“Stop pressuring me!”

pressure

(Let me preface this post, and stress as strongly as I can, this one caveat. If the cause of sexual gatekeeping/refusal in your marriage is due to legitimate issues of the past, such as seriously bad teaching or the result of past abuse, then sexual reluctance is understandable. Understandable, yes, but not necessarily permanent. If it comes to light that there has been past physical or spiritual abuse, then it is incumbent upon both, and I stress, BOTH, spouses to be understanding of each other and to work on healing, so that the marriage can be put on right footing.)

I realize that I haven’t written a post for this blog in a while, and I guess I apologize for that,… er, sort of. Unlike many of the other marriage and sexuality bloggers (whom I truly enjoy and honor), I don’t see myself as a writer. Instead, I’m more like that old guy that you know of who gets himself in a state and then proceeds to grace the world with his wisdom, whether wanted or not.

One of my aids for writing is my idea folder on my laptop, which contains word processing files with snippets of ideas or quotes that I’ve culled over time that I thought, somewhere in the past, might be a good topic to think on and to write about. This is a post that is triggered by one of those older snippets.

Apparently some time ago, I had come across a comment by someone who said that she felt “pressured to have sex” and I made a note of it in my Future Post Files. This is something that I had seen before a few times, as a pushback by a gatekeeping/refusing spouse against sexual initiation. In rediscovering that note and thinking about what might lie behind that sort of statement, I found that it triggered three questions that I want to take time to flush out.

Didn’t You Think That Sex Was Part Of “The Deal”?

You did know that sex was is part of the expectation of married life when you said “I do”, when you signed the marriage certificate, didn’t you? If not, I have a thought experiment for you: if you can, please name any culture, any society, down through the ages in which sex was NOT a part of a marriage relationship. What makes you think that your “I do” was so special that it set your marriage apart from all the rest of the marriages in history? And if you, by your “I do”, promised your spouse that you willingly enter into a sexual relationship, why is it transformed into “pressure?”

One word I’m hearing bandied about these days is “privilege,” and I’m wondering if some people come into marriage with a “privilege” mindset. One thought is that someone marries thinking “It’s my privilege to NOT have sex; my spouse doesn’t have a right to expect sex in our marriage.” Another tack might be, “Sex is a privilege, and by Billy Bedamned Hangtree, s/he is gonna have to earn the privilege!” Believe it or not, I’ve seen both mindsets expressed.

I always marvel at the statement, “I feel pressure to have sex.” When you say “I do”, you are entering into a sexual relationship, and you promised to “do” your spouse. Where does this so-called “pressure” come from other than believing that you are entitled to carve out a right to celibacy?

Other Pressures?

In discussing this topic with Wife, she made an interesting comment. Shaking her head, she rhetorically asked, “Do you feed pressure to feed your children? Do you feel pressure to go to work and earn money?”

And she is onto something, isn’t she? We DO face responsibilities for ourselves and others, whether it be going to work to provide, to clothe, feed and care for our children, to pay bills, etc. Imagine if someone were to tell their employer, “You’re pressuring me to perform my job!” Or to tell your kids, “Don’t tell me you are hungry, it puts pressure on me to feed you!” Try telling the bank, “Don’t send me letters asking me to pay my mortgage, it stresses me out when you ask for money!”

We have a word for someone who doesn’t perform their work: bad employee
We have a word for someone who doesn’t try to provide for their kids: bad parent.
We have a word for someone who doesn’t try to keep up their their bills: bad financial risk.

So, what should we say of someone who does not accept the obligation/responsibility (for that it what one assumes with an “I do”, responsibility) of their promise to enter into a sexual relationship? A bad spouse? (Too much pressure!)

Hmmm……. Maybe I’ve stepped over a line, and made some people feel ….

Or Something Else?

Make people feel… what? Could it be that it isn’t so much pressure, but  something more like… guilt?

After all, I can’t bring myself to believe that, in this day and age, someone would actually go into a marriage with the idea that sex isn’t part of the arrangement, so the “too much pressure” is really bogus, isn’t it? But it has to come from somewhere, right?

And I’m thinking that it does, that it comes from our desire to protect our self-image, our belief that we have integrity as a person, if you will. All too often, we feel that we have to be perfect, and if something is wrong or off, it has to be the other person’s fault, it can’t be ours. And so we lash out in an effort to push the blame onto the other.

It’s not that I don’t want sex, it’s that you are always pressuring me.
It’s not that I don’t like sex, it’s that you haven’t wooed me.
It’s not that I don’t desire you, it’s that I get tired of your nagging about it.

But we know that the failure is inside of us, and so, to protect our self-esteem, we strike out in order to avoid dealing with our failure to make fulfilling our promise a priority. Yes, we actually meant it when we said “love, honor and cherish,” but so much of life has gotten in the way. And now your asking is a reminder of my failure to keep my promise to you.

What if it comes down to this, that “your pressuring me to have sex” is simply shorthand for “You’re making me feel guilty and I don’t like it”?

You know, as a card-carrying curmudgeon, I’m willing to bet that guilt triggers much of the “Stop putting pressure on me” pushback from a refusing spouse.

I think that unless there was an intent to deceive right at the “I do’s”, a gatekeeper or mored/moredet** actually accepted the fact, at the beginning, that marriage was a sexual relationship. Somehow however, other things choked out the intention of the original promise.

We know of the Parable of the Four Soils that Jesus told, and how he applied it to the hearts of those who hear his word. I’m thinking that the parable can also be applied (not interpreted, mind you!) to marriage. Just as weeds choked out the new growth, everyday living can choke out our good intentions.

If so, it’s time to do some weeding.

(more to come, maybe.)

CSL

** Rabbinic term for a spouse who refuses sex.

Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”

15 Comments

Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

15 responses to ““Stop pressuring me!”

  1. Phil

    Good to hear from you again CSL

    It’s not that I don’t want sex, it’s that you are always pressuring me.
    It’s not that I don’t like sex, it’s that you haven’t wooed me.
    It’s not that I don’t desire you, it’s that I get tired of your nagging about it.

    I have heard/been accused of all of the above and more so I find it very interesting that you associate this behaviour with guilt. My wife always complains that she feels pressurised by me all the time even though we often go months without even talking about sex. Apparently the very fact that she knows I want to be intimate at all is now enough to make her totally refuse me and put her under pressure.

    We are due to go out this weekend to specifically talk about this pressure that she feels so your post is very timely…..I’ll let you know how we get on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Phil,
      I decided to wait before replying; it’s been a month–so how did the conference go?
      CSL

      Like

      • Phil

        Hi CSL

        Thanks for your gentle reminder of my promise to let you know.

        As you can probably guess by my lack of an immediate response it didn’t go very well…..basically we got to the point in our conversation where I asked her if she had considered sex an integral part of our marriage initially and she admitted it was but because I’d made such a big thing about sex back then that this had put her off and now, as she feels I want it all the time, this has completely put her off the idea all together.

        What drives me crazy is that I can categorically state that I do not mention sex or give any signal that I want her sexually from one week to the next however lonely etc I feel and yet when I summon up the courage to mention anything with any connection to intimacy knowing that I face getting knocked back yet again she instantly quashes the notion as ridiculous and very selfish of me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I read your reply, and I see further lines of discussion:

        1. “Are you saying that the fact that I want sex makes you want to NOT have sex? If so, what does that say about how you feel about me?”

        2. “Are you saying that you resent my desire for sex? If sex is important to our marriage relationship, and you now think that my desire for sex is bad, are you saying that you have reconsidered our marriage relationship? Do I need to do so, as well?”

        3. “Do you consider it right to impose celibacy upon me because you resent something in our past? If so, do you think it okay for me to resent you for your unilateral punishment of me for how you perceived my actions?”

        I’m just spitballing ideas here, I admit, but her statement is worthy of further unpacking. BTW, how long has your wife’ gatekeeping/refusing gone on?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Phil

        CSL
        Your questions raise some pertinent points and although I have covered much of the same ground previously I took them as an opportunity to have another ‘conversation’ with my wife.
        1. Are you saying that the fact that I want sex makes you want to NOT have sex? If so, what does that say about how you feel about me?…….Yes…..She feels that I always want sex and that puts her off wanting it at all.
        2. Are you saying that you resent my desire for sex? If sex is important to our marriage relationship, and you now think that my desire for sex is bad, are you saying that you have reconsidered our marriage relationship? Do I need to do so, as well?………Yes………I should say that there is some bad teaching involved here as she is convinced that ‘being lovers’ can only exist at the start of a relationship and the physical side subsides to the point where it is normal and common for married couples to not have sex (I’m sure this stems from her parents who did not show signs of love and affection)……..she says to me that if I want to go and find someone else to marry just because of sex then that is my decision, but she feels that I will always be disappointed.
        3. Do you consider it right to impose celibacy upon me because you resent something in our past? If so, do you think it okay for me to resent you for your unilateral punishment of me for how you perceived my actions?……. She resents me for what has happened in the past which predominantly includes a failed business which cost us our family house and has put us through a lot of financial hardship even though this is behind us as I now have a good job bringing in a decent salary. She also doesn’t trust me as she feels I can be very nice one day and then grumpy the next (she knows that this relates to the lack of intimacy in our marriage) which ultimately means that she will not allow me to be intimate with her. She gets angry if I show resentment towards her as she believes I am at fault not her.

        Finally, as you asked, we have been married for 28-years and sex hasn’t ever really been forthcoming but she has been gatekeeping for the last 16-years averaging less than once a year between 2004 and 2011 and totally refusing for the last almost 7-years. Incidentally I started my own business in 2007 and closed it in 2012.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. TJC

    Yeah same old story same old song and dance. It can never be her, it has to be the husband’s fault.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John

    Well, what about this? The apostle Paul commands spouses to NOT have sex ONLY if BOTH agree to that. Hence, if one of the spouses wants sex, the other should oblige. That’s why it’s called conjugal rights. Refusing this, is to be disobedient to God’s commands, and is SIN. When did you hear a talk in church about that?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. WhereIwas

    You are correct. Wife here and I got the same thing from my end. He was too tired and too stressed and even said that I was too good of a cook and he was too full 4 hours later. Wearing lingerie was too much pressure; asking for a passionate kiss in lieu of the nothing I got for special occasions was too much pressure. Me wanting him to not lay like a corpse was too much pressure. He brought home a paycheck; that was more than enough.

    Porn was apparently much more pleasurable because it doesn’t pressure or want anything in return. And expectations of sex when you’re married? Married women don’t want sex so the fact that I did just meant that I was in the wrong and just needed to learn to live with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. TJC

    I have been thinking about this for a few days now. Yes I suppose it does go both ways.What these spouses don’t understand is , that eventually the other spouse WILL go away, if only in their heart. And then they wonder why their spouse doesn’t pursue them anymore, or make romantic gestures, and complain about feeling unloved. No one wants to be with or have sex with someone who doesn’t want to be with or have sex with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Inadequate Wife

    I found this site from a link through another blog.
    Interesting article.
    I’m not in a sexless marriage. I don’t feel pressured for sex by my husband, but I pressure myself to be sexual weekly just because I said “I do” and took on the responsibility to provide for my husbands sexual needs.
    I don’t deflect the pressure on him. I own the pressure to be sexual myself.

    I went through menopause about 10 years ago. My hormones are so messed up my NP is tired of trying to adjust my body chemistry. Been working of this for years. I no longer get sexually aroused, nor do I orgasm.
    I’m dry, I bleed, and I get urinary tract infections routinely.
    So:
    I no longer enjoy sex.
    I no longer desire sex.
    I don’t get much out of sex.
    I could easily go sexless and not miss a beat.

    But, I have sex because I said “I do”.
    Is this what you mean by responsibility?

    There’s lots of us out there having sex due to guilt and self pressure. I do wonder why people seem to think that sex is easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs. IW,

      I was not engaging in avoiding your comment, but I was seeing if I could find resources for you.

      As to your question, yes, this is what I mean when I say “responsibility.” But I also mean, “generosity.” I am assuming that when you say that you put this pressure on yourself, you do mean that you do this willingly and out of love, and not out of a sense of duty. I have read so many ‘testimonies’ of duty sex, and husbands who feel terrible because their wives only engage in any activity out of obligation.

      But in reading of your post, I don’t catch a hint of that. Instead, when you say that you you pressure yourself because you assumed responsibility for your husband’s needs, I don’t see obligation so much as care and concern. So, yes, this is the idea behind what I was saying.

      That said, however, if PIV intercourse is causing health issues, it behooves you and your husband seeking out different avenues for sexual intimacy between the two of you. Other methods might include oral and manual sex or “outercourse.” You don’t provide info about how you and your hubs have communicated over the matter, but I’m wondering if you know his heart on what intercourse is doing to you. If you are pressuring yourself about sex, I can see where you might be hiding the consequences from your husband. If so, you need to talk with him; I know that I would not be comfortable “forcing” my wife to engage in something that is injurious to her.

      Lastly, as I said above, I was trying to find information/resources for your situation, but I have only been able to come up with one link. My friend Chris Taylor, over at Forgiven Wife, wrote a post two weeks ago that may be of help to you. Here is the link to HER POST, and I recommend that you email her and see if she knows of others who can help you in your situation.

      CSL

      Like

  7. Broken Wife

    My husband and I have been having outercourse for him over the past couple of years. I do it out of obligation and love. Since sexual touch has become irritating for me, sex is solely for him. I have no sexual needs myself, but, with all my heart, I oblige with generosity for him.

    I will say that sexually arousing someone when you aren’t sexually aroused yourself is kind of a strange feeling. I often wondered if this is how hookers feel. I have to clear that image from my head and move forward. It certainly takes away from the mutuality of it all. But I do my best.
    I think it’s hard on the partner with needs, taking and not being able to reciprocate. The mutuality of it is gone. It’s all about one.
    I have a bad neck. Sometimes I just need my husband to massage my back to ease the pain. He does, with love, but not with whole hearted enthusiasm. He’s often watching TV and loses his attention to what he’s doing. He soon peters out. If I ask him two days in a row, the second day isn’t even worth his effort. He’s just not into it. If he knew it would lead to sex, he’d be all over it 😦
    I try to be more attentive than that, but at times it’s hard. There are things I just can’t do when I’m not aroused. Funny how arousal can block out the gross factor. Anyway, I try, I do, and I will until he is no longer in need.
    Not what I expected when I said, “I do”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, BW,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and situation. Given who I am, I can’t help but ask questions, so please, if you will, indulge me.

      My first question is about arousal – why none? If it is a matter of the Hubs being unwilling, I have a few choice words for him. If otherwise, be it physical or psychological, have you sought help?

      Next, you aren’t the first to battle the hooker image, and I am glad that you love your husband enough to push that away. But your “oblige him” statement has me wondering if the resentment that you try to push away isn’t felt by your Hubs. Some time back Paul Byerly did a survey in which he asked men what they felt about “Mercy Sex”, and he got a 50-50 split; 50% would accept, 50% would rather opt for none, and very few expressed satisfaction with it.

      Third, about the massage? My suggestion is to sit the boy down, away from the bed or TV, and tell him that you physically “need” his ministration, and that his petering out or begging off in this is akin to refusal or gatekeeping. And use the “ministration” idea; after all, he promised to care for you, and that doesn’t mean just emoting sympathetic little mewlings. It may involve service, and in your case, does. So he needs to step up.

      Next, I guess I should have asked this first – what is the spiritual state of you, your husband and your marriage? Christian or non-, loving or complacent, etc.

      And last, pourquoi “Broken”? What has you beaten down? If you would prefer, you can send me an email rather than post in the comment section. Just use the CONTACT ME button in the sidebar.

      In Christ,
      CSL

      Like

      • Broken Wife

        Thank you for your interest.

        Why no arousal?
        It certainly has nothing to do with lack of trying on my husband’s part.
        Short answer: Menopause.
        In the last 8 years I have seen 3 GYN’s, 4 primary care physicians, 1 awesome hormone specialist, and 2 psychotherapists.
        Consensus: Menopause.
        Menopause has basically left me asexual. I don’t desire sex, I no longer become aroused….sexual touch is annoying, and I no longer orgasm. My vagina is atrophied. I have vulvo-dynia. Basically, sex is no longer physically pleasurable which makes it hard to want sex at all.

        Treatments:
        Lubes/moisturizers…..helped make sex tolerable but not pleasurable.
        Vibrators & other mechanical devices….helped with maintaining orgasms for a while. After arousal left, so did the orgasms.
        Herbal supplements…..nothing helped
        Testosterone cream…..never helped desire or arousal but did succeed in making my hair fall out and face brake out in pimples. Fun.
        HRT….bio-identical hormones…helped with hot flashes, heart palpitations, vaginal dryness (a little). Did nothing for desire, arousal, or orgasms.
        I am to stay on the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time due to increased risks of heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer….what we do to stay sexually active 🙂
        Outercourse: Refreshing. Takes the pressure, anxiety, fear of pain, and lack of wanting to be touched right off the table. Whew! I no longer have to force my body to tolerate what it no longer wants, needs, or finds pleasurable.

        My husband and I are Christians. Slightly active, not hard core.
        We’ve been married 32 years. Have a loving relationship. We are best friends, now retired, and spend most of our time together. We have always been able to communicate about this lovely time of life and it’s affects on our sex life.
        My husband understands that my issues are physical, due to my personal biological functioning (or lack there of) and my inability to enjoy sex is not due to a lack of love for him. That knowledge hasn’t helped much.
        His biggest problem is figuring out how to deal with his ego and sense of self because they have always been intertwined with his sexuality. Tough on a guy. I do feel sorry for men in that regard.

        Pourquoi Broken?
        Biologically I’m following the normal process. Medically, I’m nothing unusual. But, because I am married and am expected to remain sexually active until death due us part, I am a “Broken” wife. My sexual responsiveness has died. His hasn’t (well a little but not so noticeable).
        I am a married, sexually Broken, wife.

        I do not do “Mercy Sex”. I don’t even know what that means. I have sex for my husband. My body can’t do sex his way anymore. My body can’t do sex my way. He still has needs. I married him. I am to fulfill his needs best I can. I oblige (verb); to be kindly accommodating. Resentment? No. Guilt? Yes.

        Sex is supposed to be mutually enjoyable. Well folks, it’s not always that way. It sure seems like a good many (sexually healthy) people have a hard time understanding sex isn’t always easy, blissful, and beautiful.
        It’s hard being under the influence of someone else’s sex drive when there are no reciprocal feelings and or needs. Feels Unnatural.
        The one thing I can’t do is Act horny when I’m not. Creepy.
        It’s weird bringing someone to sexual arousal and climax while sitting back and watching. Nothing arousing about it. But, it is what it is.

        How do hookers do it?

        Liked by 2 people

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