Do New Brides Need Their Husbands to Teach Them about Sex?

by | Apr 19, 2024 | Preparing for Marriage, Sex | 40 comments

New Bride Waiting for Her Husband to Teach About Sex

Do men naturally know more about sex than women?

On a recent Facebook post, still deeply bothered by that infamous clip from Josh Howerton,  I asked this question, “Do we think men “naturally” know more about sex than women do? And that men are equipped to teach inexperienced women?”

After all, Howerton instructed women to “stand where he wants you to stand and do what he wants you to do” on your wedding night, as if he knows what’s supposed to happen. 

I received a ton of great responses, but there was one in particular that caught my attention.

Sarah MacDugal left a GREAT comment that led to a ton of conversation:

“Also… wouldn’t the presumption that the man already knows all about sex, be based in the assumptions that:

1) he’s already had sexual experience (but she’s a virgin), or

2) he’s watched plenty of porn so he “knows what to do” even if he’s technically a virgin?

Both of which assume a baseline of sexual promiscuity (literal or visual) for him and sheltered naïveté for her.”

Sarah MacDugal

A lot of Bare Marriage followers agreed with her take:

“Exactly! I was told this or it was implied growing up. Sexual integrity is for everyone who follows Christ.”

“…that’s what I thought too. And any “education” that men get about sex from porn would likely lead to abuse, especially when women are taught to do as the man says”

“yes! I hate the notion in evangelicalism that women should be virgins and men should at the very least be avid porn users. Don’t get me wrong. I believe sex belongs within marriage for numerous reasons. But that doesn’t seem to be the message that our churches are teaching our young men. Porn is way too normalized. I neither think it should be shamed. But it is shaping the way theses pastors speak to us and it’s sick. Almost feels demonic to me. Bc wouldn’t it be just like Satan to use our fleshly desires to wreak havoc on relationships?”

So here’s what I’m left with:

Why are we considering men the authority on healthy sex?

Shouldn’t it be concerning to church leaders that men are learning about sexuality from unhealthy places, like porn?

 “Because he watches porn, and thinks every other man does too. Treating your wife like an actor in your personal porn experience, to follow your porn script, is not intimacy.”

On Bare Marriage, we have spent a lot of time showing how porn has led to abusive dynamics within marriages:

And we’ve got chapters on this in The Great Sex Rescue and The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex too. Porn does not mean you know more about sex; porn use means you know more about using someone for your own gratification.

As we’ve said in The Great Sex Rescue, porn and sex are polar opposites. Sex says, “I want to know you.” Porn says, “I want to use you.” 

As one male commenter said on Facebook:

“That is horrible! 

So… the intimacy of marital intercourse is supposed to be about the man and not about each of them as people and the two of them together as a couple? That’s crazy!

Okay… from a scriptural perspective… what does the Bible say in Genesis 4:1?

It says, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain…”

Read that again, “Adam knew Eve his wife…”

The act of sexual intimacy is described as Adam investing his time and attention to come to better know Eve.

So, what you said about the focus being more on the woman’s needs and desires? That is in full agreement with scripture.”

We cannot simultaneously condemn porn use AND endorse it by implying that men who learn about sex from porn should now be in charge of educating their wives on what a healthy sex life should look like. If they do not have that basic understanding of healthy sexuality, there is no way that they will be able to teach it. 

But what if it’s not about porn, but merely libido?

What if we’re not assuming that men know more about sex because they watch porn, but we’re assuming that men know more about sex because they want it more?

Even so, should we be considering men the experts? After all, 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm in a given sexual encounter, but only 48% of Christian women do. It sounds like men know how to make sex feel good for them, but not necessarily for their wives.

And men and women tend to orgasm from different things. Men orgasm easily through intercourse; women often need other types of stimulation to reach orgasm. If we assume that men can teach women, then we’re likely thinking of sex from a male lens, where intercourse is the main event. And that doesn’t set couples up for long-term success (for more on this, please see The Good Guy’s Guide and Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, where we talk about how to start sex well–and see our Honeymoon Course!)

“Men do not naturally know more about sex than women; in fact, because women’s anatomy and sexual response cycle is more complex and varied, and our culture is more ashamed of female sexuality, I’d say men are probably at a disadvantage when it comes to accurate sex education. And any sex therapist knows this is true!

Dr. Camden Morgante

Women Are Failed If We Leave Their Sexual Education Entirely Up To Their Husbands

Finally, if we think that women don’t need sex ed since their husbands can teach them, we leave women vulnerable to abuse.

“Many (even the majority) of spouses of porn addicts experience betrayal trauma, which is just like post traumatic stress disorder. Don’t minimize this or downplay this. If you need help, please get help from a licensed therapist who is trained in sexual addiction recovery and betrayal trauma recovery. This isn’t a couple’s issue that needs to be dealt with; this is something you need to work through so that you can breathe again, think clearly again, and smile again.”


Sexual Confidence: How To Feel Confident When You’re Married To A Porn User

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

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

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

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

A woman who does not have a basic understanding of sexuality will not understand the basics of consent. She will likely not know that she can say no if she isn’t in the mood to have sex, if she doesn’t feel well enough to have sex, or if it is unsafe for her to have sex due to health concerns or abuse. 

She will likely become disconnected from her own body and the arousal cues and the sexual response cycle. She may not even be aware that sex is for her too! So much of the unhealthy views on sex, such as those shown in porn or that are taught by Christian leaders, are male-centric and give little to no regard to a woman’s pleasure or needs during sex. 

What if we put away this strange notion that new brides must learn about sex from their husbands and focused, instead, on a mutual idea of sex; one where a husband and wife learn from each other what feels good to them. What if we encouraged men and women alike to learn more about sex from healthy sources that emphasize mutual pleasure and consent? Wouldn’t that be a more Christian approach to sexuality?

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Join 40,00 others and let's change the evangelical conversation about sex

Men do not have to teach their wives about sex. 

Men and women can learn together, because sex is an experience you should be sharing.

So let’s start well (and here are some resources for that!. But let’s not assume that men know more than women, just because men can orgasm more easily. That’s actually more a sign that men need to slow down and figure out what she needs.

And if they figure it out together? Things can be awesome!

What do you think? Why is it assumed that he will know more about sex than she will? 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. Angharad

    Another factor in assuming the husband will teach his wife about sex is probably the skewed sex education that is given to males and females. When I was engaged and hunting round for advice on sex for our wedding night, most of the ‘advice to brides’ was just to lie there and do what your new husband told you to. E.g. I found one website that had sections for ‘advice for the bride’ and ‘advice for the groom’. To give them credit, both sections emphasised that sex should be good for both partners. But for the bride, the advice was pretty much to buy some sexy nightdresses and underwear and trust her husband’s direction. The advice for the groom gave a detailed description of exactly how sex worked and what to do. While it encouraged the groom to try to make sex as good as possible for his new bride, it was all couched in terms of him being in control. So he was told he should remove her outer clothing but if she was nervous to ‘allow’ her to retain her underwear at the start until she gained in confidence (she obviously didn’t get a say in this). That he should focus on caressing particular parts of her body as she would ‘probably’ find that enjoyable (nowhere was it suggested that he might actually ASK her what she liked) That when it came to penetration, it should be ‘as quick as possible’ to ‘reduce’ her pain (no mention that it shouldn’t be painful at all if she were fully aroused. Or that he should stop if she asked him to). Etc, etc, etc.

    So if a virgin couple who had never viewed porn were given advice like this, and the bride only read the bride’s page and the groom only read the groom’s page, the groom would have much more knowledge on the wedding night. And the bride would feel that she had to just do everything he told her to and put up with whatever she didn’t like because he knew best. (So glad I found your site before our wedding night!!!)

    • Nethwen

      This is horrifying!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is truly awful! I don’t know why people think like this.

  2. Nethwen

    I wonder if masturbation were considered more common women, as well as for men, if the idea that the husband “teaches” the wife would change. If the woman already knows what feels good (the way some assume a man would know about himself), then what is there for the husband to teach her? (I mean from the point of view that one should teach the other, rather than from the view that both learn together.)

    • NM

      This!! I consider myself very lucky that I figured out how my body worked when I was single. My husband was an eager student when we got married lol. I truly believe that set us up for success.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The weird thing is that masturbation among girls is still pretty common (upwards of 60%). So it’s not like most girls are completely sexually ignorant.

      • Sarah

        But would that mean that female masturbation should be allowed or maybe tolerated ? Because there is some truth in saying that you can’t tell someone what you like or guide them if you yourself aren’t aware of it. Personally, I’m torn in the sense that knowledge is power and I feel women need to know and be allowed to learn about their bodies, where and what does the clitoris do, and about what feels good but also masturbation has always seemed dirty and sinful.

  3. Nathan

    There was a great scene in the old TV show “One day at a time” about this: The idea that women are supposed to wait, but men AREN’T supposed to wait, due to their physical needs and their need to know about sex first.

    One character asked “If the woman is supposed to wait, and the man’s NOT supposed to wait, who is man not waiting WITH?”

  4. Laura

    Both Adam and Eve were virgins. I assume they did what came naturally to them. Shouldn’t that be the same for all couples? There should not be a one-size-fits-all advice for sex and marriage because everyone is different. Both my fiance and I had previous marriages and we’re in our 40s so we don’t really need an instruction manual. However, I am taking both the honeymoon and orgasm courses. When I was married in my 20s, I did not know what a female orgasm was and I still don’t know what it feels like to have an orgasm. There’s always more to learn and I think Christians should be open to reading mainstream evidence-based advice about sex. You can take what advice you think applies to you and ignore the rest.

    • Lisa Johns

      Read the book Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski. You will not regret it! 🙂
      Blessing on your upcoming marriage!

    • Angharad

      Mainstream advice on sex is ok if you’ve already had sex. The issue for Christian couples who have waited until marriage is that most sex advice geared towards their age assumes they already have a certain amount of sexual experience. The only secular advice I found any good was a website giving support for those suffering from auto-immune conditions, which gave clear, practical but not-too-explicit advice on how to adapt intercourse depending on which particular condition was causing problems.

      And most of the Christian stuff was just ‘do what your husband tells you’.

  5. Jen

    Again, this is an example of the Church reflecting the world instead of the Church reflecting Christ. The world literally taught the “men know what to do” message along with “women just lie there”. “Lie back and think of England” is a phrase from the early 20th century, if not earlier (some people trace it to Queen Victoria). My point is that this is what culture has taught women and men, and the horror is when the Church emulates the world, but adds, “And God wants it that way.”

    What about the Jewish law of Onah where a man is required to proved pleasurable sex for his wife? Lots of Christian teachers have gone in the exact opposite direction by saying that women owe men sex, even when it hurts, even when he’s abusing her, even when their marriage is terrible. I can’t read the Bible and know Jesus and think God wants it this way.

    • Angharad

      Slightly off topic, but it’s highly unlikely to have been Queen Victoria. Her private journals suggest that she thoroughly enjoyed the physical side of her relationship with Albert. Also, the Queen died in 1901, before the first clear record of the quote being used. It’s popularly attributed to Lady Hillingdon, but the journal in which she was supposed to have written the comment has been lost.

  6. C

    Maybe its just me, but aside from basics of sex education (that everyone should have), I’ve always thought both people should be relatively “ignorant.” Isn’t half the fun supposed to be figuring it out together?

  7. Jane Eyre

    Isn’t this backwards? How can a man learn about sex from anyone BUT his wife?

    She is the foremost and **only** authority on what feels good *for her.* While she may not know everything or even anything that feels good for her before marriage, she is the one who knows what feels good, mediocre, mind blowing, or painful when it’s happening. She is the one who knows if she wants more at the exact same pressure and speed, less pressure, more speed, etc.

    Pray tell, what are men going to teach her? “Oh honey, I know that your nerves are telling your brain that it’s painful, and you’re approximately as aroused as dead goldfish, but in my fav porno flick, ‘Cindy and the Plumber,’ Cindy went wild when the plumber did this to her.”

    Painful thing is, a lot of men think that way. It doesn’t matter what other women like – or more accurately, what men mistakenly think other women like – it matters what your wife likes.

    And the only person in the entire world who can teach you that? Your. Wife.

    • Jane Eyre

      Ugh – any way to remove my picture?

      • M

        Your picture is beautiful!

      • Lisa

        Email Sheila directly and she will see that is removed. Glad to see you back on the blog, Jane.

    • Jo R

      Jane, you have been sorely missed! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

    • Lisa

      Regarding your comment, absolutely. Even if he had 50 sexual partners before he married her, it’s irrelevant because she is a unique person. It all goes back to their belief in the absolute lie that all women are essentially the same and all men are essentially the same. Men don’t care at all about their wedding day and women don’t care at all about their sex lives. When these men say these things, they are telling us about THEMSELVES. The arrogance that they consider themselves the epitome of the human experience is wild. The damage they do is untold.

  8. Jo R

    So women are supposed to be virgins and men somehow magically know all about how sex works? Pray tell, HOW are men finding out all about it? Personal experience with whom, exactly?

    Let’s be honest. What most men know is how to use their own hand or another person’s various body parts to give the men themselves orgasms. That’s it.

    How is knowledge of applying circumferential pressure back and forth axially along his penis going to help a man know how to bring a woman to orgasm?

    And if he resents the fact that a woman generally needs different actions to orgasm than what he needs, then he doesn’t really need to be in a relationship with a woman. What he actually needs in that case is someone whose body works exactly like his own. Yes, I said it out loud, and I’m not taking it back or apologizing for it.

    If a man is going to be selfish in bed, meaning he is going to not bother first learning and then consistently doing for the rest of his life what she needs to orgasm as reliably as he will, he should make that clear from the get-go so his prospective wife can get the h*** out before he inflicts his selfishness in such a core part of her being.

  9. Sarah O

    Great article – and I would say points to a bigger problem of men generally not be held to any standard of sexual purity in the church.

    I was so aggravated several years back when even Covenant Eyes had an article arguing that we should stop disqualifying men from pastorships for porn use because it made it harder for them to seek help and also because…well…we’d eventually have none left.

    If you want to remove sexual purity as a virtue of Christian character, then remove it for everyone. If you want it upheld, go after men with the same furor as women. Even when it IS addressed, it’s with great compassion and gentleness that is almost never found when talking to women on the same topic.

    How much time did the recent manly man conference spend addressing men’s sexual purity as a Christian discipline, since it is statistically abysmal? Dare I guess?

    • Lisa Johns

      Considering that Josh Howerton and Mark Driscoll were quite visibly present, hahahahahahahahaha.

  10. Hope

    Is anyone else curious where these inaccurate ideas about sex come from? How did people in the church come to adopt these?

    • Nethwen

      I wonder if it’s partly a holdover from days when girls often married much older men who may have been widowers and partly a continuation of the long history of men insisting that men were capable of knowing things and women were too delicate to know much, so it was the father or husband’s job to “protect” the woman by deciding what she could know.

      • Lisa Johns

        Doesn’t that just make you want to vomit?

  11. Willow

    In the secular world, it’s accepted that the less-experienced or virgin partner will learn from the more-experienced partner, regardless of gender; and that less-experienced/virgin partners often enjoy having a more-experienced partner teach them how to enjoy sex. Both men and women have things to learn about sex, even about sex with their own gender or their own self-pleasure.

    In a relationship where both people are virgins, it sounds cool on the surface that they would “figure it out together,” but in actuality, that can often be painful, boring, unproductive, one-sided, etc. The advice given to dual-virgin couples is often terrible, like “use lots of lube!!” or “bring lots of different condoms to find your favorite!” Most people are too embarrassed to talk about specific anatomy, and almost nobody will mention issues that can cause sexual dysfunction or pain, such as being on SSRIs.

    I am seeing more distribution of books like the Bare Marriage ones to virgin couples, and that’s great. I think virgin couples do need some guidance to help them on the path to pleasure. Sure, they’ll ‘figure it out’, but why not skip past some of the painful/boring/unproductive parts and learn from others’ expertise?

    • CMT

      “it sounds cool on the surface that they would “figure it out together,” but in actuality, that can often be painful, boring, unproductive, one-sided, etc.”

      Agreed. IMO the “newlyweds are supposed to figure it out together!” thing is a romanticized fantasy. People in a new sexual relationship have to figure *each other* out regardless. That itself can have a steep learning curve. In what other area would we expect that having less self-understanding and less subject knowledge would cause people to perform better at a complex task? Some couples do just fine, I suppose. But idealizing them and making them the gold standard instead of just, I don’t know, informative sex ed?? Why?

    • Perfect Number

      “In a relationship where both people are virgins, it sounds cool on the surface that they would “figure it out together,” but in actuality, that can often be painful, boring, unproductive, one-sided, etc.”

      I totally agree! In purity culture, people would say “you don’t need to have sexual experience before marriage- you can figure it out together! And isn’t that the way you’d want to figure it out- with someone who totally loves you and is committed for life?” But the reality is more like… how can you “figure it out together” when the woman has been taught that her main concern during sex should be making sure it’s a totally perfect experience for her husband- so she can’t give honest feedback, she can’t speak up if it hurts, she can’t suggest things that would feel good for her- because what if her husband doesn’t like her feedback/suggestions and it ruins the mood for him- then she has failed to be a good wife. “Figure it out together” can’t work unless the 2 partners believe they are *equals*.

      • CMT

        “how can you “figure it out together” when the woman has been taught that her main concern during sex should be making sure it’s a totally perfect experience for her husband- so she can’t give honest feedback”

        “can’t work unless the 2 partners believe they are *equals*”

        This. Yes, the prior conditioning those virgin newlyweds have is likely not neutral, and it’s naive to ignore that.

  12. CMT

    It’s a bit tricky for straight men to be experienced going into marriage if all straight women are supposed to be INexperienced. 2 solutions, depending on the version of the stereotype:

    1) pulp romance version: not all women are actually supposed to be “good girls.” A guy can practice with “bad girls” before he finds “the One” and orchestrates her magical first time.

    2) evangelical marriage book/josh (butler, howerton, etc) version: sex is enhanced male “release,” anyway. So if a guy knows how his own responses work (and ofc he does, even if he technically shouldn’t- after all, all that testosterone has to go somewhere!), he’s 99% there, even if he can’t tell her clitoris from her clavicle.

    There’s a lot of overlap, of course. And while it’s obvious how both of those scripts deprive women of sexual agency, they are terrible for men too.

    • Lisa Johns

      I sprayed my drink when I read about a guy who couldn’t tell her “clitoris from her clavicle!”

  13. Andrea

    I read somewhere that in public school sex education classes they tell kids learning how to have sex from porn is like learning how to drive from watching The Fast and the Furious. I thought the analogy was perfect, including the violence.

    • Lisa Johns

      It is a perfect analogy. Porn is a house of horrors.

  14. Mrs.

    Married to a porn addict. I had no idea he was and I had zero sex ed. He used to say “try this, I’ve heard it’s fun”. Years later I figured out what he really meant. Everything he knew he learned in porn. Said I had a problem since I couldn’t O. Now I don’t want to touch him ever again.

    • Hope

      When I was in my teens, I got sexually involved with a guy that watched porn. One of the times I was with him, he wanted a particular act (I believe he learned it from porn) and he was confident that I would like it. I kept refusing, but he wouldn’t listen. I finally caved in and let him do it. It hurt badly. He realized shortly after he started that I did not like it and stopped. But the damage was done.

    • Lisa Johns

      And you need to know you are free to never touch him again. That is valid.

      • Mrs.

        Yes, I forgive him because I’m commanded to, but I don’t have to put up with the betrayal or live with him.

        • Lisa Johns

          Amen. And you even get to choose the time and place of forgiveness. Blessing to you.

  15. Lisa

    If anything, it is harder to un-learn and re-learn than to start from scratch. As someone who helps people correct dysfunctional movement patterns, it’s so much easier to train someone from scratch than to help them re-write a motor program.

    The ignorance of the pastors making these statements is astounding. The damage they do is immense. And their followers will swallow anything, it seems. They keep getting propped up and getting donations of money and free labor. Hopefully many will quietly walk away once they realize they don’t need people like that in their lives.


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