As we all know, there are three types of people: optimists, pessimists and curmudgeons. Optimists see the glass as half full while pessimists see the glass as half empty; curmudgeons want to know who drank half their milk, and are pretty sure that whoever it was, they spit in the half that was left.
Give a curmudgeon a scenario, and he can tell you six ways to Sunday how things can go wrong. Which brings me to a category of statement that I’ve been coming across recently.
“Having Sex When You Don’t Want To Makes You Resentful”
On different marriage fora and in blog comments, I have read variations of this statement written by wives, all expressing the idea that having sex when it isn’t her idea causes resentment, anxiety and anger. This type of statement concerns me, because, while it is possible to see an internal, binary logic to it, there are other implications surrounding them that do not bode well for a marriage and do not promise an easy fix, or even a fix at all. The spouse making this statement is revealing bad teaching, bad feelings and/or bad faith.
Past posts on my blog have revealed that I seriously love me some old movies. But my enjoyment of said movies does not mean that I am snowed by Hollywood’s romance mythos and buy into what they are selling. It is unfortunate that Hollywood’s Big Lie about love and romance is so pervasive in our culture. Our culture is saturated with so many bad messages that it would be impossible to enumerate them, but here are some that all of us can recognize, and can probably name a film/character/book/etc. that typifies these thoughts:
Love conquers all
Follow your heart/bliss
Pre-marital sex is always great
(Of course, we Christians have our own version of romance mythology, “It was God who brought us together.”)
While I was in the rough draft stage of this post, a Tweet came across my feed one day telling of a new post by Julie Sibert, of Intimacy in Marriage. Entitled 5 Fabulous Truths About Sex That You Won’t See In A Romantic Movie. It’s an excellent take-down of the Romance Mythos, and an excellent refutation of the wait-for-perfect-conditions mentality. Read it and use it. 🙂
The basic truths about love, marriage and sex that Hollywood conveniently skips are:
Love is a choice of the spirit, not a flutter in the loins,
Marriage is a commitment that takes work and requires sacrifice and humor,
And, Sex, good sex, takes practice.
Yes, good sex may include flutters in the loins, but it includes choosing to be a lover to your spouse. Good sex takes work to get good; those sex scenes in our favorite movies don’t include the awkward first attempts, the experimenting with positions, and the squishy sheets. Good sex requires sacrifice of ourselves to be lovers. Whether it be a quicky for him, or (guys!) taking the time for foreplay to help your wife to become aroused, you make that sacrifice because it’s what lovers do.
And humor? Yes, good sex requires humor; when something doesn’t work or something silly happens to makes you laugh instead of moan, that’s extending grace towards yourselves, because you know that there is always a next time.
“I feel disrespect for myself when I say ‘yes’ when I’m not in the mood.”
“I feel like I’m nothing but a sperm dump when I say ‘yes.’”
“Saying yes when I don’t want to makes me feel resentful.”
I hate to point this out, but these kinds of statements say so much about the persons making them. Contrast these with the wife who says, “Yeah, it’s inconvenient, yeah, I’m not ‘in the mood’, but I love him and I can show my love for him in this way.” Another wife may say, “My husband feels so connected with me when we have sex.” In preparing this post, Wife reminded me of her reaction to Dr. Laura’s book Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. Wife reviewed the book for The Forgiven Wife audience (How Do Men Receive Love?), and included this sentence:
“But what if I’m not in the mood?”, women ask. Do you love him? I cannot speak for all women, but knowing that my husband is satisfied is deeply joyous and gratifying to me.
Contrast the attitude expressed in what Wife wrote with that expressed here: “Saying yes when I don’t want to makes me feel resentful.” When husbands and wives are lovers, sexual intimacy is a way to provide connection for both. However, if sexual activity causes you to resent sex and your spouse, then you are no longer a lover, but an adversary. It’s not just that the two of you are no longer on the same team, it’s like you’ve gone over to the other side!
By this, I’m not referring to one’s salvation and walk with God (although, as to the latter, the jury is still out) , but with one’s walk with their spouse. I think we can all agree that it’s pretty much been established that sexual intimacy is the defining act of marriage, that sex is universally accepted as a given in marriage. When you, as either bride or groom, stand before the preacher or JP and say “I do”, you’re promising to do your spouse. I know that it’s not considered kosher to use the Bible to tell people, especially GCWs™, that their refusal is sin, but even a personage as prestigious as Martin Luther DID call refusing abandonment of the marriage bed and said it was grounds for divorce. I mean, if you can’t explain away 1 Cor. 7:5 AND have Martin Luther on your case, you can’t win.
(Come to think of it, the Jews also saw denial of marital rights as an accepted reason for separation and divorce, going back 3000 years. So, while I may not be calling one’s salvation into question, maybe I’m justified in doubting the sincerity of one’s claims of devotion to God if they believe that they can make marriage over in their own image.)
Another of my commenters wrote something that stayed with me, and I share it here in this context. Reader OOC said, “I’ll never understand how a person could see himself/herself as a loving spouse if they persist in giving the shabbiest and least in love-making.” When I read that, I was reminded of the words of Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament.
When confronted with the charge of despising God, Judah asked, “How have we despised God?” To which Malachi responded,
By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. (Mal. 1:7-8)
My question to Refusers (well, one of many, if I’m to be honest) would be “If you showed the same love to God that you show to your spouse, would He even think you’re one of His?” Before anyone attempts to try to mitigate the repercussions of refusal with the cliched “But what about all the other things I do for him/her? Don’t they count?”
The answer, pure and simple, is “Unfortunately, no, they don’t.” If your spouse can truthfully say that they feel alone, unloved and miserable in your version of companionate marriage, then no, it isn’t enough. It bewilders me when a spouse seems to thinks that it is enough for one person to be happy in a marriage.
Resentful Or Loving; Take Your Pick
Two men were traveling on a train. When the train gets to a station, the first man goes up to a porter by the tracks and asks, “What are the people like around here?”
The porter returns the question, “Oh, I guess that depends; what were the people like where you come from?”
“Oh, they’re good people, salt of the earth types. Give you the shirt off their backs.”
“Well, you’ll find the people in this town are pretty much the same.”
The second man, after looking around the station, comes up to the same porter and says, “I’m looking for a good place to settle down. What are the folks like around here?”
Again, the porter turns the question back, asking what people were like where he came from.
“Oh, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Those folks would just as soon stab you in the back as look at you!”
“Mister,” the porter said, “You’d better get on that train and keep on looking. You’ll find the folks here just like those you left.”
“Saying yes when I don’t want to makes me feel resentful.”
“But what if I’m not in the mood?”, women ask. Do you love him?”
Sex: its import is what you imbue it with. Love or defilement; you choose.