Kimberly Schluterman’s Recap on The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire
In The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (and you thought bad girls have all the fun), Sheila Wray Gregoire tackles some of the most confusing and embarrassing topics that couples, young and old, face in their physical relationships. From the fundamentals to the deepest intimacies, from practical how-to’s to her favorite position, she speaks to her audience like a big sister, an affectionate friend who wants only the best for the reader and her marriage.
Recently, I spoke with Gregoire to delve even deeper (still), and one of the things I discovered was that I rather liked her as a person. She is real, honest and relatable. She is just a person who had learned some things the hard way and has a heart for helping others learn the easy way. In her book, Gregoire shares personal experiences, the good and the bad, in an attempt to help the reader avoid some common pitfalls of marriage and climb out of the ones already fallen into. While most of Gregoire’s ministry is focused on improving married couples’ sex lives, she stresses that many marital pitfalls can be avoided by making smart decisions while single.
Gregoire spends a lot of ink discussing pornography and how it damages a marriage. From lack of emotional connection to impotence, those who use pornography report less fulfilling sex lives than their PG-watching peers. If you’re thinking, “But that’s a guy problem, and I’m a girl, so why are you telling me?” you should know that it is a girl problem as well. Take a little listen in on our recent conversation:
Sheila: It’s just a problem today that hits boys especially in their teen years, even before they’re really solid in their faith. We have to address it because people are getting married and it’s already an issue, even when they don’t want it to be. I know that a lot of guys seek it out after they’re married, but the vast majority of Christian men are already looking at it [before] they get married. And it’s gonna impact your sex life.
Me: You write that the recovery from a porn addiction can go more smoothly if anger is directed at the culture that propagates it, rather than the thirteen-year-old boy who inadvertently finds some magazines in a ditch. A lot of people start look at it at a young age and already have a problem going in [to the marriage]. So if that thirteen-year-old was your son, and you learned what he had just encountered, what would you say to him: What advice would you give to parents whose children are dealing with this at a very young age?
Sheila: I would say to parents to be upfront with kids, and just say that God made you to be attracted to the other sex; that’s a good thing that you are attracted to the other sex. God made us to like sex. The problem is that when you look at porn, you are taking something good that God made and you are twisting it, and the more you look at porn, the more you make it difficult for you to ever have a really fulfilling sex life once you are married. So don’t feel ashamed for finding it arousing. Just realize that this is something you’ve gotta fight against, in the same way that we have to fight against eating bags and bags of Oreos all at the same time. It’s something that’s fun, and you like it, but in the end, it’s gonna hurt you. I think sometimes parents react a little too much with fright, and they can shame their daughters or sons. Sort of like, “Why were you feeling aroused by this?” Not that they would ever say that, but like, “That is so disgusting; how could you look at that?” But I mean, it’s natural for people to be drawn to it, and we need to acknowledge that those are natural feelings. So, just tell them that what you’re really doing is, in the long run, hurting yourself, and you don’t want to hurt yourself, so this is something that we need to fight against, and God has given us weapons to fight against it.
Me: So if you were a guidance counselor or youth pastor, and let’s say this person doesn’t have parents with whom they could have this conversation, does your answer change, or would you say the same thing?
Sheila: Again, what I’d really emphasize is that sex is supposed to be something which is gonna make you feel closer to someone else, it’s gonna make you feel more in love, it’s fun physically but it’s also really great spiritually. It’s like this real bond that’s forming. And the more you get into porn, you take away sex’s ability to do that. So in your marriage, sex is gonna be worse. And you don’t wanna set yourself up for that. So I think we just need to keep telling our kids the truth, which is that, yes, sex is physically arousing, but there’s so much more to it, and the more that you give into that, the more you endanger your future, so we just need to fight.
Wait for It…
Along with keeping our thoughts and hearts pure by avoiding images of sex, another thing we can do to ensure a fulfilling sex life in marriage is to keep our bodies pure. Gregoire couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of the marriage bed being the only one in which love is made. This is something the Bible is clear on, but mainstream media want to portray marrying as a virgin as something impossible. They advocate a trial run, living together before marriage and testing the sexual waters, so to speak, before making the commitment. But Gregoire’s research shows that the Bible’s model of sex only within a marriage is the one that provides the most fulfilling sex. Individuals who had other partners before marriage reported lower levels of satisfaction. Perhaps more interesting is that couples who had sex only with each other before marriage also reported lower levels of satisfaction. Over and over, in Christian and secular research, we see these patterns emerge. If you want to have great sex when you are married, you need to abstain from any sex when you are single. Does this mean that girls who slipped up before marriage can never be happy later? No—and Gregoire addresses that and many other scenarios in the book. But the best scenario is one in which two virgins marry and remain faithful only to each other.
Have an Out-of-Body Experience
Finally, if a good girl wants to have a great sexual relationship with her husband, she needs to have a great spiritual relationship with her husband. In our interview, Gregoire and I talked about our husbands and agreed that the greatest intimacy in bed comes from a great intimacy with Christ. When I know that my husband is trusting the Lord to lead our home, I can trust him to lead me. And frankly, that’s a turn-on! We also agreed that the foundation of our relationships, other than the spiritual component, is simply that we are friends. My husband is my best friend and my favorite person on the planet. She couldn’t even talk about her husband without giggling. It would be hard to imagine making love to a person that I don’t like as a person. Marriage is a commitment—a decision, not a feeling—but friendship is hard to forge. Great sex comes from a great marriage, so choose carefully who you decide to spend the rest of your life with, and work hard on that relationship every day.
While some parts of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex are a little less than original (let’s be honest, people have been talking about sex for a long time, so it’s hard to say anything new!), what sets this book apart from other books about sex is her conversational style and woman’s perspective. Frankly, a good many Christian books about sex have been written by men, but Gregoire approaches a very difficult subject with a woman’s honesty, candor, balanced and well-rounded perspective, and even a sense of humor. She didn’t just make this stuff up; her recommendations are the result of much thought, prayer and listening to others.
The Good Girl’s Guide repeated a lot of things I already knew, but I am blessed with open and communicative parents as well as a large library of Christian literature. For the average reader whose family dynamic doesn’t make such conversations possible, this book is an invaluable resource about the overly-depicted yet insufficiently-understood topic of sex.