Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ex-refuser: “I am awakened!” Ex-refused: “So what! Too little, too late!”

Why is it that when one spouse has a sexual awakening, the other spouse does not always respond in a positive way?

I refused for over 25 years and by all rights, my husband should have said, "Sorry, too little, too late," and refused me but he did not. To be sure, he was puzzled about why the change after all those years and repeatedly asked me, "What has happened to bring about the change?" And then we initially had another problem because his body was not responding correctly to allow for successful PIV-IC. We were both crushed but we went to the doctor to see what we could do. I explained to doc how I had refused for so many years. We have a great doc and he is a Christian to boot. He talked with us, gave my husband a viagra sample pack and Rx and told us to be patient... that it might take time. My husband did take one of the pills and then everything came together so he never had to take more of them.

I cannot tell you how many times I apologized in tears to my dh over and over and over. In my mind, if he had said, “Too bad, so sad,” I darn well deserved it. I did not deserve for him to respond to my awakening in a positive way and that is how I approached it with him. If I had taken a different approach like saying to him, "Look, you should be happy that I am sexually awakened. Now we can have all the sex you want,"…. I do not know for sure but to me that would have been a slap in the face to him as if to say, "Yeah, I know I refused for all those years but no biggie... I want sex now and you have been wanting it so we need to just put the past behind us and enjoy our marriage bed."

I did not feel it was my call to decide where we would go from that point on. Instead, my husband was the one who said, "You do not need to keep apologizing. It is done, it is behind us. Let us move forward." And then he did not miss a beat. We immediately began having frequent, passionate sex, not just because I finally wanted it but also because he wanted it, because I was sincerely remorseful, because I asked for forgiveness and because my husband forgave. We were finally on the same page.

When a sexual awakening is not well received I wonder if it is a lack of maturity in the refused spouse where they cannot let go of bitterness or if it is because they went so long without sex that they do not know how to mentally turn on their sexual desire again. Also I think it is extremely important that when the ex-refuser initially discusses their awakening with their spouse, they need to approach it with a contrite and humble spirit.

Are you the spouse of an ex-refuser or are you the awakened ex-refuser? How is that working out for you? Do you feel that you handled or are handing it the right way? What could you have done or what could you now do differently today and in the future?


Ancient Mariner said...

We went through a very rough patch where it was touch-and-go with the marriage. In that situation, sex was out of the question. She did not want to come near me, and I could not stand to be in the same room as her. However, with the emotional healing came a renewed desire for intimacy and sex, so for us it was a mutual realization that we wanted to be joined again.

Strangely, like your dh, my plumbing initially refused to work. After a brief period of distress (actually, abject panic) things went back to normal. I guess it is true what they say about using it or losing it.

I would not do anything differently. We had to go through what we endured to understand how important we each are to the other, and it has made our marriage stronger. I am glad for the experience, as difficult as it was while we were living it.

Anonymous said...

Quote Ancient Mariner: "I would not do anything differently. We had to go through what we endured to understand how important we each are to the other, and it has made our marriage stronger. I am glad for the experience, as difficult as it was while we were living it."

So well said - this is our feeling too. We quickly put the past behind us and starting enjoying each other. It was a mutual decision. When God opens a door, don't hesitate, walk through it!

Gemma said...

It certainly does no good to mull over the past. Our past mistakes are good for the lessons we learn and to help us appreciate the present and the future but we don't need to be living in guilt over the past. I refuse to give my past that much power to destroy what we now share.

Corner of a Rooftop said...

I think this is a fine example of what scripture is talking about when it exhorts us men not to become embittered against our wives.

Embittered is an excellent word for it too, as it implies an element of 'this was done to me', someone else had a hand in it, but its ultimately my response. (Also born out in the text)

Bitterness is the most likely and natural response to habitual refusal. And its a toughie, especially in TMB.

I can give, sacrifice, submit to authorities and do all manner of other things grudgingly. But in this one area, no matter how badly I want to override my spirit's response, if I'm sufficiently embittered against my wife, the plumbing may refuse to work.

Anonymous said...

This is why the refused spouse has to keep working on his/her own spiritual and emotional growth. Trust in God means looking forward as if God's purposes have already been accomplished.

Lamp trimming, if you will. If the groom is ready, I want to be, too.


landschooner said...

I havent seen an awakening, but I can see where one might have issues with this. If the newly awakened spouse does not acknowledge the wrongdoing, then who is to say they wont merrily shut off again?

How is their marriage bed about the BOTH of them instead of being the domain where THEY are the dictators of the sex life?

How does the refused spouse keep from feeling toyed with. Like their sex life isnt trivialized.

I have actually often wondered about this. If my wife ever awakened, would I choose an awakening where she FINALLY understood the depth of my anguish all these years, or would I choose an awakening where she was unaware?

I know I wouldn't trust an unaware awakening, but for arguments sake, if I knew that both Awakening types would last, then I would choose for her to be unaware of my pain. Why choose for her to feel guilty? My flesh would want her to feel bad. To even feel the same anguish. I would even be tempted to refuse her just to make her FEEL it too! HURT like you HURT me! But this isn't what I would actually choose. I love my wife. I would want to spare her that.

Gemma said...

landschooner, you make a valid point. I think the problem with many ex-refusers is that they never fully acknowledge and "own" their sin of refusal. Instead they simply decide that they are OK with having sex or they begin craving sex and then they expect their refused spouse to jump up and down for joy. If the refused spouse understandably doesn't trust that the change is genuine, the refuser says or thinks, "What's wrong? Isn't this what you've always wanted?" And they are generally clueless about the pain and anguish the refused spouse may still be experiencing. IOW, the refusing spouse didn’t care about the feelings of the refused spouse throughout the refusing period and he/she ALSO isn’t ready to consider the feelings of the refused spouse after the refusing stops.

‘It’s all about me… what I do… what I want… and whatever I want, you should want too.’

It’s only natural to assume that this type of change isn’t sincere, after all if the refusing spouse does want to go back to refusing, they are going to darn well do as they please because the deep heart issues have not been resolved.

Gemma said...

Oh and one more thing-- If the refusing spouse begins exhibiting change in sexual attitude but never really apologizes and asks for forgiveness in a sincere manner... well... they shouldn't be surprised if the refused spouse doesn't "buy it".

Corner of a Rooftop said...

I think LS and Gemma are onto something. I typed it up before these last two responses and then cancelled. But..

Refusal is ultimately about a self centered person's demands. I will not be subject to the authority of scripture. I will dictate when, what, and where. I will not negotiate...

And if that person suddenly decides they want sex, without dealing with the sin first, and appropriately, it just becomes one more "I will".

Gemma made it clear in her case that she was contrite, and that harm had been done.

Anonymous said...

This is where I wonder if all refused spouses are being totally honest when they say, "All I want is to have more sex with my wife!"


Does a refused spouse really need an apology in order to forgive? I thought all that was wanted was to have more sex. Why isn't that enough?


Gemma said...

Leah said:
“This is where I wonder if all refused spouses are being totally honest when they say, "All I want is to have more sex with my wife!" Really? Does a refused spouse really need an apology in order to forgive? I thought all that was wanted was to have more sex. Why isn't that enough?”


It’s like many other situations we go through in life. We don’t know how we’re going to feel walking through them until we are actually living it. No, a refused spouse doesn’t NEED an apology in order to forgive. My husband may not have needed an apology from me but I needed to apologize because it was important to me that he knew the depth of my remorse over what I had done to him all those years. Now for those refused spouses who do not receive a sincere apology… if they have wounded emotions it might be like adding insult to injury, making it hard for them to forgive. I’m not saying it’s right to withhold forgiveness but I can see why some refused spouses would struggle with this. Not everyone who is emotionally wounded can immediately bounce back when things improve like with an awakened marriage bed. In those cases where forgiveness is an issue I would suggest that both spouses talk out their feelings with a mediator present, a pastor or therapist, so that they can quickly work through the wounded emotions and get on with their healed relationship.

If they don’t forgive, then they are behaving as poorly as their refusing spouse, but honestly, if I were a refused spouse I believe I would question the sincerity of my spouse if he took his past behavior lightly like saying, “Hey, I’m awakened. Isn’t this great? Now we can put the past behind us and have fun,” with not a word of shame and remorse for what he had done to me. There is something just not quite right about awakening with this type of attitude, imo. We can apologize and forgive in our hearts but why wouldn’t we want to verbally express it to our spouse?

Anonymous said...

I agree that a former refuser should have a humble apology, but it is best for the fomerly refused spouse not to expect one. Forgiveness is not about how wonderful an apology I get, but the attitude of my heart toward my spouse.

If I really want healing and a vibrant sex life, then I have to be proactive about forgiveness. If I stand around waiting for an apology, it doesn't quite sound like forgiveness, do you think?

Gemma said...

I don't think it's so much that a formerly refused spouse is sitting around tapping his/her foot, expecting an apology. In many cases, though, they are so emotionally torn up that they don't know how to handle their emotions with the change in their spouse.

Of course forgiveness isn't about how wonderful an apology someone gets. I can maybe only liken this to when we sin against God. God doesn't need for us to apologize to him and He doesn't need for us to beg forgiveness from him but we feel better when we do and it is what He wants to see in us... a broken and contrite heart.

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17

For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “ I dwell in the high and holy place,With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15

For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “ But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. Isaiah 66:2

That's why I say that if one spouse is sexually awakened and the other spouse can't handle it, they should both go consult with their pastor or with a therapist. It does neither spouse any good if they ignore the new issues that crop up with the formerly refused spouse.

Corner of a Rooftop said...

To be fair, with the exception of Gemma, we have a bunch of refused folks here discussing a question asked by a former refuser.

Yes, we should not expect or demand an apology. Scripture deals rather harshly with unforgiving spirits. But, if you are that repentant soul, you can certainly make it easier for the wounded spouse to make the right decision by being humble and contrite and acknowledging the harm. To do less is wrong. For the other party to demand it is wrong.

Gemma said...

Corner of a Rooftop,

I'm going to post a reply as a main blog article. I thought I could quickly reply here but it actually became longer than I intended so read my reply on the main blog page.

Anonymous said...

Christ has forgiven us, all of us, but who receives that forgiveness? Is it not the one who confesses his sin and repents?