I often encourage you to think about how your actions affect your husband. It is important, though, to remember that our men can come to us with scars that pre-date us.
The Weapons of Others
Many men bear wounds from weapons wielded by others. They may be survivors of childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, bullying, early exposure to pornography and sexuality, and more.
They can feel worthless, emasculated, and powerless, and they can have body image issues just like many women do. They carry lessons they learned about the women and relationships in their childhoods, just as we carry lessons we learned about men.
They may have been belittled or berated by a mother—so they expect and accept that from us. They might have watched a grandmother always cater to a grandfather’s wishes, so they are confused when we don’t do that. In a recent post at The Generous Husband, Paul writes about a habit he developed as a way to see his mother’s approval. The experiences of childhood and youth lead to lessons, habits, and scars in men just as much as in women.
Some of our men bring self-inflicted wounds, too.
A recent study splashed all over my Facebook feed says that one in three college men would force sexual intercourse on a woman and not consider it rape. It’s too small a study (fewer than 100 college men) for me to believe it applies to the general population. However, one conclusion that intrigues me is that these men have an idea of what a rapist is, and they aren’t it. When it isn’t called rape or sexual assault, they don’t view force or coercion as negatively as I wish they did.
If there are young men who don’t think of force or coercion as rape, then how do they view it?
And what happens to these guys as they get older and some day realize (I hope) that the way they approached sexual encounters in college was sexual assault?
That is a question I’d like to explore a bit:
What happens to the heart of a man who has hurt a woman sexually?
I have written about my own premarital sexual sin. I own my bad choices. I did stupid things, and I hurt people in the process. But for every bad sexual choice a woman makes, someone else is involved.
Many of us came to our marriages carrying sexual baggage. For quite a few, some of this came in the shape of having been talked into sex by a boyfriend or date.
- “I really didn’t want to, but I didn’t want him to leave me so I did it. I thought I had to if I didn’t want him to break up with me.”
- “I felt really bad after we’d done it the first time, but after that, I couldn’t un-do it so I thought I had to keep doing it.”
- “I said no, but he finally wore me down.”
- “He said since it was just oral, I’d still be a virgin.”
- “He told me it was my fault since I was so hot and that I owed him a hand job because otherwise he’d be in pain for days.”
- “I didn’t say yes, but I didn’t really say no, either.”
- “I said no, but he didn’t stop and then later he said it was because I was such a tease.”
All the examples above—of persuasion, cajoling, or taking—leave a mark on a woman’s heart. I know this well. I know many of you do, too.
Have you ever wondered what it does to the man?
We may remember feeling powerless, spineless, or choiceless. Although I now realize that my sexual choices affect those men just as their choices affected mine, I spent much of my life thinking about these events only in terms of how they affected me.
How many of the men in our lives have at least one memory of having hurt a woman sexually by talking her into sexual activity that she didn’t want?
How many of our husbands carry this within them? What kind of residue to these sexual sins leave on a man’s heart and mind?
I can’t help but wonder how this affects their marriages and parenting. What are the words that run through their heads?
- I don’t deserve to be sexually happy, so I won’t tell my wife how miserable I am.
- It is best to let my wife control my sexuality because when I’m in charge I mess it up.
- Will my sins be visited on my daughters and granddaughters?
- I wish I could forget what I did.
- It’s what all the other guys talked about doing, but it felt wrong. Was it?
- How can I have done something that probably scarred a woman for life and not even remember her name?
- I want to apologize, but I don’t know where she is. So I’ll make it up by apologizing to the other women in my life.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe men don’t think like this—but even if they don’t, they surely carry some remnant of what they’ve done.
Did they, like me, spend years thinking only about how they were affected by what they’d done, or did they have the added baggage of realizing they had done something that caused hurt? Perhaps their only recollection is that they had sex and they truly don’t remember having done anything other than ask in order for that to happen. But what if they do remember their words and efforts?
Your Husband’s Heart
I encourage you to pray for your husband’s heart today.
Pray for his healing from the wounds he acquired during his childhood. Pray for his healing from his own sexual sin. Pray for his healing from any injuries you may have caused.
Our warrior men bear the wounds of the past in their hearts. As wives, we hold their hearts in our hands. Let’s make sure those hands are folded together in prayer.
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