available through Purdue University & to be peer reviewed, states otherwise. I know for me, personally & for many women that this has been freeing and life changing!
      I’m sorry that you prefer not to look at the harmful messages that have been given to women & men, clearly taken out of context from God’s original intent. You know what, my Husband and I have a wonderful marriage & intimate life & some of that has been due to letting go of some of the false beliefs I had still been clinging to! Since I feel like my needs matter & my health matters, I am more than excited for my Husband & I to enjoy each other… & we certainly do!! What an unkind thing to say to say to Sheila. You are welcome to agree to disagree. It is quite deplorable that you would call her evil. That’s such an inappropriate & immature personal attack. It says more about your character.
      Thank you, Sheila, for listening to all of the women who poured out their hearts to you. Thank you for advocating for those who have been hurting. Thank you for your desire to follow The Lord’s leading to help couples find true intimacy & have a great, mutually fulfilling, sex life as God intended. Thank you for speaking out against abuse & harm.
      May God open Andrew & his Wife’s eyes to see the truth of your purpose & calling & perhaps humble themselves & ask God to point out any offensive way in their thinking & criticism.

      Reply
    • Mara R

      Andrew : “Why should everyone listen to you when you say it is misogynistic but you don’t have to listen to them? ”

      But Andrew, we have been listening to men and this teaching for decades…
      DECADES!

      Their horrible male-organ centered doctrine has been destroying marriages for… wait for it… DECADES!

      Finally, there is some push back against the male-hormone centered doctrine to bring it more into balance so that it can no longer be used to abuse women emotionally, sexually, and spiritually.
      Finally, there is some push back against this male-point-of-view centered doctrine to bring more balance so that women don’t have to smile and keep sweet on the outside while their their insides (physically and spiritually) suffer deeply.

      It is not Misandry to ask men to do what the Bible says and to love their wives as their own bodies.

      Now for you entertainment. A man cold verses a woman cold:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbmbMSrsZVQ

      Reply
        • CMT

          Bahahaha i think this is what my little kids think happens

          Reply
        • Mara R

          That’s definitely a good one too!

          I just thought the men’s minimizing the wife’s cold specifically applied to Andrew and his hard-heartedness towards the trauma and recovery of childbirth and his insensitivity towards the woman’s hormonal cycle in general.

          Kind of like, “Well, what about my postpartum recovery?”
          Heavy mocking “well nah nah nah postpartum GET THE f— OVER IT! Your husband has neeeeeds you’ll never understand!!!”

          Reply
    • CMT

      Andrew,

      I would like to point out that no one is saying a couple’s sex life should somehow average out to being 50/50. What would that even mean?

      But even if your premise is correct, your math is not. If the wife is particularly needy 50% of the time in the first few decades of the marriage, that means the husband can be more the priority the other 50%. Then if they are 50/50 the rest of the marriage, that averages out to 50/50 the whole time, not 75/25 in favor of the wife.

      Again, I reject your implied premise that a couple’s sex life can be reduced to some sort of tit-for-tat math problem. It’s not even clear to me what you’re counting. Sexual frequency? The number of orgasms? The number of days a wife is unavailable for sex? Whatever it is, this seems like an approach that would generally lead to significant issues in a relationship. If it hasn’t for you, please recognize that you and your wife are fortunate. There are many, many others who have not had the same experience.

      Reply
    • Phil

      Andrew -Hi Welcome to the blog – I don’t think I have seen you around here before…I have been hanging around here for many years. I am not sure what you are reading or listening too but I would say that you have misplaced your facts about what Sheila teaches. In addition, your fabricated numbers most likely do not match the data that has been collected that I am sure you have not reviewed. We are glad that you are a happily married man. That is what we aim for around here. Why don’t you tell us how you did it? Being helpful is one of God’s principles that I certainly stand for. But what is even more important is that we get the word of God correct. The use of the word evil is quite harsh. I honestly can not recall anytime in all the time I have been coming around here Sheila using the word evil to label someone as you did. Do you know what evil means Andrew? It means the opposition of God. But in your case you actively mistreated your neighbor and then you told us it is just your thinking and your belief. The litmus test is proven in the words you write. I can tell you are not really upset about tens of thousands of marriages being ruined. You are upset because the philosophy you hold is being CHECKED. And CHECKMATED. The ONLY thing Sheila is ruining is crooked thinking that teaches any one person is more important than another. Jesus is that example. Thanks for stoping bye – We hope we have planted a seed for you.

      Reply
    • Jo R

      Three of the bullet points you list (menstruation, postpartum, and menopause) are directly attributable to the fact that wives have female bodies, not male bodies. Are you suggesting that women in those particular phases should somehow ignore the fact that their bodies are different than when in the second half of their menstrual cycles, when not having just given birth, and when not yet in menopause (or perimenopause)? That women should, what? Act as though they have male bodies that don’t ever go through these major physical and hormonal upheavals?

      I would add that your first bullet point (of the honeymoon) also is related to the fact that women have female bodies, not male bodies, and therefore new wives are probably less likely to be familiar with their sexual responses and preferences than their new husbands are. Especially considering the fact that men are pretty much guaranteed to have an orgasm at every sexual encounter, while only about half of women are. So again, are women just supposed to pretend like their bodies are responding the same way and to the same stimulation as male bodies do?

      As for your last two points of frequency and “anytime there is an issue,” is it remotely possible that it’s MEN who have the problem here? Between being told that their wives will provide sex on demand and men’s general sexualization of every emotional state, men have been dealt some pretty solid lies too. There’s a reason that so many women resent the fact that after Hubby does some damage to the emotional relationship, he can turn right around and want sex within minutes. Does that upset you in any way?

      Should marriage and married sex be more about learning about each other and growing ever closer together in EVERY way—emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and, yes, sexually? Or are women just supposed to be content with half (or less) of what they thought they were getting when they said “I do”?

      Reply
      • CMT

        Thanks for pointing this out:

        “Between being told that their wives will provide sex on demand and men’s general sexualization of every emotional state, men have been dealt some pretty solid lies too.”

        Patriarchy (or complementarianism, or purity culture, or what have you) superficially benefits men, so when women start objecting to that, it may come off as misandry. Maybe for some it does become that.

        But I think for most of us here, that is not the case. We may be angry in a general way about the injustice of it all, or more personally at specific institutions or people that hurt us. But that is not the same as hating men. We want better for men too!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          We totally do! Gosh, I’m a grandmother to a grandson. I want him to have an amazing, fulfilling life where he serves God! I want him to thrive! But this teaching will keep him in chains, and so we need to kill it dead before he’s old enough to hear it.

          Reply
          • CMT

            Yes! Protect the babies!

            My kids will probably never understand how much they inspired my own deconstruction. I didn’t want to give them the same burden I carried.

    • Anon

      Andrew, my husband doesn’t understand Sheila’s ministry either. But he’s coming at it from a slightly different angle.

      He doesn’t understand the need for her ministry because he genuinely doesn’t understand why a Christian groom would not take things as slowly and gently as possible on honeymoon, so that his bride’s first experience of sex is wonderful.

      He doesn’t understand how any husband could enjoy having his needs met before he has tended to the needs of his wife.

      And he is completely unable to understand how any husband could want sex with his wife when he knows she is in pain and that being intimate will make her feel worse.

      I’ve shown him what some of the marriage books that Sheila calls out actually say – about how women’s needs don’t matter and how when you’re married, you have to give your husband satisfaction even if it causes you agony because otherwise, he’ll lust or look at porn – and he just looks stunned and says ‘but why would any man want sex if his wife isn’t enjoying it?’

      And I know something else he wouldn’t understand either – he wouldn’t understand how any Christian couple could call a woman ‘evil’ for saying ‘sex is meant for mutual enjoyment and it should be equally good for husbands and wives’. Seriously, I would urge you to search your hearts over that attitude, because I don’t believe it is honouring to God.

      (Oh, and by the way – Sheila’s blog and book were what I relied on for sex advice going into our marriage, and I can guarantee my husband doesn’t think her advice has ‘ruined our marriage’ – quite the opposite! I know our marriage would have been much less satisfactory if it hadn’t been for the writings of this ‘evil marriage wrecker’!!!)

      Reply
      • Meghan

        Awww, your husband is like mine! He had such a hard time understanding why I was so invested in this stuff until I spelled out exactly all the things I had been taught and revealed that yes I did indeed used to have sex with him when I didn’t feel up to it because I thought I had to. My dear loving husband was horrified, and rightly so.

        Reply
        • Anon

          Yep. Same.
          Idk about others but I think for us there was a little bit of the purity culture mythos around virginity. It has taken him some time to understand how I could have “baggage” if I never had sex with anyone else.

          Reply
        • Meghan

          If you had merch on TeePublic I’d totally buy some. I’m pretty fond of Sarah McDougal’s Jael designs, although the skull is a bit macabre for my taste. Seriously if someone made something in a similar vein that didn’t have bones, I’d be all over it.

          Reply
        • Codec

          Jael-lin Mugs

          Reply
        • Rachel L.

          I would buy one of those!

          Reply
    • EOF

      You’re a prime example of WHY the Evangelical teachings are so harmful.

      True intimacy is thinking about the other person’s as much as your own. Being upset about having to think about your wife’s physical needs during *very vulnerable* times (honeymoon, menstruation, postpartum, etc.) is nothing less than selfish and immature. Those are times that woman need care and concern, yet we are only seen as objects by people like you. Nothing more than a receptacle to be used however you like every 72 hours.

      Tell me, how would modern day Evangelical men survive in the days of the old testament when God gave women times of rest and healing, when the husbands were not allowed to touch their wives? Too bad nobody told God about the 72-hour pseudo-science. Oh, how those Jewish men missed out because God didn’t know better…

      Jesus respected and honored women. As did Paul and many other Biblical authors. The English Bible translators are a completely different story. Modern Evangelical marriage teachings are more in line with the Greco-Roman patriarchal PAGANS than Jesus, Paul, and others. Sad but true. But you’d have to study the Biblical text to know that. It would require more than accepting modern translations at face value, when the Bible was written by ancient people in a vastly different culture.

      It’s my true and sincere hope that you, and people like you, will be willing to open your hearts and minds to learning about what the Bible really has to say to us, and that you will one day see the value in women that God created as your equals. It was never God’s design or will that any human should rule over another.

      Take Jesus’s own example. He loved to the point of sacrificing his life. That’s what he called us to. Not a power play. Not using and abusing other people.

      37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22)

      Reply
  9. Margie Fehr

    You asked how can you help You guys already are I so appreciate That you mention the men also because it is true and we do want to go according to Scripture we do want God on our side and he is I believe the truth is being spoken God is raising up people like yourselves to help with some very very wrong teaching that has damaged soo many we do not wanna be a part of doing more damage we want to elevate people equally as Jesus did And bring truth. Thank you so much for obeying the call.

    Reply
  10. Dean

    In a parallel universe, 80% of the politicians and CEOs are women. It is believed that men are not that great at science or engineering or leadership, because they are too “hormonal”. Testosterone is just too problematic in the workplace, not worth it. “The man is the protector of the woman” says the official translation of the Bible, and the popular interpretation is that protector means obedient, cleaning and cooking. That protects the wife from the petty troubles of life, so that she can focus on the big, important things. It is believed, and often repeated, that men don’t really have sexual desires. Most men have internalized that, and have a hard time ejaculating, or have never done it. Those who have sexual desires, or big biceps, or tight jeans, are ruthlessly shamed, and it is well known that they will not be good husband material. Satisfying your wife is gross, but you have to do it every couple of days or so, or she will leave you in a destitute and shameful situation, for another man. It is totally fine if you don’t have an orgasm while satisfying your wife: most men don’t have orgasms and that is just how men work. Writing books about mutual pleasure, mutual empathy, and collaboration between loving equals in marriage, is way over the line, and is labeled as misogyny.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Thank you, Dean, for flipping the script to point out how stupid these teachings all are. 👍👍👍

      Reply
    • Codec

      I am both fascinated and terrified at the implications of this hypothetical.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good! Yes, THAT is what it would look like if we were arguing for the opposite and the pendulum was really swinging!

      Reply
    • Anon

      Continue your parallel universe. The man wonders why the wife is spending so much time at work. After all, a man came along and told his readers that once-a-week sex is fine and if she can’t be content with that too bad. In fact if she is doing something you don’t like, you can unilaterally take sex off the table for 90-days and demand she make changes.
      If the wife has sexual desires more than once weekly she’s out of luck as the same man said taking care of yourself during these times wasn’t allowed she can only do it with you and you’ve shut down those activities. So the wife that is good to the man (doesn’t demand, tries to ensure he is satisfied each time, and would never go to another man (real or fantasy)) starts spending more time at work because being rejected at home becomes too crushing.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m curious–what would you rather that I say? I’ve consistently said that marriages where the couple has sex several times a week tend to do best. That this is what studies show, that this is what our study shows, that this is probably best.

        But I’ve also said–as studies ALSO say–that if you have sex once a week, the benefits are not as great when you jump to twice a week as they were when you jumped from several times a month to once a week. Like, research has said that once a week is the magic number, and beyond that the benefits level off a bit.

        And so what should I tell couples? That it’s better to resent your spouse who is only giving you sex once a week? It’s better to be angry and discontent and retreat into your work and feel rejected and hurt? Or should I say, “you know, maybe you should concentrate on growing your relationship and being good to each other and giving her something to look forward to. Because if you make her feel guilty, sex will become less frequent and you will create a problem where there wasn’t necessarily one in the first place.”

        If you’re looking for an excuse to be resentful, you won’t find it here.

        And please–remember that I’m also the person who wrote a boost your libido course (and we’re even in the middle of updating it and making it even better and it will be out in January). But what we found, again and again, in our focus groups and surveys, is women who actually did like sex several times a week, or once a week, with husbands who consistently pressured them and made them feel inadequate, to the point that women gave up.

        That is the story the numbers show. So, yes, I will continue to help women boost their libidos. But I will also tell men that it’s much better to be content with a normal frequency (and the research says that once a week is normal) than it is to grow distant and resentful.

        Reply
      • CMT

        Who’s saying this?

        “In fact if she is doing something you don’t like, you can unilaterally take sex off the table for 90-days and demand she make changes.”

        I don’t see where holding your sex life hostage is ever OK, either in a genderbend AU or the real universe. It’s one thing if a spouse has to set a boundary for their own physical or emotional safety, but that’s not the same as “I don’t like x so until you cut it out, no nookie for you!” I haven’t heard that here, though it’s possible I missed it.

        Reply
        • Dean

          I think the 90-day thing is a reference to what some people do to quit porn and reset their brain from it. I did that twice when I was quitting porn (not because my wife forced me, obviously, but because I really wanted to quit). I do not blame you, CMT, for missing the reference, as both the idea that the addict’s spouse is forcing the 90 days, and the suggestion that betrayal trauma is just a random caprice of the addict’s spouse, are quite preposterous.

          Reply
          • CMT

            That’s what I thought. It seemed like a straw man.

          • Mara R

            There is definitely a push among some to normalize porn in Christian Circles. There is a push to minimized the harm that it causes.

            Actually saw where one due, claiming to be a Christian, commented on a faith blog that the wife should not be hurt or offended that the husband looks at porn. She should join him in viewing it and then they could act out the things they viewed together. Made perfect sense to him.

            To this bunch, a wife cutting off a spouse for 90 days due to porn addition can be relegated to the “something you don’t like” category pretty fast next to leave the cap off the tooth paste and forgetting to put down the toilet seat. There is no acknowledgement of the harm or trauma that happens to a person married to a porn addict.

  11. Codec

    Weird comparison but hear me out.

    The day the earth stood still.

    Classic sci fi movie.

    Even though the alien in that movie is a genuinly altruistic being he winds up getting attacked in the begining because he is perceived as new and dangerous.

    The alien does not resent humanity for that. He eventually saves them when Gort goes on a rampage.

    I think sometimes our own worst enemies are our own imaginations.

    C.S Lewis once talked aboyt two kinds of responses to hearing a news story about pwople that are generally agreed upon to be bad only to find that it is not true.

    The first response is to sigh in relief. “Even thay are capable of decency” ” Even they wont stoop to that”.

    The second is anger that they are not as bad as you wished they were.

    People are tribal in a lot of ways. The faculty of loyalty behind that can be a good thing.

    I remember something i once learned from a singing cucumber. Everyone is my neighbor even if they have a shoe on their head.

    Reply
  12. Ed

    Sheila, since the terms “misogyny” and “misandry” keep popping up on this forum, maybe you should do some posts or podcast on these topics?

    Just a thought….

    Reply
    • Laura

      That would make for an interesting podcast!

      Reply
  13. Anonymous305

    It’s hard for me to see men as victims of the teaching because if they would just love their neighbor/wife and actually feel for her when she is hurting, they wouldn’t accept the bad teaching to begin with. True, I accepted the bad stuff, but I was much quicker to sacrifice myself than others. It’s still hard for me to imagine hurting others without guilt. If every man were like Anon’s husband, we wouldn’t have these problems. I’m sure plenty of guys will say it’s not that simple, but I’m frustrated that it’s not!!!!

    What’s also not simple is when 2 people have extremely different needs. For example, if a wife would feel safest when she never has to have sex again, but a husband thinks that’s unreasonable, then my brain says the husband should get more than zero sex, but my heart sides with the wife. My brain is trying to be fair to the fact the sexless marriages are unfair, but my heart feels for the wife’s need for safety. SIGH!!!!

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      If the wife feels safest knowing that she never has to have sex again then she needs to consult a trauma trained therapist for some EMDR or Hypnosis. While she is actively healing from her trauma, her husband should patiently love and support her (and care for his own needs as well).

      Sex – practiced safely in a committed relationship – does not terrify a healthy adult – sex is a natural, biological function. It shouldn’t terrify anyone more than eating or pooping. If it does, that *must* be addressed – that’s how you care for the wounded spouse without treating the other spouse unfairly.

      Reply
  14. Jim

    It appears to me that what is being discussed here is something that many couples wrestle with – unstated and/or unmeet expectations.

    Many of the false teachings and messages that we received, both in and out of the Church, create them. However, we adopt them and carry them out, and they are often unrealistic. They can range from sexual expectations, like what are often talked about here, to number of kids, to the lifestyle that the couple wants to strive towards and everything in-between.

    I know from my marriage, that conflict was often sparked because one or both of us had expectations that were not meet and resentment and bitterness set in. Communication is very important in any relationship, but especially in marriage. My wife and I talking thru these issues has helped us resolve them. Depending on the issue, it took a long time to come to a place that both of us were happy with.

    Now, both parties need to be willing to listen and cannot come into the conversation(s) trying to win point or hurt the other. This triggers defensiveness and little or nothing is accomplished. Both parties need to be compassionate to the other and try to understand the other side. That is one of the reasons that I am here, to try to understand the women’s perspective but also to share, at least, this man’s perspective.

    One of my favorite illustrations of this comes from Isaiah 1:18;

    ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’

    Becoming bitter and resentful does not do any good. It is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to suffer the effects.

    I sense a lot of bitterness and anger on all sides of this issue and much of it is justified. The pendulum is swinging more towards the ladies and that is a good thing. Neither sex should be favored over the other. The main issue that I see is what is the limiting factor? How far is enough? How do we keep the pendulum from going to far to either side?

    To me, the standard is the Bible. Ephesians 5 has often been cited and weaponized because of the word ‘submission’ but I believe that the definition of this word has been of the causes that has led to abuse.

    My pastor gave a marriage class a few years ago and regarding Ephesians 5 he used this definition for submission:
    an act of giving a document, proposal, piece of writing, etc., to someone so that it can be considered or approved.

    So submission, in this context, is not one person being a door mat to the other. It is communication and valuing the other person’s opinion and working together to reach a consensus.

    ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ Ephesians 5:21

    Reply
  15. Healing

    When I read your quote:
    “Because, you see, women don’t resent sex. Women resent being used.”
    … I nearly dropped my phone.
    It all clicked.
    I was sexually abused continuously for my entire childhood, by someone in my family that I should have been able to trust. When my husband and I were married, it took a very long time for us to deal with the hurdles and trauma so that we could enjoy each other. I discovered that I had a much higher sex drive than he did, but I always felt so dirty about that, like somehow the previous abuse had broken and perverted me. Other women weren’t like this! Just me, right? After all, the teachings are that men need it, women don’t. Men are visually stimulated, women aren’t. Men have high testosterone, and there is no way a woman can be as driven as (or more driven than) a man. So obviously, I must be sick, twisted, trapped in sin, and… broken. I should hate sex because I was abused. I must be perverted if I enjoy sex after all of that. But here’s where it hit me… I didn’t hate sex with my husband because my husband never used me.
    NEVER ONCE.
    The healing is a long process and will not be finished until Jesus takes me home. But at least now, until that day, I can know that I am not broken.
    I am WHOLE.

    Reply
  16. Jewel

    My husband and I read TGSR together when it first came out. For a while, our sex life didn’t look much different, except we had less sex and talked about it more. Over the following months, I made a conscious effort to retrain my thinking. I worked hard to finally truly believe that *I* mattered – my body’s needs matter, my limitations matter, my pleasure matters. It took a while to grasp this idea which was entirely foreign to me. (I was a teenager raised in purity culture who owned, read, and believed alllllll the books good Christian girls “should” read.)

    What a payoff! The truth finally sank in deep enough that there was a switch and now we have been in another honeymoon (but so much better 😉 ) for months. Once I finally felt free to enjoy sex, and to really own it, my libido has possibly outrun my husband’s. He had to trust that it was there and that I would actually want sex more when I felt free to refuse it.

    So, I can testify personally that your message that women matter equally is important and impactful. Guys, it might take a leap of faith at first. It may seem counterintuitive. But you may be beyond happy with the results! 😄

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, my goodness! That’s so amazing. Thank you for sharing that!

      Reply
    • CMT

      “ Once I finally felt free to enjoy sex, and to really own it, my libido has possibly outrun my husband’s. He had to trust that it was there and that I would actually want sex more when I felt free to refuse it.”

      1000%!!

      If you can’t really say no, you can’t really say yes either! Consent 101 people! But you’re right, to guys it can feel like a huge leap of faith to start operating that way if that wasn’t your mindset from the start.

      Maybe it’s just me, but even outside full on purity culture, consent and boundaries really seem to be missing from the church’s conversation. I don’t even think it was discussed in our premarital counseling. I wonder if other people have had that experience as well?

      Reply
  17. Sarah

    One thing I’m learning, or rather unlearning, is the societal messaging that says to women, “your needs don’t matter” or “you don’t even have needs. Why object to setting yourself on fire to keep others warm?”

    Well, what I’m learning is this: I am not firewood.

    I’m not married, so can’t relate to the specifics re sex in marriage, but what I’m seeing here is how healthy sexuality works and I am so grateful. This will be very freeing if I ever get married and honestly, it’s freeing even now. Because so much of what you’re saying applies to just being a woman in the world, especially a Christian woman, where we’re often subliminally or overtly told that you must serve till you drop or you’re not godly. I’ve been realising lately how much of my serving comes from a need to seek validation from other people rather than to truly serve Christ. When John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less” he meant Jesus, not people.

    Thank you Sheila, Rebecca, Connor, Keith (and Katie behind the scenes!) for all the truth you speak.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you found me, Sarah! I have so many single people on the blog, which surprises me (in a good way!). I’ll try to write more for singles soon. I really will.

      Reply
    • Jo R

      “A Christian woman must serve till she drops or she’s not godly.”

      Holy cow, yes. We are never allowed to say no, to anyone about anything, ever. Saying no has somehow become the epitome of selfishness, no matter what ELSE is going on in a woman’s life.

      Reply

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