Ultimately, we will end up with this reality, that some women really believe that they hate sex. They hate the act of sex and even the mention of sex. They find it repulsive and unpleasant. Such women, of course, should not marry (you should not marry if you are not willing to be a wife, and sex is part of being a wife), but they usually don't find this out until they are married. Now what?
This is, obviously, too big an issue to deal with on a blog. There are so many different ways that a woman can come to "hate sex" and so many different things she can mean by this comment. Some women come from abusive homes in which their relationship to their parents is such that it colors everything they understand about marriage. They do not trust their husbands and they often view sex as a weapon used against them.
Some women have endured a history of sexual abuse, from family or others, and this is certainly important in how they view sex. If sex was used against them when they were younger, then they will have a different view of sex than someone who was not so abused.
Some women's dislike of sex relates to a bad experience with their own husband (or a prior husband). Some times, the first night of a marriage (the honeymoon) is a nightmare for a young wife. For Christian young women, raised in homes where sex is never discussed and where they are never prepared for its reality, may be shocked. Some young men, having no understanding of the process from the woman's point of view, are harsh and seem uncaring to their wives. This can set up problems that will last for years.
And some women do not enjoy sex because they do not enjoy their own bodies, they do not enjoy the emotions and pleasure of sex, or because their husbands just aren't very good at having sex with them.
In short, sex is an immensely complicated issue. It is not "just sex," as people sometimes say, but it involves the totality of your relationship with your husband.
If you hate sex, if you hate the experience and the need, if you try to come up with ways and excuses to avoid having sex with your husband, you must find out why. Then, you must deal with it.
To be a wife who never has sex is sin. It is to drive your husband into sin, because that is exactly the result Paul says will occur in 1 Corinthians 7. It is to fail at the most basic requirement of your life with your husband.
Fellowship is great. Conversation is great. Sharing the trials of life is great. But a man can have these things without marriage. A wife, like a husband, is to be a sexual partner, not just a life partner.
If you hate sex, find out why. Then fix the problem. For your husband's happiness and for your happiness.
Looking at various issues regarding sex, we also have to deal with this one. What if the problem in your family is not that you refuse sex, but that your husband does. Generally, we deal with the problem of wives not wanting to engage in sex, causing the husband a lot of frustration and resulting in sin. But the problem works both ways.
In our culture, the general idea is that it is wives who refuse. "Not tonight, I have a headache," is the easiest joke to tell because it is so well understood. Wives in our culture are understood to be reluctant regarding sex. In the same way, when we think of domestic violence, we always think of husbands being violent against their wives. Our view of marriage is that wives are unloving and victims of violence; husbands are frustrated and violent.
But these ideas are wrong. We know that, in fact, wives may be physically abusive of their husbands and that husbands may be the party that is reluctant to have sex. (By the way, apparently this goes in cycles, too. In the 14th Century in Europe, it was wives who complained of their husband's lack of interest in sex.)
The danger and frustration for wives is certainly as great as it is for husbands when their spouse refuses sex. Just as a husband may end up in sexual sin, so a wife may as well. A husband's refusal of sex is not "just as bad" as a wife's refusal, it is precisely the same sin.
The harder issue is that wives, in our culture, are rather expected to be passive. They act passively in many sexual settings and they are hesitant to be aggressive with their husbands. If the husband does not initiate, then the wife may tend to remain unfulfilled and frustrated.
So, if that is your situation, be more aggressive. 1 Corinthians 7 clearly gives you the right to demand that your husband fulfill his duties. You would rather have the husband involved because he loves you and wants to do so, but the key is to resolve the issue.
A wife in this situation, like a husband in this situation, must be honest about her needs and her desires. She must make reasonable efforts to attract her husband and to make sex enjoyable for him, but she must not give up her rights. She must not allow this to go on long enough to be habitual. She must act promptly. By "act promptly," we do not mean talk about it. We mean to do something.
Most sex-less couples have been sex-less for a long time. They have a fervent period in early marriage and, then, things cool over the years. This is a shame and a sin. Do not let this happen. Do not give up a regular, frequent sexual relationship, or it will be very hard to recreate when you want it.
If your husband has been less interested lately, get him interested again. Be aggressive. You will be surprised how much a husband likes to know he is wanted. The burden of always being the initiator of sex wears on a man, so you should be the aggressor occasionally.
Do not sit passive while sexuality dies in your marriage.
Continuing with our theme of dealing with sex in marriage, there is a second problem for wives. Even if the Supermodel Problem is put away, the reality is that most women do not feel attractive. The body image problem remains. Women look at themselves in the mirror and are discouraged.
They are not impressed with their own attractiveness. They not only do not look like supermodels, they do not look good to themselves. They do not find their own bodies attractive, especially as they grow older. Bodies change with age and with child-bearing, and women are not happy with that reality.
So, they stand before the mirror and cannot think of themselves as attractive. Here are two thoughts they need to keep in their mind.
First, it doesn't matter what you think. It really doesn't matter whether you think you are attractive. It is not about being attractive to yourself, but being attractive to your husband. It is his opinion that matters, not your opinion. It is about what he thinks.
So, stop looking and think a minute. You know what your husband thinks of your body. You know that he enjoys having sex with you, so who cares what you think about how you look? He likes you. Perhaps you no longer have the flat stomach of your youth, but there is something there he still finds attractive.
Listen to him. Listen to his compliments and watch him to see what he watches. Perhaps he loves your legs or your breasts or your neck or your hair. Read Song of Solomon and see how the man describes the fine details of his wife's body. That is how men think.
If he finds you attractive, why do you care whether you look like you think you should look?
Second, men, believe it or not, have strong memories. They do not remember things like dates of occurrences or birthdays or dental appointments (all of which are artificial things created by our culture), but they remember life. They remember events (even if not dates). They love things that they know. They keep using old rifles and old fishing poles and they drive old trucks.
When a man hunts with his old rifle or fishes with his old pole, he remembers all the times he did it before. Men's memories are very much tied to practical matters. The same thing is true of you.
When your husband makes love with you he remembers all the times before. He remembers being a young man with a young wife. He relives the feelings and excitement of his first night with you and of nights since then. If you have been married three years, this is true. If you have been married 30 years, it is still true.
When a 50-year old man has sex with his 50-year old wife after 30 years of marriage, he is young again. He is no longer an old man, but a young man with a young wife and the joys of a new marriage.
So, you say you are unattractive? Your opinion does not matter. His opinion matters and he wants you. You may think he should not want you, but that is one of the gifts of marriage. As we age together, so our tastes age as well. When he was 20, he would not have wanted you as you are at 50. But, at 50, you are all he wants.
Stop standing before the mirror. See yourself not in your own eyes but in your husband's eyes. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Well, one of the interesting things about dealing with marriage is that you have to, on occasion, deal with sex. Sex is not only part of marriage, it is, in fact, one of the main reasons for marriage (see 1 Corinthians 7). We don't talk about it much because we have adopted a very Victorian discomfort with sex, contrary to how it was viewed historically or biblically. Still, it is impossible to talk about marriage without talking about sex. It would be like discussing the economy of Las Vegas without discussing gambling.
One of the most interesting issues for women is what we now call "body image." Women, it seems, tend to think badly of their own bodies. They do not think they are attractive. As an illustration, consider how many websites and seminars and such you can find on how to help women feel better about their bodies. Then try to find such a website for men. Anywhere. I'll wait.
Men do not have body image websites. There are not public letters urging young men not to feel badly about themselves. There are not huge movements to try to keep young men from trying to lost weight. This is a women's issue.
And that makes it the "Supermodel Problem." For some reason, women (young and old) have the idea that they need to look like supermodels or, in the alternative, that they will not be loved if they fail to look like supermodels. Even married women feel this way.
Stop it. Seriously. Stop it.
First, it is certainly true that you "do not look like the supermodels look." Neither do they. The pictures you see are airbrushed and staged and altered until the people in them look the way the advertiser wants them to look. Sure, she looks "casual" strolling on the beach, but no one who was there that day saw what you see in the catalog or magazine. No one looks like that.
Second, and even more important, there are no supermodels chasing your husband. Take my word for it. Giselle has Tom Brady, she is not heading to your town to get your husband. And, by the way, your husband knows this. He is not waiting for a supermodel to show up at his door.
He married you. And if you think he married you without thinking about sex, you do not know him very well. Of course he thought about sex. He still thinks about sex. And he still thinks about having sex with you. If he doesn't, and you are sure he doesn't, then you have a very unusual situation.
You see, there are no supermodels coming to your house, but you are there. How are you doing on Paul's test? Remember, "Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
So, let's start there today. Are you depriving your husband of sex? If your immediate response is to wonder what "deprive" would mean in this context, then things are already bad. Paul's standard was simple, if he wants more sex than he is getting (or if you want more than you are getting), then someone is being deprived.
No one cares whether you look like a supermodel, they care whether you act like a wife. How are you doing?
One of my favorite television shows is the old Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a 1982 production of the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you have seen it, you cannot forget it. It was 9 hours long.
Anyway, there is a point in the story where a young actress (Miss Petowker) agrees to marry an older man, Mr. Lillyvick. He loves her greatly, in his way, but she seems really mixed on the issue. She repeatedly asks her friends "does he appreciate all I've given up for him," in various phrases. She wants to know that he will value all that she has given up. She never says a word about valuing him.
This is such an easy trap for a wife or husband. Each has a very real and strong notion of "what I have given up" for the other, but only a very nebulous and general idea that the other person gave up anything. It is very understandable, but is also a terrible sign of trouble.
When you enter marriage, you are never to focus on what you are giving up. Each party gives up a great deal in order to marry. Each person makes a vow they would not otherwise have to make. Each party takes on a lifetime commitment to another person.
The key is to avoid this question entirely. Erase it from your mind. It is a never-ending trap of bitterness and unhappiness and cruelty. You will never know if he "appreciates" it enough, because there is no way to measure such a thing. All you know is that you are married. You are committed to him. Having a conversation where you compare burdens is not wise at all.
Never ask such a question, even in the quiet of your own heart. When you feel that question coming up, stop it. It does not matter how he feels about what you think you gave up, what matters is your commitment to one another.
In sports, coaches talk about the importance of deciding on a shot and committing to it. You cannot succeed if you are not committed. Looking backward is not helpful.
Finally, I would say this. It is never about whether he "appreciates" something you "gave up." The question is whether he loves you and you love him. Who cares what he thinks of things in your life if he loves you? Do you spend much time thinking of things from his pre-marital life?
Love your husband. That is the key. Creating false, self-justifying demands relating to past events and activities is not an act of love.
in the story, the marriage failed. Do not let that be your story.
Do it again.
No, seriously, the thing you did yesterday for fun. Calling your husband or sending him a note or doing something else that was fun, do it again. Why? To show him you mean it.
All of us have a little trick we pull frequently. We will decide that we "need to" do something (exercise, clean house, learn Latin, something). So, we do it once. Then, we wait a few days and maybe do it again a couple of times, and then we quit. Why? Because we really didn't want to do it anyway.
So, you did something fun for or with your husband. If he is like most husbands, he was pleased and a little troubled by the sudden change. If you only do it once, then it tells him (and you) that it wasn't real anyway. You weren't really caring about him, you were just trying something once to see what you could get. If he didn't respond like you wanted him to, it may be because he is puzzled or because you were wrong in your expectations. So what, do it again.
Do you care about him? Do you want him to be happy? Do you want him to look forward to seeing you after his work day? Do you want him to be proud of his wife in front of his co-workers? Do you want people to admire the strength and joy of your marriage? Then do it again.
We all live on little roads we travel day in and day out. We have ruts in which we travel, and ruts are usually good, that's why they are ruts. They are the easiest route.
But getting out of a rut and into a new life is hard. You have to force yourself to do what you ought to naturally do. It is like getting used to anything new. You have to do it again.
So, send him a note. Call him at work. Do something.
Or admit that you never really cared anyway.
Okay, today is Fun Day. Do something fun today. Not for yourself, so much, as for your husband (and, therefore, for yourself as well). Do something fun. You have to take into account his schedule, but do something fun.
Maybe you can call him just to tell him you love him. Have you done that lately? or ever? I regularly hear from women who want their husbands to call them like this, but they never call him. Why not? Call him. And you are not permitted to say "I love you. Did you remember to pick up the clothes at the laundry?" The call is to tell him you love him. Just do it.
Maybe you can call him and invite him to lunch. Have you ever done that? You have to pay for it, by the way. That's part of the deal.
Maybe you can send him a card. Seriously, I have never seen a husband receive a card at work from his wife, but I think it would be great. Go get a loving card, like you would give to him personally, but send it to his office. Let it come in his mail. Let him get a smile at work from you.
Maybe you can send him a note that is loving or clever. You can use Facebook or e-mail or text messaging.
Send him flowers. Seriously. Send him candy. Send him something unusual. Let people at work know that he has a wife who loves him.
Maybe you can fix something special for the evening. It has to be something he would like to do with you (you can like it, too, of course).
Do something fun today. Make your husband smile today. You will be surprised at how surprised he will probably be.
Too often, I write things about being an old married guy. In part, this is because that is where I am now in my own life but, also, I know that there are lots in the same situation. I suspect that some younger women feel that their situation is very different. It is different, in fact, and very challenging.
Older people often feel buried by all the concerns of all the children, but it is not unusual to be young and buried, even by just one child. There are so many things we are told to worry about with young children these days. We are told to keep them out of weather and out of groups and out of church, lest they get some illness. We have become almost buried in our own worries.
Some young mothers simply disappear. They do not come to church because they think their child will catch a cold in the nursery. They do not come to dinners because they are afraid their child will catch something at the dinner. They are worried about flu, about colds, about pneumonia, about some unknown disease they are sure their child could catch.
Put simply, they give up their lives because of fear.
We older people did not do this. We took our children to church as soon as they were born because, well, we wanted to go to church. We saw church nurseries as not only letting us attend church but, to be honest, as giving us a break from our child. We enjoyed being with other people. We enjoyed teaching classes and attending classes. We looked for chances to stay connected with our real lives.
Many modern young wives are the same, but far too many simply disappear. They will not have visitors in their home because they are afraid of disease (and ashamed of how messy their homes appear). They will not go to other homes because they are afraid of disease.
This is all a shame and very dangerous to your marriage. First, it is ridiculous to live in such fear. Every child catches cold, which is fine. Every child will eventually get the flu, which is also just fine. Being sick is part of being human and, if they don't get sick young, they will not develop the things they need to deal with being sick. Trying to keep your child from getting sick is like trying to keep your child from learning to walk.
Second, it is a disaster for your marriage. A disaster. Your husband married you, not a nanny. He loved your company. He loved going to dinner with you. He loved talking to you. He loved sharing his life with you. Now, what does he have?
His wife has become a home-bound, fearful woman. Your interests become narrowed to your home and your child, so that your conversation is less interesting. You worry about everything. (You would not believe how many men live without hearing a positive word from their wife from one day to the next.) You are always saying "no," to everything. Your natural fear is greatly increased by foolish fears of others, spread now not just by "old wives' tales" but by the internet.
Your husband ceases to be the center of your life in any way. Home is no longer a place of joy or peace, for him or for you.
Do not destroy your marriage because of your fear. Do not be young and buried. Do not lose that relationship with your husband that means so much.
You were not called to be a nanny, but a wife and mother. Don't let fear stop you from being a wife.
On my continuing drive toward an empty nest, this was a good weekend. My youngest child got his drivers license. The driving test was Saturday morning and he passed. He drove himself to school today. He is 17 years old.
No more driving lessons. I cannot tell you how much I am glad to say those words. Four children have gone through the Mom and Dad driving school. We have sat in multiple cars, watching our children learn to drive. We have taught them to parallel park, to back up, to use blinkers (which will make them unlike most drivers). Now, it is over. The school is closed. (Don't even think about my granddaughters. They will not learn from me.)
Another milestone. Soon enough (a couple of years), my wife and I will be back together again as we were when we were young -- no children at home. I am looking forward to this experience a great deal.
The great risk, of course, is that we will be unhappy when children are gone. Too many people invest all their life and energy in their children. As for me, my investment is in my wife. My most important relationship is with my wife. My plan for the future is my wife.
What is your plan? Is the idea of life without children hard for you? If so, then why have you created such a terrible reality?
The goal of parenting is to raise competent, functioning adults. They do not leave because we failed, but because we succeeded. Marriage is about the person you married. My wife. Your husband. They are the point of marriage.
Think, today, about your family. Who is the most important person to you in your family? If it is anyone other than your husband, then you have missed the whole point of marriage.
Make your husband the center of your relationship today. After all, one day, he will be all the daily relationship you have.
It has been awhile since I have posted here. I could tell you that I have had too much to do or too many burdens to bear or some other excuse, but that is not true. The reality is that time just gets away from me sometimes.
Does it get away from you, too?
Being married means that you spend every day together (unless one of you is traveling). You have lots of time to fill and are together in both good and bad times. Sometimes, you get to the point where you start forgetting each other.
Don't let today get away from you. At some point today, you and your husband will get back together after being apart. What will your greeting be? Remember when you were excited to see him? Remember when you greeted him with joy?
How long ago was it?
Boy, it is hard to keep that sense of excitement in the midst of talking about money and children's schools and band trips and stuff. Let's try today.
Make up your mind to greet your husband with joy. Whether you come home or he comes home, find him. Wherever he is in the house, find him. Do not put away all the groceries and then go find him. Do not take care of the laundry or answer all the children's questions and then find him. Find him.
If he comes home, go meet him. Do not sit at your computer and wait for him to find you. Go find him. Hug him. Kiss him. Let him know you are glad he is there.
It may shock him, but it's a good shock.