The “Let’s Go to Dinner” Saga–and Why Women May Not Want Sex

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Libido | 25 comments

Why Women Lose their Libido in Marriage

Can we please change the way we talk about women not wanting to have sex?

I’ve seen a few videos on TikTok lately where Christian men bemoan the fact that women stop wanting sex once they get married, and call this “emotional damage.”

I do agree that if a spouse withholds sex for no reason other than laziness or selfishness that this is very harmful.

However, that is simply not what is going on in the vast majority of Christian marriages, and that’s why we need to change the conversation. 

Tomorrow is launch day for The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the ALL NEW Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.

I’m so excited to be able to bring these books to you! And one of the big, big things we wanted to stress in both of the books is that sex needs to be just as much for women as it is for men. So women, it’s okay to want to experience pleasure! It’s okay to say, “I’m feeling used right now and we need to figure this out so sex is about intimacy.”

And guys, it’s important to make sure that she has something to look forward to! And you can learn to be your wife’s hero in the bedroom.

But to do that, we have to stop seeing sex as a one-sided entitlement for men and an obligation for women. 

One of the ways we bring this home in the books is in the “Going out to Dinner” analogy.

Keith and I tell the story in this video:

 

And here’s how we described it in The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (it’s in both books!):

Good Guy's Guide to Great Sex

From The Good Guy's Guide to Great Sex:

The “Let’s Go to Dinner” Saga

Let’s do a mental exercise to help understand what this orgasm gap feels like from a woman’s perspective. Imagine a world where what women need to feel loved is to go out to eat at a restaurant at least once a week, where you talk and enjoy a delicious meal. This is the pinnacle of marriage to her.

Picture a couple, Tracey and Doug, who tries to live by this. One Tuesday night our intrepid couple heads to a restaurant. They order appetizers, a main course, and a dessert.

The waitress arrives with Tracey’s appetizer—a steaming bowl of cheese and broccoli soup. Tracey finishes it and declares it deli- cious. But nothing comes for Doug. Then Tracey’s steak arrives. Doug’s still wondering where his appetizer is, but Tracey starts slathering the butter and sour cream onto the baked potato and takes a bite of the steak with peppercorn sauce and asparagus. She declares it scrumptious.

Now Tracey is finished with her steak, and the waitress heads toward the couple again. In front of Tracey she places a steaming, luscious molten lava cake. Tracey squeals in delight as she scoops some out. Just as she’s down to the last few spoonfuls, the waitress finally arrives with Doug’s chicken wing appetizer. Doug’s ecstatic, and he digs in, eating one quickly, and then another. But before he can get to his third one, Tracey stands up, ready to go home. “Dinner was amazing,” she declares as she heads for the door. He follows behind her, glancing at the uneaten chicken wings still on his plate, while Tracey says, “I love doing this with you!”

Imagine that Doug and Tracey faithfully do this every week for ten years.

How do you think Doug will feel about eating at restaurants?

The sad reality is that for too many women, that is exactly what sex is like, year after year after year. What would happen if instead of accepting a woman’s lack of orgasm as normal, we considered it a vital part of sex? What would happen if, when we got married, we focused first and foremost on helping her feel comfortable, experience arousal, and reach orgasm, rather than simply having intercourse with her?When it comes to couples’ satisfaction with sex in marriage, the orgasm gap tells the majority of the story. If you think of her orgasm as secondary, then when she takes a longer time to reach orgasm than you do, she will feel self-conscious, like she’s imposing.

When she needs something beyond what you need to orgasm, she will feel something is wrong with her, like she is broken. If your orgasm is the standard, then when it isn’t happening for her, she will tend to internalize the problem and blame herself for it. And the worst part is that this will make orgasm even more difficult for her. If, instead, you both believed that sex wasn’t really sex unless you both enjoyed it, then her lack of enjoyment wouldn’t be her problem, it would be your challenge to work through together.

The orgasm gap DOES tell a lot of this story.

Leading up to the release of The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the Good Girl’s Guide, we’ve been doing a number of the day, where I talk about one of our big findings. I’ve talked about this one for a long time, but it’s worth reiterating again. 

The orgasm gap between men and women in the evangelical world is:

There’s a 47 point gap, because 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm, compared with just over 48% of women.

That’s a big gap.

And that’s why we need to talk about women’s lack of libido better.

Yes, it’s multifaceted. Yes, it helps to understand that a responsive desire does not mean that you don’t want sex, and women (and men with responsive libidos) need to be encouraged to jump in more (we do that in both books!).

Yes, it’s not only about orgasm, but also about emotional connection, and we encourage couples to work on that too, and to understand that frequency flows from emotional safety and emotional connection.

And yes, sometimes lack of responsiveness has nothing to do with the husband and everything to do with her own history, like sexual trauma, but also the messages that she grew up in church hearing about sex that erased her as a person and made her feel used.

But again, we found that when women:

  • orgasm frequently
  • have high marital satisfaction
  • feel emotionally close during sex
  • have a marriage free of porn use
  • have a marriage free of sexual dysfunction

then frequency tends to take care of itself.

That doesn’t mean that things will be perfect, or that it’s always his fault, or that there aren’t exceptions.

But when we’re looking at a HUGE 47 point gap, and when we’re looking at 50% of married evangelical men currently watching porn to some extent, then perhaps we should stop with the TikTok videos about selfish women not wanting sex, and we should stop with Gary Thomas and others like him telling women to have sex the way they see eating their vegetables or feeding newborn babies, and we should start asking–how did sex get to be so distasteful for women? 

We need to see lack of frequency as the symptom, not the problem.

I mean, sex is supposed to be awesome, right? We’re always talking about how sex is this amazing gift from God.

Well, chocolate cake is amazing. And you know what? Women don’t have to be convinced to eat chocolate cake. Most of us have to talk ourselves out of eating too much of it.

Do men really think women would willingly deprive ourselves of something that amazing just to be selfish and stick it to our husbands? Or could there be some thought that perhaps things haven’t gone the way they’re supposed to.

Just picture Doug in that restaurant scenario.

He’s been told his whole life that Tracey really, really needs to go to restaurants. He’s been told that he doesn’t actually have a need to eat at restaurants, that his need is just to enjoy being there with Tracey. He’s been told that while Tracey gets a lot of the food, all  he really needs is the conversation and the emotional connection. He’s been told that Tracey will feel badly if she thinks that he doesn’t enjoy it, so he should make a fuss over how much it looks like Tracey is enjoying her meal, and let her know how happy he is that she’s enjoying it that much.

Seriously, would you want to be Doug, or would you want to be Tracey?

This is what we’ve done to women. This is what has ruined couples’ sex lives. And it isn’t going to get better until we connect the dots.

I think the church is ready for a new conversation about sex.

I think the church is ready for a conversation that doesn’t just blame Tracey, but that invites both Tracey and Doug to learn what sex was meant to be, and experience it to the fullest.

That’s what these books do, and I’m so excited to launch them tomorrow!

The All New Guides to Great Sex!

Available now!

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.

Get them NOW!

And let’s make these the go-to wedding shower gifts!

Why Women Lose their Libido in Marriage

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What do you think of our “let’s go to dinner” analogy? Are there other aspects of it that I’ve missed? Let’s talk in the comments!

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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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25 Comments

  1. Anon

    Really good article, Sheila! I think it’s one of your best. Hits the point home in a very easy-to-relate way, and anyone can identify with poor old Doug at the restaurant. If sex is a gift from God, why WOULDN’T women want it?! Either God really didn’t know what He was doing when He designed that gift, or it’s a gift that’s been stolen from many women that they’re still somehow supposed to be excited about. It’s definitely time to get that gift back.

    Thank you for all that you do; I was one woman who had somehow internalized that sex was more about my husband than it was me (though I was never directly taught that). Once I’d tackled and dismantled that idea, it really changed my marriage for the better ❤️

    Reply
  2. Codec

    This restaurant saga certainly does not have the multigenerational aspect of the Volsung Saga or the questions about chaos and order that build up The Elric Sage, but it certainly is a masterwork of realism.

    In all seriousness though this is a solid way to explain what has gone wrong.

    You are not yelling and screaming. You are not assassinating character or seeking to harm preachers authors or even just ordinary people.

    You are a storyteller using words to try and make a better story in the lives of those who hear.

    I honestly can not imagine you hating Eggerichs.

    Reply
  3. Katy Did

    I got a new wifi router and now I can comment again!!

    But, yes, I definitely heard that a wife’s sexual pleasure comes primarily from pleasing her husband, and that if he orgasms, that’s enough. Also, if she does happen to orgasm, it is a bonus for him, to enhance his pleasure and ego.

    But, I’m a fairly high libido and orgasmic woman, so I knew that was messed up, yet I felt trapped in that line of thinking. Glad I left that behind!!

    Reply
  4. Nathan

    But you see, women have a need for food that men don’t and can’t understand, so they’re obligated to take women out to dinner whenever the woman wants, no matter how broke he is, no matter if he’s full, no matter if he doesn’t like the restaurant, no matter if he doesn’t get enough to eat.

    End of sarcasm

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    You wanna know why I have no libido? I am EXHAUSTED and STRESSED by the huge load (emotional/mental/spiritual) I bear with no real break and no support. I wonder how many other women are in my shoes?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think quite a few! This is another HUGE issue. We have a whole chapter in it in The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, where we explain something similar to Sandra’s story here.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    My husband is very attentive to my needs, and always makes sure I have an orgasm, but my libido is still low. An ongoing issue in our 27 year marriage is him feeling upset that I rarely initiate. He takes it personally, especially because he tries so hard to make it enjoyable for me….which then leads me to feel guilt, anxiety, stress, and obligation. Like he is saying, “here, I worked really hard to make you this awesome chocolate cake!” and I still don’t want it. We have had many conversations about it and I always communicate that it’s not about him. But I just need/want it far less frequently than he does. Whenever he asks or initiates, I oblige, but I still rarely initiate. In all honesty, (and I don’t want to hurt my husbands feelings, or insult him in any way) I would typically rather sleep.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is a GREAT comment, and I think I’ll use it for the podcast this week, Anonymous. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Jim

      This sounds like conversations that I have with my wife. I do everything that I can to make sure that she enjoys the experience but rarely does she initiate. Some of this may be a combination of the mental load and responsive libido.

      One thing that I would appreciate that if you could address it Sheila, is the issue that some women have with not being able to have multiple orgasms. My wife has mentioned that once she ‘gets there’, she feels ‘touched out’. I have done some research and it does appear that there are some women who have a refractory period similar to men. This has created issues since she will sometimes ‘fight it’ to keep the encounter going.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Hi Jim! This is definitely me… 🙂 I‘ve always felt, I‘m closer to the typical male in this area than to other females: when I’m done I’m done… Even though the strenghth of the reaction / aversion to further touch / activity has lessened a little over time (FYI: I‘m 40 now, got married at 24). Still, to me the idea of several Os even on the same day looks neither attractive nor achievable, to be honest. Hence I‘m also not a proponent of the „Ladies First“-rule and wouldn‘t necessarily reccommend it either, despite having read about it a lot, including on this side. I have never commented on this topic anywhere, but your comment prompted me to do so. To me, it just proves the point that we are all individuals with different preferences, and each couple has to find their own pace. To me there is nothing wrong with foregoing the multiples and to level the playing field between partners so to speak 😉 I still get enough of the good stuff anyways!

        Reply
  7. Laura

    Even though I was 23 when I married my ex, my libido was low most of the time. I chalked it up to a thyroid issue, which I think could have been a contributing factor or maybe it was the birth control pills. Well, after I left him due to ongoing sexual and verbal abuse, my sex drive was back on. Maybe because I wasn’t getting any and have been celibate for 20 years now. I don’t know.
    What I do know is that throughout our marriage, I was mistreated. I think that contributed to a low/almost zero libido. Why would I want to give my body to someone who treats me like garbage?
    I think how your husband treats you affects your libido and like someone else mentioned, the mental load also affects a woman’s libido.
    Now that I’m 45 and when or if I remarry, we’ll see how my libido is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Definitely! When women don’t feel safe, our bodies naturally become protective and our libidos go down.

      Reply
  8. Julia

    Do you think it is possible for a woman to get the desire back for her husband? I ask because we have had a tumultuous relationship. I basically feel done by him saying negative things about me to our kids and his family. He will say I love you to me and bash me to someone else literally 30 seconds later. He is a narcissist. He accused me of having an affair with a friend from church who I was giving support for his child who is our child’s friend while he was grieving the death of his wife. Even said same for a business appt. I had where my daughter rode along and he thought it took too long – because we stopped at my mom’s and a couple of stores on the way back. Every support group basically says to just leave. I know Jesus can pull anything out of the gutter if it is his will – but just not sure what the future holds and my desire is a big fat zero for him at this point.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Julia, I’m so sorry, but this isn’t a libido issue. Right now it sounds like your body is trying to protect you. It sounds like your husband is not an emotionally safe man, and so your libido has tanked in order to protect you from him (our bodies know when it wouldn’t be safe to get pregnant, for instance, and that’s why women’s libidos are so tied to the quality of our relationship). You just aren’t going to get desire back in a relationship that isn’t safe. So I think the priority should be on making sure you feel safe and valued.

      Reply
    • A2bbethany

      My sister was married to a narcissist and his transformation to a decent husband, only began after she left. She filed a restraining order and was putting ducks in a row for her divorce. And that’s when he woke up and started slowly changing and proving himself safe and worth giving another chance. Which involved them staying separate until she felt comfortable dropping the RO and transitioning him back home.(1.5yrs?) But she had extremely strict boundaries and all of them had extensive therapy.
      Giving a narcissist spouse another chance is a big undertaking and alot of work! And comes with a very real safety threat. Knowing that he had threatened her with firearms, repeatedly, none of us wanted her to stay. We are all done with him, though we are still in relationships with her. So please be careful choosing to stay or go!

      Reply
      • RM

        A narcissist can put on an act for as long as it takes to get his/her victim back. Once I know somebody to be that, I never can trust them again. I was married to one and have escaped.

        Reply
  9. Sue R

    Excellent analogy! If someone (husband or wife) can’t understand this, I think the only conclusion is that he or she does not want to.

    Reply
  10. EOF

    That is SUCH a great comparison. Although in my case, it isn’t about the O gap. (He insists that happens every time.) It’s everything that leads up to that. I feel like an object to be used, though he insists that all he wants is for me to be happy. There would be no difference if he had a doll. After he does what he wants, putting me how he wants me, then I’m expected to O. I guess being used and having him do everything he wants is supposed to be a turn on. I manage, but I don’t think it’s supposed to take as much effort as it does.

    Reply
    • NG

      This is so important, EOF.

      I’ve come across women on many blogs, who mentioned their selfish, abusive (ex) husbands insisted that they climax every time… it was a way for them to establish dominance, and to prove what great men they were… eyeroll..
      The wives definitely were not happy or satisfied!

      An O is just a physical reaction… it even happens while the body is asleep. It’s not a sign of a happy marriage relationship.

      Even Casanovas and playboys often know how to make the women climax..

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, this is very true–which is why we need the threefold definition–MUTUAL, INTIMATE, PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH. When it’s not intimate, it’s not really sex and she’s still being deprived.

        Reply
  11. Jennie

    Thank you for the article! My issue was I have a libido- he did not! It was due to porn use and intimacy anorexia.
    I’m glad you’re bringing up these issues

    Reply
  12. Anon

    This is a helpful analogy.
    Just wanted to mention that the guy in this scenario is referred to as “Dan” (instead of Doug) a couple of times in the middle of the article.

    Reply
  13. Dutchie

    Dear Sheila, Thank you for the great info on the blog and YouTube! In the Netherlands we talk very openly about sex. My hubby and I had our 10th Wedding Anniversary today! After a period of 2 months of no-SEX due to endometrioses, Covid-19 and taking a new contraceptive pil ( 7 days waiting period)we had Great SEX today! In the begin years of our Marriage I had a lot of multiple orgasm during one session ( up to 10 sometimes) because I was/am still fortunate to have a husband that always uses The Ladies First-rule. During our foreplay he makes sure that I orgasm at least 2 times before he enters me. He listens to the feedback I still give him and he knows my bodily signs of arousel so well! For the last year we had a very complicated sexlife due to endometrioses and 2 large cyst. But Thank God for giving me such an understanding and gentle husband between the sheets! We have had isues to Emotionally Connect and also Spiritually Connect. Because of your podcast on YouTube he now understans that we have to use EFT every day to stay Emotionally Connected to one another and also Spirtually. After 10 Years of Marriage we were finely One for the First time in our Marriage. He prayed before we had SEX together, this is our new Marriage-SEX goal to stay connected to Jezus through the Holy Spirit on all occasions. Our SEX was amazing, gentle, intimate! We said I love you and as I came for a 2nd time I felt incredibly CLOSE to my hubby and heard the words I Love You with all my Heart & Soul coming out of my own heart! And I knew I meant my hubby who was lying on top of me!
    I will tell him this in the morning because I was overwelmed by this Incredible Amazing Feeling for him so I stayed silend…

    Reply
  14. Just me

    I’m not sure where to ask this question, not exactly related to libido but sexual arousal… anyways, do you think that circumcision has any role in satisfaction or lack thereof?? Was that a question in your survey??

    Reply

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