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How do you feel about advice that tells postpartum women to care for their husbands’ sexual needs?

I don’t write big posts on Tuesdays anymore, but consider this one a prelude to Thursday’s podcast (yes, we’re releasing one on Thanksgiving because it isn’t Thanksgiving for us here in Canada!).

I asked a while ago about how you feel giving sexual favors postpartum. I asked on Instagram as well, and had some fascinating responses.

I’m compiling them all for Keith and I to read through on the podcast, and I thought you’d all be interested!

Many evangelical books tell women they should satisfy their husbands in other ways when intercourse is off the table, and actually imply that women get aroused from this. How do women actually feel? Well, I asked.

A large minority definitely were, and they’d agree with these commenters:

  • I found sexual release greatly on my mind. I wanted him fully and had a hard time waiting for my body to heal.
  • Any sexual encounters I had with my husband soon after the births of our children were very intimate.

To them I’d say, More power to you! Go for it! I wish we all could be like this. And honestly, I think more of us would if it weren’t treated as an obligation. (But I also don’t think these women need books telling them to do sexual favors. They would have anyway.)

Most women, though, said that they were distinctly not aroused at all.

 

  • After 13 years of marriage and 5 births I can say that I have not once found it arousing to me. Not once – and I did it many times for his sexual pleasure and release. Honestly I felt like I had no choice – either take care of him or live with an utter grouch until I did.
  • Arousing? Not in the least. Not a single time. It’s an act of selfless love me. I don’t enjoy it- even when I’m not postpartum or on my period.
  • Somehow I learned that his needs superseded mine. Most of our sex was simply an obligation.
  • I was his sex slave and he would come begging for hand jobs and blow jobs when I was exhausted or sick and he felt like looking at porn.
  • When I was on my period, it was expected of me to give him “something” because he thought he would just die if he didn’t have some kind of sex in a week’s time.
  • No, it would not be arousing for me. I would feel used.
  • Even though I said no when I needed to, I felt horrible guilt and beat myself up. When I said yes to one sided favors, I felt like a whore. This damaged our relationship so much and created many, many hard feelings both ways: him feeling like he was missing out on something he should have ( but was not necessarily “owed”) and me hating him for the sexual pressure.
  • It’s always driven me crazy when books focus on how difficult the post-partum period is for men. Like, my body just GREW A HUMAN and PUSHED OUT THE HUMAN and is now FEEDING THE HUMAN but please, tell me more about how difficult it is for the man.

I’ll end with what this commenter said:

The first time I read something along the lines of ‘It’s so hard for a husband when a wife is bleeding postpartum or from a heavy period and she’s feeling terrible…’ I was expecting it to end something like ‘…because it upsets him to see her suffer’. But then it finishes with ‘…because he gets sexually frustrated’ ! ARGGGGHHHH!!!!

I agree. I find the emphasis so misplaced. The only advice given about the postpartum period in all the books we read was for wives to remember that husbands will get sexually frustrated, and you should give him something instead.

Why no admonitions for men to use this time to care for their wives and let their wives set the pace?

I had women on Instagram telling me that their husbands demanded something while they were still in the hospital, because it was her duty. This needs to stop.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys this postpartum (again, I wish we all were like that), then I don’t think you need a book telling you to do this. We always have to ask: who is the advice aimed at? And in most cases it’s aimed at women who don’t want to do these things, but are being told God wants them to.

Rebecca (who currently IS postpartum) and I are reading through some postpartum advice from our evangelical books on this week’s podcast coming out on Thursday.

But I’d love to know what you think. Why don’t books ask men to honor their wives postpartum, when wives have just gone through the physical experience of childbirth? Why is it assumed that his sexual frustration supersedes her well-being? How can we change this?

The Great Sex Rescue

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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