Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Math: 1 plus 2/3 equals 2???

Realizing that this does occur in some marriages, do we frequently hear or read about a spouse openly withholding emotional love? ...or even verbalizing it by saying, "I want to stay married to you but do not expect me to meet your emotional needs as a spouse. It is just not in me and it is not important to our relationship. If your emotional needs are more than I can fulfill, you can get a dog."

How often does a spouse who is a professing Christian say, "I do not think that God minds if I am rarely in the mood to be spiritually united with you so we can just not be concerned about it. God will not mind because I am a generally good person. Do you need more spirituality than what we have? Just go pray more or lower your spiritual expectations. Don't ask me to raise mine.”

How common is it to hear about a married person entering the marriage with no intention of being sexually generous? Or at some point in the marriage they become sexually selfish and think or say, “No biggie. It is just sex. I will decide when and how the gate opens and you can just adjust to what I decide. This works for me! Look at how well I do all these other things. You can let me slide on this one thing.”

Sometimes in my head I compare this to an employee who in their work place has maybe 6 responsibilities given to them by their employer. But the employee takes it upon himself to pick and choose which responsibilities he will carry out and which he will ignore. His boss then asks him, “What is up with that? I really like you. You seem to be a good person but I gave you 6 duties to regularly carry out and you have only been doing 2 of them. For our working relationship to be successful I need for you to do all 6. And the employee tells him, “I am doing 2 of the 6. I stay busy. It is not like I am not doing anything. Look at the excellent work I give you with these 2 duties. I do not see why you are dissatisfied with my work. Why are you complaining? Perhaps your expectations are too high.”

If you were the employer how would that attitude fly by you? On a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being “poor rating” and 10 being “excellent” how would you evaluate this employee? If they refused to comply with your requests would you keep them on and hope that they change or would you send them on their way?

Do we too often separate the components of a healthy marriage relationship? And if we do, which one or ones typically get left out and why? How do we justify offering two-thirds or even half of ourselves to the marriage table? Can you think of any other relationship where this would be acceptable or even tolerated? Sure, none of us are perfect but should we not be rigorously working on all areas of our marriage and working on them throughout our entire marriage? Was there anything in your wedding vows which allows for us to be partial spouses rather than whole ones? Is there ever a time when “1 plus 2/3's can equal 2”?

23 comments:

TrashCanFoundling said...

No, this sort of "pick and choose which responsibilities I want to fulfill, and tough beans if you want me to do the rest" would not be tolerated in a professional environment or any sort of working relationship where you have to report to someone or have to work with someone to get something done.

What's to blame? Hard to say, really. Maybe it's because sex has become so banal with all the blatant sexual overtones in popular music and advertising, so it's consider "petty and unnecessary" by some. Maybe it's because while there's a lot of education on the dangers of sex, there's next to none on how to have a healthy, intimate, and lovingly sexual relationship with your spouse. Regardless of the cause however, far too many people in relationships give short shrift to how important good, loving sex can be to keeping that relationship alive.

You should check out the message board here dedicated to the problem of "Mismatched Libidos" and all the emotional carnage caused by less-than-generous spouses. It's a real heartbreak hotel in there:

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-rlclashing

Thank you for keeping this blog running as a good example of how it is possible to turn a sexually refusing relationship around.

Signed,

TrashCanFoundling

LIT56RD said...

Gemma,

Excellent analogies and comparisons. These are important in all areas of marriage and life.

God Bless You
LIT56RD

job29man said...

Gemma,

Excellent analogy! To answer your question about the employee who says "I choose to only complete 2 of my 6 assigned responsibilities."

As an employer myself, of course I'd give that employee a failing grade in a performance review and either fire him outright, or put him on probation. The terms of this probation would be "Go home for one week without pay, and I want you to really think about whether you are committed to this company. If you still believe that you can refuse to perform even ONE of your assigned duties don't bother coming back. Otherwise IF you come back you WILL do ALL 6 of your duties, and do them well, and do them WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE and ENTHUSIASM."

An employee who has the attitude that he is calling the shots on what he will and won't do misses the whole point of the employer/employee relationship, and if he refuses even ONE of the assigned duties he is a worthless fellow who should be terminated.

A spouse who has the attitude "Bu waaa ahhh ahhh! You are STUCK with me! You can't fire me, you vowed before God that you would keep me no matter what kind of wickedness I do to you!" is a worthless spouse worthy of correction and consequences. There should be no grading on a curve, no "Well he/she is such a good parent and provider/homemaker, so I'll let the intimacy thing slide."

mr self respect said...

Employees can be hired and fired. Obviously, some employees are more valuable than others. Some can be more easily replaced than others.

There was one employee at my work recently, who behaved very, very badly. He was insubordinate, arrogant, and extremely selfish. But he had a specialized skill set that was difficult, if not impossible, to replace. So management kept him on, despite the fact that he was very bad for morale throughout the office. He finally punched his own ticket out of the company; no one barred the door as he left.

I guess a marriage can be closer to that. And a disobedient spouse can be like the disobedient employee that's hard to fire. You may want to get rid of them - but it is not that simple.

Gemma said...

Job29man said:
The terms of this probation would be "Go home for one week without pay, and I want you to really think about whether you are committed to this company..."

Good point, Job. The problem I see with bad marriages is that people are so afraid to lose what they have, even if what they have is making their life miserable. That's why when refused spouses go on marriage forums and complain about their marriage bed they always either precede or succeed their complaints with silly compliments such as: "she's wonderful in every other way" or... "she's a great mother to our kids" or..... "she's very active in our church".... To all the complimentary comments they make about a wife living in the sin of refusal I say-- So what!!! Do any of those things about your wife make it OK for her to crap all over you in the marriage bed???

It's like an abused wife saying, "When my husband's in a good mood or when he's not drunk he treats me like a queen. The rest of the time he physically abuses me. I'm at the emergency room at least once a month. And he also sleeps around with other women on a regular basis. What should I do?"

We'd be quick to tell the abused wife to kick the husband to the curb. But because the mentally abused and sexually neglected husband (refused wife) isn't being physically abused he's supposed to put up with it indefinitely because of scripture and because of his wedding vows? What about scripture and wedding vows of refusing wives? Do the refusers have more grace because they don't inflict physical cuts and bruises? How does that compare to physically abusive husbands who take care to inflict cuts and bruises on their wife where under normal circumstances nobody but wife can see them?

Gemma said...

mr self respect said:
“There was one employee at my work…. He was insubordinate, arrogant, and extremely selfish. But he had a specialized skill set that was difficult, if not impossible, to replace. So management kept him on, despite the fact that he was very bad for morale throughout the office. He finally punched his own ticket out of the company; no one barred the door as he left….. And a disobedient spouse can be like the disobedient employee that's hard to fire. You may want to get rid of them - but it is not that simple.”

So MSR, you’re saying that in spite of that employee’s specialized skill, when he finally did leave the management told him, “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out,”… that they were glad to see his sorry specialized skill go out the door? Hmmm, wonder if any of them had regrets over not firing him sooner? It was a bad business move to keep him on because of a skill. I’ve never seen a company benefit from skills coming from an insubordinate employee. If a company or an employer does temporarily benefit from the skill, it always comes back to bite them. You never come out ahead compromising ethics or morals in order for a company to gain money or for a person to keep a bad spouse who doesn’t want to be married.

Gemma said...

TrashCanFoundling said:
"You should check out the message board here dedicated to the problem of "Mismatched Libidos" and all the emotional carnage caused by less-than-generous spouses. It's a real heartbreak hotel in there:
http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-rlclashing ..."

Thanks for the link, TCF. I'll check it out.

TrashCanFoundling said...

I definitely think you should check out that forum. There's plenty of stories there you could use for inspiration and the like.

I don't know if you've already done this, but the story of "very_perplexed" on the TMB forums seems to have been quite a nice turnaround for a bride-to-be who was initially looking to be sexually refusing. Maybe you can do an entry on her story and how she managed that turnaround before serious consequences happened.

As I said before, more education for couples on why, and how, a lovingly romantic AND lovingly sexual relationship can sustain a relationship and provide for much joy. It would save us all so much trouble and heartache.

Signed,

TrashCanFoundling

Ancient Mariner said...

I am going to take the contrary view and disagree with all of you. First, it is a false analogy to compare a marriage to a job. As much as I love my job, if they did not pay me, I would stop going. Immediately. On the other hand, money, or a legalistic contract, has nothing to do with why I got married, and with why I stay married. It is precisely because the marriage bonds are meant to transcend mere contracts that the unknowing young couple is made to promise “to have and to hold...in sickness and in death...etc.” Because of our human natures, marriage will always be difficult, and we will be tempted to dissolve the marriage when things get rough. We have all gone through periods where we have wondered whether it was a mistake to have gotten married. I remember my siblings and I urging my mother to divorce my father when he was being particularly nasty to her. I remember thinking about divorce myself years later, when I could not for the life of me get along with my wife, no matter how hard I tried.

Yet, it is proper that we should go to great extremeties before seriously considering divorce, and it is also proper that there is a social stigma attached to the shattering of a union which goes so far beyond a mere business contract, so as to keep us trying to hold the marriage together. If one spouse is failing in the marriage, the other partner has to do their best to support them and see them through it, not deliver an ultimatum with the threat of divorce as a goad if a checklist of requirements is not met.

From what I understand in this post, Gemma, your husband would have been right to divorce you years ago for withholding part of yourself from your marriage for so long, rather than persisting in encouraging you and cajoling you to change. And yet you did change, and are now deliriously happy in your marriage. So am I, because of things I have learned mainly on this blog.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but shouldn’t every other couple have a chance at that happiness?

Gemma said...

Mariner, I think you might have misunderstood why I wrote the "New Math" article and that's partly my fault. The way I wrote it, I can easily see where it could be interpreted different ways.

I wasn't proposing that when a marriage bed is failing miserably that the disappointed spouse should automatically bail out. What I am trying to say, what I am always try to say, is that we should be giving 100% in all areas of our marriage, including our MB. Where do folks get off thinking that it's OK to be selfish with their spouse, that's it's good enough to only give 50%? Does God give us 50%? Why would we think it would be acceptable to give our spouse 50%?

I read story after story of refused spouses who complain of their refusing spouse but do little or nothing to encourage change. Instead they're so concerned about keeping their wife happy-- their perfect wife, perfect mom to their kids, that they get themselves in a steady habit of enabling the selfishness. It's like they keep shooting themselves in the foot. They think that giving a refuser her way, keeping her happy, will help her come around in the MB; but it doesn't.

Really, I just want to scream when I hear a new poster on a marriage forum begin their first post with, "I've been married _____ number of years. She's the greatest mom to our kids. She's a perfect wife in every other way except, our marriage bed stinks."

Why do they initially go on and on explaining all her positive traits to others on the forums? I just don't get it unless they only do it so we don't all think they're married to a horrible person??? I don't know! Can anyone tell me why they do this?

The two biggest things I seem to say over and over are-- Refusers, quit being selfish. Refused, quit enabling.

That's really what I meant when I wrote the "New Math" article. Divorce should always, ALWAYS be a very last option after much time and energy has been devoted to the issues.

Mariner you commented:
"From what I understand in this post, Gemma, your husband would have been right to divorce you years ago for withholding part of yourself from your marriage for so long, rather than persisting in encouraging you and cajoling you to change. And yet you did change, and are now deliriously happy in your marriage. So am I, because of things I have learned mainly on this blog....... Perhaps I am mistaken, but shouldn’t every other couple have a chance at that happiness?"

Yes, every couple should have a chance of repairing their MB issues but my point was this-- Every refuser needs to understand how selfish they are behaving and every refused spouse needs to quite enabling the bad behavior. They need to push and prod to the refusing spouse to seek help. Otherwise, if they only keep doing that "dance" it could go on for decades and that's just so sad to waste time which you could be enjoying together.

Sure, my dh had every right to divorce me and we're both glad he didn't but how much sooner could we have been enjoying our MB if we had both been more proactive with the issues we had going on?

Ancient Mariner said...

Gemma, my apologies. The confusion was all on my part. I know you always advocate working things out in troubled marriages, and I should have focused on that.

My marriage went downhill for the last 11 years. The first 10 were characterized by ever-decreasing affection and intimacy, and the last year was completely devoid of any kind of emotion and physical contact: no touching, no kissing, no sex. I never thought of getting a divorce--although my wife suggested it strongly--mostly because of the children. I have seen kids of divorce, and there is always a tinge of sadness about them. One peculiar thing which happened to us without our knowing it at the time is that my wife was very ill, to the point of death, and as she deteriorated, her personality gradually changed. At the end, she became someone, a snarling angry woman, that I did not recognize. It was her near death and the fright it gave her that made her take her health seriously. Once that started to improve, her old personality came back. Looking back, I think that if I had pushed to get her help, any kind of help, while she was in that refusing, denying frame of mine, it would probably have resulted in a divorce. As a result of my enabling her for so long, her health is now precarious, and the road to recovery will be long and arduous. I second-guess myself constantly, and wonder if it would have been better to have her healthy and divorced, rather than happily married, but with a life-threatening, incurable illness...

Why is life so complicated?

Gemma said...

No need to apologize, Mariner. I only responded that way because I don't want folks to think I'm a divorce pusher. Trust me, I thank God every day that my husband didn't bail out on me. My big regret, our big regret is that we were not proactive in working on our marriage issues from the get-go. Yes, life can be complicated. We will always make mistakes but hopefully we will always learn from them.

TrashCanFoundling said...

AM,

I don't get it--is your spouse willing to see things your way now, or is she still up to her refusing ways (implied when you said "her old personality came back")? You also made no mention of whether or not her illness actually made her more compromising.

All this talk reminded me of something--the "principle of least interest," where whoever has the least interest in a relationship has the most power in that relationship. But power is given, never taken, because our decisions are ours alone to make. There needs to be a better way to convince refusing partners that having this power is self-defeating for everyone involved.

Gemma,

Maybe your next entry could be one focussing on how to avoid such a situation like yours in the future. The principles could go something like this.

1. Before you establish a strong, steady relationship with someone, try to suss out whether or not they'll be sexually refusing or sexually incompatible with you. It is far easier to break off an informal relationship than it is to do the same for a marriage, let alone when children (who cannot choose whom they are born to, let alone what circumstances they are born to or grow up in) are involved.

2. If there are problems of one partner's attitude towards sex or its frequency, do not treat it lightly. Do not let it build where it affects more and more of your life and occupies more and more of your mind. Get professional help (the right psychotherapist/marriage counsellor/etc.) ASAP. A neutral third party can help because the refusing partner might have built up years of prejudice against the refused partner suggesting any form of change.

I'm sure there are others I haven't thought of yet, but this is what I can come up with right now.

Signed,

TrashCanFoundling.

verticaldistance said...

"...Really, I just want to scream when I hear a new poster on a marriage forum begin their first post with, "I've been married _____ number of years. She's the greatest mom to our kids. She's a perfect wife in every other way except, our marriage bed stinks."

Why do they initially go on and on explaining all her positive traits to others on the forums? I just don't get it unless they only do it so we don't all think they're married to a horrible person??? I don't know! Can anyone tell me why they do this?..."

They do this because 1) They don't want the established posters to think that their wives (you only used the word 'she') are bad people. They are NOT bad people. They are bad wives. There's a difference. I'm a wife, but that's only one part of who and what I am. 2) The new poster doesn't want the established posters to think that he is a total putz for marrying someone that may be totally lazy. 3) Crazy for me to believe, as jaded as I am, but the new poster, despite being sexually bored, still loves his wife. He just wants her to put out more.

It's stuff like this that makes me angry. Why in the hell are parents, places of worship, counselors, etc...., more honest about why the genders marry? It would make people think twice about marriage.

Friggin' conspiracy....

Ancient Mariner said...

TrashCanFoundling,

Let me explain. When we first got married, and for many years thereafter, everything about our lives was superb. When the problems started, they were not initially reflected in our sex life. Her personality changed subtly as her health worsened, but initially it was not enough for me to link it to the illness. We grew farther apart, and when she told me she wouldn’t/couldn’t have sex anymore, part of me was relieved, because we had had so much conflict by then, lovemaking was the last thing I wanted to do with her.

By “old personality” I mean the one she had when we first got married. She is sweet, loving, and totally (perplexingly) unruffled by anything I do. I try to be a thoughtful husband, but I occasionally fall short in little ways. Two years ago this would have been the start of a days-long raging battle, but now she will smile at me, forgive me, and kiss me. I could not pick a fight with her even if I wanted to!

Even though on her bad (health) days I occasionally second-guess myself for being so enabling for so long, on balance I think things turned out for the best. We have been through a very dark time and have survived it together. Consequently, we are more appreciative of each other, and our marriage is stronger than ever. Sex is better too: MUCH more intense and frequent than it has ever been. This is both a reflection of our improved relationship, and a tool we have consciously used to strengthen our relationship even more. Even when we are tired, we try to postpone sleep in order to enjoy our bodies. If we can’t, one partner gives the other a “raincheck.” It is incredibly erotic to be told by your wife, “here I am for you. Take me sexually in whatever way you want to satisfy your lust.” And, it is even more erotic when your naked wife opens her legs and begs you to penetrate her and use her hard, because she has been needing it so.

So that is our situation: married bliss in all the ways one can imagine.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hey y'all,

In spite of the many struggles and horrible tales of married woe, there are beautiful life stories like mine to undergird why all of us on Gemma's blog take such a strong stand on Passionate Marriage...

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary :-)

He still wants me and I still want him!! Since our awakening, we can talk about ANYTHING on our minds and have gone places, sexually, which have 'blown our minds'.

He has shared stuff with me that has frequently made me blush. I have grown as I have learnt how lusty my man really is. I now openly crave him and am free to let him know. We are both convinced that I truly am a wild cherry!

It is my passion to constantly steer my husband towards his wild cherry instead of worrying and fretting as I did for 23 years.

He has low drive often due to stress and a minor health situation.
I want his sex 24/7.
He deals with feeling inadequate regarding my strong sexual needs.
I struggle with sadness and guilt about missing all of our former years.
Yet, we adore each other and could not live without each other anymore.

I pay tribute to my most wonderful husband. He is my gift from God. That I may be all that he desires for the next 25 years and more.

I am my man's wild cherry ;-)

Gemma said...

Cherry,

Don't go there. Stay away from guilt over the past. It does no good. When you catch yourself feeling sad and guilty about what could have, should have been, just STOP. Focus your attentions on today and the tomorrows.

God bless.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Thanks Gemma,to read is to obey :)
STOP is the word I will apply to this tendency of mine.

May I ask if you have ever posted a topic on self pleasuring for one's spouse, inviting the pros and cons of such?
I purposely write 'for' as closet masturbation is a slippery slope and needs to be addressed in a healthy marriage bed.
From my personal experience, this is difficult and controversial subject matter but fraught with misunderstanding and potential strife between for/against spouses.

Gemma said...

Cherry, I don't really know whether or not I've posted on that topic. Can you explain a bit more, what it is you're looking for? You mention the words "difficult", "controversial", "misunderstanding", strife".... What do you mean with those words?

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hi Gemma,
Thanx for replying.

Difficult because my husband does not like the topic. Committed to keeping him 'in the loop', I went out on a limb and showed him what I experience alone...it just did not phase him. OMG. Crushing experience.
After reading on marriage sites how much of a turn on this can be for a husband, my heart almost broke when he did not get into my passion with me.
Since that time, he has tried to appreciate my keen understanding of my body but I know he is not fully into me in this aspect.

I waver between wanting to throw in the 'accountability' towel on making my private sexual life available to him as my husband, and spiritual head. I come across as wanton and insatiable so have to keep building his male ego. Gets pretty exhausting.

Controversial from a churched understanding of the entire subject matter of personal, sexual expression. Historically, a lack of self control colors Christians who masturbate.

Misunderstanding in that I find myself lacking in the ability to convey the importance of relieving my HUGE sex drive to my man in what I believe is a safe, and faithful to him, manner. I only think of him before, during and afterwards yet I feel childish and stifled many times when I stay accountable to him.

Strife in that I feel placed in the driver seat of our sexual boundaries and that I am constantly pushing for more. If I did not keep my sexual satisfaction uppermost in our love making, I fear going back to what I used to be...asexually frigid. I will not return to that therefore I fight for constant growth together.

job29man said...

Cherry, maybe masturbation doesn't have to be solo. What if you were to do it somehow with him. His involvement could be a little as watching. Some ideas...

1. Have him pour you a bathtub of water and you lay down with legs up, letting the water hit your privates and bring you to O. All he has to do is manage the stream of water. It's erotic but cost him little in emotional or physical investment.

2. Same with the shower. You could shower together and get one of those hand held water massage shower heads and ask him to direct it onto you to bring you to O. He's got to shower anyway, what's an extra few minutes to do this?

3. Vibrator. Doesn't always need to be followed up with intercourse.

4. Love Glider. There are couples on TMB who speak of using a Love Glider in their sex play. That can be done with minimal input from the husband. He can be there and watch or...

Hope I'm not misunderstanding what you are saying. If I am, then I apologize. IMO you can be as insatiable as you want without threatening his ego if you incorporate some of these things into your lives.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hey job29man,

Thank you for your input. I will think over all of your ideas and see if I can spice our passion. I am the inventive and aggressive one in taking our sex life to a new level so I will challenge myself to get 'womanly' with my man. He still gets the 'deer in the headlights' glazed eye look when I change direction on him but he is truly willing to go for the ride (pun intended).

As you've accurately written, my most important task is to incorporate my passion and freaky-self into our marriage bed. I am on assignment.

Sometimes, it is important to read that it is ok to be more sexual than one's spouse. Not in competition but just different. We are direct opposites which is what attracted us to each other in the first place so I hereby quit my rant and will get my tush ready to get to our morning coffee date ON TIME, for once! Being punctual is an 'uncharactertic of HWC' gift from me to my husband so....bye bye.

Vibes And Dongs,Sex Toys said...

If it's true that one our of every two marriages ends in divorce, then half of the comments here are probably wrong. We think that the most important part of a happy marriage is communication. Talking over your problems usually leads to a solution.