As my previous post presenting the second Christian Go-To Marital Tool went a little long, I decided to present the antidote to the Milquetoast in a second post. Yes, I believe that the Milquetoast needs an antidote, and so I present the Patrick Henry. *
In my last post, I wrote about how the Servant Leadership teaching, as a reaction to patriarchy (real or perceived), turns the whole of marriage upside down by making the husband the servant, instead of the wife. And now because of the tweaking of biblical interpretation, things are as they should be. Naturally, Servant Leadership is a very popular teaching. After all, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Any government that robs Peter to pay Paul can count on the support of Paul.” The same goes for Christian teaching, I guess. And the great thing about it is that while working as a servant, Mr. Milquetoast knows that he is the head of the house.
Thesis, Meet Antithesis
As I said in my last post, Mr. Milquetoast doesn’t just pray for a miracle; he may speak up. He addresses his wife in loving tones, (not too insistent, mind you), with proper deference as befits a servant-leader. He puts forth his concern for the lack of intimacy in the marriage bed, and listens, lovingly, (with the proper deference befitting a Servant-Leader!), as his wife lets him know why frequency isn’t up to what he would like. And after a discussion, Mr. Milquetoast hopes that things will change due to his decorous display of servant-leadership and the presentation of his wants and needs in a socially accepted manner.
Several years ago, I was communicating on an internet forum with a man whose wife basically had imposed celibacy on him. This poor sod told how he had discussed the matter with his wife, but since she didn’t see that there was a problem, there was nothing he could do. My counsel to him was to not let the matter die out, but to continue to bring it up for discussion, despite the possibility of negative reaction from his wife. I borrowed from Patrick Henry and wrote to him, “Is homelife so dear or marital peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!”
Patrick Henry In Action
I am familiar with the story of a man who, for 15 years, was the model servant-leader. He served his wife and family, doing what he could to pamper his wife. He was met with a cycle of ingratitude, guilt, sexual restriction and attempts (on his part) at greater choreplay. After all, he thought, “I may hate being married, but I love God and my kids, so I have to carry my cross.” After discovering online resources, with articles and counsel that helped to break through his fog, he decided to demonstrate to his wife what life would be like without his care and pampering, and so began to do just his basic husbandly and fatherly duties.
After a couple of weeks, his wife came to him, absolutely livid at his recent failure to pamper her. He stopped her in her rant by telling her that what she had experienced was intentional, that it demonstrated how she had been treating him for 15 years, and that the marriage was going to change from that point on. Ol’ Pat (as I will call him) had planned for this discussion and informed his wife that he had a couple of conditions for their marriage that were non-negotiable, and that if she didn’t like them, she was welcome to leave. Stunned upon hearing that he was insisting on starting marriage counseling and re-instituting the marriage bed (2x a week), her initial reaction was to call his bluff.
When she told Ol’ Pat that she refused to accept his conditions and that she would leave him, he calmly got out the newspaper and started searching the classified ads for an apartment for her. Faced with this as a reality, she quickly changed her mind, and agreed to his boundaries. Later communication with Ol’ Pat told of how his wife was reacting under the new regime, and how she was responding to the new counseling they were receiving.
This is a truism: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. To put it another way,
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein
I realize that this seems to go against the grain of accepted Christian thinking. After all, didn’t Ol’ Pat initially have the right idea, that if his marriage sucked, well, that was simply his cross in life to bear? I’m sorry, but that is pure bilge water. In a previous series, I addressed this idea, and I still say that there is absolutely no biblical support for the idea that suffering through a sucky marriage is godly.
The Patrick Henry will talk about the problem, not just sweep it under the rug. It will be a topic of concern that he will raise often, despite any and all protests. The PH hopes passionately for his marriage, but also believes passionately that the status quo is unacceptable, and so the problems in the marriage must be addressed. It’s basic: a marriage cannot be a good marriage if one of the partners is regretting it. And if a marriage has a problem, it does no good to just let the problem fester.
Ol’ Pat, in my story above, spoke of despising his marriage. Julie Sibert, of Intimacy in Marriage, spoke of exactly this situation in her blogpost Five Dangers of Denying Sex:
I hear from husbands all the time who… …hate feeling trapped by Christian morals they have grown to resent.
I admit to having an annoying habit: when I hear someone say that he has been dealing with low/no sex for 8, or 12, or 16 years, I ask him, “Well, are you up for another 8, 12, 16 years?” And I point out IYADWYAD, YAGWYAG. I’ve had a few tell me that it was a slap in the face, a wake-up call. They hadn’t thought about living the rest of their lives in the misery that they currently were in. If doing what you’ve always done only results in misery. then stop doing it.
Dr. Corey Allen and Shannon Etheridge (author of The Sexually Confident Wife) do a podcast entitled, Sexy Marriage Radio. They addressed the specific topic of the Sexless Marriage, in one of their podcasts, and spoke of the resolve that the refused (oh, that word!) spouse must have in order to address the marital problem. Please make time to listen to Corey and Shannon, as they address The Sexless Marriage in podcast #122. At about the 6:50 mark, Corey says that the first thing to do is to “talk about it.” Yes, Mr. Milquetoast, you may have talked before, but as Dr. Phil likes to say, “How’d that work out for ya?” Instead, it needs to be addressed firmly, and with a resolve that things can’t continue as they have. At the 7:50 marker, Corey says this:
“Even before you have this conversation (and I’m going to speak directly to the partner that is interested in sex in their marriage), before you even have this conversation, you need to have a little, maybe a lot of soul searching. Is a sexless marriage a deal-breaker for you? What do you really believe? What do you really want in your marriage? Is life without sex with your spouse a possibility, is this a deal-breaker? That’s a rough, tough journey.”
Just as a warning, the Patrick Henry needs to follow Corey’s advice, and do a lot of soul-searching. If your situation isn’t intolerable, then tolerate. You can only be a Patrick Henry when you can say of your misery, “Forbid it, Almighty God!” And even then, the successful changing of your marriage to sweetness and light is not a guarantee. I know of one marriage that recently has ended because the wife decided that a sexless life was to be preferred over marriage to her husband. However, it is going to come down to this question, that the Mr. Milquetoasts will have to answer: are you up for another two, three or four decades of imposed celibacy? It’s your call.
- I realize that experts tell us that in up to 40% of marriage dealing with libido issues, the spouse with the higher drive is the wife. And, yes, I realize that, for the sake of these articles, I am using the societal archetype of males as the higher drive, frustrated spouse. I do not believe that this discounts what I am saying to refused and/or restricted wives. Yes, there may be a different set of challenges, but I don’t think a different skill set is the answer.