I truly believe that most guys are good guys.
I often get accused of hating men, but that’s actually not the case. What I hate are the common teachings in the evangelical church that hurt sex and marriage for women.
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when The Great Sex Rescue was published, and I’ll be talking more about that tomorrow and on the podcast. But one of our book theses that we were testing in our study of 20,000 women was this: could it be that women’s sex lives are being detrimentally affected not because of anything their husbands are necessarily doing, but because of the things that women have been taught?
In other words, what if our evangelical culture is hurting women and hurting couples and even hurting men–and it’s not because men are bad guys at all?
Just because a woman has a negative view of sex does not mean that her husband necessarily did anything wrong (although obviously in many marriages this is the case). And if her husband didn’t do anything wrong, then he also can be one of the biggest tools in God’s arsenal that can bring healing to women in this area!
And indeed, that’s what our focus groups for women over and over found. So many women reported that they healed from negative messages because their husbands patiently convinced them and modeled to them that the teachings weren’t true.
No, they aren’t obligated to give him sex.
Yes, her consent matters.
Yes, her pleasure matters.
No, he won’t die without sex (or won’t feel unloved; or won’t be able to function).
No, all men don’t lust.
No, it’s not her fault if he watches porn (and he is capable of not watching porn too!)
And so on. And so on.
Yesterday on Instagram I wanted to take a closer look at who believed these toxic messages more, and who they affected more.
We identified four big toxic teachings in The Great Sex Rescue (though there were others), and I’ve spent much of the last year and a half addressing those teachings and showing a more positive, Jesus-centered way of looking at sex and marriage.
So I asked:
Okay, the teachings affected her more. But how much did people believe them?
I started with: When you got married, how much did you believe toxic teachings?
Here’s what the women said, on average (I know it’s a smiley face, but that’s just the way Instagram works!)
What about men–how much did they believe the toxic teachings?
As you can see–much less than the women!
Many were still affected by these teachings, but women were disproportionately affected. And that means that men have a special role to play in helping the healing of their marriages, as we talked about yesterday.
That’s really what The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex is about–how guys can help their wives experience great sex from the beginning, and can make sure that none of these toxic teachings takes root.
So many women yesterday told me how much their husbands had helped, and how much the toxic stuff really wasn’t their husbands’ faults.
When I asked specifically about the obligation sex message, here’s what several women said:
When I was growing up, I very much believed it! Ironically I heard it from both the church and the world in equal measure. But once I met my husband and we got engaged and then got married, he begin the hard work of helping me unlearn so much of that trauma! On our honeymoon he told me time and time again that we absolutely did not have to have sex until I was ready, no matter how long it took. Hearing the sincerity in his voice as he said we didn’t have to have sex was the biggest turn on and was ultimately what did it for me!
There’s a guy who got it right from the start! Think of what a better trajectory their marriage is on because of that! (And we have a long chapter on how to do the honeymoon well so that you set yourself up for a great start!).
Or there’s this woman:
I was shocked/am shocked to discover that a lot of this was in my own head and not what my husband thought/felt at all. We’ve been married about a decade and he recently told me he doesn’t think of sex as penis in vagina and that he would love to try other things but I never seemed interested. Wish I had opened up this communication earlier. I had so much shame and felt so defensive I was not open to this kind of discussion before. Little did I know he has a healthier view of sex than I do!
Several women agreed that it was their own views of sex that were messing things up:
Interestingly enough, my husband was shocked when I shared with him my false belief about obligation sex and how I felt like being available and initiating sex often (even when I didn’t want it) would help him. I realize I was short changing him. I have full confidence in his fidelity, always have. But I wasn’t acting as though as I did. As soon as I ditched this toxic belief our sex life and marriage improved dramatically.
And, yes, some men are also realizing that change needs to come!
And many guys who HAVE had some of these toxic views are also seeing that it was wrong, and they can change things, like this comment that came into the blog this morning:
I’ve been wanting to write to you for awhile. The great sex rescue was an amazing book. I read it twice, took notes, and trying to live it out. This posting was for me. I have deconstructed so much of what I was taught and believed. It will take time but I hope in time my wife can forgive me and find joy in sex the way God intended. Your work stopped an unhealthy cycle years long and now there can be healing and joy. I know you meet resistance. Please don’t give up your fight. You reached me. And now my boys will learn what we should all know about this area. I am so happy. Thank you. I continue to follow your work to keep focused on the truth.
God is bringing so much healing!
But the healing starts when we recognize that some things have been harmful. That doesn’t mean we’re calling men evil–in many cases they’re the ones bringing the healing!
We just have to be free to call out harm where we see it, without getting defensive, because that’s the only way that change can come: with humility and truth. I’m so excited to see so many people finding healing (and seriously–just read the reviews on Amazon for The Great Sex Rescue to see that!). And I hope the new Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and revamped Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex can help couples get it right, from the beginning. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
The All New Guides to Great Sex!
Launch March 15!
Imagine building a great sex life–from the ground up!
What would it look like to build a picture of sex that was MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH–with no harmful messages?
Welcome to the The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the ALL NEW Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.
Pre-Order Now! (Helps us out a ton)
And if you email your receipt, we’ll send you a special pre-order BONUS
What do you think? Who did the teachings affect more in your marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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