December 5, 2019

The Bare Marriage Project

Guest Author — 

I spent my honeymoon night in tears—because sex hurt. A lot.

I had no idea what was wrong with me. It wasn’t supposed to be this painful! But I was married now, and I believed my husband needed sex and I had been taught that he wouldn’t feel love without it. So over the next few years I cried a lot, grit my teeth a lot, and yelled at God for making sex so hard.

I suffered from something called vaginismus, and, thankfully, with some help I healed and finally figured out why people like sex! But those first few years were a trial, and what made it worse was thinking that I was the only one.

After everything I endured, I became a passionate advocate of great sex in marriage, and I started a huge research project to figure out the essential ingredients to great sex. I’ve been writing full-time about sex for about 7 years, ever since my book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex was published. And in my experience talking with Christian women about their marriages and their sex lives, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news. Christians do have better sex than those who don’t know God. That makes sense. Sex is the ultimate knowing of one another, and the ultimate expression of intimacy. The more intimate you can be with each other, the more passionate and wonderful sex will be. When you feel really committed to your spouse, then, with a shared vision and purpose, and you’re able to be vulnerable, sex is going to tend to be better. Absolutely.

Now the bad news. While we’re better, it’s not like we haven’t got some learning to do. In my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide, on a 10-point scale, Christians tend to rate their sex lives 7.36. Others rate it 6.38. While Christians are doing better, it’s not a huge number to brag about. And 36% of women have never reached orgasm, or very rarely do. In fact, even 1/4 of the women who rated their sex lives as 8-10 actually report not reaching orgasm, or very rarely reaching orgasm. So they may be enjoying making love to their husbands, but they’re not experiencing everything God has for them. 

Porn plays a destructive role in almost 50% of Christian marriages, too. Abuse robs us of joy and spontaneity. Body image issues feed shame.

And then there’s sexual pain. It’s long been known in medical journals that conservative Christians suffer from vaginismus and other sexual pain disorders at higher rates than the world at large. What’s going on?

That’s what I’d like to find out. If we know Christ, we should be passionate, fulfilled, and intimate. But many of us are not. And I’d like to figure out why.

To do that, I want to go right to the experts: women themselves. I want to hear your stories and hear your opinions. 

So I’m conducting what I hope will be the largest and most extensive survey of Christian women’s marital and sexual satisfaction that’s ever been done. I’ll turn it into two books in 2021, starting with The Great Sex Rescue with Baker Books. It’s time to not only look at doctrine and biblical principles to great sex, but also to look at what real women are actually experiencing.

Take the survey here.

Can you help? If you’ve ever struggled with sex, and can’t figure out what all the fuss is about, I need you!

If you’ve had sexual pain, I need you! 

Even if sex has just been mediocre, I need you. You’re the majority, and you count.

If you’ve been divorced or remarried (perhaps especially if you’ve been divorced!), I need you. Those whose marriages don’t make it have lots to teach us about what can go wrong, and I’d like to hear your stories.

But if sex is awesome for you, too, then please fill out our survey. We want to figure out what’s different about you—what you were taught; how you grew up; all the different factors that influenced you, so that we can create some blueprints for couples on how to raise the next generation to enjoy intimate, passionate marriages, too.

Please, women, be part of The Bare Marriage Project. Get your voice heard, and help other women discover the secrets to great sex—and a great marriage. Thank you! 

Sheila Wray Gregoire blogs everyday about sex & marriage at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, where she’s not afraid to get beyond pat answers to the nitty gritty of what builds great relationships. She’s the author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and 31 Days to Great Sex. Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store. 

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12 responses to The Bare Marriage Project

  1. Wow – two of my favorite authors in the same space. Gary, I love that you opened up your platform for Sheila to collect this important data. Cheering you on, Sheila.

  2. Sex can be painful and awkward initially, and admittedly many never truly embrace the act as much as others.

  3. Well – that was intense. 😉
    Filled it out – excited for the results!
    And thanks for the gift!
    May God bless as you sort though the data. Praying for wisdom and discernment – and that the results would be incredibly fruitful.

  4. It may not be appropriate for a husband to participate in the survey, but I feel my experience May contribute 2 the success of it. My wife and I recently divorced after 37 years of marriage. Our intimacy has always been from great 2 fantastic. She has never failed to experience orgasm in those 37 years. There were other factors that caused her 2 give up those good experiences for the sake of what I would call lesser important experiences. She wanted to control and I gave into that desire of hers for all those years but not to the full extent that she wanted. When she divorced me she told me that she still loves me but she could not live with me. She described our problem as irreconcilable differences. I felt they were not biblically sound enough for the decision to divorce. I have gone on too long in this response but I don’t know if it carries any weight with you. If you would like an elaboration of my experiences, you may communicate that with me.

    • John,

      While a fulfilling sex life helps a marriage, it can’t save it. In the end, sex represents less than 1% of our time together as a couple. Even if the sex is great, that doesn’t mean someone will put up with other issues just for that rather occasional event. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to please each other in this area, only that it’s just one aspect of marriage among many.

      I’m so sorry to hear about the divorce.

  5. I am male, but would certainly benefit from reading the results of such a study. Our sex life would be described as Cool to Luke Warm. I was not told before “I do” of important factors which made it that way: marrying to get out of the house, not wanting to be an old maid, sexual abuse by two first cousins. After holding to Reconciliation for 27 years, which is one of two options that God gives us as divorce is chosen as a solution to marriage problems (the other is to remain divorced), the friendship that should have been there before “I do” is happening.

    Yep, we men need to see and learn from the results of this study. The high incidence of no orgasm comes as a surprise.

    • I’m hoping to get some really good data for you, Billy! It will be out in a couple’s book called The Great Sex Rescue next year, and we’ll be able to help figure out what causes a lot of difficulties, but also what couples who do have great sex experience. I’m hoping it will be really useful for men, too.

  6. Patricia S Ivie December 5, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I Feel hopeful for some answers, finally.

    • We’ve had 16,000 responses so far; we’re praying we’ll hit 20,000 by Christmas when it shuts down. So we’ve got A LOT of data, and I think we’ll be able to share some really interesting findings!

  7. It is about time women learn and be heard thank you for the survey I look forward to reading your book.

  8. Hey… I am facing a big challenge lately. My husband is on leave and will be resuming work in early Feb. Thats ok. But I am a working Woman. I leave home at 8 am and come back at 6pm. And here my husband remains home. I feel so uncomfortable to leave him home with the maid. I hat this so much Because alot of things gothrough my mind. And I always talk to him about it. I just feel bad about it.. Advise Me!