Friday, May 4, 2007

Exhausted of Excuses

Today I want to bring up a very sensitive subject, which I'm afraid happens all too frequently in Christian marriages. Too many Christian wives have a consistent attitude of denial and excuses regarding their physical relationship with their husband.

Do any of these sound familiar?
"I'm just too tired tonight, honey."


"Ever since the last baby,
I just haven't been in the mood as much."


"That's all he ever wants; if I didn't beg off sometimes, I'd never be left alone."

"I don't understand why he thinks I would do
that when we haven't talked all day!"

"I've had kids crawling all over me today-
I just want to have my body to myself for a while."


Because we take our lead from unmarried, secular women like Oprah and Rosie, and from the anti-family Hollywood culture, we find ourselves parroting attitudes promoted by those sources. That refusing to act on our oneness, withholding physical affection, and rejecting the one man God has given to us is not only understandable - it's
normal.

Contrast these excuses with this Biblical command, found in 1 Corinthians 7:
"Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
I have some ideas about the origins of these excuses:

(1)
We have borrowed these excuses from others-- from sitcoms, perhaps our parents' attitudes toward intimacy, perhaps our friends, perhaps Victorian-era heldover notions, and then when we truly feel tired, or we truly feel frustrated that we haven't had much time to talk and "warm up" with our husbands, we feel justified in withholding intimacy.

(2)
Some women have personal histories of abuse which can affect every touch and sexual act with their husbands. By no means does this have to be an excuse, as we know that no challenge is too great for our God, Who has names of Counselor & Healer. But many women shun getting help or counseling. (I'm not talking here about abuse within the marriage- that's a very different issue and one I am in no way qualified to discuss. But regardless of where the abuse stems from, counseling and healing can take place and the marriage relationship can benefit from such a decision.)

(3)
The marriage relationship has not been maintained or has been put behind other priorities. If a woman hasn't been communicating with her husband, it can feel *wrong* to be intimate. If she has a tighter bond with and commitment to the children than she does to her husband, she can easily *feel* like not being intimate. If she has begun confiding in friends about disappointment in her husband, she can *feel* emotionally disconnected from her husband and thus not want to share in physical love.

But regardless of what others say, what my past is, or how I feel, I and my husband are one before God. Beyond our spiritual oneness, I must work to maintain not only emotional oneness but physical oneness. I will not be held responsible for what my husband does or does not do. But I
will be held responsible for obeying the Word of God, which includes a command- directed to me- to "not deprive".

I hope you're feeling encouraged, if you've had the tendency to beg off from intimacy in the past, to begin saying "yes" to your husband. To begin not just "performing a wifely duty" (which conjures images in my mind of drudgery and enslavement), but begin enjoying your husband in this way. To begin delighting yourself in him and, no doubt, delighting him by making your physical oneness a priority in your marriage.

If you'd like to discuss this further, please leave questions or comments, and you can even do so anonymously if you like. For more extensive or personal questions, you can also feel free to e-mail me at the address at the bottom of this webpage.

Blessings on you AND your marriage!

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