Can we please change the way we talk about women not wanting to have sex?
I’ve seen a few videos on TikTok lately where Christian men bemoan the fact that women stop wanting sex once they get married, and call this “emotional damage.”
I do agree that if a spouse withholds sex for no reason other than laziness or selfishness that this is very harmful.
However, that is simply not what is going on in the vast majority of Christian marriages, and that’s why we need to change the conversation.
Tomorrow is launch day for The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the ALL NEW Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.
I’m so excited to be able to bring these books to you! And one of the big, big things we wanted to stress in both of the books is that sex needs to be just as much for women as it is for men. So women, it’s okay to want to experience pleasure! It’s okay to say, “I’m feeling used right now and we need to figure this out so sex is about intimacy.”
And guys, it’s important to make sure that she has something to look forward to! And you can learn to be your wife’s hero in the bedroom.
But to do that, we have to stop seeing sex as a one-sided entitlement for men and an obligation for women.
One of the ways we bring this home in the books is in the “Going out to Dinner” analogy.
Keith and I tell the story in this video:
And here’s how we described it in The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (it’s in both books!):
The “Let’s Go to Dinner” Saga
Let’s do a mental exercise to help understand what this orgasm gap feels like from a woman’s perspective. Imagine a world where what women need to feel loved is to go out to eat at a restaurant at least once a week, where you talk and enjoy a delicious meal. This is the pinnacle of marriage to her.
Picture a couple, Tracey and Doug, who tries to live by this. One Tuesday night our intrepid couple heads to a restaurant. They order appetizers, a main course, and a dessert.
The waitress arrives with Tracey’s appetizer—a steaming bowl of cheese and broccoli soup. Tracey finishes it and declares it deli- cious. But nothing comes for Doug. Then Tracey’s steak arrives. Doug’s still wondering where his appetizer is, but Tracey starts slathering the butter and sour cream onto the baked potato and takes a bite of the steak with peppercorn sauce and asparagus. She declares it scrumptious.
Now Tracey is finished with her steak, and the waitress heads toward the couple again. In front of Tracey she places a steaming, luscious molten lava cake. Tracey squeals in delight as she scoops some out. Just as she’s down to the last few spoonfuls, the waitress finally arrives with Doug’s chicken wing appetizer. Doug’s ecstatic, and he digs in, eating one quickly, and then another. But before he can get to his third one, Tracey stands up, ready to go home. “Dinner was amazing,” she declares as she heads for the door. He follows behind her, glancing at the uneaten chicken wings still on his plate, while Tracey says, “I love doing this with you!”
Imagine that Doug and Tracey faithfully do this every week for ten years.
How do you think Doug will feel about eating at restaurants?
The sad reality is that for too many women, that is exactly what sex is like, year after year after year. What would happen if instead of accepting a woman’s lack of orgasm as normal, we considered it a vital part of sex? What would happen if, when we got married, we focused first and foremost on helping her feel comfortable, experience arousal, and reach orgasm, rather than simply having intercourse with her?When it comes to couples’ satisfaction with sex in marriage, the orgasm gap tells the majority of the story. If you think of her orgasm as secondary, then when she takes a longer time to reach orgasm than you do, she will feel self-conscious, like she’s imposing.
When she needs something beyond what you need to orgasm, she will feel something is wrong with her, like she is broken. If your orgasm is the standard, then when it isn’t happening for her, she will tend to internalize the problem and blame herself for it. And the worst part is that this will make orgasm even more difficult for her. If, instead, you both believed that sex wasn’t really sex unless you both enjoyed it, then her lack of enjoyment wouldn’t be her problem, it would be your challenge to work through together.
The orgasm gap DOES tell a lot of this story.
Leading up to the release of The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the Good Girl’s Guide, we’ve been doing a number of the day, where I talk about one of our big findings. I’ve talked about this one for a long time, but it’s worth reiterating again.
The orgasm gap between men and women in the evangelical world is:
There’s a 47 point gap, because 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm, compared with just over 48% of women.
That’s a big gap.
And that’s why we need to talk about women’s lack of libido better.
Yes, it’s multifaceted. Yes, it helps to understand that a responsive desire does not mean that you don’t want sex, and women (and men with responsive libidos) need to be encouraged to jump in more (we do that in both books!).
Yes, it’s not only about orgasm, but also about emotional connection, and we encourage couples to work on that too, and to understand that frequency flows from emotional safety and emotional connection.
And yes, sometimes lack of responsiveness has nothing to do with the husband and everything to do with her own history, like sexual trauma, but also the messages that she grew up in church hearing about sex that erased her as a person and made her feel used.
But again, we found that when women:
- orgasm frequently
- have high marital satisfaction
- feel emotionally close during sex
- have a marriage free of porn use
- have a marriage free of sexual dysfunction
then frequency tends to take care of itself.
That doesn’t mean that things will be perfect, or that it’s always his fault, or that there aren’t exceptions.
But when we’re looking at a HUGE 47 point gap, and when we’re looking at 50% of married evangelical men currently watching porn to some extent, then perhaps we should stop with the TikTok videos about selfish women not wanting sex, and we should stop with Gary Thomas and others like him telling women to have sex the way they see eating their vegetables or feeding newborn babies, and we should start asking–how did sex get to be so distasteful for women?
We need to see lack of frequency as the symptom, not the problem.
I mean, sex is supposed to be awesome, right? We’re always talking about how sex is this amazing gift from God.
Well, chocolate cake is amazing. And you know what? Women don’t have to be convinced to eat chocolate cake. Most of us have to talk ourselves out of eating too much of it.
Do men really think women would willingly deprive ourselves of something that amazing just to be selfish and stick it to our husbands? Or could there be some thought that perhaps things haven’t gone the way they’re supposed to.
Just picture Doug in that restaurant scenario.
He’s been told his whole life that Tracey really, really needs to go to restaurants. He’s been told that he doesn’t actually have a need to eat at restaurants, that his need is just to enjoy being there with Tracey. He’s been told that while Tracey gets a lot of the food, all he really needs is the conversation and the emotional connection. He’s been told that Tracey will feel badly if she thinks that he doesn’t enjoy it, so he should make a fuss over how much it looks like Tracey is enjoying her meal, and let her know how happy he is that she’s enjoying it that much.
Seriously, would you want to be Doug, or would you want to be Tracey?
This is what we’ve done to women. This is what has ruined couples’ sex lives. And it isn’t going to get better until we connect the dots.
I think the church is ready for a new conversation about sex.
I think the church is ready for a conversation that doesn’t just blame Tracey, but that invites both Tracey and Doug to learn what sex was meant to be, and experience it to the fullest.
That’s what these books do, and I’m so excited to launch them tomorrow!
The All New Guides to Great Sex!
Imagine building a great sex life--from the ground up!
What would it look like to build a picture of sex that was MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH--with no harmful messages?
Welcome to the The Good Guy's Guide to Great Sex and the ALL NEW Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex.
Get them NOW!
And let's make these the go-to wedding shower gifts!
What do you think of our “let’s go to dinner” analogy? Are there other aspects of it that I’ve missed? Let’s talk in the comments!
The Number of the Day Series
- How Many Men Think They Do Enough Foreplay Even if She Doesn't Orgasm?
- How Many Elements are in the Sexual Response Cycle?
- What Percentage of Women Orgasm--but Don't Have Close Marriages? (coming soon)
- How Many Men Believe the Obligation Sex Message? (and what effect does this have on other areas of their marriage?)
- Can the Way We Do the Honeymoon Increase the Rate of Vaginismus?
- The Orgasm Gap and the Real Reason Women Don't Want Sex (The "Let's go to dinner" saga)
- Is Lust REALLY Every Man's Battle?
- How Many Christian Men Meet the 4 Criteria for a Sexually Safe Husband
- How Many Men Watch Porn? (And what are the effects?) (podcast)
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
Too many people don't understand the sexual response cycle--so let's spell it out and figure out...
So...have you ever heard the term "sexual response cycle"? Basically what it means is that our...
How do you know when you've done enough foreplay? We're starting a new series on the blog right...
More podcasts dropped, a dust up on Facebook, and all about the birds and the bees! It's been a...
Once again, Focus on the Family is promoting an article that places the blame on you if your...
It's the last Bare Marriage podcast of 2021! And thank you for joining us this year! Today on the...
Is lust really every man's battle? And how do we handle different libidos? It's launch week for...
Growing up, we hear, over and over again: "Just wait for the wedding night! The wedding night will...