Do women deserve to orgasm when making love to their husbands?

Is it reasonable to expect that when a couple is making love, both of them should receive pleasure?

I normally do a top 10 post on Tuesdays, and I had something all ready to go, but there was a discussion in the comments section over the weekend that, quite frankly, shocked me, and I thought it was worth addressing. I generally assume that people want good marriages and that people want good sex lives and that people care about each other, but every now and then people say things  in the comments that makes me realize that we have a long way to go before we’re going to reach healthy sexuality.

So, let me paint the picture of what happened (and by the way, this was hard to follow because it was spanning several posts, but I’ll try to summarize)

First, a man comments that he wants sex no strings attached, and he’s tired of having his wife have so many needs before she’ll want to have sex.

He’s referring to our first Start Your Engines podcast, (though he’s commenting on another post), where we explained that a woman needed three things from sex: intimacy, safety and pleasure.

He said:

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but no woman in the world is worth the aggravation you guys described. It seems to me that, before marriage, women are usually “hot to trot,” but once they get control of your life and (mostly) your wallet, they turn off the spiggot, and make everything into a thankless chore. After listening carefully to the whole podcast, I admit to being a little like Aquaman. What I heard was “somethin’, somethin’, somethin’, no sex for you.”

Even men who take their “shepherding” role seriously, get to the point of desperation. We usually have ONE item on our list of Requirements-for-a-good-marriage. Women seem to have 100 or more.

And if we don’t fulfill all 100 to perfection on a daily basis, they feel justified in becoming serial refusers. It seems to me that the problem your ministry you need to work hardest to defeat with is women and their OUTRAGEOUSLY UNREALISTIC expectations. It is those unmeetable expectations that are destroying marriages today; not porn, not affairs, and certainly not “evil white men” and their “evil penises.” It’s women and their insurmountable “Prince Charming Complex.”


In return, Jess replied that sex is more than just about release; and that they should be aiming for intimacy at all levels.

Are you saying that sex is seriously your only requirement for a good marriage? You don’t care about trust, loyalty, compassion, emotional intimacy, relationship, serving one another, having fun together? None of that matters at all? That exact viewpoint is why so many women have a non-existent libido and feel like sex objects rather than people who matter.

You don’t want a wife to “control your life” or “your wallet”, it sounds like you don’t want a marriage, you just want free sex. Marriage is not about control, manipulation, or a list of requirements one spouse must fulfill before the other spouse gives something in return. Marriage in God’s design is about mutuality, self-sacrifice, love, respect, and service. It’s about putting your spouse’s needs and desires above your own. It’s a perfect picture of how Jesus laid down is life for us. He didn’t wait for us to measure up before he gave himself for us, just like a husband and wife should not wait for the other to measure up before giving of themselves.

I’m so sorry if you’ve been hurt by a woman who used you for your money or withheld sex for ridiculous reasons. That is also not right. But if my husband told me the only requirement he had for a good marriage was for me to give him sex whenever he wanted, I’d probably come up with a ridiculous list of requirements for him too, just to protect myself from feeling used and cheap and dirty and like the only thing I’m good for is his physical pleasure and release. No woman wants to feel like that.

Just for background, I am married, my husband and I are both very happy and fulfilled, and we have a wonderful sex life. You could ask him and he would say the same thing. And it’s because we strive for the marriage I outlined above, one built on mutuality, self-sacrifice, love, respect, and service. If more husbands AND wives put effort into that kind of marriage, I think sex in marriage would fall into place much easier and would be much more fulfilling for both spouses.


Those two comments launched the much longer discussion, which ended up spreading two threads. On a thread from our Start Your Engines podcast,  libl piped up and said that she could only orgasm if she lay still and was able to concentrate, but her husband didn’t like that. (He’d been insisting for years that they have sex in such a way that gets her no pleasure–“I went 3 years without an orgasm from him because he wanted sex his way. I gave up oral sex because he wanted sex his way.”). One of the men participating in the first thread started commenting there, too. He said that the solution was that they do what her husband wanted half the time, and then they do what libl wanted half the time.

Can anyone see what’s wrong with that?

Her husband is ABLE to orgasm whatever they have sex; he just gets greater pleasure if she moves around a lot and puts on a bit of a show. But if she does that, she’s no longer able to orgasm. 

Now, let’s say that libl were to do what the commenter wanted, and have sex the way her husband wanted half the time, and the way that she wanted half the time. What would be the result?

The husband would orgasm 100% of the time, and she would only orgasm 50% of the time.

That’s not right, because women deserve orgasm, too. But he kept pushing back at me and told me it was fair for them to do what the guy wanted half the time and what the wife wanted half the time. I’d like to elaborate today on why that’s off.

Sex is supposed to be the ultimate “knowing” of one another. It’s supposed to be a mutual experience.

For a husband to say: I want no strings attached sex; I want to be able to have sex with you whenever I want to, no matter what’s going on in the relationship, and to insist on anything else means that you’re depriving me–well, quite frankly, what he’s interested in, then, is not a wife but a sex doll or a prostitute.

Sex is not only about a husband’s physical release, no matter what books like Love & Respect might say. I understand that this is the teaching that is often given in Christian circles, but it is not biblical. The biblical word for sex in the Old Testament is “knowing”, which is a deep intimacy that encompasses so much more than just the physical. Making love is supposed to be truly making love. Also, sex is not supposed to be about using someone. In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, where we see Paul’s admonition to “do not deprive each other”, the instructions given are completely mutual. In fact, her needs are considered first!

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5

If a husband is only interested in his own orgasm, regardless of whether his wife feels pleasure (and especially if he prefers sex in a way that she won’t feel pleasure), then he is not abiding by what the Bible says.

Women deserve orgasm; to ask for their pleasure to be considered too is not unreasonable.

I completely understand that many women have difficulty reaching orgasm, which is why I’ve tried to write so many posts on it, and why I’m hoping to complete a course on orgasm sometime in 2020. Here are just a few of the posts:

Sometimes women can’t orgasm because of sexual pain; sometimes it’s shame and baggage about sex; sometimes it’s body image issues, or not knowing how her body works. But sometimes it’s also that he just doesn’t spend any time helping her get there.

Women are not broken because they require more stimulation to reach orgasm. That’s part of the design.

God wants sex to be mutual; God expects women to receive pleasure, too. So if those two things are true, then the fact that it takes women longer to reach orgasm, and that they need more attention, also means that that’s part of the design. This does not mean she’s broken, or that she’s flawed, or that she needs to become more like him. As I explained in my articles on the theology of the clitoris and the theology of the penis, God intended for husbands to have to spend some attention on their wives during sex. For a husband to resent that, and to think it’s an imposition, and to think that we should just forego that when we’re making love or else she’s demanding too much, is him not understanding what a sexual relationship is.

It’s supposed to be a sexual relationship; it’s not supposed to be about sexual release.

It’s a two-person thing. It’s something that you share. And that’s why my commenter’s suggestion where one night it’s about the husband and one night it’s about the wife is so off. I am a big proponent of having “his” nights and “her” nights occasionally, where you do special things that one of you likes (whether it’s something sexual or starting with a super long massage, or whatever. In fact, I even created 24 Sexy Dares that couples can share together, thinking that these would last about a year, on average. I am certainly NOT against spicing things up or having fun or trying new things.

But in general, sex should be about both of you, together. It’s a shared experience. He’s receiving pleasure; she’s receiving pleasure. They’re touching each other and loving each other. It’s about them, together.

The problem to me here is that these men assume that it’s okay to prefer sex in a way that brings your wife no pleasure.

They see her particular need for orgasm as a turn off, if what she wants doesn’t line up exactly with what he feels is exciting. They must honestly think it’s okay for men to orgasm all the time, while women don’t deserve orgasm necessarily, if it might interfere with his experience.

Some of the comments that never saw the light of day this weekend, because they were just so terrible and I couldn’t let them through. But they were all accusing her of being selfish by denying him what he wants–despite the fact that all that she was asking for was some pleasure. And they were using “Christian” arguments like “do not deprive” to do it. 

It’s like they have an idea of what “hot” sex is, and if it’s not what she needs, then she becomes the problem, because she’s denying him what is rightfully his.

I’m going to be frank–I think the pornographic culture, combined with some toxic Christian teaching, has created men who are terrible, selfish lovers.

Pornography teaches the viewer: sex is all about power. Sex is self-focused. It is using another to get what you want. The very act of watching porn, and the masturbation that accompanies it, means that you are making sexual release about your own particular desires, and nothing at all to do with a relationship.

Then we get the best-selling Christian marriage book like Love & Respect, which never once says that sex should feel good for a woman, too, but instead says that sex is all about the husband’s physical release. And it tells women that they don’t have a right to say no, no matter how they’re feeling, because he needs sex in a way that they will never understand. So it tells women: What you’re feeling doesn’t matter. Only his physical release matters. You don’t deserve anything sexually.

Do you see how this is just the same as pornography?

The pornographic culture, combined with some toxic Christian teaching, has created men who are terrible, selfish lovers.

This idea paints a woman as selfish if she speaks up and says that she needs something more from sex than he’s giving. Now she’s being demanding, and men need no strings attached sex (as the men were saying in the comments). She’s selfish for wanting to have an orgasm or receive pleasure, even though most men assume they’re going to orgasm when they have sex. As I said earlier this year, the gender that is most deprived of orgasm is not men; it’s actually women.

And to address that issue, I have created an entire course to teach you and your husband how to get you there and make you more orgasmic overall!

The Orgasm Course is Here to Help You Experience Real Passion!

Figure out what's holding you back. Open the floodgates to orgasm.

But you know what? I bet a lot of those women would have more sex if there were fewer attitudes like the ones these men were demonstrating.

Most of the men commenting on this blog totally disagree with these men, by the way. So many men have commented that they don’t understand why a man would want to have sex with a woman who wasn’t in the mood or who wasn’t receiving pleasure. In fact, they say that the hottest thing in bed is not the particular sex act that they’re doing, but instead her responsiveness and her orgasm! So many men have even expressed grief that their wives don’t want to work on orgasm, because these men would desperately like to give their wives pleasure. ​

But when husbands don’t care about pleasure–is it any wonder that some women have trouble reaching orgasm?

I truly fear that we have raised a generation of women who feel guilty if they have to ask for foreplay; who never orgasm because they’re afraid to speak up and say, “I’m not actually enjoying this as much as you are.”. And if she needs a long time to orgasm, she feels so nervous that he’s impatient or that he’s upset that she can’t get out of her head and let go. I really think that’s one of the reasons (not the only one) that so many women need vibrators to reach orgasm–they’re afraid to speak up about what they really need from their husbands (I know for some women they’re a lifesaver, after trying everything. But for some couples, they’re a short circuit that avoids him having to figure out how her body works).

Do not deprive EACH OTHER. She matters, too. Sex is about BOTH of you.

Sex is about BOTH of you. If a man doesn’t care that his wife can’t orgasm, as long as he gets what he wants, then that is not making love.

That is using her. And we need to call this out, more and more, and bring back what the Bible actually says. Do not deprive EACH OTHER. She matters, too. And maybe if these men took more time to become better lovers, and to figure out how their wives’ bodies work, then their wives would want sex more, too.

(although I’m aware that there are some women who just won’t let their husbands try to give them pleasure. That’s a separate issue than the one being talked about in the comments, though it’s just as frustrating). 

Women Deserve Orgasm: It's not selfish for a woman to want sex to pleasure her as well. It is selfish if a man finds that a turn off.

What do you think? How do we stop this attitude from flourishing in the church? And where did we go wrong? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find BIBLICAL, HEALTHY, EVIDENCE-BASED help for their marriage. 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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