Lately, in several of my posts, I have spoken of husbands who are miserable. I’ve said that the mantra “Everything in our marriage is great, except…” is really a statement of misery. I also said, flatly, in a post about working on getting healthy, that reading my blog is tantamount to admitting to misery. However, recently I’ve been doing some thinking (which is a heck of an easy out when asked why I don’t appear to be doing anything) and wondering if the sexless marriages of my readers has truly made them miserable, or merely inconvenienced them.
I’m doing something a little different here, but I might be saying to some of you readers, “You don’t need to be here.”** I wrote the Addressing The Sexless Marriage series (which included a post on different things to do to try to move your marriage) for miserable husbands. It’s my firm, bedrock belief that until your marriage situation is intolerable, you will tolerate it. It’s the same principle that drove the prodigal son to his senses; it was only after he realized just how far he was from his Father’s will that he created a plan on how to change his situation: “I will arise and say to my father…..”
Which he then did.
Guys, if you are not yet completely starved by living off the leavings of your marriage and are willing to maintain your situation, please bookmark this site and come back in a year or ten when you are truly miserable.
“Wife, Are You Happy?”
This post is a spin-off of the “Except” mantra that I’m always reading, i.e., “except for this one area…”
Recently, I read yet another of these statements, and this time, it was bundled with a companion statement from the husband that his wife was completely satisfied with their marriage. Then someone must have had a stroke of genius (or inspiration, or snark, take your pick) because it occurred to this person to wonder if the wife cared that the husband wasn’t happy. I could see what the questioner was getting at: how great a relationship can be if one person in the marriage is satisfied knowing that the other is experiencing marital misery?
And that’s when that questioner made a connection I didn’t see coming. S/he asked the Hubs if his wife knows that he is unhappy. This person made the connection that this husband didn’t; in order to keep the peace, in order to maintain the facade of a good marriage, these husbands aren’t willing to communicate the depth of their true feelings, and instead, just “go along to get along.” It’s one thing to ask your wife, “Are you happy?” This questioner realized that it’s quite another altogether to let her know that you aren’t. After all, as I like to say, “It’s not her marriage, it’s not your marriage; it’s Y’ALLS marriage.”
I know of two instances in which something akin to this happened. In the first instance, the wife was doing one of those Ladies Home Journal/Redbook type of questionnaires that purports to show how happy a marriage is; the wife concluded aloud to her husband that their marriage was really good, and asked if he didn’t agree. He decided that honesty was called for and told her for the first time that, in essence, HIS marriage brought him no joy. He tells how his wife felt like she was stabbed in the heart, but it did lead to extended discussion and a turn around.
In the second instance, the wife was planning a wonderful vacation to a popular getaway spot. She noted that a milestone anniversary was approaching, and wouldn’t it be great to celebrate their anniversary by renewing their wedding vows while on their vacation. The husband, who had been enduring imposed celibacy for years, in an unaccustomed fit of candidness, simply asked, “What have we got to celebrate?” He wrote that for a few seconds his wife looked stunned, but then began a 2-hour verbal assault. But, he said, she knew that behind all her anger and vituperation, she could no longer hide behind the facade of the Good Christian Marriage™.
And that is important, isn’t it? As long as we can hide behind facades, as long as we can hide behind our masks of being the GCW™ or having the perfect family, as long as we can maintain the pretense that “All’s well”, then we don’t have to face reality.
“Well, That Makes One Of Us”
“Whoa, CSL! That’s kind of harsh, isn’t it? Are you trying to cause a divorce?”
Actually, I would hope to prevent a divorce; I would love for you and your wife to be able to work on your marriage and make your home a true sanctuary. But as long as facades and masks are allowed to be maintained, I believe that the chances of divorce continue to grow. Why? The “Walk Away Spouse” syndrome.
If you google the phrase “Walk Away Wife”, you will get over 45 million hits. While many talk of the Walk Away Wife, what isn’t discussed is the Walk Away Husband. Google that phrase, and you come up with over 35 million hits. When you do any reading about this Walk Away syndrome, you quite often find that when it happens, the “Walked From” is shocked, saying that the divorce came “out of the blue.”
I was surprised to read one article, several years old, that made an interesting observation. According to many researchers, most divorces in the U. S. are initiated by women. However, according to the article,
One recent study found that a greater number of women may initiate divorce because of laws that in most states are written so that women have an advantage in receiving child custody. In states where there is a presumption of shared custody, the percentage of women initiating divorce is much lower, according to a recent article in the journal American Law and Economics Review.
Did you get that line, “the percentage of women initiating divorce is much lower…”? That means that the percentage of men initiating divorce in those states is much higher. Unfortunately, it seems that husbands are just as willing to check out of their marriages as wives. Hence, the need to worry about Walk Away Husbands.
I’ve been reading blogs and forums for five years now, and there is a phenomenon that I have observed as I’ve gotten involved with them. Quite often, a refused husband will take umbrage at the idea that he’s got to do something ‘drastic’ in order to shake up his marriage. Many times they have said that they will continue to pray and trust God to change their wives. In essence, they elect to maintain the status quo. After all, “We’re men! We don’t complain, we can just suck it up and keep on going. Marital peace must be maintained.”
But here’s what I’ve seen countless times: after a year or two more, a sense of despair and defeat creeps into their tone, and I know of several who have said, “I can’t go on like this.” In that short period of time, their misery has forced them to ‘check out’ of their marriages, and, I believe, it will be only a matter of time before they become Walk Aways. It wasn’t another decade or two down the road, it was only a few months or a couple of years. They underestimated the corrosive effect that continual refusal would have by overestimating their strength in the face of this refusal. They are at-risk, pure and simple.
“Let Him Speak, Or Forever ….”
To my mind, it has to be better to be open with your wife about how you feel about your marriage than it is to suffer in silence and passive complicity. The old phrase “constance dropping wears away a stone” applies here. A marriage cannot be healthy, cannot stay healthy, if it is characterized by constance refusal and rejection by one spouse for the other. This can only lead to walls being erected between husband and wife, resulting in isolation in the marriage. From there, it’s not a long drive to separation and divorce; it’s a short putt.
Be willing to speak up. Yes, her sensibilities may bruised, but that and communication is better than divorce.
** And here is the line that I referenced in my Great Minds #6. 🙂