Ep 018: Prioritizing Sex in Your Marriage w/ Sheila Wray Gregoire

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As busy moms, we are in the hardest season when it comes to sex. We are exhausted majority of the time, we don’t feel sexy because things are leaking, we are being pulled on all day, and if we are being honest, sex isn’t our priority. We want it, but our bodies are too tired to do it. But sex isn’t just going to happen if we are waiting for it to happen. It has to be something that we start looking forward to. We need to have a different attitude and tell our bodies what to feel instead of waiting for our bodies to feel something.

In this episode, I am excited to sit down with Sheila Wray Gregoire to discuss Prioritizing Sex In Your Marriage. This episode is not light + it is not for tiny ears. We are talking about a lot of adult and marriage things. So, pop your headphones in and enjoy this episode alone! Make some space for yourself and enjoy!

 
 

In This Episode, Allie + Sheila Discuss:

  • The importance in believing you deserve sex + the impact it has on your drive for sex.

  • How libido works + varies from men to women.

  • Reverse libido + how to handle it.

  • Ways to prioritize sex among your busy life.

Mentioned in this Episode:

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A library of inspiration. 

Want more inspiration than just the podcast? Do you wish there were more episodes?  Want more details? Do you want videos?  Do you want pdf’s?  Do you want to download things and get your hands on something to really get you started when it comes to minimalism and simplifying your motherhood? Did you say yes to those questions? Then the Supermom Vault is for you! It holds replays of my very best online workshops that aren’t available anywhere else, tons of really actionable pdf’s that are downloadable with just one click, more than 20 audio and video trainings from me, and professionally designed printables for your home to keep you focused and inspired.


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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to.  I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days.  I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it.  Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood.  I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.

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DISCLAIMER:  Hey Friends!  Before we get into the interview with Sheila today, I wanted to let you know that this conversation is definitely not for tiny ears.  This is a moms-only discussion. We are talking about a lot of adult and marriage things. I don’t want you to get asked tough questions from your kids who might be listening.  So, pop your headphones in and enjoy this episode alone. I am so seriously thrilled to be recording with Sheila. I really think you will enjoy this episode. Make some space for yourself and enjoy!

ALLIE:  Hey guys! Welcome to this episode of The Purpose Show!  I am here with Sheila Wray Gregoire.  I am super glad that you are here!  Sheila is an author, a course creator, a blogger.  Some books that she has written are The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, 31 Days to Great Sex, a course about Boosting Your Libido.  Sheila talks so freely in such a refreshing way about marriage, intimacy, having great sex and prioritizing that.  She opens up discussions about what could be an awkward topic, and does it in such a refined way. I just love you so much and I am so glad you are here!

Welcome!  Why don’t you just start by saying a bit about yourself and your life?

SHEILA:  I started blogging and talking about parenting and general women-stuff and found that every time I talked about sex that my topic took off. It’s kind of ironic because it was actually the hardest part of my marriage when I first got married. I kind of laugh at myself at where life takes you.  We are empty nesters now, so that is a new situation.  My youngest daughter is actually getting married next month.

ALLIE:  Congratulations!  It’s so funny to be talking to you in that season and I am way on the other end.  I have a thousand kids and they are so little.  Side note guys:  Sheila and her husband have done camper-living and traveling.  And we have done that with our kids, so it is cool to see that you guys are into that and love to travel.

I wanted to have Sheila here to give us this relaxed conversation about how to prioritize sex especially when there are little kids.  I am sure you get asked all of the time.  With the exhaustion that comes all of the time, it is such an emotional mindset for women.  You just feel grabbed at all day. It is so hard. I get asked about this a lot and I just don’t know what to say.  I am really glad that you are here.

What would you suggest to women who feel like life is so busy?  They love their husbands. But if they are honest, sex has become the last priority.  It is so hard if you are just not feeling it.

SHEILA:  Most women do not get how our libidos work at all. It makes sense why we don’t.  If you watch any movie or TV show, there is a certain plot when it comes to sex.  And it goes something like this.  Two people are together and then they start to pant, then they kiss.  They take off their clothes and they end up in bed.  That’s always the way it is.

They pant, they kiss, take off their clothes and then they’re in bed. And that’s what a lot of women think sex is: touch, kiss, clothes, bed.

So there you are at home…and you’re waiting to pant. And nothing’s happening so you figure you’re just not in the mood, right? But actually, that’s not the way that our sex drives work for women.

There is a woman, Rosemary Abbott at British Columbia, who did this huge study.  What she found was that for men arousal preceded making out. That’s pretty obvious and for the life of me, I don’t know why anyone would need to do a research study on that. But they also found that women aren’t aroused until they started.

That’s the big thing that I don’t think we get.  For women, it’s not like your panting. And it’s not because you’re not panting that you are not in the mood. Our sex drives are almost entirely here (head); for men, they are a little bit lower. And what you think is going to determine what your body does.

So what happens is it’s nighttime, you’re in bed, and you’re thinking, “O man, do I want to?  I don’t know, he’s probably expecting something.” And we go through this in our heads.  So if we just decided, “I am going to have an awesome time, and I am going to jump in”, we would be asleep already.  But instead we run all of this around in our heads and we drive ourselves crazy.

The big thing that I would tell women is we have to stop waiting to get in the mood and we have to start getting a whole new mindset about sex.  Because sex isn’t just going to happen if you are waiting for it to happen. It has to be something that you start looking forward to.

The way you’re going to do that is to just start realizing that sex is something for me.  It isn’t something that was just created for men. Sex is also something for me.  When you have sex, you sleep better. If you are exhausted, that’s probably what you need to do.

You feel better.  You get fewer colds the more sex you have.

ALLIE:  I mean if nothing else, do it for the fewer colds, guys.

SHEILA: So we have to stop with this whole idea that we are not in the mood to have sex and instead, say, “you know what?  I deserve this!  I have been running around after everybody else. I deserve to have an awesome time!”

Just have that different attitude and tell your body what to feel instead of waiting for your body to feel something.

ALLIE:  And what a huge blessing for our husbands too, on their end with the typical, “O I’m waiting…”  We were out with friends the other night and the husband said something like, “goodbye sex tonight”.  Because he had made a joke and she got upset.  It was just the whole typical relationship of the man and the woman.  So what a blessing for us and also for them if that’s our attitude.  If we switch it and we are like, “yeah, I deserve to have an amazing night. I’m exhausted.”  Instead of using it like a weapon that “you get it if you behave” or “you get it if I am in the mood.”  It breeds this unhealthy weird power balance that can’t be good for us.

SHEILA:   No, and I think we need to realize that sex is not just physical.  That’s the way our culture portrays it, right?  That sex is all about this physical urge, this huge sexual release or whatever.  But really sex is actually a deeply intimate experience.

I did this massive survey of thousands of women, and what I found was that the magic years for sex in marriage were 16-24. A decade and a half after you get married. You feel totally comfortable with each other. You feel like you can let your hair down. You can be vulnerable. You know each other inside/out.  You’ve probably seen each other on the toilet.

The kids are all sleeping through the night. You’re not as tired. And that’s when sex starts to really work. That’s when things really click for a lot of people.  And I think it’s because you feel so close.

We have this mistaken idea that the best years for sex are your early twenties or the honeymoon, but it’s not. It’s when you feel really close because it’s intimacy that makes sex really great.  It all feeds each other.

ALLIE:  That makes so much sense. That’s also a very hopeful finding for those of us who aren’t there yet.  In your head, and maybe it’s a societal thing, but you think the older you get the worse everything gets. So if it’s not going well now, this is going to just keep sucking my whole marriage.

It is so the opposite.  We are in the hardest season. Most of my listeners are where I am at, or even younger.  It is so hard sometimes.  The elements are so out of your control. The babies are waking up, or you’re pregnant and you feel seasick all of the time. It’s just so weird.  Things are leaking that shouldn’t be and it’s just a very weird, awkward, unsexy season in a lot of ways. You can work around it and sure, it can be great, but it’s so hopeful to know that although I feel so close to my husband and we have a great relationship, that the best is yet to come.  I love that you shared that.

You talked about libido.  I know you have a full course on this.  I will link to this in the show notes for you guys, but can you give us a few tips for if you feel like you do have a low libido.  Even getting to that mindset of “ok, I deserve this.”  What if you just don’t want to. What would you say about the libido thing?

SHEILA:  I think libido is really a use it or lose it thing.  When you fall into the habit of not having sex, it is really difficult to get back with the habit of sex.  A lot of it is just because we get so busy. Sex comes last on the to-do list and it just seems like such a major imposition.  If you think about it that way, it’s really hard to initiate sex.   If you have been turning him down a ton, you get into this dynamic where he stops asking.  I am really talking about places where she has the lower libido.  About 30% of the cases are where he actually has the lower libido.

For those who do have a lower libido, sometimes you just need to take a look at your life and where your priorities are.  For example, I got a comment from a woman who said, “Look, I work full time. I have a 7 and a 4-year-old. My husband works full time.  My life is spent making meals, running errands, doing groceries, taking the kids to all of their activities, and I can’t have sex unless I feel pretty.  So I need to have a shower. I need to shave. I need to put on perfume. I need to look good. And I don’t have time for all of that.  How am I supposed to have sex, when I don’t have time for all of that?”  Look at your priorities.

ALLIE:  That’s such a list. It would never happen if that was my list.

SHEILA: I understand that laundry needs to get done. Groceries need to get bought.  But if you are in a situation where you literally do not have time to do the things that you need to do to make a marriage work, you have a problem. And you need to do something about that problem.  Because if your kid who is 4 is going to karate once a week, and swimming once a week, your marriage is worth more than a 4-year-old enduring a karate lesson.  A 4-year-old’s karate lesson doesn’t matter.

Maybe you need to figure out ways to get your husband involved in some grocery shopping so it’s not all on your shoulders.  Maybe we need to look at how we do life.  You can’t be in a place where you have time for everything except for your marriage. It doesn’t work.

What your kids really need is for you and your husband to be together. Your kids need you to have a rock-solid marriage way more than they need their extra-curricular activities.  

ALLIE:  That’s where the priority thing comes in.  What do you want?  This or that?  I was just talking to my husband about this the other day.  As we are getting into our 30’s, friends that got married at the same time as us are getting divorced and splitting apart.  We were talking about the sadness of losing couple friends, and who do you hang out with now.

He was saying you just expect that it’s going to be there and you are not cultivating that friendship.  That intimacy. That “I don’t just love you, we have a life together, and you’re always going to be there”.  It’s “I really like you, and I am enjoying you, and I want to be with you.”  You’re enjoying that relationship. Cultivating that relationship.

I think it is just so sad. I have been there where you just fall into that season of “oh, you’re just there, we’re just doing life together.”  Cultivating is so important.  Then the sex just falls in right after that.

SHEILA:  Honestly, most women that you talk to say that their marriage is a priority. But if you look at it, most of the time, it’s not.  So, I want to say, listen, “if you think your marriage is a priority, then you have to make it a priority.” I know that life is busy, but it’s also a choice.  There is a choice.

If you’re in one of those seasons where you’re working opposite shifts and it’s just impossible, you’re trying to balance daycare and money is very tight – I get it. But then make up a 5-year plan so that you are not going to be here forever. It’s not sustainable and you’ve got to get a life that you can enjoy. Maybe it means downsizing. Go back to an apartment because you just didn’t have the bills. Whatever it is.

You want your marriage to last. You want to just have fun. Enjoy your husband. Not be stressed.  Then we have to think differently about how we do our money, activities, and all this other stuff.

ALLIE: Yeah, if there is a season that is so difficult that you can’t even prioritize your main relationship, other than the Lord, are you planning to stay there? It should be a season, not how you’re doing life.

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Hey friend!  It’s Allie!  Have you heard of the Supermom Vault yet?

The Supermom Vault is a library of inspiration I created for you.  It holds replays of my very best online workshops that aren’t available anywhere else, tons of really actionable pdf’s that are downloadable with just one click, more than 20 audio and video trainings from me, and professionally designed printables for your home to keep you focused and inspired.

The Supermom Vault is only $39.00 and is available at alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

Check it out!  It’s a really good simple start.

Want more inspiration than just the podcast? Do you wish there were more episodes?  Want more details? Do you want videos?  Do you want pdf’s?  Do you want to download things and get your hands on something to really get you started when it comes to minimalism and simplifying your motherhood?

This is definitely the place to go!

Check it out!  Alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

 

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ALLIE: I want to come back to the reverse libido problem.  So if it’s the husband who is having that issue, what do we do if that is the situation.

SHEILA:  First of all, you have to figure out why.  Because it could just be that you have a higher libido than normal, and he doesn’t have a lower libido, and it’s perfectly normal. In that case, you just talk about. The way we talk about it is not that you’re an animal and  you can’t resist your urges.  You don’t want to say that.

You want to say, “I just want us to have a really intimate marriage.  I think we are missing out on it. Can we talk about it? How to live with passion and adventure and a better living life?”  That’s a better way to phrase it.

However, in a lot of cases when the husband has a low libido, it’s not that it’s normal. There could actually be something going on.  And that’s where we need to take a look. It could simply be health issues, or stress at work. Tons of antidepressants cause low libido.  You might need to talk to your doctor about that.

The #1 reason is porn abuse.  It’s really sad, but we need to get real about this stuff.  Sometimes, it’s not even that he is using porn right now. If you think about it, if you are an 11 or 12-year-old boy (that’s when porn abuse starts, that’s when they first get exposed), and they are starting to have sexual feelings. Then that feeling is paired with an image, or a video.  Not to get too graphic, but usually things are done watching porn so that sexual release is occurring.  That cements something in your brain so that you relate arousing with that porn instead of a person.

Even men who have stopped watching porn, even if they have gone through the battle and they have stopped it, they get married and she is not porn.   He might totally love her, but he is not necessarily aroused by her.  That’s when we really have to get to the root of it and start rewiring the brain so that sex becomes about intimacy and not about anonymity and not about weird stuff.  It is a difficult thing. So I would just say to make sure that’s not a factor because it is for so many men.  Especially in their 20’s and 30’s.

ALLIE:  I love that you brought that up.  It’s very sad.

My last question for you is I wanted to know what you would say to the wife who has been emotionally hurt. There’s been a lot of marriage trouble. Definitely not talking about physical abuse at all. But just a lot of emotional pain.  A rocky marriage. Maybe she is just feeling really resentful.  I recently spoke to a friend who was feeling like there’s such a wall.

It’s really hard without God because He can really help you break those things down and she wasn’t in that place. What would you say about emotions and past hurt is getting in the way of being able to open up and be intimate with your husband.

SHEILA:  First of all, there’s a big difference between emotional abuse where they actually try to control your behavior or you’re not allowed to have certain emotions, let’s put that aside.  If you are going through that, please seek a counselor, get some help. That’s not normal.

If it really is that you guys have really become distant and he doesn’t seem to want to listen to you. He doesn’t seem to share his heart at all. You’re living in the same house but you feel like you haven’t connected whatsoever.  Men tend to make love in order to feel loved. Whereas women need to feel love in order to make love.

ALLIE: So funny that’s the design.

SHEILA:  That can be a recipe for disaster because then you can feel disconnected. He wants to build that bridge by making love whereas she has no interest whatsoever until they emotionally connect.

So I would say that this is really a two-step process.  One is recognizing that when you do make love, you tend to feel closer.  There is actually a biological basis for that.  Where when you make love you produce Oxytocin which is the same hormone we produce when you are nursing your baby.  It’s a bonding hormone that makes you feel really close.

So after you make love for the next day or two, you tend to be more affectionate with him. You laugh more. The tension level comes way down. So if there is tension in the marriage, making love will actually bridge a lot of that gap that you might not understand.

So that’s part one. I know it seems like the last thing you want to do but try to throw yourself into it.  Try to remember how much you love him. Try to remember how much you want this marriage, and you might find that it starts to bridge a lot of that gap that you are feeling.

The second thing is your emotional needs do matter. If you are feeling distant, you do need to address that. It doesn’t always have to be this huge marriage makeover.  One of the very, very simple habits my husband and I started a couple of years ago when he was working out of town a lot, and we weren’t always home, is that every day we would still connect and we would share what was the high point of your day and what was the low point.

You know when you say to your husband, “what did you do today?” and he is like, “how am I supposed to tell you everything I did today? What do you really want to know?”  Just tell him two emotional things because that makes you feel like “I know where he is emotionally.” And he will know where you are emotionally.

Not where he had lunch or what he had for lunch, or how many sales calls he went on today.  That doesn’t matter. Because I know emotionally what’s going on with him.  It’s such a simple thing. It takes ten minutes a day but you feel a lot more connected.

It’s much easier than the question, “how was your day?”  Because you don’t know what to say to that.

ALLIE:  Right.  And they’re exhausted and you’re expectant.  I love the idea of what was the high and low because it is just a great emotional gauge for you to not expect much of him but you can totally tell where he is at by answering that question.  It’s such a good idea.   That was a very good, simple, practical idea and a good place to end, I think.

Thank you so much!  Where can people find you?  You have one of those blogs that has been there for so long, for ten years.  It’s overwhelming in a good way – there’s so much.

But I am going to link to the blog post that you shared.

SHEILA:  Yeah, so tolovehonorandvacuum.com has tons of stuff about sex and marriage. The sidebar has my top 10 posts for the day.  That’s a usually good place to start because those are the big ones.   You can find me at twitter, pinterest – just search Sheila Gregorie.

I do have my Boost Your Libido course which is perfect for anyone who has been really tracking with us.  I am going to give you guys a coupon code (use the code ALLIE at checkout). So hop on over and use that coupon code and let’s start getting this right. Because you deserve this.  You were made for this.  Don’t settle for anything less.

ALLIE:  Absolutely. I love that.  We will link to all of that in the show notes guys, just alliecasazza.com/shownotes.  Find this episode 18 and it will all be there for you guys.

Thank you so much for being here Sheila.  This has been great!

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This was an episode of The Purpose Show.  Thank you so much for tuning in.  If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, head to alliecasazza.com for free downloads, courses, classes and to learn more about what the next step might look like for you.  I am always rooting for you. See ya next time!

Allie Casazza

Allie Casazza , Murrieta, CA