In my post Curing vs. Healing, I discussed a fourth possible source for marital disconnect (separate from TAG), that of your own unintentional actions causing hurt and damage in the relationship. I made the recommendation that you read Chris Taylor’s (of Forgiven Wife) guest post, A Wife’s Heart, and our following discussion in order to learn how unintentional actions can cause rifts in a marriage.
That said, I want to offer a couple of caveats. Yes, if you discover that you are a source for the disconnect in your relationship, do make an effort to heal the rift. However, do not take on a burden that is not yours; own your actions, not her excuses.
Two or three months ago, a fellow blogger asked me if I had come across a certain online forum that dealt with sexless marriage; I had not, but decided to go to the site and examine it. The forum was exactly as advertised, with postings from men and women who are in sexless marriages, discussing various aspects of a sexless marriage. It is not a Christian forum, and so naturally, some ideas and ‘solutions’ are put forward that are not Biblical or godly, but I did find it informative.
Like every special-interest forum, they have their own lingo, and one term that they used intrigued me. In discussing sexless marriage with new posters, one action that they spoke of and cautioned against engaging in was why-chasing. I had never heard of that term before and so sought out the site’s glossary and found this, um, erm, picturesque explanation, written by a refused wife (I’ve bowdlerized it, as Wife would not approve of the language):
Why-chasing — the frustrating, fruitless, and ultimately pointless exercise in finding out why your refuser does not find you [doable]. You’d have better odds of success going on a snipe hunt so save yourself the trouble and resist going on this trip. If you do succumb to temptation, prepare for it to be an infinitely recursive exercise:
excuse 1: you’re fat, solution 1: you lost weight, result 1: no sex
excuse 2: refuser work stress, solution 2: relaxing refuser vacation, result 2: no sex,
excuse 3: tired refuser, solution 3: lots of rest for the refuser, result 3: still no sex …
excuse n: refuser doesn’t wanna [do] you ever, solution n: there is no solution, this will never change, result n:
for the love of all that’s holy abandon your why-chasing forever, it just doesn’t matter or help in any way, unless you get lucky and it really was excuse n-1 halitosis and solution n-1 brush your teeth leading to statistically unlikely result n-1: finally some hot dirty sex!
Picturesque? Yes. Cynical? Most definitely. But not too far off of the mark. In fact, I spoke to this last year in one of my posts on addressing sexless marriages:
This line is the never-ending maze, with the sign over the door saying, “CHOREPLAY”. This excuse invites you to start trying to earn sex by jumping through hoops, the quantity of which are unknown (and quite likely, expanding), with the desired result, sex, still very much in doubt. After all, there is that one word, MAYBE. It’s not a promise of more sex, it is merely a tease for more sex, much like the carrot dangled before the mule.
“Why-chasing,” “jumping through hoops,” “choreplay” – six of one, half a dozen of the other. What you need to keep in mind is that there is a difference between reasons and excuses. And yes, if there are valid reasons why your spouse has erected emotional walls protecting him/herself against sexual intimacy, these need to be traced back to their source and dealt with, even if the source is your previous actions.
However, having to run an obstacle course in in the hope of trying to earn sex is never valid. So, “How do I distinguish reasons from excuses?”, you may ask. That you will have to determine by attempts at healing and forward movement.
Progress vs. Status Quo
Progress means just that; your spouse agrees with you and accepts that there is a real disturbance in the Marital Force, and with you, seeks to work on said disturbance. The person who defined Why-Chasing above, gave criteria for distinguishing it from real progress. If your attempts to heal your relationship results in “an infinitely recursive exercise”, then what’s happening is Why-Chasing. Another phrase used to describe this fruitless activity is “moving the goalposts.”
Or as I like to put it, the status remains quo.
Instead of this, what should be happening is that you and your spouse, having identified past hurts, should be moving to heal those hurts and put them behind you. Although it was a matter of dispute in the Colloquy, there is no doubt that the vulnerable appeal in The Shot Across The Bow is an open attempt to discover hurts that may be laid at your feet. This is the heart of The Shot:
“This is not the marriage we both committed to. If you have rebuke for me. I am all ears. I want to be the best husband for you that I can be. You can lay it on me and I will not resist, but will redouble my efforts. I will withhold NOTHING from you. I will give up ANYTHING that you feel is needed. You just say the word.
The person making this appeal says that s/he wants to know what they did to damage the other’s heart, no matter how much it may hurt to learn. It is at this point that you can either make or break your attempt to begin healing. The author of this appeal, a TMB poster with the screen name Job29Man, turned the direction of his marriage around by hearing his wife’s words and working with her to heal their marriage. Another report tells of how a spouse blew the hurts off, not believing them to be serious and belonging in the past.
The important thing to do is to take the hurts seriously and work for healing. The only thing to watch for is real attempts at healing. If it appears that serious attempts at healing are not happening, that you are merely engaged in Why-chasing, then you are justified in rejecting the manipulation.
One sentence that Chris Taylor wrote in our second colloquy post stands out:
A husband should learn to support his wife in her healing–but not in her complacency.
Yes, if your spouse is making honest attempts to heal, to forgive, then continue to work on the restoration of your relationship. If, however, your spouse is complacent about healing, then it’s time to reexamine the status of your relationship.