When I read the voices of men who have been sexually deprived because their wives control their sex lives, I ache. I hurt for the husbands whose anguish comes through their written words. I hurt for their wives. Quite often, I see a past version of myself in the men’s descriptions of their wives. Sometimes, I see women in pain, emotionally damaged by something in their past, in their marriage, in their expectations of themselves. On occasion, I see a woman who simply sounds mean.
I frequently find myself saying, “Oh, I wish I could sit down with that woman and talk with her….” And say what? What would it have taken to get through to me all those years?
My husband and I had many fights that went something like this:
Him: I shouldn’t have to beg to get lucky with my wife.
Me: Then just stop.
Him: Can’t you see there’s a problem? Why won’t you do anything to work on it?
Me: Because I’m not the one who has a problem with our sex life. You are. If you’re so unhappy with it, then you’re the one who needs to work on your unhappiness. I’m perfectly fine.
And round and round and round we’d go. I truly couldn’t comprehend why I was being expected to work on anything when he was the one who was so unhappy.
Now, of course, I look back and shake my head at how much I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand that it isn’t just about a man or a woman needing sex; it was about a marriage relationship needing sex. I didn’t understand that for men, sex is how they emotionally bond with us. (Pearl’s Oyster Bed has a terrific explanation of this in “Why Sex?”) I didn’t understand that I needed the emotional connection that came with sex. Most of all, I didn’t understand that even when a husband and wife don’t individually need sex, the marriage needs sex. Sex is a central characteristic of marriage. I just didn’t get it. And as long as I didn’t get it, neither did my husband, so to speak.
What finally got through to me was reading the stories of wives who are sexually refused. It had honestly never occurred to me that a woman would want sex more than her husband. I was under the assumption that all men were horny all the time. The heart pain of wives deprived of their husband’s affection, expressed in women’s language and addressing the same emotions I could personally relate to, became my heart pain. I was already seeing my husband start to draw away from me, and I knew that I could lose what affection he had left for me.
And that was when I knew. It really was my problem, too.
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