PODCAST: Why Sex Is Like Chef Boyardee–And Other New Research Findings

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Podcasts, Research | 38 comments

Sex is like Chef Boyardee peer reviewed study

We’ve got four new peer-reviewed studies on marriage and sex for you today!

We keep a folder of all kinds of new studies that come out that we find interesting, and I’ve been searching for a bunch lately as Keith and I are currently frantically writing our new marriage book that will be out next year.

And today Rebecca and I thought we’d summarize four of the more interesting ones, covering libido, the five love languages, and more!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

1:00 Research dive into people’s love emotions
9:40 Chef Boyardi Sex?
14:40 Ways sex differs for men and women
24:10 Housework links to libido
31:30 Research claims in “The 5 Love Languages”
44:00 Anecdotes are valid, but not predictive
52:35 A potential paid opportunity!

Let’s delve into new peer reviewed marriage research!

We’ve got four big studies for you today!

1. How Sex is Like Chef Boyardee:

What if the reason we think that women don’t like sex as much and don’t have as a high a libido is because the sex women get is not the same as the sex men get. So when we hear the word “sex”, we’re actually talking about two different things!

This was a fascinating (and fun!) study imagining that both men and women are given ravioli, but men’s is at a high class Italian restaurant, and women’s is Chef Boyardee out of a can. Super interesting, and they explain four reasons that sex is worse for women (including stuff we’ve already talked about, which makes us always relieved when research backs up what we’ve been saying!)

2. Do Women Lose Love Faster than Men?

A time use study looked at the number of times, and in what context, men and women reported feelings of love. And it was found that over time, women tended to lose love faster. Two other interesting findings: this was correlated with men doing less housework over time, AND men feeling less feelings of love when with their kids. 

When Women Do Disproportionate Housework, Libido Falls

Not rocket science, but this study looked at the association with uneven housework and mental load in marriage and how that affected libido. What’s interesting: They thought that feelings of unfairness would affect libido, but that effect wasn’t as strong as feeling like he’s your dependent. When you feel like he can’t take care of himself and he relies on you, then he becomes like your child. And libido falls, not unsurprisingly!

Are the 5 Love Languages Junk Science?

Basically, yes. The claims made by Gary Chapman about the 5 love languages don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Does that mean they’re harmful? Nope. They can still be a great tool to get couples talking about how they connect. But the actual framework isn’t scientific. 


Things Mentioned in the Podcast

First, to Support us:

Our Resources Mentioned:

The Studies We Mentioned:

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Four new peer reviewed studies on sex and marriage

What do you think? Do you like the 5 Love Languages? Do you think doing most of the housework and mental load kills libido? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the first Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.

Sheila: And before we get started, special shout out to our wonderful patrons, who support us on a monthly basis and help us keep doing what we’re doing.  Plus they create an amazing community for us on our Facebook group.  You can join that for as little as $5 a month.  You can also get tax deductible receipts by donating money to the Good Fruit Faith Initiative of The Bosco Foundation.  And those links are in the podcast notes.  That just helps us keep doing this.  And, of course, when you purchase our merch or our Orgasm Course, our Boost Your Libido Course, that helps us keep going too. And so thank you for being part of the Bare Marriage community and making use of all of our resources.  Becca, our big thing is being healthy, evidence based, and biblical.  And I thought today we could dedicate a whole podcast to evidence based.  And let’s talk about some of the new research that has come out in the last few years.  I keep finding a lot of really cool peer reviewed articles I want to talk about.  Some of which are going in the marriage book that we’re writing right now.  And I thought it would just be fun to go over four or five of them.  I don’t know how many we’re going to get too.  Hopefully at least four of these in this podcast and just say what some of them are finding.

Rebecca: Sure.

Sheila: This first article is about a month old.  It came out right at the end of 2023, I think.  In December.    

Rebecca:   Yeah.  It really sneaked in there.

Sheila: Yes.  And it’s called Experienced Love: An Empirical Account, and this was in the Journal for the Association of Psychological Science.   Okay.  And here’s what they basically did.  I’m just going to explain how they figured this all out.  All right?  So they did a time use study where they had a whole bunch of participants.  And every 30 minutes they would get a prompt on their phone, and they would have to record what they were doing, who they were with, and what emotions they were feeling at the time.  And so from that, they were able to look at who feels different emotions when and at what point in the relationship.  And then they paired this with another study of emotions and then kind of smushed them all together and got some really cool findings.  Okay.  I don’t want to talk about all of the findings, but I just—there was a few things that really stood out to me in this study.  Here’s the first one.  Women experienced love more often when they were with their children than men did.  Okay.  So when women are with their kids, when they’re doing something with their kids, and they’re asked what emotions are you feeling, they are more likely to put love.  In fact, they were 43% more likely to put love than men were.  All right?  And when they looked into this further, 79% of that difference is based in what they were actually doing and how they were interpreting it so whether they were actually engaged with the kids.  Are you just with the kid?  Or are you engaged doing something with the kid?  And how are you actually spending that time?  And so yeah.  Women are feeling a lot of love when they’re with their kids, and men are not in the same amount.  There’s another one I want to talk about, and then I know you want to say something about Venn diagrams on this one.

Rebecca: Yes.  I do.  I know.  

Sheila: And you are itching.  I can see it in your face.  The other thing they found is that women are more likely to feel love a lot at the early stage of a relationship.  So it’s easier for them.  They feel love more often.  Or just as much as men but they have a slight advantage, okay?  So early in a relationship, women are all in.  This is great.  But over the course of a relationship—so over the next decade or two what you find is that women’s feelings of love decrease substantially more than men’s do.  And now this wasn’t looking at the same women.  This is a cohort study, right?  

Rebecca: Yes.  A cohort study means you’re looking at a bunch of different people all at the same time, so your 60 year olds are not the same people as the 50 year olds in 10 years.  The 50 year olds in the study are compared to the 60 year olds are compared to the 40 year olds are compared to the 30 year olds of today.  So they’re looking at—for example, they are comparing the 23 year old in the first 2 months of her relationship to the 47 year old, who has been married for 20 years.  That’s how they’re seeing this difference here.  That’s what a cohort versus a longitudinal study is.

Sheila: Okay.  So why is that women’s feeling of love goes down?  Here is what they say.  “The literature suggests potential mechanisms consistent with such an interpretation such as gender differences in the expression of partner love over time.”  Okay.  So we just do love differently over time, and so you don’t feel as much love.  “Or gender differences in relational burdens involving household or child care.  Evidence for this later mechanism we found in the time use data showing coupled women spent more time engaged in chores and cooking in later versus earlier cohorts whereas coupled men spent increasingly more time relaxing and sleeping or napping.”  So basically, guys, if you’re married for a long time and you’re spending more time relaxing and sleeping and the woman you’re with is spending more time doing chores and the woman you’re with really loves being with your kids and you don’t, there is going to be a decrease in the amount that she feels love.

Rebecca: Exactly.  Yeah.  This study was great also because I wanted to talk about how this is such a good example of how we can misinterpret what the stats say.  So this idea that women feel—report—women are 43% more likely to report feeling love with their kids—when they’re with the kids than men are.  Does that mean that women love their kids 43% more than men do?  No.  It actually doesn’t.  What it means is we often see the world in two groups when we’re talking about gender studies.  We have women, and we have men.  What actually exists is you have three groups.  You have women.  You have men.  And then you have healthy people here in the middle.  Picture a three circle Venn diagram.  Okay?  And the question is just how much of each of the women and men group are overlapping with that healthy people group.   

Sheila: Right.  

Rebecca: Now there is nothing inherent about women or men that makes them more healthy.  Most of it is social expectations.  How we’ve been trained, what we’ve been allowed to get away with versus what we haven’t throughout our lives due to our gender.  So it just happens that if we define healthy person, in this instance, as someone who feels a great deal of love and connection with their children, who makes sure that they do their fair share around the house, who—those kinds of things, it happens that women are going to be a little more overlap in that healthy.  Now that does not mean that every single woman is inside of that healthy circle.  

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: Not at all.  But vice versa, if, say the men, are a lot—there’s a lot less overlap does not mean that the men who have overlapped into healthy are any less healthy than the women in healthy.  So it’s about your odds of being in the group.  It’s not about, oh, well because those women are healthy, because I am a woman, I’m healthy.  Or, oh, because those men are unhealthy because I’m a man, I’m unhealthy.

Sheila: Yeah.  And it also doesn’t mean men have a harder time feeling love for their kids.  

Rebecca: No.  It just means that, frankly, men are more enabled by society to just not get there.  But if they do, then they do it the same way, right?  So that’s just an easy way to explain how people have to misunderstand these stats.  What we’re not saying is that, well, men are just going to have a harder time connecting with their kids.  Actually, no.  There’s zero data that shows that.  If they put in any work to connect with their kids, they connect with their kids.  Genuinely.  You know why women feel so much more connected to their kids than men?  Because women have to breastfeed.  Genuinely.  You have a formula feeding dad, and they connect in the same way.  Those same parts of their brain lights up.  Men who watch their women—their wives—men who watch their women.  Husbands who watch their wives nurse they also have oxytocin released the same way that a woman does when she’s nursing.  Now not to the same extent because there’s not the physiological aspect of it.  But it happens, and the nurturing and bonding all happens too.  This is literally just about do you actually engage in these activities.  And men are just less socialized to engage in these activities.  And so then women do.  And so then what happens 20 years later?  I don’t love you very much anymore.  And by the way, I do love our kids, and you should try to.  That’s how we end up here.   

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Okay.  So that was one study.  I want to share with you now one of the funniest studies I have ever seen.

Rebecca: Oh, this is actually hilarious.  I know which one this is.

Sheila: Okay.  Some background.  One of the problems that we had as we wrote the first journal article that we submitted for publication is writing in academic speak.  Okay?  Because I’ve been outside the academic world for decades.  You guys have been inside the academic world more recently.  But it is a very different thing writing academic articles than writing books because you’re not supposed to be funny.   I remember when I was writing in a public administration journal, and we had to tell the story of a community event gone wrong where some people went to get community input into something.  And my supervisor said for the journal article we couldn’t say they threw tomatoes at you. We had to say vegetables were transmitted.

Rebecca: Which I think is also hilarious, to be fair.  Vegetables were transmitted.  

Sheila: Vegetables were transmitted.

Rebecca: If I read vegetables were transmitted in an article, I would laugh so hard.

Sheila: There’s this whole thing about academic speak.  So anyway, here is an article, which is called Women Get Worse Sex:  A Confound in the Explanation of Gender Differences in Sexuality.  Okay?  And I want to spend a lot of time on this because this one is super interesting.  

Rebecca: It’s really funny.

Sheila: But I want to start with the funny part.  So this is the journal, The Perspectives of Psychological Science, and it was out in February of 2022.  Okay?

Rebecca: Yeah.  So also a very recent study.

Sheila: And here is how they open this article.  “Many products that we call by the same name vary widely in quality.  Imagine if we randomly selected 2 dozen people who had never tried pasta and we gave 12 of them Chef Boyardee ravioli straight out of the can and 12 of them a plate of fresh ravioli hand crafted by one of Italy’s top chefs.  You will note that, on the semantic surface, our two conditions could be considered equivalent.  After all, both groups tried ravioli.  But if we then asked the two groups, ‘how do you like ravioli,’ one group would likely give a very different answer than the other.  Not because the groups are different in ways that affect their ravioli assessment but because the two groups experienced very different ravioli.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  Cold Chef Boyardee right out of a can versus someone known as perfected recipes.

Sheila: Yeah.  “Now let us say that the dozen participants who received Chef Boyardee ravioli were women, whereas those who received the chef-crafted ravioli were men.  Would we then conclude that women like ravioli less than men do?  And that the women, if provided with the same chef-crafted ravioli that men received would continue to provide a tepid ravioli response?  That, at least is parallel, in the question we address in this article.  We argue that an analogous, though obviously sometimes tempered, dynamic plays out in the context of assessments of gender differences in sexuality.  That is, women experience a different version of sex than men do.”

Rebecca: Absolutely.  

Sheila: And I truly want people to understand how funny this that they actually said this in an academic article.

Rebecca: I think this is just amazing.  I want to meet these people.  

Sheila: And then later on, just to read another excerpt, and then we’ll get to some of their findings, they said this, “Further, the sex that women get is not just different, but of lesser quality. Women and men who are having sex are not having equivalent experiences.  One group eats, to invoke our parable, Chef Boyardee, and the other, chef-crafted ravioli.  Of course, the differences are not always as stark.  Women often really love sex.  The differences between women’s and men’s sex might be like the difference between a serviceable red wine and a top-notch one.   Some women have better sex than some men.  But on average, women’s experiences of sex are of substantially lower quality than men’s.  Viewed from this perspective, it is quite sensible that women would like sex quite a bit less than men do.  Why is this an issue?  Because when we’re trying to figure out why women don’t like sex, or trying to raise their libido, or wondering if women are just less sexual, we have to ask what their experiences actually are.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s exactly the big issue is you can’t use different definitions to talk about the same thing.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And this is what they really bring up in this article is that there are so many interventions to try to get women to like sex more.  And often in the sex literature, it’s been treated as, okay, so women don’t have high libidos.  So we need to give them more testosterone.  Or we need to figure out—yeah.  The woman, herself—its’ seen as an individual problem that the woman herself has.  And what they are suggesting is no.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  It’s just that, on a societal level, women experience sex differently.

Rebecca: Well, I mean look at the first time orgasm rates between men and women first time having sex, right?  The majority of men who have sex—the vast majority of men their first time having sex results in an orgasm.  That is not the case for women.  It’s just not. 

Sheila: And we know that when women do reach orgasm in their first encounter, we shared that study last time we did one of these.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Their libido rates are just as high as men’s.  When women have been orgasmic their entire sex life the same way that men have been orgasmic their entire sex life, hey, what do you know?  They like sex, and they want it.  Because it’s also not even just the ravioli—the Chef Boyardee versus Nona’s ravioli, it’s also what if you get Chef Boyardee and then you get Nona’s ravioli?  And then next time it’s Chef Boyardee again and then Chef Boyardee again.  And then it’s like—oh, and then you have three bites of Nona’s ravioli.  Oh, and then they take it away.  And then, oh—and then, oh, you can smell Nona’s ravioli coming from the kitchen, and then it’s Chef Boyardee in front of you all of a sudden.  And it’s transmuted in front of your eyes.  It’s not just that it’s always been bad.  It’s a lot of people have tastes of it being good, and then it just never is like that again for various reasons.  And it’s just complicated.

Sheila: Yeah.  So in this article, they give four big reasons or four big ways in which sex differs for men versus women.  Okay?  And the first one is anatomical differences.  

Rebecca: Yes.  Makes sense.

Sheila: So they talk about sexual pain, which is great.  They talk about just our genitals and that men’s penis is just right there.  It is handy.  It is easy to access.  And so boys often grow up with far more—

Rebecca: Genital awareness.  

Sheila: – genital awareness than women do.  And then women face a risk of pregnancy which men don’t.  And so just physically with our anatomy, men’s experience is going to be very different.  

Rebecca: And a lot easier.  There is just not really burden on men’s experiences that there is on women.  

Sheila: Right.  Okay.  Number two is violence.  The risk of violence, which men don’t have to the same extent.  We do know that men can be sexually abused and assaulted, of course.  But the rate of that is lower than what women experience.  And in a heterosexual relationship—

Rebecca: It’s ridiculously out balanced.  When you’re looking at the averages over a population, it’s very much women are assaulted by men at a very high rate.  

Sheila: Yep.  Yep.  Okay.  So that’s number two.  Number three is the stigma of sex is disproportionately put on women.  So the idea of, in popular culture, like the walk of shame that women do in the more—how even in purity culture, remember?  When we shared that quote in She Deserves Better from When God Wrote Their Love StoryWhen God Writes Their Love Story about how you have this couple, this virginal couple, who ends up having sex and the conclusion of it is she has lost her most precious treasure. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  And he’s just still Joe.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so more stigma is being put on women, and so women are naturally more—going to be more careful.  

Rebecca: And the reason for that is—a lot of it is based in this high risk of sex for girls.  And so because there is higher risk, there is this idea that girls who engage in it must be even more depraved than the boys, right?  It’s based in that kind of misogynistic thinking where there’s something extra wrong with girls for doing something that is pretty human to experience.

Sheila: Yeah.  But then the biggest thing that this article talked about was just the centrality of male centric sex, and this was the biggest thing which is great because this is our big thing that we talk about too.  And so I really appreciated this article.  But they said this, “no evidence suggests that women are less skilled at bringing themselves to orgasm, less biologically inclined to orgasm, or that they experience orgasm more mildly than men do.  Instead, the orgasm gap results from specific heterosexual practices, each of which privileges the male sexual experience.”  And then they go on to look at some of those practices.  So the fact that women are far more likely to reach orgasm through oral sex performed on them.  And yet, this is not prioritized in most heterosexual relationships.

Rebecca: I love how you had to emphasize—oral sex performed on them because of the weird things we’ve read in Christian books about how, oh, don’t you love doing all these sex acts.  Okay.  She also needs to get some.  Anyway.

Sheila: Yeah.  The fact that we consider penis and vagina the main thing in intercourse.  And they talk a lot about that.  About how other forms of sexual pleasure are seen as extra.  And often, men will prioritize penis in vagina and not the things that bring her pleasure.  And so the conclusion of this is just, hey, we shouldn’t be saying women like sex less than men do—

Rebecca: When they haven’t even had a fair shot at experiencing good sex.

Sheila: – when it could just be that the sex that women are experiencing is very different from the sex that men are experiencing.  And I think that the Christian community needs to really listen to this because the main message when it comes to sex and women that is given today is, hey, ladies.  You need to want it more.  And what’s wrong with you that you’re not sexual enough.  

Rebecca: But also don’t you know it’s just going to suck so just do it anyway.  But also it’s such a gift, and you should love this, girl.  Go get your sex on and just get through it.  That’s the message that women are given in the church.  It makes no sense.

Sheila: Well, and I find that so funny because how can you say both of those things.  How can you say we believe—  

Rebecca: And they do.

Sheila: We believe sex is this amazing gift from God that we should all be grateful for.  And, ladies, we know you’re not going to want it.  Is it a gift, or is it not?  Right?  

Rebecca: Are women just stupid that they don’t want—  

Sheila: Yeah.  Because that’s what it sounds like.

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s just dumb.

Sheila: So let me read you their conclusion from this article.  “At every phase of their lives, women encounter unique barriers that shepherd them to enjoy sex less than men.  Because women are effectively punished more for participating in sex, they avoid sex more than men do.  Because women orgasm less frequently during partnered sex with men, they enjoy sex less than men do.  Because they enjoy sex less than men do, they are less likely to desire it.  And because they desire sex less, they have less sex.”  So why do women not want sex enough?  Well, you got to go through all of those things.  And it’s like it’s not necessarily a problem with women.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  

Sheila: I want to get to the point where the evangelical church gets this because think about how much we have talked about men’s sexual needs and how women don’t even have sexual needs.  Like Emerson Eggerichs, that famous line that got us started on this whole thing, “If your husband is typical, he has a need that you don’t have.”   

Rebecca: What I don’t understand is why when women are actually capable of—and I’m sorry.  This is going to be a little graphic, guys.  You’re on a podcast about sex.  If you don’t like graphic, I don’t know what to tell you at this point.  But here’s the thing.  If we are in a partnership where the woman is biologically able to have multiple orgasms and there are more risks and, yes, punishments about sex for her, why on earth isn’t it the norm that she just gets double or triple the amount of orgasms he gets?  Because if there is an outsized punishment on her, there should be an outsized reward.  But right now she has an outsized punishment and not as much reward in most couples.  And I think that if you are to—based on all the research that we’ve read, the women who like sex most tend to have clinical stimulation.  No.  Not clinical stimulation.  Clinical stimulation is bad.  Yeah.  Is this stimulating enough?  Sorry.  Okay.  But they tend to have clitoral orgasms, right?  Which means they’re either doing stuff during sex or outside of penetrative sex that’s also orgasmic, right?  Because most non—pretty much all non penetrative sex that leads women to orgasm in all these studies is either oral or manual stimulation, right?  And they’re also doing multiple things during the sexual encounter.  I saw that over and over in all the studies.  We have this kind of stuff is in our Orgasm Course too.  All these results.  There’s multiple things are happening.  These are not women who are like are you ready to have sex yet.  Is this enough foreplay?  Is this enough foreplay?  Okay.  Let’s go.  That is not what’s happening.

Sheila: The sad puppy look.  Is this enough?

Rebecca: One of our commenters had the best comment.  She said like, “My poor husband is trying so hard but just looks up at me like a sad puppy while he does—tries to get me going.”  I’m just like, oh, that’s such a perfect mental image and how terrible that would be.

Sheila: And how unsexy sad puppies are.

Rebecca: Yeah.  But I think that’s the question that I really have.  When you have all this data is if there is an outsized punishment for women, the best solution then seems to be to have an outsize reward.  That seems logical.  That seems to be based on the research.  And, also, I believe that God does make us understanding our context.  And He made women’s bodies to have more inherent risk in them.  He also gave women’s bodies to have more inherent pleasure in them than men.  And it just baffles me that the people who are so about God’s gender roles and God’s design for sexuality and manhood and womanhood conveniently forgets that women can have multiple orgasms, and they can only have one per sexual encounter.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And that maybe women do have sexual—

Rebecca: Maybe if we actually focused on God’s gender roles for sex, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Okay.  So just another shout out.  I do want to say if orgasm has been difficult for you we do have an Orgasm Course.  Rebecca mentioned it briefly, but we will put a link in the podcast notes.  And we have a women’s version.  We also have an add on men’s version.  So if he wants to get some training or coaching on how to—

Rebecca: That is the wrong words.  All of that’s the wrong—no.  There is no training.  There is no coaching.  We’re not going to be there go you.  We’re not doing that.  Absolutely not.  If he needs information—

Sheila: There you go.  Yeah.  That is the word.  And we also have information for her on the sexual response cycle and how she can reach orgasm.  So we do our Orgasm Course.  The link is in the podcast notes, and we will not be cheering you on.  Okay.

Rebecca: There’s no interactive elements.  We need to move on.  

Sheila: Yes.  We do.  Okay.  Article number three.

Rebecca: Article Number three.

Sheila: This one is called Gender in Equities in Household Labor Predict Lower Desire.  This is from the Archives of Sexual Behavior from 2022.  And this one is kind of interesting.  We’re using this a lot in our marriage book, and so I’m quite familiar with this article now.  But the basic premise of it is that you can look at women’s lower desire in a number of different ways.  So you can look at individual factors like cognitive focus or stress.  You can look at interpersonal like relationship satisfaction.  But there’s also structural or societal factors, and that’s what they’re looking at is what about household labor.  Because they’re saying as gender roles have kind of broken down and so women are taking on more paid work but men aren’t necessarily taking on more of the housework.

Rebecca: Or not to the same proportion because what’s ended up happening is there—we have more dads than ever are changing diapers.  More dads than ever are spending time with their kids.  Husbands are more than ever helping around the house, but it’s not proportionally equivalent to the amount of male work that women have taken on.  Women went from a lot of women not working at all to working a 40 hour a week job as well as still doing all of it.  And the men have not gone from doing no housework at all to doing the same amount that a woman was doing while—so it’s just not equivalent proportionally.

Sheila: Yeah.  Okay.  So they had three hypotheses going into this.  They were looking at—at figuring out—they used multiple studies, multiple different models.  If anyone is into model building in stats, this is the perfect article because there are so many different models they talk about to try to figure out these hypotheses.  But number one is that women’s proportion of household labor relative to that of their partners will be negatively associated with desire for their partners.

Rebecca: That makes a lot of sense.

Sheila: Okay.  So in other words, the more housework they’re doing in relation to the guys the less they’re going to want their guys.  Okay.  Number two is the association between women’s household labor and desire will be mediated by perceived unfairness.

Rebecca: That also makes sense.

Sheila: Okay.  So the more unfair they think it is the lower their desire will be.  Okay.  And then hypothesis three is the association between women’s household labor and desire will be mediated by perceived partner dependence.  Basically when he’s like a child that you have to care for.  So the more that you are doing everything for him the more you see him like a child, like a dependent, and the lower your libido gets.  Because guess what?  Having a kid is not sexy.  Thinking of your husband as a child is not sexy.  Okay.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Versus if you’re doing everything for him around the house but you feel like he’s a quite independent person who does a lot of stuff outside the house it might not make it feel like he’s your child.  It must just feel like you have different jobs.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And this is actually a quote that I put in our marriage book.  I don’t know if it’s going to stay there.  Our marriage book is due in to the publisher in March.  And things get moved around.  But a quote from the article, “Women who reported that they performed a large proportion of household labor relative their partner were significantly more likely to perceive their partners as dependent on them to keep the household functioning and this, in turn, was associated with significantly lower desire for their partner.”  So if you feel like the house is going to fall apart without me because you are just not able to function and look after stuff, then it’s like yeah.  You’re not a capable human being.  You’re not a partner.  So yeah.  I’m not really interested in jumping you.

Rebecca: No.  Exactly.

Sheila: Now I won’t read all (inaudible) because we have talked about this article before.  But there was one interesting thing on this.  Okay.  So they found a lot of support for hypothesis one.  All right.  The more housework you do the less desire you have for your spouse if it’s unfair.  Okay.  They found a lot of support for hypothesis three, which is that when you do everything you start to see your spouse as a dependent and that they rely on you.  They didn’t find as much for two.

Rebecca: So feeling like it’s unfair—

Sheila: Unfair.  Is going to cause you to—

Rebecca: To be even less desire.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I’m wondering if it’s that some women don’t really realize it’s unfair because you’re just used to doing this all.  Right?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Or the societal understandings of—

Sheila: But you still feel like they’re a dependent.  So you may not realize it’s unfair.  So the thing they found that really makes a difference isn’t that women necessarily feel that it’s unfair.  It’s that women feel like he’s a dependent.  When he puts himself in the role of a child by not being a functioning team member, by not being a functioning partner in the relationship, she’s just going to want him because she’s—he’s just something else on her to do list.

Rebecca: And that is a healthy response.  We are not supposed to be sexually attracted to our dependents.  That’s a power thing, right?  It’s actually a weird power fetish to be like, oh, they are dependent on me.  And they need me, and I have comp—and they are so helpful.  Let me have sex with that is actually not that healthy of a mindset.  Right?  That’s linked to a lot of bad things.  And so this is not a bad thing.  This isn’t, oh, how do we change their minds and understand their husbands really are sexy, strong men.  No.  They’re not.  That’s the whole problem.  Women are not stupid.  If she’s not thinking that he’s a sexy, strong man, who can stand on his own two feet and is able to function without her, he might genuinely be acting like he’s not.  And the study is finding that they probably aren’t.  She’s doing more housework.  These women who are unsatisfied with their husbands and are feeling not attracted to their husbands like they don’t want to have sex with their husbands.  Their husbands are also not pulling their weight.

Sheila: Right.  And even if she doesn’t see it as him not pulling his weight, this is what’s so interesting.  As soon as he puts himself in the role of child in the house which it doesn’t really matter if you’re bringing in the paycheck.  Okay?  Lots of women can bring in paychecks too.  The issue is if I feel like you need me—you can’t even find your shirt if isn’t for me.  You can’t do basic things without me.  Then you’re just not capable.

Rebecca: Well, and also there is a level here where, of course, you’re allowed to specialize.  Connor and I, each, do different things.  Absolutely.  But it’s not because I’m incapable of doing those things.  It’s not because he’s incapable—he shovels the driveway.  I don’t.  Why?  Because I’m a princess.  That is what we say.  I am a princess.  I do not shovel the driveway, and so he shovels the driveway.

Sheila: But if you had to shovel the driveway—

Rebecca: But I’ve shoveled the driveway.  When his back is thrown out, I shovel the driveway.  And also it’s not like if I leave him for a weekend, I don’t know if the children are going to eat a single vegetable while I’m gone.

Sheila: By the way, we’re in Canada where there is snow.  Just for everyone who has never had to shovel a driveway.

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s rough.  I am a little princess, and I shouldn’t have to do that.  Right?

Sheila: Yes.  Sometimes you need to do it multiple times a day.  Today might be one of those days.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  All those the feminism leaving my body the minute that the snow starts to fall in Canada means that is absolutely me.  Right?  But the thing is when Connor leaves to go visit his friend for three days in Ottawa, he doesn’t have to worry about if I’m going to have let the car get snowed in and then there be a giant ice bank for him to deal with when he gets home.  He knows I’m going to do the job.  And when I leave to go visit people for a weekend, I know that I’m going to come back and the laundry isn’t going to be moldy downstairs.  It’s taken care of.  I know there isn’t going to—the kids would have eaten food that isn’t just chicken nuggets the whole time, right?  We’re both capable.  And that’s the big thing.  We’re not saying you have to do everything.  We’re not saying be redundant.  We’re saying is be capable.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And be a partner.  Be a partner so that she doesn’t feel like she’s doing everything.  So yeah.  Those are some ones about libido.  Okay.  Let’s totally change direction now.  Look at something completely different.  So this is from Current Directions in Psychological Science Journal.  I love this because two of the authors are from Toronto. 

Rebecca: Oh yay.  Represent.

Sheila: Amy Muise, who we actually quoted in The Great Sex Rescue, for another study she did.  

Rebecca: Apparently, we just love her now.

Sheila: Yeah.  I think she’s from York University.  And Emily Impett is from University of Toronto.  So three authors on this.  What they did was they took a look at the book The Five Love Languages by Cary Chapman which is the number one selling marriage book, I think even in the secular world.  It’s just always out there.

Rebecca: It’s one of the big ones.  Yeah.  And the reason it’s so big is because it’s big in the Christian and the secular world too.  It’s just big.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so they wrote this article, which is just out in January called Popular Psychology Through a Scientific Lens: Evaluating Love Languages From a Relationship Science Perspective.  The Washington Post did a big write up on this article.  Really, really interesting.  And I want to explain what they found, and then we’ll talk about what they’re not saying.  Okay?

Rebecca: Okay.  That was for me.  That was so that I don’t jump in.

Sheila: Yes.  The point that they’re making is that The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman makes a lot of really big claims in the book about being scientific.  And so what they did was they took a look at it in terms of the relationship literature that is out there to see if this actually does stand up to rigorous scientific study because this is a huge best seller.  And there’s several different things that Gary Chapman claims in it.  And then they look at these—at three of those assumptions.  And assumption number one is that each person has a primary love language.  So Gary Chapman names five love languages, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gifts.  All right?  And he says each person has a primary love language.  And so they looked at that.  And they looked at the tests that Gary Chapman administers to figure out what your love language is.  They looked at—and there’s been a number of studies of this.  Okay?  And here is what they found.  “Specifically, the ratings on the Likert-type measures consistently exhibit highly skewed distributions, with most ratings falling above the midpoint of the scale and average ratings hovering around 4 on a 5-point scale for all five love languages.”  So a Likert scale is when you ask people like do you like ice cream.  Strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, disagree, strongly disagree.  And everybody, of course, chooses strongly agree unless they’re lactose intolerant.  And then they say I wish.  Right?

Rebecca: A five-point Likert scale is typically strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.

Sheila: Yeah.  Something like that.

Rebecca: And I think that’s what happens in the five love language quizzes and stuff like that.

Sheila: Right.  Yeah.  So this is a five point, not a six point, Likert scale.  And so the problem is when you ask people, when you break it down on each of the questions that they could have—because there’s six questions for each of the love languages.  You end up with almost identical scores on everything.  And then they also found that your primary love language as identified by the force choice measure that they give is not reliably associated with their scores on the continuous measure.  Okay.  So if you force a person to choose between these things but then you look at how that actually measures against the continuous measures, they don’t measure up.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  So you tell them well do you think that you’re more acts of service or more words of affirmation.  And they’re like, well, I guess I’d be more words of affirmation.  Yeah.  But all their scores are probably going to be more towards acts of service.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  So there’s just a lot of problems with the administrative that they used.  Okay.  So that’s number one.  That we have a primary love language is there isn’t a lot of evidence for that.  Assumption number two was that there are five love languages.  Okay.  That there are five.  I’m going to hand this over to Rebecca to read because me without my reading glasses is just not doing well today.

Rebecca: Awesome.  Okay.  “In addition to the findings that all five love languages are highly endorsed, studies have found substantial positive correlations among peoples’ ratings of all five love languages.  These findings not only contradict the notion that people are restricted to a primary love language, but they also render the fivefold organization of the love languages questionable.  Although some studies claim to find support that the five love languages represent somewhat distinct and separable constructs, the results across studies are inconsistent, finding support for a three-factor, and a five-factor structure, all of which significantly deviated from the proposed five-love-languages structure.”  So what they’re saying is that, in essence, all the people who are like I really like words of affirmation are also like I really like quality time and are also like, oh, acts of service are also super nice.  And they’re also like but I also like to have some hugs and cuddles.  And they’re also like but a good present on my birthday—and what they’re saying is there is not enough differentiation to make the case that these are not all measuring the same thing.  Or two different constructs that are also correlated.  The same way that we tend to think that people are either sweet or savory—people either like sweet or savory.  No.  People just like sweet and savory things.  Right?  And it’s like where if we had this whole thing where it’s like okay.  So you are married to a savory dude.  So instead of using brown sugar in your soy sauce, you’re going to try to—or you could just make a sweet and sour sauce.  It’s fine.  These things are not actually separate.  Okay.  Sorry.

Sheila: And I like what they said too about how when other people have tried to create—differentiate different aspects of how we feel loved some people come up with three.  Some people come up with five.  

Rebecca: But none of them really map onto Chapman’s.

Sheila: But none of them map onto Chapman’s.  And so people have tried to do this using different models.  And it just doesn’t line up in the way that Chapman wrote.

Rebecca: Okay.  And then here’s another thing they said.  “Whereas the love-language measures were developed on the basis of Chapman’s top-down descriptions, a more comprehensive understanding of how people communicate love would require a bottom-up approach.  In fact, research on relationship maintenance that has used such an approach, in which people are asked what they do to maintain a satisfactory relationship, identified seven distinct relationship maintenance behaviors, some of which overlap with Chapman’s (assurances are similar to words of affirmation) but others that are not captured in the love languages, such as integrating a partner into one’s broader social network and developing effective strategies to manage conflict.”  So what they’re saying is when they actually look at couples and say, “Okay.  Hey you’re happy.  What do you do to make your relationship happy,” some of the stuff shows up on Chapman’s stuff.  Others don’t.  But what Chapman says, “I got this idea, guys.  I got this idea.  There’s five love languages.  And everyone has one.  And that’s how relationships work.  And we’re just going to slot everyone into those categories, and then we’re going to call it the marriage book of the century.”

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: That’s not the same thing.  That’s a top-down approach versus a bottom-up approach.  Totally different.  And in research when you’re making assertions about how the world is, you’re supposed to start from a bottom up approach.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  See what people actually do.  Okay.  Assumption three is that it’s really important to speak each other’s love language.  So figure out what their love language is and they’re only going to experience love if you speak their love language.  And I have a bunch of stuff to say about this, and, again, we’re only reading excerpts of this.  So there’s more in the original article.  But they say, “Although there is limited evidence for the presence of primary, or five, love languages, several studies have nevertheless attempted to test Chapman’s key assumption that partners who speak the same love language report greater relationship quality.”  I’m just going to explain this rather than read it.  But basically, so what Chapman says is look.  We tend to express love in the way that we want to receive it.  And what you need to do is you need to learn instead to speak love in the way that your partner wants to receive it.  Now if this were true, then people who each had the same love language would naturally speak love easier to each other.  

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Sheila: And they cannot replicate that finding.  It doesn’t work.  And not just that, what they find is that when people deliberately try to show love at any one of the five love languages the other partner tends to feel just as loved.  So the issue seems to be that someone is deliberately trying to show love and to be kind to you and to show them that you matter, and it doesn’t actually matter as much how you do it.  

Rebecca: Well, I mean—really sweet.  We know this though intuitively.  When my daughter comes up and pats my head, she’s trying to show mommy that she loves mommy even though she’s accidentally stabbing me in the eye with every other pat, right?  Because I pat her on the head when she’s scared.  I got pat, pat, pat.  And she comes, and she goes, “Hi, mama.”  Pat, pat, pat.  Right?  And it hurts.  And it’s not good.  But I feel loved because she’s trying.  And do I say, “Oh, actually, honey.  Mommy is more acts of service.  So if you could take out the trash”?  It’s like no.  I know that she’s trying, right?  And it makes me feel very loved and very sweet.  And vice versa.  My husband is one who is such a facts dude.  He just likes to learn stuff.  He likes to feel like he knows stuff.  And when he’s telling me everything he’s done for the day and he’s just so excited about it and just letting me know what’s going on and I listen, he feels super loved by that too.  And I feel super loved because he wants to tell me things, right?  These are all things where I don’t tend to talk to him for 20 minutes about something that I found on the Internet because I went on a rabbit hole about sloths.  Right?  But I still feel loved when he does.

Sheila: Yes.  Let me read you their actual conclusion on this part.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  I want to see if their conclusion is the same as mine was because I had a theory awhile ago that we were talking about.

Sheila: Okay.  “In fact, recent work that employed rigorous analytical methods to test all possible combinations of a person’s preferences and their partner’s expressions revealed that expressions of all love languages were positively associated with relationship satisfaction regardless of a person’s preference, with very little evidence of matching effects.”  So they just can’t replicate it.  He’s making these claims, and they can’t replicate it.  And then here’s what they go on to do is they say what is a better way of looking at this.  What they say is like it could be that people just need a balanced diet and a nutritional diet.  Right?  And that balanced nutritional diet is going to have all the love languages in it. 

Rebecca: It just is.

Sheila: It just is.  As well as those ones that Chapman doesn’t measure, right?  But if you start out where you have serious deficiencies in something, then you may need more of one particular thing for awhile, right?  So if you were just really deprived of physical touch, you may need more physical touch.  People might still have preferences, yes.  But what we really need is this balanced diet, and that’s what actually keeps relationships going.  It isn’t that you find this one magic thing.  It’s funny because they didn’t actually get to some of the criticisms of love languages that you and I have talked about.  And I have two, in particular.

Rebecca: I do like that their conclusion is pretty much the same as mine which is that everyone needs all of these.  But if there is something broken, it may be uneven for a little bit.  If you grew up and your parents never told you that they were proud of you, you may need your spouse to reassure you more often that they are proud of you and that you are a good person, right?  Or you may have—you may need to learn to be more expressive with your words because your spouse does need to hear it even though you learned to stop talking like that when you were a kid.  There’s those kinds of levels where we have to learn how to get to the healthy, balanced diet.  Yeah.  Our big one has always been the acts of service and women, right?  Are they actually acts of service?  Or has the mental load just shifted?  Because I will tell you as an anecdote and then we will talk about anecdotes in a minute—as an anecdote, personally, I always said I was acts of service.  And recently since our parenting and home and everything is pretty darn 50/50 at this point, I mean we even work 50/50.  I’m at this point.  I’m very much more—I would say at this point much more.  I’m like no.  The quality time means a lot more to me at this point because I don’t feel like I need someone to make my life easier right now because I feel like life is just kind of hard for both of us.  But it’s even, right?  But talking about anecdotes, I know a lot of people are going to get frustrated that we’re taking on Five Love Languages because when we posted that—when you post anything about it— 

Sheila: Yeah.  I posted a link to this article on the Facebook page so that people could talk about it.  And I just thought it was interesting that this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  And a bunch of people were saying, “No.  The article is wrong because it worked for us.”  And okay.  Again, I want to explain to people—which we have done.  We did a big podcast on the misuse of statistics, and I will put a link to that in the podcast notes again.  Okay.  What you’re talking about is one data point.  And your one data point is important, but it is only one data point.

Rebecca: It’s not more important than anyone else’s data point.

Sheila: And so when you have a study that incorporates data points from thousands of people, you can’t just say that study is wrong because of me.

Rebecca: It’s like if you are in a writing voting for mayor and the mayor is between Lori and Corey.  And Lori wins by a landslide.  And you’re like, “But I voted for Corey.  How did Lori win?”  Well, because you voted for Corey, and 82% of the rest of the people voted for Lori.  So we say, “Well, it worked for me.  Why is,”—no.  Because it worked for you.  

Sheila: But you’re not the only person.  So that’s one is that’s how statistics work.  But let me tell you what this article is not saying.  Okay?  And that’s what I really want people to hear.  It isn’t saying that The Five Love Languages is harmful or that it’s going to hurt anyone.  And that’s not what we’re saying either.  Okay?  What it’s saying is that there isn’t the scientific backing to make the claims that Chapman makes.  But it doesn’t mean that reading the book didn’t help you.  And here is why.  And I want people to get this.  Most people have never talked about how to communicate.  Most people have not really talked about how they feel connected and how they feel close.  In fact, most people can’t even express it to each other.  They can’t even say what they need.  And so when you do anything, anything at all, that makes you more intentional about connecting with your spouse, that is going to improve your marriage because, for most people, they haven’t done anything yet.  And I think that is what the benefit of something like The Five Love Languages is.  It’s easy to talk about.  It’s easy to understand.  It’s easy to remind yourself, hey, you know what?  I should pick up a coffee for my wife on my way home from somewhere.  Or, hey, you know what?  I really should spend some time talking to my husband tonight.  Or, hey, we’re watching a movie.  I really should take his hand because he really likes that.  Anything that prompts you to do things that connect with someone is going to be beneficial.  And so I think—and so we’re not saying any of this is harmful.  We’re just saying let’s not over promise.  And that’s what the book did was it over promised.  And in The Washington Post article, someone actually got a hold of Gary Chapman, and he answered some of their questions about how like what do you say about why this doesn’t measure up.  And he basically says, well, it did in my case, and it’s helped a lot of people.  But he understands that it’s just more of a fun tool to get started on.  And that really is all it is.  It’s not a magic panacea, and the claims that he made that we have one primary love language, that there is only five, and that you tend to experience love in the way that—or you tend to want to give love in the way that you experience love and that when we do this for our partners that they feel more connected, just—none of that actually measures up.

Rebecca: And I know that the book, itself, does have some stuff in it that means we’re not like yeah.  Go get the book.  It’s a fun thing.

Sheila: No.  No.  We do not recommend the book.  There are some weird anecdotes especially in earlier versions.  He took out some of the worst ones.  But there were some that insinuated that you can fix abuse by just having the right love language.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And we do know that the love languages have been weaponized especially against women in abusive relationships before.  Absolutely.  Not minimizing that.  What we’re just saying is that the love languages, in and of themselves, very innocuous, very harmless.  It’s very similar to if you guys were to talk about what your favorite movies were and your favorite books were.  It’s really just getting to know each other better, and it’s also combating our human tendency to kind of think of others last.  And I know people all come in arms because no.  I think about everyone first.  Genuinely, studies—I will say this very gently.  Even people who think that they don’t tend to put themselves first in a lot of areas.  Okay.

Sheila: Well, that’s natural.  It is because you know how you feel.  And so you’re focused on your own feelings.  

Rebecca: And there are some people who are more self focused than others.  Absolutely.  But we do tend to all kind of figure that we are always coming from a good place, and they’re always coming from a bad place, right?  That’s attribution bias at its core.  And so having something that reminds you, hey, he is just—there are things that I can do to make him feel loved.  There are things he can do to make me feel loved.  But also reminding that you also have to do that can be really helpful for marriages too, right?  So yeah.  We’re not saying that this is the next Love and Respect.

Sheila: No.  It isn’t harmful like Love and Respect.

Rebecca: Absolutely not.

Sheila: No.

Rebecca: Connor and I are still going to talk about love languages and explain it to our children so that they can tell us how we—because it’s really cute.  When you tell Alexander—we have our own little thing where we ask, “Well, what do you need right now?  Do you need a hug?  Do you need a high five?  Do you need us to tell you that you are special?  What do you need,” right?  And he can tell us, and it’s adorable.  He’s like, “I just need you to watch me.”  Okay.  I’ll watch you.  That’s a love language for my son.  My son’s love language is, “Mommy, watch.  Mommy, watch,” right?  But these are the kinds of things that we’ll absolutely be able to talk about because it helps when you don’t have the words for it yet.  It’s just not supposed to be a I guess we fixed our whole marriage now.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And that’s the thing.  And that’s why I actually really appreciate some academics looking at this stuff because I do think that evangelicals—we have—in our published resources, we have a tendency to get gimmicky.  We have found the answer.  The Five Love Languages certainly did it.  Love and Respect did it.  See?  That is the gimmick there, right?  Women want love.  Men need respect.  And so this is what you need to give.  His Needs, Her Needs did it where there is five big needs of men, five big needs of women.  XO Marriage, Jimmy Evans, does this where there’s four—he has four big needs of men and four big needs of women.  And if you meet these, then everything is fine.  And we try to put things into these gimmicky things.  And there isn’t a lot of scientific basis for this.  There really isn’t.  And often—yeah.  We’re taking short cuts.  And so it’s great to get these conversations started, but let’s not assume this is the end all and be all.  And I think in evangelical work there hasn’t been enough people saying, “Well, is that actually even true?”  

Rebecca: An example of another thing that is not necessarily rigorously, scientifically strong but is really helpful is something like the Enneagram, right?  The Enneagram, if you are going to use it as an excuse to not go to therapy by saying I’m just a four.  I’m just insufferable.  And I get to say that because I’m a four, by the way.  If you’re saying I can’t help it, I’m a four.  No.  Similarly if a man is like, well, I can’t tell you words of affirmation because I’m a physical touch guy, it’s like no.  That’s an inappropriate way to use it.  But in Connor and I talking to each other and him understanding, oh, is that actually kind of how you feel.  I was like yeah.  It actually really is.  That’s really helpful.  These are the things.  These kinds of tools—they’re supposed to be communication tools.  They help you explain to others who aren’t in your head what’s in your head when you don’t quite have the words for it.  It helps you be reminded that there are people who aren’t exactly like you.  (inaudible) with the love languages.  It does happen to have been proven that actually not kind of everyone is kind of the same unless there is an area of woundedness that needs to be healed, right?  So that’s slightly different.  But there are a lot of tools out there that can really help with this kind of stuff, but they just should not be held up as Gospel truth or as you don’t need anything else.  You only need this.  This is the solution to everything.  You just need to know this aspect of you, and then everything will be fixed.  And you’ll magically soar up into the sky while the sun beams out of your eyeballs, and your hair floats in the wind.  And you become a goddess.  Nothing like that is going to happen, guys.  It’s just a funny little thing.

Sheila: Exactly.  Now I did appreciate though that they are looking at some of the evangelical resources.  And I think academia is doing this more and more.  And we actually want to help academia do this.  And so I want to tell you about something which we are launching, and it’s actually launched right now.  You can go look.  It is in the podcast notes.  But we have four paid opportunities for people to help us draft up some academic articles for some of our research because we simply do not have time to do it all by ourselves.  And so this is what some of the money that we were fundraising for in December is going towards.  So we have four different papers that we would like to write.  We have more than that.  But right now we are inviting people to submit their applications to be chosen for one of these four projects.

Rebecca: Yes.  So if you’re someone who is in the academic space, who has a supervisor, or who has the means themselves to get published by a peer reviewed journal—so we are not necessarily looking for someone who wants to get started in academia, who doesn’t have a university affiliation, or something like that.  We have other stuff that you might be interested in maybe coming down later.  But for this we’re looking for people who are trying to get peer reviewed or who are currently getting peer reviewed, but they just need their next thing they’re going to write about.  They want their next research question, and we’d love to give you our data.  We’d love to give you some really fun stuff to work with and—yeah.  Help you.

Sheila: Yeah.  So we’re looking specifically for people—like our ideal candidates would be grad students in any number of fields.  Sociology, psychology, social work, even theology, physical therapy.  We’ve got a whole bunch of different ones.  Or adjunct or associate professors who just need more.  Publish or perish, right?  So if you just need something else to publish, we’ve got these all lined up for you.  It’s pretty easy.  You just need to do the lit reviews and write them up.  And so we’re going to have a link in our podcast notes where you can go read about those.  Please tell your friends.  It would make a great summer job.  Something extra that somebody could do as they are off school between terms and would just be something that could help their income too and get them something published.  So go take a look at that because we would love to have people come on board and help us get some of our research out there as well.  So that is what we had to share with you today on Bare Marriage.  Remember, we have our Orgasm Course.  If that is difficult for you, you can check that out.  And we just love keeping you up to date on what is going on in the literature about this area that we’re studying.  We like keeping up to date so that we can include the stuff in what we’re writing as well.  So if you ever seen an interesting peer reviewed article and you think, “Hey, Sheila would love this,” just send it to me.  

Rebecca: And I especially like when the new peer reviewed data proves us right.  I really like that.

Sheila: Yeah.  That is really fun.  That is really fun.  And so we appreciate that.  So thank you for joining us, and we will see you again next week on the Bare Marriage podcast.  Bye-bye.

Rebecca: Bye.

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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. Jo R

    I can’t WAIT for the tone police to moan and groan about THIS podcast. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    How can any of us ever eat ravioli again without THIS discussion flooding our brains????

    “if there is an outsized punishment for women, the best solution then seems to be to have an outsize reward.”

    💣 🎤 🔥

    May the multiple orgasms begin! (And a first orgasm for those women who never had even one. 😔 😟 🙁 😥)

    “Maybe if we actually focused on God’s gender roles for sex, we wouldn’t have any of these problems.”

    I’m not the first to think it, but if a man want to have sex with a person whose body works the same way as his, well, then it’s not a relationship with a woman that he needs to be in.

    “Most people have never talked about how to communicate.”

    That’s because women aren’t supposed to talk (because they may impugn their husbands’ leadership and therefore also be disrespectful), and men are taught that they don’t ever need to. 🤮

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wonder what the tone police would say? I mean, we were generally pretty happy! Not angry at all. But we still said things that would make them mad.

      • Jany

        Well, I commented on tone in the last podcast, so I don’t know if that makes me the tone police, but I didn’t have a problem with this podcast in the way that I had a problem with Rebecca‘s tone reading the article in the last podcast

  2. Nessie

    I will never look at ravioli again without thinking about this podcast, lol.

    I was too scared to let my husband watch me nurse because any breast exposure meant he was ready to go sexually… I couldn’t risk having to have sex or making him irritated that he wasn’t getting release, so I always had to hide myself away to nurse. I feel like SO MUCH was stolen from me.

    28:37 “That is a heathy response… We are not supposed to be sexually attracted to our dependents.” So good! Discussing how a power fetish is linked to a lot of bad things… makes so much sense, and may explain why so many authors have highlighted hierarchy.

    I was thinking “capability, not specific chores, is what’s sexy” and then you specified capabiliy! Yes!

    5 Love Languages was important for my husband in that he needed to realize other ways of showing/feeling love existed other than “physical touch (aka sex).” But it’s also limiting to guys like my husband in ways because he’s going to see it as “this is a complete collection of ways to show love.”

    It’s really nice to watch your joyful, often laughing dynamic today! 😀 You often cover much that is so challenging or harmful, so it’s great you can sometimes get to things that are a bit less intense- and have affirmation from research that backs up your previous findings.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Glad you enjoyed it, Nessie! And, yes, this is more what Rebecca and I sound like when we just talk!

    • CMT

      “I always had to hide myself away to nurse. I feel like SO MUCH was stolen from me.”

      I’m really sorry you experienced that, Nessie. At the best of times breastfeeding is a wild, stressful, beautiful, exhausting ride. It would be awful to feel like you had to juggle meeting your babies’ needs and protecting yourself from being constantly sexualized by your own partner. He was supposed to be raising those babies with you and supporting you, and instead he was objectifying you. No wonder you feel robbed.

      Digital hugs, if you want them 🫂🫂

      • Nessie

        Thanks, CMT. 💗 At least breastfeeding was (eventually, haha) a beautiful bonding experience for my child and myself-and now my husband is trying to better understand and improve. I just think those of us who had so much stolen need to realize and take the time to grieve how much we lost along the way.

  3. CMT

    The Chef Boyardee analogy is really, really great.

    It’s ironic. You’d think a group of people who stress gender difference at every possible opportunity, and talk about how men need to step up and be “servant leaders”, and what an amazing gift from God sex with your spouse is, would be all about this. You’d think teaching husbands to man up and learn to be amazing lovers would be a logical, obvious conclusion. But… no. *womp womp*

  4. Em

    I don’t know why it makes me so happy to read that the love languages is junk science. It has always made me cringe, especially because it is taught like it’s a legitimate thing.

  5. Laura

    How about respect as the 6th love language plus many more after? I agree that a lot of Christian nonfiction books have become gimmicks. The Power of a Praying Wife (don’t know if that was the first of Power of Praying series) is an example of a gimmick as there are more books in a series. Five Love Languages has become a series as there are 5 specific love languages for teens and children. There are also self help books in the secular/mainstream culture that have become gimmicks or franchises where that one best seller becomes a series such as the ones I’ve already mentioned. Self help books are looks at the library where I work at. We all want to improve our lives but we don’t want or have time to spend to do research so we tend to look for quick fixes which is where Five Love Languages and Power of Praying series comes in. Then we think, all we need to know are five ways to love someone or we need specific scripts on how to pray for someone based on what role they play in our lives. While those tips may be good starting points, we need to expand our horizons and realize there are more than five ways to express love (look to all of the many verses about love in the Bible) and more than x number of ways to pray for your loved ones. Also, do not rely on the author’s anecdotes because they may not be relatable to your experiences and their anecdotes are not the gospel truth. Of course, that’s been hard for me to comprehend because these authors are Christians and must know the Word enough so they have a monopoly on the Bible that I didn’t have.

    Maybe this is why I don’t want to read these Christian self help books. To me, they have just become some unhealthy gimmicks that didn’t work for me. Maybe they worked for others and something was wrong with me because I couldn’t get myself to agree with these authors who supposedly had God’s truth right. Well, their mindset may have been “all you need is the Bible,” “research isn’t necessary because this is what God told me, it worked for me so it should work for everyone else,” etc. Well, certain diets do NOT work for everyone and these diets may be harmful to a lot of people.

    As Sheila and Rebecca talked about the research studies, I am now realizing that my research methods and analysis class for my library science degree will come in handy for me. Maybe not career wise but for personal use as I would like to understand these studies better. Keep up the hard work!

    • JG

      Yes, your research skills you are learning now will be very helpful in the future. Libraries and librarians will not disappear just because of things being in digital form. It will be even more important to understand proper research methods because so many Christian leaders don’t and didn’t do the work to prove their assertions.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes! Exactly.

    • Amy A

      My brother plans on going into library science to be a research librarian! People will always need someone to gather resources for their projects (master’s thesis, court case, book research, etc).

  6. S

    The sad puppy analogy really bummed me out. If my husband was behaving that way during sex, we would not be having sex. Yikes.

  7. Angharad

    Five love languages always made me cringe. Whatever happened to asking someone what they need or even just paying attention so that we know without being asked? It makes me cringe when I hear married couples boasting about how 5 Love Languages ‘saved’ their marriage because ‘before, I couldn’t understand why she kept telling me she didn’t want expensive gifts and that she’d rather I just spent time with her’…Really? So when your WIFE said that quality time with her spouse was important to her, you ignored her. But when some random bloke you’ve never even met writes a book telling you that your wife’s love language is quality time, suddenly you start listening?! (And ditto with wives who ignore what their husbands say)

    • Laura

      When my ex and I were married, people at our church kept recommending the Five Love Languages which we never read. Well, I never read it because I was busy reading other books and going to school. He never read it because he never read. I’m thankful we did not read that book because from what I’ve read on Amazon, several reviewers talked about how that book hurt their relationships. Some examples was the part about physical touch and how husbands weaponized that against their wives saying, “See this book says I need more sex.” Because my ex was a sex addict, he would most likely use that book as a weapon to coerce me to give him more sex.

      • Anne

        Yes to this—the 5 Love Languages is not just nonsense, it’s harmful nonsense because men use it to justify demanding sex from their wives. The damage caused by being coerced and guilted into sex is profound.

      • Amy A

        Weird, I seem to remember the author emphasizing that physical touch is not at all just about sex, which is why it applies to platonic relationships as well.

        • Jany

          Amy, that’s what I remember them emphasizing, too. They defined physical affection as DISTINCT from sex.

      • Lisa Johns

        It’s amazing to me how many books guys can weaponize for the purpose of coercing their wives into more sex. *shudder*

  8. Jane King

    I had a female friend in college, (none of us were Christians then) who always referred to oral sex as “equal opportunity sex.” This was over 35 years ago and she was very much ahead of her time.

  9. Anonymous305

    This reminded me of the time my ex got upset with something nice I said because “words of affirmation aren’t my love language”. I tried to ask how I’m supposed to thank him for something specific without words like “if I give you a hug, how will you know which thing I’m hugging you for?” He just got annoyed and said I didn’t make any sense.

    Also, this reminded me of the unrelated incident when I told the marriage counselor that he wasn’t acting like an adult with the housework, but she tried to convince me to see him as an adult anyway. And she wanted me to be excited when he offered to vacuum in order to get something out of it, but she made fun of me when I wanted him to feel loved because I did the dishes.

    • Nessie

      Anonymous305- this counselor sounds really, really awful, both from this and from previous mentions. Was she licensed?

      • Anonymous305

        Yes, she was licensed and alleged to like the book GSR, which made it more confusing when she said aweful things. She also had moments of gently acknowledging trauma symptoms, which made it more confusing than if she hadn’t heard of trauma.

        In the same way I had many reasons for tolerating a bad marriage, I had many reasons for tolerating this counselor, including that I wanted to believe she was capable of understanding if I just explained enough. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way, but I’m sure lots of people on this blog understand that feeling.

        I recently learned that she’s no longer in her job, but I don’t know if it was downsizing or behavior related. Technically, I don’t even know if her leaving was involuntary, but I have circumstantial reasons to think it was. I’m sure it’s related to a merger, but the specifics would determine my propensity to trust her replacement.

        If the reason is downsizing, I don’t trust the organization to give a rip about the quality of her replacement, but in my fantasy world, the new organization noticed that the old one was tolerating bad behavior and put an end to it. I don’t really trust organizations, but I can dream. She had some management authority over the other counselors, so if her replacement were trustworthy, her replacement could be a positive influence on the other counselors in the office, too.

        • Nessie

          Yikes. However it came about, I’m glad she isn’t counseling people professionally anymore. She also sounds like she was easily duped by a narcissistic individual though to be fair they can be incredibly skilled at doing that. For your counselor to agree to the book but advise contradictorily to it is cognitively dissonant. I grew up in that and it can cause a lot of self-doubt.

          I’m sorry you went through that and hope you can keep growing stronger in your self-trusting abilities seeing as you got that [cognitive dissonance] from both your husband and counselor. And fwiw, you made perfect sense in using your words to thank him!

          • Anonymous305

            Thanks 🙂❤️.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      What a horrible counselor!

      • Anonymous305

        ❤️ the validation ❤️‼️

  10. Jenny

    “And it just baffles me that the people who are so about God’s gender roles and God’s design for sexuality and manhood and womanhood conveniently forgets that women can have multiple orgasms, and they can only have one per sexual encounter. ”

    Right?! RIGHT?!?!

    But I guess since sex is a taboo topic, you can’t brag about it, and if you can’t brag about making your wife orgasm three times in a row what’s the point? How can you prove your manliness if you can’t talk about it? Or since sex is a taboo topic, you can’t research how to make your wife orgasm because then you might think about having sex that night and that might eat into your thinking about deep, theological thoughts and debating theo-bros. That would make you less holy. And you can’t talk about sex because (gnosticism).

    And heaven forbid the wife contemplate anything but having babies, keeping house, and working full time hours in church ministry for free. And she definitely can’t think about sex pleasurably because she’s now a married (ex)virgin and must do everything in power to keep the blushing, naive thing going. If she figures out there’s multiple ways to orgasm she’s gone virtuous woman to harlot. Because how else did she figure that out?!

    Because I’ve all but heard it said like that.

  11. S

    Kids tend to see and understand some things differently than adults. Some things I believe were things I overheard, or inferred, from adult conversations as a kid. Males seemed much more important than females when I was growing up. I began resenting God for making me female. As I got older I went to church less and less then stopped altogether. As an adult planning a wedding, someone said I had to have sex regularly or my husband would stray. Twenty years of marriage and no orgasm later, now I’m 48-years-old and slowly changing my beliefs and slowly testing out religion. How can a lifetime of wrong beliefs be corrected? Maybe I f the experiences and conservations as a kid had been more positive and loving.

    A thought I had, as a novice to the Bible and religion, is that if kids and young adults have a strict and demanding father and a caring and passive mother, it’s not too far fetched that those same kids view God (father) as strict and demanding and Jesus (mother) as caring and passive.

    • Amy A

      Hey, I just wanted to acknowledge the hurt you’ve experienced from the institution of Christianity. I see you.
      I’m going through something of a deconstruction right now, which I guess is kind of the opposite of what you’re currently doing, but I think communities of deconstruction and/or progressive Christianity may be helpful for you. It’s been really healing and educational for me to expose myself to lots of different loving perspectives. I’d recommend Faith and Feminism, Deconstructing the Myth, Brian Recker, The New Evangelicals, Ezer Rising, and Deconstructing Purity Culture. (Plus April Ajoy for humor.)

      • Taylor

        And “She Deserves Better,” by Sheila! For dealing with “purity culture”–which got so much about ACTUAL purity totally wrong.

  12. Amy A

    Heyyy, as always, I love your work. But if I may, I would like to request that you try to be a bit more mindful of disabled people when talking about things like what makes someone an equal partner or not. I understand that this is not a podcast for disabled couples specifically, but I would really appreciate if you were a bit gentler with some of your statements or add caveats when they could be helpful. Because disabled people are a large portion of the population, and we enjoy your content too (e.g. Elora Dodd). I’m not married, and one of my biggest anxieties is that I will be a dead weight if I try to get married. But there are many happy, healthy inter-abled couples where one partner does also take on a caretaker role in some ways. I understand the points you’re trying to make, and they’re super important, but this episode in particular was really painful to listen to at times.

    • Anonymous305

      Really good point!!

  13. Sarah R

    You’re being very polite about the 5 Love Languages. I know you alluded to it but I was genuinely shocked when I gave it a re-read — some super problematic stuff there.

    The below podcast gives a good rundown of the issues with it. Fair warning, it’s hosted by two non-Christian guys who are very sweary, so not one to listen to with kids around, but they do a good job of pinpointing the issues.


    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’re planning on doing a much deeper dive into it when our marriage book comes out. We have some awesome new findings about the Love Languages and why they don’t work!

  14. Elf

    This is such an important point. It’s an ongoing frustration to me too.
    Yes Sheila and Rebecca (and Joanna) have done good work and changed the conversation in positive ways.
    But so much advice appears to be offered through an extraordinarily narrow lens of relationship experiences.
    Diverse perspectives including disability, ageing, blended families, childlessness are very much missing.


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