Sunday, June 13, 2010

I am baffled!!!

Is it just me or are there many, many married couple who are floundering around terribly with sexual issues? The more I go along with a healthy marriage bed, the more I see so many messed up couples with their own sexual issues. What is up with that? Why are so many couples struggling with difficulties in their sex lives? Can somebody explain this to me? I am baffled!!! I should note that I am seeing this online, not IRL.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

My spouse and I have been married for more than a decade, and we are indeed wrestling with sexual issues. Or, more to the point, we are NOT wrestling with (sorting out) these issues--we are avoiding them, at the cost of growing resentment on my part. For the first couple years of our marriage, we made love two or three times a week. Then, after a few years, we were down to once a week. (Not so unexpected, I guess.) Then once a month. Now it's about twice a year. I'm frustrated as hell. I have a strong sex drive, and my DW does not. Not in the least. I bring this issue up periodically, not so much to make an advance (which I rarely do these days, so much do I expect to be rejected), but rather to get some communication going on what to me is a very important issue in our marriage: our lack of physical intimacy, which (at least in my eyes) has started to lead to a decrease in emotional intimacy. (No, I'm not looking for sex as a substitute for emotional connection, but it sure would help.) I feel guilty, in some respects, and I feel cheated in other respects. My wife will hear me out on this issue, saying very little even when I make a point of stopping my own comments and asking her for her thoughts. She usuallys says, "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry that our sex life isn't more active like you'd like it to be." I've asked her two, maybe three times, to enter into couples therapy with me. She is strongly resistant to this. Last month I told her I don't want to be divorced in five years or ten years (when our child is off to college). I told her I want to work hard at improving this part of our marriage and every other part where we (or I) need work. But I'm afraid we may be headed toward divorce at some point (I hope NOT) if we can't find a way to communicate better about important things, including sex.

Thanks for the chance to vent. Any suggestions from anyone? I would appreciate any thoughts. I'm trying to walk with God and keep my family together, and NOT be selfish, and my wife is a good person. I love her. Just so damn frustrated with what our marriage has turned into.

Mike

ivan said...

Good morning Gemma,
I think you need only to look at your own past to see where the problems lies. And to say "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
My wife and I had several friends over last night for dinner and board games. Couples and singles. Great time. I know from being in a men's group with several of the husbands that they have very bad/non existent sex lives. And it shows. I don't think they know that it does. But it does.
As you have found, healthy physical intimacy is sooo important to a good marriage. And God loves good marriages. It stands to good reason that your sex life is one of the prime targets of evil.
Sexuality is also one of the most powerful drives we have as humans. So if it isn't pulling us together, it is pushing us away.
It's sad but also kind of expected for such a powerful and targeted part of our humanness to be a wreck in many/most peoples lives. :-(
I'm glad that you have grown out of that place and are calling others up to better more whole, more Godly sexuality in their lives.

Gemma said...

Mike,

I'll tell you what I tell others all the time. If you've been struggling with your sex life for 8, 10 years or more and it isn't getting better, then it's way past time to pull out the big guns. So your wife strongly resists couples therapy. What are YOU going to do? You can't control her but you darn sure can make changes for yourself and make changes in how you respond to her resistance.

Tell her, "I love you and I take my marriage vows very seriously so I can no longer sit around while our marriage goes down the toilet. We need professional help. Either we go together or I go alone. Either way I will be spilling the beans. NO MORE SECRET MARRIAGE BED ISSUES. No more living in sexual sin by refusing sex while pretending to be a good Christian wife around our pastor and church friends. There is nothing Christ-like in living with unconfessed sin. At this point an apology won't fix it because you will say "I'm sorry" and then continue living in the sin. So make your decision-- I go alone to therapist or we go together as a couple. Choose your poison."

Anon said:
"My wife will hear me out on this issue, saying very little even when I make a point of stopping my own comments and asking her for her thoughts. She usuallys says, "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry that our sex life isn't more active like you'd like it to be..... Last month I told her I don't want to be divorced in five years or ten years..."

Two words: passive aggressive! She wants you to think that she feels badly about things but in reality, if she did she would agree to get help. I used to pull that same stunt with my husband saying-- I'm sorry... I don't know what's wrong with me... and then the tears would come. I'd put on a good show and then my husband would back down, just like I wanted him to.

What I'm about to say will probably sound mean and drastic to your ears because for over 10 years you're listened to your wife say "I'm sorry," while she continues living in the sexual sin of refusal. Next time you hear "I'm sorry" coming out of her mouth tell her, "Save the words. I'm sorry too because we're not going to continue living this way. Obviously you either can't change so we can have a healthier marriage or you just don't give a flip that you are breaking our marriage vows with your refusing. Now I will take manners into my own hands." Then tell her your plan to see a therapist.

Gemma said...

Anon said: "I'm trying to walk with God and keep my family together, and NOT be selfish..... I love her."

I believe that you do love your wife but if you're really trying to walk with God, quit allowing your wife to live in sin. She's the one living in sin but you are partly to blame because you're enabling her to live that way. As head of your home you're not doing enough to stop it. When we sin against God, does He allow us to keep sinning without consequences? No, absolutely not! When we play, we have to pay.

What are your wife's consequences for her sexual sin? Do you stop satisfying her emotional needs? Do you sleep in separate rooms so that even your child knows what's going on? If your child is even past the age of 10, what he/she sees is Dad being resentful towards Mom so you're looking like the bad guy and your child will grow up to resent you. Have you ever told on your wife to your pastor or a therapist? Do you make it obvious when in the presence of others that your wife is falling short. I know that when you're around church friends she acts like you guys are the perfect, loving couple, right? (Ask me how I know that.)

Quit hiding her secret. She wants to continue refusing sex, you expose her for what she's doing. I'm telling you, it's the only way to get her attention.... when her pride becomes involved. I'm speaking from personal experience so I know what I'm talking about.

Gemma said...

Anon also said: "my wife is a good person."

She may be good in other ways but a good spouse is not a selfish spouse. Unless you're making all this up about her, she is a sexually selfish spouse when she should be a sexually generous.

Let me tell you something--

As long as my husband used to pacify me by telling me that I'm a good person, I would think, "He must be happy with me the way I am so I don't need to change." That's how your wife thinks when you pretend that the sexual issues are no biggie. "It's alright wife, don't cry. You're a good person. I can learn to live with this one little bitty problem." She thinks that all the other ways that she's good, cancels out the sexual bad.

My husband had to begin getting in my face to tell me, "We have a big problem. Our marriage can't survive much more of this. Something has got to change." When I refused to get help because I didn't want anyone to know I was a refuser, he outed me with our pastor. It was the best thing he could have done for our marriage. Sure I was angry and upset at first... my pride had been stomped on... but once the secret was out, it forced me to deal with it and I began to heal.

Trust me on this...

*****NO MORE KEEPING SECRETS!!! *****

Start with your pastor and tell on your wife and yes, expect her to get angry about it. You're a big man, you can take it. Keep reminding yourself that you're doing it for your marriage. If she truly loves you, she will thank you later when she comes to her senses and your marriage is healed.

If that's not enough incentive, your child will also be happier knowing that Mom and Dad have a close, loving relationship. I don't care how much you and wife think you're keeping the problem secret from your child. He/she knows that something is wrong. The kids ALWAYS know.

Cocotte said...

I think you see those with issues online because they are looking for remedies to their situation. Most people don't go online to say, "Look at me, my marriage/sex life is fantastic!"

I know that loads of people are happy that you are here to offer advice!

job29man said...

I'm with you on that Gemma. Sexual refusal or stinginess is something that you can give some private/secret opportunity to solve within the marriage. But if it goes on unresolved in a hard-core fashion it is time to blow the lid off it.

It is not a betrayal of the marriage to go to the Pastor and say "my mate is refusing me, help us please."

Gemma said...

ivan said:
"I think you need only to look at your own past to see where the problems lies. And to say "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

ivan,

When I was a refuser and saw no wrong in it, GR and I were in churches which never addressed refusal as 'sin'. Consequently, there were many, MANY couples in these churches who were living with sexually dysfunctional marriage beds. You were considered a perv and an immature Christian if you complained. You were just expected to pray more and read your bible more... as if going for professional help was a sign that you lacked faith and trust in God. It was a terribly sick environment for us to be in throughout those 20 years.

The grace of God? Sure, He extended grace... when we finally said 'no more' and walked away from those churches. That was our saving grace... when God pointed us to a healthier church environment. That's when I began to heal.

I guess I don't understand why people insist on staying in a church which hinders rather than helps their marriage bed. I just don't get it. I hear-- It's the church where i grew up. My parents go to this church. All our friends go there. It has a great childrens ministry. And my favorite one- We like our pastor. Well if your pastor doesn't see anything wrong with a spouse refusing sex, why would you remain in his church? If you like him that much invite him over for dinner once a month and go find a church with a more marriage-bed-friendly pastor.

No more do I believe that you're supposed to just suck it up when you see problems in the marriage bed. Part of God's grace is that He gives us a brain to make intelligent decisions which will enhance our marriage bed. So if we see a problem, God nudges us to face the problem and to find a way to fix it.

We're not promised by God to live a life free of trials but some of the trials we put up with, if we'd just listen to God's voice and go where He points us to go for help, we could be rid of them. Instead people like refused spouse beat themselves over the head with thoughts such as- I should be more patient (ie, after 10-20 yrs). I should be more loving. I should help around the house more. I should, I should, I should.... Does that change the heart of the sinner? Nope!

ivan said...

Hello again Gemma,
I'm not arguing the sinfulness of refusing at all.
In your original post you asked why so many people are so broken and struggling.
The short answer is their sinfulness that they haven't dealt with.
The church's (at large) inability to deal with sexuality is another topic that would make a great discussion, but is a distraction here.
The grace I am referring to here is the tough love that got you healed.
One of the reasons that so many people haven't healed is that they haven't accepted the tough love grace that you have taken into yourself.
I do not in any way say that sucking it up in a sexless marriage for 20 years, is a good thing. That kind of marriage is the work of evil to destroy the couple themselves. And to taint the community at large that they are a part of.
I think both you and I are preaching to the choir here. And are mostly on the same page.

Anonymous said...

Gemma, I appreciate your thoughts. For the record, though, I'm a liberal Christian; I've never bought into the "man = default head of household" notion. My wife and I are, roughly, equal partners in our marriage. If I had CEO-like powers, I guess that would make it easier for me to lay down the law in some way in this area, but that's not really the type of marriage I would enjoy being in, either, nor would my wife. I would be in a marriage that's equally uncomfortable as the situation we're currently in.

I have considered going to counseling alone, though I'm not sure how helpful that would be in helping to bring about change in my marriage. This is a problem that involves both of us, though in different ways. It's not simply something that she needs to change. We need to learn how to communicate better about important but difficult topics, this being one of them. Ultimately I can only change myself, as you correctly point out. Still, I'd like to get something GOOD going (better communication) so that we can figure out how to deal with what at least one of us (me) considers a painful situation. And I could afford to change in some other ways, no doubt; I'm sure my spouse has her complaints about me. Maybe some of those complaints are serious; I don't know for sure. But we don't talk in productive ways. It's not just about not making love. There's more to it than that.

Still, I appreciate your willingness to respond to my rant. I've enjoyed a fair amount of what I've read on your blog over the last couple months. I'm glad there's a place where sex + spirituality can be discussed hand in hand. They certainly DO belong together.

Mike

Gemma said...

Mike,

It doesn't matter if you're not into husbands being the head of the home. GR and I don't buy into it either, not in the sense that it's usually explained or practiced. You say that you and wife are equal partners. Well, as equal partners you're supposed to work together for the common good, not work against each other. If you're not working together with your marriage bed you have 1 of 2 choices to make. Either communicate to your wife that things aren't working and that change is needed or doing nothing and learn to live with it.

As for going alone to counseling, why not? If you ask your wife to go and she says "no", you should go alone so you can learn more effective ways to deal with your marriage bed issues. If you don't go just because she won't go, then nothing changes with either of your thinking. Your marriage stays exactly as it is. Besides, even if you have to go alone at least 1 of you can begin to learn how to communicate better and some of what you learn can rub off on her.

I still stand by my advice. If issues can't be resolved in the home between you, then it is time to end the secrets. Get your pastor involved. If he can't help, get a therapist involved. Don't keep going around and around the same tree.

CCKC said...

All I can say is I let my wife refuse me for 15yrs. I think most of the refused will weigh the pros and cons of making a change... The cons are and heated or several heated discussions and other things that need to be done take priority ,kids, yard, church, family matters and you get a bit wore out to even tackle another problem that you have learned to live with..... Until you get to the point of living outside ones comfort zone nothing will change the refused has to know you mean buisness and that there is a consiquence for the spouse refusing... This means lots of extra work and an bit of self reflection that can uncover some of your own faults (not Easy)but worth it.. I'm going on a year of changing seeing some improvement but a long way to go... the stupidest thing that we do is continueing to do the same thing day in day out and expecting a different RESULT!... stop whining and start changing the behavior by doing something different.. If your spouse is good and trying to live as a christian they will eventually meet you half way.. if not well then there is another problem isn't there!

verticaldistance said...

Er, why devote a blog entry to this when it was you that has the answers based on your own martial sexual past?

ukFred said...

I think that the boards are reflecting real life, Gemma.

At fellowship group yesterday evening, the group with whom I had shared that my marriage was in trouble, one of the men shared with me that after his first wife had given birth to their two children he had been, in his words, "completely shut out" by her and this had made him very angry. He decided to divorce his first wife as a result and worked away from home to avoid pressure from his family not to divorce. He still feels angry about his first wife's conduct, despite the divocre having happened about 32 years ago.

To your poster, Mike, I would like to point out that it was only when I basically gave my wife an ultimatum that if the conduct within the marriage did not change, then there would be no marriage that there was nay movement at all on her part, and it was several months after that that I showed DW the posting by Dennis Prager to let her see just how much her conduct over the years had affected me.

UK Fred

mr. self respect said...

My situation is not improving. I realized recently that I am nearly 100% impotent. It has been months since my last erection, and years since my last ejaculation.

Really, it's just another obstancle that I am going to have to cross.

Anonymous said...

UK Fred,

You mentioned something from Dennis Prager. Sorry, I'm not familiar with his writings. Can you point me toward something specific--book, article, link? Thanks.

Mike

Gemma said...

Here ya go--

http://passionwithinmarriage.blogspot.com/search?q=Dennis+Prager

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "Why are so many couples struggling with difficulties in their sex lives? Can somebody explain this to me? I am baffled!!!"

I'm confused. Why are you baffled? Haven't you walked in their shoes?

Gemma said...

I'm baffled because I see so many spouses who have been posting on marriage bed forums for years and yet very little seems to improve in their marriage.

My confusion, I suppose, is because I was still somewhat in the dark before I began posting on marriage bed forums but shortly after, it all began to make sense because of what I was reading. While I realize that refused spouses are the ones who are more likely to search for online help than their refusing spouses... at least the refused spouses have found good resources for dealing with the sexual issues. It would seem logical for them to be able to show their refusing spouses what they are learning online. If the 2 are both of good will, together they'd be able to begin working through the sexual issues.... if they are of good will. But I rarely see that happening.

TMB forum, for instance, is a very unique source of information for troubled marriage beds and yet the refusing spouses rarely seem willing to go there with their spouse to learn.

I'm tired so I might not be explaining myself very well at all right now. My own husband might never have found TMB forum like I did. He's not a forum type of person. I wish I had had access to something like TMB years ago.

Anonymous said...

"It would seem logical for them to be able to show their refusing spouses what they are learning online."

The refusing spouse is often not happy that the refused spouse is learning stuff on-line in an attept to get the refusing spouse to change.

ivan said...

Hello Again Gemma,
Refused spouses learn that there isn't anything they can do to change the heart of the refusing spouse. Or so it seems. But the option that GR took, aka the right option, is a very scary one. It takes risking your marriage to keep pressing your need in a loving way.
Your assumption that the refuser is of good will is part of the problem. Many refusers have learned that they can get what they want without giving what the refused needs.
It is one thing to be low drive, but want to want sexual intimacy. And to make a priority of it as best as you can. To have humility and repentance for your own issues/baggage/sin.
It is another thing when you press for what you want and don't give anything back.
I also read and post on TMB. And see some of the same things you are talking about. Until people are willing to put their marriage on the line for what they need. Many of those stuck couples won't change.

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "I'm baffled because I see so many spouses who have been posting on marriage bed forums for years and yet very little seems to improve in their marriage."

In my/our experience, there was a "heart change" that happened along with the "education" that we received from TMB forum and other resources. Unfortunately, I think that kind of change takes a long time for some folks. And may never happen for a few:-(

Weakgrowing stronger husband said...

The refuser is living in sin against Gods will for our marriages.

Why would they want to see their own faults?

It is the responsibility of the Husband to lead their family. Good book "the exemplary husband" a biblical perspective by stuart scott.
First the Husbands of American need to lead/love like "Christ loves the church".
The Love that Christ tells us is not the same as the world teached today.

Next, we need to call out "lovingly" the sins in our own lives and then the lives of our spouses.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hi Gemma,
Great string of posts. Thanx. I do understand your confusion. For those who are instrumental in assisting the Body of Christ in the sexual arena, there is much to study and sift through as to conclusive assistance for whomever.

We're dealing with a waning of my man's virility at this time due to an overload of work related mental fatigue and general hormonal changes (I think!).

Once God has shown me how to cope with this new development in our marriage, I will be able to wax eloquent again! To say I am sexually frustrated would be a funny, ha, ha!

Right now, I'm licking my wounds, trying not to lose my marbles and reading,reading,reading.

Hope that new bed is rockin'.. ;-)

Gemma said...

Anon said: “The refusing spouse is often not happy that the refused spouse is learning stuff on-line in an attept to get the refusing spouse to change.”

So, does that mean that the refused spouse is supposed to keep the refusing spouse happy? Why? What do they have to lose? When a refused spouse has nothing in the marriage bed and the refusing spouse isn’t happy, how could the situation get worse? My dh tried the “Mr. Nice Guy” approach throughout most of my refusing years. Mr. Nice Guy seems happy so there’s no need to change. In the last 2 years before my sexual awakening he became more aggressive and I began working harder for my emotional healing.

ivan, you’re right. The refused spouse can’t make the refusing spouse change but they sure can make the refusing spouse’s life uncomfortable enough so that the thought of change might become more appealing. I know that works in some cases. It worked when my dh did it and I’ve seen it work in other marriages. Hey, life is full of risks. By remaining Mr. Nice Guy a person risks spending the rest of their married life being refused. And I never made the assumption that refusers are people of good will.

ivan said: “Many refusers have learned that they can get what they want without giving what the refused needs….. Until people are willing to put their marriage on the line for what they need. Many of those stuck couples won't change.”

Yes, they can get what they want because the refused spouses feel that their job is to keep their refusing spouse happy…. to make sure the refusing spouse has all their needs met. I like what you said, ivan. For many refused spouses, they have to get to a place where they are willing to put their marriage on the line if they ever hope to see change.

anon said: “In my/our experience, there was a "heart change" that happened along with the "education" that we received from TMB forum and other resources. Unfortunately, I think that kind of change takes a long time for some folks. And may never happen for a few:-(“

Guys, I say this all the time--- The root cause of refusing is a spiritual thing, yes physical too but it’s rooted in spirituality. If a refusing spouse thinks they are living the life of a good Christian, then they are only fooling themselves. It’s no secret that my dh and I had to walk away from our past churches. Why? Because in that environment it was way too easy for me to keep secret sin from everyone I knew. It was too easy for me to live in a sin habit. It never bothered me enough knowing in my head (not my heart) that God could see my unconfessed sin even when I kept it hidden from others. Why did it take me so long to change? Because for all those years, we were determined to stay in our church no matter what and our church was enabling my sinful behavior. Whenever I bring this up to others everyone gets quiet. Nobody thinks that their church’s teachings could be enabling the refusing spouse. Yes, we choose to refuse but if others, spouse, church, etc, enable our behavior, then it just prolongs true confession and true healing. It may never happen for a few who for the rest of their life, they refuse to get real with God.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that a spiritual change must happen - that's what I meant by "heart change". But I don't think it's always rooted in church teachings. It most definitely was not in our case.

ivan said...

Hey Gemma,
I am all the way behind the need to end the "Mr Nice Guy" mentality. And for making living as a refuser less comfortable for the refuser. And yes, we need to be willing to risk our marriages on righteousness.
I got my men's group to do No More Christian Nice Guy, and the work book. I highly recommend it to all men living with a refusing wife. I also recommend No More Christian Nice Girl to women. :-)
Great discussion here Gemma. Thank you for hosting!

Gemma said...

No, the spiritual condition of a refuser's heart is not always rooted in church teachings. Sometimes the root cause goes back to their upbringing. But let's face it--- Most refusers are at least 25-30 or older. They are old enough to be rid of any negative upbringing Mommy and Daddy put on them and to be responsible for their own maturity and spirituality. That's why I say that the root cause or influence is *often* the church teachings or lack thereof or the mentality of the other women in their church. When we were in those church the pastor could have cared less if I refused sex to my husband. Now my pastor would be all over me if I told him I was a refuser.

Good for you on the book choice with your men's group, ivan.

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "No, the spiritual condition of a refuser's heart is not always rooted in church teachings. Sometimes the root cause goes back to their upbringing."

I don't know what the root cause of our marriage bed issues was. We have talked about it a lot and dh has helped me realize that it really doesn't matter. If we must lay blame, we blame only ourselves for allowing things to get so bad.

Gemma said...

I think it DOES matter, whether a person is still a refuser or even if have already come out healthy on the other side.

If they're still a refuser and there are things/people in their lives which are enabling the behavior, they need to know what it is so they know what to remove. In my case, I had to remove the negative, legalistic church teachings.

Likewise, if a person is a former refuser, they need to know what triggered the thinking and behavior in the first place so they don't end up going through a repeat performance.

Edmund Burke said: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." I think we can apply his words to the behavior of a refuser, don't you?

UK Fred said...

Indeed, Gemma, we can.

I still feel that western society thinks that it is not 'nice' to talk about sex in mixed company and I think that the Church has to realise that Jesus was not 'meek and mild' all the time. When faced with a genuine question he could be, but when faced with institutionalised wrongdoing (moneychangers in the Temple, Sadducees trying to justify their position on matters theological etc) then He was quite abrupt, even violent. The church needs to get real with sex too. There seems to be little positive reinforcement to young people that sex is great when used as God intended, just a matter of 'Don't! Unless you're married.' and that last said very quietly compared to the "Don't".

But many churches are also afraid to use the Scriptural devices of church discipline because the other denomination down the road will accept the person without question when s/he says 'I have had a disagreement with the pastor at the church up the road.'

Gemma said...

UK Fred said: "The church needs to get real with sex too. There seems to be little positive reinforcement to young people that sex is great when used as God intended, just a matter of 'Don't! Unless you're married.'."

This is part of what I'm talking about, Fred. That's the kind of message we used to get in our previous churches. Now we DO get positive reinforcement from our clergy. I remember a time a few years ago when one of the higher up priests from our current archdiocese came to visit our church and while there, he met with the teens. I still remember the comments from my kids when they came home. It went something like this:

"Mom, Dad, you should have heard Father ----- speak today. (I don’t want to give his name as some of you may know of him. He used to be one of the leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ before he became Orthodox.) He talked about what sex before marriage does to an unmarried person both then and also later in life AND he talked about how wonderful sex is in marriage. He played it up so much… he gushed about how great marital sex is that some of the kids were blushing and getting embarrassed but Fr. ----- didn’t care. He wanted all the kids to know that there was something special waiting for them after their wedding in their marriage bed and he kept reinforcing to the kids to wait until marriage and then…. watch out!!!” It was all presented in a very positive way. GR and I were very pleased. Our parish priest has the exact same attitude about sex in marriage.

This is why I no longer have my crappy attitude towards sex in marriage… because the clergy in our church give a shining example of what marital sex should be and are adamant about what marital sex should NOT be.

mr. self respect said...

Honestly, Gemma, I could sit in the pews of my church for the next 500 years, and not hear this message. It is simply not discussed at my Church, or any Church that I have visited. And I have gone to plenty of churches, as my work has taken me across the country.

And no, our pre-marriage (pre-Canaa) training covered none of this either. We covered plenty of other things. We talked about sharing the financial and physical burdens of living together. We covered the Church's requirements for childrearing. We discussed the evils of adultery, and how we are not to be tempted by others. etc. etc. etc.

But I recall zero discussions on married sexuality. None. Zero. I'm not sure if it would have made a difference in my marriage, over the long run, but the pre-Canaa training definitely did not help.

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: Edmund Burke said: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

Great quote! We will definitely never forget our history but as time has gone on (4 years since our awakening), our focus has been less and less on analyzing and lamenting the past and more and more on joyously embracing the present. I went through a period of feeling a lot of guilt during the first year or so. It was so freeing when I finally rid myself of those feelings. Thanks for the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Gemma, at what point would you counsel a refused spouse to leave? GR didn't leave you and your own testimony is that it took 25 years. Of the two people I'm aware who took their concerns to leadership, neither one had a positive action from the church. One is divorced and remarried. The other is still in a very unhappy ans sexually unfilfilling marrage.

What, exactly, do you think a pastor or priest is going to do?

limc

Anonymous said...

I'm the person who posted earlier about the lack of lovemaking in my marriage, so I'm not questioning the need for couples (including my wife and me) to work through a lack of physical intimacy in their marriages. However, when I was at church today, the Gospel was from Luke chapter 9, in which Christ says, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." One of the songs we sang also was about taking up our individual crosses. The idea of each of us having an individual cross we need to accept and live with, the idea of self-sacrifice through which we grow closer to the suffering Christ and gain more empathy for other people's suffering, has always made a great deal of sense to me as a Christian. Life is hard sometimes, and we can use our circumstances to grow closer to God. This morning, I couldn't help but wonder if the lack of sex in my marriage is a cross that I'm being asked by God to accept, through leaning on God's grace, a way to demonstrate my unconditional love for my spouse. (I love her, and will stick by her, even if she develops absolutely no interest in sex. Maybe that's what God is calling me to?)

Of course, the danger here is that cross-bearing can too easily be turned into martyrdom. The martyr role doesn't wear well over time. That road, martyrdom, doesn't lead to anything healthy in either spouse, I'm convinced. But I'm left wondering, what's the difference between bearing a cross in the vocation of marriage and simply become a resentful martyr? I honestly don't know how to distinguish between those two paths.

Mike

Gemma said...

limc asked: "Gemma, at what point would you counsel a refused spouse to leave?"

That's a tough question to answer and really, there is no right answer for all couples. Regarding the two people you mentioned.... when the pastor didn't respond in a helpful way, what did your friends do? GR and I got to a place where we saw our church hinder more than help our MB so we made a decision to walk away. If a pastor can't help you and they won't point you to someone who can help, what's the point in staying in that church?

limc also asked: "What, exactly, do you think a pastor or priest is going to do?"

A pastor who doesn't care will do nothing or he will only tell the refused spouse to 'suck it up'. The pastor/priest we have now would address the refusing behavior and either work with the refuser or he's send them to a professional who can help. He certainly wouldn't make the refused spouse out to be the bad spouse and if he couldn't help, he wouldn't just send them home to figure it out. Our priest is quick to point folks to a professional if the problem is over his head. He is a problem solver so if he can't solve it, he finds someone who can.

Gemma said...

Mike,

You can take many scripture verses out of context and find yourself believing all sorts of odd things. Please don’t do that with scripture.

This morning, I couldn't help but wonder if the lack of sex in my marriage is a cross that I'm being asked by God to accept, through leaning on God's grace, a way to demonstrate my unconditional love for my spouse. (I love her, and will stick by her, even if she develops absolutely no interest in sex. Maybe that's what God is calling me to?)

Of course, the danger here is that cross-bearing can too easily be turned into martyrdom. The martyr role doesn't wear well over time. That road, martyrdom, doesn't lead to anything healthy in either spouse, I'm convinced. But I'm left wondering, what's the difference between bearing a cross in the vocation of marriage and simply become a resentful martyr? I honestly don't know how to distinguish between those two paths.

Sure, God asks all of us to bear a cross but we have to be careful to only take on what God gives us and to not take what is meant to be another’s responsibility. In the case of a marriage with a refusing spouse… I tend to lean more in the belief that the refusing spouse has a cross to bear and the problems in the marriage are there because the refuser won’t pick up his/her cross. The problems are there because of the refusers disobedience, not because God wants to make the refused spouse to be a martyr. A true Christian marriage is one where both spouses strive to obey God in all things, even in the MB. Of course we all sin and disobey God but there’s a difference between sinning, confessing and truly repenting vs. living in a sin habit for an extended period of time with no desire or intention to change our ways.

Some of you may not like what I’m about to say. I don’t make a habit of judging individuals with their sins… it’s between them and God…. but for a person like a refuser who lives in a sin habit… I would seriously question their Christian status. From my own experience with this, when I was living in the sin habit of refusing I was not living the Christian life. Instead I was doing what I thought was right, totally disregarding what God wanted me to do. Soooo, what I’m trying to politely say--- For a person living in a sin habit to say, “Don’t tell me I’m disobeying God. I am a Christian… I love God,” I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. I could pour pizza sauce all over me but that wouldn’t make me become a pizza, kwim? Sin habits keep us separated from God. God doesn’t stop loving us while we’re in that state but we do become separated from Him. Saying a sinner’s prayer, going to church every Sunday, reading my bible each day, praying each day… none of it means diddly-squat if we’re choosing to regularly live in unconfessed sin. God is holy and as such, He will not live in a vessel which remains in an unholy state. Sorry if I stepped on some toes here but as you can see, I don’t buy into the theology of, “Once a Christian, always a Christian.” God sees through our words and knows what is deep in our heart. He’s not impressed with what we tell Him. He’s only interested in the way we live our life.

Anonymous said...

Gemma, I do not think you captured my point. What the refuser does is at issue, but if they are wholly resistant to any kind of help and change today, it doesn't make sense to tell the refused partner to do something. Telling the story to a counselor or pastor does not change the refuser. The refuser is going to be what they are until they want to change. It might take 25 years for change to happen.

The refused spouse, pastor, or counselor is really powerless to do anything to make a refuser change. It's bad enough to live in a refused marriage. It compounds the problem to be told I should fix it. I don't have the power to do that. I can only choose whether I want to continue to live in it or now.
limc

Gemma said...

Limc,

First of all, when I say "tell the pastor or a counselor what a refusing spouse is doing", I'm talking about the refused spouse telling. Telling on a refusing spouse doesn't make the refuser change, HOWEVER, it does take the secret refusal behavior out of the closet and brings it to light, brings it to a whole ‘nuther level. It can be extremely embarrassing and convicting for many refusing spouses when they are outed by their refused spouse. The refusing behavior which they used to do in secret is now out in the open so if they continue with their attitude their pastor finds out about it and it becomes more of a reality in their heart (not just their head) that God sees their secret sin. In my own case, once our pastor knew what I was doing it caused me to dig in deep in wanting to change. My dh didn't make me change. My pastor didn't make me change but just his knowing about it, caused me to begin turning around.

Think about this—Why do you think so many refusing spouses want to keep their behavior a secret and even threaten their refused spouses if they tell? It’s so that pastor and other church members will continue seeing them as a good Christian who is obedient to God. If the refusing behavior is kept secret, then they can continue the behavior without having anyone but their dh looking down on them. My church doesn’t do this but why do you think so many churches encourage public, altar confessions? It’s because once others know about the sin, the sinner tends to work harder at changing their sinful ways. In other words after ‘telling’, the refused spouse, the pastor and anyone else who finds out… they do what God tells them to do. The refusing spouse has to make a decision and it’s a whole lot easier to make the right decision when others are aware of their sin. If they were harboring unforgiveness towards their dh for whatever reason and didn’t mind refusing when it was just the dh knowing about it… now that others know, it’s not so easy to continue having an “I-don’t-give-a-darn” attitude.

Yes, the refuser has to want to change but the rest of the people in her world can make her life increasingly uncomfortable which in turn encourages the refuser to “cry uncle”. I’ll say it again- Quit keeping the refusing behavior a secret. Get it out in the open so there will be more of a chance for them to allow God to come in and do a work.

Am I making sense? Am I still the only one who understands what I’m saying?

Gemma said...

Sorry I didn't delete part of Mike's post when I replied to him. The following words are his, not mine.

Mike said: "This morning, I couldn't help but wonder if the lack of sex in my marriage is a cross that I'm being asked by God to accept, through leaning on God's grace, a way to demonstrate my unconditional love for my spouse.... what's the difference between bearing a cross in the vocation of marriage and simply become a resentful martyr? I honestly don't know how to distinguish between those two paths."

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hi Gemma,
I understand what you are saying and agree with you on both the sin stance showing a disconnect in a Christian's walk with God, and your stand about getting a refuser out into the open.

On my part, I was a refuser in my attitude only so my husband got to have me whenever he wanted to. I cannot relate to the physical refusal but my head sure can, as I did not like nor enjoy our sex.

This subject is so very hard to both discuss and carry out in individual marriages.

I feel for all of the posters here and am actually awed by the amount of replies you received, Gemma.
How wonderful that you provided a venue for this discussion to take place.

Gemma, it took much time answering all of these posts. Thank you. I appreciated your unique experience. God showed me your site and I am grateful for the subject matter.
Nuttin' like that Gemma woman '-)

Faraway17 said...

Yes! Dear GR and Gemma, you are making sense. And no, you are not alone. Some of us understand every word.
It is the duty of truth-tellers to stand by their precious truth. A marriage in violation of scripture hurts children whom Jesus loves, both the children caught in the marriage and the families around it.
They need the effects of your work more urgently than the spouses. Please keep doing what you do, and more.
We are praying for you. How can I send you a little money?

Gemma said...

You are correct, HWC. This is an extremely difficult and emotionally painful subject for many to discuss. I am fully aware of that and I don't have all the answers... after all, I am not a professional... so I can only share what my dh went through and what went on in my mind during my refusing years. I loved keeping my behavior secret. The secrecy allowed me to sin without consequences.

Faraway, thank you for your prayers and your money offer but I could never accept money for speaking my mind on my blog. If you feel so led to give because of my blog, offer it to your favorite charity. That would please the heart of God.

Anonymous said...

Telling a member of the clergy doesn't bring a secret out into the open. Clergy are bound to confidentiality. If the refusing spouse does not want to change, the secret dies there. A refused spouse has no recourse. The choice is to stay or go.

limc

Gemma said...

limc,

When I say "out in the open" I mean that someone other than the husband learns about the refusing behavior. Granted, not all refusing spouses are this way but when my dh began telling our pastor that I was refusing, it was extremely motivating for me to begin taking a critical look at what I had been doing to my dh and my marriage. For some reason back then, how I was treating dh didn't bother me much but when pastor found out, embarrassment took over and I began thinking, "I don't want pastor to think badly of me because of what I'm doing so I'm going to work hard on trying to change." Looking back I think-- Who cares what motivated me to begin working on changing... whether it was my dh or my pastor. The end result of dh telling on me turned out to be the best thing for us. I might have initially begun working at it out of embarrassment but then my motive changed to me wanting to stop refusing out of remorse over what I had been doing to dh.

limc, I'm not saying the refusing spouse doesn't have to want to change but I am saying that the refused spouse can learn how to stop enabling his wife to continue her behavior and often, telling the pastor about it helps to move the wife towards an attitude of wanting to change. I'm sorry if you believe that a refused spouse can't do or say anything to make a difference. I know they can because my husband finally learned how to make a different and he helped to set the wheels in motion for me to begin healing.

I understand that not all refusers get to a place where they want to change. But I can tell you that surely, if a refused husband does nothing to help move the wife towards a place of repentance, nothing will ever change and he might as well pack up his bags and move out now.

Anonymous said...

A refused spouse is not always the husband. My experience is that refused spouses can talk in confidence all they want. They can learn all the tools not to enable. That doesn't make a hard core refuser want to have sex.

I wish someone had told me this at the start.

limc

Gemma said...

You are right, a refused spouse is not always the husband. It's common knowledge that there are just about as many refused wives as there are refused husbands. Did you mention that for a reason?

limc,

I still think you may be overlooking the spiritual aspect of a refuser's heart. If you think I am saying, "Tell on them and then they'll want to have sex,"... no, it doesn't work that way at all. Maybe I'm not explaining myself clearly enough.

Before a hard core refuser can get to a place where they want to have sex and they want to be sexually generous simply out of love for their spouse so that they can enjoy sex even when they're "not in the mood"... they must first learn to love God enough to obey Him in all things, even in their marriage and in their marriage bed.

Besides our love for God, our second love should be for our spouse. So if we can't love our spouse enough to enthusiastically take care of their needs... well.. then... I would question the depth of that love and I would also question their relationship with God. Their Christian faith would be way out of wack.

A selfish person may say that they love God and that they love their spouse but selfishness has no place in true love. When I was being a selfish spouse I was only focused on me and what I wanted. In other words, a selfish spouse needs to get their spirituality in right standing with God before they are able to relate well to their spouse and others.

I don't know how many ways I can say this-- Refusing is a spiritual issue first, then it is a sexual and emotional issue.

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "But I can tell you that surely, if a refused husband does nothing to help move the wife towards a place of repentance, nothing will ever change and he might as well pack up his bags and move out now."

Yikes, I'm glad my husband waited for God to do His work in me. It would have never worked for me if he had "tattled" on me. I think that would have made the situation even worse.

I think change happens in many different ways for different people. But, bottom line, the person has to want to change.

Gemma said...

Anon, exactly how would his 'telling' have made the situation worse? Did you refuse sex and if so, for how long?

And let's put the shoe on the other food. What if you were living with a husband who was emotionally negligent... refusing to give you any non-sexual affection such as hugs, kisses, hand-holding, cuddles, etc. Do you think it would make things worse for you to go to your pastor for advice? Should you just keep it secret until God does His work in your husband? Yes, God does the work but we first have to say, "OK, God, I'm ready for you to change me. Tell me what to do." What if your husband remained that way for 10, 20, 30 years or more? Is it still best to keep it secret and wait for God to change him? Is there ever a time when it could be helpful to get advice from your pastor or a therapist?

Many married folks feel that it's OK and even best for all concerned if they 'tattle'/seek advice on a spouse who is emotionally negligent. Yet when a person is living with sexual negligence (ie, sexual refusal) it should be no biggie for the refused spouse because after all, *sexual intimacy isn't as important as emotional intimacy*. The sexually neglected spouse should just be patient, keep things secret and wait however long it takes for change.

Forgive me but I don't understand that. Neglect is neglect no matter what form it is in so how is one type of marital neglect worse than the other?

I'm not saying this is your opinion. It's just that I see this double standard all the time. I think it's difficult to live with either form of neglect. And in both situations, talking to pastor or therapist could be helpful for some, although certainly not for all because if someone is determined to remain negligent, they will not change. God heals but He also wants to see us put feet to our prayers and be proactive.

I know firsthand what silence and secrecy does for negligence in a marriage. My dh said nothing to others for 20 years and it suited me just fine. As soon as he told--- BINGO--- I became interested in changing. Looking at the type of marriage I now have, I wish my husband had 'tattled' on me way back in the early years of our marriage. We've lost so many years that we will never be able to replace. I no longer fret over the lost years but if I can help someone else avoid it...

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "exactly how would his 'telling' have made the situation worse?"

I believe it would have pushed me away. I would have seen it as a betrayal.


Gemma said: "Did you refuse sex and if so, for how long?"

almost 20 years

Gemma said: "Is there ever a time when it could be helpful to get advice from your pastor or a therapist?"

Yes, definitely, but it would have to be a mutual decision, whether we went for the counsel/therapy together or alone.

Gemma said: "I wish my husband had 'tattled' on me way back in the early years of our marriage. We've lost so many years that we will never be able to replace."

I wish it had happened sooner for us as well...but I am so grateful for the blessing I have now received! The thing is, we were receiving other, different blessings during those years that I am equally grateful for. Is that true for you?

verticaldistance said...

Gemma, so it worked for for that your husband dimed you out. For other people, it very well would make the situation worse. Not everyone reacts to the same scenario like you would/did. Also, anon doesn't 100% know how she would have reacted if her husband ratted her out because it didn't go down like that.

Anonymous said...

I do very much understand what you're saying. My experience is that telling pastors does not work if the refuser is not willing to change. I am different because of counseling and a lot of other work, but the refusal has not changed. If it was possible for it to be worse, it probably is.

Hard core refusers don't always see themselves as the problem.

Gemma said...

Gemma said: "Is there ever a time when it could be helpful to get advice from your pastor or a therapist?"

Anon said, “Yes, definitely, but it would have to be a mutual decision, whether we went for the counsel/therapy together or alone.”

So Anon,

Going on your reply and using my example above where a husband refuses for 10, 20 or 30 years to give any non-sexual affection- no hugs, no kisses, no hand-holding, no cuddles… you’re saying that you believe the wife should just suffer in silence until her husband agrees that she should go seek counseling? And if he never agrees, then for the rest of her marriage she has no rights to seek advice from her pastor or a therapist? Nobody has a right to forbid their spouse from seeking professional help.

Gemma said: "I wish my husband had 'tattled' on me way back in the early years of our marriage. We've lost so many years that we will never be able to replace."

Anon said: “I wish it had happened sooner for us as well...but I am so grateful for the blessing I have now received! The thing is, we were receiving other, different blessings during those years that I am equally grateful for. Is that true for you?”

No it’s not true for me because one of the most basic components of a marriage, sexual intimacy, was missing from our relationship because of me. It not only kept us from being sexually and emotionally bonded as a husband and wife should be but it also put my husband through many years of pure hell. I cannot in good consciousness say that I am grateful for those years that I needlessly put him through all that. If I were to ask my husband…. and I have asked him… he would say that he is glad that those horrible years are finally behind us. So do I have regrets for my past behavior? You betcha! I am not walking around in guilt over it but if I could live those years over again I would be a whole different type of wife, the kind my husband needed and deserved.

Gemma said...

verticaldistance,

I agree that not every refusing spouse would respond as I did. That's why I say "in many cases" or even "in most cases" it could possibly work as long as the pastor or (Christian) therapist would be bold and honest enough to tell the refuser that they are living in a sin habit by their habitual refusing. That whole mentality of, "I'm a good Christian wife because I pray and read my bible every day, never mind that I am a habitual refuser".... that's just stinky Christianity. Ten years ago my pastor called me on the carpet for my sexual refusal. He made it clear that I was living in unconfessed sin and when he did, my attitude began to change. That was at our previous church where we used to live. Our current pastor told me the same thing a few years ago when I shared with him that I used to refuse sex. Now I can see if a pastor mickey-mouses around the issue... well, yeah, in those cases you can't possibly expect change.

Part of a pastor's job is to point his church members towards living a holy life. If he's too afraid to do that I wouldn't want to be in his church.

Gemma said...

Anon said: "...telling pastors does not work if the refuser is not willing to change. I am different because of counseling and a lot of other work, but the refusal has not changed.... Hard core refusers don't always see themselves as the problem."

I agree but then... it's the pastor's responsibility to tell the refuser that they are living in unconfessed, habitual sin. Nobody should be telling them, "Oh, you're a good Christian wife who just happens to have a little problem."

Anonymous said...

Gemma said: "you’re saying that you believe the wife should just suffer in silence until her husband agrees that she should go seek counseling?"

I was speaking only about my own personal situation saying that we would make a mutual decision should we ever need counseling or therapy.

Gemma said: "I cannot in good consciousness say that I am grateful for those years that I needlessly put him through all that. If I were to ask my husband…. and I have asked him… he would say that he is glad that those horrible years are finally behind us."

So very sad. We had so many other wonderful things going on during those years (building careers/life/home together, raising our children, family vacations...) - we choose to remember that rather than lament the one thing that was missing. I guess it all could have been even better but we don't look back on it with regret.

Gemma said...

I'm not saying nothing good happened in our earlier years. but our marriage relationship... was pretty stinky because of my refusing. The one thing that was missing in our marriage was a pretty big thing. We can't change our past. What's done is done but yes, I do regret it. No guilt... I've confessed and asked forgiveness and received forgiveness but of course I regret what I did. My dh and I choose to live in the present and look to a better future so it is not like we're sitting around crying over the past.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly a refusal issue but related...

Was happy for several years with weekly prefunctory sex (I get off--she never does) even though she assured be "My O does not matter-just as long as you are getting pleasure, I realy don't want you show you what works for me to get off etc"

Then... for some reason I developed ED 129 days ago. Saw the internist DR, ran all the tests (OK physically) then referred to urologist who also said I was physically OK and that my ED was psycological.

Urologist gave two choices-

1.use ED drugs from now on and be happy with that for the long term. Cheaper than option 2.

2. Go to an experienced/certified sex therapist and do the hard work of addressing underlying psycological issues--may take 3-6 months but in his experience 80 % of those going this route are helped longer term--but only if their partner is involved with the therapy.

My spouse of 32 years is happy for me to use the ED drugs and said it is "Just wrong" to talk about our private sex life with a sex therapist.

Mexican standoff--

any suggestions?

Is it worth the hassle and discomfort to rock the boat?

Gemma said...

Uhhh Anon, it's always safer to work through the psychological stuff with a sex therapist than to pump yourself full of ED drugs, which are fine as a last resort but you should always go the non-med method first. Besides, your doc already told you that the sex therapist route is 80% curable and that's what he recommended for you. Stand your ground and rock the boat.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I would trust a church to give good counsel on sexual issues. In my experience they are ill equipped to deal with biblical married sexuality at all, even when the issues are quite clear.

It's a spiritual issue, true enough, but if a person does not want to change, they will not change.


limc

Gemma said...

If a pastor can deal with it, great. If they can't, they should be responsible enough to tell you, "This is over my head. Go see this therapist. He/she can help you."

limc said: "if a person does not want to change, they will not change."

We got that, limc ;-). But a person can not want to change for a long time like many of us gals and then.... finally see that they need and want to change. Refusers don't always change but some can and do.

landschooner said...

You don't look back on 20 years of refusal with regret?

Why not?

So if I don't talk to my wife for the next 20 years, I shouldn't regret that decision? After all, that is only one aspect of a marriage?

I put her through 20 years of feeling rejected and unloved, but, I have no regrets?

I don't understand that. I guess the only reason why I'm pointing this out is that it still doesn't seem that you fully grasp how damaging refusal is.

My wife doesn't desire me. There is no rejection in marriage equal to this in my opinion. I value my friendship with her very much, but if I had to choose, I would trade the friendship for a good sexual relationship with her. I HAVE friends and I can have friendships, but she is the ONLY person in my entire life that I can be sexual with....and I desire her VERY VERY much, but she denies me and rejects me and rejects me and rejects me....

If she ever does have an awakening, however strongly, it will NOT have been worth the wait. She has wasted our youth and wasted MY passion in favor of television watching and crossword puzzles. My desire for her...my masculine sexuality that GOD designed in me to be exercised in the purity of our marriage bed is trivialized in her apathy and disdained in her rejection. She rejects the innermost ME. I offer her ME, the bare naked ME, and she chooses FaceBook.

.....and then she complains that I haven't written her a love poem in years.

Confessed forgiven sin should not hold us in bondage. It is left at the cross. But no regrets?

I regret every sin I've ever sinned. I regret every time I've ever hurt anyone. I regret ALL of my failings. I regret every time I've offended God.

landschooner said...

Gemma - if my last post was too strongly worded, please don't hesitate to delete it.

Gemma said...

landschooner said: “You don't look back on 20 years of refusal with regret? Why not?.... Confessed forgiven sin should not hold us in bondage. It is left at the cross. But no regrets?”

landschooner,

To whom are you addressing your questions and comments? I’m just wondering because I didn’t think that I said ‘I had no regrets’. I will always regret the way I treated my husband for so many years but he and I chose to not waste any more time wallowing around in guilt/condemnation over what I have done. In our thinking, we have already wasted enough time. Now we want to get on with the business of enjoying our marriage bed.

landschooner said...

It was one of the Anonymous posters.

Anonymous said...

So very sad. We had so many other wonderful things going on during those years (building careers/life/home together, raising our children, family vacations...) - we choose to remember that rather than lament the one thing that was missing. I guess it all could have been even better but we don't look back on it with regret.

I'm sorry. I'm not trying to attack. If that's what it is I apologize. That's why I think, Gemma, your analogy about emotional refusal is so strong. People seem to GET that.

So many don't see how painful and damaging and sick a marriage is when there is long term refusal. It isn't a good marriage. Its a sick marriage. Its a dying marriage. That isn't to there is nothing good.

My wife thinks our marriage is great! Still does. It isn't. Its lousy. And we get along very well. She is my best friend and I love her very much. That actually makes it worse because my best friend whom I love very much rejects me in the bedroom and thinks nothing of it.

My most prized possession that I share only with her, she deems a dime store trinket to be put in a drawer and forgotten.

MANY women divorce over emotional neglect. Because they seem to have no connection with their husbands. because their husbands aren't interested in THEM as a friend and that is what they desire in marriage and emotions are so "Valid". Why is THAT VALID and powerful but unrequited sexual desire for one's spouse - sexual rejection....this is only a minor difficulty that isn't deemed to mar the status of the marriage much at all?

"Our marriage is great except for the sex...." I guess this phrase is a hot button for me. Its like saying "I'm in great health except for the cancer."

....Just trying to show my perspective from where I sit.

LS

job29man said...

Gemma,

So that you are not alone here. I've thought about this a lot. When I hear someone say "He/she refuses me in bed, but he/she is a really good father/mother." Or "He/she is a really good friend to me, a good wife/husband."

May I say? BALONEY!!

A good father does not treat the mother of his children this way. A good mother does not treat the father of her children that way.

If someone is a refuser then they are a BAD father, a BAD mother. Let's not be all nicey feely liberal about it. That's crap.

A good father treats his wife tenderly and lovingly. etc.

And what is this that I so often hear? "She's cold in bed but other than that she is my best friend!" Wha? Huh? No thank you. As Landschooner would say "I already have friends. I don't need another friend. I need a lover!"

I so wish everyone could just confront the harsh truth of sexual refusal, it is an ugly sin that completely tarnishes ALL the rest of one's witness/testimony. It soils EVERYTHING, like child beating would, like other acts of cruelty would.

Gemma you are right on to say that the veil of secrecy must be broken on this. In the beginning I would say act EARLY (don't wait a decade!) to bring your pastor into the mix. If he's not helpful get another pastor. If your mate is unrepentant after that I would press the issue with the elder board for general church discipline. This sin is hideous because of the blantant refusal to confess and repent it by folks who otherwise would call themselves believers.

In fact I doubt the Christianity of someone with a heart so hard as to refuse to love their mate in this way, and to refuse to repent of the issue. True believers are not so hard-hearted.

(stepping off of soapbox now, end of sermon)

Anonymous said...

Landschooner,
I highly recommend this thread on TMB:

http://www.boards.themarriagebed.com/viewtopic.php?f=94&t=17490&p=265010&hilit=dayenu#p265010

Will keep you in my prayers as you sound very troubled. Blessings to you - there is great freedom in life without guilt and regret.

Gemma said...

landschooner said: ""Our marriage is great except for the sex...." I guess this phrase is a hot button for me. Its like saying "I'm in great health except for the cancer."

If you guys could see my rolling eyes every time I read where a new poster on TMB forum begins a thread with that comment, "My marriage is great. My wife is wonderful. She's a good mom to our kids. She's my best friend. We love to do things together. She is a good Christian. We enjoy having conversations with each other but...... our marriage bed stinks. .. ... ...

Oh, and I'm sorry but in my book, anyone who lives in an unconfessed sin habit such as sexual refusal... that is not how a good Christian lives. It took me a long time before I realized that I needed to take my halo off of my head. Unconfessed sin keeps us separated from God.

Gemma said...

Job said: "When I hear someone say "He/she refuses me in bed, but he/she is a really good father/mother." Or "He/she is a really good friend to me, a good wife/husband."

May I say? BALONEY!!

A good father does not treat the mother of his children this way. A good mother does not treat the father of her children that way.

If someone is a refuser then they are a BAD father, a BAD mother. Let's not be all nicey feely liberal about it. That's crap.

A good father treats his wife tenderly and lovingly. etc.

And what is this that I so often hear? "She's cold in bed but other than that she is my best friend!" Wha? Huh? No thank you. As Landschooner would say "I already have friends. I don't need another friend. I need a lover!"

Gemma you are right on to say that the veil of secrecy must be broken on this. In the beginning I would say act EARLY (don't wait a decade!) to bring your pastor into the mix. If he's not helpful get another pastor. If your mate is unrepentant after that I would press the issue with the elder board for general church discipline. This sin is hideous because of the blantant refusal to confess and repent it by folks who otherwise would call themselves believers.

In fact I doubt the Christianity of someone with a heart so hard as to refuse to love their mate in this way, and to refuse to repent of the issue. True believers are not so hard-hearted."

Gemma commented: I totally agree with everything you said here, Job.

landschooner said...

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Anonymous said...

Landschooner,
I highly recommend this thread on TMB:

http://www.boards.themarriagebed.com/viewtopic.php?f=94&t=17490&p=265010&hilit=dayenu#p265010

Will keep you in my prayers as you sound very troubled. Blessings to you - there is great freedom in life without guilt and regret.
********************************

Thank you for that link. I'm familiar with it. and thank you for the exchange of posts. I appreciate that too : )

One thought though. While its true that we are not to be in bondage to our confessed sins. We are to leave them at the cross. I agree. But to say that one does not regret past sins?

"Do you regret beating your previous wife?"

"No. Since I've been forgiven and have nailed my sins to the cross, I have no regrets. I don't regret beating my wife."

THAT, is not Christian.

Are you to live in condemnation for that forgiven sin? NO! the cross takes care of it and we can move on in forgiveness and in the strength of Christ. But that isn't to say we don't regret past sin.

If you don't regret it, then you don't wish you hadn't done it.

That's my point.

LS

Anonymous said...

landschooner said: "If you don't regret it, then you don't wish you hadn't done it."

Of course I wish those years had been different, but reacting with regret will not change the past. Regret is a negative reaction that threatens to hold one in the past. I felt deep regret for the first year after awakening - it often kept me from living in and enjoying the present.

My husband helped me realize that we could not change our past and that our past, present and future is by God's design and our choices. Yes, I made bad choices, but I will not look on my past as "wasted time" nor will I saddle myself with the negativity of regret that serves no purpose. I choose to focus on God's blessings in my present as well as in my past.

landschooner said...

OK. I think I'm hearing you. : )

I think we define regret somewhat differently but that's ok.

You are correct - you shouldn't be saddled with negativity and I'm not pushing for that. We are not to live in condemnation. We have to learn from the past and move forward.

Thanks for the conversation Anon.

LS

job29man said...

Regret:

I think regret can be a healthy thing. We can react to confessed sin in two ways.

1. "Oh woe is me! I have sinned, and even though I have been forgiven I feel I need to wallow in the pangs of guilt forever!" Or,

2. "I have done things that are horrible. I've sinned, confessed, repented and been forgiven by God. But I will have to live with the consequences of that sin, including memories or thoughts of 'what might have been'. Please learn a lesson from me and don't do these things that I have done. I regret them, and if I had life to do over I would not take that path. Still... God is able to do a good work in me now because I have repented, praise His wonderful name!"

The latter example is something that I think we see in some of the writings of David and Paul.

Regrets that I see in the Bible writers.

1. David's sin of adultery and murder, and the subsequent loss of his son and the other consequences.

2. Saul's persecution of the Church, even to watching the coats of those who stoned Christians to death.

3. I can only imagine Moses standing on a high point of land in the wilderness of Zin and looking out at the Promised Land before him, knowing that even after 40 years of wandering, he would never enter the Promised Land, never have the joy of leading his people across the river into their inheritance.

Each of these men truly were used by God, and were reunited in fellowship with Him. Each one sits with the Father in Heaven today. But especially Paul and David seemed to express or imply regret of their past sins, in their writings.

I personally DO have regrets. I don't wallow in them. I don't say "Woe is me!" I say "Praise God that He has delivered me from that mess. But if I could take it back I would, and if I can counsel you... DON'T do as I have done!"

job29man said...

I believe that I can see some regrets in the writings of David and Paul, at their past sins against God and man.

But they don't wallow in it. Still it seems that if they could change it, or have a "do-over", they would.

I have some regrets. Things I'd do differently, things I'd advise others to avoid. But I can regret without saying "Woe is me!"

Anonymous said...

What constitutes a refuser. If she refuses at all, is she a 'refuser'? I'd like to have sex with my wife every night, giving her a break for periods, health issues, etc. Physically, I'd be okay with every other night I guess, but on an emotional level I'd like to connect nightly. We probably have it between 1 and 3 times a week, with occasional handjobs. She's got a lower sex drive than I do. A lot of nights when we don't do it, it's because she is sleepy and exhausted. We have three little kids, and that wears her out. She is trying to write a Christian book. Sometimes she is working on her book or church related stuff until late at night, and then its too late for sex.

I'm overweight, and that is a turnoff for her. She tells me if I were thin she would be all over her. It is her fantasy, she says, to have a thin husband. I want to lose weight but it seems like the same stuff I did in my 20's to slim down doesn't take any weight off now. Is being overwheight defrauding her also in a sense?

Da Man

Gemma said...

To me a refuser is a person who doesn't meet their spouse's sexual needs. If you are married and sexually needy on a regular basis (ie, weekly), then you're married to a refuser. People refuse for many reasons but if the refuser is not willing to aggressively work on their refusing habit (ie, usually involving a therapist), then they are living in an unconfessed sin habit. A full definition for "a refuser" is more detailed. I just nutshelled it here for you.

And a person cannot usually change from being a low-SD to a high-SD. It is what it is but what they CAN CHANGE is to stop being sexually selfish and learn to become a sexually generous spouse. This means being able and willing to enthusiastically engage in passionate sex when their spouse wants to, even if the LD isn't needy. The LD is willing to do this so they can connect with the HD on all intimate levels and simply because he/she loves their spouse and takes pleasure in seeing them satisfied.

Sleepy, exhausted? Besides caring for the kids what else does your wife do with her time? Writing a Christian book and working on church related stuff are not bad things to do, in and of themselves, but perhaps this is not a good season for your wife to be doing those "extra" things. Her first ministry is to God (ie, not her church but God). Her second ministry is to take care of her husband and her children. If she writing books and doing church stuff while her husband is being neglected at home, then she has her priorities out of order. No small wonder your wife is often too tired for sex. If I were in her shoes with her priorities as is, I'd also be telling my husband, "I'm too tired... maybe another day."

Being overweight? I can relate to that. Find a way to lose weight that will work for you. Since 2007 I lost 135 pounds and I'm now at my goal weight. For me it took 2 surgeries, healthy eating, exercise and determination to do it. It's healthier to have gastric surgery than to die young from living with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol... I know because I was dying a slow death before my weight loss.

Bottom line, before your marriage bed will get on track your wife needs to reorganize her priorities and begin taking care of her husband's sexual needs and you would benefit from losing weight and live longer to boot.

I just 'cut to the chase' because I quickly saw glaring issues. Now what will you and wife do about it? If you want her to temporarily put her writing and church work aside then you might need to aggressively work on getting healthy. If your wife wants a thin husband, she may need to lay those hobbies aside and spend more time preparing you healthy meals and snacks.

There you have it... that's how I see it.

Gemma said...

Oh, and when I say "find a way to lose weight that will work for you" I mean go talk to your doctor and ask him, "What game plan can we come up with to help me lose all my extra weight?" If your doc simply says, "Cut back on your calories, eat healthy and exercise," and then sends you home.... drop him like a hot potato and begin asking friends and family members for names of good doctors. You need a proactive doc to help you get healthy. If he's not doing it, he's not worth having for a doc.

job29man said...

Good sex life comes BEFORE...

1. Church
2. Hobbies
3. Ministry to others
4. TV, Computer, books, games

If Sunday mornings are typically a time of sexual frustration then the couple should drop Church attendance, send the kids with the neighbors, and stay home for sex.

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