Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Handle Demands for Sex in Marriage

WARNING: This blog is going to be explicit!  Not pornographic, but direct and clear in the same way we talk to clients in our counseling and coaching office about healing and maximizing their sex life!

This question comes up often enough that I have to write about it.  "My husband insists that its his right to keep having sex, even though my heart isn't in it because he has been unkind and unwilling to apologize, take responsibility or to talk through and work on our problems.  What should I do?  What is right to do?"  Before answering her question, I want to share some principles that we've found effective.

Mark Gungor says it best, "Touch her heart, and she'll let you touch everything you want to!"  Perhaps overly simple for the complexities of the dance of sexual intimacy, but it captures the essence of her needs/his needs.

She needs to feel emotionally safe and close.  He wants physical closeness.

AND, one usually comes before the other.  He needs to hold her heart, before she willingly opens her body.  At least that's our overwhelming experience in our own bedroom, and the counseling and coaching office.  Not to say that the guy needs to be perfect, but at least trying.  And, we've sometimes urged the wife to "give him a break! Don't set the bar so high that he doesn't have anything to work for."  It's an ongoing process . . . an ongoing dance, and unfortunately sometimes a standoff.

What DOESN'T  work is a hierarchal demand for sex, because "it's my right.  It says so right here in Scripture, 'Don't deprive each other except by mutual consent . . . "   We simply don't see that work! (Except for  him for about 5 minutes!)  And when she is willing to be really honest, she says that it makes her feel like a prostitute, "That he only wants me for my body, not my mind or my heart, because he isn't engaging me in that way outside of the bedroom."  One husband sobbed in repentance when confronted his wife said it this way.  Others don't.

One wife got really creative.  She waited until her husband was really worn out, sound asleep, and probably unable to 'perform' due to fatigue.  "I stripped, woke him up and said, 'I demand my right to your body, right now!''  He got the point.  "She did to me what I'd been doing to her.  I got it.  I'm so sorry.  I don't want to be that guy."

If you are that guy, even occasionally, take heart, there's hope.  You can grow toward mutually willing, mutually satisfying love-making during your next conversation.   Die to yourself, go to the conversation to give loving listening, learn and practice the principles of sustainable hot monogamy.  Gungor's videos are a great resource for the principles, and our book provides practical steps to become a man who holds his wife's heart, and therefore very often gets to hold the rest of her!"

Now, before you protest, "That's too easy, you don't get my situation, her issues, etc."  We know.  It's complicated. and the solution may require more time and more answers.  But please try, and please consider these thoughts as some potentially important ingredients for Great love-making in your marriage.

Oh, the answer to the wife's question at the beginning of this blog, "It is essential that you tell your husband how you feel about having sex without an emotional bond.  And if it takes a period of abstinence to get it right, it's worth it.  You owe it to your marriage to be honest, and to not tolerate anything less than God's best."

BTW, the husband who had 'emotionally raped' (his words) his wife for years by demanding sex in the absence of emotional safety and closeness became a 'holding heart' who learned to tenderly and carefully hold all of the thoughts, feelings and desires in her heart.  I see them around once in awhile and they have big, satisfied grins on their faces.  I know why they're smiling, and they know that I know why!

Blessings, Jeff (and Jill).

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