As you might expect, given the focus of my blog, I spend a bit of time reading what different husbands say about their marriages, about their sexual frustration with living in a sexless marriage. Quite often, these poor sods will say something that just has me shaking my head. Here they are, living a life of sexual denial and misery, but they will always include a line or three saying something to the effect that, other than the imposed celibacy, they have a great marriage!
My reaction is usually along the lines of “Well, then, if you’ve got such a great marriage, then why the heck are you bitching about it on-line?”
Uh…. Maybe I should clarify that. That’s what I say in my head; out loud I say, “Idiot!” Much nicer, right? Here’s the problem: these guys are operating in a fog. Here they are, being sinned against by their wives, and yet they are being apologists for them.
I have often recommended The Marriage Bed forums to people seeking help and advice for their marriages. One of the sub-fora of TMB deals with infidelity, and it was there that I first came across the concept of “Fog.” It appears that there are two types of affairs: old-fashioned horndog cheatin’ and attachment. The former is just what it sounds like – the cheater has the morals of an alleycat.
The second type, attachment, is much more complicated. In this situation, the unfaithful spouse has fallen in love with someone outside the marriage. This is where you hear such things as “S/he is my soulmate; God means for us to be together.” When these affairs are discovered and are being dealt with (the so-called ‘soulmate’ going back to his wife really puts a damper on things), the unfaithful spouse often doesn’t feel remorse, but grief. Having lost their ‘soulmate’, they mourn; they are said to be in a ‘fog’, operating from misplaced emotions.
The husbands who write the above comments are nice guys who are in love with their wives. But in saying that their marriages are great, EXCEPT for this one little thing, they are fooling themselves. If asked, “Are you happy or miserable?”, they will always say that they are miserable. And the source of their misery is the rejection by the person that they say that they love. In essence, they are miserable and trying to delude themselves by confessing a good marriage and relationship.
There is a famous story that I believe explains why this happens. The story is apparently apochryphal, but it is telling.
On one occasion Josef Stalin was asked to explain why the Russian people, who were being brutalized by his policies, were so loyal to him. He called for a live chicken to be brought to him and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen. Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped.
“Now watch,” Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some bread crumbs in his hand. Incredibly, the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird, and it began to follow him around the room; he turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, “This is the way to rule the people. Did you see how that chicken followed me for food, even though I had caused it such torture? People are like that chicken. If you inflict inordinate pain on them they will follow you for food the rest of their lives.”
When someone tried, on a forum, to tell refused husbands to look on the bright side, I thought of this story, making a connection between the chicken in this story and a husband trying to survive in a sexless marriage. I made this observation:
“A refused husband doesn’t cuddle with his soulmate, he clings to his jailer. He doesn’t thank God every morning for the pain, he wonders if today will be the day that some semblance of mercy will be extended to him. He doesn’t share great moments with his life partner, he prays that God will enable his children to escape his fate.”
Push Away From Stalin
“We have a great marriage, outside of this one area….”
“I’m married to my best friend….”
“My wife is truly a wonderful woman….”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read these statements, and so many more like them, from husbands who are just flat-out miserable. But like Stalin’s chicken, they can’t differentiate between their tormentor and a benefactor.
I hope you understand that I am not saying that every refusing wife is a Stalin; by the same token, I am not saying that there aren’t any wives who act like Stalin, but that’s another matter. What I am trying to demonstrate is Stalin’s chicken is a good explanation for why husbands defend the wives who sin against them. No matter how you take the analogy, for good or ill, I am saying that the Good Christian Husband, lost in the fog of his pain and his morals, defends his wife as a good woman and great wife.
But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter, does it? The guy may be married to a Proverbs 31 wife, with a completed to-do list at the end of the day that would be the envy of a Fortune 500 CEO. His wife may be a great Christian woman, known for her work in Sunday School and on the worship team, involved in all the ministries of the church, including the Soup Kitchen. But at the end of the day, the husband is rejected, living unloved and alone in his double bed.
Until he is able to emotionally distance himself from his personal Stalin, this schlub will continue to wander in his personal fog, doubting his abilities, his worth, and his God.