PODCAST: Are We Saying Wives Don’t Have to Have Sex?

by | Apr 4, 2024 | Libido, Podcasts | 56 comments

Rebecca and Sheila answer critics saying "are you saying women don't have to have sex"

“So you think it’s okay if women just don’t have sex, then?”

Whenever we talk about how sex should be mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both, and that the obligation sex message is toxic, the reply we get is something along these lines–without obligation, obviously women won’t have sex anymore!

That’s the furthest thing from the truth. So today on the podcast Rebecca and I are going to break down this myth, and show the truth about the ingredients of libido, and what actually affects frequency of sex!

Plus we’ve got two never-before-heard stats in this one, including some from our new marriage survey!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

So what are we saying about women’s responsibility to have sex?

Here’s a typical comment that comes into the blog:

I’d be careful with whatever comes out today Bare Marriage. Was listen to the podcast weekly for months, and they are taking and removing all power from the man and giving all power to the woman around sex, desires for sex, and only when the women want it, never thinking of the man’s needs as well. In a marriage, it should be a loving and kind and a serving culture. Not one spouse wielding all the power more than the other in certain areas. I stopped listening to them. They need more grace, mercy, and balance to their approach.

(in reply to a commenter): They have said many times that sex should only be when the woman is desiring it and that the man should wait for the wife until then. Not sure if you’ve spoken with many women, but many women’s desire tends to be lower compared to most men, hence all the viraling memes, but also boundless marriages we have had counseling with around marriage. As a loving wife and mom of 4, if I only did things when I really felt like it, my children wouldn’t have breakfast most days, they wouldn’t receive a great homeschool education, the dishes would be piled up, and laundry would be undone. But because I’ve experienced the loving transformation of Christ undeserving love in my life, I serve those around me. I have an amazing spouse that is loving and takes care of me and our family’s needs and point us to Christ. I think it would be very unloving to only be with him when my desires arose telling him to eat his desires when I don’t desire it. I will say, she has helped those with spouses that have been abused around things in the bedroom. But she has most definitely thrown the baby out with the bath water. I don’t suggest someone if a large portion of their ministry I can’t stand behind. Just like you are saying about Every Mans Battle.

Note how she’s comparing having sex to doing laundry, and the reason we have sex is because our husband is undeserving, but Christ died for us so we have to serve others who are undeserving.

What if we actually look at what is happening with actual couples?

And what you’ll find is that we’re dealing with the 90% problem (90% of lack of libido for women can be explained by issues that need to be addressed) vs. the 10% problem (there’s nothing wrong but she still doesn’t have sex). 

In this podcast we talk about both the 90% problem and the 10% problem. Both matter. But our plea is let’s talk about the 90% problem more, rather than putting all our attention to the 10% one!

We also show how we go over both the 90% and the 10% in The Great Sex Rescue, and we have a course dealing with the 10% (Boost Your Libido) and the 90% (The Orgasm Course). We just think it’s funny when people accuse us of this when we so clearly teach about it!

With Thanks to our Sponsor Forgiveness After Trauma

Susannah Griffith Forgiveness After Trauma

What if forgiveness doesn’t mean what we think it means?

So often the concept of forgiveness is hurled at survivors, telling them that their anger and their pain is the problem.

But what if God doesn’t see it that way?

Susannah Griffith takes us through her own heart-wrenching journey of forgiveness that includes lament, anger, and acountability, and shows us through a rich dive into Scripture that reconciliation may look different than we think it does!

This is such a healing book, that will help make you whole again.

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Our Sponsor:

The book Forgiveness After Trauma. A victim-centered approach to what forgiveness looks like after betrayal. Rather than pressuring a victim to forgive, let’s examine what Scripture says about lament, anger, accountability, and what reconciliation looks like. I was so, so blown away by this book, and saw things in Scripture I never saw before. Check out Susannah Griffith’s story, and this amazing book.

To Support Us:

The Products We Mentioned: 

Things Mentioned in the Podcast: 

What do you think? Why are people so eager to get us to talk about the 10% problem, while ignoring the 90% problem? Let’s talk in the comments!

Transcript

Sheila: Welcome to episode 231 of the 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 Becca, guess what we’re going to do today?

Rebecca: What are we going to do?

Sheila: We are going to dedicate an entire podcast to a comment that I often get that I’m a little bit sick of.  And I just want one place where we demolish the argument so that I can send people here and say, “Hey, if you think that, go listen here.”  So we’ve done this before.  Your father and I did a podcast awhile ago on obligation sex, so everything you want to know about obligation sex.  We did a podcast on why—if you are acting egalitarian, you should just call yourself egalitarian, not complementarian.  So we demolished all those arguments.  And today we want to look at the accusation that we often good, which I think is so silly.  That we’re telling women you don’t ever need to have sex.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Yes.  But before we do that, we have a few thank yous.  Do you want to start?

Rebecca: Our first one we want to say thank you to like we do every week, I think—or most weeks.

Sheila: Pretty much.  Yes.  

Rebecca: Pretty much.  Anyway.  Is our patrons.  Thank you so much to everyone who helps support what we do here.  Our patrons give a little bit of money every month, as low as $5 a month sometimes, and you get access to our exclusive Facebook group where it is the only place on social media I actually hang out.

Sheila: Yeah.  Me too.

Rebecca: So yeah.  Everyone is like, “Man, you never post on social media anymore.”  I was like, “Well, I do all the time in my patron group but not as much anywhere else.”  And so we’re there.  And there are exclusive events.  There is behind the scenes podcasts.  There is all sorts of stuff that you can get access to including a huge backlog, at this point, of content.  So if you join, we’d love to have you there.  You can find the link for that in the show notes.

Sheila: Yeah.  And a lot of our patrons came to join our party in our home town a couple of weeks ago, so that was really fun getting to meet some of them.  And if you are in our home town, Belleville, Ontario, just a quick reminder that my husband and I are leading a study at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Wednesday nights, so you can come on by for that.  We also want to say thank you to our sponsor, Brazos Press, and the book, Forgiveness After Trauma, which is right here if you’re watching on video on YouTube.  But it’s written by Susannah Griffith.  She was on the podcast a couple of weeks ago.  And I can’t tell you how powerful this book was for me.  Just going through some of the common misperceptions that we have about forgiveness.  And on the blog, we’ve been working through what it means to lament and hold people accountable, and so many people are just finding this really freeing in knowing that God is there in your pain.  So please check out Forgiveness After Trauma.  It’s, honestly, a wonderful book, and the link is in the podcast notes too.  And if you want to support us, you can do so by rating the podcast five stars and leaving a review.  It’s just something that simple can also help get the word out about the Bare Marriage podcast.  All right, Becca.  Do you want to introduce this topic?  Or do you want me to jump in to it?

Rebecca: Sure.  So we are going to—we’re not going to read the comment word for word because often what happens is that people go back and they find it.  And then they go after the person.  So we’re just going to paraphrase.  But we get these kinds of sentiments quite frequently where it’s like, “I just don’t know about this because if we tell women that they don’t have to have sex unless they want to have sex then men will not get enough sex.  These poor men will have all these needs that aren’t being met.  And so they’re just—you guys don’t think about men’s needs at all.  Men’s needs are being neglected.  This is a problem.  And if I only had sex when I wanted to, well, then I’d never have sex.  So I think to myself, you know,”—and this actually is from the comment.

Sheila: Yeah.  Why don’t you read the actual quote for this part?

Rebecca: Yeah.  So please don’t go and find it.  Okay?  But she says this, “If I only did things when I really felt like it, my children wouldn’t have breakfast most days.  They wouldn’t receive a great home school education.  The dishes would be piled up, and laundry would be undone.  But because I’ve experienced the loving transformation of Christ’s undeserving love in my life, I serve those around me.”  And that’s a very common sentiment especially from women, I will say, because there’s a lot of women out there who do primarily have sex out of service.  And they may have thought to themselves they’re not doing it out of obligation.  They’re doing it out of service.  And so then they get very angry when we suggest that women might have sex because they want it because that feels like a personal attack, right?  Because sex is personal, right?  Sex is really intimate.  It’s personal.  Like we say, it’s supposed to be intimate, mutual, and pleasurable.

Sheila: Mutual, pleasurable for both.

Rebecca: But intimacy is really, really scary.  And it’s really, really vulnerable.  So when you see someone coming with data saying, “Hey, what you’re doing only works until it doesn’t.  What you’re doing is actually destroying your sex life from the inside out.  You are causing your sex life to atrophy.  Based on the stats, you’ve got a good,”—what is it?  What did we find?  About 10 to 15 years.

Sheila: 15 years.   

Rebecca: Of this kind of mentality.  Of, well, I do it because I love him.  I do it because it’s good for our marriage.  I do it because—and I don’t want to have sex.  I like sex very much.  I don’t like it, but I’m going to do it no matter what because I do laundry.  I do dishes.  I do sex, right?  It’s a part of your mentality.  It only lasts for so long, and then your marriage is actually going to be destroyed.  That is really personal.  And that can feel like an attack, and people get really defensive, right?  Because we all know, this is personal.  But what we want to tell you is what we’re saying is not personal.  It’s based in the stats.  

Sheila: That’s right.

Rebecca: Okay.  It’s based in data.  And when people are really frustrated about this idea that, oh, if I only had sex when I want to, I’d never have sex, there’s two questions I want to ask.   Okay.  What do you mean by don’t want?  And do you like sex?  Because if we can answer those two questions, a lot of this just kind of sorts itself out.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because what we’ve been saying is that our approach to sex is actually hurting and changing the very nature of sex.  Because when people turn sex into merely being about men’s sexual needs and never mention that women can have needs and desires too—

Rebecca:   I know.  It’s so funny.  It’s like you talk to any high drive wife.  And it’s like, “Yeah.  Girls have needs.  Girls have needs.”

Sheila: But they’re talking about men’s sexual needs and the fact that our whole orientation towards sex needs to be serving by giving something that we don’t want.  And then sex is no longer something which flows out of our relationship, which is an expression of how we are together, which flows from intimate connection.  Sex becomes merely something that I do when I don’t want to.  And that has repercussions both for your relationship and for how we frame sex and how we see sex and how we define sex.  And that’s what we’ve been saying.  We haven’t been—people are like, “But if you tell women that they only have to have sex when they want to, then men will never get sex.”  To which our replay is?      

Rebecca: The data does not say that.

Sheila: Exactly.  And also if that’s your experience, then you’re doing it wrong.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that might not be your fault.  You may have gotten terrible sex education.  You may have had just life throw a bunch of crap at you all at once.  The idea that we’re doing something wrong doesn’t need to mean you’re a horrible person.  That’s not what we’re saying.  What we’re saying is—

Sheila: Yeah.  The idea that you’re doing something wrong means, hey, this is something that can be fixed.  We can do better.    

Rebecca: Exactly.  And this doesn’t need to be your forever.  This doesn’t need to be what you just resign yourself to for the rest of your life.  So first of all, we need to talk about the concept of need before we move forward.  Okay.  Because we hear this all the time.  Men have needs.  

Sheila: Yes.  And before we even do that, you know what is a basic need?  

Rebecca: What?

Sheila: Water.  And we are drinking our water, for those of you on YouTube, out of our merch.  We have these insulated thermoses that can work for water or something hot.  And I am drinking mine out of our prayer and tent pegs and prophecy and leadership and preaching the Gospel to all that will hear.  That is biblical womanhood.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  And I have one of our limited edition runs from last year, which is not currently available.  But it’s a good reminder that whenever we send an email out about a limited edition run they really are limited edition.  But this is our anti rape raccoon mug.  We honestly might bring this back for a 48-hour flash sale at some point because a lot of people have asked for it again.  But I did a podcast where we were talking about the idea that—

Sheila: Boys can’t stop.

Rebecca: – boys can’t stop.  And I was getting push back from the host saying, “Yeah.  But once a certain point, it’s just really hard for guys to stop.  And girls need to understand this so they can protect themselves.”  And I said, “If a rabid raccoon were to jump into the room that the boy is having sex in, he would be able to stop have sex in order to protect himself from the rabid raccoon.  Okay.  That means that he is able to stop.  That means he has the control to stop which means he should stop at her no.”  Right?  

Sheila: Yes.  Exactly.  

Rebecca: Anyway, so I did it better in the podcast, but that line became a bit of a viral hit among our patrons.  And so we made anti rape raccoon mugs.  Excellent transition into the merch pitch, by the way.  

Sheila: Yes.  So you can check out our merch.  The podcast link is there.  We have a lot of different designs.  Two biblical womanhood ones, our biblical manhood, our love and respect.  I don’t even know what’s up in the store anymore.    

Rebecca: Jezebel.

Sheila: Yes.  Our new Jezebel, which is really fun.  They call me Jezebel.

Rebecca: Yeah.  For all the women who have stood up for equality and been met with personal attacks.

Sheila: Yes.  So all of those things are there.  When you buy our merch, it helps support what we do too.  Okay.  So let’s talk about needs.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Let’s talk about needs.  So here’s the thing.  We have taken sexual needs and, in the common vernacular, we don’t separate the two sides of a sexual need.  Okay?  So you have the physiological drive, the sex drive, the urge to have sex.  And the idea that sex is a human need.  It absolutely is.  Okay?  And a lot of people say, “It’s not a need.”  Okay.  Let’s all take a second and calm down.  It is a need.  Sex is absolutely a human need.  It is.  Everyone agrees that it is.  Okay?  You’re not going to find someone who says that there is not a biological, physiological need for sex.  Okay?  Because we have to have sex in order to reproduce.  And organisms exist in order to reproduce and then die.  That is genuinely—from a biological standpoint, that is the way that our bodies are made.  We have so many things in our bodies that help us reproduce, get those little things that we made into adulthood, so that they can reproduce.  And then we all die.  Okay?  What is not a need is to enact that sexual urge onto someone else who is unwilling.  Okay?  So the need for sex and partnered sex with an unwilling partner they don’t cross.  Okay?  So you can have sexual needs.  And then you can have partnered sex.  You don’t get to say, “Because I want to have sex, you have to do what I want right now no matter what you are feeling.” That is not a need.  So when we say sex is a need, what people often hear is, “Well, then I have to do what he wants because I have to have all the sex that he wants because it’s a need.”  No.  The concept of sex is a need.  Humans have sex drives unless something got in the way.  And by the way, yes, that includes women too.  There are studies on that we are about to talk about in a minute.  But you do not have a need to use someone as a masturbatory aid at your own discretion.  That is absolutely not a need.  So let’s just separate those two in our minds.

Sheila: And we want to say even single people have sexual needs.  Everybody has sexual needs.  And we can learn to sublimate those needs into other things.  That’s what a lot of life is, right?  So yes.  We understand.  And maybe we’ll do a podcast on that at another time.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  We all have a need for food, right?  I don’t have the need to take your food.  Right?  That’s the difference.  

Sheila: And the need for sex is very different from the need for food and water and air and shelter.  I mean there are more fundamental things.  Yes.  Yeah.

Rebecca: Absolutely.  Yeah.  It’s not the most base, but it is one of the base needs.  And so we do want to, first of all, validate people who are in a situation where it’s like I’m not getting any of my sexual needs met.  That is a valid and very, very difficult place to be in.  And I know that that’s hard for a lot of people who have been in a position where they are the lower drive spouse and felt a lot of guilt.  But also the people who have a higher sex drive, they also do struggle and especially a lot of women with the higher sex drive because they are never told, “Hey, you might have the higher sex drive.”  They’re not prepared for it.  And then they’re like, “He doesn’t want as much as I do,” and they are so caught off guard.  And that can be very difficult to deal with.  So we do understand that.  But the two needs—they are separate.  Nary the two shall meet.  Okay?  You don’t get to force someone because you’re uncomfortable.

Sheila: Or pressure someone or saying that because I have a need it is your job to fulfill it.

Rebecca: Or guilt them.  Exactly.  So I just wanted to get that off as we start this conversation that we’re saying we’re not saying that you’re not supposed to feel a sexual need.  We’re not saying that.  We’re also not saying that it’s your spouse’s job to fulfill your every sexual whim.  Okay?  We’re not.  And so both the people who don’t like the idea of sex as a need and the people who are really, really want sex to be a need need to both recognize both those can be true.  So now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way so that hopefully we can all be on the same page.  Let’s talk about those two questions.  What do you mean by you don’t want sex?  And does sex feel good?  And I think you have some stats about this. 

Sheila: I do.  So mostly, what they’re saying is if you tell women that they only have to have sex when they want it then women are never going to have sex.  Okay?  Because the idea is unless she is rearing to go, unless she totally desires sex, she’s never going to have sex.  And since women don’t do that, that’s the assumption.  Since women don’t like sex and aren’t rearing to go, then if we give women permission to say I don’t have to have sex if I don’t want it then they’re never going to have sex.  Now the thing is we’ve never said that.  No.  And there’s a whole chapter in The Great Sex Rescue on how, hey, if sex is good for you, if you’re enjoying sex when you’re having it, if you’re feeling close to your spouse when you’re having sex, then how about we make this a priority in your life?  But the thing is that’s a secondary question because how we handle how often we have sex and whether or not sex should be a part of your marriage or how much sex should be a part of your marriage we’re only allowed to ask that question once we’ve already ascertained are you having proper sex in the first place.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that’s where this what do you mean by don’t want comes into play.  Because what we found is that among women who just don’t have sex, there are often certain things at play.

Sheila: Okay.  So it is okay to feel like sex is a need.  It is absolutely.  It’s not okay to make someone else fulfill that need.  That’s what we’re saying.  Now the second question is what does it mean to want sex.  And what is the sex that we’re actually experiencing?  And this is what—I think this is actually—gets to the heart of the problem.  And I want to work through this so that then we can get to what we’re actually telling couples to do.  Okay?  So here’s the issue.  The way that this woman was framing sex was like, “I need to serve my husband in the same way that I don’t want to do the dishes, that I’m so tired to home school.  I don’t want to do laundry, but I do those things.  So I need to do him.”  Right?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Like, “I don’t want to scrape that oatmeal off the edge of the counter because my three year old threw it in a fit of rage when I gave her blueberries instead of strawberries.  I don’t want to deal with the peas encrusted into my two year old’s neck folds, but I do.  And similarly,”—

Sheila: Yeah.  This is the problem.  And when you’re framing sex like Jesus transforming power enables me to do things I don’t want to do and so I need to have sex and just as Jesus saved me even when I was undeserving so I need to give my husband sex when he’s undeserving—

Rebecca: This is a touch point for me.  Let’s actually break down what’s being said here.  Okay?  Because often what we do in Christian circles is we use really theological language to say something outrageous.  And it doesn’t sound outrageous because it’s real pretty.  Okay?  What she’s saying here is because Jesus died on the cross for you, you have to have sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with.  That is the actual thing here.  I hope we can all agree that is an outrageous logical jump.  Okay?  Jesus died for me so that I’d put out more.  That is an outrageous logical jump.  Also Jesus’ death on the cross is not meant to be used as a battering ram against His children.  God is not sitting there with His Son smashing you over the head saying, “You should feel worse about yourself.  Feel bad.  Feel bad.  Feel bad.”  He’s not.  Jesus’ death was a gift, not a guilt inducing weapon.

Sheila: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Rebecca: This is full on just condemnation.  We do this when we say, “Well, Jesus died for you.  Jesus died for you.  He died.  Are you dying?  Is having sex you don’t want dying?  Is it the same as dying because Jesus died for you?  He died for you.  You are so ungrateful.  You ungrateful little wench who won’t even put out for her husband when Jesus died.  He’s your husband.  Put out.  Jesus died for you.  He died.  Are you dying?  Are you dying?  Because if you’re not dying, it’s not enough.  If you’re not dying, you’re never enough.  Unless you’re actively dying, you’re not enough.”  That is not what the cross is about.  

Sheila: It’s not.  It’s not.

Rebecca: It’s not.  And I feel so sorry for people who see the cross like that because you completely miss the entire point of the Gospel.  You miss the entire point of who Jesus is.  And you’re serving a God who doesn’t even exist.  It’s like you’re living out the parable of the talents with the servant who says, “Well, I knew that you were a fearsome and wicked ruler, and I saved these.  I buried them so that you would not punish me if they were lost.”  And God is like, “Well, that’s not who I am,” right?  And he’s given over to the god that he did serve rather than the God that was actually there.

Sheila: And that’s what’s happening with sex is that we’re burying our talents, and we’re losing passion.  And we’re losing joy because we don’t even understand what sex is.  And so when people say to us, “Hey, if you only have sex that you want, then women will never have sex,” it’s like what kind of sex are you having?  

Rebecca: There’s another logical option here, bud.

Sheila: Yeah.  That’s a problem.  And so let’s go through some new stats.  

Rebecca: Awesome.

Sheila: I actually have some new ones.  There’s two sets of new stats from Joanna today.  And Joanna really wanted to share these with you, but she has laryngitis.  And so she told me, “Sheila, you’ve got to do it.”  So I’m going to try.  I’m going to do my best.  Okay?  But we’re currently working on a peer reviewed paper.  And to do that, Joanna created the sexual satisfaction scale out of our survey of 20,000 women that we did for The Great Sex Rescue.  And she put three things in that scale.  Okay?  How likely you are to feel aroused during sex whether you anticipate being aroused, whether you frequently orgasm, and whether you feel emotionally connected during sex.  Now the way scale works—maybe you should explain this?  Because you know more about stats than me.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  There’s a lot of different types of validity testing, and they all converge around this idea making sure that you’re actually testing what you think you’re testing.  And so one of the ways that you can do that is you can measure the correlation between different questions.  And if the correlation is high and they all—that means that they all move together.

Sheila: So here is what Joanna did.  We used questions from the SSSFI.

Rebecca: FSFI.  Yep.

Sheila: FSFI.  The Female Sexual—

Rebecca: Sexual Function Index.

Sheila: That’s it.  That’s it.  You did the survey part, not me.  So you know this better.  And then Joanna created a subscale out of three of those questions.  And basically, the point is this.  If we’re trying to measure the same thing, if the questions are measuring the same thing, then the answers should move together.  So if people say yes on one, they should also be saying yes on the other.  So if the scale is going to be accurate, if the scale really is a proper measure of female satisfaction, then all of these things should be move together.  They shouldn’t move apart or one of them shouldn’t stand on its own.  And the way they tell that is you want to see a correlation of about 90%.  So when one moves, the other is like 90% likely to move too.  Right?  They’re going to move together.  And that’s what we did for these three measures.  Arousal, orgasm, feeling emotionally connected.  Now we didn’t have a correlation of 90% though.  We had one of—

Rebecca: 96%.

Sheila: 96%.  This stuff really moves together.  Okay?  So here is the thing.  People who are saying she should have sex even if she doesn’t enjoy it, even if she doesn’t like it because it’s going to help their marriage, no, it doesn’t.

Rebecca: Shooting yourself in the food there, bud.

Sheila: You’re hurting yourself.  Because if she has sex where she doesn’t enjoy it, if she’s not getting aroused, she is not going to feel intimately connected.  If you take out the arousal, if you take out the orgasm, you also lose the intimately connected.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And we actually found in our first survey for The Great Sex Rescue that typically you can do this whole thing where it’s like I have sex because I serve my husband because Christ died for me.  And so I need to die as well, right?  So you can have that mindset, and it quote unquote works for about 10 to 15 years.  And often not even that much.  There are people who it seems to be that around the 10 to 15-year mark it breaks.  It breaks.

Sheila: Or the 20-year mark.  Yeah.

Rebecca: Or the 20 year.  But it’s not the whole marriage.  It’s like you can just keep going, and everything is totally fine.  It does seem like it’s one of those things where it works until it doesn’t.  And you know what?  There’s a way that works.  And it just doesn’t stop working.  And so let’s stop giving the advice that works until it doesn’t and start giving the advice that just works.

Sheila: Yeah.  And we measured this.  In our marriage book, which is coming out next year, The Marriage You Want, we measured a number of different things.  It wasn’t just sex.  But there’s a number of different areas of marriage where you’ve got this unfairness thing going on in some way.  It’s not always the woman.  Sometimes it’s the guy whose got the unfairness thing.  But you can put up with it for 15 years.  But at 20 years, you’re not putting up with it anymore, and something just breaks.

Rebecca: We say that because a lot of people are saying, “Yeah.  But I do this.  I give service sex, and my marriage is great.”  And we’re like yeah.  We’re not saying you don’t exist.  What we’re saying is that statistically speaking it’s very, very likely that those marriages are just on an earlier point of a very negative trajectory.  Right?  So it might be working great for you now.  Statistically speaking, that is not necessarily the case in 10 years.  And I think we’re all here because we want marriages that don’t only last for 10 years.  Right?  We don’t want marriages that are only—

Sheila: Or you’re just miserable.  You can sweat it out for the first 15 years.  You can convince yourself this is good.  You can convince, hey, I enjoy serving my husband.  But at 20 years, you don’t enjoy it anymore.  Even if you keep doing it, you don’t enjoy it.   

Rebecca: And you’re just burned out.  

Sheila: You’re burnt.  And you get more and more bitter, and then you feel guilty for being bitter.  And it’s all just ugly.  And I don’t want that.  And this is what we’re trying to do, people, is we’re saying, “Hey, there’s a better way.”  And so can we talk about that better way?  So what we’re doing here at Bare Marriage is we’re addressing the foundation stuff.  We’re saying, “Hey, maybe you’re just thinking about sex wrong, and your experience of sex is wrong.”  So we’ve said this a lot.  I say this on almost every podcast I’m on where I’m a guest.  We said it in The Great Sex Rescue.  But we found there’s five things.  Okay?  Five things that when these things are present frequency takes care of itself.  All of the fighting we’re doing about whether or not she should have sex if she doesn’t want to—if you’ve got these five things, none of that’s an issue.  Okay?  And here’s those five things.  Are you ready?  She frequently orgasms during sex.  There’s high marital satisfaction.  She feels emotionally connected during sex.  There’s no sexual dysfunction.  And there’s no porn use in the marriage.  All right?  When you get those five things present, then we’re no longer having conversations about frequency.  It’s very rare that that happens.  Okay?  And I want to demonstrate how rare it is.

Rebecca: Awesome.

Sheila: Okay.  So Joanna decided to do the stats in a totally different way just for fun.  She thought, “Let’s just do this exercise for fun.”  Okay?  So she looked for our new marriage book because we had a new set of respondents.  Okay?  And she looked at the number of women in that marriage survey who had very low libido.  Low libido.  They said, “Yeah.  My libido is really low.  I just don’t really want sex.”  So she starts off with 1,351 women, which I think was roughly—

Rebecca: Yeah.  Very low or low sexual desire.

Sheila: Yeah.  Roughly 20% of our matched pair survey.  Okay.  So 1,351 respondents.  Then she asked, “Hey, do you orgasm when you have sex?”  And now all of a sudden we only have 575 respondents left because Joanna is saying, “How much of this low desire can I explain away,” right?  So you start with do you orgasm every time you have sex.  And all of a sudden, you’ve only got 575 women left.

Rebecca: Who say yes.  So of that 1,351, 715 said, “No.  I don’t orgasm.”  Well, that would make sense that you don’t want sex.  So that makes sense.

Sheila: Yeah.  So that explains it.  All right.  Then she said, “Do you feel emotionally connected during sex with your spouse?”  

Rebecca: And of the 575 women who do orgasm during sex, 119 said, “No.  I don’t feel emotionally connected during sex.”  Well, then that’s probably why you don’t want sex.  That makes sense.  If sex is an impersonal, nonintimate experience, even if you orgasm, that doesn’t mean that you’re enjoying it.  Arousal nonconcordance, right?  

Sheila: Right.  So now we’re left with only 440 respondents.  So then she said, “Hey, do you have pain during sex?”  Okay.  And 162 said, “Yeah.  I do.”  So now we’re left with only 271 respondents out of the original 1,351.  So out of those 1,351, only 271 either orgasm during sex, feel emotionally connected, and don’t have pain.  Okay.  So those three things have already explained basically 85%.  Okay?  And that’s before even asking about pornography.  That’s before even asking about marital satisfaction in mental load.  So the people who are like, “Well, women just don’t want sex.”  It’s like no.  It’s that women don’t want sex where they’re not reaching orgasm, where they’re experiencing pain, and when they’re not emotionally connected.  And so this is what we’re trying to say.  If you address the foundational problems first, then frequency and libido are going to grow, and it’s going to take care of itself.  We are addressing the 90% problem, and people are getting upset at us for not addressing the 10% problem even though we do as we will talk about in a minute.  But this is the 90% problem.  Can we please understand this?  If we also accounted for porn and if we also accounted for marital satisfaction, you’re looking at about 90% of low desire being explained.

Rebecca: Very easily too.  Not like it’s a reach.  It’s very easy.  I don’t think that it should be very difficult to understand why if someone’s experience of sex is completely anorgasmic and impersonal or is painful or is in a relationship where she feels unvalued or taken advantage of or just frustrated because she doesn’t have an equal partner, those things—it does not take someone with a university degree in human sexuality to understand why she might not want sex as much.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And so, people, if you want women to want sex, then give her sex that’s worth wanting.  This isn’t rocket science.  Okay?  Good sex is intimate, mutual, pleasurable for both.  Good sex does not involve porn use in the marriage where she feels betrayed or where she feels like she doesn’t measure up nor where he’s channeled his emotional needs into pornography and doesn’t even know how to relate to her anymore.  And so they don’t feel emotionally connected.  Good sex does not involve all of these things.  And so if you want her to want sex, then deal with these foundational things.  That’s the 90% problem, and that’s we’re trying to say.  And this is the issue is that in the vast majority of sex books, in the thing that Josh Howerton did that we talked about on the podcast last week with Jay Stringer—they’re portraying the main problem with sex is that women don’t want sex.  And what we’re saying is no.  That’s the 10% problem.  The 90% problem is that you’re not even dealing with sex because sex is something—true sex is something which is intimate, mutual, pleasurable for both.  What you’re dealing with is one-sided intercourse.  You’re telling women, “Hey, you need to have one-sided intercourse.”  And we’re saying, “No.  You can’t do that anymore.  We need to get back to what sex actually is.”  And that’s the whole point of what we’re here for.

Rebecca: What I find so funny too is that what a lot of studies—and we’ve talked about these in the podcast before.  But because I’m sure this is going to be one that people kind of send people to talk about this issue about, I want to say it again.  There’s been studies that show that women, who have an orgasm the first time that they have sex, have the same rates of high libido as men.  So if you take all women who have had sex and all men who have had sex and you only compare the people who orgasmed the first time they had sex, they have the same rates of wanting sex a high amount.  They have the same objective measures of libido.  The problem is that that’s a very, very small number of women.  So it’s not that women are not sexual.  It’s that women were given crappy sex from the get go, right?  And if you’re sitting there and you’re like, “Well, my wife doesn’t want sex,” and like, “Yeah.  We didn’t really figure out orgasm ever, but I still have needs.  It seemed kind of unfair for her to not give me my needs when she’s the only one who cane,” I’m sitting there.  And I’m saying, “You’re telling me that you have a woman who God created to be able to have multiple orgasms, and you’ve given her none.”  This is a situation where we need to figure out whose needs are not being met.  Right?  What are we missing out on here?  And why on earth are you settling for terrible one-sided sex when you could just figure out how to make sex good for both of you?  And then have the sex that everyone actually wants.  I’m sorry.  The only people who actively want sex that you’re—that their partner doesn’t want are on Law and Order: SVU.  No one wants—if you crave sex that your partner isn’t into, you need therapy, not sex.  Okay?  Most men, even men who are having one-sided sex, claim that they want or they would prefer if their wife was into it.  Right?  So couples where orgasm has been difficult, where sex has always been he has the libido and she needs to be, “Okay.  I guess it’s been a week.  Let’s go for it,” right?  Those kinds of couples.  He wants her to want it.  He’s not sitting there being like, “Yeah.  I love how you give me nothing.”  That’s not a thing that healthy men, who love their wives, want.

Sheila: Yes.  And I do want to say that it is a thing in abusive marriages.   

Rebecca: That’s exactly what I was going to say.

Sheila: We’ve seen this a lot where as soon as she starts enjoying sex he doesn’t want it anymore because—  

Rebecca: Because he wants the power.  

Sheila: For him, he wants the power.  And Doug Wilson talks about this.  How sex is not an egalitarian pleasure party but it has to be a conquest and a conquering and a taking.  So her desire or her sex drive is actually a turn off because then it’s no longer a taking.  And that’s really toxic and scary.

Rebecca: But I want you to know.  That’s not normal.  If someone enjoys the fact that you don’t want it, that is the reddest red flag you could ever—that is—I would say—

Sheila: Yes.  The red flag guy on TikTok needs to be jumping around here.

Rebecca: The red flag guy on TikTok be like, “My sister in Christ.”  Yeah.  Goodness gracious.  That is not normal.  And so if you’re one of the guys who is not an absolute piece of work, who is like, “No.  I do want her to want sex.  I just have given up hope that that’s even possible,” don’t give up hope that it’s possible because the more that you have this one-sided sex the more you’re teaching her brain this isn’t for you.  This isn’t for you.  This isn’t for you.  And some people have done that for 17 years.  And I have a hard time knowing what to say in those cases.  But if you’re at the beginning of your marriage especially and you’re like, “Yeah.  We’re on year two, and it’s been kind of rough.  And I wanted marriage to be better than this,” stop.  Stop whatever you are doing.  Don’t keep going.  Do not pass go.  

Sheila: Do not collect $200.

Rebecca: Stop.  Figure it out.  Okay?  Because this is the kind of thing that you can fix early on pretty easily.  But there’s been a lot of research out there that shows that when women have orgasmic sex and when their marriages are equal and they don’t feel like they’re being used as a maid or a housekeeper, guess what?  They have high libidos.  They desire partnered sex.  They want to have sex with their partners.  When they’re like, “Yeah.  You make me feel good, and you give me a good life,” they want to have sex with those people.  And so that just means something is missing here.  That something is missing here.  We need to figure out what that missing piece is, not just tell women to say, “Oh, well, I guess we’re just never going to have a good sex life then.  So you might as well just give me orgasms anyway.”

Sheila: Yeah.  I think there’s just a lot of negativity and hopelessness like, “Yeah.  This is never going to get better.  And so I guess—but I still have my needs.  And so I guess we just still need to go through the motions.”  It’s like no.  You don’t.  You don’t.  You can stop, and you can figure this out.  And that’s all we’re saying.  Okay?  And that ends up best in the long run.  And I think the people who are reacting to us saying, “You’re just emphasizing women’s needs over men’s needs,” no.  What we’re saying is you’re not having real sex.  

Rebecca: Well, you’re having bad sex, guys.  I’m sorry.  Emphasizing women’s needs over men’s needs.  What we’re saying is not, “Hey, give women orgasms while you don’t get any.”  We’re saying, “Hey, men, make sure your wife has at least as many orgasms as you.”  Those are two very different messages.  And what I find so funny is that any time that anyone asks for women to just get the same stuff as what men are getting in sex it’s all of a sudden, well, women are more important than men.  No.  Women being more important than men is you don’t get any.  You get maybe one orgasm every quarter while she gets as many as she asks you for.  You have to do all this other stuff, and you never get an orgasm.  And she has to get all of them.  And that’s because of how the Lord designed you as a man to function and this is—and Christ died for you.  So why can’t you do this for her?  That would be putting women above men.  The message that we typically give to women given to men would be putting women above men.  But that’s not what we’re saying.  What we’re saying is sex should be good for both of you.  That means both of you.  As in both of you.  As in both of you.  As in man and woman.  As in woman and man.  Both of you.  Whoa.  That’s not putting women above men.  That’s just putting women at equal footing to men in this situation.  And, again, why on earth would someone not want their wife to orgasm unless they had a weird power issue here?  

Sheila: Yeah.  But I think a lot of men—and we’ve done a podcast on this—honestly don’t believe that women do orgasm or can orgasm or that it’s just a big deal to women.  I think a lot of men figure that women’s pleasure is secondary and that women just weren’t built for pleasure.  In fact, a lot of our resources say that, right?  Jimmy Evans in XO Marriage.  “God gave men the need for six and women the gift of sex.”  So women have this gift to give men.  Emerson Eggerichs never once mentions women’s pleasure.  So even if they believe that women can feel pleasure, they just don’t think it matters enough to women.  So we don’t need to prioritize this.

Rebecca: I will honestly say.  This is a personal, subjective opinion.  Get ready.  If someone says that they believe women can feel pleasure but that it’s just not subjectively important to them, I highly—I’m highly suspicious of if they’ve actually ever experienced a woman experiencing pleasure because that is not typically the experience of women who have orgasms.

Sheila: No.  Exactly.  It’s like you are telling on yourself.  Do you not realize you’re telling on yourself.  It’s like when we did that podcast on where Emerson Eggerichs said that you couldn’t tell if a woman was aroused.  And it’s like okay.  That’s a take.  And we’re considering you an expert on sex to give sex advice.  And so this is what we’re saying, people.  We’re saying this is the 90%.  And if you deal with this stuff, it takes care of itself.  But if you simply tell women you have to have sex that you don’t want, then you end up hurting the marriage in the long term.  You might get more sex in the short term and more sex that he wants, more intercourse, more orgasms for him.  But you don’t actually build into your marriage.  And so we’re saying, “Hey, how about if we take a healthier approach?”  So we’re addressing the 90%, and they’re getting really mad at us for not addressing the 10%, which is when sex is good for her, when there is high marital satisfaction but she still doesn’t wants sex.

Rebecca: Except—

Sheila: We do address the 10%.

Rebecca: In fact, we actually kind of—I’m going to be honest.  We make a lot of our money addressing the 10%.

Sheila: I know.  This is what I find so strange.  People, we have a Boost Your Libido course.  

Rebecca: And people really like it.  And it seems to really help a lot of people.  We have a whole chapter on that in The Great Sex Rescue about how to prioritize sex in a healthy way.  We talk about this idea that, hey, if sex is good for you, but you just can’t seem to want it and that frustrates you, let’s figure out how you can get wanting it more because this brings us to the main crux of the question for me.  Once we figure out all this stuff about do you even like sex, right?  Is your marriage even one in which sex is a logical solution choice?

Sheila: An outflow of your relationship.

Rebecca: Outflow.  Thank you.  Yeah.  Because there’s marriages where she might orgasm, but, gosh, he’s just a terrible husband or they have horrible communication issues they’re working.  Or they both kind of have some negative stuff brought in from their family of origins.  There might be other things going on in the marriage even though the physical act of sex is good that makes her not want to have sex.  Or their marriage could be pretty good, but sex has just always been terrible.  There’s things that make sense.  So if you’re not one of those, if you’re like I don’t know why I don’t want sex, we talk about that a lot.  We talk about it a lot.  But here’s the question that I want to ask.  What do you mean by don’t want?  Right?  Because this is what I think we often get tripped up on is people say, “Well, sometimes I,”—you have a conversation with two different women.  And they’ll say, “Well, sometimes I have sex when I don’t really want it, and it’s really good for us.  And it’s really good for our marriage.”  And what she means is sometimes I would rather watch reruns of Criminal Minds on the couch while I eat a snack, but then my husband wants to have sex.  And I’m like, “Oh, it’s good for me.  I know it’s going to feel so good, and I’m going to feel great once I do it.”  It’s the cost to start up that’s the problem.  It’s the start up cost.  It’s the but I just sat down, right?  It’s that kind of cost.  And she says, “No.  You know what?  I’m going to do it.  Let’s go.  Let’s go have sex.”  And they have a great time, and she’s confident she’s going to orgasm.  They have a great time.  They feel connected.  And then afterwards, she’s like, “I feel so nice, and I still get to watch my show.”  That’s one side of don’t want.  And so when she says, “I have sex I don’t want to have, and then it helps my marriage,” what she means is my start up cost was a little higher.  But I knew it was a worthy investment because I knew I was going to get more than my fair—I was going to get more than what I put in back.  Right?  I knew I was going to get more energy.  I was going to have orgasm.  I was going to feel connected to my spouse.  I was going to feel confident, feel great, feel sexy, all these different things.  And so that’s one side.  The other side is, “Well, I have sex that I don’t want to have, and it helps my marriage.”  Well, what does she mean?  She means I’m exhausted.  I do not have enough help around the house.  I don’t even know who I am anymore because I’m a shell of a person because of how much the last five years have taken from me.  I have never experienced pleasure during sex, and I don’t think I ever will.  But I’m so incredibly terrified that if I don’t have sex I’m going to be the reason our marriage falls apart.  And so I’m going to have sex even though I’m exhausted, and I’m going to end it feeling even more disconnected from this person.  But I’m going to look at him, and I’m going to say, “Yeah.  But he loves me, and I should like this.”  And I’m going to convince myself it’s good for me.

Sheila: And, at least, he had a good time because this is a really interesting thing that a lot of studies have found too is that women—when women judge their sexual satisfaction, they often judge it in terms of how happy he is, not in terms of how happy they are.  

Rebecca: Men don’t do that, by the way.  

Sheila: Men don’t do that.  But women are like as long as he is satisfied because the whole point of our sex life is to keep him satisfied and to keep his sexual needs met.  So if I’m having sex every 72 hours and he’s feeling good and he’s filled up—his cup is filled up as they often say—then our sex life is good.  And they’re not asking themselves how they feel about it.

Rebecca: And so those two women can use the same words and mean wildly different things.  There are a lot of things in life that make you feel energized and great and happy and have long term health benefits and get you to end goals that you want to get to that have start up costs in the moment, right?  Like big ones are things like going for a walk instead of just sitting on the couch or using your free time to start a new hobby instead of just doom scrolling on your phone.  There’s lots of things that it takes a little bit more energy to get going, but once you’re going that’s a catalyst.  And it’s easy to keep going because it’s like, oh, I love this.  Oh, I’d forgotten how much I love painting.  I’m so glad I started doing this again when what you wanted to do is just sit on your phone in bed and watch Instagram reels, right?  That kind of thing of the idea of a start up cost versus an actual real cost.  Right?  So sex.  You say, “Oh, I don’t feel like sex right now, but it’s only a start up cost problem,” is very different than, “I don’t want to have sex right now,” when it’s a cost of sex problem.  Is the sex going to cost me?  Or is there a slight start up cost and then I’m going to get that back?  That’s the question that I want people to ask is when you say, “I don’t want to have sex,” what do you mean?  Because if you mean start up cost, say that.  Say, “Oh, it’s hard to motivate myself to have sex.  But once I have sex I’m always like, ‘Man, that was great.  I’m so glad I did that.’  And I always feel more connected.”  If you’re going to be talking to people about your sex life and giving advice, at least be specific.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Because what other people are going to hear is not I have sex even when there’s a great start up cost, it’s that I have sex that costs me something.  That costs me a lot.  That makes me feel less emotionally connected.  That makes me feel used.  That makes me feel less important in the marriage.  And I do that over and over again because I know it’s good for the marriage.  And it’s not.  It’s not.

Rebecca: And I think we’re often—the thing about women too versus men is, by nature of how sex works, we’re very, very, very hesitant to talk about pleasure.  So men, they say, “I had sex,” and it’s implied that they had an orgasm.  It’s not the same for women.  Right?  And I think what has happened a lot of times too is women give each other sex advice, and you talk to friends.  And you talk to your Bible study leader.  But talking about orgasm feels really personal.  And I think that’s kind of funny because you’re already talking about sex.  I’m not saying describe the orgasm.  I’m not saying say how many.  I’m not saying anything.  Say like, “Yeah.  And then when he did X, Y, Zed, then what happened to me was,”—that’s not what I’m saying.  But what I’m saying is if you’re talking about these things already, please be explicit about if you experience pleasure or not.  And I don’t mean pleasure as like, “I felt good.”  I mean orgasm.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Because if you’re giving advice to women about how they should be having frequent sex because it’s good for their marriage, but you’re not saying, “But that sex should be orgasmic,” then what women are hearing is even if I’m in pain, even if he’s using porn, even if I don’t experience orgasm, I still need to let him use my body.  And those are two such very different things.   

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that’s I’m a really big fan of actually not giving personal advice.  And that’s why we don’t.  I mean we’re also a mother daughter team.  We’ve put very strong boundaries around here.

Sheila: Yeah.  We just talk about research.  We don’t talk about our own experiences.

Rebecca: If you’re in a position where you have to give sex advice because maybe you were asked to do a sex module in a women’s Bible study or something, the main thing is—my advice for you—because this is—I do think this is important to say with this topic because this topic is typically taught from other women.  The big thing is if you’re uncomfortable talking about sex just don’t make it personal.  Talk about research.  Use our stuff.  Say, “There are five things that if these are taken care of sex kind of automatically flows pretty darn well from the relationship,” and then focus on those five things.  And you don’t have to say, “Well, when Brad and I,”—that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m saying use the research, but it needs to be explicit that if you are not having an orgasm it makes sense if you don’t want sex.  If your marriage is not a good marriage, it makes sense that you don’t want sex.  These things have to be explicitly said because we’ve been talking about it so much in these Christianese terms.  And women do not have the benefit that men do of assumed pleasure.  And so we need to actually be a little bit more explicit when we’re talking about women’s sexuality and about sexuality in general because of that lack of implied pleasure for, specifically, women.  That’s just a little thing that I would say is if you have to talk about sex please do not make it implied.  Please don’t assume people—oh, they understand what I mean.  No.  Actually.  We found in our study for She Deserves Better that many, many women did not actually even realize that the female orgasm existed until after they were 18.  If you have a young marrieds group where you have people who married at 18, 19, 20, you may actually have a lot of women who are in a marriage and don’t even realize that women are able to orgasm.

Sheila: Yeah.  30 to 40%.  It’s a lot in the evangelical church.  

Rebecca: So this stuff needs to not be implied anymore because that’s when we get comments like this person, who we’re talking about, where it’s like, “Well, I don’t want to do the dishes, and I don’t want to do him.  So have to do them both.”  Well, what if she had been told at 19 that, hey, it’s weird that you don’t want to do—if she got married at 19.  I’m back on the early marriage stuff.  But what happens if, in the first year of marriage, she had been told, “Actually, you should want to do him.”  What if she had been told, “Actually, sex should feel like you also got a need met, not that you’re just proud of yourself for meeting his need,” right?  What if she was told early on, “Actually, if sex feels like a chore, maybe we should look at whether or not there’s just too much on your plate?  And maybe you just are overwhelmed and burnt out, and that’s a valid and normal response to a lot of the expectations put on, especially, moms and wives.”  What if we had those conversations early on instead of saying, “Christ died for you.  Put out”?

Sheila: Exactly. And so I think that’s just what we wanted to say is that we are often accused and told, “Hey, you’re saying women don’t have to have sex,” and it’s like no.  No.  No.  No.  No.  We’re saying that when you address the foundations this isn’t a problem anymore.  And so can we please just address the foundations?  And we have an Orgasm course that can help you do that.  So we have courses for those foundations.  The Great Sex Rescue addresses those foundations.  Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex address those foundations to help couples start well.  And so if we can get the foundations right, then we wouldn’t be talking about this all the time.  So, please, let’s address the 90%.  And then as for the 10%, yeah.  If you think something is awesome and you’re experiencing as awesome when you do have it but it has that high start up cost, then you got to figure out a way to prioritize it. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because it’s good for you and you’re going to enjoy it.  You’re going to be a happier, better—not better in terms of moral but in terms of my life feels better because of it.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And when you are in a good marriage, that is part of a good marriage.  And it is legitimate.  When you are in a good marriage and your spouse is in a good—is also experiencing a good marriage, okay?  And you’re both supporting each other, and sex feels good.  But one of you—and it could be her.  It could be him.  It’s not always him.  One of you feels like sex isn’t happening enough have that conversation.  Say, “What can I do to make the start up cost lower for you?  Does it mean that we have to teach the kids to sleep better?  Do we need to get to bed earlier?  What do we need to do,” and address that start up cost.  That is totally legit.  We have a whole chapter on that in The Great Sex Rescue.

Rebecca: A whole course on it.

Sheila: And we have a course on it, Boost Your Libido.  And so I just—I’m not going to stand for people telling us that we’re saying this when we’re not.  Our plea is this though—to the evangelical church.  Please stop talking about the 10% when the 90% hasn’t been addressed.    

Rebecca: Exactly.  

Sheila: Okay?  You don’t get to talk about the 10% until you’ve addressed the 90%.  And so you don’t get to rail on women for not wanting sex until you’ve addressed the 47-point orgasm gap.  You don’t need to rail on women for not desiring sex and not filling their spouse’s needs when you haven’t addressed the 50% porn problem or the 23% vaginismus problem.  We’ve got to address the foundations.  And that’s what we do here at Bare Marriage, and we’re just so happy that so many people are finding freedom.  So we wanted to take this podcast and address that critique because we think it’s silly.  And we’re not going to stand for it.  So there you go.  And before we leave, just a couple of notes of what’s coming up.  She Deserves Better is almost one.  It is one, I think, in two weeks.  

Rebecca: I think something—I don’t know exactly when this podcast is coming out.  But it’s one on the 18th of April.

Sheila: Yeah.  So it is almost one year old, so that is really exciting.  And we’re just so pleased with what we’ve heard from women in the last year about how much that book has helped heal them from some of the messages they got as teenagers.  And so we’re going to be talking about some of those things in the next few weeks as we celebrate.  And, again, please check out the book Forgiveness After Trauma.  We’re so grateful to our sponsors, who are helping get this message out.  And if you could support our sponsors, that would make us really happy as well.  And this is a sponsor that is worth supporting.  Please read this book because we’ve heard such terrible teaching about forgiveness in the church about how bitterness is wrong.  You have to have a good attitude.  If they apologize, you have to forgive and reconcile.  And that’s not what the Bible says.  And I really struggled with some of the emphasis that I saw in the Bible about how you’re supposed to die to yourself and none of your needs matter. And as Susannah Griffith, who is a pastor and who has taught at seminary, as she worked through a lot of those Bible passages I saw them in such a rich way that I hadn’t seen before especially the John passage about, “If you forgive the things on earth, they’re forgiven in Heaven.  If you retain sins on earth, they’re retained.”  And I could never figure out what that retain means.  And it’s fascinating.  I think the book is just going to be so healing for people who have gone through infidelity or porn use or abuse or things from your parents, whatever it is.  But even if you haven’t gone through those things, we need to learn how to talk about this better so we’re not further retraumatizing people because that’s what Susannah found is that people in her church community where continually retraumatizing her by telling her she had to forgive and what they meant by that wasn’t actually the biblical concept.  So let’s pick up Forgiveness After Trauma, and let’s do that better.  So thank you for joining us on the Bare Marriage podcast, and we will see you again next week.  Bye-bye.

Rebecca: Bye-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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56 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Haven’t listened yet, but from the reading, this part of the commenter’s message bothers me most: “Not one spouse wielding all the power…” She’s talking about consent. In secular sex ed, they teach the rule that the person who is getting penetrated is the one who calls the shots, so in (most) heterosexual relationships that’s the woman. And I can imagine a lot of complementarians having a problem with that, but what is the alternative? If the penetrated partner isn’t calling the shots (oh on – does he get to make the final decision when it comes to sex, too?!), that’s rape.

    I wonder if the 10% are asexual women. I know evangelicals who consider asexuality a sin (because it’s part of LGBTQIA) and I know those who think homosexuality is a sin, but asexuality is not. Although I’m tempted to make the joke that evangelical male marriage book authors tend to think all women are asexual, that’s why they preach the obligation message.

    Reply
    • Marina

      I’m also tempted to add the joke to your’s that if most of the women you encounter act asexual, you might need to wonder if *you* make them act that way. Some of these guys definitely sound like buzz kills for a lady’s mood…

      Reply
  2. Angharad

    Not had chance to listen to the podcast yet, but initial thought – I would just love to know how your commenter’s husband feels about being compared to dirty laundry.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. I was thinking the same thing too!

      Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      Can’t be any worse than being compared to a dirty toilet that needs cleaning — and we’ve heard that one recently!

      Reply
      • Laura

        Lisa,

        That’s almost exactly what TTW said in one of her YouTube videos. She compared having sex with cleaning the toilet. You do it because you have to.

        Reply
        • Lisa Johns

          Yes, I was thinking of her. I believe that Nancy Leigh DeMoss also said it. (They probably feed each other!)

          Reply
        • Erica Tate

          I’d seriously like to see that video, just for the ‘I can’t believe she just said that!’ factor.

          Reply
  3. Jo R

    All I could think during the entire podcast is that this crap teaching completely centers men and completely ignores women.

    So…

    Men have needs, women don’t.

    Men’s orgasms matter, women’s don’t.

    Men’s level of effort needs to be reduced in all things, women’s doesn’t.

    And if we try to even begin to move those pendulums ever so slightly away from where they’re pegged for men and microscopically toward women, then that’s taken to mean we’re completely inverting everything and making women the absolute center that men have always commanded and commandeered for themselves. As you said, it’s not that women should take over the top spot, it’s that women would like to just be at the same level as men.

    And let’s face facts. If men never orgasmed, or if any sexual activity at all caused men pain, women would be counseled to just accept the husbands’ situation with prayer and patience, to not make him feel even worse.

    Women, on the other hand, who don’t orgasm or who experience pain are told to suck it up because suffering is good and makes you holy and Jesus died so why are you complaining?

    Women are so discounted that the messages they get when in identical situations is diametrically opposite to what the men get.

    And now I have to show the emoji.

    🤬

    Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      When a privileged person loses his privilege — even if it’s just that he is suddenly on an equal footing with the rest of the world — that is often interpreted as being “oppressed.” Pathetic, really, that a person can’t recognize privilege.

      Reply
  4. Jane Eyre

    One secular critique of “waiting for marriage” is that it’s a male entitlement issue: they want ignorant wives with low standards so that they don’t have to learn to be skilled and generous lovers. If their wives have experienced good or great sex, that means that they have to do more than show up and engage in PIV. (The horror!) Keep ’em ignorant of female sexual pleasure and they won’t know how bad things are.

    I’m here to help dispel that ignorance without promoting sin. Ladies, if you have never so much kissed another man, here’s how to tell if your husband is bad in bed: you compare sex to doing chores.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      OMG, Jane! YOU HAVE BEEN SO MISSED! SOOOO GLAD YOU’RE BACK! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

      Your comment is right on, as usual.

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        Thank you, Jo R!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HI JANE!!!!

      We definitely see evidence of the “ignorant bride” who doesn’t know it’s okay to prioritize her pleasure in both our surveys and our focus groups. Definitely.

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        Hi Sheila!

        Thing I wonder: how the “ignorant bride” effects men. Do they go into marriage wanting a woman who is ignorant of her anatomy – not “just” a virgin?
        Do they find it weird when virgin brides have theoretical knowledge of sex?
        As marriage goes on, do they want women who can better direct them?
        Do they enjoy learning her body together?
        Is there any correlation between men who want sexually ignorant women and those who don’t want to please their wives?

        Reply
    • Sarah O

      *trumpets play to announce the Queen*

      YES.

      I’d be curious what studies show context around men’s psychology when providing sexual pleasure to women. Like…shouldn’t that be fun for heterosexuals? Shouldn’t all that be a turn on? Why the resistance?

      Reply
  5. Marina

    I wonder how much of these “sex is serving” comments also stem from the mentality that many christians have about serving in general. To my knowledge, it is only in relatively recent years that concepts like burn out and exactly how much an individual should serve have even been talked about. Many of these comments sound influenced by “I have to serve no matter what” mentalities. And that is probably also why people in these situations hit a wall eventually…I just can’t help but think of some stories from missionaries and church workers of how some faith-based organizations really grind people down (“If you’re still functioning, your fine” on their part I guess).
    I would also love to see an article or podcast about the healthy sublimating of sexual urges. I think a lot of these obligation sex concepts sound like they stem from people not understanding how to handle their sexuality on their own (bonks the joke I know is implied there, you know I mean from the typical Christians perspective). Many people still get the “the only way to handle your sexuality is to get married” message.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we should look into a podcast on how to deal in a healthy way with unmet sexual urges. Good idea!

      Reply
      • Lisa Johns

        I will look forward to that podcast! We DEFINITELY need that!

        Reply
      • John

        Amen to this!

        Reply
  6. Lisa Johns

    So Doug Wilson not only condones marital rape, he actively *advocates* for marital rape. If his wife ever gets tired of being raped, his a$$ is in JAIL.
    Seriously, a man actually says to the world that a woman’s arousal is a turn-off to him? That he only likes it when she doesn’t?

    This is a major domestic abuser and he needs to be cancelled.

    Reply
  7. TJ

    Really great podcast today. Definitely one I found very relevant and useful.

    I appreciate the practical, research driven focus on the 90% where most of the real issues and solutions really lie. Because if you look hard enough, you can ALWAYS find some one-off, anacdotal case to trot out as a contrary and say “oh yeah, what about this!?” and derail a conversation about real, systemic issues for one statistical outlier.

    For my own part, in my marriage, I’ve been trying to challenge myself more these last few years to “assume the 90%” first, more often. That is, don’t just assume or take for granted that we’re part of that 10% (or even less) without first exploring all the more likely ways I could possibly be contributing to any of those 90% sort of problems.

    It can get to be a bit of a balancing act between honoring and believing what she tells me (that she does feel safe, supported, loved, prioritized, the that I more than pull my weight, etc.), while also trying to stay open to and dig into all the possible ways I could be falling short or falling into typical evangelical-male patterns of entitlement/ignorance/coercion in ways that could be blind spots to either of us, even if subconsciously.

    Anyway, lots to think about today. Always appreciate these podcasts immensely. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. CMT

    Haven’t listened yet but 2 cents from the post:

    Yeah, it’s ok for women to not have sex sometimes. It’s ok for anyone to not have sex sometimes. Because, consent!

    The deeper issue, imo, is what do we think sex is? If it’s a chore, a need like kids being fed, you can compel people to do it. But does anybody want their partner to treat their sex life like a chore?? IMO sex is more like grownup play. And you can’t compel people to play. Just like it’s ok for me to not always be up fohanging out with my best friend, or an impromptu overnight getaway with my husband, or a switch sports tournament with my kids. Nobody can be compelled to engage in play/emotional intimacy/pleasurable anything. Compulsion kills the very experience you’re seeking!

    Reply
  9. Jill

    Great podcast this morning. The only part that made me cringe was when Rebecca said sex is a “need.” I’m glad both of you clarified and gave details to define that…I think I’m more sensitive about using that term “need” at all because my husband used that term to guilt me into having more sex. In my opinion, I would classify sex as a want or a desire more so than a ‘need’, because no one has ever died without it and there are people who live satisfying lives without it for extended periods of time (ex: couples when one is chronically ill and can’t have sex anymore, widows, singles, etc.). Paul and others lived a celibate life — Paul even teaches about contentment (whether well-fed or hungry). Our therapist said it’s not a need. Does that mean people should go without sex? Absolutely not. It’s normal and healthy to desire sex. So I’m glad y’all addressed that.

    There are also some add-ons to what you both said…

    I can’t remember if your research drilled down on “how” women are reaching orgasm. I was having orgasms, but it was because I had to use a vibrator to get there. So someone can still be having orgasms but not be experiencing a fulfilling sex life overall (because one or more of the 5-facets you mentioned in the podcast are lacking).

    One of the five facets is physical issues — Pain is the one you cover the most. I also want to add that low testosterone in women is something that gets left unsaid by people. I got a testosterone pellet and it significantly improved my libido. (However, I will say there were other factors that affected our issues inside the bedroom which still needed to be addressed.)

    Another facet is marital satisfaction — For those that haven’t read the book, addressing what going on in the relationship OUTSIDE the bedroom is a top priority. If emotional intimacy (lack of vulnerability, deep communication, emotional connection, etc.) and/or relational intimacy (ex: quality time) is lacking, then that seriously affects one’s sex life. If work load and mental load is out of balance between the couple, then that affects one’s sex life as well. Stress can impact things.

    Another facet that was mentioned is porn use. It should go without saying, but I will add that infidelity is part of that! Even is someone is no longer watching porn or is no longer actively in infidelity, there is still betrayal trauma that lasts for a VERY long time afterwards. It is a slow process to work through this. I would venture to say that physical intimacy needs to start back at square one and be rebuilt the RIGHT way. This means starting at the ground level with things like: cultivating safety, rebuilding trust, building emotional/relational intimacy, learning healthy sexuality (to rewire those unhealthy mindsets/beliefs), healing the trauma, and so on. Sex is not the centerpiece of intimacy…more sex is not the solution. Sex is one piece of an entire pie of intimacy. Craft the other pieces FIRST and FOREMOST and sex will become the culmination and celebration of those other pieces.

    As Sheila has said, when the five facets are addressed and taken care of, increased frequency typically follows organically. In my view, quality is more important than quantity!

    Sheila covers this stuff elsewhere, but I wanted to call these things out, in case someone hasn’t done a deep dive into other material.

    Reply
  10. Sarah R

    Not listened yet, but this topic ties in perfectly to something I’ve been thinking about in relation to a plot point in a videogame I’ve been playing. Ingame, you can romance some of the NPCs (non-player characters) with your avatar. This has to be done carefully as most of the (really well-written!) NPCs have a lot of trauma, and one in particular has a lot of sexual trauma. He’ll sleep with your character very quickly out of self-protection (very much hypersexuality as a trauma response) but as the relationship progresses he’ll ask for the sexual element of your relationship to stop as he sorts through his trauma. You as the player character have the choice: you can give him his space and time to heal, or you can try to force him, which results in him very rightly breaking up with you. And the discourse on Reddit around the latter choice was ‘what kind of person would, in an intimate relationship, value sex over the person so much that they can’t take a break from sex so their partner can heal?’

    Honestly, it blows my mind how much more compassion and empathy is being shown on a gaming subreddit to a fictional character, vs how little empathy and love the church shows to sexual violence victims and how little we think of Christian husbands, to think that he can’t keep it in his pants for even a few days while his menstruating wife is in pain.

    Bit of a sidebar here, but… why would you want to have sex with someone who views sex with you as a chore? It’s so deeply awful even to lean in for a hug and realise that the other person isn’t comfortable with that. But I feel bad in that instance not because that person is denying me a hug, but because I’ve crossed a boundary and tried to force intimacy on them.

    Just … why do we assume that marriage means permanent-consent? Why does all idea of treating your spouse like a human being go out the window for *some* pastors and husbands, just because wedding ring? It’s so anti-Jesus. ‘Do unto others …’

    Reply
    • Marina

      Balder’s Gate, right? Not only that , but I have seen people making posts about their desire to actually rewrite one of the “romance” encounters with that character! It’s one in which the character consents to an erotic encounter, but part way through it becomes clear that he is experiencing some triggers similar to his past and is starting to disassociate. The change people want to make to this scene? Instead of having to go through the encounter once the NPC says yes, they want the option for their avatar to be able to completely call off the encounter, and just relax with the NPC so he can breathe. It might just be a video game character, but you read that right. People (most of whom are probably non-christian) want to stop an erotic encounter mid-“fun” because their partner is showing signs of distress! Why don’t these pastors expect husbands to show the same care for their wives? Actually, I wonder if any if those “Men can’t stop” pastors even have that care impulse.

      Reply
    • Kit

      Sorry for the double comment—I accidentally posted under the wrong comment the first time, hope it isn’t too spammy! (mobile interface is a bit tricky)

      For anyone curious, I think the person above is talking about the character Astarion from Baldur’s Gate 3 (a very fun and wonderfully written game!)

      His story also has some wonderful themes about the generational cycle of abuse—he was horribly abused for a long time before the game’s story starts, and he can choose to seek the same power as his abuser and carry the cycle on, or break the cycle and accept how the abuse has changed him, and refuse to hurt more people in that same way.

      Off topic (and vague so as to avoid spoilers), but in my run I got his dead boar cutscene, dialogue with Wyll about hunting a specific type of monster, the cutscene of him sneaking away from camp at night, and his dialogue/cutscene with the player about the specific kind of food he likes—all in like 2 in-game days! It was so goofy that I had to romance him in my run. Worst secret keeper ever! 😂

      But it’s so so healing, as someone who grew up hearing the obligation sex message (he has a need that you don’t 🙄) to be able to tell someone (even a fictional someone!) “You matter to me as a person, not just what your body can do for me”. Somehow, it’s made it easier to reassure myself of that too!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s actually really interesting!

        Reply
  11. saoirse

    Love your work, but the one thing this podcast was missing is a mention of asexuality. For a small subset of the population, both men and women, sex is not a need. Asexuality is a spectrum, many can still enjoy sex despite not feeling sexual attraction, but there are asexual people who simply have no desire for sex and do not enjoy it, no matter how attentive and considerate the other partner is. Sometimes asexuality is caused by trauma or hormonal imbalance, sometimes it is just the person’s natural orientation. Often, the person does not realise they are asexual until they get married. It’s really difficult for both parties, and I’m not sure what the answer is.

    I totally get your point that hyper-focussing on the 10% does women a disservice – men can dismiss their wives’ lack of sexual satisfaction as ‘she’s just asexual’ rather than trying to please her. But we mustn’t forget the genuinely asexual spouses and the difficulties they face.

    Reply
    • Kit

      I do so wish that asexuality was more well-known in the church! I’m on that spectrum a bit myself (the specific term that best describes it is “demisexual”, though I’m not fond of labels)—I’m physically incapable of feeling sexual attraction unless and until I’m very emotionally close to someone, so celebrities being “hot”, one-night stands, sleeping with a partner of only a few months, and pornography have never made sense to me. I thought for the longest time that this was just how all women were (because my mother happens to be the same), and that this explained how men had some mystical sex need that I didn’t! At one point I thought I might be bisexual, because I had the same interest in the “hot” men AND women (which was no interest at all!)

      I’m very glad I learned about it in college so I could be up-front with the boys I dated and set expectations and boundaries very early on! Saved us a lot of grief and trouble.

      Honestly, I think telling young people that asexuality exists at all is a good idea—that way fewer sex-repulsed aces will find themselves in a marriage where they just think they’re frigid or defective.

      And then, very frustratingly, some people in the church think that being asexual is a sin somehow! When… like…. wasn’t Paul totally fine with people being single forever if they wanted to and not focused on wanting a partner? Because then they could just focus on living in a Christlike way and serving God?

      Reply
      • Angharad

        And I suspect a higher percentage of Christian asexual women are in relationships compared to non-Christian. If you are raised to believe that a) marriage and motherhood are a godly woman’s primary goals in life and b) sex is for men not women, so wives just need to put up with it for the sake of their husbands, you are far less likely to realise that your lack of interest in sex is not usual.

        A few years back, I read an autobiography by a young woman who was asexual and who had been taught to wait for marriage to have sex. And of course, hadn’t been taught anything about sex either. She got engaged, but fortunately, some wise friends spotted how unenthusiastic she was about kissing and hugging her fiance and gave her a frank and full explanation of what a normal sexual relationship would look like. She was horrified, decided there was no way she wanted to experience that and broke off the engagement. While it was painful for both her and her fiance, it would have been a lot more painful if they had gone ahead with the wedding, and she expressed gratitude for her friends’ courage in having that difficult conversation. I wonder how many other young women in church, in a similar situation, would just be told that it was ‘normal’ (or even ‘spiritual’!) for a young woman to feel no interest in sex.

        Reply
        • saoirse

          Wow Angharad, it’s like you just described my story word for word. I’m glad I was finally able to break it off and acknowledge I have no interest in having sex. I’m deeply regretful for the hurt I caused in the process.

          Do you remember the name of the autobiography?

          Reply
      • saoirse

        Thanks for sharing your experience Kit! I agree that I wish the church knew more about asexuality. I heard a pastor I used to respect saying it selfish to remain single and not have children – have you read the Bible? Does that make the Apostle Paul selfish?

        I do love following Sheila’s work despite being a sex repulsed ace – it gives me hope that in the unlikely event things change for me and I get married, I can advocate for a healthy and mutual marriage.

        I must admit, it was a bit hurtful when the podcast said sex is a need and everyone has a sex drive. That is true for the vast majority, but as someone who this doesn’t apply to, it makes me feel like a freak. 🙁

        Reply
        • Nessie

          If it helps any, the “sex is a need” slapped me in the face (for different reasons), too, until they explained it in terms of biologically continuing a species. If all humans were truly asexual/sex-repulsed, then the human species would eventually die off. (Fwiw I’m not ace but the conditions of my marriage have gotten me very close to feeling that way.)

          I guess if you look at “sex drive” as being a spectrum on which some people are at a zero, perhaps that would help? Kind of like there isn’t “no gravity” just zero gravity.

          That pastor is definitely not paying attention to some rather large pieces of the bible! I’m sure there are some people that don’t want to get married or have kids for selfish reasons, but I’d say that is definitely in the minority of people turning out to a church service. If a pastor ever preaches that message then preaches that sex is a need for men- I’d say call him on that because you could argue that sex is a more selfish desire on a man’s part in his scenario.

          Conversely, some people have kids *from selfish desires- my mom being one. It was miserable growing up in that. Better to have the wisdom to know selfishness vs. personality as the autobiography Angharad mentioned imo. And fwiw I think you were brave and wise to make the choice you did to break things off.

          Reply
  12. Natalie

    This was the podcast I needed 10 years ago as a newlywed!!! Would’ve saved me 5 years of having sex I didn’t really want but did it for him to “meet his needs” and be a good wife. I really wish men weren’t so selfish in bed. This is something my husband and I have been discussing more in the past year or so: his sexual entitlement and where that stems from. For him, he thinks it comes from a deep insecurity in himself from his childhood where he was often emotionally neglected, plus his first and longest sexual teachers being pornography.

    Now as a mother of 4 young boys and coming up on our 10th anniversary this fall, I’ve learned that I actually have a very healthy sex drive for a woman (albeit responsive desire most of the time, though I do have my moments of spontaneous desire usually when I’m fertile). I’ve also learned that, while purity culture did have a bit of an impact on me, it didn’t do nearly the damage to me sexually as my own relationship with my husband has. Me thinking sex isnt for me or about my pleasure really stemmed from how he treated me sexually starting when we were dating, and the purity culture teachings I’d heard of (though never been taught first-hand) only reinforced what I was experiencing with my boyfriend-now-husband.

    We still have a lot of issues in our marriage that result in us only actually having sex 2-4x/month, so technically not sexless but definitely not flourishing and intimate like I’d like. But at least my husband is on board with me about what our issues are and what their roots are, and knows and agrees with why I don’t initiate more than a couple times a month: lack of connection and feeling emotionally safe and secure within marriage. (I usually initiate 50-75% of the time when I’m feeling spontaneous during my follicular phase, and he’ll usually initiate once a month or less). When the woman isn’t feeling seen or fulfilled in the marriage and sex is or has historically been mostly about him, of course she’s not gonna want it! That really should go without saying.

    – Natalie from Chapter 3 of TGSR

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HI NATALIE! Oh, my goodness, so many commenters are back after a hiatus today!

      And, yes, the dynamics you’ve mentioned are so common.

      Reply
      • Natalie

        Guess the topic was particularly tantalizing and relatable for many. 😉

        Reply
  13. Sarah O

    Love the new stats. Honestly this is great news – sexless marriage is largely a multiple choice question, with only five choices. How much easier is that??

    How about this though…if you’re going to rigidly police ministries perceived to prioritize women’s desire over men’s, then you have to police with the same vigor ministries that do the opposite.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I would actually argue that there are 6–we just didn’t measure the 6th really well, so I don’t have evidence of it from the Great Sex Rescue dataset (we DO have evidence from the new matched pair dataset). And the 6th is shared mental load and shared division of labor, so she’s not exhausted!

      Reply
      • Sarah O

        Color me shocked Sheila – but I look forward to having the data to back it up!

        Looking forward to the new book – and feel better soon Joanna.

        Reply
  14. Laura

    ” if I only did things when I really felt like it, my children wouldn’t have breakfast most days, they wouldn’t receive a great homeschool education, the dishes would be piled up, and laundry would be undone. ”

    I heard something similar from another YouTube video which I watched through a commentator’s channel. I will not mention this person because YKIYK. Sex is treated like a chore in some evangelical circles and that’s what it felt like in my first marriage. It was my “wifely duty” because he had “needs” that I could not understand. To fulfill his “needs,” I neglected some of my needs which was adequate rest, exercise, and personal time to myself. So thankful I’m not there anymore as I am moving on to greener pastures.

    Reply
  15. Lisa Johns

    It’s just so painful to me that of the 5 criteria named, my ex-marriage lacked in four of them (well, I did orgasm, but it was just a lot of really hard work to get there, so maybe we lacked all five), but whenever I wanted to talk about how we weren’t relating well or I felt alone/neglected, I was told that I was unforgiving and judgmental, and “why can’t you just let the past be in the past!!!!?” I can still hear that last angry outburst echoing in my head, all these months later. But *I* was the problem…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Lisa. I hope you’re healing now!

      Reply
      • Lisa Johns

        It’s still relatively recent, and my semester (grad school) started just before the divorce became final, so I can’t really say that I’ve even processed a great deal of it. I get a break from school in about three weeks, and I’m going to do my best to breathe through those two weeks! All prayers appreciated! 🙂

        Reply
  16. JoB

    Asking to help me continue working out in my own mind how I feel about this, because I very much adopted the mindset of the commenters you cited. What if having one-sided sex is less like doing chores, and more like being polite and kind to your family when, on the inside, you are feel like snapping at them and being sarcastic and pushing them away from you? Not because they’re bad or abusive, just annoyingly human or boring, when you’d rather they weren’t talking about whatever subject they’re enthusiastic about and would leave you alone. Some people are naturally sweet natured or very compatible with their spouse/family, and others aren’t (like me). For me, I feel like the price of being in relationships is hiding a lot of crabbiness, and, yes, I apply that to sex as well.

    Reply
    • Marina

      I think the main issue the others are describing with this mentality is when it occurs constantly or over a long term. It is one thing to do something as a “gift” for the person in question every now and then, but having to do it routinely like a weekly chore puts the “server” in something like an actors position (especially these pastors that want not only the act, but enthusiasm). If I’m understanding this correctly: Sex should be fun enough for everyone involved that they want to do it again at some point. If you or your spouse is rarely “in the mood”, then you probably need to think about “why?”. Think of it like feeling fatigued for 2 or 3 weeks straight. You start wondering why and either go to the doctor to try to find a cause or think through your current life situation for something that might be causing it. Sex is also several levels more personal for many than the typical household chore.
      You’ve probably heard this before , but frequent crabbiness might be something worth “investigating” as well. “Crabbiness” can be personality, but it also can be a sign of other things as well, like depression or other mental health issues, poor quality relationships, or stress. And I say this as someone who has been called “negative” more than once and has anxiety/depression that is probably affects more than I think. I’m in a life situation where I don’t really have anyone interested in the same topics I am to have conversations about them with, and let me tell you: It’s not terrible, but it gets old as well. Especially when you got to a church that has football team days, but most members would probably love for some your interests like video games and fantasy genre to disappear….but that’s another topic entirely😅.

      Reply
  17. Chris B.

    Not according to me, but according to my wife all 5 things are present that rules out 90% of the libido problem. I’m confused because she says that she desires me sexually. Except that we don’t make love all that often (3 times this year) but all while she says that she desires me. She is not interested much in talking about sex or reading any literature. Counseling is out of the question (not willing). I emphasize that it is always ok to say no. I want to give up because I think that learning to live without that connection would be easier than the cost of trying. Any advice ladies?

    Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      I can recommend going to counseling for yourself even if she’s not willing. It can be a source of great support in your life. Other than that, I have nothing, sorry. I wish you the best of luck though.

      Reply
      • Chris B

        I have looked into counseling. Thanks for the well wishes.

        Reply
    • Nessie

      Not sure I can really help either, but here are some thoughts to take with a grain of salt…
      RE: your confusion about her desiring you sexually… have you asked her what she means by that? You may have thoughts in mind, such as wanting to have sex at a certain frequency, etc., but she may just be thinking she finds you physically attractive, so there’s a lack of full understanding between you.

      I definitely don’t know your situation enough to do more than conjecture, but it could be that she is unwilling to see a counselor because she has an awareness (possibly subconciously) of some deep-buried trauma she doesn’t want to open up… Which IF that’s the case, then there is more going on affecting your relationship.

      I’m sorry this is so hard on you. It sounds frustrating, both not having answers, and being in the limbo of, “Do I keep trying for this or give up completely?” I’m there myself with different circumstances. Praying peace for you over this situation.

      Reply
      • Chris B

        My wife says that she enjoys sex and does desire me in a sexual way. But just rarely acts on it. After years of trying and facing sexual rejection I nearly stopped trying. The emotional pain risk often overrides my desire to try. Being turned down does change my mood/demeanor. I thought that I was just expecting to have sex any time I want. But disecting my feelings over time, I believe that its more hurt/pain than anything else. I do not believe I have a right to use my wife.
        Thanks for prayers. I’ll pray for you as well.

        Reply
        • Nessie

          May I ask, Chris B., if you are the same Chris B. that commented on Mar. 4’s post, sharing that you become frustrated and more negative after the 2 week mark? And this has been a pattern for over 10 years? I think I’ve also seen you mention you have made mistakes in the past but are trying to change and grow and do better now…?

          If that is all you, may I offer that your wife probably has more deep-seeded hurt that she simply isn’t sharing with you If you became frustrated after 2 weeks, she may have learned that the only way to get you out of that negativity was to have sex with you which, I can speak from experience, chips away heavily at your soul and heart and does not repair itself just because your behavior and awareness has now changed. Your actions now may be much improved but the longer those other behaviors existed, the longer it takes for trust to be rebuilt.

          Granted, if that’s the case she should talk to you about it and it would be incredibly frustrating to not be able to have that frank discussion, but if it is the case, she may have also learned that there wasn’t any point. I cant say- I’m just trying to piece various elements together that may be contributing. We can’t try to fix what elements we don’t know are broken.

          I do hope things change for both of you into a healthier relationship.

          Reply
          • Chris B

            Yes I am the same Chris B. I have shared with my wife how I believe that I was wrong and probably damaged our love life. I had more than one tearful confession about my faults and failures. I understand that Years of not understanding how to deal with the lack of desire can not be reversed in a few weeks or months even. She admits to not having a strong drive. But does not believe it has anything to do with my behavior. I think my behavior has had an affect even she does not realize it. I never felt like I a had right to sex from my wife. For a long time I thought I was the sole problem. So In a effort to improve the frequency I thought that if I was a better husband in general it would help. I was never lazy around the house but still increased my efforts. Made sure to be pleasant always. More accommodating to any request. My general answer was whatever you want. All in an effort to be rewarded with sexual connection. But never expected sex or asked about a trade. Just thought it would set the stage for increased frequency. All this did was foster more frustration. I should be the best husband possible anyway without looking for reward. This is what God requires of me.
            I try maybe once a week on a good day to address the issues but only a short amount of time(15 minutes or so). I keep the conversation light and if I sense irritation on her part I back off, do not want to frustrate her. I strongly desire that connection but I am increasingly unwilling to take the chance. I explained to her that it is struggle to have the courage to try to kiss beyond a peck on the lips. I know rejection is around the corner. So I told her I was always open to being intimate but could not initiate. I told her that I would back off and never try. She responded by saying ” that will not help me”. I took this as she wants me to keep trying, maybe wooing her. For maybe a year I mostly stopped trying to initiate by kissing or caressing or other contact. I would simply ask if she was in the mood and interested. It was easier ask and hear no than to spend time trying and anticipating what might be. She again tells me that asking straight up will only kill any desire or willingness. So I feel there no go options. When investing time and effort into what I think is headed somewhere only to be rejected is difficult.

            Sorry for the long response. I do appreciate your comments and advice.

          • Chris B.

            I have read that article. I know I obviously do not understand where my wife is coming from. I’m trying hard to understand. I want contentment. But I admit its difficult to comprehend and sort through my emotions.
            Again thank you for the help.

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