“The Shot Across The Bow” Reloaded

Shot Rethought

Back in April, I wrote a post which contained a piece that is known as The Shot Across The Bow. Written by a husband who was explaining how he addressed the sexual refusal situation that had developed in his marriage, I presented it as an example, a model, for husbands to use in confronting the gatekeeping/refusal issue in their marriage.

My good internet friend and fellow blogger, Chris Taylor, of Forgiven Wife, told me that she has always had a negative reaction to the piece, and in the course of our colloquy, she explained why it affected her so. In yesterday’s post, she went into painful examination of her reasoning, and her reasoning was more than reasonable, and is the reason for this post. (Doncha just love English?)

I need to re-address Job29Man’s Shot Across The Bow, (naturally, with my customary tact and equanimity), so here goes. If you are a husband in a sexless marriage and are thinking of using something akin to Job’s Shot, then be sure to….


Let me refresh everyone’s memory as to the core of The Shot, as to exactly it calls for and what it promises:

I’m going to tell you my negotiating position. I am totally committed to this marriage. I will never, ever leave you. That’s not the man I am. I am not threatening you with anything because I have no intention of following through on any kind of ultimatum that involves me leaving you. Just not gonna happen. If you and I come to NO agreement today you will still have me as your committed husband until the day one of us dies. ~ Job29Man, Shot Across The Bow

There are several promises in Job’s presentation that may or may not be used in another who chooses to use this or to adapt it. Job promises Sarah no ultimatums and that no matter what she does or does not do, he will never divorce or separate. Every man is different and needs to decide for himself what is his breakpoint, his dealbreaker. But one thing in this speech that is central to its presentation and is not a negotiable is integrity.

The Shot is intended to be nothing more than the breaking up of the logjam that is hindering the entire marriage relationship. It not a mechanism for “getting lucky with the little lady.” If, in reading my Addressing the Sexless Marriage series, you were thinking “This is something I can use to get in her pants,” then you are a total dick who doesn’t know squat about being a Lover to your wife! (See? Tact AND equanimity, right?)

Are You A Man Or A Weasel?

One thing I learned years ago was the importance of being someone whom others could trust, someone whom others know that integrity and honest dealing are your hallmarks. I realize that, today, we seem to put a lot of store in “wiggle room”, and being able to keep our options “open”. I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that that is bovine effluvia!

Whenever I hear someone try to parse out their previous statements, usually what comes to my mind is Bill Clinton saying, “Well, it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” Guys, I’m sorry but that’s just crap, and if this is what you’re doing, you’re just serving up a big, old crap sandwich!

I see so many writers who are telling wives that they need to show their husbands respect, that they shouldn’t be saying things about their husbands to others, talking disrespectfully to them, etc. While I can say “Amen!” to those statements, I always want to add a little paragraph at the end of these articles that says “And men, be worthy of that respect!”

I’m telling you straight up, one of the quickest ways to piss away your wife’s respect is to use weasel words, parsing out how what you promised wasn’t what you meant, etc. If somehow you have failed to live up to your promise, then admit it. Apologize for failing to live up to your word, tell her you are recommitting to live by your promise and ask her to help you keep to it. And then live it.


Integrity is a great concept. It should be one of the top qualities of every Christian man. Someone should be able to look at you and whether they agree with you or not, have to say, “He walks in integrity.” Did I say “Christian man”? I need to apologize, because that’s not quite accurate. What I mean to say is that it should be one of the top qualities of every Christian, whether man OR woman.

My wife and I watch Longmire on Netflix. Set in Wyoming, it’s about a sheriff in a rural county near an Indian reservation. In one of the episodes, one of the characters, Henry Standing Bear, tells the sheriff about how Cheyenne warriors would fight. According to Henry, these warriors would take a length of rope and tie one end to a stake, and drive the stake into the ground. Then they would tie the other end of the rope to their leg, so that they could not retreat. They were making the statement that this was where they would win or die. “This far and no further.”

As I’ve tried to make clear, in several posts, the Shot Across The Bow is not a magic bullet, a panacea for a sexless marriage. All too often, it can mark the onset of Armageddon, and what will likely ensue is anger and argument. However, if you decide that you are going to change your marriage, for good or ill, and like Popeye, have reached the point where you say, “That’s all I can stands ‘cause I can’t stands no more”, then the Shot is for you. The End of Normal Life is for you. Like the Cheyenne rope, they are statements of “This far and no further.”

That said, be a man of integrity and follow through on your word. Your promises must be supported by your actions.

Final Word

Don’t wait for delivering the Shot or End of Normal Life to start being a man of integrity. Start living in integrity now. If you need to, ask your wife where you have failed her, if you have any unkept promises between you.



Filed under Marriage & Sexuality, Marriage and Sexuality

21 responses to ““The Shot Across The Bow” Reloaded

  1. IntimacySeeker

    I have to wonder about the wife’s former sexual generosity making it easier to turn from temptation. Others have admitted that regardless of quantity, quality, and variety in a couple’s sexual intimacy, temptation is just as much an issue. Perhaps it differs among men.


    • Hello, Intimacy Seeker,

      Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment. At first, I had to wonder about the relevancy of your comment to my post, as temptation was not a part of my discussion, but then I went back to the original “Shot” post, and saw Job’s comments about being tempted.

      IS, the more I read about gatekeeping, refusal and forced celibacy, the more I’m convinced that there IS a correlation between refusal/gatekeeping and temptation. Yes, there may be “others” who say that they would have a problem with temptation even if they were experiencing great frequency and variety at home, but I’m not thinking that those are relevant, statistically. Have you ever heard or read someone use the claim, “Many people …..?” That word ‘many’ really doesn’t matter does it? After all, do you ever think to ask, “How many MORE say/experience the opposite?” To me, “many” is just another weasel word. Show me facts, statistical significance, not an obscure “many.”

      I have read posts by husbands who tell of fearing moral failure because of the temptation. For me, the Intimacy in Marriage article that I link to, in Addressing the Sexless Marriage, #4, epitomizes what I’m reading. In “Could This Wife’s Story Be Yours?”, this gatekeeping/refusing wife wrote this:

      Fast forward 24 yrs into our marriage and the unthinkable happened.
      A woman showed interest in my husband – my wonderful, handsome husband. She made him feel good about himself and showed interest in him and gave him some badly needed attention that I should have been giving him at home!

      (Yes, I know we like to say that we don’t blame one person’s sin on someone else, but in the case of affairs, quite often one person goes over the wall because his wife gave him a boost.) That line, “A woman showed interest” is, oh, so important. Chris Taylor (Forgiven Wife) has one page of her blog dedicated to resources for husbands, with a space for husbands to write about their situations and their pain. When you read through those ‘testimonies’, you see how vulnerable those husbands have become. There are recent comments on my posts, by a new reader, which show the level of desolation that can be reached, from being unloved.

      So, while you say that “Others have admitted…”, I’m going to stick with the idea that the vast majority, VAST majority, would not have a problem with temptation if satisfied, and discount the relevancy of any outliers that might make up a statistically insignificant “long tail”. (Wiki “long tail”.)


  2. IntimacySeeker

    I have had several conversations with bloggers, including the very ones you mention, about this subject. In my conversation with Paul Byerly at The X Y Code (see the July 3 post), he shares candidly: “I was sadly surprised that Lori’s increased sexual generosity did not end this problem for me. It did slightly reduce my awareness, and made it a bit easier for me to look away, but it did not make it go away.” I could note some other specific examples.

    I am not saying that desolation from being unloved does not make us more susceptible to temptation, but I think we need to be careful about claiming that plenty of sexual intimacy with one’s spouse AUTOMATICALLY reduces our susceptibility to temptation to the same degree. In other words, lack of sex dramatically increases our susceptibility to temptation, whereas, plenty of sex slightly reduces our susceptibility to temptation.

    Please forgive my tendency to overanalyze as I take this one more step. Most heterosexual men are tempted by visual stimuli (real, virtual, imagined). Period. Let’s say the average amount/extent of temptation is indicated with a mark at zero on a linear graph.

    For a husbands in sexless marriages, a mark is positioned at 100 to indicate the drastic increase in their susceptibility to temptation. For husbands in marriages with plenty of sex (quantity, quality, variety) a mark is positioned at -10, as their susceptibility to temptation is slightly decreased. (Wish I had used this for the project in my statistics class.)

    As much as I abhor food metaphors when discussing sex, consider this: if I have not eaten all day and someone offers me chocolate cake at 7pm, my susceptibility to that temptation is greatly influenced by my hunger. If I ate a proper three meals, my susceptibility is only slightly diminished by having done so.

    A married woman does well to understand her husband’s struggles with temptation and her own limitations in lightening that load for him.

    Thanks for listening. I look forward to reading future posts.


    • No, no, no, no. I think that, somehow, you have misinterpreted Paul’s statement. There is no way, absolutely no way, that Paul was saying he was tempted to commit adultery. I refuse to believe that.

      What is a fact is that, yes, there is temptation all around us, visually, that may stimulate sexual thoughts. In a healthy relationship, those stimulated thoughts are directed homeward. Just being male means our eyes will be drawn. That’s a fact of life, a fact of how men are wired. But adultery? Not buying it.

      Methinks you should ask Paul to clarify that statement.


      • IntimacySeeker

        I understood Paul to mean he still had to be intentional about turning those thoughts toward home. I meant to communicate that a sexless relationship makes it much more difficult for a husband to do that, and a sexually-fulfilling relationship makes it only slightly easier.


      • I am going to have to disagree. “Only marginally”? Not even close. Happily married men aren’t horn dogs.


  3. Ted

    I would have to agree with CSL on this. In the intersts of full disclosure, I have been an adulterer, and only by God’s grace is my wife still with me. While temptations to lust are an everyday fact of life for me and almost every man I’ve spoken to in my life, my adultery was a result of my straying first from my devotion to Christ, which brought about a separation of sorts with my wife. I am not sure now of all the circumstances of the first time, but I remember a sense of feeling unloved by both Christ and my wife. At that point, regardless of the truth, my perception became my reality. Sex was something I felt I didn’t deserve, and had no right to ask for, since I wasn’t living in devotion to Christ, and was not given. In fact almost all conversation and any signs of affection and intimacy in my marriage had become non-existent. Thinking I was condemned by God and unworthy of my wife’s love, and being treated in that way, it was very easy for me to make the leap to adultery. The thought process went something like this:If I’m going to hell, and my wife doesn’t really want to be with me, I might as well do whatever I want. In my own mind at the time, nothing really matterd, because I was cut off from Christ, and that perception was reinforced by everyone around me including my wife. I do not blame my wife for my sin. I consider my sin to be primarily against my Lord.
    I wish that I had been able to be a man who could resist temptation in the face of our intimacy problems. To my own shame, and the shame of my Lord I was not.
    We have had persistent problems with intimacy and sex throughout our marriage. I separate the two , because they are distinctly separate. The only difference between then and now, is that my worth in Christ, is not as greatly affected by my relationship with my wife, or our sexual frequency. It makes it much harder yes, but as long as I feel loved by God I can deal with it. The separation from God I felt left me open to any and all attacks from the enemy.There are many thoughts, swirling around in my head regarding this issue, and I recognize that I’m rambling a bit.The bottom line is, that when a spouse feels they no longer matter to their husband/wife, the temptation does increase, and if coupled with a sense of not measuring up to God’s standard and a separation from Christ, it becomes almost a matter of not if but when.


    • Fog. I gotta write that post about being lost in a fog. Stay tuned ……


    • IntimacySeeker

      I think we all agree that in a loveless, sexless marriage, the susceptibility to temptation increases drastically.
      My point was that the degree to which this temptation DECREASES in a sexually-fulfilling marriage is not as significant.
      A loving, sexually-generous wife can ease (take the edge off?) the temptation somewhat, but because of the way men are wired, they will still notice and be tempted, and they bear the responsibility for turning their thoughts toward home.


      • Noticing and being tempted are two different things. Conflating the two is what has led to the idea that all men are dogs. The old aphorism “A bird may fly into your hair, but you don’t have to let him build a nest” is applicable here.


  4. Ted

    It seems unreasonable to me to say that on the one hand temptation, drastically in a loveless marriage, yet decreases only slightly, when the situation is reversed. Simple cause and effect would dictate otherwise. I do think that I am more tempted than, say a man who has never given in to adultery,but that is more because of having already given in. I think most especially in this area, wives underestimate the power they have to positively influence their husbands.


  5. IntimacySeeker

    I think we need to be careful about putting the responsibility on the wife. I can make it easier for my husband to resist temptation, but I cannot resist for him, he must own that.
    We also need to take care not to imply that a wife’s sole purpose is to keep her husband from temptation. Ideally, she is worth much more to him.


    • You have me curious. From whence springs this need to absolve refusers and/or gatekeepers of any responsibility in their husbands’ temptation and fall? Why do you need to discount the testimony of men who say that they aren’t tempted to commit adultery? In addition to seeing men as horndogs, do you also view all men as liars?

      And why the red herring about “a wife’s sole purpose is to keep her husband from temptation”? There is nothing in anything that I have written over the past eight months that would lead to that, and yet you seem to feel that safety rails and warning lights need to be applied to keep my readers from that conclusion.

      Wife tells me that, basically, you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree.


  6. IntimacySeeker

    These phrases in SATB regarding temptation are incongruous with what I have learned in the last couple of years: “It used to be a no brainer. It was easy.” My understanding was that it is never easy, especially in today’s culture. Less difficult when in a fulfilling relationship, but never easy. Your and Ted’s comments have made me think perhaps this varies among men.

    I’ll rephrase my comment about the wife’s responsibility: We need to be careful about putting ALL the responsibility on the wife. When it comes to resisting temptation, she can stand with him, but she cannot, on her own, battle it for him. A wife can drive herself crazy trying and at some point, must embrace her limitations, and trust her husband.


    • IS,

      You haven’t responded to my statements that there is a difference between noticing and temptation. That’s a red flag for me, because they aren’t the same thing. I’m going to make (what might seem to be) an odd recommendation. If you have Netflix streaming, search for and watch the National Geographic show Brain Games. There are three shows in season 1 and twelve in season 2. They make for fascinating viewing, as they analyze perception and how are brains receive and process information.

      It might be a good idea for you to discover just how much of what happens is hardwired into the brain by biology, by God’s design.

      If push comes to shove, you can search YouTube for “Brain Games Season 1” and “Brain Games Season 2” to find the episodes, but it’s messier than just having them served up by Netflix.


      • IntimacySeeker

        Thanks for the viewing recommendations. I am intrigued and look forward to learning more on this subject. Here is my understanding of the difference between noticing and temptation:

        Noticing happens automatically, involuntarily, as a part of God’s design.
        Then comes the temptation to dwell on images and thoughts of sexual activity.
        A husband’s relationship with his wife can make it easer (or not) for him to resist this temptation.
        Likewise, the relationship affects a husband’s decision to resist the temptation of a physical affair with another woman.
        She can love him, encourage him, and pray for him. She cannot change his wiring, rid his life of temptation, or make his decisions for him.


    • Ted

      IS, I completely agree that the wife is not responsible for a husband’s sin. I thought I made it clear in my first comment, but let me repeat, My sin was more a result of falling away from my first love for Christ, than my wife’s actions. I have never thought she bore all the responsibility for our intimacy problems, indeed for the most part I have always thought that her lack of desire for intimacy was my fault. Her actions simply reinforced what I had already concluded about myself.


      • IntimacySeeker

        Ted, my heart aches for you. I would offer that while your wife is not responsible for your decisions, she is responsible for loving you. She made a vow to do so.


  7. Ted

    I appreciate the sentiment Is, but this was many many years ago, and even though we still have issues with our sex life, in all other ways Our marriage has never been better. I was only trying to show how greatly husbands can be affected by a wife’s opinion. If for instance my wife had not pulled away things might have been different. But everything happens for a reason, and my wife and I are still together, albeit only by God’s grace. But then anything good we have in life is given us by Our Heavenly Father isn’t it?


  8. Pingback: Addressing The Sexless Marriage, part 2 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

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