I survived pickleball camp. Four days of intensive training broke some bad habits and instilled some new ones. Yet, now that I’m back, I have more work to do. I have to drill and practice in order for my new habits to become a consistent part of my game. In the same way, real change in any area of our life doesn’t just happen because we want it to. Even when we see what we’re doing wrong, to change it requires consistent intentional action steps and often coaching and accountability.
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Question: My husband of 15 years and I have had many, many arguments about what I should wear in general and during sex. When I am vacuuming or doing dishes he will come over and lift my shirt when I’m wearing leggings or workout pants so he can see my butt. I tell him I don’t like this but he thinks I’m ridiculous and that I don’t understand his needs. He says he doesn’t look at other women’s butts, etc. This past time his response was, “Well then look like a butch and expect me to be okay with it.”
He’s called off plans because I changed my clothes and didn’t wear the tights or leggings I had tried on earlier. In the past, we’ve had arguments – huge blow-ups because I don’t want to wear slutty clothes during sex but would rather wear a cute teddy/nighty/dress. He says it’s all about me and I’m not meeting his needs. I’m so frustrated with not knowing what to do. If I put on the clothes I feel stupid so then I’m not “into sex” and he gets mad. But if I stand up and say these make me feel stupid he gets mad. I want to meet my husband’s needs but am I being selfish? I don’t like to dress girlie but I am definitely not butchie.
Answer: This is an important question because so many women silently suffer from this kind of pressure and control from their husbands. It might be around their dress, their hairstyle, or even being pressured to have surgical enhancements to their breasts or butt in order to create a visual their husband wants. A husband might pressure his wife to participate in sexual practices that she doesn’t like or want and if she resists or refuses, she’s told she’s wrong, unloving, prudish, or unsubmissive, especially if she’s a Christian wife.
First, let’s get something crystal clear. Your husband does not need you to look a certain way. He may like you to dress in a certain way, but it is not a true NEED. He will not die or shrivel up if he can’t look at your butt when he wants to or if you don’t dress the way he prefers when you go out together. Please take that pressure off yourself.
But the bigger question is: does he have the Biblical right or authority to tell you how to dress and punish you if you refuse to comply? The answer is no. I get it. Men are visual and we all have preferences about what looks good to us and what turns us on. It is not wrong for your husband to share with you what he’d like you to wear in the bedroom or when going out together. Just like it would not be wrong for him to say, I love sushi and I’d like to go out for sushi tonight.
The problem is not in his desire or his request. The problem happens when you refuse to comply. Then you are called selfish and there is a blow-up and argument. It seems you are not allowed to have your “no.” It is disregarded, demeaned, and devalued. You are “the wife” whose sole purpose is to “meet his need” however he defines it. You are not a person in your own skin, who has her own likes and dislikes her own style and preferences. You are to be what he wants you to be. That is suffocating and soul-destroying to you. It is not the mark of a healthy marriage.
You said you want to meet his needs. Let’s call it his desire because we’ve already established it is not a need. How might you do that in a way that doesn’t feel inauthentic to who you are and how you feel? To succeed in doing that there are two main issues you must tackle if you want to move through this problem in a positive way.
First, you have to stop allowing him to make you feel guilty for saying what you like and don’t like. You have to give yourself permission to be you, even if it disappoints him. Even as a wife, you are called to be a God-centered woman, not a husband centered woman. You are not selfish by saying to him what you like and what you don’t like. Let’s go back to the sushi example. If he loved sushi and you hated it what’s next? Are you forced to eat sushi because he likes it? Are you allowed to not like it without being selfish or bad? Is there a compromise so that you can go out to eat someplace where he gets to eat sushi and you can also have a meal you like? Or is the only solution for you to pretend you like sushi so that he gets exactly what he wants?
Doing your own work here will help you not be so easily intimidated or bullied by a man who believes you should like what he likes. It will help you speak up and stand up to his selfishness and objectifying behavior in a godly way.
God wants you to be you. He made you to be you, not him. Your main goal is not to please your husband, but to please God by being who He made you to be, not who your husband wants you to be. Click To Tweet
The second issue that must be addressed is your husband’s inability to handle your no without punishing you. You said that he will call off your plans when you don’t dress the way he wants you to. He tells you it’s all about you but I believe that’s a projection. It’s all about him. What he wants, what he needs, what he feels. And even when you’ve tried to dress as he wants, you feel slutty and uncomfortable, not sexy and he gets mad because you don’t feel like he wants you to feel.
A wise and godly husband wants his wife to feel comfortable and safe in the bedroom, not scared and dirty. Marriage, especially the sexual relationship, is all about safety. If there is no safety, there can be no intimacy. There can be sex, but it is not mutual, loving, or connected sex. It is greedy sex, which Paul strongly speaks about in Ephesians 5 where he writes:
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins…..”
Just because a man is married doesn’t entitle him to objectify or misuse the precious gift God has given him. It sounds as if your husband’s view of sex is more worldly than godly. You can’t change his view, but don’t let him infect you with it. Sex is an expression of love, safety, and commitment. Love does not demand its own way. It is not selfish. From what you wrote, you are willing to compromise and see if there can be a middle ground here in order to have a mutually enjoyable sexual time. However, it sounds as if it’s his way or the highway. Who do you think is being selfish here?
Stop defending your right to be you. Stand firm yet loving, fighting for a healthy marriage in every way.
Friends, if you were this woman, how would you love your husband best in this?
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