First off: this quote is a bit unfair. There are certainly men who simply aren’t chatty, no matter who they are talking to. And there are wives who are good at expressing their opinions in ways that are engaging and helpful and insightful and their husbands are totally fine. What this quote is talking about are those situations that get a little off kilter. One of the biggest complaints of wives I hear is their husband’s won’t talk to them. One of the biggest complaints of husbands is their wives are never happy. The more he feels she’s complaining, the more criticized he feels, the more criticized he feels, the more he quits talking, the more disconnected she feels and around and around they go. This is why marital counseling can help: with a third person there he or she can help you get outside yourselves and look down on this pattern. You can look at it objectively and instead of blaming each other you can start to figure things out. Or, you can divorce each other, marry somebody else, and do the same thing.
The average wife speaks two to ten times more words a day than her husband. Certainly, there are exceptions to this “average” where some guys are more talkative than their wives. But let’s look at the more common pattern:
When they are dating these two differences are appealing. He likes it that she gabs about these simple things and helps him see things he’s never seen. He thinks it’s cute. She likes how she feels secure in his strong demeanor, that there’s something about his quietness that feels reassuring, even safe. But human nature is such that every good personality trait has a bad, opposite personality trait to go along with it: He’s pleasantly shy, but he’s rude; she’s engaging, but she’s obnoxious. When you marry each other you have to take the good with the bad.
A lady once told me she was divorcing her husband because he wouldn’t talk to her. I knew her husband and pointed out to her that her husband was a pretty shy guy. She said, “I don’t care. I’ll find a guy who will talk to me.” I feel sorry for that guy, if she ever found him.
Whether we talk or don’t talk, a little mutual respect would be good. We could all probably use a little of that. It’s good men might not have to talk about everything, but work hard even when it’d be easy to give up. It’s good women like to explain what they are feeling and work out what’s rattling around in their heads. Some wisdom and solutions can float to the top. We can connect around silence or talking. We can disconnect around silence or talking. Neither is good or bad. The attitude you bring to the table, whether you are him or her, might be the more determining factor.
He wasn’t surprised and congratulated me. Then I told him a key for me was cutting back on soda and that I was drinking a ton of water. I told him I probably ate better, too, when I drank water. He said, “That’s the Halo Effect.”
“What’s the Halo Effect?” I asked.
He said, “You know,” and he put his hands above his head to make a halo, “like an angel. When you improve one thing it tends to snowball into other areas of your life.”
What a cool concept. I agreed with the bike guy on health and I immediately thought of the positive affect just one improvement to your marriage can make. Since then I’ve been ruminating and looking back on my clients in my mind’s eye, trying to remember clients that made one little improvement in their marriage and it had a halo effect where it led to many positive changes in a very short time. Here’s the most common and memorable ones:
1. Changing how you think: The ancient proverb says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” and if you think negatively about your spouse (or your child! or mother-in-law!) that will affect how you treat your spouse. After discussing this concept with a couple married over 25 years that was headed toward divorce, one lady told me of a dramatic change, just in one day. She said her husband came up to her to tell her something, and she said, “I immediately wrote him off negatively in my head. And then I remember what you said and thought it wasn’t fair for me to think so badly about him. He hadn’t even told me yet what he was thinking. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and was nice to him and we’ve been nice to each other ever since.” Good for her.
2. Cuddling in bed: “The marriage bed is undefiled”, the ancient writer to Hebrews said, but you’d be amazed how many couples I see don’t even sleep together, let alone cuddle when they sleep. I guess you can’t cuddle unless you are in the same bed, so that would be a first priority, to get back into the same bed together. For heaven sake, you 3-year old doesn’t need mamma or daddy sleeping with him or her. They need to learn to comfort themselves. Your heart needs the warmth of your spouse next to you much more. The marriage bed is not only undefiled, it is symbolic. If you aren’t in the same bed, or there’s the Grand Canyon between you and your spouse in your bed, you are non-verbally saying to each other you want nothing to do with your spouse. Is that the message you want to send? You are sending it whether your want to or not. And don’t give me all these excuses why you can’t. There are myriads of them. Every one will cause your heart to grow cold and the tenderness between you and your spouse to turn to ice. You’ll have only yourself to blame, though. Sorry. Please. You don’t have to cuddle all night. Put your bodies together and have a little pillow talk and just relax. You’ve heard of brief therapy? This is the briefest there is. The couple starts cuddling again and all of a sudden they don’t need therapy anymore.
3. Stop the divorce threats: I estimate in 80% of the couples I see one or the other has made a threat or veiled threat to divorce (e.g. “I can’t take this anymore.” “You think I’m gonna live like this?” “I’m done.”) and for some of them, they’ve done this hundreds of times. Hundreds of times? How am I supposed to give you my heart if you keep pulling the lawyer card? No way, man. I’m going to withdraw from you so it won’t hurt so bad when you leave! I’ll start preparing myself for the reality of you not being there. I’ll start fantasizing what it’d be like to have to come and pick up the kids and to sleep alone and to not have as much money and to date again. You want me thinking about that kind of stuff? One of my most common interventions is to suggest to couples they stop immediately and for the rest of their marriage, the threats to commitment. Boom! Just like that. Some couples, the moment they quit throwing around the D word, they start to connect again. You’d be amazed. Imagine a football player telling his coach if this or that doesn’t happen he’s quitting . The coach would say, there’s the door. And that’s just a football team. Marriage is much more sacred. You started a new family on your wedding day. Don’t make light of it.
4. Greeting at the end of the day: How many marriages have died due to simple rudeness. It is rude to come home at the end of the day and not greet your spouse with a kiss and/or hug and a little eye contact and a little “miss yous” and “nice to see yous”. Come on, people! Really. You wouldn’t ever do that to your children, right? Think of this: What message are you sending your spouse, your kids and your own heart if you give your kids a more enthusiastic greeting at the end of the day than you give your spouse? This could be 15 seconds that could change your marriage, just like that. You come home at the end of the day. Your kids greet you. You greet them back for a few seconds, a hug, a pat on the back, and then you say, “Let’s go find mommy” or “Let’s go find daddy.” And then you go looking for your spouse and the two of you stop everything else for a moment and give each other a kiss. You know, a real kiss. One that says I missed you and I’m glad to be with you. Check in with your spouse. Make sure everything is Okay, and then go ahead and talk with your children.
I could go on, but these are some of the top Halo Effect behaviors my clients have reported to me have been very helpful in turning their marriages around. One little change had a positive impact and led to other behavior and attitudinal changes that encouraged them both.
Check out all of these materials (here) to get a better grasp of the Model.
The Development of the Model:
The Model arose after hearing from clients the stories of thousands of individuals and adults about their relationships. Most of these were married. Many were cohabiting or had cohabited before. Others were single or divorced, some several times. These people would tell me, often without prompting, the key elements that were missing in their marital or romantic relationships or the types of things they felt were important to making a marital relationship worthwhile. The six elements of the Model are the six things these people brought up in sessions, over and over again.
While some researchers might question the wisdom of creating a Model of Marriage from people who are hurting, I would counter, that people who are hurting know instinctively what is missing and can articulate very convincingly the things they need. A person in the desert knows he needs water to survive. A person who just finished a 32-ounce Coke may be upset because his iPhone doesn’t have reception. They both need water to survive, but the person in the desert is much more aware.
Priorities in the Model:
As you look at the graphic of the Model, note that it is built from the ground up. The item lower on the graphic trumps the items above it. This is a very helpful way to understand, as a couple and a therapist, what priorities are needed to improve the marriage.
For example, Commitment trumps Trust: it won’t matter if you are having an affair, if you are going to leave me. Trust trumps Communication: I won’t believe a word you are saying if I think you are lying to me! Communication trumps Sexuality: Why would I want to be sexual with you if you never talk to me, or all you do is criticize me?
The Elements of the Model:
The Model has six layers with two concepts in each layer. The two concepts at each layer are complementary to each other and necessary to the complete understanding of that area. For example, we can’t just communicate. We also need to be able to solve our problems. In addition, you’ll note that all of the concepts at each level are interactive and dependent on the teamwork of both spouses. You don’t communicate alone or you aren’t affectionate alone. This helps couples see the character of their Marriage depends upon both of them working for the common good of the family the two of them started.
Marriage and Commitment:
When I use the word Marriage I’m referring to a husband and wife who have made a public pledge to leave their father and mother and start a new family. In my view, Marriage is NOT about loving, romantic relationships. Defining marriage as simply a romantic relationship has reduced marriage to feelings, leading to our horrendous divorce and cohabiting rates and encouraging anyone to be “married.” This watered-down view has taken away from Marriage its intrinsic worth, and devalued it to the point where 50% of our married people throw theirs away. Marriage has historically meant the complementary of a man and a woman, who are one in their uniquely, sexually, monogamous relationship, who promise in a public way their mutual commitment to each other in their new family. Their family has the potential to be intergenerational, forming the safest and most tender place for the next generation to be raised. Anything less reduces marriage to a loaf of bread: buy a new one if you feel like it.
Commitment is the idea that the vows of Marriage are continually reinforced throughout their lives together, because they’ve formed a new family. Neither partner does or says things to call their Commitment or their new family into question.
Cohabitation does NOT offer the security of Married for Life and because the couple doesn’t know if either is in or out for sure, insecurity lurks beneath the scene. Married couples who threaten the Marriage by saying things like “I can’t take this any more” or “I deserve to be happy,” also create insecurity and if either party thinks the other might leave, they start protecting themselves from the other spouse. Either scenario (cohabitation or threats to leave) causes people to see their partner as their roommate instead of a husband or a wife, leading to marital problems and chaos and, for many, divorce or breaking up.
Trust and Accountability:
Trust is the idea that what spouses say matches what they do and they both keep appropriate boundaries with others. There is an invisible boundary around their marital relationship and neither does anything to call that into question. In Accountability both partners willingly tell each other what is going on because they each want the other in his or her life! They do this because they want to compare notes and pool their wisdom and look out for one another. They can’t protect each other, unless they both know where the other is.
Couples that don’t practice this end up keeping secrets from each other and not telling each other what they need to, which introduces insecurity into the relationship and makes one or the other feel controlled or totally unimportant. This also leads to couples living as roommates. Roommates DON’T tell each other what is going on! Married people do, or at least should!
Communication and Problem Solving:
Wise couples will BOTH Communicate their concerns with each other and they BOTH will work together to solve both their concerns. No relationship is perfect and will need to be tweaked now and then. The relationship will not improve, if one or the other or both cannot or will not share their concerns or every time differences are brought up, anger, fighting, or shutting down are a threat. Couples who are not able to resolve their differences or at least work them through to a satisfactory level will find their relationship deteriorating over time. Couples who can’t work through their differences become roommates and either fight or become indifferent. If the relationship can’t get better it will get worse. Over time this can lead to Trust and Commitment issues.
Fun and Friendship:
Couples that enjoy their marriages enjoy each other’s company and they enjoy each other’s company because they spend time alone together and have a relationship on their own accord, apart from their children and/or friend or other family members. This is difficult to do in modern society due to our busy lives, but Thriving Couples understand this and will make special efforts to spend time alone as a couple, enjoying each other’s company and developing their common interests throughout their lives together. Couples, who end up as roommates, develop their own individual private interests only and invest in their careers and children, putting each other on hold. Over time they will grow distant and, if they are not careful, will just pass each other in the hall. This lack of time and effort on both parties’ part will be interpreted as an affront or indifference by each other and will bleed into other areas of the marriage, creating other, more serious problems. For example, why be married to someone who won’t spend any time with me having fun?
Warmth and Affection:
Couples need Warmth and tenderness and one of the easiest ways to convey that is through Affection. By Affection I mean non-sexual, non-demand touching. There is a public and private aspect to this. The public aspect conveys to the children and society at large and to each other that the two of them are an item. The children see mom and dad holding hands on the couch and giving each other a hug and a meaningful kiss at the end of the day. Privately the couple is close in the privacy of their own bed. Their bedroom is a sanctuary with a lock on the door. The couple cuddles, again, without sexual overtones, on a regular basis, keeping the relationship Warm.
Couples, who end up as roommates, avoid Affection and use excuses to keep from doing it. If one is more affectionate, that spouse may give up pursing it because it doesn’t seem reciprocal. Or one may say, I’m just not the affectionate type, leading to neither touching each other, publically or privately. Affection that is one-sided feels forced and lacks Warmth for both. The couple may rarely touch each other in bed (or anywhere else!), have a child or dog in the bed between them in bed or not sleep in the same bed at all! Without Warmth and Affection the relationship grows cold and it is not long before they are both living as roommates and the couple is dealing with many other problems as well.
Intimacy and Sexuality:
There are four purposes for Sexuality: 1) to bring the next generation; 2) to ensure the spiritual connection between a husband and wife; 3) as a creative force in our lives to be a blessing to our families and the wider community (e.g. work, art, service, giving, volunteering); 4) as spiritual energy directed toward God in worship. In any other contexts sexuality becomes a force of chaos, abuse, perversion and death.
The wise couple understands this and makes sure that the Sexuality between them has Intimacy, by which I mean it is mutual and meaningful. Without these two elements Sexuality feels forced or inappropriate or hurtful or selfish. On the flip side couples that ignore sexuality end up losing their love for each other as the spiritual energy between them leaks away. Still other roommate scenarios include one or the other or both getting their sexual needs meant elsewhere or the introduction of other people (e.g. swinging) or things (e.g. pornography) into the sacred marriage bed that is just meant for the husband and the wife. These extremes (coercion, indifference or perversion) cause couples to become roommates, raise marital problems in other areas and may lead to divorce.
Importance of the Model:
All the elements of the Model are necessary for a Marriage to be strong. Weakness in one area can quickly trickle into other areas. Just like a house wouldn’t be much of a house if it is missing a roof or a furnace or a kitchen or windows, so, too, marriage without all the elements will suffer. The Model suggests starting with the most basic foundational area before working on the areas above it (looking at the graphic of the Model: work on Trust before Communication, etc.). Knowing what the weaknesses are helps couples set their own goals as they seek to improve their marriages and can give them tangible places to start going forward. Marital therapists can use the Model to assess the couple and create therapy goals.
Other Issues and the Model:
Money and Children:
Most other issues (e.g. money and children) can be subsumed under the Communication and Problem Solving section. Nevertheless, any issue can become a Marriage and Commitment issue, if the couple can’t work it through, one or the other makes threats to leave or, in frustration, either makes unilateral decisions. For example, quite often in cohabiting couples and step-family situations, money and children become Commitment issues! For example, in a step-family situation, if you don’t warm up to my birth-child, I’ll divorce you! YIKES! Unilateral decisions and threats to break up or divorce in these kinds of settings are common. The major concern here is “how” a couple handles their problems.
When I was first thinking through the Model I considered having protection as one of the major components: safety first, right? After some reflection, I decided that protection is one of the assumptions and purposes of the family and it is germane to each level of the Model. We could speak of protection at each level. Protection is one of the key reasons the family exists in the first place. Protection will be a theme at each level as I write about and develop the Model.
The Thriving Couples Model can help you as a couple determine areas that need work for you to make the most of your Marriage or your relationship. If you are a potential marital therapy client or marital therapist the Model will help you focus on priorities. The Thriving Couples Model provides a philosophy and a structure for improving your Marriage, when both parties realize you exist in the Marriage, not to make each other or yourselves happy, but to sacrifice for the benefit of your new family. Your family is bigger than either of you, is worth sacrificing for, and both of you are key players in making it all it can be.
This blog Copyright by Dr. Bing Wall, Heart to Heart Communication, LC, 2011
To listen to the one hour podcast explaining the Thriving Couples Model in more detail, click here.
To check out the Graphic of the Model, the Chart Contrasting Living as Roommates vs. Husbands and Wives or to download a PDF of this blog today click here.
The verse quoted above is an example of something in the Bible that isn’t true. It isn’t true that if you persist in going your own way you’ll be fine. Moses is quoting selfish Israelites and what they will say in their hearts to destroy their lives. It is true that people, not just ancient Israelites, say these things to themselves. We say things like this all the time. You may be saying it to yourself right now. Well, good for you. But that doesn’t make it true! You can tell yourself what you want whenever you want to, but just because you tell yourself something doesn’t make it true. Go ahead. Delude yourself.
Say to yourself, I can divorce my spouse and since I am happy, the kids will know I didn’t settle and they will learn not to settle either (i.e. keep their promises) and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can look at this porn stuff and think about thousands of other breasts and butts (or worse) all day and night and it won’t negatively affect me at all or my loved ones or my career or my character and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can play video games or interactive games online till all hours of the night or party hardy with the best of them or drink myself into a stupor or Facebook all my friends day in and day out and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can ignore speaking to my spouse and live in another part of the house and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I don’t have to sleep with my spouse for whatever reason and our marriage will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can work all day and into the night and all weekend, week in and week out and never spend time alone with my spouse and children and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can borrow all this money and borrow away my future and pay it back someday (nothing bad will ever happen to me so I’ll be able to pay it back) and be a slave to my lenders and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can say mean things to my husband and put him down regularly and make may point clear in no uncertain terms and point out to him how and in particular what he does to irritate me and bother me, and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I just don’t want to fight so I won’t respond to her when she says these things and just stare off into space and leave the room and tell yourself you don’t want to fight and she’s just a crazy woman, but at least I’ll be fine. It won’t be my fault.
Say to yourself, I can go on strike and test my spouse and see how long it takes him to get a clue and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can ignore affectionate and sexual connection with my spouse and everything will be fine.
Say to yourself, I can ignore marrying my girlfriend or boyfriend and we can live together and/or be sexual without paying any consequences. Everything will be fine. In fact if we got married, everything would be worse!
Let’s be clear about this. Marriage doesn’t make you whole. It is not the gospel. There certainly are terrible marriages out there. But let’s also understand that marriage in and of itself, as an institution, isn’t bad; it’s the people in them. God instituted marriage prior to Adam and Eve’s rebellion against Him. God knew full well we’d rebel against Him. Nevertheless, He said, for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be come one flesh. In a world filled with sin and selfishness and death, marriage would act as a protection for children, women and men. Children would grow up knowing both their biological parents (i.e. a female wife and a male husband) and having the marvelous complimentary of the genders: male and female. And God said, Behold it is very good.
Very good indeed.
But when sin reigns in the human heart, marriage itself can be perceived as the demon that caused the pain.
Maybe you grew up in a home where mom and dad were hurtful to each other: mean things being said, anger expressed by terror or violence, to you, your siblings, your mom, fidelity being scourged, pornography rampant with lurid stares from dad or worse, bankruptcy, gambling and horrid financial problems, evictions, affairs by mom or dad or both, perhaps you were abused by another family member, male or female right in what was supposed to be the safety of your own home.
There’s no end to the evils that can be done within the home. But that doesn’t make marriage in and of itself a bad institution. Even in an imperfect home, marriage has an amazing capacity to enlarge the human heart over time. Many people figure out, some early in their marriage, some later in their marriages, some altogether too late, that the only way marriage works is if both parties are servants and practice the Golden Rule. You don’t even have to go to church to learn this.
Marriage is a crucible to teach you how to grow up, to expand your heart, to enlarge your capacity for love and tenderness.
How can you not love your beautiful young bride who makes so many sacrifices for you?
How can you not reach back to the husband who works so hard to make your life pleasant and enjoyable?
How can you lay there on the couch week after week, year after year, while your spouse scurries around and picks up after you?
If your heart has any goodness in it at all, over time, you’d think for most of us our consciences would kick in and we’d see we’re being selfish and pick up the ball and learn to harness our own propensity to be totally self absorbed.
How can you observe the birth of your son or daughter and hold him or her in your arms moments after your child’s birth and your heart just be cold and you could care less? The Bible says that after Enoch’s son was born, Enoch walked with God for 300 years and then God took him. He and Elijah were the only two persons to never die because both were taken away by God to Heaven before that occurred, and the reason God took Enoch away was because after the birth of his son, a little light bulb went off in Enoch’s head and he walked with God the rest of his life. There are marriages all over the world, where just the wonder of marriage and childbirth and child rearing and growing old together and sharing finances and dreams and hopes and aspirations and sexual wonder and joy and friendship and camaraderie and mutually shared goals and moments of tenderness and private jokes and secret nods and names and laughter beyond imagination and mutual regard and admiration create, over time, people with bigger hearts, some big enough that even God finds a path to their spirits. They learn, some by trial and error, that if they are nice to their spouses, their spouses are nice back. Well I’ll be. Dang. There are folk out there who learned solely by mistake that if they are sacrificial to their spouses, their spouses relax and are more giving and fun to be around. Well, imagine that.
And, of course, there are people who do not learn from anything even though marriage is a club over their heads and they deny, deny, deny the silent witness of the Spirit in their lives, gently prodding them that selfishness is not the way to go and they continually act selfishly and refuse to serve and demand to be served, and nag and yell and scream or shut down and stare off into space (You know, of course, if you do this that you are communicating very well that your spouse is a complete idiot? You know this, right?) and throw things including their fists, even, sometimes, to get their points across or they abuse their children instead of teach them the way of the Lord and they mock the God who put them in charge of their families to protect them and instead become a scourge to their loved ones.
But this isn’t marriage’s fault. Marriage as an institution wasn’t the shortcoming here. It was the selfish human in the marriage that was the problem.
Divorce really isn’t the answer to a bad marriage, either. We’re exchanging one group of problems for another. Divorce introduces another whole set of problems and animosities too numerous to count. Divorce freezes your emotional maturity and except for the grace of God, for most of us, it locks our resentments in our spirits and sets the ceiling for the rest of our lives, beyond a point for which we cannot grow. This can happen to you whether you were the one who sought the divorce or your spouse dumped you and spit you out or disappeared unknowingly and never returned. Unless you seek some serious healing from the God of Heaven, the bar will be set as to how far you can mature. Divorced people are amazing unable to learn from their mistakes. How do I know this? Well, I’ve talked to thousands of them for one. The bitterness in many of their spirits is pretty scary. For most divorce sure didn’t make their hearts larger. For another, second marriages break up at higher rates than first marriages and third marriages break up at higher rates than second or first marriages. So where is all the lesson learning here? Maybe you did? Well, good for you, because most people are too busy being hurt and nursing their wounds and, particularly if children or monthly checks are involved, will find plenty to be resentful about for the rest of their lives. Every week, sometimes more than once a week, you’ll have the opportunity to hate your spouses all over again when he or she comes by and takes your kids away for the night or the weekend or for Christmas or Thanksgiving. How are you supposed to be generous in spirit to someone who takes your children away? And then he or she remarried and that spouse hates your kids? AHHHHH! Or your stupid X never pays his child support on time or maybe not at all? Resentments, in case you haven’t figured this out, are not the stuff that makes folk fun to be around and it’ll make your heart smaller and smaller and your heart is connected to your face and your face broadcasts your spirit for all to see and you will be less and less the kind of person anyone will want to be around. Throw in some stepchildren who hate your guts and watch you lose your dignity altogether. And make sure you blame everyone else for all of your problems.
There’s only one program for personal expansion of your life in a situation like that and that is to humble yourself before God, to find a way to be an example of a servant, to forgive seventy times seven and to treat everyone else in the family like you want to be treated (Ahhh…that would be like, you know, the Golden Rule.). This isn’t easy. For all of us it is unobtainable without the movement of God in our hearts. The morsels of resentment and bitterness taste very sweet, even though they turn putrid in out stomachs.
A better way is to let marriage teach you the lessons your stubborn heart has been too proud to learn. A better way is to learn to forgive and to reach out even when your partner can’t or won’t reach out to you. Someone has to warm up the room. If both of you have cold hearts the room’s gonna stay pretty cold. One is better than none. If you are nice to your spouse and reach out to your spouse and love your spouse sooner or later, more than likely, your spouse will “get it” that your spouse is being selfish and start reaching out to you in return. And even if your spouse doesn’t get it, always remember, on Judgment Day God isn’t going to ask you if your spouse was everything to you your spouse needed to be. No, He’s going to ask you if you were the spouse you could be. Everyone will die for his own sins. Your laundry list of complaints will look pretty shallow then. I don’t even think it will occur to you to bring it out. Cool it with the lectures and explanations of your “feelings.” Quit worrying about if he or she loves you and start love-ing. You have control of that. You have no control over whether or not your spouse reaches out to you.
And for Heaven’s Sake, reach out to your spouse beyond Valentine’s Day. Make love on other days beyond Valentine’s Day. Give gifts and tenderness and affection beyond Valentine’s Day. Make it a habit. You are going to have habits no matter what.
Your habits may as well be good ones while you are at it.
We’ve been discussing sexual desire in all it’s variant forms from extreme high sexual desire spouses who can’t seem to notice anything else in the world (here, here and here), to extreme low sexual desire spouses who wish that sex would just go away like a bad dream (here and here). We’ve also looked at more normal situations and how even in the best of couples there can be some hurt feelings around the topic (here). Sometimes we use sex as a weapon (here) and sometimes we let it deteriorate (here). Neither of those options is very helpful. Today we’ll look at some of the common ways people use to suck all the meaning and mutuality out of marital sexuality and end up taking sexuality, which is supposed to be an expression of love and life between a married male and female, and turn it into an instrument of hurt.
Hurt feelings around sex? What’s that about? Here’s the most wonderful feeling in the world, at least for a moment, and it becomes, for too many, an instrument of pain? Dang. What a bummer. Anyone can have a robust sex life in their teens and twenties. Anyone. Try keeping that up until you’re 80 and let’s see how that goes. Turns out sexuality is pretty sensitive and it needs the protection of marriage between a husband and wife to protect it. Do it any other way with any other person or thing, or by yourself, for that matter, and you invite chaos into your life and you let the air out of your sexual life. One of life’s cruel ironies. Turns out abstinence wasn’t such a dumb idea after all!
Here’s how to completely destroy any meaningful, mutual, marital (husband and wife) sexual desire and turn it into an instrument of hurt:
Surefire Ways For Husbands:
Be promiscuous when you are young.Sleep around without regard.The more the merrier.Who cares what gender?It’s just sex, right?It feels good, right?You can do all things without consequence, because you are invincible.A lifetime of vigor for you!Do the masturbation and porn thing for hours and years on end while you are single.Live with your future spouse before you get married and rip each other’s clothes off everyday until you get bored with that (Which will eventually occur.Crap.How am I supposed to be excited about getting married when sex is boring?), then break up with that person and start the adrenaline-newness cycle all over again with somebody fresh and different and unexplored and once again have great sex, but for a shorter period of time this time, or get married someday and rip each other’s clothes off for a while until you get bored with that or she gets bored with that and then go back to porn (let me guess: you stopped porn for 6 months after you got married ‘cuz you were bound and determined to be faithful, but, no, you’d been masturbating and pornifying your mind for, what?, 10-20 years before you got married?, and how are you supposed to stop a habit like that, just because you walked down an aisle all decked out and everything and signed a paper and smiled for the camera one too many times?) and here was porn and masturbation waiting in the closet as a long-lost friend and he was so glad you discovered him again and pretty soon you are doing really weird stuff on Craigslist or Yahoo Personals or in one of those totally creepy chat rooms where people talk about stuff that would normally burn your ears if you had any sense at all, but you need excitement, baby, and you are gonna get what you want when you want it ‘cuz you are concerned about you, right?And this is all really fun and everything until your wife happens on your internet history or your phone buzzes with a text and your wife is sitting right there and she asks who the text if from and you lie to her straight to her face that it’s whatever than what it is, ‘cuz it’s some prostitute or whore posing as your friend and she’s asking you about your private member and if it needs a little attention, if you know-what-I-mean, and hopefully your conscience kicks in ‘cuz you’ve been lying to the wife of your youth waaaaay too many times, and she doesn’t deserve to be treated like that, and you admit to violating your marriage vow, but probably not.More likely she grabs the phone, because she can see the embarrassment in you eyes and your word didn’t match your facial expression and the incongruity of it all didn’t match and she’s been wondering how come you didn’t want to be sexual with her much lately and she’s not stupid and she wonders what all this secrecy and hiding of your phone is about, and she reads the text from your internet friend on the other end masquerading as an angel of light and you can bet she’s not as turned on as you when she reads what she reads.
Or you can nag your wife how sexless she is.Point it out.Over and over.Train her that sex is about making you happy and if she’s not sexual with you, pout a lot.Or lecture her about what a prude she is and she’s denying you and purposely refraining from sex because she doesn’t love you or she’s trying to hurt you.Tell her she was a bait and switch: Sexual with you like crazy before you got married and then after she won you, she completely shut it off.Tell her she’s frigid.Frown and scoff.When she’s not sexual with you ignore her.Only show her attention when you are sexual.This way you will convey to her that you are very self absorbed and only thinking about sex, not her.That’s it.Don’t treat sex as a way of connecting with your wife.Use it as a way to get off, to feel good, just like you trained yourself from your youth using porn and masturbation.That way, when you are sexual with her, you won’t connect with her soul or her spirit or her personhood at all.Nope.It’s orgasm for you and too bad for her.
Or when you are sexual don’t bring her along. Don’t romance her at all. No I love you’s, no surprise gifts, no cute little notes, no surprises at all. Just do the same ol’, same ol’. Don’t touch her anywhere else. Don’t talk to her about how pretty she is or how you like this curve or that curve or how this connects to this and look at this curl in your hair. Don’t mention anything. Don’t talk at all. Just get off. Don’t look her in the eye. Convey to her that you are just using her to masturbate. Make it as impersonal as you can. Suck the life out of sex. This way you can train her to hate it. Over time, she may even hate you, too.
Or don’t help around the house or be a servant in any way.Don’t pick up after yourself.Or help with the kids.Make sure, if you do “help” that it’s “help.”Convey it’s her responsibility and you are just helping.Be gone all the time doing all your hobbies and missions and work and that’s just who you are and if you don’t love me for me than you know where to go.Show her by your words and actions that she is not important to you.Don’t tell her about your day.Don’t call her up and ask her about hers.Don’t ask her out.Don’t plan anything for the two of you…ever.Just veg on the couch.Put on all kinds of weight and drink beer.A lot.A ton.Oh, you just love beer.Make beer your new mistress.Or whatever.Just not your wife.She’s a nag anyway.
Surefire Ways For Wives:
Or, if you are of the fairer gender, you can literally ruin your sexual drive in your later years by sleeping around in your younger years when the waters run fresh and clear and cool and then when your husband starts to bore you with his arrogance or indifference or his obsession with fishing lures or computer pixels you can start your own exploration of excitement again, because that’s what you used to do before you ever got married and go on-line to that eternal fountain of bliss and find a guy out there who will tell you you are wonderful and sexy and godIcan’twaittoripyourclothesoff and your husband never talks to you that way any more and it’s just so nice to be attractive and have someone notice, but, speaking of notice, you notice your experience of sex is dropping off, not gradual like a long road off of a mountain, by like falling off a cliff, and you could care less about sex.Hmmm.Oh, well.I can always go to Target and get a buzz.
Or maybe I’m gay? That’s it! Ha! I’ll just try that! Oh, the joy. Tell yourself the reason your desire for your husband dropped off is ‘cuz you were never heterosexual in the first place! Woohoo! Tell yourself whatever you want. It’s about you, right? Forget this marriage crap, and commitment and giving and reaching out to your husband. It’s all a ruse. Some cruel, male joke. Same song, second verse. You seek sex as a god it don’t deliver. Heartache and pain and sorrow are the cousins of SEXASGOD. You pursue sex for it’s own sake and that’s what you get …. For a while. Sex as a drug don’t deliver for very long and then there’s a bill to pay.
Or you can ruin your sex life the subtle way by neglect. Refuse to take care of your body. Refuse to dress up and look feminine….ever. You are too mature to play that game right? Besides, you have a poor self-image. You’ve put on too much weight and don’t feel sexy any more. What a relief!!!! Too bad your husband doesn’t feel the same way. Ahhhhhh, he’s supposed to have a vote here, sweetie. Not just you. Just ‘cuz you’ve turned off the spigot doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a drink. Too bad for him. You are in charge of you and you ain’t gonna let no male chauvinist sex fiend influence you. No, sir. You are your own person, right? Stupid one-track-mind males. Drive me crazy.
Or keep yourself busy. Always have something else on your list. Convey to your husband that he is NOT on the list and that you don’t WANT him on the list and you will do whatever you can to keep him OFF of the list and everything else you do is your mission. Everything in life is your mission except your husband. Give your heart to your children. Make them your number one priority. Convey to your children and your husband that your children are number one. Your husband is only a nuisance. All he does is make a mess and resent him for that and nag him about that and point out his faults and drive him away, drive him away, drive him away. Whew!!! I can drive sex away, too! All by myself! Very easily. What a relief! I don’t have to worry about sex any more. Done, done, done, done, done, done, done.
Or, if you are the wife and you happen to want sex more than your husband (which, by the way, is a pretty common, though little known pattern), chide him for not wanting it with you.Accuse him of being gay.Suck the manhood out of him.Point out his lack of virility.If you make an advance and he pulls away, scoff and scold him.Or get mean or pull away yourself.Make him feel guilty about not meeting your needs.Shut your heart to him.It feels like he’s shut you out so treat him the same way.That’s it.Make sure that NEITHER of you is reaching out.That way your marriage can crash and burn and you don’t have to even feel guilty about it.Why’d you divorce?Oh, he wouldn’t have sex with me.Really?Of all the….Start sleeping on the couch or going out with your friends or look for comfort on the Internet.Find comfort somewhere, just not in your marriage vow or in your fidelity.Let your heart wander.You deserve to be happy.Search for happiness by looking for it.Forget patience and tenderness and love and caring.You’ve had enough of that.You’ve given enough.You tried (you think) and failed.Oh, well.
Surefire Ways For Either Husbands or Wives:
You can destroy sexual desire for either you or your spouse without hardly trying.Here’s a couple of surefire ways for either gender:
Have an affair. You weren’t looking, right? It just happened. You were just friends. Imagine how the brain works, the largest sex organ. Now you are spending all your time thinking of your affairee! How are you gonna be sexual with your spouse now? You can fake it. That’ll be fun. How long can you keep that up? How long before your spouse starts to put two and two together. Better hide your phone. Watch your back. Change your passwords. You need another mailbox now? A different bank account? One of those traceless cell phones from the Wal-Mart electronics aisle? Funny how you are paranoid all the time. This is REALLY fun. How you gonna hide all that? Look at you. How come you’re mad all the time and pissy about nothin’? You make a great liar. Who’d a thought? Just wait til your affairee gives you an STD! Then you can give it to your spouse and he/she will never know the difference! I didn’t mean to. HA! No consequences for you! You can do whatever you want. You can run your car without oil, too. Forget seatbelts and parachutes. It’s just you and excitement, Baby. A walking miracle. You can walk on water, too. And calm the waves. Just like that. Mr. or Mrs. No Consequences. You could start your own religion. You may as well. You are already worshipping you.
Or quit sleeping together. No cuddling. No affection. Just you and your private blanket or pillow or dog or kid. Anybody and anything, except your spouse. You don’t want to convey to your spouse that you are married or that you care or that the two of you are special or anything. Or have a kid or two in bed with you and your spouse. Insist as a badge of honor that your child MUST be in your bed because Johnney or Sally can’t ever cry. Can’t have that. Let your spouse bellyache, but not your kid! We are nothing but fair in our family! Let the kid determine if you are going to be sexual or not. That’s a plan. Let the kids run the family. Use every excuse you can think of to not have to sleep with your spouse and then tell yourselves you love each other and you are just being caring by not sleeping together. He snores too loud. Her leg shakes. She keeps me up. He keeps waking me up. I need my sleep. We go to bed at different times. Whatever. If you need more excuses, make them up. Sound believable. Convince your spouse the two of you don’t have to sleep together to be married. You don’t have to have sex either. If you are sexual in this environment (good luck) you will resolutely, completely annihilate any meaning in it at all because the two of you won’t be warm enough to start any friction, let alone a fire. Do this for years. You won’t notice it at first. This is a very subtle way. It usually ends with somebody serving someone with papers. What happened, Honey? We had such a nice arrangement? Arrangement, yes. Marriage? In name, maybe.
Or, if your spouse tries to be affectionate, turn away, turn away, turn away. You don’t want to be sexual, right? And if you are affectionate, he/she will start taking it to the next level? YIKES! Can’t have that. So we’ll just have affectionless sex every once in a while. Do your duty, so to speak. You aren’t the affectionate type, anyway. Or the sexual type. Or the loving type. Or the married type. You are the selfish type and that’s fine with you. Giving isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway.
Or if your spouse quits pursuing sex with you, make sure you DON’T pursue sex with your spouse.Treat him how he treat treats you.Treat her how she treats you.Don’t treat him or her how you want to be treated.No.That would keep the embers burning, right?Don’t want that.Treat your spouse how your spouse treats you.Don’t pick up the ball.Drop the ball.Drop everything.He doesn’t try anymore.Neither will you.Indifference is our new mantra.This way the relationship will deteriorate to the lowest common denominator, which, in your case, is as roommates.Roommates make poor lovers.They may even worse husbands and wives.
And then the divorce will just be this mutual agreement.No biggie.We didn’t have any fire left in us.The fire went out years ago.It’s hard to make a flame with only one stick.The two sticks have to rub together to make a fire.Oh, well.We tried.
Right. You call that trying?
And then you can live in your tiny one bedroom apartment, because your spouse took half your retirement and half of everything else. Somehow you ended up with more of the debt. How’d that happen? Stupid rip-off lawyer. I’m still making payments to his sorry butt. At least you got the kitty. Couldn’t divide the kitty in half.
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.
Don’t you wanna come sit on my lap?