As I read around, I come across stories of wives who seems puzzled, even flummoxed, by their husbands’ need for sex. It’s as if having a libido, a desire (or even need) is an alien concept. We all know the song, don’t we?
“What’s the big deal? It’s only sex.”
And with that statement, with that attitude, a great chasm is opened that seems as great as Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. (My favorite Next Gen episode!)
Friends AND Lovers, Not OR
If asked to distill the essence of what a husband or wife is, to define the role of husband and wife, I think I would have to say that s/he is “friend and lover.” Yes, we can have many friends, but only one is brought to my side to live together as my partner for life. And, yes, there are so many different aspects of husband and wife, but I believe that distilled down to the essence, “friend and lover” describes all these aspects.
“But I AM my husband’s friend! He’s my best friend!”
To the refusing, gatekeeping wife, I say this as nicely as this old coot can say this: “If you are not your husband’s lover, you are not your husband’s friend.” I’m sorry, but the complete definition of a husband and wife is “friend AND lover.” Close companionship is a wonderful blessing in marriage, but is not the defining act of marriage; sex is. After all, monks and nuns will tell you that their fellows, in their different cloisters, are wonderful companions as well. Instead, marriage is more than companionship, incorporating spirit, soul and body, and that last, “body”, means shared bodies, not merely shared living spaces.
It comes down to this: if you choose, unilaterally, to end sexual relations with your spouse, you stop being a wife or husband and break the expectations of the marriage covenant. Optioning for a sexless relationship in marriage means that you are refusing to be your spouse’s lover.
What’s Wrong With Expectations, Anyway?
Within the past several months, I’ve read a number of articles or comments in which a husband or wife is advised to “mourn the loss” of their expectations, and having given them up to God, to move on. Some even advise repenting of having expectations. When I come across these kinds of statements, I have to take a moment to look at them and consider whether or not the advice, while well-intended, is actually useful or not.
Let me present a situation to you. A wedding has taken place, and Mr. and Mrs. Wright drive away from the church to go on their honeymoon and to begin their married life together. They said their vows and the minister pronounced them man and wife. Should we begin to immediately offer counsel and let them know that it is not good and may even be harmful to bring expectations into their marriage?
- “Don’t expect loving kindness”
- “Don’t expect sexual faithfulness”
- “Don’t expect meaningful communication”
- “Don’t expect financial support”
- “Don’t expect emotional support”
- “Don’t expect physical safety”
- “Don’t expect sex”
Wait a minute; I may be wrong on that last one. Maybe we DO tell people that they can’t expect to have a sex life in their marriage. “After all, your spouse may not like sex.” I know I’ve run across that before.
And I know we all have heard or read where one spouse is told, “Well, just mourn the loss of your sex life. Give up your expectations to God, and let Him have the disposal of it.” We’d never tell a wife, “Well, your husband won’t talk with you, won’t engage with you, won’t communicate with you. Just mourn the loss of connection with your husband, and give it to God; He’s got broad shoulders and can carry that.”
If we wouldn’t tell a wife to mourn the loss of emotional intimacy, why do we tell husbands to just mourn the loss of physical intimacy?
I do understand that the vagaries of life may dictate that changes come into a home. A spouse may suffer reversals in health, a family may experience loss of a loved one, a couple may undergo financial reversals that alter family standard of living. These are all possibilities, and as husband and wife, we help each other through the vicissitudes of life. And, yes, there are times, seasons and events that drastically end our abilities to function as we could wish.
In all of these, and more, husband and wife are a bonded unity that live for each other and their relationship. In these times, when something is removed from your plate by the circumstances of life, yes, do mourn your loss and give those expectations to God. Remember, that this is a loss to the two of you. If something happens to me that impacts my sex life, it impacts my wife’s sex life also and vice versa. You mourn what is lost, and the two of you work to find out what is left to you, to continue to draw you close to each other.
However, unilateral ukases are not “circumstances of life,” and are not something that happens to the two of you. One person decides “No mas” and imposes their decision on the other. If and when something like that happens, that’s not a time of mourning; it’s a time for discussion and getting to the root problem and cause.
It may be a time to raise holy hell.