Plucked Chicken, Anyone?


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.

Plucked Chickens

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.


Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

21 responses to “Plucked Chicken, Anyone?

  1. Ted

    I assume this the fog post you were referring to in response to one of my comments to an earlier post. I don’t disagree with your assessment, it pretty accurately describes what happened with my wife and I so many years ago. Part of the problem is that many churches will not address the issue. Most of the time churches will encourage the wife to serve in the church, and if the husband is unhappy, well it’s just because he selfish, and living according to the flesh. I’ve seen too many marriages,destroyed by the wife being more devoted to the church than her husband.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, it was a different commenter who triggered this post, but as I said in the post, I can’t begin to count the numbers of men who have said this, or something similar.

      To tell the truth, I’m going to have to go back and try to find your comment in order to remind myself as to the particulars of what you said.


  2. Ted

    The comment I made was was on the shot across the bow post, if that helps.


    • Ah, yes, there it is!!

      And you are right, your comment did give me the idea of writing about “fog”; however, what I often do (and did in this case) is add the topic to a “To Write” list, and then wait until I get a round tuit. Another commenter’s comment was the fillip that jogged me into action (or as close to ‘action’ as writing can get, anyway).

      In going back and re-reading your original comment, I can see, unfortunately, why you are a textbook illustration of my post. These two sentences of yours:

      “but I remember a sense of feeling unloved by both Christ and my wife.”
Sex was something I felt I didn’t deserve, and had no right to ask for,”

      align perfectly with my concluding sentence:

      “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.”

      When I wrote that last, ‘doubting his God, I actually had in mind Julie Sibert’s line about refused Christian husbands feeling trapped by the morals they’ve come to hate.

      But it seems to me that you speak hopefully. Is that the case?


  3. Ted

    The incident I was speaking of is in the distant past, with regards to adultery on my part. The issue itself has been an ongoing problem, not so much in terms of refusal, but more of a lack of enthusiasm. I think, at least in our case, as well as others we’ve known over the years, it was partially fostered by church leaders, encouraging wives to distance themselves from their husbands, should he not toe the line so to speak.
    I have had this conversation with my wife, about feeling unwanted, and she confirmed my thoughts of feeling forced to choose between the church and myself. We are currently working on our intimacy both in and out of the bedroom, and things are much better.
    I would encourage husbands, that if they are playing second fiddle to anything other than Christ himself, to speak up and tell their wives how they feel. If they cannot find the words themselves, I would recommend Thomas Bitner’s (aka Genuine husband) post entitled ,” Why Husband’s Leave.” It was a series of blogs that I gave to my wife to read something like three or four years ago, and marked a turning point in our marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. IntimacySeeker

    “but I remember a sense of feeling unloved by both Christ and my wife”
    This line in Ted’s aforementioned post stood out for me as well. I think one of the most powerful ways we experience Christ is through our relationship with our spouse.

    Your description of the “fog” and the comparison to the plucked chicken remind me of a documentary I saw on Battered Wife Syndrome. In both cases, I would say the effects of the abuse grow exponentially until the victim cannot see reality.

    While effects are similar in these two examples, intent may be very different. During the time I was detached from my husband and sleeping in a separate bedroom, I did not consciously wish to hurt him. I sought to escape him and the pain and fear that accompanied sexual intimacy.

    Had he had an affair during that time, I likely would have wished him well and sent him on his way, sure that another woman could love him better than I. And I would have felt relieved, no longer expected to measure up to a standard I could never meet, and finally able to relax.

    Marriage is difficult. God is good.


  5. Chrles

    Truth be told it was “I” who stopped initiating years ago after painfully realizing my wife didn’t enjoy sex. She never did! She merely allowed me to use her and usually tried to end it asap. I tried the “shot across the bow” but that must have missed the head and heart. Now What?


    • Welcome, Chrles,

      Before “now what?” comes so many questions!!!!

      How old are you and your wife; how long have you been married?
      How far into the marriage did you discover she didn’t enjoy sex?
      Any counseling attempted?
      Is there sexual sin/sexual abuse in the background of the marriage (you or her)?
      What is the tenor of the relationship, the homelife?
      Children, yea or any?
      Medical issues?
      Church – are the two of you Christian? Are you active in church? Is your wife’s dislike physical or mental, as in “My church taught that sex is icky”?
      Before going any where near “What now”, there’s a host of info that needs to be known, to inform any answer to that question.


      • Charles

        Oops. It’s Charles.
        So you would like a bit of background. Yea, I figured as much. We are both in our early 50’s and have been married 25 years. I became aware on our honeymoon she was fearful and felt zero pleasure, actually pain. The pain eventually passed but was never replaced by pleasure. After 20 years of sexual frustration I finally realized there was nothing I could do to turn her on. Touching and caressing her was for my pleasure and didn’t feel good to her. The one thing I do not understand is she does nothing to me at all. Like HJ or BJ, or even a simple caress or massage. I know, 20 years! I just kept trying like a hamster on a wheel. We started counseling in year 2 through year 4. I’ve come to realize our female therapist started us on a sensate focus in hopes of getting us to be able to have intercourse pain free for her. She went through the motions but I doubt anything changed. She learned to grimace an tolerate it, but only if the stars aligned.
        The only sin other than a sexless marriage was my prior sex with girlfriends before our marriage. Sexually I would be gentile, painstakingly slow and loving, over an hour, and then be stopped cold and told to stop! You can imagine the frustration. She wouldn’t touch me or anything to simply let me finish. This went on for years! I snapped twice in those early years two times and my angry words are etched in her brain. Once I said ” I don’t know what’s going on in your sick mind”! Then I topped that with “my girlfriends always enjoyed it”. I’ve apologized over and over, been 20 plus years, its still her excuse.
        Excluding sex, we have a great relationship! I know that one makes your head explode, but it is true. We have a great home and have been blessed beyond belief. We have three outstanding children coming of age to leave the home. We are all Catholic, if nothing else this whole experience has brought me much closer to God. That is what marriage is supposed to do anyway. No medical issues, but my take on the problem is a result of her narcissistic parental upbringing. Both mother and father, very sad. Selfish, unloving, uncaring, the trifecta! She claims our issue is her inability to feel safe with me. I am completely loving and caring and am certain her insecurity began at birth and I am paying the price of her painful childhood. She is completely unaware how controlling and selfish she is. She was taught sex is taboo but she claims she knows it should be a gift from God and enjoyed. She claims sex is not gross. I’m not so sure she’s being honest.
        Well there you have it I guess.
        God bless you and your work!


      • I’m not going to copy the whole comment over again, but I’m going to respond to the “What Now” based on what you’ve told me.

        1 – Read the Drastic Measure section of my Go-To Marital Tools 2.2. Go listen to Corey Allan’s statement, and spend time thinking over what he said. In essence, you are going to have to decide if your past is tolerable. You say “we have a great relationship”, “we have a great home”, and we “have been blessed beyond belief.” Those are your statements.

        You will have to decide if what you have experienced in your 25 year marriage is tolerable for the next 25 years. My mantra is that until the status quo becomes intolerable, you will tolerate it. I can’t decide that for you. You have to give it deep consideration.

        2 – Psychological counseling for your wife. “… she claims that she is absolutely terrified about sex”; “She was taught sex is taboo”; “learned to grimace”. Marriage counseling won’t address her problems. This sounds like it needs psych work.

        3 – Don’t have a blow-up session! In your later post you said, “After another poor nights sleep post slamming down the gauntlet, we’ll see if anything changes.” I’m reading this as you had a bad night last night, and so you think it might be time to read her the riot act. No. Uh-uh. No way.

        Not until you’ve seriously thought through your situation and your future. Having just another shouting match ain’t gonna do it. You need to decide what you are willing to live with, and more importantly, what you are NOT willing to live with. And that will involve you taking real-life action based on what you are willing to live with and on what she is willing or not willing to do.

        When you’ve done that, then sit down with her and present a real Shot. I would require psychological help to deal with her deep-seated fears.

        4 – You realize that you were a dick when you made those two statements. Good. You have apologized. Good. Did you seek forgiveness, and has she forgiven you? The line “She claims our issue is her inability to feel safe with me” concerns me. First, it gives the lie to your “great relationship” statement. No way you can have a great relationship with someone you are afraid of. Second, if after 25 years, she keeps that up as one of her shields against you, I’m thinking there’s more to her aversion than those two comments. I don’t have insight into your life together, what sorts of people you are, but one line in your other comment raises a red flag for me: “I demanded there must be some effort on her part to please me.” That can be taken in a couple of ways. That’s all I’m sayin’.

        5 – Register on TMB, and start posting in the Sexually Refused section IMMEDIATELY. I’m one person, and there are many wonderful people who, upon hearing your story and digging into it, will be able to give you insight into what you are experiencing, and advice on how to proceed.

        6 – Use my email, over on the right. Doing this via comment will clog up the comments section.

        Based on my reading of your posts, that’s a beginning answer to What Now.


      • Charles

        After another poor nights sleep post slamming down the gauntlet, we’ll see if anything changes. Can it possibly be true as she claims that she is absolutely terrified about sex? She needs complete focus and concentration to relax enough to allow insertion an tolerate it just long enough. Like holding your breath under water. I have tried to get her to understand that mindset guarantees failure. But, I guess if you equate sex with discomfort …. So I’m ok with taking intercourse of the table, for now.
        But, I am not ok without any touch from her and not being able to finish. That I will not tolerate! I demanded there must be some effort on her part to please me.
        Have you ever heard of someone who is paralyzed sexually by a fear of failure? So she chooses to do nothing! Really? Well, that’s her stance on why she doesn’t touch me.


      • Look up “sexual aversion”, and see if this rings a bell.


  6. MO_Dufus

    I finally stumbled upon your blog from links on “” and can say I am finally understanding what is happening in my life. While I attend a church where marriage is celebrated, I avoid both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because the messages are usually along the lines of “It’s ok to neglect your marriage because you are doing such a fine job as wife/mother” (justifying putting the roll of mother ahead of wife) and “You screw-ups, until you do your wife/kids better, don’t expect anything from your marriage” (justifying the wife criticizing her husband and denying him physical intimacy).

    This is my second marriage. As it turns out, my first wife was a “gatekeeper” and when she passed away, my second wife is a type never mentioned – “a sexual terrorist.” The sexual terrorist not only blames you for all the problems in the marriage but justifies that by constantly bringing up everything that ever happened in the marriage and uses it to destroy the relationship. Civil conversation on any subject is impossible because you can never speak a complete thought without interruption with, “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “You don’t know what your talking about” or “That’s your opinion. We just have to agree to disagree.” On those few occasions I have tried to tell her how I feel, I have found her immediately on the phone telling everyone she knows what I said or did.

    I am concerned with my wife because I can see she has severe emotional issues but refuses to deal with them. I stay married to her from agape love and to prevent her from doing the same thing to a sixth husband. I have done everything in your blog to try to get her attention except take off my wedding ring and return it to her. I only keep it on as a reminder to me of the commitment I made before God. I am currently living (for the I don’t know how many times) separately from her and she blames the lack of intimacy and friendship on me as well.

    The rejection started the first week we were married when she came home from work and told me she wast too tired and distraught to talk then spent 45 minutes on the front porch talking to her grandson. When we did have sex, she was cold and mechanical or, as it was put in another blog, she didn’t show up. Regular sex stopped about 8 weeks into the marriage as she was always too distraught and my use of porn during the first week of our marriage (which, by the way, didn’t happen) destroyed all feelings.

    I am open about a problem I have finally dealt with in counselling. From the sexual tension that builds up from denial by my wife, I have turned to limited use pornography. That is not what I have ever wanted. However, instead of seeing what happened as the result of denial of intimacy, it is now the a-bomb she uses to continue to deny sex 9-1/2 years later.

    What I am looking for is accurate information on the problems created in the marriage by one of the spouses denying sex to the other. I know from my own life, it creates tremendous internal physical and emotional stress that needs release. It makes even the ugly women at work more attractive. It makes the man grumpy and irritable. It leads to affairs. It leads to, as in my case, pornography.

    Proverbs tells us to “desire the wife of our youth” which to me says the wife needs to take the time to be desirable and available.


    • “Sexual Terrorist” – that’s a new one on me. However, so is “Missionary Marriage”. I’ve heard of “Missionary Dating”, but “Missionary Marriage”? Staying married to a terrorist to keep some other sod from a fate worse than death? I’m not sure that God calls anyone to throw themselves on that kind of grenade.
      That you are separated from her is good. I’m a big proponent of not doing something that is damaging. However, lose the porn, and start learning to control your eyes and spirit. You speak of anger and irritability. Since you are separated, spend some time each day in prayer and Bible study, seeking God for control of your spirit and temper.
      Stay married or divorce? Be satisfied in your own mind. You have no reason, at this time to return home; after all, you do say you are separated for the umpteenth time. So stay that way. The only way that you should even consider going back to her is if she has been seeing a psychology/counselor for three months, and has made discernible progress.
      You do say that you have done everything on my list of suggestions. The very first is to join TMB and start posting on the Sexually Refused forum. Have you done this? After all, “in a multitude of counselors, there is safety.” And you do say that you want “accurate information on the problems created in the marriage by one of the spouses denying sex to the other.”
      The wedding ring – does it mean anything to her? From your description of your wife, it seems that nothing about marriage means anything to her, so the returning of the ring would probably be an empty gesture.
      You end with a quote from Proverbs: “desire the wife of our youth” which to me says the wife needs to take the time to be desirable and available. Proverbs also tells us that it is better to live in a desert place than in a wide house with a brawling woman.


      • MO_Dufus

        Thanks for the reply. Iv’e lost the porn. Yes, it took counseling and (to anyone else who reads this), you have to a) want to change and b)be willing to face a lot of pain from your past. While trying to understand my marriage dynamics, I spent 40 years as a business systems analyist (yeah, one of them computer geeks) so I searched and searched to understand my wife’s attitudes and unwillingness to change. What I have come up with I call “The Genesis chapter 3, X-chromosome disorder” or the penalty from the fall. This involves a recessive gender-based gene which is why 80% of the Borderline Personality Disorder (men usually have Conduct Disorder) occur in women. My research showed that 20% of women suffer from this which is probably low because one of the characteristics of BPD is that the sufferer doesn’t believe s/he needs counseling but everyone around them does. Making a BPD agree to counseling is sort of like trying to scale a skyscraper with suction cups tied to your shoes. While it appears possible, you will only fall on your butt every time you try.

        She is finally seeing the same counselor I do, even if it isn’t on a regular basis, and I agree with you about the counseling. However, I disagree with you on the time frame. Instead of a minimum of three months, I believe she needs a minimum of 13 sessions (equivalent of session per week for 3 months), regardless of how long it takes. Another piece of what needs to be done is for her to come to me because she believes that all the marriage problems are my fault, I need to be “fixed” and go back to her.

        And yes, the Proverbs passage you mention appears twice (Prov. 21:19 is one of them) and there is also, “A contention wife is like a dripping roof in a rain storm” and “It is better to live in a corner of the roof in with a contentious wife.”


  7. Charles, you asked . . .

    Have you ever heard of someone who is paralyzed sexually by a fear of failure?

    That describes me much of the time before and after I decided to work on sex. I was afraid I would completely mess up. If I may be so bold as to link to my own blog in a comment on CSL’s blog, I wrote about it in this post.

    I have heard from other women that they, too, have had this fear. We often fear that we won’t do things right. We fear that even after making a great deal of effort, it still won’t be enough for our husbands. We see an insurmountable mountain rather than a series of small molehills.

    That fear is gone now and our marriage experiences healthy sexual intimacy, but it was often a struggle to get to where we are now.


    • Chris, thanks for jumping in. And, yes, please feel free to link to any of your articles anytime!
      That said, Charles’s post suggests (in in mind, anyway),something beyond fear of failure to perform.


      • Charles

        Thanks Chris and CSL,
        You are both right on the mark! I, however, have been completely unsuccessful at getting her to even discuss the issues for 25 years now. Much less read a blog about it. But after my second shot across the bow, which appears to be helping, I’ll give it a shot.
        All I need are some prayers!
        Thanks you both for showing me that there is a glimmer of hope!


  8. IntimacySeeker

    Charles writes “But, I guess if you equate sex with discomfort …. ” We can associate sex with many unpleasant, painful, frightening experiences. I am not a psychiatrist, but know from my own personal experience that those associations can, and often do, drive our physical response. Our instinct to protect ourselves is stronger than our logical, conscious reasoning to relax and enjoy. I did not know this about myself when I married. Facing my fears was very hard work.


  9. Pingback: What’s Worse Than A Plucked Chicken? | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  10. G

    This is a late comment — just wanted you to know you nailed it. Love my wife and am completely miserable. Working on it, but miserable. The fog is real. This post helped me see myself in a shiny new and clarifying light. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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