(For the purpose of pronoun simplicity, I am writing the posts in this series to refused husbands. Wives, if you are the one who desires more sexual intimacy, please keep reading, because I believe that pretty much everything I am going to say will apply to your situation, as well.)
I realize that over the past four posts in this series, I’ve presented two ways to approach a refusing/gatekeeping spouse, presented a number of different ideas for responding to refusing, and linked to different resources that discuss sexless marriage. Why do this at all, other than just to grouse? Is my purpose to merely kvetch? After, kvetching is what coots do best, right? So I’m just venting my spleen for the world’s edification?
Not hardly. I know that nothing is easier or more tempting for guys than to go along with whatever situation we are in, as long as we can have some semblance of peace and/or quiet in our homes. For most men, yelling and fighting when we come home ranks right up there with undergoing serial root canals without benefit of Novocaine.
But when experts tell us that approximately 20% of all marriages are “sexless”, and when I read the ‘anti-testimonies’ of refused and denied spouses on different message boards, Christian and non-, and when I read the frustration and fear that many refused express, I can’t keep quiet. I guess I’m like the fool in Proverbs 29:11 who “gives full vent to his spirit”; well, so be it.
Marriage Isn’t Supposed to Hurt!
Years ago, I was discussing church practices with a wise pastor, and in the midst of our discussion, he said, “Church isn’t supposed to hurt.” In a previous series**, I addressed this whole pseudo-debate about whether marriage is for making you holy or happy. Isn’t it interesting that no one ever says about church, “You aren’t supposed to be happy in your church; after all, church is there to make you holy.” We are willing to talk about toxic churches and toxic faith, but we really don’t like to entertain the idea that some marriages can be toxic, do we?
I’m going to say it here: Marriage isn’t supposed to hurt. If your marriage is hurting you, by Billy Bedamned Hangtree, do something about it! The purpose of this series is to help people see that there are alternatives, other options, to enduring misery and hurt. Again, if you are being hurt in your marriage by your marriage, then do something to change your marriage.
“Better the Devil You Know Than the Devil You Don’t Know!”
First off, that’s some pretty stinkin’ reasoning, there, don’t you think? I mean, “Sure my marriage stinks, but it could always be worse” is hardly a ringing endorsement for the “Institution of Marriage”, is it? Hoo boy! With the world questioning the value of marriage, it’s really quite the winning argument for Christians to say, “Well, yeah it sucks, but that’s life.” With evangelism like that, no wonder marriage is going nowhere in America.
Second, if you found yourself nodding/agreeing with that whole “devil you know vs. devil you don’t know” quote, uh, isn’t it pretty revealing that you could even find yourself comparing marriage to acceptable devils? Erm, uh, maybe I should just leave that one alone….
I hear someone saying, “Brother Curmudgeon, we agree that refusal and/or gatekeeping is wrong, but you don’t know our situations. We’ve got wives (or husbands – haven’t forgotten you refused wives) that would take to the warpath if we did any of those things that you suggested. And after all, one of your ideas calls for separation; that would be expensive!”
What you are saying is true; I don’t know your wives and I don’t know your situations. And, yes, I do know that the ideas that I am presenting are provocative, and may be provocative in the extreme. And, yes, I do know that separation would be expensive. All this is true. But, underneath all of these reasons/excuses/deflections, the question is still there, refusing to be ignored: does your marriage make you happy or miserable? If the latter is true, and if there is something that you can do, something within your power to change this, is it not worthwhile to give thought to the possibility of having a truly good Christian marriage?
So What If I Don’t Know? You Do!
Yes, you know your situations. Those of you who are miserable, feeling trapped by your faith in a marriage that is nothing like what you felt was promised to you by God and the Church, do something! Why is it that men can go out into the world and work their butts off to provide the life that they want for their families, but can’t come back into their own homes and work to have the marriage that they want?
The purpose for all of these Talks™, tactics, suggestions and encouragements is to do that very thing – to help you work for that marriage that you want. Just this week, I read another story of a spouse being ‘teased’, jollied during the day with hints of intimacy, then being shot down at bedtime when trying to initiate sex. Then, to add insult to injury, the next day, when expressing annoyance about the ‘tease’, this person got the “You’re an addict, all you think about is sex” business. The final capper was that this poor refused spouse ended up apologizing for having caused a fight!
It’s not enough that the refuser has made the marriage a misery for the other spouse. Oh, no! To add insult to this injury, the refused is told “you’re the problem, you’re a sex addict!” Gah!!!!
The Wisdom of Mark Twain, Ben Franklin and Wife
Recently, I have been communicating with a fellow blogger and on-line friend about the scope of this blog, about it being a “ministry”, about whether or not I could see myself creating, through this blog, a “safe place” for refused husbands to “land”. That’s an interesting thought for me, because I basically saw my blog as a safe place for this old coot to coot around.
I do hope that refused spouses, especially men, can come to this blog and feel “safe”. I do know that many feel that they can’t talk to their wives about sex, for many and sundry reasons. But here’s what I do know: while there is a place for talking, there is also a place for doing something. One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes deals with just this very thing:
Thunder’s good, thunder’s loud. But’s it’s lightning that does the work.
There is a time for talking. But there is also a time for striking, taking action. There comes a time when you have to just rip the bandage off and expose the festering wound to the open air for healing. One man that I am familiar with tells how he had fifteen years of a “good” marriage; it was a peaceful marriage, and a sexless marriage. And his wife was, oh, so happy! But then he decided to take action and start addressing the sexless state of his marriage, and the next two years were the worst two years of his marriage, as he and his wife constantly fought about sex. But, his marriage changed, eventually, for the better.
I am making no guarantees, no promises; I can’t possibly do that. I can only point out that your options are:
- do nothing and hope your marriage will change
- do something to try to change your marriage.
Wife and I were talking about this post a couple of days ago, and she put it simply: “Anything worth having is worth fighting for!” So, while I do hope that the refused can feel safe in coming to Curmudgeonly Librarian, my real hope is that you will work to make your home the safe place that Christian marriage is supposed to be. The old Ben Franklin line, “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither” applies here. Don’t be lulled into believing that giving up a sexlife will make your marriage right.
Next post: Dealing with the lies and vituperation.