I received this question about a week ago from our anonymous Have A Question page:
Hello Jay, a friend put me on to your site awhile ago. I just signed up for daily posts this week. The second article I read was about the 11% of women who don’t fall into the ‘all my husband ever wants is sex’ category. I told my friend that this article had my name on it. While the conclusion is that you don’t yet have any solutions, it was a healing balm to know that I’m not completely alone.
And then I received this post, so here I am. I’m sending you my question with the full understanding that it may be overwhelming. I understand if you won’t have a solution. For now it’s wonderful to have a safe place to share it that doesn’t further burden my closest friends. Any suggestions or thoughts will be most welcome. I’m happy to further explain anything that’s clear to me but didn’t come across as such to you…
I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional home by a narcissistic bully (my mother) and an enabler (my father). At age 22, believing myself to be both undesirable as well as incapable of living on my own (when I finally decided to take my mother up on her oft repeated offer of, “If you don’t like it here, you can get out”, I married a man who clearly lacked sexual drive but also clearly loved me in other ways. He accepted me as I was.
Fast forward 25+ years to when I finally came to the realization, due to another man’s attentions, that I could be desirable. I blossomed at age 48. I wanted my husband to change, become more sexual, worked at it in various ways, including much individual and couples counseling, over the course of the past 8 years. No more than infinitesimal progress. I’ve finally accepted that this is who he is. He’s not holding out on me, he’s simply wired differently than most men. He does not seem to have the capacity to understand why I need to be desired vs having him do such basic things as kissing me, as a favor.
I love him for all he’s done and the good companion that he is. Do I break up my family because I want to be able to look for someone more suited to the person I’ve become? Do I continue to send the message to my youngest son, aged 22 but still living with us and unwilling to look for a relationship, that this is what marriage should look like? Does God want me to die to myself and put my spouse first to this extent? Or is this marriage a sham because of what’s missing?
Wow, firstly, thank you for all the context, it’s wonderful. Sometimes I get simple one line questions and it’s hard to answer, because I don’t know the situation at all. Now, at least I know one perspective on it. I always wish I could get the other spouse’s as well, but that hasn’t happened yet to date.
Secondly, I’m very glad that post was able to help you realize you aren’t alone.
Thirdly, I really wish in cases like this that I could talk to the husband, to make them realize that their indifference is damaging. That just because they don’t have the drive pushing them to pursue their wife doesn’t give them an excuse not to. Just as when a low-drive wife doesn’t have much of a sex drive, that’s not an excuse to opt-out of a sexual relationship. You should not be in marriage to get what you want out of it. You should be in it to give what you can to your spouse. It’s a commitment to love them, and sometimes that gets forgotten. That love is not an emotion, it’s a choice, and it’s an action. We are to actively love our spouse, every day, to give them what they need to feel loved, whether or not we get something in return.
Fourthly, and my main point is that it’s so easy for us to say “yeah, my spouse isn’t doing that!” and then feel like we should leave so we can find one who will….and that is really sort of hypocritical, isn’t it? I mean, we’re saying “my spouse should put me first” and then we contemplate leaving, instead of putting our spouse first in return. We think only about ourselves and what we’re getting out of the marriage. We do the exact same thing our spouse is doing! In Instead of following our God’s commandments to love our spouse, we follow our own trinity: me, myself and I.
So, “Do I break up my family because I want to be able to look for someone more suited to the person I’ve become?” becomes “Do I chose to break my vows with God and my spouse so I can serve myself instead?” And really, let’s say you do, let’s say you find a guy who makes you amazingly happy. Eventually you are going to still have massive problems in the marriage, because the entire premise of your relationship if flawed. You will have gotten in for the wrong reasons. You will have gotten married to serve yourself.
And many of us do this. I got married because of how my spouse made me feel, not because of how I chose to feel about her. It’s easy to “love” someone who makes you feel amazing. It’s hard to love someone when you are getting little out of the relationship. I think that’s a decision God makes about us every day.
So, no, I don’t think you should break up your family. I think you should model for your son how to love in difficult situations. Model for him a Christ-like love, and let Christ live through you.
I’d highly suggest reading the book Sacred Marriage. Gary Thomas does an amazing job explaining this view point in that book along with real-life examples and couples that have exhibited this choice to love in difficult situations. I think it might give you the strength and the tools to help accomplish this difficult task.
Now, it happens some times that spouses are convicted by this type of love. A love that is self-sacrificing instead of self-serving. But, it doesn’t always happen, I can’t guarantee it, and anyone who does is lying to you. What I can guarantee is that you can use this to improve your relationship with God, and that will in turn make it easier to love your spouse.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
P.S. This is not advice to stay in an abusive relationship. That is not the same situation at all. If you are being emotionally, verbally or physically abused, please consider separating until you get some professional help to resolve the situation.Have a Question? Ask it here!