God does not ask us to consent to selfish sex.
In fact, one-sided intercourse is not sex. I can summarize The Great Sex Rescue by saying that sex is supposed to be MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH.
That’s what God intended.
Sex is not merely intercourse (which is why we need a new definition of sex). Sex is meant for both of you to enjoy, together.
If your spouse is orgasming but is doing absolutely nothing to give you any pleasure, and doesn’t care about that fact, that is not real sex. That isn’t a deep “knowing” of each other; that’s a using.
A woman left a comment over the weekend, and I shared it on Facebook as well, but it deserves its own post because I know some of you need to hear this. She writes:
I have been married several decades. My husband has no desire to be intimate in or out of bed. We waited until marriage to have intercourse and I was absolutely shocked in the beginning at how selfish he was. I’ve tried to gently speak to him about it and have asked him if he knows that women enjoy sex too and rarely do it in one or two minutes with no foreplay. I’ve asked him why he wants it to be over so quickly. I never get answers he just laughs. I believe he laughs due to being uncomfortable. …At this point, I’ve just given up hope completely on any improvement and it makes me sad. I only have sex when he requests it. .. I do have desires but I know it’s hopeless. I wonder if others can relate.
This man is using his wife.
Some men may be doing this out of selfishness and maliciousness; some out of ignorance and emotional stuntedness.
It sounds like, for him, he is utterly unable to acknowledge or touch his emotions, and can’t talk about difficult things. And so he shuts down. As we’ll be talking about this month, this sounds like a very insecure attachment style, where he never learned how to handle his emotions.
In some cases, this could also be coercive sex.
If the husband is berating her, giving the silent treatment, or treating her badly if she doesn’t have sex with him, that’s coercion (or marital rape).
But often it isn’t the husband who is coercing the wife but rather her view of Scripture that is pressuring her to give him one-sided sex.
She feels like she’ll be sinning if she “deprives” him. But in this case, she is already being deprived. And he’s missing out on a proper sex life, too, because all he’s getting is physical release; nothing more. And contrary to what Every Man’s Battle, Love & Respect, and Power of a Praying Wife says, sex is not mostly about a husband’s physical release. Sex is supposed to be mutual and intimate.
Allowing this to continue hurts you, hurts your husband, and hurts your relationship.
Having intercourse helps him feel connected to you without having to do any work to connect. He isn’t sharing emotions with her; but he’s using her to soothe himself and make him feel like they are close when they are not.
He is sowing discord and pain in their relationship, but she is the one reaping it. And as Galatians 6:8 says, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” You’re supposed to reap what you sow. But in this case, he’s sowing it and she’s reaping it. As Cloud & Townsend say in their book Boundaries, by allowing this to continue she is disrupting the law of sowing and reaping.
And this will not get better magically by continuing to do the same thing. He needs to be confronted with the reality of what he has done. He needs a reason to confront his fears and insecurities about vulnerability and emotions so he can become healthier. And she needs to be saved from the trauma of being used.
So, friends, if this is you, it’s okay to say:
I want to experience an amazing sex life with you! I truly want to make love and experience passion. But I am no longer willing to be used. Until you want to figure out how my body works and make me feel good too, I will be saying no.
Now, if that would be dangerous for you to do, that’s a good sign that this is an abusive relationship and you need to get some help.
Call a domestic abuse hotline, or see a licensed counselor familiar in abuse dynamics to make a plan (if you’re not in immediate danger).
If you recognize yourself in these stories, please contact a Domestic Violence Hotline
- Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
- United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
- United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111
- Australia: 1800 015 188
- New Zealand: 0800 456 450
- Kenya: 0-800-720-072
- Nigeria: 0800 033 3333
- South Africa: 0800 428 428
But submitting to being used like this is not of God. It does not bring glory to anyone. It merely reinforces a counterfeit of real intimacy. Please read The Great Sex Rescue to see more about how these kinds of ideas have infiltrated the church and made us all feel trapped.
And remember, you matter. It’s okay to say no.
UPDATE: And as a commenter so rightly pointed out, this can go both ways. Women can also be selfish and demand selfish sex. It isn’t okay, either. BOTH people matter, always.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.
How can we help more women (and men) understand this? How can we change people’s definition so that one-sided intercourse isn’t sex? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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