The Purity Culture and Sex as a “Duty”

The teachings of the purity culture led me to believe that I owed my husband sex, that it was his due, and that if I didn’t give him sex, well, he would look elsewhere and I would be at least partially to blame. I was taught that men (unlike women) needed sex about three times a week in order to be fulfilled, and that it was my job – my duty – as his wife to do this for my husband. Or else he might, you know, cheat.

To give you an example of the messages I got about this growing up, let me offer some quotes from Debi Pearl’s Created To Be His Helpmeet:

No woman really loves her husband if she does not seek to please him in this most important area. If you are not interested in sex, then at least be interested in him enough to give him good sex. (p. 164)

A wise woman gauges her husband’s needs. She seeks to fulfill his desires before even he is aware of them. She never leaves him daydreaming outside the home. She supplies his every desire. (p. 167)

God grants the marriage partner full access to his spouse’s body for sexual gratification. And remember, indifference is unwillingness. (p. 167)

God made man to need sex. He must be relieved of his built-up sexual desire, even if it means spilling his seed in his sleep. (p. 168)

A man is negatively affected by a halfhearted response from his wife. The poor guy is never fully relieved and therefore never feels totally satisfied, making him think he is a sexual pervert or something, because he needs sex so often. (p. 168)

God created man with a regular need fora  woman, and God commanded the man’s wife to see to it that his need is met. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and devote at least 15 minutes every few days to totally pleasing your man. (p. 168)

For a wife to defraud her husband of this vital need that God has instilled in him should cause her to tremble in fear of the consequences. (p. 168)

It is a man’s duty to walk in truth and have high integrity, but a woman who trusts in a man’s ability to endure all things, while providing circumstances to test him to the max, is a fool. It is your duty to fulfill his sexual needs. His faithful responsibility to you, and yours to him are both equally important, and we wives must give an account before God for our faithfulness in this area. I call it “ministering” to my husband. He says I am a mighty fine minister. (p. 169)

For a woman, sexual expression starts in her mind and heart. Love is giving up your center, your self-interest. It is choosing another’s needs above your own. A woman chooses to be interested or not interested in her husband’s needs. So when a woman’s first commitment is to her own needs and feelings, she is necessarily going to view sex as strictly a carnal experience, for then she does indeed have an entirely hedonistic outlook – her self-gratification. But if a woman views sex as a ministry to her husband, then it is a selfless act of benevolence. (p. 169)

Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs? Do you know who created you, and do you know he is the same God who expects you to freely give sex to your husband? Stop the excuses! (p. 170)

You got that? Men need sex, and it’s the wife’s duty to “freely give sex” to her husband. If she doesn’t, she is “a fool” and should “tremble in fear at the consequences.” And of course, if you’re not interested in sex, you have to “give” it to him anyway, and you can’t let him know you’re not interested. you can’t let him know that you’re not actually interested in sex – that would be a “halfhearted response,” and would leave him unfulfilled! And these messages weren’t just in that one book. They were all over. And often, they were sort of under the radar – rarely directly stated but constantly implied.

And so, when my husband said “do you want to have sex tonight?” I heard not “shall we hop between the sheets for some mutual fun and pleasure?” but rather “it’s been three days and I need sex, would you do that for me?” And given that I love my husband, there were many, many times when I said “yes,” not because I wanted to have sex but because I wanted to fulfill his need. As I’d been taught I was supposed to. Even if I had to fake it.

Thing is, as with so many things about the purity culture, this wasn’t what my husband wanted. My husband hadn’t given a fig that I was a virgin - it just didn’t matter to him as I’d been taught it would. And likewise, he didn’t want to have sex with me if I didn’t want to have sex for myself, and he didn’t want me to fake enjoying sex or to say I was up for sex if I wasn’t interested. And he meant that. He would rather not have sex on a given day than have me agree to have sex with him simply out of a sense of duty. And so, I added another note to my “Debi Pearl really doesn’t know anything about men” file.

Growing up, I ended up with the impression that sex was something men need and women have to offer, something women “give” to men. This idea wasn’t just there in the purity culture of purity books and purity rings, either. You see it in the cultural idea that men must pursue women, persuade, and finally bed them. The one is taking, the other giving. The one advancing, the other yielding. And perhaps because the basic idea is still present in our culture, the more extreme notions I was given growing up seemed natural and without need of questioning. My husband needed sex. I could give it to him. And that was my role as his wife. You can see how these ideas, whether in mainstream culture or in the culture of purity balls and purity vows, get all tangled up together.

Sex shouldn’t about someone “giving” and someone else “taking.” Sex shouldn’t be about one person “fulfilling” another person’s “needs.” This is the problem when people set everything up hierarchically and treat men and women as though they are so different neither can ever really see eye to eye with the other. We saw this loud and clear when Doug Wilson wrote the following:

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.

This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

You know what? Regardless of what Doug Wilson or Debi Pearl might say, my husband never wanted to “conquer” me or to have me offer myself as a tool to fulfill his needs. That “egalitarian pleasuring party” Doug Wilson so derides? That’s what my husband wanted. And you know what else? I know now that that’s what I want too. I wasted way too much time listening to the flawed messages of the purity culture that I was fed as a girl, a teen, and a young woman.

Seriously, don’t listen to Christian marriage advise manuals. They offer to tell women how to have perfect marriages by explaining just what men want. And in my experience, they get it wrong. Very wrong.

Once my husband and I began actually communicating about this, I began to work on changing how I viewed sex. I stopped saying “yes” just because I thought I was supposed to. Now, when I say “yes” my husband knows it’s because I honestly want him, not because I think I’m supposed to “fulfill his needs.” Old thought patterns, though, are hard to kill. I still feel guilty when I say “no” to sex. But I’m working on it.

The longer I work at tuning out the messages the purity culture gave me about men, marriage, and sex, the better my marriage gets.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Nathaniel

    Ah, but you see, their advice manuals tell you how to please a REAL man. And obviously, if you’re particular man isn’t like that, then by definition he isn’t a REAL man.

    QED.

  • Gordon

    We have a word for having sex with someone who does not want it. It is not a nice word.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      In this model of marriage, marrying clearly renders a woman unrapable, at least by her husband. There’s basically no concept of actual consent.

      • wendy

        Exactly. And since women don’t really want sex ever, it’s all a matter of degree.

    • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

      We do not actually have a word for what’s described above, because it is consensual – consent is given. It’s not given out of a desire to have sex, but it’s still consent. That shouldn’t be lumped together with rape – a sexual act that is not only not desired by one party, but not even consented to.

      Hope that came out comprehensible despite the weird sentence structure.

      • Christine

        Ah, but it’s coerced consent. If someone was threatening you with a knife and asked if you wanted to have sex, that’s rape, even if you say yes. This is a different, more subtle, kind of threat, but the option of saying “no” still isn’t there.

      • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

        Agh, there’s no reply button beneath your comment… guess you’ll see this if I leave it here ;)

        I don’t think coerced consent is the right word for this either. From what I read about Libby’s husband, he’s not the type to coerce her – rather, she was “coerced” by her upbringing and culture. That’s why I feel the word “rape” is inappropriate in this context: it wasn’t her husband’s fault in any way. He got consent, he believed she wanted it, and even though her consent was given for the wrong reasons, he had nothing to do with that.

      • jemand

        yes, but what if a *third party* was the one holding the knife? That is more like in this scenario. In which case, someone is using ANOTHER MAN to be the actual “instrument” of the rape… in which case, taking advantage of BOTH partners.

        I think setting someone up for a situation like that– I DO think it’s closer to rape than you think, and wouldn’t complain if a woman wanted to describe such an experience *as* rape. (I’m big on not defining such things FOR other women) One needs to step back, away from just the fact that in this case the man who’s proximately the most close *might* be blameless (then again, he might be adding to these messages) and realize that consent gotten from a metaphorical knife held over a woman’s head is NOT consent.

        I can imagine, if I were a man realizing I’d been used this way, I might feel sick and call it rape *myself.* “You will go to hell if you don’t do this” honestly, can be as strong a threat as if there’s actually physically a knife present. And it doesn’t really matter if the one having sex is holding the knife, or a third party… and if the threat is there, there is probably no meaningful consent.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Yes indeed, Sean had no idea that these things were going on in my head! And when he found out the messages I’d been given and the way they were affecting me, he took immediate steps to counteract them, telling me that he didn’t want to have sex with me if I didn’t want to have sex, and that he wasn’t going to go cheat on me just because I didn’t want to have sex every time he did (I mean, duh, that shouldn’t need saying, but it was sort of the idea I’d been given), and that it was okay if I didn’t want to have sex every time he suggested it.

        The coercion is all mental, all in the head. The coercion comes from messages from people like Debi Pearl, which create the idea that having sex with your husband is your duty, and that if you don’t, you’re asking for trouble! I don’t have any freaking clue what you’d call it…it’s not rape because there is consent. The consent is coerced, but it’s not coerced by the guy, it’s coerced by the messages of the extreme purity culture peddled by people like Debi Pearl. It’s just all so twisted!

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I’m perfectly happy to say that it just falls under the heading of Rape Culture but isn’t necessarily straightforward rape. That’s true of a lot of things. The way I see it, both you and Sean were victims of Rape Culture.

      • Caravelle

        @veganatheist01 : I want to chime in with everyone who says it could perfectly be called “rape”, and that saying this doesn’t mean Libby Anne’s husband was at fault – he wasn’t the one doing the coercion and as soon as he found out about it he took steps to change things, so I’d say he is very much not at fault at all.

        I just want to point out that this “consent is consent even if it isn’t borne of a desire to have sex” thing is missing the point of consent. “Yes” isn’t a magic word that transforms rape into acceptable sex. “Yes” is a proxy for what actually makes acceptable sex, which is both parties wanting to do it. If you’re in a situation where you can only say “yes” , regardless of what you actually want to do, then it isn’t consent, it’s more like cargo cult “consent”. (“as long as she says the right words and doesn’t say the wrong ones (“no”) it won’t be rape, however she actually feels about having intercourse !”)

        And if there isn’t real consent involved it can be up to the individual whether you call it “rape” or not, but you can’t really tell other people they shouldn’t call it “rape” either. It pushes the slippery slope in the other direction.

      • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

        @Caravelle (in case you ever come back to read this): I’m really uncomfortable with this. Rape is a word for a CRIME. Rape is a word for when one party deliberately ignored their partners non-consent (given in words, screams, physical fighting, or whatever) or explicitly threatened them with physical or emotional consequences (including but not limited to “I thought you loved me!” and “You don’t want me to tell X, do you?”).

        If we redefine it to mean “anything other than when the person consents because they want sex”, suddenly a whole lot of events become rape. Porn, for example. Those actors and actresses aren’t doing it because they want sex, they’re doing it for the money (or the fame, or whatever). Are you just going to call that rape and put it in the same category with the situation(s) described above?

        I feel that this is doing a terrible injustice to rape survivors.

        (And I won’t even start about how the “rapist”, someone who cares about their partner, made sure to obtain consent, paid attention to them, wanted them to enjoy the experience and actually believed that to be the case are simply put into one category with people who DON’T.)

      • Christine

        @veganatheist01 I understand that you have issues with not wanting to equate someone thinking that there is full consent to someone who completely ignored consent. But your definition of rape is overly narrow. (Whether rape is only it’s criminal definition is a different debate however). Anything where there is not willing, informed consent, is rape. I’m not replying just to quibble over whether or not the purity culture leads to rape, because I do see that there’s a lot of grey area in there. I’m more concerned about the idea that non-consent is “given in words, screams, physical fighting, or whatever”. Non-consent is simply the lack of consent. “Oh, she didn’t say no” is not only a faulty legal defense, but a distressing trend that a lot of people believe. Saying no isn’t necessary for it to be rape. Failing to say yes is all that’s required, let’s not erase those situations.

        I agree that the standards of consent are lower in some cases, and even without that I would definitely say that Libby’s husband’s actions couldn’t really be called rape because, like you say, he did his best to make sure she agreed, paid attention to her, etc. I’m speaking of cases within the culture, where the woman’s consent is seen as irrelevant. Were she to say no, she would be doing something wrong, so he wouldn’t have to listen to it. Why we’re saying it’s rape isn’t because a man assumes that his wife would say no if she objected (which, while a bad thing to do with casual sex, seems valid to me in a long-term relationship, especially if he’s watching for non-verbal cues). It’s the idea that she has no right to object, which means that her consent is forced.

      • smrnda

        What about cases when a person does not want to give consent but owing to some factor ends up not expressing adequate resistance, perhaps owing to actual fear of violence, is it suddenly not rape? There are situations where someone wants to say No but is afraid to do it, particularly when rape happens between acquaintances and not strangers. Are you going to demand evidence of a physical struggle in all cases to prove it was really rape? What about cases where a person knows IF they resist or say no, they’ll be harmed and raped anyway? A huge part of rape culture is the ‘well, she didn’t say no or try to fight me off, therefore she wanted to do it.”

      • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

        I’m sorry, I phrased that very badly, and it reflects a terrible way of thinking. Thank you both for pointing that out. While I do know that non-consent isn’t only fighting, but also simply a lack of consent, apparently I’m not always aware of that. :$
        I’m quite new to the whole concept of rape culture, and while I’ve done some reading and found some excellent websites on the topic, the idea of a lack of consent versus explicit consent apparently hasn’t fully sunk in.

        I’d *absolutely* call an act of ignored lack of consent rape, and I’d never argue with someone who does. Thank you again for calling me out on that.

        Still wouldn’t call Libby’s case rape, though, since it’s different.

      • Christine

        I think I’m in the same boat as you. One of the reasons that I called out your post is that I needed to remind myself. And I agree that Libby’s case isn’t rape. I think that the concept of due diligence can be applied here. Actually, it’s probably a good idea for consent in general – it acknowledges that consent or lack thereof looks different in different situations.

      • smrnda

        Wording these things can be incredibly difficult, I was pretty doubtful that anyone outside of MRAs really argues that anything but fighting and struggling while screaming “No” disqualifies something from being rape.

        When it’s two people whose views on sexuality have been warped by the belief that a woman has to give consent (and also, that she has to conceal what she really feels about having sex from her husband or simply ignore it) it is tough to know what to call it. The problem is partly that a person in a situation like Libby Anne *might* even view herself as giving consent all the time since she’s been taught it’s the right thing to do – admitting that you really aren’t making a free choice can be difficult when you’re throwing off early conditioning.

      • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

        “Wording these things can be incredibly difficult, I was pretty doubtful that anyone outside of MRAs really argues that anything but fighting and struggling while screaming “No” disqualifies something from being rape.”

        I wish you were right. A (female!!) judge in Germany just did – apparently the 15-year-old victim “could have run away or called for help”, and because she didn’t, her rapist just got acquitted. Sometimes I really do not like this world at all.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    “Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs?”

    YIKES!!!!!!!!!

    “a woman, sexual expression starts in her mind and heart. Love is giving up your center, your self-interest. It is choosing another’s needs above your own. A woman chooses to be interested or not interested in her husband’s needs. So when a woman’s first commitment is to her own needs and feelings, she is necessarily going to view sex as strictly a carnal experience, for then she does indeed have an entirely hedonistic outlook – her self-gratification. ”

    So in other words, sex is something that should happen really often in a marriage but, for a woman at least, it shouldn’t actually be, you know, SEXY because that would make it “carnal” and we wouldn’t want that! Give up your own self-interest, WHAT? I’m not saying that sex should just be about using another person to gratify yourself (Although SHE is saying that that’s what men should do and what they naturally want to do) but you SHOULD prioritize your own pleasure as well as the other person’s. Basically, she’ not only saying that women should have sex whether or not they find it pleasurable for themselves, she’s also saying that if women DO find it pleasurable for themselves, that’s dirty and makes it ungodly. In other words, the only way to be a good wife is to have lots and lots of bad sex. Ugh!

    Also, she’s totally buying into another idea that’s also popular in the mainstream: That sexual expression and desire for a woman is all about mushy-gushy feelings and not our actual bodies. Um, ever heard of the clitoris, Debi? Just a start…

    Also, “ministering” to your husband? That’s just…not sexy (oh wait, it shouldn’t be).

    • Steve

      Because sex is for making babies. Not for fun.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        That doesn’t seem to be what she’s saying though. She seems perfectly fine with the idea of having sex for fun–as long as your a man. It’s women who aren’t allowed to think it’s fun.

  • mbb

    I don’t mean to lower the tone here, but it’s clear that Doug Wilson has never had really fun, enthusiastic sex with a confident, playful and eager woman. Having a lass roll atop you and take charge is hardly “conquering”, and hardly her “surrendering”!

    On a less ‘TMI’ note, you are right that these ideas pervade our society.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      I agree, though I suspect it’s not because he’s never had the chance but rather because such a thing is a major turn-off to the point of rendering him physically incapable of having such an experience (short of with pharmaceutical help).

      Also, why is it that sex is both a carnal desire to be avoided and a basic male need that ought to be met without question? Not that either is a good way of looking at things, but at least pick one and stick with it.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        haha. I think it’s pretty simple. For a man it’s a basic need, for a woman it’s carnal desire. Men wanting sex is natural, women wanting sex is dirty. The only kind of sexual desire a woman is allowed to have is a desire to serve her man with sex–which is not actually a sexual desire s0 much as it is just a general desire to please applied specifically to this one area. One good thing about Debi Pearl, it seems you don’t need to do much extrapolating to figure out what she’s all about. She’s pretty straightforward about believing very ugly things.

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

        You’re expecting this shit to be rational and logical. I’ve never noticed anything that comes out of the Pearls is either.

  • Claire

    The comment “Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs? Do you know who created you, and do you know he is the same God who expects you to freely give sex to your husband? Stop the excuses! (p. 170)” shocked me, Pearl is saying if it hurts just lie back and “think of England” rather than stop ask why it hurts, try something different and if everything still hurts See an F’ing doctor as this may be a sign of a serious illness.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Or a not-serious illness but one that can be treated fairly easily if a woman just takes her own comfort and pleasure seriously enough to seek a solution to the problem. Many forms of dyspareunia are easily treatable but a woman needs to think it’s worthwhile to be treated first. Debi Pearl is telling women that it isn’t.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      Yeah, this isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if people like the Pearls and Wilsons have heard of foreplay, or letting people know that they don’t have to go from 0 to 60 with sex. If you’ve never done anything, I imagine the wedding night would be painful and bewildering, and they seem to consider this a virtue.

      I forget where I saw this, but I read a story of a couple from fundamentalist backgrounds who were having a really difficult time and feeling extremely ashamed about sex. They finally turned to non-religious sources and realized that the woman had vaginismus, and that there was a way to work through it., and their understanding of sex and their relationship greatly improved. I feel really sad for people who don’t have access to this information, or feel like it would be sinful or selfish to address these issues.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Vaginismus was exactly what I was thinking of, actually. It’s not uncommon and it’s usually fairly easy to treat, although it requires some time (how much varies on the person). But if you’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that your pain is not a problem, you’d never actually seek a solution and just live with unnecessary, avoidable pain. Ugh.

      • Elise

        Oh, the wedding night…it’s like the groom is told that he basically has to rape his wife–because he knows that she won’t find pleasure in it. People tell their sons this! I can’t believe it!

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

        Ugh, really?

  • Gordon

    If I ever found out someone had sex with me when they did not want to I would be mortified! I have no interest in taking part in non-consensual sex.

  • Sally

    I agree with you to a great extent. The thing is women need sex as much as men (if not more sometimes). Women need to be fulfilled too emotionally and sexually. However, if a man cheats on his wife or vice versa, there is an amount of blame on the partner. Imagine depriving a man or woman from sex for three months in a row..do you blame the hungry poor human for stealing to eat, for instance?
    Basic needs and desires must be fulfilled in any marriage and it’s the two partners’ responsibility toward each other. It’s not a duty..it’s something that should be done out of love.
    Sometimes, I say no to sex but my husband works hard to turn me on so we can both enjoy it :)
    There is nothing wrong with saying no, but if your “no’s” happen very frequently, this means you are not really intimate with your hubby..or perhaps you don’t want to be intimate. If you love a man, you would be crazy to have sex with him. Plus, I look at it from a very positive side; he asked “me” for sex. That means he loves and wants me although he could have a one night stand with a stranger to fulfill his needs and i would never know about it.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Wow, BIG problems with this. Some people just have low sex drives. There’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t make them “crazy” or incapable of other forms of intimacy, it’s just human variation. If you have a low sex drive and your partner doesn’t, I do think it’s not really fair to ask them to be totally okay with that. In a situation like that, if couple wants to stay married, I think an open marriage is a good option. Not all marriages have to be monogamous and it’s not “cheating” if it’s agreed upon. And plenty of people have open marriages for lots of different reasons. Ideally, I think it’s best for people with low sex drives to be married to each other. I do think sex drives that basically match are an important part of compatibility–just one of many reasons why I don’t think “waiting for marriage” is a very good idea.

      Also, people with average or high sex drives sometimes go through temporary stages where they have low sex drives–stress, illness, grief, depression etc. Should they be “blamed” in those cases if a partner cheats? Sex is important and I’m the first one to say it, but it’s not food. You’re not literally “starving” your partner. Sometimes a person just has to suck it up and be supportive. I’m all for “egalitarian pleasure parties” and lots of them, but life’s not one big party either.

      • Froborr

        Speaking as someone with a low sex drive in a relationship with someone with a high sex drive, it’s far from insurmountable. Sometimes she really wants to have sex and I’m ‘meh’ about it, but even if I’m not in the mood to enjoy sex qua sex, I can enjoy the intimacy and feel satisfaction in bringing pleasure to someone I love. If I’m really not feeling it, I say no, so on occasion she wants to have sex and has to wait until another time. The horror!

        We negotiate and compromise, just like with any other joint activity that one of us enjoys more than the other.

    • jemand

      I also see a lot of problems with this. I mean, right now I’ve been single for awhile, and not having had sex for nearly a year, your “three months and the person won’t be able to control it! Sex with anyone!!!!” disaster scenario is not even remotely on my radar. I will have sex with a person I want to have it with, even though I have a fairly high sex drive, I’ll choose no one rather than pick someone I don’t really want.

      If I were married? Sure, I might be frustrated to have a similar or more lengthy spell of no sex… but is it REALLY any worse in that case, when I WOULD have an emotional connection & hugs with someone, compared to what I have now, NO sexual activity as a highly sexual but single person? Cheating would still be entirely on me. And I mean, I would probably be ok with some level of negotiated non-monogamy, but in any case, breaking the agreed upon rules of a relationship of mine, is entirely *on me.* Regardless of whether or not my partner has had “enough” sex “recently.”

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

        It’s been a lot longer for me than a year. If Sally’s 3 month thing is anything to go by, I’m surprised my ladybits haven’t ripped themselves from my body in protest.

        But then I’m asexual and we’re deficient as humans. /sarcasm

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      There is no excuse to cheat. Ever. No one is ever entitled to an affair for any reason. If a person cheats, that person is to blame, not the person they cheated on. A major incompatibility such as sexual incompatibility may eventually be grounds for divorce if the couple can’t come up with a solution that works for both of them, but both parties can wait until after they’ve separated to seek out other partners.

      • Elise

        I think it comes back to consent. Both partners navigate monogamy. For example, my husband and I discussed the possibility of one of us being incapacitated. We both gave consent to the other to pursue other people, while still being married. Again, communication and (non-coerced) consent. Cheating is when partners don’t talk and don’t agree beforehand.

      • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

        Re: Elise – Right, ethical polyamory is different. That’s carried out with the full consent of everyone involved. I do recognize that it isn’t the same as going behind your spouse’s back when you’d agreed to monogamy. It’s my understanding, though, that even in poly relationships, there are rules and boundaries in place, and breaking them would be cheating. In such a case, I’d say the same thing – no excuse, and not the fault of the cheater’s partner(s).

  • Nathaniel

    On a more serious note, I would be horrified to learn that I was raping my wife because she believed she could never saw no.

    But these schmucks don’t care about little details like that.

  • Mogg

    There doesn’t seem to be any possibility of considering the possibility that the woman may have a higher sex drive than the man in a relationship. Then again, she doesn’t seem to think that women have any desire for sex at all, so I suppose it’s not that surprising :-(

    I often wonder what the chances of actually marrying a partner who is sexually compatible is in this type of culture. It unfortunately leads me to rather sad speculation about one of my sisters, who went the courtship route and married a man I believe is completely unsuited to her. I’m infinitely grateful I got out of that culture before marrying and got a bit of relationship experience before I met my partner – including, yes, the situation where I had much more desire for sex than my boyfriend at the time.

    • lucrezaborgia

      I married my husband, who has a drastically lower sex drive than myself, with my eyes wide open. Even then it’s hard sometimes, especially since we’re trying for a baby. Hard to get pregnant when sex averages once a month! We’ve worked out some compromises and, sometimes, he has sex with me even when he’s not 100% in the mood because “I’m worth it” and he loves me and wants me to be happy.

      • Mogg

        Compromise and communication is the key with those kind of situations. It sounds like you guys are doing that, and in my case the lack of those was a big factor in us not working out. I hate to think what would have happened if I had retained the mindset from my upbringing of having to make the relationship permanent regardless!

        Good luck with the baby :-)

  • Sossajes

    Ugh. She’s saying out loud things that are usually just implied in mainstream culture. Even outside of the community surrounding the Pearls, there still is the belief that sex is a duty for women (who maybe slightly enjoy it, but not much), that pain during sex is normal for women, and that if a woman turns a man down it’s her fault if he cheats, or rapes her, or bullies her into sex.

    • Stony

      And yet they paint young women as seductresses and temptresses…..which is it, people??? Oh right, there are Madonnas and Whores. Good/bad, black/ white. And of course, zero tolerance of homosexuality or transgender issues since that is right smack in the middle of a vast sea of grays that they choose to believe doesn’t exist.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        I think the idea is that such women don’t want sex for sex, but rather as a tool to control men. Usually accompanied by the barter system line of thought, where sex is a business transaction where men get sex and women get favours. Oddly (or maybe not), people complain about women ‘giving it away’ but not men who fail to ‘repay’ them, while men doing favours for women is too often understood to mean that she owes him sex. Women get blamed for everything by such people :/

      • Ashton

        Yeah, there’s an implication out there that any woman out there who has sex is a whore. Their implication of women not having and sexual desire or drive turns all sex into a situation where women are trying to get something. It drives me crazy. For me, sex is an end in itself.

  • Niemand

    Debi Pearl seems to have a very poor opinion of men. I would never think of men I know, whether as friends, relatives, acquaintances, or sexual partners, as sex crazed monsters who simply couldn’t help having sex periodically without any thought for their sex partners. Or that they would be so stupid as to be fooled by fake enthusiasm. Or so evil as to want to rape their partners. The majority of men, IMHO and experience, want sex, but only with an enthusiastic partner who is enjoying him- or herself as well.

  • Christine

    For starters: rape is not cool. I’d like to get that out of the way, before I say what I’m going to. There are times when you need to look at yourself and thing “hmmm… I don’t really care either way, so…”. Because frankly, I’m fairly sure my daughter would be an only child for the rest of her life if I hadn’t done that.

    • Katty

      While I must say I was a bit taken aback by your way of putting it (“you need to…” – somehow, to me, this implies a duty I don’t think should be there), I do know what you are talking about. For me, too, there sometimes are times when I really don’t care either way. And some of these times I will motivate myself by thinking that, you know, judging from prior experience, this could actually turn out to be fun if I just get into it. Other times I decide that, no, it’s really too much of an effort for me right now – and that’s fine too!
      And just to be clear, I’m ONLY talking about situations where I’m “undecided”. I firmly believe that if a woman (or a man for that matter) is in no mood for sex – whatever the reason – she should NEVER feel obligated to have sex anyways – no matter who’s asking.

      • Christine

        You make a good point, and I think that Elise (right below) says what I meant much more accurately. It’s less “oh, I’ll do this for him” and more “I value this, even if I don’t feel like it right now”. The “you need to” wasn’t an external obligation, it was an internal one.

    • Elise

      Sex is so many things: Love-sex, Hate-sex, Make-up-sex, etc. Ok, TMI: When I got diagnosed with PTSD, and started taking anti-depressants, I felt my libido drop. But I didn’t want to take away the sex life I share with my husband. I wanted to want it. So sometimes I faked it until I made it. Or I spent some time prepping myself. It wasn’t just the orgasms, it was the closeness, the expression of love that can exist in sex.

      The husband–being a nice guy–has concerns. But wanting to give, wanting to want, wanting to be close…I’m giving my full and informed consent, and my husband knows that I mean it.

      Anyhow…sex life is complicated. I hate the purity culture because it doesn’t talk about how important communication and consent is. It doesn’t talk about grey areas like mine described above. Grey…but there is still explicit consent.

      • Elise

        Prepping myself mentally…. I mean, the other prepping is too much TMI to talk about in a blog!

      • Katty

        Actually, Elsie, I don’t think that’s TMI at all. Rather, I think you make an excellent point that the reasons for having sex and what we get out of it can vary dramatically for different people (and even the same people at different times) and as long as there is real consent all of these reasons are completely legitimate. So, thank you so much for sharing!

      • Katty

        Sorry, Elise, got your name wrong – I apologize!

      • Elise

        Katty: Thanks for the support. And no worries about the name–you got it close enough!

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I don’t think masturbation is TMI for a blog, especially when the blog post is already all about sex and everyone is posting anonymously. If it’s not something YOU’RE comfortable talking about on a blog, fine, but I don’t think it should be held as a universally inappropriate topic. There’s too much shame around masturbation already. Maybe that’s not what you’re trying to do, but I just feel like this point should be made regardless.

      • Elise

        PP: Actually, I wanted to say something along the lines of ‘psyching myself up.’ Say I promise myself that I’ll have sex with my husband in the morning, and I’ll think about it so that it can emerge as a possibility in my brain than a shut-down. I was trying to clarify my meaning–not to shame masturbation. For people like us who are experiencing a low sex drive, being your own cheerleader is so helpful!

        I don’t mind talking about masturbation–but with friends–we SHOULD talk about it, encourage women to explore bodies, be ok with sex, for men to also realise what they like through masturbation, etc.

        Also, Thanks Christine for the support!

      • Elise

        Sigh…I mean I *personally* don’t mind discussing with friends, but I *do* wish that it were more common to hear about in general.

  • Stony

    “Old thought patterns, though, are hard to kill. I still feel guilty when I say “no” to sex. But I’m working on it.”

    After our baby was born, my hormones stayed screwed up for a long, long time. My sex drive was zero and it took a toll on our marriage. Things got very emotionally complicated when I felt guilty every time I said “no”, which added to the stress, which added to the guilt, etc. etc. etc….. We looked, finally, for creative ways of fulfillment other than PIV sex, including “hey, if you need to go take care of yourself privately, feel free”. The bonus is that we kept all these positive additions even after I got “back to normal”. So, my two cents, there are many ways to say “yes”!

    • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

      Absolutely, our culture (not just fundamentalists) has a very narrow view of sex. It’s penis in vagina that counts, nothing else. When I, or my partner, wants to have sex but the other isn’t feeling that enthusiastic about intercourse there is a lot more that we can do together that’s intimate that isn’t PIV. It shouldn’t be an all or nothing situation anymore than it should be a “duty” for either partner.

  • smrnda

    A few things that don’t add up – isn’t the idea that the man is like Christ and the woman is like the church and that the relationship is defined by the man’s sacrificial giving? Why does this suddenly not apply to sex, where the woman is told to not admit to actual physical pain during intercourse? “Do you think your body is special?” Doesn’t the BIBLE tell men to treat their wives as if their bodies ARE special? I’m not a Christian, but it seems like this is just inconsistent with too much that the Bible does say about marriage. Plus, if a husband doesn’t care about your feelings, you need to get a new husband – there are plenty of men uncontaminated by these ideas that could do a better job than the “Biblical” man.

    Also, don’t many Christians condemn masturbation as wrong because sex is not a need? Then, all of a sudden, once married it’s now a need and not a want. (Not that I’m saying it isn’t a need.)

    The other thing – how does a man enjoy sex with a woman he can’t be sure likes it too? I think the simplistic religious viewpoints can only appeal to people who don’t think or look too far below the surface.

    Debi Pearl strikes me as a woman who has been forced to accept patriarchy and live with it, and she’ll be damned if any couples out there and any woman out there aren’t as miserable as she is.

    • wanderer

      Totally agree. I was particularly shocked by Debi Pearl’s telling women to stop whining about discomfort or pain. Asking if they think they’re special or something. Um…. yeah. Yeah we are. Every single one of us are special and have special needs. Men and women both.

      It truly does seem like she is trying super hard to make everyone as miserable as she is.

    • Squire Bramble

      I think Debi isn’t so much victim as the perpetrator of the abuse. I don’t pick up on an apologetic tone in anything she’s written: she’s not trying to excuse or justify her abuse.

      She seems like a textbook sadist – she really enjoys extreme, non-consensual control over others and inflicting pain (physical and psychological). The patriarchal culture she married into gives her absolute authority over younger women and children, and she is allowed to indulge herself in beating and berating them as much as she likes. Like many sadists, she also displays a certain amount of masochism in her relationship with those she perceives to be in authority over her. The Pearls’ problem is that their egos are allowed to run unchecked within the CP; they are really incognizant of the fact that not everyone has the feelings as they do, and that their lack of empathy coupled with a lust for power to cause pain is seen as sociopathy by the world at large.

      • smrnda

        I think you’re right – she’s a sadist, but unlike the more common variety her victims aren’t people that she herself physically does anything to – it’s all done by proxy. The Pearls seem bent on warping as many people as possible with their teachings. They must just hate the idea of a world with happy, healthy people who are fine with an egalitarian view of marriage.

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        Have you read Libby’s “Debi Pearl is not very nice” post (link in side bar)? A data point for your thesis….

  • victoria

    There’s a book you might like, Libby Anne, called Intimacy and Desire, by David Schnarch.

  • Jurgan

    My wife had back surgery several months ago, and that means sex can be pretty painful or even dangerous sometimes. Apparently, I should tell her to “stop the excuses” because her body doesn’t have “special needs.” How loving.

  • John Small Berries

    “God created man with a regular need fora woman, and God commanded the man’s wife to see to it that his need is met.”

    What kind of a sadistic god would instill that sort of desire in men, yet not in women, so that for the latter it was a duty rather than a pleasure?

    Dare I ask the “purity culture” opinion of women who actually enjoy and desire sex?

    • machintelligence

      Well, assuming that they desire sex more frequently than their spouses want it they must be nymphomaniacs. (That is the definition, isn’t it?) In fairness, wouldn’t it be the husband’s duty to comply with her wishes? In keeping with the “lie back and think of England” meme, perhaps ” cover her with a flag, and do it for God and Country”? */snark*

      Somewhat off topic, I have heard it said that having a newspaper column (or a blog, it was an old observation) is like being married to a nymphomaniac, everyone thinks it must be fun, and it is, for a while…

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    I have heard all this same stuff too, and I believed it. I remember when it first occurred to me that a hypothetical guy who loves me would stop if sex was painful or uncomfortable for me, instead of acting like an animal- and I was SHOCKED at that idea.

  • http://louisebroadbentfiction.wordpress.com Louise Broadbent

    Anyone else insulted by the implication that women don’t have sex drives? What if the man wasn’t doing his duty and fulfilling her needs (would he even be expected to do that if his sex drive was low?) would it be his fault if she went elsewhere? I’d say no but then I’d also say the woman would be just as blameless if a so-called sexually frustrated husband went elsewhere. The trick is to communicate.

    • Froborr

      I’m offended by that, and by the implication that (all) men “need” sex. I don’t; does that mean I’m not a man?

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

    ‘ And so, I added another note to my “Debi Pearl really doesn’t know anything about men” file.’

    Oh, I think Debi Pearl knows quite a bit about controlling men with a sense of entitlement. I don’t think I’ve seen a better blueprint for victimhood.

  • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

    Wow, Purity Culture is even more screwed up than I knew, worse than the fundamentalism of my experience. The message we got, back when we were engaged, was: sex is supposed to be mutual, intimate joy (yes, Doug: an “egalitarian pleasuring party”. Deal). Even Tim LaHaye’s book (notwithstanding all his other faults, like Left Behind) emphasized issues like the importance of the husband considering his wife’s needs and responses, lubrication, premature ejaculation, etc. I still thought he was a bit too legalistic and “mechanical” about the whole subject, but he’s still light-years more enlightened than the Pearls and Wilsons of the world.

    Pearl sounds like a really, really screwed up person. Anyone who’s ever been in a good relationship knows: at least half the enjoyment of sex is feeling your partner enjoying you. Otherwise, you may as well just DIY.

    I understand that Judaism has a rabbinical rule that turns Pearl’s obligation around: it’s the husband’s duty to give his wife regular orgasms.

    • Carol

      re sex in Judaism:

      “Sex is the woman’s right, not the man’s. A man has a duty to give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking for it. The woman’s right to sexual intercourse is referred to as onah, and is one of a wife’s three basic rights (the others are food and clothing), which a husband may not reduce”

      It goes on to say a woman my not withhold sex as a form of PUNISHMENT, but it doesn’t say anything about just not being in the mood.

      And we always called sex on a Friday night a “double mitzvah” I don’t think that’s really a “thing” but it comes up every now and again.

      • Anat

        And we always called sex on a Friday night a “double mitzvah”

        Didn’t Dr Ruth Westheimer call it by that name?

  • Kenn Murphy

    I used to feel ashamed when in my teenage years and into my early 20s. I was ashamed because I thought I would be unable to control myself with regards to sex and I started to become very anxious about it. Now that I know better, I sometimes regret the missed opportunities for what I’m positive would have been some wonderful, shared experiences.

  • http://postmormongirl.blogspot.com postmormongirl

    This reminds me a LOT of my Mormon up-bringing. There was a post last week on Feminist Mormon Housewives that was in a very similar vein – http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2012/09/women%E2%80%99s-conference-or-do-your-wifely-duty-to-protect-your-husband-from-sin/

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com Kacy

    Doug Wilson may criticize Fifty Shades of Grey, but it seems to me that his machismo purity culture leads to a very disturbing view of sex, spousal rape, as others have pointed out.

    Also reading about the “wife’s duty” reminds me of the parallel in Catholic culture. Sex is known as “the marital debt,” and marriage essentially means that a husband or a wife owns the body of his/her spouse. This sounds more egalitarian, since both parties are “owning” the other one. But in practice it results in the same implication for women, once the “headship” of the husband is taken into account.

    Failing to pay the “marital debt” was considered a mortal sin. It still is considered such in very traditional Catholic circles, but I’m having a hard time finding documentation to learn that this rule has changed. So not only was there this expectation to fulfill a husband’s sexual desires, there was the fear of Hell if one didn’t. Of course the only way to get rid of the sin would be to confess to a male priest, telling him about your failure to perform your “wifely duty” and “pay the marriage debt.” Having lived through the Catholic version of this, I can look back and say that the whole experience was creepy.

    • anon.

      Having gone through Catholic premarital workshops four years ago, I can assure you that absolutely NOTHING like this was even remotely suggested. Not a thing. And there was a one and a half hour discussion of sex conducted by a long married couple with nary a priest in sight.

      • http://exconvert.blogspot.com Kacy

        Of course, not all Catholics subscribe to this. (Heck, most American Catholics could care less about the RCC’s teachings on contraception.) But this teaching DOES exist in a certain highly conservative strain of Catholicism. The purity culture that Libby Anne is describing is not representative of all of Protestantism, but those hyper conservative elements do exist. And both Protestant and Catholic flavors are disturbing.

    • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

      Actually I’m pretty sure that was never a mortal sin but a venial sin. Mortal sins are the most serious and put your salvation at risk, venial are those you can repent and be forgiven easily.

  • smrnda

    Marriages ought to be relationships worked out where each party involved gets to be honest about their needs, desires and expectations. It seems that religions drive a wedge between the couple because instead of going to the other person to find out what works, what’s important, you’re supposed to go to some religious organization and they tell you what’s what. So they take all the men and tell them how to handle marriage. Then they take all the women and tell them what to do. It’s like the real relationship is with the religion and the marriage is just a scripted performance you put on to make your religions leaders happy that you’re doing it their way.

    Once you believe that the person with answers on how to make your marriage work isn’t the person you are with but someone else, you’ve already had a decline in intimacy.

    • Kathy

      I don’t really have anything to add to this other than to say I think you make a really good point about who you shouldshould be communicating with about the workings of your ma rriage/relationship…

      • smrnda

        I think religions, rather than their claim of bringing spouses closer, drive them apart because it attempts to serve as a mediator between the couple. It teaches men and women that unless they submit to the tutelage of the church or whatever religious personalities are writing books, that they cannot have a good marriage.

        I talked with a woman I knew about how her church handled marriage. She said that they had a men’s group where men were mentored by other men, and women’s group where women mentored other women. So, instead of a man and a woman communicating with each other about their marriage, they attend a same-sex group to get pointers on how to relate to their opposite sex partner? Seemed like a backwards approach to me, but also one where it discouraged any emotional or psychological intimacy and substituted it with playing out gender roles.

    • Christine

      “Once you believe that the person with answers on how to make your marriage work isn’t the person you are with but someone else, you’ve already had a decline in intimacy.”

      I agree with what I’m reading as the general thrust of your comment, but this last statement seems a little dangerous to me. Looking inside all the time can be a bad idea, in a marriage as much as for an individual. Taken to it’s logical conclusion, this statement suggests that there is no benefit to marriage counselling at all, and why on earth would you do premarital counselling (I’m talking about the secular kind, not even the kind provided by regular churches, considering that there is a significant percentage of pastors who don’t have any formal counselling credentials).

      For the record we didn’t get premarital counselling, we just did premarital through my church. There were only a couple of short individual sessions involved.

      I find it really messed up (I mean, beyond how messed up these churches are to begin with) that they’d split people up to do their premarital workshops. The whole point of those is to facilitate communication, and give some guidelines for things that people might not have realised they needed to talk about.

  • ArachneS

    This isn’t just evangelical… Its in the conservative catholic movement too. A disturbing example is in the catholic answers forum here http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=602976 where a woman actually says …
    “Now I’m just letting him, so I have the guilt lifted of feeling like I’m sinning by refusing, but its absolutely awful letting someone do that to you when you desperately want them to stop. ”

    Because refusing “the marriage debt” is a sin. Yes, sex is actually referred to in that thread as a debt.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I read the thread and it was terribly sad. It also distresses me that some religious people are so resistant to going to ‘secular’ counselors. I think the woman could have benefited from seeing a good sexual abuse specialist.

    • anon.

      Catholic Answers, Catholic radio and EWTN productions are extremely conservative and not always representative of the American church as a whole. Again, I heard NOTHING of this sort in premarital workshops run by my archdiocese which we attended not quite four years ago.

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

        Oh, I’ve never thought that everyone subscribes to these views–but clearly some people do, and these beliefs have a lot of power over their lives.

      • ArachneS

        Oh I realize this isn’t seen as much in more mainstream catholic parishes that tend to be more liberal.

        But to emphasize how far conservative my parents were, the catholic answers/EWTN type catholics were ‘Norvus Ordo’ catholics seen to be ‘just like protestants’ by our parish when I was a little girl. My parents eventually left that parish, but retained their conservative catholic beliefs and homeschooled us, opened up a catholic store that always had on ewtn, and encouraged us to read Catholic answers… etc while we worked there for them. In my teenage years, I thought we were being more liberal catholic based on what I remembered from from the even more extreme catholics. And this strain of catholics are seen as being “more connected to the pope” or “more true to the church”.
        Add that to the fiasco of the Catholic Bishops lobbying against birth control in preventative care for women and I see the catholic church’s traditional teachings as more dangerous and pervasive than most realize.

    • Christine

      I’m noticing that the conservative Catholic movement seems to be almost identical to the conservative Evangelical one. Up to and including some of the theology, which is ironic, since both groups would deny learning theology from the other. This is more true in the US of course, but I might say that’s partially because we don’t have a lot of the super-conservative Catholics up here.

      • ArachneS

        Yes. When I first found Libby’s blog, I was surprised at how much I could relate to, despite the fact that conservative catholics are often taught that their way is the only path to heaven and protestants(and liberal catholics) have rejected Christ’s “true message”. Ironic given the similarities of the lifestyle.

        Having grown up in the movement isolated from anyone different, it felt like my whole world was conservative catholic. And nowadays, when I’m completely out of it, the hierarchy seems to want to pull the body of catholicism back further into conservatism.

      • Steve

        Have you seen some of the shit that goes on at the Catholic Patheos blogs? The people there are insane and would indistinguishable from Protestant fundamentalists if it weren’t from the screaming about “church dogma says” instead of “the Bible says”.

  • Minnie

    I was born and raised in the southern Baptist wife beating convention, my grandfather was a southern Baptist preacher, and my wife-beating father was a deacon and Sunday school teacher at my grandfather’s church.

    This is what I learned about marriage.
    A woman can never deny her husband sex, never! If her husband rapes her it is not rape, there is no such thing as rape in marriage.
    If a man beats his wife it is her fault for not being submissive enough.
    A woman cannot divorce her husband for wife beating, or rape. The only reason a woman can divorce her husband is adultery.

    But Christians blame the wife her for her husband cheating. In Christianity nothing is ever the mans fault. I saw a preacher on TV blaming Rev. Ted Haggard’s wife for him doing meth and having sex with a male prostitute. The preacher man said Christian women let themselves go, meaning they gain weight. Rev. Ted Haggards wife is pretty and thin, the poor woman has had five children but it is her fault her husband did drugs and had sex with a man.

    Whenever you are being sexually abused you are desperate for the right to say NO! Christianity teaches that a woman does not have the right to say no, and is condemned if she does.

    Christians are sexually sadistic, sexually abusive, and completely misogynistic.

    I never had any respect for god, even as a little girl. I believed in him and was scared of him, but I felt like he was my pimp. I have a use, but how I feel physically and emotionally is irrelevant, all that matters is that I am used the way men and Christian bible god want me to be used. I do consider Christian bible god to be a vagina pain monger. Christianity made me hate sex and scared of marriage.

    Christianity is a comfortable paradise for wife beaters and rapist, and it is saturated with both.

    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

  • CLDG

    Every time I read someone like Debi Pearl or Doug Wilson, my first thoughts are: “Speak for yourself, honey!” and “That tells me way more about your specific sex life than I wanted to know.”

  • Jaimie

    True story. I was taking marriage prep classes with my first husband, then fiancee, at my fundie church. It had about eight couples total and it assumed we were all virgins. Some were, some not. We weren’t.
    Anyhoo, they got to the sex portion and to get us women to understand our “duties’ to our future husbands they read us this letter. I’ll paraphrase:
    Dear wife: Last year I tried to have sex with you 365 times. I “succeeded” 36 times which averages out to about once every ten days.
    Then this guy went on to list how many times she had a headache, how many times she wasn’t in the mood, how many times she was too tired. My favorite was “once I thought I hurt you because I felt you move.”
    He ended with, “If you’re wondering why I’m so cranky this is the reason.”
    I was horrified and totally creeped out. One other couple was too. The rest were nodding in complete agreement. I was thinking who would want to married to such an asshole? Did some guy actually actively try to have sex every single day of the year?
    I had enthusiastically lost my virginity to my fiancee and was having a great time. No issues with me. But I kept thinking about what goes on in a normal woman’s life throughout the year. Having a period once a month adds up. People also experiences illness a couple times a year, at least. And how about regular stress, and yes, even just being plain too tired?
    Were these people actually advocating women being available for sex 365 days of the year? Yes, they were.

    • smrnda

      As a person who works, I can’t imagine how people have TIME to even contemplate having sex every single day! I mean, the husband was never tired? Didn’t feel like it? Couldn’t get an erection? It sounds like a ridiculous made-up case designed to guilt women into feeling like it’s horrible to say “no.”

      • lauren

        My husband is too tired to help out around the house or play with our kid, but never too tired for sex. I’d laugh, but our marriage is over because of this.

    • Judy L.

      One of the problems, even for the non-fundagelicals of the world, is that, for a lot of people, sex is so narrowly defined as “penis-in-vagina intercourse”. Barring illness and fatigue and the daily grind of working life, if couples would just re-define sex as any kind of intimacy (oral or manual sex, simply holding or kissing a partner as he/she masturbates, and all manner of non-potentially-procreative sexual activity) then couples would end up being able to have, and having, a whole lot more sex.

      The line “Once I thought I hurt you because I felt you move” made me both laugh and wince. He was worried that his wife moving was a sign of pain? He wasn’t concerned that her hitherto lack of movement was an indication of lack of pleasure? Really demonstrates where this alleged-husband/asshole’s priorities were and that he assumed he didn’t have the same “duties” to his wife that he expected of her for him.

    • Christine

      I remember seeing that letter once, and I thought that the “Once I thought I hurt you because I felt you move” line in there was a complaint about the fact that she never participated. But I saw it in a less disturbing context (as an online joke), so I didn’t necessarily have the cues to see it as negatively.

      • Diana Diaz

        Some women do, indeed marry men they aren’t attracted to. Why? The Bible, their peers, parents, or counselors told them they ought to. It’s possible for love to grow, but you can’t force it if it isn’t there at all.

  • Jaimie

    When I first glanced at the picture along with this article I thought the wife was giving her husband something other than a cup of tea. Is that wrong?

    • Stony

      See above: many ways to say “yes”. ;)

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      There’s a ‘hot coffee’ joke in here somewhere, but I’m not going to bother because, well, **** GTA.

  • Judy L.

    “I call it “ministering” to my husband. He says I am a mighty fine minister.” I so need to take a shower after reading that description of Debi Pearl’s sex life.

    And so, I added another note to my “Debi Pearl really doesn’t know anything about men” file. I agree with you, Libby, except that Debi Pearl knows everything about what pleases her man, a man who thinks that there’s no greater joy than having a submissive wife who bred children for him to beat into submission, and who claims divine warrant to indulge in his abusive, controlling, exploitative, sexually perverse, and downright evil treatment of other human beings. Debi’s manual is a guide to Christian Patriarchy, one of the most perverted alternative lifestyles one can imagine.

    Yes, purity culture and Christian Patriarchy is sexually perverted. What could be more perverse and corrupted than casting sexuality and sexual relations as this unbalanced relationship where women are expected to submit themselves, even when painful, to their “partner” and to figure out how to read his bloody mind, and where men are expected to know everything and take charge and always be the aggressor and not be driven by their desire to please a “partner” who believes her only purpose is to please him? There is no partnership in these arrangements, no intersubjective reciprocity, and a third sex partner, in the form of Jesus or the expectations of the family/church, thrown into the mix to muck things up further.

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  • S. Lane

    So I am waaaay late to the party here, but…

    I think it’s worth pointing out this idea of sex as a duty to your man is not actually limited to married couples. When I was a young evangelical I was in a 3-year relationship that I expected to lead to marriage. I was clear from the get-go that sex before marriage was not happening. However, about halfway into our relationship he started bringing up his “needs”. I was lucky he let me get *this* far, right? How noble of him to suppress his needs for this long! The looming threat of him leaving or cheating (or, *gasp*, watching porn) was VERY present. Since I fully expected to marry him, the weight of the obligations I carried felt basically the same as those described in this post. As pressure from him mounted, my “dutiful Christian wife” mentality won out over my “selfish” desires to be sexually “pure”, and I gave into anything he asked, even though I was ridiculously uncomfortable every step of the way.

    I may be personally biased, but I think a crucial facet of this is how it renders women *very* vulnerable to domestic sexual predation. Paradoxically, we become willing accomplices in our own victimization.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      I’m guessing you wound up not married?

      • S. Lane

        Correct, thank FSM. Other problems arose in our relationship and we broke up before we finished school (which was our target marriage timeline).

  • Heather

    Funny how it’s all abou meeting the man’s need & what about the woman’s needs. Okay, I’m in my 40′s & im I’m my sexual prime LOVE having sex & want it a lot more than I ever have. What if the husband isn’t meeting the woman’s sexual needs huh?? It’s sick & twisty that The Pearls & Doug only talk about meeting “the man’s” needs. What about “the woman’s” sexual needs not being met? What about wifey cheating on her partner? Weird & hypocritical!!

    • machintelligence

      You might check out my comment at # 71 (approximately). Don’t take it seriously, it was meant to be humorous.

  • esther

    for a more wholistic, cooperative, and mutually honoring book on Sex written by a Christian please check out Sex God by Rob Bell…it is so beautiful and exciting!

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    The past is a foreign country–they do things differently there.

  • Mary

    Thanks for a very eye-opening piece.

    “So when a woman’s first commitment is to her own needs and feelings, she is necessarily going to view sex as strictly a carnal experience, for then she does indeed have an entirely hedonistic outlook – her self-gratification. ”
    Basically she’s saying that it’s bad for women to want sex. So the ideal for Debbie Pearl is a woman who doesn’t want to do it but does it anyway.
    And worse,
    “Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you”
    Really, seriously?????? It sounds a lot like she thinks uncomfortable painful sex is or should be the norm. Is she seriously, seriously saying that if sex is PAINFUL women shouldn’t SAY ANYTHING????

    • Diana Diaz

      You should definitely say something if it’s painful. And also, buy some really good lube. There are some times of the month when it is just too painful to enjoy because you are dry at those times.

  • Hina

    One thing that really bugs me about this kind of advice is how female sexuality is completely ignored. No one says it’s the man’s fault if his wife cheats on him because she isn’t sexually satisfied with him and if this were to happen no one would sympathize with the woman but many would with a man who cheats on his wife. This kind of advice makes it seem like women don’t also need sex and desire sex and to be wanted. Which further adds to sex advice that is given in any magazine or book focusing solely on male pleasure and prioritizing men’s sexual needs over women’s. This also promotes rape culture and allows for slut shaming.

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  • http://junglehope.wordpress.com Lana Hope

    OMG Doug Wilson quote there is the most offensive statement EVAR. I can’t believe i ever read that crap, or Debbie Pearl or anyone else. Thanks for writing this!

  • rob

    Acknowledging the f***ed-upness of rape culture (women as the guardians of virtue, and on and on), and acknowledging the basic messedupness of Pearl’s attitude, etc, I can say that my experience *was* somewhat like what she describes.
    I have a high sex drive. My ex-wife’s was very low. For years I had a lot of feelings of guilt and powerlessness about sex/desire. My wife deliberately tried to make me feel bad for wanting it, selling me the idea that what I was (ie, a healthy man, with a good appetite) was somehow shameful or wrong or un-christian, and using our mismatch in desire as a tool in a power game I didn’t realize we were playing (her as keeper of the treasure, me as supplicant waiting for favors, and the structure used to hold all that together being a traditional Xian view of sex & marriage.)

    After divorce, I took a big pendulum swing away from all that. Now I view sex and desire as fundamentally good — healthy, life-affirming, one of life’s pure and true joys. It’s real, it’s a wonderful part of our existence, and almost never something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I think some other cultures tend to be healthier than ours inasmuch as they acknowledge this instead of expecting people to pretend they feel (or don’t feel) some way that doesn’t match reality.
    And as a lapsed Xian, I don’t care any more about most of our traditional mores surrounding sex. I don’t believe in cheating, but that’s a matter of being inauthentic and hurting people, not a matter of sexual morality. My current attitude about sex in marriage is (paraphrased):
    I know I need this much sex to be content (in my case, about 5x/week). It is not a matter of debate, or negotiable — my father and brothers and uncles all have the same high idle — I know what I need, and how I feel when I do/don’t have it. If that’s too much for you, I respect and honor that (I know I’m the outlier here, not you.) I have no judgment about it, and I love you — but I also can’t be your monogamous partner. If you are on board with fully meeting each others’ needs (90% of the time as an egalitarian pleasure-party, but if necessary sometimes just because you love me and know that after two days I’m ready to bite off a doorknob), then you are all I want, and I will be happily exclusive with you forever. But I also expect you to understand that if you decide you no longer want that much sex, you are deciding that for yourself — you don’t get to make that unilateral decision for both of us. To shut down sexually is fine, and everyone’s right — no one should have to have sex if they don’t want to — but to do that and at the same time expect your partner to continue to be exclusive would be controlling, selfish, and immoral.
    I dont’ apply the philosophy of this screed to small temporary lapses when one or the other person isn’t feeling that great, or has stuff on their mind, or whatever. I travel away from home, and do the laundry by hand (as it were), and I never ever cheat. But on average, the sex has to be there or I can’t feel happy and fulfulled in the relationship.
    I’m blessed to be with a wonderful woman who enjoys sex immensely — but I’m confident that no matter how much she enjoys it once we get rolling, we wouldn’t have sex as often as we do if we left it entirely up to her to initiate it.
    For whatever all that is worth.

    • Diana Diaz

      Glad you know what you need. That’s sort of cool. What I always found uncool was the guys who tell you this upfront – when you don’t even know yet if you like them enough to even go out with them. It must be pretty frustrating for a guy who says he needs it so badly to ever be single? Is it OK to handle your desires yourself?

  • sara maimon

    you come accross as damn selfish, the same way you expect your partner to please you at least some of the time, are you willing to forgo your own needs occasionally to accomodate her? your post sounds like you expect all the compromising to come from her side.
    This being said, I agree that people with very mismatched libidos, might be better off with someone else.
    This also doesn’t take into account medical problems which weren’t expected when the couple got together but I think you should really stand by your mate during these life challenges.

  • almost ambitious

    Slightly off-topic, but I find it odd that Wilson thinks that descriptions of the sex act which have men as the active party somehow speak to male authority as inherent in having (straight) sex. We could describe sex in terms of the woman ‘enveloping’ or ‘engulfing’ but that wouldn’t mean that women were divinely ordained to be on top or stop it from being an egalitarian pleasuring party. It might imply cultural attitudes towards sex and power but wouldn’t change the nature of the act.

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  • lauren

    This ruined my marriage. My husband wasn’t raised religious, but I was and then became atheist in my early 20s. We had a lot of sex early in our marriage, but when I got pregnant, I just didn’t feel up to it all day, everyday. I put my husband’s needs first and let him talk me into sex every other day or so. When the Dr put me on bedrest, I let my husband get off on my body or I’d masturbate him. I’m sure it bothered me deep down, but I was at a vulnerable place. My husband is an otherwise nice guy. He didn’t demand sex. He just bugged me to death about it. After the baby was born, I was in pain for months. I put off sex every day or so, gave it to him even though it hurt, and the man still bugged me about more. His job sent him away for a year, and when he came back, he was doing the same thing but was no longer able to last long enough to do me any good. I finally put my foot down. I told him he has ruined our sex life and treated me like a sex doll. I told him he’d just have to go outside of our marriage if he wants it so often, and I meant it. I love the stability of our marriage, but my love for him is gone. I don’t even want to go out and have sex to fulfill my needs because I’ve developed a negative attitude towards men.My husband doesn’t want an open marriage because he supposedly loves me, but he’s shown me no real love that I can recall. It was always love based on getting off. I can’t get over it now because when we do have sex that I INITIATE because I want it, he can’t last 2 minutes. Now I won’t let him ask for sex and I don’t want to initiate it because I’m left very unfulfilled. I don’t want to touch him or look at him sweetly anymore because it would always lead to sex and I’m jaded. Our marriage is over because of sex and it’s sad. I found this site looking for other women who’ve suggested open marriage just to get their husbands off their back.

    • Katty

      Lauren, that is so sad and I imagine it must be horribly frustrating for you. Sex can be a positive, enjoyable thing, but it certainly isn’t all there is to a committed, loving relationship. It really sucks that your husband let it dominate his treatment of you so much that it ultimately destroyed your marriage.

      While I’ve never experienced this problem myself, my best friend once confided in me about having the same issue with her then-partner. Although there was absolutely no religious aspect to their relationship dynamic, he just kept begging and begging her for sex and she was way to psychologically and emotionally vulnerable at the time to resist him much of the time.

      All of this is to say that your reaction is totally understandable and that you are not alone in experiencing this type of situation. No man has the right to make you feel like a sex object to him, married or not. I wish you the best of luck moving forward in the healthiest way possible for you!

    • Notreligious

      Lauren-
      I could have written that post. Every detail, less the year apart.
      Theres nothing like constantly feeling like a sex toy- if I say OK, he jumps on, gets off, and is done in 60 seconds. Just gross, even though he wants me to want it, I cannot. It wasn’t always this way, but sure is now. He has been trying to do things I like, but after so many years, Im over it. Besides, he never does stuff I like long enough to do anything but frustrate me.

      I read somewhere that being properly turned on is what causes people to get over the “grossness” of sex. (body fluids, etc) If you do it often enough when you aren’t turned on, you will get to hate it and resent your partner. This is a simplification of the research, but I was like “bingo!” when I read it. I have never been repulsed by sex, and use to love it. After years of this crap, I could care less if I ever do it again.

      If we didn’t have kids, and everything else thats good, I would leave. I also said “go elsewhere” but he won’t. If we could fun another partner I would be thrilled.

      You aren’t alone!

  • Lauren

    My husband swears he’ll change. He has changed. I’m just not convinced he can continue to wait until I’m fully ready. He’s a good man with many good qualities, so perhaps we can come back from this. I’d prefer to for the sake of our child.
    Thanks for the link. I’ve used several analogies to put it in perspective for him. I’m sure he gets it, but seriously, if getting off is that important to him I have no problem letting him get it elsewhere. He won’t because he doesn’t want that door open to me too;)

  • Tripp Taylor

    I appreciate your thoughts, but I think you’re still a bit confused on the issue. The fact of the matter is there are 3 issues negatively affecting women’s sex drive: 1) Genetics. Women, on the whole, do not want sex as much or as often as men do. 2) Mixed messages. “Sex is bad! So don’t do it.” ” Hey, now that you’re married, sex is ok! So just change your mind and erase the 25 years of programming in your formative stages.” 3) Power. Women are not as physically strong as men. Over the millenia, women have learned how to use their ability to provide or withhold sex as a counterbalance to men’s source of power– physical strength. It is instinctive for women, and it accounts for both promiscuity and frigidity, depending on what a woman perceives as giving her power and control in her life at that time.Women are devlishly complicated and would be terribly depressed if they were to somehow spend 10 minutes as a man and see how pleasant and simple it is.

    It’s ok for wives to not always want sex, and even not to want it as often as their husband does. But if she rarely or never WANTS sex, and NEVER initiates, and acts like it’s a chore, and is completely passive… or worse yet if she rarely ‘acquiesces” to it and acts like it’s a favor… let’s face it she’s a crappy wife. Bad things will happen. Resentment, depression, anger, lack of fulfillment, lack of connection, affairs, and duvorce will be the result.

    Women, if this description fits you, it is your job to fix it. Involve your husband to the extent that he can gelp, and make sure he does his part (is he fat, will he do cunnilingus, etc). But remember,if it’s your priblem then it’s your resposibilityto accept gow damaging it is and change your behavior and your heart. Just like it would be necessary for your husband to change damaging behavior he tended toward (harsh or abusive language, drinking, a tendency to over-pursue his own interests outside of the home, etc), so must you.

    Men need sex to feel loved, and they don’t need half-hearted “favor” sex, but real sex from a real woman. If you’re not participating in that, you’re as bad as an abusive husband: You’re using your source of power to hurt him.

    • Rachel

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    • Diana Diaz

      Maybe she rarely feels like it because you’re a crappy husband. At least you acknowledge that a man must do his part.

    • Katie

      um,women can’t help what they want and don’t want.women don’t owe a guy anything.not feeling a certain way is not you’re fault.

  • Tyler

    Your husband sounds like a real weak beta. I agree 100% with Doug Wilson. You really need to open your eyes beyond your sample size of your husband and your group-think feminist blogger buddies. Most men are not looking for solipsistic egalitarianism in the bedroom.

    • Sean

      Sup, bro. I would love to describe in great detail just how much of a “real weak beta” I am in the bedroom, but since my wife’s post did not generalize from a sample size of “husband” and “group-think feminist blogger buddies,” I infer you cannot read. My beautiful essay would thus be reduced to mere soliloquy, wasted on uncomprehending eyes.

    • Christine

      You sound like an authoritarian dictator. I agree 100% with the scientific consensus. You really need to open your eyes beyond your sample size of yourself and your group-think patriarchal buddies. Most men are not looking to harass their wives in the bedroom.

    • Mogg

      Wilson is using semantics to support his worldview. How about we turn the semantics around? A woman surrounds, conquers, harvests and accepts the tribute of the man; the man surrenders, provides and toils for her. See? Easy. Just because someone says it doesn’t make it correct.

      Where on earth is all this alpha/beta crap coming from when it comes to human males? It’s a concept proven to not hold consistent for the animal species like wolves to which it was first applied, and human interactions are far more complicated. Learn some real behavioural science. In the meantime, contemplate the idea that a person who considers the wishes and feelings of others as a threat to their self esteem and social standing is likely to be perceived as unpleasantly immature. Ew!

    • Diana Diaz

      You sound like a woman hating jerk. You’re probably not an “alpha” yourself since you feel like trolling here is going to get you somewhere.

  • Marion Wilson

    Okay. I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here a little. I am a Christian, but don’t jump down my throat just yet. The Bible does say that women shouldn’t withhold sex from their husbands… BUT, it says exactly the same thing in regards to men and their wives. 1 Corinthians 7:5. From Paul’s point of view, sex is not just something that women ‘provide for their husbands’ – it is a mutual thing to be enjoyed between husband and wife, and is just as harmful if the man is the one withholding it. Yes, you shouldn’t pressurise someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you into having sex, even if that person is your husband or wife. But, the purpose of getting married is to make a commitment to love that person and be solely with that person… for life. Part of that commitment is sex. I read about a case of one married couple who had sex only once in forty five years of marriage – because the husband flatly refused. I have also read about a case of a wife who announced that the sex life was over once her two children were born. In an exclusive lifelong relationship such as a marriage, especially if the other partner is religious and doesn’t believe in divorce, of course they will feel frustrated by a lack of communication and an attempt to withhold affection and control what should be a natural communication of affection. If one is a true Christian, they will indeed find that sex is not a duty, but a show of mutual affection, and an obligation for both partners of a marriage.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t understand the whole thing at all (I didn’t even know other people saw it this way), but that’s probably because I had no experience and next to no advice apart from the usual – wait until you’re ready/not before marriage (my parents are very religious). And I was going out with someone who was older than me, so it was to be expected, I guess. And I was away every few months, constantly hopping back and forth between locations because of studies. So when he started asking for sex, it felt like it was sooner in the relationship than it actually was – we’d been going out for some time (several months, I think) but to me it felt much shorter because I’d been away for half of it. And like I said, he was older than me so it wouldn’t have been such a big deal in his mind.

    So at first I told him that I wasn’t ready, because I’d always been told that it was a mutual decision. But he kept asking, kept saying how wonderful it was (and he’d already started mentioning how I was better than his ex, who’d apparently never wanted to do anything intimate), and I ended up thinking “why not, it’ll make up for me leaving again, and he wants it”, and I was kind of curious too, to tell the truth. I was ready, but not completely – but I thought that was ok, as a friend of mine had done the same thing (after a longer period of time, mind you) and it turned out ok.

    So it ended up happening. And though he was really gentle and kept making sure if I was ok, it did hurt quite a bit because it was my first time. But I’d been told it would get easier, so that was fine. And I was glad I did it, because it brought us closer together. But it never actually got better – I don’t know if it was just me, if we were incompatible or if it was a physical manifestation of the emotions of constantly being away, coming back, the stress of this experience which was new and worrying…or if I just thought I was ready in the first place and wasn’t. But I never actually enjoyed it and started doing it only because he wanted to and because I didn’t know how to explain it to him, or even if I was meant to. I thought it was too late, because I’d already made the step and didn’t think it was acceptable in a relationship to back out, and kept telling myself I was being ridiculous, so never mentioned anything.

    But then I just couldn’t do it anymore, because there was absolutely no benefit to me and I started to wonder why it was he got to enjoy it and I didn’t. I tried, because I knew he liked it, I loved him and didn’t want to lose him/upset him, but it started to freak me out. Maybe that’s why it had always hurt so much despite him being careful – I was just too nervous and immature. Eventually he noticed something was wrong and started asking me about it, so I tried to say that I was just stressed and could we just relax, thinking I’d either be able to work through it or distract him with other techniques. This entire paragraph (being unable to do it at all), it started when I last arrived at home, 13 days ago. He started asking me if I had a problem specifically with sex about a week ago (because I avoided it, said I was too stressed and did something else for him instead), which is when I’d said everything was fine, like I said above, thinking I could work through it, because it was hard enough for him with me being away without him feeling like he was being rejected in that area (and I could tell he was starting to feel like that). A few days ago, he asked me again, and asked my why I didn’t want sex anymore. Since it was obvious he knew there was a problem (and it would bother him whether I told him or not), I decided it was best to tell him that I hadn’t been completely ready – which he said made him feel dirty and weird, which is why I didn’t want to tell him in the first place. I didn’t want him to feel bad, because it wasn’t his fault, it was mine for saying yes when I wasn’t entirely sure, thinking it was my job since I was leaving, and then not mentioning it for so long that it then became a problem in the way I saw it.

    We had a discussion about it – he said it was a pretty big thing for him and he couldn’t love someone who was like that (he already knew what that was like, because of his ex). He didn’t want me to do anything I was uncomfortable with. We ended up making it final today, and are no longer together. We did have another discussion today about it, where I told him I’d phrased my feelings badly (which I had – I was pretty emotional because I knew he wouldn’t want to be with me if I told him) and tried to explain it properly – saying I hadn’t realised it had been too early for me because I hadn’t been here consistently enough for it to become routine enough for me to see a pattern in my reactions or emotions, that it had all been mixed up with the emotions of leaving/coming back constantly, and that it wasn’t his fault, and I tried to answer his questions about it as clearly as I could so that he could understand that it wasn’t his fault. It was also my first relationship, which he knew, so I hadn’t had any experience to guide me in this situation and hadn’t been able to handle it well as a result.

    I know this isn’t entirely in keeping with the topic of this thread, but I felt like I needed to post it here because I don’t really have anyone at home who can possibly see it objectively, and I can’t talk to my friends I study with because I don’t know them well enough. I just am really worried that I’ve made a terrible mistake in the way I dealt with this and that he’s going to take the wrong thing from this. I kept telling him that the problem was mine, nothing to do with him, but I don’t know if he believed that. We had problems other than this – because of the distance and my heavy workload – so I don’t think we would have lasted much longer anyway, but whatever killed our relationship (be it the distance, work, or sex) it would have been my fault, and I can’t help feeling that he deserved better.

    So yeah… I’m sorry for clogging up space on here with this, but like I said this is my only outlet. You don’t have to reply to this, but if you do feel the need to add a comment please be honest about it, so that I can learn from whatever comments you may have.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

      Are you aware of this condition? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaginismus

      • Anonymous

        No I didn’t, but I guess that goes some way to explaining it. Thanks for showing me the link, though, I was unaware that this actually happened.

    • Cass

      WAY late to be replying, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience. Also, it’s not your fault – in situations like that there’s usually some mutual blame going around (he could’ve been more attentive to you, more sensitive, etc.), and it basically boils down to a sucky situation. Lucreza’s suggestion has merit, and it’s also possible that vaginal sex simply isn’t your thing (can be for various reasons). Open communication during sex, while incredibly awkward and therefore hard to do, in the end makes it better for everyone involved – encourage your partner to be forward about their desires/experiences, and then reciprocate. Take some time to explore your own body – it’s possible that while vaginal sex isn’t your thing, some other form will turn out to be absolutely astounding (many women don’t get that much satisfaction out of penis-in-vagina sex, btw – the g-spot is kinda inconveniently placed. Clitoral stimulation is a always a good thing to try, and taking turns on oral/ 69-ing I’ve found can be way better than missionary sex). When you feel ready to proceed to sex with a partner, don’t jump straight to the penetration – take a moment to talk about what you like/ don’t like, have a few sessions where you explore each others’ bodies without worrying about penetration.

      …Was that tmi?

  • Kathryn Ambrose

    I find this whole “purity” thing really disturbing. I mean deeply disturbing.
    I could just about throttle the life out women like Debi Pearl, and indeed Debi Pearl in particular. Her comments, in my opinion, support and indeed encourage the repeated rape of women in guise of marital responsibility. These comments actually tell women to EXPECT to be raped, encouraging women to be an accomplice to her rape. Wtf?

    “God grants the marriage partner full access to his spouse’s body for sexual gratification. And remember, indifference is unwillingness. (p. 167)”

    Where I come from “unwillingness” means just that. Not my will, not my choice and not within my control.
    Now it might be said that these poor women did not physically resist and that would be correct. I don’t believe physical resistance is required before a sexual act can be labelled rape. No, what a load of the proverbial manure. Coercion, duress and fear of negative consequences all add to rape.
    And that’s exactly what Debi Pearl is talking about, regardless of which orifice from which it emanates.

    “For a wife to defraud her husband of this vital need that God has instilled in him should cause her to tremble in fear of the consequences. (p. 168)”

    There’s that fear again. Don’t we hear that time and again from young people who have been sexually abused? Now, while these married women are not children in the chronological sense, but they are kept as children, purposely, because they are never taught that they actually have independent choices, how to make those choices or , indeed, the RIGHT to make choices, even about the use of their own bodies. No, that’s all for Dad to decide. While a woman theoretically has the right to reject a suitor that Dad has brought home, they never get the chance to propose a candidate. If she’s never left alone with a man she cannot choice the timing of or the partner to share her body with.
    More importantly, there must be a fear of Dad’s reaction if a woman rejects a number of suitors, given that a couple of failed courtships will lower a woman’s social status and her ability to find a “suitable” husband.

    And now we come to the truly telling nuggets of putrid, hateful and abhorrent statements, the one’s that clinch the endorsement of rape.

    Such as “Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs? Do you know who created you, and do you know he is the same God who expects you to freely give sex to your husband? Stop the excuses! (p. 170)”

    Seriously? It doesn’t matter if it hurts you? The fact that it hurts is conformation that a woman is unwilling. Our bodies work in a particular way, nature provides us with a physical reaction to desire that makes sex possible without pain, and if not enjoyable for whatever reason, at least not painful!
    Does she really mean to say that we shouldn’t see our bodies are special? If that’s the case, and a woman’s body isn’t special, why is there such a big deal about us sharing it? You can’t have it both ways. If there is such a fuss made over where, when and with whom we share our bodies, is it not because it’s special?

    “God created man with a regular need fora woman, and God commanded the man’s wife to see to it that his need is met. Do yourself and everyone else a favour, and devote at least 15 minutes every few days to totally pleasing your man. (p. 168)”

    I don’t think Debi Pearl actually understands the meaning of the word need. We NEED air, we NEED food. What men (or woman for that matter) don’t actually NEED is sex. We may want it, and men certainly seem to have a stronger sex drive than women in general, but that’s WANTING more, not NEEDING more.
    If men actually NEEDED sex, we’d see men exploding in the street. When was the last time you sat in a restaurant and saw the man at the next table spontaneously combust due to a deficiency of sexual gratification? I willing to bet it’s never happened. I sure if it had it would have made headlines around the world. The BBC World would run a special investigation on the phenomenon.
    Wants and needs are two different things. Occasionally they overlap, but they are independent from one another, distinct concepts. Isn’t this what we need to teach our children, least they run around the world indiscriminately taking things? As parent we expend an incredible amount of energy ensuring our children understand the difference.

    All and all, I believe this whole submission and dominance culture, sexual and otherwise, results in keeping both men to a lesser extent and women in particular to remain children. Women are kept as children by allowing no choices, with a male authority over them from cradle to grave and in near all areas of life.
    Men are kept as children because they are never required to change their childish belief that the world revolves around them. This belief sees them expecting all things to be arranged according to their wishes, even going so far as to expect their desires to be divined and provided for before he even thinks of them. It implies that men are unable to control themselves, defining them as ravenous, slathering beasts not much better than our primitive, tree-swinging common ape ancestors.
    This insulting to men, and even more so to women, who are supposed to be subservient to these uncontrollable beasts!

    I believe that this is the point of religion. If things are ordered to god’s plan, if there is an omnipotent being, who controls the world and knows all things, then there is no need to truly take responsibility for our lives and the consequences of our choices.
    If such an entity exists he provides his believers with a kind of cosmic security blanket, a feeling of safety, of protection from a chaotic and oblivious universe. These are the securities provided to us by our parents when we are small children.
    When we view the world as it is, without a powerful cosmic wonder daddy in the sky, we have truly grown up. We have taken the brave step from childhood into real independence, with consequences we must be responsible for. Once we take that step we are actually responsible for looking after ourselves, our survival is in our own hands.
    Isn’t that what we wanted as teens? To be self-determined, self-governed and self-sufficient? And as parents isn’t that our job? Isn’t that the goal of parenthood, to turnout self-sufficient people?
    When we send our daughters out of our home, apparently to take on the responsibility for a home and probably children, only to be now under the “authority” of a husband or even just a god, have we fulfilled our responsibility of parenthood? Have we actually done our job? Or are we taking the easy way out, because raising independent and thoughtful adults is hard work! It takes patience and commitment and strength, and in the end it takes the courage to leave behind our own need for that cosmic security blanket.

    If we send our young women into a patrimonial marriage we have failed them. Utterly.

  • Diana Diaz

    Fascinating. My husband cares about whether or not I’m enjoying myself a great deal. We have a lot of fun together both intellectually and spiritually. I’m actually a homemaker for the time being, and have plans to do work from home, he treats me like I’m precious to him and he tries to make me happy and I try to make him happy. He doesn’t expect me to sit down and shut up.

    That being said, there are people who use sex as a weapon to punish their spouses by withholding or by forcing. That is wrong. But it is different than talking about when and how and how often to please each other.

  • guest

    Everytime my wife expresses slight disinterest in sex, I begin to doubt our marriage. I am a very loyal person, but everytime I feel sexual rejection I think cheating might be necessary. I have contemplated divorce many times soley based on sexual issues. She never tries to please me but only cares if her needs are met. Sex is a big deal. The way we feel, if a wife doesn’t care about sex then she doesn’t care about you.

    • Mona

      What about when a woman wants more than her man can give? Do you think she should consider cheating too?

  • Katie

    honestly,I understand men want sex,but if he loves you,he cares about your needs as well.men should understand that not all women enjoy sex,she doesn’t owe it to you,ever.you should do what you do out of love and care for her and shouldn’t expect things in return or do things to try to get things in return.and honestly,sex is a small part of a relationship -.- plus,it was designed for procreation. these days,it is “required” for a healthy relationship or for a guy to stay interested in you,etc etc etc.that’s all a man’s creation.if you have to get it in to still love the person you’re with and stay interested in them,honestly,you probably never loved them,you should always love them and stay interested anyways,not for selfish reasons for your own pleasure.and sex is not a need,to anyone,it’s a strong want/desire and seen as a need to get what you want and use it as control.people make it out to be everything and so important,but they’re being selfish.if a guy leaves you for someone who offers up sex,he’s not leaving to find a better person to date,he’f leaving cause he’s horny and honestly just cares about lust,so,say what you want to say,but,it’s true.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      In healthy relationships men and women make choices regarding sex that respect each other. They listen to each other, pay attention to their desires, weigh the possible consequences, and then make informed decisions. Yes, even decisions that concern sex.

  • closetatheist

    “Don’t talk to me about how uncomfortable or painful it is for you. Do you think your body is special and has special needs?”
    This is the part that upset me. I felt physically ill reading that – is this chick for real? Some women could have legitimate problems resulting in pain and discomfort but they’ll never be dealt with because the woman will believe she has no right to claim there’s a problem! Plus, it teaches men that only their satisfaction is relevant! Disgusting.

  • generation4Him

    This is so disgusting. Debi Pearl saying, “you think your body is different or special” or whatever, to women who experience pain in intercourse? Well, um, Debi, I have news for you – God did design women’s bodies JUST RIGHT, and it turns out, they are designed to have pain-free sex only when certain conditions are met. It turns out that forcing sex on a woman who is feeling used by a man and who is not finding her own needs met nor been appropriately aroused through affection and foreplay WILL experience pain, because those conditions are NOT being met, because God designed sex to be a whole lot more female-focused than you seem to think it is.
    Can I also say??? This is totally nonBiblical, this idea that a woman exists for her husband’s sexual pleasure! Hasn’t anyone read 1 Corinthians 7, where it says that a wife has authority OVER HER HUSBAND’S BODY, even as much as he has authority over hers? Hey, I didn’t make this up, read your Bible BEFORE you go banging it into peoples’ private parts!
    Sheesh. Unbelievable.

  • Kayla

    Am I a bad wife for having sex with my husband out of obligation? Many peole tell me that it’s my duty to have sex with my husband because it is important to him regardless of what I feel. My hubby says it is a need for him. And I also notice that he gets mad easily whenever I don’t fulfill his needs. Am I a bad wife? I know that our sex drives are not always the same because he has the higher one. We do have sex almost every day and he takes time a lot in foreplay. It is just that sometimes I don’t feel like it but there are no problems within our family and marriage. He has a good job which he is happy with, we have 2 beautiful children and we rarely fight. I always look presentable and I am happy with my body and I love my husband to death. I am very attracted to him and he loves me as well. He is not cheating and regularly buys me flowers every friday or saturday.

    I know that I’m the problem because inspite of this, I find it hard to want sex frequently like my husband does. I took pills and medication for libido, tried doing those exercises to help with my libido as well, tried finding out hobbies even though I am not stressed or unhappy (I’m a housewife and a SAHM), etc. but none of that worked. I think it’s because our bodies are not the same and mine is just wired differently. I feel guilty when I think of saying “no” to my husband and in the end I always end up giving in because they say it’s a sin to refuse your husband and that it is my wifely duty to fulfill all his needs. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to know that afterwards my husband is fulfilled of his needs and he is content BUT, it doesn’t erase the fact that I always feel like a piece of meat and that I feel like I’m robbed of my voice to say “no” wherever and whenever the time we exchanged vows.

    Again, I love sex with my husband but those times that I don’t feel like making love with him and I feel pressured is starting to take my self worth and being. Should I just suck it up and be a good wife?

    Thank you.

    • Ryan

      Hey Kayla. I am a man. I have been in a relationship with a wonderful woman for several years. I 100% believe in the autonomy and humanity of my partner — and I firmly believe that all relationships should be based on this belief.

      I am not willing to say you are a “bad wife” (you used that phrase in your question) for having sex out of obligation. Because I do not want you to feel *you* are the one in the wrong here. Your partner sounds like a disrespectful partner (or maybe just an oblivious one who doesn’t know what you are truly feeling or thinking) if he is making you have sex out of obligation.

      If he gets mad at you for not “fulfilling his needs,” that is an instant red flag.

      If you are feeling pressured to the point that your sense of selfhood and self-worth are getting damaged, this is another red flag — and a really big one.

      Let me blunt here: if you do not want to have sex, and you are *forced* (physically OR emotionally) to have sex… That. Is. Rape.

      You feeling like you cannot say no does not make you “bad.” It is a sign that you are feeling trapped and cornered. You should definitely speak up and feel comfortable setting boundaries — but, *BUT* that is assuming you feel safe in this relationship.

      I do not know your situation. I do not know if you saying no would endanger you. (If you are in an unsafe situation, I would urge you to please get to somewhere safe as soon as you can.)

      But assuming you are in a safe relationship: you should not feel like a piece of meat, and if your partner’s actions are making you feel that way, speak up. You deserve to have your voice heard and your body and feelings and thoughts respected. You are a human being and and your self and your worth have nothing to do with your sex drive. We all have different sex drives. And part of a relationship is learning to respect each other’s differences.

      You have every right to say “No.”

      I am a male. And as I a male, let me assure you: No one owes me sex, is obligated to give me sex, or needs to give me sex.

      Even my partner.

      If I want sex, or need sexual interaction, I don’t have the right to demand it from my partner — any more than I have the right to demand anything — aka, I have no “right” at all. It is a *privilege* to be in a relationship, to share my life with another human being. If I want or need something, I can express those wants or needs to my partner. But I should do so in a way that respects my partner’s own wants and needs — and vice versa.

      Communication is crucial.

      If my partner is not meeting my relational needs or wants, sometimes I just need to deal with that. My partner doesn’t exist solely to satisfy my needs and wants.

      The idea that men somehow have a right to sex is a fundamentally twisted view of male sexuality, sexuality in general, and relationships. If you do not want to have sex, you have every right to say no — and your partner should completely respect that decision and back off. Absolutely, 100%, you should Never Ever Ever feel guilty for doing that.

      Your self and well-being are far more important than your partner’s temporary sexual satisfaction.

      • Kayla

        Hello Ryan, thank you for answering. I never thought that someone would bother answering my question. I really appreciate that you did not think that I’m a bad wife for having sex with husband out of duty. I understand that communicationis important in marriage and that I should tell him this but, I don’t think I can. I feel guilty because I feel like I’m selfish and ungrateful for even thinking about rejecting my husband’s advances whenever I don’t feel like it. He supports our family wholeheartedly and loves us and all he asks from me in return is regular sex. Do you think he would get mad if I bring up my feelings to him? What should I do to become a good and submissive wife to him? I just feel like I’m not a worthy person right now, I feel so down. Everytime I give in to sex when I’m not in the mood, I feel like so small and weak and low because I really, really want to say “no” even just once but my guilt says I MUST NOT feel those things. What should I do? I’m scared of telling this to my husband. And Ryan, is slapping abuse or just hitting?

        Thank you again.

      • Jackie C.

        I’m not Ryan but I must jump in and say slapping is abuse. And you say “he gets mad easily whenever I don’t fulfill his needs.” That sounds a lot like abuse to me.

        Men and women have different sex drives at different times in their lives – I think of it as something to keep sex going in marriage. The problem is if you’re feeling like a piece of meat, it will affect how you see sex for the rest of your life (I went through this and am still recovering). Ryan is right. It’s rape to coerce someone into sex by saying it’s their duty or by getting angry when they don’t agree. That’s actually psychological abuse and while it doesn’t leave physical scars, it leaves emotional ones. I don’t know who “they” are that tell you it’s your duty, but I suspect it’s people in the church or female family members. They’re wrong and they’re actually participating in your abuse and contributing to it. I know a lot of very loving couples in Christian marriages who would never tell you this. It sounds like you have a big problem in your marriage actually and it’s not you.

        Not wanting sex every day is perfectly normal. Having sex because your husband wants to is normal too – some women take time to warm up and know that once they get into bed, they’ll have a good time. But you’re not a piece of meat and you weren’t created to please your husband. You were created as a wonderful child of God with your own body and it’s own needs. I would guess you’re feeling like a piece of meat because your husband doesn’t care about your feelings and isn’t respecting your boundaries. There’s probably nothing wrong with your libido other than your husband is killing it with his treatment of you. Flowers on the weekend doesn’t make up for abuse.

        When I married, one of my mentors, the wife of my minister, told me and my husband something they heard at a sex lecture for married couples taught by a well-known theologian at their seminary. He said, “Men, if your wives don’t want to have sex and you do, leave them alone. You’ll be fine. But if they do and you don’t, drink a Pepsi, slap your leg and get it up.” Not that husbands are to be used as toys for their wives, either, but you get the point. Your husband will survive without sex every night. He’ll survive if you don’t have sex for 5 years while you’re recovering from his abuse. Men take long showers for a reason and he’ll live.

        When your guilt tells you that you “must not feel those things,” try treating it like an obsessive thought, like if you were fixated on a brownie while on a diet. Put that thought (that you can’t say no) out by focusing on something good and wholesome. You’ve worn a pattern into your brain with negative thoughts and it’s probably time to create a new pattern. You found this blog so you came looking for a reason. You’re making the baby steps to stand up for yourself. Maybe the next step is getting the “duty” junk out of your head and focusing on your ability to say no to anything at all in your life. And remember, sex is like chocolate – meant to be savored and enjoyed. But if someone is forcing you to eat it when you don’t want it, pretty soon you’ll hate it with a passion.

        I speak from a Christian perspective here because I assumed the submissive part came from a church view. If that’s not the case, I still believe you a wonderful human being with all the same power and gifts as your husband.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Kayla, you don’t need to be “a good and submissive wife” to anyone. You are a person first and foremost, and that matters. Marriage is a partnership of two individuals who agree to share life together and care about each other. It’s not a contract where one individual signs over all rights. If your husband can’t respect you as a person and listen to your wants and needs, he’s the one with the problem, not you — and that’s true regardless of how hard he works at his job to support the family. His being the breadwinner does not mean he owns you or your body.

        Speaking of which, you didn’t sign over rights to your body when you married him. It’s your body. He doesn’t have the right to do anything to your body that you don’t want him to do. Does he know you don’t want to have sex many of the times he initiates it? Speaking from experience, my husband doesn’t want to have sex with me when I am not interested in sex. A good husband won’t be able to get any enjoyment out of having sex with a wife who spends the whole time simply enduring it. Your body is not his sex toy. Also, you should know that most married couples don’t have sex more than three times a week, and some do it less than that. If you’re having sex with him every day, well, that’s above and beyond the norm by any measure.

        Finally, yes, slapping is abuse. So is frightening you into having sex with him by expressing anger when you won’t. You need to stop beating yourself up about being a “bad wife” because from what you describe here, you have done absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, from what you describe here, it is your husband who is in the wrong — and is, in fact, abusive.

        I can’t tell you what to do except that you do not have to put up with this. Your husband should treat you as an individual who deserves respect, not as his sex toy or punching bag. If he’s not treating you like that, he doesn’t deserve you. It might be a good idea to look into domestic violence shelters in your area in case his abuse of you worsens, and to start planning for how you might leave him if you have to. At the same time, you could try standing up for yourself and see how it goes. Perhaps if you show him that you won’t put up with being treated like an object, he’ll start treating you as a person. Or, on the other hand, he may become more abusive, I don’t know.

        Whatever happens, know that you matter. Your feelings matter. Your desires matter. And you deserve more than this. (((hugs)))

    • Christine

      “Should I just suck it up and be a good wife?”

      The question is false. It’s not your job as a spouse to just be available for sex every time your husband feels like it. There’s nothing wrong with having sex if you don’t feel “in the mood”, because you might still enjoy yourself from the interaction/knowing that your partner is enjoying himself. This does not seem to be the case for you.
      What worries me about your story:
      - your husband gets upset with you when you don’t want to have sex
      - you are feeling like you can’t say “no”
      - you feel like a piece of meat (by the way, this one may also be connected to you having a lower sex drive)
      - you are assuming that being a SAHM means you wouldn’t be stressed or unhappy

      Putting all this together, I don’t feel that you see yourself as having personhood. I’m glad that you recognise that this is a problem. Listen to that voice. (Learn to listen to it in other areas of your life too, if you aren’t already). I don’t think you should just “suck it up”. Tell your husband that this is a problem. Tell him that the medications wouldn’t work. Tell him that you end up feeling like a piece of meat. Tell him that this is enough of a problem that you’re starting to feel guilty because of how your body works. Not as a dialogue: let him know there’s a problem, and discuss the issues with him. If that’s not an option because he wouldn’t listen, or wouldn’t respect how you feel, there is a big problem. You are going to need to decide how you deal with it. The standard advice, obviously, is to get counseling, and if he won’t go with you you should go alone. “Sucking it up” is isn’t a great solution though.

    • http://www.secularview.com/ Dirty_Nerdy

      I’m in a long term relationship, and I’m the one with the higher libido. I can tell you that I don’t pressure my fiance to have sex. If I want to and he doesn’t, then I can always take care of my orgasms myself. It sounds like you have a happy marriage, but that your husband doesn’t understand to just back off sometimes. I think you need to talk to him and let him know that you’re just not up for it every day. Maybe get him down to every other day, or just twice a week.

      “Should I just suck it up and be a good wife?”

      You’re already a good wife. He should suck it up and be a good husband and not pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to. Most people would call that coercive marital rape. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you lose all sexual freedom. There’s a saying I really like: we’re all responsible for our own orgasms. That means that if you’re horny, but the person your with doesn’t want to have sex right then, well, you should just take care of it yourself. If your husband can’t deal with this, I would suggest counseling about it.

      I hope this helped.

    • HP

      No.
      You have clearly made a huge effort to adjust to his way of being, but it hasn’t worked for you. If you regularly read Libby Anne, you will notice that she talks a lot about consent as a concept. If you are not able to say no (because of pressure from your husband, people around you), then you are being robbed of your bodily autonomy. No one has a right to another person’s body, not even their spouse. If the situation were reversed, your husband would not be responsible for satisfying your daily needs. If a person feels the need for sex, but does not have an eager partner, they can always go solo.
      It doesn’t sound like your husband is open to listening to you on this topic, but I hope that is not the case. If you are both enthusiastic participants, you’ll probably have a better time when you are engaging in sex. Although I do think spouses have a responsibility to try to meet each other’s needs, that shouldn’t come at the cost of their own needs. If you are feeling like a piece of meat, then clearly there is something wrong here. I’m not saying that you should never do anything you don’t feel like doing (I’m not terribly fond of cleaning toilets), but always putting his needs above your own is making you unhappy for a reason.

  • LizBert

    Is Debi really saying that god made some women to have painful sex and that they should just deal with it? That is not normal. If sex is painful beyond the first few times you need to work with your partner on trying some new things (different positions, speed, lubrication, etc) and if that doesn’t help you need to go to the doctor. Expecting your husband to demand something physically painful from you on the regular is not a happy marriage, it’s slavery. I will admit that men and women generally have different sex drives and that this can create conflict in a relationship, but it is something to work through by communication. Of course sometimes one or the other partner will have sex when they aren’t especially in the mood, and this is ok as long as they don’t feel obligated to do so. Sex isn’t always about orgasm and there are reasons to have sex beyond your own pleasure but it is not an obligation and it shouldn’t be painful.

  • Bryce

    This article about marital consumation puts me to the test.I believe St Pauls inspired word on wife and sex.Yet your basic atheistic conversion presents an antithis to my heart and mind.I love Jesus and yet, like him I am pitiful of religious formality and pretence.Because my sex drive goes beyond my marital constraints I am drawn to temptations outside but atheism to me is vacuous and leads ultimately to spiritual oblivion and dereliction.I like your honesty and your empathy for mens minds as much as for women.Thanks

  • Kayla

    Hello. I’m sorry that it took me a month to reply to all of you. I just want thank all of you who replied to my comments and gave me such wonderful advice. I’m still struggling for having sex with my husband out of obligation and duty. But I want to clarify that he doesn’t gets mad AT ME for not having sex or hurt me to have sex with him. I’M the one who feels pressured and obligated to have sex with him because of the thinking that it’s a sin to turn down your husband. Also, I do enjoy sex sometimes, I love sex with my husband when I’m in the mood but my problem is sometimes I’m not just interested in having sex with him but I just give in for the sake of satisfying his needs and because I love him. That’s when the feeling of being a bad wife enters, I have sex with my husband even if I’m not in the mood and it makes me feel like a worthless person. Like a mindless blow-up sex doll. My husband gets mad easily and is cranky whenever we don’t have sex that much. They say that when men are satisfied sexually, they are less irritated, functions well, etc. that’s why it’s a need of them and because I’m his wife I shouldn’t deprive him of his need. They say that the only reason I can say “no” to him is when or if I am sick or really tired. If I’m not just in the mood, I don’t have to right to deny him. I’m crying right now because I don’t know what to do anymore, they say it’s selfish of me to refuse sex with my husband just because I’m not in the mood. It also hurts physically because when we have sex and I’m not in the mood, I’m not lubricated at all and it hurts so bad…my private part feels raw. Yes, I’m not stressed even though I’m a SAHM and a housewife but now I’m feeling it…the stress, depression, etc. My husband is a good man and I love him so much, I want to care for him and please him in every way possible but I constantly feel like my body is not mine anymore. I am happy that he is sexually satisfied afterwards, but that doesn’t erase the fact that I always feel worthless and weak.

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