This past weekend, my daughter and I went to see a performance of Wicked—you know, the musical that gives us the Wizard of Oz story with the Wicked Witch of the West as the heroine. I’ve always been a sucker for other perspectives, for the people we don’t hear much about. What happened to Hagar after she was sent away from Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac? How did Judas feel when he betrayed Jesus? Was Eutychus embarrassed when Paul returned him to life? How would they tell their stories?
As much as other points of view intrigue me, there were some years when I refused to step outside my own point of view. As far as I was concerned, I was the only one who could write the story of our marriage bed.
During my refusing and gate-keeping years, I didn’t do such a good job of paying attention to any perspective other than my own. Countless times, my husband became vulnerable and shared his heart with me about how the lack of physical intimacy in our marriage was affecting him. My walls were so strong that I didn’t absorb his words or feelings. If a discussion hinted at our sex life—or hinted at anything that could potentially lead to a discussion of it—I put the brakes on. I got defensive. I attacked. My intent was self-protection. I couldn’t let my husband fully into my heart. My goal was not to hurt him, but sometimes hurting him was the only path I could see to protecting my own heart. I would not let myself see his point of view at all.
The moment my walls were penetrated will always stay in my mind. I had landed in an online forum, smack dab in the middle of a thread where refused spouses were sharing how refusal and gate-keeping made them feel about themselves. Reading these comments—many of them using the same words my husband had used—was like getting knocked over by a 2×4.
The words of these strangers showed me how my sexual resistance had affected my husband physically and emotionally. It broke me—and that’s when my heart was able to change.
How would you tell the story of your marriage bed? Some women reading this blog are not yet at the point of being able to make any changes. If this applies to you, I’d like you to try to set aside your own point of view, just for a few minutes. I know. You have a heart that hurts. Sometimes sex takes courage. You’re tired. Life feels out of control. Everyone needs something from you, and nobody nourishes you. Your husband’s always on your case about the lack of sex. I know. That’s your perspective.
Now I want you to think about these things, which are true for most men:
- Sex is a physical need for most men—not just a desire.
- For most men, sex is the way they experience love. You can express love in a thousand other ways. Sex with you still counts for more than those thousand ways together.
- Your husband has one legitimate sexual outlet—you.
- When you deny your husband sex, you are denying him a physical need. You deny him access to feeling loved.
- You alone in this world can do for your husband what no other person can do. You have the power to make your husband feel loved, and you have the power to make him feel like the most unloved and unvalued person he knows.
How would your husband tell the story of your marriage bed? Read these words, from husbands who have posted comments on this blog or who have sent me messages. If you can’t open your heart to your husband, open your heart to these brothers in Christ. Hear their anguish.
Having been married for 30+ years, with my wife basically gatekeeping for that time, I have, unfortunately, begun realize that it isn’t going to change. I have tried to express the hurt a few times in the past, but it never ends well. . . . I pretty much gave up ever initiating about 7 months ago. . . Too painful to consistently be rejected.
The feeling of abandonment and put at the bottom of my wife’s priorities list has been going on for years and nothing I have said, no matter how kindly, has moved her to acknowledge my point of view. Is this what marriage is supposed to be like?
Yes, you can spend a lifetime waiting for the right moment …
I am a husband of a woman who has yet to start a sexual recovery. She has been stand-offish our whole marriage and it has killed me inside.
She knows that I will never leave her unless she cheats on me and even then, I doubt that I would leave her, because I think that would be even harder on the kids. Sometimes I think she uses that knowledge for her benefit and knows that I would never leave her or cheat on her. However, I have to say, the longer that she denies me, the more I find myself checking out other women and having to fight having a fantasy life with other women. (I fight against those things because I know they are wrong. It is just harder to fight at times.
It is the most difficult thing in my life.
As it stands, affection, attention and compassion is all but gone in my marriage. . . Holding out on the things that your spouse has sworn to seek only from you, does nothing but seal the demise of the marital relationship. . . . A dead and cold marriage does more damage over time, and passes on to the next generation (they will repeat what they grow up with). Dealing with hurtful issues is painful and hard, but that is the only way to get past them.
If you have been gate-keeping or refusing, chances are pretty strong that these words could have been written by your husband. (Who knows? Maybe they were.)
I know. You are hurt. Or angry. Or just plain confused about why your husband is so different from you. If you aren’t that interested in sex, meeting your husband’s sexual needs just sounds like another item on your to-do list.
Your husband has been broken and in pain—by you. You have the unique ability to heal him in a way that no one else on this earth can do.
A Samaritan found a man on the road, broken. He set aside his own travels to care for this broken man. Jesus tells us to go and do likewise. Can you show your own husband as much mercy as the Samaritan showed a naked and broken stranger?
Can you rewrite the story of your marriage bed?
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