Category Archives: Marriage & Sexuality

Of Marriages and Splinters

splinter

Back in the 70’s, a self-help book entitled I’m Okay, You’re Okay was all the rage, spending a couple of years on best-seller lists. I remember it being used in educational circles in the schools I worked in. After several years of observing how our culture seemed to embrace every new fad that came down the pike but thumped Christians to a fare-thee-well, I articulated the I’m Okay, You’re Okay Social Contract.

The gist of this modern social contract was that all segments of our culture made silent agreement to give okays and attaboys to each other, as long as the others gave okays and attaboys back, and to join together to kick the stuffings out of anyone who had the temerity to not go along with the arrangement. A cultural NATO, if you will.

Okay, that’s past history, but I have to confess that recently, in my thinking, I’ve revisited the I’m Okay construct again. As I was thinking about how spouses blame each other for problems in the marriage, I’ve come to realize that, consciously or unconsciously, both are engaging in another I’m okay behavior.

Instead of going I’m okay, you’re okay, spouses are shucking any responsibility for the situation of the marriage by claiming…

I’m Okay, But You’s Jes’ A Hot Mess!

(Did I mention that I live in the South, btw?) I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I read, and sometimes post on, a secular sexless marriage forum. I see it as a hospice for dying marriages where, unfortunately, some Dr. Kevorkians work to help dispatch the dying.

Recently, I have realized that a goodly number of the habitués of that forum exhibit an all-or-nothing, self-righteous/self-justifying mindset. By that I mean that the only reason that they live in such a craptastic marriage is due to the actions and attitudes of their spouse, while they, themselves, would make Mother Teresa so jealous she could spit, they are so good!

According to these marriage practitioners, the problems in these marriages stem from the fact that “My spouse is a bitch/jerk whilst I am a joy and a delight.” In essence, s/he is a pure hot mess, and needs to change if this marriage is to survive! A popular shibboleth of our day is that marriage isn’t a 50-50 proposition, but a 100-100 arrangement. All too often, though, in these toxic marriages the fault is often ascribed as 100% your fault, and 0% mine!

Understandable Dynamics

Many a blogger has written of the anguish that a husband/wife experiences after years of sexual refusal, disrespect, emotional abuse, etc. But after so many years of being accused of being the problem, there comes a time when emotional breakage is inevitable. I’ve read many a post where someone moves from “What’s wrong with me?” to “What’s wrong with him/her!”

In an set of posts from last year (Muddle and Ugly), I traced the slide of marriages from good to indifferent to ugly. In the same way, there is a downhill slide from continual self-doubt and -flagellation to anger and recrimination. It’s only natural. (Ah, natural, that’s the rub, isn’t it?)

A Lesson From a Louse

One Sunday morning, the Scottish poet Robert Burns attended church, and during the service, happened to spy a louse crawling on the back of a lady’s bonnet. That afternoon, he sat down and wrote a poem entitled To A Louse, the last stanza of which contains two lines that I have never forgotten:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!  

Translated into English, he said, “O would some Power give the gift to us, to see ourselves as others see us!” That woman in church had her own idea of the image that she presented to the church, but Burns literally saw a side of her she did not know she was presenting. In doing so, he recognized what a true gift self-awareness is.

It’s often said that the first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that there IS a problem. However, even that first step won’t help if you refuse to examine yourself to see if you have played a part in the creating the problem. Unfortunately, we have obstacles that prevent us from such self-awareness, and I’m thinking that they are only magnified in a sexless marriage.

In the first stages of a sexless marriage, the refused often begins by trying to ask why there has been a downturn in frequency, and then tries to work on the problems the refuser mentions (this is, cynically, referred to as jumping through hoops.) I referred to this in my Mr. Natural post.

As the sexlessness becomes entrenched, the refused begins why-chasing, often leading to self-doubt and lowered self-esteem. After all, the refused begins to think, “there must be something wrong with me that my spouse finds me un-do-able.”

All too often, as I read around, I’m finding that over time, this inward doubt becomes internalized as bitterness and anger. Years of sexual indifference and neglect begins to crystallize into real resentment and turns outward onto the refuser. When this season of the marriage is arrived at, either cold or hot war can break out.

Log, Meet Splinter

I think that Robert Burns was onto something, especially since the idea occurred to him in church. I know that it is unlikely, but I like to assume that the minister had used Matt. 7:3 as his sermon text that morning: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (ESV)

In all of my 68 years, I’ve never met a sho-nuff, bona fide, dipped-in-bronze saint, and really don’t think likely that I will before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Remember, folks, there are two sinners in every marriage, and the sooner you realize that, the nearer you are to being able to restore a relationship. When you reach the point that you think that you are irreproachable, that your actions in the relationship are pure and unassailable, you have no chance of restoring your marriage.

In Matt. 7:3, Jesus tells us to take a step back and examine ourselves. After all, unless you are a second incarnation of Jesus, you aren’t sinless. By the way, I make no guarantees that your marriage will be restored. In fact, even Jesus doesn’t make any guarantees. He simply tells you what you must do; it’s just the right thing to do.

But when you do what Jesus commanded, removing any splinters that you yourself are carrying around, it allows you to see more accurately the reality of the situation that you find yourself in, and not just the marriage as you see it. And this gives room for your spouse to have a chance to have a better look at him-/herself. Admittedly, his/her response can be positive or negative, but by stepping back, you let God work on your flaws, and give Him a chance to work on their flaws.

So, Good Christian Husband/Wife, are you willing to take a step back and take an honest look at yourself? Do you have garbage to own up to, in your marriage? Do you need to take time to remove any splinters, and let God be God?

CSL

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.”

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“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. Continue reading

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A Plea For Two-Handed Thinking

 

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This year, I have been engaged in a fascinating exploration of different writers and teachers who say that Christians need to understand the first-century context of Jesus and the Gospels. To get a handle on what the gospels contain, we have to give up our Western mindset and think how Christ’s words sounded to His fellow first-century Jews; after all, He wasn’t speaking to 20th- and 21st-century Lutherans, Baptists and Methodists. To do so, one of the teachers said, “you have to think Hebraically.” He went on to say that “thinking Hebraically requires two hands: ‘on the one hand,… and on the other hand….’” Continue reading

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“… and the Ugly.”: part 3

ugly 3
(Note: in this post, I am addressing husbands who find themselves in Hades-marriages. However, Paul B.’s suggestions and my comments and suggestions apply to any wife who finds herself in the same situation.)
This is the third in a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 2.

With my last two posts, I have been addressing a dirty secret about marriage that we Christians don’t like to talk about, that of truly Ugly! marriages, which rather than “made in Heaven” seem to have been spawned in Hades. These marriages are an embarrassment to us because they mar the image that the church wants to promote, that of marriage as a union “blessed by God”. Continue reading

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“… and the Ugly”: part 2

ugly2
(Note: in this post, I write as addressing husbands who find themselves in Hades-marriages. However, Paul Byerly’s suggestions and my comments and suggestions apply to any wife who finds herself in the same situation.)
This is the second of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 3.

In my first post about truly Ugly marriages, those spawned in Hades, I wrote about how Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, had recently experienced an unsettling nightmare, in which he dreamt of being trapped in a Hades-marriage. His next post told of his thoughts on how he would attempt to deal with the situation if he were in one. Continue reading

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“… and the Ugly”: part 1

ugly1

This is the first of a three-part series; here are the links to part 2 and part 3.

In my first Indifferent Muddle post, I referenced Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect, a book I recommend highly. I mentioned how he and the Byerlys, of Generous Husband and Generous Wife, speak of good-willed spouses, husbands and wives who do have goodwill in their hearts toward each other. It was in that first post that I discussed that not all marriages have spouses who are still good-willed, hence the Indifferent Muddle. Continue reading

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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 2

bored2

In my last post, I wrote about the state that many marriages find themselves in, that of the Indifferent Muddle. In this condition, husband and wife plod through their married life with a growing indifference in how they live in their marriages, since the marriage is carried on by rote. Oh, if asked, each will say, “I love my husband/wife!”, but maybe, if pressed about desire and attraction for their spouse, they will agree with the old Amish saying, “Cooking lasts.” Passion, however? E-e-eh, not so much. Continue reading

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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 1

bored1

Many of the authors and bloggers I read make it a point to emphasize generosity and good-will. Two of my favorite bloggers are Paul and Lori Byerly, authors the Generous Husband and Generous Wife blogs (I read them every morning, without fail.) Another example would be Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, who peppers his writings with statements on how most spouses are not evil jerks and witches, but truly do have good-will for their mates (a statement with which I agree, by the way). Continue reading

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Point to Ponder…

Recently, I came across a statement by a man who is contemplating divorce due to his sexless marriage, and just the wording made me want to put this out as a warning.

Love is a perishable commodity.

There are so many ways I could go with this, such as taking the opposite tack, that love, if it is true love, is eternal, or that God’s love is unconditional. Yup, all that.

But we need to realize that love is not something to presume upon. If we abuse love, it may very well wither and die. Hence the well-known Walk-away Wife and Walk-away Husband syndromes.

But here’s the catch: yes, love may be perishable, but the fact is that we are the only ones who can kill it.

Jes’ sayin’.
CSL

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July 5, 2017 · 9:43 pm

Be The Voice

lighthouse (1)

There’s a way to handle a woman, said the wise old man.
Simply love her.
~ From Camelot.

Earlier this month, Julie Sibert, of Intimacy In Marriage did an excellent post for wives on Three Ways To Like Sex (When You Hate Your Body). It was an excellent post, and as I read it, this song from Camelot came drifting back to my mind. You know that I have a problem with the way that the today’s church has twisted Paul’s instructions for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Continue reading

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