A terribly disturbing yet thought provoking comment on a Christian marriage blog is the impetus for this post. Before providing the full quote of the comment (below), let us pose the relevant questions.
Is a sexual incompatibility of the spouses reasonable grounds for seeking a divorce? Can married couples achieve a more harmonious and mutually fulfilling and satisfying sexual life over time through effort and sacrifice? How important is good sex to the strength and success of the marriage? Why are the Christian churches largely silent on this challenge present in many marriages today? What about the harm, the very great harm, done to children who suffer through a dissolution of their parents’ marriage? A final question could be: Why do women play the role of refuser or gatekeeper when it comes to being sexually available for their husband?
Our feature image was captured last May (2016) while on holiday in Arches National Park, Utah.
Here now is the full comment text found on Intimacy in Marriage.
TheMaskedMarvel May 3, 2017 at 1:08 am
George, I am sure that you will be attacked viciously by the many women who will call you “selfish” and “unfaithful”, but who will have no problem with your wife’s being dishonest with you before marriage, just as Andy’s wife was completely dishonest with him and fabricated her sexual experiences. The women who will attack you the most strongly are probably the ones who think and behave like Andy’s and your wife. I too was in the same situation, and my only regret was that I didn’t leave my marriage much earlier than I did. Again, the women who attack a man for leaving a sexless marriage are probably women who don’t value (or appreciate) sex very much themselves. At the same time, if a woman leaves a man who does not satisfy her needs, she is being “independent” and “her own person”. You and Andy are not selfish to want to be happy in this lifetime, and sexual fulfillment is part of happiness, not “selfishness”. Marriage is a sexual partnership, and if you are not compatible, the worst mistake for both of you is to say married. I hope to God that Andy didn’t go back to his manipulative and dishonest wife. There are plenty of women out there that will give him what he wants, and his wife what she wants; a man who doesn’t care about oral. But enough with the guilt, the blaming, the branding of “selfish!” just because you want to be sexually satisfied by your partner who you have forsaken all others for. I had an affair too for years before I divorced; it was a mistake. It allowed me to stay in a sexless, passionless marriage far longer than I should have. Getting a divorce while you are both still young enough to find more compatible partners is the solution; and to do it without religious or societal guilt; or the judgement of strangers on a comment board. Best wishes to you and all other humans out there trying to find the sexual happiness you all deserve, in the way you want it; without guilt or having to justify it.
Click this link to go to that blog and see the above comment:
We quite agree that within reason, a husband is not being selfish in desiring sexual fulfillment as that is part of happiness. And, as the particular post this comment appears on treats oral sex within marriage, let us say that the vast majority of Christian marriage bloggers we are familiar with do not see the husband’s desire to receive oral sex from his wife as being selfish. (If approached with the right attitude, oral sex can be a very beautiful expression of the sexual love between the spouses.)
For many spouses (both husbands and wives), it is frustrating trying to achieve a sexual compatibility in their marriage. There are wives who complain of inattentive husbands or husbands who are so immersed in their work or other activities that they have no energy or no time for making love frequently with their wife. Yet, based on posts and comments we have seen over the years, it appears that it is more often the case that the husband is being denied sex or at least unduly limited in certain areas such as oral sex. What is the most frustrating and the most damaging to the marriage bond is the obstinate wife who refuses to even try to work towards a sexual compatibility. The reduced frequency of sex and the limited range of its expression is hurtful to the husband. And, let us not fool ourselves, the emotionally or sexually frustrated spouse (husband or wife) may seek fulfillment and satisfaction outside of the marriage covenant through extramarital affairs.
A good, mutually satisfying sexual relationship in the marriage is not the only necessary ingredient for the marriage to be strong and lasting, but it is one of the key ingredients and ought not be trivialized. As some say, good sex is the cement that holds the marriage together.
Wives and husbands: your spouse does not have to earn sex from you, and sex ought not be used as either a bribe (reward) or a weapon in the marriage.
Has modern feminism contributed to this problem of sexual compatibility within marriage? We will let those of a feminist persuasion ponder that. But, a movement that promotes mistrust and antagonism between the sexes has not helped in this area.
As to the questions posed above, here are our thoughts in brief.
Grounds for divorce? We say that this could be grounds for divorce. However, divorce should never be sought before serious reflection and serious effort have been made to make the marriage workable for both spouses.
Can couples achieve better sexual compatibility and have mutually fulfilling sex? We say that if they sincerely commit to this and make the effort, yes, they can have a mutually satisfying sex life. The key here is to make the sincere effort. A good sexual relationship takes time to achieve but is worth the effort both spouses will have to make for it. (We are not talking here of the adjustment period in the first few to several months of marriage where the spouses become more familiar with each other sexually when some short term difficulties can naturally be expected.) For the wife who finds it difficult to give of herself sexually to her husband, she needs to think carefully on this. Sex, good sex, is very important to most men. You deprive your husband of sexual fulfillment at your own risk.
How important is sex to the marriage? Very important. (Consider how this topic dominates so many marriage and relationship blogs!)
Why are so many Christian churches silent on this serious issue of sexual compatibility? Likely because they are uncomfortable discussing it as the history of Christianity as regards sex is one of sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure. Sorry to say, but this animosity towards sex and sexual pleasure has ancient pagan roots and is not authentically Christian. The moral law requires that sex be kept within marriage, but it does not lay a heavy burden on the sex within marriage. Read the Gospels. In them, you do not read of Jesus railing out against married people for having good sex within their marriage. Regrettably, over the centuries, “purity” came to mean the extinguishment of any sexual feeling or desire in the individual. Thus, the de facto goal of sexual morality for some priests and ministers was the near total desexualization of the individual. Of course, that also means the dehumanization of the individual as well. Do we have a right to sexual fulfillment and happiness in marriage? Food for thought.
What about the harm done to children during and after the dissolution of their parents’ marriage? It is devastating. We cannot trivialize or minimize this. The author of the comment above (with his amusing pseudonym) makes a good point. Find this out early in the marriage. He recommends a quick exit to the marriage if there is no sexual compatibility. We suggest that the couples get their sex life to a healthy state before they have children. Divorce ought never be sought without proper reflection and guidance. Couples can and should seek outside resources and counseling. If they both will sacrifice to make their marriage work, they can succeed in time.
Why do women opt to play refuser or gatekeeper when it comes to sex with their husband? We can say that some women consciously use sex as either a bribe, a tool to get what they want in other areas of the marriage, or they use sex, the withholding of it, as a weapon to get back at or to punish their husband. In some marriages, it is a case that the wife simply does not understand how important sex is to/for her husband. She does not realize that it is more than physical for her husband. Men feel love through sex.
Lastly, to pre-empt feminist ire and angry attacks we say that husbands, too, need to pay attention to their wife’s needs in this area of lovemaking. Be sensitive to her emotional needs in addition to her physical needs and desires.
Visit our Marriage and Sex page for more of our essays on marriage.
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