LOW LIBIDO SERIES: 15 Things That Kill a Woman’s Libido

by | Jun 6, 2022 | gsr, Libido, Series | 44 comments

What kills women's libido?

Welcome to the “what’s killing women’s libido?” series!

In the month of June I want to look at some of the reasons that women’s libido is often so low, and look at what we can do about that. 

Now, I know that many of you reading this blog have the opposite problem–your libido is actually higher than your husband’s, and you’re left frustrated! What I’d like to suggest is that while this is a relationship problem for sure, it isn’t necessarily a libido problem. You may not actually have an abnormal libido. You may actually have a normal libido! It may be that most other women who never want sex actually have libido issues. 

(And I’ll try to write some posts for women with higher libidos as well!)

Here’s the thing: we know that, in the larger population, women will always have a slightly lower libido than men, simply because biologically our libidos are made to be more sensitive to outside cues. That makes sense. Women are the ones who get pregnant, and so have greater costs to having sex, and so our bodies want to protect us from taking on a huge task when conditions aren’t perfect. So if we’re not feeling safe and loved in a relationship, our libido may suffer more than a man’s in a similar situation.

But this does not mean that women were created to have virtually no libido. 

Here’s what I want to argue this month:

What if women’s libido, especially in evangelical circles, has been artificially lowered? And what if that means that we can find a route to boost women’s libido to its natural level–or higher?

What if the baseline for libido, especially among evangelical Christians, has been lowered?

We actually found signs of that in our survey of 20,000 women for our book The Great Sex Rescue. We found that believing certain things caused fewer women to be in the shared libido or higher libido category.

But it’s not just beliefs that can lower our libido. It’s a whole combination of things!

In The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, we were trying to explain to men that libido isn’t actually the problem. When all things are firing on all cylinders in different aspects of the marriage, then libido tends to take care of itself. We presented men with this formula:

Formula for wanting sex

If someone has a low libido, then, we need to ask, “what, on this equation, isn’t working?” And that’s what we proceeded to do in the following pages of The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex!

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!

So let’s break this down and see what may be killing women’s libido!

Emotional Health

Anything that disrupts her emotional health, or triggers negative associations with sex, is likely to kill a woman’s libido.

1. Past trauma, including sexual abuse

If she has trauma from abuse, especially sexual abuse, it’s going to affect her libido because she isn’t going to feel safe in sexual situations.

If this is your story, please see a licensed counselor with experience in evidence-based trauma therapies.

2. Insecure attachment styles

Our own attachment styles can also kill our libido. If we’re struggling with any form of insecure attachment, being emotionally vulnerable will be difficult–and vulnerability is the key to libido and passion. See our series on attachment from last month to help with this.

3. Negative messages about sex

What if you grew up hearing that all men struggle with lust, it’s every man’s battle, and so you need to cover up your body to make sure grown men don’t lust after you since you’re a stumbling block? How would you feel about your body? How would you feel about sex?

Negative messages can impact how we see sex, which was why we wrote The Great Sex Rescue. It seems to us that all the authors complaining about women’s low libido have actually largely caused the problem in the first place!

For instance, we looked at the effects of the “all men struggle with lust” message on women’s libido, and here’s what we concluded:

How Every Man's Battle affects women's libido

If you read a book from the Every Man’s Battle series, then, or read For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, which also teaches this message, your libido is likely lower than it would have been otherwise.

4. Other mental health issues, such as depression, or general life stress

If one’s mental health is suffering, libido is going to suffer. Please know that mental health issues do not mean that you have a weak faith, or that God is angry at you. Again, please see a licensed therapist, or even talk to your physician about this.

If you’re experiencing a great deal of stress in your life, from work, or situations that can’t be fixed easily (like a child with special needs, or ill parents), build whatever margins you can into your life, and get as much help as you can!

Physical Health

When our physical health is compromised, sex is going to be affected.

5. Sexual pain, such as vaginismus

Our study for The Great Sex Rescue found that evangelical women suffer from sexual pain at at least twice the rate of the general population, and much of that increase is due to the negative messaging around sex and our bodies that we grow up with.

When sex hurts, you’re obviously not going to want it! If this is your story, please read The Great Sex Rescue and see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.

We found that roughly 23% of women had primary sexual pain, and about 28% of women had sexual pain after childbirth. Please seek help, because sex shouldn’t hurt.

6. Chronic pain or chronic illnesses

Any chronic pain, or chronic illness, can also affect libido. If you have chronic conditions, see a massage therapist, physiotherapist, or physician. Do what you can to help yourself! Even unhealthy eating habits or never getting any exercise can hurt libido, so whatever steps you can take to get healtheir–even if they’re just small steps–can also help libido.

7. Simple exhaustion

Finally, no one wants sex if they’d rather just sleep. When you’re chronically exhausted, then libido will fall by the wayside.

That’s why uneven mental load is such a huge libido killer. When women carry the majority of the details and responsibilities for the daily life of the family, they’re often physically and mentally exhausted. A great way to boost libido, then, is to balance mental load!

8. Hormone or other libido issues

Here’s the only category where it could actually be a true libido issue–if hormones are really out of whack. Menopause can cause this, as can other hormone problems earlier in life. Even breastfeeding or hormonal birth control can cause this. If you feel like you’ve never experienced sexual desire or arousal at all, please see a physician. Or if you used to be quite sexually responsive, but now you’re not, and there’s no obvious reason, please see a physician.

Relationship Security

When we can’t trust our spouse, our libido will naturally tank because sex isn’t emotionally safe for us.

Couple Not Communicating Over Sex

9. Porn use by a spouse

If your spouse has been using porn, you’re not going to want to have sex! Porn use cannot be tolerated. It objectifies women (and objectifies you); is a huge betrayal, and simply must end. Listen in to our podcast from a few weeks ago on how to do a porn triage. 

10. Prior infidelity

If your husband had an affair, or chatted with women online, or went to a strip club, or had a porn problem, even if these things are in the past, it may be that you don’t feel like you can trust him again yet, and sexual feelings haven’t returned. This could very well be your body protecting you because he hasn’t shown real signs of repentance yet (saying sorry isn’t enough).

If this is your story, please see a licensed counselor.

11. Obligation sex

If she feels like she has to have sex under threat–because she’ll lose his love; he’ll watch porn; he’ll have an affair; he won’t talk to her anymore–then sex is no longer freely entered into. It’s no longer about two people “knowing” each other and experiencing each other; it’s just a taking from her. No woman wants to be objectified and used, and if sex becomes an obligation, or even worse, coercion, then her libido will disappear (and pain rates will skyrocket). Check out The Great Sex Rescue for how this plays out! We found huge evidence of these obligation messages throughout evangelical culture.

Emotional Connection

Marriage Podcast: How Libido Differences Can Leave a Couple Frustrated

12. Feeling like you don’t “know” each other

Sex is supposed to be a deep “knowing” of two people (Genesis 4:1), where you bring all that you are to the bedroom, and you’re accepted anyway.

In other words, sex is supposed to be the culmination of your emotional connection, not the cause of it. Some people want sex in order to feel connected, but they don’t want to do the work of actually connecting. Sex cannot replace a deep connection, and if you continue to have sex when there is no emotional connection, libido will tank.

13. Feeling taken for granted, or like your husband is a child

People want to have sex with someone who is a genuine partner, who ignites your passion. But how can passion be ignited if your spouse acts like you aren’t a partner, but instead a maid? How can you feel passion for someone who you end up treating more like a child?

If your spouse doesn’t share the mental load or the parenting responsibilities, but instead acts as if they’re one more thing you need to take care of, then it’s very hard for passion to grow. Again, see my mental load series!

14. Being the brunt of a pornified style of relating

If your husband has a pornified style of relating, where sex isn’t about a “knowing”, but is only about a taking, and when he blames his lust or objectification of other women on you (or on those other women), then it’s going to be awfully hard for libido to flourish!

Physically Satisfying Sex

15. She never orgasms

Quite frankly, why would you want to do something which never feels good for you? And evangelicals have a 47-point orgasm gap, where 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm during a sexual encounter, but only 48% of women do. If that’s your story, check out our orgasm course!

How many of these boxes do you check?

Some of us will only check a few–I score 2/15, because I’ve got some chronic back pain and some stress–and some of us will score a lot higher.

Can you see how, if you score higher, you don’t have a libido problem? You have other problems.

Low libido is rarely the issue; low libido is usually a symptom of the issue. 

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

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

It’s time for a Great Sex Rescue.

This month we’ll be looking at how we can start to address some of these low libido issues.

Others we won’t look at, because I’ve already dealt with them at length (and follow the links for even more!).

But as we launch in, I want you to do one more thing for me:

Look again at that list, and see how many of these libido killers are newer cultural phenomenon that the church may have contributed to.

When I say “the church is artificially lowering a woman’s libido”, this is what I mean.

The negative messages about sex; the obligation message; the priority on his orgasm; seeing her pleasure as unnecessary, or not even worth mentioning (like Love & Respect); making mental illness into a spiritual failing rather than a real problem; telling women they get over sexual abuse just by forgiving (so women are blamed for being spiritually weak if they still have trauma); encouraging the pornified style of relating; encouraging uneven mental load. And so on. And so on.

Is it any wonder that evangelical women appear to have lower libidos than women in the general population?

We can fight against this by reclaiming sex as God intended. And hopefully, as we do that, we’ll rediscover libido too! I hope you enjoy this series this month!

 

 

15 Things that Lower Women's Libido

What did yo score? Was there something I left out? Let’s talk in the comments!

What’s Killing Women’s Libido? Series

Plus don’t miss our revamped Boost Your Libido course, launching soon!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Parents: You Owe Your Adult Children a Life

If you need your adult children to eventually care for you, then that should factor into an equation NOW. I've been thinking about something for a while now that I'd like to just say. It's going to be a bit of a rant, and I may not sound very sympathetic. But I think...

For the Guys: When Your Wife Hates Sex

For every guy who has ever thought, "my wife hates sex," or, even worse, "my wife hates ME," I want to point you to some practical solutions. Usually I write this blog for women, but I do have a fair number of men who read it, and I get emails all the time from men...

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

44 Comments

  1. Laura

    I used this checklist to refer back to what I experienced in my former marriage. I got 10/15 which, OMG, is so awful. No wonder I was miserable. The main killers for me were mental health issues, past sexual abuse trauma, negative messages about sex, obligation sex (didn’t even have a name for it back then), and his porn addiction. It was ALL up to me to fix myself because he claimed he did not have any problems.

    I don’t know if I can ever have a sex life again. I’ve been to counseling throughout the years and almost got married a few years ago. I loved this person and to this day, he is still my friend, but I was never sexually attracted to him. At least I learned that I could be friends with the opposite sex. Purity culture taught me to believe that men and women cannot be just friends.

    Reply
    • Jen

      My husband also blamed me for our relationship problems. He had lied so deeply to himself that he couldn’t connect his hidden sin to the issues in our marriage. If it’s hidden, how did it affect us? Because only a very broken man could visit prostitutes and not understand the mental illness that caused him to desire that. And in betrayal trauma theory, a betrayed woman begins to suffer the moment her spouse begins to betray. A guilty conscience is an incredible wall in a marriage.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It absolutely is! Many betrayed spouses feel the betrayal and the wall even before they know consciously that something is going on.

        Reply
  2. Angharad

    3/15 here – chronic health conditions, stress and hormones (the joys of perimenopause). I’ve found out what works to help with the first two but the last one is a pest as it’s so unpredictable – everything can be going great and suddenly it all fizzes out completely because my hormones have decided to crash.

    On the plus side, now that periods are so spaced out and so much lighter, I’m enjoying not having to take iron supplements (which always caused tummy upsets) and my energy levels are so much better because I’m not constantly borderline anemic. So it’s not all bad news!

    Reply
  3. Margaret

    I would add a fear of getting pregnant to this list. My husband and I don’t want more children. I’ve had complicated pregnancies that are very stressful for both of us. For two of my pregnancies we were required to obtain from intercourse for about 5 months. Doctors disagreed about whether or not I also had to obstain from orgasms so there was a major guilt and worry factor associated with any orgasm.
    Anyway, while we agree that prevention in good, we don’t agree on which methods. So, each month there is this little part of me that is worried I’ll get pregnant and that’s a libido killer.

    Reply
    • Meredith

      I would highly recommend your husband get a vasectomy! My sister is a midwife and she tells clients, if neither of you gets sterilized, then there is a very high probability you will end up getting pregnant again.

      Reply
    • Lindsey

      Have him listen to the podcast on birth control methods with you so he can hear Keith talk about how he can take that responsibility instead of putting that responsibility and mental load entirely on you. A vasectomy is a quick outpatient procedure and has minimal recovery time with no effect on hormones that drive desire for your husband. Ask him if he would set up an appointment to discuss the option with his primary care doctor or a urologist and that way he will have the facts instead of speculation and hearsay.

      Reply
  4. Anon

    I’m surprised that rejection isn’t on the list. That has been the single biggest contributor to a drop in libido for me. Initiating only to be repeatedly turned down brought me to the point of associating arousal with rejection and further now being unable to identify if I actually DO want to engage in sexual intimacy with my husband.

    Reply
    • Jen

      Or emotional rejection. If he’s too busy the rest of the day and only wants your attention in bed . . ,

      Reply
  5. A2bbethany

    Currently have 7/15…… extremely irritated with him and trying to hold everything together. Feeling financially if I was a single mom, I’d be better off financially. So much better! But I love him and resentfully wish he’d change. But also aware that he’s only 15-20% of the problem. Main issue is income.

    Reply
  6. Wanda

    I’m looking forward to reading more about improving communication and emotional connectedness. When one of you enjoys thinking, feeling, and talking about things in a deeper way than the other, it makes that emotional connection hard to achieve. And when we both grew up learning unhealthy communication styles, figuring it all out on my own feels impossible.

    Reply
  7. Mara R

    Emotional Health + Physical Health + Relational Security + Emotional Connection + Physically Satisfying Sex ?

    I can hear it now.
    You are asking way too much. There are too many variables to keep track of. You are making it much harder on the man than the woman. Etc. Blah, Blah.

    I know that my ex could never keep up with this list. Even if he could, he’d get tired of it quick, being on the Narc spectrum and resentful that it wasn’t all about him.

    And I know there are a lot of men, like the guy who said if men wanted fellowship, they’d get a golden retriever, who could never take this list seriously.

    But it’s a good list.
    And these things should be taken seriously.
    And men are capable of being this loving and considerate.
    Evangelicalism needs to stop dumbing down our men and making them emotionally and mentally stunted (with their stupid “yes space” theology).

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! We shouldn’t even need the list really. It should just be common sense. Whole, healthy people are needed before the sex life can be whole and healthy.

      Reply
    • Kya

      It may be hard to keep up with a list like this, but as Christians we are told to do it–it’s the second greatest commandment. What man does not care about every one of these for himself? And if he wants them for himself, then he is commanded to want them for his neighbor as well. And I certainly hope his wife has slightly higher status than just a neighbor!

      Reply
  8. Stefanie

    8/15 LOL. I have to laugh or I’ll cry.

    Trigger warning:
    So I actually counted past trauma/sexual abuse, even though I wasn’t technically ever abused. However, over the last year, coming out from an obligation sex mindset and 11 years of no orgasms, and fighting to reclaim this area of my marriage, I’ve discovered that obligation sex is sexual abuse. Except the perpetrator was me. I’ve been reading articles meant for survivors of sexual abuse, and I can relate to a lot of it – like taking back your sexual agency, understanding triggers, etc.

    I never felt like I could say no, and now when my husband touches me, it can take me back to the time when he touched me like that and I couldn’t say no. Sexy lingerie is a trigger for me because I wore ALL the sexy lingerie trying to be the perfect little porn star and ideal sexual fantasy for his satisfaction.

    Anyway, this weekend I wrote a book review for a book published by my church, and I felt like it was taking a stand and fighting for myself. I posted it on Amazon and the publisher’s website. Last I checked the publisher hadn’t “approved” it, which I’m going to take note that they are not safe. IPI books. I’ll link the Amazon review. Sheila, I have you a shout out.

    https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Holy-Five-Senses-Romantic/dp/1941988733/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=OPYY5K3LTJSQ&keywords=hot+and+holy+laing&qid=1654536222&sprefix=%2Caps%2C50&sr=8-1#aw-udpv3-customer-reviews_feature_div

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Just read the review! Wow. That’s awesome. And awful at the same time! Your church published this? Is he the pastor? Oh my goodness.

      And, yes, the obligation sex message is definitely abusive, and in many cases women are coercing themselves–or feeling as if God is coercing them. We have to change the narrative! I hope you’re finding healing now. I know it’s tough.

      Reply
    • C

      I read the review on Amazon–sounds like a troublesome book.
      If you have time, you could also review the book on goodreads.

      I get that a lot of people like lingerie–but some don’t for whatever reason. I don’t understand why Christian guys like the author need to push it so much. Like women are just there to play a part for the man.

      Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Ew, ew, ew, ew. Icky. The quotes you shared definitely make it sound like everything sexual a woman does is for her husband’s benefit.

      I’m curious, does he offer evidence that the lovers in Song are married? Cuz a lot of it sounds to me like they aren’t.

      Does he overtly say that he doesn’t believe in female orgasm?

      Reply
  9. Nessie

    9/15. 🙁
    Love some of your points:

    “It seems to us that all the authors complaining about women’s low libido have actually largely caused the problem in the first place!”
    -Such a simple concept yet they cannot humble themselves to admit they were wrong to bring about healing- they double down instead. SMH

    “In other words, sex is supposed to be the culmination of your emotional connection, not the cause of it. Some people want sex in order to feel connected, but they don’t want to do the work of actually connecting.”
    -I’ve heard this ad nauseum, if I wanted my husband to be closer to me emotionally, then I needed to give him sex so he felt closer to me. Nope, he just got what he wanted, a good night’s sleep, and I was awake for hours years on end, growing more resentful with each passing year.
    The “church” has gotten this so dreadfully wrong.

    I wonder- do you think the attachment theory aspect counts doubly if both of you are insecurely attached? I only counted it once but we both have bad attachment styles. Curious how much it affects a marriage when just one, versus both, have it.

    Reply
  10. C

    This is a great post. I find it odd that many marriage books don’t give any space to the hormonal issues. The physiological mechanism for how breastfeeding decreases a woman’s libido is very well understood scientifically—but never acknowledged.

    I think the obligation sex message is a huge libido killer—however it may be delivered—a minimum amount of sex per week, the expectation that a woman will do certain activities she doesn’t find pleasant.

    I saw in the FB comments that someone mentioned being part of the sandwich generation. That can be a really tough situation to be in.

    I saw another commenter added fear of getting pregnant as a libido killer. I could see how that could be true—especially if a couple doesn’t agree about what birth control method should be used.

    Reply
    • Cynthia

      I saw breastfeeding mentioned in the Facebook comments. YES we need to talk about this! I nursed my 3 kids, and twice got pregnant while still breastfeeding. All together, it was 4 years and 3 months of breastfeeding, and just before I weaned my youngest, I went to the doctor and had a pelvic exam. She was training a resident, and commented to her “note the vaginal atrophy due to breastfeeding”. So, that’s how I found out that breastfeeding was literally making my vagina dry out and shrivel up. It explained some of my lack of interest. Luckily, this is reversible and the libido came back, but this would have been good to know.

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Hi Sheila, I know this is random but I have a serious question. Anyone else who has any insights can also volunteer an answer. 🙂 Does no one else find it almost funny how disharmonious men and women are? Sexually, emotionally, mentally etc. It’s like we speak two entirely different languages. More distressing…. Why does it feel like God didn’t do the greatest job of wiring our bodies “properly”? For example, homosexual relationships are forbidden… Yet the male G spot is in the rectum. That provides an entire different realm of pleasure for men so they get the experience of achieving better pleasure through being penetrated… Yet there’s no “reverse” pleasure available for women where they get pleasure from penetrating. See what I mean? It’s so strange to me. It just seems so poorly thought out lol.

    Reply
  12. Self proclaimed Monster

    12/15. Add rejection, chronic unsuccessful conflict resolution, and disdain for obesity, and I am 16/15. And I have created all this I’m told, because “women are responders”.

    My bachelors degree in Psychology and years of following your blog (with comments) has shown me:

    I am a MONSTER.
    Take pity on my wife, ladies.

    I truly love sex, my wife’s orgasm comes first, and I have always sought for the deep emotional connection across 29 years of marriage. I have failed. I want sex daily but averaged three times a week in total for the last ten years. Before that I had sex twice + daily. I have settled for obligation sex because that was all that was available. And yes, we have seen sex therapists and joined various SAA and Celebrate Recovery type groups. And we have bought your books, Sheila, and many more.

    At least we are trying. But not enough doing. And there is a whole lot of blaming going on.

    And through it all, we are still having sex. It’s sad sex.

    A new category, perhaps?

    Reply
    • Jo R

      I’m sorry, but I’m a little confused.

      So you had sex at least twice a day for the first nineteen years of your marriage? And for the last ten years it’s been three times a week?

      Your wife has therefore slowed down off your (desired) pace?

      You don’t mention children or any other significant (or even minor) life changes that may potentially have altered your wife’s ability to continue to match your desires. Has your life been absolutely static in twenty-nine years, or have some things changed that may have affected her ability to keep up?

      Do you match your wife’s enthusiasm exactly in all areas, or have your interest and energy slacked off in any area at all (and especially in an area that is very important to your wife)?

      No matter how evenly matched spouses may be at the beginning, it seems a bit unrealistic to expect them to remain in absolute lock step their entire marriage.

      Reply
    • ImAllTriedOut

      I’m a guy. Bro, if you are getting sex 3 times a week after being married that long, well its sorta hard to feel very sorry for you. I get that feeling that I think you are portraying, feeling like its all our faults. But I can tell you, it could be MUCH MUCH worse.

      Reply
  13. Christina Burke

    I’m currently reading the book Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch. It’s secular but religious-friendly; I believe that the author is Jewish.

    I have been highlighting HUGE amounts of the book. I can’t read too much at once because there’s just so much to think about after reading a few pages. I really think that this could be tremendously helpful for non-abusive marriages where you just know that things could be better. As an abuse survivor, I am finding it helpful for developing more maturity and working toward a healthy mindset and healthy ways of interacting in relationships.

    If Gary Thomas actually believed that marriage was supposed to make you a better person and more like Jesus, he’d have read this book or written this book. But Gary Thomas and the rest of churchianity actually believe that the purpose of marriage is for men to become minor deities in their households.

    Once I am finally done reading the book, I will put a review for it online with the favorite things I learned/read.

    Reply
  14. David

    Well, we probably have 10-12 of those. And now there’s a huge #16 to deal with. Anyway, In the “sexual pain” category, we dealt with something called vulvar lichen sclerosis, which caused not only pain but itching burning and shrinkage. Her GP and gynecologist, both women, were clueless. She decided she must be allergic to me. Finally her dermatologist took one look, diagnosed it, and got her some very helpful steroidal ointment. But years of libido were pretty much squashed.

    Reply
  15. Lisa M

    Fabulous post! I hope this helps a lot of people.

    Reply
  16. Lila

    With my sexual narcissist ex husband I checked every box off. It was awful. The abuse, coercion, forcefulness, lying, cheating and so on… he required sex even when I had a level 10 migraine and throwing up, colitis episode, an hour after arriving home from er with non moving kidney stone and severe pain no no narcotics could touch. He didn’t help do anything in general after if he did I owe him. List goes on and on.

    I escaped him 5 years ago. I met the most amazing man 4 years ago and celebrate 3 years of marriage in 2 months. Due to past trauma I still check off 4 but the ones that relate to husband no longer are checked off. I have a high libido and can’t get enough of him in general. The complete opposite of my ex husband. My mind wanted sex last Thursday, about 18 hours after my second kidney stone surgery because of how good he was taking take of me. Also the complete opposite of my first marriage where he never did anything for me let alone take care of me when I was sick.

    It’s not difficult for a husband to be a true man and be a good partner in life and in the home. He has to want to. It also helps if he wasn’t taught that male patriarchy non sense.

    I am able to balance out my mental issues as I work through 38 years is trauma. My husband is consistent and steady. When I spin out mentally is all in my mind.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  17. Brenda

    I got the 4 under physical health. I’m 49 and the last 8 years have been, for me, a sexual dry land with my husband. Both of us have low libidos. Now I’m to the point I almost don’t care anymore I’m so tired after COVID twice this year. But my libido used to be abnormally high. Up until I got with my current partner, I was a three time a day person in a relationship. I’m having a real hard time with the adjustment. I’ve gone through a lot of healing for sexual trauma the last few years though. Is all this age and health though

    Reply
  18. Nix

    I love this, I love you, I love your message, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I LOVE the, women, body and sex positive message.
    I totally agree that church culture has really messed with our view of sex within marriage and made it really unhealthy and many women have SUFFERED! thank you for bringing us this healthy and biblically based message!

    Reply
  19. Susanna

    What is you have an attentive husband who carries significant portions of the mental load, who wants to make you feel good, AND you can reliably orgasm— but you just don’t get that aroused ahead of time?
    I basically always orgasm, but without significant arousal ahead of time, the sex just isn’t that good. We spend time on foreplay and try to think of different things that will help me feel more into it… but lots of times I just want to get on with it. The foreplay stuff isn’t that good and I know I can orgasm so I would rather just do that and be finished.
    But then I also don’t really want sex that much and I feel bad because he is trying to take care of me and do everything right… and I’m still like, “Okay, if you want…”

    I have experienced arousal and desire sometimes, so I know I can. But there doesn’t seem to be anything that will reliably recreate those experiences.

    Reply
    • Above Monster’s Wife

      Wow! This defines me too and I’m married to the above self proclaimed monster. I have no idea how to fix this from my side. You are right about it just being easier to “get on with it”. He gets what he wants and I just don’t care any more.

      Reply
  20. Mindy

    Something my husband and I have done to encourage emotional connection – we created a “safe space”. It’s a literal, physical location in our home where either/both of us can share anything. Ours is our bed (when we get a sofa, that will probably be our second space) because that works for us. Obviously, to preserve the safety, no one can feel attacked. When we have emotionally difficult discussions, we frame it in “from my perspective” language rather than accusations. Sometimes I tell “fictional” stories that illustrate a situation from my perspective – so it’s “characters” in my story rather than one or both of us. Both of us have benefited from this, not just me as the woman. The evangelical culture doesn’t acknowledge that men need emotional connection just as much as women – just like women deserve pleasurable sex as much as men. Some couples have a code word for sex, we have a code word for needing some emotional connection time. Both of us have envoked that word. There’s no judgement in that space. If someone needs to cry, they cry. We’re vulnerable and honest with each other. Obviously, this only works when both parties are fully participating and seeking a healthy relationship. This doesn’t work with someone who is abusive. While I do have many left over issues from growing up in the church that tick several of the boxes (and chronic pain/health issues), like several others here I can honestly say that my husband is a help rather than a hindrance to healing my sexual health.

    Reply
  21. M.H.

    Hi Sheila (and other commenters)! I really, REALLY, appreciate your work and have read a couple of your books (The Great Sex Rescue and both guides to great sex). I am 24, I have an amazing boyfriend, and we’re hoping to get married in the next couple of year. So your content has been hugely helpful in preparing us for having healthy conversations about sex and, hopefully, a healthy married sex life. I understand you’re super passionate about helping women awaken their libido, but for me, I wish I could toss it out the window at times because of how frustrated it makes me feel (and I know I’m not alone as a young Christian with hormones, a great partner, but no wedding yet)! So I’m hoping sometime down the road, you think about making a series on how to deal with your libido before marriage – for the younger crowd here (or for the folks who find themselves in a similar situation at an older age even). It’s super hard to find content out there that isn’t, “just masturbate” or on the other side of the spectrum, “just don’t think about it”. I think it applies to the Bare Marriage theme as it can help people prepare for marriage and not feel the need to race through the engagement period to outrun their drive, or beat themselves up for having high libidos or “failing with purity”. Thanks so much for all you do!

    Reply
    • Blue

      If I could give advice to my younger self who was in your shoes, I’d suggest that 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 suggests if you’ve found the one and you’re burning with passion, just get married. I don’t know what the barriers to marriage are for you, but I wish in lieu of a long engagement and finishing our education, etc, we’d just had a small ceremony and done it much sooner. I think a really prolonged courtship and engagement can sort of….stunt…the natural flow of passion. Like you’re fully emotionally in tune for years but the physical is off limits so you learn all sorts of mental gymnastics to turn away from it. Or the passion of the “newness” has already worn off by the time you get to the wedding night. It takes two people to make the marriage decision, but he must be struggling too! And if he’s not struggling to keep his hands off you, I’d advise not marrying him at all.

      If you’re horny and single, you have NOTHING to be ashamed of. God’s purpose for our youthful vigor and sex drive is to incentivize us to find a spouse and marry. It seems it has accomplished that purpose. The answer to this is not more self control, it’s marriage!

      Reply
      • M.H.

        Hi Blue, thanks for sharing your experiece and advice. At the moment, my boyfriend and I have been doing well but we’re working towards finishing school/getting into a better financial situation. We don’t want to enter marriage and go broke basically. Also, my boyfriend is healing from familial trauma, porn and drug use, so it’s actually a very good thing now that he is able to keep his hands off me (we have crossed boundaries before which leads to an awful shame cycle that God has freed us from) – and respecting his boundaries is even more important for me to do too.

        And while I’ve though about this passage in scripture, I think God has actually been leading my boyfriend and I to wait. But not just twidling our thumbs, but doing some real intentional work on ourselves, our emotional intimacy, and our schooling in the waiting. It’s easy for me to make a comment (such as the one above) when I’m feeling particularly frustrated (and thank you for hearing me out and addressing it) but thankfully it comes and goes in waves. I think being real with God and my friends helps too, so I’m not just repressing the frustration. Sometimes I wish I could already be married, but I’m confident God is doing a LOT of good in this season and teaching me to enjoy the uniqueness of it.

        Reply
  22. Anonymous

    This list was helpful to see that the blame shifting I experienced in my former marriage was not accurate. I had all 15 in my former marriage. So glad that I’m free now.

    Reply
  23. Sunflower

    I would give anything if my husband could understand how his porn use ruined our marriage. He blames me.

    Reply
  24. Katey

    There’s something about orgasm frequency that I haven’t seen mentioned. If it’s been brought up before, please point me in the right direction!

    The infrequent orgasm criterion is not as clear-cut as it seems. From the beginning of our marriage, my husband has made my orgasm a priority, and the only times I don’t have one are because I tell him I don’t want to try or just can’t get there.

    However, I have had so many orgasms that felt awful because there was no meaningful connection in the relationship and sex did not feel intimate to me. I remember that a few of the purity culture books tell women to make their husbands feel like great lovers, and how our orgasm is a huge part of that (our arousal intensifies his pleasure and all that). How messed up is it that purity culture turned MY ORGASM into something I had to do for him?! It felt so demeaning that sometimes I would cry afterward. Of course he wouldn’t know what was wrong, and I had no idea how to explain it. But now I know what was happening: arousal nonconcordance.

    Sure, I had lots of orgasms, but I still hated sex. I think this is an important factor to highlight, because from the “numbers” it didn’t look like we had an orgasm gap, but it was definitely there. I’m curious if anyone else has experienced the same thing.

    Thank you Sheila and everyone else for your work! Listening to the podcast for a few years and reading your book gave me the jump start I needed to set some boundaries and insist on real change in my marriage, and I am thankful for the slow, but steady progress we are making. I’m looking forward to experiencing sex as that “beautiful gift from God” I heard so much about as a teenager!

    P.S. I do want to clarify that my husband is not a jerk, but he was raised in purity culture too and is having to weed those harmful ideas out of his thinking just like I am.

    Reply
  25. Dymphna

    9/15. So much trauma for both me and my husband blocking things up. He does not know how to give me pleasure and I’m so hard to please (his words) that he doesn’t even try anymore. I’m exclusively breastfeeding a roly-poly baby. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, and have had more pregnancies than orgasms. I wish I were exaggerating.

    I’ve been sharing some of the things I’m realizing about why I simply dread sex with my husband. I’ve been asking him for years to get therapy. I have done a fair amount myself for the childhood trauma but haven’t yet touched the sexual side of things. He’s trying to be understanding. He wants to be a good man. But I think we just need to take a total break from sex while we heal things there. It’s that awful.

    He wants to know if it would help if he just traumatized me on a schedule instead, so I don’t have to dread it. (He wouldn’t say it like that, of course.) Because it’s a sin to deny one’s husband. The Bible says do not deprive each other and I have been deprived for fourteen years and counting. Every so often he feels like it’s been too long and it’s my obligation to make him comfortable again. As if I’m a pair of toenail clippers who needs to be available whenever that distasteful job needs to be done. I just want to cry.

    I have a trauma informed spiritual director and he’s willing to work with us. I’ve been afraid to even touch it up until now because of so much truly icky advice out there. (Eg. Just masturbate.) But I still feel just so much grief and not a lot of hope at the moment. Please pray for us. And thank you for your work.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so sorry. “Being traumatized on a schedule.” That does sound just awful. I pray that if you raise this with your spiritual director that he will see the pain and honor it.

      Reply
  26. AllTriedOut

    Sheila, I have read your Marriage book and this article. My wife deals with not only a special needs son, but also my 98 yo Mom, plus her Mom who is starting to have her own problems. It seems like the emergency situations rotate from one of them to the next each day. I feel like my wife is a Saint dealing with all these things, I love her very much. After 30 yrs of marriage, many of those years dealing with these things we are rarely intimate, and I feel like I’m at the bottom of the importance list. I try not to feel sorry for myself, but its challenging when the few spare moments she has are spent reading or talking on the phone for several hours each week with her sister and mom and never missing. I will admit I have turned to porn occasionally, just for some relief, its that or go crazy, or have an affair, which are not options. I feel like we are roommates or brother – sister, not spouses. I feel guilty if I ever think about bringing up sex because of all the demands on her already, plus, I dont want pity sex or maintenance sex, I want intimacy from my wife. To top it all off, she came from a very conservative background, where sex is never spoken about and you must stay covered up from head to toe or you are tempting men. There are times I wonder why we are married, but changing things at this point would hurt too many people. So we sacrifice for the others in our lives. I see no hope. I appreciate your ministry, I wish my wife and I could have been exposed to this material many years ago.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, that does sound like your wife is dealing with a lot.

      A quick thing–you said your wife deals with a special needs son. She is your wife, though, is she not? That would mean that he is also your son. Whether he is biologically yours or not (I’m assuming he may not be since you didn’t say “our” son), he is your son if you married his mother.

      If your wife is exhausted and overwhelmed, maybe you praising her as a “saint” isn’t what she wants. Maybe instead of adoration, she wants a partner who jumps in with her and deals with life. The fact that you said that SHE tends to your son rather than WE tend to OUR son says a LOT, to be honest. Additionally, she cares for YOUR mother–why aren’t you caring for your mother? Why is your wife doing that?

      I mean this in all gentleness, but the fact that your wife is caring for your child and your mother and you’re turning to porn periodically because of your frustration sounds a lot like you feel very entitled to have someone take care of your problems. Your duties to your son, your duties to your mother, and also duties to serve you sexually. I know that may sound harsh but I truly do mean this in a gentle way–I can see how she’s sacrificing. How are you sacrificing for her other than not having sex? Because if it’s truly as you describe in your comment, your wife is very likely not the reason you are not having sex. It’s likely because she’s carried a good portion of your share of your burdens on top of her own for too long.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.