You Don’t Have to Consent to One-Sided Sex

by | Oct 2, 2023 | Sexual Intimacy | 31 comments

Consenting to one-sided sex

More sex does not fix a marriage.

In our study of 20,000 women for The Great Sex Rescue, we found that more sex made good marriages great. Good sex, in a healthy marriage, definitely helps that marriage thrive.

But sex can’t fix a bad marriage. And, indeed, having bad sex can actually make a woman’s perception of marriage far worse.

How can he have sex with me when I obviously don’t want to? How can he not care how I feel about what he’s doing to me? How can he use my body with absolutely not regard for ME? How can he think of me as just a hole?

When you have sex and your primary emotion is feeling used, then it will make you feel further away from your spouse, not more intimate with your spouse.

We need to rethink the idea that “more sex = better sex = better marriage”

It should be more like this:

Good marriage + good sex = great marriage

But bad marriage + bad sex = worse marriage

Or even:

bad marriage + good sex can still = bad marriage

It’s complicated. Feeling as if a spouse is only interested in you for your body, and doesn’t care about you, can cause serious issues in how you communicate and feel about each other.

Let’s remember the threefold nature of sex:

Sex is something which is:

  1. Intimate
  2. Mutual (both want it)
  3. Pleasurable for both

Anything else is not actually sex; it’s just using someone’s body.

Now, if what we are supposed to give our spouse is something mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both, when you use your spouse’s body with no concern for how thy feel or what they are experiencing, then you are depriving them.

We talked about this on the obligation sex podcast last week, but there is nothing magical to a woman about having a man’s penis in her vagina (and see the Myth of the Magic Penis podcast for more). This does not automatically give her pleasure; it does not make her feel intimate; it does not necessarily make her feel like she matters.

In cases where she feels used, she would be better off NOT having sex than having sex. She is already being deprived of intimacy and pleasure. Having one-sided sex increases that deprivation; it doesn’t decrease it.

You do not have to consent to being used.

There is absolutely no biblical basis for telling women they have to consent to one-sided sex where they feel objectified or used. And, please hear me on this one: If you continue to submit to sex like this for years, your marriage will likely self-destruct. Women can only put up with this for so long until the trauma becomes untenable.

Fixing your marriage and working on your marriage is not about submitting to one-sided sex. It’s about confronting the issues that are making sex one-sided in the first place.

When we tell women that they have to have sex regardless, then we’re telling them that you can’t really work on the issues in your marriage. Because if you are telling your husband, “I feel desperately alone. We need to connect. I feel like you don’t care about me at all. This is becoming a crisis,” but then tonight you give him oral sex anyway, he simply won’t believe you.

The number of men who have written to us saying something like: “We had a great marriage for 25 years, and then my wife started reading your book and she just stopped having sex for no reason” is just astronomical. But when you dig deeper, you realize she’s been SAYING that there’s a crisis for years, but he wasn’t hearing it. To him, the marriage was only in trouble when she stopped having sex (for what he thought was no reason). He wasn’t listening to her words

The kind of man who would want to have one-sided sex with his wife, and wouldn’t care what she was feeling, is also the kind of man who is unlikely to listen to her words.


I am not talking about going on a sex strike.

Not at all.

I am talking about refusing to consent to one-sided sex. Those are two entirely different things.

None of us should be having one-sided sex.

It’s okay to say to your spouse:

I want to have a passionate, intimate marriage with you, but that’s not where we’re at right now. I feel used. I feel like you want my body but that you don’t want me, and that’s ugly. That’s soul-crushing. I can’t keep doing that anymore.

And I can’t keep having sex where the goal is your release, but not mine. Where you use my body but you don’t give me pleasure. Where what I’m feeling doesn’t matter; only what you’re feeling does.

So I will no longer consent to sex that makes me feel used. I want instead for us to work on fixing these issues so that we both feel seen and valued, and so that our sex life could actually reflect that.

Here’s how we explained it in The Great Sex Rescue:

Great Sex Rescue

From The Great Sex Rescue

Many sexless marriages have, at their root, not a selfish refusal on the part of one spouse but rather an attempt at emotional protection. The way sexless marriages have often been framed, though, is that she is withholding sex because she wants to. By not having sex, then, we would assume that she’s getting what she wants. Logically, we would thus expect sexless marriages to be filled with unhappy husbands and more-or-less contented wives.

That is not what we found. While only 14.3% of women in sexually active marriages rated their marriages as neutral or unhappy, 63.1% of women in sexless marriages did. When you divide our survey respondents up into quintiles (five approximately equal-sized groups) based on happiness, women in sexless marriages are sixty-two times more likely to be in the unhappiest group than the happiest group.

Our results suggest that many, if not most, sexless marriages may be the natural result of emotional pain that the couple has caused each other throughout the marriage.

Women in sexless marriages were 9.3 times less likely to have felt close to their husbands when they used to have sex. When you have broken trust and caused emotional pain, sometimes for decades, it should not come as a surprise if your spouse doesn’t want to have sex with you.

As we have shown throughout this book, our survey found that women struggle to respond sexually when things are not right relationally or situationally. When she loses her libido, maybe it’s not that there’s necessarily something wrong with her but that she’s reacting to something in the marriage that’s not right. Perhaps we should treat sexlessness more like the canary that stopped singing in the coal mine—it’s pointing to a deeper issue.

See The Great Sex Rescue here.


Over the weekend, a woman who has been walking this road and who read The Great Sex Rescue left a number of comments that illustrate this well. I’d like to end with them (and I’ve edited a bit to make the story clear, since these were across several comments):

I was repulsed by sex when it wasn’t intimate anymore…

…when it was my duty to give him release.

Unlike in Gary Thomas’ Married Sex 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.)

If I didn’t want “relations” then I better be prepared to give favors instead. If on that second night I didn’t initiate the act or favor, I would hear a loud “huff” and eventually a “I GUESS WE’RE JUST GOING TO SLEEP.” It didn’t feel intimate, loving, etc. it felt like I was just being used.

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.

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.

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.

We will only stop obligation sex when we get a holistic view of sex.

It’s the fact that we think a woman giving oral sex when she’d rather be puking is sex that we’re in this problem in the first place. Why isn’t the church teaching that this isn’t sex? Why is Emerson Eggerichs describing such a woman as a “goldmine”, instead of listening to this story with horror and giving a stern talk to the husband?

Selfish sex hurts a marriage; it doesn’t save it.

Intercourse or sexual favors are not some magic fairy dust that create intimacy; they are a tool that can be used to heal or to hurt. They are context dependent.

And God does not look down at His daughters and think, “well done! I know you feel repulsed and alone and disgusted and used, but you’re glorifying me!”

No. He weeps that His gift of sex has been so distorted that it’s become horrendously ugly, that it’s actually no longer sex at all.

You don’t have to submit to one-sided sex. You just don’t. You were meant for so much more. Please read The Great Sex Rescue. Please see a licensed counselor. Please address this, before it gets even worse.

Don't consent one sided sex

What do you think? Do husbands not realize how bad things are if wives continue to give one-sided sex? How can we get this message out there? Let’s talk in the comments!

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. Suzanne

    It’s shocking to me how many men expect their wives to give them oral sex or hand jobs on a regular basis. Neither are things that imo do a whole lot for the woman and in the comments I read these are one sided sex acts, he is not then doing anything for her, just expects her to make sure that in some way HE gets an orgasm. Where did these selfish men come from? How can they possibly truly think this expectation of women to be their masturbation tool is at all okay! Sighing and acting put out because they didn’t get “taken care of” before going to bed but not caring about taking care of their wife. It makes my stomach churn. I am so sad for women who believe that saying “I do” means they are no longer a person but instead a belonging that must do the bidding of their horrible selfish husbands. Woman have forgotten their worth for far to long. Ladies you are a person who is worth far more than what you can do to please your husband! Men, do better, be better, their is no way your conscience isn’t telling you that your behavior is wrong. I don’t buy for a second that you are unaware of what you are doing.

  2. Jo R

    So, men get to experience on demand one of the greatest things that can happen to a human body, and women, i.e., the half of the population with a multiple-orgasms-with-no-refractory-period clitoris, get to the point where they’re either actively trying to not vomit or are actually vomiting as a result of the same activity.

    Is THIS what Paul meant when he told husbands to fulfill their marital duties to their wives? 🤔

  3. Lisa Johns

    I guess I’m just confused. Not about what you’re saying — that’s crystal clear!
    But I spent years having sex whenever my husband wanted to (about every six weeks if I was lucky) because I knew that if I didn’t there wouldn’t be another chance for a LONG time. And a lot of years wearing my wrists out giving hand jobs (because he liked my hand around even though he didn’t want to have sex) that took FOR.EV.ER. because he had been masturbating half the day and couldn’t perform anyway. I wouldn’t have said that I was having obligation sex. But I had no autonomy, no say in our sex life. (If I tried to initiate I was turned down about 90% of the time.)
    What I realized as I was thinking about it last week (again) is that it wasn’t that he didn’t want sex (witness the porn and accompanying activities), but he DID want all the power in the relationship. If I hadn’t so obviously wanted to be sexual, he would have been pressuring me all the time (if there was something I expressed discomfort with, he would pressure me for it for a LONG time until I finally put my foot down and told him to stop, then he would be angry); but because I obviously wanted sex he refused me all the time.
    So one-sided sex appears to me to be about power dynamics, even more than just his ejaculation. So if it’s power, and ejaculation is a side benefit for him, then this is rape mentality, plain and simple. This just makes me shudder.
    I had read the original comments that you reprinted, and I remember thinking that it’s amazing to me that the husband actually realized what he was doing and changed his thoughts/actions enough for the woman to be able to say that “sex is quite lovely” when it is what it’s supposed to be. My observation is that there aren’t too many guys who are willing to admit that they have been that bad. I’m glad that he was willing to change.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Your last paragaraph… I was thinking the same thing. It’s rare for a man behaving that badly to look into the mirror and be repulsed by his own behavior AND change completely. In that respect, she’s lucky. (And I’m so very sorry that she endured years of vomiting over sex.)

      • Lisa Johns

        Me too!

    • Nessie

      I figure there are men in both camps. Some have deeper issues and it really is predominantly the power, such as ones that withhold PIV to maintain that power. If they “take care of themselves” then clearly they want orgasms- but they want to have power even more.

      Then there are the husbands that are just clueless and/or selfish. They grew up hearing about how sex was something they needed, and women had to give it to them. It got twisted in their brains that that *is* love somehow- women giving sacrificially (who was it that was called to love sacrificially again in scripture??🙄) as part of the marriage contract.

      My husband was in the second camp- it wasn’t about power, he was just both that clueless AND selfish (with a side of ADHD that enabled him to hyperfocus on sex) and it took him over a year of me severely reducing sexual encounters and telling him how horrible the effects of his actions were on me before he actually seemed to get it. Either way is pretty rough- but I think the first camp is more detestable/sinister in its intentionality and origin. What Lisa Johns says about the power and rape dynamics really tracks.

    • K

      Lisa, I’m so sorry for your experience. ♥️ Ghastly doesn’t even come close.

      Have you ever read “How He Gets Into Her Head” by Don Hennessy? It’s about abusive men, written by someone with a great deal of experience (thousands of couples) in the field.

      Mr. Hennessy’s premise is that ALL abusive men are motivated primarily by sexual priority in the relationship. It was something that dawned on him as he was working. He then followed up on the theory with past clients and they all started telling him stories they had never revealed before, stories of sexual horrors.

      But on page 98 of the book, he says this: “While exploring the sexual needs of skilled offenders with both colleagues and clients I have identified a small number of violent and controlling men who do not appear to make undue sexual demands of their partners. Some of these men use the power of rejection as a weapon in undermining their partners sexual integrity. This rejection can have the same devastating effect as the process of rape by seduction or threat.” (In the book, men do not have to be violent to be considered abusive.)

      If your gut feels that something like this was going on and that there could have been a darker element to things – you are not making things up. You could be completely correct. 🤗

      • Lisa Johns

        Wow, thank you for that recommendation! I will look that up.
        I did read Lundy Bancroft’s book (Why Does He Do That?) and much of it really resonated, except that my husband was never physically violent — just controlling and manipulative. But I’d like to read Hennessy’s book and ponder this aspect of the relationship. Thank you.

      • T

        Thank you, K, for posting this. And thank you, Lisa John’s, for having the courage to ask the question. This has been very validating.

        My ex-husband had all the power in our relationship. I walked on egg shells. He controlled the money. He made comments in public that he knew were damaging to me. He rejected me emotionally and sexually, while he also did porn (even during intercouse with me, which I was ignorant of at the time), had affairs, and paid for dozens of prostitutes. We saw therapists–a couple of whom were excellent–but in the end he didn’t want to do the work. Things ended after he communicated that he wanted our marriage to be sexless, and for him to be free to have romantic relationships with whoever else he wanted.

  4. Angharad

    I think some men genuinely don’t realise that one-sided sex is harmful – they’ve absorbed the teaching that ‘women don’t like sex’ alongside ‘God designed sex to be part of marriage’, so they just go along with it. It’s encouraging to hear of men like your commenter’s husband, who have the grace to recognise their past behaviour as wrong and to change. But I think far more men actually don’t care.

    I try to avoid reading comments on posts from a certain unnamed supporter of obligation sex because they are so toxic, but a recent scan through showed SO MANY comments that spoke of men ‘owning’ their wives. Some guys literally came out and said it straight – ‘the wife is the husband’s property’, but most of them dressed it up – e.g. insisting that the wife must always take her husband’s name because just as calling yourself a Christian is a sign of Christ’s authority over your life, so is calling yourself ‘Mrs….’ a sign of your husband’s ‘authority’… But it made me realise just how big a battle we still have to fight. Because while there are some genuinely nice guys out there who will be horrified to discover they have been treating their wives as ‘property’, there are a scarily large number who will just say ‘yes? And? She IS my property, so what’s the issue?’

  5. CAT

    And some of we women are EXTREMELY TALENTED performers!

    Not that we thought of it that way.

    We thought that was our duty as a christian wife!

    And that’s why husbands can genuinely be shocked when they discover that we actually weren’t pleased sexually (amongst other things in other areas of our lives) for many, many years. Or, that we got used to pleasing ourselves while pleasing them in preparation to enjoy intercourse (giving ourselves the foreplay that they didn’t).

    I had zero sex information from my mom – I had no idea what to expect except from songs, tv, and movies. That was pretty much my husband’s story too. So, that, plus inherited family toxicity plus toxic church teachings…well, y’all can guess how awesome a marriage this was!

    But, we have had a big turn around in the past year 🎉 Including my husband reading A Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex 💥 🧨 THANK YOU for that book! and for ALL of your resources! Life savers!

  6. Cynthia

    Is some of this tied to negative teachings about masturbation?

    I agree that ideally, sex should be intimate and mutually pleasurable. Turning to the other spouse first would be great. If one spouse is clear that they are tired or not in the mood, though, it seems reasonable that the other can take care of their own “release”. Some of these toxic teachings only make sense if the authors think that one-sided sex on demand which ignores the feelings of the other person is somehow preferable to occasionally doing things solo, even though using someone while ignoring their feelings seems far worse than simply doing things alone when they aren’t interested in joining.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think this is a big factor to it, yes, and I’d like to do more research into it.

    • CMT

      “Is some of this tied to negative teachings about masturbation?” I had the same question, Cynthia. Personally I think the answer is a resounding yes, but I only have anecdotal evidence of that.

  7. Stefanie

    I think sometimes husbands don’t realize how bad things are even when their wives stop the sex. My husband still seems to think the problem is me. It’s been 18 months.

    I’m a little jealous of that commenter who was puking, but then her husband repented, and now they’re in a better place. My husband never had that “come to Jesus” moment.

    • Lisa Johns

      My husband had that “come to Jesus” moment, and that’s all it was — a moment. But because he had it, everything is now my fault, because “well, he repented, didn’t he?” So maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t had that moment — one less weapon against me!

      • Jo R

        Repentance is more than a “Oh, sorry.”

        If it’s not followed up with action, it’s just more manipulation. That is, he knows he has to say it, so he says it, but if he MEANT it, his behavior would show improvement over time.

        Kind of like how fruit doesn’t grow instantly with the first rain. FRUIT is the goal, not empty words that you’re compelled to say simply to get someone off your back.

        Oh look, now I have to show the emoji. 🤬

        Hugs if you want ’em.

    • Lisa Johns

      And BTW that is NOT to denigrate CAT’s experience! I am glad that her husband’s moment was real!

      • CAT

        thank you for saying that,
        Lisa Johns

        as I have learned from Leslie Vernick, I am looking for the fruit of repentance – sustained change over time

        time will tell

  8. Complicated

    I get that most of the time where it’s one-sided sex, it’s related to a selfish guy. But there are cases (I think I’m one of them), where the guy would love to give pleasure, but the gal’s history and midframe makes it emotionally difficult to receive that pleasure. Now, years have passed with the guy not understanding she felt “used”, (not because he wanted personal pleasure, but because he wanted her to have pleasure, and she felt like it was being pushed on her). It gets much more complicated when there is history. It feels like sometimes the history creates a situation where the gal goes along and the guy thinks it’s mutual, (and want’s nothing but mutual), but the gal feels like she’s being used because he wants her to have pleasure and she’s not that into it. Complicated. There is nothing more that I would like than to have my wife enjoy sex. It’s been my desire from the first. And my desire for her to enjoy sex has been the problem.

    • Lisa Johns

      It sounds like your heart is in the right place but the history is placing a barrier for you. Have you sought professional help with this issue? Not just marital counseling, but individual counseling for both of you as well. It sounds like there are issues for both of you to vent and sort out, and an objective third party can be so helpful with that. Blessings to you.

    • Cynthia

      I’ve had cases where the husband genuinely didn’t know that the wife was only doing things because of the obligation sex message, since that message wasn’t coming from him and they came from different backgrounds. I’ve also seen it happen with abuse survivors who have trauma – some can appear to be going along with something, and then have a reaction later and you realize that they weren’t agreeing.

      In your case, fixing it my require a resent where SHE is defining what she wants. There can be scenarios where the man is picturing the woman engaging in some wild fantasies, when her actual fantasy is simply to be able to cuddle or get a good night’s sleep. In order to get to the point of genuinely being into it, she is going to need to connect with herself and feel safe expressing her real desires – and that can’t happen if she is feeling pressured to perform or to play a role to meet someone else’s expectations.

    • CMT

      This absolutely happens, I was the woman in a dynamic like this for years. There’s so much to untangle! I empathize with her, and you too-how awful to realize that in pursuing something you know in your bones is good and wonderful, you hurt someone you love dearly. If you’re at all like my husband, it’s doubly confusing because you are sincere and wouldn’t intentionally disempower your wife. You don’t see the immature decisions and moments of thoughtlessness till later.

      I second Lisa’s suggestion of therapy if you can swing it. If you can’t, something that helped me understand my marriage better was the concept of “pursuer/withdrawer” dynamics from EFT. I learned about this ad hoc, but Sue Johnson (PhD??) is the EFT guru and she has written a lot of popular level books. I have not read any of them yet so I can’t make any specific recommendations, but I understand her work is well-respected in the field. Whatever happens, I hope you can gain some understanding and compassion for her and yourself.

    • Amy

      You make an excellent point, Complicated. If you and your wife will seek help for healing of past issues, and will learn how to lovingly listen to each other’s pain, and will not let her past trip you up (learn how to be okay with her history, love her through the healing of it, learn how to be free of shame as you both navigate this), you will see things change for good for both of you. There is nothing easy about it, but the other side is beautiful. You sound wise and loving in your view of this situation. I pray the best for both of you! (Sincerely.)

    • JoB

      From your comment, I’m not sure if you’re talking about a situation where a) your wife is capable of experiencing orgasm on a predictable basis, but wants to avoid it because of emotional reasons (ie, she feels uncomfortable losing control, or feels it is dirty or morally wrong, etc) or b) she hasn’t experienced orgasm and is reluctant to engage in the activities/stimulation that you think might help her to experience orgasm.

      I can’t help with situation (a), but I could say a lot about situation (b). I don’t know how old you and your wife are, or how long you’ve been married. It’s also unclear if your wife’s “history” includes sexual abuse or assault, or if you guys have tried any kind of counseling in the past. I don’t say that to elicit more info, just to acknowledge that we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns. In my experience, sex info (not necessarily the medical information, but information about sensuality, arousal, pleasure, etc) as a teenager came from R rated movies (could also come from porn- not in my case), romance novels or magazines like Cosmo. As a Christian adult who got married without having experienced sex, my info was unfortunately mostly supplied by the books and materials that Sheila has been trying to warn people against. All that to say, is that if your wife’s experience was anything similar to mine, she got a lot of extremely BAD advice and information. Probably nobody warned either of you how bad this advice was, and while you might have gotten similar bad advice, she may have been more exposed to it, via women’s-only Bible studies,etc. So I’d encourage you to reframe your assessment of your wife’s attitude, instead of saying, “she doesn’t want to experience pleasure,” or “she refuses to try to enjoy this,” would it be accurate to say something like, “she believes she is broken and incapable of pleasure” or, “she is carrying an emotional hurt that robs her of the ability to enjoy pleasure”? Perhaps opening your heart to move away from your frustration and defensiveness (which I understand as an initial reaction to being told that I had used someone, when that was never my intention), and be angry for her sake about how badly both of you have been let down by the abysmal guidance you received.

      Cynthia’s comment above is very, very insightful. I think it would take a lot of work for a man to understand how women are told directly and indirectly that their bodies, pleasure, and experiences are a kind of performance done for the benefit of another. If I could give you any advice, don’t start out trying to convince your wife to experience pleasure- start out trying to learn as much as you can about the female experience, in general and in evangelicalism. Try to walk a mile in your wife’s shoes. Try to understand before attempting to repair. The articles and resources on this site could be an excellent starting place, if you’re new to it. I am a college educated woman who had read more than a few of the big-name Christian sex advice books, and it was only when I stumbled across this site did I start getting information that truly helped me understand my own situation and female sexuality.

  9. Perfect Number

    Yes! Well said. When I was reading “The Great Sex Rescue”, the part that said if a wife is having sex but the sex doesn’t feel good for her, then *SHE* is being deprived- wow, such a good point. I think it’s really important to make a distinction between “sex” and “sex that feels good”- ie, if each spouse is expected to “give” sex to their spouse, that doesn’t just mean doing penis-in-vagina, it means doing things that *actually feel good* and making it a good experience for your spouse. (Or, in your post you take the approach of saying that if it doesn’t feel good for both people, then it doesn’t count as sex.)

  10. Nessie

    Been going back through some of these posts to think more on them. There’s just so much to unpack for many of us.

    Over the past few years I’ve observed a lot of husbands state things like, “I didn’t get married to end up in a sexless marriage!” and they often receive a lot of sympathy, and they aren’t accused of being unbiblical if they seek divorce.

    And I reckon I’m just wondering: when do wives get to receive compassion when we say, “I didn’t get married to be abused(raped) for years!” and not be told we are sinning against God if we seek divorce?

    Thanks, Bare Marriage Team, for giving us a start into the compassion we should have been given all along.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s honestly an excellent question, Nessie, and I think things will change when more women start asking it.

  11. anonymous

    I have a question about something that you haven’t addressed here:
    One-sided Sex and trusting your husband again. FYI: I have read the Good Girls Guide to Great Sex and the Great Sex Rescue (2x). 
    A little background: I was sexually assaulted from 8-17 years old by multiple people. I think the trauma of it made me believe that a guy liked me if I was physical with him. I grew up believing I shouldn’t say no to sex in marriage, that sex was for the guy. Because of the past, I’m actually a very sexual person. 
    Our marriage started off horribly sexually. I had pain (we had no clue I had to warm up), and he had pain cause it was so tight.  He rarely wanted to have sex, which I thought was weird cause I was told this is what men want. We had sex about once a month. I found out about 9 months into our marriage he was addicted to porn. He vowed to stop but I think it still went on for another 2 years. (Porn was the problem of no sex, after he stopped he wanted it a lot).  My world was crushed, he was supposed to be my safe person. Not to mention I don’t think I ever orgasmed until maybe 9 years into our marriage. So sex was one-sided which again was a form of abuse in my eyes cause it was never about me. I do think my husband was clueless. And I don’t think porn helped because it was all about the guy. I would cry after sex so many times. Thankfully I no longer had pain after my first child.  But sex wasn’t what it was supposed to be. 
    I came across your blog which finally gave me the courage to tell him that I hadn’t orgasmed, and what I needed from him (it’s so hard to get over the idea that sex is for both).  It actually was heartbreaking cause there are so many guys who get turned on and want their wives to enjoy sex by giving her pleasure.  Now 16 years into our marriage and my orgasms are more frequent but still probably 1/10. Mentally it’s hard for me to get over sex should be for both so I get self-conscious if it’s taking a while. Sometimes there is a lot of “foreplay” sometimes there is barely any and about 1/2 the time there is none. And trust me he knows when I orgasm now. So if he knows and he knows how to get me there why doesn’t he try each time to get me there? If bring up what I need he says yeah you’ve already told me that.  So right now Sex seems one-sided about 1/2 the time but technically 9/10th based on me orgasming. I just feel like he doesn’t enjoy giving me pleasure, so how can I enjoy it? He’s now part of my trauma. I’m feeling used again.
    I’ve actually now taken sex off the table. I told him I had to pause cause of my past sexual trauma.  I really do enjoy the good sex we have together but despise one-sided sex to the point of hyperventilating tears (I always hide them from him). I don’t even know what to tell him at this point. Even if he says he wants to please me, why has he proven it’s not a thing he wants to do each time?  Honestly, everything adding up I’m just over it. I can’t trust what he says because of what he has done. I’m just lost on how to move forward. I’m kind of to the point of so much resentment toward sex that I’m actually fine moving to a sexless marriage. I mean it’s been that way for me for basically 16 years. 
    So basically the question is how can I trust my husband after years of one-sided sex that they want to please you? And what do I even say to him after we’ve already had some conversations?  It’s been over a month now since we’ve had sex so I’m waiting for him to ask me about it when it will resume. And I don’t even know what to say.  I think I’m gonna ask him to read The Great Sex Rescue (not sure he will care to read it). But even if he does. How can I trust that he enjoys giving me pleasure and isn’t just doing it cause he has to? 

  12. Angela

    I think most cases of horrible selfishness won’t wake up or change until there are boundaries and refusals to cooperate/enable. We are talking specifically about sex here, but you are just sensibly applying to sexual selfishness the same kinds of boundaries and consequences one needs for other kinds of selfishness. I wish I had known ANYTHING about real boundaries when I got married.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’re thinking of doing a podcast on boundaries soon!


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