Why Might a Woman Start to Find Sex in Marriage Disgusting?

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 41 comments

What makes sex disgusting?
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Has sex ever become super disgusting to you?

I sure hope not, but as we’ve been talking about obligation sex in our current series, I’ve had several comments along those lines, and I’d like to talk about this one in particular today.

A woman wrote:

I have no idea how long I have been conditioned to give obligation sex & now because I think I’m going to throw up during it I have resorted to a “hand job” because in his words “marriage is give & take & sometimes we do stuff we don’t enjoy for our spouse.” I have gone to counseling to work through this but WE need to go to counseling. After 3 sessions of us together he said he felt attacked & it was worthless & the counselor “is an idiot” so where do I go from here? I’d run away but I have children, so here I am, still struggling daily & no one to really talk to.

First, I feel so sorry for this woman! I know many of you are going through something similar, where you feel trapped and you feel so distant in your marriage.

I don’t know if I can help you practically today, but I do want to explain what’s going on, because this can shed more light on why obligation sex is so toxic–and why it affects the body so much.

I’ve been reading Unclean by Richard Beck.

Beck is a psychologist, and in his book he’s sharing about “disgust” psychology, and the role that actually plays in Christianity (and how Jesus came to help us get out of this mindset). It’s hard to summarize the whole thing here, but it’s been super interesting. 

I was speaking in Halifax last weekend to a young adult church plant, and on the plane on the way home I was reading it, right after I had read that comment from the woman about feeling like she had to throw up when having sex with her husband. And Beck actually spoke to this exact thing–and what it means!

I’m going to try to summarize here, but basically all cultures have a disgust reaction (even if it triggers with different things). Our faces even tend to make the same expressions when we’re disgusted by something–we wrinkle our nose, we feel nauseous. Why is this?

Well, let me tell you about the Dixie cup experiment. Let’s say I were to give you a Dixie cup, and asked you to spit in it–and you did. Now let’s say I asked you to drink the spit. Would you do it?

That’s seriously icky, right? But why? That spit, a minute ago, would have been in your mouth and you would have swallowed it without a thought. But as soon as it’s outside of your body, it becomes an object of disgust. Because now it’s OTHER.

The disgusting has to be seen as alien: one’s own bodily products are not viewed as disgusting so long as they are inside one’s own body, although they become disgusting after they leave it.

Richard Beck


What is it that the disgust reactions all try to do? They try to expel the thing that is disgusting. So we spit out gross food; or else we try to vomit. We’re trying to expel the thing that is disgusting to us. 

(You can likely see where the theological implications are for this on a church-wide scale about how we relate to others, but I won’t delve into that here, except to say that it’s fascinating).

Now let’s turn to romantic relationships. The idea of sharing saliva with someone else tends to be pretty disgusting, right? But that disgust is overcome when we’re with someone we’re attracted to, someone we love. And when we marry and become “one flesh”, then the idea of their bodily fluids touching ours doesn’t trigger disgust anymore. It’s actually quite inviting?

Why? Because they aren’t OTHER anymore. They’re inside the circle. They’re part of ME.

As Miller notes, sexual love and pleasure are only possible when pre-existing disgust rules are suspended.

Richard Beck


But what happens if this person who is supposed to be inside the circle, who is supposed to be part of you, treats you with contempt or treats you like an object to be used? What happens if they show they don’t actually see you or care about you or what you’re feeling?

Then they’re no longer inside the circle. They’re taking themselves outside of the circle. And when someone is outside your circle, the idea of sharing your body with them can be super disgusting. And what’s our reaction when we’re disgusted? We want to expel that thing (ie. throw up).

That is, as loved ones drift apart, emotionally speaking, they should begin to reexperience sociomoral distance and separation. In the marital relationship “one flesh” begins to separate back into two. Otherness reemerges, marked by the onset of disgust. The once intimate and erotic touch of the spouse is now experienced as an intrusion, a violation. Physical intimacies such as sex are no longer relished but experienced as disgusting and revolting.

Richard Beck


That’s one way of explaining the psychology of what she’s going through. 

Disgust can also be triggered by contamination.

Think of how you wouldn’t drink a glass of wine with a drop of urine in it. The urine contaminates the whole thing; it’s not that contact with the wine cleanses the urine.

And what is it that can contaminate us? When we’re lower on the divinity scale. You’ve got God, angels, people, mammals, birds, bugs, etc. Human beings are supposed to act like human beings and even try to ascend to acting like Jesus. 

But what happens when a man wants purely animalistic sex, with no consideration of the human aspect of sex? Then it degrades you. It contaminates you. And you react with revulsion and disgust. 

We need to pay attention to disgust.

Disgust is visceral; Beck talks in the book about how disgust operates at the emotional level, not at the rational one. It tells you what is going on inside your body. When people start to experience sex with their partner as disgusting, that’s a sign that something is going on.

Now, sometimes that disgust can trigger for other reasons. 

Maybe one of you is a victim of sexual assault, and something traumatic is being triggered. Maybe you grew up with sex being seen as something gross, or with bodies being seen as something gross, and you’re reacting to that prior conditioning, rather than to the marriage.

Maybe one of you even has an attraction to the same sex, and so sex with your partner triggers unwanted feelings.

She Deserves Better!

Because we all deserve a big faith.

Your daughter deserves better than what you likely grew up with in church.

What would it look like to prepare the next generation without toxic teachings about modesty, sex, or consent, and instead set her up for a big faith?

Whatever the reason that disgust is triggered, it’s a sign that needs to be paid attention to. 

The answer isn’t to tell women, “God made sex to be between a husband and wife, and you can’t withhold or deprive him.” You’re telling her to push through an emotion where she literally wants to vomit. How is that sexy at all? How is that intimate? Are we really saying that one person’s climax that causes the other to want to vomit glorifies God?

Or can we admit that if the disgust reaction is triggered, that means there’s something serious to be paid attention to? She isn’t feeling like one flesh in this area of her life.

When we tell women to push through the disgust, we cement the feeling of disgust with the experience of sex. This can’t last. It just can’t. It’s why we found that women can put up with really bad sex for a time, but not forever. One can only be made to feel disgusting for so long before something snaps and breaks. 

Instead of blaming women for being disgusted, can we start being curious?

Disgust isn’t intentional. So let’s be curious and ask, “what is going on?” And let’s recognize that some dynamics in marriage can easily trigger a disgust reaction. That’s not on her; that’s on the thing that is causing it, whether it be bad teachings or past trauma or a bad relationship.

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It is not a moral failing on her part; it tends to be triggered by someone else’s moral failing (her husband; her abuser; bad Christian teachers).

Maybe, if we took disgust seriously and listened to what was happening, we could actually help address these dynamics and restore her to a place where she felt safe, instead of lecturing her that she has no rights over her body, and must surrender it.

Maybe it’s no wonder, then, that so many women are feeling nauseous!

What makes sex disgusting in marriage

What do you think? Does this idea of disgust psychology make sense? Let’s talk!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

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  1. Ceci

    For the last 10 years or so of my previous marriage, I felt nauseous at bedtime every single night. I couldn’t figure out why. I drank a cup of ginger tea every night, trying to calm my stomach. In order to fulfill my “obligation” to my husband, I had to disconnect from my body or I’d never get through it. At the same time, I started waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks, feeling sick. It took me years to connect my physical symptoms with what was happening in my marriage. Sex had not ever been about me, but around that time he became much more demanding of his rights as the “head of the household,” and he was progressively nastier if I turned him down. He started giving me the silent treatment, ridiculing me in front of our children and others, taking out his anger on all of us and even acting out with strangers. I started having nightmares about being trapped with a killer or raped by a demon. Even a kiss was too much for me—I slept with my knees pulled up to my chest, facing him, so he couldn’t sneak up on me in the middle of the night. He dismissed my pleas for space and got angry with me if I didn’t comply. When I finally got away, I slept soundly for the first time in years, with no nausea.

    Fast forward to my second marriage, to a good, kind and loving man who always puts me ahead of himself…it’s completely different. I’m not on my guard with him, not disgusted by him, not sick, not dissociating…there really is something to all of this. Thank you for sharing it.

    • TLB

      Thank you for validating how I feel! Sheila is quoting me in this article & I had no idea this was a “thing” 😳 I’m sad that commenters are turning this into a gay/lesbian issue, when it isn’t in my case 😢 but really thankful that it appears I may not be losing my mind after all… I just wish I knew who to talk with that is safe & could help.

      • Suzanne

        One commenter shared her personal story, that didn’t make it into a “gay/lesbian issue”.

        • Nessie

          Hey Suzanne,
          I think a lot of posts are also shared via Instagram, Facebook ,etc., so it probably went in that direction elsewhere before today’s post.

      • Laura


        When you mentioned feeling like you wanted to vomit from giving your husband hand jobs, I can totally relate to this and I meant to comment to your response earlier. When I was married to my ex-husband, our last kiss almost made me want to vomit. We had been separated for a week and he acted like he wanted to work things out with me, but I knew I just could not due to the sexual assault.

        I also thought sex with him was disgusting, especially oral sex and hand jobs.

      • K

        TLB – I read your first comment and it broke my heart. I am so sorry for what you are experiencing right now.

        There are warning signs that if your husband turned away from a counsellor who was validating you, and doesn’t want to go anymore that your marriage may have other forms of abuse present, it’s not just sex.

        Sometimes when we are in abusive marriages it can be hard for us to come to terms with calling it abuse if we have children and don’t feel like we have options or choices other than to stick it out.

        If it’s safe for you, you may want to read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. “How He Gets Into Her Head” by Don Hennessy and “In Sheep’s Clothing”by George Simon. (The last book is helpful for relationships that have a “twisted” psychological element in them.)

        Knowledge is power. Reading and educating yourself isn’t going to MAKE your relationship abusive. Not reading isn’t going to stop it from being so if it is. It simply means you will be in a position to define what the issues actually ARE instead of running around in your head feeling powerless and chaotic.

        I hope this is helpful to you – I’m really saying what I wish someone had said to me. I never would gave called my marriage abusive, but it was – at a psychological level I’ve been asked if I’d ever write a book about.

        Your gut is yelling at you. Trust it. Trust yourself. Find out why you feel this way. You aren’t crazy – you’re more powerful and have more wisdom than you know.

        And total strangers who know your pain are rooting for you. ♥️

        • TLB

          K – thank you so much! Crying reading your words, truly just so exhausted.

          • K

            I am SO SO SORRY for your pain. It’s terribly, horribly real.

            You are not “weak” and You are NOT crazy. The crazy happens when we try to make sense of a situation with a set of tools we’ve been given and the tools don’t fit and don’t work. So we keep second guessing ourselves.

            Try to be kind to yourself today ♥️ You have been through SO MUCH. Realise it’s the healthy part of you that is hurting. It’s the healthy part of you that knows that something is wrong. Be kind to your hurting self. Allow yourself to hurt.

            I feel your heart – and I am SO sorry.

            When I was falling apart I spent some time talking with a woman at a shelter. It was a shelter that didn’t keep records so I knew that my husband wouldn’t be able to find out about it.

            Even though I didn’t need to go into the shelter she could see the patterns of abusive behaviour and could just validate me. It was a good thing to do.

            I don’t know if you have anything like this that you can access in your area?

            (Not all help is equal – you SHOULD feel validated at some level with your experiences. If anyone “isn’t getting it” it’s NOT you – move on.)


        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Those are great book recommendations, K. Thank you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad it resonated with you! And I’m glad you’re in a good place now!

  2. Jo R

    Think about what so many women are culturally trained to put up with, even from a very young age.

    Which older siblings help care for the new baby, including changing diapers, cleaning up diaper explosions, dealing with spit-up, feeding a toddler who thinks meal time is finger-painting time? Is it the male older siblings?

    When girls hit puberty, they will spend 24 hours per day for several days uncontrollably bleeding (yes, fellas, it’s not like urination; women can’t just “hold it in”). Girls are made to feel shame for this completely normal, natural process. Boys may have overnight wet dreams every few days, which cleans up in a few minutes. Which sex bears the greater burden of dealing with their own body fluids? (This doesn’t even take into account the pain, nausea, and even vomiting that many girls and women must deal with on top of the bleeding.)

    When women are pregnant, once again, many have nausea and even vomiting. The “natural, normal” process of giving birth leaves many women with tears somewhere in their crotch, making going to the bathroom, and even sometimes walking, difficult if not actually painful. (C-sections just move the trauma elsewhere.)

    Breastfeeding is not an automatic process for many women. Milk letdown is another cause for embarrassment. Chapped nipples, blistered nipples, and the advent of the baby’s teeth are still more instances of discomfort or even pain.

    When a child has an accident in the middle of the night, who is getting up to deal with soiled sheets? When a kid has projectile vomiting, who’s cleaning it off the bed, the wall, the carpet, and all the other surfaces?

    Who’s cleaning up pet accidents?

    Who’s cleaning, period?

    All that to say, girls and women deal with lots of unpleasant stuff, mostly silently. If SEX makes a woman want to vomit, how bad must it be, and for how long?

  3. Laura

    I’ve never heard of disgust psychology, but it makes a lot of sense. When I was married to my ex, I found sex disgusting mainly in the last year of our marriage. Some of the porn that we consumed made sex look disgusting and degrading; there was nothing about making love. It was just about body parts and semen, which I found gross.

    Of course, I was disgusted with sex because my ex treated me like garbage outside of the bedroom. There was lots of verbal abuse, controlling behavior, and then sexual abuse. Why would anyone want to share their body with someone who treats them terribly? Yet, these horrible “Christian” marriage books tell wives to keep having sex with their husbands because “that’s a command from God” with reference from the “do not deprive” verses in Corinthians. Even though I did not read those kind of books during my marriage, somehow I got the message that being a good wife meant I was obligated to have “relations” with my husband whether I wanted to or not.

    On another note, when I was engaged to my ex-fiance who is a very wonderful person, I just could not bring myself to feel a sexual attraction toward him. I could not get excited thinking about sex with him. I never felt temptation when I was around him and after dealing with some conflict in the relationship, I had to be honest with myself about my feelings for him. Another thing I have heard in some of these books and from other Christians was that physical attraction is not everything and it should not be of importance in a marriage. I loved my ex-fiance but not romantically. This was a good learning experience for me and showed me that I could love a man who was safe but that did not mean he was the one for me.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a hard lesson to learn, Laura! I’m glad you did, though.

  4. Kayla

    Wow, this was very insightful to read in scientific terms. It is applicable to a couple other situations that I’ve dealt with lately (kids + food preferences) and it is helpful.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I have LOVED the book! Joanna Sawatsky (one of my co-authors) got Rebecca and me into it!

      • Rebekah

        I don’t know how you do it, Sheila! But somehow you post about things I am currently mulling over but have never heard anyone else say before . . . and then, after reading your post, I don’t feel all alone anymore. Anyway, I was just listening to a TED talk by Paul Bloom which led me to this video: “Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everyhting” (Big Think). He talks about disgust psychology, and that helped me understand why people in my church (as well as many Christians) are xenophobic. We work with Muslim refugees, and the hate Christians have towards them is so sad. . . and this YouTube video really helped me relate what I had learned about cultures and in groups and out groups . . . and, well, now this 🙂 . . .all to disgust psychology. You should watch the video.

  5. K

    This was a BRILLIANT article. Thank you Sheila!! HOW I wish it had been there for me around 9 years ago.

    I was a good christian
    woman who got to the point that I would secretly find a way to physically hurt myself during the act so that I could concentrate on that pain rather than on what he was doing to me, because my bodily and emotional reactions became so strong I could hardly hold them in – all the while repeating “I’m doing this for you, I’m doing this for you, I’m doing this for you” in my mind to Jesus, while being used as a masturbatory tool. There was no mutuality in my marriage at all and I gave a lot of obligation sex to be a “kind compassionate woman” – “who died to herself” to make her spouse happy.

    I simply came to the conclusion that Jesus neither knew nor cared. And that He hated women as a whole.

    I’ve healed enough to know that isn’t true of Him mentally, but carry the weight and doubt in my gut reactions still.

    Again. A brilliant article. So helpful and insightful.

    Thank you.

    • Marie

      Why do men not seem to be affected by this? They don’t have to feel one with their wife to enjoy sex. They can feel animosity and disgust toward their wife yet still demand sex and desire exchanging bodily fluids.

      • J

        I wonder that as well. Some people do some REALLY disgusting things with strangers. Why isn’t the psychology of disgust kicking in for them? Or maybe it is for some, and the shame of their behavior just spins the wheel and they go again to sex for comfort, then feel shame, etc.

      • Maria

        I suspect it’s because their attitude is that the other person’s body belongs to them, so the othering isn’t present.

      • Courtney

        Apparently men have a lower threshold for disgust. Plus they’re more likely to separate sex from emotion, they don’t bond through oxytocin the way women do in sex. Pretty funny how differently they experience intimacy. There’s psychology papers done on that, Google it. Sometimes feels like men and women aren’t meant to be partners lol.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, K, that’s so heartbreaking! I’m so glad you’re on the other side now.

    • TLB

      K- I’m sorry you were doing this to yourself & had these thoughts of Jesus 😢 I know first hand about trying to make myself numb to the sex, I know I need help, we need help but it is so difficult to find. But thank you for the book recommendations, listening to one right now & for your words of hope & encouragement ♥️

      • K

        😢🤗 Thank you TLB! It’s really SO unbelievably painful isn’t it?!?

        I so hope you find what you need to, that you hear what you need to, that you will be safe – and that you can know that you aren’t weird or faulty in some way. There is a cloud of witnesses who, when you start talking about your pain all start nodding … you aren’t alone. We feel with you and for you. ♥️

    • SD

      I knew I had crossed some kind of a line when my husband trying to kiss me made my stomach twist. I had felt disgust towards sex with him for a while, but I had a lingering appreciation for his (rare) attempts to kiss me. Kissing has always been more intimate for me than the sex act, and I desired it more. But after more than a decade of gradually escalating emotional, verbal and sexual abuse, even kissing became repulsive. I knew why: passionate feelings for me have always followed feelings of mental and emotional intimacy, and he had been doggedly working to destroy that intimacy for years. All the while blaming me for the decline in our marriage because I wasn’t “willing to do what it would take” to restore good marital feelings, ie, have sex often and in the degrading pornified ways he wanted it.

  6. Lisa Johns

    This resonates. I spent years giving sex whenever he wanted it, because that was rare anyway, and because I didn’t feel like I could complain if he was actually wanting sex with me. In the years since I gave up on sex I have realized (finally) that I did not truly enjoy sex with him because there was never anything more than a superficial emotional connection that he used to shut me up from questioning his commitment to me. Also in the years since, I have felt truly disgusted whenever I am too near him, and I now realize why this makes sense. He “othered” himself. We have never been one. Very painful.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Lisa.

  7. Angharad

    It would be far weirder for a woman NOT to find sex disgusting with a partner who is not making her feel safe.

    Something that is welcomed from a person we love and trust is frightening or disgusting when it comes from someone we actively distrust. Why would sex be any different?

  8. Taylor

    The final time I had sex with my former husband, I got really queasy, and I didn’t know why. This makes so much sense now.

  9. J

    Makes total sense. I now know why I desired my husband less and less and why sometimes I didn’t want to even kiss him. He used to complain about the “grandma pecks” I gave him, and I felt guilty that I couldn’t muster up more emotion for him, but then guess what? I found out he had been covertly abusing me via chronic neglect and a secret sex addiction FOR DECADES. Who wants to kiss that? Disgust is exactly the right word.

    Between the body keeping the score and the psychology of disgust, I can overcome the decades of guilt I had about the growing dislike I had for my husband . Instead, I will continue to thank my body for protecting me from a man who was behaving repulsively.

    • Lisa Johns

      “continue to thank my body for protecting me from a man who was behaving repulsively.” YES!!!
      Your body did a beautiful thing! It reacted with disgust to a disgusting situation, and showed you that you needed to get away! Yes! Thank you, body!

  10. Tallia

    This was really insightful, and it was so helpful to hear other women experiencing disgust at something that is supposed to be a reflection of something beautiful in Christ.
    But I am more confused than ever.
    My husband is extremely loving and tender to me. He is very generous, gentle, and kind.
    But I find intimacy so unappealing and gross. Eroticism makes me wrinkle my nose is so gust, even when presented in a gentle and loving way.
    I cannot see the innate beauty of intimacy between a husband and wife, and just get more heartbroken every time.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Tallia! Sometimes disgust is fuelled not by something our husbands are doing, but because we’ve been trained to associate sex with something impure that contaminates us. Could it be that you grew up with messages that paint sex that way? Or that you’ve believed Christian teaching that can make sex sound threatening to you? You may appreciate The Great Sex Rescue if you think this may be the case.

    • Lucy

      Ok so here’s my thing. I don’t find my husband disgusting but I have had a complete aversion to bodily fluids since before marriage and relationships. I wasn’t taught that either anywhere; I was told it was natural and part of life.

      But there’s certain things I don’t feel comfortable doing, like oral and having semen in my mouth. That doesn’t mean I don’t find my husband attractive or that he’s been abusive. We have a pretty healthy sex life (despite my pain issues due to endometriosis, but we do other things like hand jobs and use toys and whatnot), but I won’t swallow semen. I also don’t want oral on me just because I don’t find it particularly enjoyable.

      I think we have to be careful not to make women feel like these are things they should be excited about doing if they’re in a healthy relationship and that there’s something underlying wrong if we don’t. Can’t it just be personal preference? We should do things we are comfortable with and enjoy and if the idea of oral sex is not pleasurable, it should not be something we are obligated to fix.

      Maybe I missed the point of this entirely but I have gotten so many guilt trips by other counselor’s articles online and others who say there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want a mouthful of his semen.

      Thankfully he understands how uncomfortable it makes me and doesn’t pressure me to change. I do think a lot of these issues can be something tied to the things you’ve mentioned but in some cases, like mine, they aren’t.

      • Nessie

        Totally understand what you are saying. I got the impression from the article that it was more in regards to an aversion that had developed after time with one’s husband. That has been my case anyhow so perhaps that is just my lens.

        Since there are ways you can be physically intimate with him that you enjoy, I would guess it isn’t because he has done something wrong and it’s probably not a symptom of something deeper. There are certainly plenty of people that have sensory concerns, and some things, like you mention, will probably always be distasteful to them. I’m sorry you’ve felt guilt trips from online sources. I’ve read similar things and had to ignore them, too. And they have likely compounded this disgust problem for women with the same guilt trip- “keep trying it and pushing through it and eventually you will get there.” Not if I have sensory issues, and not if I have relationship issues.
        I felt this article meant for women to take those things seriously- figure out if there might be an underlying cause, and if it’s something that can change for your betterment, look into that.

      • Lisa Johns

        I can completely understand you! I find oral sex distasteful (especially after being PRESSURED for it for years and years!), and I don’t see any reason why my preferences in this area should not be honored! Yes, it should be about personal preference. Full stop.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire


      • Healing

        Hopefully not TMI but I don’t like having semen in my mouth either. When my husband and I were going through our really bad times, I didn’t want sex. We’d have if once a month or so… instead, I had to give him oral. I hated it. I was repulsed. I actually kept a tally of how often I did it because I didn’t want to hear about how “he never gets any.” I could reply, “It happened on Tuesday, it’s not never.” In a year, I think it was around 140x. 🤮

        Needless to say, after reading The Great Sex Rescue and having a deep conversation, my husband was repulsed by HIS behavior. He can’t believe he acted the way he did and thought that 140 BJs in a year wasn’t good enough. It’s because it was focused on just his release and not on the connection between us.

        Long story short, it’s been 2 years since reading TGSR and I haven’t had semen in my mouth since. I always hated it and he doesn’t want me to do something I don’t want to do. Plus, now when we have sex it’s about US connecting, not just him getting off. It’s so gross to think about how it used to be. I felt so used. I’m glad it’s not like that anymore.

  11. Rebekah

    Some time within the last ten years I was at a moms group at my previous church and we had a time for anonymous questions. I asked if anyone else thought sex was gross. I don’t remember the answers but I don’t think it got anywhere. I’ve been married 19 years now and it took a long time to connect attraction and desire to pleasure in sex. Growing up with purity culture resources I couldn’t flip the switch and find sudden pleasure. I have a good husband and he at least worked to make sure the first time was comfortable. But the books we’d been given said nothing about foreplay. There were times where I agreed and dealt with it, no pain, just not really pleasure. There were times where I wanted to be together and felt close or somewhat enjoyed it. But many times where it wasn’t enough for me to be satisfied. Big O gap. But having no pleasure or arousal meant the physical fluids and actions were gross. Not like I love the those fluids now but because we figured out what I needed, and I figured out how to relax and enjoy myself, and I more regularly have pleasure it isn’t a problem.

  12. Healing

    I was repulsed by sex when it wasn’t intimate anymore… when it was my duty to give him release.

    Unlike in Sheet Music where the woman was so turned on by giving a handjob (eye roll), I was absolutely disgusted. (Good thing the light was out because I definitely had the look of disgust on my face along with tears in my eyes.)

    Oh and the women who mentioned stomach problems/nausea. Yeah, I had that. Coincidentally my stomach issues started after having our 3rd child which is when the sexual selfishness started, when the sexual favors HAD TO be given. I kept a tally of how many times I barfed and I was up to 86x and that’s not including the nights I just felt sick but never puked. I went to Drs thinking something was wrong with me, like I had a food allergy or some weird gastric disorder. Tests all came back negative. After reading TGSR, having a huge talk, we realized my stomach issues were caused by the stress my husband was inflicting on me. (Odd how the nausea issues would usually start at 9pm).

    As bad as it sounds, some nights I was actually relieved to be puking because it meant I didn’t have to have sex or give sexual favors. Let that sink in, I would rather have my head hovering above a toilet, puking up my dinner than having sex. It’s CRAZY to me that it got so bad.

    Luckily, my husband and has changed his ways and guess what??? No more stomach problems!!!!! It’s sad to think of all those years I spent so sick due to obligation sex.

    I’m glad I am not repulsed by sex anymore. Sex is quite lovely when it’s the way God designed it to be.

  13. Rex

    I am repulsed by sex with my wife, and I do find the idea of sex disgusting.

    It has been a tough few years for both of us: for her and for me. Both of us had expectations that our sex life would be different; both of us feel like we are letting the other down. We. definitely grew up deeply enmeshed in purity culture, and we both thought that “waiting for marriage” was the golden ticket to a lifetime of marital bliss. We have not had any troubles with the O gap, or with pornography, and she has never pressured me into sex, but there have been many difficulties. For instance, we did struggle for years with fertility before our kids were born, and right from the beginning – right from the honeymoon night – our sexual connection was tense and disappointing. Sex has never been easy or refreshing for either of us: it always felt like a mutual obligation.

    When we let go of that obligatory sex, we let go of sex altogether. We didn’t miss having sex with each other. It felt like a relief, to be no longer required to go through the motions of a routine that neither of us enjoyed. I didn’t expect that our decision to suspend sex “for a while” was actually the end of sexuality in our marriage altogether. There is some solo masturbation, but no mutuality, no partnership when it comes to sex. We have discussed it, with therapist(s) and otherwise, but it feels like we are at an impasse.

    I am certainly more than merely disinterested in sex. I am repelled by it. We’ve tried to “restart” the process a handful of times, and we’ve enrolled in marriage therapy 3 times, too, but when sex starts again, I feel… all the stuff mentioned above – tension, anxiety, shame, alienation from my self and distance from my wife. She feels sad; I feel sad. She feels like we are roommates; I feel emasculated, and confused; pessimistic, and resigned.

    We are seeing a therapist together now, and there’s stability in our marriage in general, but the sexual piece feels absolutely un-fixable, in part because I do not want to fix it: I’d like to be part of a mutually satisfying sexual partnership, but I find the idea of sex with my wife deeply upsetting.


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