Saturday, June 19, 2010

What do you think needs to happen before positive change takes place in your marriage bed?

A negative attitude does not appear overnight. And if an attitude is only beginning to show, it could be rooted in something in the person's present life (ie, the easiest root causes to overcome) OR.... it could go back to something in their past which requires much more work.

For over 25 years, most of my bad attitude was rooted in guilt and pride from two sources. One source was guilt from the promiscuous lifestyle which I led while in my teens and early 20's. The other, was guilt imposed on me when we were in legalistic churches and also pride, because I would not talk to our pastors to let them know how poorly I was treating my husband in our marriage bed.

Believe it or not while I was refusing, GR and I were in leadership positions and I wrongly felt that we had an image to keep up so I allowed pride to keep me as prisoner in my mind. (ie, If you had problems, you were less spiritual than those without problems.) Our pastors, then, and our church friends all thought our marriage was good.

I learned to fake it very well when around them. (Does this have a familiar ring to it?) GR wanted to tell the pastor but he would not because he was afraid I would explode and leave him or that things would get worse. I mean, really, how can a marriage bed get worse than when a couple goes for years at a time without sex?

Even after we left those legalistic churches and I was finally able to acknowledge what I was doing to my husband and my marriage, it took me another six years to work through all the guilt and pride I had been carrying around for so long. As soon as we began attending our current church, GR and I both started spilling our guts out to our pastor; then the healing began.

This pastor was a Christian Orthodox priest who had only been married for a few short years and yet, he had the training and wisdom to know exactly how to counsel us so we could begin the healing process. After six years of wanting to change but not knowing how, often taking one step forward and then two steps back, I finally figured it out and came out on the other side being emotionally healthy and whole.

I would dare to say that in most cases, changing one's bad attitude is a process which takes time, effort and a willingness to admit that we are wrong, to admit that we are sinning against God and our spouse and a willingness to work hard at changing. For a Christian, attitude in the marriage bed begins with a spiritual root and then moves out to the emotional and sexual areas of a person's life. Very few people can come out healthy on the other side without some form of help. Besides my husband doing all he knew to do, my help came in the form of a good church, a very wise pastor and many good marriage bed books which I purchased and read.

What do you think needs to happen before positive change takes place in your marriage bed?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Get the dogs out of the bed and into the backyard where they belong.

Gemma,
Did you have the attitude that you did not want to give DH what he wanted, because if he got what he wanted he would take advantage of you?

Gemma said...

If you read my "About Me" article in the right side bar, you'll see that I have 7 reasons listed there and those are only the ones I'm aware of. It's not uncommon for a person to have more than one root cause which triggers the bad attitude and the refusing.

Dawn @ Marriage Intimacy said...

Hi Gemma, this is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I agree with you that change doesn't take overnight to happen. In line with this, I think it's also important to realize that a person should never, ever change his partner. The change has to be within himself. I think change happens when the person realizes what he wants life, and his underlying values are. This help him focus on the positive aspects of his life to change for the better.

cckc said...

I can't speak for others but the positive changes started for me when I reached a point in which the resentment, anger, and overwhelming loneliness of continuing to be refused outweighed the benefits of being in a stable, non-threatening, comfortable, brother-sister like relationship... Then I got to the point of realizing what the relationship was teaching my children and decided being refused was a whole lot worse than living alone or even caring what other people might think if I was to leave.....I still have a long way to go but it is empowering to have a bit of self reflection finaly start the change.

Cocotte said...

I think that change can only happen when a person realizes that something is wrong. Too often, women (and men) buy into the stereotype that men are only interested in 'one thing' and that in contrast, women are not interested in sex at all. When one or both spouses believe this, nothing is going to change.

verticaldistance said...

It's human nature to get tired of giving, giving, giving, and giving some more without having the opportunity to do some taking. At some point, the giver will become resentful, believe he is being taken advantage of, and attack at the very heart of what makes the taker happy. If a wife wants peace in her home along with the continuation of the romance and gifts that she enjoyed while they were merely dating, she has to accommodate, within reason of course, her husband sexually. That's why males marry, for sex. Get over your premarital sexually charged past. It has nothing to do with your sexual present and future, unless you picked up a STD. Stop putting so much emotion into sex. It's physical and hormonal, nothing more and nothing less. It helps to compartmentalize sex from you emotions, which are unreliable to begin with.

Cocotte said...

Um, Verticaldistance, those are the very stereotypes that I think we need to stop propagating.

verticaldistance said...

There is great truth in stereotypes. I realize that there are exceptions to the rule, but it would be crazy to toss out true generalizations.

Cocotte said...

Saying that guys marry for sex just isn't true. Most guys can get sex very easily without a wedding ring.

And I hope I never get to the point where I'm having sex to "accomodate" my husband or in hopes to get gifts or romance out of him. Those ideas just give women a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Verticaldistance, I might be really strange, but I remember writing in my journal at age sixteen about wanting to get married, have kids, have an emotionally rich life with my wife, unconditional love, small but simple romantic gestures, and all that. And yes, I'm sure I hoped for an exciting sex life, too.

But the thing that gave me great hope about marital sex was that it would be strongly connected to the emotional life I shared with my future wife. And it would be guilt-free, too, which is unlike any sexual experiences I had as an adolescent. Those two things are currently missing from my life right now -- a strong emotional/sexual bond with my wife, and guilt-free enjoyment of sex. I hope someday to get them back into my marriage, with my spouse's help. But I'm willing to go out on a limb, in the meantime, and argue that probably three-quarters or four-fifths of men are hoping for that type of relationship when they marry. The other fifth? Well, those guys are probably the immature ones who are the basis for the stereotype--the types of guys you wouldn't want your sister or daughter to marry. Let's not laud their attitude as typical of all adult (or even adolescent) males.

Mike

verticaldistance said...

Ok. Men marry for easier sexual access to a female. No more trolling around Craigslist, produce sections, or nasty single's bars. As far as the accommodating aspect of sex and marriage, people in general have to accommodate each other! That's just life. I don't allow my momentary moods or feelings to have a say in what I know I have to do. Believe it or not, sometimes I am in the mood for sex. However, since I am female I have tons less T than males, leading to a lower sex drive. So yes, since I have a naturally lower sex drive, I do accommodate my husband sexually. I have never gotten a single complaint from him about that. I expect the same from him when I want him to do something for me. I offer no apologies for wanting gifts as a sign of love from him. That is MY love language and the love language of many other women.

So I have a quiet, simple home life. He isn't complaining about me online or irl about how he isn't getting any at home. My wants and needs are taken deadly seriously. This is what I need to see the point of being married.

Gemma said...

verticaldistance,

I respect your opinion and happy to hear that you and dh are happy with your marriage bed but I have to say that several of your comments are merely myths:

“Men marry for easier sexual access to a female.”

Myth. That’s hardly THE reason that all or even most men marry.

“… since I am female I have tons less T than males, leading to a lower sex drive.”

Myth. Not all females have lower SD’s than men. I don’t have the stats at my fingertips but I thought I had read recently that half or a third of women are higher-SD than men. (Anyone have the stats on this?)

“That (gifts) is MY love language and the love language of many other women.”

Myth. There are no more women with LL of ‘gifts’ than there are women with other LL including ‘physical touch’.

mr. self respect said...

What would need to change, for me to have any type of sex life with my wife?

1) I would need to move home, which would mean getting a different assignment with my current employer, or find a new job completely.

2) I would need to address my own physical problems; again, I suspect that I am becoming impotent, or that my sex organs are starting to atrophy due to non-use.

3) My wife would want to have a godly marriage. She would need to return to Christ, and give up her agnostic belief system. She would have to commit to a sex life with me, as part of this change. She would have to overcome her own lack of desire, SSA issues, and other sexual hangups.

4) The emotional gap between my wife and I would have to close. Again, my wife has essentially no respect for me whatsoever.

It won't be an easy task. Step 1 is to move home; obviously, we won't be having sex, while I am 1500 miles away. That may not happen until later this year.

Sorry, you can't snap you fingures, and have your problems go away.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Oh wow, Mr.SelfRespect,
Caps. on purpose of course!
Your post brought tears to my eyes. You have said so many painfully aware things that my heart cried for you and your dear wife.
Without wishing to sound crass or preachy, I will remember to pray for you as you believe for a change in your marriage.
We all want more which is why we hash this subject matter out time and again.
Thank you for the potent reminder of how much a wife must appreciate her husband. I will thank mine today in a special way ;-)

landschooner said...

for me anyway, it isn't that the MARRIAGE would get worse. Its that things WOULD get worse for my kids. I agree that a marriage with refusal is not a great for the kids. I don't believe that divorce is better. I don't believe years of arguing about it is better. But exampling a non-sexual / non-romantic marriage is also bad for the kids. Effectively, (or non-effectively), one can not know WHAT to do. ANY step seems precarious. ANY step seems likely to damage the kids. Its easy to do nothing for fear of doing something. I TRUST in the LORD. I don't however trust in me, or you for that matter. (That's a ROYAL you) Is this advice good? Is that advice good? Should I do something? Should I be sacrificial for my kids' sake? Should I just be content in my circumstances? Should I argue and force the issue? Do I actually believe anything will ever really change? And if it doesn't am I willing to divorce over it? Am I a coward or am I being courageous? I can see both cowardice and courage in either direction. I can see sacrifice and wisdom in either direction. I've been counseled to NOT press and counseled to FIGHT! Who is right? What is right? I know refusal is wrong. How do I handle it? Strong Christians who have been there have counseled exactly opposite courses and all give biblical arguments as to why each course is correct. Which way to go? My children are my divinely appointed protectorate. How do I leave them undamaged or as little damaged as possible in this? Pure outright complete refusal......I think the answer is clear. But I'm not there. I'm in a low-sex marriage. For almost 19 years - once a month or so. I wonder if the elders in my church have it any better? One of my best friends id worse off than I am. he is trying to be gracious and not push. For me, pushing is the only thing that ever worked....for a short while.

I'm not saying I am right and you are wrong. Gemma and GR....like I've said. You guys are my heroes. But I'm married to MY wife. In some ways, she is the most stubborn person I have ever known. In other ways, she is the sweetest.

I'm sure a better marriage would be better for my kids. But a destroyed marriage would be worse. So I have to be careful.

LS

Melissaharo said...

Going for counseling would be best if both you and your loved one go together. Do try to make a clear stand that the counseling is to help both of you together to find a solution to your relationship. Try not to make it sound as if your partner needs the counseling because you relationship problem was due to your partner. Do try your best to make it sound neutral. If nothing else works, try putting aside your pride for the sake of your relationship and claim that you are the one wanting counseling.


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Anonymous said...

Landschooner, thank you for saying so eloquently EXACTLY what I'm thinking and feeling these days. (That last part in particular -- about my wife being both the most stubborn and sweetest person I know -- caps it all.) I want my son to grow up understanding that most married couples do NOT sleep in separate bedrooms; I want him to grow up understanding that marriage does not always have to have so much tension in it; I want him to grow up not afraid of making a commitment and working hard to honor and keep that commitment alive. In other words, I want him to believe that marriages can be healthy and life-giving, even if that's not exactly what we have in our home most days.

But, like you, I do not believe that walking away from a low-sex marriage is the way to teach one's child that marriage can be so much more. Most of all, I do not want to break up the family that provides him with a good degree of security, stability, and unconditional love. (Along that line: If I left this marriage, what message would that send about the unconditional love that we supposedly have in our family? I'm not talking about a marriage in which there is physical abuse or genuine verbal abuse going on, or where one partner has an ongoing substance abuse problem. Mine, like yours, is a very low-sex marriage. And a marriage with a very real communication problem. But there is some mutual respect and shared good experiences remaining in my marriage. It's just that we could have so much more, I keep telling myself!)

Melissaharo, I also appreciate your post. You're very right about the need for joint counseling, if that is at all possible. The problems in my marriage (or ANY marriage) are not due soley to my spouse. I'm half of this marriage; I'm half of whatever problems we have. I still believe that -- and it's one of the beliefs that does give me some hope for the future of my marriage. (The flip side of that is, I'm not sure one person can save a marriage -- or put it on the path to a healthier existence -- on his or her own. I need my spouse to be involved with that. And I think we do need the help of a third party if we are to figure out how to communicate better about important, and emotionally charged, subjects.)

I'm willing to fight (work hard) for my marriage. I'm praying that I can talk my wife into working alongside me on this. When all is said and done, she's a good person, and she's the person I want to stay married to for a long time. But a long, healthy marriage is not automatic. (To quote Paul McCartney from his song "We Got Married"... "It doesn't work out if you don't work at it.")

Peace to all.

Mike

Gemma said...

Mike,

A thought just crossed my mind. When Christ walked the earth and approached a 'sinner' he never would say that they were a 'good person'. Sure, he had mercy and compassion to love the sinner but he always, ALWAYS called a spade a spade.

When I was a refusing wife I was not a good person but I thought I was and my husband was always leading me to believe that I was a good person so... what need did I have to change. I WAS A GOOD PERSON!!! When he began getting real and honest with me in confronting my sexual sin, that's when I began to think that perhaps there was something no-so-good about me. Christ gave us an example for us to live by... we need to follow it. Begin to address sexual sin in your marriage as sexual sin. It's only in truth that we can be set free.