I wanted to take a little space to respond to a comment in the blog thread about something I said in a previous blog which went something like, “in every good thing there is a down side and in every bad thing there is a good side, if we will look for it.” The initial responder asked me to clarify what I meant. She also said my comment triggered bad memories for her where Christian cliché’s were used to motivate her to try harder to look for the good in her husband. Let me try to explain my point a little clearer.
In every thing that happens to us, we can’t always discern whether it is good or bad. It may look good to us – such as winning the lottery, or landing the job of our dreams, but there are also down sides, such as long work hours, time spent away from family or relatives and friends who now expect you to fund all their living expenses since you now have won millions of dollars.
In the same way, things that we would initially define as bad, such as the diagnoses of cancer, a divorce, the death of a child or spouse, or even depression bring gifts to us if we are willing to receive them. My friend Georgia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lost her marriage and her job and she felt terrified. She was given only a small chance to live and required a bone marrow transplant. How as a single mom with breast cancer was she going to make it? Although breast cancer would have never been something she chose, it did bring opportunities for her to value the preciousness and brevity of life. She no longer got anxious over small things. She began to appreciate beauty in a new way and cultivated deeper relationships with those who supported her through her illness. She describes it as the best worst time of her life.
Recently a relative of mine lost his wife unexpectedly. It was a bad thing, but through it he learned lessons he would have never learned had he not experienced this particular hardship. He figured out how to manage his household responsibilities, his finances and speak up for himself, things he always relied on his wife to do. He became a better dad to his young children and developed a deeper spiritual life not in spite of his loss, but because of it.
So friends, many of you are in destructive marriages. You have a choice. You can stay angry at the bad part (which you have every reason to feel), but please don’t get stuck there. You can also learn lessons from this pain. For example, many of you are learning for the first time how to set boundaries, how to find your voice and speak up for yourself, implement consequences, and to dig into God’s word for yourself to see what it says. Some of you are looking for new jobs or careers, and praying more fervently than you ever have. You are growing stronger, saner, and more centered in God because you are in a bad marriage. Are these not good things birthed in the suffering of a bad marriage?
When God commands us to give thanks in all things (not for all things, 1 Thessalonians 5:18) we do that by seeking the good, growing the good, and nourishing the good within the bad. When we do that, we can feel thankful because we know that God brings about our good, even when we’re smack in the middle of bad (Romans 8:28,29).
Question: How should I handle it when my husband continually pressures me to use profanity during sex because it turns him on? I’ve already told him I don’t like to do that, but he doesn’t hear me. I was sexually abused as a child and I don’t feel this is helpful for our sexual relationship. Also he wants oral sex from me. Sometimes it’s OK but he pressures me every time, verbally and nonverbally, not letting up until I give in. Am I being prudish or do I have a right to my own feelings about these things?
Answer. You are not prudish and you have every right to your own feelings about your sexual likes and dislikes. From what you described, your sexual relationship with your husband is one sided. You’re being treated like an object that is there to do what your husband wants with no consideration or respect for what you want or don’t want or what you find appealing or disgusting.
For those who have been regular visitors to this blog, what’s wrong with this picture? It is NOT a healthy relationship, sexually or otherwise. You are being disrespected and not cared about. This is painful when you are married to such a person and presents quite a dilemma for a Christian wife who wants to honor God
However, despite what he and others may tell you, the Bible doesn’t say that marriage is all about him and his needs. A healthy relationship requires mutuality, reciprocity, and freedom. A healthy marriage is impossible without those 3 elements being practiced by both partners. That said, what can you do now that he doesn’t show care or respect toward you? Nor do you seem to have the freedom to say no?
You say you have already told him that you don’t like using profanity during sex and why. Yet he still pressures you to say it because it excites him. You’ve told him that sometimes you don’t’ want to do oral sex but you also indicate that he disregards this and not only verbally pressures you, but you imply that he may force you as well.
It’s time to stand up against his sexual abuse in your marriage. Yes, a married person can be sexually abused. Biblically, it is not a spouse’s right to force you to do things that you don’t want to do just because he is your husband. Disrespecting your right to say no to certain practices that you find hurtful, sinful or unappealing is unloving and disrespectful. It’s time to stop protesting and to start confronting his disrespectful and unloving behavior…and if it continues move to a different bedroom with a good lock on the door.
Here is a sample dialogue you need to have with him. Prepare it ahead of time and say it in a firm but neutral voice tone. Don’t wait until you’re having sexual relations to say this first part, but you may need to say it again if he continues his disrespect, followed with specific action.
Here is an example of what you might say:
“Honey, (or name) we need to talk about something important, when is a good time?” When he agrees to have a conversation, start with this:
“I love you, I want to have a good marriage (if this is true). I desire to have a healthy sexual relationship but I feel hurt and angry that you continue to disrespect me in the bedroom, pressuring me to say and do things that I do not want to do. Sex is not just about your feelings and needs but it’s about a loving interaction and I’m feeling used and abused.”
Then stop talking and wait for him to respond. If he minimizes you or makes fun of you, say “you’re doing it again right now. You’re disrespecting me and I won’t continue to let myself be treated that way.”
Then stop and wait for him to respond. If he gets mad and walks away, let him, but next time he pressures you to do any of the sexual things you don’t want to do, get up out of the bed and tell him firmly, “I told you I don’t want to do those things and I feel disrespected when you pressure me. I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.”
If and when he apologizes, thank him for showing concern for your feelings but if he reverts to the pressure tactics during sex, reinforce your boundaries by getting up and leaving the bedroom. Hopefully he will soon learn that pressuring you doesn’t work anymore and it only makes things worse.
I want to encourage you to stand up to him straight from God’s Word. Ephesians 5 has some important things to say to husbands and wives but if we look at the entire chapter, it starts by saying, “Imitate God…live a life of love.” And then it goes on to say, “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.” And then in verse 6 it says, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do.”
God is talking about sexual immorality, and sexual greed, which your husband is struggling with. Later on in verse 11 it says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.”
As I’ve said repeatedly, you can’t change your spouse, but you can change how you respond and what you do. And, when you change, things change. (tweet that)
I pray that your husband wakes up and repents of his sexual greed and unloving attitudes towards you. But know that God sees and you standing up for what’s good and right is exactly where God wants you to be.
Friends, sexual abuse in marriage is something that feels shameful to talk about. What have you done to stop being treated as a toy or an object?